The grand final of Eurovision 2012 takes place this evening from 21:00 CET in Baku, Azerbaijan. Over the past week the team at WiwiBloggs.Com have sat through countless rehearsals, grinded at endless parties, and sat poolside snapping shirtless pics of Eurovision stars. Now it’s time to get serious—and bring out some major attitude! As contestants glue on their final sequins and warm up their wind machines ahead of tonight’s show, you can read our country-by-country preview of all the action. Don’t have time? Then consider this our pre-recorded commentary and follow along as the contestants take to the stage in the glitzy Crystal Hall Arena. We also include our overall prediction of where each country will place in the final. This prediction combines rankings issued by the Wiwi Jury (25%), the Eurovision press poll (25%), and the WiwiBloggs.Com fan poll (50%).
You can read our 42 reviews by clicking here, and you can read the lyrics to any song by clicking here. Meows Kitty will be manning our Twitter feed from the press center, while Wiwi, Vebooboo, and Deban watch the show inside the arena. The past few weeks have been absolutely exhilarating. Thank you for all your comments and support—and most of all your attitude!
Love, Team Wiwi
1. United Kingdom: Engelbert Humperdinck with “Love Will Set You Free”
Memorable lyrics: “Though I’ll miss you forever, the hurt will run deep, only love can set you free.”
The opening lines of Engelbert Humperinck’s Eurovision entry seem to describe the singer himself: “So graceful and pure/ A smile bathed in light/ No matter the distance/ A miracle of sight.” I applaud the BBC for looking into the Eurovision vortex—with all its thrusting young women and spilling cleavage—and choosing this 75-year old veteran who brings talent instead of sex appeal. His song carries with it all his life experience: you can feel the pain as he sings about loving someone enough to let them go. The emotion of his voice gives this song a visceral quality. It’s as if he’s looking back over his many years and mourning a relationship of his own. The staging reflects that. Although the camera remains on The Hump throughout, it occasionally pans out to reveal a couple dancing.
Prediction: 11 Wiwi Jury: 8 Press Poll: 23 Wiwi Fan Poll: 10
2. Hungary: Compact Disco with “Sound of Our Hearts”
Memorable lyrics: “This is the sound of our hearts, if you listen, this is a zeal from above and it can say it all.”
Compact Disco, one of Hungary’s biggest bands, brings electronica to Baku. The Eurovision press corps was somewhat startled when this made it through the semi-finals. The band delivers a clean, albeit mediocre performance, that features a lot of squiggly lines on the LED screen. They eventually form a heart and an image of the earth. They really should have thought about all those lactose intolerant viewers out there before exposing us to such cheese! In any event, there’s nothing terribly memorable about the staging or the song. Perhaps use this time to go fetch your earplugs for some of the forthcoming train wrecks.
Prediction: 25 Wiwi Jury: 22 Press Poll: 25 Wiwi Fan Poll: 25
3. Albania: Rona Nisliu with “Suus” (Personal)
Memorable lyrics: “So just let me cry…cry…cry…”
Rona is wearing a wicked witch costume in blue: think Snow White meets Queen Amidala. Her dreadlocks snake around her neck, and wind up glued to her chest. At least this eliminates the need for a necklace. Regardless of whether you can get past her sartorial and stylistic shortcomings, get ready for the best vocals of the night. Rona brings it full force to the Crystall Hall Arena. Fortunately the hall isn’t made solely of glass and crystals: if it were, Rona might shatter the ceiling when she hits her high notes. Rona is one of our personal favourites, and she is a major dark horse for a Top 5 finish. Unfortunately it doesn’t help that she has to sing so early—and following two other slow songs. And by the way: she does not want a chai tea latte. “Chai,” which she shouts about 25 times, means “cry” in Albanian.
On a more somber note, Rona shed tears at the end of her performance during the first semi-final. That’s because earlier this week at least 12 people died in Albania’s worst-ever car accident. Speaking at the first semi-final press conference, she devoted her performance to all of the victims. She’ll be singing from her heart tonight. We have no doubt you’ll feel it.
Prediction: 3 Wiwi Jury: 2 Press Poll: 16 Wiwi Fan Poll: 3
4. Lithuania: Donny Montell with “Love is Blind”
Memorable lyrics: “Love is blind it’s true, nobody is like you.”
