Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Only 7 months to go!

So the Eurovision Song Contest is an agonising 7 months away. I know I'm not the only one saddened by this damming statistic. Still, there's reason for optimism!

We have some returnees! Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia and Cyprus. Eurofanatics will be extremely excited by this news, I certainly am. It's good to see the former Yugoslav bloc coming back together, simply because the Bosnians and Serbians have given us some absolute treasures in the past so we will all keep our fingers crossed for more gems next year. The last time Serbia "returned" to the contest was 2007, and there is absolute no denial that Molitva was a defining Eurovision winner for Serbia. An absolute smasher of a ballad, sung in the national language, by a member of the LGBT community. More Molitva please.

And as for Cyprus! Well what a relief for Greece, douze points again! How the Cypriots are Eurovision this year is remarkable, but then we can say that for most countries, most notably the Greeks who despite all their financial hardship, give us something to remember each year. When Cyprus do it right, they do it good. I'm still singing La La La La La La La La La Love.

So what about the withdrawals?

Well it's time for sorrow everyone. Let's take a minute's silence, just as we did for Slovenia in 2009, for the withdrawal of Ukraine. Ukraine! They have one of the best records in Eurovision and I love so many of their entrants. I'm so gutted that we know we're not going to see a Verka revival or Zlata nonsensical tune that I hope Moldova step in and really bring a wonderfully bonkers song as good neighbours. I'm also hoping that because if any avid readers of my blog already know, I love Moldova and have a soft spot for them every year. Chisinau 2016. Let's keep our fingers crossed!

Other than that, it's all good. Russia still lurk, Georgia escaped a ban, Sweden are already exciting us for MF, and Austria have to bring it as hosts. That could be interesting. 38 countries have confirmed, which is brilliant news, and in less than a month, FYR Macedonia will already have revealed their representative. No excuses this year, Macedonia have to do well because they have 6 months to promote their candidate. Maybe they've planned so far in advance so they can teach their representative to sing, a quality often lacking. Sorry to be so crude.

Any hope for the United Kingdom this year then? Well, before we get pessimistic and start talking about how we have no hope and need to withdraw, let's remember what a fantastic artist Molly is and what an incredible platform it gave her! Hopefully we will hear more from her soon, cos let's face it, we all know it'll be great. So saying all of that gives me optimism! The glass is half full guys. Are we going to win? Hell no. We've got a greater chance of not qualifying than winning, and considering we have automatic qualification, that should put our chances in perspective. I'm optimistic because the BBC are using the same internal selection again. A credible artist will be chosen, and along it we will discover another one of our many hidden talents, and with that comes respect. If we continue along this successful path, countries will sit up and listen. And eventually it will pay off. So what if it takes us a couple of years to reach the top 5 again? So what if it takes us 10 years to even be within a shout of winning it? Only Russia, Sweden, and Azerbaijan should be disappointed with a placing outside the top 5, and when 38 countries take part, winning is hard and not regular. So UK readers, shut up and enjoy the fact that the BBC are taking it serious for once! "It's not about the winning..."

So after a quick update of the 2015 season, I'll leave you with the new motto:


And we shall build bridges Vienna, we shall.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Russia's Hypocrisy?

Dear readers,

I urge to remind you first and foremost that the Eurovision Song Contest is supposed to be about the songs. A country will choose an artist which best represents their country and culture, and is supposed to disregard the politics and bring Europe TOGETHER.

That being said... we all know the current storm surrounding Conchita Wurst's emphatic victory. In the wise words of Carl Epsen, there is a silent storm in Russia and other former Soviets. Whether they appreciated the song or not, Russians televoted Austria into 3rd place. The juries also marked them 11th. There is obviously anger and disproval over the LGBT laws introduced in Russia last year. I made comments on that at the start of the Eurovision season, but in case you missed that, Russian law now bans "homosexual" propaganda to minors. Because of the law, it would have been considered illegal activity to show Conchita Wurst on television. However, the EBU has hard lines when it comes to not showing all the performances. Remember back in 2005? Lebanon were going to enter, but because their laws state you must not recognise Israel as a country, the Lebanese broadcasters were not going to show the Israeli entry. That would have broken the rules and Lebanon would have faced fines, bans and other disciplinary procedures. So in that case, Russia had no choice. They had to show Conchita on television.

