Well it's time to procrastinate once again. You know the Eurovision season stops and I go back into hibernation. Not this year, this year seems bigger, there seems to be more interest and if you're not playing QuizUp then download and we can all start quizzing each other on their new topic of questions: Eurovision (duh?).
So today's blogpost looks at what we can learn from Conchita. Well I say Conchita, I really mean the 2014 season. And I apologise for any readers from outside the UK, as I may predominantly focus on that disappointing 17th place.
IF YOU HAVEN'T GOT MUCH TIME, I'VE DONE A PERFECT SUMMARY DOWN THE BOTTOM. IF NOT, READ ON...
To begin with, 2014 was a good year. In fact, it was a very good year. Like a lot of other fans, I was originally disappointed when I heard all the songs from this year. Then I grew to love Children of the Universe, Freaky Fortune are my new favourite Euroboyband (I guess I could call them that?), Firelight and The Common Linnets have re-excited my love for country music, and dubstep seems to be oozing into the far corners of Europe.
But where was 'Euphoria'? Fairytale? Only Teardrops? Satellite? The recent years have thrown up some true greats, and even when we couldn't decide the winner of the 2011 edition, it is undeniably one of my favourite years as I LOVE so many songs that year. This year we had no clear cut winner, no runaway favourite. Every fan site indicated different answers, you'd go to ESC Stats where they'd be bigging up Sweden...ESC Nation fans voted in their thousands for the UK...the bookmakers were so keen on Armenia taking the victory...WiWiBloggs really buggered it up, rating and voting Ireland so highly...even on this blog (where you can still vote for your favourite, I should definitely remove that poll!) Hungary were the hot favourite. Everywhere you looked though, noone was denying that Conchita was going to do well, even with most predicting a conservative backlash about our famous bearded lady. But that was also the case for Israel, and looked what happened to poor old Mei Finegold. What I'm saying is Sweden and Denmark were so obviously going to win in 2012 and 2013, everyone knew Germany probably had it in the bag in 2010, Norway looked a cert to win in 2009 and when the draw was released, Azerbaijan rocketed to the top of the odds in 2011. This year was different on every level, sure Austria climbed after that magnificent semi final performance, but they weren't the hot favourites even with a couple of hours to go. And they had 11th in the draw. Basically, this year collected all the recent stats since the 2009 rule change and threw them out the window. Are we entering a new era for Eurovision?
(by the way I left out the OGAE poll for a number of reasons; in summary, don't read anything into that bloody poll!)
Onwards and upwards then, what can we expect in 2015?
Well for a start, I'm sure Austria will put on a lavish show for ESC numero 60. It's gonna be special. Jon Ola Sand promised. What about the songs though? Sweden have got quite a reputation to uphold, with 3rd in 2011, 1st in 2012, let's not mention 2013, and 3rd this year. Without doubt Melodifestivalen has turned up a notch since that non-qualification incident in 2010 and so naturally, the Swedes will produce someone popular once more. Fingers crossed Danny Saucedo finally gets his chance! What is going to happen with Azerbaijan? Dilara is probably fuming, and the country probably doesn't like her, or Malta for that matter (no douze points from their "famous" neighbours?). Will Azerbaijan come back stronger and louder? Yes. I predict something resonant of 2009. Other powerhouses Russia and Ukraine can sit comfortably, and we'll probably get something out of them neither terrible nor amazing next year. Greece will give us more whacky selections too, looking at 20th as a blip rather than a trend.
Recent favourites Italy also scored their worst ever performance at a Eurovision. After only coming back in 2011, is this going to be instrumental? Viewing figures still haven't set the world alight, and they are not going to do anything for interest next year. I expect they'll return without caring about this result, and they'll be back to that top 10 next year.
I move on to the rest of the former Soviet bloc now. Belarus look like they are on the up with 2013 and 2014 results. Alexander Rybak has shown interest in selecting Belarus' participant in 2015 and so could we be heading to Minsk? Proven winner... (although that has meant nothing recently, Niamh Kivanagh, Charlotte Perelli, Dana International etc...). Then we have the Baltic states. Well Latvia haven't upped their games, so I think we can expect another non-qualifier from them. Lithuania won't send anything popular and so people will question whether they will qualify...and then they bloody will...and as for Estonia, well, we will probably get a dull ballad next year. Not that Ott and Brigit were dull, but c'mon, more ballads? Oh and I almost forgot Moldova. I am optimistic that Pasha will make a triumphant return. CHISINAU 2015 BITCHES.
Let's move on to the former Yugoslav bloc. Anyone predicting returns from Serbia, Bosnia & H, Croatia, and so on? Well Montenegro will definitely be back with a boring ballad, hoping that is the recipe for success now. I hope the others return, but it really is up in the air. The last time Serbia took a break was after the dissolution of Serbia and Montenegro...they returned with Molitva. If Serbia do return, I reckon there will be Zelijko intervention of some sort. Could we be going back to Belgrade?
I'll stay near the area and mention the other Southern states. Israel? Well I'd give a year off if I were them, but we'll see. Probably won't qualify though. Albania? More of the same no doubt. Bulgaria? Unless you've got Elista & Stoyan, give it another year. Romania? Could be interesting, Paula & Ovi were supposed to do better. Georgia? More bizzare internal selections. Armenia? Back to basics I reckon. More Sirusho, less Lonely Planets and MP3s hopefully. And then there is TURKEY. Well we all know why they quit in the first place, and things will have to change for them to return. I'm doubtful a bearded lady from Austria will inspire their comeback.
