|World of Chig|
This is what happened to World Of Chig's visitor numbers the day after Eurovision (last Sunday). Look at the size of my spike! Interestingly, it would seem that Popbitch has no readers at all who ever click on any of their links, as this blog was linked in their mailing yesterday, to a picture of a certain Russian popstar who I may be seeing tomorrow. I expected a surge in visitors, which is why I was just looking at the visitor figures for the first time in months and months, but there's no evidence whatsoever of any Popbitch-fuelled increase.
Labels: visitor numbers
I'm watching Come Dine With Me on C4, ready to catch what is being billed as the first ever live ad on UK TV (due to fill three minutes of the first break). It should be interesting to see if the team of skydivers for Honda pull off what they're supposed to be doing.
However, I thought that in 'the olden days', lots of TV adverts were live, partly because it was too expensive to film them? Am I right?
AFTERWARDS: My word, that was impressive! Certainly as a feat of skydiving, or a piece of art anyway. I'm not sure how much it will encourage anyone to buy Honda, but still. I expect it will be on YouTube within seconds...
NEXT DAY: Here it is:
Happy 40th birthday Kylie! There now follows a rather sexy advert.
A message for Saïd
I think you'll find that this is Croatia's finest ever Eurovision entry! :-)
(As you were there at the time with me, I'm surprised you don't think so too!)
The opening song from Eurovision 1998 in Birmingham. It still gives me goosebumps. I bought one of her albums two days ago in Belgrade.
The final embarrassment
Whatever happened to national pride, huh? Andy Abraham managed to come last in Eurovision on Saturday, as widely predicted by fans and bookies alike. On Sunday, he only managed to chart at a hopeless #67, giving him the lowest placed UK Eurovision single since 1989, when Live Report could only manage a week at #73, despite coming second in Eurovision. (Live Report's song is absolutely pants, so goodness only knows how that happened anyway.)
But what's this? This year's Greek entry, Secret Combination by Kalomira, is currently nestling in the midweek UK top 40, on the strength of download sales since Sunday. It's the song that received the UK's douze points on Saturday, so it's no big surprise that it's 'doing a Verka', but still...the shame!
The morning after
So, Russia finally won Eurovision last night, with their twelfth appearance in the final (and thirteenth entry overall, due to their failure to get through the oddity of the 'pre-contest' in 1996). They started entering Eurovision in 1994.
Dima Bilan wins on his second attempt and becomes first male soloist to win Eurovision since Toto Cotugno for Italy in 1990. Coincidentally, this was also the last time the contest was held in what was Yugoslavia at the time, in Zagreb (now in Croatia).
Russia becomes another new winner and the fourteenth different winner in fourteen years, which is great.
It's not the most popular winner here amongst the fans and the press pack though. Part of that stems from the cost of Moscow, which is the most expensive city inEurope, according to a report I read in the paper on the plane over here. It said the averaga hotel room in Moscow is 237 pounds per night, and that's average, when there's nothing special on. I simply can't afford to go. Some people wonder if the Russians might hold the contest in a more Western Russian time zone, to avoid the contest starting at 23:00 and fisnishing at 02:20, but I can't see any country winning Eurovision for the first time and not wanting to show off its capital city to Europe. It wouldn't make sense. We shall see.
The real reason Russia won was the ice-skater, I feel. Evgeny Plushenko is even more famous than Diva Bilan himself and I'm convinced that's what swung it. He (and the Hungarian violinist) turned a fairly dull song into a good performance and it was enough to get votes from all over the ex-Soviet parts of Europe.
My time here is done. Sightseeing beckons. It's amazingly hot again, as it was yesterday. Before I go, here's some proof that I have been eating. It's the delicious 'vegetable plate'. Yum. Bye for now.
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's favourite song
Norway - 'Hold On, Be Strong' - Maria (Haukaas Storeng)
Apparently, having a surname in Eurovision is problematic, so Maria shortened her name between winning the Norwegian final and coming to Eurovision. I was so pleased to see this do well last night. We now know that Maria came 4th in the first semi-final, justifying my faith in this song. There's always room for a simple song, done simply in Eurovision, and this proved to be the one that people went for, even if they did develop a routine around it. The Norwegian final performance was much simpler, as you can see here:
It has been suggested (mainly by people in relationships), that it's only us single people who really relate to this song, but I liked it without taking much notice of the lyric, to be honest, apart from the title. On deeper analysis however, it does have some personal relevance, which just makes me love it even more. This was a great way to end the show last night. Well done Maria on coming 5th and being the top Scandinavian country, top 'Western' country and top 'old Eurovision' country. Here's last night's performance:
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 2nd favourite song
14:45 Belgrade time (13:45 BST)
I'm back in the press centre, in the one room left open for us to use, as technicians are ripping wiring out of the ceiling cavities and PCs are being removed from the other rooms. I've just made my purchases from the souvenir shop and it's all rather sad. I'm determined to finish this before I leave Beograd though. I had to rush away for our planned pre-final meeting last night, and still didn't have a ticket, but it all turned out for the best and I had a fantastic evening, of which more later and during the week. I only have half an hour left in here, so let's crack on.
Bosnia & Herzegovina - 'Pokušaj' - Laka
This brother and sister act have provided the best entertainment for me this week and the Serbian crowd outside the town hall, where we were last night, lapped it up. This song has provided priceless moments in the Euroclub this week, including one particular night, possibly Thursday, where they played it and, at the moment it speeds up dramatically, everyone on the dancefloor ran around wildly, as these two do, with no regard for the consequences. I ended up whacking a Spanish friend squarely in the face with my arm, but he was too drunk to care. Oh, how we laughed! I was in hysterics after watching everyone. It was a magical Eurovision moment.
I was surprised Laka didn't do better in the scoring, both last night, where he finished 10th and in the semi-final (9th). I really thought this would have been top 4 last night, and may have won. But what do I know? Here's last night's wonderful performance for posterity:
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 3rd favourite song
Ukraine - 'Shady Lady' - Ani Lorak
All things considered, this may be my absolute favourite now, in terms of overall song and performance, but we'll stick to the order I had decided on before coming out here. I had to overcome a natural aversion to any song with the word 'lady' in it at first, as it's not a word I would ever use. Woman, yes. Lady, no. I have forgiven Ani because the pop song is great and she sells it like no other, with this year's best dancers, who I'm so happy to say I chatted to in London last month. (Sacha and Bogdan, at least.)
I'll be very happy if this wins and my third trip to Ukraine is on the cards. On the second trip, last December, the first advertising hoardings I saw in the taxi from the airport were for Ani Lorak's new album. I wondered then if she would be picked for Eurovision this year and she was announced a few days after I returned. Is it fate? Here's Thursday's stunning performance.
