THE YEAR OF TRYING TO BREAK BOUNDARIES BUT NOT QUITE PULLING IT OFF
THE YEAR OF ‘THE CASUAL LOOK’
THE YEAR OF BLACK CAMIS & PURPLE SATIN FLARES (but not together…)
Those wacky Olsen Brothers start the show. Can someone explain please? Crowd goes wild when Natasja and Soren stroll on stage: ‘Good evening, Europe’. They decide to spend the evening speaking in rhyme. Yes, the whole evening. After minimal banter, off we go….
1. NETHERLANDS. Michelle. Out on my own
3 girls sitting on the floor. Now she’s stretched out. Now the back-up singers – wearing noteworthy flares in two different shades of purple – have got up. She’s getting up too! Look at her rise up! She’s never felt so free…
2. ICELAND. Two Tricky. Angel
It’s Kieren Perkins! Looking like a dentist! Two frenetic dancing girls – why? Love this song not what they did with it. But it is a song contest, right? I’ll bet Azerbaijan studied this to get inspiration for their black/white debut extravaganza Day After Day.
3. BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA. Nino. Hano
I listened to this year before watching it so was quite surprised to find a cool dude fitted out with orange overalls singing – well, similar to overalls. 4/4 time but it feels much more complex than that. Performed in Bosnian and English…fantastic song.
4. NORWAY. Haldor. On My Own
Carefully chosen casual yet classy white/neutral clothes. Like it. Pianist in orange and Brilliant vocal work. Amazing ‘On my owwwwwwwwwwn!’ build-up to final lingering note. Love it!
5. ISRAEL. Tal Sondak. Ein Davar
Pure fun. Nice change from the midnight blue theme this year. Cool dude in black suit with incredible pointy shirt collar. Perhaps I need to take a break if I start commenting on shirt collars… 3 female + 2 male back-up singers in basic black. Energy! Enjoyment!
This must be a good year. I have never given out so many Verkas in a row….
6.RUSSIA. Mumiy Troll. Lady Alpine Blue.
What can I say? Love this. Sounds circa early 1980’s Australia. Catchy and compelling. Lead singer Ilya Lagutenko is a mix of unhinged madness, fascination and raw talent. Reminds me of David McComb, Iggy Pop and that guy from Latvia who came third in Eurovision 2000…Renārs Kaupers! (Had to look that one up.) Keyboard player spins around à la Cyril in Father Ted’s Song for Europe. Brilliant!
7.SWEDEN. Friends. Listen to your heartbeat
Comparisons are odious – but hey! – this is raunchy red leather ABBA. And we even get a wink from Frida-clone. A piece of perfect pop.
8. LITHUANIA. Skamp. You got style
Skanky. Are they being satirical? Hey, let’s count the funny hair. Purple afro. Red afro…
No Verkas for Lithuania…you can do better than this.
9. LATVIA. Arnis Mednis. Too Much.
An energetic Elton John as lead singer! And a piano accordionist is always a good addition, don’t you think? Live version much more amusing than CD. But nah, doesn’t cut it.
No Verkas for Latvia.
10. CROATIA. Vanna. Strings of my heart.
Middle of the road.
Peachy gold outfit. 2 dudes in black, one in a beanie suddenly appear…where did he come from? Pan pipes are always a worry.
No Verkas for you, Croatia.
11. PORTUGAL. MTM. So Sei Ser Feliz Assim.
Middle of the road.
White guy in black. Black guy in white. 3 black and white back-up singers. And we get a wink in the second verse. To my surprise, gets great audience response
No VERKAS this year for Portugal.
12. IRELAND. Gary O’Shaughnessy. Without Your Love.
Ireland does it again. They are so good at this…
NO VERKAS for Ireland this year.
13. SPAIN. David Civera. Dile que la quiero.
At last! Let’s dance! Lot of red. Black clad singer with 2 gals in gold + 3 other black clad back-up singers dancing their hearts away. Does that do it justice? Energetic.
14. FRANCE. Natasha St-Pier. Je n’ai que mon ame
Solo chanteuse in red dress. Beautiful. And she switches to English: I am what I am. But she won’t win. Because no one votes for France.
