World of Chig   


Jonathan Ross tonight, on this week's earthquake:

"We don’t really do natural disasters very well in this country, but then we are about to pick our Eurovision entry..."

And will you be involved in the process tomorrow, Mr Ross?

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Chig on your TV

Well, possibly. Keep an eye on the studio audience on Saturday for both shows of our Eurovision - Your Decision televisual offering. We'll be there. The audience will be standing this time around, for the first time in a few years. We've been told we may have to dance. I barely have the energy to stand up these days, so I may be the one sprawled out on the floor before the end.

It will be interesting to see if the panel's choices prove unpopular in the studio, or if they will base their decisions on the crowd's reactions, or just do their own thing.

Tomorrow's shows are on BBC One at 19:00 and 21:30. (There's a ninety minute gap.) Katrina sans Waves will be performing in part two. Enjoy!

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Happy Leap Day (AKA Salaried Workers' Resentment Day)

This blog has been going for over six years, but this is the first time I've written anything on the 29th of February. Let us pause to mark this momentous occasion.

It seems I didn't blog anything on the last Leap Year Day, in 2004. It fell on a Sunday, the day after I'd been to Making Your Mind Up and I was still in London, so I was nowhere near a computer on the day. (I believe they did have computers in London in 2004, but you know what I mean.)

We had a team meeting at work yesterday, in which I repeated a moan that I'd already mentioned to a few colleagues in the last few days. Namely, that the two long term temps in our team would have their revenge today. For one day only, they will be the only people being paid for working in our office, as they're paid by the hour for the exact hours they work. The rest of us will be working one more day than last year, for no extra money, effectively working for free. It was only a throwaway comment, but our manager went and consulted with one of our 'employee representatives' (the nearest we have to union reps) who came back with a surprising piece of information.

Apparently, the official line is that our annual salary includes an amount to cover one quarter of a day each year. Now that's clever. I haven't even heard the CBI make that argument, when they were warning people not to take sickies today to express their resentment at working for nothing. However, I e-mailed back to ask if people who have left without working through a leap year February have had to pay back this quarter day payment for each non-leap year that they've worked. I'm still waiting for an answer.

As far as the other aspect of this special day is concerned, I would like to say that yes, I am available for any woman who would like to propose marriage to me today. Rates are negotiable. I'm sure we can come to an arrangement.

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I Feel The Earth Move (part 2)

Again! After being shaken and scared by the earthquake in September 2002, I never thought it would happen again! I was in bed again, listening to Five Live again, and thought that my next door neighbour was engaging in some late night furniture moving. It sounded like a set of shelves had fallen down in his bedroom on the other side of the wall, but my bed shook for rather too long. I got up and walked around the house, in case the boiler had exploded or something like that. Looked out of the windows, but no one was outside, so I went back to bed and listeners to Five Live were already reporting an earthquake, from Consett in County Durham, to Cheltenham, to London. An American seismology survey reprted it a few minutes later as a 4.7 tremor, which has now (at 06:20) been upgraded to 5.3, centred on Market Rasen in Lincolnshire (where I once slept overnight in a tent on the racecourse, but that's another story). I have to go to work now, after about 4 hours' sleep. Oh great.

So, did the Earth move for you?


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Turkey wins, cockerels defeated

No one can be surprised that Dustin The Turkey won Ireland's Eurosong, but I am pleasantly shocked that England beat France 13-24 in the rugby in Paris.

Croatia and FYR Macedonia have picked two appalling songs to send to Eurovision. Ukraine has picked a corker by Ani Lorak and Romania is sending the sexiest man I've seen so far in this Eurovision season.

But the news will be the turkey. I think Ireland will now finish in the top five in Serbia, if they can get past the slightly more discerning audience who will watch their Eurovision semi-final. And the EBU will change the rules so that no puppets are allowed after this year.

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Welcome to Super Saturday

Three rugby matches, eight Eurovision finals, and some unfortunate scheduling clashes between the two. In short, I can't watch the France v. England match, because it's on at 20:00 tonight, not in the afternoon. Grrr. Irish people have it much better. They'll be able to watch their rugby boys play at home to Scotland in Dublin, immediately before watching the five singers above battle against that turkey in Limerick.

The Eurovision pre-season reaches its peak tonight, with nine countries having live shows. That's eight national finals, plus the third heat of Sweden's Melodifestivalen.

