Category Archives: Special Comment

Eurovision 2014: By the Numbers

eurovision-2014-join-usWe’ve been here in the Press Centre for two days now, with the first rough rehearsals coming across our screen.  Before the Semifinals next week, let’s take a quick look at who we’ll all see on stage this year and how they got there! Read the rest of this entry

Semifinal 2: Hopes and Expectations…

ESC2013_butterfly_backgroundOk, so it looks like I guessed seven out of ten for Semifinal One, swapping Croatia, Serbia, and Austria in for actual qualifiers Belgium, Estonia, and Lithuania.  Will my predictions fare any better for Semifinal Two?

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Eurovision 2013: Semi 1 Predictions and Hopes

ESC2013_butterfly_backgroundWe’re only a few hours away from tonight’s First Semifinal, where sixteen songs will vie for only ten spots in Saturday’s Final.  After over a week’s worth of staring, examining, and likely over-analyzing each entry and presentation, most people here in the Press Centre have come up with their list of likely qualifiers, as well as their personal favorites.

…and who am I to argue with tradition? Read the rest of this entry

Impressions from First Rehearsals: Semifinal Two

Days Three and Four in the Press Centre (or, at the very least, at the Euroclub, which served as our makeshift work space) brought us our first glimpses of the Second Semifinal.  Ballads, ethnic touches, hints of rock, whiffs of theatricality…we’ve got it all!  Here are my general thoughts on what May 16 will bring to the table:

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Impressions from First Rehearsals: Semifinal One

ESC2013_butterfly_backgroundThe days are long here in the temporary Press Centre at Slagthuset, and news flies fast and furious as we catch our first glimpses of rehearsals.  Monday and Tuesday brought the first run-throughs from the first Semifinal (we’ll see Semi 2 on Wednesday and Thursday), and there were many impressions to be made!  Let’s take a quick glimpse at what the past few days held…

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Samantha’s Unranked Rankings – 2013 Edition

ESC2013_butterfly_backgroundWell, here we are.  From here in Malmö, the first rehearsals are about to start.  After months of speculation over how Song X will look on stage when all of the lighting, costuming, camera angles, and final arrangements are presented, we’ll finally get our first impressions.  Before those images settle into our collective psyches, however, I’d like to present my own personal list of “unranked rankings”.  Regardless of how I think a song will place, or if it will qualify, I simply judge these songs on how they hit my eardrum!

And with that, away we go!

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Snark and Spanakopita: The ESC Insider’s Preview Party

Last weekend, in preparation for my impending trip to Malmö (and to temporarily back myself out of the echo-chamber of Eurovision fandom), I scrubbed my apartment clean, set out the extra chairs, whipped up some meatballs and invited some of my closest friends over to my place for my now-Annual ESC Preview Party.  While we’re all living in Minnesota now, we were actually a pretty global group, with some of us having lived or studied in Germany, Greece, Austria, Bosnia, China, Japan, and Chile.

The majority of my guests had not heard any of the songs before the event, and so all scores were based purely upon first impressions.  Some had attended my little shindig last year, but others were complete and utter Euro-virgins.  As we munched on spanakopita and sipped Belgian beer and Portuguese wine, we let our snarky sides run wild and free, rating each song on its own merits on a scale from one to ten.  There was almost no talk of running order, cultural voting blocs, or previous Eurovision history (except for a wink and a nod to Valentina Monetta’s other contribution to the ESC).  Here’s how the dozen or so of us voted: Read the rest of this entry

Eurovision 2013: By The Numbers

ESC2013_butterfly_backgroundOk, so we’ve got just about one month before the Eurovision 2013 Finals come to a head in lovely Malmö, Sweden.  We’ve got the songs, we’ve got the artists, we’ve got the running order, and we’ve got our theme…

…so, now what?  It’s just a bit over two weeks before rehearsals officially start, and the customary press conferences and interviews soon afterwards.  Instead of just sitting and twiddling our thumbs, let’s take a quick peek at Eurovision 2013’s entries, by the numbers! Read the rest of this entry

Editorial: If At First You Don’t Succeed…Part 2

Picking up where we left off (way too long ago…pardon the delay!), here’s another look at a handful of National Final stalwarts who really deserve their big break at Eurovision.

From Malta, the land that brought us Chiara, Glen Vella, and Kurt Calleja, brothers Wayne Micallef and Richard Edwards have each submitted a handful of strong entries to the National Final.  First appearing in a trio with their sister Michelle as “The Mics” in 2003 and 2005, the siblings came in 14th with “Take Me Back Again“, and came in a disappointing 21st place with their disco-fied entry “It’s Up To You”.  It was Wayne who first struck out on his own, with his 2009 submission “Where You Belong“.  He improved upon his 7th-place finish that year with his 2010 follow-up, “Save a Life“, and came in 8th place in 2011 with the more upbeat “Everybody Sing“.  His 2012 entry, “Time“, with its Wisconsin-filmed video, brought him a 12th-place finish, and he is showing no signs of stopping.  Read the rest of this entry

Editorial: If At First You Don’t Succeed…

Eurovision this year felt just as much like a reunion as it did a Song Contest.  Among the contestants, we had more than a small handful of performers who were returning to the Eurovision stage.  From the Class of 2004, we saw the return of Iceland’s Jónsi and Serbia’s Željko Joksimović.  Jedward’s return marked the first time that an Irish representative performed at the ESC back-to-back (or, in the case of the twins, would it have been back-to-back-to-back-to-back?).  Macedonia’s Kaliopi was supposed to have performed in 1996, but we never got to hear her sing “Samo ti” during the main event, due to being knocked out during the not-televised pre-qualifying round.

But, if you ask me, Kaliopi’s gotten even better with time… (Photo courtesy of

However, a deeper look into this year’s roster shows that we had more “returning acts” than a first glance would reveal.  If you delve into the National Finals, you can see that a full dozen of 2012’s performers had tried (and failed) to represent their respective nations before.  While artists like Loreen, the Buranovskiye Babushki, and Anri Jokhadze made it through to the big dance on their second attempts, it took Moldova’s Pasha Parfeny four tries to succeed, and for Lithuania’s Donny Montell and Belarus’s Litesound, a full six entries were submitted before they finally broke through!

Viewers who think that the Contest is simply a bit of light entertainment on a few May evenings often miss out on finding the nuggets of gold hidden within the National Finals.  So, in honor of those countless singers and bands that have tried multiple times to represent their homelands at Eurovision, I’d like to turn the spotlight on these “unsung heroes”, in the hopes that their efforts will finally pay off in 2013 and beyond.  Here’s my first set in a list of “ones to watch”: Read the rest of this entry