KYIV aka KIEV, UKRAINE
THE YEAR OF SINGERS WHO AREN’T QUITE ON KEY
THE YEAR OF PRETENDING TO PLAY THE DRUMS
THE YEAR OF GRUNGE/GLAM/TRAD/ROCK…YOU NAME IT, SOMEONE WILL SING IT!
Official order in the Grand Final:
1. HUNGARY. Nox. Forogj, világ!
Bad River dance? No, that’s unkind. Clearly inspired by Ruslana…I love it! Energy. Joyful. Well executed. And those dancers work hard. Love her Gertrude/Gerald costume (that’s a Get Smart reference).
2. UNITED KINGDOM. Javine. Touch my fire
Is this a parody? They’re trying to be Turkish, right? But they’re not… This is just too weird to comment.
No VERKAS for you, UK.
3. MALTA. Chiara. Angel
Red evening gown. Pearl necklace. She gets a GREAT audience response. Massive. But she winks…DON’T WINK, CHIARA!
4. ROMANIA. Luminița Anghe and Sistem. Let Me Try
Love the drums, trash, illuminated industrial grunge. But her voice is so strained… What do you say?
5. NORWAY. Wigwam. In my dreams
Thirty years too late but love this glam rock. It’s Noel Fielding, you know, Richmond from The IT Crowd. The key change clinches it. And his top note! A big yes.
Need to take a break. So far, we’ve had folk dancing, trash pop, romantic ballad, dance and glam rock. Phew.
6. TURKEY. Gülseren. Rimi Rimi Ley.
I’m biased against Sertab. Didn’t like it. And this is derivative. And she kinda loses her way. All the elements are there – dancing, drums, rhythm – but it’s all a bit plodding.
No Verkas for you, Turkey.
7. MOLDOVA. Zdob și Zdub. Boonika Bate Doba.
Sheer joy! Lead singer seems to have some kind of traditional costume. Or half of it. And the others are pure rock band. He spins around with a snare drum. They jump up and down. He sits on the drum. And a granny in a rocking chair gets up and spins around playing bass drum. Fabulous. What does Boonika Bate Doba mean? It is a weirdy version of the Romanian expression: Grandma beats the drum. So now it makes perfect sense.
8. ALBANIA. Ledina Çelo. Tomorrow I go.
Exuberant. Lots of red and white. A sexy lady. A leaping man. 4 smiling women with fake white violins. This kind of song has a long tradition in Eurovision and there’s a certain sameness to every one.
NO VERKAS for Albania this year.
9. CYPRUS. Constantinos Christoforou. Ela Ela.
Aim: be sexy. White t-shirt and shiny black pants. And silver cut-off gloves. Whoa! What’s with the white stick? Like Eleni in My Number One. Again, grungy big metal bins like Romania. Bonus…he makes a last minute decision to jump up on one. Ummm, a lot going on.
10. SPAIN. Son de Sol. Brujeria.
Really fun. Zany. Wacky. 3 female singers/dancers in yellow/orange/blue with crazy looks in their eyes. 3 dudes in black and khaki then another dude bursts in with sunnies. Catchy. No idea what it’s about but I’ll look it up…oh, ok, it’s called Witchcraft.
11. ISRAEL. Shiri Maimon. Hasheket Shenish’ar.
Israel goes blonde this year. Blonde Female in golden gown. 4 blonde backup singers. Plodding song.
NO VERKAS for Israel this year.
12. SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO. No Name. Zauvijek moja
Traditional but modern.
Love it. 6 men passionately singing, dancing, celebrating, drumming. Love their black/white/grey/blue/gold outfits. Great rhythm 4/4 + 3/4….or is that 7/6?…it has everything.
13. DENMARK. Jakob Sveistrup. Talking to you.
A bit country.
5 boppy male Danes in brown shoes…lead in pink paisley shirt and pin stripe dark suit with HOT PINK edging…great fashion choice and the back-up singers in dark shirts and pants…and they all have red hair! The best thing about them.
