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Archive for May, 2008

But before we go…..

Posted by DINRIL on May 26, 2008

…..a few final thoughts on how the voting system could be improved for 2009, to make it fairer to all:

1) Outlaw mobile phones across the whole of Eastern Europe and the Baltics, thus making it much harder for the population at large to vote for their neighbours.

2) Re-instate communism in the Eastern Bloc, thus meaning no nations take part in the contest again until at least 2024.

3) Come up with a really complicated qualification system which involves eight different qualifiers consisting of five countries each. Only the top two and a half countries from each qualifier based on the equal percentage of the votes they received, divided by their points average since 1996 and subtracted from the population of the country who drive red cars will be allowed to proceed to the final. Or something.

4) Only Ireland allowed to give any points. But then the UK probably still wouldn’t win.

5) Cost of single phone vote to be raised to £38.50, or equivalent in local currency, thus making it unaffordable to the average voter planning to vote for their neighbours.

6) No countries taking part allowed to vote and entire outcome of contest to be handed over to a sheep farmer somewhere up a mountain in Tibet.

And no, we’re not taking this seriously. But Svante, if you’re listening…..

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And So We Take Our Leave….

Posted by DINRIL on May 25, 2008

And as the dust settles on Eurovision for another year, it’s time for us to pack up our keyboards and take a bit of a break. We will however return shortly to bring you the ins and outs of the forthcoming Eurovision Dance Contest, which we probably won’t get any points in either. Take note rest of Europe – the UK is once again hosting this so you had better be very very nice to us unless you want to find that your accommodation consists of workmens’ tents outside Television Centre (guards! Remove this person from the building at once – Ed)

And with that thought in mind, we are off to start frothing with excitement about the forthcoming final of Britain’s Got Talent….

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Exit Stage Left?

Posted by DINRIL on May 25, 2008

Over the past few years on Eurovision Blog, we have made much of the fact that countries who don’t seem to do very well have a habit of flouncing off from the contest in a huff, blaming political voting and the like – and normally we tell them not to be so childish and get back here immediately.

However, after seeing what happened to the UK last night, we have completely changed our minds about this for once. Yet again, le Royaume-Uni – a country who you could once rely upon to be in the top ten year after year (if we came so much as 12th it was regarded as a disaster, yet now that appears to be a placing we can only dream of) finished bottom of the heap – and although we officially tied with Germany and Poland we technically came last since those two countries received higher scores from the countries who gave us points. Had it not been for Ireland and San Marino we wouldn’t have received any points at all. And had the unqualified semi-finalists not been allowed to vote we would also have gone home empty-handed.

Which would have been fine and dandy if our song had been a load of old rubbish like Scooch or Jemini, or even Daz Sampson’s shouty schoolgirl rap – but if truth be told, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the UK’s performance in Belgrade. OK, so Andy Abraham appeared to have borrowed his suit from the Thunderbirds costume department but apart from that what was the problem exactly? The song was decent, the performance was fine. The poor bloke looked a little tense but then wouldn’t you if the massed ranks of the media had spent the week saying you were rubbish and weren’t going to do very well?

There were plenty of worse songs than this in the contest. Germany’s No Angels for example were blimmin’ awful. Poland’s toothy lady (hey, perhaps Ukraine could write a song about her!) weren’t much better. Romania were flat and dull on the night, Finland looked oddly out of place and Georgia were just odd. Yet all of them did better. And we can’t even blame the UK’s failure on the Big Four being shunned by the rest of Europe this time since France and Spain, while not exactly setting the scoreboard alight, both scored their best results in years.

