Thursday, 23 May 2013

So...Eurovision...

I could sit and write an entire essay on how great it was to visit Malmö in Sweden to watch the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 live for the first time in my life, but I'd be here forever. So as the hype has all now died down I'll give a brief summary of my thoughts and urge everyone to try and go to watch it live at least once, especially if it ever comes to Sweden again, they're absolutely obsessed with the thing and Malmö was literally Eurovision city last week. Designer clothes shops had 20% off everything so you could get your frock for the contest whilst the shopping mall next to Malmö Arena had 'Euphoria hour' which was basically a happy hour of discounts in most shops at 6-7 every day before the contest! It was a very sunny and warm week in both Malmö and neighbouring Copenhagen where many fans stayed and perfect weather to welcome tens of thousands of tourists to the area. 

The winner of the contest ultimately was Denmark's Emmelie De Forest with Only Teardrops. A worthy winner which combined the folk sounds of past Irish and Norwegian winners with a more contemporary pop sound and a very catchy chorus. All delivered by a young and attractive female. I do love the track but it wasn't quite as great as the brilliant Fairytale, Satellite and Euphoria, mammoth recent winners from Norway, Germany and Sweden respectively. Regardless, the song looks set to become a sizeable European hit in the next few weeks. In the traditionally anti-Eurovision UK it's set to go top 20 on Sunday and has been added to the Radio 2 playlist. And it seems certain to top various charts around the continent.




Also in the top five on Saturday night were Azerbaijan (aren't they always) who put on an amazing stage show to wrap around a merely quite good song and Ukraine and Russia, again, no strangers to the top five in recent years, though both delivered strong female ballads this time around so at least those positions were relatively deserved. Norway's Margaret Berger finished in 4th place with the incredible electro-pop song I Feed You My Love. It probably deserved a couple of places higher but a fantastic result nonetheless and their third top five finish since 2008. The other big success story was the triumphant return to form for The Netherlands who hadn't even reached the final since 2004 but qualified in style with the sublime Birds by 90s star Anouk. 

Looking at some of the songs that finished on the second half of the scoreboard, Melodifestivalen winner You by Robin Stjernberg failed to attract much support and could only finish 14th for the home nation despite a huge reception in the arena. Four of 'the big five' failed spectacularly with France, Spain and Germany failing to finish in the top 20 (out of 26!) with their entries. Rather sad for the latter as German dance act Cascada were one of the biggest 'names' in the contest, having scored recent global smash hits with Everytime We Touch, Miracle and the UK #1 single Evacuate The Dancefloor. Sadly, Glorious didn't go down quite as well, even though it was probably my favourite song of the entire contest. And Bonnie Tyler finished 19th for the UK with MOR-country ballad Believe In Me, a far cry from her 80s classics Total Eclipse Of The Heart and Holding Out For A Hero. Oh well, a lot has changed in 30 years and nobody could have expected her to have realistically challenged for the win. Hopefully next year the UK will send somebody a little younger and more relevant, or at least a great song, rather than a plodding album track.


And so next year the contest will be held in Denmark for the third time. Should it be in Copenhagen then it will no doubt be a huge affair with thousands of fans attending. Should it go to one of the smaller cities then it's unlikely that many fans will be able to go due to a lack of reasonably priced accommodation. So fingers crossed for Copenhagen, but then Malmö worked very well despite only being Sweden's third biggest city. And if it is in Copenhagen then it's only 20 minutes across the bridge from where this contest was held! Denmark certainly have a lot to live up to in terms of hosting. Sweden delivered a high quality production on a much smaller budget than Azerbaijan had last year. Petra Mede was a fantastic host and other sketches went down very well too. Loreen and Sarah Dawn Finer gave excellent guest performances and the opening song from Avicii and ABBA's Benny & Bjorn was incredibly uplifting and feel good. Swedish broadcaster SVT put a huge amount of effort into this show and the fact that it overrun by about 15 minutes and felt rushed at the end shouldn't take away from their hard work. Perhaps they tried to cram in a litle too much, but for the fans it was well worth it. Let's see what their neighbours Denmark can do to try to better them in 2014!

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