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 4th favourite song
Bulgaria - 'DJ, Take Me Away' - DeepZone & Balthazar
There had to be one that got away before we reached it, didn't there? Never in a million years, either before or after Thursday's semi-final performance, did I think this would fail to make the final. Perhaps it was just too leftfield for most people. I thought it was one of the most exciting three minutes we've ever had on a Eurovision stage. Here's the performance that failed to make the final:
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 5th favourite song
Latvia - 'Wolves Of The Sea' - Pirates Of The Sea
Lead pirate Roberto Meloni is, I believe, the only person to appear in Eurovision last year and this. He sang for Latvia with the operatic group Bonaparti.lv last year, and their song 'Questa Notte'. I'm glad this has made the final, as there should be something for everyone, including children and pop fans! Ahoy there, me hearties!
Here's their performance from Thursday night:
Eurovision - the final dress rehearsal - live!
14:10 Serbian time (13:10 BST)
I'm in the media centre, in one of the many 'working areas'. It's basically a room full of PCs, 72 of 'em! Only seven of them are occupied, which means I've secured a plum seat by the widescreen TV, which is transmitting the third and final dress rehersal for tonight's show, live from the Beogradska Arena, twelve minutes' walk through a housing estate.
The show has just started, so I'll try and comment on it as it unfolds, as well as blogging my top 5 songs and adding some photos. This could be a busy two hours!
Rather understated after the theatricality of the semi-finals, but also surprisingly provocative, in a gender-bending way. For a country that's not exactly hot on homosexuality and gender issues - we've had offical warnings - it's rather brave and I applaud RTS for doing it.
Marija sings last year's winner a capella, then in the dance mix, then part of another song. She then introduces the hosts. There is no more to it (and the interval act later is pretty straightforward as well).
The hosts are pretty terrible. For once, I think the French (by Zeljko) is better than the English though. Well done to him for that. As usual, the script is cringingly crap and horribly stilted. Don't bother listening to them at your party. They say nothing interesting in the whole show, and nothing funny either.
Brilliant as ever. It's not an energetic start, but they are superb and I could sit and stare at Vlad all day.
02 United Kingdom
Believe it or not, I have seen 42 of the 43 countries live on stage. The one I haven't seen is the UK! This is because of the rehearsal schedule and some woefully slow custonmer service while getting a pizza yesterday, which meant I couldn't get to the arena in time for the first dress rehearsal. (The essay on Serbia's understanding of customer service may follow another day. Many people here will want to contribute.) We heard Andy Abraham's last notes and applause as we were going through the metal detectors on the way in! It wasn't meant to be.
Our postcard is quite funny. Try to read it. Good lord, what is Andy wearing? A silver fringed blue jacket from Butlin's? He's very smiley, the sound mix sounds right, strong vocals. The hunky male backing singer from Eurovision - Your Decision is back, many will be pleased to hear. Lovely colourful stage. "We love you", Andy shouts to the crowd at the end. It's a good, energetic performance of a completely unmemorable song. The poor lamb. I hope he's ready for the voting.
It started. It lasted three minutes. It ended. Previous experience taught me to include this in my predictions on Thursday, which proved correct, and I like the fact that the Albanian song made it to the final, as she has had to endure booing at rehearsals from some sections of the local audience because of the K word which we're not advised to mention, so fans have countered it with cheering, to support the poor girl. She's only 17 and she's not a politician, so I wish people would leave her alone.
Insipid, uninteresting and a hot favourite amongst us media types here and the bookies - for last place tonight. I never need to hear this again. The one who has been ill all week with a virus is now back. That's the most interesting thing I can say. They should have picked Carolin Fortenbacher and they wouldn't be in this pickle; they'd be in the top ten. Schade.
She's not the best vocalist on display (and far from awful), but her limitations don't seem to matter anyway with this, as it's full of energy and the dancers have a good routine. Would have been a hotter favourite if she'd secured a later draw.
06 Bosnia & Herzegovina
Every moment of this is brilliant and I would love it to win. UK, vote for this! It has an immediate impact, it's funny and fascinating. A Russian man just asked me if I like this, as I was singing along (in my best Bosnian). He said "They're freaks". Yes, that's why I love them.
Break: 45 seconds from in front of city hall, where I can see there is now a screen, but the flowerbeds are going to get trampled. Obviously there's no one there now, so some woman just read out a script, with all the feeling that only a technician could manage. I imagine you'll be more excited later (if the BBC shows this bit).
This has shot up in my estimation and I completely understand how it made Tuesday's top ten. He's a pocket-sized hunk and there's not one of his five backing boys who has been anywhere near the ugly stick. His voice, which was grating on me at first, now seems fine. I love the freeform dance that the boys do at one point. It really works, because they look like they're having fun, and it lends a lighter touch to Dana International's otherwise serious-sounding song. Final shot: what a bunch of beauties! Also, Boaz is one of the few artists who has been spotted in 'our' Euroclub, so I respect him for that.
They know what they're doing and they do it well. This is the advantage of having a group represent you (as all the music is recorded anyway, so only the vocalist has to do anything. And the drummer. Have you tried miming drumming?) Odds on this winning have apparently come in from 150-1 to 12-1.
In other news, there are five of us currently in this press room. I know everyone here and we're all Brits. How strange.
Another faultless performance from the group and the singer. The old geezer, who gets all the press coverage, doesn't actually do much and when he does, he shouts. I have no idea how this will do. It could win on novelty value alone, or just get a mid-table position with Balkan votes. Then again, Terry Wogan might encourage his TOGS to vote for it.
Isis Teeth delivers again, but although this has now grown on me, this is one I would happily have seen not qualify from Tuesday. I don't know why I dislike it, but it doesn't move me. She's too slick and the song is too smooth, with no interesting bits. Can't fault her singing though.
One of the best postcards, with umbrellas and some catchy music, leads up to...
The favourite of The Gays, and it's easy to see why, even if I have criticised it for being old-fashioned and cliched. When I saw this in the hall earlier in the week, I thought Regina must have been sick, as only Fridrik was on stage, but I just hadn't realised how late she somes into the song. As someone said to me, they have really learnt how to perform this for TV, not the audience in the hall. The singing is perfect and this will get your party going! Eurobandid are Eurovision fans who make a living performing Eurovision songs as a Eurovision tribute act. It would be beyond surreal if they won Eurovision and then someone else could be a tribute act to them.
The other proper band in the final, after Finland. I love it to pieces now. When only positions 12 and 13 were left in the draw on Thursday night, the Turkish singer said he wanted number 13, but he drew 12 instead, leaving unlucky 13 to Portugal, and it is unlucky, because now we have a break.
Break: The hosts are back, linking to the green room hosts, Kristina and Bane. I think they won a contest on Serbian TV to do this job. They're both funny and sexy and should have been the hosts in the hall as they're much better. They seem to understand how corny some of their script is and they're taking the piss out of themselves. You may not get to see this if you have ad breaks.
