What if… Germany drew second half?

The latest in our series of “what if…” articles will take a slightly different approach – for this time, I’m speculating on whether Germany’s disastrous result can be attributed to its running order position. We all accept that singing in the second half is often synonymous with a better final result, so was Germany doomed from the moment it got #11?

Why exactly did "Glorious" fall short of expectations?
Why exactly did “Glorious” fall short of expectations?

In the run-up to the 2013 contest, the high-profile German entry “Glorious” by Cascada was hotly tipped for success – although it did manage to create a ferocious rift in the fan community as accusations of plagiarism and incompetence were hurled back and forth. The song’s failure to even break into the top 20 however, will undeniably go down in the history books as one of the biggest shocks of the Malmö contest. I am going to explore some of the possible reasons for this, and hopefully postulate a number of answers to today’s “What if…”.

So, brand new national final, high-profile act with previous chart success, just-about modern contemporary song… It was clear from the start that Germany meant business. But almost immediately after Cascada’s national final victory in February, concerns began to surface regarding the apparent similarities to the 2012 winning song “Euphoria”. For a great many fans, this was a convenient reason to start a vendetta against the entry, and even after experts had cleared it of plagiarism, the negativity was still present.

Now, since I’m writing for a small blog, and I’m likely not going to get my point across to many people, I’m going to be blunt. The comparisons to “Euphoria” are the biggest load of bullshit I’ve heard all year. The two songs share a common genre, and a line – yes, a single line – where any rhythmic or melodic similarities are evident. And even that “eu-phooooooo-ria”/”gloooooo-rious” comparison falls down as these notes occur at different stages within the rhythm of the song, with Loreen beginning on an anacrusis and Natalie commencing the note a whole bar later. “Euphoria” is predominantly minor. “Glorious” is major. The beat and bassline of each song is formed from its own distinct motifs, and the strophic structure of both entries is simply due to the generic conventions of dance music. If anything, “Euphoria” owes more to Cascada’s earlier work than “Glorious” owes to Loreen.

In all seriousness, if you’re on a witch hunt for plagiarism, “Eg A Lif” is the one you’re looking for. “I Am Cow”; need I say more?

But I’m not here to single-handedly attempt to vanquish deep-set prejudices like this. If this was indeed a contributing factor to the 21st place then it’s one hell of a shame, but I believe there are more subtle possibilities to explore.

What with Natalie’s extensive experience of arena and TV performance, the Saturday night show from Germany should have been world-class. But, unfortunately, it was clear from the start that there was something missing. Her voice – perhaps from overexertion during rehearsals or due to the nerves and pressure on established artists – seemed slightly hoarse, and the higher end of her range came across way too forced. The backing singers’ perception of pitch was woefully wayward, and to top it all off, when the beat dropped out for the first chorus, she managed to lose track of the tempo. Not exactly what we were hoping for. However, to a casual Saturday-night viewer, these errors weren’t as detrimental as we fans would assume, as (especially on a single listen) the main aspect of the performance which will have connected with these viewers is the song itself. The ropey live performance was not, in my opinion, enough to knock this one down to 21st.

And this is where my argument for the running order comes in. Now, we all know that it has “no statistical impact” (hah… good one Jon Ola…) but I think that Germany were already at a disadvantage the moment they drew first half. Only one out of the previous ten Eurovision winners has performed in the first half (Ukraine from 10th in 2004), and this year in particular, seven out of the top ten were performed towards the end of the show. Coincidence much? Say Germany swapped positions with Norway, for argument’s sake. Coming after Italy and before Georgia, it would have stood out a mile and – vocal performance aside – been more recently engrained in the minds of viewers when they came to vote.

This doesn’t work in every case, of course. Ireland, performing a similarly modern up-tempo number drew the pimp slot and still ended up in last place. Having been given such a good draw, it was Ryan’s to lose, and by all accounts, the Irish jury performance was woeful. That explains somewhat this potential skew in the data. I’m not one to pretend that the entire result hinges on the running order, but I do believe that it can increase or decrease a song’s chances of success, especially if its chances of success were marginal in the first place.

When Germany were selected to perform 11th, they were at an immediate disadvantage. Add onto that the fact that they were singing directly after the Russian song – another favourite with considerably more consistent vocals – and it leaves very little room for error on the final night. For Cascada, these errors in vocals and staging did occur, and as the draw had already given them a hill to climb if they were to secure a top 10 placing, they proved more costly than anticipated.