Tonight's events:

Bulgaria - final of Pecen v Eurovizija
Croatia - final of Dora 2008
Iceland - final of Laugardagslögin
Ireland - Eurosong 2008
FYR Macedonia - SkopjeFest 2008
Poland - Piosenka dla Europy
Romania - final of Selectia Nationala
Ukraine - national final
+ Sweden - third heat of Melodifestivalen

We'll be at Glitterball Mansions, starting off with the Irish final, which anyone can see on the interweb - hurrah! We'll then be juggling between the internet (which we can watch on our friends' big TV) and various satellite channels, to catch as much as possible of the others, with a particular interest in Poland, because they have some good songs for a change.

World of Chig is hoping for victory in Poland for Sandra Oxenryd (left), who is Swedish, and a place in the Swedish final for BWO, fronted by Martin, who is Polish. Wouldn't it be delicious if they ended up representing each other's countries? (We could fill in the 12s on our scoresheets well in advance of May.) Sandra Oxenryd is a Eurovision tart, in the nicest possible way. She has already represented Estonia, in 2006. She's now looking for another country who'll have her if her homeland won't. Tonight she'll be singing my most-played song of the 2008 season so far, Super Heroes. It's as catchy as the pox and I love it.

In advance of the Irish final, all six contestants got together this week to murder pay homage to an Irish Eurovision classic, Johnny Logan's 'What's Another Year?". It's useful, if only because it helps me rule out two of the contestants straight away. Leona Daly (yellow dress) has a voice that gives me the creeps. I can't stand it. Just sing normally, woman! Liam Geddes (white shirt, dark suit) gets the words wrong in both of his sections, despite singing one of the most well-known songs in Eurovision (and Irish) history, which is worth the voters bearing in mind tonight.

Also this week, someone managed to pull the wool (or feathers) over a few people's eyes, by circulating this as Dustin The Turkey's song. It isn't, but it's clever because it takes some of the ideas from Dustin's song, which were publicised before the song itself was revealed, and takes a reasonable guess at how they might be used in the lyric, creating a passable song which may be funnier than the real thing. Make up your own mind:

Just in case there was any doubt, this is the real Dustin song, with the full lyric underneath, so you can sing along. I have a funny feeling that if Dustin wins tonight, Ireland will become the bookies' favourites to win in Serbia. Just like all those Finns who were mortified when Lordi were chosen to represent them, any embarrassed Irish people will feel a lot happier when the turkey lands high up on the scoreboard in Belgrade.

Dustin The Turkey - 'Irlande, Douze Points'

Oh I come, from a nation
What knows how to write a song.
Oh Europe, where oh where did it all go wrong?


Irlande douze points

Drag acts and bad acts and Terry Wogan's wig
Mad acts and sad acts, it was Johnny Logan's gig

Shake your feathers and pop your beak
Shake 'em to the West and to the East
Wave Euro hands and Euro feet
Wiggle in the air to the turkey beat

Irlande douze points
Irlande douze points
Irlande douze points
Do the funky beat

D-O-E double B-L-E, yeah!

Hello Abba, hello Bono, hello Helsinki
Hola Prague, hello sailor, c'est la vie
Auf Wiedersehen, Mamma Mia, and God save the Queen
Bonjour Serbia, good day Austria
You know what I mean!

Shake your feathers and pop your beak
Shake 'em to the West and to the East
Wave Euro hands and Euro feet
Wave 'em in the air to the funky beat

Shake your feathers and pop your beak
Shake 'em to the West and to the East
Wave Euro hands and Euro feet
Wiggle to the edge of the turkey beat

Irlande douze points
Irlande douze points
Irlande douze points
(Raspberry, or fart!)

Irlande douze points
Irlande douze points
Irlande douze points
Do the funky beat
Come on!

Give us another chance, we're sorry for riverdance
Sure Flately he's a Yank
And the Danube flows through France
Block vote, shock vote
Give us your 12 today
You're all invited to Dublin Ireland
And we'll party the Shamrock way

Irlande douze points
(Irlande douze points)
Irlande douze points
(Irlande douze points)
Irlande douze points
(Irlande douze points)
Irlande douze points
(Irlande douze points)
Do the funky beat
Come on!

