World of Chig   

Chig's chart chatter

A couple of notable failures on today's new chart:
Elvis Presley fails for the first time to make the top two with his current re-releases, as '(Marie's The Name) His Latest Flame'/'Little Sister' only makes #3.
Girls Aloud fail to make the top three for the first time ever, with their 8th release. Cue rumours that they're about to split up.

Nelly and Tim McGraw enter at #1, making Chig wonder, when was the last time a country artist topped the UK singles chart? Shania Twain has topped the album charts but never made higher than #3 with a single. Tammy Wynette nearly did it with the KLF in 1991, but stalled at #2. She topped the chart in 1975 of course, with 'Stand By Your Man', but Kenny Rogers did it in 1977 with 'Lucille' and 1980 with 'Coward Of The County'. Have there been any country singers at #1 since then? I have a feeling I'm probably missing something really obvious. (The Corrs in 2000, with 'Breathless' - do they count?)

Meanwhile, let us mourn today as Scott and Edith preside over what may turn out to be the last half-decent chart show on Radio 1. JK and Joel promise, rather ominously, "a lot more stuff" when they take over the chart show next Sunday. Like there's room for 'more stuff' in a show that's already full to bursting, just covering the single, album and download charts. It'll be bad enough having to hear their inane chatter between the songs, but I dread to think what else they'll be 'adding' to the programme. Be very afraid.

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[00.51] I've just spent an hour writing a very entertaining piece, with several links, about the big surprise I've had tonight and the fabulous day I'm about to have today (Saturday) as a result. Then I clicked 'publish' and Blogger thought about it for a couple of minutes and then lost it. Fuck. I'm off to bed. :-(

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Ruslana speaks!

I received the following press release today:

"Yes, it's here!
Historic and beautiful...
Steeped in culture and romance...
A wonderful place to go for a memorable holiday...

But maybe your Ukrainian is a little rusty? Do you know how to pronounce those really important local phrases? The insults and the chat-up lines?

Well let the current Eurovision champion, Ruslana, guide you through those essentials with her useful online phrasebook.

Just go here ...don't forget to turn your speakers on."

It's fun! And it's rude! Our favourite Ukrainian has kindly recorded some phrases which will come in useful for those of us planning a trip to Kyiv (or perhaps meeting some Ukrainians in Malmo: when Kyiv finally admit they can't cope, as reported in the Ukrainian papers yesterday.)

Don't be confused by the instructions (like I was). All you have to do is press the keys on your own keyboard once it gets to the page with Ruslana and the wolf. (You'll see what I mean.)

I've enjoyed making Ruslana sneeze by pressing 'L' over and over again. Childish, but very funny. I'm also planning the perfect night out in Kyiv, by pressing the following, in this order: O F P I V Y and, for the morning after: E U

Marvellous. Except she doesn't say the most important news to emerge today, which is: "Chig is interviewing me next week when I come to London to be on your Making Your Mind Up programme." True. Go! Go! Go wild dances!!

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Corrie Chig


Tricolore unfurled

The first good quality, full length MP3 of a Making Your Mind Up song finds its way onto the web today. (Javine's leaked song did turn out to be the real deal, but it's still a poor quality wav file.) Step forward, Tenors Unlimited! Oops! I mean Tricolore. Their popera song, 'Brand New Day', (not to be confused with Sting's 1999 top 13 hit of the same name) is on their own brand new website, which looks quite a bit like their old website.

So, what's it like? Well, I've heard it twice, which is once more than most people who vote on 5th March will have heard it, and I'm confused. It's either corporate opera at its worst, with the cheesiest lyric this site of 'Millennium of Love', or it's inspired, rousing stuff, which the housewives will vote for in their droves and which could actually win Eurovision. At the risk of ridicule, and much to my surprise, I think I'm edging towards the latter. Add to this the fact that they can all sing and perform live, and they're not exactly ugly. The song has the added bonus of a superb, memorable ending too, which must count for a few extra votes. And of course, la France will give us douze points, just for the group's name - result! Just as long as they don't wander aimlessly around the stage like Tie Break did last year, we could be onto something here. I want to hear full versions of the others more than ever now! What do you think of it?

