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Grandma, we love you, grandma, we do….

Posted by Caroline on March 8, 2012

So there we were trumpeting the fact that Englebert Humperdinck will be the oldest person ever to set foot on the Eurovision stage, and what do Russia go and do? They go and choose the only act in the world who are possibly even older to represent them in Baku. We first clapped eyes on this bunch, the Buranovskie Babushki – or to give them their English name, the Buranovo Grannies – when they were in the 2010 Russian final singing a catchy little number called Long Long Birch Track And How To Make A Hat Out Of It. And we loved them then. But never in a million years did we actually think they would triumph in a final which this year also included a duet between former Eurovision champion Dima Bilan and Yulia Volkova from Tatu.

But they did indeed, and their entry, the folksy dance track Party For Everybody might be as daft as a brush but it’s so much fun that you’ll be singing along in spite of yourself (although possibly only the chorus since the rest of the song is in a little-known dialect called Udmurt, spoken in the Udmurtia region where the grannies hail from. The six of them also wear traditional costume, are given to hugging each other on stage, and have a combined age of 742. Well almost. Actually the youngest is a mere slip of a thing at 43 and the oldest – whom we assume is that small smiley one in the middle – is 76, which knocks Englebert out of the park already since he is not 76 until May. (and speaking of which, do we not think he will now be spoilt for choice when he gets to Baku? We can just see all the green room antics now – The Hump surrounded by his harem of older Russian ladies, all of them discussing their corns and where to buy the cheapest tartan shopping trolleys before heading off together on a Saga holiday. Maybe next year we could even have a Junior Eurovision offshoot entitled Senior Eurovision. Let’s just stop there).

Seriously though, the reaction to these ladies has been pretty impressive, even reaching the British press, which given they generally only exist to poke fun at Eurovision and complain about the fact the UK never wins is remarkable. Even more remarkable are the number of fans who this time last week were up in arms about the fact we were being represented by a pensioner, yet don’t appear to have a problem with Russia being represented by a whole bunch of pensioners. Funny that.

Whether or not this wins remains to be seen but we have an odd feeling it’s going to do rather well indeed. Thus of course bringing joy to the whole of Europe and giving British TV clip show fodder in a ‘let’s all point and laugh at those funny Eurovision singers’ way for years to come. And here’s what all the fuss is about:

Posted in Eurovision 2012, Russia | 1 Comment »

(Almost) the last round-up….

Posted by Caroline on March 15, 2011

With the exception of whatever happens to be replacing Belarus’ Born in Belorussia, which is being ditched after revelations that it had been previously performed (and we can’t decide if this is horrendous news or actually saving us from a fate worse than, er, having to watch it on the night), all the songs for Dusseldorf 2011 are now present and correct. And so let us kick off the final batch with this effort – entitled Get You – from Russia’s Alex Sparrow:

Now we’re still scratching our heads over the authentic, er, Russianness of the name Alex Sparrow, because quite frankly with a moniker like that he sounds more like he comes from Middlesborough than Moscow.  (his real name is actually Alexey Vorobyov, it seems). The song is the usual slickly produced affair we’ve come to expect from Russia yet just seems yawningly ordinary to us. Sigh. It’ll make the final anyway because they are Russia and, like Turkey, could make the final with an orchestra of goats playing the national anthem on upturned saucepans. But enough, onwards we trot to Azerbaijan – and as much as Alex doesn’t sound very Russian, their song, Running Scared by Ell and Nikki, doesn’t sound very, er, Azerbaijani. In fact it reminds us a bit of Keane. Which is pleasant enough but suddenly the mighty heights of Always seem a very long way away….

Meanwhile, it’s time to welcome another returning nation, San Marino, to the contest, after they made an auspicious debut in 2008 with Complice, failed to register more than a tiny blip on the semi-final scoreboard and then promptly ducked out again for two years. But nonetheless we love ’em because they actually gave the UK some points in 2008. You remember 2008, that was the year Russia sent its answer to Justin Timberlake, we sent that bin man off of The X Factor and everybody wondered why we came last? Don’t get us started. And no this isn’t relevant. We just can’t think of anything else to say about this San Marinese entry. Except it is by Senit and it’s called Stand By:

And last – but by no means least – is the Swedish entry. Now here’s a song which is going to enthrall and infuriate people in equal measures. Enthrall because it’s insanely catchy, ridiculous, over the top and possibly the campest Eurovision effort we have heard for some time. Infuriate because – well, see above really. Still, whatever you may think of Eric Saade’s Popular, however much you try to ignore the fact it’s essentially a nursery rhyme with twiddly 80s-esque electronic bits in the background – we defy you to find any other song this year which will stick in your head like this one after just one listen. The only problem being that it then STAYS THERE. And won’t leave. Help us. We will admit, however, that we’re finding this song irresistible – and suspect it will get rather a lot of points on the big night. Let’s just hope Eric has found his other glove by then…..

