|World of Chig|
The UK's Eurovision televote
Hot off the BBC presses this afternoon, answering the question, 'just how close did t.A.T.u get to scoring UK points?'
The total number of votes from the UK was 574,515; a massive 67% up from 387,179 last year.
Ireland scored twice as many as the second country, Sweden, giving them 15.08% of the UK votes.
Alf Poier was just 579 votes away from getting our ten points instead of eight. Can we expect lots of comedy songs in next year's Song For Europe?!
Unluckiest country? Probably Greece, a mere 243 votes away from scoring a much-needed point.
The shocks? This must be one of our lowest votes ever for France (but then, it wasn't very good in the end) and a low vote for Latvia, when I thought they'd be in the UK's top three. I just do not understand Latvia's poor showing on Saturday (no points from anyone except Estonia, making them 24th on five points). It was my highlight in the hall, and I've watched the TV performance, and nothing went wrong. It was great. I'm mystified.
My Mum's two favourites were Ireland and Bosnia & Herzegovina, so she picked first and last!
01. (12 points) Ireland 86,653
02. (10 points) Sweden 41,099
03. (8 points) Austria 40,521
04. (7 points) Turkey 37,280
05. (6 points) Norway 31,050
06. (5 points) Belgium 30,631
07. (4 points) Germany 29,706
08. (3 points) Estonia 26,563
09. (2 points) Poland 25,972
10. (1 points) Netherlands 24,269
11. Greece 24,027
12. Russia 23,497
13. Iceland 23,333
14. Romania 17,957
15. Malta 16,763
16. Spain 16,131
17. Cyprus 15,892
18. Latvia 11,344
19. Portugal 10,057
20. Israel 9,415
21. Croatia 8,762
22. France 7,244
23. Ukraine 6,528
24. Slovenia 5,976
25. Bosnia-Heregovina 3,845
God, I thought the Juventus v. AC Milan match tonight was never going to end or see a goal. Ninety minutes; no goals. Thirty more minutes; still no goals. Then, in an extraordinarily inept display of penalty-taking skills from (supposedly) Italy and Europe's best footballers, a paucity of goals in the penalty shoot-out too. Still, it all had a happy ending, as the hero of the hour turned out to be one of my favourite footballers in the aesthetics department, Andriy Shevchenko. He scored the final, winning penalty, giving me the perfect excuse to show these pics. Hurrah!
Big Brother - I don't care (yet)
It's funny, when you're out of the country for the start of BB (as I was last year too), it's hard to summon up any enthusiasm for the programme, but I'm sure that will change. My introduction to them was reading their brief biogs in my Mum's paper on Monday, and hearing her comments (and her protestations that she 'wasn't really watching it', but had already seen it twice. Yeah, right.) From the biogs and one picture of them all, I decided that Scott and the vegetarian woman from Birmingham are the ones I would probably get on with, and my Mum agreed. The only other info I gleaned is that Jon is a knob. That wasn't quite how she put it, but that's what she meant. Since then, I have only seen 20 minutes on Monday night, mainly featuring them pedalling in a boat, but it was enough to make me agree with Graham Norton's succinct summary of the group; "Eleven attractive people and someone to feed them". Are any of them homosexualists, t.A.T.u fans or dabblers? Please do tell, as I think I may fancy Ray and Scott from first impressions.
Chig - as seen by millions!
This year's postcards for Eurovision were all filmed during last week, in various parts of Latvia. (The postcards are the bits just before each song, shown on screen while techies change the set on stage. Some of us had discussed the fact that, as many of the postcards were filmed in the media centre, or at parties, there was a chance some of us would be in them, and this has proved to be the case. I didn't even need to get home and check the video before Mike had left me a message to say that I am in the postcard for Germany, and indeed I am! There are shots of just me, taking pictures of orange-haired Lou, by what our hosts always referred to as 'the official wallpaper'. (It was a red cityscape of Riga.) Okay, so the whole thing is about two frames, then a frame away, then another frame, but if you watch it on 'slow', it's very clear. I'm the one with the camera and the purple zip-up top. (The one that's featured in so many of my photos, as I only had one jumper and it was sometimes cold in the cavernous Media Centre.) So, my face had been seen by half a billion people on TV, even if they don't know it. Wow! And as we know, subliminal advertising had to be banned on TV and in cinemas, because it worked. So, for the rest of my life, if people come up to me and say 'I'm sure I've seen you before', I shall say ' Did you watch Eurovision in 2003?' If they say yes, I'll say, 'Well, I was in that.' Hurrah!
Chig's Choon - last week
I'm determined to keep this up, even if I did forget about it while in Latvia. So, last week's single of the week would have been...
Not Gonna Get Us - t.A.T.u
Not only a good track from a fantastic album, but a great video, which I have seen once, on Russian music TV in my Riga hotel room. In addition, you get their Eurovision entry, Ne Ver, Ne Bosija, Ne Prosni (or however we're spelling it today - I've seen half a dozen different versions) as a bonus track. This means it's the first time in living memory that another country's Eurovision song has been available in the UK before the contest, and it's also available a whole week before the UK entry. Actually, the first part of that sentence needs qualifying with 'the whole of the UK'. That's because Mickey Joe Harte's Irish entry was released in the whole island of Ireland a few weeks ago, and made the UK chart on the strength of its Northern Ireland sales, debuting at number 133. (Or was it 144? I forget now.)
Just because I can
Oh god, it's 5.20am, and I'm back in the Media Centre, back on the PC, just because it's here, with Rafael and Marcel, both from Germany. It really is time to go home, but the aftershow party was excellent, and is still going next door. The contest itself was exciting beyond my wildest expectations. Who would have expected an almost three way tie? I'm thrilled that Turkey won. Turkish friends I've made here this week were in tears. That's the wonder of Eurovision. I'm knackered and now going back to the hotel. It's been brilliant tonight. It's been emotional, and I have the greatest collecton of photos ever. Ata from Latvija!
So, who's going to win?
In rehearsals, the surprisingly good reactions from the public have been for Portugal and Poland. Poland can be partially explained away, because the bloke is a VJ on music TV and very famous here. However, they pull off a strong performance. Portugal has no partisan support in the hall, so I can only assume people genuinely like it. AUstria gets a fantastic reaction too. Sweden comes across really well. Russia might just do it despite everything. Even Ireland is much improved and a contender. Slovenia was pushing up there, but wasn't so good last night. Even Romania, which has too many distractions, but that's what we said about Latvia last year. Beth is good enough to do it too, and her dancers should win a few extra votes. Turkey is a fantastic, polished performance with great singing. However, my money and my hopes are still, after all this time, on Latvia to do it again. I think 'Hello From Mars' has it all. A catchy song, well-performed, by three atractive singers. And I'm now going to put some money on it. Have a great time if you're watching. I'll be back whenever I can get on a PC. That may be late tongith when it's all over, but it may not be until Tuesday, when I'm back home.
Look out for an early indicator of who's going to win with the votes from Ireland (third vote). Ireland is statistically the most 'in tune' nation with the overall vote. Have fun. I'm off into the hall later with my Union Jack shirt and balloon, but also a Hello From Mars balloon, which I found in town, which I'm dead chuffed with, and a Latvian flag.
Things to watch out for....and something that isn't there.
For some strange reason, there is no mention of Ukraine's debut, which is odd, because other countries have been mentioned in previous years when they have debuted in the contest. Look out for the following:
A megastar reading the votes for Austria.
The travelling coats of Reynars and Marie.
The revelation of the Green Room when the voting starts.
Brainstorm's great song in the interval film.