(there were other former states kicking off too - Belarus, considered to be the only dictatorship still operative in Europe, also were very unhappy about Conchita).

BUT as many people are pointing out, Ukraine sent Verka Seduchka in 2007, and Russia sent their very own t.A.T.u in 2003. You could even point out Marija Serifovic in 2007, who represented Serbia. Now for any Eurovisionphobes reading (of which I doubt there are), Verka Seduchka provided the contest with one of the most memorable performances of all time. The act is a drag queen, and Verka is a character, no more. Performing in blinding silver sequins, many will remember Dancing Lasha Tumbai as one of their favourite ever Eurovision entrants. I certainly do. Yet this was deemed ok? Hmmm....

t.A.T.u - remembered by many for their infamous homosexual music video to European smash hit "All The Things She Said", as well as to Eurofans alike for their disrespectful behaviour during the 2003 season. The girls are in fact not lesbians themselves, however have stated that they represented and stood for lesbians. Yet, Russia chose to send them as an artist. Can we really look back 11 years to criticise Russia for their actions following Conchita's win?

I'll also quickly mention the many, many, many LGBT acts that have participated in Eurovision throughout the years. Serbia's Marija won with Molitva in 2007...who can forget DQ representing Denmark also in '07...Ryan Dolan of Ireland in 2013...Harel Skaat of Israel in 2010...way back in 1998, when transgender Dana International stole the show for Israel...the list could go on! The point is, why NOW Russia? There has been anti-gay movements in Russia for a number of years, and there was controversy in 2009 when they hosted. But why after all this time do they kick off?

There are several answers. First of all, it is what Conchita represents. I argued it before the contest and I'll say it again: Conchita Wurst is a different type of drag queen. Whereas others such as Verka were comedy characters, Conchita is not just a character. She identifies her gender as a women, but her sex is still male. If you have a problem with that statement then re-assess yourself. Gender and sex are different, end of. Sex is biological, Gender is social. Disagree with me all you like, but I will stick by that truth. However, Conchita also has a sexuality - her image and performance have a raw sexual energy and it is this why Russia are not happy. This makes the performance more human, less fictional. This makes Conchita's choice seem like an acceptable choice to make; we can be who we want to be.

Secondly, we do have to consider currently political philosophies, tensions and analyse the situation. By voting in the masses for Conchita to win, it is a way of accepting the choices made and endorses a respect. The anti-gay laws made in Russia demonstrate the institutional position of homosexuality, and it can easily be argued that they are backwards laws and "hate" laws. But let's just say Putin isn't a fan. Now, is it hypocrisy to argue that sending t.A.T.u is ok and then rejecting Conchita is right? I will argue there is a certain level of hypocritical thought, but predominantly, there isn't. I made the point earlier that a country is suppose to select a participant based on their culture and national identity. Well t.A.T.u took Europe by storm in 2003 and so they were best placed to represent Russian culture at the time of the 2003 contest. It is so easy to look back with hindsight and judge people, but we live in the present. I'm in no way defending Russian thinking that Conchita is bad and demoralising, but the argument that they are hypocritical isn't strong enough in my opinion. 11 years makes a difference in thinking and culture. If we get into a storm about hypocrisy, then I think it's more a factor that Russia sent a song about putting down your guns and peace in 2013, and then annexed Crimea less than a year later. Of course Russia are going to kick off about Conchita Wurst; it effectively defies the legislation made last year about homosexual propaganda. Speculating that Russia wouldn't be annoyed is like saying you wouldn't be annoyed if you went on a diet and then remembered you paid for a non-refundable tour of the chocolate factory.

