World of Chig   


...or has there been no popbitch mailing this week? I'm dying to know if we're about to see chart history on Sunday. (Sadly not the on-air sacking of Radio 1's village idiots.) There's a possibility that the wonderful 'Crazy' by Gnarls Barkley may become the first ever number one single that can't be bought in any physical form. It may top Sunday's chart on download sales only, before the CD hits the shops next week. We'll see. (And if you've had the popbitch e-mail this week, please do let me know. Thanks.)

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Tonight's Corrie

Shelley: Maybe I should get meself a gay boyfriend, give meself a laff.
Violet: Hmm, sex wouldn’t be too good though.
Shelley: Oh, I dunno. Better than some I’ve ‘ad.

You can tell Jonathan Harvey's back on scriptwriting duties. He's the writer of the sublime Beautiful Thing (and Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!, but nobody's perfect) and when he's writing Corrie episodes, there's barely a word wasted. Every sentence bristles with wit or pathos. It's a joy to watch, and the conversation tonight with gay Sean and straight Jamie (right) was one of those rare minutes in a soap that brought tears to my eyes. Read it here. Coronation Street is quality drama.

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40 in 36 days: 1970

Chig’s 4th birthday: Wednesday 6th May 1970
UK’s number one single: Spirit In The Sky – Norman Greenbaum
The second of his two weeks on top, having dethroned this year’s Eurovision winner – see below. Dr. and the Medics, then Gareth Gates and the Kumars were later to make this song a rare three time chart-topper.

1970’s Eurovision winner: All Kinds Of Everything – Dana (Ireland)
The first of Ireland’s record seven wins, for 18 year-old Dana (Provincial, not International) (Joke © Tommy Tiernan.)
UK’s Eurovision entry: Knock, Knock, Who’s There? – Mary Hopkin
Second place with 26 points to Dana’s 32, but both miles ahead of the third placed song for Germany, which scored 12 points. The UK charts reflected their Eurovision positions; Dana made number one, Mary Hopkin number two.

Hello sailor!

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Friday's guessing game

Over the weekend, I have to write the Eurovision preview for the May edition of a well known magazine. It'll be a bigger version of the bit we tagged onto my Ruslana interview last year, where I attempted to squeeze some of the songs/acts into certain categories. I've already decided which act is most likely to get the biggest photo (guess!), but can you guess which songs or artists will be going into these categories?

Most likely to win.
Most likely to get 'nul points'.
Most outrageous costume.
Most likely to be gay (Can this be done without repeating the popbitch libel? We think not.)

I think I might add:

Most in need of tweezers.
Most likely to get Europe pressing the 'off' button.
Best use of school uniforms.

Any other suggestions?

(This is definitely not a way of getting you to mention things I may have forgotten, oh no. For once, the research on this has been quite extensive - I've been doing it for weeks.)

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Cuteness alert!

Give yourself a happy Friday moment! Watch this video.

Not content with Schnappi the Crocodile, our continental neighbours have now turned their affections towards Pigloo, a cute little penguin, not unlike Pingu. Pigloo's 'Le Papa Pingouin' is the number one single this week in France, the video is a delight, and it's a Eurovision cover version to boot!

Sophie and Magaly's original version of 'Le Papa Pingouin' is one of the most wonderfully silly songs ever to have graced a Eurovision stage (and there have been many!) The twin sisters, representing Luxembourg, 'inexplicably' failed to beat Johnny Logan's 'What's Another Year' in 1980. (They failed to beat another seven songs as well, but let's not take too much away from them.)

Pigloo, t'es mignon!

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Alone in the night as the daylight brings a cool empty silence

I'm quite envious. Not content with already visiting Jordan and Croatia in the last six months, my Mum is taking advantage of her retirement again. She went on holiday yesterday, on a trip to three European capitals which I've never visited; Prague, Vienna and Budapest. Shockingly (and quite bravely, I think), she has gone on her own, on one of those singles holidays for the swinging sixties (and beyond). I'm sure it's all very clean and above board, but I am wondering if my Mothers' Day present may have been badly timed. I gave her the DVD of Shirley Valentine.

