A continental travesty in two parts

Part 2: Eurovision 2011 semifinal 2.

Moldovan hats are always cool

They say that if you can’t say anything nice, say nothing. I’m applying this to my intro for the second Eurovision 2011 semi-final. That was my intro for the second Eurovision 2011 semi-final. Straight to the songs then.

You’ll see something like Bosnia-Herzegovina‘s effort down your local pub after about 11pm when they’ve officially stopped serving beer and grandad finds a guitar behind the jukebox. He’s wearing an awful suit and gets all of his grandchildren up to sing a nonsense ditty with him. EVen the slightly slow stoner teen. As grandad (main artist Dino Merlin) was born in 1962, he’s aged beyond his years. He’s been stealing spliffs from his stoner grandchild, hasn’t he…

Austria has sent a J-Lo clone alled Nadine Beiler. With a better haircut. It’s one of  those sickly ballads about a small dog overcoming adversity to return himself to his family after a long voyage across the continental US. Or it might be about love and getting some nookie. I prefer to think it’s about a train-hopping dog though.

Every year there’s one entrant who looks like the sort of person who’s been legally barred from going within 500 metres of a school. This year it’s the lead singer from 3LS, representing the Netherlands. Appropriately enough, the song is called “Never Alone”. He’s got a Kevin Bacon lookalike playing the guitar and grinning like someone with a hidden supply of sweets. Personally I’d check them all against Interpol’s database of sex offenders.

Last year, Belgium sent a chap called Tom Dice with a guitar to perform a self-referential song caled “Me And My Guitar”. This year, they’ve abandoned any hopes at winning by sending an acapella group caled Witloof Bay. There’s some beatboxing in the middle. Heaven knows why. They sound like time travellers from about 1990. If they weren’t 21 years out of time, they’d be clear winners. In 1990.

Slovakia‘s entry consists of two tone-deaf twins. In a clear case of double standards (see later views on the Irish entry), they should win the semi-final, win again in the final and then perform across Europe. Preferably starting outside my window. Really though, they can’t sing.  Or at least one of them certainly can’t – ever time she opens her mouth, the backing singers suddenly start singing louder to mask out her efforts. Not trying hard enough, ladies.

Ukraine‘s contribution this year is a girl making drawings out of sand. The sand drawings are top class. There’s also a statuesque blonde caled Mika Newton singing in the foreground but no-one’s paying her any attention as the sand drawings are great. SHe can sing, sure, but who cares. More sand drawings please.

Silly hat time! It’s Moldova! Zdob şi Zdub are some sort of ska meets circus band. The song’s pretty awful for the most part but they’re wearing giant pointy hats while a girl zips around the stage on a unicycle. They’re the band you most want to see when you’ve drunk seven bottles of wine. Moldova should win. Their song means nothing, they have silly hats and they have a girl on a unicycle.

Sweden‘s song consists of a group of teenagers singing “I will be popular” over and over. No, you won’t. You’ll be beaten up in the schoolyard as soon as you get home.

The band from Cyprus manage to pull off this year’s most homoerotic display as an opener – a group of black-clad young men hanging around and singing together in a misty landscape. Adding a wailing girl, standing on her own a full fifty yards away does nothing to dispel the appearance. Unfortunately, they can’t sing either.

What is it about Eastern Europeans and their sometimes-ridiculous haircuts? Or specifically, Bulgarian Eurovisionentrants and their blind barbers? You’d be forgiven for thinking that Roxette are back but no – it’s just that 1990s hair fashion has finally hit Sofia.  What begins as a perfect opportunity to go to the kitchen for a cup of tea gets better when it turns into a Roxette song as well. No-one will vote for it but it’s not actually all that bad.

Macedonia should have borrowed some of those silly hats from their Moldovan neighbours. Even though the song is half in English, you can’t tell what it’s about. I think it’s describing the steps involved in gutting a goat. The backing dancers spend the entire song doing a freestyle dance interpretation of chasing the goat, grabbing it by the  ears and then slicing its head off. Before doing a traditional folk dance. It’s terrible shit.

Dana International is back for Israel, singing a song caled “Ding dong”. Isn’t that a bit ironic? Unfortunately, while “Diva” was a great song and a worthy winner in 1998, she might as well be singing the periodic table of the elements in Hebrew. It tries to be a dance song but isn’t a dance song that anyone would want to dance to. It wouldn’t sell 12 copies in a flea market.