Irlande douze points
Irlande douze points

Eastern Europe we love you
Do you like Irish stew?
Or goulash as it is to you?

Shake your feathers

Listen Bulgaria we love you
Belarus, Georgia, Montenegro,
Moldovia (sic), Albania, Croatia,
Poland, Russia

Ukraine, Macedonia, Love you Turkey
Hungary, Estonia, Slovakia,
Armenia, Bosnia Herzegova (sic)
And don't forget the Swiss!

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UK songs unleashed

"Dramatic energetic disco with a heavy bass. Double chorus sections, spoken seductive part by Marina, and of course a key change. Madonna meets Boney M meets Abba at their darkest. Fireworks, elevators, bombs. And Marina on a long bright red couch, from which she will never move one bit, except when she mumbles or plays the synthesizer solo. 100% show, 100% drama."

Doesn't that just sound like the most fantabulous Eurovision entry ever? Whoopee! Sadly, it's the BWO song, 'Lay Your Love On Me' in tomorrow's Melodifestivalen heat in Sweden, not one of ours, as described by the band's loveable lunatic Alexander Bard to the Schlagerboys. It's my favourite song of the year and I haven't even heard it yet.

Fear not though, the UK's songs for Eurovision have been revealed today to a salivating public on the new, super-duper BBC Eurovision website. (If you thought you'd seen it earlier in the week, look again and blink. That was just the warm-up act. Today's version is the proper one.)

The clips on the BBC website are only 30 seconds long, but the full versions are available in all the usual places. In all honesty, the clips are quite misleading and don't give enough of an impression to make any proper judgements.

Luckily for you, I've played the full versions in order to have an opinion to share with you. Unluckily for you, I've played them in heavy rotation and lost all objectivity, forgetting to make any comments on them after just one hearing, which is how they will be judged next Saturday and how one of them will be judged in Beograd (if there's any of the city left by May).

All the songs are good. There's no turkey. (That's Ireland tomorrow.) But none of them are brilliant. This bodes extremely well for the TV show, because I haven't a clue what's going to win now, but there's nothing here which will hoover up points in Serbia.

Andy Abraham and The Revelations both have really strong songs, when taken out of the Eurovision context, but that's where they're best. I just can't envisage either of them on a Eurovision stage. But I can imagine The Revelations representing us, about 25 years ago. As a catchy Motown pastiche, their song is fabulous, and I'm enjoying it over and over again, but it's not what we should be sending to Eurovision. Andy's is funky and catchy, but this type of song would just sink without trace in Beograd, sad to say.

Rob McVeigh's power ballad is good, but it just doesn't achieve its full potential. It promises to go somewhere, then backs down again, then has a sort of fireworks moment, but it's more of a sparkler than a Roman candle. It needs a bit more punch, but that could easily be done before May, if he manages to scrape through next week. Rob should definitely wear his shirt open like this though. That will help.

Michelle Gayle's song, already with the disadvantage of the stupid title Woo (U Make Me), gets off to a very sudden start and reaches the chorus in record time, but the chorus is a load of nonsense. This is the kind of song that only exists in Eurovision preselections, in the same vein as Liz McAtomicKitten's effort last year, which also had a daft title with brackets in, namely (Don't It Make You) Happy! Michelle's song would never be played on the radio in this country and would never be a hit (except it if were to win this, but I don't think it will).

Simona's song is the weakest of the lot and I don't like her voice. It's rather screechy on this. Listen to the recording and it sounds like a high risk song for a live performance. It's not a song I expected from a former Maria contestant, which is brave of her, but if the judges put this through to the televote and not Rob's song, there will be rioting in the studio.

Which leaves LoveShy. Welcome to Serbia, Aimee and Emma. I think this is strong enough to do it, if the live vocals can cut the mustard with the beefy backing track. To be honest, the production on this recorded version sounds a bit muddy and muffled, but I think it may sound clearer on stage. They have also promised to have at least one 'Mr Gorgeous' on stage with them, which may just swing it. I intend to find out in the next few days if any of them will be familiar faces.

So, there we go. My prediction, having heard the songs, is exactly the same final (LoveShy vs. Rob) as I predicted two days ago before hearing more than a snippet of all of them. How odd, or strangely prescient, depending on your point of view.