Lastly, I bring you to what Eurovison actually is. I want to talk about the Russian proposal to withdraw. In theory, Eurovision is this wonderful show of culture and identity where Europe comes together to battle for a glass trophy and a chance to show off their country. In reality, Eurovision is a chance to make money. People are calling for the UK to quit Eurovision: "we always lose, why do we bother?" is a nonsensical argument because you are thinking that the BBC's prime objective is to win. NO! The BBC's prime objective, no matter what the show is, is to win television ratings and earn money. Do you think they'd still commission shows like Doctor Who if nobody watched it? No, obviously not. The same applies with Eurovision: it is theeee cheapest way of dominating Saturday Night television in the UK. The second objective of the BBC is to win, but only because this will bring more attention and more viewers, equalling more money. Some countries struggle financially to enter the competition, with difficulty in finding sponsorship and so forth. The prime illustration of this is Serbia not qualifying in 2013 resulting in a lack of funding for 2014 participation. The point being made here is that no matter what county, Eurovision is an economic and business platform, with the sole prize making money. You may not like to hear that, but if you truly and realistically assess Eurovision then you know what I'm saying to be true. Another example is Australia - do you really think SBS would air the show if only 1,000 people watched it? Of course they bloody wouldn't. Australians like Eurovision so SBS show it. It's as simple as that: Eurovision is there to make money. And so all these ridiculous calls for Russia to withdraw are just silly. The only way Russia will withdraw is if their is a competition such as Voice of Eurasia would make MORE money than Eurovision. It's hard to say if it will, but it won't. Not in this day and age, especially after Russian people loved Conchita.

I can already hear the opposing argument in one word; Turkvizyon. What is important to remember in this incidence is that the withdrawal move was not political. It was over the fact that Turkey doesn't like the rules of the contest. Now Turkvizyon is an interesting one because it can be argued that surely entering Eurovision would be financially better than creating Turkvizyon; it's got more to do with culture than money perhaps. BUT, I disagree. It's to do with culture, but only in the interest of making money. Turkvizyon is a regional thing promoting Turkish music and Turkish culture. It was designed to grow interest in Turkey as a country, boosting their position and increasing tourism. Turkey constantly did well and yet the only chance they got to show themselves off was in 2004. The reason this is different from the idea of "Voice of Eurasia" is that, that competition will be about political discourse and ideology rather than a promotion of Russian culture. I have a feeling I may not have won you over with this argument, but the way I see it is that Russia want a different contest so far unproposed of financially benefitting the region. Turkey on the other hand created a different contest which does financially benefit the region. Perhaps if the angry Russians supposed a contest which will glamour the former Soviets then I can see the idea start to become more of a reality. However at this moment in time, do not expect Russia to withdraw. They will continue to make silly comments about their displeasure in the result, but it will be nothing more than this.

And with one more analogy, I leave with the title of your number 2; "Calm After The Storm". Remember the Eurovision storm isn't over yet; although in previous years its fizzled out, more people are talking about 2014 because of the controversy. Wait for the storm to die down and then look at Eurovision calmly. The calm after the storm will result in nothing more than Russia withdrawing for a year at most. Don't expect Ukraine to go, the Baltics won't, Moldova won't, and I'm going to predict that the worst will be Russia, Belarus and Azerbaijan withdrawing. But the Azeri's will come back next year with a trooper of a ballad, more controversy and a top 5 finish. Belarus are getting Alexander Rybak on board. If they had any chance of winning then they won't leave. Russia will stand alone if they withdraw - but I reckon they won't, because the storm is yet to blow over.

Ooh quick mention to the other gossip - Georgia might get disqualified. Well after talking so much about Turkvizyon, I think it can safely be said that if Georgia do get banned for a year, or even 3 years, then they won't come back. Is that good or is that bad? Well if those sneaky juries get banned then surely that's good, but I don't want participation to decline any more! And plus, let the juries be sneaky if the Georgian televote assured the UK of points. Molly deserved more this year so I'll be selfish and argue that I don't want them to go if they liked her song (WHICH IS AMAZING).

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Barbara Dex...

This is always one of my favourite Eurovision awards. I think we can all be quite disappointed with the lack of fashion faux pas this year. However, for me there was always going to be one winner...the futuristic Celine Dion...donned by Lithuania's Vilija Mat-something. (Apologies Lithuanians, but it is a long surname!)

Here's the address: http://www.eurovisionhouse.nl/bdaward2.php

Don't you think there's a resemblance?

Celine Dion in 1988...

Vilija in 2014....

It's a real shame the vocals can't be compared.

What can we learn from Conchita?

Well it's time to procrastinate once again. You know the Eurovision season stops and I go back into hibernation. Not this year, this year seems bigger, there seems to be more interest and if you're not playing QuizUp then download and we can all start quizzing each other on their new topic of questions: Eurovision (duh?).