A one-handed cartwheel is a pretty original way to signpost the tempo change of a song. But will a cute face and a black blindfold be enough to convince voters to support this 24-year old? This song was definitely written by someone who hit his prime when Donny Montell was still in the womb. But middle-aged voters will love this 90’s style pop. To Donny’s credit, his vocals are on point throughout, and he knows how to move around in the dark like no other. And he also knows how to flirt with cameramen, as illustrated in our recent interview in Amsterdam. If dollar bills wind up on stage, it’s because someone in the audience has just seen strippers: the LED backdrop features dozens of female silhouettes straddling and shaking and doing God knows what else.
Prediction: 23 Wiwi Jury: 21 Press Poll: 22 Wiwi Fan Poll: 17
5. Bosnia: Maya Sar with “Korake ti znam” (I Know Your Steps)
Memorable lyrics: “Will You give me reason to live ‘Cause I’m dying…”
Three words: woman on piano. That’s about all we can say about this bland ballad sung by yet another woman from the Balkans. Remembering Romania’s 2009 entry, we thought that “Balkan girls like to party like nobody.” Apparently Nina Badric missed the memo. Bottom line – what a difference a letter can make. Maya SAR is anything but a STAR.
Prediction: 26 Wiwi Jury: 26 Press Poll: 26 Wiwi Fan Poll: 23
6. Russia: Buranovskiye Babushki with “Party for Everybody”
Memorable lyrics: “We are singing extremely strongly. We are dancing soulful, so soulful!”
Along with San Marino’s ode to cyber sex, this is undoubtedly the most polarising entry of the year. But this act is a bit more tasteful. Rather than donning leather hot pants these six babushki wear traditional peasant wear from their native region of Udmurtia in the Ural Mountains. They first became famous there singing pop songs in the Udmurt language. On stage they bake bread in a faux oven, and sing about the joy of welcoming their children and grandchildren home from afar. These grannies know how to bake their bread, and dance off the carbs too. In typical Russian fashion, a lot of thought has gone into the staging. One of the grannies never really sings but she constantly vogues for the camera. You look into her eyes and you can’t help but want to give her some televotes. We just hope none of them slips and breaks a hip!
This act is one of our sentimental favorites. These women looked into the eyes of their detractors at Russia’s national final and shoved them out of the way with their walking sticks. It’s an act that proves you’re never too old to have fun. (If you want to have even more fun, considering purchasing a Buranovskiye Babushki t-shirt).
Prediction: 13 Wiwi Jury: 14 Press Poll: 13 Wiwi Fan Poll: 13
7. Iceland: Gréta Salóme & Jónsi with (Remember me)
Memorable lyrics: “Those two souls that once were parted, thanks to love.”
The staging in this number is impeccable: sweeping vistas of mountains match the drama of an emotionally-fueled number. Greta gets down on her fiddle: those back-up singers better watch out or they will get an elbow in the face. Best of all, these Icelanders can sing. The song defies the rules of Eurovision Nation by offering something rather bleak and miserable sounding. But speaking at the first semi-final press conference Greta made it clear the song isn’t all misery. “The emotions are not in a way happy,” she said, “but there is hope and there is light in the end.” Sounds like the song’s characters eventually get down on it. That’s something to remember all right…
Prediction: 18 Wiwi Jury: 24 Press Poll: 11 Wiwi Fan Poll: 11
8. Cyprus: Ivi Adamou with “La La Love”
Memorable lyrics: “Feel the energy, taking over me.”
Ivi is the best digitally mastered artist in the competition. This act has spunk and offers the most powerful staging of the competition. Unfortunately you have to sing live to win Eurovision. And that, my friends, is where Ivi falters. She sometimes sounds like a transvestite chain smoker. But if you’re with friends looking to have a fun night, make sure not to take a dump during these three minutes—hold it in! [Wiwi does not approve of this phrase, but was out-voted by his fellow bloggers. O.M.G.]
Prediction: 6 Wiwi Jury: 4 Press Poll: 8 Wiwi Fan Poll: 6
9. France: Anggun with “Echo (You and I)”
Memorable lyrics: “We move on, but what are we running after?”
