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Eurovision: The unpublished preview

Nearly six weeks ago, I spent a sunny Sunday indoors when I could have gone out to play, writing a preview of Eurovision for a well-known magazine, as I have done before. It was all done, proofed by a handful of friends who I knew were in that day, improved and amended and submitted the next day.

When the magazine plopped through my letterbox, I searched in vain for the article. Something else that I wrote and photographed has gone in, but unless I've missed it, the Eurovision article isn't there. I'm still waiting for a reply to my e-mail asking why. I'll be buggered if it's going to waste completely, so let's publish it here instead, complete with the two alternative titles. Enjoy.

Eurovision – enjoy the ride


It’s Eurovision time! Your exits are here, here and here

It might require a little more concentration than usual to follow Eurovision this year. Firstly, there are a record-breaking 42 countries in the two shows, as we welcome debutants Georgia and the Czech Republic into the qualifier and the prodigal Austro-Hungarian empire returns after both countries had a strop last year. Serbia and Montenegro arrive in Helsinki separately, after their tetchy 2006 divorce, increasing the number of former Yugoslav countries to a useful six (with two of them sending singers called Marija, just to confuse people). All 42 of these countries will be giving their votes in full at this year’s final, as last year’s experiment, where only the top three countries were announced by each spokesperson, has been abandoned. You may like to go out clubbing after the songs. The voting will probably still be on when you get back.

Secondly, there’s the potential language confusion. The Latvian entry is in Italian and the Belgian entry is in English – the first time the French-speaking Belgian broadcaster has done this. Even the French entry is in Franglais. Not to worry though, there is a song in French – it’s the Cypriot entry. Got all that? Good. The Norwegian song has a Spanish title, the Spanish song has a Spanglish title, the Ukrainian entry includes bits in German and Mongolian, while the Romanian song has more languages in it than we can count, in a shameless attempt to connect with populations all over Europe (much like the UK entry’s listing of European cities).

Ah yes, the UK entry, by Cyndi. Sorry, by Scooch. Following the lead set by Slovenian dragsters Sestre in Eurovision 2002, Scooch are dressing up as trolley dollies to sing ‘Flying The Flag (For You)’. It’s the smuttiest, most innuendo-laden song that Eurovision has ever seen, from any country, but we get away with it by calling it ‘traditional British postcard humour’. Would you like something to suck on for landing sir?

So what if our song doesn’t have much in the way of verses? It’s choruses we need and choruses we have. You can’t accuse the UK of not sending entertainment to Eurovision, with this and Daz Sampson’s classroom rap last year, and we might as well, because we don’t stand a chance of winning, so we should aim to entertain. The last three years have shown that the good people of Europe cannot be persuaded to spend their hard-earned cash on voting for the Big 4 countries (France, Germany, Spain and the UK), when they already have a place guaranteed in the next year’s final, so they cast their televotes for a country that needs the points instead.

All that Scooch’s song needs to add is a key change, which is sadly lacking in the original version. It’s obvious where the key change should go, so let’s hope they sort it out. Finnish television has also warned participating countries that the ‘runway’ part of the set in Helsinki is only for the presenters and the interval act, which is going to make Scooch’s line, ‘Your exits are here, here and here’, slightly less effective, unless they stage an act of rebellion on the night.

There’s more variety than ever in Eurovision this year, with German swing, proper Finnish rock (not the pantomime rock that won for them last year), Slovenian and Latvian popera, a homage to Pink from Estonia, grizzly rock from the Czech Republic and Iceland and some strong pop from Moldova, Belarus, Turkey and Greece (whose Sarbel is also this year’s top hunk – and he’s British!) Serbia provides the best of the big ballads, again. Georgia’s début, if singer Sopho repeats her performance from the Georgian national final, should display the biggest ‘performing dress’ we’ve ever seen. Who could ask for more?

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