Ott Lepland

Review: Birgit Õigemeel - Uus Algus

Birgit - Uus Algus ©
Rating: 5

After many attempts, young Ms Õigemeel finally managed to succeed in qualifying for the Eurovision Song Contest to represent her beloved Estonia with the classic ballad Et Uus Saaks Alguse. Her latest release Uus Algus is written chiefly by the same succesful team and the album has a pleasant suprise for Eurovision fans.

Birgit Õigemeel wins Eesti Laul 2013

Birgit Õigemeel (c) ETV

One-time winner of the Eurovision Song Contest Estonia concluded the search for its song for the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest tonight. Birgit Õigemeel triumphed over nine other Eesti Laul finalists, and will now go on to Malmö with the song Et uus saaks alguse.

Complete line up for Eesti Laul confirmed

Eesti Laul 2013 ©

As reported mere days ago here on Eurovisionary, Estonian broadcaster ERR had received 157 submissions for the national selection Eesti Laul 2013. A jury has been busy beavering away over the past few days and yesterday evening the full line up for next year's competition was announced, with many familiar names promising us a diverse selection.

157 entries received for Eesti Laul 2013

Eesti Laul 2013 ©

With Ott Lepland and his emotive performance of Kuula managing to equal Estonia's best placing since 2009, interest for the participating in the show has remained stable, with broadcaster ERR receiving 157 entries, only 2 entries fewer than last year.

OGAE Finland's Eurovision weekend a triumph

Hera Björk © Hera Björk

OGAE Finland played host to fans from all across Europe and beyond for the third edition of the Eurovision Cruise this weekend, experiencing a record turn out and an event which can only be described as an immense success.

Stockholm Pride secures star studded Eurovision line up

Jedward ©

Stockholm may have lost out to Malmö in the fight to host next years contest, but that isn't stopping the city from getting into the Eurovision party mood with a jam packed line up for the annual Stockholm Pride event.

OGAE Portugal confirms further names in Setúbal line up

Eurovision Live Concert 2012 © OGAE Portugal

In accordance with tradition, OGAE Portugal usually think big when attracting stars to their annual concert in Setúbal, just outside of Lisbon. This year is no exception either with quite a few fan favourites taking to the stage at the open air José Aflonso Auditorium.

2012 - Final

2012 logo {copyright EBU}
Basic information
26 May 2012
Contest type: 
Grand Final
Crystal Hall, Baku, Azerbaijan
İctimai TV
Nargiz, Eldar and Leyla
About the contest: 

From the moment Azerbaijan triumphed in Dusseldorf in 2011, taking the contest further east than it had ever gone before, there were concerns about Azerbaijan’s suitability to host such a prestigious international event and controversy dominated the months and weeks leading up to the contest. A new venue, the Crystal Hall, was built for the event. The Azeri authorities insist that the plans for the building already existed before it was chosen to host the 2012 contest. They also stressed that those forced to leave their homes to make space for the construction were properly compensated, something denied by the locals whose homes were affected. Azerbaijan’s human rights record was also put under the spotlight. The BBC seemed particularly keen to bring the contest into disrepute, broadcasting what was effectively an anti-Azerbaijan documentary the day before the first semi-final. There is the not unreasonable argument that a song contest should not become a political event and it is worth noting that the Azeri population were delighted to have the opportunity to show their country to the world, something those giving themselves the grand label of ‘human rights campaigner’ would have denied them.    

While the presentation of the show was rightly apolitical, the President of Azerbaijan couldn’t resist influencing proceedings. His wife was put in charge of the organising committee and his daughter, Leyla, was one of the presenters and then there was the interval act. So, the question is; if you’re Azeri and want to show your talent to the world, how can you secure a gig in the Eurovision Song Contest? Hard work? Maybe. Talent? Possibly. Be married to the daughter of the president? Definitely! Ladies and Gentlemen, please be upstanding (or else!) for Emin. He was supported by a cast of thousands (well, that’s what it looked like) but still managed to seem inadequate.

Politics also played a part in the number of participants. Of the two countries withdrawing from the event, one was a significant withdrawal. Armenia has long had its differences with Azerbaijan, but initially said it would take part in the contest. However, after much umming and aahing, the Armenians decided that the organisers couldn’t guarantee the security of an Armenian delegation in Baku and so withdrew from the event. Poland withdrew due to the commitment of co-hosting the Euro 2012 football tournament. Montenegro returned after a two year absence, so a total of 42 countries headed east.