In other, related news: My tickets for 'Making Your Mind Up' arrived today. Hurrah!

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Which decade is tops for pops?

A blatant plug.

If you've listened to any popular music at all in the last 40 years, you should be visiting Troubled Diva for each of the next ten days. The 'Which decade is tops for pops?' game/debate/MP3 download is back, back, back! All is explained here.

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Making Your Mind Up - the songs are out

Well, bits of them are, at least, on BBC Radio 2's Making Your Mind Up website. Hmmm. The audio clips are too short to make any fair judgements, to be honest, but when did that ever stop us? Let's do it anyway:

Javine's sounds the best. It's a belter, but I do wonder whether the Turkish pop boat sailed (down the Bosphorus) a couple of years ago. No complaints if this wins though.

It's a good job we know Andy Scott-Lee can really sing live, because to these ears, that song sounds quite difficult. I bow to any singers or musicians reading this, but that sounds like quite a range.

Katie Price's song sounds okay, but Autotune, or whatever it's called, is a wonderful invention.

The best bit of Tricolore's song is surely not in that clip - I imagine something more rousing. I certainly hope so.

Gina G's 'Flashback' sounds quite perky, but my heart sank when I read the lyric and saw the dreaded word 'rap'. (It's not in the clip.) Images of Lindsay D's boys came flooding back and I had to have a lie down.

Overall: promising. Will reserve judgement until full versions are available.

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The announcement is here!

Once upon a time, there was a little blog called World Of Chig, which about 50 people per day currently visit. But they were mainly by mistake, brought here by Google's rubbish picture search which links to pictures which disappeared years ago. So really, it's about 6 or 7 visitors, and Chig knows them all and could probably list them here. But he'd probably miss out one person by mistake and then they'd get upset and say, 'Hey! I read you regularly too, you know?' And it would all get very messy. But I digress.

And then, about 10 days ago, Chig did receive an e-mail from the person behind his second favourite website in the world ever, namely Popjustice. And it did say, (and I paraphrase); 'You know that stuff you wrote on World of Chig last year about Eurovision? Well, I quite liked it. We're going to do an even more splendid Popjustice Eurovision site this year. Would you like to be part of it?'

And, after rousing himself with smelling salts, Chig did answer back in the affirmative. He spoke to Mr Popjustice and decided after two seconds that half a dozen visitors versus Popjustice's 8,000 - gulp!- per day was no contest. And so, it can be revealed (even before it's announced by the main Popjustice site, but I have permission, don't worry), that the new, improved Popjustice Eurovision site is here!

Chig and various other contributors have been secretly beavering away at it for a few days, so there is 'stuff' there already to read. We didn't want to announce an empty page, after all.

What this means for you, dear reader, is that most of Chig's Eurovision gubbins will be posted over at Popjustice this year, at least until I go to Kyiv. Then it's likely that World of Chig will be my Eurovision photo blog, while the news and gossip will continue to be on Popjustice. At least, that's the current thinking, but we'll make it up as we go along. Any Eurovision stuff which is too brief/personal/offensive/irrelevant for Popjustice will also be on here (and there's one coming up next in the shape of Chig's brief comments on the UK's contenders).

So, happy reading! There will still be non-Eurovision stuff here on World Of Chig, so don't go away, because I'm not. Not until Kyiv in May, at any rate.

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The announcement...

...will be tomorrow - Monday. Nothing to do with St. Valentine's Day - that's just a coincidence. Tuesday, with any luck.

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TV truth #2

The second in a...blah, blah, blah.

Eastenders’ editorial policy (as revised 11/02/05):
"We have realised that bringing back much-beloved stars who have left the programme, even if they are loveable old rogues, will not rescue our declining viewing figures, so we are quite happy to kill them off. is once again the way forward.”

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TV truth #1

The first in an occasional series (possibly) in which Chig exposes the TV tricks and secrets that you’d never in a million years have worked out all by yourself.

