Category Archives: Special Comment

Ok, now that we’re all settled…a look back!

Hey, everyone!  Pardon my absence following Loreen’s epic march to victory last weekend; within three hours of Sweden clutching the crystal microphone, I was at Heydar Aliev International Airport, waiting to board the first of my four flights home from Baku to Minneapolis.  There aren’t many things that I could have told you that you likely hadn’t heard already through my counterpart site, ESC Insight, or throught my friends at ESCXtra…but in short, “Euphoria” stormed to first place with the second-highest vote tally in Eurovision history, as well as the second-highest margin between Loreen and her nearest competitor, the Buranovskiye Babushki from Russia.  Sweden did clinch the record for the highest number of “douze points” for a song in history, with an impressive 18, beating the 16 garnered by Alexander Rybak’s “Fairytale”.  Loreen also won two out of the three Marcel Bezencon Awards, for Artistic Representation and Composition.  The third, the Press Award, went to hometown heroine Sabina Babayeva. Read the rest of this entry

Semifinal Two: Predictions, Hopes, and Fears

Ok, it looks like I’m on a bit of a hot streak, correctly predicting nine of the ten fortunate qualifiers from Tuesday’s First Semifinal.  (Bittersweetly, two personal favorites of mine swapped places, with Albania qualifying while Israel unfortunately missed out.)  That run of luck might end tonight, though, as I’m finding this Second Semifinal an absolute pain to predict!  Will regional voting blocs and running order politics trump the general strength of songs?  Will appearances, gimmicks, and tricks take precedence over voices and composition?  It’s going to be an interesting night… Read the rest of this entry

Semifinal One: Predictions, Hopes, and Fears

It’s hard to believe that the First Semifinal is upon us.  After a week and a half of rehearsals, press conferences, interviews, partying, PR plugging, and promotional performances, the moment has arrived.  After tonight, eight delegations will be researching their early flights back home from Heydar Aliev International Airport.  I’ve had the chance to observe a trio of Dress Rehearsals (once from the Press Centre, and twice in the Crystal Hall itself), and here are my personal expectations and favorites for tonight’s festivities: Read the rest of this entry

The votes are in! A look into an American ESC Preview Party

As part of my last weekend before I head off to Baku (even though I’m still waiting on the return of my passport and visa from the Azerbaijani Embassy in Washington…argh), I decided to host a modest Eurovision 2012 Preview Party from my home in Minnesota.  Over bites of Italian arancini, German pancakes, Turkish apricots and Swedish cookies, my friends and I mulled over the forty-two competing entries in this year’s competition, giving each song a score from 0 to 10.  Most of my friends had never seen or heard the entries prior to our little shindig, and only really knew about the competition through what I’ve forced down their throats over the past few years.  Read the rest of this entry

Sam’s Unranked Rankings, 2012!

Well, it’s less than two weeks before I depart for Baku, and the lull of post-preseason-to-pre-Eurovision activity will be replaced with a veritable maelstrom of news, rehearsal footage, interviews, punditry, and behind-the-scenes gossip.  Sounds like a perfect opportunity to publish my own Unranked Rankings, don’t you think?

As some of you might remember from my list last year, it’s very hard for me to pinpoint an absolute favorite.  My preferences change with my mood, the direction of the wind, and whether or not Venus is rising in Scorpio.  In order to placate my often-indecisive streak, I put songs together in groups according to my general opinion of them.  Keep in mind, however, that this list is subject to change as we see the staging of the entries, or simply as time passes (for example, I couldn’t stand “I Love Belarus” at first, but now it’s a complete guilty pleasure that I dance around to in my apartment when I’m sure nobody’s looking).  Furthermore, these rankings are completely unrelated to how I think the songs will actually do on the scoreboard in Baku!

Let’s dive in, shall we? Read the rest of this entry

Toe-to-Toe ESC Smackdown!

As I’ve said before, April is typically Eurovision No-Man’s-Land as we wait for rehearsals to start.  Why not fill the time with a bit of friendly competition?

So many of this year’s artists got to where they are today by standing on the shoulders of giants.  Or, at the very least, covering other people’s songs at National Finals or “Idol”/”X-Factor”/”The Voice”-type programs.  By sheer luck and coincidence, many of 2012’s Eurovision performers have either covered the same songs as one another, or simply performed past ESC classics.  So, in order to pass a bit of time, why don’t we figure out whose versions reign supreme?

As the Chairman would (almost) say..."Allez Musique!"