Now, what will it take to get BWO (right) to represent us next year? (Failure in Sweden is probably the realistic answer to that question. Now I don't know whether or not to support them in the Melodifestivalen. Oh, life is full of dilemmas.)

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Songs are busting out all over...

The first complete song from the UK's selection is available. 'It's You' by The Revelations is on their MySpace page. It's a shame we were spoilt by 'If I Called You On The Telephone', because inevitably this isn't as good. It's certainly catchy, but with a very formulaic sixties sound. You've heard the style before, so it makes you think you've heard the song before. Then again, in Eurovision terms, maybe that's no bad thing. (One of them , or someone pretending to be one of them, has responded to a MySpace message I sent them this evening, so they have shot up in my estimation. I'm easily pleased.)

Dustin The Turkey's song has also been revealed today on Irish radio. Brace yourselves, it ain't subtle and it ain't pretty. You can hear it and download a radio rip here. You hace to feel sorry for the five other artists who are battling against this on Saturday in Limerick, particularly Donal Skehan, who (a) seems to be a cutie pie with a genuine interest in the contest (nudge, nudge) and (b) has a rather catchy slice of Europop with 'Doublecross My Heart', available to hear and download here..

Dustin's song, 'Irlande, Douze Points' includes possibly the longest list of other countries' names ever contained in a Eurovision song. At least the intention is blatantly open with this one. It also contains the following gems within its sophisticated lyric:

"Drag acts and bad acts and Terry Wogan's wig,
Mad acts and sad acts,
It was Johnny Logan's gig."

"Eastern Europe, we love you,
Do you like Irish stew,
Or goulash, as it is to you?"

Everyone I know (except one), including me, had the rejection e-mail today from the company organising the audience for Eurovision - Your Decision, so it looks like I'll be watching it round at Schlager Towers with the Schlagerboys.

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Chig's annual Brits predictions and live Brits blog...

...are both taking a year off. I'm going to lie down and watch Birmingham's finest living shambles (and the wife) presenting the The Brits without me sitting at the PC for a change.

However, I feel it worth pointing out that these would be my winners in four of the categories:

Single: Grace Kelly - Mika
Album: Life In Cartoon Motion - Mika
Solo Male: Mika
Breakthrough Act: Mika

I would also give Mika the Brit for Best Live Act, but he's not nominated for that one. 2007 was Mika's year, as far as I'm concerned, so I hope he gets some wins to reflect it. He's performing tonight as well. I'm also looking forward to hearing this year's odd combination; Klaxons with Rihanna. I can't begin to imagine what it might sound like.

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Eurovision - Your Decision: The Acts

The first striking thing about the acts in Eurovision – Your Decision is that five of the six acts have already failed to win in televised singing competitions, so it’s easy for people to scream ‘talent show losers’ but this is a pretty good selection, talent-wise. Michelle Gayle can definitely sing; I’ve heard her. She was a bona fide popstar before Autotune was invented and she has done stints in the West End as well. Everyone knows Andy Abraham can sing, and people forget that he very nearly won the X Factor, only losing the first final to Shayne Ward by one percent of a huge vote.

Rob McVeigh and Simona Armstrong were both good on the Joseph and Maria shows and both girls in LoveShy made the last ten in Popstars: The Rivals. They’ve been flogging the clubs and Pride circuit, with some overseas success too, for five years, so they’ve probably even improved in the vocal department.

The act which doesn’t have a TV pedigree is The Revelations, who look very interesting indeed, partly because one of them is Swedish, which always helps in Eurovision-related matters. They are also signed by Alan McGee, who propelled oasis to fame and fortune. Reading this brief interview with them inspires confidence, I must say. They sound like people who take singing seriously and their single from last year, If I Called You On The Telephone, is a corker (even if it had passed me by until yesterday). (See video below.)

The second big change is that there is no novelty song this year. Daz Sampson and Scooch undoubtedly had the most visual, if not gimmicky, songs of the last two years, whatever you think of their musical merits (and I was quite happy with both choices, more so with Daz, partly because I felt sorry for Cyndi last year).

There’s a clear statement here though from the BBC’s new production team. If you don’t let the public vote for a jokey song, they can’t choose one. For those who feel that we haven’t been taking Eurovision seriously enough recently (a view from which I distance myself slightly), step one of the resuscitation mission is achieved already. We can leave the joke entry to Ireland this year. And Estonia. (Ireland’s might be funny. Estonia’s is just awful.)