Political interference didn’t stop in the host country. In Belarus, Alena Lanskaya won the final with the ballad, All My Life. Discontent was expressed about the fairness of the result and the public had their way when the President intervened and declared that Litesound, who came second, would go to Baku instead.

As has become the norm, much was made of the alleged neighbourly voting. Of the Scandinavian countries, Sweden won easily while Norway languished at the bottom of the scoreboard. Work that one out!

Željko Joksimović was appearing for the second time as a singer, as was Jonsi from Iceland and the irrepressible Irish twins, Jedward. Kaliopi had been selected for the contest before, but that was in 1996 when all countries were put to a vote and Macedonia was one of six countries who missed out, so she had to stay at home.

The song from San Marino was originally called Facebook (Oh Oh – Uh - Oh Oh) but EBU rules don’t permit commercial messages so a change had to be made. A man of Ralph Siegel’s experience would/should have known this, so one is left with the feeling it was all a ruse to gain publicity.
About the songs: 
Engelbert HumperdinckEngelbert Humperdinck United Kingdom – Engelbert Humperdinck – Love Will Set You Free (English)
Music/Lyrics: Martin Terefe, Sacha Skarbek/Martin Terefe, Sacha Skarbek

Famous and respected singer. Check. A decent song. Check. A bit of luck in the draw. Damn it! Engelbert’s fate was sealed as soon as the draw was made and he came out first. Good though his old-fashioned romantic ballad is, it needed to be nearer the end. Going on first, it was always going to be lost in the mixture that was to follow.  

 HungaryCompact Disco
Hungary - Compact Disco - Sound of Our Hearts (English)
Music/Lyrics: Behnam Lotfi, Gábor Pál, Attila Sándor, Csaba Walkó/Behnam Lotfi, Gábor Pál, Attila Sándor, Csaba Walkó

Not just the sound of our hearts, but the sound of the 1980’s, too. The lead singer looked nervous in the semi-final but, perhaps buoyed at being there, was a lot more assured in the final and he gave it everything. 

 AlbaniaRona Nishliu
Albania - Rona Nishliu – Suus (Albanian)
Music/Lyrics: Florent Boshnjaku/Rona Nishliu

Rona gave us easily the classiest song of the entire contest, enhanced by the intense red background. There were reasons to doubt it would qualify for the final, never mind finish fifth overall. It’s great for the contest that a song like this can prove so popular.

 Donny MontellDonny Montell Lithuania - Donny Montell – Love Is Blind (English)
Music/Lyrics: Brandon Stone/Brandon Stone, Jodie Rose

How this came third in its semi-final is a mystery! The sparkly blindfold (this is Eurovision, it couldn’t possibly be a plain blindfold) gimmick looked ridiculous, his dancing was worse than a drunk uncle at a wedding and the song, which starts promisingly, descends into a disorganised mess!

 Maya SarMaya Sar Bosnia and Herzegovina - Maya Sar - Korake Ti Znam (Bosnian)
Music/Lyrics: Maja Sarihodžić/Maja Sarihodžić

Jolly or straight-laced is what we usually get from Bosnia. Korake Ti Znam falls firmly into the latter category. Maya starts her soft and gentle song at the piano before, somewhat predictably, she walks away from it towards the end for the big finale.  

 RussiaBuranovskiye Babushki
Russia - Buranovskiye Babushki - Party for Everybody (Udmurt/English)
Music/Lyrics: Viktor Drobysh, Timofei Leontiev/Olga Tuktareva, Marry S. Applegate

Just when Engelbert Humperdinck thought he had the title of ’Oldest Singer to Perform in the Contest’ in the bag, the Russians chose a group from the local OAP home. Simple sing-along is the order of the day. Had it won, the reputation of the contest would have taken one of its biggest knocks together with a huge dent in its credibility.  

 IcelandGreta and Jonsi
Iceland - Greta Salóme & Jónsi – Never Forget (English)
Music/Lyrics: Gréta Salóme/Gréta Salóme

Iceland continued its run of strong entries with Greta and Jónsi’s highly likeable ballad. Greta’s violin playing evoked memories of Alexander Rybak three years earlier, but nothing should be stopped just because it may have been done before. It would have been a shock of historical proportions had this not made the final.

 CyprusIvi Adamou
Cyprus - Ivi Adamou – La La Love (English)
Music/Lyrics: Alex Papaconstantinou, Bjorn Djupström, Alexandra Zakka, Viktor Svensson/Alex Papaconstantinou, Bjorn Djupström, Alexandra Zakka, Viktor Svensson

Cypriot broadcaster, CyBC, chose Ivi to sing all three songs up for selection as the island’s entry. The song was chosen by national juries and the presence of a lot of fans on those juries was evident when the most stereotypical song of the three won.

