Monday, May 31, 2010

Eurovision 2010 Results

Old news by now, but I was out of town this weekend and didn't get to see the actual final until Sunday evening. Here are the results (Performance order/My guess/Actual place):

1 Azerbaijan 5 5
2 Spain 17 15
3 Norway 15 20
4 Moldova 12 22
5 Cyprus 19 21
6 Bosnia & Herzegovina 11 17
7 Belgium 8 6
8 Serbia 16 13
9 Belarus 9 24
10 Ireland 4 23
11 Greece 6 8
12 UK 24 25
13 Georgia 14 9
14 Turkey 3 2
15 Albania 10 16
16 Iceland 1 19
17 Ukraine 23 10
18 France 9 12
19 Romania 2 3
20 Russia 25 11
21 Armenia 22 7
22 Germany 7 1
23 Portugal 21 18
24 Israel 20 14
25 Denmark 18 4

The obvious lesson here is that I have no clue what is going on. Actually, the things I was wrong about are things that I am glad to be wrong about. Forced sentimentality, such as Belarus' "Butterflies" and Norway's "My Heart is Yours", was not rewarded. However, super dancey pop music also doesn't get a free pass (sorry Iceland and Moldova, still love ya both). Also, the flashmob celebration while votes were being tabulated was one of the most awesome things I've seen on television in a very long time:

So so awesome. Can't wait for Germany 2011!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Eurovision Rundown

Here is the rundown of the field for Saturday’s Finals along with where I think they should rank (though probably won’t). The Top 10 are in bold:

Azerbaijan (5): The reason I don’t see this winning is that it is formulaic to the point that it comes off as brewed in a lab after months of market research. It will probably rank higher, but it really shouldn’t.

Spain (17): based on the video’s circus theme, I expect an over-the-big-top performance. However, there are more circusy acts in the lineup.

Norway (15): The singer is dreamy but the song is sleepy.

Moldova (12): I love me some pop fiddle, but there are a lot of elements that work well individually yet do not play well with others.

Cyprus (19): this song is of the “cute guy with a guitar” family, but I think Belgium will be cornering the market for that demo.

Bosnia & Herzegovina (11): I think if there was a current global cause to rally around (such as the Iran Elections last summer) this song could have won the competition.

Belgium (8): This is a really sweet acoustic number by a cute guy and a guitar. Watch your back near Cyprus and Denmark.

Serbia (16): Continuing the circus theme from Spain. This one will probably rank higher than I’m placing it because it seems to be the rallying point for the Balkans.

Belarus (13): The whole turning into a butterfly thing is just cheesy enough for this to end up ranking higher, but the trend of up-tempo winners leads me to think this will be middle of the pack.

Ireland (4): Although the song is pretty, I can see there being some hesitation in adding to Ireland’s win count and crowning a singer as a repeat winner.

Greece (6): There is nothing catchier than “OPA!” but this is the personification of flaming cheese. And I love flaming cheese.

UK (24): the UK hates Eurovision and the other countries know this. Also, the song is bland to the point that the British David Archuleta will be performing it.

Georgia (14): The marketing for this song is so fierce that even I have been getting ads to vote for this song (I’m in the US). However, I think this low placement is an indication of how tough the field is.

Turkey (3): Excellent performance and potential voters spread out across the continent. However, the song is not overly catchy.

Albania (10): This song reminds me of Anastasia, but truthfully I probably ranked this a little too high.

Iceland (1): This song has been stuck in my head for days. It has Europop sensibilities and is lyrically interesting. However, there is the whole volcano thing that really threw a wrench into organizing the event, but surely she can’t be blamed for it. Can she?

Ukraine (23): I love me some Ukrainian pop music, but this is more of a meandering rant than a song. Frankly, I’m surprised this made it into the finals since I thought all Ukrainian support would have gone to Georgia.

France (9): This is a great summer jam, but I think it may suffer in a live performance.

Romania (2): Along with having the coolest performance in Semi-Final 2, they had the best Official Video of all the entries. However, the lyrics will probably hurt them with the juries.

Russia (25): not well received, and I wasn’t the only one referring to it as a song for a suicide note

Armenia (22): the fact that I had to look up this song three times because I couldn’t remember is not a good sign.

Germany (7): Top of the Byes, this number reminds me of Lily Allen. I’m curious what the live performance will be like.

Portugal (21): the only thing I remember about this song was that I was bored by it.

