Eurovision 2011: The Best of the Rest (Part 2)
Continuing on through our tour of the 2011 Preselections, we move straight on from Bulgaria to…
Croatia: Few people who were in the Press Center in Düsseldorf will soon be able to forget Daria Kinzer’s “Celebrate“, complete with two costume changes and a special appearance by a creepy Willy Wonka impersonator. But only the most hardcore of ESC fans remembers that the lovely Daria had some serious competition in this year’s Dora: Jacques Houdek. Daria and Jacques went head-to-head on three songs, with a public televote and jury vote selecting the best option for each singer. The interesting thing about this, however, was that the scores were tied after the jury and televote was added together during the song selection, with the public favoring “Stotinama Godina (A Hundred Years)” for both Daria and Jacques (by a landslide), and the jury selecting “Lahor/Break a Leg/Celebrate” for the two. Most national finals used the public vote as the prevailing factor, but Croatia deferred to the jury. The uptempo number seemed better-suited for the lovely Daria, and so Jacques’ fate as runner-up was sealed. But we were tantalizingly close to having this, instead:
“Stotinama Godina” reminds me of the classic Croatian ballads of years past: songs like “Neka Mi Ne Svane“, or “Nek’ ti bude ljubav sva” (which, interestingly enough, Jacques performed during the national selection process). It’s hard to say if this would have made it into the Final (I’m sure that some would have argued that it sounded “dated”), but I personally preferred it to “Celebrate”. As for Jacques, I wouldn’t count him out. In a commercial for this year’s UK version of “X-Factor”, eagle-eyed viewers can catch a quick glimpse of Houdek auditioning for the show that introduced the world to Jedward. Brace yourselves, my friends.
Skipping Cyprus, which chose its song internally, we move on to:
Denmark: “New Tomorrow” by A Friend in London brought the Danes their second consecutive Top Five placement, and may have given Jedward and Poli Genova a bit of competition in the “Best Spiky Blonde Hair” category this year. But the runner-up at this year’s Dansk Melodi Grand Prix was no slouch, either.
Anne Noa’s “Sleepless” felt like a breezy blend of Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez, and could have easily been a worthy follow-up to the youthful puppy-love of Lena’s “Satellite”.
Estonia: Once again, some of the best songs this year came to us from Eestilaul, and it’s really tough to pinpoint an absolute favorite. Getter Jaani’s “Rockefeller Street” was a fun, bouncy, vaguely surrealistic number that people in the press center either lauded or loathed, but there were definitely a handful of songs that could have gone to Germany in its place. Fans of “Oida Taunz!” might have gone for the Argentinian-born Elmayonesa’s “Kes Ei Tantsi On Politsei (Whoever Doesn’t Dance is a Policeman)”, while on the opposite side of the musical spectrum, we have Marilyn Jurman’s sweet “Veel on Aega (There is Still Time)”. This year’s runner-up, “I Wanna Meet Bob Dylan” by Outloudz, is a wonderfully wistful track that I am predisposed to love (both as a resident of Dylan’s home state of Minnesota as well as a fan of 80’s-style New Wave), but my personal favorite still remains 2011’s fifth-place finisher, Ithaka Maria’s “Hopa’pa-Rei!”:
How can you argue with those cellos, that attitude…that YODEL? It’s exceedingly difficult to not sing in English at Eurovision, yet still have everybody singing along with your hook (just ask Magdalena Tul)…but I’m pretty sure that Ithaka Maria would have had Ruslana fans (and many others, for that matter) absolutely eating out of her hand.
Finland: Paradise Oskar may have “Da Da Dam“ed his way to Düsseldorf, but he had to defeat a fairytale princess and a former monster to get to the top of the heap. Finland’s runner-up this year was Saara Aalto’s saccharine-sweet “Blessed with Love” (if Eurovision’s rules had allowed animals on stage, I’m pretty sure we would have seen Bambi, Thumper, and Tweety Bird singing backup…but then again, with the LED screen, I’m sure anything would have been possible). If sweetness isn’t quite your thing, how about the glam-rock of Stala and So.’s “Pamela”?
Lead singer Sampsa Astala is the former drummer for Lordi, who famously took the Eurovision crown to Finland for the first time back in 2006.
Next up: Georgia, Germany, Greece, and Iceland!