The Spanish boy dancers - top totty!
Gemma's arse. (Gemini with the shortest dress ever.)
The fantastic new idea with the scoreboard, which I won't spoil.
And the winner is....Finland!
Well, at least it was last night. The 'pretend ' winners, for rehearsal purposes only, were declared as Finland (because they're not in it this year). I hope LTV taped the words above, as Fuinns have never ever heard them at Eurovision. One Finnish journalist who I spoke to last night at Club XXL thought it was pretty funny.
Having a lovely time...
It´s 17.23 on Saturday. Eurovison proper starts in 4.5 hours and I´m back in the Media Centre, where all the talk is of t.A.t.u. We just don´t know if they´ll be performing as a duo or not. Julia had a doctor´s note last night, as she has a sore throat, so Elena sang on her own. Her voice was fine, but the song needs two people to sing it, as it´s so powerful. What this means is that the EBU and Latvian TV don´t have a film yet of t.A.T.u´s performance with both girls. The significance of this is that they cannot quickly switch to the backup rehearsal tape if t.A.T.u do something outrageous on stage. Their management are playing this game perfectly. Last night Elena performed to three minutes of booing, but apparently that didn't happen in today's rehearsal.
The wit and wisdom of t.A.T.u
So there we were yesterday, just getting something to eat in the Media Centre cafe, before we went to see t.A.T.u's first rehearsal, when a great commotion bundled itself up to the food. A camera crew two, following....following what, exactly? Then we saw, not one, but two tiny girls, looking at the food. It's them! They're in here! They're supposed to be next door, rehearsing in a few minutes. And that was just the beginning of the media circus and the hugely entertaining farce that followed. TO BE CONTINUED
I'm not saying t.A.T.u are small...
...but Belgium's singer has made them a house.
Julia, what are you writing?
A journo did ask, and the answer was love hearts, while feigning disinterest in the whole charade. Oh, those Russians!
So tell me, has the laryngitis cleared up?
Mr Poland is by all accounts a very nice man, and a definite contender on Saturday. You have been warned. Is it cold in Warsaw in late May?
....or rather, they don't. They just arse around and then their time runs out.
Ooh, they're almost like normal people, aren't they?
Chris and Gemma face the photographers.
The UK's stage
Gemini's first rehearsal.
No need to look so guilty - it's all free anyway!
'Ere darlin', has anyone ever told you that you look like Geri Halliwell?
Yes, Chig really did say it to the Icelandic beauty. The answer was no.
Oh God, it's that British bloke who threatened to stalk us!
Lauris from F.L.Y. has obviously read Chig's intentions.
How dare she look so happy, when she left the video hunks in Bosnia?
So, Mr David, you think something funny about my name, no?
Sertab swears blind she is not an anagram.
On the F.L.Y.
Rafael (a Spanish German), Arne (German), Jessica Andersson and Magnus Ba:cklund (Sweden's Fame) and Chig (Irish-Welsh-English!)
Good deed for the day
Chig to the rescue! A despondent man called Ali from Turkey's Eurovision fan club was brought over to me a few minutes ago. He had taken photos of Sertab Erener's second (and rather fabulous) rehearsal this morning. But they haven't come out very well. Too dark and too blurred. Someone told him I might have some better ones, and I do. They're not brilliant, but they're better than his. So, I took the Smart Media card out of my camera, and he took it to the ruthlessly efficient Fujifilm people to get the Turkish shots put onto disc. Result - one very happy Turk. My reward? Will be in heaven, obviously, but on a more materialistic level, he gave me one of the Turkish CD singles, which I had missed out on earlier, because I refused to lose my dignity (or my expensive digicam) in the unholy scrum that greeted the distribution of them. Karma.
The porn channel in the hotel is free! Is this normal? It's heterosexual porn of course, and quite an education to a Catholic boy such as me, but hey, it's got men in it.
Norwegian 'miming' scandal debunked...
...with another World Of Chig exclusive interview!
There was much fuss yesterday over the lack of live vocals from puppy-faced Jostein in his rehearsal, but Chig got to the heart of the matter with a late night convo with a 'senior person' (ahem) from the Norwegian delegation in the early hours of this morning(!) Norway's complaint yesterday was legitimate, but they are not making a big song and dance out of it. What happened is this...
Every country sends in their backing tape to Latvian TV in advance, and the Latvian people do some twiddling to put it in the format they need for the TV programme. In 25 cases, this seems to have worked okay, but in Norway's case, the tape was TOO FAST. Consequently, Jostein couldn't sing along to it. He would have sounded like he was on helium. (At this point in the conversation, having had a few drinks, I burst into song, singing "I'm in love, with a beautiful girl", like Pinky & Perky, but I digress.)
So, Jostein mimed to a recording (possibly a CD) which already had the vocals on it. He wasn't cheating, or saving his voice, it was just a practical solution to an awkward problem. He did sing over it for the final version though, which is the one they record to show Norway the camera shots, and discuss afterwards. However....and here comes the worst bit! Because of all the technical messing around, someone forget to 'press the red button', and the final preformance wasn't recorded. Norway had nothing to watch! Now tell me they have no right to feel aggrieved!
Luckily, they are actually very laid back about it. Jostein is so laid back that he said yesterday that he doesn't envisage a career in music. His record label are so laid back that they haven't even given us a press pack yet, just a photo and an A5 typed sheet. The backing tape will (hopefully!) be fixed for their rehearsal tomorrow, and then we'll have a real assessment of the song that lots of people think can win.
Tell me about Liquid Eurovision
Are you watching? How's it coming across? How's Lorraine? Has she mentioned that she'll be giving the UK's points on Saturday? (Another World of Chig exclusive!) Are they showing enough of the videos? Are they being funny? Tell me all you know! Your comments will go via me straight to the production team here!
11.41. Off to Ireland...
Well, not literally, but Alf Poier is on the big screen now from the hall, looking exactly the same as Monday's rehearsal, which looked exactly the same as the Austrian final. They don't need to rehearse, as they've perfected it already. I need to see if Mickey Harte is going to sing in tune today, because he was having some problems on Monday. Lovely guy, but lacking in stage presence, confidence and vocal ability. As I said in my reviews below, if he gets this right, Ireland could do well. However, based on Monday's rehearsal, they have no chance.
Exclusive news! UK's songwriter not coming to Riga
In a tragic farce of almost epic proportions, the writer of Cry Baby will now not be coming to Riga. Which raises the vital question of course of who will pick up his trophy when we win on Saturday. Funnily enough, the BBC doesn't seem to be rushing around making alternative plans. So why isn't Martin coming? Well, the poor bloke is afraid of flying. He's tried, he really has tried. He got as far as the airport, and nearly got on two flights, but pulled out at the last minute. He then decided to do as much of the trip overland as possible, and maybe fly from Helsinki. (To me, as flight is a flight; you may as well do the whole thing. I'm not comfortable with flying either, so I have some sympathies with him.) Anyway, he's been via France, he's been to Bremen, he's even been to Copenhagen, I think. But last night he gave in, and is going back home. There may be one last attempt with a psychologist, but otherwise that's it. Imagine how it must feel to have one of your life's ambitions fulfilled, and not be there to see it. All 25 other writers are here. Martin's family are here. But not Martin. It's a cry babying shame.