Israel (20): this was another song I was bored by and again I’m surprised that this made it into the final.

Denmark (18): blame Belgium.

Since this is my first full Eurovision experience, I don’t really have a reference in terms of what is considered good or bad, likely to win or lose or anything like that. There is also the concept of bloc voting between countries (Balkans, former Russian republics, Scandinavia) and other areas of politics that are fascinating but that I have no grasp of yet. For example, the BBC has projected that the entry from Ireland will be placing 5th and that Azerbaijan is the favorite.

We’ll know how things shake out by Saturday evening (Eastern Time).

Eurovision Exempt

Here are the videos for the five exempt countries. For those who don’t know, France, Germany, Spain and the UK get automatic byes into the finals every year because they are the primary financiers for the competition. As the host country, Norway gets the fifth bye, rounding out the total field of 25 for the final competition on Saturday.

France: Jessy Matador - Allez, Ola, Ole

Germany: Lena - Satellite

Norway: Didrik Solli-Tangen - My Heart Is Yours

Spain: Daniel Diges - Algo Pequeñito

United Kingdom: Josh Dubovie - That Sounds Good to Me

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Eurovision Semi-Final 2

Here are the videos for the ten that advanced from today's Semi-Final. They will compete on Saturday with the qualifiers from Tuesday and the 5 exempt contenders (UK, France, Germany, Spain, and host Norway). The 5 exempt videos will be posted tomorrow.

Georgia: Sofia Nizharadze - Shine

Ukraine: Alyosha - Sweet People

Turkey: maNga - We Could Be The Same

Israel: Harel Skaat - Milim

Ireland: Niamh Kavanagh - It's For You

Cyprus: Jon Lilygreen & The Islanders - Life Looks Better In Spring

Azerbaijan: Safura - Drip Drop

Romania: Paula Seling & Ovi - Playing With Fire

Armenia: Eva Rivas - Apricot Stone

Denmark: Chanée & N'Evergreen - In A Moment Like This

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Eurovision Semi-Final 1

Here are the songs that have advanced from the first semi-final round.

Bosnia/Herzegovina: Vukasin Brajic - "Munja i grom" ("Thunder and Lightning")

Moldova: Sun Stroke Project & Olia Tira - "Run Away"

Russia: Peter Nalitch and Friends - "Lost and Forgotten"

(According to @bbceurovision, there was booing in the arena when Russia advanced)

Greece: Giorgos Alkaios - "OPA!"

Portugal: Filipa Azevedo - "Há Dias Assim"

Belarus: 3+2 - "Butterflies"

Serbia: Milan Stankovic - "Ovo je Balkan" ("This is the Balkans")

Belgium: Tom Dice - "Me and My Guitar"

Albania: Juliana Pasha - "It's All About You"

Iceland: Hera Bjork - "Je Ne Sais Quoi"

Monday, May 3, 2010

RPDR: Grand Finale

Last time on RuPaul’s Drag Race: well, it was a clip show that I didn’t recap because, aside from audition videos and cameos from Shannel, Ongina, and Bebe, there really wasn’t anything new. Let me start again.

Previously on RuPaul’s Drag Race: We started with 12 queens and have whittled our way down to the Final Three. Jujubee held onto her wig during the “Gone with the Window” mini-challenge, wowed the judges with her personality, and delivered the best shade ever: “Ms. Tyra – was your barbecue canceled? Your grill is fucked.” Awesome. Tyra Sanchez deluded herself into being “America’s Sweetheart” and consistently raised the bar on the runway challenges. Raven started off rough but also wowed the judges every step of the way. One of them will be the Next Drag Superstar…tonight!

Raven enters the workroom proclaiming “Top Three bitches!” Juju reads Tatianna’s goodbye message: “Do you 2 the FULLEST!” Juju interviews that Tatianna had so much potential that just wasn’t realized. Raven asks Juju to clean the mirror since Juju won the lip-sync and she was Tatianna’s friend. Juju thought she was going to go home since it was her third time in the bottom, but Raven reminds Juju of her book title: “Memoirs of a Gay-sha: And I’m STILL Here.” Juju asks what would have happened if she went home and Tyra responds that the competition would have just been between Tyra and Raven. Ha!

The girls reflect on their “Oh shit” moments through the season. Raven and Juju’s all coincided with when they had to LSFYL, while Tyra’s was during the bridal challenge and everyone attacked her. We see a replay of Juju’s lecture on the runway before jumping back to the workroom and Juju explaining that Tyra needed that “come to Jesus” moment. Tyra argues that having that moment in front of the judges probably hurt Tyra in the competition, but Juju disagrees saying that the judges probably now see that Tyra has grown.