Last out of the hat on Thursday, so the position after the break may have killed off its chances, but there's no doubting that this is now being widely seen as a deserving potential winner. I have succumbed to its charms, but it took a while for the tune to lodge in my head. It's flawlesly presented and if the Big Balkan Ballad vote is going anywhere, it may as well come here. Funny thing is, it IS a Balkan ballad, co-written by Andre Babic, who has popped up on backing vocals for more ex-Yugoslav Eurovision acts than I've had hot dinners. This is top two with Ukraine here in the media centre.
My favourite activity of the last 48 hours has been talking to people about their reaction to Thursday's qualifiers and waiting for them to pull a sniffy face when they say, "But Latvia?" and then watch their disgusted reaction when I say it's one of my favourites. Some people are so bloody serious, they've forgotten how to have fun and don't get the joy of catchy, costume-based pop music. I have fond memories of Adam Ant when I see this and I would be overjoyed for it to win, if only because it would annoy so many people (and Riga was brilliant, so I'd love to go back).
Catface is flat again. Why does no one notice this? I haven't heard her sing these opening verses well yet in several performances and rehearsals. Her stretched to buggery face terrifies me and I suspect lots of people won't vote for someone who looks so weird, no matter how much they like the song.
Omens: In 1999, Charlotte won from position 15, on the Saturday after Man United won the European Cup on the Wednesday. Can she do the same again? (No. I think Denmark may even beat her to the top Scandinavian position.)
Talking of which...
"What a day for a daydream.." What song is that? (It's The Lovin' Spoonful, if I may answer my own question.) The intro always reminds me of it. I hate the fact that this is a lowest common denominator song that anyone can sing along with after half a chorus (and half a pint), which Simon sells very well indeed. But there's no progression in the song, it's just pub rock at its most basic. Please let a proper song or at least an interesting performance win, not this plodder.
Dark horse alert! Dark horse alert! If ever a song has improved from the grainy video of a national final to the Eurovision stage, this is it. I can see this winning, because it has a peace theme with widespread appeal and the stage gimmick of the night. The transition from the dark side to the peaceful side is extremely well done. It has to be seen to be believed. I have a feeling it was inspired by this couple's act:
I would like to buy one of the men packaged in Ani's boxes. Sacha, Bogdan and the other two are just fantastic in this. The hook in this song is the head nodding. I have taken to doing it whenever I hear the tune (which is my text message alert, so that's quite often). Another perfect performance. If a pop song wins tonight, I hope it's this one.
The hosts return for a moment. My hotel roommate Dermot has just sat down next to me so I don't know what they said.
All the backing singers are dressed as Monsieur Tellier himself. Quite funny. "Mon amour chante en francais," he sings in the breakdown, which is just a tease to the folk back home (including the government arts minister) who criticised him for the song being in English.
This has the funniest false ending - it really did get cheered in the rehearsal yesterday as people thought it was over. Not today though. There are some intentionally bad camera angles (I have now decided they must be intentional) in this, but I'm not sure if people will get the joke.
The first time I've seen the finished version of this on a TV screen. The sheer theatricality of this must have put it through from Tuesday night. The funny thing is, there are billboards advertising this entry all over Belgrade; you can't get away from them. They also headlined the official party, which is odd. It will be interesting to see if Serbia gives it a lot of points. It's certainly a lot better than it was. They've tidied it up rather well.
As Kalomira starts off being carried on some kind of pole by the dancers, I find myself glad that Cyprus and their 'carrying the singer on the table' didn't get through as well (not that there was ever a chance). Big UK points for this, but I don't see it as a winner. It's too repetitive and doesn't really mean very much.
Keep an eye on the woman in the pink who can't quite get the dance moves. (It's intentional.) She's quite funny. The rest I can take or leave. Will Europe get the joke? Top ten or a hopeless failure. I'll go with the former.
A simple and dramatic presentation and a possible winner. The home crowd cheers wildly after the third line of this. It seems innocuous, 'Don't forget my name', but apparently it's seen as an oblique reference to keeping hold of the place that begins with 'K' that we're not allowed to mention here. There's a reference later in the song to St. Vitus's Day, which apparently means another story related to the K place. Clever how they sneaked it through, isn't it?
The man with the empty eyes is back. The histrionics will hopefully put people off, but the presence of a real life champion ice-skater (Yevgeny Pluschenko) is good and works well in these Eastern parts, if yesterday's rehearsal reaction is anything to go by. I just can't afford 240 pounds per night for a week in Moscow (or a final that starts at 23:00 for that matter!)
I probably can't afford Oslo either, but nothing would give me more pleasure than to see this simple, catchy song take the prize, if only to shut up the pathetic 'Eastern conspiracy' whingers. It's slick and looks great. The male backing singer on the right with no hair is the same one who has done many previous Norwegian Eurovision performances and even tried to enter as a soloist. He's rather tasty, but I can't remember his name. Anyone? This is a lovely way to end.
We now see the scoreboard. It's nothing unusual or fancy; they've gone for the basic look.
Now a 'living legend' is due on to start the voting. Tonight it will be a basketball star who I've never heard of. I saw him yesterday and he is a giant. Today though, he's not here, so a stage hand is playing him. From the moment Serbia won last year, I had assumed that Novak Jokovic would play this role, but they shot their bolt by using him on Tuesday. It's because the French Open starts soon, so the tennis star couldn't do today. I'm guessing the basketball star won't be demanding a standing ovation, like Lys Assia did on Thursday, the cheeky Frau.
The reprise is shown now, in performance order (not reversed). Then some other business (we were chatting), then the reprise again, with shorter clips. Even if France improves tonight, the clip in the reprise is terrible, because it's already edited from last night's rehearsal. It sounds awful. They are doomed.
More crap banter from Will-ko and Grace-ko. They count down to the end of the voting in Serbian. Pray that they have no more than 15 seconds to fill, because they can't ad lib to save their lives. They count down in Serbian, should you wish to join in.
Interval act: Goran Bregovic and his Orchestra
This is the real deal. It's exactly what I hoped for and expected from a Serbian-hosted final. A band "for weddings and funerals". Serbians must have the best funerals in the world. How could you be sad listening to this joy? The Russian journalist has just come back and said he thinks Goran Bregovic is the winner of Eurovision as this is better than all the other songs. He was certainly popular in the arena yesterday. Locals were up and dancing near me. It was fab.
My new Russian friend thinks we should send Amy Winehouse to Eurovision. He couldn't remember her name, but he mimed her hair. Brilliant.
The interval band does three songs, then back to the hosts, then over to the green room hosts. They are now imitating Spain, Russia and France. Very funny, but I don't know if they'll show this on the BBC.
They're practicing the voting now, with live links to the 43 spokespersons and fictitious votes which are usually planned to give a 25-way tie at the end. Carrie Grant does her bit efficiently.
The hosts have the wrong name for the Moldovan spokesperson. He politely points out that he's called Vitaly. He's a cutie too.
As ever, there are some real timewasters amongst this lot. Just give us the bloomin' points!
OMG! French spokesperson! Hunk! Look out for the French votes. Swoon! Who is he?
OMG! Norway's isn't bad either.