Tonight’s Eastenders:

The scene: Chrissie and Zoe in the waiting room at the abortion clinic, as Zoe waits for her appointment.

What Zoe said as she tried to stand up: "I need some fresh air."

What Chrissie said as she grabbed Zoe’s arm to make her sit down again: "It doesn’t matter where you go; you’ll still ask yourself the same questions."

What Chrissie really meant: "Don’t move, this set only has two walls. They’re not going to build another room, just for you to go all reflective for a few moments. There are budget limits, you know."

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"Fuck it."

Thank goodness for the Popbitch mailing. Today, it has brought me news I hadn't heard, but it’s tinged with sadness. I was unaware that comedy renegade Malcolm Hardee had died last week, in a ridiculously tragic-comic way too, which seems entirely fitting. It seems he fell off his dinghy on the Thames, on the way from his pub boat on one side to his houseboat on the other, and drowned.

Malcolm must have known thousands of people in his 55 years on the planet, and I was lucky enough to be one of them, back in the late 80s/early 90s, while I worked at several Edinburgh festivals and then stage-managed (ie. did the sound) for a comedy promoter here in Birmingham venues for three years, with our regular comperes including Frank Skinner and Alan Davies.

"My duvet's like a packet of crisps,"

When Malcolm ‘organised’ and compered the late night comedy sessions in the cabaret bar in my first full year at the Pleasance, they were unmissable. All of us staff would hope to finish elsewhere in time to get into the cabaret bar for his act, because you never knew what Malcolm was going to do, although there was always a fair chance it would involve him insulting people and getting naked. He was the only act I’ve ever seen who did an impression of General de Gaulle by getting naked and placing his glasses above his cock and balls. He also had, as any comedy fan will confirm, the biggest pair of knackers ever seen, which just added to the comedy.
He had found fame in the 80s as one third of The Greatest Show On Legs, which helped to make the adult Tiswas, called OTT, so, er, over the top that it was taken off air. TGSOL’s naked balloon dance from that programme is legendary.

"Oi, oi!"

Malcolm was a complete one-off; a big, bumbling man, who wore dirty, ill-fitting suits and smelt of fags, but was absolutely hilarious when on stage. Sort of like Vic Reeves’ funny uncle, he was a strange combination of Frank Carson, Tommy Cooper and Eric Morecambe, with extra bawdiness. He scared me the first few times I encountered him, but I owe him a huge debt. In 1990 (I think), for some reason, he picked me from the Pleasance staff to be on his panel for the notorious 'Snakebite Awards'. This was his antidote to the Perrier Award, where he would get a panel together and announce nominations for the worst show on the Fringe. We had a meeting, which was filmed by a TV crew and shown on the then brand new BSB - the one with the squarials and the yellow logos - who were sponsoring the venue that year. (This was before they became BSkyB.) I’m not sure if anyone in the outside world ever saw the TV programme, as satellite TV was so new at the time. I certainly didn’t, but it was piped around the Pleasance with nervous little me nominating one of our own shows for the award. I remember thinking I’d made a huge mistake and was going to get sacked. (I didn’t.) I only ever had other members of staff coming up to me, saying, "I saw you on the telly." Thank you Malcolm for that.

Lots of little things stick in my mind about Malcolm, and I’ve dotted this piece with some of the lines I remember and associate with him. He always used to pronounce 'legend' as 'leg-end', and, to this day, whenever someone is described as a legend, I think of Malcolm Hardee saying it. When he was compering, he would sometimes bring on the next act with a "might be good, might be shit, fuck it", then shrug his shoulders and shuffle off stage, fag in hand. He would often play the harmonica on stage, then dip it into the drink of some poor sod on the front row and stir it round. Not to mention dipping his wick in punters’ pints as well.

"Before the next act comes out, let’s all hide."

The atmosphere in those late night sessions was thick with smoke, drunken, rowdy and absolutely amazing, and they continued at the Gilded Balloon in later years. People talk about edgy comedy, but you ain’t seen nothing on TV like the Edinburgh comedy clubs that only start about 1am. (Oh god, I must go back this year – writing this is making me so nostalgic!) As a member of staff, part of the joy for me was the repetition of some of Malcolm’s act, knowing what was coming, and seeing how different punters reacted to him. Sometimes people (okay, sometimes us) would just shout "taxi for Hardee" from the back of the room. Or "get your knob out!" Highly sophisticated stuff, but very funny when you’re drunk.

