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That Was The Eurovision Decade, That Was….(Part 1)

Posted by DINRIL on December 29, 2009

As the decade draws to a close (or does it? For every person who thinks 2010 is the start of the new decade there are plenty of people out there who will tell you it’s the last year of the old one. But anyway…..) it seems that a lot of sites have gotten all nostalgic over the last ten years in Eurovision history. And who are we to buck the trend? After much deliberating, cogitating and settling disputes outside by the bins, we are proud to present The Unofficial Eurovision Blog Awards Of The Noughties. And they go as follows……

BEST NEW COUNTRY OF THE PAST 10 YEARS

RUNNERS-UP

Moldova – had a smashing debut in 2005 with Zdob si Zdub and their granny but haven’t done quite so well since, although we did love their 2009 effort.

Serbia – had one of the best debuts ever with 2004’s Lane Moje, their Eurovision track record is a bit patchy but they deserve a mention for not only winning but putting on a damned good contest the next year.

Azerbaijan – this lot really do seem to have gotten the hang of things very quickly, but sadly haven’t been in the contest long enough to justify winning this. But at their current performance level we’ll be very surprised if they don’t win at some point in the next 10 years.

Armenia – solid rather than spectacular newcomers, we’ve liked everything they’ve done so far without it actually wowing us. Kudos to them however for bringing the dance routine back to Eurovision courtesy of Jan Jan.

And the winner is – UKRAINE!!

Well it couldn’t be anybody else really could it? The Ukrainians first appeared in 2003 and apart from a couple of dodgy years have had a smashing track record – not only did they win it at their second attempt but they’ve barely been out of the top ten since. And can you honestly think of another country who has come up with such consistently entertaining performances? Svetlana’s outlandish Be My Valentine in 2009 almost deserves an award of its own. In short they have, in just seven years, become one of the countries that we most look forward to seeing on the Eurovision stage. Can’t wait to see what they have planned for 2010.

BEST WINNING SONG

RUNNERS-UP

Molitva – Marija Serifovic (Serbia 2007). The song that made us all realise, after years of flamboyant performances, that it was OK to sing a ballad, in a foreign language without a flashy dance routine.

Every Way That I Can – Sertab Erener (Turkey, 2003). Because we won £250 betting on it when it was an outsider. And, er, it’s quite good too.

Fairytale – Alexander Rybak (Norway, 2009). The Marmite winner of the past 10 years. Love it or hate it, you can’t help but admire Pixie’s utter dominance of the 2009 contest.

Hard Rock Hallelujah – Lordi (Finland, 2006). Bet you all thought this would win. Nope.

And the winner is….You’re My Number One – Helena Paparizou

This one deserves the award for a number of reasons; because it gave Greece their long LONG overdue win, because it’s a blimmin’ brilliant pop song, because it’s slickly performed, and because unlike other winners you don’t listen to it years later and think ‘My God, what was I thinking??????’ ‘Tis a classic winner and will remain so.

WORST WINNING SONG

RUNNERS-UP

Believe – Dima Bilan (Russia, 2008) – oh come on. It’s dullsville and you know it.

Fly On The Wings Of Love (Denmark, 2000) – Er……

And the winner is…..Everybody (Estonia, 2001)

There’s a reason why the 2001 champion Everybody is regarded as a ‘shock winner’ – because that’s exactly what it was, and in fact to this day still is. While the 2001 contest was far from one of the best there were still some very decent songs in there – Greece’s Die For You, France’s All I Have Is My Soul and Sweden’s Listen To Your Heartbeat would all have been credible winners. Even Denmark’s second-placed song Never Ever Let You Go was good enough that a second consecutive win for the Danes wouldn’t have been out of the question. But in spite of all that this bumbling disco effort, which in other years would have struggled to make the top ten, somehow triumphed – and to this day we’re not sure how. We couldn’t even remember it about five minutes after the contest finished, and we can’t remember it now.

Ironically, the songs the Estonians entered in 2000 and 2002 would have made far better winners, but it was not to be – and their out of nowhere win didn’t exactly do a lot for their track record since after their home turf contest the following year they didn’t come within sniffing distance of the top ten again until Urban Symphony’s fabulous Randajad in 2009. Now that would have been a credible winner. Take note Estonians, should you want to win this thing again….

BEST DEBUT ENTRY

Runners-up

Bunica Bate Toba (Moldova, 2005) – was it the song or the added attraction of Granny? Actually it was the former. We liked this from the minute we heard it.

My Story (Georgia, 2007) – a barnstormer of a debut. Should have done a lot better.

Lane Moje (Serbia and Montenegro, 2004) – spine-tinglingly brilliant.

Image Of You (Albania, 2004) – a surprisingly good debut tune from the Albanians, which nobody – except us, natch – thought would do well. But it did.

