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If There’s Any Justice in the World

Once again I find myself in a European city in May for the annual Eurovision Song Contest. This year we’re in Düsseldorf, Germany. If I’m to be honest, this year I’m here almost exclusively for the Eurovision Research Network (ERN). We’ve organized three events this year: our annual symposium, our annual round-table, and the final of three workshops in the ‘New’ Europe series, which started last February at Royal Holloway, University of London.

I know that most of my regular blog readers are not surprised by any of this, but you’re also expecting me to engage with the annual context, from a Maltese perspective, with a slightly less academic approach. So, I will try not disappoint you. Perhaps I’ll blog some more about the ERN later this week, once Malta is either no longer in the contest or while I get a respite before I blog about how miraculous it is that Malta has returned to the final without first establishing a significant pan-European presence for either it’s entry and/or the performer it selected to represent it.

So, in the spirit of not voting for your own country, I give you my personal picks for the 10 qualifying songs in the ESC 2011 Semifinal 1, which will take place tomorrow (Tuesday) evening at 9pm CEST. I’m factoring in various prediction factors and a little of my personal experience with the Eurovision Song Contest…so this will undoubtedly be a very subjective and relative selection.

I don’t think this will make it to the final but I firmly believe it belongs in my top 10 picks for this year’s first semifinal. I’d probably like it more if it wasn’t sung in English.

This year’s Turkish song has almost the same effect on me as the Albanian one. If only one of the two make it to the final, it’ll certainly be this one, even though the other sounds a little more sincere to me.

An obvious throwback to the swinging ’60s a la Austin Powers. I can’t see Eurovision fans not liking this one – and it looks amazing live in the arena.

One of the most interesting songs from a musical perspective and if offers a good alternative to most of the other songs in this year’ semifinal 1. However, I admit that I’ve rarely not liked Georgia’s ESC entry.

Can you honestly imagine a Eurovision Song Contest final without Russia? Now that would be a real shocker.

I’d be very surprised if Iceland’s song didn’t make it to the final this year. If it doesn’t it’ll certainly mean the end of an era…but this is Eurovision so I expect it to get through simply because it appeals considerably to the main demographic for this show’s audience.

Very catchy melody and exactly the sort of song you expect at Eurovision. This sort of thing is often hit or miss, but in relation to the songs its competing against it stands a very good chance.

If there’s any justice in the world, Evelina Sašenko’s C’est Ma Vie will become a Eurovision classic…but perhaps it’s now a couple of decades or so too late. It’s the most beautiful new pop ballad I’ve heard in a very long time. This song gave me goosebumps the first time I heard Evelina sing it live in the Esprit Arena. What a stand-out! If Andrew Lloyd Webber had written a song as good as this for Jade Ewen, the UK would have won ESC 2009.

A favourite with the bookmakers and it’s very spectacular live in the arena. You can still catch some of that spectacle on TV but perhaps the singers leave a little to be desired for those you seek something worthy of the spectacle and the honey sweet musical arrangement.

I can’t imagine a final without a Greek entry but stranger things have happened at the Eurovision Song Contest. Bringing in hip-hop in Greek is a brave and bold move, the type I wish the Maltese would take, so I’ll be watching this one closely to see whether my hunch is more than just that.

Keep in mind that at least four of the top acts tipped to win the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest are not taking part in the first semifinal along with Malta and the rest of the songs presented on Tuesday.

DISCLAIMER: The “predictions” made in this blog post are for your amusement only. I’m pretty sure that these will not be the 10 countries whose songs will actually qualify for Saturday’s final.

CLAIMER: I’ll be greatly amused to see how many of my 10 picks are also the ones that will be seen/heard again on Saturday.

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