And that, as they say, is that. Looks like we got ourselves a competition…….

Posted in Azerbaijan, Eurovision 2011, Russia, San Marino, Sweden | Leave a Comment »

The Great Big Super Super Extra Large Weekend Round Up

Posted by Caroline on March 9, 2010

Phew! What a busy weekend it was in Eurovision land. No less than seven songs chosen for Oslo. So instead of waffle, let’s get down to business. First up we have the Croatian entry, which is by Feminnem, who represented Bosnia and Herzegovina a few years ago with the oh-so-cute Call Me (are you keeping up?). They seem to have grown up a bit for this one, as Lako Je Sve is a dramatic ballad which we would like more if a) it didn’t sound so much like a cross between Molitva and Believe, b) it weren’t for the mad overblown posturing in the performance which reminds us of something out of a Shakespear’s Sister video c) they didn’t include that funny heart thing at the end and d) their frocks looked a bit less odd. Still, those in the know inform us this has a good chance of winning so we shall monitor it with interest:

Next up we have Ukraine, Vasyl Lasarovich’s I Love You. And the less said about this one the better, except to say that we’re very very disappointed in you Ukraine. And we wouldn’t be at all surprised if you didn’t make the final this year:

Ramping up the tempo a bit, we come to Moldova, who bypassed the much-hyped Pavel Turcu in favour of this,  Run Away by Sun Stroke Project and Olia Tira. ‘This year’s Waldo’s People’ is probably the best way of putting it:

And it’s back to the ballads with Portugal’s Filippa Azevedo, singing Ha Dias Assim. If ever a 1980s James Bond theme had been commissioned out to a Portuguese artist, it would probably have sounded something like this. And we can safely say that their record as the longest-serving country without a Eurovision win isn’t going to be troubled this year:

And finally, our favourite song to be chosen on Saturday night, Romania’s Playing With Fire by Paula Seling and Ovi. Let’s think why we like this one so much? Because of the double-sided piano? The operatics? The fact it’s NOT A BLOOMIN’ BALLAD? Or possibly because it’s just ridiculous and playful and fun and ever so slightly barking? Er yes, that’d be it. Plus of course they’re clearly the anti-Chanee and N’Evergreen, while Paula amply fills the ‘mammoth-haired East European diva’ role normally taken care of by the Ukrainians. This has to be in the final as far as we’re concerned:

Sunday, meanwhile, brought with it two more songs. Now we watched some of the Russian final and there were some pretty good tunes, including our favourite by the folk-singing grannies known as Buranovskiye Babushki – so quite why this turgid effort, Lost And Forgotten by the Peter Nalitch Band (or as we like to refer to them, Kings Of Leonid), got chosen is beyond us:

And last but not least we have the year’s most pleasant surprise to date, from Belgium. Now in common with their neighbours the Netherlands, the Belgians haven’t done too well of late, so much so we almost began to think they had given up. In other words this could have gone one of two ways. They could have gone the way of the Dutch and entered a load of complete nonsense or they could actually have gone back to the drawing board and thought about how they could possibly improve upon recent performances. And it seems – hurrah! – they’ve done the latter. Tom Dice’s Me And My Guitar, which in essence is the man himself, with a guitar, might bear a passing resemblance to Mark Cohn’s Walking In Memphis, but it’s a very likeable, simple song that has huge mainstream appeal and will go down a storm with the juries. Good move Belgium. You may just have gotten yourself your most successful entry in years:

Posted in Belgium, Croatia, Eurovision 2010, Eurovision News, Moldova, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Ukraine | 5 Comments »

The Great Big Eurovision Experiment 2009 – Russia

Posted by Caroline on April 21, 2009

anastasiacropStep forward the host nation, represented by Anastasia Prikhodko….

You’ll represent Russia at Eurovision Song Contest, what do you feel?
Eurovision is a serious contest and I understand all the responsibility resting on me.  I’d like to believe that I’ll be able to do well. At the moment this is the most important thing in my life. I’m happy and now I’m living in anticipation of this contest.

What are your ambitions?

To sing my song in such a way so that the viewers understand it even without knowing Russian or Ukrainian.

As for us, viewers, what shall we expect from your performance? Probably, you’re planning to surprise everyone with some glamorous setting of your act?
It’s still a big secret!

Have you ever been in Moscow before and would you like to go there?
After Kiev Moscow is my second home, I love this city.

