ASFE goes for gold with over 15,500 hits!

It’s only been a few months since I’ve started ‘A Song For Europe’ and blogging in general and I’m really pleased with the response I’ve gotten so far. In this short amount of time, ASFE has racked up well over 15,500 views and more readers continue to visit and add to that number. I never imagined people would be so receptive to my mindless ramblings on what many perceive to be a mad obsession. However, the numbers speak for themselves and I’m really thankful and appreciative for the support!

Thank you so very much for reading ASFE!

What makes an ideal Eurovision spokesperson?

The Voting Procedure of the Eurovision Song Contest is undoubtedly one of the most exciting parts of the show, as all the participating countries announce their points causing the scoreboard to shift and shuffle in a veritable battle for song supremacy. Of course, the douze points are in the starring role during the Voting Procedure, but many forget about the supporting roles played out by the spokespersons. I think alot of broadcasters have overlooked the spokesperson and this is a pity, as I feel that they are a potentially entertaining facet of the show that is currently untapped. So how can we make the spokespersons share the spotlight with the douze points? Here are my thoughts:

1) Charisma & Likability: As the spokesperson, you are not only a television personality but also a representative of the country. Therefore, you need to be charismatic and just shine across the TV screen. If you’re an utter bore, then the whole proceeding becomes tiresome. Remember the Polish spokesperson from a few years ago? I used to dread Poland’s turn to vote. But if you’re upbeat & fun, then the loooong affair that is the Voting Procedure suddenly becomes even more fun to watch.  The best example is Bosnia & Herzegovina’s spokesperson in 2003. Even though she bungled it up completely, her charm and wit saw her through and turned a horrifyingly embarrassing situation into a light-heartened bit of fun. See what happened below:

2) Funny Factor: It also would be great if we can get in a bit of a laughter during the Voting Procedure to take the edge off of the nervousness in supporting our favourite entries. And for that, what better way to get our giggles than from a comedic spokesperson? It’s a wonderful way to break up what could become a monotonous practice. Over the years, we’ve had some funny spokespersons but I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that, out of all of them, perhaps the most funniest is Peter Poles from Slovenia! The man’s hilarious and a great personality. I want Slovenia to win just so that Peter can host Eurovision the following year. How cool would that be? Here are some of Peter’s best moments when announcing Slovenia’s points.

3) Correct Elocution & Grammar: Call me a perfectionist or call me crazy, but if you are going to present the votes in English, then enunciate the words and make it sound like English! We’ve seen so many spokespersons speaking in either broken English or such strong accents that I can barely tell its English at all. Or better yet, in French. It’s always a head trip when a country announces its points in French when it doesn’t traditionally speak it. Like Albania in 2005, or Turkey in 2002. Fun times.

4) Good Looks: And if worse comes to worst and you can’t find a spokesperson who fulfills any of the above criteria, the very least you can do is give the viewers something pretty to look at. We’ve seen from smoking hot spokespersons over the years that make us all think that everyone from those countries must be as good-looking. And what better way to improve your country’s reputation than being perceived to be full of attractive people? And here are a few of the spokespersons that have fogged up our TV screens in recent years.

Left to Right: Eric Saade (Sweden 2010), Marysya Horobets (Ukraine 2009), Jason Danino-Holt (Israel 2007), Sonia Ferrer (Spain 2006), Aleksandra Rosiak (Poland 2010)

And to round things off, here are some the funniest moments during the voting at Eurovision over the years:

Should Eric Saade put his heart in the air for Sweden once more?

I think Eric should seriously consider entering for Sweden once more as he really can do the business and claim victory. Looking at the televotes, Sweden was only two, two points short of first place. What really set him back was a relatively low jury score. If Eric were to come back with a song more international-sounding and focused more on delivering a better vocal, I am confident he could win.

As much as I love Popular, I’ve always felt that it wasn’t his strongest material. It’s Gonna Rain from his debut album ‘Masquerade’ is probably one of his best recordings ever and should that song have gone to Eurovision, we could ended up with a different result (and winner). Popular was amazing in that it was catchy, superbly produced and complemented by a slick stage performance. What set it back though (and what I suspect resulted in a 9th place with the juries) was the poor lyrics and emphasis on dancing/performing rather than singing.