The new producer, Helen Tumbridge, is highly regarded by people who’ve been involved with previous BBC Eurovision coverage and those involved now, it seems. She was part of the team in the year (2002?) when there was lots of extra coverage on BBC Three (previews, discussions on Liquid Eurovision etc.), when it looked like the BBC was making an extra effort, then Christopher Price died in 2002 and it all fell away again.

Change number three is massive. In a complete turnaround from the current trend in TV to have viewers televoting on everything, in this show the public will have no choice at all who goes through in each of the three pairings. It’ll be down to the ‘celebrity panel’ of three, one of whom will be Wogan himself, in a dramatic change of role. If the other two judges disagree, Wogan will decide which act goes through to the public vote. One of the losers will be given a secons chance by the panel as well. Again, Wogan could have the casting vote on a split decision. In theory, he could decide which four songs go through to the public vote, in a set-up which pokes democracy firmly in the eye. But then, we’ll still have a choice of four, and still have two stages of televoting to get through, so does it really matter. Fans certainly don’t seem bothered, as there’s a general feeling in the air (on fansite fora) that the public can’t be trusted anyway!

So, the contenders. I am not going to go into great detail about each artist, because you can read their biogs on the official Eurovision – Your Decision website, which exists already and will be having a facelift on Friday.

Instead, I’ll just add a few thoughts and some details about the songwriters, courtesy of my friend Marcus, who has been doing some expert googling, so I though his efforts deserved a little more publicity. It's not every day we have a member of the royal family guesting on here, so thank you Marcus.

Michelle Gayle – Woo (You Make Me)

Apparently, there’s a ‘cool sixties vibe’ about this and we know Michelle can sing, but do you know what puts me off this song? It’s the bloomin’ title. I’m sorry, but I just can’t face us, as a country, turning up in Belgrade with a song called ‘Woo’. All attempts to be seen taking it more seriously this year will spiral down the plughole. So, sorry, but no.

Unfortunately, the BBC press release gets a little carried away with its bit on Michelle, describing her as a "chart-topping songstress". If you can tell us what charts she has topped, there may be a prize. It must have been in another country. They also say she has had "a string of Top 10 hits". Does TWO really count as a string? They mention a song called 'Things Are Looking Up' as being one of these top 10 hits. It was actually called 'Looking Up' and made the top ten position of....number 11. Oops! These mistakes have been slavishly repeated on ESC Today (whose ‘news’ story is just a reprint of the press release – so much for journalism). They are about to be removed from the official website…

Don't get me wrong about Michelle Gayle. She's fabulous and I know she can really sing. 'Sweetness' is a '90s pop classic, but her record speaks for itself; she doesn't need lies and exaggeration to back it up.

Morten Schjolin, the Dane who is one of Michelle’s co-writers on this, also wrote Brian Kennedy's Irish entry in 2006 which finished tenth in the Eurovision final. (We’ll gloss over the fact that he also co-wrote Scooch's song last year.)

Andy Abraham – Even If

This sounds upbeat and catchy. I’m not sure I want to see him dancing to it though. It’s been co-written by the people behind Absolute Productions, who worked with Edyta Gorniak (Polish Eurovision star), Geri Halliwell, the Spice Girls and Will Young amongst others. Marcus says they seem to have a Simon Fuller pedigree.

Andy had a number two album with his first release but the second one, only seven months later, only made number 19. His one hit single made number 18 in December 2006, so it's hard to judge his current level of popularity, over two years down the line from all of the X Factor hype.