Well I'm moving quite quickly through...there's the middle of Europe to think about. Hungary seemed to have enjoy success the last two years, they'll probably stick to the same and produce qualifiers. Poland might just be that country with the Eurovision gems for the next few years. Moldova and Montenegro have treated us with some rare and unusual songs recently, maybe Poland will continue to bring the butter churners? Czech Republic and Slovakia may look at recent results and consider coming back. If Austria can lift the crown, then they can definitely qualify with the right approach. A bearded lady from a neighbouring country may just set alight enough interest. Oh and let's hope Liechtenstein finally get the funding to make their debut. They could be the new San Marino...keep trying and you'll make it. Valentina once said that this will be her last Eurovision whether she qualifies or not. I think San Marino might be represented by someone else next year. And I have a feeling they are going to be really good. Instinctual, don't ask why. Oooh I suppose Switzerland count as the middle. Well, I expect no change from them, it'll be middle of the road, and will either qualify or won't.
Moving on to the west now...and well, not considering the big 5, what on earth is happening? The Netherlands look on course to become the new Eurovision powerhouse with fantastic entries in the last 2 years...Belgium may be taking a leaf out of their book. Malta have been enjoying much success over the last couple, they'll give us something similar to Kurt and Gianluca next year. Unless Chiara comes back again, which no fan should ever rule out. Portugal might take another year out, it's hard to say. In my opinion, they should look to Brazil and should have played off the World Cup this year. That's easy to say with hindsight, but Brazil speak Portugese and are not short of a few stars. Introduce Michel Telo to Europe. Ai Se Eu Te Pego (think I've spelled that correctly) or something similar would storm Eurovision!! Ireland are probably well pissed they didn't qualify and will send a ballad about peace or love (similar to what we heard in the 90s) next year...unless Jedward come back. They promised to give Eurovision another go if they penned their own song. Well if someone teaches them to sit still and write we could be in for something magically brilliant...or magically hilarious.
Little mention to the Nordic countries...continue doing what you're doing. 2 of the 5 Scandinavians will finish in the top 10 at least, I'm once more going to hope Iceland win.
And finally we have the big 5 countries. Spain will send another female ballad if they realise what's good for them...Germany will send up and coming talent, which will probably be quite good...already mentioned Italy...goodness knows how Austria are going to come up with an act to follow Conchita. Unless Conchita performs again, which I doubt very much...France really don't care and will send another fun act...and though the citizens of the UK bemoan once more that "everybody hates us", I beg, beg, beg the BBC to repeat the same procedure. Pick up and coming talent, get them to write the song, give them a shot on the biggest stage in Europe. They'll get fans whoever they are, and with a bit of luck, we might finally do it. Do not send a has-been, do not let the public choose, do not invite Jedward to perform for us, just use BBC Introducing. Or plead to Simon Cowell to use one of his artists. If One Direction enter, we have this. I have just written paragraphs upon paragraphs about the UK selection process, but I deleted it. I wanna keep this short and sweet: the UK is one of the best music exporting countries in the world, with some of the biggest names in music British. There are extremely talented performers up and down the country trying to squeeze into this industry. Most are going to bed at night praying for that opportunity. Those who have decided that music is their passion and that's what they want to do will snap up the chance to get some attention to their talents. Molly Smitten-Downes received exposure to her music and has a steady growing fan base...and she has a record contract now too. Her finishing 17th hasn't lost fans to her music. Give unsigned artists a chance, a platform and ignore the pessimists. The BBC once again dominated Saturday Night Ratings with one of the cheapest shows filling the hot 20:00 to 23:30 slots. They are not withdrawing any time soon.
Well rant over, what about anyone I've forgotten? Shout out for Cyprus to make a return! Will we see any new participants? I think our best hope is Liechtenstein. The Vatican could always send some dancing nuns (guaranteed top 3) but it's more likely I discover a sexual attraction to cows over the next year than the Vatican City even debating entering the contest. Kazakhstan should enter...and Australia should be given a 60th celebration entry, and that chapter is definitely not closed. With no diaspora voting, it would be so interesting to see how the Ozzies vote. As a UK citizen, I'm praying that our English speaking friends give us a nod for at least a couple of points!
Predictions for next year's winner: Sweden, Azerbaijan, Belarus or Serbia (if they come back).
It could be another similar year, wide open and hotly contested, and we could end up with an unprecedented winner. If that's the case, let's hope Iceland or Portugal do it.
Prediction for the big 5: well, they will be automatic qualifiers, I don't see that changing for at least a few more years yet. The UK will finish on the right hand side, as will France and Spain. Germany will finish on the left hand side, and Italy will finish in the top 10.
Prediction Surprises: San Marino will have a good track, and Israel will qualify with a hot male singing a ballad. Lithuania will enter more tripe and qualify, and to their disgust, fan favourite Estonia will miss out again. Ireland will turn fortunes around, as will Moldova, but one of the Nordics will suffer from an early semi final draw and not qualify.
Prediction about the rules: More weighting will be applied to televoting. The countries which finish top 3 in the televote will be guaranteed points even if they are hated by the juries (circa Poland '14).
Prediction for withdrawals: FYR Macedonia might give it a break, Georgia could give it a year, and Albania might call it a day.
Predictions about controversy: Azerbaijan and Armenia will give us more problems. Russia will send something political but still be allowed to enter it, as the Ukraine have done on countless occasions.
Other Predictions: Geri Halliwell will not compete for the UK. Although don't rule out Katrina teaming up with Mike Nolan for a super entry, criticised by Sandie Shaw, and finishing last. Unless Kimberly Rew decides to write it. France will beg Anne-Marie David to give it another crack, but settle for someone similar to Sebastian Tellier. Ireland will send a drag queen, and there'll be jokes amongst fans that it is actually Linda Martin. Johnny Logan will be considered.
So the predictions got a bit silly...but you never know...