If I had a problem with this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, it wasn’t so much that the songs were bad it’s that they were… well, a bit dull. Many of the songs were so similar. After they had all been performed many of them merged into one. There were lots of OK to meh club dance-pop (such as the entries from Belgium and Sweden) and a hell of a lot of big bland ballads (like the entries from Iceland and Russia). Germany were represented by Cascada with a song very much in the ‘meh’ category of the dance-pop ones. Frankly, if you’ve heard one Cascada song you’ve heard them all. Some of the ballads were downright awful. Estonia’s was very turgid despite their singers best efforts, and why the hell did it have a country and western tinge to it?
Many had staging more interesting than the actual song. Belarus featured their singer coming out of a giant glitterball, Moldova’s singer had a red quiff and wore a white dress with footage of pink skies, sparkly stars and later lightning projected on it while the dress itself got bigger. Hungary had a background of graffiti-like cartoon characters to back their forgettable song. Italy’s entry was the worst one for dull ballads, but it wasn’t the worst of all the songs in the competition.
That one was Spain’s one, which was utter rubbish. It didn’t get off to a good start (using bagpipes of all instruments), but it sounded like it would have come out in the mid-1970s, which was outdated compared to the rest of the songs… most of which sounded like they would have come out in the 1980s. In fact one of the contestants was a big star in the 1980s, the United Kingdom’s entrant Bonnie Tyler.
The UK did better than last year, Bonnie Tyler ending up in 19th place compared to Engelbert Humperdink’s 25th place last year. Still, I think Bonnie Tyler’s song ‘Believe In Me’ probably deserved a bit better. Spare a thought for Ireland’s Ryan Dolan, who finished last. Even the Spanish entry beat it, albeit only by 3 points. Ireland’s song wasn’t bad either. Not to start hand wringing about the political/neighbour voting, because people complaining about that is just as predictable as the voting itself, but I think the UK and Ireland’s entries shouldn’t have finished as low as they did. I’m not saying either songs were great, but they were at least as good as most of the others.
Having said that, I didn’t really have any problem with the top 3. The bronze was Ukraine, who had one of better of the big ballads, and some OK staging, with butterflies and fireworks effects. What was with the singer being carried on the stage by a giant dressed in tartan and a Viking-like helmet though?!? Silver went to Azerbaijan, which was rather catchy and featured a man in a perspex box mirroring the singer, and a woman in a red dress with a long train coming over to him. The winner taking gold was Denmark, Emmelie de Forest with ‘Only Teardrops’. I can’t fault that result, it was one of the better songs. It’s very pleasant, with tin whistles and drums.
As for my personal highlights, well as I alluded to in the opening paragraph, give me a daft, silly Eurovision song over a boring one any day. Greece delivered us a fun one with their track ‘Alcohol Is Free’ featuring a band of blokes doing lots of silly dancing and playing instruments which lit up. Some of the instruments the band used included a ukulele and an accordion, which is a combination you don’t see a lot of.
Finland’s Krista Siegfrids and her song ‘Marry Me’ saw a Vegas-style backdrop, a big pink flower for her to do the “loves me, loves me not” petal picking, and wearing a wedding dress that was more hen night than wedding day. Fun though it was, there was also a serious point trying to be made at the end of this performance. Krista Siegfrids kisses one of her female dancers, in a way to show support for equal marriage for same-sex couples.
I also enjoyed Malta’s summery strumming guitar track ‘Tomorrow’ about an I.T. worker falling in love, and Romania’s song ‘It’s My Life’ performed by countertenor vocalist Cezar. I was impressed at the range in his voice and how high he could sing. But I also liked his resemblance to General Zod from Superman going to a disco, and the gold painted lady in the performance which may have been inspired by the James Bond film Goldfinger.
If I was to pick a favourite, I’d probably go for the Netherlands entry, ‘Birds’ by Anouk, which was a gothish eerie, dreamlike track and at least was different in a contest that had many songs being too similar to one another. Either that or Denmark’s, which to reiterate I think deserved it’s victory.