Friday, May 18, 2012

Poll : What are your favourite songs of Eurovision 2012?

The last time I ran a poll like this was way back when Scot Goes Pop was more or less an out-and-out Eurovision blog. I fully appreciate that 95% of regular readers probably won't have an opinion at all, so if the poll attracts only three votes you can safely assume that not much search engine traffic has been generated by this post! The voting form can be found at the top of the sidebar, and the poll will close on Monday - the day before the first semi-final. Multi-voting is enabled, so you can vote for as many songs an you like, but not for the same song twice!

In no particular order, here is my own selection of favourites -

CROATIA (Nebo by Nina Badrić)

This was the first song I really fell in love with during this year's national final season, and the new arrangement is even better. It's not going to win, but in line with my personal rule of only voting for songs exclusively sung in a language other than English, I may well vote for it in the second semi-final.

ICELAND (Never Forget by Gréta Salóme & Jónsi)

Jónsi deserved a much higher placing in his first appearance in the contest a few years back, and he has an excellent chance of making up for it this time round. I was a bit worried that the song might lose some of its drama after being switched from Icelandic to English (that problem has occurred many times before), but in fact it sounds just as good.

IRELAND (Waterline by Jedward)

I know I made a snide remark about Jedward in my last post about the contest, but in truth I've always rated their chances. Lipstick was a bit of an acquired taste last year, but Waterline has a much more instant hook. The million dollar question is whether the live performance will be up to scratch - miracles were achieved twelve months ago, but reports from the rehearsals so far are mixed.

A scary thought - would an Irish win guarantee a third Jedward entry to the contest next year?

SERBIA (Nije Ljubav Stvar by Željko Joksimović)

Željko Joksimović has been the contest's 'magician' in recent years. He finished second as the representative of Serbia and Montenegro in 2004, but could easily have won - he was later revealed to have beaten the eventual winner in the semi-final. A year later, he penned the gorgeous song Jutro for Jelena Tomašević, which almost certainly would have won the country's national selection had political voting not got in the way (although someone of my political persuasions can hardly blame the Montenegrins for seizing the opportunity to make a point!). He returned to the contest in 2006 as the writer of the Bosnia and Herzegovina entry - another cracker, which finished third. He sat out 2007, which ironically was the year that Serbia finally won. But that turn of fate enabled him to achieve a unique first in 2008 - he was the contest's co-host in Belgrade, and he also wrote the Serbian entry (Oro performed by Jelena Tomašević), which finished sixth.

This year he returns as both songwriter and performer, and a lot of people seem to be assuming that he'll be the bridemaid and not the bride once again. I'm not so sure - the song matches his usual high standards, is probably more accessible than Oro, and in any case he's guaranteed to have both Russia and the Balkan bloc vote right behind him.

(In researching this post, I consulted Željko Joksimović's biography on Wikipedia, and realised to my amusement that I had written some of it and forgotten all about it!)

DENMARK (Should've Known Better by Soluna Samay)

A lovely, gentle, bitter-sweet and extremely catchy song, which I couldn't get out of my head for several days in February. However, it's not desperately original, and with it being so low-key I think it may struggle to grab people on a first listen.

UNITED KINGDOM (Love Will Set You Free by Engelbert Humperdinck)

I was fully expecting to be underwhelmed by this song, but in fact the first thought that went through my head when I heard it was "Olsen Brothers". That's not to say I expect it to win (after all, even the Olsens came a cropper in 2005), but I wouldn't be surprised to see it in the top five.

HUNGARY (Sound of Our Hearts by Compact Disco)

This was an early fan favourite, but seems to have fallen off everyone's radar. It's still as catchy as it ever was, and it's another one that I struggled to get out of my head after I first heard it.

SPAIN (Quédate Conmigo by Pastora Soler)

This is the second year in a row that I'll be cheering on Spain, albeit the song could hardly be more different from Que Me Quiten Lo Bailao. Undoubtedly the best ballad of the field, and if this doesn't get the result it deserves I'll begin to wonder if the televoters of Europe have got something against Spain or the Spanish language.

SWEDEN (Euphoria by Loreen)

Although I think Sweden's chances of winning are being vastly overestimated, that's not to say I don't rate the song itself. In many ways it would be a fantastic breakthrough for the contest if a dance track of this quality could win, but I don't think it's going to happen.

FRANCE (Echo by Anggun)

Normally when I say "France have got a great song, but haven't got a hope of winning", it means they've entered a powerful ballad. But this year they've excelled themselves with a very worthy entry that breaks the traditional mould.

SLOVENIA (Verjamem by Eva Boto)

Will probably be overshadowed by the country's Balkan neighbours, but is beautifully sung, and boasted one of the most eye-catching stagings in the national final season. I'll be gutted if they dispense with the head-dress.

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UPDATE : The poll is now closed - you can find the results HERE.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Is it every Scot's patriotic duty to show an interest in an Under-23 match between Egypt and Belarus?

Intriguing news that UEFA have encouraged Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland to ponder the possibility of a joint bid for Euro 2020. As exciting as it will be to see the Commonwealth Games return to this country in two years' time, I think most people would agree that the European Championships are an even bigger event, and in any case would break completely new ground for Scotland in a way that hosting the Commonwealth Games again will not.

From what I vaguely recall of the reasons that the Scottish/Irish bid for Euro 2008 failed, though, there seemed to be an (inexplicable) perception at UEFA that supporters in this part of the world are too parochial to turn out for matches in which their own national team isn't involved. That puts an intriguing twist on the lack of interest that has been generated in the Olympic matches that will be played at Hampden this summer - three preliminary-stage matches in the men's competition, four preliminary-stage matches in the women's competition, and one women's quarter-final.

Of course the underwhelming response to date is entirely the fault of the English FA and the BOA, who through their cynical actions have somehow managed to engineer a situation in which it seems deeply unpatriotic for any Scottish football supporter to embrace any aspect of the Olympic football tournament, even where the Greater England team is not directly involved. But if we now know that UEFA's eyes are on us with a view to 2020, perhaps we should consider the bigger picture and realise just what a thrilling prospect that Under-23 showdown between Egypt and Belarus will be.