Aurela Gaçe, “Feel The Passion”
(By the way, get used to this Handelesque orchestral fanfare — you’ll hear it a bunch if you stick with me.)
If this were a music video competition taking place in the 1980s, Albania would win. At 1:15, there’s a whole series of Aurelas hovering in mid-air, taking turns singing the terrible lyrics. And at 1:33, there’s this awesome animatronic eagle puppet. I’m pretty sure the singer is supposed to be turning into an eagle, or flying alongside an eagle, or something. But she’s also underwater at one point, so go figure. In any case, this song is pretty lame, so unless Aurela turns into an eagle live onstage, she’s not going to win.
And when I feel that I thirst for you
I’ll dab my lips with your morning dew
But wherever I go
I just want you to know
Sweet song live forever
And I’ll live with you
Emmy, “Boom Boom”
Here’s the big question: is this song better than the Vengaboys classic “Boom Boom Boom Boom?” The answer is that this song, as the title would suggest, is basically the square root of the Vengaboys song (that is, not nearly as good). In fact, this song is kind of a perfect storm of glorious europop awfulness. It even falls down on the stagecraft: there’s the obnoxious showers of sparks that start at the beginning and never stop, the puffy sleeves, the complete lack of any choreography, and the absence of any backup singers or dancers.
Boom boom, chaka chaka, your kiss is like a, like a
Boom boom, chaka chaka, your love is like a, like a
I wanna say that one thing is true
I’m in love with you
Ell & Nikki, “Running Scared”
Our first duo, and one of the favorites according to the bookies (yes, there are Eurovision bookies). They’re called “Ell & Nikki,” but their real names are Eldar Gasimov and Nigar Jamal. The song was written by the same team that composed “Drip Drop,” Azerbaijan’s entry last year, which placed fifth overall. (The year before that, Azerbaijan placed third. As it turns out, they are a perennial Eurovision powerhouse.) This song is definitely going to make the finals, and if Ell & Nikki go for a Mitch & Mickey style kiss at the end, anything could happen.
Incidentally, since Ell is approximately 15, I’m assuming his stubble is glued on.
I’m running, I’m scared tonight
I’m running, I’m scared of life
I’m running, I’m scared of breathing
‘Cause I adore you
This song suffers from a strange series of pop cultural associations. First there’s the title, which conjurs up Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration.” Then there’s the opening line: “Friday, my night.” Perhaps Croatia hasn’t heard about Rebecca Black. She’s sort of salted the earth for songs about Friday for at least a generation. Finally, there’s the singer, who I was really hoping was Daria from the old MTV show. But no, not so much.
On the bright side, the video heavily features both bubbles and breakdancers spinning on their heads, two of my favorite things.
Every single step you take
Stop the world for a moment
Shine like a comet
In a musical galaxy
Paradise Oskar, “Da Da Dam”
Congratulations Finland, you’ve done it. There was a lot of tough competition, but you wrote the very dumbest song of Eurovision 2011. It’s so dumb, I’m going to have to quote most of it here, because it’s too good not to.
Peter is smart, he knows each European country by heart
He likes to sit under an apple tree on his yard
And wait for an apple to fall
When Peter is nine,
His teacher tells him that this planet is dying
That someone needs to put an end to it all
And so when Peter comes home
He tells his mom
I’m going out in the world to save our planet
And I ain’t comin back until she’s saved
I’ll walk my way to see the King and parliament
If they don’t help I’ll do it by myself
Honestly, sometimes there’s so much to make fun of, I just don’t know where to start. But you know what’s the cherry on top of this ice cream sundae of fail? It’s at 1:53, where you can see a sign written in English that reads “The Last Palm Tree.” This is the least subtle piece of environmental propaganda since Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest. Unfortunately, this song does not feature Robin Williams.
So here’s my question: is this a story about a nine-year-old kid running away from home? Isn’t Peter basically telling his mom he’s leaving to become a fulltime environmental lobbyist? Nice job, Peter’s teacher: when Peter is finally dredged out of a lake next year with his teeth knocked out so they can’t identify him, maybe you’ll think twice about screening An Inconvenient Truth in class.
Eldrine, “One More Day”
Prepare yourselves for our first attempt at rapping in this year’s Eurovision. These guys are like a cross between Linkin Park and Evanescence. They’re not bad, but I found myself distracted by how the lead singer’s scarf was buttoned into her jacket.
I wanna give in to fire, uncover vicious desire
Abandon painful denial, find pretty reason to stay
One more forbidden sensation, one more emotional flare
Down with the fake hesitation,
Hell yeah, I’m ready to pay, pay for the hopeless despair
Gonna live one more day of my fate
Loucas Yiorkas Feat. Stereo Mike, “Watch My Dance”
Eurovision competitors are sort of in the same position as Republican presidential candidates: you need to be conservative enough to get the votes of your primary voters, without giving up too much of your universal appeal to get votes in the general election. In other words, a lot of the voters in the Eurovision selections want to see an act with some national character, but those songs aren’t going to win votes from other countries. (See, for example, Belarus’s entry, entitled “I Love Belarus.”)
Greece has a bold tactic. Loucas Yiorkas is a traditional folk singer. Stereo Mike is a rapper who has been living in London since 1996. It should be like when Justin Timberlake and T.I. joined forces. The problem is that these two don’t so much collaborate on the song as alternate on it. Also, both the rapping and singing sort of suck. The backing track sounds like it was produced by a Super Nintendo, which I should like, but I don’t. I do kind of like how the video starts with Loucas standing center stage, waiting patiently, but then Stereo Mike starts rapping while Loucas continues to chill for 30 seconds.
But you know what I’m just baffled by? “Watch My Dance” does not feature any actual dancing.
I was born so betrayed – who am I, what I’ll be?
What is mine in this life? Just the heaven and sea
No, I won’t give them up, they’re my fortune, my proof
Don’t believe what you hear ’cause the truth kills your truth
Kati Wolf, “What About My Dreams”
Another favorite with a lot of buzz. It’s nice to know that if something happens to Celine Dion, we have a spare. This is not an idle comparison by the way: Celine won Eurovision in 1988. I kind of like this one. It’s not good good, but it’s karaoke good, which might be good enough. When the backup singers enter at 2:35, I was kind of doing a little dance on the couch. Plus, the lyrics have some serious Girl Power:
What about my life?
What about my dreams?
What about how I feel?
What about my needs?
But you know why I’m really rooting to Kati? From Wikipedia, I learned that her claim to fame is that at the age of seven, she sang the theme song to the Hungarian children’s film Vuk. And she was just as cute as a button:
Maybe if she wins, the crowd will force her to do that as an encore.
Sjonni’s Friends, “Coming Home”
So in January of this year, the Icelandic competition for their Eurovision spot was well underway, when contestant Sjonni Brink died of a tragic heart attack. But Sjonni’s friends decided he would have wanted his song to outlive him, so they became Sjonni’s Friends and ended up winning the trip to Dusseldorf. It’s like when Heath Ledger died, and they finished The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus with Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell. But did anyone see The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus? Yeah, I thought so. This might make the Finals because of the heartwarming story, but it’s not gonna win.
I have to say, the song is a little eerie in the context of its composer’s premature death: it’s all about “coming home” to a “peaceful place.” Shudder.
Cause I can’t wait for tomorrow
to say the things I wanna say,
your smile will always lead my way.
I can’t wait, I’m coming home to you.
I just wanna see your face again,
I’m coming home.