15. TURKEY. Sedat Yuce. Sevgiliye Son
Young bloke in white suit against hot pink background. Classical accompanists. He can sing! Did he lead the way for France’s youngest tenor, the gorgeous Amaury Vassili in Eurovision 2011? And a key change too. Magnifique.
16. UNITED KINGDOM. Lindsay Dracass. No Dream Impossible
Black and red. Female lead singer with impressive voice in trakky daks. 3 cellists. 2 rappers. Memorable high note. But nothing else particularly memorable.
No VERKAS for you, UK. But you’re used to it.
17. SLOVENIA. Nusa Derenda. Energy
Black + yellow tight leather outfit. Give her a point for making an effort and a bit of originality. 2 dudes in crimson dance on and lift her up as a crucifix. They’re gone. Wait! They’re back…but dancing with each other not her.
18. POLAND. Piasek. 2 long
Not a good name for a song. Back-up singers are quite a sight. Not in a good way. Their crazy dance moves don’t quite make it. Dude in hairy baby pink coat rocks on – love it! He whips it off. No! A black t-shirt! Unforgettable. No points for costume change. But give him a point for a key change. And a Verka for the coat:
19. GERMANY. Michelle. To Live for love.
Middle of the road
Blonde with nice hairdo in pink evening gown. Trying hard to be statuesque – even has a crucifix shadow projected behind her but probably a mistake. Piercing voice. Very piercing.
NO Verkas for Germany, as usual.
20. ESTONIA. Tanel Padar, Dave Benton & 2XL
Not my kind of song. Goes along at same level for 3 minutes. Wish they had beefed up the final chorus. But they didn’t. Still Dave and Tanel have good rapport, Tanel has a fantastic soul voice and the back-up boys are suitable excitable and throw in a few cartwheels and handstands. Much better live than on CD.
21. MALTA. Fabrizio Faniello. Another Summer Night
Funky dude in red. 4 back-up singer/dancers impersonating palm trees in shiny black costumes with weird blue belts. Solo classical guitarist enjoying the song. Nah.
No Verkas for Malta
22. GREECE. Antique. (I Would) Die for You
Emotion-free female singer in white – someone give the girl a chocolate croissant. She turns around in final chorus, swaying, to reveal naked back. Key change. Audience loves it.
No Verkas for Greece.
23. DENMARK. Rollo & King. Never Ever Let You Go.
Fun. Lots of red again. 2 guys joined by lady in violet pantsuit with flares. Harmonica solo!
OFFICIAL TOP THREE:
MY TOP THREE:
RUSSIA MUMIY TROLL. LADY ALPINE BLUE
Love it! Just like early 80’s Oz rock. So, given it’s 2001 in post-communist Russia, they are…AHEAD OF THEIR TIME! Such cool dudes. And so cheeky. ‘Just keep on smiling…‘ The audience is confused. Love it!
BOSNIA HERZEGOVINA NINO PRSES. HANO.
This was the first year I heard the songs before I saw them performed. Wot a difference it makes. Hearing Nino Pršeš sing Hano and then seeing him is quite a surprise. I visualised a slick-looking young man in a grey suit and got a guy in Guantanamo Bay-style overalls with a beret. But hey, this song is a work of art. He wrote it, he sang it, all credit to him.
ICELAND TWO TRICKY. ANGEL.
In a bit of a spin because I heard the CD before seeing the performance. Those black-clad dancers are very, er, frenetic. Probably needed some physiotherapy after spending 3 minutes waving their angel wings (aka arms) around. But such a happy song. Full marks for energy.
The Orin Scrivello Memorial Trust Me, I’m a Dentist Award goes to: Young Kristján from Iceland.
Special mention to:
TURKEY. SEDAT YÜCE. SEVGILIYE SON
Earnest bloke in white suit. Great operatic voice. Compelling.
ISRAEL. TAL SONDAK. EN DAVAR.
Fun. From the zany opening to that final note.
NORWAY. HALDOR LAEGREID. ON MY OWN.
Well, pretty much on his own except for 4 back-up singers + pianist. Amazing voice. Amazing vocal control. Just watch him hit those high notes. Pure passion. And a key change. Fabulous.