Chig - prize pillock
So, what the heck am I doing in the Skonto Halle at 10am, when the second round of rehearsals starts much later today, at 11am? Well, I made an extra effort to get up, as I was booked on a sightseeing tour for this morning. A coach trip around Riga, followed by a walking tour of the Old Town. I did a similar thing with Roy in Tallinn last year, and it was delightful, involving free alcohol too. This year, they've made us pay for the trips too, so I paid my 15 Euros a month ago, and I was determined to make it. I got to bed about 3am after the Euroclub (in the Voodoo Club in Reval Hotel Latvija), but still woke up at 7.30 today, an hour before my alarm. I managed to get up at 8.30, wash some clothes (we're travelling light this time) and have breakfast. That's three hotel breakfasts in a row - already more than I managed in Tallinn. (I only missed the first day's, after goingout until 5am.) I even managed to get to the bank to change some travellers' cheques, and then walked the 15 minutes here to Skonto Halle, arriving just in time for the 10am tour. And guess what? It doesn't leave from here - it leaves from a hotel in the Old Town, which would have been a 15 minute walk 90 degrees in another direction. Doh! Actually, I did have a feeling that might be the case, but when I thought that last night, it was too late to check. Oh well, all is not lost. The lovely woman from Latvia Tours said there are loads of people who have cancelled or moved dates, so I'm moving my trip to tomorrow. The reason I was going today was because I didn't want to miss the UK's rehearsals and conferences, yesterday and tomoorw. Now though, I'm not bothered. I've heard Cry Baby enough times for one lifetime. I've given my moral support by sitting at the front of their conference yesterday in my Union Jack t-shirt (for which I was thanked). I even refrained from asking any awkward questions, such as 'how does it feel to be the first UK entry in years which is not amongst the bookies' favourites?'. I've done my bit. They'll have to manage without me.
Italy back in the fold (sort of)
Some interesting news for Luca....
Italian TV hasn't shown Eurovision for five years, but on Saturday it will be shown by an Italian gay satellite TV station called, wait for it, Gay TV! The story is here.
More on these tomorrow if I get time, but it's 19:57, there's a Slovenian rehearsal I have to attend, to access their winning potential, a Latvian album launch for the gorgeous F.L.Y, and tomorrow morning a coach trip around Riga and a walking tour of the old town. So, briefly...
Best press conferences:
Yesterday: Alf Poier - Austria. Hilarious.
Today: t.A.T.u - Russia. Surly, disrespectful, rude. Totally contrived rock'n'roll behaviour (and a crap rehearsal). Full media scrum in attendance.
UK: Not very lively rehearsal, and a nervous press conference.
Sexiest male (in the show): The Latvians haven't disappointed. Trying to choose between the two guys, but can't.
Sexiest male (in the press centre): The competition's hot in a multinational kinda way, but I've snogged someone from Brighton. There's no place like home...
Latvian kiddies having a tour of Eurovision's Media centre on Sunday. They had just taken part in a ceremony, in which the flags of all 26 countries were raised in the Skonto Hall next door. They were adorably cute. Yesterday we had another visitor having a tour - the Latvian Prime Minister! Did Tony Blair come to Eurovision in Birmingham? No he bloody well didn't! On Saturday, the Latvian President; the immensely popular Vaira Vike-Freiberga, will be here watching. Got their priorities right, these Balts. She's so groovy, she even has her own website!
My legs are actually both the same size.
Chig is shocked by German art
Nothing whatsoever to do with Eurovision. We were just having a laugh here on Sunday.
News from rehearsals
I live in fear that any of the songs I really like this year are going to be ruined by distracting on-stage antics, and now it looks like two good songs might be going that way. I'm watching Romania's rehearsal right now on the giant screen (from the Media Centre), and it doesn't look like I imagined it would. There are dancers in brightly coloured costumes (possibly relating to the Romanian flag - there's reflection on the screen, so I can't see properly) holding coloured discs as they cavort around. It's lost on me. Marcus and Russell have just told me it involves the male and female dancers stripping off, five times for the woman, but revealing other costumes underneath 'Something spangly', said Russell. Oh dear, are they trying to imitate last year's Latvian winner, by any chance? The song's good enough to stand up on its own. Stop messing about.
More worryingly, my second fave song, Ukraine, had a rehearsal this morning on which people have reported back very favourably. (I was in the UK's press conference, so didn't see it. I may be industrious, but being in two places at once I haven't yet mastered.) However, the act wasn't complete, for there is going to be a snake woman involved. Once again, the song is brilliant, and stands a chance of winning. Olexandr's voice, as demonstrated again when he sang a Ukranian song in today's conference, is absolutely stunning. (You can tell that from the operatic intro to Hasta La Vista anyway.) We really don't need snakes. Why do these countries take something good and then think that they have to throw the kitchen sink at it? Oh, Latvia last year. There's your answer again. On a more serious note, if it really is a live snake, you'll be likely to find me with a placard protesting in the hall. I think using animals in live stage acts is unneccessary and cruel. I remember how sickening it was seeing Britney Spears at one of the music awards shows with a snack round her neck and tigers caged behind her. On stage, bright lights and pyrotechnic explosions. I just wanted the snake to strangle Britney and for someone to set the tigers free. There's no need to subject them to that. Rant over. Those lovely Swedes and their bland Europop offering are on now. I met Magnus last night at the official Latvian reception, and he was utterly charming.
The Madness of Alf Poier
Ireland's Mickey Joe Harte
No, he's not a pop star. It's just the lovely Jay.
Rigan street scene
Just a chocolate advert
That billboard, outside the Skonto Hall. The Latvian group, F.L.Y., actually faced some niggly questioning about this yesterday in their press conference. At first singer Jana Kay said 'It's an advert for chocolate', with a wry grin on her face, suggesting it was just a happy coincidence. Later though, a pesky journo kept asking if it wasn't unfair, but Lauris (who is as cute in real life as the video suggested) pointed out that the advert was only in Latvia, and Latvians can't vote. That shut up the journalist!
Pouffiness - it's back! Gracias!
Phew! Huge sigh of relief yesterday watching the Spanish rehearsal. It had seemed, with Bosnia-Herzegovina's decision to leave the hunky dancers from their video at home, that there would be a distinct lack of pouffy dancing this year. Eurovision wouldn't be Eurovision without a dose of campery from someone. We needn't have worried. Spain have come to the rescue. I'm really not very excited by their song, but two muscular hunks, one in tight t-shirt and one in a black vest? That I can live with. Hurrah! (Those outfits were presumably their rehearsal clothes. Maybe they'll be topless by Saturday.)
Thanks to my wonderful birthday present from Mike, for which I would like to publicly thank him, I can now upload photos to this 'ere blog. So, just because I can, here are a couple of pics from last year's Eurovision in Tallinn. I'm just about to give my first disc from THIS week to the Fujifilm people, so some touristy shots and pics from today's conferences should be here tomorrow.
First, Slovenian trannies Sestre. Marcus, who I thought until now was a very nice German man, has just leaned over my shoulder and said, "I see three men and one woman." Cheeky sod.
Sisters, sisters.....Sestre give Chig some tips on wearing red.
Chig gives the clap to someone at their conference, and gets on Liquid Eurovision.
By a strange coincidence, the guy behind me in the red, who is from Belarus, is currently sitting opposite me! I've just been speaking to him.
[Sunday, 14:15] Party animals will be glad to hear that I started the week as I intend to continue, by landing at 10pm local time and then going out to Club XXL until 5am. With a considerable number of familiar faces, I might add, from the UK, France, Spain and Slovenia, to name a few. I met Samo from Slovenia; someone who I 'know' from the Eurovision list, but had never met before. He's a lovely, interesting guy, and he's here now in the Media Centre too.