So today's blogpost looks at what we can learn from Conchita. Well I say Conchita, I really mean the 2014 season. And I apologise for any readers from outside the UK, as I may predominantly focus on that disappointing 17th place.


To begin with, 2014 was a good year. In fact, it was a very good year. Like a lot of other fans, I was originally disappointed when I heard all the songs from this year. Then I grew to love Children of the Universe, Freaky Fortune are my new favourite Euroboyband (I guess I could call them that?), Firelight and The Common Linnets have re-excited my love for country music, and dubstep seems to be oozing into the far corners of Europe.
But where was 'Euphoria'? Fairytale? Only Teardrops? Satellite? The recent years have thrown up some true greats, and even when we couldn't decide the winner of the 2011 edition, it is undeniably one of my favourite years as I LOVE so many songs that year. This year we had no clear cut winner, no runaway favourite. Every fan site indicated different answers, you'd go to ESC Stats where they'd be bigging up Sweden...ESC Nation fans voted in their thousands for the UK...the bookmakers were so keen on Armenia taking the victory...WiWiBloggs really buggered it up, rating and voting Ireland so highly...even on this blog (where you can still vote for your favourite, I should definitely remove that poll!) Hungary were the hot favourite. Everywhere you looked though, noone was denying that Conchita was going to do well, even with most predicting a conservative backlash about our famous bearded lady. But that was also the case for Israel, and looked what happened to poor old Mei Finegold. What I'm saying is Sweden and Denmark were so obviously going to win in 2012 and 2013, everyone knew Germany probably had it in the bag in 2010, Norway looked a cert to win in 2009 and when the draw was released, Azerbaijan rocketed to the top of the odds in 2011. This year was different on every level, sure Austria climbed after that magnificent semi final performance, but they weren't the hot favourites even with a couple of hours to go. And they had 11th in the draw. Basically, this year collected all the recent stats since the 2009 rule change and threw them out the window. Are we entering a new era for Eurovision?

(by the way I left out the OGAE poll for a number of reasons; in summary, don't read anything into that bloody poll!)