Malcolm Hardee could brave the rowdiest, most drunken, abusive, heckling crowds at Late & Live at the Pleasance or Gilded Balloon and take it all in his stride. I never saw him let any hecklers get under his skin. He either made a witty riposte (from his standard, well-rehearsed list) or just told them to f*** off.

"I met my wife in Australia. I said, “What are you doing here?”"

Malcolm was the first comic I ever heard come out with the following line, which others have repeated since, which cracked me up every time. He probably said it every night during that Pleasance run, with his heavily punctuated delivery, which left people hanging onto every word; "People say you only play this place twice in your career;.......once on your way up.............and once on your way down........................It's good to be back."

Malcolm Hardee was a father figure to the comedy circuit, in much the same way that John Peel was to music, but far less media-friendly and far more mad. He was too scary and unpredictable to do any substantial TV work, but he was a great British eccentric and I’m sad that he’s gone. Oi, oi!

There are some great tributes to Malcolm here, including some from a few famous people. Karen Koren is the person who ran the Gilded Balloon, and Malcolm Bailey is the promoter I ended up working with in the early 1990s and founder of the Birmingham Comedy Festival.

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A song which purports to be the first of the UK's Eurovision contenders makes an appearance on the interwebnet today. And, knock me down with Dana International's Gaultier feather, it's pretty damn good! Ever-so-slightly Turkish-sounding, this is miles better than any of last year's six contenders.

Download a poor quality wav file of Javine's 'Touch My Fire' here. (You'll have to cut and paste - it doesn't seem possible to link directly.)

Why Javine wants us to touch her fire isn't entirely clear. She'd be better off getting a CORGI-registered engineer out to see to it, surely? What with Constantinos from Cyprus wanting us to 'reach the fire', I think we may already have health and safety 'issues' brewing for Kyiv.

Auntie will be announcing details of all the UK songs and playing them on the radio next Monday (aaah, St. Valentine's Day) and Tuesday.

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Chig's 'as I'm watching it on the telly' report:

"25 years ago, when this all began," says Chris Evans in the intro. So it began in 1980, did it Chris? No, it didn’t. It started in 1977 as a one-off Queen’s Silver Jubilee event, but then they didn’t think of doing it again until 1982, missing four years. That’s why we’re only now having the 25th Brits, but that’s just what it is – the 25th Brit awards ceremony (including those formerly called the British Rock & Pop Awards). It’s not the 25th anniversary or 25th birthday, or 25 years since it started. It's the 25th event. Got that? Good. Let's get started.

TV moments of 2005: Robbie’s face when Chris Evans introduced ‘Gary Barlow and Howard Donald’. A right picture. Nice to see the Robster with all his hair shaved off again. Phwoar!

“I’d like to thank my boyfriend, Jake, from the Scissor Sisters.” Very funny, Robbie. We saw Jake’s interview too, but it would have been nice if you had taken a moment to thank Guy Chambers for writing Angels with you, as you pick up the award for writing the song. You selfish git. Try being gracious instead of petty. You can go off people, you know.

[Two minutes later] Oh, he did thank Guy Chambers, as a backstage afterthought. Better than nothing, I suppose.

Daniel & Natasha’s version of ‘Ain’t Nobody’ sounds good. Nice brass. That’s ‘brass’, not ‘bras’.

Simon Pegg looks like a cat. “The winner is ‘Scissor Sisters’!” He’s a fan – he wasn’t tempted to say ‘The Scissor Sisters’! My sister texts me immediately: Jesus christ! Simon pegg has really made it now! Presenting an award at the brits! Wow!!
Explanation: Chigsister was a friend of Simon Pegg’s when they were both 18 and in the same year at college in Stratford-upon-Avon, doing drama. I had the pleasure of seeing Simon’s already brilliant comic abilities way back then, in a college show, when he helped recreate Monty Python’s cheese shop sketch. He told my sister at the time that he was jealous of me because I was at uni being chair of the Drama Soc and directing a play. Oh my, how the tables have turned! Still, it’s nice to know I was his inspiration. Cough, splutter.

