Slovakia's Daniela and Veronika Nízlová, the singing duo better known as the TWiiNS, want to double your pleasure and double your fun at Eurovision 2011. Known for their barely-there shorts and habit of standing legs akimbo, they've never been afraid to cast subtlety aside in the name of YouTube views. But you probably gathered that from their official Eurovision press portrait (above) in which one sister mounts a coffee table, while the other holds a two-foot glitter sign that reads SEX. If flesh and provocation can be used as weapons at Eurovision, Slovakia seems poised to deploy its nuclear arsenal.
And that's what makes their song "I'm Still Alive" so puzzling. It's a saccharine ballad about inner strength and perseverance -- and a firm departure from their repertoire of hits that includes "Boys, Boys, Boys" and "Slip of the Tongue." Gone are the sultry lyrics. In their place comes a vapid chorus that suggests self-reliance will set you free.
Now nothing can touch me/ I've seen what I can be/ Lonely I've walked through the fire/ But I'm still alive
The video is even more curious. Rather than licking their lips, Daniela and Veronika look at the cameras in contemplation, and the only things that undulate are their over-sized earrings. Perhaps they're thinking about the footage producers spliced in that captures some of Slovakia's most triumphant and challenging moments. Generally those vignettes compliment the song's lyrics: vintage B-roll of Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution and recordings of Slovakia's worst floods in 1,000 years definitely connote resolve and fortitude. But the birth of an alien baby at the end? That's just creepy.
So why are Eurovision's sexiest contestants finally covering up? It could be a matter of fatigue. Fourteen years ago, at the age of 10, the Nízlová sisters won Hviezdicka (Little Star), the Slovak version of Star Search. They kicked off their career as the sugary sweet duo Tweens, but by 2006 had morphed into a waxed and perma-tanned act known as "Twice as Nice." Perhaps hoping to play off the classic male fantasy of twin sisters, they rebooted as TWiiNS in 2008. After years of hip-shaking and bikini waxing and sessions with a personal trainer, it's no wonder they've paused for a bit of mid-tempo cheese.
And it is just a pause. Recently, Daniella told a reporter that the TWiiNS still see value in their sex kitten antics. "I'm actually introverted and she's more of an exhibitionist which is a huge advantage in this business," Daniela said. And what about after Eurovision? "We will go back to work in Los Angeles. We plan on releasing our next single 'Welcome to Hollywood' sometime this spring." There's no doubt the TWiiNS can handle L.A. The real question is whether Sin City can handle them.
Slovakia has never finished higher than 18th in the Eurovision final, and the country has been eliminated in the semis for two years running. If you believe the bookies, Slovakia's place in the finals is tenuous at best: they are consistently rated as 10th or 11th most likely to win the second semi-final, suggesting they are straddling the cutoff point.
As Slovakia knows, trusting the oddsmakers is a dangerous game. Last year bookies listed Slovakia's entry Kristina as a front-runner to win her semi and challenge in the finale. Dressed as a wood nymph in leather boots, she buckled under the pressure and finished next-to-last.
I agree with the bookies that Slovakia will finish somewhere in the realm of ninth to eleventh in their heat. But I'm going to give the TWiiNS the benefit of the doubt and predict that they'll advance. Duets tend to do well. And while there aren't many harmonies in their song, the TWiiNS have the novelty of being twins. (Coincidentally, the other set of twins at Eurovision -- Jedward from Ireland -- also compete in this semi-final. I wouldn't be surprised if all four of them go through.)
Sadly, if Daniela and Veronika do qualify for the finale on May 14, they'll struggle to make an impression, and will likely finish 20th or lower.
Apparently the TWiiNS' sex appeal is also an appeal for compassion. On May 1 they released a rap version of "I'm Still Alive," which they said was "for all the people of Japan, Haiti & Africa." Check it out: