Grading the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest Semifinalists!

Eurovision is a yearly competition between European countries to choose the greatest song of the year. A random cross section of global musical genres are nominated. These are the complete semifinalists.

Austria: Natália Kelly, “Shine” 

Splitting the difference between Demi Lovato and Adele, to bland results.

Grade: B-

Best YouTube Comment: “I really like this song, but the chorus isn’t as good as the verse!” — thetovanna


Estonia: Birgit Õigemeel, “Et Uus Saaks Alguse” 

This is your standard Eurovision entry: a slightly melancholy piano ballad that breaks into a positive chorus. The theme of Eurovision is always nostalgia, no matter how many dubstep drops end up dripping into the competition.

Grade: C+

Best YouTube Comment: “This is the song that everyone will wish two weeks after the contest that they had voted for” — inxia38


Slovenia: Hannah Mancini, “Straight Into Love”

The first dubstep-influenced entry so far! This is pure Bohinjski Mohant.

Grade: B

Best YouTube Comment: “It’s time for a dubstep winner … go forward slovenia!” –  markobenjak


Croatia: Klapa s Mora, “Mižerja”

This is klapa, which is traditional Croatian a cappella. It’s much easier to take than American a cappella. Also this isn’t really a cappella; there are lots of backing instruments.

Grade: B

Best YouTube Comment: “You don’t need to understand lyrics. Music is language. You feel it or not.” — apolloslowmo


Denmark: Emmelie de Forest, “Only Teardrops”

Sounds like: Rihanna in Westeros.

Grade: B+

Best YouTube Comment: “if this doesn’t win, I know nothing about Eurovision. I’m telling you.” — mcntkn


Ukraine: Zlata Ognevich, “Gravity”

You know that thing where you rise out of a giant steampunk flower and are greeted by lightning and dragonflies made of fire and CGI hummingbirds and then you spin around on Pandora until diamonds rain on your head? That.

Grade: C+

Best YouTube Comment: “It doesn’t have a nice TUNE, melody or words that I will be singing the whole day long. The Eurovision winner song should be simple and have an addictive tune I think :)” — YanaIgnatyeva


Netherlands: Anouk, “Birds”

Anouk is the most popular Dutch female rock singer in the world. She is “described as a combination of Joan Osborne, Melissa Etheridge, and Alanis Morissette.” This is pretty soft and I forgot it instantly.

Grade: C

Best YouTube Comment: “Snooze feast. Sorry, love Anouk but this is boring.” — BibiAnderson


Montenegro: Who See, “Igranka”

Rappers dressed like Walt and Jesse from Breaking Bad drop science over some dubstep dives and wobbles. How do you say “YEAH, BITCH!” in Montenegrin?

Grade: A

Best YouTube Comment: “This is actually the first song with dubstep influences that is really cool. Good job!” — GeorgianaDroanca


Lithuania: Andrius Pojavis, “Something”

Hey look, it’s the Lithuanian version of Enrique Iglesias! And just as magnetic too. This song is slightly amazing because of these unforgettable lyrics in the chorus: “Because of the shoes/I’m wearing today/One is called love/The other is pain.”

Grade: D+

Best YouTube Comment: “I think your eyebrows are trying to escape” — busterkeatonsbriefs


Belarus: Alyona Lanskaya, “Solayoh”

It’s Alyona Lanskaya, the Shakira of Belarus! This song is catchy as hell but it’s also incredibly annoying.

Grade: C

Best YouTube Comment: “The only thing I can think about when I hear this is how it reminds me of Boney M’s ‘Hooray! Hooray!'” — sonderlateka


Moldova: Aliona Moon, “O Mie”

I’ll say one thing for Aliona Moon: she’s got the ill production design on lock. Why not look like a Sailor Moon transformation sequence if you can swing it? Moon is a backup singer for Pasha Parfeny, who represented Moldova at last year’s Eurovision.

Grade: B+

Best YouTube Comment: “Wow!! A serious song from Moldova!!” — fabb412


Ireland: Ryan Dolan, “Only Love Survives”

Ireland clocks in with a mediocre song that sounds like they melted down the sound of the current worldwide Top 40. I miss Jedward. Do you miss Jedward? Let’s miss Jedward together.

Grade: D

Best YouTube Comment: “Well, at least it’s not Jedward.” — Garell0s


Cyprus: Despina Olympiou, “An Me Thimasai”

After all these big ballads that bludgeon you with sweeping key changes, this little ballad (with a sweeping key change) feels as refreshing as a midsummer dip in the Mediterranean Sea.