After 20 countries, there's a break in the voting as it clearly isn't taking long enough. We get Kristina and Bane again. He's getting more hunky in every link. I think it's the stubble growing.
The leading three countries are shown now; 1st Poland, 2nd Turkey and 3rd Portugal in this fictitious line-up.
OMG! Slovenia also has a hunk giving the points.
At the end of the fake voting, it's not a tie. Germany have won! They've clearly taken the most ridiculous scenario possible. Some stagehands pretending to be Germany come down to the stage. Thankfully, they don't do a reprise. Credits roll. The end.
So much for posting my top five. I need a loo and drink break. Bye for now!
How will the UK vote and who will win tonight?
13:00 CET (12:00 BST). I'm in the Eurovision media centre now for the next few hours, mainly on the hunt for a ticket for tonight, but I will be online or popping back here frequently today.
So, your comments are invited. Who's going to win tonight? I've narrowed it down to twelve out of the 25, as I think this is the most unpredictable contest in years. The fiddling around that the EBU did with the semi-final draw, splitting up countries who are more likely to vote for each other, appears to have worked. With one or two minor quibbles, twenty decent songs have qualified for tonight's final (but what happpened to Bulgaria, which was fantastic?) The dross has mainly gone, but Denmark somehow sneaked in, with a song that I despise. The litmus test of whether FYR Macedonia would qualify with an average song has been passed. They didn't.
Twenty songs which have already gained Europe's approval this week will be competing with five that haven't, and forcing three of them down to the bottom of the scoreboard. (Serbia will be challenging to win and Spain may escape, although it's not as funny or as well-presented as I feared, thank goodness.) Germany, France and the UK will be fighting for last place, as no one except Ireland is likely to give us points, no one except perhaps Belgium will vote for France and only Switzerland may vote for Germany. The staging of the French song is a huge disappointment and it's going to fail miserably. It doesn't sound very good either.
As far as the UK vote is concerned, I have a horrible feeling that Denmark's tedious plodder and Sweden's familiar schlager will be right up there for the 12 and 10, with Bosnia getting the 'we do understand wacky' 8 points. I have heard, from a pretty reliable source, that Denmark topped the televote AND the back-up jury vote in France on Thursday. Be very afraid.
Who do you think will get the UK's points? We're first to give them this year, with former entrant Carrie Grant doing the honours, so the Scandis may top the scoreboard for at least one minute. If we give any points to Portugal or Bosnia-Herzegovina, it will bode very well for both of them. The second vote is from FYR Macedonia, so we'll immediately have an idea of the relative chances of Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina too.
Please feel free to give your opinions below (if anyone's reading on a Saturday afternoon). I'll be back later.
We've gone over to the other side
"About time too!", I hear the readership cry, or at least those of you who read this on a mobile or a PDA. My technical support department has kindly switched the permanent column to the right, which means you no longer have to scroll through all the permanent rubbish each time to check for the new rubbish. Thank you Mike.
It's all about Ukraine
I was just saying to my friend PJ, who I visited in Kyiv last December, that I didn't really think I'd be going to Ukraine AGAIN, for a third time already, as soon as next year. However, I think it's a distinct possibility. Ani Lorak will probably win tonight's second semi-final hands down, and then it's all about the draw later tonight, where a decent middle draw could see her through as Saturday's winner.
The routine is so slick on TV. It turns out that Sacha and Bogdan, the two dancers that Ani brought with her to the London Scala party, who I chatted to in broken English, are the slickest here, along with the other two Ukrainians. They're faultlessly synchronised every time. It's a joy to watch.
I scored eight out of ten in my predictions on Tuesday, although Mr Mills scored a first ever ten out of ten. We've done this for five years and no one had ever topped nine. Off to do it again now for tonight, but the show is much better, there's more talent on display in every way, and it's much harder to guess. Enjoy the show.
Greetings from Sava Centar in Beograd (Belgrade). It's not a supermarket; it's a bloomin' great big sports hall which has been converted into the Eurovision media centre for a fortnight. Unusually, it's also 12-15 minutes walk from the Beogradska Arena, where the rehearsals have been for the last nine days and where Eurovision is actually taking place tonight, Thursday and Saturday on your telly boxes. I now realise that some people haven't been watching rehearsals in the arena at all, just on the TV screens here, which is slightly surreal, coming all this way and then sitting inside, watching TV, slightly removed from the reality of it all.
I only have a few minutes here before I have to go back into town to the Eurocafé, where the annual meeting of the Anglo-Irish great and the good will be taking place in order to have a pre-semi-final meal (if there's anything I can eat - it's not looking good so far) and partake in the now traditional Serviettes of Death prediction competition.
I haven't really considered a list of ten qualifiers yet, but I'll have a stab at it when we have the meal and report back tomorrow. I watched the first public rehearsal for tonight's show on the huge screens in here yesterday afternoon and the quality of many acts was pretty poor. If you're trying to convert anyone to Eurovision, don't tell them there's a semi-final tonight. They'll be none the wiser. Just get them watching on Thursday. UK viewers can't vote tonight anyway; Thursday is your chance. I'll be waving a small Irish flag on a stick tonight, not because I love Dustin the Turkey particularly, but because I would like to see them in the final and I am 37.5% Irish. And because it will annoy many people if it gets through (which is touch and go, to be honest, as it's a bit of a frantic three minutes with too much going on).
Because there is such a lot of shite in tonight's show, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Norway stick out like sore thumbs as beacons of quality. They are both performed brilliantly, if completely differently and should both sail through to the final, as will Russia and Romania. All great shows or great singing. The Netherlands now looks like a possibility too, and their white dancer wins my award for totty of the show so far, along with Vlad from Romania, of course.
In other news, it was extremely hot and humid here this morning, but it has rained earlier this afternoon and cleared the air, which is a blessed relief because it was getting a bit too clammy for my liking. On the plus side, it does feel very summery and there is consequently lots of totty on display. Rarely have I seen such a high proportion of lean but muscular, short-haired men on the streets of a nation's capital. I have yet to see any fat people at all. True. It makes me think we should bring back national service at home; I'm sure that has a lot to do with it.
Well done to Joe, who has won his second competition on here in a few days, and will now be overloaded with Eurovision tat (I have plenty already) by almost guessing my favourite five correctly. He only transposed 3rd and 5th, effectively giving him a score of -4. Thanks to Chris P (-6) and Stephen (-8) for having a go too.
My top five faves in Eurovision this year are:
1st Norway - 'Hold On, Be Strong' - Maria Haukaas Storeng
2nd Bosnia & Herzegovina - 'Pokusaj' - Laka
3rd Ukraine - 'Shady Lady' - Ani Lorak
4th Bulgaria - 'DJ, Take Me Away' - Deep Zone & Balthazar
5th Latvia - 'Wolves Of The Sea' - Pirates Of The Sea
Reviews will follow later this week, but you know where to look for videos: YouTube.
The Serviettes of Death await! Dovidenja!
