|World of Chig|
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 36th favourite song
Poland - 'For Love' - Isis Gee
I love a big ballad, but this is a plodding ballad. It takes many, many plays for this song to get into your head, so it's doomed. It was great to see Isis at the Eurovision party at the Scala last Friday, but of all the acts who performed, hers is my least favourite song.
We watched the Polish final and I freely admit I didn't see this winning. Unfortunately, the pop vote was stretched between two songs, from Man Meadow and Sandra Oxenryd, whose 'Superhero' is one of my favourite non-winning contenders of any country this year. Here's what we could have had instead.
'Viva La Musica' - Man Meadow (Polish finalist)
'Superhero' - Sandra Oxenryd (Polish finalist)
National Singles' Day
There you are. It wasn't that difficult to put the above apostrophe in the right place. After watching The Apprentice tonight, I despair at the state of British education.
Amsterdam - your help is needed
We're off to Amsterdam from Friday to Monday to celebrate a friend's 40th birthday. (It'll be like a stag weekend, but gayer.)
Excluding hanging about in Schiphol airport on the way to other places, I haven't been to Amsterdam since a school trip (on a barge) in 1982.
Clearly there is some catching up to be done, so where should a group of about ten metrosexuals be eating, drinking, dancing, sightseeing, shopping and, er, anything else you can think of?
Please declare your Amsterdam recommendations in the comments below. Dank u.
London, save us all
"My friends, as I have discovered myself, there are no disasters, only opportunities. And, indeed, opportunities for fresh disasters."
(Boris Johnson, 2004)
London, please don't let tomorrow be an opportunity for a fresh disaster of historic proportions. Boris Johnson is tremendously entertaining and very amusing, but we're laughing at him, not with him. If he becomes London mayor tomorrow, the world will be laughing at us all. Please don't let it happen.
Serbia(n) in 19 days
Today's Serbian word has been requested by Ireland's own dansande drottning, the lovely Adrian, who I had the pleasure of meeting, at last, on Thursday and Friday last week:
kraljica (noun, feminine) = queen
Serbia(n) in 20 days (from yesterday)
The next Serbian word, as it should have been yesterday's, is:
kasan (adjective) = late
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 37th favourite song
We're still mired deep in rubbish. There's a half decent tune here with the Croatian song, completely ruined by the ramblings of an old man, 'hilariously' named 75 Cents. My worry is that Europe will find this endearing and give him votes just for being alive.
Croatia - 'Romanca' - Kraljevi ulice & 75 cents
Performance from the Croatian Dora
Official video - which, to be fair, does a nice job of capturing the atmosphere of the song.
Serbia(n) in 21 days
Serbia(n) in 22 days
Serbia(n) in 23 days
Serbia(n) in 24 days
Today's Serbian word:
zabava (noun, feminine) = party, amusement, entertainment, fun
When I said 'Back on Saturday'...
...I neglected to add, "unless I am offered a lovely Saturday night out in Walthamstow and decide to stay in London for three nights instead of two". Sorry about that. Some appropriate catching up follows above.
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 38th favourite song
Chorus sounds like a nursery rhyme. Not as good as last year's first Georgian entry. Blah, blah, blah. Train to catch...hence today's Serbian word!
Retro Bar - Douze Points tonight
Scala, King's Cross - UK Eurovision party tomorrow.
Blog day off tomorrow. Back on Saturday. Mwah!
Serbia(n) in 25 days
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 39th favourite song
Cyprus - 'Femme Fatale' - Evdokia Kadi
We wrote about this when it was picked, so no need to waste time doing it again. It's no better now than it was in January. Cyprus and Greece have been separated into different semi-finals by the cunning EBU, so not even the Greeks can vote for this. It may get a smattering of points from the few nearby countries in the same semi, but this has no hope. If it makes the final I will eat my own eyes. (Possibly.)
This isn't the performance which won the Cypriot final. It's the interval performance from the Greek final, which came later. I find the song is improved greatly if you sing, "Oompa, loompa, doompa-dee-da" over the top of it.
Serbia(n) in 26 days
Be still my beating heart!
I think I have died and gone to heaven! Sweden's queen of pop Nanne Grönvall has just been added to the bill of the UK's Eurovision party which me and a thousand of my closest friends(!) are attending at the Scala in London on Friday. I love her! She even tried to sing for us! She's recovering from breast cancer! She is the Swedish Kylie! Swoon.
Let's have a look at Nanne's career highlights.
One More Time - 'Den Vilda' - Eurovision 1996
Nanne was a member of the group which came third for Sweden with this beautiful song which bears a passing resemblance to the works of Enya. The piano player is Nanne's husband, Peter Grönvall, who happens to be the son of ABBA's Benny Andersson.
