22:16 – Live blog now complete. If you’re reading this there’s no need to hit refresh now. If you’re not reading this, the current sentence may not be available to you.
[This is a live blog – hit ‘refresh’ in your browser throughout the evening. Each song will be scored as we hear it. Geeky musicological commentary will be added wherever possible. As always I’m going to try (and, as always, fail) to pick a winner. I never listen to the songs before the show, so these are all first impressions.]
22:06 – voting about to begin
OK I’m going to predict my top 3. I promise not to change these as the voting patterns become clear – you can check the post dates! So as last year, I’m going to commit, and then leave my inevitable wrongness online for the world to see forever!
EUROVISION WINNER PREDICTIONS 2012
- Sweden – Euphoria
- Germany – Standing Still
- Russia – Party for Everybody
 ACTUAL EUROVISION WINNERS 2012
- Sweden – Euphoria
- Russia – Party for Everybody
- Serbia – Nije ljubav Stvar
[end of edit]
21:59 – Moldova – Lautar – 51%
Finally, a song with a gratuitous forced key change at the end. Lots of fun, this, but I’m not sure the lyric phrase ‘this trumpet makes you mine girl’ will enter the European zeitgeist anytime soon. There are some great melodies on the fiddles. I enjoyed singing along to this, but it’s not sophisticated or contemporary enough, even for Eurovision.
21:55 – Ukraine – Be My Guest – 63%
Another chord loop (F-Cm-Eb-Bb) but at least it’s not one of the most obvious ones (let us avoid mention of The Verve’s ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ lest we get into trouble with The Rolling Stones). The loop knocks along nicely and the lack of variation doesn’t seem too annoying. The melody sings OK, with lots of big vowels and a limited melodic range, meaning a lot of people will probably be able to sing it, despite the dance-diva performance here. Nicely done.
21:51 – Serbia – Nije Ljubav Stvar – 52%
The secondary hooks (on violin and, somewhere off stage, possibly an oboe?) sound better than the main melody to me. Great performance, but I reckon the melody is too fiddly and the phrases too indigestible. I will now type a word I have never used and possibly never will use again. Meh.
21:46 – Ireland – Waterline – 64%
UK readers of this blog will of course know ‘Jedward’ of old, but let’s put that aside and listen to the song. The chorus appears at first glance to be a four-chord loop (Bb, F, Gm, Eb) but they only do it once and then move on to some nice linking changes rising up through Cm-Bb/D etc. It’s very predictable but it’s also a very strong and singable chorus. Too trivial perhaps, but it’s danceable and memorable enough to do OK.
21:43 – FYR Macedonia – Crno I Belo – 57%
And another four chord loop rumbles tank-like over the battlefield (Dm-Bb-F-C) but hits a landmine that explodes with the sound of an A major chord. Which is nice. The metalhead saturated guitar in the background isn’t fooling anyone – nor is the classical piano. Formula Euro-pop like this cannot be disguised with any amount of inappropriate instrumentation. Sounds lovely when sung, but the melody didn’t make much of an impression.
21:39 – Malta – This Is The Night – 60%
Formula usage of the With Or Without You chord loop (in this key, C-G-Am-F). It’s a pretty good chorus, and the beat-displaced title makes for a really strong hook. But there are a lot of songs like this in the world (and in Eurovision) so it may not stand out enough to be memorable.
21:35 – Germany – Standing Still – 82%
At last! A proper pop song that you can imagine hearing on the radio. The lyric is really well crafted and the verse builds beautifully in two distinct halves, the second of which picks up the pace brilliantly into the chorus. The title is conceptually (literally) rather static, which makes it a difficult idea to get inspired about, but it sings so well, and it’s carried by such a strong melody, that I don’t think anyone will care. Potential winner.
21: 30 – Spain – Quédate Conmigo (Stay With Me) – 69%
Power ballad con moto! Big melodic intervals in the chorus and (literally) wind-in-your-hair production values. Filled with big vowels (which my 11yo daughter, who has just started doing Spanish at school, tells me is what all Spanish sounds like!). A crowd pleaser on the night, and very powerful in every sense, but I’m not sure I’d want to hear it on the radio over and over.
21:26 – Turkey – Love Me Back – 41%
Bolted-together chord loops with rather forced folky harmonic minor (presumably Turkish) melodic feel atop. Very busy melody that is forgettable as soon as the verse finishes. The ‘na na na na na’ at the end of each chorus was OK but this isn’t a big enough melody to inspire people, I think, and it’s certainly not danceable (not for a man of my age, anyway).
21:22 – Sweden – Euphoria – 80%
Loving this in the first 40 seconds. The verse is arty enough to be credible; the chorus is danceable and singable enough to have mass appeal. I LOVE the way they mess with the melody phrasing in the chorus – it sounds like there are a bunch of bars of 2/4 or even 3/4 (thanks to a cheeky chord change to D major on the fourth beat of a bar), but if you count along it stays in 4/4 throughout. The title sings well, and the scalic bits in between are lovely. Form is nicely used – it feels like there are more chorus repeats at the end than there actually are. Could well win.
21:18 – Greece – Aphrodisiac – 65%
How did we miss this rhyming opportunity – ‘maniac/aphrodisiac’ – it should have appear in ‘Love Potion #9’ in the 1950s (but didn’t as far as I recall). This is proper classy Eurovision songwriting – the Greeks have done well in the past with this sort of down-tempo dance material. Some good vocal singable ‘ohh ohh’ etc. I really liked this even though it’s rather unadventurous.
