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Archive for May, 2007

Why Are We Not Surprised?

Posted by DINRIL on May 28, 2007

After weeks of heated debate about ‘neighbourly’ voting at this year’s Eurovision, one website has taken matters into its own hands. The ever reliable ESCNation (that’s the one with the not-at-all-addictive Scoreboard Simulator) has come to the conclusion (actually they came to it two weeks ago but we’ve only just noticed – we have other things to think about now such as the imminent arrival of Big Brother 8, that kind of thing) that – shock horror! – that Western Eurovision participants voted for the East European nations too.

They’ve even managed to prove their earth-shattering theory by removing all the East European votes from the scoreboard and totting up only the votes from the 1993 participants (plus Andorra), which results in a victory for – wait for it – Serbia! Not only that, but Ukraine still finish in second place, while Turkey, Russia and Bulgaria complete the top five.

In fact, only Belarus and Moldova find themselves booted from the top ten, to be replaced by fellow East Europeans Romania and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In other words, there were still no Western European countries in the top ten (had this been the final vote Sweden would have just missed out, finishing 11th). The UK, meanwhile, would still have been floundering around in 19th place.

Of course we’re left wondering – is this mere coincidence? Or is it just possible that – gasp! – the Western European nations did actually have some influence in the final result? Now we’re not saying that this disproves the existence of neighbourly voting – because it’s clear that it does exist – but since it now becomes clear that the Western nations were voting for the Eastern European songs as much as the East Europeans were, perhaps we should accept that the best song won?

 And with that in mind, Team Eurovision wants to make it clear that this is the last time we’ll be mentioning this subject (unless of course political voting rears its head in Big Brother 8). Until next year that is, when the whole debate will doubtless kick off once again…..

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(Euro)Visionary Dreams

Posted by DINRIL on May 17, 2007

At this time of year, Team Eurovision gets so immersed in the contest that it seems to occupy our every waking thought – and quite a few of our sleeping ones too! So much so that a week after the contest the odd Eurovision-themed dream is still popping up at night. Since we have no other news to report today, here are our top three weird dreams of Eurovision season 2007….

1) A strange song contest held in the living-room of our editor’s childhood home, in which China stormed to victory.

2) The Eurovision Song Contest and the General Election merging, resulting in Serbia’s Marija Serifovic becoming Prime Minister of Great Britain.

 and finally…..

3) The Eurovision semi-final taking place. Narnia qualifying for the final.

If anybody else has had any similar dreams we would of course be intrigued to hear them….

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Haven’t They Got Anything Better To Do?

Posted by DINRIL on May 15, 2007

Apparently not, it seems. In the week after the Prime Minister announced his resignation, it would appear that certain politicians have far more pressing concerns on their mind – namely the controversy over the UK’s lack of success at Eurovision. Liberal MP Richard Younger-Ross has tabled a motion, signed by three other MPs, insisting that the BBC takes action.

According to Oiko Times the motion suggests that “voting in the Eurovision Song Contest has become a joke as countries vote largely on narrow nationalistic grounds or for neighbour countries rather than the quality of the song”.

It also claims that this could harm relationships between European countries and calls upon the BBC to “insist on changes or withdraw from the contest”.

Of course the UK aren’t the only ones to be questioning the voting system, although they appear to be the only people who have taken their defeat all the way to parliament. There has also been criticism from Malta and Germany, both of whom floundered in Helsinki, while plans are afoot in the Netherlands to start a separate song contest which is only open to countries in the European Union and which harks back to old-school Eurovision rules (jury voting, songs to be performed in native language).

Obviously, with protests this vocal, contest organisers may well be forced to take a serious look at the current voting system, but Team Eurovision is still left wondering whether this is really of such national importance that it merits a debate in Parliament. If so, perhaps we could table a motion asking the public to actually choose a decent song to represent the UK in Belgrade?

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Eurovision – The Movie!

