Various Artists

Eurovision Song Contest: Düsseldorf 2011

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With boy band Blue becoming the U.K.'s highest-profile entry since the Shadows, Italy participating for the first time in 14 years, and returns from former winners Dana International and Lena, the latter being the reigning champion, the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest had the potential to be one of the most interesting in its 55-year history. Unfortunately, as evident on this official compilation (which includes both the 25 finalists and the 18 losing semi-finalists), the reality was quite different, as after several contests which slowly appeared to be kickstarting the camp-fest into the 21st century, the majority of this year's entries provided ammunition for those "too cool for school" critics who argue that the competition is nothing more than a politically motivated, outdated, and irrelevant novelty. The oompah-band folk of Bosnia-Herzegovina's "Love in Rewind," the trumpet-led jazz of Italy's "Madness of Love," and the swinging lounge-pop of Serbia's "Caroban" could quite easily have been lifted from the very first 1956 Eurovision, while the gimmicky entries from Moldova ("So Lucky") and Ukraine ("Angel") are rendered pointless without their bizarre novelty hats and sand-artist visuals. However, there are several entries which could well transcend the confines of the show, such as the slinky electro of Germany's "Taken by a Stranger," and Russia's RedOne-produced "Get You," the driving radio-friendly acoustic rock of Denmark's "A New Tomorrow," Azerbaijan's winning song, "Running Scared," and the infectious schlager pop of Sweden's "Popular" and Ireland's "Lipstick." There are impressive vocal performances from Nadine Beiler on Austria's gospel ballad "The Secret Is Love," Maja Keuc on Slovenia's Christina Aguilera-esque, "No One," and Evelina Sasenko on Lithuania's musical theater-inspired "C'est Ma Vie." With tracks covering opera (France's "Sognu"), Latin pop (Spain's "Que Me Quiten Lo Bailao"), and nu-metal (Georgia's "One More Day"), no one can fault the Dusseldorf-hosted contest's diversity, but while previous compilations could be enjoyed by any pop fan, this all-encompassing overview of a less than vintage year is only likely to appeal to hardcore Eurovision fanatics.

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