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40 in 37 days: 1969

Chig’s 3rd birthday: Tuesday 6th May 1969
UK’s number one single: Get Back – The Beatles with Billy Preston.
The penultimate Beatles number one was halfway through its six week run at the top. It was still number one on the day that my sister was born, on Thursday 22nd May 1969. That day is my earliest memory. I can still recall being on the landing, being kept out of the bedroom, where my Mum was giving birth, as my Gran kept popping by, going to the bathroom for towels and water. I caught occasional glimpses inside the bedroom, but don’t remember anything specific. I remember being a bit scared by the whole thing though. The result of all that fuss is in my hands in the first photo below.

1969’s Eurovision winner: a four way tie between;
Boom Bang-A-Bang – Lulu (UK)
De Troubadour – Lenny Kuhr (Netherlands)
Un Jour, Un Enfant – Frida Boccara (France)
Vivo Cantando – Salomé (Spain)

UK’s Eurovision entry: Boom Bang-A-Bang – Lulu (Joint winner)
The other three winning songs already had 18 points each with just the Finnish jury left to allocate their ten points. Astonishingly, they gave one point to the UK, and shared the other nine points between four other countries, but didn’t touch the three in the lead. Et voila! A four way tie.

My Mum and I were laughing only recently about how hideous that carpet was. This was the lounge of the house where I spent the first ten years of my life. The carpet is almost captured in all its glory, even in black and white, because it was black and white, and grey, in swirls. It had little specks of red and orange, I seem to recall. It was like the vomit of a heavy smoker. As a toddler, I swear it used to make me feel dizzy, it was so revolting and swirly. I asked my Mum last month why my parents had ever bought it, and she just said it was the fashion at the time to have dark, patterned carpets so they wouldn't show the dirt. No, it just looked like the dirt had been spread all over the lounge already! That chair was hard, rough and knobbly too. Thank goodness fashions change.

In our back garden. We made very good use of that paddling pool over the years, and it was very popular with the neighbouring children too.

Some pictures really do speak a thousand words, don't they? If they'd known then what they know now...

This was taken at Caswell Bay (it says on the back), which must be this Caswell Bay, on the Gower Peninsula, near Swansea. It actually has a connection to the history of photography. If you look at the 360 degree panoramic shot here, I think you can see the cave behind me on the far side of the beach, underneath the trees. I think. (You can zoom in by using the slider, but it gets a bit too pixellated to be sure.)

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40 in 38 days: 1968

Chig's 2nd birthday: Monday 6th May 1968.
UK's number one single: What A Wonderful World / Cabaret - Louis Armstrong

1968's Eurovision winner: La La La - Massiel (Spain).
UK's Eurovision entry: Congratulations - Cliff Richard.
Massiel sang the word 'la' at least 84 times in two and a half minutes, beating Cliff by one point (one person's vote) at the Royal Albert Hall and subjecting him to a life of bitterness. However, she only made number 35 in the UK chart - he made number one.

Chig had an eventful 1968, as these photos prove. A tricycle! A wedding! A holiday! Holding hands with a boy on the beach while appearing to wear no pants!

According to my Mum's writing on the back of the above photo, it was taken at 'Tilly Whim Caves' in Swanage. Frankly, that sounds made up. Apparently not.

Dusty Springfield, eat your heart out!

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40 in 39 days: 1967

Yes, I still have Peter the panda. He came to university with me and now lives in the attic. Chig66.

Chig's 1st birthday, Saturday 6th May 1967:
UK's number one single: Puppet On A String - Sandie Shaw

1967's Eurovision winner: Puppet On A String - Sandie Shaw
UK's Eurovision entry: Puppet On A String - Sandie Shaw

Hat trick! Here's another lovely trio:

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40 in 40 days: 1966 and all that

10.40am, Friday 6th May 1966, 11 Foxes' Way, Warwick: Chig enters the world. First child of two, born in the back bedroom in the three bedroom terraced house which my parents bought new for £2,000 when they married in 1964. It is still standing. There is no blue plaque. The land was previously a football pitch. It backed onto the woods owned by Warwick Castle (still does), so I've always liked to think I was born on land that was formerly part of the castle grounds, but I don't know if that's actually true.

