So another national final season draws to a close and the best part of Eurovision 2014 is over. I’m going to have to find something to do on my Saturdays other than tweeting about Estonian claymation pig spanking and booking a holiday through ROCS travel. Too ease the transition, I’ve been reminiscing on the highlights of the last three months and asking which is better? So here are the inaugural Thank You Europe National Finals Awards. Through a combination of an expert panel (me) and the occasional poll, I’m selecting the cream of the national final crop. I’m not interested in best song or best vocalist or stuff like that, though. These awards are for the stuff we really care about.
Traditionally a strong category for Malta, this one. ROCS Travel vs Mediterranean Bank is the Real-Barcelona of the Eurovision advert world. However, this is perhaps more through repetition than actual advert quality. In my opinion, Mediterranean Bank’s smug “20 year-old me” ad is comprehensively outclassed by the sheep bankers in Moldova. Meanwhile, Albania has a furniture retailer who hasn’t noticed the shape you make when you combine the maps of Albania, Kosovo and FYR Macedonia. Belarus has a parrot in a fridge. I don’t know why; it just does. Malta has some competition. I’m not going to pick the winner in this one. Democracy can decide.
There have been a fair few dudes that look like ladies in this national final season. Obviously, there’s Conchita for starters. I’ve never been a fan of her myself. She’s like a Kenny Everett comedy character, but not played for laughs. Anyway, androgyny is more about subtlety. If you wear a dress you’ve gone beyond androgynous. Yohio put in a solid effort again this year. However, I think he was somewhat undermined by singing one of Ulrik Munter’s cast-offs. There’s also Glamboy P who matched his unique monk-fringe mullet with dancing straight out of Pineapple Dance Studios. However, I’m giving the award to my favourite moment in the Ukrainian final, where my twitter feed was suddenly filled with viewers excited to see a lesbian taking part. Then we found out he was called Eugene. No one trusted the Ukrainian set lists, though. We couldn’t be sure whether there’d been a mistake in the romanisation of his name. Even the broken English voiceover lady called him a she at one point. It was a proper mystery. You don’t get that sort of uncertainty these days.
Best Use of a Mode of Transportation as an Onstage Prop
A few contenders in this one. Madcraft had BMX riders on stage at the UMK final and Sandra Nurmsalu had a raft which rather awkwardly lifted he to the ceiling in Eesti Laul. Special mention has to go to the scruffy old guy in the convertible car in Armenia’s New Year’s Eve song reveal. However this category is a landslide victory for Santiano. They had a boat! A massive boat! It was huge!
Alcazar came in in a giant flying disco ball. Aram MP3 came went one better and had a disco Christmas tree. However, the best entrance has to go to Switter Boys. It was already quite an odd entry, even by Belarus’s standards, with a pair of hoodied Chuckle Brothers performing a repetitive dance song alongside some awkwardly tall twins singing about “Armani Prada Gucci”, but then the music suddenly stops. No one expected the big man in the white suit. Coming out from behind the screens to sing his heart out, he switched the song from odd to hilarious. Nothing topped that all season. 12 points.
One of the weekly joys of Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu (other than trying to spell it) was finding out what the judges were going to wear next. I almost put a tenner on Pocahontas headdress before the final and ended up kicking myself afterwards. Between them Aija Puurtinen and Toni Wirtanen must keep the Finnish hat industry in rude health. Meanwhile, the highlight of Belgium’s weak national final was discovering what a nutter Ruslana is. I know there must be a language issue there, but she was also crazy in the eyes. She loved everything, to the point of singing “I Will Always Love You” at a distinctly nonplussed contestant. In Ireland, meanwhile, Linda Martin was not quite feeling the love. For turning Ireland’s Eurosong into The Late Late Jeremy Kyle Show, Linda has to be the favourite, but I’ll let the public decide.
Best Use of Emmelie De Forest
“Hello [insert country name here]. A couple of years ago I was living in a small town in Denmark and did not even dare to dream about winning the Eurovision Song Contest. But I did.”
And she’s not shut up about it since, has she? Emmelie has been everywhere this year and has been sending annoying videos when she can’t get there in person. I’d say her performances in Malta and Denmark (the drummers had fire sticks!), but she was put to best use by Aram MP3 in Armenia. Take the piss out of her then sing her song better than she would in person.
Best Clown Medley
Screw the actual songs in Eesti Laul. The best three minutes came from the clowns. I’ve watched the videos more times than is healthy now. It’s not just because of my weird crush on the girl clown. They’re well put together. The first one, that focuses on Eesti Laul songs is clearly the best. Eurovision winning songs don’t work quite as well in clown form. I’m not quite sure what that says about the contest.
A name can be a powerful thing. I first fell in love with Trackshittaz through finding their name on a list of Austrian entrants and googling them. Look where it got them. It didn’t get Swissters quite as far in Switzerland this year. Hungary performed quite well this year. I was going to give Bogi a nomination until I remembered they also had Group’N’Swing. It sounds like some sort of sex party exercise apparatus. Belgium also brought us the world’s worst-named boyband in the form of Bandits. All I want to do is put the word “arse” in front of it. Slovenia also had a band called MUFF. They put it in capital letters in case it didn’t stand out enough. I love Eurovision.
Last award now. On behalf of all the winners, I’d like to thank their God. I’d like to thank their agents and managers and national finals organisers and ROCS Travel. But most of all, I need to thank their mothers: passionately, violently, with every ounce of my being. MOTHER!!!! There’s something very wrong about the Belgian entry. Maria Yaremchuk with her brother/sister relationship is a mere amateur. She doesn’t have the depth of emotion for her family that Axel does. Will Maria die for her incestuous love? I think not. Axel deserves this award more than anyone. I’m sure his mother will be very proud.