Labels: Eurovision 2008
So there you have it, 38 of this year's songs, leaving just my favourite five to be revealed, after I get to Beograd tomorrow. (I'll probably reveal them on Tuesday afternoon, before the first semi-final.) This is where the competition comes in. The top 5 is settled. It's not exactly in a golden envelope, but it's in an Excel list along with all the others, which I am about to put onto a memory stick and take to Serbia with me.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to work out which five countries haven't appeared on my list yet, then put them in my order in the comments box below, from 1 (my favourite song) to 5 (my fifth favourite song). You're guessing what you think my favourites are. You're not predicting the results, and nor am I. Go for it! The prize will be some unwanted rubbish from my Eurovision pigeon-hole which is small enough to carry back.
And with that, it's bed, Birmingham airport at 6am, Zurich airport and then Belgrade, with two countries' parties to attend as soon as I get to the city centre tomorrow. It's going to be a hell of a long day. Expect news on here on Tuesday. Farewell, mes amis!
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 6th favourite song
Malta - 'Vodka' - Morena
It's not about vodka. 'Vodka' is a codeword, being used by spies. Got the concept? Good. They're not very good spies, given that their callsigns are 'Spy 1', 'Spy 4', etc. It's not Spooks, is it? Another great video though.
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 7th favourite song
Sweden - 'Hero' - Charlotte Perrelli
Following on from Iceland, both here and in the running order on Thursday, it's former winner Charlotte Catface Perrelli. You know what you're getting with this. It sounds exactly like what the Brits expect the Swedish Eurovision entry to sound like. It's slick, horribly dated and very powerful. Douze points from the UK, methinks, inthe semi-final at least. But can she overcome the slot of death, number 2, from which no song has ever qualified for the final?
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 8th favourite song
Iceland - 'This Is My Life' - Eurobandið
There are two other fabulous songs in the world called 'This is my life' and this doesn't quite match up to either Shirley Bassey or Eartha Kitt, but it's massively popular (with the usual suspects, it must be said). It's dated, the lyric is a bag of selections from the rhyming dictionary, but it's fun. Iceland has already received the kiss of death from the gays at London's Retro bar, where it won their overall vote, so expect it to sink without trace after providing a stunning opening to semi-final two.
This is the best video, bar none, that I've seen this year. It taps in perfectly to the YouTube generation. Watch it from the beginning to the very end!
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 9th favourite song
Turkey - 'Deli' - Mor ve Ötesi
One of this year's best videos, a proper group and a song which stands up in the real world, outside of the Eurovision context.
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 10th favourite song
Serbia - 'Oro' - Jelena Tomašević ft. Bora Dugić
Eurovision is Serbia's to lose this year, but lose it they may not. I have strong feeling we may be going to Belgrade again next year. If this wins, one of the hosts will have to get the other one to give him his prize, as he wrote it.
Serbia(n) in 1 day
We're back, briefly, so today's Serbian word describes how we're feeling after a friend's stag weekend in the Lake District:
pospan (adjective) = sleepy
Serbia(n) in 3 days
Today's Serbian word is brilliant! It refers to the wisdom of going on a stag weekend three days before going to Belgrade. No updates here tomorrow, but back on Sunday with the competition details. Lake District, here we come!
glup (adjective) = stupid
Thank you to Ivana for monitoring these words and pointing out an earlier mistake. I blame the lack of detail in my dictionary.
Eurovision pop quiz!
It's time for a quick quiz question before we reach the top ten of 2008's Eurovision fabulousness.
What's the connection between this UK number one hit from 1997 and this year's Eurovision?
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 11th favourite song
Switzerland - 'Era Stupendo' - Paolo Meneguzzi
This has been around for so long,it feels like an old friend. It was a hot favourite with the fans, but the first rehearsal this week was a little underwhelming, vocally and in terms of action on stage. However, I think Paolo looked tired and will be much better later. I think he was saving himself. Judge for yourself:
That said, they had previously produced this amazing video, which is full of energy and very TV-friendly, but it hasn't been transferred to the Beograd stage at all. He's very pretty though, and sounds adorable when he speaks (at the beginning of the one above).
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 12th favourite song
Armenia - 'Qele Qele' - Sirusho
Highly thought of by many, perhaps a little overrated. (Big with the gays.) I still have no idea what it means. Armenia have finished 8th in the final both times so far. This will probably do about the same.
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 13th favourite song
Azerbaijan - 'Day After Day' - Elnur & Samir
Welcome to Eurovision, Azerbaijan! They have grabbed their first opportunity with both hands and brought us a mini opera; a tale of the struggle for power between an angel and the devil, now with added exploding chair. People in Belgrade are saying it's a mess. Oh well.
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 14th favourite song
France - 'Divine' - Sébastien Tellier
It will be interesting to see on Saturday and Sunday how this is presented on stage. I do love it, out of a Eurovision context, but find it hard to predict how this will go down until we've seen it. The video's great though:
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 15th favourite song
Slovenia - 'Vrag naj vzame' - Rebeka Dremelj
I loved it to start with, but they've turned it into an S&M fantasy in Belgrade, only not in a good way. (She has two gimp men in a cage and on leads - is Europe ready?) People are saying it's a mess and her vocals can't cut it. A shame. Let's enjoy the video (and hunk within) instead.
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 16th favourite song
Russia - 'Believe' - Dima Bilan
Everything but the kitchen sink. International megastar. Overrated song. Possible winner.
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 17th favourite song
Romania - 'Pe-o margine de lume' - Nico & Vlad
But never mind the song, check out the talent! I had the pleasure of chatting to Vlad at the London Scala party, and made no jokes at all about impaling. Such restraint. He was utterly charming (as was she, Nico). See for yourself in the mini interview below. Swoon.
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 18th favourite song
Ireland - 'Irelande Douze Pointe' (sic) - Dustin The Turkey
I think I've said all that needs to be said already about this. It's a mess, but an amusing mess and I'm glad it's in the contest, if only for Dustin's press conferences and the fact that lots of prissy people are really snooty about this song being there. I have no time for people who have forgotten that the contest should include some fun.
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's next few favourite songs
Now then, my PC has decided to choose today, of all days, to go on a go-slow. It's making strange rumbling noises and frequently refusing to load webpages, as if the memory is full, which it isn't.
Therefore, I am going to take some shortcuts and just post the next batch of songs with minimal details, if any, to save all the time which has been lost today. I have packing to do, for a weekend away and then for Belgrade on Monday, but I will complete my list of this year's Eurovision songs up to the top five. These will not be revealed until (almost definitely) next Tuesday afternoon, when I will be in the Media Centre in the Sava Centar in Belgrade. (It's not a supermarket; that's the name of the building next to the Beogradksa Arena where the journalists and their beanbags are being housed.
The thinking behind this is
Congratulations to Terry George (above, left) and his partner Michael, whose Yorkshire castle has just won 'I Own Britain's Best Home' on five. It came as such a surprise. (Snigger.)