Rob McVeigh – I Owe It All To You

Rob The Builder was my second favourite of the Joseph contenders, after Daniel Boys. I have to admit to fancying him quite a lot for his cheeky chappy down-to-earthiness, so if this song is half decent, I could easily be swayed. However, since Scott Mills played about three seconds of the intro yesterday before saying no and moving on, I have no idea what it’s like until Friday. There was some speculation before the contest that the Good Lord would be writing a song for this selection, but this is not it, despite Rob and Simona being the obvious likely candidates for a Lloyd-Webber song. However, the writers are interesting and I can reveal a tenuous previous Eurovision link that one of them has. Marcus says that Paul Barry, one of the co-writers, had a hand in Cher’s ‘Believe’ and Enrique’s ‘Hero’ and has written hits for Bananarama and Lara Fabian. Mark Read, the other co-writer, was in boyband a1. (His former bandmate Christian Ingebrigtsen also had a song in a Eurovision national final this year, with the anthemic ‘Eastern Wind’ in his native Norway earlier this month.) Now the funny thing is, I was lucky enough to ‘hang out’ backstage at G-A-Y with a1 back in 2002. They were performing there the same night as Jessica Garlick (the reason I was there) for the club’s pre-Eurovision night and we were all backstage together. (I did post some backstage photos here, but they have disappeared.) Perhaps that night sowed the seed in Mark’s mind to write a song for Eurovision. Perhaps not. Who knows?

This seems to be the only ballad in the contest, which may increase its chances against the uptempo songs, as happened for Cyndi last year.

Simona Armstrong - Changes

Being Romanian is possibly what stopped Simona from getting further than she did in How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? From what I remember, her singing was superb, but she couldn’t shake off the accent and it sowed the seeds of doubt in the audience and panel as to weather she could pull off such a quintessentially English role.

Marcus says that ‘Changes’ co-written by Mari Loretzen (from Norway) and Eleanor Wilson, who are in a duo called Topaz. Another co-writer, Simon Ellis, is another Simon Fuller associate and wrote ‘Don't Stop Movin’’ for S Club 7.

So that’s Romania and Norway for points if we pick this? We might not have to rely on the Schlagerboys to schmooze Malta again.

The Revelations - It's You

They look fabulous, they sound brilliant and one of them is SWEDISH! What more could we want? They're on Alan McGee’s label and the song is written by a guy from another one of his prospects, Captain Soul. My expectations of this song are high and someone who has heard all the songs tells me it is immediately catchy, which is what it’s all about really. And one of them is SWEDISH! Did I mention that?

They seem like a proper group, with live experience (and good taste in clubs). Everything is pointing towards me being very happy if this lot win, but they are the only act with no previous TV exposure. However, see Cyndi last year. It doesn't always matter.

LoveShy - Mr Gorgeous

‘EA’, also known as Emma and Aimee, are the last two remaining members of CLEA, bidding to become the second and third people from the last ten girls in Pop Stars – The Rivals to represent us at Eurovision. Javine (Eurovision 2005) was also one of the five who didn’t get into Girls Aloud, but she was the one who didn’t get into CLEA, possibly because they couldn’t think of a good acronym which used a ‘J’. (JACLE? J-LACE? Not good.)

‘Mr. Gorgeous’ is the only song currently available to hear, as there’s one minute and seven seconds of it on their MySpace page. I think I like it. It’s very reminiscent of Jamelia’s ‘Beware Of The Dog’ which used a Depeche Mode sample, and in Eurovision terms it’s not a million miles from Serebro’s third placed ‘Song #1’ from Russia last year. All of this bodes well.

LoveShy currently have 1,197 MySpace friends, with, they say, a thousand added this week.

Oscar Gorres, who co-wrote this also has what Marcus describes as “a sacrificial song in the Dustin the Turkey pre-selection” in Ireland this Saturday. He is keyboardist with Stockholm based group, Venus. Another co-writer, Teresia Bjarneby, seems to be in a rock band herself although she may be the main focus of the band.

For what it’s worth – and without hearing the songs properly – here’s a wildly uneducated guess as to how it will go on the 1st of March:

Panel votes:

Michelle beats Andy
Rob beats Simona
LoveShy beat The Revelations

The Revelations are put back in as the wildcard.
Andy and Simona go to the bar.

LoveShy and Rob make the final, The Revelations and Michelle are third and fourth and out.

LoveShy beat Rob. LoveShy to Beograd!

I reserve the right to have a better guess when the songs are revealed on Friday. It will also make a huge difference who the other panellists are, to join Wogan, but we don't know that yet either.

Pop Unlimited: A great critique of the acts, with related videos.
Popjustice: Take Your Pick From A Selection Of Losers.

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LoveShy - the early years

Here's an exclusive photo of LoveShy in early rehearsals for Eurovision - Your Decision. Very early in fact - I took this photo of CLEA (as they were then) at Bristol Mardi Gras in August 2005. They had already lost their C (Chloe) but they ignored the chance to become ALE. An opportunity missed. They performed their cover of 'We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off' on this here stage, which then stormed its way to number 35 three months later.