So this year we’re not going to tell the UK to stop complaining, to send a decent song or to do any of the things we normally tell them to do – because we did all those things, and yet it still didn’t work in our favour. In fact we’re going to do what all those other countries have been doing – throw our toys out of the pram, make a huge fuss and suggest that it’s high time the UK followed in the footsteps of Austria, Monaco, Italy, Luxembourg etc and pulled out of the contest. Seriously. Not for ever, you understand – but for long enough for us to rethink our strategy about what we should be presenting on the Eurovision stage. While we don’t think Andy deserved to come last we can see the flaw in sending somebody like him – Russia, for example, send Dima Bilan, who is a huge star across the whole of the region and who had audience members swooning in the aisles with the merest glimpse of his foxiness. The UK sends a binman made good. It’s hard not to notice the contrast (perhaps if we do return next year we should send a song by the man who sweeps up the leaves in Team Eurovision’s car park), and it is possibly an issue we should be addressing. But until we can come up with a way to regain our credibility on the Eurovision stage we don’t see a lot of point in us taking part.

The other reason we should take a break, as far as we’re concerned, is because to be honest we don’t think anybody would miss us. The UK’s absence certainly wouldn’t spoil Team Eurovision’s enjoyment of the contest (yes we love seeing the UK do well but there were many many other countries who entertained us throughout the semis and the final) because let’s face it, it’s the contest as a whole which is enjoyable – the songs, the costumes, the silly dance routines, the gimmicks, the voting – and while there’s a certain sense of national pride to be had from supporting one’s country it certainly isn’t the be all and end all.

So there we have it. As of today we are officially launching our Campaign To Get The UK Out Of Eurovision (And Take Our Money With Us – ha ha! That’ll teach all your East European and Scandinavian nations to ignore us when there’s no more contest because we’re not giving you a penny. Bet you’ll wish you’d been a bit nicer to us then when there’s a gaping void in the middle of May and you have to stay home that Saturday night and watch re-runs of the Danish version of Dancing On Ice instead. So there.)

But anyway…. who’s with us?

Stop press: Come and join us on Facebook!

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=13897884182

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The Post-Match Analysis

Posted by DINRIL on May 25, 2008

What we got right this year:

ARMENIA

We said: Expect to see this one breeze through, and be up there with the big guns in the final.

What happened: Armenia not only breezed through but finished in fourth place and came perilously close to challenging the leaders – while scoring their best result yet. Qele Qele!

AZERBAIJAN

We said: This song appears to be bafflingly popular, which means these boys and their noise could well land Azerbaijan in the final on their very first attempt.

What happened: Just that. And OK, the stage show was flashy and fun but we still think the editor’s two-year-old daughter singing Wheels On The Bus is rather more tuneful. Still, well done boys, since it’s never easy for a debutant nation to succeed (and spare a thought for the other debutants San Marino who finished last in their semi-final)

IRELAND

We said: Possibly we’re being a little cynical and bitter here but we reckon Dustin may be just cold leftovers by Wednesday morning…..

What happened: Dustin’s comical song was shunned by the rest of Europe and scored just 22 points in the semi- not enough for a place in the final. We saw this coming a mile off. Try sending a proper song next year perhaps – as Norway proved last night if you have a good ‘un it doesn’t matter where you come from in Europe!

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

We said: Still not 100 per cent convinced it is a contest winner (although we have our sneaking suspicions), but we would be scandalously surprised if this one didn’t make it through to the final.

What happened: It wasn’t a contest winner but did get through and finished a very respectable tenth. Very pleased for Laka and his quirky crew.

PORTUGAL

We said: a total out of nowhere dark horse this one, but Vania’s ballad has a strong following and should provide a  memorable, dramatic end to the semi. Expect some success to finally come the way of the Portuguese.

What happened: Well we were half-right. Vania breezed through to the final but only finished 13th. Best Portuguese result in years, mind you. Well done that lady!

ALBANIA

We said: Albania’s best effort in a while – deserves to be in the final and hopefully it will be.

What happened: It was. Not that many people noticed.

 

WHAT WE GOT WRONG:

BULGARIA

We said: We are sticking to our guns with this one and saying it will make the final. Otherwise the DJ may have to come and take her away….

What happened: In one of our biggest disappointments of the year, the Bulgarians missed out on the final. Not fair!

FYR MACEDONIA

We said: we didn’t rate this one at all but we reckon it’ll be popular. Besides, it’s Macdeonia. And they always get through, don’t they?