Time for one last SheMail! Ru tells them that they stand on the shoulderpads of a dynasty of drag queen predecessors. One queen will survive the final fight to the finish. Are they throwing the queens into the Octagon? I’m not sure how I feel about that. Either way, Raven is ecstatic. Once the video finishes, Santino and Merle enter the workroom. They tell the queens that RuPaul is getting ready for the final challenge, which will be a music video for “Jealous of My Boogie”. The video will include a fight sequence as well as an “over the top dramatic scene” opposite Ru. The queens also have to work with Robert Verdi to come up with two looks inspired by 80’s Power Bitches. This is just dripping with Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent.

The queens head to the mainstage to practice choreography with Ryan Heffington, the guy who did the choreography for last year’s final challenge. Um, what is he wearing? It’s a black, lacy, see through tank, black suspenders, a sparkly skirt thing and gray angle boots. It’s a look I can’t imagine being flattering for anyone, let alone for a guy that can best be described as “awkwardly hairy”. Can we get him on What Not to Wear? Raven struggles a bit, particularly since Ryan and the choreography are “high octane”. Juju describes Ryan as “the tiniest, little fiercest, little white man in the world.” That’s fair. Also fair: Ryan describes Tyra as monotone. The end of the sequence will have the girls improvising a cat fight. I think they can handle that part without any problems. We see them rehearse and Juju interviews that she hopes no one takes her eye out. It’s all about timing. Ryan interviews that Juju might be the most in tune with the choreography and will likely be the one to beat in this challenge.

The girls return to the workroom to work on the lip sync and talk about what is ahead. Juju asks everyone if they ever thought they would grow up to be in a RuPaul video. Hey, just a couple of years ago I made a reference to RuPaul that I thought would be the only one ever on my blog and here we are. RUPAUL CHANGES LIVES, yo. Juju recaps for us what needs to be done in this challenge: a scene with Ru, learn the words for the scene and the song, prepare a fight scene, and have a lunch date with Ru. She doesn’t say what the time crunch is but I assume they have a short window to work with.

The first queen to have lunch with Ru is Tyra. Tyra is in male form while Ru is in female form. Ru gives Tyra a couple of Tic Tacs (they sprung for the orange ones this year) and start to chat. Tyra says that the toughest part of the competition has been staying focused and not worrying about her son. They talk about prayer and God and anger. Ru says that anger is a symptom of fear and Tyra says in a separate interview that she is afraid of losing her son. If Tyra wins the show she believes that it will allow her a fresh start in life. Once again, this show is making me sympathetic to Tyra. Stop it, show, I’m too invested in my dislike!

Meanwhile in the workroom, Robert Verdi has a consultation with Jujubee. Juju says she doesn’t have too much of an awareness of 80’s Bitches since she was born in 1984. I don’t think that’s an excuse, but Juju may not be a pop culture sponge. Juju confesses that she doesn’t really know where to begin with the wardrobe selection. Uh-oh.

Raven joins Ru for lunch. Raven calls the experience “surreal” – I can’t tell if she is misusing the term or not. Ru asks Raven about how she is handling being sequestered and she says that it’s tough not being able to talk to her mom every day. They chat about divorced parents for a bit and how they coped with the pain. Raven starts to choke up a bit as she describes how difficult it is entering a relationship when there is the possibility of failure. Ru’s nugget of wisdom for Raven is “expectations lead to resentment.” Raven interviews that she really appreciates having a conversation with someone and not having it be about the competition or drag.

Tyra consults with Robert Verdi about her persona. Verdi educates Tyra about what the style was because she was born in friggin’ 1988. Oh good, I can go back to hating her now. Verdi blah blah blahs a bit, making me wonder why he is on the show beyond the Logo cross-promotion.

Juju gives Ru a smooch at the lunch table. Ru asks Juju what it was like being in the bottom two three times, and Juju explains that she has been in life’s Bottom Two several times. She shares that she used to respond to “faggot” until she woke up one day and said screw it. That’s pretty much all we get.

Raven and Verdi have more of an in-depth dialogue about the challenge since Raven actually gets the references to Dynasty. Verdi supposes that Raven may have the advantage, leading to an interview with Raven saying that you need to know a little bit about a lot of things to be successful.