 AnggunAnggun France – Anggun - Echo (You and I) (French/English)
Music/Lyrics: Jean Pierre Pilot, William Rousseau/William Rousseau, Anggun

The use of gymnasts instead of dancers was an interesting choice. It’s on the border of working and looking a bit daft but she probably got away with it…just.

 Nina ZilliNina Zilli Italy – Nina Zilli - L'Amore È Femmina (Out Of Love) (Italian/English)
Music/Lyrics: Christian Rabb, Kristoffer Sjökvist, Frida Molander, Charlie Mason/Nina Zilli, Christian Rabb, Kristoffer Sjökvist, Frida Molander & Charlie Mason

Nina had been compared by some to Amy Winehouse because of her appearance.  Perhaps keen to capitalise on this, her hair had been styled in the Amy way. She was chosen by a special panel at the Sanremo song festival and initially, the plan was to sing her Sanremo song, Per Sempre in Baku. However, it was changed to the title track of her album. Officially because she wanted to give a different view of her style to the world, but quite possibly because it proved too difficult to reduce Per Sempre to the required three minutes. Handily, L’Amore È Femmina was already three minutes long.   

 Ott LeplandOtt Lepland Estonia - Ott Lepland – Kuula (Estonian)
Music/Lyrics: Ott Lepland/Aapo Ilves

An example of how to nearly turn virtually guaranteed success into disaster! Pre contest, Kuula was a beautiful, heartfelt ballad that went big at exactly the right moments. Whether pre-planned or not improvised, Ott used a different vocal arrangement in the semi-final whose only effect was to lose the neatness of the song. Anyway, it worked so the same vocal arrangement was used in the final as well.  

 ToojiTooji Norway – Tooji – Stay (English)
Music/Lyrics: Tooji, Figge Boström, Peter Boström/Tooji, Figge Boström, Peter Boström

Many were sure that Tooji’s pop/dance track would qualify but no-one foresaw how narrowly it would do so – only beating Bulgaria on the count back system after a tie. It’s therefore not surprising that he propped up the scoreboard in the final.

 Sabina BabayevaSabina Babayeva Azerbaijan - Sabina Babayeva - When The Music Dies (English)
Music/Lyrics: Anders Bagge, Johan Kronlund, Sandra Bjurman, Stefan Örn/Anders Bagge, Sandra Bjurman, Stefan Örn, Johan Kronlund

Written by the team which included writers involved in the successful Azeri entry in 2011 plus the lift that comes from being the host country, the omens were good. Much was made of her dress in the build-up, but the stage lighting can take most credit if there is any being handed out. Sabina went through a lengthy selection process to represent her country and the powerful, moody ballad chosen for her was always going to finish high up the scoreboard. 

MandingaMandinga Romania – Mandinga – Zaleilah (Spanish/English)
Music/Lyrics: Costi Ionita/Elena Ionescu, Dihigo Omar Secada, Costi Ionita

The Romanians added some colour and jollity to the evening with their ethnically flavoured, up-tempo ditty. The instruments looked like toys from some angles!

 Soluna SamaySoluna Samay Denmark - Soluna Samay - Should've Known Better (English)
Music/Lyrics: Chief 1, Remee/Chief 1, Remee, Isam B

The Danes seem to specialise in bland, AOR songs which do better than they deserve. It’s melodic enough but never quite moves off the starting blocks. It did finish low down in the final, but being in the final at all was over-achieving!

 Eleftheria EleftheriouEleftheria Eleftheriou Greece - Eleftheria Eleftheriou – Aphrodisiac (English)
Music/Lyrics: Dimitri Stassos, Mikaela Stenström, Dajana Lööf/Dimitri Stassos, Mikaela Stenström, Dajana Lööf

In what must have been a first, the Greek final was held in a shopping centre. Aphrodisiac is typical of recent Greek entries; catchy, high energy pop performed by a good-looking singer. 

 LoreenLoreen Sweden – Loreen – Euphoria (English)
Music/Lyrics: Thomas G:son, Peter Boström/Thomas G:son, Peter Boström

Euphoria indeed as Loreen not only won, but came close to scoring the highest number of points in contest history. Her freestyle dancing led to comparisons with Kate Bush. Her song, which is perhaps unworthy of such a victory, will be a club anthem in Scandinavia for years to come. She also achieved chart success in many other European countries, making Euphoria the most commercially successful Eurovision song for many years.