Later that very same day, at Chester Assizes, lovers Myra Hindley and Ian Brady were both sentenced to life imprisonment for killing three children; the 'Moors murders'. Luckily, I managed to live the first 38 years of my life without ever realising this horrible coincidence. Funny, my parents never mentioned it. Perhaps they had other things on their mind that day.

Also on Friday 6th May 1966, one Anthony Charles Lynton Blair was celebrating becoming a teenager. I wonder if he remembers the Moors murderers being sentenced?

Number One on the day Chig was born, Friday 6th May 1966:
'Pretty Flamingo' by Manfred Mann, but the week before it had been Dusty Springfield's 'You Don't Have To Say You Love Me', and I was five days late, so I like to think it was that instead.

Eurovision Winner 1966: Merci Cherie by Udo Jurgens (Austria).
The eleventh Eurovision Song Contest was long gone by the time I arrived in May 1966, having taken place much earlier in those days, back on 5th March. It's still Austria's only win (and will be for at least another 14 months, as they've withdrawn from the contest this year).
UK's Eurovision entry: Kenneth McKellar, in a kilt, singing the final song of the night, 'A Man Without Love'. He finished 9th, the UK's worst performance up to that point and a record he held until 1978. Poor thing.

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40 in 40 days

Oh blimey, is it here already? The countdown begins today. Chig will be 40 years old in exactly 40 days' time. That's the bad news. The good news is that, as we count down to Saturday 6th May, we're about to see an 'interesting' selection of never-seen-before photos. Later!

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Men with oddly shaped balls

I've returned tonight from a brilliant weekend in Bristol with a big bunch of rugger buggers. I was invited down to socialise with them and take photos of a 'Four Nations' international gay rugby sevens tournament, hosted by the Bristol Bisons (representing England). As well as the home team, the Cardiff Lions, the Emerald Warriors (from Dublin) and the Caledonian Thebans (based in Edinburgh) all came to the 'drizzle in Brizzle', with the Cardiff team triumphing easily, winning all their matches. The camera got a bit wet in the rain, and my brolly fell apart in the wind, but we still managed to take 160 photos.

There was a bit of this...

...a lot of that...

...and a bit of the other...

A much bigger set of photos will be on my Flickr site very soon. In the meantime, a great big thank you to my host Sam, who saved me a hotel bill with his hospitality, and to all the teams for making me feel so welcome, yesterday, last night out clubbing and at the post-match Sunday lunchtime drinking session today. See you next time guys. (Oh and next time, would a shag be out of the question? You, yes you, in the Scottish team, you know who you are... Maybe we'll even get to speak next time... There's only so much testosterone build-up that a man can cope with over a whole weekend.)

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Dima shows us around his lovely home...

...including where he keeps his tools.

With apologies to my new Swedish friend Johanna, who opened this blog for the very first time last week, in her glass-walled office, with people walking past, and then had to close it down very quickly when pictures of Dima Bilan's semi-nakedness appeared on screen, here's another one. Because we can. We're sure he's a very serious artist and will do Russia proud at Eurovision.

For the benefit of...well basically my friend Mark, here's another page of Dima Bilan's greatest works.

UPDATE 27/03/06: Dima Bilan's official website appears to have been taken offline in the last few days. Probably too popular. Ran out of roubles or something. If you notice it has come back, will you please let me know? I hadn't finished saving all the pictures from those galleries...

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The Eurovision draw

Made today...

The Thursday Qualifier:

1. Armenia (Début country gets the début song. That's nice - and it's really good.)
2. Bulgaria
3. Slovenia
4. Andorra
5. Belarus
6. Albania
7. Belgium
8. Ireland

I was waiting to see which song would be drawn in 8th position in the qualifier, as I believe that there have so far been 992 competing songs performed on a Eurovision stage in 50 contests (including the qualifiers of 2004 and 2005). Anoraks are busy checking this 'fact' as I write. If true, this will give Ireland the honour of performing the 1,000th Eurovision song. There's a nice sense of justice there, giving the country with the most wins that honour. It's just a crying shame that Bryan Kennedy's song is so bloody dull.

