Friday, 29 March 2013

From the top...

So it's about to happen all over again! The Eurovision Song Contest 2013 will take place in the week commencing the 13th May in Malmo, Sweden. That's a month and a half away! Crikey.

What's been happening then?
Well as you can see, it's all change on the blog. I am still messing around with colours and fonts and so on, but settled for green for the 2013 season. I'm not satisfied, but it'll do! Since last June, I've been (lazily) updating the blog with my favourite ever Eurosongs. Now the songs for this year have been released, I'm changing my opinion on the songs already. And I keep finding gems from previous years that I either forgot or have never heard. I have a sneaky feeling my top 101 songs will change. In re-designing the blog though, I moved it to a separate page. Look at me go. I am starting to understand how the site works.

As well as that, I hit the big 20 earlier this year. That means I am no longer a teenager. Does it change any perceptions on Eurovision? Nope. But growing up has made me realise that I need to go to the final of the contest before I get tied down and won't have the opportunity to. So somewhere hot for 2014 please? Although maybe not Cyprus - what on earth would they do if they won? I can't even believe they are represented in the first place!

I went to university last September. Complete change in my life. Has Eurovision been affected? Nope. And I'm inflicting the songs on my housemates as well. They love put up with it.

What's been happening with Eurovision?
Sorry, went off on a tangent about myself. Well Eurovision has changed since 2012. The big change was in the running order...rules have been "adjusted" so that the big important people at EBU now decide the running order. There is a draw to allocate countries in the first or second half of the semi-final (and later the final) and then the bosses decide the order of songs. They want to mix up genres, genders, countries to make the show more exciting. Well you can see why - who else fell asleep with the Belgium/Finland combo in last year's semis?

The only country that knew exactly where they were performing was Sweden. They managed to draw themselves 16th position. Not bad when they could have had any of the 26. I don't know why the big 5 didn't at least get allocated a first or second half performance. Never mind I am sure it will all work out fairly.

Moving on, countries returned and withdrew. Armenia returned as I think most predicted. Turkey withdrew though. Turkey!? They've competed for a long time now. They were very successful in the last 10 years. Diaspora voting helped but they did send good songs. I have read many reasons as to why Turkey withdrew - who knew you could interpret what someone says in so many ways? As well as this, when translating things from Turkish to English, I believe some things weren't translated fully. Whatever the situation, it seems that a move from complete televoting to televoting/juries, coupled with a problem with the big 5 meant they were too unhappy to continue competing. I am very much looking forward to seeing who Azerbaijan now gives their 12 to. Will they even receive a 12 this year without Turkey? 

It's not all about Turkey though - Bosnia & Herzegovina have also withdrew!? Another strong country. Personally, I haven't enjoyed their songs as much as the results from previous years reflected but they have been strong. AND then there is Portugal. WILL WE EVER GO TO LISBON? Portugal have NEVER won Eurovision. Their best finish was 6th. This isn't right. Come on Portugal! Make that comeback in 2014 and show us what we missed. 

Slovakia have withdrawn as well. I don't think anyone apart from Malta will notice. That is harsh, I enjoyed Max Jason Mai's "Close Your Eyes", and Twiins' "I'm Still Alive", even if Europe didn't, but they have never sent anything to trouble anyone. Poland have had a little more success though (even if their best result was 2nd back on their debut in 1994) and they still haven't returned either. And then there is the Czech Republic - they aren't coming back.

Oh, there is the minor nations. But I think until the global financial crisis is truly over, we won't see countries like Andorra, Luxembourg, Monaco, Liechtenstein and so on. Sorry, I shouldn't call them the minor nations. Monaco and Luxembourg are both former winners. In fact Luxembourg share the runner-up prize in the countries with the most wins (that's 5 times by the way - they even did the double in 1972 and 1973!).

So where are we headed in 2014?
Well early fans favourites are Denmark. Early bookies' favourites are Denmark. They are represented by Emmelie de Forest with the song "Only Teardrops". The last time Denmark won was 2000 when the Olsen Brothers sang "Fly On The Wings Of Love" - and this just so happened to be in Sweden following Charlotte Perelli's victory in 1999 ("Take Me To Your Heaven"). Is it an omen? Does that mean Emmelie de Forest could take victory this year? OR what about the Netherlands? For the first time in what seems like forever, they have a strong song and the fans and the bookies both put the Netherlands high on their list. They are represented by Anouk with the song Birds. Coincidentally, the last time the Netherlands won was in Sweden, way back in 1975 (and that's further back than France's last win, 1977). Whatever the situation, this year is all about Sweden so in my first blog post for the 2013 Eurovision season, I thought I'd take a look at previous Swedish winners of Europe's illustrious crown.