Crazy people tend to be more interesting—and the same holds true for music. The opening bars of Anggun’s “Echo (You and I)” give off a schizophrenic vibe, moving from R&B to rock to trance to pop all in a matter of seconds. But Anggun finally settles on a mid-tempo dance number with Oriental influences. And we totally approve.
Although its sound is decidedly modern, the song’s message is as old as time: How do we cope with the end of a relationship? The lyrics suggest that the song’s central character is having trouble moving on. “We get lost, we hope/ Somewhere we go astray/But one day beyond this we’ll meet/ In my dreams, in my dreams/ In my heart, in my mind/ I see you and I, I see you and I.” Some may criticize the use of English in the simple chorus. But it mirrors the theme of love echoing through time, and, in this case, through language, too. On avance, mais on court après quoi? Anggun asks, which means something like, “We move on, but what are we running after?” It’s a good question for all of us.
As for the staging, it’s a little too cirque du soleil for our liking. But we’re all about the shirtless back-up dancers.
Prediction: 16 Wiwi Jury: 16 Press Poll: 14 Wiwi Fan Poll: 16
10. Italy: Nina Zilli with “L’amore è femmina” (Out of Love)
Memorable lyrics: “Like a rolling stone you hit me boom, boom, boom.”
When we hear this song our hearts go “boom, boom, boom.” It’s sensual, it’s fun, and unlike many of the frothy pop numbers at Eurovision, it’s seriously raw in content. Gone are generic statements about being in love or missing someone. In place of that come lyrics about doing the nasty. “Love is female/ Unless you please, it will not please/ Clean up the mess you left/ I’m out of love and it’s a fact/ I’m sure you’ll smile/ Ready to go/ You’re an independent grown man after all.” We read that as, “You need to push my buttons if you want me to push yours” and then “Now that you’ve gotten off, please clean up the mess before you go.”
There’s a whiff of Amy Winehouse to Nina Zilli, but it’s unfair to call her derivative. Her voice is powerful—just google “Nina Zilli” and “Sanremo” if you doubt me. And, just like Amy, she makes a powerful visual statement simply by walking into a room. My one concern is the electric pistachio colored headpiece. Does it double up as a shower loofah?
Prediction: 8 Wiwi Jury: 3 Press Poll: 4 Wiwi Fan Poll: 14
11. Estonia: Ott Lepland with “Kuula”
Memorable lyrics: “Listen – my heart has a voice.”
With so many female ballads in this year’s competition, it is nice to see a man give it a go. The vocals here are impeccable, but the song is a real snooze fest. And the fact that it is in Estonian doesn’t help either. We would recommend that you read the song’s lyrics. But to be honest you’d be wasting your time. Give your vote to someone who has a chance of winning.
Prediction: 17 Wiwi Jury: 20 Press Poll: 5 Wiwi Fan Poll: 20
12. Norway: Tooji with “Stay”
Memorable lyrics: “But I know I want you to STAY, nanananana.”
Tooji was gracious enough to teach us his signature dance moves during our recent interview in his hotel room. We were left exhausted, and you’ll see why as he works the stage tonight. He must have strong thighs to endure all that squatting! Tooji, a highly-educated social worker, dumbs down the lyrics for the everyday man and delivers pop to the max. The cameras pan out far too much, and Tooji needs to focus on his vocals a bit more. He’s out of tune way too frequently. Outside of the contest, rumour has it that the city of Baku ran out of make-up after Tooji arrived. Most men wear Dolce & Gabbana or Gap; Tooji wears Maybelline.
Prediction: 15 Wiwi Jury: 7 Press Poll: 21 Wiwi Fan Poll: 15
13. Azerbaijan: Sabina Babayeva with “When the Music Dies”
We need to talk about Sabina. This beauty from Baku has the most amazing eyes I’ve ever seen, and she knows how to work her angles, and her Eurovision couture. Even though Eurovision is supposed to be about the song, I can’t help thinking that her beauty and poise will score her a few more points than this song deserves. Which leads me to my main point: Sabina is amazing, but her song “When the Music Dies” is not. Jazz doesn’t appeal to me, it doesn’t move me, and I just can’t get into it. She interprets the music beautifully—just look at the pain on her face! But I rather hear a good song sung poorly than a bad song sung well. In any event, you can still vote for her in our race to become Eurovision’s Next Top Model.