First impressions of Riga? Well, the sun was setting over the Daugava river when we arrived and it looked magical. Which fits in nicely with the 'Magical Rendezvous' theme of the contest itself. That title is the main heading on the posters around here, which have Saturday's hosts Marie N and Renars in a lovely photo, with her hugging him. Can't say I blame her - he's cute. They've gone for a really 'modern' image, with him in a splendid trendy trackie type thing.
Funniest thing so far: There's a billboard advert in the street outside the hall which just says 'Hello From Mars'. It's in the very familiar Mars lettering. Yes, the chocolate company has 'sponsored' the Latvian entry. Class! This is an interesting development, but could lead us down a worrying corporate path. I'm sure Ralph Siegel is composing songs called 'Sony, Sony Day' and 'Canon Can' even now. Still, the Swedes did Coca Cola years ago, didn't they?! A photo of that advert will appear here by tomorrow, hopefully.
Most important news: lager is 1 Lats per pint. That's one pound twenty a pint!! I may get drunk a lot.
"For I was only, 24 hours from
Boy, am I glad I took today off work! Packing to do, Lati to collect, hair to cut, sunbed to have... I have to be packed and ready by about 17.00 today, because this evening is the launch party for the Fierce! arts festival, which, if I remember rightly, turned into a right drunken affair last year. (Something to do with the free shots, I vaguely recall.) Then I have to leave early in the morning, take my car to my Mum's for it to be serviced while I'm away, then get a train (and coach from Reading) to Heathrow. I've realised that my plans to go clubbing as soon as I get to Riga may have been a little ambitious. Latvia is two hours ahead of BST, so I will only get to the hotel about midnight, after landing at 22.30 local time and getting a taxi/bus to the hotel. Still, I do know that a friend will be in Club XXL, and they allow entry until 5am. Watch this space!
'Chig - Live In Latvia!' (sorry Dave!) will start here on Monday. There's even a chance it will be Sunday, if they let us into the media centre. The room - well, I say room, but it was a tent - wasn't ready in Tallinn last year on the Sunday, but this year we're promised it will be. See ya!
Building their parts up...
I've just had an e-mail from my contact at the Beeb:
"Who says Eurovision acts aren't part of the pop mainstream? UK entrants Jemini are currently sharing the world-famous BBC "Top Of The Pops" Studios in West London with Madonna ! We'll let you know if Madge passes comment!"
I was going to say something here, but it was far too cruel. You can catch Jemini's performance on TOTP Saturday. You can probably catch Madge's tomorrow. That, after all, is the difference between them.
Do I not like that!
(The one on the right, just in case you are hard of seeing.)
You're about to 'play gay', you say, Bruno? You'll need some practice then, young man. Put your arm here. That's right. Now open the shirt a bit. Doing very well so far....I only live ten minutes away, you know...
No Good Advice - Girls Aloud
What else could be single of the week this week? Not content with producing one of the very best pop debuts ever, here they come again with one of the very best second singles ever. Surely the best opening brace of tunes since 'Bring It All Back' and 'S Club Party'? (If you were seriously going to suggest '5,6,7,8' and 'Last Thing On My Mind', please leave now.) Even Britney waited 'til single number five for 'Oops! I Did It Again'. 'No Good Advice' has nods to 'Mickey' and 'Rock Lobster' and the return of the twangy Duane Eddy guitar sound from Sound Of The Underground. It's another pure pop moment. Classic.
PS. I do know that the Eurovision reviews below have mysteriously rearranged themselves. I am not quite sure why, but I hope to resolve it when my technical advisor returns from Paris... :-)
I can only repeat the incredulous remark that accompanied this link, when Crystaltipps forwarded it to me just now; 'Is it April Fools' Day?'
It appears that a badger has been attacking, and trying to eat, people in Worcestershire (without their famous sauce).
"The police officer told me it had kept some of their officers at bay and indeed they had to jump on to the bonnet of a car to escape it," said the man from the Worcestershire Badger Society, conjuring up images of The Badger Dukes Of Hazzard. "My belief is that this badger had been brought up from a cub with people. The evidence for that is it the fact that had no fear of humans at all."
Now we've discussed that last remark here in the office, and we think it's rubbish. Firstly, if the badger was used to people, it wouldn't want to attack them. Secondly, it would obviously speak English. And walk on its hind legs. And probably wear a waistcoat. Then it would hang around McDonald's, dropping litter and shouting abuse at pensioners. Experts, pah! What do they know?
It's just possible I may be a bit quiet this week. Loads to do. But be assured it's the calm before the storm, as World Of Chig will be live from Riga in just seven days' time...
You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) - Dead Or Alive
21 Latvia – Hello From Mars – F.L.Y.
My favourite by far this year. The only problem I have with this is that it was one of the first two songs to be publicly revealed, so I’ve felt nothing else has quite matched up, but that’s not Latvia’s fault. Three popular solo singers from Latvia teamed up specially just to do this song, and I’m so glad that Martins, Lauris and Yana did (although I haven't quite worked out why they're not called M.L.Y instead). Maybe this wouldn’t be a winner away from home turf, but the late placing of this in the draw will ensure an atmosphere which should raise the roof of the Skonto Hall in the same way that Estonia’s debut home reception gave me goosebumps last year. If this comes across visually as twee, they’ll blow it, but if it comes across as a jolly, and ever so slightly mad, pop song about meeting aliens, which is how I perceive it, it could do the Latvian double. The video for this looks great, and so do the trio singing it. They haven’t exactly been beaten by the ugly stick, and are a wonderful advert for Latvian dentistry. One of them looks like he’s the older brother of Matt Littler (Max Cunningham in Hollyoaks.) I may well become these boys’ stalker in Riga. Latvia to win, again.
22 Belgium – Sanomi – Urban Trad
We waited a long time for this to be revealed, but it was worth it. After ditching the lead singer because of accusations that she had been a far right supporter in the past, Urban Trad re-recorded the vocals with a new woman (who is very cute, in my humble opinion). This is the one in the made-up language, and the cynical side of me believes that the words were designed by a linguistics professor to make them sound nice. Whatever, they succeeded wonderfully. It’s a gorgeous, calming song, very reminiscent of Deep Forest (without pygmies). In the video, she’s even signing. Signing for words which don’t have any meaning anyway? What’s that all about? Will flop horribly, in the same way that Aava did for Finland, or win triumphantly, like the last Celtic mood track, Nocturne, did for Norway.
23 Estonia – Eighties Coming Back – Ruffus
From the group formerly known as Clair’s Birthday (when they won the Estonian final), but with a last minute name change, and nothing to do with Chaka Khan. The group has split up already - is this a record? - and are only reforming for their Eurovision week. Now I don’t know what the Eighties were like in Estonia, but I’d hazard a guess that until the very end, when they were freed from Russian occupation, they weren't that great. There probably aren’t many Estonians who’d want the decade back.
This sounds a little like Andrew Gold or Billy Joel. Some people I know inexplicably love it, but it does nothing for me. There’s nothing in the lyric with which people will engage. It has no relevance, no interest, so why would anyone vote for it? Why sing about the irrelevant eighties when there are universal themes such as love and world peace which touch everybody? I’d be gutted if it won, from a musical point of view, but not unhappy at the chance to visit beautiful Tallinn again. There is also the issue of a great injustice to settle, which is another reason I can’t get behind the song. Vanilla Ninja should have been here for Estonia, with Club Kung Fu, one of the greatest national final songs never to make it.