9. Cyprus
10. Monaco
11. FYR Macedonia
12. Poland
13. Russia
14. Turkey
15. Ukraine
16. Finland
17. Netherlands
18. Lithuania
19. Portugal
20. Sweden
21. Estonia
22. Bosnia & Herzegovina
23. Iceland

So, Sweden get a supposedly favourable late draw again, but it didn't do them any good last year, and this year the worst possible song to follow Carola (for her) has been drawn in that very position. Estonia's song is possibly more Swedish, more poppy, more memorable and just generally better than Carola's effort and will hopefully blow her out of the water. I'm laughing my socks off at the thought that the homophobic god-botherer might be buggered.

The Saturday Final:
(Q) = a song from Thursday's qualifier.

1. Switzerland
2. Moldova
3. Israel
4. Latvia
5. Norway
6. Spain
7. Malta
8. Germany
9. Denmark
10. (Q)
11. (Q)
12. Romania
13. (Q)
14. (Q)
15. United Kingdom
16. Greece
17. (Q)
18. (Q)
19. France
20. Croatia
21. (Q)
22. (Q)
23. (Q)
24. (Q)

So, much certainty there at the beginning, much uncertainty at the end. Daz Sampson doesn't know who he'll follow, but he has to precede the home nation. There'll be a lot of restless Greeks waiting for him to finish, but that's a pleasingly late draw for the UK. Great draw for the newly-promted Croatia, now my favourite of the lot, who have only progressed directly to the final today, following the withdrawal of those silly people from Serbia & Montenegro, who couldn't play nicely with each other and have taken their ball back home.) This is a terrible draw for Denmark, who will be wearing cowboy hats, following Germany, doing exactly the same. Oh dear, call wardrobe!

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Oh yes, she is! And Chig is back from Stockholm too. (No connection to the above headline.) Carola's victory was the only downer in an otherwise hugely enjoyable Melodifestivalen final on Saturday. We loved it, and we loved the rest of the weekend too. It has been brilliant, but I am dead on my feet after driving back from Stansted via Coventry tonight, getting in at 23:10. I'm due at work for 07:00 tomorrow. Full report on Sweden in the coming days.

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...while I'm in Stockholm.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is not Chig's attempt to turn this blog into Bel Ami or gaypornblog. (Chig makes a mental note to check how many people click on those two links.) This is Russia's entrant in this year's Eurovision Song Contest. I kid you not. His name is Dima Bilan. After perusing the galleries* on his website for hours and hours research purposes the other day, I did, rather flippantly, say to some friends, 'who cares what his song's like?'. Today, a demo version of his song has surfaced, and it's not half bad. All Dima needs to do is make sure his clothes fall off at the right point in the song, and he should get through from the qualifier into the final. Failing that, he should always be able to find work as a Mark Owen lookey-likey.

There's been a bit of a surge of last-minute entries in the last 48 hours, with the deadline approaching on Sunday. (Sweden are last to choose on Saturday - and we'll be there, just in case I haven't made that clear enough.) We watched France and Greece choose last night. Greece had four good songs out of four and chose the slow one over three disco tunes. No complaints though. France chose an inexperienced 19 year-old in a live casting show and then made her sing a really forgettable bit of fluff, disappointing Francophile moi yet again.

Monaco also revealed their song yesterday. 'La Coco-dance' manages to sound like not one but two Harry Belafonte songs, without troubling the lawyers. It's just a bit reminiscent of 'Island In The Sun' AND 'The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)'. It also seems to have musical accompaniment by George Formby. It's summertastically fab! Aloha! Swing those coconuts! This is what a song in French (and Tahitian) should sound like! Are you listening, France?

Armenia's song, released today, has to be one of the strongest Eurovision debuts ever. Andre's 'Without Your Love' is catchy ethno-pop at its best. It sounds Armenian - yeah, like I know - but also modern and poppy. It also sounds like a snake charmer is playing on it. Who could ask for more?

Moldova had another go at a national final tonight and managed to pick a winner this time. He's another ex-popstar, called Arsenium, which sounds like something on the periodic table, or a double dose of poison. He's not exactly ugly either, and he has already graced the UK charts as one third of O-Zone, who had the pan-European megahit 'Dragostea Din Tei'. Funny how we were told at the time that they were a Romanian boyband. It turns out he was Moldovan all along. It's there in his official biog.