After the queens get ready for the challenge, we join Ru on a soundstage. Raven goes first. The conceit is that the contestant is confronting Ru in her dressing room about the competition. Then Ru slaps her. Raven gets mixed reviews from the director before Tyra enters for her shoot. Tyra gets confused by the director’s direction to feel more “hurt” --- his accent makes it sound like “hood”. They ultimately decide that “hood” might be the better stage direction. Juju and her five-shoulder pad jacket enter with confidence. Juju interviews that she was a theater major so this challenge should be a cinch. Unfortunately, the only thing missing from her performance was a thrown chair because it is so over the top. I realize it is a drag competition, but compared to the other two this performance comes across as unnatural. The director calls her a “drag clown”. You know, for people who have a fear of clowns or drag queens that sounds downright terrifying.

The girls are now getting ready for the mainstage choreography portion. Tyra doesn’t like any of the outfits available, which starts to get on Juju and Raven’s nerves. She manages to find something and they head to the mainstage. The routine seems fine and they get to the catfight portion without too many problems. Tyra gets a little too into character and snatches Raven’s wig not once but twice, the second time throwing it off the stage. A little later, Tyra pushes down on Juju’s head, slamming Juju’s eye into Raven’s heel. I’m sure that was at least 90% accidental. Juju asks if it is bleeding and then says “if I look fine I’ll keep going.” Atta girl! Rather than tempt fate, the director says they have enough usable footage and decides to stop.

Back in the workroom, Juju puts some makeup on to cover the bruising and gets ready to film the last segment with the girls. Raven interviews that, based on the costumes Juju and Tyra are putting on, the other girls have no clue what the aesthetic is that they should be aiming for. Raven continues saying that she is channeling Lisa Lisa, Kelly LeBrock, and Teena Marie. That is going to be one jacked up look. Both Juju and Tyra are focusing on the big hair and even bigger accessories. The actual shoot features the three of them putting on their makeup in the mirror. Kind of low energy, but it leads to Juju interviewing about how “every boy in America sings in front of the mirror to RuPaul. You didn’t know that?” That almost ranks up there with her line about shopping for deli meats. Love ya, Juju!

The next day is the last day of the competition. The girls talk about their excitement and how awesome it will be if they are the winner. Juju asks Tyra how winning will change her life. Tyra says the win will allow her to get her own place (she lives on her drag mother’s couch) and Jeremiah can be a bigger part of her life. Final preparation and everyone is nervous.

Ru enters the mainstage in a dress made from all the St. Patrick’s Day leftovers at Party City. It’s very shimmery and a much better choice than the all-encompassing poof she wore at last year’s finale. Tonight, the only judges will be Santino and Merle. For the last time: Gentlemen, start your engines. And may the best woman win!

Juju starts the show wearing a purple dress with a bubble skirt. She flips the bodice of the dress to reveal that there is bustier underneath. Raven follows wearing black leather boots, and a frilly cabaret dress. I do not like this look at all – it goes right back to her “man in a dress” wheelhouse. Tyra enters wearing a pastel blue and pink outfit. It looks very Olivia Newton-John. Yikes, her heels are chartreuse. What was she thinking? Fashionwise, this was a rather uninspired finale.

All the girls take the stage. We get to see highlight from Juju’s reel. Merle points out that under normal circumstances Juju was totally overacting, but as a parody of Dynasty she was aces. Santino doesn’t like the dress and Merle doesn’t like the accessories. Come to think of it, it does look like what a 9-year-old who is obsessed with Lisa Frank would imagine elegant to be. Hmmm, that doesn’t sound too good for Juju.

Tyra’s reel focused on how extreme her fighting was in the video. Tyra claims that she didn’t grab for Raven’s wig intentionally, but Ru points out that the accident happened twice. Tyra just giggles. Santino loves the look and Merle doesn’t say anything.

Raven’s video focused more on the other two in the catfight, but her scene with RuPaul was the best of the three. Back at the runway, Ru asks what the most difficult part of the challenge was for Raven. “Looking at your face.” Raven clarifies that she was trying not to be starstruck. Merle loves Raven’s outfit but Santino points out that Raven got lost in the scuffle. He does say that Raven pulled off the best 80’s look.