And the winner is – My Star (Latvia, 2000)

What was it about Latvia’s debut effort which makes it so beloved? Was it Renars Kaupers’ slightly deranged performance, its Britpoppy sound, the fact that Latvia had taken us all by surprise and come up with something so fresh sounding, all of the above? Er, yes. There was something so simple and joyful about this song – and so non-Eurovision sounding, that it ended up being hugely appealing. And was it just us or did 2002’s Latvian victory feel like a bit of a consolation prize? Can’t help feeling this is the one that should have done it for them.

COUNTRY WE MISS THE MOST

RUNNERS UP

Austria – we do miss you actually. In spite of Alf Poier and Global Kryner.

Luxembourg – it’s been such a long time we’ve forgotten what you sound like. No matter, COME BACK!!

And the winner is – Italy

Well were you expecting it to be anybody else really?? Come on Italy, please stop sulking and get yourself back to Eurovision where you belong. We promise not to poke fun at Toto Cutugno’s presenting skills any more if you do. Honest.

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Posted in Comment, Eurovision News | 1 Comment »

Thought for the day…..

Posted by DINRIL on May 8, 2009

So the failure of the UK on the Eurovision stage in recent years has been blamed by many people on other countries not liking us due to our occupation of Iraq. (and Wogan has similarly been putting the boot in in Lucerne, it seems…..)

Does this mean if we do better this year that these same people will attribute it to the fact that we’re not in Iraq any more, rather than the fact we actually have a better song for once??????? Hmmmmmmm……………….

Posted in Comment, United Kingdom | 3 Comments »

Wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care…….!

Posted by DINRIL on April 7, 2009

There’s been a lot of talk recently about ‘how to dance the Jan Jan/Nor Par’, the routine which accompanies Armenia’s fine 2009 effort (and we mean that most sincerely, it is one of our favourites this year.) You can see it in the official video, there is an instructional video showing you how to do it on Youtube, and we’re pretty certain that come the big night an army of audience members will be going through the motions in Moscow. But here at Eurovision Blog, we’re thinking – why should the other 41 countries be left out of the dance routine fun? And why should you the viewer at home be deprived of the chance to recreate a whole string of routines at your Eurovision party without having to resort to that old Bucks Fizz skirt-ripping cliche? So, just to make some of the other countries feel a bit more part of the fun, we have devised some dance routines for them, complete with handy instructions so that you can join in at home…..(disclaimer: NOT to be taken too seriously……….)

THE LOVE SYMPHONY (Slovenia)

How to do it: Place a large sheet of semi-translucent baking paper over the largest window in your house. Stand behind it wiggling around seductively and brandishing your microphone in a suggestive manner for two and a half minutes. Then break through the paper (be careful not to break through the window at the same time. That would be stupid. ) Sing a bit. Eye up the foxy blokes playing the violins. Repeat.

THE HORA DIN MOLDOVA (Moldova)

Find some people to dance with, link shoulders and career round and round in a big circle until everybody realises they are getting a bit dizzy and fall over.

THE FAIRYTALE (Norway)

Start off with a few Cossack style dance moves, then leap around your living-room in the manner of a small monobrowed pixie, frantically playing the violin. Stop and deliver lecture on how it isn’t a violin at all but actually some kind of specific Norwegian folk instrument that looks just like a violin. Jump up and down and cheer ecstatically as song rockets to top of scoreboard (alternative move: look on in disbelief as your song fails to do nearly as well as everybody is predicting…..)

THE LOSE CONTROL (Finland)

Breakdance like a complete lunatic for two and a half minutes. Pull several muscles. Spend rest of night lying on sofa moaning softly to yourself and vowing never to be so reckless ever again. And, er, that’s it.

THE BE MY VALENTINE (Ukraine)

Hang upside down by your ankles over the shoulders of the nearest available friend. Flip up on to their shoulders and make your way to the floor. Perform the kind of raunchy moves that might have gotten you noticed in Options Nightclub when you were 21 but possibly don’t any more. Swallow an entire strawberry whole. Drop chocolate all over nearest available person. Play some drums. Pout (suggested costume for this routine: ripped tights and a leotard, or possibly some nice M&S pants…..)

THE BISTRA VODA (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Dress up like the fifth member of Coldplay. Look a bit moody.Suck in cheekbones (don’t forget to breathe while doing this) Repeat ad infinitum.

THE LA VOIX (Sweden)

Make a big, weird-looking sculpture out of tin foil (with one eye hole cut out) and leave it on the floor as you will need this later. Then one person stands in the middle while the others do assorted walking in a line, running round in a circle type dance moves around them. At the final chorus, pick up your foil mask, place it over your face and stand there looking a bit lost and puzzled. Then ring Neil Tennant and apologise for sounding so much like the Pet Shop Boys.