We're too upset to talk about Serbia & Montenegro's withdrawal today (yet to be absolutely confirmed), because I liked No Name's winning song and it's all gone very silly. We'll also ignore the dreary tune that Israel picked tonight, sung by the BBC's rugby correspondent, apparently. We're off to have fun in Sweden and see them pick the wrong song for Athens. Have a good weekend! Go Andreas! (Don't go Carola!)

*The galleries are the fifth word down on the left menu, by Dima's face. I did try to show the Russian word on here, but the Cyrillic script won't display properly.

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On Saturday, browsing the clothes in Selfridges in Birmingham Bullring, Glenn Pop! (Former dancer on A Song For Europe 2003, former dancer with Kylie on the 'Slow' promotion, former popstar with Pop! (above), most recently dancer with - oh dear - the Crazy Frog). We've chatted a couple of times in the past, but I didn't disturb his clothes browsing - I was with friends.

Ooh, this blog's just like heat magazine, innit?

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Swedish final - 5

It's only five days until Chig and chums toddle off to Stockholm for a long weekend, starting with St. Patrick's night on Friday in a Stockholm Irish pub (possibly) with Irish and Swedish friends (definitely). Then there's the small matter of the Melodifestivalen final on Saturday in Globen. That's the venue that looks like a huge golf ball, where I went to for my first overseas Eurovision week, in 2000.

Last night we watched Carola ease into the automatic places for the final, with the return of her wind machine from 1991 and some flag-waving dancers building up her song (which is certainly not the best of this year's 32) into a potential winner. The other automatic qualifier, Björn Kjellman, took us all by surprise. I rated it as my 7th or 8th of last night's eight songs, and a bit boring. I texted my surprise to my Swedish friend who was in the hall and he texted back, 'We like it', so what do I know? The Swedish nation has spoken.

Tonight, the second chance 'Andra Chansen' heat has taken place, where the eight songs which have come 3rd and 4th in each of the four heats - are you following this? - have the videos of their performances shown again on TV, and two of them are given a second chance and put into the final. You can't write off the songs that get through in this way - Alcazar did it last year and ended up third in the final.

The two who got through tonight were Rednex - yes, them - and Magnus Bäcklund from the first heat three weeks ago. I'm rather surprised that Roger Pontare (from last night) didn't make it again, and very disappointed that Elysion's operatic 'Golden Star' didn't either, as (a) their stage show was great and (b) the lead male singer was a bit of a hunk. I would have liked to see both of them in the flesh.

Tonight, SVT has released the running order for Saturday's final, so here it is:

1. Sing For Me - Andreas Johnson
The song which Sweden should pick if they want to WIN Eurovision in Athens. It definitely could, especially after receiving additional exposure in the Thursday qualifier. It pushes all the right buttons; epic, immediately catchy and uplifting, sung by the charismatic singer who had a #4 hit in the UK with the brilliant 'Glorious' in 2000 and now looks a bit Brian Molko. Which is good. The song is a bit Beatles-ish and a lot brilliant.

2. Älskar du livet - Björn Kjellman
Like I said, a bit dull really.

3. Jag ljuger så bra - Linda Bengtzing
A retread of the brilliant 'Alla Flickör' which took her to the final last year, but we'll forgive her.

4. Night Of Passion - The Poodles
Soft rock in the Bon Jovi mode, but I'm not sure they're taking the piss.

5. Lev livet - Magnus Carlsson
The song's a favourite of mine, and so is he. The former Alcazar member attempts to join his old bandmate Andreas, who is already going to Athens as part of the Swiss syrup-fest known as Six4One. Magnus C's song is catchy as the pox and he is immensely shaggable.

6. Mama Take Me Home - Rednex
Not as lively as we expected (feared) from the Cotton Eye Joe bunch, but it's a grower. Frankly though, we have cowboy hats already in Athens from Denmark and Germany. We don't need any more from this lot.

7. Evighet - Carola
Powerpop with jingly bells, a catchy chorus, a wind machine and a long note that makes people queens scream with joy! It means 'Eternity' when translated, but its ENglish version will be called 'Invincible' if she goes to Greece.

8. The Name of Love - Magnus Bäcklund
Good, but not amongst the best in this final. He's the bloke from Fame, who represented Sweden in Riga.

