THE YEAR OF THE RANGAS *
THE YEAR OF THE WHITE DRESSES
THE YEAR OF QUALITY!
* Ranga = Australian for redheaded person
Such a good year. Really, really good. So good it’s hard to believe just how good is was. Quality songs. Quality performers. Quality lyrics. Quality humour. Only 5 terrible songs this year. How good is that? Astonishing stuff and to kick it off…
1. Slovenia. Maraaya. Here for you.
Love this! Full of energy and so much fun. Catchy riff. And the first of the redheads. Flashing orange backdrop and a very earnest air violinist. Headphones is a fun look. Ah! The wind machine…she knows it’s coming, cheeky girl!
2. France. Lisa Angell. N’oubliez pas.
Beautiful wasteland of rubble, concrete that gradually transforms into doves of hope, bare trees, street lamps and flowers. Singer is joined by 4 live drummers and an army of virtual drummers. Visually spectacular and powerful song. Actually visually overwhelming.
3. Israel. Nadal Guedj. Golden Boy.
Hilarious. Exuberant. Young Nadal with 5 dancing boys having a great time. Pop song supreme with trad Israeli rhythm incorporated. Love the rhymes that aren’t quite….
You must take a look:
4. Estonia. Elina Born and Stig Rasta. Goodbye to Yesterday.
Love this song. Catchy. Brilliant staging with her coming in through a door and then long shadows on the stage. Edgy and gorgeous. My only quibble would be the line: ‘I’m pretty sure I would have told you to stop’. Ho hum. But then again, with a line like: ‘As I got outside I smiled to the dog’ how can you go wrong? Go Elina and Stiggy baby!
5. United Kingdom. Electro Velvet.
Retro 1920’s jazz.
A tinge of amateurishness but such a fun song. And some cool skatting. Love it.
6. Armenia. Genealogy. Face the Shadow.
Another fabulous performance. This one’s a group ensemble in shades of purple. Heartfelt and melodic. Goes mildly feral with clocks and wind machines and waving trees.
Brief interlude: Can’t believe how many songs I have liked in a row. Go Eurovision 2015!
7. Lithuania. Monika Linkytė and Vaidas Baumila. This time.
Ah! Couldn’t last. Not my thing.
Sorry, Lithuania. I’ll give you half a Verka. Not sure why:
8. Serbia. Bojana Stemenov. Beauty never lies.
Queen-like singer in gorgeous palest pinky shimmery robes. 4 figures with masks and flags. Is this a parody of Bosnia Herzegovina’s Bistra Voda? Anyone? Whoosh! They whip off their masks and…phew! They’re good-looking. And thin. 1960’s party swingers. Song turns into anthemic dance number. Crowd goes crazy. Written by Conchita and opening the doors for Netta
9. Norway. Mørland and Debrah Scarlett. A Monster Like Me.
What can I say? Stretching those Eurovision boundaries. Audacious, gorgeous and a little bit evil. Extraordinary. Dark. Controlled. My absolute favourite – this is dark and deep and sinister and delicious. Throw away all my preconceptions that Eurovision winners have to be uplifting and relentlessly positive!
10. Sweden. Måns Zelmerlöw. Heroes.
First monsters, now demons. What can I say? Effortless fabulous pop. Nifty graphics. Gorgeous but unpretentious.
11. Cyprus. John Kariayiannis. One Thing I should have done.
Måns is a hard act to follow, Johnny. Camerawork all wrong but that’s not your fault. Might have been better if we didn’t know the one thing you should have done…
12. Australia. Guy Sebastian. Tonight Again
Grows on you. Nice to include Oz in 50th anniversary celebrations. But you cannot vote for your own country so…
13. Belgium. Loïc Nottet. Rhythm Inside.
White industrial brilliance. Carefully manoeuvred moves on a white stage. Come on, click those fingers!
14. Austria. Makemakes. I Am Yours.
Fabulous crowd response. Then no one votes for you. Sad. Only 3 of you. Piano on fire. Drummer and Bass player suitably unperturbed. Singer carries on with backdrop of piano on fire. What else do you do to get an audience reaction?
15. Greece. Maria Elenia Kyriakou. One Last Breathe
Competent women with piano player, wind machine and very split-up-the-front dress singing fervently. Even has the Conchita finale music but not enough.
No Verkas for you this year, Greece. Well, OK, a half for professionalism:
16. Montenegro. Knez. Adio
Exquisite. A song that builds & builds. Crafted to perfection. Soars into the stratosphere. Should have been top 5.
17. Germany. Ann Sophie. Black Smoke.
Like this. Great lyrics. Great tune.
18. Poland. Monika Kuszynska. In the Name of Love.
Very pink. Cherry blossoms and billowing sheets. She is in a wheelchair. And she can sing. But not for me.
19. Latvia. Aminata. Love Injected.
Wow! What an extraordinary talent!
20. Romania. Voltaj. De La Capat
Love this. Pure and simple and earnest. Bonus Andre Agassi lookalike. Not many bands this year. Only the second.
21. Spain. Edurne. Amanecer.
Powerful pop ballad.
Yes. Spain does something extraordinary. Great theatrics and drama. She’s in red with a long red train but I suspect she’s about to rip off her dress…
22. Hungary. Boggie. Wars for Nothing.
Painfully earnest. Simple staging might have been more effective. But a nice tree.
No Verkas, sorry Boggie.
23. Georgia. Nina Sublatti. Warrior
What a warrior! Love it. Lightning. Clouds. Brilliant song, brilliant costume. Check out those (almost) thigh high boots…go Nina! I would give you 5 Verkas if there was some variation in the song at some stage but I’ll still embed your clip:
24. Azerbaijan. Elnur Huseynov. Hour of the Wolf
Theatrical again, like his (and his country’s) Eurovision debut. Everything hunky dory. Except for two bleached blonde wolf creatures crawling around and generally getting in the way. Lose them, Elnur. You don’t need them. Would give you 5 Verkas if it was just you. So keep that in mind, OK?
25. Russia. Polina Gagarina. A Million Voices.
A sickly sweet attempt by Russia to ingratiate itself onto the world or a magnificent power ballad sung by a fabulous singer? I think the latter. Definitely grows on you. Amazing voice. She gives it her all.
26. Albania. Elhaida Dani. I’m Alive
Can’t categorise this one.
No no no.
27. Italy. Il Volo. Grande Amore.
3 tenors. Backdrop of magnificent classical Italian sculptures. And even a not so subtle wink. How can you go wrong? Quality performance.
Too many highly commended to mention.
Herreys Commemorative Golden Footwear Award
ISRAEL: The pressure is on Nadav. Wear those golden shoes wisely.
Award for Thematic Complexity
SLOVENIA: Headphones, sorta wedding dress, dude on piano and air-violin. Whoa.
Best Redhead in White Award
Dead heat between NORWAY and SLOVENIA
Best Rhyming Couplet:
ISRAEL (again): Has to be: “And before I leave, let me show you Tel Aviv….”