Onwards and upwards then, what can we expect in 2015?
Well for a start, I'm sure Austria will put on a lavish show for ESC numero 60. It's gonna be special. Jon Ola Sand promised. What about the songs though? Sweden have got quite a reputation to uphold, with 3rd in 2011, 1st in 2012, let's not mention 2013, and 3rd this year. Without doubt Melodifestivalen has turned up a notch since that non-qualification incident in 2010 and so naturally, the Swedes will produce someone popular once more. Fingers crossed Danny Saucedo finally gets his chance! What is going to happen with Azerbaijan? Dilara is probably fuming, and the country probably doesn't like her, or Malta for that matter (no douze points from their "famous" neighbours?). Will Azerbaijan come back stronger and louder? Yes. I predict something resonant of 2009. Other powerhouses Russia and Ukraine can sit comfortably, and we'll probably get something out of them neither terrible nor amazing next year. Greece will give us more whacky selections too, looking at 20th as a blip rather than a trend.
Recent favourites Italy also scored their worst ever performance at a Eurovision. After only coming back in 2011, is this going to be instrumental? Viewing figures still haven't set the world alight, and they are not going to do anything for interest next year. I expect they'll return without caring about this result, and they'll be back to that top 10 next year.
I move on to the rest of the former Soviet bloc now. Belarus look like they are on the up with 2013 and 2014 results. Alexander Rybak has shown interest in selecting Belarus' participant in 2015 and so could we be heading to Minsk? Proven winner... (although that has meant nothing recently, Niamh Kivanagh, Charlotte Perelli, Dana International etc...). Then we have the Baltic states. Well Latvia haven't upped their games, so I think we can expect another non-qualifier from them. Lithuania won't send anything popular and so people will question whether they will qualify...and then they bloody will...and as for Estonia, well, we will probably get a dull ballad next year. Not that Ott and Brigit were dull, but c'mon, more ballads? Oh and I almost forgot Moldova. I am optimistic that Pasha will make a triumphant return. CHISINAU 2015 BITCHES.
Let's move on to the former Yugoslav bloc. Anyone predicting returns from Serbia, Bosnia & H, Croatia, and so on? Well Montenegro will definitely be back with a boring ballad, hoping that is the recipe for success now. I hope the others return, but it really is up in the air. The last time Serbia took a break was after the dissolution of Serbia and Montenegro...they returned with Molitva. If Serbia do return, I reckon there will be Zelijko intervention of some sort. Could we be going back to Belgrade?
I'll stay near the area and mention the other Southern states. Israel? Well I'd give a year off if I were them, but we'll see. Probably won't qualify though. Albania? More of the same no doubt. Bulgaria? Unless you've got Elista & Stoyan, give it another year. Romania? Could be interesting, Paula & Ovi were supposed to do better. Georgia? More bizzare internal selections. Armenia? Back to basics I reckon. More Sirusho, less Lonely Planets and MP3s hopefully. And then there is TURKEY. Well we all know why they quit in the first place, and things will have to change for them to return. I'm doubtful a bearded lady from Austria will inspire their comeback.
Well I'm moving quite quickly through...there's the middle of Europe to think about. Hungary seemed to have enjoy success the last two years, they'll probably stick to the same and produce qualifiers. Poland might just be that country with the Eurovision gems for the next few years. Moldova and Montenegro have treated us with some rare and unusual songs recently, maybe Poland will continue to bring the butter churners? Czech Republic and Slovakia may look at recent results and consider coming back. If Austria can lift the crown, then they can definitely qualify with the right approach. A bearded lady from a neighbouring country may just set alight enough interest. Oh and let's hope Liechtenstein finally get the funding to make their debut. They could be the new San Marino...keep trying and you'll make it. Valentina once said that this will be her last Eurovision whether she qualifies or not. I think San Marino might be represented by someone else next year. And I have a feeling they are going to be really good. Instinctual, don't ask why. Oooh I suppose Switzerland count as the middle. Well, I expect no change from them, it'll be middle of the road, and will either qualify or won't.
Moving on to the west now...and well, not considering the big 5, what on earth is happening? The Netherlands look on course to become the new Eurovision powerhouse with fantastic entries in the last 2 years...Belgium may be taking a leaf out of their book. Malta have been enjoying much success over the last couple, they'll give us something similar to Kurt and Gianluca next year. Unless Chiara comes back again, which no fan should ever rule out. Portugal might take another year out, it's hard to say. In my opinion, they should look to Brazil and should have played off the World Cup this year. That's easy to say with hindsight, but Brazil speak Portugese and are not short of a few stars. Introduce Michel Telo to Europe. Ai Se Eu Te Pego (think I've spelled that correctly) or something similar would storm Eurovision!! Ireland are probably well pissed they didn't qualify and will send a ballad about peace or love (similar to what we heard in the 90s) next year...unless Jedward come back. They promised to give Eurovision another go if they penned their own song. Well if someone teaches them to sit still and write we could be in for something magically brilliant...or magically hilarious.
Little mention to the Nordic countries...continue doing what you're doing. 2 of the 5 Scandinavians will finish in the top 10 at least, I'm once more going to hope Iceland win.

And finally we have the big 5 countries. Spain will send another female ballad if they realise what's good for them...Germany will send up and coming talent, which will probably be quite good...already mentioned Italy...goodness knows how Austria are going to come up with an act to follow Conchita. Unless Conchita performs again, which I doubt very much...France really don't care and will send another fun act...and though the citizens of the UK bemoan once more that "everybody hates us", I beg, beg, beg the BBC to repeat the same procedure. Pick up and coming talent, get them to write the song, give them a shot on the biggest stage in Europe. They'll get fans whoever they are, and with a bit of luck, we might finally do it. Do not send a has-been, do not let the public choose, do not invite Jedward to perform for us, just use BBC Introducing. Or plead to Simon Cowell to use one of his artists. If One Direction enter, we have this. I have just written paragraphs upon paragraphs about the UK selection process, but I deleted it. I wanna keep this short and sweet: the UK is one of the best music exporting countries in the world, with some of the biggest names in music British. There are extremely talented performers up and down the country trying to squeeze into this industry. Most are going to bed at night praying for that opportunity. Those who have decided that music is their passion and that's what they want to do will snap up the chance to get some attention to their talents. Molly Smitten-Downes received exposure to her music and has a steady growing fan base...and she has a record contract now too. Her finishing 17th hasn't lost fans to her music. Give unsigned artists a chance, a platform and ignore the pessimists. The BBC once again dominated Saturday Night Ratings with one of the cheapest shows filling the hot 20:00 to 23:30 slots. They are not withdrawing any time soon.

