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Archive for March, 2007

Song Reviews – Cyprus and Belarus

Posted by DINRIL on March 31, 2007

CYPRUS

Song: Comme Ci Comme Ca

Artist: Evridiki

Ah, Cyprus. One of those countries who’ve come so tantalisingly near to winning Eurovision on numerous occasions, yet have yet to actually taste victory. Recent years have served them well, with boy band One coming up trumps with Gimme in 2002, and Lisa ‘she’s actually from Kent you know’ Andreas making the top five in 2004 with Stronger Every Minute. Last year, however, was a disaster, with Annette Artani shrieking her way through the overblown ballad Why Angels Cry (tut tut, lady, didn’t you learn anything from Lisa Andreas? Less is more when it comes to ballads!) and failing to even make it out of the semi-final.

This year, however, is a very different story. Evridiki is a Eurovision veteran, and this year she’s chosen to sing an upbeat dance track entirely in French (and she’s not the only one opting for a random language this year – Latvia are singing in Italian, Romania have opted for a variety of languages, Israel are protesting against nuclear bombs in English, French and Hebrew, while Ukraine have chosen to sing in several different tongues including English and Mongolian. As you do). But hey! – we’re off topic here (it’s just that when Team Eurovision suggested that every country should be made to sing in a random language other than their native tongue, just for the sheer hell of it, we didn’t expect people to actually start doing it).

Comme Ci Comme Ca, which we believe we were discussing several hundred paragraphs ago, is a distinct improvement on last year’s Cypriot effort, with a funky dance beat, foot-tapping chorus and a bit in the middle that ‘goes all Ayia Napa’ and rave-like. We like it, but we can’t work out if it’s tapping into the current trend for 80s style synth sounds or if it’s just a bit dated. And although it should, by rights, sail comfortably through to the final, we’re not sure about that either. It’s good – but as with Anjelica Agurbash in 2005 and Kate Ryan last year – is it good enough? Time will tell.

For It: This kind of thing tends to do quite well at Eurovision – straightforward, does-what-it-says-on-the-tin style dance pop. And as a Eurovision veteran, Evridiki knows how to deliver the goods.

Against It: The competition is fierce this year, and tracks like this have a habit of failing to make it out of the semi-final, as we’ve already mentioned. And being sandwiched between Israel’s heavily-hyped song and Belarus’ fabulously lush ballad will do it no favours. The performance on the night had better be a good one.

Prediction: Again, we’re borderline on this one – could well qualify but again could just miss out. File under maybe. But at least if they do make it Greece will have someone to give their 12 points to – last year, in the absence of Cyprus in the final, they got all confused and awarded it to some Finnish death metal instead.

BELARUS

Song: Work Your Magic

Artist: Koldun

Here’s something we didn’t think we’d find ourselves saying – this year’s entry from Belarus is MARVELLOUS. Why do we sound so surprised? Well, these relative newcomers into the Eurovision fold haven’t exactly made much of an impact on the contest so far – their debut effort My Galileo sank without trace, Angelica Agurbash’s Love Me Tonight (which by rights should have done better), failed to deliver the goods on the night and floundered as a result – and as for last year’s effort, Mama – well, let’s not go there.

But like Bulgaria, another country who’ve arrived on the Eurovision scene fairly recently and made little impression up to now, Belarus appear to have pulled their socks up this year and made an effort. Because Koldun’s song (he has inexplicably shed his first name Dimitry for the purposes of the contest) is everything you want from a Eurovision entry – reminiscent of Russia’s Never Let You Go from last year (and we all remember how well that did), it starts off a bit like a Bond theme before turning into a big, flamboyant mid-tempo ballad with a killer chorus (it even goes up a semi-tone for the final verse). It’s the kind of thing you could imagine the reformed Take That singing, actually.

As such, we’re left gaping in wonder at how Belarus, who have gotten it so wrong in Eurovision so far, could have suddenly gotten it so spectacularly right. As may be obvious, this is one of our favourite songs in the contest, and if it doesn’t make it through to the final and do very well indeed, we’ll be even more surprised.

For It: Classic Eurovision fodder which with a good performance, really shouldn’t fail.