Lynsey has now left as well, so I think she's the one on the right. That leaves Emma and Aimee, but the name 'EA' is already taken by that games company, so they've called themselves LoveShy instead. I have already asked to be their friend on MySpace. Their song is very poppy and a bit electro, with some nice whooshy bits which sounded good when Scott Mills played about 10 seconds of it on Radio 1 yesterday.

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It's a revelation!

Well, I appear to have spent too much time last night catching up on everyone else's opinions on the UK's Eurovision hopefuls, via various fora and websites and the clips that Scott Mills played on Radio 1. So mine will have to wait until tonight. It's been worth it though; I've made a new Facebook friend via ESC Today and, more importantly, discovered that The Revelations released this a year ago. How the hell did this gem pass me by? It's wonderful! If their potential Eurovision song, 'It's You' is anything like this, they'll sail through.

The Revelations - If I Called You On The Telephone

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Newcastle's new kit sponsor revealed

E-YD artists revealed, with bonus jingoism!

The BBC has announced the six lambs who have agreed to submit themselves to ritual slaughter in Belgrade by way of the new Eurovision: Your Decision programme on 1st March. They've managed to do this by including a totally uncalled-for bit of jingoism from Terry Wogan as well;
Let's hope that the British public will make the right decision this year, and give the UK's entry a fighting chance against the Eastern Bloc, in Belgrade in May.

I give up. Seriously. We were never going to get many points anyway, and the new format for Eurovision this year has made that even more certain. (I'll explain this another day.) But wait until this gets reported in the other 42 countries and we'll be finished. Fancy letting him say such a stupid thing. It's just a small step away from saying 'all the other countries are ganging up on us'. They will when this gets out, they certainly will.

World Of Chig's editorial team (music division) is currently going through the BBC press release with a highlighter pen and a blue pencil, so we'll be back later* with a pithy and informative analysis. (It says here.)

In the meantime, the contenders for the three face-offs are:

Andy Abrahams vs. Michelle Gayle
Rob McVeigh vs. Simona Armstrong
LoveShy vs. The Revelations

BBC Press Release
BBC News story
Eurovision - Your Decision homepage

* When we say later, we might mean tomorrow, as members of the team are feeling a bit poorly.

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Carola's reaction

I knew it would get onto YouTube pretty quickly. Here's Carola's reaction last night. She's trying to look pleased that her duet with Andreas Johnson has only finished third or fourth and won a place in the 'second chance' heat, not the final. Her face tells a different story.

You can make up your own mind about their performance last night here. It's not a bad song, but there's quite a bit of screeching from Carola and three or four of the other songs were better.

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The Dusty and Dustin shows (and some stuff about Sweden)

'The One And Only', or 'That show with the Dusty Springfield woman' as we've been calling it since week one, has been won by Dusty Springfield tonight, which should have surprised no one and is very well deserved. She was amazing. I don't think there's been a more obvious winner of a TV singing competition since, ooh, Connie as Maria.

The next obvious win will be next Saturday when Dustin, not Dusty, wins the ticket to Eurovision from Ireland, where he works in North Dublin as a builder, despite being a turkey. A turkey who looks like a vulture. A puppet turkey vulture. That's him looking down on you from the top left. If Dustin doesn't win next week I will live on potatoes for the week after. Possibly.

Dustin was even on The One Show in the UK this week, when they announced that the UK's Eurovision hopefuls would be featured on the show before our national final. (I'm hoping that our show features at least one ex-soap star, a transparent girlband, Bob the Builder, a failed Maria and a singing dustman, but what do I know?) Westlife were also in the studio when Dustin appeared by video link 'from Ireland' and Adrian Chiles seemed surprised that Westlife knew of Dustin, which is odd, as the turkey has been famous in Ireland longer than Westlife have and released a fair few albums and singles of his own. If the BBC researcher had been skilled in the art of YouTube searching - admittedly it's not something anyone can manage - they could even have found this, which I had seen before, and then no one would have been surprised. Dustin even manages a reference to last year's disastrous Eurovision result for Ireland.