 Can BonomoCan Bonomo Turkey - Can Bonomo – Love Me Back (English)
Music/Lyrics: Can Bonomo/Can Bonomo

Can didn’t receive the warmest of receptions when he was announced as the Turkish choice. Turkey missed out on the final last year and can consider themselves lucky to be back on stage in the Saturday extravaganza this time. Cheap gimmick alert! Can’s backing dancers form the shape of a boat from the cloths they had previously been waving around while accompanying Can’s ethnic Turkish song, which also has hints of Greek music – controversial!

 Pastora SolerPastora Soler Spain – Pastora Soler - Quédate Conmigo (Stay With Me) (Spanish)
Music/Lyrics: Antonio Sánchez, Thomas G:son & Erik Bernholm/Antonio Sánchez

This is what the Spanish are very good at but have avoided entering for many years. A big voice with the task of selling an epic, passionate ballad. They chose the right lady as Pastora absolutely nailed it!

 Roman LobRoman Lob Germany – Roman Lob – Standing Still (English)
Music/Lyrics: Wayne Hector, Jamie Cullum, Steve Robson/Wayne Hector, Jamie Cullum, Steve Robson

Germany’s entry has good pedigree as it was co-written by Jazz star, Jamie Callum. His fingerprints are all over it and the end result is a song which could possibly have given Germany a second win in three years. Standing Still would sound great on a small stage in a jazz club but also sounded more than good on the biggest stage in music.

 Kurt CallejaKurt Calleja Malta - Kurt Calleja – This Is the Night (English)
Music/Lyrics: Johan Jämtberg, Mikael Gunnerås, Kurt Calleja/Johan Jämtberg, Mikael Gunnerås, Kurt Calleja

Are you ready for more dodgy choreography? Then we’ll begin the Maltese song. Many were surprised when Malta were announced as one of the qualifiers on Thursday night – or very early Friday morning for those in the host country! Kurt’s pop song was spoiled by the playground style dancing which featured at the end of the chorus. This included his two guitarists, possibly making this the most amusing choreography since Liliane St Pierre in 1987. 

 KaliopiKaliopi Macedonia – Kaliopi - Crno I Belo (Macedonian)
Music/Lyrics: Romeo Grill/Kaliolpi

The song starts quietly enough but develops into a quality piece of Balkan rock. Kaliopi was always likely to put everything into her performance. In the event, she tried a bit too hard.

 JedwardJedward Ireland – Jedward – Waterline (English)
Music/Lyrics: Nick Jarl, Sharon Vaughn/Nick Jarl, Sharon Vaughn

Just when you thought it was safe to watch the contest again, Jedward were back, this time with a water feature! As happened a year earlier, their backing singers worked non-stop. Even when Jedward put down their mics for a quick shower, there was no noticeable change to the vocals.    

 Željko JoksimovićŽeljko Joksimović Serbia - Željko Joksimović - Nije Ljubav Stvar (Serbian)
Music/Lyrics: Željko Joksimović/Marina Tucaković, Miloš Roganović

Željko is a Eurovision veteran! This is the second song he has performed, the fourth he has written and he hosted the contest in 2008. He took no chances when accepting the approach from Serbian broadcaster, RTS, to represent his country. He gave everyone what they expected, an ethnic ballad oozing beauty with an effective string arrangement.  

 GaitanaGaitana Ukraine – Gaitana _ Be My Guest (English)
Music/Lyrics: Gaitana, KIWI Project/Gaitana

Oh dear! This is a song better heard on disc than watched live. In her excitement, Gaitana shouted rather than sung the words and the garland on her head looked awful and out of place. 

 Pasha ParfenyPasha Parfeny Moldova - Pasha Parfeny – Lăutar (English)
Music/Lyrics: Pasha Parfeny, Alex Brashovean/Pasha Parfeny

Pasha’s song and performance may have been positive, but his chances weren’t, or at least, didn’t seem to be! However, a couple of favourable draws and a memorable presentation gave Pasha a much better showing than was merited.  

Ott Lepland - Kuula - 3D - Estonia 2012

See video

EuroVisionary presents Ott Lepland performing his 2012 Eurovision Song Contest entry Kuula. This performance - recorded in 3D - is from the dress rehearsal for the final.

Euphoria for Loreen as Sweden Romp to Victory


Tonight, the 57th Eurovision Song Contest was beamed live to Europe and anywhere with internet access, from the Crystal Hall in Baku, Azerbaijan. Hosts, Nargiz Birk-Petersen, Eldar Gasimov (one half of the duo who won last year) and Leyla Alieva guided the audience through the evening.






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