9. Idag och Imorgon - Kikki Danielsson
Glorious schlagerpop, with a ridiculosuly catchy chorus, from the (ahem!) slightly larger, slightly older woman who looks a bit surprised to be there. Well, it is 21 years since she represented Sweden with the amusingly titled (for English speakers) 'Bra Vibrationer'.

10. Temple of Love - BWO (Bodies Without Organs)
Second favourite after Carola from the pretty boy (Martin Rolinski) and the one who used to be in Army Of Lovers (Alexander Bard). Good, but not as good as their entry last year, 'Gone'.

I'll be delighted to see Kikki or Magnus C win on Saturday. I'll be pleased, but with reservations, if the homophobic Christian Carola wins (as the whole of the Swedish press fully expects her to do) and happy enough about Bodies Without Organs doing it. But Sweden MUST pick Andreas Johnson if they want to win in Athens, or we'll probably be in Sarajevo next year. (This year's Bosnia-Herzegovina entry has 'winner' written all over it already.) I'm not sure if I want to go there.

Sverige, here we come!

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Daz Sampson speaks

You can hear the UK's Eurovision entrant Daz Sampson in a six minute interview here on (Click on the interview link to play it, or right-click to download as an MP3.) It was recorded yesterday, and my friend Chris gets straight in there and asks the question that's been bugging me about Teenage Life since the day the lyric was publicised. Namely, what the Dickens does 'signed down on Avy' mean? So now we know.

This seems like an appropriate time to mention something Daz-related. I never usually write about visitor numbers for this blog, because I suspect that you, dear reader would find it quite boring, but something remarkable has happened in the last week. I'll be brief.

Last Saturday, while I was in London for Making Your Mind Up, the people who run Daz Sampson's offical website added a very conspicuous link to World Of Chig, presumably because I had mentioned him. Saturday was the 4th. Just look what that link did to my visitor numbers:

Weekends are normally the quiet days here but, last Saturday, visitors more than doubled from any day earlier in the week, and page views hit 300 on one day, which is possibly more than any time outside of previous Eurovision weeks. (May is always the busiest month here. Visitor numbers have been averaging around 60-70 per day for the last few months, so this is exceptional.) I almost feel guilty. If anyone came here looking for goss or info on Daz, they'll have been very disappointed, but at least I've now guided them towards an audio interview. If you're here for the first, hello.

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Carola to the wonning!*

The final eight songs in Sweden's Melodifestivalen are available for listening here, in advance of tonight's heat. And oh my god, does Carola's song sound like a winner! I had a sneak preview of this down the phone from Sweden yesterday, and it's as good as I thought. Pure schlager by numbers; a Christmassy intro, slow start, quick build to a climactic singalong chorus, and a big long note near the end. If only she wasn't such a homophobic God-botherer, we could love her...

PS. If anyone still remembers Carola as the little pixie who won Eurovision 1991, you're in for a shock. She has transformed herself, not entirely without a scalpel, I suspect, into something rather glamourous, in the Victoria Beckham mould.

*An in joke. Sorry.

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If it’s Saturday, it must be S&M night....

...but oh dear, has real life overtaken events?

Montenegro had already chosen their 12 songs in their national final, the Montevizija, and last night Serbia chose their 12 in the Beovizija. (I watched a few of them, but nothing stood out as any good.) Tonight the two halves of the country unequal partners in an increasingly fractious alliance ‘join’ together for the overall national final.

But what’s this? Oh bugger. Former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic has gone and died overnight. Perhaps he was ill after all, and not just feigning illness to avoid the war crimes tribunal. This was never the plan. We were supposed to be spending millions more Euros dragging out his war crimes trial for years and years and years for the benefit of rich European lawyers, before the court in The Hague came to its inevitable conclusion.

More importantly(!), how will this affect tonight’s song contest? If they’re going to have a national day of mourning for the former warlord dictator, it’ll be a bit annoying, but I’m not sure what the official line is. Clearly he was a war criminal to some Serbs and a national hero to others. We’ll have to keep an eye on tonight’s Serbian TV schedule now…

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If that was Friday, it must have been Portugal...

...and the organisation of their national final last night was an absolute disgrace. I’ll be back to vent my spleen about it later, if I get time.

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Hard? Rock? Hallelujah!

No, it's not a promo shot for the new series of Doctor Who.