Posted by DINRIL on May 15, 2007

Well, we suppose it was only a matter of time before someone decided to make a Eurovision movie – and now it’s about to happen. According to reports, Borat screenwriter Dan Mazer and History Boys producer Damian Jones have struck a deal with UK giants Working Title (the people behind Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’ Diary and countless other hits) to make a movie based on the contest.

There’s no word yet on when the project, provisionally titled Eurovision: The Movie, will hit cinemas, or even who’s likely to star. So given that Team Eurovision has been saying for ages that a Eurovision-themed film would be a really good idea (which is another way of saying ‘we had that idea years ago but we never got to make it because we’re not big shot film producers who hang out with celebrities’) we thought it would be nice to offer them a little help. In other words, if Mazer and Jones are looking for inspiration for their own Eurovision project, perhaps one of these plots might prove useful:

1) A delightful comedy in which the blossoming romance between two Eurovision hopefuls, one from Estonia, the other from the UK, is dashed when the former are eliminated in the semi-final. Featuring Hugh Grant as a bumbling but loveable pop star trying to recapture former glories by representing le Royaume-Uni.

2) A gripping, heartfelt drama which captures the futility of war, when an argument over neighbourly voting leads to conflict between Malta and Lithuania.

3) A Eurovision-themed horror film in which the green room is beset by zombies on the night of the grand final, and only the Moldovan contingent can save the day. Working title: 28 Points Later. Starring Lordi.

4) A knockabout comedy in the vein of the Carry On films which sees Scooch being mistaken for airline staff and put in charge of a transatlantic flight. Chaos ensues.

 5) A lavish fantasy in which the UK wins Eurovision. Er……

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So what went wrong this time?

Posted by DINRIL on May 14, 2007

To be honest, we don’t really want to start harping on about the logjam of Western European countries at the bottom of the scoreboard on Saturday night. The papers have been full of it, Eurovision fans have barely stopped talking about it, and frankly we’re bored now. The point is: political voting or no political voting, the East Europeans just had better songs overall – the West Europeans didn’t have anything even close to the calibre of Serbia, Georgia, Slovenia or Latvia – and as far as we’re concerned, the best song won. End of.

We are, however, starting to think that the UK’s recent run of bad luck at the contest has nothing to do with the Iraq war and everything to do with our inability to recognise Eurovision trends in time. For example, ethno-pop was big business at Eurovision in 2003 and 2004, courtesy of Turkey and Ukraine. So what did the UK go and do? Yes, that’s right, we sent an ethno-pop song in 2005. And it was a disaster.

Subsequently, when novelty and gimmicky songs ruled the roost in 2006, we responded by sending a gimmicky song – complete with requisite silly dance routine and costumes – in 2007, the year that a lady in a black suit standing on stage won with a simple power ballad, and no corny dance routine.

Presumably next year the UK will respond by sending a lady standing on stage singing a power ballad. And no doubt the contest will be won by a one-legged bald chicken in a dress.

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The Luck Of The Irish….Or Not?

Posted by DINRIL on May 14, 2007

Well, we knew that it would only be a matter of time before the Western European countries started kicking up a fuss over the result of this year’s Eurovision – but so far, to our surprise, it’s been Ireland who have been among the most vocal. According to ESC Today Irish TV station RTE is seriously considering withdrawing from next year’s contest after Dervish came last in Helsinki with their flute-ridden whimsy They Can’t Stop The Spring. Only Albania (the same country who, coincidentally, saved Malta from nul points hell last year) thought the song was worthy of any points, with even closest allies the UK choosing to ignore it.

To which we say: well sorry Ireland, but someone has to come last and this year it happened to be your turn – and to be honest, you deserved it. While we have no doubt that Dervish are good at what they do, they were completely out of their depth on Saturday night and their performance was one of the weakest of the entire contest.

Given the generally poor showing of Western Europe this year, it is of course all too easy to blame neighbourly voting for this kind of failure, conveniently forgetting the fact that Ireland sailed through to the final only last year and scored a top ten placing (presumably that counts for nothing all of a sudden).

