Sometimes the most memorable (and forgettable) Eurovision acts aren’t the ones competing. Alexander Green, our Bulgaria correspondent, remembers the good, the bad, and the ugly from this year’s intervals.
In the months leading up to Eurovision 2012, the Wiwi Jury reviewed all 42 contestants. We praised Switzerland’s Sinplus, rolled our eyes at Georgia’s Anri Jokhadze, and came to blows with one another over Romania’s Mandinga. But they weren’t the only performances we feasted our eyes on during the Eurovision semis and grand final. Remember those 8-minute long interval acts you had to sit through while anxiously awaiting the results? They give us another chance to sharpen our claws….meow!
Semi-Final One: Natig Rhythm Group
The Azeri government took promoting their country through Eurovision very seriously, so it made sense for the first interval act to feature traditional Azeri instruments, costumes, and dancing. It was an enjoyable show, especially because of the rhythm of the drums. But it dragged on a bit, and didn’t really go anywhere (much like Belgium’s entry from Iris). I know the purpose of the intervals is to fill time while the results are being tallied, but they could have filled it with a bit of variety. It’s not like they were struggling with money or anything.
Also, it was pretty obvious that the music was playback, and not being performed live, which made it less impressive to me. The Natig Rhythm Group was a nice act, but nothing spectacular.
Semi-Final Two: Medley from the previous five Eurovision winners
Having the winners of the previous five years sing a medley of their winning entries and the classic “Waterloo” alongside traditional Azeri musicians sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it? But there was one big problem: The execution and performance was embarrassingly bad. Everybody’s singing sounded off and inconsistent. Marija Serifovic sounded like she was trying too hard to sing “Molitva.” Did she have laryngitis? If Lena had worn what she wore here back in 2010, she would’ve had a higher chance of winning a Barbara Dex Award than the Eurovision trophy. (Also, she needs to eat something). Alexander Rybak’s violin playing was way better than his singing, probably because only his singing was live. And Dima Bilan looked like he accepted one too many drinks before coming on the stage.
The producers saved the biggest train wreck for last. Ell and Nikki joined in to give a rendition of “Waterloo” that screamed high school talent show. ABBA was probably face-palming throughout the whole thing. Seriously, what happened? All of the “stars” from the recent Eurovision editions sounded weak. In fact, when my family was watching the performance live, one of my family members said, “If non-Europeans watched this, they would think these singers were a bunch of amateurs off the street!” Another joked, “They should all have their titles revoked for butchering ‘Waterloo’ so terribly.” Ouch!
It’s a shame, as this was the interval act that I was most looking forward to. Unfortunately, the performance ended up being the weakest and most disappointing of the three acts.
Grand Final: Emin Agalarov singing “Never Enough”
The “Grand” Final definitely had the “grandest” interval act. It was by far the best of the three. The first half was reminiscent of what we saw in the first semi-final, with traditional Azeri music driving much of the action. This time, however, the performance was far more captivating and “mystical”, like something you would see in Las Vegas. A great deal of that had to do with the dynamic camera angles. I also enjoyed how they portrayed the “Light your Fire!” slogan with torches.
In the second half, we met pop star Emin Agalarov, who just happens to be the President’s son-in-law. He descended from the rafters suspended by wires. At least his coat didn’t get tangled in them! Emin went on to perform “Never Enough”, which is a pop song with dark elements (similar to Russia’s 2006 entry “Never Let You Go” or Belarus’s 2007 entry “Work Your Magic”). While watching the Final, I thought to myself “Meh, this isn’t that great…typical mainstream generic crap that you would hear on the radio.” However, when I listened to it again a few weeks later, I actually enjoyed it. It was also well performed, and I’m fairly certain he sang live as the studio version sounds different and there were backing singers.
Overall, this was my favorite of the three interval acts, as it kept me entertained the whole way through. Azerbaijan really put on a spectacular show with Emin, and did a decent job making the country look fancy and sophisticated. Unfortunately, what was going on outside the venue paints a very different picture…
So, what did you think of the three interval acts? We would love to hear your thoughts, so please post a comment below!