24 Romania – Don’t Break My Heart – Nicola
It’s not often I use the word ‘astonishing’ to describe a Eurovision entry these days, but this is one of two songs this year which have made my jaw hit the ground in shock. The Austrian song is just astonishingly leftfield, but Romania’s entry is astonishing because it is so unexpected. I have never forgiven them for their 2000 entry, ‘Luna’; a song so mournfully, painfully bad that I cursed them for wasting three minutes of my life every time I heard it in Stockholm. Last year, although Romania redeemed themselves with a powerful ballad that no one rated until rehearsals, it was an unsurprising kind of song for Romania to enter; old-fashioned and grandiose. The country of the former Ceacescus, gypsies, orphanages, Dracula and, er, the Cheeky Girls, is not, after all, going to send a breakneck speed, wriggling, skittering drum’n’bass track, is it? Except that’s exactly what they’ve done. You just have to hear it. I have a feeling this will bomb horribly, falling between every possible stool of the Eurovision voting audience, but Romania deserves an award for bravery. How this got to win their national final, I will never know, but praise the god of musical diversity that it did. For the record, I think it’s pretty good, and could be a commercial hit across many European countries. It’s also nothing like the UB40 hit of the same name.
25 Sweden – Give Me Your Love – Fame
In this year’s sub-category of blond, male and female duos doing poppy songs, this one is going head-to-head with the UK. It’s a safe bet that Sweden will win the battle hands down, and ironically the UK’s voters will be partly responsible, as I’m sure we’ll give this at least 6 points. But can this win? Well, possibly. Sweden knew before Melodifestivalen that they had the second last slot to fill, a prime position to take advantage and win Eurovision, but in my opinion they blew it. Either of the songs which came second and third after the regional juries had voted could have walked away with the Eurovision trophy, but the voters blew their chances on this instead. It’s a good pop song, but it’s a slightly watered down version of the Scandipop we’ve heard many times before. What I will say though, is that not only do the two of them look great, but they can really sing it well, and that, in the end, could clinch it for them. So, in the end, a strong contender, which should do better than last year’s 8th place for Afro-dite , which was treated as a national disaster by the Swedish media. Thank goodness they weren’t singing for Germany.
26 Slovenia – Nanana – Karmen
“He sang to me ‘nananana’, so naturally it set my heart on fire’. Good Lord love, you’re easily pleased, aren’t you? However, there’s a refreshing honesty in that title, isn’t there? It does what it says on the tin. And yet, at the same time, it’s a bit crap. This song was called ‘Nanana’ originally, but then changed to ‘Lep Poletni Dan’ just before the EMA (Slovenia’s national final), but now it’s back to ‘Nanana’ again. They are clearly hoping to emulate the success of Spain’s winning ‘La La La’ from 1968.
I’ve already written in great length about how unoriginal this song is, but the song it copies came third for Estonia last year, which just proves how popular it could be, (and the song that one copied was R Kelly’s ‘I Believe I Can Fly’). Most people will have forgotten Estonia’s effort by now, so they may consider this a fantastic song. For that reason and with it being performed last, I include this as another potential winner. Mind you, I thought Lithuania’s jolly little ditty would benefit from being last twelve months ago, and they were relegated, so what do I know? Fashion tip for Karmen: don’t wear the baby pink pedal-pushers you wore in the national final. Not a good look. Fact: There are blatantly lingering shots of her breasts in the video.
The interval act: It’s not a live act, it’s a seven minute film, as Israel did in 1999. So no young men beating each other’s bare chests with branches, but I guess you can’t have that two years running. The film features our compere Renars Kaupers with his band Brainstorm (hurrah!) on the roof of Riga’s law school, and another band called The Ilgi, driving past a church in Krimulda, plus our other compere, Marie N, in a Riga park. Famous Baltic composer Raimonds Pauls also performs, at the Riga stock exchange. Bet you can't wait.
Chig's Eurovision 2003 Preview
About bloomin' time, I hear you cry! At last, a day off work and the knowledge that I'll be seeing (and voting on) all these videos in London's Retro bar tonight with hoardes of screaming poufs, has finally kicked me into finishing my comments. Enjoy! And please feel free to add your own thoughts. The Retro bar crowd tonight will include Luca, Marcus and Mike in a Eurotastic blogmeet frenzy. I have given instructions that we are all to conform to national Eurovision stereotype, as follows:
Marcus, you must have a pre-show all on your own - ideally this will last several weeks, but you'll just have to make it last a few hours now. It must be full of spectacle, and very funny, but this year lacking in any interesting content.
Luca, I expect you to have a great time, possibly win the raffle, and then tell us at the end that you think it's all very silly, and you're not going to join in for the next ten years.
Mike will pretend to be much better than he really is, will boss everybody else around, and tell them how he could have organised it much better but 'the others' just don't appreciate his efforts.
I will assume my one quarter Irishness for the night and just *know* that I'm going to win, because I've made so much more effort than the rest of you.
Hasta la vista! I can't wait! Train to catch....
01 – Iceland – Open Your Heart - Birgitta
After Madonna and The Human League, a third good song with the same title. A fantastic, powerful pop song, with stirring strings and a good lyric. The video is good too, for one that obviously didn't cost a lot of money. It may even grab some of the kiddie vote from Germany's cartoon. (Do children vote though? I doubt it.) There's a subliminal message to my compatriots in this video too. See the name 'Birgitta' in lights at the back? When they light the alternate letters, it clearly says 'Brit', in an attempt to brainwash us and make us vote for Iceland. When I find out where the Igta people live, I will warn them too. This song will get the Eurovision train right on track from the start and blasting out of Riga station, which is just as well, because it's about to be derailed at the next stop, somewhere near Vienna...
02 – Austria - Weil Der Mensch Za:hlt (Man Is The Measure Of All Things) – Alf Poier
If we’d been watching the Austrian contest live, instead of on video three weeks after it actually happened, we’d have laughed (a little) at this and said, oh well, there’s always one, now let’s get on with the songs. But no, we already knew that this had won. I’d already tried to read the lyric on Alf's website (but failed to understand it, as it’s in a non-standard dialect of German), and yet….and yet…it still seemed unbelievable. But none of the other artists or the presenters seemed in the slightest bit embarrassed that this man is about to bring shame and mockery on O:sterreich on a scale unknown since Jorg Haider. And that’s because it’s really funny. If you’re Austrian. Or you’ve read the lyric. So, expect a few votes from the fringes of Germany, none from Switzerland (as they’re not in it this year) and some ironic votes from the UK, and that may be it. However, if lots of people get the joke, and vote for it for a laugh, it could actually do as well as Guildo in 1998. Try listening to this and NOT singing, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy, when skies are grey.” My friend Andy reckons you can also sing Hey Jude over the top, but I have yet to try.
Millions of people around Europe have now turned off their TVs, muttered 'same old rubbish every year' and gone to the pub. Those who get back in time for the reprise (in reverse order), will only see this again followed by Iceland. Being drunk, they will think it's really funny and will vote for it, making it win. Possibly.
03 – Ireland – We’ve Got The World – Mickey Joe Harte
Only the deluded and the hard-of-hearing will deny that this is built around the template of 2000’s Eurovision winner for Denmark, ‘Fly On The Wings Of Love’. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing remains to be seen. As others have said, if you’re going to use an established formula, you may as well make it a winning one. This one slid dramatically down my favourites list after seeing the live performance video. Mr Harte secured his place in Riga by winning the TV talent show You’re A Star; RTE’s version of Fame Academy/Pop Idol/Operacion Triunfo. The video that’s been distributed around Europe of his live performance of this song makes you wonder how on Earth he won. His performance is lifeless and completely lacking in charisma – something the Olsens had in bucketloads. Unless someone slaps him about the face with a bunch of shamrock, he’s doomed. If he does give it some energy, he could win.