But being the most successful country in Eurovision history doesn’t automatically give you the right to do well every year, then throw your toys out of the pram when it doesn’t happen, and Ireland would do well to remember that. Had they come up with something of the standard of Brian Kennedy in 2006, they might well have been in with a chance of cracking the top ten again. But the fact that not even the UK – your nearest ally – gave you even a single point should suggest something, should it not?

The UK, of course, didn’t do particularly well either – but did Scooch get all huffy about it? No, they didn’t. As might have become obvious from previous postings, we absolutely hated Flying The Flag and were convinced it should never have gone to Helsinki in the first place – but fair play to the band, rather than sulk about it they have taken defeat gracefully – they went to the contest, they had a good time, they’ve now landed themselves a top five single in the charts and they’re remaining cheerful about the whole thing. And we say – good for them. Yes, you’re still rubbish, but in a nice way. We like that.

Ireland’s success last year proved that with the right song and performance, it is possible for an old school Eurovision country to do well – this year just wasn’t the right song and performance. Eurovision has moved on, and while that kind of thing might have swept to victory in 1996 it takes a bit more than that to win the contest these days. Maybe Ireland need to go back and think about how they can do better next year, rather than flouncing off in a huff. And besides, they should look on the bright side – they still scored more points than the Czech Republic.

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How did we do??

Posted by DINRIL on May 13, 2007

So how did we fare on the predictions front this year? For starters….

WHAT WE GOT RIGHT

SERBIA

We said: “Not only do we expect this to sail through the final, but we reckon it could even win the whole damn contest – if, that is, viewers can be persuaded to vote for a) a ballad and b) a song that (gasp!) isn’t in English.”

What happened: The viewers voted for a ballad that wasn’t in English. Cue Serbian victory. End of.

UKRAINE

We said: “It might sound like utter rubbish, but this is a deceptively catchy little number which we can’t help thinking will do rather well on the night.”

What happened: Verka and his foil-clad dancers were runners-up and came perilously close to winning at several points in the voting.

 UNITED KINGDOM

We said: “Half of us… predicts yet another lower end of the scoreboard finish and yet more blaming our failures on political voting, Middle Eastern conflict etc. etc., while we sit back and say, ‘well perhaps if you wanted a better result you should have picked a better song’”.

What happened: Yet another lower end of the scoreboard finish, thus proving us well and truly right. We’re just sitting back and waiting for the political voting diatribes to kick off. Maybe if we picked a proper song next year, chaps?

ARMENIA

We said: “It’s far from our favourite, yet we have a funny feeling this might be one to watch.”

What happened: Eighth place for the Armenians, not exactly victory but enough to see them through to the final for a second consecutive year. Not bad going given they’ve only been in the contest since 2006!

CZECH REPUBLIC

We said: “There are of course two types of debutant country in Eurovision – those who come up with something brilliant on their first attempt and do very well, and those who come up with something utterly dreadful and finish nowhere.”

What happened: Un point. Even the UK did better than that.

And…..WHAT WE GOT WRONG

MALTA

We said: “Provided Olivia can….turn in a performance that does the song justice, then we envisage this one qualifying with ease – and potentially doing very well indeed in the final.”

What happened: Complete and utter disaster on the Maltese front – not only did they fail to get out of the semis but they were left floundering near the bottom of the semi-final scoreboard. To be fair though, Olivia didn’t exactly come up trumps on the performance front.

SWEDEN

We said: “With a twinkly, flamboyant performance a near certainty, another Swedish victory is a very real possibility.”

What happened: Humph.

 SPAIN

We said: “Should provide the Spaniards with a considerably better result than their recent efforts.”

What happened: Well, to be fair, they did score more points than they have in recent years but they were still left mouldering in the bottom half of the scoreboard. So technically we got this one wrong.

 SLOVENIA

We said: “As long as Alenka can keep the operatics in check and doesn’t screech like an out-of-tune cat on the night, then we think Slovenia could be in for their best Eurovision result yet.”