So yes, in all honesty, I believe that Germany would have finished higher had they sung nearer to the end. With her eventual performance, I’d still say top 10 would have been unlikely, but a later draw would have given them a more commendable finish.

Your Views:

Was it the draw that caused Germany's failure?
Was it the draw that caused Germany’s failure?

Nelly Takis from Greece: The song was excellent and deserved top-5, what went wrong was the presentation and stage concept which was totally wrong. Germany should have hired choreographer and stage director Fokas Evagelinos before Azerbaijan grabbed him first 🙂

Jordan Alexander from Australia: There was nothing wrong with the song or the singer to be honest. It was those ridiculous accusations that ruined Germany’s chance to obtain a good result this year.

Pascale Veenhuis from the Netherlands: The draw has nothing to do with the fact she did bad! if it was second half she still sound not good…on TV it was a big disappointment really.

Chris Steinbrück from Germany: I liked her performance. But with dancers it were usually better. Her voice was at many times not so good. The sound in the arena was great. But her startposition would have been better in the end. Number 11 was not good, I think.

There are, of course, a number of contributing factors to Germany’s disappointing result, and not all the fans see the running order as significantly as I do. However, this simply goes to show that “Glorious” failed to live up to expectations in more ways than one, and its final position cannot be pinpointed to one single problem.

Are any of these views in line with yours? Feel free to leave a comment below!

Possible Artists: Italy

Leading on from James’ AMAYZING article about the possible artists that could represent Russia, I thought I’d join in too and tell you about the possible artists that could potentially represent Italy! Of course, I’ll give you a little background on the artists and get your views on the thought of any of those artists possibly representing Italy. Buon divertimento!

Giorgia Todrani is my recommendation for Italy
Giorgia Todrani is my recommendation for Italy

As with James, I’ll discuss my personal preferences and recommendations for the artists that should represent Italy, and the first of those is the singer Giorgia Todrani, though she performs under her first name; like Lena and Anouk! Even though she is only 42 years of age, her career spans over 20 years and is full of awards and accolades. Todrani started off her career by taking part in the Sanremo Festival (which ESC fans should know is how Italy picks its entrant to the Eurovision!) in 1993 and soon, two years later and a 2x platinum debut album, she came back and won the Festival in 1995. She’s now one of the best-selling female singers in Italy and has released over ten albums, all of which have done well in Italy. In 2011, her song ‘Il Mio Giorno Migliore’, which means ‘My Best Day’, was a massive hit in Italy and peaked at No.6 in the Italian charts.

Sadly, the song was released way before the September 1st rule for the 2012 Contest and so, this song would never be seen at Eurovision. If I made the rules, I would let the song in for every year, as it’s a current pop song that would do well all over Europe, in any language! Songs like this are the reason why she’s called one of the greatest interpreters of international music. Another recent hit for the singer was the song ‘È l’amore che chonta’, which was covered by previous Eurovision stars, such as Ani Lorak and Glennis Grace, as well as an English version by Giorgia herself.

This song is more personal and deep than ‘Il Mio Giorno Migliore’, talking about her defiance from a man who is a control-freak in relationships and how he can’t hold her hostage. This could have been allowed to go to Eurovision as it was released after the September 1st rule, but it wasn’t entered into the Festival *sheds teardrop*, but was it to go to Eurovision, the song could have done well, as it’s a decent pop song and it’s insanely catchy for a pop-ballad!

It’s hard to pick another Italian singer that could represent Italy at Eurovision, as there’s so many to choose from! But I would personally recommend the 26-year-old Chiara Galazzio. She’s not a stranger to the stage, as she won the sixth series of the Italian X Factor last year and her winner’s single ‘Due respiri’ shot straight to No.1, later going 2x platinum!

Other artists I would recommend would be the fabulous:

The Cube Guys feat. Luciana – “Jump
Planet Funk – “Lemonade”
Alex Gaudino feat. Kelly Rowland – “What A Feeling”

Your views:

So what would you think if either Giorgia or Chiara represented Italy at Eurovision? Or, who would you suggest to represent the country in Denmark?

What do you think of thoe artists to mentioned above?
What do you think of those artists to mentioned above?

Nick van Lith from the Netherlands: I much prefer Giorgia in the song ‘E’ L’Amore Che Conta’ – that one is absolutely brilliant!

Jack Cuffe from the United Kingdom: I’d be pleased but I’d much rather see Giusy Ferreri.

Simone Missaglia from Italy: Yep, Giorgia would be a great choice for Italy.