What happened: The Macedonians were left floundering in the semi for the first time since it started (probably due to losing all those neighbourly votes). Actually, we’re quite pleased we got this one wrong since they weren’t too good on semi-finals night.

SWITZERLAND

We said: The word of mouth on Paolo’s performances in Belgrade isn’t too good, but it’s still popular enough to make it through, we think.

What happened: Sort of wrong, again, since we were already voicing our doubts by the time Thursday’s semi came along. Looks like it wasn’t wonderful for the Swiss after all.

SWEDEN

We said: “Possibly one of the most glaringly obvious finalists of the entire year, we wouldn’t be surprised if Charlotte scored herself a second victory as well.”

What happened: Oh come on, didn’t everybody get this one wrong? Poor old Signor Charlotte (and if anybody wonders why we are calling her that go get yourself a DVD of Sweeney Todd and watch it!)

ANDORRA

What we said: This could be Andorra’s year.

What happened: Oh go away. Just go away, shut up and leave us alone…..

 

 

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Russia Wins!!!!!!!!!

Posted by DINRIL on May 25, 2008

Well done Vincent!! Finally, after years of being the bridesmaid, Russia have taken the Eurovision title, courtesy of Dima Bilan, his gold medal figure skater (so we are told) and his slick song Believe. Not our favourite Eurovision winner (well could anything really top The Herreys?) but a deserved victory nonetheless. So next year we’ll be off to Moscow. Or St Petersburg. Or Siberia. Or possibly even Vladivostok. Break out the vodka! (hey, do we really need an excuse?)

Oh, and let us gloss over Team Eurovision’s favourite comment of the night: “Well, Russia winning is probably a good thing since it doesn’t hurt to be nice to the Russians.” Meaning??????

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The Best Of The Rest – The Final!

Posted by DINRIL on May 23, 2008

And with the final looming, here are our views on the five remaining songs…

The first of the qualified finalists to grace the stage on Saturday will be our very own United Kingdom representative Andy Abraham – and the poor lad has the odds stacked against him. Andy is a very nice guy and would never actually admit it, but if we were him we would be getting a little fed up by now of all the negativity surrounding this year’s UK entry – he won’t win, he won’t get any points, why are the UK still doing this, and so on, and so on, ad infinitum. OK, we admit it, he probably won’t win, but that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t like all those naysayers to just SHUT UP for a minute, rather than continue to fuel their self-fulfilling prophecy. The fact is, Andy may well have about as much chance of winning Eurovision as the Eurovision Blog editor has of being chosen for the next England World Cup Squad (and why shouldn’t I be, exactly????? – Ed)  but at the end of the day he is still representing the UK, and surely that’s good enough reason to actually give the guy a little support? Besides his song, Even If, isn’t half bad – OK, so perhaps it isn’t particularly a ‘Eurovision’ song (actually it reminds us a bit of Belgium’s Love Power from 2007) but it’s perfectly respectable, and perhaps more importantly you can guarantee Andy will give it his all on the night. The guy is used to singing to live arenas, after all (having been on The X Factor tour) and perhaps more importantly, he can sing, and isn’t relying on some silly gimmick to get his song noticed. Chances are we’ll end up in the bottom half of the scoreboard again but we still think Andy might do a little better than everybody is predicting. At the very least he will be able to leave Belgrade knowing he hasn’t made the UK look stupid. We think.

Hot on the heels of Andy comes Germany, another country whose fortunes in the contest of late have been patchy to say the least (hitting an all time low with the execrable Run And Hide in 2005). This year they’re relying on a girl group, No Angels, with a bright and breezy pop tune called Disappear – although to be honest that’s pretty much what’s likely to happen to this song since it’s about as unmemorable as they come. So much so that with less than 24 hours to go until the final we’re still struggling to remember what it sounds like. It’s all too easy to forget that Germany, for all their largeness and prominence within Europe, have only ever won Eurovision once and have done fairly well, if not brilliantly, since – and this certainly isn’t going to be the song to chance their fortunes. In fact we’d be inclined to say they’ll be finishing bottom of the heap again.