Deliberations. Merle calls Juju a “tourist” compared to the other two and that she is not as refined. Ru thinks Juju is the most intelligent of the three, but Merle thinks Tyra is pretty sharp. Ru doesn’t think Tyra is all that refined either, but she does know a lot of old-school drag tricks. Santino thinks Tyra and Raven both know their shit. Merle loves Raven’s personality while Ru finds Raven to be fashion forward. Ru says she needs to see them LSFYL before she can decide. Wait, all three?

Ru welcomes the girls back to the stage. She tells the girls how proud she is of all of them. Ru tells Juju that she brought a light to the competition, but she is not the next drag superstar. AWW! Not only was I hoping for a Juju win, but also it won’t be a triple LSFYL. Juju sashays away, saying that she is disappointed that she won’t be lip syncing.

Ru tells Tyra and Raven that they will Lip Sync for Ya Life to “Jealous of My Boogie.” For those keeping score at home, this will be the first time Tyra has had to LSFYL. Well girl, don’t fuck it up. This is the longest performance we’ve seen this season. Both girls do their thing, but during the second verse Tyra steps down from the stage and starts to vamp for the judges. You can see Ru trying to pay attention to both Tyra and Raven, but Tyra’s closeness wins that tug-of-war.

The song ends and our two finalists hug. They are both out of breath. Ru takes a moment before announcing that America’s Next Drag Superstar is…Tyra Sanchez. Tyra tears up as she hugs Raven. Triumphant music plays and then stops as Tyra lowers herself to the floor. Now the soundtrack is that heartbeat undertone you can hear on the top-level questions on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Tyra is still breathing heavily as she lies down. Raven asks for some help because Tyra is hyperventilating. Ru offers some water or a paper bag to breathe in, but Tyra eventually pulls herself together. She interviews that winning was an out of body experience. Ru tells Raven that she was unforgettable, but she has to sashay away.

Ru puts the tiara on Tyra and tells the world to be Jealous of her Boogie. Now walk girl!

Coming up soon – the always fabulous Reunion Special!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

RPDR Pre-cap Finale and Reunion

Oh my goodness, y’all! The finale and the reunion! There is so much to discuss that it seems appropriate to do one of these precaps. Full recaps will appear eventually (approaching the end of semester here, so I need to pretend to prioritize).

First: Juju, Raven and Tyra are presented with the final challenge of co-starring with RuPaul in the video for “Jealous of my Boogie.” It’s basically a rehash of the final challenge from last season, right down to the Tic Tac lunch dates with Ru. The queens don’t have to write and perform a rap, but they do need to participate in a Joan Collins style catfight where Ru gets really slap-happy.

Anyway, while filming the runway catfight sequence the three queens totally let loose. Tyra can hardly contain herself, ripping off wigs and slamming Juju’s eye into Raven’s heel. Bitch, they must all be from Chicago, if you know what I mean. This all leads to the final runway showdown, where Juju was not up to snuff and eliminated. Aww! The final Lip Sync for Ya Life was to “Jealous of my Boogie” and both queens rocked it. Tyra was crowned the winner (AWWW!) but then the clip we have all been waiting for since 1 minute and 7 seconds from the first episode: Tyra hyperventilates and causes a bit of a panic. Raven doesn’t get to assume the duties as runner-up because Tyra recovers and WALKS.

Then there was the Reunion. Here’s what the queens have been up to:

Shangela: She has won some titles in California and seems all around fabulous. Hallayloo!

NPB: Helping her son connect the dots between dad and the woman in all the photos around the house.

Mystique: Her mom has not been kidnapped by Mexican drug cartels. Just FYI.

Sonique: Guess what! She has begun the transition process! Woo!

Morgan: Just doing her thing – I actually don’t recall what she said she was up to.

Sahara: Aside from the increased booking fees, she has now become a Dear Abby on Facebook for gay kids and future drag superstars.

Jessica: Jessica has become the Ann Landers for the future queens. Woo!

Pandora: She was able to reconcile with her father before he passed away, helped other gays who have contemplated suicide, and won Miss Congeniality. A true woman of the world!

Tatianna: Has a bit of an axe to grind with everyone who doubted her.

Jujubee: She’s riding the wave and hopes to parlay her experience into a gig in Rent.

Raven: She is serving as the grindstone for Tatianna and just about everyone who was not a Raven fan. There will be hugs.

Tyra: Hey, she just won, let the queen collect herself. Though I will say that I wonder how she can breath in that dress. KIDDING!

So yeah, all this and so much more – I’m sure you can see why I’m so excited to talk about it! Stay tuned!