The song which came second in Ireland was written by Bryan Westlife. ‘A Better Plan’ has already been #1 in Ireland for Simon Casey. It’s a timely plea for racial understanding, world peace etc., and it’s not bad actually.
04 – Turkey – Everyway (sic) That I Can – Sertab Erener
The title aptly sums up the determination of Turkey to win this bloomin’ contest after only once coming anywhere near, with 3rd place in 1997. If I wasn’t such a lazy arse, and had actually committed the list to paper/screen, you would have seen that Holly Valance’s ‘Kiss Kiss’ was my second favourite single of last year. That single was a cover of a pan-European smash by Turkish artist Tarkan, and this is very much in the same mould, making it utterly fabulous. Maybe Turkey’s time has come at last?
Turkey’s translators seem to have invented a new word for this song, as I can’t find ‘everyway’ in any dictionary. Still, you want made-up words? You wait ‘til we get to Belgium. Sertab is, as Wogan will no doubt say, “a handsome woman”, and rolls around in the video in a harem, or is it a lesbo-fest designed to outdo t.A.T.u?
05 – Malta – To Dream Again – Lynn Chircop
No one seems to be giving this one a sniff of a chance, which is such a shame after Malta ran Latvia down to the wire last year to almost clinch their first Eurovision win. Another country which seems passionate about the contest, but they’re going to have to wait at least two more years before we all troop off to Valetta. This is blandness personified, and is being ignored by nearly all fans. I do however think it will pick up a healthy amount of votes. Some people like bland. (And lots of people just like Malta.)
06 Bosnia & Herzegovina – Ne Brini (Could It Be?) – Mija Martina
Next year, with the massive expansion of Eurovision into a two day competition, we may see the full complement of the former Yugoslavian countries (Serbia & Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia and FYR Macedonia). When that happens, and there’s a half-decent song that all four neighbours give some points to, there’ll be no stopping them. BiH may have peaked too soon with this, a perky little pop song. Is it too early in the running order to make its presence felt? This disco stormer has improved ten-fold in my eyes since seeing the video, which includes gratuitously shirtless hunks, cavorting with Mija. It looks like one of those videos that us ordinary folk can have made in five minutes, where you mime in front of a green screen and they put some whizzy effects behind you. The song itself conforms too, and then spectacularly exceeds, one of EUrovision's unwritten rules. Everyone knows you have to have a key change to win. Two would be excessive, surely? Well, this has three! Mija gets more and more excited, the song gets more (ahem!) orgasmic, and you wonder if she's going to explode (ahem again!) before she reaches the end. Fantastic!
07 Portugal – Deixa-me Sonhar (So Mais Uma Vez) – Rita Guerra
Rule number one: Have a title that's easy for anyone, of any nationality, to say and remember. Doh!
It’s a little-known fact, but Portugal’s Eurovision entries are knocked out by a bunch of monkeys, who are locked in a room for twelve months with typewriters and xylophones, in the hope that they can come up with a memorable tune. One day, the law of averages dictates, Portugal will end up with a mildly interesting melody. This time around, due to the monkeys failing dismally in 2001, they’ve had two years to try, but sadly, this song reveals the experiment has at least another year to run, as someone unfortunately fed the monkeys Valium. It’s taken over ten listens to this for the faintest trace of a tune to lodge in my head. Expect this one to be met with spontaneous outbreaks of apathy.
08 Croatia – Vise Nisam Tvoja (I Can’t Be Your Lover) - Claudia Beni
Oh, there were so many songs better than this in the three day long Croatian DORA which chose the country's song. How this got through is a complete mystery. They had a fat bloke doing Eurodisco which was much more entertaining, for starters. Imagine Johnny Vegas dancing. They even had a Beckham-like hunk with a decent haircut and a half-decent song. This one though, it’s not awful, but it is ordinary. A plodding beat with a ‘trying too hard’ dance routine. Like Steps on Mogadon. I do quite fancy the clean-shaven backing singer though, so give it two weeks – I may turn out to be Croatia’s biggest fan. Shallow? Moi?
09 Cyprus – Feeling Alive – Stelios Constantas
How I long for Cyprus to win Eurovision. I so much want to use it as an excuse to go there. It will be interesting to see if the EU-inspired negotiations with Turkey over the divided island translate into mutual votes this year instead of the usual hostilities. This is jolly and happy, from a young Shakin' Stevens looky-likey, but it lacks anything special about it. 12 points from Greece are assured at least. But this is a far cry from last year’s Cypriot boyband pop triumph, and may bomb.
10 Germany – Let’s Get Happy – Lou
It is actually illegal for Germany to enter a song in Eurovision which has not been written by Ralph Siegel, and it’s also compulsory for there to be rumours every year which have him mumbling that he’s never going to do it again. Will the country ever learn though? Last year they thought they had it sewn up with Corinna May’s Big Old Gay Anthem. And they finished 18th(?) So the last thing they’re going to do is send another Big Old Gay Anthem, right? Wrong. On the plus side, it’s thrillingly uplifting, and has just the cutest little video you ever did see, and includes the line ‘Let’s be gay’. On the downside, people will be muttering the phrase ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ when they see that Lou is not, in fact, a six inch high, two-dimensional cartoon, but a red-haired, wannabe disco diva, who admits to being 38. Those naughty Rusky girls have already been quoted as calling her 'a hag', which may cause a ruckus in the wings during rehearsals, because look who's on next...
11 Russia – Ne Verj, Ne Boisja – t.A.T.u
It means ‘Don’t Believe, Don’t Fear’, and frankly that’s about as sensible as the English lyric gets, so we can all be grateful it’s in Russian. How about this verse? “Someone will wind wire onto terminals. Someone will confuse new themes, someone’s a psycho and someone’s a maniac. Someone’s like you, someone’s like me.” Quite. I don’t think that singing in their native tongue will matter one little jot for the faux lesbo duo. The song is utterly fabulous – the most contemporary pop song we’ve had at Eurovision since ooh, 2000, when Alsou appeared – and that was Russia too. Even last year’s Russian entry was a contemporary-sounding boyband thingy. They clearly know their pop in Russia. A breathy intro, which leads very quickly into a shouty chorus which grabs you by the throat and says ‘Listen to me!’ In the middle, a techno break which will have grannies reaching to turn down the volume, but which will give them precious time to do whatever outrageous shenanigans they're planning, like (gasp!) kissing. Can t.A.T.u win? Sure. More countries than ever are televoting this year, and if ever there was a song that would have been ignored by juries but scored highly by televoters, it’s this one, so they should do well. But is it a foregone conclusion? Certainly not. It could, in the end, be something easier on the ear that wins, like Latvia again, or even Ireland. But these three minutes sure will be fun, and the chances of an already-famous winner have never been higher.
12 Spain – Dime – Beth
Winning at least one prize this year; that for shortest song title and artist name combo, one could be forgiven for thinking that this is about American currency or those chocolate bars that Harry Enfield used to advertise. But no, it’s pronounced ‘dee may’ and it means ‘Tell Me’. Like the UK’s entry this year, it features Spanish guitar, but, being the Spanish song, I think that’s allowed.
Much more likely to win than Rosa was last year (when every Spaniard in Tallinn thought they’d win just by turning up on the night with 'You Ropes Leaving A Shelleeebraysheeon'). Beth is a product of Operacion Triunfo series two, which she didn’t actually win, but Eurovision is her consolation prize. Strongly favoured, but for me there’s just something missing. It’s not quite as memorable as it should be, and she sounds like she’s trying to cram in too many words. The video is fabulous, although it's a bit Gaudi. Ha, ha.