And so to France, who have already attracted a fair bit of attention this year after their performer, the ‘credible’ musician Sebastien Tellier (he has worked with Daft Punk, doncha know) announced his intention to sing his song Divine in English. Well sacre bleu and all that. Whatever language he happens to perform in on the night, there’s no getting away from the fact that Divine is about as offbeat and quirky a Eurovision entry as it’s possible to get (well let’s face it, we weren’t going to get anything conventional from Monsieur Tellier, now were we?) but it’s actually not a bad song. Whether it’s suitable for a Eurovision stage is another matter entirely, but it’s certainly a distinct improvement on the identikit ballads France has taken to sending in recent years. A complete no-hoper but one which promises to be entertaining nonetheless.

Over the past few years the Big Four – the countries which automatically earn their place in the final due to their efforts in bankrolling Eurovision – have struggled to make much of an impact on the scoreboard, but we think this could be the year that their fortunes change – and it’s all thanks to Spain. After some genuinely disastrous years in which even former chart-toppers Las Ketchup were unable to drag them from the bottom reaches of the scoreboard, the Spaniards are back with a vengeance – in the shape of funnyman turned reggaeton singer Rodolfo Chikilicuatre. Now to be fair, there is a whiff of the novelty song about his entry Baila a Chiki Chiki, from its lyrics inviting one to ‘dance the Michael Jackson’ and going on about his granny’s underwear, to Rodolfo himself, who strums a child’s pink guitar throughout the performance. Yet unlike those efforts from the likes of Estonia and Ireland it’s actually rather sweet (more Verka Serduchka than Dustin The Turkey) and we’re forced to admit, is also insanely catchy. So much so that we confidently predict wobbly-bellied sweaty tourists will be dancing to it on the beaches of Benidorm by July. Ridiculous? Yes, absolutely? Likely to leap up the scoreboard? Er, yes, we think it just might. Could this be the one to finally drag the Big Four out of the doldrums and back among the big guns? Let’s hope so.

And last but not least, we come to the host nation Serbia. Now having won Eurovision on their very first try as an independent nation (i.e separate from Montenegro) they have a lot to live up to this time around – but frankly we’re not sure that the contest will be coming back to Belgrade for a second go. While Oro by Jelena Tomasevic is certainly pleasant enough in that kind of haunting, Eastern European ethno-ballad kind of way, it lacks the wow factor of Molitva, and there are certainly far better ballads in the contest than this (take a bow Portugal and Albania, for example). Being the host nation and being right among the Eastern block it’ll probably pick up a fair sprinkling of points but to be honest they should make the most of their hosting gig – because it doesn’t look like they’ll be getting it again in 2009…..

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The Great Big Eurovision Experiment – Ukraine

Posted by DINRIL on May 23, 2008

Words from the Shady Lady herself, Ani Lorak….

How does it feel to be representing your country at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest?

It feels absolutely amazing! I am so excited to meet the audience! Singing is my life and I am very happy to experience new emotions on the Eurovision stage. When I performed at La Scala Club in London, I was swept off my feet by the energy of the listeners, by their screams “Shady Lady!”, by the way they sang my song together with me. Moreover, I was the first participant from Ukraine who went to UK on the promo-tour. I feel great representing my country and I hope that this year’s performance will be a memorable event to all ESC fans.
What are you most looking forward to about taking part?

Eurovision is great because you get to know the uniqueness of every European country. Apart from the excitement that I’m looking forward to receive on the stage and the accumulation of emotions, ready to explode during the performance, I have a very important message to deliver to the European public. I have always been concerned with the problem of discrimination against HIV-infected people. I think that this problem comes from the lack of knowledge on HIV/AIDS. I came to remind that AIDS cannot be transmitted through friendship!

What can we expect from your performance?

You’ll see the Shady Lady, her energy, strength, love, and passion. You’ll see her magic.

Which of this year’s other songs do you rate?