I thought Mike Skinner didn’t do awards ceremonies? How did he get persuaded to perform? More than a grand, or does he come for free? That was a bloody brilliant performance though.

Ad break now. Oh yes, an advert for ‘The Best of The Boomtown Rats’, which annoyed me when I saw it in Asda today. Why? Because they’ve allowed some illiterate graphic designer to do the sleeve and then – unbelievably – no one from the record company has bothered to read it. So their best-known track is listed as ‘I Don’t Like Monday’s’. Monday’s what? Strewth. Sack these illiterates now!

Green Day sound great – a really full sound.

Will Young looks as astonished as I was to hear that he’s won Best Single for ‘Your Game’. How in God’s name did he manage that? It’s a good single, from a good album, with a really good video, but single of the year? Against those other nine contenders? Bewildering.

The Best Pop Award was less of a surprise, although if there’d been two, The Aloud should have had one too. Perhaps they should have Best Girlypop and Best Boysypop awards? Oh dear, Tom (or whichever one he is) McFly forgot to thank ALL the sponsors of the Best Pop award. Dock his pay! Take the award back!

Joss Stone performing next, and at this point people are thinking, nice, she’s good, but what’s she doing in the Best Urban category when she’s just a young white girl from the not-so-mean streets of Devon? Poor thing, it’s all a bit embarrassing for her, innit? Because of course Jamelia or Lemar are going to win that category, aren’t they? AREN’T THEY?!?!

As Chris Evans is performing to camera, various Scissor Sisters are completely ignoring him, even though though he’s standing next to their table and talking on the telly. How rude.

Oh Robbie, you do look sexy with that hair shaved off again and a retro, black, shiny racing jacket. Superb version of ‘Angels’ with Urban Joss. Good to hear the song done differently for a change.

Ah yes, that’s more like it. Very rock and roll. Mike Skinner wins an award but has been in the bog ‘a long time’ according to his mate, and doesn’t go on stage to collect it. Gone to look for the Goffey shelf, I imagine.

Jamelia and Lemar doing ‘Addicted To Love’ now. It’s always interesting when you hear a cover and you hear words you never noticed before. Jamelia’s clear enunciation has just uncovered two lines of that song that I’ve never heard properly before. Well done girl!

Good to see Jazzy B back in public, awarding the Best Urban award. Ugh! Dizzee Rascal! Thank God it was only ten seconds. Jazzy announces it’s Joss Stone. ‘Oh fuck off, no’ says Joss at her table. (I can lip-read, me.) That’s not very ladylike, is it? But it is very ‘urban’. Probably. Maybe that’s why she won.

New Order are there, already knowing they haven’t picked up the ‘Best Song of a Completely Arbitrary Time Period’ award for their former incarnation’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. Thank goodness they have something else to do, like present the award for Best International Group. “Who’d have thought that the Scissor Sisters would beat U2 in this category?”, asks voiceover woman (who I presume is Lauren Laverne with a cold). [Later note: it is.] Quite a few of us, thank you very much. I never thought for one moment that U2 would win this one. Even Bono would have given this to Scissor Sisters.

A great visual show from Gwen Stefani next. Nice shrooms. I’ve still not quite forgiven Ms Stefani for all the times I’ve found myself singing, ‘Take a chance, you stupid ho’, against my better judgement. Out loud. In the office.

The shy and retiring Osbourne females now, presenting Best British Group. Keane try to look pleased as Franz Ferdinand are announced as winners. There’s a shot of some tarty, drunk bird in the audience, mouthing off at the camera. Oh, it’s Amy Winehouse.

Fuck me! Siouxsie Sioux! Respect to the Brits organisers! When does she get her lifetime achievement award? Hmm, strangely expressionless face… (Trivia fact: Googling for ‘expressionless face celebrity’ brings up Jackie Stallone as the first result.)