Grade: A

Best YouTube Comment: “Your cold in your unknown country destroy your brain” — GREECESUMMER


Belgium: Roberto Bellarosa, “Love Kills”

Bellarosa was the first winner of The Voice Belgique, the Walloon spinoff of the popular singing competition. This sounds like Maroon 5 on quaaludes.

Grade: C+

Best YouTube Comment: “Why do people find this so bad? I like it!” — Cafeconlatte


Serbia: Moje 3, “Ljubav Je Svuda”

This Serbian trance song is not by Mojave 3, no matter how many times I misread the name Moje 3. Decent chorus.

Grade: B-

Best YouTube Comment: “To all non serbians who thinks this song is awful…..we in Serbia totally agree with you.” — TetrapakMieko


Latvia: PeR, “Here We Go”

“Here We Go,” from Latvia’s PeR is a perfect Eurovision entry in that it is properly schmaltzy, not exactly good in a traditional sense, and impenetrably European. What is Eurovision about if not Latvian rap boy bands with faux-hawks and sequined marching band tracksuits performing a nonsensically positive song in English? If you like Falco, Wham!, and the Beastie Boys and wish they had a love child, you’ll love PeR. Don’t worry, there are dubstep accents AND beatboxing. I was won over when the dude rapped, “I’m the man on the moon call me Andy Kaufman.”

Grade: A

Best YouTube Comment: “I think people recognise the outdated quality and feel this song has. It’s directly from the 90s, except the so called ‘dubstep’ part towards the end, which feels like a desperate call for establishing some kind of anchoring in the present” — Dwaeynne


San Marino: Valentina Monetta, “Crisalide (Vola)”

Monetta is back, repping the Italian island nation enclaved microstate of San Marino for the second year in a row. Last year she was all set to perform “Facebook Uh, Oh, Oh (A Satirical Song)” when the song was disqualified for containing “an unreasonable commercial message for Facebook.” They revised the lyrics so that the song was called “The Social Network Song (OH OH — Uh — OH OH),” and were allowed to perform, but failed to place out of the semifinals. That song was indelible. This one is just fine.

Grade: B

Best YouTube Comment: “It’s hard to believe this is the same singer from last year’s horrible Facebook song…great ballad!” — Garell0s


Macedonia: Esma & Lozano, “Pred da Se Razdeni”

Macedonian dubstep! Now we’re talking! Esma Redžepova is known as the “Queen of Romani Music” and I don’t care what Lozano does as long as Esma keeps singing and dancing on that giant clock.

Grade: A

Best YouTube Comment: “Esma sang the opening song in the film Borat.” — GoToReallife


Azerbaijan: Farid Mammadov, “Hold Me”

Azerbaijan hosted last year’s Eurovision Contest (this year’s takes place in Malmö, Sweden), so I guess you’ll always have last year, Azerbaijan.

Grade: D

Best YouTube Comment: “<3 hope this guy becomes an international popstar … wouldn't mind if Eurovision went back to Baku next year =)" — tehtehkitty  

Finland: Krista Siegfrids, “Marry Me”

Ohhhhh, so THIS is why people hate pop music. Seriously though, Taylor Swift’s psycho game has nothing on this chick’s.

Grade: F

Best YouTube Comment: “Finland was the first to give full rights to women, in terms of voting and being able to join the parliament” — Kittehmau


Malta: Gianluca Bezzina, “Tomorrow”

This dude is apparently a doctor, so don’t feel too bad about how terrible this Jason Mraz–ish song about a manic pixie dream girl is. Gianluca’s got a day job.

Grade: F

Best YouTube Comment: “I’m actually really surprised! Good job Malta! Finally decided to let go of soapy melancholic opera ballads sang by big women in long dresses and gave us a happy song! Keep up the good work!” — gkyrou


Bulgaria: Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankulov, “Samo Shampioni”


Grade: A

Best YouTube Comment: “I like it, reminds me of good old Eurovision days where every country was singing in their own language…” — Memento Miri


Iceland: Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson, “Ég á Líf”

This is soooooooo Nordic and I’m into it.

Grade: B+

Best YouTube Comment: “just like Thor” — BjörgvinTheodórHilmarsson


Greece: Koza Mostra ft. Agathon Iakovidis, “Alcohol Is Free”

Ska-folk! This gets bonus points for not being party rock with a title like “Alcohol Is Free.”