21:12 – Denmark – Should’ve Known Better – 43%
Beatles title steal ahoy! I suspect they let an ‘authentic’ singer-songwriter have a big input into the melody here, because it’s really static, with lots of phrases that linger on one note. The central ‘miss you/like Sahara misses rain’ and the title hook are nice intervallically, but the rest of the tune is too static IMO. The tempo (about 98BPM) suggests that a guitarist has allowed the strumming hand to decide the groove. Someone should have asked for help from a grown-up when putting this together.
21:09 – Romania – Zaleilah – 68%
Oh that’s a shame – I thought we were going to get our first ridiculous one. Actually the silly costumes disguise a fairly formulaic Eurovision song. This is cheerfully danceable and it’s a good simple chorus. Chorus starts on the quaver after the downbeat which slightly reduces the impact, perhaps. But it’s very singable and could do well.
21:04 – Azerbaijan – When The Music Dies – 54%
12/8 ballad by numbers, and a really lovely melody, especially with the lift to the high C# ‘cold, cold cold’ in the pre-chorus, although there’s a bit of meandering with too many G#-F#-E runs beforehand. I think I heard her singing a ‘wrong’ sounding major 3rd over a minor chord in the rising arpeggio in the last couple of choruses; there was certainly something very slightly wince-inducing there. Fair to middlin’.
20:59 – Norway – Stay – 47%
Power pop. Almost a one-chord verse, which builds tension nicely into a solid chorus that mashes up Bollywood strings (‘Toxic’ style) and some predictable chord loops. Doesn’t sound very singable to me, and the performer’s dance routine made him so out of breath that he couldn’t pitch it very well. The high C on ‘stay’ is a nice idea but doesn’t save the song overall. Not likely to do well IMO.
20:56 – Estonia – Kuula – 64%
Big ballad. Very sincere and powerful, and beautifully performed. Title hook works really well and descends nicely through the chord progression. Could do well, I think.
20:51 – Italy – L’Amore E Femmina (Out of Love) – 62%
Shameless Amy Winehouse pastiche, but the the chords take it into a more cheerful feel at times. Good chorus – that descending Ebm arpeggio on the first three beats of the bar will still be in my mind by the end of the evening. The groove sounds great too, and there are some really ‘right’ sounding chord changes in all the sections. But perhaps the rest of the chorus melody might be too fiddly for Europe-wide ears?
20:47 – France – Echo (You and I) – 56%
France always deliver something interesting and, well, ‘independent’. This melody punctuates a really interesting Mixolydian psychedelia (which I love) to some stock soul-diva vocal licks, which kind of kill the mood a bit. Tempo pretty high at 137BPM, which with such an in-your-face vocal and busy arrangement is a bit overwhelming.
20:43 – Cyprus – La La Love – 52%
Nice quirky synth skank chords in the verses, and the Ibiza ‘techniques’ (breakdowns, LP filters and the pad sounds themselves) are all in evidence. Very high energy – and perhaps ‘Hi NRG’. The title hook is OK melodically, and it’s easy on the memory. Competent.
20:39 – Iceland – Never Forget – 56%
In that dark tempo gap between 3/4 and 3/8 groove – which the arrangement plays with in fun ways every time they sing the title. Really like the melody and the lyric; great performance too. But it’s neither danceable nor community-singable – so I can’t see people taking it to their hearts. Also, calling a song ‘Never Forget’ and giving it only average quality melodic hooks is just asking for it…
20:34 – Russia – Party for Everybody – 70%
It’s the novelty act – the Russian Cossack-grannies. But this song makes me smile a lot. It has almost all the old-school Eurovision elements. The oompah Cm root-fifth four on the floor mashes up the Cossack and classic Eurovision idea well – and at that tempo (127BPMish) I can’t stop imagining Benny bouncing on a piano stool. Might just win. There was something in the air that night…
20:31 – Bosnia/Herzegovina – Korake Ti Znam – 38%
Totally meandering melody, made worse by the singer’s melismas. Couldn’t get my head around this tune at all based on one listen; they also mess around with form slightly to allow a weirdly irrelevant solo before the inevitable power ballad dynamic build. The production doesn’t save the too-many-syllable melody though. The titular hook works fine, though – and in translation it’s a lovely sentiment (‘I know your footsteps’).
20:26 – Lithuania – Love is Blind – 46%
Great Winner-Takes-It-All meets I-Will-Survive chorus chord progression; you can feel the Euro-beat building a good 16 bars before it arrives. The chorus is OK but the vowels are too long and drawn out. He performs ‘Love Is Blind’ in a bling blindfold. Nice. Production is a bit dated again – lots of swooping ‘I’ll have a Martini’ 1970s strings. Average.
20:23 – Albania – Suus – 31%
The whole first minute sounds like one long intro. The chorus is all one amazing vowel – and she sounds great when she delivers it. On the second go she hits a couple of (rather too) ambitious super-octave notes and it’s a bit sharp. Too arty to live on in the hearts of Europe, alas, but a really brave entry. Ends on Ebmin(maj9) – the James Bond chord!
20:20 – Hungary – Sound of Our Hearts – 44%
Chorus synth riff sounds like a Gary Numan out-take. Good to hear that the Bm four chord loop doesn’t outstay its welcome in the verse – the G and A chords at the end of each chorus. Production is VERY 80s, even for Eurovision, even for a power ballad. Bland lyric and only medium-strength hooks. Forgettable.
20:15 – UK – Love Will Set You Free – 66%
The UK’s best song in quite a while. The melody has some lovely intervals, and it uses the classic ‘wedge of cheese’ ballad arrangement nicely without overdoing. Some great chord changes too. But perhaps the verse melody is a little too quirky to be impactful on a first listening.