RANGAS AWARD…that’s Australian for redheads.
Sorry, no VERKAS for Denmark this year.
14. SWEDEN. Martin Stenmarck. Las Vegas.
Pop bordering on disco
Fun. He’s in a white t-shirt + black suit. 4 sexy babes in slinky white tracksuits…is that all the rage in Vegas? Competent.
15. MACEDONIA. Martin Vučić. Make my day.
Pure dance music
Um, love his dusky pink coat. But…
16. UKRAINE. GreenJolly. Razom nas bahato
Revolution! Bright green guitar! By the end of song, handcuffs are broken!
17. GERMANY. Gracia. Run and Hide.
OK. Different parts of song/performance don’t seem to fit together. Have they worked together before? Something not quite right. Not much more to say, sorry Germany…
18. CROATIA. Boris Novković featuring LADO members.
6/8 time. What a jacket. I’m in. Yikes. Chorus is shrill but I can cope. Trad bagpipes + compulsory drummer who can clap wildly and also clap with his feet WHILE STANDING ON HIS HEAD. What a great team member!
19. GREECE. Helena Paparizou. My Number One.
Girly pop with a Mediterranean beat
Got to hand it to her. She doesn’t sweat. Her 4 male shirt-split-to-waist dancers only have to dance. She has to dance and sing and carry the song. Original choreography – even a human bazuki! I’ll give her half a Verka for stamina.
20. RUSSIA. Natalia Podolskaja. Nobody hurt no one.
They’re trying hard. Possibly too hard. Sadly dull. Very audible boos from audience.
NO VERKAS for you, Russia.
21. BOSNIA & HERZOGOVINA. Feminnem. Call Me.
1970’s disco pop
3 fab blondes in short flirty pink outfits + after a while brunettes in pink pantsuits allowed onstage.
B & H you can and do do better. Come on! This is like a no-try Swedish entry. Half a Verka for competency:
22. SWITZERLAND. Vanilla Ninja. Cool Vibes
Why are you in cowgirl suits? Presentation is just weird. 4 females in white costumes like they’re about to sing a country western song. Maybe we don’t need the band? Seems overly rehearsed and un-genuine.
23. LATVIA. Walters & Kazha. The War is not over.
Love love love this song. A gentle anti-war song. Unpretentious. Heartfelt. Big theme. Absolutely beautiful. And sign language too. 5 Verkas to performers and songwriter. (See * below for more info).
The Sertab Turkish influence again. Not SERHAT, you silly peoples!!! Chairs on stage. Is this a first? And if it is, who cares? Lead singer in yellow 1920’s dress and 5 culturally diverse dancers in black. Bit plodding. Yikes. I’ve used that word twice already. Lacklustre. Lacking cohesion. There. How’s that.
NO VERKAS for France.
OFFICIAL TOP THREE:
Girl power this year I guess but surprising choices:
MY TOP THREE:
Mr G, what are you doing singing for Latvia?!
2. SERBIA & MONTENEGRO
VERY VERY VERY CLOSE BEHIND.
* More re: LATVIA. WALTERS AND KAZHA (Valters and Kaža). THE WAR IS NOT OVER.
Simple, heartfelt, melodic & beautifully staged. Sometimes you don’t need much to create a powerful song. Gorgeous.
Check out their performances:
The War is Not Over Semi-final 19 May 2005
The War is Not Over Final 21 May 2005
There were subtle differences between their semi-final and final performances, in part because Kaža lost his voice in the lead up to the grand final.
Spoiler alert: sad news follows….
SAD NEWS: Valters ‘Walters’ Frīdenbergs died of cancer aged 30 in 2018. And the songwriter, Mārtiņš Freimanis, died in 2011, aged 33.
BUT NOW SOME AWARDS!
SPECIAL MENTION TO:
PINK COAT AWARD
BLACK COAT AWARD
SOULFUL TAMBOURINE PLAYING
Croatia does it again.