13 Israel – Words For Love – Lior Narkis
Some countries just aren’t trying. This is bad, but not even in a funny way. We can’t laugh at it – it just exists. And it sounds like it’s existed since about 1973. The video is standard Israeli Tourist Board fare. Unforgiveable. Blatantly grovelling for international votes too, by saying 'I love you' in different languages, including Greek. Now look, we had more than enough Sagapo last year, thank you very much. Go to the loo while this is on – there’s an interval coming up next. Even if it's the potter's wheel it will be more interesting than the Israeli song.
Ad break for countries showing Eurovision on commercial channels. What will the rest of us have to put up with this year? At least we could put up with both hosts singing this time - they can both sing.
14 Netherlands – One More Night - Esther Hart
At least the Pet Shop Boys’ song of the same name had a memorable hook. This doesn’t, and frankly I can’t see what all the fuss is about. It starts, it’s pleasant enough, it ends. Nothing more to add. This is the woman who made the Dutch final and the last four in the UK too, and successfully plumped for her home country, leaving the song she abandoned to come fourth (and last) in the UK’s Song For Europe. A wise move for her. But I’ve watched the Dutch final, and the words competent and bland came to mind. We need excitement! It desperately needs an injection of some ‘oomph!’ Ripe for a remix. On the plus side, she has a good voice.
15 United Kingdom – Cry Baby – Jemini
Fact: An act called Gemini came 17th in Eurovision for Portugal in 1978. There are many who can’t see this even reaching that dizzy height. ‘The worst UK entry ever’, declared Popbitch, who have clearly never been subjected to some of our soul-destroying efforts from the mid 1980s, or the particularly lame ‘Mary Ann’ by Black Lace in 1979. Even that load of old shite managed to come 7th, so what Jemini really have to watch out for is our low watermark of 15th place, which Nicki French 'achieved' in 2000. Or what they may have to worry about is being made to carry the can for our warmongering Prime Minister, who has scuppered any chances of the odd few friendly points for the UK anyway. In 1984, our act was booed on stage for political reasons, but Iraq is last month's chip paper now, so we're probably okay. Some people think this is a good pop tune. No one seems to love it, but many like it, and that’s about as enthusiastic as it gets. To be honest, it’s so repetitive that I’ve heard it enough already, so my jaded view of it perhaps won’t apply to the televoters of Europe, who will hopefully see a colourful and jolly performance from Gemma and Chris which will make Merseyside proud. I certainly hope so. There is also the gimmick of the dance routine, which may count for something. What Chris really needs to do is rip off Gemma’s skirt. I have a work colleague who'd be very keen on that - he's been quite excited about half of Jemini ever since I showed him my Song For Europe photos.
‘Cry Baby’ unfortunately doesn’t stand up to Finland’s ‘Bye Bye Baby’ from Cat Cat in 1994, with which it’s bound to be compared. This isn’t going to be released in the UK until the Monday after Eurovision. What does that tell us? Gemma and Chris, in the meantime, continue to record their album and tour gay clubs. (I saw them at The Nightingale on Sunday, for the second time.) They're due to record TOTP on Thursday 15th, for broadcast on TOTP Saturday on the 17th.
16 Ukraine – Hasta La Vista - Olexandr
A great big welcoming bear hug to this year’s only debut country, and a huge sigh of relief all round on hearing this. I was worried we would be subjected to something a bit folky from Ukraine (don’t really know why – perhaps it’s because the word Ukraine always reminds me of ‘ukulele’), but we’re not. It does raise an interesting question though; what does it say about the music industry of Ukraine when they invite songwriters from other countries to submit songs, and have a secret selection process which results in one of those foreign songwriters being chosen? Not just any old non-Ukranian, mind. This is co-written by the Eurovision-winning Zvika Pick, who was half of the duo who wrote Diva for Dana International in 1998. Then again, he also wrote the screechy schmaltz that was Israel’s ‘Light A Candle’ last year, so you can’t win them all. Happily, Hasta La Vista (note another Spanish influence) is in another world, in terms of musical styles. Bide your time for the first thirty seconds, and then brace yourself, for the song is not what the intro would have you believe. Guaranteed a vote from all Arnold Schwarzenegger fans. (So that’s 12 points from Austria then.) This is now my second favourite. I think it’s a quirky masterpiece, and it’s dead catchy. I love the way it changes tempo at the start, and the way it 'echoes to fade' near the end, before kicking back in. It’s being completely ignored by ‘fans’, but I believe that, with a good performance, the right lighting, and the goodwill often afforded to new countries, this is sailing into the top three. The video’s really good too; quite wacky and very original.
17 Greece – Never Let You Go – Mando
Mando will be glad when this is over, and she can go back to her career in soft porn films. She looks like a cross between a blow-up doll and Christina Aguilera (and Cher too - thank you Robert). Not a good look. The song? Heard it loads of times. Can’t remember it. Next!
18 Norway – I’m Not Afraid To Move On – Jostein Hasselgard
Norway’s Eurovision history is chequered, to say the least, with a brace of winners which could hardly be more diverse (La Det Swinge and Nocturne), but also the unfortunate reputation from the 1980s of getting no points. Opinions over this song are as polarised as those two winners’ musical styles, with it either being declared a non-runner or the dark horse winner. They tried a male ballad in 2001, which I absolutely loved, but I knew its chances were doomed when, watching the final while surfing the BBC’s Eurovision chatroom, someone wrote of Norway’s singer, Haldor, ‘Mummy, stop that man from staring at me’. I realised then that people would be too scared to vote for him.
And this one? It may also depend what he looks like on the night! From the live video, he looks like a little puppy dog, who will have parents across Europe carping, “get your hair cut”. Slightly cute, but not massively so. As people have said, it’s like a Gilbert O’Sullivan song, with him sitting at the piano, and it builds nicely, but his voice seems a bit suspect. I just can’t decide about this one at all.
19 France – Monts Et Merveilles (The Moon And The Stars) – Louisa Baileche
Yes, I know the French title translates as ‘Mountains and Miracles’, but that’s the official title, honest. On first hearing, I practically swooned over this. It’s absolutely beautiful. Warm and lovely as a Sunday morning under the duvet watching Dawson’s Creek while eating hot, buttered crumpets. One small problem though – when she presented the song on French TV for the first time, her hair looked like she’d been pulled through a hedge backwards. Sort out les cheveux, madame, and you could be onto a winner. It’s a warm, smooth song, with a gorgeous lyric, and some interesting African percussive touches. It sets out its stall very early on, launching into the hook with only a few seconds gone, which means you’re very familiar with it by the end. Gorgeous.
20 Poland – Keine Grenzen – Zadnych Granic (No Borders) – Ich Troje
Dave Vanian with a throat infection and some pink hairspray, or P!nk with a sex change. Like Esther Hart, this duo also tried their chances in another country’s final. They won the Polish final with this, which I thought at the time was bloody awful, in Polish and German, and then failed to make the top three in Germany’s final, with a better song. C’est la vie, as they don’t say very much in either country. I particularly resented their win because it deprived one of the best songs in this year's national finals from representing Poland. 'Here I Am' by Wilki is a lush epic that sounds like the best song JJ72 never recorded.
People either love this Ich Troje song or hate it. It’s definitely a grower which doesn’t appeal on first hearing, but there’s no denying Poland are trying very hard. They’ve spent money on the video, producing one of the best (along with Romania and Germany), making extensive use of doves to get the message across. Lyrically, it’s either a plea for harmony and understanding, or trite rubbish in the vein of ‘A Little Peace’, (which I love, I hasten to add). I just can’t help thinking that the male singer’s hair, gruff voice and facial piercings will put so many people off, but the song wedges itself into your subconscious, so it could be a contender.
