Highlights from 2013

It’s funny; there was a point back in March where we were sort of in despair over this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. It didn’t feel like it was going to be a particularly memorable one. Yet by the time the last bit of Emmelie de Forest’s confetti had dropped, we knew this year was going to be one to remember. Of course, the Swedish producers having the power to construct the song order for each round helped, but it was still up to all of the delegations to stage their songs well. Generally speaking, everyone stepped up to the challenge, and there were few real duds.

Legitimately Good Song

For our consideration
Birds,” Netherlands
Kedvesem,” Hungary
Tomorrow,” Malta
Love Kills,” Belgium
Identitet,” Albania

Our picks: “Birds” & “Kedvesem.” Anyone who still complains that Eurovision is cheesy and out of touch should listen to Anouk’s “Birds” and ByeAlex’s “Kedvesem” and then shut the hell up. There are still Eurovision template songs (see, for example, this year’s winner), but both “Birds” and “Kedvesem” proved that there are rewards to anyone who avoids the template and just does their own thing. Sure it’s risky, but it’s a risk worth taking.

Biggest Misfire

For our consideration
Pred da se razdeni,” Macedonia
Ljubav je svuda,” Serbia
Samo Shampioni,” Bulgaria
You and me,” Switzerland

Our pick: Look, we were never fans of  “Ljubav je svuda.” The staging at Beosong was ridiculous, but at least having the angel and the devil pulling on the heroine from both sides more or less made sense when you read the lyrics. In Malmö, they kept the good versus evil choreo, but replaced the original Halloween costumes with non-sequitur anime candy girl outfits. If you take a camp entry and fail on the camp level, you are the misfire of the year. Serbia failed to qualify for the first time since 2009.

Campiest Performance

For our consideration
Ljubav je svuda,” Serbia
It’s My Life,” Romania
Solayoh,” Belarus
Gravity,” Ukraine

Our pick: Word out of the press room was that Romania’s staging for Cezar’s “It’s My Life” was disastrous. As we said in our recap of the Final, we didn’t think it was as nutty as everyone else did. But don’t get us wrong: “It’s My Life” is bonkers. It was like the Romanian delegation was inspired by Ursula from Disney’s The Little Mermaid. But because Cezar was so confident at the helm, in the end it managed to obtain some internal consistency, completely committed to its own alternate universe. It was deeply bizarre, but utterly memorable.  In other words, it was classic Eurovision camp.

Biggest Diva Performance

For our consideration
It’s My Life,” Romania
Marry Me,” Finland
L’essenziale,” Italy
Igranka,” Montenegro
Rak Bishvilo,” Israel

Our pick: To be honest, there were a lot of entries that could be considered for this category. To narrow our list to five meant ignoring Zlata Ognevich from Ukraine, Esma from Macedonia, Margaret Berger from Norway, Valentina Monetta from San Marino, Bonnie Tyler from the United Kingdom, Dina Garipova from Russia, et cetera, et cetera. It was a diva-heavy year.

But then again, there really is only one winner for Biggest Diva Performance, and that it is Cezar from Romania. With all the bizarreness going on around and underneath him, Cezar and his brilliant countertenor voice stood out above all. Literally. Glorious, we tell you. Glorious.

And if you don’t think this is glorious, we cannot be friends.