Yay! The monsters are coming! Finland succumbed to the troll rock of Lordi tonight. Heavy metal at Eurovision. Hurrah! They'll be getting through the qualifier to Saturday's final, no problem, and they'll get UK points on both nights, I'm sure. A rock song which sounds like Saxon or Judas Priest with a touch of the Panteras on vocals. Keep the kiddies away! But don't be too scared; 'Hard Rock Hallelujah' has a decent tune and Lordi probably love their Mums too.

Let the AROCKALYPSE commence!

PS. Some people are calling this 'Hard Cock Hallelujah'. Of course we would never be so childish.

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If it's Thursday, it must be Germany...

Tonight I've been at friends, where eight of us watched Germany pick an MOR-ish country song for Eurovision, namely 'No, No, Never' by Texas Lightning, which beat Thomas Anders, formerly of Modern Talking, and Vicky Leandros, winner of Eurovision in 1972 for Luxembourg.

This is the penultimate weekend of national finals for Eurovision:

Tomorrow, I'll be back for the Portuguese final. (Finland also choose, but we can only watch that on the net, not on TV. Chig is hoping for troll rockers Lordi to win that one.)

Saturday is S&M night. We'll be watching the live final from Serbia & Montenegro for the first time (plus the fourth Swedish Melodifestivalen heat).

Sunday we'll be viewing the Dutch final, with only three acts, like Germany, but they get to do three songs each.

Then, next weekend, Chig goes to Globen in Stockholm for the Melodifestivalen final, and I can't wait!

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Merci bien and dank u to a very nice man in Belgium, who I don't even know. I've received the CD single of Kate Ryan's Eurovision entry from him in the post today, which means this year's Eurovision singles collection is off to the earliest start ever. (Only 38 more to go...) Here it is, on my scanner. He has also sent me the Eurosong '06 compilation album, which is all 28 of Belgium's contenders this year, and the new album from Telex, who I thought were probably dead after being a bit quiet for twenty years. However, they have turned into cartoons instead, like Gorillaz, and just released a new album of electropopped cover versions, called how do you dance?, which includes their take on Sandra Kim's Belgian Eurovision winner from 1986, J'aime la vie and Sparks' #1 Song In Heaven. I'm liking it a lot.

For the benefit of younger readers, Telex were like a novelty, non-German version of Kraftwerk. In 1979, they had their one UK hit; an electro version of Rock Around The Clock, which made number 34 here. They represented Belgium in Eurovision the next year, coming a dismal 17th of 19 songs with their anthem, wackily entitled Eurovision. The UK managed to be one of only three countries to give them any points. (We gave them one of their fourteen.) Then they disappeared off my radar for 25 years and now they're back. They kind of explain where they've been in this amusing cartoon interview, where they also reveal what their Eurovision experience was like. Sort of.

Further info - absolutely loads of it - on my Croatian favourite, can be found here on Catherine's brilliantly detailed blog, the Illyrian Gazette. ('This is Illyria, ladie'... Yes, I remember reading Twelfth Night.) Catherine and I met once at the Retro Bar. She includes all the reaction in Croatia to the win, and the build-up last week to the national final, the Dora.

Word of the week is: Turbofolk

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A plea for help

Dear reader, this is a bit of a cheeky one, but are you in a position to abuse your colour printer, hopefully at work? This blog is about to have a bit of a revamp, but before I do it (and remove the way-out-of-date Big Brother stuff that's cluttering up the sidebar), I want to get a printout. My colour printer doesn't work and I'm not going to risk opening this blog in the office. (I've managed for three years - I'm not going to break now.)

What I'm after is this whole front page, in landscape (very important). It's probably about 15-20 pages long, when sent to the printer. I am prepared to barter for a reward. Perhaps a Eurovision compilation of this year's highlights? Or just cold, hard cash, to include your postage costs. Name your price. I will be very grateful.

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What a splendid idea! A commenter on the blog of my Brummie chums, the Schlagerboys, has made a brilliant suggestion. To support Daz Sampson and his 'so wrong it's right'* little piece de theatre in Athens, us UK fans should go to the Eurovision final in school uniform! I can't think of a better excuse, and I will be scouring the charity shops forthwith. This will mean Chig at Eurovision looking almost exactly like this, but hopefully a bit happier:

Will you join us?