Nanne Grönvall - 'Avundsjuk' - Melodifestivalen 1998
I fell in love with this song in the first Melodifestivalen I ever saw, and developed a strange fascination with the mad pixie singing it. It was one of the first songs in Swedish that I ever got to know (and tried to sing!)
Nanne Grönvall - 'Men' - A Song For Europe 2001
Okay, this is a bit rubbish, even if it was written by former Wave, Kimberley Rew, who wrote 'Love Shine A Light'. At least Nanne was prepared to swallow her (national) pride and sing for Blighty!
Nanne Grönvall - 'Håll Om Mig' - Melodifestivalen 2005
Finally, here's the song which the public wanted to represent Sweden in Eurovision 2005 until they added the jury vote and sent Martin Stenmarck instead (and bombed - ha!) We haven't seen stomping and strutting like this since Tina Turner. You go girl! See you Friday!
Eurovision 2008 - the 40th best song - guest edition
Estonia - 'Leto Svet' - Kreisiraadio
Today's choice comes from birthday boy Chris. I asked him for three possibilities for his 'worst song of the 40 left' and this was the one nearest the bottom of my own list. (It was coming tomorrow anyway.) Chris gave a succinct and accurate reason for choosing this; "Because it is embarrassing drivel". Indeed it is. Thank you for your choice.
Sadly for Chris, my penchant for "overdramatic mock operatic falsetto shite" knows no bounds, so we'll be seeing one of his other contenders much higher up the list, I'm afraid (and his third choice, Spain, much sooner). There's no accounting for taste, which brings us back to Estonia.
This sad combination of Harry Enfield's Scousers and a fat Jonathan Ross cruised to victory in the ten song Estonian final, with 49.3% of the vote. (Seven of the ten songs scored below 2.5% each, such was the unanimity of the Estonian public on the top three.) Kreisiraadio (which I presume is pronounced 'Crazy Radio') are well-known comedians in Estonia. The song is shite, but that doesn't matter. It's also very catchy, and it's the song that the BBC played twice in Eurovision - Your Decision when Wogan's scriptwriters warned that it might be a winner. I'm not so sure about that, but it might do well if it makes the final. The only glimmer of hope is that they secured a bad draw, so they will perform third in the first semi-final after Montenegro and Israel, who we've already seen. We can only hope that Europe won't wake up in time to notice Estonia.
Let's watch the much more interesting song which came second in Estonia's Eurolaul with 29.1% and pretend that this won instead.
Iiris Vesik - 'Ice Cold Story'
Serbia(n) in 27 days
Later today, as a special birthday treat, one of these people will be choosing the next best song in this year's Eurovision. As far as I know, it's not Daz Sampson's birthday, so it's a fairly safe bet that it will be Chris P (especially as he has told me his three choices already and I have chosen the one which was coming pretty soon anyway).
Happy Birthday Christopher! We'll be back this evening with 'your' choice of the 40th best song (and I'll see you on Friday at the party).
In my excitement about the French Eurovision single being released here next month, it almost flew under my radar that the first of THREE of this year's Eurovision singles is released on CD today. Yes, Dustin The Turkey gets a CD release today in the UK and also this week in Ireland. It's only £1.99 from hmv.com.*
We will watch the midweek charts with interest. Will Dustin tell Madonna to cluck off? I doubt it somehow, but it must chart somewhere. When did we last have three countries' Eurovision entries released in the UK? There could be a fourth if the winner gets released (which it wasn't last year) and it's not from Ireland, France or the UK.
* Other purveyors of gramophone recordings are available.
The Show Must Go On
I'm hoping for a slightly less dramatic Monday evening than I experienced this time last week. A group of us went to Birmingham Rep, to see a revival of Tom Stoppard's 1998 play, Hapgood, starring Josie Lawrence. We ended up seeing a little more drama than we expected.
On the way into the auditorium, there was a sign on the door, warning that there would be a gunshot about 45 minutes into act one. Not altogether surprising, as it's a spy drama, but it's always good to try and prevent heart attacks in the audience. It turned out that the audience was the least of the theatre's concerns. Around thirty minutes into the play, Josie Lawrence was engaged in conversation with her spy colleague, played by Christopher Ettridge (left), best known for playing the gormless wartime policeman, Reg Deadman, in six series of Goodnight Sweetheart. (His acting was so good that I didn't make that connection until reading it today, even though I probably watched most episodes of the Nicholas Lyndhurst sitcom.) During the conversation, Ettridge slumped to the floor, almost in slow motion, in a way that an actor is probably taught to fall, to avoid hurting themselves. But there was no gunshot. The effect didn't work, I thought. But we can't be 45 minutes in already?