Every song is unique in its own way. Sitting in a green room after the performance, I’m not going to think how many votes other participants are getting. The only thing in my mind will be the excitement from the performance and the foretaste of my results.  I want to wish all the contestants good luck!

Have you always been a fan of Eurovision?

I can’t really say that. I’ve heard a lot about the contest before and I knew that it’s a great event in Europe for many years which unites so many different countries. Now that I am a part of it, of course, I enjoy it so much.

Which is your favourite Eurovision song of all time, and which is your favourite from your home country?

I loved Helena Paparizou’s song and Molitva, the winner-song of the last year. 

What do you think about the debate over so-called ‘political’ voting? Do you think it exists or is it more a case of viewers in certain parts of the world voting for artists they are already familiar with?

I think it is more a matter of the tradition and friendship. Neighbour countries have similar mentality, therefore maybe they understand each other’s songs better. I think that usually the best song wins and this year won’t be an exclusion.

How is Eurovision received in your country? Do people take it seriously there?

Ukrainians enjoy Eurovision a lot! It is a very popular and exciting event in our country. It is widely discussed in the press, on TV. It is everywhere

Why do you think Eurovision is still so popular, even after all these years?

Because it is one of a kind.

What do you think of this year’s UK entry? Do you think your country may give us some points (please?????? ;)) 

 Andy is so unique! We met with him in London during our performance in Scala Club at the Preview Party. His song is absolutely positive, joyful, and full of love. It is wonderful! I think that he is a great talent and wish him the best of luck

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Semi-Final The Second – Our Verdict!

Posted by DINRIL on May 23, 2008

And here’s what we made of Thursday night’s proceedings:

OPENING NUMBER – What. On. Earth. Was. That? Do the Azeris know that the half-man-half horse creature has snuck into their dressing room and stolen their wings?

PRESENTERS – still not too annoying. Clearly they are working on it.

ICELAND – WOW, what a terrific opening number! Euroband gave it their all and thoroughly deserved their spot in the final. And let’s just ignore the member of Team Eurovision who asked “are they Jemini in disguise?” midway through the performance. If Jemini had been this good it might have been a very different story in Riga.

SWEDEN – is it just us or does ‘Signor’ Charlotte Perrelli look a bit weird? Strange make-up and a Bacofoil dress would generally bode ill for a Eurovision performance – but luckily she delivered the goods in fine style. A definite contender tomorrow night – and she is singing 15th, the position from which she won last time. ARGH! It’s an omen! Etc.

TURKEY – can this semi-final really get any better? Oh it just did, with a fabulous performance from Mor Ve Otesi. Another very deserved qualifier.

UKRAINE – and the cracking songs just keep on coming. Ani Lorak’s performance was one of our favourites of the night with its ridiculously over-the-top choreography and a smouldering turn from Ms Lorak herself. There was never any doubt in our minds that this one would go through.

LITHUANIA – HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! One Michael Bolton is quite enough, thank you. Next!

ALBANIA – gosh, how nervous did little Olta Boka look? No matter, she sang this very sweetly and earned her place in the final. But can her nerves withstand it?

SWITZERLAND – Paolo was a disappointment, to be honest (well there is always one favourite that misses out on the final and this year it was the turn of the Swiss – again), but we’re prepared to forgive him anything for those lovely smiles he kept flashing during the performance (he was smiling at ME, I tell ya – Ed)

CZECH REPUBLIC – oh Lordy, what a mess. No surprise to see this one crash and burn.

BELARUS – now we kinda liked Steve Buscemi lookalike Ruslan at first but we had a big problem here in that the new version of Hasta La Vista just didn’t work for us at all. We can see why they did it – the dance version was far better but the poor bloke just couldn’t dance! The rock version however, which was performed in the semi, doesn’t require him to dance but oh boy did it suck. Wouldn’t it have been better to just stick to the original and stick him in a box a la Dustin so that no sudden moves would have been necessary? Looks like the Belarussians will have to try harder next year to prove that Koldun’s success was no flash in the pan.

