Lee: Flor-de-lis , “Todas As Ruas Do Amor” (Portugal)
Eurovision’s kitschy, over-the-top performances may get all the attention from most casual observers, but I’m going to root for the underdog in this fight: Portugal, which has been in the competition since 1964 and has never won. This year, they’re represented by the decidedly un-kitschy “Todas As Ruas Do Amor” by Flor-de-Lis:
I know, this is pretty boring to watch, right? It’s not even particularly noteworthy from a musical perspective. But allow me to put forward a couple of reasons why it might win:
- Eurovision winners aren’t always the kitschiest acts; it just seems like it since those are the ones we remember. In 2006, Icelandic heavy metal monster act Lordi took home top prize with “Hard Rock Hallelujah,” and last year, Russia’s Dima Bilan won with the help of a figure skater, a Strativarius violin, and his bare chest in what we called a “truly silly performance.” But sandwiched in between these two is 2007′s winner, “Molitva,” from Serbia. Aside from the snazzy red sashes, there are none of the kitschy Eurovision gimmicks we’ve come to hate love appreciate. All of this is to say that Eurovision has settled into a pattern whereby it atones for the sin of awarding kitsch in one year with awarding non-kitsch the next. Last year, kitsch was king. This year, plain will reign.
- At this point, Portugal is a statistical outlier. They’ve been in the contest since 1964, and have fielded 43 winless entries, so it’s not like they haven’t been trying. Malta, the country with the next longest history of winless participation, hasn’t won since first entering the contest since 1971, but they’ve only fielded 21 entries. Clearly, Portugal is overdue, and we all know what happens to statistical outliers. Sooner or later, something’s gotta give.
But why does it deserve to win? Is there any musical or artistic justification for this song to take home the prize?
Oh, wait, this is Eurovision we’re talking about here. I’ll stick with the crackpot theories on patterns and statistics. Go Portugal!
Belinkie: Krassimir Avramov, “Illusion” (Bulgaria)
First of all, I know what you’re thinking: “Wasn’t Krassimir Avramov seriously hurt in a dress rehearsal this week?” We’ve all heard the rumors. But I found Krassimir’s gloriously mistranslated press release, which told me that:
The information that appeared in the medias about Krassimir Avramov and the accident he has have is figured out and not real.
So remember when Lee commented, “Eurovision’s kitschy, over-the-top performances may get all the attention from most casual observers”? Yeah, that’s me. Watching Eurovision for anything other than the cheese is like watching Transformers 2 for anything other than the giant robots. It’s missing the whole point. (Okay, there’s Megan Fox.)
So I clicked through all the songs, looking for one that would make me cringe in embarrassment but keep watching in fascination. Bulgaria did it for me.
Fake lightning and real fire is never a bad first impression. Nor is wearing chain mail. The interpretive stilt dancing was a nice touch. But I think it’s the operatic falsetto that really nails it for me. Kassimir has this great habit of sending his voice up two octaves for no reason, sounding vaguely like the lady from the Star Trek theme song. He’s his own backup singer. (Watch at about 1:50 for the full effect.)
It turns out that this guy comes with a nice, juicy backstory. Back in February, Bulgaria picked its Eurovision entry via cell phone voting. There were 12 songs in contention, and Krassimir got 55% of the vote. The second place entry got less than 12%. There was a movement to have him stripped of the victory, but Krassimir declared, “God decides who wins and who doesn’t.”
Which made me wonder, wait, why doesn’t the Vatican have a Eurovision entry?! It’s technically a European country, right? How great would that be?