Eurovision 2011: The Best of the Rest (Part 3)
Skipping France and their internal selection, next on our list is:
Georgia: Eldrine’s “One More Day” was definitely one of the most divisive songs in this year’s Eurovision roster. People either adored this nu-metal track or despised it with the passion of a thousand suns. (Lucky for me, I was in the former camp, and relished the moment when Sopho and company held an impromptu acoustic jam session in the Press Center.) Eldrine was my favorite act from the Georgian preselection, even with their previous lead singer Tako Vadachkoria, but my second favorite had to be Temo Sajaia, who performed “Jarisk’atsis Simghera (Soldier’s Song)”:
Temo’s stage presence might have been a bit dry, but considering that there was a span of about three months to give his presentation a bit more “oomph”, it could have been a pleasant surprise. Plus, none of the nation’s entries have ever been sung in Georgian, nor have any entries been performed exclusively by a male vocalist. It took me until moderately recently to find an English translation for “Jarisk’atsis Simghera”, but it actually has a pretty strong nationalistic bent, with lyrics like “We believe in Georgian immortals/ In the hopes in your eyes and/ We believe in happiness, in beauty/ In no surrender and in victory”. It’s maybe a bit more subtle than “I Love Belarus”, but not quite as easy to sing along with…
Germany: With 79% of the final vote during “Unser Song für Deutschland”, there was no doubt that “Taken By a Stranger” would be the song that Lena would use to defend her Eurovision title. Compared to the eleven other songs in contention, it was truly a standout, both in style and in quality. While most of the also-rans (all available on Lena’s second album, “Good News”) seemed to be a general continuation of the bubbly and youthful motif we all saw in “Satellite”, “TBaS” seemed to be more of an evolution in who Lena Meyer-Landrut is, both as an artist and as a person. I know a lot of people were fans of runner-up “Push Forward“, but for me, my second favorite was the sweetly simple “Maybe”, which was actually written by the same team (Daniel Schaub & Pär Lammers):
I was also a fan of the big, brassy “Mama Told Me“, which had Stefan Raab’s signature style written all over it (probably because he co-wrote the song with Lena herself).
Greece: Most devoted Eurovison fans were slightly bewildered when Loukas Giorkas and Stereo Mike’s rap/laiko fusion number “Watch My Dance” was pulled out of the envelope during the Greek National Final. It even took me a while to warm up to it (although actually hanging out with Mike, Loukas, and the rest of the delegation from ERT, as well as seeing how epic the final staging turned out to be…by the time the semifinals rolled around, I was beginning to really enjoy this one). Most people had tipped the Canadian-born X-Factor alumna Nikki Ponte to take the night with her song “I Don’t Wanna Dance”:
Looking beyond the two front-runners in this competition, I was also a fan of the bouncy “Hamogela (Smile)” by Trimitonio:
Hungary picked their song internally, so we move on to:
Iceland: By now, we all know about the tragic story behind Sjónni’s Friends and the song “Coming Home“. The six gentlemen on stage (as well as Sjónni’s wife Thorunn) were fixtures in the Press Center and Euroclub, and they were truly some of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. Their voices were heard harmonizing so often, you could nearly set your watch by it, and I proudly waved the Icelandic flag during the First Semifinal. This song became such an integral part of my experience in Düsseldorf that it almost feels like a betrayal to even consider that another tune could have been in its place. But there were, in fact, fourteen other entries in the running to represent Iceland this year, including fan favorite “Nótt (Night)” by 2009 runner-up Yohanna. My other personal favorites, however, were Magni Ásgeirsson’s “Ég trúi á betra líf (I want a better life)” and Jógvan Hansen’s “Ég lofa (I promise)”:
Coming up next time: Ireland, Israel, Italy, and Latvia!