LATVIA – was it really wrong to laugh like a drain at this one? If truth be told it was absolutely shambolic – but kinda fun nonetheless. No surprise to see it qualify.

CROATIA – the biggest surprise package of the night for us, we LOVED this and was so pleased when it got through. Old codger is clearly a force to be reckoned with.

BULGARIA – now we loved this from the start but couldn’t help feeling a teeny bit disappointed on the night – the flashy stage show just couldn’t detract from some rather weak vocals. Shame they didn’t make it though – just seems that other acts were better on the night.

DENMARK – another pleasant surprise, we loved this song from the start too but had all but forgotten about it. But just shows how a great performance can turn a country’s fortunes around in this contest. So pleased he made it through, if only because it means 100 per cent representation from Scandinavia.

GEORGIA – weird. Just plain weird. But there was something strangely Eurovision-y about the whole thing, from the anthemic chorus to that gimmicky costume change. Not entirely surprised to see it qualify even though we didn’t predict it.

HUNGARY – oh what a disappointment. Czesy just seemed a bit ‘hotel lobby music’ after all that had gone before her. We could almost hear our investment rolling away. Humph!

MALTA – mad, demented, utterly brilliant performance from Morena. Would have loved to have seen this qualify purely on the strength of the semi-final but we knew deep down they didn’t have a cat’s chance in hell. Pity.

CYPRUS – another no-hoper, Evdokia did her best but it did little to drag Cyprus from the doldrums, and of course with Greece in the other semi it was hard to see where their votes would come from.

FYR MACEDONIA – a big disappointment, this just didn’t work on stage at all, coming over as a bit of an unchoreographed mess. And so Macedonia miss out on their first final since the semis began. Shows just what happens when the rug of neighbourly voting is pulled out from under you.

PORTUGAL – and a fabulous, stunning end to the contest. Can’t believe we didn’t notice this one before but Vania (who whipped the crowd up into a state of near hysteria – we can’t help thinking there would have been riots in the Belgrade Arena if they hadn’t qualified) delivered an absolutely superb performance of this passionate, dramatic song, and confirmed herself as a serious contender for the title. Can’t wait to see this one again on Saturday night.

And there we have it. So instead of East European dominance this year, we have East European dominance joined by the entire massed ranks of Scandinavia. Seriously, though, the new semi-final format appears to be a winner. Firstly, the fact that we don’t have a load of finalists already in the final (who have entered some load of random old nonsense because they’re already qualified and don’t need to try) means that everybody appears to have raised their game and come up with something far better this year. Nearly every song in the final is a cracker, and that’s why we’re soooooo excited about Saturday night! Secondly, it just goes to show that there is still room for Western Europe to succeed in this contest with a good song and performance – and the new format gives them more opportunity to do so.  Whether the old school will do well on the night remains to be seen, but at least the likes of Iceland and Portugal have now had a chance to show the rest of the continent what they can do.

And finally – Estonia and Ireland, let this be a lesson to you. Just because Lithuania and Ukraine managed to be wacky in 2006 and 2007 doesn’t mean that singing turkeys or jaunty songs about vegetables are actually funny. How about following in the footsteps of some of the other countries who’ve made it through to the final for the first time, and sending a proper song to the contest next year??????

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And Here’s The Running Order…

Posted by DINRIL on May 22, 2008

Hot on the heels of the qualifiers, here’s how the final will shape up on Saturday night:

Romania
UK
Albania
Germany
Armenia
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Israel
Finland
Croatia
Poland
Iceland
Turkey
Portugal
Latvia
Sweden
Denmark
Georgia
Ukraine
France
Azerbaijan
Greece
Spain
Serbia
Russia
Norway

Are we the only people who are really REALLY excited about this?

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Semi-Final The Second – The Results!

Posted by DINRIL on May 22, 2008

And joining the first semi-final qualifiers in Saturday’s final are:

UKRAINE

CROATIA

ALBANIA

ICELAND

GEORGIA

DENMARK

SWEDEN

LATVIA

TURKEY

PORTUGAL

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