Eurovision 2013’s hits and misses (and a few in between)

Stuart Heritage of The Guardian stated the truth pretty plainly shortly before Eurovision 2013 began: “Twenty six songs have entered. Only one of them can win. It probably won’t be Bonnie Tyler.”

As is always the case at Eurovision, it was inevitable that those who would shove her down the score chart would vary in just how much they deserved to have that duty. I thought I would take a little while to write about who wowed me for all the right and wrong reasons throughout a great show that turned out to be much more than the much needed 200-minute lecture on how to pronounce Malmö.


Ukraine: Zlata Ognavich – Gravity (214 points, 3rd)

I had very high hopes for Zlata’s score, as she was my winner. I thought that with her dry ice smothered performance that she would be the closest to toppling Denmark’s Emmelie de Forest (she was great, but not quite ‘281 points great’ in my opinion), though she was pipped to the second place post by Azerbaijan’s bizarre Perspex box routine.

Could any other of the 892 female soloists sing nearly as well as Zlata? We may never know. The song itself was definitely the one that allowed the performer to really show off her fantastic voice. It began cool and calm, building into belting the final upbeat lines – a range of styles without throwing in a token dubstep section to fit current chart conventions (I’m looking at you Belgium).

Inevitable mention goes to the rather unnecessary cameo by the 7’8” Igor, carrying Zlata in. I am pretty sure that he was supposed to step in time with the deep thumps, as though his half-ton body was shaking the floor, though he didn’t quite manage it. I can just imagine the telling off he got in the green room: “Igor, you had one thing to do…”*

*Or its Ukrainian equivalent.

Greece: Koza Mostra ft. Agathon Iakovidis – Alcohol is Free (152 points, 7th)

Not quite whacky enough to call a novelty track, and culturally influenced enough to be artistically viable, this was easily the most fun song of the night and a night-out anthem just waiting to happen. That said, I’m not too sure how many clubs would take the plunge and mislead anyone present into thinking that the drinks are on the house.

This was an unusual, Greek Gogol Bordello-style collision of folk and rock. Brilliant fun and totally bonkers, Koza Mostra unleashed their chaos whilst Agathon Iakovidis rivaled a statue with his stillness. Such madness is a tradition of Eurovision that sadly, for the most part, went unfulfilled this year. That’s not to say that there wasn’t much unusual tonight, as there most certainly was. More on that a little later.

Estonia: Birgit – Et uus saaks alguse (19 points, 20th)

There is no denying that the night was a medley of female soloists, primarily singing ballads. I haven’t got a clue what she was singing about, but my favourite of that large group was five-months pregnant Estonian songstress Birgit. I think that if anybody could have rivaled Zlata for the best voice of the night, it would have been her. There wasn’t a big production, but I felt sure that she would leave a much bigger mark than she eventually did on the scoreboard, which in my opinion is a very disappointing injustice.


Finland: Krista Siegfrids – Marry Me (13 points, 24th)

I won’t be too nasty about Krista, because this was almost a guilty pleasure of the show, but more on that in a couple of paragraph’s time. But first…

Ten years have passed since the infamous Russian duo t.A.T.u, initially grabbing the attention of Europe by donning school uniforms and locking lips in their 2002 music video for ‘All the Things She Said’. Would they do it again on a Eurovision stage? That infamy would surely lead them into first place, wouldn’t it? Well, it didn’t, and against everyone’s expectations they had to settle for third place.

Since t.A.T.u had decided not to commit to their faux-lesbianism, Finland’s Krista Siegfrids decided to give it a go. Was it supposed to represent her sheer desperation for love as she pleaded for her boyfriend to propose to her, or to represent her sheer desperation for attention as she pleaded for her boy fans to vote for her? I wonder.

However, I want to rise slightly above 90% of the song’s press and actually mention the song. It was good fun, daft, with a novelty dance routine and clearly not supposed to be taken seriously. These were all things that were largely missing this year. And not since 1975 had a Eurovision song featured so many mentions of the words ‘ding’ and ‘dong’.

That’s not to say it was any good though, because it wasn’t. It was the spawn of the blunt begging of Bruno Mars’ ‘Marry You’ and Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Call Me Maybe’. For me, that is not a very pleasant equation.

And yes, she really did scream ‘fuck yeah, Europe!’ at the end.

Romania: Cezar – It’s My Life (65 points, 13th)

Oh. Oops. Remember about fifty words back I said that I felt that there wasn’t enough in the way of silliness this year? Cezar took things to a new level that neutralizes that claim, as nobody is quite sure how serious he was supposed to be. He looked as though he was trying for David Bowie’s role in a Labyrinth remake, and the entangled men in briefs somehow made proceedings even more awkward.

Unfortunately for Cezar, he drew the short straw in the performance order, and was beaten to the ‘mysteriously getting taller while wearing a very long dress routine’ by Moldova’s far superior Aliona Moon.

I could go on about the horror that this three-minutes presented viewers with, but no one who saw it needs any description, as the disturbing images will not be leaving their minds any time soon. First timers, you have been warned.

Despite it being nasty, I am quite surprised that its sheer weirdness didn’t push it further up the scoreboard.

Lithuania: Andrius Pojavis – Something (17 points, 22nd)

This was just your standard, cheesy, throwaway love song. True to its title, it was very vaguely carefree and lazy.

At least that was the case until the chorus, which (possibly excluding the lyrics that I didn’t understand tonight, due to my limited multi-lingual skills) contained some of the strangest lyrics of the night. He sang about his shoes, using them as a metaphor for his cocktail of emotions as he pursues his dream girl.

“Because of the shoes I’m wearing today, one is called love, the other is pain.”

After ranting about my hatred of songs that refer to the heart in the past, never did I think that I would say that I song could be improved by reverting to such painfully clichéd conventions.

It’s also impossible to overlook his shot at adopting the Fonz look. His success in the matter is debatable.


Russia: Dina Garipova – What If (174 points, 6th)

Yet another female balladsmith, but instead of announcing her love to her partner, she took the John Lennon approach, ‘Imagine’-ing world peace. It was a great, powerful performance, complete with the umpteenth key change of the night. It scored fantastically too, so why isn’t it in my hits? I try not to be so shallow and be put off by the lyrics, but the sheer corniness of it all seemed to envelope it in pure cringe. Normally that would be an instant shove into the very worst songs of the night, but she meant to0 well for me to penalize her too much.

Germany: Cascada – Glorious (18 points, 21st)

I understand that I am close to alone with this view, and this is a choice that I didn’t expect to make, especially considering the rather poor press that Cascada received for their policy tonight: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. There is no denying that it is a near clone of last year’s euphoric runaway winner. However, the song clearly got a very enthusiastic reaction from the Malmö audience, made clear by being the one act to call out to the mostly seated crowd during the song rather than provoke a reaction to viewers at home by staring into the camera. Natalie’s scream of ‘you ready?’ translated well into a successful performance, but sadly not into votes.

France: Amandine Bourgeois – L’enfer et moi (14 points, 23rd)

I want to offer my respects to Amandine for her performance, considering how she appeared in the traditionally doomed first slot. It was one of the few female solo tracks not to be a ballad, and not feature either (or both) very few clothes or a medley of lights and pyrotechnics. While it was visually unremarkable, she took to the stage and sang her heart out, very enthusiastically and angrily. Not bad at all.


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