Serbia(n) in 4 days
Today's Serbian word is something that's here right now in Birmingham, which I'm hoping won't ruin the upcoming stag weekend in the Lake District or the week in Belgrade:
kiša (noun, feminine) = rain
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 19th favourite song
In 2003, Ukraine made their Eurovision début with a song called 'Hasta La Vista'. With a title like that, it was inevitable we'd be seeing it again, so my number 19 song this year is;
Belarus - 'Hasta La Vista' - Ruslan Alehno
It's possible that never before have both the song and the singer gone through such changes along the path from national final to Eurovision. In the Belarussian final, Ruslan Alehno was a cleancut '80s throwback with a naff haircut, singing a pop song:
Since then, he has been nicely roughed up and the song has been turned into a soft rock number. He definitely looks better, as we could see in the flesh at the Scala party last month. (See my photo above.) Opinion is divided over whether or not the song has improved. It's quite immediate and the staging wasn't over-complicated in yesterday's rehearsal (below), but why is he standing on sea urchins? I still prefer Ukraine's 'Hasta La Vista' anyway.
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 20th favourite song
For all I wrote about this before and despite the way it prevented La Casa Azul with one of my favourite songs of the year from winning in Spain, it's not as bad now as I thought it was.
Spain - 'Baila El Chiki Chiki' - Rodolfo Chikilicuatre
What was originally only 1m 40s long is now a whole minute longer and for all that people dismiss it as a load of nonsense, it's actually one of the wordiest songs in the contest. It's worth examining the lyric here and reading the multitude of footnotes to get all of the references. Some of it is quiet funny and topical, so I can see why Spain voted for it.
Of course, it's all in Spanish, but Alf Poier managed to come 6th in 2003 with a song in an Austrian dialect of German. If you can make people laugh, the language doesn't matter. Spain has also just had a TV contest to pick the extra backing dancers for this, so they're definitely milking it, despite Rodolfo belonging to a competitor TV channel, La Sexta, to the state channel TVE, which is actually entering Eurovision for Spain.
I think this will be the highest placed of the Big 4 countries, probably top 10. With the wind in the right direction, it could be top five.
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 21st favourite song
Greece - 'Secret Combination' - Kalomira
One of two acts this year to change the spelling of their name temporarily so that us foreigners can pronounce it. (She's normally spelt Kalomoira, which is still pronounced Kalomira in Greek, and she will be again.)
There's nothing wrong with this; it's fairly good Greek pop, but we've heard it all before, too many times in recent years. She's no Helena Paparizou, although I think the shaven-headed dancer in this performance from the Greek final is one of Helena's:
This should make the final easily, as it's performed last in the first semi-final. After that, it may make top ten, as this song usually does, but not much higher this time around.
I think the Greeks ran out of money before they even started making the promo, as this looks like it cost about fifty quid:
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 22nd favourite song
Hungary - 'Candlelight' - Csézy
A review of today's rehearsal for this by Nick of the OnEurope team had me laughing out loud earlier today. I will have to reproduce his words here:
Meanwhile, in a bid to win this year's Most Unpredictable Staging award, the stage backdrop for Hungary's song, Candlelight, is awash with - and stop me if you're ahead of me here - but it's absolutely awash with thousands, literally hundreds, of small otters.
If you're not reading them, you're missing out. And here's the proof of what Nick says, from today's rehearsal:
I've been ignoring this song for weeks, but it's quite nice really. 'Cheesy', as they're calling her in Beograd, performs the socks off it, so it may well make the final.
It has a classy promo video too, even if it does look alarmingly like a car commercial by the end:
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 23rd favourite song
Moldova - 'A Century Of Love' - Geta Burlacu
We've had a millennium of love at Eurovision before, so this is the 90% off version. It's lovely to hear some summery jazz in the contest, but I'm just not convinced by the performance of this, or the lack of a memorable hook. Bravo to Moldova though - they throw us something completely different every year; indie pop with drumming Grandma, shite rap with boyband member, feisty femme rock and now moody jazz.
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 24th favourite song
Andorra - 'Casanova' - Gisela
The obligatory jolly-Europop-HiNrg-disco-by-a-woman is provided by Andorra this year, roping in Gisela from Spain's Operacion Triunfo. We've heard it a million times before. Not bad, but nothing new. The poor woman has to follow Dustin the Turkey onto the stage as well. Sadly, for the fifth year out of five, not qualifying. Will we ever see Andorra in the final?
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 25th favourite song
Finland - 'Missä miehet ratsastaa' - Teräsbetoni
We've reached my top 25, so in theory we should be seeing the finalists, as there are 25 of them. However, this Finnish entry probably won't make it to the final and the UK and German songs are already below, but have their guaranteed slots of doom in the final anyway, so I'd take no notice if I were you.
This could hardly be more different from the syrupy Belgian slop below. The Finns go for the rock option for the third year in a row, if we include Hanna last year as 'poppy Goth rock'. This ain't no Lordi pantomime though. This is the real deal, played straight, sounding just like Saxon used to in the early 1980s. More power to their elbow, I say. They will apparently be performing shirtless. Sadly, I am saving myself for the Ukrainian dancers and the Romanian singer, but thanks anyway lads.
Here's the promo. It starts as an epic, but then the money ran out.
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 26th favourite song
Belgium - 'O Julissi' - Ishtar
Now this might surprise a few people, given that it's one of the songs that some people think might win, but I've had enough of it. The first time I saw this in the Belgian heats, I thought it was sweet and interesting, because it's in a made-up language (but may possibly be about crocodiles).
The second time, its tweeness began to grate. By the third time, I was sick of it. The singer also looks very nervous whenever she performs, on TV in Belgium and in the rehearsal on Sunday.
The Belgians tried this made-up language trick before, with Urban Trad's 'Sanomi' in 2003. They took everyone by surprise and came second, pushing t.A.T.u into third place. As people will only have to hear this twice, I'm not going to say it won't happen again, but if you keep eating sugar, you will eventually be sick.
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 27th favourite song
The Czech Republic made their glorious entry into Eurovision only last year, a mere fourteen years after their divorced partners Slovakia made theirs - and nine years after Slovakia gave up. (There must have been something about Birmingham that they didn't like in 1998. I hope it wasn't me, as I did have a chat with the disappointed Katarina Hasprová, moments after her heroic 21st out of 25 had been achieved.)
Unfortunately, only a few hundred people in Estonia noticed the Czechs last year, giving grizzly rockers Kabát their only point and leaving them 28th and bottom of the 2007 qualifier.
So, a complete change of tack from the Czechs this year, with a bright, poppy song. At least it was to start with, but somewhere between Prague and Belgrade, the song has had all the life and energy kicked out of it. The amusing video was the first clue. It's notable only for the William Higgins twinks who have popped into Teresa's café as a break from filming porn in nearby Bratislava, the spooling backwards bit (which has gone now anyway) and the alarming lack of health and safety regulations. A dog! In a café!
Czech Republic - 'Have Some Fun' - Tereza Kerndlová
Sadly, there was then a rehearsal yesterday. This is not going to the final.
