Believe it or not, I have only just sat down to watch the Eurovision final for the first time since returning from Malmö.
It shocked me that several songs appeared vastly different from those I spent two weeks monitoring during rehearsals. Likewise, I watched the live shows in the comfort of the press centre where both cinema and TV screens were provided. My view of Eurovision 2013 for the majority of the two weeks is pictured below:
There were times I watched performances on the smaller screens, but there were still stark differences from what I witnessed on my own TV. The press centre is a busy place during the live shows and various delegations tend to get quite excited when their song is on, which can be very distracting. I have noted the standout inconsistencies below:
Amandine Bourgeous’ illness was still audible during the more demanding parts of L’Enfer Et Moi. I have to assume that this – combined with a poor draw – cost France crucial votes across Europe. That said Moldova’s bold staging did suck the wind from their sails.
ESDM’s Raquel was even more off key during the slower moments of the Contigo Hasta El Final for Spain. Furthermore, lead-guitarist, Juan Luis Suárez’s outfit appeared more suited to Toad of Toad Hall than a bright, summery piece of rock.
Gianluca Bezzina’s Tomorrow always seemed to be one of those songs likely to be forgotten, especially being followed by big hitters, Russia and Germany. Nevertheless, Malta came alive on the small screen, whereas in the press centre it came across as being flat and slightly forgettable. What’s more, I could hear the arena crowd joining in during the chorus, which is usually a very good sign for achieving a respectable finish.
My pre-contest opinions for Germany were always negative. Despite being compared to Euphoria, Glorious never came close to the quality of Loreen’s winning song. Once in Malmö though, I was a reluctant Cascada convert. Natalie Horler sold the song brilliantly and eventually, the staging came together and Germany were being touted for a high finish. Germany’s political influence in Europe still nagged away at the back of my mind, but so was the fact that more recently, at least one upbeat song has tended to finish in the top-4.
Watching Germany’s performance back at home, I was surprised at being taken in by the hyperbole. Natalie’s performance was a mess and it seemed more like one of her scrappy second rehearsal attempts. During the opening verse, she was miles ahead of the backing track, in addition to being off key at other points. Throughout the three minutes, the song failed to live up to its weighty, overstated expectations. The big shock was that it didn’t look or sound that bad in the press centre during the final. Had I been watching at home, I would have laid Germany for top-10 with all I possessed!
A special mention to Denmark, as the atmosphere for the final was like no other experienced throughout the two weeks. It was electric. Like the staging, the atmosphere and wall of sound reaction to the Danish entry worked to sell it as a worthy winner. You could witness the emotions of the tin whistle player, Jacob Baagøe Thomsen, during the introduction of Only Teardrops; he couldn’t help but crack a smile. Emmelie was also overcome with smiles in reaction to the atmosphere.
Italy’s Marco Mengoni was dreadful for the majority his stay in Malmö. Nevertheless, he saved his best performance for the final. The debate among the betting community focused on the insipid nature of L’Essenziale and Marco’s inability to connect with cameras. I have to admit to being thoroughly absorbed by his final performance. Despite failing to connect with most of the cameras, Marco oozed charisma and delivered the song with immense gravitas. It actually felt like one of most interesting songs of the night to watch.
Georgia’s sound mix was off, which goes someway to explaining their poor finish. Some of Nodi’s lower notes were causing strong plosives, yet during the verses when both artists were using their middle register, the vocals sounded too quiet against the backing track. On the whole, Waterfall didn’t look as polished as the songs before it.
Just a short note on Ireland: Ryan looked and sounded nervous during the opining 20 seconds, but sold his self-penned song well from then on. Nevertheless, everything about Only Love Survives appeared tacky in comparison to the quality songs that preceded it. Last place should have gone to Spain, but Ireland deserved nothing better than a 20th-25th placed finish.
One of the many things I miss from my time in Malmö is Swedish afternoon tea, known as Fika. The many volunteers would take turns in creating a vast buffet of cakes and biscuits for the press. For us workaholics, Fika became lunch! I haven’t read any special tributes to the volunteers, but I’d like to take this moment to thank them all.
I would also like to retract any negative comments I made about Petra Mede and any suggestions that Gina Dirawi would have made a better host. I was 100% wrong. Petra Mede was humorous, unstuffy and made Eurovision 2013.
A question to the press: What differences did you note after watching the show once back at home?