Prediction: 14 Wiwi Jury: 19 Press Poll: 3 Wiwi Fan Poll: 18
14. Romania: Mandinga with “Zaleilah”
Memorable lyrics: “When you love you say, everyday, everybody.”
Cuban-Romanian funk band Mandinga treats us to white-suited, moon-walking instrumentalists and a sassy diva in orange. Elena’s vocals were on-point during dress rehearsals, but she faltered majorly in the first semi-final when her ear piece stopped working. Nonetheless, Romania is a perennial powerhouse, and we expect this one to land in the Top 10. The LED backdrop and lighting couldn’t be delivered more flawlessly. We heart all the hearts.
The opening bars bring a smile to our faces, fulfilling Eurovision’s mission to be Europe’s Joy Factory. If you read the English translation of the lyrics, you’ll quickly realize that the upbeat rhythm and enthralling sounds of “Zaleilah” match the song’s storyline. It’s about a woman deeply in love with her “chocolate boy.” We don’t know if this refers to someone who is merely sweet, or to someone who is of African descent. But it doesn’t matter because “you touching me and kissing me makes me want to dance/ I’m so happy, I can shout out loud.” The English-language chorus is slightly mangled, but the intended meaning comes through. “When you love you say, everyday, everybody” should be read as “when you’re in love, say it everyday and tell everybody.” How can you criticize a message like that?
Prediction: 2 Wiwi Jury: 10 Press Poll: 6 Wiwi Fan Poll: 2
15. Denmark: Soluna Samay with “Should’ve Known Better”
Memorable lyrics: “Should’ve known better, now I miss you, like Sahara misses rain”
Soluna means “sun-moon” in Spanish, which probably gives you a clue that Soluna’s parents were utter hippies. As she told us in an interview back in January, they used to drive her around Europe in a caravan and would stop in cities to perform on the streets and collect money in a hat. Interesting background, boring song. This act doesn’t really ever go anywhere in our opinion, but apparently there’s a lot of hype about it. For the love of God, please get rid of that sailor cap and red / gold armour & tassle-covered top. Michael Jackson died a while ago. And take away your bass player’s crack vile: all her quivering and shaking is seriously distracting!
Prediction: 20 Wiwi Jury: 12 Press Poll: 24 Wiwi Fan Poll: 22
16. Greece: Eleftheria Eleftheriou with “Aphrodisiac”
Memorable lyrics: “You make me dance, dance like a maniac.”
Eleftheria certainly doesn’t skimp on the sex factor in her number “Aphrodisiac.” Her hunky backup dancer literally grabs Eleftheria’s ass within the first 30 seconds of the song. Eleftheria has perfected the hair sway – she pulls that move about 10 times during the performance, but apparently it works on straight men, so good for her. We applaud her for researching and discovering that clams are aphrodisiacs. Never known for their subtlety, the Greeks have put a massive clam on Eleftheria’s LED background. If you’re voting on the basis of vocals, this isn’t the song for you. But if you vote on entertainment value—and women who match their iridescent panties to their iridescent dress—then Greece is your girl.
Prediction: 7 Wiwi Jury: 11 Press Poll: 10 Wiwi Fan Poll: 5
17. Sweden: Loreen with “Euphoria”
Memorable lyrics: “We’re going u-u-u-u-u-u-up”
If Eurovision can be compared to sex, then Loreen’s “Euphoria” is definitely this year’s orgasm. The foreplay begins the moment the synthesized boooooomkicks off the song, and the pleasure builds as Loreen asks if “this night can last forever more.” We seriously want it to if she’s singing. By the time she belts out “euphoria” for the first time, the audience can be heard freaking out—a sure sign they want to make musical love to this stunning singer of Moroccon-Berber descent.
The staging proves that less is more—a lesson most Eurovision acts have trouble understanding. Simple dance moves reflect the purity of the song’s message: that love takes us to a higher place. And Loreen’s occasional writhing—cue jokes about straight jackets—conveys a sense of madness that can accompany that journey. When the snow falls we see a passing of seasons: time has moved on, and the love Loreen shares with her back-up dancer remains strong. Unfortunately during Friday’s Jury Final, Loreen actually swallowed snow and could be heard coughing it up during the bridge of the song. Watch that disaster here.