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 28th favourite song
I think it's fair to say we've passed all the songs which anyone might describe as 'awful' in this year's contest. No, scrap that, it's completely contentious. I have lifted Spain, Finland and Azerbaijan above that threshold, but there will be detractors. I'm only representing myself here. All the rest of you are wrong. Please remember that. [Smiley face.]
This Albanian song is another one (as every year) which, to 8 million UK viewers (except those Albanians amongst us) will sound like three minutes of silence, followed by an invisible reprise. You might as well pencil in the zero on the scoreboard now under 'UK'. (We get to vote in the second semi-final, in which this appears. Well, I say 'we'. I mean you. I'll be in Belgrade.) We just don't get this type of song. After years of exposure, I come to this with a more open mind, but I still wasn't massively impressed when this was revealed as the winner back in December. Yes, December! I thought this performance was a big weak and shaky.
Albania - 'Zemrën e lamë peng' - Olta Boka
However, this has risen slightly in my list due to this video, which has beefed up and improved the song greatly. It's still my #28 though.
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 29th favourite song
Firstly, let's welcome 'plucky little San Marino' (as Wogan will probably not get the chance to say, when they don't appear in the final). Their début entry is one of three songs in Italian this year - and still no Italy! (Romania and Switzerland - I read your mind.)
I'd love to like this. They're a proper band. Some of them at least are from the tiny country. It's bringing the variety we need to Eurovision. Alas, the song is dreary. It starts, it drones on for three minutes at the same tempo, it ends. A shame. I've heard some of their other stuff and it's no better. Some people have compared them to Placebo, which is an insult to one of my favourite bands.
San Marino - 'Complice' - MioDio
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 30th favourite song
Just when you thought we'd forgotten, it's back! Our count-up of this year's 43 songs in order of quality, from worst to best, according to me. Don't worry, it was always part of the plan to have a break. There was rather a lot of real life to fit in last week, but now I've finished work for a fortnight, with only a stag weekend and some flights to Zurich and Belgrade to get in the way.
So, number 30. There are no countries I'd like to win Eurovision more than Portugal and Iceland, simply because, like Finland, they've been plugging away at it for years and everyone deserves their turn. More of Iceland much further up, but some people think this is Portugal's best chance in years of doing well. She hasn't rehearsed yet - she'll be the last one to do so very soon, but chances are good, mainly because they were unlucky 11th in last year's qualifier, this song is much better and they're on last in semi-final 2. Despite all that, I just don't get it, and I think she looks as frightening as the Lithuanian man, so it languishes at #30 in my count-up. There's also the uncomfortable truth that it's in Portuguese, which is never going to endear itself to the lugholes of the wider audience until Brazil enters the contest. Sorry, but it's true.
One thing's for sure though...
[A hushed silence falls, in anticipation of a much-rehearsed, truly appalling joke.]
In the second semi-final, the show really won't be over until the fat lady sings.
[Chig hangs head in shame. Exeunt.]
Portugal - 'Senhora do mar' (
Serbia(n) in 5 days
Today's Serbian word perfectly describes what I am getting from OnEurope and All Kinds Of Everything's blogs from Eurovision at the Beogradska Arena. Several laugh out loud moments have occurred already. Quality stuff, spoilt only by my frequent comments.
zabava (noun, feminine) = amusement, entertainment, fun
That's Not My Name*
The most amusing thing happened to me yesterday. I'm going on a stag weekend, this Friday to Sunday. (Yes, then flying to Zurich and Belgrade at 8am on Monday. It could all end in tears, or broken limbs, or vomiting. I know.)
Now I've known the marrying couple for about six years, I think. But yesterday I had a call from the groom, to ask one very simple question.
He wanted to know my real name! (For the organisers of one of the activities we're doing.)
Some people have only ever known me as Chig, and as he is also one of the few people I know who has resisted the facebook revolution, my real name has never been an issue. How very modern.
* And the fantastic single of that name, by the Ting Tings, is currently Number One after yesterday's sales, holding off Madonna and JT. Hurrah!
Serbia(n) in 6 days
Today's Serbian word may come in handy in Belgrade. I think I had a mild case of it last week, after two days in the sun:
sunčanica (noun, feminine) = sunstroke
Dustin ruffles feathers in Belgrade
In one of the best Eurovision press conferences since Alf Poier, Dustin, earlier today, discusses Wogan, Andy Abraham and, er, cock. My Eurochums Richard, Robin and Keith get to pose the questions, with Keith asking about the thing that's on everyone's mind. Excellent question Keith!
Serbia(n) in 7 days
Today's Serbian word is a reaction to yesterday's general election results in Serbia, where the nationalists were soundly defeated. There was also no trouble in central Belgrade to disturb our Eurovision chums.
reljef (noun, masculine) = relief
And they're off!
Eurovision 2008 is underway. Rehearsals started in the Beogradska Arena at about 09:30 this morning, many of my friends are already there and the videos of rehearsals are already appearing on esctoday via YouTube. Oh, the excitement!
But first, we have the small matter of the end of the Premier League season, as I hope that Villa win and Everton lose, so that we claim that last place in Europe for next season. I'm off to lie down and hope my hangover goes away while I listen to Five Live.
Serbia(n) in 8 days
Today's Serbian word describes what is starting in the Beogradska Arena this morning, as Eurovision gets going:
proba (noun, feminine) = rehearsal
Serbia(n) in 9 days
Today's Serbian word describes when Eurovision rehearsals get started:
sutra (adverb) = tomorrow
Foxy Flying High
The lovely James Fox is about to remove himself quite spectacularly from the 'failed to have a UK hit after Eurovision' list of UK contenders. None of the last eight UK entrants have ever charted again under their own name after doing Eurovision. The last act to have a post-Eurovision hit was Precious (1999), who managed three.
Compare this with the ten year period 1967-1976, where all nine UK Eurovision entrants (because Cliff Richard did it twice) had UK hits afterwards. Between one hit for Clodagh Rogers and Cliff's 85+, they have an average of over 17 post-Eurovision hits each. It really is clear that doing Eurovision is the modern kiss of death to any chart career, but it wasn't in 'the olden days'.
Bluebirds Flying High, James Fox's song (above) with the Cardiff City FA Cup Squad, is in the top 15 in the unofficial midweek charts. (It's also considerably better than most other FA Cup squads' songs since the beginning of time.) James may therefore eclipse his own hit, as Hold On To Our Love made #13 (and not #12, which it said on Wikipedia until I corrected it a few minutes ago, proving that Wikipedia can NEVER be trusted).
Serbia(n) in 10 days
Today's Serbian word is in recognition of Eurovision in Birmingham, ten years ago today:
godišnjica (noun, feminine) = anniversary
10 years ago today
Happy Europe Day! Which can only mean one thing...
It is, incredibly, ten years ago today that Dana International won Eurovision, two months after I had interviewed her for a double page article in Gay Times. Even better, she won it on a gloriously sunny day, just down the road from my house and we were on the front row of the balcony watching it all happen before our very eyes.