If we had a package that ticked all of these boxes with Eric at the forefront, Sweden could and would win. Hands down.

What will the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest be like?

Now that we know where the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest will be held, I’m sure it will be exotic, colourful and very glamourous. Azerbaijan has been very keen to host the Eurovision Song Contest since their debut in 2008 and now that they have the chance to do so and thus position themselves as a modern, European country. I’m fully expecting them to top Moscow 2009 and then some.

So, what will it all look like? To give you an idea, here is the artwork that was proposed when Azerbaijan was set to host the Eurovision Dance Contest in 2009.

Like I said, colourful and exotic. Also, it could be something like this:

Eitherway, it looks like Baku 2012 is going to be one heck of a show. Can’t wait!

Aftermath of the Grand Final

So it’s been little over a week since the 56th Eurovision Song Contest drew to a close and it’s taken me that much time to digest the results.

First off, congratulations to Azerbaijan for winning the Contest. Running Scared was indeed one of the best songs in the competition, though I had it pegged as a Top 5 placer rather than the outright winner. My money was on Sweden and I was thrilled beyond belief that, at one point, they were leading the vote. Third place is Sweden’s best result since 1999. Eric Saade, Christer Björkman and Fredrik Kempe must be very pleased. I’m quite surprised at Italy’s second place finish and the dismal showings of France, United Kingdom & Estonia. I’m also happy that Denmark is in the Top 5 for the second year running.

I strongly suspect that for the first time, the professional juries and the televoting public did not agree. I believe Italy won the jury vote and Sweden won the televote with Azerbaijan coming second in both and thus managing to sneak in to take the win with the combined results. It will be interesting to dissect once the EBU release the voting breakdown. That being said, it was one of the closest finishes in a long time and the voting was exciting and tense up until the last few votes. This proves that the new voting system is a success and will be enjoyed with great relish in the years to come.

So it looks like we’ll be heading off to the ‘Paris by the Caspian’, Baku next year for the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. No doubt Azerbaijan is going to put on an amazing show. I’m fully expecting them to top Moscow 2009, such is their enthusiasm. And with 11 countries already having confirmed their participation, Switzerland having announced their selection procedure and rumours that a brand new arena will be built for the contest, it seems like the 2012 season is already underway!

The songs are ready and the stage is set.

It’s finally here. In just little under two hours, the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest will commence. This year is going to be exciting because for the first time in a long time, there is no runaway favorite and as many as 17 countries have been tipped as possible contenders for victory. The voting is sure to be fraught with drama and excitement, and not just because of the new electronic determination of the voting order. Will we see a nail-biting finish like in 2003? I certainly hope so. Which song will Europe be siniging and where will we be heading off to next year? It’s tough to say, but I hope the journey will be as exciting and rewarding as it was to Düsseldorf.

Wherever you are, enjoy the Eurovision Song Contest and may the best song win!

The aftermath of the Second Semi-Final.

So the Second Semi-Final of the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest has concluded. The final ten have been chosen and I’m quite pleased to have correctly predicted 8 of the 10 qualifiers!

Here is the ‘scorecard’ I kept while I was watching the show and as you can see, I had three categories: ‘Definite Qualifiers’ (Those songs I was dead certain would make it), ‘Strong Contenders’ and ‘Perhaps’. Since I had 7 in the ‘Definite Qualifiers’, I underlined the remaining three that I thought would make it through.

Not surprised that Moldova went through, but I’m a bit surprised that Romania and Ukraine did as they were (in my opinion) not very strong songs. I would have much preferred The Netherlands and Bulgaria.

Absolutely chuffed that all 7 of my favourites made it through. I was having heart palpitations by the time of the last envelope. All the while I kept asking ‘Where’s Sweden? Oh PLEASE let this not be another Bergendahl Fiasko‘ and I nearly collapsed with relief when the last envelope was Sweden’s. I imagine Christer Björkman felt much the same way.

In addition, I’m really extra doubly happy for Austria and Slovenia. Those two had the strongest voices in this Semi-Final for sure and with total diva-esque songs (unlike one other).

The press conference is about to start and I just realised that Sweden, having been announced last, will not get to select their draw in the Grand Final as they’ll take the spot that wasn’t chosen by the previous nine. Should be quite exciting. I just hope that they are no where near Russia, United Kingdom or Ireland.