Sweden’s producers—no doubt the best in the world—have created a pop music masterpiece. Whether this can really live up to the hype and finish first is a big question, though. It will appeal to dance-music lovers out there, but does it really have mass appeal?
Prediction: 1 Wiwi Jury: 1 Press Poll: 2 Wiwi Fan Poll: 1
18. Turkey: Can Bonomo with “Love Me Back”
Memorable lyrics: “Hop on to my ship baby I’ll make you fly.”
Turkey didn’t make it through to the final last year, and this year Can has come back for revenge. The Vin Diesel look-a-like delivers an ethnically-flavoured performance that will make western Europeans remember their summer holidays. And no, those aren’t bats dancing in the background. They are actually Turkish men who use gray and white blankets rather effectively to create pirate ships on stage. Be prepared for a crazy applause in the arena. Azerbaijan and Turkey are close sisters.
Prediction: 10 Wiwi Jury: 23 Press Poll: 7 Wiwi Fan Poll: 7
19. Spain: Pastora Soler with “Quédate conmigo” (Stay with me)
Memorable lyrics: “Stay with me, stay with me, if you are not here the sun will not come out.”
Pastora Soler must have worked as a construction worker in an earlier life, because she sure knows how to build drama! She asks us to stay with her, and you better believe that we would given her vocals. As of Friday at 7pm Baku time, she was winning the press poll conducted inside the Eurovision press center in Baku. And she knocked it out of the park on Friday during the Jury Final. We also love that she bares a passing resemblance to Princess Beatrice.
Prediction: 5 Wiwi Jury: 13 Press Poll: 1 Wiwi Fan Poll: 9
20. Germany: Roman Lob with “Standing Still”
Memorable lyrics: “I’m standing still as you’re walking out.”
With his pitch perfect vocals and that adorably vulnerable face, Roman sets a melancholy mood in the opening bars. His relationship is over and, as his girlfriend walks out the door, he debates whether he should wrap his arms around her in a last ditch effort to make it work. But as he croons in the chorus, “I’m just standing still.” At this point it’s unclear if he’s frozen out of shock, or if he just doesn’t want anything else to do with her. He clears it up in the next section when he realizes that the pain of a breakup is worth it when the relationship isn’t meant to be. “What I thought would be the end/ Is just the feeling that you freed me/ Girl this ain’t giving up/ It’s knowing where to stop/ Knowing every thing is over.” The song’s most important semantic shift takes place at 1:47 when the chorus switches from “but I’m standing still” to “’cause I’m standing still.” But suggests confusion. Because suggests volition. He has the power to act, but chooses not to. For a heart-broken young man keen to start the next chapter in his life, “Standing Still” is actually moving forward.
As for the staging, Angela Merkel obviously had her hands all over this one. This act has no fire, no glitter and no sequins. Will Europe respond to something so pared down during a time of austerity? Perhaps. Does it turn us on? Not really.
Prediction: 12 Wiwi Jury: 9 Press Poll: 12 Wiwi Fan Poll: 12
21. Malta: Kurt Calleja with “This is the Night”
Memorable lyrics: “I will be the star, let me in your heart.”
You can’t judge a book by its cover, and you certainly can’t judge a song by its name. Kurt sings about this being his night, but we sadly think he is delusional. Having a DJ on stage didn’t work for Croatia’s Daria Kinzer, and it doesn’t really work here either. But we have to say that Kurt’s vocals and staging have both improved overall. They’ve added some fantastic footwork since the Maltese national final, and Kurt does a great job working the entire stage. But please change that t-shirt…your fat rolls are showing!
Prediction: 24 Wiwi Jury: 25 Press Poll: 18 Wiwi Fan Poll: 21
22. FYR Macedonia: Kaliopi with “Crno i belo”
Memorable lyrics: “I’m naked, wild and free, now it’s time, step into me.”