Against It: Not much, to be honest, although it’s on right after a bunch of really good songs, all of which have a chance of making the final, and as such there’s a remote chance it might get lost in the pack (even though the Icelandic song which follows is frankly not much cop). But not much of a chance, to be honest.

Prediction: We think we’ve made that obvious. Unless something goes very very wrong, we reckon Belarus are on their way to their first final. Expect this one to do very well indeed.

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Here We Go Again….

Posted by DINRIL on March 26, 2007

…..with our annual round-up of Eurovision’s runners and riders, from the first semi-finalist right through to the last finalist. With 42 countries taking part this year we’ve got a lot to get through – so bear with us, and hopefully we’ll get them all done in time for May 12. So, without further ado, step forward….

 BULGARIA

Song: Voda (Water)

Artist: Elitsa Todorova and Stoyan Yankulov

So the honour of kicking off the 2007 semi-final falls to Bulgaria, who so far haven’t had a great deal of success on the Eurovision stage. Their debut in 2005, with Kaffe’s dreary Lorrain, made little impact on voters, and while Mariana Popova may have attracted some attention for last year’s Let Me Cry (which we recall only as a bit of a whiney racket), it wasn’t enough to land her a spot in the final. This year, however, is a very different story.  For Elitsa and Stoyan offer up a stonker of a track to get the semi-final underway – part ethnic folk chant, part trancey-techno number, it’s quite unlike anything else in this year’s contest, and curiously enough, quite unlike much we’ve heard in past contests. After two years of misfires, it’s great to see Bulgaria coming up with such a good entry – we just hope, that with so many songs battling for attention in this year’s semi-final, that it isn’t forgotten about.

For It: It’s a great tune – fresh, modern and very credible indeed.

Against It: First is never a good position to be in Eurovision – then again it didn’t do Armenia any harm last year.

Prediction: Unless it all goes horribly wrong on the night we reckon this one should sail comfortably through to the final.

ISRAEL

Song: Push The Button

Artist: Teapacks

When you’re left licking your wounds after one of your country’s worst ever Eurovision performances (Eddie Butler’s dreary Together We Are One, which barely scraped even a single figure score in 2006), what better way to bounce back than with a cheery little ditty about nuclear annihilation? The Israelis have a history of causing controversy at Eurovision (Dana International and Ping Pong being two prime examples), and this year is no exception –  Teapacks have already hit headlines around the world for their entry, and there was even speculation that the song’s political nature might lead to them being disqualified. And it comes as no surprise that the Iranian president is none too pleased with Push The Button either, since there’s been speculation that the song is about him and his intentions to “wipe Israel off the map” (the band have since denied this).

But away from the controversy, is Push The Button actually any good? Well, it’s fair to say that this is one of those songs that you’ll either love or hate, with its growly voiced, half-sung, half-shouted vocals, multiple languages, lunatic accordion player and that bit in the middle where it seems to turn into a different song completely. Personally, we approve – but whether the voting public will is another matter entirely.

For It: It arrives at the contest on a wave of hype, which can only be a good thing. And it’s certainly memorable, something which will likely be enhanced by an energetic performance.

Against It: We can’t help feeling that this one has peaked too soon, and like Silvia Night last year, will have run out of steam by the time it actually gets within sniffing distance of a Eurovision stage. And singing second is never a good thing – no song in the dreaded second spot has ever gone on to win Eurovision. Although there is a first time for everything….

Prediction: We’re borderline on this one. Could make the final on controversy and hype alone, although with some very strong competition this year it could just as easily miss out. A lot will depend on the performance on the night as to whether it progresses further.

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Odds On For Stockholm?

Posted by DINRIL on March 24, 2007

If the bookies are to be believed, we could be set for a return to Stockholm for Eurovision 2008. Early odds released by William Hill have installed Swedish rockers The Ark as favourites to triumph in Helsinki, with odds of 7-1 on their track The Worrying Kind.

Snapping at their heels, meanwhile, are Switzerland’s DJ Bobo (11-1), Belarus’ Dimitry Koldun (Eurovision Blog’s current favourite), also at 11-1, while Russia’s Serebro, Greece’s Sarbel and Bulgaria’s ethno-trance track are not far behind at 13-1.