Eurovision's most famous act (don't give me Celine Dion, ABBA sold more). ABBA's career only really took off when they won Eurovision in 1974. The song? Waterloo. And guess where they won? Because Luxembourg did a double victory in 1972 and '73, they couldn't afford to host the competition for another year and so the UK stepped in to provide a host. And the host city? Brighton. That's right. Brighton was where ABBA found fame. Interesting fact about 1974 - ABBA won with a really low percentage of votes. Apart from the tie in 1969, the 15% possible votes that could win was the lowest there has ever been for a Eurovision winner. Interesting considering that Waterloo went on to become a huge hit and ABBA went on to achieve international fame. They even beat Gigliola Cinquetti, the women who had won 10 years previous for Italy with "Non ho l'eta" - one of the most stunning songs ever to feature in Eurovision (that's right, it features highly on my top 101 if you couldn't guess).

Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley
10 years on from the first win, and Sweden claimed their second in 1984. "Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley" was the record, sung by the Herreys. I'll be honest - this is the Swedish win which I know the least about. 1984 isn't a big year. Bookies favourite's Ireland were beaten into second place though by the Swedes - who were that years dark horse. Representation for Ireland? Linda Martin with the song "Terminal 3", written by none other than Johnny Logan. And who won the 1992 contest? Linda Martin with "Why Me?", written by the king of Eurovision. And the 1992 contest was held in Sweden. All a weird coincidence, or maybe not. Maybe this is just a sign of how not much happened in 1984. The song is good though. Sung by a true 80s boyband, the Herreys were brothers and went on to have varied success in Europe for the rest of the 80s. Interesting fact? They performed first - and that was the last time someone has performed first and won the contest. Closest since then was 1994 when Ireland performed 3rd and won.

Fangad av en Stormvind
Sweden only had to wait 7 years for their next win though. Carola took Fangad av en Stormvind to victory in Italy in 1991. You might remember Carola from 2006? She came 5th then. She also had come 3rd though, back in 1983. It's not quite Johnny Logan's record, but Carola is a real queen of Eurovision - a 1st, 3rd and 5th in 3 different decades. That's an impressive fate. Could she be back within this decade? Probably not but she'll be remembered nonetheless. Fangad av en Stormvind is a very good song. Yes for 1991 it was "too 80's", but there was good choreography and Carola is a good singer. It all makes sense that she is a Eurovision winner. But she came very close to not picking up the title. After the tie in 1969, a rule had to be put in place to decide what would happen if two countries were on the same number of points once all the votes had come in. It wasn't until 1991 that it was needed though (although it did come close - 1988 was a particularly intense year). After 22 countries had voted, Sweden and France both sat with 146 points (search on youtube for the voting from 1991 - such confuson! Italy gave no points to Sweden but 12 to France. Neither country had a clue what to do - nor did the presenters. The audience didn't know either. They are all looking around. Somewhere in Italian, Carola is mentioned as the winner as you start seeing her jump around excited. All very entertaining). They both had received 4 sets of 12 points too. However, Carola had received more sets of 10 points and so she took the crown. Interestingly though, with todays revised rules, France would have won as they received points from more countries. The 1990s were truly some of the most interesting years for Eurovision in my opinion. And this year is just a huge part of that.

Take Me To Your Heaven
Charlotte Nilsson won the 1999 contest with a very cheesy, but still very good, "Take Me To Your Heaven". Eurovision had changed though. Between the years of 1991 and 1999, Eurovision underwent some major surgery. An influx of countries wanting to compete meant qualifications for entry had to be changed. Following the break-up of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, many, many countries debuted for the first time, and a relegation phase of Eurovision had to take place. This meant that if you finished in the bottom 5 of the contest, you were relegated so other countries could take your place. You would return the following year. Germany were one country to be relegated - but as a big financial contributor, they weren't happy. A big 4 system (UK, Spain, France and Germany) were given automatic qualification for the final. This changed to the big 5 when Italy decided to stop throwing a fuss and came back to the contest for 2011 (quite successfully, they beat Sweden into 2nd place). However, one big change was the language rule. For the first time, you could sing in any language. Would "Take Me To Your Heaven" have won if it was in Swedish? Oh I almost forgot - the orchestra was no longer a part and it was removed for the contest as live music was now considered a choice for Eurovision. Johnny Logan threw a hissy fit and called Eurovision 'karoke'. But was the orchestra really needed? I think it would just have been a waste of space when the 00s came in and to be honest, it was being needed less and less for Eurovision. Imagine Euphoria being introduced by the conductor and then played on the piano while Loreen danced around with those quirky arm movements and bare feet? Yes, it doesn't quite seem to fit does it.

Sheer brilliance. Deserved the high score. Cherry on top for a brilliant year in Eurovision. What else shall I say? Bring on 2013. Bring on Malmo. We truly, truly deserve to be in Sweden (even if Pasha Parfeny should really have brought it home for Moldova. I think Chisinau would be brilliant for Eurovision).

No comments:

Post a Comment