It was my first Eurovision and a very, very special day.
As if it wasn't exciting enough anyway, Israel only won on the last vote of the last country. Let's relive the tense final moments of the voting. What you have to remember at this point is that FYR Macedonia were brand new to this game, voting last in their début contest. We didn't realise then what we know now. Of course they were going to give 12 to Croatia. At the time though, we thought Dana International hadn't won, because we thought FYR Macedonia's douze points were going to Malta. When the 12 went to Israel, I was screaming and jumping up and down on the balcony like a mad thing. Happy days.
Serbia(n) in 11 days
Serbia(n) in 12 days
Today's Serbian word is a special request from Adrian, who thinks it may come in useful when talking to Laka from Bosnia-Herzegovina at Eurovision and asking where his has gone:
petlić (noun, masculine) = cock*
* As in 'cockerel'.
Serbia(n) in 13 days
Today's Serbian word (he says, carrying on as if we haven't lost three days/words in a hazy cloud in Amsterdam) can only be...
rođendan (noun, masculine) = birthday
42: The Ultimate Answer
But not the ultimate version. If anyone can find a short clip of the TV version of this scene from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, please let me know.
21 again! 21 again!
Chig has reached the ultimate answer to the ultimate question; the answer to life, the universe and everything. Double 21st birthday! Happy birthday to my friends Jason and Jacko, and 'Vse najboljše!' to Anze in Slovenia.
Now, I've known for a few years that I share my birthday with Tony Blair, but a more recent discovery is that I also share it with top Belarussian (and American based) fitness model Anton Antipov. So, happy 25th birthday, not only to Jason and Anze, but also to Mr Antipov - all born on 6 May 1983! I think you'll agree that Anton is far more pleasing to the eye than Tony Blair (or me) in a pair of pants (although Jason, it has to be said, looks pretty good too!)
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 31st favourite song
The Netherlands - 'Your Heart Belongs To Me' - Hind
By an astonishing coincidence that almost beggars belief, on the day that I fly to Amsterdam for the weekend, we reach the Dutch song. Amazing. It's almost as if this sudden flurry of songs in the last 24 hours has been designed solely to get to this point. Ahem.
In theory, I should be loving a pop song like this with Middle Eastern influences, but it just doesn't grab me. It's more Holly Pillowcase than Holly Valance. The song doesn't really add up to the sum of its parts and has made very little impression on me. It comes and goes and feels to me like one of this year's fillers.
The singer's name is not 'Hind, rhymes with lined'; it's 'Hind, rhymes with binned'. And I think she will be, as she's going to seem like a pale imitation of the Armenian song before her and she'll be followed by the Finnish metallers, who will blow all memories of this Dutch song into dust within seconds.
And with that, we're off for a friend's 40th birthday weekend of debauchery, liver damage and museums in Amsterdam. Back late on Monday. Have a great Bank Holiday weekend (if you're in a country that's having one).
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 32nd favourite song
Oh dear, have we reached it already? Yes, I'm afraid it's time for a bit of British stiff upper lip as we graciously accept the sad fact that the next favourite song in our count-up is our own.
United Kingdom - 'Even If' - Andy Abraham
Let's remind ourselves of Andy Abraham's performance in Eurovision - Your Decision.
Since then, they've improved the intro and made the whole song a bit funkier. It's a pleasant enough song, sung by a really nice guy with a voice in which I have complete confidence. He will no doubt give a cracking performance, in the slot of doom, song two.
However, here's the crux of the matter. No one can remember the song. It just doesn't stay in your mind after hearing it and took many, many hearings before I could remember the tune. In Eurovision terms, this is a looming disaster. It's not so-called 'political' voting. It's not the war in Iraq. We're presenting an unmemorable song, without the advantage of anyone hearing it before in a semi-final, due to our suicidal insistence on having an automatic place in the final, and no one can remember the song. Doomed, doomed, doomed.
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 33rd favourite song
FYR Macedonia - 'Let Me Love You' - Tamara, Vrcak & Adrijan
When this won the national final in FYR Macedonia, I was at Glitterball Mansions, so we weren't allowed to hear more than a few seconds of it, as it includes rap, which isn't allowed there. However, I saw enough to think it was a shambolic mess of wailing, rapping and poor lighting. Judge for yourself.
However, there are two reasons that this hasn't appeared further down my list. The first is that the bloke in the hat looks like he might be quite hot, which makes it bearable to watch. The second is that they have tidied up their act, changed the lyric to English for Eurovision and produced a slick, MTV-friendly video (with some men-with-shirts-off moments). What an improvement! I still have the feeling that we get this kind of rhythm from FYR Macedonia every year though.
This lot managed a lucky draw, so they'll perform 18th of nineteen in the second semi-final. However, as the country widely perceived to have benefited most from ex-Yugo voting (making the final from the qualifier every year, then crashing and burning in the final), it will be interesting to see if the EBU's cunning ploy of putting half their neighbours in the other semi-final, now unable to vote for them, will kill off their chances.
Serbia(n) in 17 days
Today's Serbian word is something I'm starting early and finishing late (on my birthday on Tuesday):
vikend (noun, masculine) = weekend
Methinks the BBC has employed a pervert in the graphics department, or they are trying very hard to 'sex up' their election results coverage tonight.
As a seasoned election watcher, I'm pretty sure that the ongoing, on screen tally of councils won used to say CON, LAB, LD and NOC, for No Overall Control.
Tonight, the NOC has gone, to be replaced with the word 'Hung'. This will lead to some very amusing screencaps, as the word 'Hung' gets plastered over the head shots (sic) of every politician on the panel. So far, I've seen a Hung Charles Kennedy, a Hung George Osborne and, bizarrely, a Hung Tessa Jowell.
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 34th favourite song
Germany - 'Disappear' - No Angels
Dullsville Deutschland. No Angels somehow managed to beat one of the best songs in this year's national finals, by Carolin Fortenbacher, so I really, really don't like them anyway. Even so, this is very forgettable and they won, by less than 1% of the vote, because they were once famous and have reformed. However, No Angels ain't no Spice Girls. Hell, they ain't no B*witched! This will struggle to make 20th in the final, especially as no one will have heard it in a semi-final.
Just to rub it in, here's Fortenbacher's powerful ballad, which could well have made the top ten in Beograd. (She's also recorded a great version in English.) A power ballad, a wind machine and a key change. What more could we need?
Fortenbacher - 'Hinterm Ozean' - 2nd in German final
Eurovision 2008 - Chig's 35th favourite song
Denmark - 'All Night Long' - Simon Mathew
"All night long
All night long
Celebrate good times - come on
All night long"
Yes, it's that boring. In fact, this plodding song is so dull that I really can't think of anything to say about it, except that coming after the in-yer-face techno wizardry of Bulgaria in the second semi-final, this is going to seem even more dull as the dust settles. Next!