Josie Lawrence knelt down close to his head, as you would expect if someone had been shot in front of you, but very calmly. Then she called a man's name, which wasn't the character's name, and only then did we realise what had happened. A stage manager came onstage with headphones on and it became clear that the actor had collapsed. She apologised and the curtain started to come down, but stopped halfway. Then another member of staff came on and announced that there would be a delay, which I think we'd all accepted by this point. Ettridge had come round by now, but I was still concerned that he may have had a heart attack. Then he popped his head up and said, very clearly for someone who had just fainted, "What it is, ladies and gentlemen, is that I have an irregular heartbeat, an arrhythmia, and it's started playing up again today. What it does is makes me feel faint. I really am very sorry." Then he was taken off into the wings.
I thought that was it, to be honest. I assumed we'd be going home without seeing the rest of the play, but we couldn't really complain. I thought Ettridge would go off to hospital. As I said to my friends, if that had happened in an office, you wouldn't expect the employee to carry on working. But carry on he did, not long afterwards. Ettridge and Lawrence came back on to much applause and she announced where they would be restarting, and that was that. We saw the play out to the end, and very good it was too (although I think I might need to see it again to completely understand all of the plot twists and turns). I can't say I was very relaxed though for the rest of the play, as I was so worried that Ettridge was going to collapse again. It was either a brave or stupid move to continue, but I'm sure everyone in the audience was extremely grateful.
I hope Christopher Ettridge has made a full recovery and (if this Sunday Mercury report is to be believed) that he remembers to take his heart tablets in future! What a trooper though. We wish him well.
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 41st favourite song
Israel - 'The Fire In Your Eyes' (Ke'ilo Kan) - Bo'az Ma'uda
"My soul is hoping for the warm heart's pray."
I beg your pardon?
"It's hard, so hard."
What's hard? Your soul? Or your warm heart's pray? (Whatever that is.)
"When there's a yearning in front of a moon,
It's here for a moment, and then disappears."
What disappears? The yearning? Or the moon?
"After it follows the sadness.
Sometimes the breeze brings a good, familiar and patting smell with it."
A patting smell? Isn't that what dog owners have on their hands? What the hell are you on about?
"Now I hear you singing."
Oh pur-lease. I'd rather not hear you singing, thank you very much.
On the plus side, Bo'az Ma'uda is quite cute, even if he does have more apostrophes than an Irish member of Hear'Say. Also, this was written by Dana International and a friend, bringing her back to Eurovision (we hope) ten years after her Birmingham win at my first ever Eurovision-in-the-flesh.
On the downside, well, just listen to it, if you can bear the whole three minutes. Who is going to vote for this?
Serbia(n) in 28 days
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 42nd favourite song
If you watch the televote results at the beginning of this clip from Lithuania's national final, you'll see that this song only won by a very marginal 432 votes. If only 433 other people had bothered to vote, we would have been spared this. The elements are there for it to be a half decent song. It aspires to be an epic musicals-type number, but comes out a horrible mess, with any potential that the song may have had murdered by the singing. At times, this is just painful to hear and woefully out of tune. How Lithuania came to be won over by a scary man with horrible hair and a pirate shirt, I will never know. Thankfully, we have some much more entertaining pirates coming up later on from neighbouring Latvia.
This Lithuanian entry will be performed fifth in the second semi-final. Unless the song, the singing and the presentation have gone through a major revamp before next month, there's not a chance we'll be seeing Jeronimas in the final.
Lithuania - 'Nomads In The Night' - Jeronimas Milius
Serbia(n) in 29 days
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 43rd favourite song
Here we go then. We're starting our countdown - or should that be countup? - of the 43 songs in this year's Eurovision Song Contest, from worst to best, in my humble opinion.
Thank you for your comments yesterday, when I asked you to guess which song we'd be starting with today. In other words, who do you think is bottom of this year's pile? Sadly, I think it tells you all we need to know about the lower quality of this year's songs that you made eleven different suggestions for worst song. That's a quarter of the entire total. How depressing. It took nine suggestions before the Schlagerboys mentioned the one we're actually starting with. Let's beat around the bush no longer. It's Montenegro.
Yes, we begin with the song which also kicks off this year's Eurovision triumvirate of shows, as Montenegro perform first in semi-final number one in Belgrade. It's a terrible start to the contest, which will probably have viewers turning off in their droves. Even worse, there are another four dull songs immediately following them, with nothing interesting until song six. But we'll get to them later.