Kaliopi certainly brings it with this moving power ballad. She may come off as stern in this song about fighting for love, but she’s actually hilarious and lighthearted in real life. We love the staging. It starts out focused on Kaliopi’s face. Then back-up instrumentalists pop out of nowhere. Clearly Kalliopi and Pastora Soler are in cahoots and worked together in the construction industry. Both girls know how to build drama. And while jury member Meows Kitty has compared Kaliopi’s voice to a chain smoker, it works. Kaliopi’s dark, mysterious tone reflects the depth of her song.
Interesting side note: her ex-husband wrote this song for her. During the second semi-final press conference, Kaliopi called for him from the podium and said thank you, adding that it’s always a good idea to maintain relations with your ex.
Prediction: 19 Wiwi Jury: 15 Press Poll: 17 Wiwi Fan Poll: 19
23. Ireland: Jedward with “Waterline”
Memorable lyrics: “I know this is bound to go down as the big one.”
“Waterline” demonstrates a real maturation in their sound. The song doesn’t rely on the digitized antics of “Lipstick,” and it forces the boys to grapple with their own voices, which have definitely moved in the right direction since last year. The lyrics tell a story—essentially that love is overwhelming—and the overall package smacks of Blink 182. And while “Waterline” may lack the shock value of “Lipstick,” it does get stuck in your head—which is crucial when you have just three minutes to court televoters. This song makes us happy.
Despite that, second time is not always a charm. Their stage show seems somewhat derived from their performance from last year. The dance sequence still consists primarily of hyperactive jumping and robot arms. The only thing that goes down “as a big one” is the song ending with the twins getting soaked from head to toe by a water fountain that screams “discount garden accessory.”
But it doesn’t matter. Europe, and Team Wiwi, love these guys. We’re hopeful they’ll land in the Top 10 for a second year running.
Prediction: 9 Wiwi Jury: 6 Press Poll: 19 Wiwi Fan Poll: 8
24. Serbia: Zeljko Joksimovic with “Nije ljubav stvar” (Love Is Not a Thing)
Memorable lyrics: “I wish you just the best. This love is my sinking ship.”
Zeljko is no stranger to Eurovision: he finished second the last time around. He delivers a dramatic performance with simple but effective staging. We particularly love the sequence where two violinists stand opposite each other and seem to duel with their strings. The Eastern European folk crowd will love this one. Think Dino Merlin’s “Love in Rewind” from last year, but with less jumping around and a much more solemn tone.
Prediction: 4 Wiwi Jury: 5 Press Poll: 9 Wiwi Fan Poll: 4
25. Ukraine: Gaitana with “Be My Guest”
Memorable lyrics: “Welcome, people, be my guest.”
Gaitana pumps up the volume like no other in “Be My Guest.” The Congolese-Ukrainian diva has had to endure quite a bit of drama because of her ethnic background: a right-wing politician in the Ukraine actually suggested that she shouldn’t be allowed to compete because she is not an “organic representative” of the nation. At one point in the song she literally gets down on her knees to beg for your support. We love the crazy back-up dancers wearing Cossack tie-dye. We love the virtual dancers on her LED screens. We love the way she marches onto the stage in the opening bars and presents herself as if she were a flight attendant performing a safety demonstration. If this upbeat song with impeccable LED staging and major attitude doesn’t do well tonight, we will be seriously upset. If you watch Deban’s interview with her at Eurovision, you’ll see why. She is so sweet!
Prediction: 21 Wiwi Jury: 18 Press Poll: 15 Wiwi Fan Poll: 24
26. Moldova: Pasha Parfeny with “Lautar”
Memorable lyrics: “This trumpet makes you my girl.”
Not even Roma-haters could hate this Roma song. The staging is impeccable, and what a way to end the night. We love the cute little dance moves that involve rapid karate chops and wobbly legs. Pasha’s voice is divine, and he is sexy in an oddly unsexy way. Part of Eurovision’s mission is to help us see all the cultures across this amazing continent. This song accomplishes just that in a fun and vote-appealing way. It’s kind of hot to think about him wearing a woman out. We’re not being nasty. At one point his female back-up dancers turn into canoes which he pretends to paddle. He can ride us like a canoe any day! (In fact, he did in this video interview from Eurovision in Concert).
Prediction: 22 Wiwi Jury: 17 Press Poll: 20 Wiwi Fan Poll: 26