It's already been 111 hours since the Eurovision final (I kid you not, there's a clock on the official website that counts down as well as up), so here is my long-awaited summary.
Overall impression: Good fun, good songs, likable presenters. I've been fond of Željko Joksimović ever since he sang Lane Moje for Serbia & Montenegro back in 2004, so it was nice to see more of him.
The new logo's ace, and the country postcard idea was good, but I found some of the spots that introduced each country a bit bizarre. I guess doing 43 different short films isn't an easy task, but hey, why not just show us snippets of Serbia or something? Anyway, I could live with the postcards, but the one thing I *really* hated were the long camera shots, as it was too easy to lose the singers in the middle of the oddly-shaped, multi-coloured stage. Bring back the zoom lens, that's that I say.
Now on to the performances, a few words about each country.
Romania: I liked the song, it was well performed, but on the day it didn't stand out. The singers did well, but this year just wasn't a good year for old-fashioned ballads. One more thing: jeans with smart jackets are soooo passé.
UK: A funky song that would have done better if it hadn't appeared in the dreaded second place, if it looked more energetic on stage (a dance song with no dancers - what were they thinking?!) and if the UK had a few more neighbours who were prepared to vote for us. As it is, even Ireland didn't give it 12 points, so can we really expect anyone else to?
BTW we love San Marino :-)
Albania: Nice song, performed well by a charming young lady with a good voice, but again, a ballad. Nothing too memorable about it.
Germany: This one was way too memorable for the wrong reasons. The song sounded OK on the CD, but the performance on the day was atrocious. If one song truly deserved nul points, this was it.
Armenia: Qele, qele! Nice beat with eastern influences and a catchy refrain. I wasn't surprised it made the Top 10.
Bosnia & Herzegovina: Sounded fantastic with eyes closed, but the presentation was a bit in-your-face. Still, it was pretty entertaining and as jokey entries go, much better than Estonia or Ireland, both of which bombed out of the semis.
Israel: I liked it, it was one of the better ballads (the other one being Serbia's). Not good enough to win, but a very presentable entry, memorable and without gimmicks (although you could hardly fail to notice the singer's well formed biceps - ahem).
Finland: Not a bad performance, but hard rock really isn't Eurovision. Just because Lordi won once, that's no excuse to put shirtless men with long hair on stage.
Croatia: A rather old-fashioned song which hadn't particularly impressed me in the semis, but I warmed to it in the end. Not enough to vote for it, mind.
Poland: This may have been a great song and a beautiful performance, however the only thing that caught my attention was the singer's orange tan and the contrast with the turquoise dress. I was mesmerised by it, and not in a good way either. I guess others must have thought the same, as Poland finished last despite having lots of neighbours.
Iceland: That was fun to watch. It was never going to make the Top 10, even with heaps of help from the Scandinavian bloc, but it was lively, energetic and pleasant to the ear. High feel-good factor.
Turkey: I didn't like it. Two things I found irritating: the Turkish lyrics and the singer's perfectly shaped eyebrows. Sorry, it just was too much for me.
Portugal: Great song, way too much eye liner. Not one of my favourites.
Latvia: I liked this one. The song was pretty crap if truth be told, but it was performed with brio and was easy to sing along to. Lots of energy on stage and I *am* partial to pirates, but even I can see that it probably did better than it deserved.
Sweden: Loved the song although in the end it didn't stand out and was saved from last place by Sweden's neighbours and ...Malta, who must have bizarre musical tastes (didn't they give 12 points to Scooch last year?)
Denmark: Another feel-good song from the Scandinavians, performed well but not brilliant enough to make the Top 10.
Georgia: This was quirky and I liked it. I actually thought it might make the Top 5, but in the end narrowly missed the Top 10. I guess the weird dance routines didn't help. Or perhaps political angst doesn't sell.
Ukraine: I loved this one, although really it was a bit too slutty for my taste. The tipping back of the head was a nice touch. Great staging.
France: I thought this would be awful, but in the end I found it hilarious. Not sure this was the intention of the songwriter, but still.
Azerbaijan: I thought this would be awful too, and it was. No matter how many times I've listened to it, I can't make myself like it. Seeing it on stage didn't help. Angels with shrieking voices and devils with red eyes? Not my cuppa, thanks.
Greece: OK, so I *am* biased, but I thought it was a fab performance by Kalomira. The song was very Eurovision - nice beat, lots of energetic dancing with an ethnic twist, and a long haired female singer with sparky eyes and a decent voice. OK, so we've seen it all before with Helena Paparizou, but hey, this isn't an eccentricity contest and if you have the winning formula... why look elsewhere?
Spain: Maybe it was funny if you could understand the lyrics. I couldn't.
Serbia: Wow! These guys sure can do ballads. Very impressive. Not at all surprised to find it was composed by Joksimović. The guy is a genious.
Russia: Dima Bilan should have won two years ago in Athens, when he had a much better song (he finished second to Finland's Lordi). Still, this year's song wasn't bad, and Bilan is a good performer and easy on the eye. Bringing Plushenko with him on stage certainly added to the "wow" factor - and I bet it got him a few extra votes. This was the first Eurovision win for Russia, and for me at least it's thumbs up, even though I didn't vote for them.
Norway: Yet another feel-good song from Scandinavia, this one was greatly helped by the four leggy blondes in matching blue outfits, and most importantly by competing last on the night. I dare say, if it had competed second it wouldn't have done anywhere near as well, but as it was, it came 5th. Not a bad result for Norway, which has finished last no less than 10 times so far and was the first country ever to get the dreaded nul points.
Interval act: I expected to see Goran Bregovic and the Serbians didn't disappoint me. It wasn't Ederlezi but still.
Voting: Fairly predictable in the sense that neighbours supported neighbours, Malta voted all over the place, and ultimately the best songs did well in the final line up. It's always entertaining to try and guess where each country's coveted 12 points will go, and although I was very disappointed with Andy's 14 point total, I was really pleased with Kalomira's massive 218 :-D
The end result looked like this:
3. Greece (yey!!!)
10. Bosnia & Herzegovina
25. United Kingdom (sniff)
Dima Bilan is currently in Oslo, Norway on his Eurovision Winner's Tour. He will arrive in London on Saturday 31 May and will perform at trendy night club Scala, 275-277 Pentoville Road, N1 alongside Bucks Fizz, the UK winners from 1981. DJ Dave Simmons will mix songs from other Eurovision entrants.
Andy Abraham's new CD, titled Even If, will be released on Monday 2 June.
Roll on 2009, Moscow here we come!