Read the rest of this entry

Hosts and Venues and Clubs, Oh My!

Well, the calm before the storm still reigns in the world of Eurovision, as there is little news from delegations between the Allocation Draw and the first rounds of rehearsals.  There is, however, plenty of news coming in from our Azerbaijani hosts.  Let’s take a look at what’s been going on in Baku:

Read the rest of this entry

Eurovision 2012: By the Numbers

Now that we’ve got all 42 participating entrants for this year’s Contest (plus a few bonus entries that were later withdrawn or edited…I’m looking at you, Italy, Belarus, and San Marino…), we’ve got a bit more than a month and a half before delegations, press, and fans converge on Baku.  Rehearsals start around May 13, and the fun doesn’t stop until the Press Conferences after the end of the Final (or, in my case, when I groggily board my flight out of Baku at too-early-o’clock the next morning).  Until then, though, things tend to be a bit on the quiet side, in terms of Eurovision News.  We’ve got our songs, the preview videos, news about Pre-ESC events in Amsterdam (April 21…more information here) and London (April 29…tickets available here)…but now what? Read the rest of this entry

Happy Holidays from the ESC Insider!

…and what could be a better song to represent a Eurovision holiday season than Gunnar Ólasson (who represented Iceland in 2001 and 2011) covering Tozzi and Raf’s “Gente di Mare”? Here’s “Komdu um Jólin (Come on Christmas)”:

This would be the perfect time to express my continued thanks to you, my readers, for sticking by the ESC Insider this year, especially through the site’s migration and facelift.  I appreciate every comment and every tick on my hit counter, and I hope you have as much fun reading this site as I do putting it together.  This year was a great (and often crazy) one here at the ESC Insider, and 2012 is shaping up to be just as wonderful, with your help, of course.  I have to thank my partners in Düsseldorf, ESCKaz, and my partners for 2012 (and beyond, I hope), ESCInsight.  From Minnesota to Azerbaijan (and everywhere in between), I look forward to bringing you my own personal spin on what’s going on in the world of Eurovision, and I hope to see you taking the journey with me.

Wherever you are, and whatever you might be celebrating this time of year, have a Happy, Healthy, and Loved Holiday Season!

Do you have any favorite ESC-related holiday songs?  Feel free to share them in the comments!

Onwards and Upwards!

Hey, everyone!

It’s been a pretty wild year here at the ESC Insider.  As my loyal readers know, I’ve been working hard to share with you all my unique viewpoint on Eurovision past and present, all with a staff of one and a budget of nil.  My first trip (really, for me, a pilgrimage) to a live Contest, getting to hang out in the Press Centre and meet the artists personally…well, life doesn’t get much better than that.  I hope you’ve been enjoying what I’ve been sending your way for these past two years, and I hope to keep it up for you all for a long time to come.

The ESC Insider isn’t going to disappear anytime soon, but 2012 will be a year of change for me, and for this site, as well.  I’m currently doing a bit of jiggery-pokery on my web presence, and that means I’ll probably be migrating to the official domain within the next month or so.  (No worries, though, as all the content that I’ve worked on here should come with me!)  I’m not an expert in web design, so please bear with me as I make the Insider the best it can be!  (If you have any suggestions on how to make it awesome, I’m all ears!)

Believe it or not, that’s not even the biggest news from this end of things.  As many of you know, I had the pleasure of working with in Düsseldorf this year, and I am incredibly indebted to them for giving me the opportunity to work with them in Germany.  However, while I truly enjoyed reporting on breaking news and up-to-the-minute updates with Kaz, I’ve realized that my heart really does lie in more in-depth coverage.  Because of that, I am THRILLED to announce that I will be working in tandem with the folks over at during next year’s event in Baku, Azerbaijan.  Fans who followed my goings-on in Germany may have caught a few of the lively morning podcasts that I participated in while I was out there, led by the irrepressible Ewan Spence…looks like I’ll be participating in more of them!

In short, during the lead-up to Baku 2012, I’ll be contributing to Insight by chipping in a number of articles, while maintaining the lion’s share of my news and reviews here on Insider.  While in Baku itself, I’ll be working hand-in-hand with Ewan, Sharleen Wright, and company in order to bring you the in-depth ESC goodness that you’ve come to expect from both of our sites (I’ll still be contributing to Insider, though, much like I did while I was in Düsseldorf).  It’ll be like chocolate and peanut butter, or like deep-frying and Mars Bars…two tastes that go even better together!

My first article is already up on Insight…check it out and let me know what you think!