Well rant over, what about anyone I've forgotten? Shout out for Cyprus to make a return! Will we see any new participants? I think our best hope is Liechtenstein. The Vatican could always send some dancing nuns (guaranteed top 3) but it's more likely I discover a sexual attraction to cows over the next year than the Vatican City even debating entering the contest. Kazakhstan should enter...and Australia should be given a 60th celebration entry, and that chapter is definitely not closed. With no diaspora voting, it would be so interesting to see how the Ozzies vote. As a UK citizen, I'm praying that our English speaking friends give us a nod for at least a couple of points!

Predictions for next year's winner: Sweden, Azerbaijan, Belarus or Serbia (if they come back).
It could be another similar year, wide open and hotly contested, and we could end up with an unprecedented winner. If that's the case, let's hope Iceland or Portugal do it.

Prediction for the big 5: well, they will be automatic qualifiers, I don't see that changing for at least a few more years yet. The UK will finish on the right hand side, as will France and Spain. Germany will finish on the left hand side, and Italy will finish in the top 10.

Prediction Surprises: San Marino will have a good track, and Israel will qualify with a hot male singing a ballad. Lithuania will enter more tripe and qualify, and to their disgust, fan favourite Estonia will miss out again. Ireland will turn fortunes around, as will Moldova, but one of the Nordics will suffer from an early semi final draw and not qualify.

Prediction about the rules: More weighting will be applied to televoting. The countries which finish top 3 in the televote will be guaranteed points even if they are hated by the juries (circa Poland '14).

Prediction for withdrawals: FYR Macedonia might give it a break, Georgia could give it a year, and Albania might call it a day.

Predictions about controversy: Azerbaijan and Armenia will give us more problems. Russia will send something political but still be allowed to enter it, as the Ukraine have done on countless occasions.

Other Predictions: Geri Halliwell will not compete for the UK. Although don't rule out Katrina teaming up with Mike Nolan for a super entry, criticised by Sandie Shaw, and finishing last. Unless Kimberly Rew decides to write it. France will beg Anne-Marie David to give it another crack, but settle for someone similar to Sebastian Tellier. Ireland will send a drag queen, and there'll be jokes amongst fans that it is actually Linda Martin. Johnny Logan will be considered.

So the predictions got a bit silly...but you never know...

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Conchita is the new Queen of Eurovision!

Well anyone reading this certainly watched it all unravel last night, so why bother mentioning individual scores? All we need to care about is CONCHITA WURST - THE NEW QUEEN OF EUROVISION! Huge Congratulations to Conchita and to Austria, and a big fuck you to the haters. Nuff said...

Conchita Wurst celebrating after winning the 59th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest. She managed a grand total 290 points and stole the show with her image, her song and her message. The juries and televoters have fallen in love with a new star. Roll on Vienna 2015!

But I'm sure you're sick of reading about Conchita already? I'm not, but there are some other items on this agenda. We'll get the big one out the way first... WHY DID YOU NOT ALL VOTE FOR MOLLY? Ha ha ha ha ha, I'm gutted the UK didn't do better! But I said it before the contest and I'll say it again now, first or last, Molly has done an incredible job for her country and should hold her head high. So what if they didn't all fall in love with it? The mass Eurovision fan community did, and you cannot deny that Children of the Universe is a stunning song. She should have done better, but then, in my opinion, Greece and Malta should have done much better too. And that's all it is at the end of the day - opinions. The BBC need to keep doing this: give unsigned acts a chance, use the wide spread talent we have! You also have to feel for Italy, who just had their worst ever showing at a Eurovision, as well as Azerbaijan flopping BIG time. Any UK fans need to remember that Austria have just waited 48 years for victory. Spain haven't won since '69, Netherlands '75 (oh big Congrats to the Dutch! Cracking show, best result in years and thoroughly deserved. First Anouk and now the Common Linnets, keep 'em coming!), and although the list could go on, Portugal keep trying and have never finished higher than 6th. "Everybody hates us" - oh shut up! Nobody hates us. Next!