*(c) Jonathan Ross.

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Today I have mostly been playing...

...the absolutely bloody amazing song that Croatia chose this weekend as their Eurovision entry. This is one of those songs, and there have been many over the years, that makes me wish I had taken my violin lessons seriously at school and not just used them as an excuse to miss maths lessons. The violins on this track (or whatever Balkan instrument they may actually be) are so powerful. I love a bit of fiddling! Download 'Moja štikla' by Severina here by right-clicking on the word Dora, then pretend that a band of Croatian gypsies have moved in as you jig around your living room.

And laugh at the bit where she sings, "shits, shits".

This is a dead cert to get past the qualifying round in Athens. Then it will be challenging to win the final. Zagreb 2007, here we come! (The regular reader may remember that I made a similar foolish prediction regarding Hungary last year, but this is even better.)

Below are my scores for the songs picked so far. (I haven't caught up with Lithuania and FYR Macedonia's winners from this weekend yet.) If Sweden picks 'Sing For Me' by Andreas 'Glorious' Jonsson, they will be top of this list and will probably win in Athens. But they're going to choose Carola again, aren't they? Carola was on Sweden's biggest radio show this morning, and didn't talk about Jesus, which is progress. She did say this though; "I will sing in Swedish here and English in Athens. Oops! What did I say? I mean IF I go to Athens." Then she laughed. Whatever she does in the final of Melodifestivalen, in Stockholm a week on Saturday, Chig will be there. Hurrah! (We're assuming she'll get through her heat this Saturday.)

Chig's Eurovision scores so far...

1st Croatia - Moja stikla - Severina (12 points)
2nd Iceland - Til Harningjnu Island - Silvia Nott (10 points)
3rd United Kingdom - Teenage Life - Daz Sampson (8 points)
4th Estonia - Through My Window - Sandra Oxenryd (7 points)
5th Norway - Alvedansen - Christine Guldbrandsen (6 points)
6th Turkey - Superstar - Sibel Tüzün (5 points)
7th Denmark - Twist Of Love - Sidsel Ben Semmane (4 points)
8th Slovenia - Mr. Nobody (currently Plan B) - Anžej Dežan (3 points)
9th Poland - Follow My Heart - Ich Troje & The Real McCoy (2 points)
10th Romania - Tornero - Mihai Traistariu (1 point)

11th Malta - I Do - Fabrizio Faniello
12th Belgium - Je t'adore - Kate Ryan
13th Albania - Zjarr e ftohte - Luiz Ejlli
14th Ireland - Every Song Is A Cry For Love - Brian Kennedy
15th Spain - Bloody Mary - Las Ketchup
16th Cyprus - Why Angels Cry - Annette Artani
17th Switzerland - If We All Give A Little - Six4One
18th Belarus - Mama* - Polina Smolova

*Song likely to change. Because it's crap and they know it is.

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It's tomorrow! The combined World Of Chig/Troubled Diva posse will be there at BBC TV Centre (freezing our balls off in the queue, at least - there's no guarantee of getting in). My sister and her boyfriend are going too, which is good, because her boyfriend still hasn't quite recovered from being kissed by one of my gay friends who he'd never met before, when I introduced them in the MYMU queue last year!

Look out for us on the telly*, if you can resist turning over to ITV1 after 30 minutes for the Dancing On Ice final.

I am now going off to PaddyPower's website to place a bet. I have a sneaking feeling there's going to be an upset. It will all depend on performances, but my money is going on Daz Sampson's 'Teenage Life' to upset Kym and Antony. Not only is it the popbitch favourite, but it's my mother's favourite too, and that clinches it for me!

*BBC One, 18.20 (and 20.00 for the results)

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Two media lowlights from last night:

How nice it was of Zane Lowe on Radio1 to offer his sincere condolences to the people who were shot here in Birmingham at the KanYe West gig this week. Maybe it would have been wiser if the next but one tune he played hadn't been 'Bang, Bang, You're Dead' by Dirty Pretty Things.

Later on, how hilarious was it on Just The Two Of Us, when cutie Chris Fountain and Jo O'Meara were saved, to hear Chris say, quite clearly, "Thank fuck!"? Chris, your mic's on all the time love.

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