World of Chig   

Chig on your TV (possibly)

Chig will, of course, be in the audience for Making Your Mind Up, comin' atcha live from TV Centre this Saturday night. Keep an eye out for the one waving like an idiot.
BBC One, Saturday 28th, 18.35 (and results at 21.00).

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Oh well, I did say the predictions were pointless.... How wrong can you be?! ;-)

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Sympathy Vote?

It's 16.55. Here in the office, we're about to enforce radio silence (or at least play some CDs). The Brits are about to start and we're at work for two hours, avoiding all mention of who's won what, to make it more exciting when watching it on TV in three hours' time. My source inside the hall tells me that Daniel Bedingfield - in his neck brace - has filmed an acceptance speech. Do they make all the nominees who can't attend do that, or does that mean he's definitely won something? It seems almost cruel if he hasn't actually won anything. Like I care. I just hope he hasn't.

CHIG's pointless predictions:
1) Jamelia to win Best Single (deservedly)
2) The 'Award Invented To Give The Darkness An Award' Award (AKA Best Rock Act) will be won by.....Muse! (Deservedly, because it's Kerrang voters who will decide).
3) The Darkness will leave...with nothing.
4) The Annie Lennox Award will not be won by Annie Lennox, and if it's not Dido, a lot of people will be hatless by the end of the evening.
5) Duran Duran will be fab!

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Making Our Minds Up

The Eurovision season is well and truly upon us again. Denmark and Estonia have chosen their songs for Istanbul tonight, making nine countries who have chosen so far. With Eurovision’s expansion into a two-night event this year, that leaves a mere 27 still to declare. First out of the starting blocks in December were ‘plucky little Albania’ (I’m saying it first, before Wogan does), with a too-long-for-the-rules dance/rock operetta in four and a half minutes, which is, I’m happy to say, completely bonkers. Reviews of the other tunes will appear on here eventually, but I don’t believe we’ve heard the winner yet from these first nine countries. Put it this way, I hope we haven’t. There must be better to come. If we have, I reckon it’ll be Finland. It’s a really catchy song which – taking note of the last two Eurovision winners – has a theatrical (okay, camp) show to go with it. Belarus’s debut effort is truly appalling, but you have to ask why the only dictatorship left in Europe is being allowed to enter Eurovision anyway.

The BBC revealed the six UK contenders in a newly-revamped selection process this week, at London’s Café de Paris. Chig was there (and there will be photos on here soon to prove it). In a showcase gig, all six acts were introduced onto the stage by chirpy Fearne Cotton, who presents Top Of The Pops Saturday on BBC One. They all performed their song live and had a little chat with Fearne. Then they mingled with journos at the interview tables and then there was some drinking at the barand then it all goes slightly blurry....blurry memories of Soho House....blurry taxi to Finsbury Park....missing one camera bag and a press release in the morning. (Thankfully I still have my camera.)

So, as you can only hear 30 seconds of each song on the official BBC website, you want to know what the songs are like, right? Happy to oblige...

1) Weekend (Gotta Work) - Enrap-tureIt’s the Mis-teeq laydeez with frizzy hair! Or, as they are introduced as being two-thirds Scandinavian, it’s Afro-dite’s daughters! Just to be on the safe side, they’ve followed BOTH of these trios by also including a hyphen in their name! This is a strong start – we are immediately quite impressed. If a song has to make an impression with its opening bars, this succeeds AND it's catchy and singalong-able on first hearing. The rapping bit is so Mis-teeq-like that it could even be Aleesha herself up there on stage. The trio introduce themselves in the song as well, just in case you should want to learn their names. They’re living for the weekend. They recite the days of the week in a Craig David stylee. Tonight I've seen a video for a completely unrelated new single called 'Saturday Night' by something like the UD Project, which has exactly the same lyrical theme. Interesting.

2) Hold On To Our Love - James Fox
The one I’ve been most curious about, as James was, for me, the one who should have won Fame Academy, and I bet the record companies were thinking that too. He already came as a complete package. He could sing, he could play the guitar AND sing at the same time. He could write songs AND he looked the part. He also looks fantastic in a vest, which counts for a lot in these parts.

The intro sounds very echoey on the CD. No matter though, because, after the briefest of intros, it wastes no time kicking into the chorus. It’s a pretty strong chorus too. Combined with James’s good looks, this could do it. A good mix of down- and up-tempos. We’d get loads of points from Ireland with this. They could return the favour after we gave Mickey 12 points last year.
Downside: Some people may consider this a little too downbeat in the slower parts.