The next thing we need to all think about is how we want the voting to take place. Yet again, the day after is the day of CONTROVERSY! And what controversy we have this year! First off, the Armenian jury marked Azerbaijan 25th out of 25, and vice versa. It looks like Montenegro have done something shifty as well...especially when looking at Montenegro/Armenia results. Georgia's jury vote wasn't even used because of some sort of breach in jury rules, so just their televote was used. And thank god it did, it gave the UK points! But looking at it seriously, something isn't right and it needs investigating. Oh and you have to feel for Poland (and Switzerland). Poland would have finished 6th if it was 100% televoting with countries like UK and Ireland giving them top points from televoting. However the juries certainly did not love it. Malta had the same thing happen but the other way round - 6th with juries but not the best with televoters. If we're all honest though, a 50/50 split is going to result in one or two countries at least dividing televoters and juries like Marmite. I say investigate the controversy, but ignore the calls for changes. Keep it 50/50 for a few years.

Let's also mention the booing, and the politics. Russia giving Austria 5 points!? Well Done! Obviously Russian people are not happy about the situation in their country, and the LGBT community responded with televotes for Conchita. Say what you think about that, but that to me is a marvellous thing. I was shocked Russia and Ukraine did not exchange 12 points, but it just goes to show that Politics is not as big in Eurovision this year as we all dreaded it might be. It's socio-political to vote for a bearded lady even if she screamed blue murder for 3 minutes, but Conchita had a sensual James Bond ballad and a stunning voice. She won for the song just as much as for the image. 
And how can it be ALL political when Austria, the Netherlands and Sweden finished 1, 2, 3? 3 Western countries completing the top 3 tells me the exact obvious. 

There has to be a big mention to our hosts from last night! Denmark I think put on one of the best Eurovision contests I've ever seen. In my personal opinion, Baku, Moscow and Dusseldorf have all put on spectaculars in the last few years, but Copenhagen really had something special. The staging was aesthetically brilliant, the postcards all required originality and some of them were incredible, the hosts were quick witted and provided some of that great Scandinavian humour, the interval acts were very good, and I just really, really appreciated the whole thing. So much to say that it might be favourite host city so far. Debate ensuing... However, the most magical part of everything which makes me argue it's my favourite is 'Rainmaker'. Emmelie de Forest singing with all the finalists, and by the looks of it, the entire arena as well, was "magic". I can't describe it better than that! That will be one of the performances I'll remember for some time.

And so we move to Vienna 2015. The English are going crazy... the last time Austria won the Eurovision Song Contest was 1966, incidentally the same year that England last won the FIFA World Cup. I won't bore you with the other coincidental football statistics, but as a fan of football too, there is a brightside to only finishing 17th last night! Thankyou to all countries who gave us points, to all readers who voted for the UK, and a huge Good Luck to Austria for hosting the 2015 and 60th edition of the contest. Next year is going to be big everybody! Thankyou for reading my blog and following the posts. I hope they have been interesting and summarative. I throw in my opinions because so many blogs try to stay neutral in my opinion. I'm not. I hope you join me to look forward to no. 60 and are revelling in a victory for freedom today! Well Done Conchita Wurst.

Rise Like a Phoenix - Conchita Wurst - your winner!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Who will use as a toilet break tonight?

In one of my favourite posts of the Eurovision season, I will draw everyone's attention back to the running order - you need to decide your toilet break song!

Okay, so there is a interval or two, and you don't really need to watch all 37 countries release their votes...but after a few too many beers are you really gonna be able to hold it in for more than a couple of songs? And what happens when you need to refresh your drink? Too many possibilities not to plan your evening.

This year the producers have made it extremely hard to select an ideal toilet break/refreshment top up whatever you want to call it. So what you have pause on your tv? That doesn't count.
I was really tempted by breaking during Azerbaijan in 3rd slot...but Azerbaijan are one of my favourite nations in the contest, I'm a big fan of Dilara and 'Start a fire' and plus, they're only 3rd. Therefore I say hold tight till Germany in 12th. Sorry fans of Elaiza, but really, it isn't right! The bland performance from the Germans runs into a commercial break for the rest of Europe so this is a chance for a mega break - go to toilet, grab another 3 cans, refill the peanuts, straighten up your country's flag and get back to your hot seat. A blip in the show will provide lots of space for talking; especially when Russia take to the stage. I will put money on it that my housemates will discuss Russian politics when the twins take stage. After letting them continue through Italy and Slovenia (excellent chances to break if you've forgotten anything), shit will start to get better around Finland in 18 (no pun intended there!). And if you're really desperate, I'm sure many won't mind you skipping Switzerland in 20 or Valentina's final performance for San Marino in slot 25. Then UK fans better be ready for Molly to take the roof off!