THE THIS IS OUR NIGHT (Greece)

Get all hot and flustered at sight of Sakis Rouvas and forget to do any dance moves whatsoever. Then keel over (ENOUGH aready – Ed)

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So Who Does Our Country Need?

Posted by DINRIL on January 29, 2009

We realise that as yet we haven’t said a great deal on the subject of Your Country Needs You (largely this is because Team Eurovision has been away in Malta on a Eurovision vote-canvassing trip, much of which involved lying in luxurious spas being pampered while having a nice in-depth discussion about Chiara’s Eurovision career with the facial-administering lady, but anyway……).

So with the final looming on Saturday, and with us breathing a huge sigh of relief as the Emperors Of Soul are sent packing (no offence to them, they’re very talented, just completely wrong for Eurovision and besides we can’t get over the fact that one of them looked like Andy Abraham in a dodgy wig), while continuing to mourn the loss of lovely Damien, let’s cast an eye over the remaining contenders. Who does the UK REALLY need to represent it in Moscow? Will it be….

JADE?

For her: She is clearly the best singer in the contest by a country mile – witness how she blew away all the competition in the first show – has enormous stage presence and let’s face it, hasn’t exactly been beaten with the ugly stick.

Against her: Leona Lewis, Alexandra Burke, etc. etc……is there actually anything that unique about her or is she just one of a dozen identikit singers? We’re still not sure….

MARK??

For him: The public seem to have taken him to their hearts; a decent singer who has a certain something although we can’t quite figure out what it is at the moment. He has been steadily improving over the weeks, plus has theatrical experience so is used to performing to audiences. And Dima’s victory last year could point to a renaissance for male soloists on the Eurovision stage.

Against him: Used to performing to audiences but they tend to be of the ‘provincial panto in the local theatre’ variety, which may not necessarily come in handy when performing to a crowd of 20,000 people in a Moscow stadium (none of whom will be punctuating his song with cries of, “Mark, he’s behind you!”)

THE TWINS????

For them: “Oh how cute, look, identical twins, what a novelty! And look, they blubber helplessly whenever they win anything! Don’t you just want to kiss them?” (er, no…..)

Against them: They certainly do have the likeability factor and the identical twin novelty, but we’re still not convinced they wouldn’t crumble into a tone-deaf pile of dust if faced with the mighty prospect of the Eurovision stage. Or fall victim to an Azucar Moreno-style blunder and just stand there and cry instead.

OUR VERDICT:

There is an obvious winner here and it should be Jade. But we can’t help thinking that the public will embrace Mark – or the comely Francine and Nicola. We are on tenterhooks for Saturday night….

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Tellier Us All About It……

Posted by DINRIL on December 27, 2008

For those who haven’t seen it…..Sebastien Tellier proves there is life after comparative Eurovision obscurity with this tiny gem of a car commercial. What next, we wonder, Scooch being used as a musical backdrop to British Airways ads?

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While we were away….

Posted by DINRIL on December 6, 2008

….here are some of the things that happened in Eurovision land….

Andrew Lloyd Webber announced he would be writing next year’s UK entry, with the singer to be chosen in an I’d Do Anything style Saturday night elimination show starting on BBC1 in January. Will this see a change in the UK’s fortunes on the Eurovision stage? Probably depends on whether the massed ranks of voters in former Soviet nations know who the good Lord Lloyd Webber actually is….

It was announced that jury voting will return for Moscow 2009, with a percentage of points from juries to count alongside public votes. Not because of any political voting patterns, you understand. No. Of course not. Then WHY, exactly??

The Bulgarian selection process started. Actually we think it may have done the day after the last contest finished (kind of similar to the lengthy Icelandic selection process of 2008, although we fear Iceland has other things on its mind this year….)

Slovakia announced they would be returning in 2009. Er, woo-hoo?

Monaco and Austria continued to flounce. Possibly because too many of us still remember Le Coco-Dance, and are not prepared to forgive that easily…..

Terry Wogan announced, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, that he would be standing down as UK commentator, to be replaced by Graham Norton.Half the nation is plunged into despair at the news while the remainder rejoices. Quite how sales of Baileys will be affected remains unclear.

EuroBeat: The Eurovision Musical came to London and was a big hit, even if the winner, decided by audience vote, did seem to be Russia or Poland every night. Team Eurovision saw it twice, got a bit hysterical and hadto be reminded it wasn’t real. And got published on Guardian Unlimited.

Dima Bilan came to London and played live.  Team Eurovision was washing its hair that night and misses it.

Elvir Lakovic Laka and his sis confirmed they are not mad in any way when they turn up to the VMAs in Glasgow looking as though they are on their way to a fancy dress party.

Mr Kipling produced a special orange-flavoured Halloween fondant fancy. Yum! (and no, this is not relevant to Eurovision in any way but we just couldn’t think of a tenth thing…..)

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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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