Andy Hendrickx from Belgium: Si!!!

So Giorgia would be the fans’ preference as the Italian artist for next year’s Eurovision, but the only artist’s name that was put forward that wasn’t mentioned in this post was Giusy Ferreri (suggested by Jack). All in all, should Italy send an artist like Giorgia, Italy could possibly do very well, provided the fans vote for her!! But if you could pick an artist to represent Italia at Eurovision, who would it be? Make sure to let us know by dropping a comment below!

Possible Artists: Russia

Would you believe it, it’s July already!? A full six weeks have passed since the 2013 Eurovision final, and the fans and broadcasters alike are inevitably turning their attention to next year’s contest in Denmark. It is with this mindset that I have the honour of introducing a new series of articles where Rory and I will be looking at artists from all over Europe who could potentially be candidates for Eurovision next year. And – as ever – we will be looking for your views on our recommendations!

Eva Polna would be my first choice for Russia
Eva Polna would be my first choice for Russia

Today’s article is concerned with my personal recommendations for Russia, the first of which is Eva Polna (Ева Польна). The 38-year-old singer’s career dates back to the late 1990s, when she was drafted in as the lead vocalist for the group “Gosti Iz Budushchego” (Guests from the Future). After enjoying a decade of commercial success with the band, she embarked on a solo career in 2009, and has since released a number of singles which have been met with acclaim in Russian-speaking territories.

One of these such singles was “Ves Mir Na Ladoni”:

If the September 1st rule didn’t apply, then I would be sat here willing the Russians to send this exact song in 2014. As far as I’m concerned, it would be perfect for the contest. The melody is a listen-once-and-it’s-stuck kinda thing, and the insane amount of syllables in each chorus only adds to infectious nature. And even if we put aside the merits of the song for a second, I’d just like to draw your attention to the fact that this song was a massive hit all over Eastern Europe last autumn. And I mean massive. If Russia sends this woman next year, they will be sending an artist riding a wave of popularity, whose music more than stands up to the challenge of the contest.

Another example I think would work as a more alternative entry for the country would be her 2011 single “Korabli”:

This one is a much more laid-back slice of soothing electropop, with a stunning melody and an atmospheric backing. From performances I’ve seen of this song online, I’d say Eva can more than pull off this vibe live, and a song of this style may well stand out as something just a little different.

I’ve been a fan of Eva’s music for over a year now, and I would love to see her on the Eurovision stage. Russia have sent novelty in the last couple of years, I think it’s high time they just went with what’s actually popular in their own country, rather than a calculated attack on the Eurovision crown tailored to push all the right buttons across the continent.

In this series, I’m aiming to avoid showcasing past participants – regardless of how much I’d love to see the Buranovskiye Babushki make recurrent appearances until there are none of them left (*sob*) – I’m aiming to promote the as yet non-ESC musicians of Europe. With this in mind, my secondary selection for Russia would be this lady here:

Oksana Pochepa is one of those “singer and model” figures which Russia seems to churn out every now and again – and as a result, she comes with the prerequisite that she will have one or more rich parents, a questionable vocal capacity and a great deal more boobs in her videos than the majority of Eurovision fans want to see, if you catch my drift. However… her musical style is from the Jamala school of quirky, retro-inspired and very very cool. If she came up with something like “Utro Bez Tebya” (above) for Eurovision, I wouldn’t be disappointed at all.

If you have the time, have a listen to these other Russian artists that we would both recommend for Eurovision:

Polina Gagarina – “Nyet”
Nyusha – “Vospominanie”
Vintazh – “Eva”

Your Views:

What do you think of Eva?
What do you think of Eva?

Gijsbert Groenvald from the Netherlands: I like this but she looks like a young Bette Middler in that ridiculous outfit! 🙂 This song (Ves Mir Na Ladoni): 7/10

Nathan Stella from the Netherlands: Oh I know this song, it’s very nice! ^^ I’d still love Sergey Lazarev for Russia 🙂

Orxan Agayev from Azerbaijan: She’s so amazing! I want her to represent them

Phillipe Canty from France: I would love Anastasia Prikhodko to represent Russia again. One of the most beautiful voices of Russia!

So there seems to be general agreement for the suggestion of Eva Polna, however a number of other contemporary Russian names have been put forward. Overall, it would appear that what we really want from Russia is a credible pop artist with a great voice, who will be able to hopefully carry the country to another respectable placing in the 2014 contest. Do you agree? Feel free to comment below!