Hot on the heels of Armenia, Georgia arrived at Eurovision in 2007, sending us all scrambling for the atlas to find out where it actually is (extreme Eastern Europe, at the gateway to Asia, in case you were still wondering). Thankfully, through Eurovision, they’ve asserted their rightful claim to be part of Europe, delivering entertaining entries, though somehow lacking the early gloss of Armenia and the ongoing triumphant run of Baku at the Contest. Shirking Azerbaijan’s preference for professional, polished entries and Armenia’s noted reverence for their ethnic heritage, Georgian entries have carved out a distinctive, if divisive identity at Eurovision. In 2009 they took the toxic ex-Soviet voting decision of trying and failing to take on Russia with a protest song (whine all you like Tbilisi, we all know the song was about Putin) and then in 2012 sent…well…Anri Jokhadze. A year on I’m still not quite sure how to describe him. They’ve qualified for four out of the six past contests, but only averaged 0.8 Sets of 12 Points. Not exactly rolling in the big scores then, moving swiftly on…
2013: Nodi & Sophie with ‘Waterfall’, 15th Place with 50 Points
2012: Anri Jokhadze with ‘I’m A Joker,’ 14th with 36 Points in the SF
2011: Eldrine with ‘One More Day’, 9th Place with 110 Points
2010: Sopho Nizharadze with ‘Shine’, 9th Place with 136 Points
2009: Stefane & 3G with ‘We Don’t Wanna Put In’, Withdrawn
2008: Diana Gurtskaya with ‘Peace Will Come’, 11th with 83 Points
Finals Qualified For Since 2008: 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013.
Georgia By Numbers:
Number of Georgian Girls That Wanna Party Like Nobody? 4, Sophie did not look like a party girl in Malmö, perhaps something to do with the frumpy dress.
Number of people won over by Sopho Nizharadze’s ‘Shine’? Substantially more than were won over by Natalia Kelly.
Number of points won from neighbours Azerbaijan and Armenia? 67 across the finals since 2007.
Best Scoring Entry:
Sopho Nizharadze with ‘Shine’, 9th Place with 136 Points
Twinkly piano keys, dramatic stage-song style delivery and clear enunciation are the major points in favour of Sopho’s sweet song from 2010. It lacked the heavyweight punch to threaten for the Top 5 in 2010, and is perhaps just a little bit too much actually. The quasi-choral backing vocal and over-wrought delivery, while endearing and emotional, is all a bit Broadway, but not in a slightly hammy-way. She’s taking it seriously, but the message doesn’t pay off as much as it did with say Zlata Ognevich or Jade Ewen. The production bounces along, and the introduction of the guitars at the bridge gives it the lift that catapulted it into the Top 10, but ‘Shine’ just sadly isn’t all that remarkable, probably because it delivers among the most ubiquitous of messages we hear at Eurovision year in, year out. Promising stuff though.
Most Memorable Lyric: Don’t be afraid it will end,?only fear that it never began. Summing up the mixed feelings we all have when watch the Grand Final each year.
Worst Scoring Entry:
Stefane & 3G with ‘We Don’t Wanna Put In’, Withdrew After Allegations Of Political Message
I was debating whether this counted as a scoring-entry since it didn’t qualify, and technically it doesn’t, but since I feel it’s the poorest of the Georgian efforts since they started in the Contest, I’m going to focus upon it. Admirable as the intention was of protesting Russia’s illegal and immoral behaviour towards Georgia, I can’t help but feel there would have been less obvious ways of doing this. The Greeks might have proclaimed ‘Alcohol Is Free’ in 2013, but they didn’t enter a song that said ‘Angela Merkel’s Been A Complete Cow To Our Country and We’re Going To Use A Camp Singing Show to Demonstrate Our Outrage’. The song’s also terrible. It’s an awful premonition of the terror that Stella Mwangi would unleash in Dusseldorf two years later.
Most Memorable Lyric: So many people are whining, they’re freakin’ all day long, their bitchin’ will last forever, and ever, and ever…Yeah Western Europe, quit your whining about never winning anymore.
And here’s what Team Wiwi have to say:
James Puchowski: If I am going to be commenting on the recent entries, I will be harsh and say the standard is getting worse and more formulaic. After the 2011 qualification, the people at GPB just wanted to send radio friendly entries. They learned this after the awful ‘I’m A Joker’ slumped. ‘Waterfall’ was frankly cheesy and vomit inducing. The only recent performance I can’t laud is ‘Shine’. At least it could be regarded as a piece of art as opposed to a bad mix of rap and scream-rock the year after. Georgia has such a unique culture, which deserves so much more. I fear that they will just send more cookie cutter Swedo-pop in the years to come. Perhaps they will sing in their very unusual and linguistically interesting language, I’m not convinced though.
Zach Thomas: Georgia has been a mother forgettable country in my view, I remember two of their songs in full and the rest were DULL. For this one I’m going to overstep my time boundary, because visionary ‘Dream’ was their best song by far. It was modern, it was ethnic, Sopho was amazing and it’s their only song I really enjoyed. Nodi and Sophie are the worst for me. ‘Waterfall’ is a cheaper Quedaté Conmigo, with nowhere near the same vocal punch. Live performance was off key and I constantly forgot about it, because it was DULL.
Katie Wilson: I know for sure that I didn’t like this year’s entry. It was boring, the lyrics didn’t make sense, the live vocals were terrible and it was basically a cheap version of “Running Scared”, and “Running Scared” is terrible. It certainly didn’t deserve a place in the final, and 2012’s entry was definitely better even though it didn’t make the final. I wouldn’t call it an injustice that “I’m a Joker” didn’t qualify, but it is certainly one of the catchiest, better Georgian entries. I don’t think Georgia has ever been that brilliant, but it’s quite nice to have them there as a little time filler in the final, so I would have quite liked it if Anri had qualified.
Wiwi: My favorite Georgian act ever is Mariam Kakhelishvili. Otherwise known as “Baby Gaga” she rocked my world at Junior Eurovision 2010! But, assuming we have to limit our answers to the adult contest, I’m going to name Diana Gurtskaya as my favourite. Her song “Peace Will Come” had an anthemic quality. The fact that she is blind added another level of meaning and gave me the chills. I also love the costume change around 2:20 where everything goes from black to white. Did you notice that Anri Jokhadze is one of her back-up singers? Strange to see him doing something serious.
Strongest vocals have to go to Sofia Nizharadze from 2010. Sadly, I hated the song. It was boring. And the staging seemed to come out of left field. Besides channeling WTF, it resembled the morning after an alcohol and drug-fueled New Year’s Eve. Not appropriate!