What happened: We have no idea, quite frankly, since a striking song and near perfect performance should have given this a far better result (even the non-Eurovision fans in the Team Eurovision party on the night rated this one). Still, we were so happy that they got through to the final in the first place that we’ll let this one go.

LATVIA

We said: “We wouldn’t rule out a finish near the top of the scoreboard.”

What happened: Waaaaaaaaaaaaa! (weeping accompanied by sound of investment rolling away and the realisation that we will never get our tenner back……)

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It’s Serbia…..!

Posted by DINRIL on May 13, 2007

…..although you probably knew this by now. Belgrade 2008!

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Enjoy The Show….

Posted by DINRIL on May 12, 2007

…..because we’re certainly planning to. Despite all the arguments raging over East vs.West, neighbourly voting et al, we still reckon it’s one of the strongest final line-ups for years. But with so many potential champions, who is likely to come away with top honours tonight? Well, we reckon the winner is going to be one of these:

UKRAINE – a real love it or loathe it experience, we still think this is fabulous stuff,  and whatever you may think of it, it’ll be a performance you’ll remember. However, we can’t help wondering whether the hype over its novelty approach, coupled with the furore over East European dominance, might lead to a bit of a backlash, allowing something else to sneak in and take the title? We shall see.

SERBIA – it’s been a while since either a ballad or a song not sung in English has triumphed, but we reckon this is the strongest candidate in years. Proof positive that you don’t need a big flashy stage show when your song is decent. Could we be heading for a repeat of the Ukraine/Serbia domination of 2004?

BELARUS – this has been one of our favourites from the start and it’s still one of the best songs in the contest as far as we’re concerned. The early position in the running order might hamper its chances slightly but expect good results nonetheless.

LATVIA – and not just because we stand to win a lot of money and want to protect our investment. This ticks all the right Eurovision boxes, is unusual without being ridiculous, and if Ukraine and Serbia end up fighting like cats for the top spot something understated like this could easily sneak in and steal their thunder.

RUSSIA – the most contemporary song in the contest, we’re still not entirely convinced that Serebro will give the best performance of the night but it’s such a catchy tune it can’t be ruled out.

SWEDEN – the only West European nation in with a real chance, as far as we’re concerned. We originally had this down as a surefire winner but now we’re not so sure – that said, it’s a fun song which could have instant appeal with those viewers who’ll be hearing it for the first time.

SOMEONE ELSE – no, this isn’t a way of covering our backs by suggesting anyone could win. What we’re saying is that it’s such a good year that aside from the obvious there’s real potential for a dark horse to triumph – specifically we’re thinking Slovenia, Georgia or even (given their plum spot in the running order), Armenia. As far as we’re concerned this is one of the most wide open contests in years – so who knows what will happen?

Enjoy the show, folks…..

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Germany Rules The World?

Posted by DINRIL on May 11, 2007

Once again the BBC News website has canvassed the opinion of fans, pundits and Eurovision experts as to who’ll be triumphing in Helsinki on Saturday night, and the result is a surprising one. After totting up all the votes, supplied this year by the likes of Belgium’s only ever winner Sandra Kim and Romania’s 2006 entrant Mihai Traistariu,  Germany’s Roger Cicero has come out on top with his swing number Women Rule The World.

The rest of the top ten was a tad more predictable, featuring Switzerland, Serbia, Georgia, Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Belarus and Russia. Of these, only two (Switzerland and Cyprus) have failed to make it through to the final.

However, Cicero’s victory in the poll could be considered a surprise one since he hasn’t exactly been among the favourites. Quite whether it has anything at all to do with his odds dropping dramatically (now 18-1 according to Paddy Power) remains to be seen.

Speaking of bets, Team Eurovision is still celebrating the fact that Latvia made it through to the final, since we put a £5 each way bet on them weeks ago when their odds were 50-1. Should they finish in the top four tomorrow night (and it’s beginning to look like a distinct possibility), then we will be quids in come Sunday morning…..

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