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  • Writer's pictureRyanosheatheatre

Eurovision Favourites

Eurovision is one of my favourite things in the world. The contest is held every May around the time of my birthday, when the weather becomes warmer, summer is on the horizon and celebration is in the air. For the first time in its history, Eurovision will not be going ahead this year, undoubtedly the right decision in the circumstances but the contest will still be missed.

So, in the absence of Eurovision 2020 and with bags of time on my hands, I’ve decided to write a blog post about some of my favourite songs in recent years.

The first time I really remember watching Eurovision was in 2006 when Lordi stormed to victory for Finland. “Hard Rock Hallelujah’ has remained vivid in my mind ever since, mainly because of the high-pitched keyboard player.

I also remember being properly disappointed with our entrant that year, Daz Sampson and the ill-judged “Teenage Life” involving school girls with Essex-esq accents, it was creepy then and, let me tell you, it hasn’t aged well.

2007 was the year I really became fanatical with Eurovision, Scootch represented the UK that year, and at the time, I absolutely loved it, the euphemism-filled, air-hostess-inspired “Flying the Flag” was pure camp and at the age of 13 all I wanted to do was dress up and perform. However, It wasn’t the campest, and certainly wasn’t the best, entrant in that year’s contest, that accolade must go to the iconic inspiration that is Verka Serduchka representing Ukraine and it’s where I’m going to start on my list of Eurovision favourites.

Verka Serduchka– Dancing Lasha Tumbai (Ukraine 2007)

The song is a catchy, upbeat and self-consciously tacky, what’s not to like here. Verka commands the stage in a mix between Elton john and a pantomime dame with a 69 printed on her back and an iconic Christmas tree star plumbed onto her head. My favourite part of the whole thing is, by far, the two backing dancers behind Verka, their dancing fills me with pure joy and I’ve recreated the famous vertical-arm-swing dance move many many times since.

It didn’t win Eurovision.

Eva Rivas - Apricot Stone (Armenia 2010)

This song is about an apricot stone. Yes, an apricot stone. It’s not a metaphor, the song is literally about an apricot stone – the “Cherished Fruit”. Where do you even start with this one. It has everything: a massive prop Apricot Stone in which a tree clumsily emerges, an old confused flute player, a man attempting contemporary dance with a vase and backing singers that look like they’ve been picked up from a bus stop the night before. This belongs in the 'so bad it's good' category, the song is quite meh but the staging is everything! You can watch this multiple times and find all sorts of un-intended brilliance.

It didn’t win Eurovision.

Eleni Foureira - Fuego (Cyprus 2018)

This is an absolute banger. The song itself is modern, fresh and catchy. The staging is simple but brilliant. The hair-ography, the dancing, the cat suit. This song came on in a gay bar in Manchester a few months ago and the gays erupted – this song, nearly two years on, still holds a power. It makes me want to move all sexy like. Eleni Foureira is incredible.

It didn’t win Eurovision.

Kati Wolf - What About My Dreams (Hungry 2011)

The song is actually great but the person in charge of staging made many questionable decisions that elevate this song to an overlooked Eurovision classic. The styling is hideous- I love it. I mean, what were they thinking when they put that massive tacky ring on her. The staging is all quite simple until we reach the 1:12 mark and then a back-flipping break-dancer cuts across the stage and cuts out any chance of victory. The backing dancers then move into a free style, Billy Elliot-esq routine that is just uncalled for. But then as the camera slowly zooms out, the styling person had a eureka moment and thought what the costumes needed were lights – why? We don’t know. By the middle of the song, the chorographer has given up completely and by the end, you can sense Kati Wolf knowing that this isn’t going well. I bloody love it.

It didn’t win Eurovision.

Hera Björk - Je Ne Sais Quoi (Iceland 2010)

Another great song. It’s a club anthem. I love the way it starts with Hera Björk emerging from the darkness at the back of the stage, she’s almost floating. I love the simple, or maybe lack of, choreography; Hera sways from side to side like a bobbing, floating buoy in the ocean. There’s a bit more chorography when we reach the second verse and Hera walks stage right to collect the backing singers that look like they’ve recycled their bridesmaid dresses from a recent wedding. When we get to the key change, Hera, facing the back, then turns to face the audience. The simple turn is monumental. The song is actually very good and sung with passion and power.

It didn’t win Eurovision.

Ivi Adamou - La La Love (Cyprus 2012)

The song is on this list purely for the mega zoom out moment that happens 2:25 seconds in. Bamf. Epic.

It didn’t win Eurovision.

Ani Lorak - Shady Lady (Ukraine 2008)

Shady Lady has it all; it’s a cracking song with simple, slick staging. The chorography really makes it; the men trapped in boxes but really enjoying it, the head jerks on time to the beats, the way Ani walks all over them. Brilliant. The set is superb, a simple box with two-way mirror to create these light up cages that the men start in. They also use the set really well, the slightly gimmicky opening and the moment Ani stands atop the structure in an empowering way is great but they’re also unafraid to leave the set and just have a good, old, well-choreographed, sharp, slick dance. It’s summarises the brilliance of Eurovision and It’s executed so well.

It didn’t win Eurovision.

Loreen - Euphoria (Sweden 2012)

I think Euphoria is the greatest song to come out of Eurovision both in recent years, and yes I’m going to say it, ever. It’s just such a good pop song with great obscure lyrics about feeling euphoric and an amazing vocal by Loreen. The song is then coupled with simple, effective staging that genuinely communicates what the song is about. It showcases contemporary dance in the most brilliant, emotive way. My favourite part is when Loreen is joined by a dance partner who comes from nowhere to drag her backwards. They then engage in a stunning vignette; his roundhouse kick narrowly missing her ducking head, a perfectly placed roly-poly and a lift which turns into slow motion for a strong, powerful end pose. Fan-bloody-tastic. Although Loreen nearly ruins the whole effort by singing: “I love you Baku” at the very end.

It won Eurovision and quite right too.


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