Have you heard the songs performed by other participants? Can you name those of them that impressed you most?
As for the songs of other participants, I’m listening to all of them. I liked Alexander Rybak from Norway. Jade, for sure – I was lucky to have a chance to see her  live performance. She was a guest of the Russian national selection show. Jade has a fantastic voice and she’s incredibly beautiful. As for Andrew Lloyd Webber who wrote a song for her, he is a legend in Russia. The fact that he wrote a song for Eurovision Song Contest made a splash here. Learning about his participation in this project, many Russian musicians, critics and producers said: “If the song is written by Lord Lloyd Webber, we’ll vote for Great Britain”. Here I must say that I’m glad that no country can vote for its participant. Otherwise I’m afraid that all “my” votes will go to Jade. (laugh)

Which of the songs ever performed at Eurovision Song Contests do you like most? And if it’s Russian or Ukrainian song – which one?
“Never Let You Go”, performed by Dima Bilan in Athens. “Prayer” – by Maria Sherifovich. In Turkey Sakis Rouvas had a real hit. And no doubt “Waterloo” is a hands-down winner.

What do you think about widespread notion that at ESC countries are voting for their neighbours?
I think that if everything were decided by politics we wouldn’t have some of the winners. No doubt that such a thing as ‘neighbouring voting’ exists at ESC but all the same. I believe that talent is winning over politics. I’m sure that if an artist is really great he/she will get 12 points not only from neighbours.

This year a winner will be determined by 50/50 televoting and jury voting. What do you think about that?
I believe that televoting is more democratic. On the other hand a winner of this year ESC will know for sure that his/her performance was marked very high by both – viewers and professionals. And it’s really worth it.

Can you explain the secret of the Eurovision Song Contest popularity, which is over 50 years old?
To my mind the secret of ESC popularity is the same as that of the Olympic Games. It’s a contest, competition for the artists and for viewers it is excitement, passion and a possibility to get together and root for their country. And for those who are interested in politics it’s a chance to say afterwards “we surmised as much”.

Posted in Interviews, Russia | Leave a Comment »

Another Great Big Round-Up!

Posted by Caroline on March 9, 2009

There’s been such a recent flurry of activity on the national finals front that we just can’t keep up with it all. So let’s just round up some more of the entries into one handy, easy to manage post – beginning with Israel’s effort from renowned chanteuse Noa and Israeli Arab singer Mira Awad:

‘Pleasant’ is the word which springs immediately to mind, and we’re not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but the partnership is certainly an interesting one. Whether or not this gets lost in the mix on the night is another matter entirely.

We doubt, however, that the Ukrainian entry from Svetlana Loboda is likely to be forgotten in a hurry…..

Now it could be just us but we’re trying to decide whether this is a complete work of genius or a total crime against Eurovision. Either way there is so much to enjoy about it – the comedy moustaches, the seemingly spontaneous drum solo, Svetlana’s ridiculously OTT outfit, the way in which one of the backing dancers is holding her upside down over his shoulders like some latter day caveman – that we’re prepared to overlook the fact that for all intents and purposes it is a tuneless wail of a song. We are, however convinced that only a Eurovision country as popular and successful as Ukraine could possibly get away with something like this – in other words Andrew Lloyd Webber, don’t even think about doing something similar in 2010…..

And onwards to host nation Russia, this year represented by, er, a Ukrainian, Anastasia Prohodko:

Now a friend of Team Eurovision reliably informs us that this is “very Russian” – which is all very well except it will have a hard time appealing to anybody west of Kiev. Are the Russians trying really hard to ensure that they don’t have to host again next year or are we beng a tad cynical?

And so, onwards, to the first Slovakian entry in years, a duet sung by Kamil Miculcik and Nela Pociskova:

And the less said about that one the better. Except possibly that Kamil looks scarily like the kind of actor you used to see in,er,special 1970s movies for the single gentleman. On that note, let us move swiftly on to Estonia’s Urban Symphony:

Now we quite like this, and think it could even be the song to drag Estonia kicking and screaming out of semi-final doldrums for the first time ever. Our only reservation is, that since we already have Norway and Slovenia strutting their stuff with fiddles, could this be one violin too many? Hope not, because we actually think this deserves to qualify.

And finally, we have recent winners Serbia, this year fielding twosome Marko Kon and Milan Nikolic:

And, er, frankly we’re speechless.Yes, it’s certainly nice to see the Serbs letting their hair down a bit after a run of very serious songs, but there are ways of lightening the tone and, er, ways of lightening the tone. And we’re not convinced that entering a gruff-voiced Michael Moore lookalike (albeit one who appears to have stuck his finger in a live socket before coming on stage) accompanied by some random bloke playing the accordion is how to do it. Let’s just say it’s “catchy” and leave it at that, shall we……..?

Posted in Estonia, Israel, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Ukraine | 2 Comments »