When Montenegro finally split from Serbia in June 2006, they had nearly a year to come up with something decent for their first independent Eurovision entry last year, but all they could manage after their final (in a TV studio with no audience) was Stevan Faddy's hopelessly dull Itchy Crotchy song, which came 23rd out of 28 songs in the qualifying round. Montenegro only received points from neighbouring Albania and the other five former Yugoslav countries.
Then they had to witness the ignominy of their former dominant partner Serbia actually winning the damn thing! This year then, with their neighbours hosting, Montenegro will be pulling out all the stops with their song, to avoid a local embarrassment, right? Wrong. They have chosen this dullness instead.
Montenegro - 'Zauvijek Volim Te' - Stefan Filipović
My good friend, musical commentator and sometime musician Mr Roy D Hacksaw has pointed out many times that it's not the controversial or awful (or controversially awful) songs that come last at Eurovision. It's the ones no one can be bothered about or can't remember because they don't provoke any reaction. This is one of those songs. There are worse singers and worse songs to come from this year's competition, but none of them are as deathly dull as this Montenegrin effort. But hold on, maybe that TV performance was on a bad day? Maybe we're being unfair? Perhaps if we look at their video, we'll see the song presented in all its glory and realise how brilliant it really is?
Oh dear. They're doomed. Doomed, I tell you.
Serbia(n) in 30 days
We're going Serbian tomorrow....
Tomorrow, it will be exactly one month (30 days) until Chig goes to Beograd for Eurovision.
So, it's about time we started reviewing the songs, isn't it? With YouTube videos and trivia and stuff and the opportunity for us all to learn some Serbian along the way. Oh yes. (I won a Serbian-English dictionary last month. I feel a need to use it.)
I've decided to ignore such banal concepts as semi-finals and running order and do something far more self-indulgent instead. So, we'll be revealing the songs in reverse order of fabulousness, according to me! Starting with the shite. Sadly, with 43 songs in the contest this year, there is quite a bit of shite to get through first. Non-fans will despair to hear that this is far from a vintage year, despite the largest number of entries ever. I am struggling to find ten songs I really like. However, bear with us and grit your teeth. There is still plenty of entertainment to be had. And it will get slightly better each day.
Friday's fun pop quiz:
Who has plumbed the very depths this year? Which song is the 43rd bestest tune in this year's Eurovision songfest? Place your bets now...
It's the UK vs. France. Andy Abraham's Eurovision single has appeared on the release schedules at last, for 12 May. Intriguingly, the schedules say that Sébastien Tellier's 'Divine', the French entry for Eurovision, is getting a physical UK release that day too, although 7digital think the digital single is released on 19 May, so one of the sources must be wrong as the physical would never be out a week before the downloads.
Even so, when did another country's Eurovision entry get a physical release in this country BEFORE the contest? (I don't know the answer. I'm asking you.)
Jo Whiley played Tellier's entry in full on Radio 1 on Thursday 3 April, along with a bit of Dima Bilan's Russian entry, because it's produced by Timbaland. Dustin The Turkey's Irish entry was also played in full on Radio 1, just after it was chosen. I can't remember two other countries' songs ever being played in full on Radio 1 before the contest. Unless you know better...
Last Saturday was good enough: Aston Villa 4 - 0 Bolton
Today: Derby 0 - 6 Aston Villa
Six goals. SIX! With six different scorers too. What are the chances of that?
Two games, six points and an extra ten on the goal difference! Maybe that last European place will be ours! You can't accuse the team of not trying.
Labels: Aston Villa
Strange things that happen in Chig's life, part 457
Last night I was talking to someone I'd never met before, at Birmingham's Gay & Lesbian Ball. After a few minutes, I realised that he is one of the men in the swimming pool photos on the post below! Terry was there too, which was the connection, but even so, weird. (I am sworn to secrecy about the result of Thursday's televote, but.... no, I can't.)
I don't think the words, "Oh, you're in one of the photos I put on my blog yesterday" have ever come out of my mouth before. Mark is on the left of the bottom right photo.
Terry's on the telly again
He was the subject of the Secret Millionaire not long ago, and tonight Terry George is on telly again. This time, he needs your vote.
"I Own Britain's Best Home", five, 8pm tonight.
Concept: Some people nose around some impressive houses. We vote for our favourite.
Should Terry and Michael's Yorkshire castle be your favourite tonight (hint), the number to call is 09013 80 03 01. Lines open from 8pm to midnight tonight. Calls cost 25p.
Other homes are available. But the others won't have hunky men in trunks. larking around in Terry's pool. Vote for them, if not the house, if you feel like it.