Birmingham: The promotional video you weren't meant to see
Thanks to Crystaltipps for forwarding me the e-mail today which has probably been around every office in Brum by now. For technical reasons, I can't bring you the text, but you can see the video. (Sound on!). I haven't laughed so much since I was 36! Perhaps they should have shown this on the BBC's Clash Of The Cities last week, and we might have done better than third.
This all seems to be part of a thrusting, co-ordinated marketing campaign, entitled Brum: It's Not Shit. I can't praise their work highly enough (although I'm glossing over a nasty little reference to my favourite footie team - you can't have everything). Bostin'!
Well thank you kindly Mr Cent, or can I call you 50? Indeed it is my birthday, and a jolly nice sunny one it is too. Think I'll pass on the Bacardi offer though. Had enough vodka and beers on Friday and Sunday to last a lifetime, thank you very much. The Nightingale is my second home, don't you know. I'll be back here later, in an effort to make sure that my celebration isn't completely overshadowed by that other bloke's. Just because he's fifty (years, not cents) today. Pah! Today is all about me, me, me, you know!
Dear fellow bloggers, can anyone possibly explain a small problem I'm having? (No, not that one.) You see that Chig's countdown on the left? I've updated it every day, and yet here we are on Monday, and it's still showing Friday's details. When I go into 'settings', it does have the update I did yesterday, but that has never appeared on the blog itself. I've clicked 'save changes' and then 'publish' on the 'Post to World Of Chig' screen, so why hasn't it updated? Am I doing something wrong? Any help gratefully received. Thanks.
Chig's Chart Chatter
Whoever said that the UK singles chart wasn't exciting any more? It's 18.10, Wes Butters is at #10 in the Top 40 countdown, and for the first time in ooh, I don't know how long, we don't know what's going to be number one. Craig David & Sting were marginally ahead of Tomcraft (about 20 copies) in the midweek chart, and they were hanging on after Friday's sales, but Cat Deeley said on yesterday's (cd):uk that it was still too close to say who would be on top today. This is the third week in a row that there have been unexpected happenings at the very top of the chart. Who would have expected Busted to make it last week, with their third single, when their first two (better) singles didn't quite make it (#3 and #2), and with their album selling consistently well? A fortnight ago, we thought we knew what was number one. It was Madonna, ahead all week but crucially slipping enough on Saturday's sales to enter only at #2 and let Room 5 hang on for a fourth week.
[UPDATE] Tomcraft did it! Fantastic! Chig's Choon of the week too!
On a trivial note, it was appropriate that The White Stripes entered at #7 last week with '7 Nation Army'. Today, the numerical coincidence continues. Guess how many places they fall today? Correct - they're at #14. What are the chances of them being #21 next week? (Remote, actually.)
Also, can anyone explain this? 'Damaged' by Plummet entered two weeks ago at #12, then slipped (rather than plummetting, ha, ha) to #19 last week. Today, it has gone back up, almost matching its entry position, to #13. Why? This kind of thing hardly ever happens, although Good Charlotte did a similar thing recently, which still remains unexplained to the chart analysts here at Chig Mansions.
[18.50] Bleurgh! Why did I stay out until 7am? A good night out at the Nightingale, and a deserving Mr Gay UK heat winner, but was it really necessary to go to Kudos afterwards? I don't think so. It was beautifully sunny at 7.00, but since I woke up at 13.30, (thereby missing Her Faded Madgeness on (cd):uk) it's been looking like November outside, so I'm staying in with the heating on, glad I decided not to go to Oxford Pride. The poor wet sods - and it's their first one too. I feel very sorry for them.
[2.00am] I've lived in Birmingham for 18 and a half years. Today is the first day that I will not have lived here under a Labour administration. Labour have lost 11 seats tonight, and lost overall control of the city council by two seats. They remain the largest party, but it remains to be seen if they can govern. My good friend, former housemate, and former owner of my house, Steve, who was defending a Labour majority of 45 votes in Longbridge, and for whom I've been leafletting (despite me not being a Labour supporter), has performed a major miracle. I assumed he had been one of those eleven losses, but not only has he held on, against the prospective Tory parliamentary candidate, but he has increased his majority from 45 last year to 535. I am so pleased for him. He was Birmingham's first out gay councillor in 1998, and is still the only one.
I asked Steve last week whether my own ward was causing concern within Birmingham Labour Party. He hadn't heard that it was. I 'warned' him (not that it bothers me) that our rock-solid Labour area was a sea of orange posters. I live in Roy Hattersley's former parliamentary constituency. There are few more heavily Labour constituencies in the country. But our corner shop had gone Lib Dem. Every poster in anyone's house was Lib Dem, and I told Steve it looked like a sea change was about to take place, especially after I saw a boy walking home from mosque school last week with a Lib Dem poster. Sure enough, the unthinkable has happened, and I now live in a Lib Dem ward, for the first time in my life. Hurrah! I voted Green as usual - one of a mere 338 (5.72%) here - but I'm more than happy with a Lib Dem win. They won 51.84% in my own ward, Sparkbrook, and a staggering 63.99% in neighbouring Sparkhill. Bear in mind that Sparkhill is one of the poorest wards in the country, and it proves the Lib Dems can win anywhere. They took seven Birmingham seats from Labour tonight, and another one from the PJP (a single issue - Kashmir - party). This is revolution! It's also a kick up the arse for a complacent Labour council. Twenty years of Labour control comes to an end, but - and this is the best bit - with absolutely no sign of any revival from the Tories, from whom Labour took Birmingham in 1983. It would be easy to blame the invasion of Iraq and the Muslim vote here, but I should also point out that only my Green and Lib Dem candidates actually live within the ward. That must count for something.
Bad news elsewhere in the Midlands though. I have to go to work today in a B*N*P ward. I'm horrified, and I won't be able to look the locals in the face at Asda. The ward which includes my office has become one of two B*N*P wins (their first) in Sandwell. Until today, they only had 5 councillors across the country, but tonight they have 8 in Burnley alone (up from 3), becoming the second largest party. That's absolutely horrific. They've also won one in Dudley and one in Stoke, but thankfully didn't win a single one of the 25 they contested in Sunderland.
Up the road from me, in trendy Moseley, the usual three-way tussle has seen it go Tory! Moseley's very odd. On the one hand it's full of studenty, arty types, hippies and the 'lecturer belt', but it also has some massive houses and super-duper new purpose-built, cordoned-off flats. It's fertile territory for all three main parties AND also gives the Greens one of their biggest shares (8.28% today). The Tories won by a mere 307 votes, with 34.66% over Labour's 30.30% and the Lib Dems' 26.44%. It's clearly the Green votes that the other three need.
Too much excitement! And all this after Eurovision karaoke night at Missing with Gingerprince. (No, I didn't, before you ask. We just watched.) It's 2.40am - time for bed!
Happy May Day! It's the 37th anniversary of the day that I was supposed to poke my head into the world, (but I decided to wait a few more days.) But enough trivia. With apologies to those of you in other countries and non-metropolitan English boroughs, only one thing to say today:
Don't forget to vote!
The B*N*P is standing in more seats than ever today, including all 25 seats in Sunderland (where the election is entirely postal, so it's too late to do anything there now). Chig firmly believes that it's our democratic duty to register a vote against them, even if our favourite candidate doesn't stand a chance of winning. People died so that we could do this (and in other countries, people are still dying for the same reason). Let's do it! And when it's all over, I will reveal the small part I played in the democratic process on two evenings last week.