First National Finals Super Weekend done

Pew, after the glittery dust have settled it’s time to take a recap of all the hurly burly that has been going on this weekend. We decided to focus on the Nordic Super Saturday with Norway, Iceland and Finland choosing their songs for Düsseldorf all on the same day, and sadly we did not find the time to look deeper into what went on in Ireland and Azerbaijan on Friday and Malta and Belgium on Saturday.

We’re obviously super happy with Norway deciding to go for the completely fab and wonderful Haba Haba song, and it should be interesting to learn what the rest of Europe think of this choice. So far we’ve seen comments on the similarities with France’s entry last year, and yeah we get that, but we would also like to point out that Jesse Matador was a rather charmless, arrogant fella who did not exactly lift the song at any levels during the performance in Oslo. He was saved by fantastic dancers and backing singers, and what he lacks in charisma and stage presence, Stella’s got in abundance. Our neighbors in Finland probably also made a wise choice counting on Paradise Oskar. Not so sure with regards to Iceland though. They’re in the same semi as Norway so at least it will be one less competitor to worry about.

On Friday Azerbaijan finally went ahead and picked the artists to represent the Land of Fire in Düsseldorf, after what seems to be an endless string of qualification rounds, semi-finals, change of rules and schedules and what have you. We completely lost track. And this is one country which is dead serious about winning the whole shebang so we can’t help but wonder what will happen if they actually do win and we end up being en route to Baku. We can’t exactly see them being as organized as the Germans seems to be this year. Five artists competed in the national final and surprisingly enough, two of them were chosen as winners.

Nigar Camal and Eldar Gasımov will be doing a duet together and the last time that was done by the Azeris it went pretty well. Let’s hope this match making turns out to be a success and that the pair of them both can like eachother and perform well together. If not we can have another “Denmark 2010” on our hands to deal with. The actual song hasn’t been chosen yet and it looks like this will be out of the hands of the public televoters to decide. Knowing the Azeris yet fairly short, but sweet ESC history we’re sure it will be fab and another top ten finisher.

Ireland was the other country choosing their 2011 entry on Friday and they went with the identical twins Jedward, whom supposedly are notoriously popular on the British Isles. We have never heard of them before, and we get the feeling that they’re not very well known across Europe either so the televoters will most likely judge them by the quality of the song and the performance in semi-final 2 and not grant them any extra votes just for being famous. We will see how that goes…

On Saturday it was the Wallonian broadcaster’s turn in Belgium to host a national final to pick a song and it would have been nice with an entry sung in French for a change. Knowing that the language issue is a big deal in Belgium it’s probably wise to play it safe and select a song sung in English like pretty much everyone else is doing nowadays. Or why not go “Belgian” and construct an entirely new language for this purpose which has been done twice by the Belgians since the turn of the millennium. Very well, Belgium ended up choosing the beatbox, a cappella number With Love, Baby by the group Witloof Bay. We’ll be back with further comments on this entry at a later stage, but let’s just say that we think it was a rather peculiar choice.

And then there was Malta! As much as we would like to devote far more time to go through all the 24 songs in the semi-final which got narrowed down to 16 for the final, it just couldn’t be done as it clashed with the Norwegian MGP final. Out of the final 16, Glen Vella snatched the ticket to Düsseldorf, with his upbeat number One Life. Apart from reminding us about Xanadee’s super flop back in 2004, we think the song sounds very much like Albania’s floor stomper from last year. And we are very curious to find out if Thea Garrett’s seagull bloke from last year is hiding behind the mask of one of those dancers behind Glen, we sure hope so! As we didn’t check out any other songs in the Maltese selection beforehand, we don’t know if the best song won, however it seems to us that it might be a good idea to cut down on the number of songs in the final. If you give people too many songs to vote for the votes will just be spread out all over the place and you’ll likely end up with mediocrity.

All-right, that’s just a quick run through of last weekend’s main events. We won’t even try to comment on the roughly gazillion semi-final rounds that also went down, but we hear rumors that interesting things are happening in the Baltic region, so we will most certainly keep an eye on that for later.

10 countries have chosen their entry by now. In addition a handful others have chosen the artist(s) to perform, but not announced the song yet. We will come back to these entries later when we start doing our song reviews after all the countries have chosen in March!

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