3) Me Without You - Haifa
First impressions really count, and from the moment Haifa bounded on stage wearing something she’d clearly made from her mother’s curtains, or borrowed from her dressing-up box, it was hard to listen to the song objectively. It seemed competent, but dull. She’s a really good singer though, there’s no doubt about that. I have to admit I don’t remember her from Pop Idol, so I wasn’t coming at this with any preconceptions. I thought it was a nice enough, but on repeated hearings since, my verdict is that this is too forgettable to make any impression. I’ve played the six songs on CD a few times and I keep missing this one while thinking about the washing or staring out the window. We mustn’t allow this to win.

4) Leading Me On - Hyrise
They look like a boyband. They are a boyband. The curiosity value for these is that a couple of them are 'known' to TV audiences; one was in 3SL and is therefore a brother to Lisa and Andy Scott-Lee. One of the others is Maxwell, someone else I've forgotten all about from Pop Idol.

First listen: Above average boyband fare; more a1 than Westlife, which is good. After several listens; This is catchy as Asian bird flu! By the Lord Johnny Logan, I think this could do it! And now I know one of them’s from here in Birmingham, I’m a fan. Fickle, moi? Ditch the last three seconds though. It could end up as wailing on the night, and detracts too much from the good song that’s gone before. D-Side and Triple Eight would probably give up the very chains on their baggy jeans for a song this strong.
Downside: Includes a fair few cliches; 'coming on strong’ and ‘hanging on’ etc., but does it really matter?

5) With You I Believe - Haydon
A short intro, promising start. Haydon has a really rich, soulful voice, especially for one with such a small body and such a youthful, cheeky face. The obvious comparison here is R. Kelly’s ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ Don’t worry though, it doesn’t nick the tune from that; it’s just in that genre, but it does mention ‘wings’ and flying. And ‘believe’, of course. It’s a lighter-waving mini epic of a song, and it made an immediately strong impression on me. He also sings it brilliantly.

Oh, it gets better! After only 1 minute and 50 seconds we have a ‘standing up off the stools’ moment (if this was Westlife, but Haydon performed it standing up anyway). It could even be an awesome ‘thunderclap and fireworks’ moment if they milk it by fiddling around with the backing track. It could also seem really cheesy, which is possibly why they haven’t done it. Really well performed, and, along with James, these are the two that I go away thinking are the strongest contenders.

6) It Just Gets Better - Madison Taylor
Nothing at all, presumably, to do with Madison Avenue, of the 2000 number one, ‘Don’t Call Me Baby’ fame, or the UK girlband Madasun, who had three top 20 hits, also in 2000. In fact, we know nothing about her at all. “I’ve got a good feeling about this.”, she’s singing, but we’re agreed at the time that it isn’t as good as any of the other five. Now though, I’m not so sure. It’s now sounding quite strong and I certainly prefer it to Haifa’s song. Is that a balalaika on the backing track?

So, what’s going to win? Well, I honestly believe it’s one of four songs. Ooh, really sticking my neck out there! I just don’t think Haifa or Madison Taylor can do it, but any of the other four can. But with the show being on a Saturday in prime time, this is a very exciting experiment which no one can predict. We don’t really know who’ll be watching on a Saturday teatime and have even less idea which members of that unknown audience will be the people who bother to pick up the phone and vote.

While no song stood out as an obvious winner, there were no (ahem!) turkeys either. (Turkey, Istanbul, geddit? Oh, I give up.) None of these songs has the dreary repetitiveness of last year’s Cry Baby, thank God. And we don’t have any performers who are trying so hard with their dance routine that they will forget to sing. (I guess Hyrise could fall victim to that, but I don’t think they will.)

I came away from Tuesday’s showcase gig thinking that James’s and Haydon’s songs were my favourites. Now, after hearing all the songs five or six times, the others seem stronger than before and have caught up slightly in my reckoning. However, we live in a celebrity-obsessed country, where James and Haydon are both reasonably well-known from TV series last year. Crucially, the viewing public knows that both of them can really cut it live and under pressure. People should hold that thought in their heads and cast their minds back to Jemini’s performance in Riga before they cast their votes for Making Your Mind Up.

Tonight, we've had a vote at B&K's house. Ten of us - a rather unrepresentative sample of white gay men between 25 and 51 - have listened to all six songs in their entirety, some people for the first time. We then voted, giving 12, 10, 8, 7, 6 and 5 points. The result was nail-bitingly close, even though four different songs received maximum points from at least one person.. Five people had Haydon as top, two people had Enrap-ture, two more had James Fox and one person preferred Hyrise.

Full scores in this house were:
1st Haydon 97 points
2nd Hyrise 96
3rd James Fox 84
4th Enrap-ture 82
5th Haifa 67
6th Madison Taylor 54

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