At least there were surprises in Sweden's televised singing competition tonight. I watched the second Melodifestivalen heat live on the net (in almost judder-free, full screen quality - thank you SVT). The horrible homophobe Carola had teamed up with the previously likeable (although I will now question his judgment, or his level of desperation) Andreas Johnson, who she cruelly beat to the Eurovision place in 2006. Despite Sweden's liberalism, they make strange allowances for this bloody awful woman and this, in theory, should have been a dream ticket to the final. However, they didn't make it. The only managed to win a place in the 'Andra Chansen' second chance heat, which means they finished third or fourth tonight. I laughed a lot, especially as the camera was on her face when the result was revealed and she looked like she had just realised she had wet herself. It was priceless.

Sanna Nielsen claimed one of the places in the final with a good ballad which she sang superbly at first. (She wobbled a bit in her reprise, but she was already through by then, so I think the shock of qualifying was getting to her a little). She sings in English superbly, with very clear enunciation and very little accent, which lifted her song way above the others tonight.

The other finalists were Rongedal, who did a great presentation of a pop song, Just A Minute, with twins (I presume) looking like Richard O'Brien in red suits, singing like Jake Shears. It clearly caught the Swedes' attention.

However, I can't help feeling that Sweden's best chance for Beograd has gone by the wayside. Andra Generationen finished fifth, so will go no further. Their song Kebabpizza Slivovitza, although it was tonight's light relief, would have gone down well with ALL the Balkan countries and picked up votes from everywhere else too. It sounded like a Swedish pop song performed by a Macedonian wedding band, which is pretty much what it was. With a nod to the Eurovision host nation in the title, it would have gone down well in the hall at least. (Slivovitza is Serbia's 'national drink'; a plum liqueur that I look forward to sampling when in Belgrade!)

Oh well, Eurovision in Belgrade has more to worry about than whatever song Sweden is sending. The elephant in the room is about to wake up and roar. Following the election of the 'pro-European' candidate as President in Serbia last weekend, Kosovo seems certain to declare independence tomorrow. The streets of Belgrade are full of people already tonight. Let's hope they manage to come to a peaceful solution.

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All Change

1957, 1959-1995: A Song For Europe

1996-1999: The Great British Song Contest

2000-2003: A Song For Europe (again)

2004-2007: Eurovision: Making Your Mind Up

2008: Eurovision - Your Decision

Yes, the BBC has announced the new name for the UK's Eurovision selection programme, taking place on 1st March. And that's it; Eurovision - Your Decision. The brainstorming session over breakfast this morning must have taken all of ten seconds.

Let's not get hung up on the uninspiring name though. (Even though I would happily hire myself out as a branding consultant to the BBC, conduct some 'research' and charge them a hundred grand, before announcing my recommendation that they return to the name 'A Song For Europe' because that's the brand that the public still recognises and uses.) No, let's not.

It's the format that counts, and there's a new production team in charge, who have changed it, to make it more of a knockout competition. This sounds promising. There will be six contenders, in three 'categories' with a pair of songs in each. The three winners will progress to the second round, plus a wildcard from the three losers (chosen by the celebrity panel?)

According to ESC Today, the four survivors will then be whittled down to a superfinal between the top two songs, like last year. By my reckoning, that means three rounds of televoting. Thank goodness the BBC isn't allowed to make money on televoting. The winner goes to Belgrade and the runner-up gets to play Oliver Twist for Andrew Lloyd-Webber, or something like that. I may be getting two new shows confused.

Thankfully, the live show is back in TV Centre in London, which won't surprise anyone who watched last year's Making Your Mind Up from the Maidstone Studios, which had all the atmosphere of an aircraft hangar. Wogan's infamous boo-boo distracted people from mentioning afterwards that the lighting was poor, the sound quality was awful, especially near the beginning, and the phone numbers didn't appear on screen when Scooch and Cyndi performed in the superfinal, so we couldn't vote.

We'll have to wait and see what the categories are, who the six artistes are and what the songs are like. Adrian Chiles announced tonight on The One Show that they will be previewing the UK's songs before the main event. If Daz Sampson hasn't kept his promise to return and Radiohead, Morrissey and Bill Bailey have gone back on their promises again, I for one will be very disappointed.

Yeah, right. What we really need is a puppet.

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Norway is sending this song to Eurovision in Belgrade. It's fantastic.

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