Grade: B

Best YouTube Comment: “It is almost a guarantee that this song will be in the top 10. Since there are so many ballads this year, this song will definitely stand out. Plus it’s ska with a bouzouki and the most awesome old dude ever! What more do you want?” — StefanNadez


Israel: Moran Mazor, “Rak Bishvilo”

Mazor won the Israeli reality singing competition Eyal Golan Is Calling You. (Eyal Golan is a super successful Mizrahi singer in Israel.) I like everything about Mazor’s look; big hair, glasses, and a scuba dress zipped open to the waist. That is a strong signature style.

Grade: B

Best YouTube Comment: “That dress is really distracting” — AlleKennenEiner


Armenia: Dorians, “Lonely Planet”

The most generic modern rock ballad.

Grade: D

Best YouTube Comment: “it’s not a song, it’s a catastrophe” — Mariam2107


Hungary: ByeAlex, “Kedvesem (Zoohacker Remix)”

Shockingly, the guy “Zoohacker” does not make dubstep. It’s like lullaby IDM.

Grade: A-

Best YouTube Comment: “I have no idea what I just watched…but it’s wonderful!” — rtpoe


Norway: Margaret Berger, “I Feed You My Love”

Is this trip-hop? It’s too fast. It’s epic and strange (“feed you my love”?). Margaret Berger is a total Khaleesi.

Grade: A-

Best YouTube Comment: “I think it has a James Bond feel to it. Pretty nice.” — tmihuu


Albania: Adrian Lulgjuraj & Bledar Sejko, “Identitet”

Awesome melodic rock from Albania.

Grade: B+

Best YouTube Comment: “BEST EVER” — AlbinBegu


Georgia: Nodi Tatishvili & Sophie Gelovani, “Waterfall”

Like I am sailing on a sea of zzzzzz…

Grade: C+

Best YouTube Comment: “Beautiful…but boring” — Tavros85


Switzerland: Takasa, “You and Me”

No thanks. I think I’m reaching my Eurovision saturation point.

Grade: D

Best YouTube Comment: “The Moldovan grandma for some years was cute. So were the Babooshkas from Russia last year. But this time, I think it is a sign of bad taste to try and break this record by sending an over 90-years-old bloke to the contest. No sympathy votes from me. Good luck Switzerland in any case.” — Timbardur62


Romania: Cezar, “It’s My Life”


Grade: A

Best YouTube Comment: “Thank you, thank you, thank you, Romania, for taking over for Moldova this year. Their song isn’t as crazy as usual so it’s nice to know you’ve got us covered. Here’s hoping for a landslide victory for falsetto pyrotechnics!” — Decoy914


Sweden: Robin Stjernberg, “You”

Stjernberg took second place in Idol 2011. He has a beautiful voice, but I’m not crazy about this song.

Grade: B

Best YouTube Comment: “I really like it. He reminds me adam lambert!!!” — PaulaMatias


France: Amandine Bourgeois, “L’Enfer et Moi”


Grade: B-

Best YouTube Comment: “The beginning is awesome, but then it becomes a bit weak” — ZagorMud


Germany: Cascada, “Glorious”

I always get Cascada confused with Kaskade. I sing along with both when they are playing in H&M. Cascada understands how to do Eurodance right.

Grade: A-

Best YouTube Comment: “I think it’s not important how a song sounds! Only a song, which moves our bodies, touches our hearts or connects different people in europe, can win this contest!” — Oejapu


Italy: Marco Mengoni, “L’Essenziale”

Those are some fucking sideburns. This is a pretty standard piano ballad.

Grade: B-

Best YouTube Comment: “I LOVE THIS SONG AND MARCO!!!! BUONA FOTUNATTA!” — zoritsa8


Spain: ESDM, “Contigo Hasta el Final”

This reminds me of the ’90s.

Grade: C+

Best YouTube Comment: “I thought it was ireland from the music lol…would have never guessed spain to stray from its rich musical history” — Born2Sing88


United Kingdom: Bonnie Tyler, “Believe In Me”

This is EXACTLY what I imagine Taylor Swift’s future self will be like.

Grade: A

Best YouTube Comment: “My lord she’s aged so beautifully!” — MyGhanaonline

Filed Under: Grading the Charts, Pop Music

Molly Lambert is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ mollylambert