Slovenia‘s singer has the most impressive thighs in the universe. They could crack a nut just by looking at it. Unfortunately her backing singers appear to be tone-deaf. The song sounds like the sort of thing you’d expect to hear in a dodgy Ljubljana strip joint. While Maja Keuc can sing, she needs a better song than this one.

Romania‘s David Bryan is originally from the UK and moved to the country to help build an orphanage. It’s possible that he wants to be the Romanian Cliff Richard. He’s got all the happiness of a Butlin’s red coat performing the night before those miserable residents finally go home. I managed to count his teeth during the song. He’s had his wisdom teeth out by the way. If you liked Cliff Richard during the Summer Holiday era, you’ll probably like David Bryan and want to have his babies.

Estonia‘s entrants (Getter Jaani) may as well be performing on one of those awful shows where the winner gets to appear in the backing chorus of an Andrew Llowd Webber musical. Scarily Prozac kids with that High School Musical look about them. They’ve got a few small city blocks erected on the stage during the song, which just reinforces the idea that they’re just your local dance troupe after accidentally finding themselves on a giant stage. It’s called “Rockefeller Street”. Nowhere near skanky enough.

It’s rare that a Eurovision song tries to hypnotise the audience into visiting Minsk and buying a few trinkets but that’s just what Anastasia Vinnikova from Belarus appears to be doing. The song’s called “I love Belarus” and that’s also the main chorus. Tourist chiefs in Belarus almost certainly sponsored this song and will use it for years in advertising campaigns. They also bribed the stage hands to give Vinnikova all of the pyrotechnics available for the entire night as they have every sparkler, firecracker and explosive device they can get their paws on and no other act has any.

Latvia‘s entry seems to be some sort of quickly-assembled karaoke band, singing together for a bet and  who’ve had a few to many happy pills before clambering on stage. The chap playing the guitar looks like Elvis Costello. The singer looks like John Barrowman. Then they rap. Yes, they rap. They shouldn’t.

Denmark‘s entrants describe their musical influences as Justin Bieber and Radiohead. The song appears to be about the difficulty of getting over depression if you’re a duck. For some inexplicable reason, he’s wearing a backless shirt. I don’t think you want to see it.

For some reason, Jedward haven’t been shot and are representing Ireland. Dressed as camp Romulans. I’m not entirely sure they’re doing the singing – the volume for the backing singers appears to have been turned up dramatically. It might be because the Irish twins are not known for being able to sing in tune. If there’s any justice, a large truck will drive into them at 80 miles an hour. There being no justice, tone-deaf children from across Europe will probably spend their pocket money on voting for this pair.

As usual, here’s a convenient video with “highlights” of the 19 semi-finalists:

Qualifiers:

Bosnia-Herzegovina
Austria
Ukraine
Moldova
Sweden
Slovenia
Romania
Estonia
Denmark
Ireland

Here’s a quick look at the five songs that go straight through to the final for being from countries that insist that they go straight through to the final:

Returning for Germany, Lena Meyer-Landrut is out to defend the title she won last year. Lena can’t sing without judicious use of autotune. Unfortunately for her, the song she’s brought this year is instantly forgettable. She’s lucky that Germany qualify automatically for the final. Let’s try to ignore that the song is called “Taken By A Stranger”, which sounds like something quite unfortunate that happens down a dark alley.

Blue are representing the United Kingdom with a song called “I can”. While all four members of Blue can sing, you really wouldn’t think so from this song, which falls into the age-old Eurovision trap of lacking a good chorus. Sandie Shaw would have them for breakfast.

Amaury Vassili is representing France with a song in Corsican. Which means that only a few thousand people have the slightest notion of what the song is about. Vassili is supposedly the youngest professional tenor in the world. He’s following in the tradition of other tenors by performing a song that would work best as the theme for World Cup coverage. Needs a chorus though. It sounds quite like Whitney Houston’s “Didn’t We Almost Have It All”. I’m sure that’s totally, like, a coincidence.

Italy got sense years ago and dropped out of the competition. This year they’re back with a little jazzy number called “Follia d’amore” sung by Raphael Gualazzi. It’s very Italian. It’s very Harry Connick. It isn’t actually all that bad. I’d listen to it more than once. I’m probably the only person that would do that though.

Lucia Perez is here for Spain with a song called “Que me quiten lo bailao”, which means “They can’t take away the good things I’ve lived”. It’s not all that bad. It’s not particularly good either. It;s not really her fault – she’d be popular on the karaoke circuit for a night. Portugal might give it a few points. Or not.

Who should win? Moldova obviously. They have silly hats. And a girl on a unicycle. All they’re missing is a dancing bear.

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