Of this year’s four newcomers, Serbia are favourites to make a splash in Helsinki (15-1), with the odds considerably longer than the other newbies – Georgia are 40-1, Czech Republic 67-1 while poor old Montenegro are languishing among the outsiders (who also include Portugal, Albania, Lithuania and the Netherlands) at 101-1.

As for the UK, well Scooch are currently 17-1 to bring the contest back to Blighty, although the bookies are offering odds of 26-1 on them scoring no points at all.

Personally, Eurovision Blog fancies a flutter on Slovenian opera diva Alenka Gotar, or Malta’s Olivia Lewis with the wonderful flamenco number Vertigo, both of which are currently 26-1. Having pocketed a modest sum betting on Lordi last year, we’re naturally keen to repeat our success…..

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Eurovision Scoreboard Redux

Posted by DINRIL on March 19, 2007

Last year in the run-up to Athens 2006, we wasted far more time than was really sensible playing with Ben Tunnimaro’s Eurovision Scoreboard website.

Just to refresh your memory, it was the site which allowed users to create their own fantasy song contest voting by means of a scoreboard simulator, featuring all the qualifiers plus 10 semi-finalists (chosen from the contenders by the user).

Well this year it’s back – only it’s bigger and better than ever. Now known as Eurovision Nation, the site features more content, including news, forums etc, but also has a new improved version of the scoreboard, which allows you to create your own contests from scratch.

And just for variety, a wide range of countries are featured, instead of those just in the contest. Which takes some getting used to, but if you’ve ever imagined a world in which Mauritania or Chad could win Eurovision, then you’ve come to the right place.

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Flying The Flag – or not?

Posted by DINRIL on March 19, 2007

Well, after weeks of waiting the UK has finally chosen its entry to send to Helsinki in May – and the winner certainly came as a bit of a surprise to us. We’d fully expected to see Justin Hawkins strutting his stuff on the Finnish stage come the big night, staking his claim as the British answer to Guildo Horn and giving us all an awful lot of entertainment if not an awful lot of points.

But frankly, the thought of Scooch winning wasn’t one we had even chosen to contemplate, being such a ridiculous, gimmicky tune – surely we learned our lesson last year when Daz’s dancing schoolgirls failed to impress the massed ranks of Europe? And as for the song’s reference to salted nuts and sir wanting “something to suck on for landing”, well let’s not go there.

In fact, the whole event was altogether peculiar, and not least because of the debacle in which Wogan wrongly announced the name of the winner, leading ballad chanteuse Cyndi to believe that she had won the UK’s golden ticket to Eurovision glory. Unlike previous years, there was no indication of how many votes had been cast, no points given, and the losing acts were unceremoniously shipped off stage looking rather disgruntled when told they had failed to make the grade.

While we are the first to admit that the standard of songs was a little better than usual, there was still an air of the whole thing being a bit rushed, which was odd given that our national final took place a week after anybody else’s. The person we feel most sorry for, meanwhile, is poor old Cyndi, who took her unexpected defeat as well as could be expected even though she was clearly gutted. Had she actually been the winner, she could have made quite an impression – OK, so we weren’t fans of the song at first but when we actually saw her perform it there was no denying it was simple and effective on stage – and sometimes that’s all a Eurovision entry really needs.

But instead, we’ve gone for the cheesy pop option – and while there’s plenty of that in the Eurovision line-up next year, the fact that a lot of countries – Bulgaria and Georgia spring instantly to mind – are sending very striking, credible songs – only serves to make our entry look even more paper-thin than it really is.

Then again, perhaps there is some genius in the great British public’s moment of madness. After all, two non-members of Team Eurovision who were gathered round the TV on Saturday night said straight away that they would win, and are now even going so far to saying that they’ll finish in the top five on the night. We have to say that we remain sceptical – perhaps it might have done well in the late 80s when bright pop songs and wacky antics were par for the course, but these days you need something a bit more substantial to win.

With the future credibility of the UK in Eurovision at stake, let’s just hope we’re wrong.

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We’re Back!

Posted by DINRIL on March 19, 2007

After a self-imposed absence, Eurovision Blog is once again up and running, bringing you all the action in the run-up to Helsinki 2007.

 In the mean time you can check out the old site at: http://www.eurovisionblog.com/

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