(Russell Brand is not in the programme; I just like the pic of him with Terry.)
Yesterday saw the end of an era in the arty/cultural life of Birmingham, and the beginning of an exciting project for those of us who live in the vicinity of Cannon Hill Park. The Midland Arts Centre, fondly known as the mac (lower case, please) shut its doors yesterday, after its final theatre production and film screenings on Saturday. (One projectionist, in his 80s, joked in the Evening Mail last week that he has been forced into early retirement!) The mac, which has built up in a mainly unplanned way since the sixties, with bits added on every now and again, is about to be bulldozed. A new mac is to be built, at a cost of £13 million, with an altogether more sensible design.
Those of us who live near the mac love the institution of the mac, but you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who loves the building itself, so few tears are being shed at the building disappearing, although I feel sorry for the staff.
There has been an exhibition on for the last few weeks, showing photos and architects' drawings at various stages of the building's life. It was fascinating. There have been many false new dawns, where plans were drawn up, then the money couldn't be found, then the plans were redone and still nothing happened. In the meantime, the building was falling apart, prone to flooding, with the toilets ridiculously inaccessible and a long way from where they should have been. It really was time to go.
One of the plans drawn up in the 1990s showed all the elements of the building as various fruit, veg and nuts. One of the larger places was an aubergine, while smaller monkey nut spaces lay around it, and a theatre space was designed as a flat, open cupped mushroom. Fascinating on the wall, but thank the Lord Lloyd-Webber it was never built.
The new building is scheduled to be finished and open in November 2009. Knowing the way these projects work, I won't hold my breath until about a year after that, but we wish them well. In the meantime, the building site will be on my cycle route, when I'm fit enough to cycle again, as the mac is in Cannon Hill Park, where I often cycle in the Summer, so I will see the progress of the building work. It just means that, for two Summers, the main café in the park won't be there to stop for a drink!
My friend Sarah and I went to the mac eight days ago to say our farewells and have a final coffee (and chips) in the café, which is when these photos were taken.
We'll write again about our favourite local arts centre when it reopens. One thing about that forthcoming piece is already decided. Can you guess which song title we'll be using as the header?
Full Fat Milk
Did you watch Doctor Who on Saturday? I thought it was a superb start to the new series. I fell in love with the little adipose creatures, even if they were invented to become the nation's most popular toy at Christmas. Cynical, moi? If they're available next month, I'd like one for my birthday please. (Subtle.)
I thought the adipose cuties looked vaguely familiar, but it took Mike on Saturday night to point out why. Compare and contrast the adipose creatures (in this News 24 preview of Saturday's Doctor Who) with the cute little milk carton from Blur's wonderful 'Coffee & TV' video. What do you think?
The Adipose in Doctor Who on BBC News 24:
Blur - Coffee & TV:
Sometimes It Snows In April
It's not often there's an opportunity to use the Prince song title above, which is why I had to take this photo of my front garden at 4.30am today, as I was getting in.
EXCLUSIVE! Andy Abraham pulls out
A tide of moderate disappointment is about to sweep through the country's Eurovision fans as I can exclusively reveal that Andy Abraham has withdrawn from his most important singing engagement this year. Yes, his pre-Eurovision performance in May at Birmingham's Nightingale club, which had already been advertised, has been called off because he has pulled out.
It brings the Nightingale's fantastic support for our Eurovision entrants to an end (or it's just a blip until next year). At least the last six UK entrants have performed at the club just prior to going away to the contest. Scooch, Daz Sampson, Javine, James Fox, Jemini and Jessica Garlick have all contributed to what had become a very welcome tradition.
(If anyone can tell me if Lindsay D did it too in 2001, then this possibly stretches to eight consecutive years, because I'm fairly sure Nicki French did it too in 2000.)
Something very strange happened as I was driving home from work tonight. I was listening to Radio 2 in the car, as you do. Bob Harris Country was on. I was waiting at a roundabout when Bob Harris introduced a track by American teenager Anthony Da Costa*, called 'Dolly & Porter'. At the exact moment that he said the title, a car came round the roundabout with the contrived registration JOL33N. The threes were squared off, to make them look even more like backwards letter Es. And yes, Da Costa's song is very specifically about Dolly Parton. Harris followed it up by playing a track by Dolly herself, while I followed the Joleen car for quite a while on my way home. Despite the slightly different spelling, that's freaky.
(Dolly Parton was the mentor on American Idol two days ago and performed some religious tripe on last night's results show. There's clearly something in the air.)
* Not to be confused with ex-Blue boy and 2006 MYMU contender, Antony Costa.