More in-depth analysis and fun stuff to come tomorrow! Watch this space.

The Aftermath of the first Semi-Final.

So, the first Semi-Final has concluded and the smoke and confetti have cleared, leaving behind surprises and scandals galore to ponder. Here are my thoughts:

  • First off, let me say that I’m THRILLED TO BITS over Switzerland and Hungary qualifying. These were two of my top favourites and really deserved to qualify.
  • I’m shocked that Norway didn’t qualify! Haba Haba was one of the best songs in the contest. On the other end, I’m really surprised that Lithuania qualified. Their song C’est Ma Vie was wonderfully performed but I thought it was too old-fashioned. Personally, I loved it as I’m a fan of Broadway numbers and big Disney ballads but didn’t hold out much hope after seeing the same stage entertain Russia. However, every year we have at-least one surprise qualifier and I’m glad that in this case, it was a pleasant surprise. In addition, we’ll get to see the French language represented in the Grand Final! For a while, it was looking like 2011 would see the first contest without any kind of (sung) French.
  • I had a sneaky feeling Iceland’s Coming Home would qualify and I was right, though I never dreamed that they’d qualify over Norway, Turkey and Armenia!
  • Speaking of which: SHOCK OF THE YEAR – Turkey and Armenia didn’t qualify! Granted, their songs just weren’t that great but I figured they’d qualify by default since they’re pretty much untouchable in that regard. In terms of rock songs, Georgia’s was way better than Turkey’s, though both had horrible styling. Armenia was just plain ridiculous.
  • Serbia’s song was waaaaay too cute and definitely deserved to qualify.
  • The best songs of the night were Norway, Russia, Switzerland, Finland, Azerbaijan and Hungary.
  • Surprise performance of the night was Greece as the song actually came together and across as really powerful. The staging and was a bit of a mess though and Serbia’s LED backdrop made me dizzy.
  • Breakout performance was Finland’s Paradise Oskar with Da Da Dam. I’m actually putting this as a serious contender for victory.
  • The hosts of the evening were fab, even if the jokes seemed a bit too rehearsed in the beginning and Stefan Raab didn’t come across as annoying as I thought he would.
  • The overall show was fantastic and the stage seemed HUGE! I got the impression that it was much smaller from the pictures, but gosh, what a stage! BIG thumbs up to NDR for putting on a great show.
  • It also seems that we’ll have a rather exciting Grand Final, as Greece, Russia, France, Italy, Switzerland and the United Kingdom have all been drawn to perform one after the other. Strong yet different songs back to back. Will they dilute each other’s chances for potential victory? Not too thrilled about Georgia closing or Finland opening, but such is the luck of the draw.

Well, that’s it for me. I’m off to bed. I hope you enjoyed the first Semi-Final!

Estonia brings the magic.

I mentioned earlier that I don’t watch the rehearsals in the leadup to the Eurovision Song Contest, but I do like to sneak a peek at some of the photographs of my favourite entries. One of these is Estonia and I have to say, I’m really loving the look of the choreography and staging. It’s very reminiscent of a cool Broadway show, what with the LED backdrop and hand-drawn props.

A special mention to the wardrobe as well, which I think was inspired by Alice In Wonderland and suits the story of the song. All in all, a very polished performance and that should come across well on camera. Musically, Estonia’s entry Rockefeller Street is one of the more contemporary ‘2011-sounding’ offerings this year, taking its cues from Katy Perry and a bit of Lily Allen as well.

Definetly one of the contenders this year and should finish in the Top 10 in the Grand Final.

Image courtesy of

Rehearsals in full swing!

Every Eurovision, I only listen to 12 of the competing songs before the Contest, so on the actual night(s),  I get to hear and see the remaining 30-odd songs for the first time. Additionally, I don’t watch any of the rehearsals. Believe you me, this is extremely difficult to do, but come Semi-final and Grand Final nights, the embargoes suddenly all become worthwhile as everything is fresh, new and interesting.

However, I can’t resist looking at a few pictures and it looks like this year is going to be all kinds of amazing. They say a picture is worth a thousand words but these speak volumes about just what kind of show we can expect. Just look at The Netherlands rehearsing below on that mind-blowing stage:

And how about Finland:

There’s nothing more to be said . It’s going be fantastic people.