Scissor Sisters win again and Ana surprises me by saying, of Siouxsie, “If she weren’t in existence, I wouldn’t be standing here today!” So, Ana is Siouxsie’s daughter? Who knew?

Snoop and Pharrell now. Wonder if they’ve noticed yet that all the winners so far have been Caucasian?

Chris Evans really is a natural at this lark, isn’t he? Oh, be still my beating heart – it’s Clive Owen! Album of the year is…Keane. ‘Oh fuck!’ says Tom. He must have been hanging out with Joss Stone.

Chris Evans, Jools Holland and Sir Bob Gandalf himself - that is his name, isn’t it Joss? Fuck yes! - all manage the extraordinary feat of not saying the words ‘Band Aid’ while giving young Robert his Lifetime Achievement Award. “Mine’s gold”, he boasts. You rat! He does ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ and ‘Rat Trap’, but sadly not ‘The Great Song Of Indifference’. A real shame, because I would have liked to see the faces on all the Band Aid 20 participants there when he sang the line, “I don’t care if the Third World fries.” Let’s see if they get irony.

As it often is with the Brits, it’s a great, rousing way to end the show. I’m sure Bob could have done more than two songs.

The end.

Except it’s not. Scissor Sisters chat to Colin Murray and Lauren Laverne on ITV2 afterwards, surrounded by the Muppet melons. It’s all so surreal that Colin runs off, screaming, “Okay, I took acid!” (Colin Murray doesn’t get Scissor Sisters, as you will know if you listen to him on the wireless.) Jake Shears says Kiki and Herb changed his life.

Robbie’s short hair has exposed how grey he’s going at the sides. Hurrah! Welcome to the club. Not that he was dyeing it black before, of course. No way. “I’m not gay, like the papers said yesterday, ” pleads the Robster. Good job Jake has disappeared.

Alex Kapranos looks like Nicky Campbell when he was younger.

The end. Really.

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100 days to go...

...until the Eurovision final.

But only 98 until the semi!

Could any kind person help me find and install a countdown clock in the sidebar for this?

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Things are about to change slightly here at World of Chig, now that the run-up to Eurovision is in full swing. (And I speak as someone who'll be spending this Friday, Saturday AND Sunday nights watching the national finals of Turkey, Denmark, Bulgaria and the Netherlands, plus heats from Russia and Sweden, so don't tell me it's not in full swing. I've already seen the finals from Albania, Andorra and Slovenia, plus highlights (such as they were) of Cyprus, the Bulgarian semi, and a Finnish and a Dutch heat. It's hard work, you know.)

Chig has some exciting news to announce in the next few days. No, don't sigh like that. Really. I mean it this time. Deals are being struck in dark corridors. Come back soon and we'll be asking you to go somewhere else too. All will be revealed. Soon.

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That's what I go to Kyiv for...

First known picture of one of this year's Eurovision contestants in fetish gear. Ruslana, you have a lot to answer for...

"Oh, shit, I'll have to learn to sing it in tune now."
Reality hits home after Sunday's narrow win for Slovenia's cute Omar Naber.

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What's the connection?

Gina G
Andy Scott-Lee
Some new classical band. (No, not them. Or them.)

I could tell you, but I'd have to kill you.

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Four of us are going there tomorrow, until Sunday. Part work, part pleasure. Any recommendations, apart from Flamingo's? Particularly keen on suggestions for things to do/see on Saturday, during the day. All suggestions welcome. I'll be able to check here until midday tomorrow (Friday). Thank you kindly.

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Cliché alert!

"Feel around me the desire,
Search my body, reach the fire"

Yes Mike, you can relax. There will definitely be at least one song in Kyiv which abides by the 'fire/desire' rule. Cyprus chose 'Ela, Ela' last night.

And the news gets even better. Although this report is a little ambiguous and they may just be one of the contenders, look who seems to be representing Switzerland! Only the group who once left a message in Mike's comment box! See comment #6.

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May 2006 holiday booking

It's Warsaw. You mark my words. You read it here first.

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