The EBU have released the running order for the votes following last night's jury rehearsal...there's whisper on the web that this indicates a western country has won the jury vote...are we heading Austria, Netherlands, UK, Sweden? Even Hungary could have won it to be fair. Let's not speculate about the voting order, because the jury and televoters will not necessarily vote in unison.

5 hours to go now, this shit is getting exciting!

Friday, 9 May 2014


Aaaaaah Eurovision week is going far too quickly! I don't want it to end. But one advantage is that the final is only one sleep away now...

Whose still hungover from the excitement last night? The Friday after the second semi final is always more tiring simply because we all stay up later for the draw. But for now, let's look back at another brilliant night of Eurovision.

The 10 qualifiers from semi final 2 are (if you don't know this by now, where the hell have you been?): Malta, Norway, Poland, Austria, Finland, Belarus, Switzerland, Greece, Slovenia, and Romania.

Let's first discuss the qualifiers...well are any of them a shock to you? With hindsight the qualifiers seem so god damn obvious! Performing near the end of semi final was always going to be more beneficial in such a wide open race to qualification, hence the success of Switzerland and Slovenia... and those early enough in the draw to qualify all had something going for them; Carl Epsen of Norway produced an absolutely stunning vocal guaranteed to get Mums all over Europe falling in love. Additionally, Poland had breasts, Finland had a fangirl rock band, and Austria had a bearded lady. Huge Congratulations has to go to Malta for qualifying right from position 1. Malta seemed to get a little abuse from Eurofans, which seemed absurd to me, but obviously Maltaford and Sons have popularity across the continent. A quick mention to Belarus - the performance was slick and was sure to get all the other Mums in Europe falling in love. Finally there was Greece and Romania: anyone thinking these 2 wouldn't qualify evidently knows nothing about Eurovision.

So let's get to the bit everyone is complaining: the non-qualifiers! 5 participants had to fail to make it and there was always going to be disappointment over who wouldn't make it. Before I begin, fans who complain need to accept it and move on. If you struggle with that, then ask yourself; did you give all 20 of your votes to your favourite who didn't qualify? If you did then stay pissed at the juries till next year, if not, then really just get over it!
The biggest complaint is Israel failing to qualify! Well, Mei Finegold certainly delivered a stunning routine, and although I originally couldn't stand 'Same Heart', it was beginning to grow on me. Nevertheless, it was in my opinion very overrated and to see it not make the final isn't that much of a shock. But I hear your protests already so I'll defend my thinking as to why they didn't qualify: it was too generic! Israel failed to qualify alongside Ireland, FYR Macedonia and Lithuania. On the whole, you could argue all of these are fairly simple. Someone who is going to like Israel will probably have also liked Ireland, FYR Macedonia and Lithuania. Them failing to qualify as well probably meant that their similarities worked against them and divided like-minded voters. That's my explanation of it anyway. Israel probably did the best of the 4, for Ireland gave a horribly lifeless performance, Lithuania's Vilija was rocking a futuristic Celine Dion outfit, and Tijana of FYR Macedonia didn't have the best vocal. But I sit here and criticise them in the smallest ways. In reality, all countries gave it there all last night and should feel very proud!
The only other qualifier I haven't mentioned is Georgia. And I don't feel I need to say any more.

But let's now discuss the draw for the final! Well as a UK citizen, you can predict my fangasm when other contenders like Greece, Romania, Norway and Austria were all allocated in the first half of the final. Its fate surely? We didn't have to wait as long as last year to see the running order, so thank you very much to Sand, EBU and DR for such a speedy release. I first saw the news on Ruth Lorenzo, Spain's entry, twitter, and couldn't fathom as to why noone else had reported on the running order for about 5 minutes...then realised I needed to update my twitter feed. The UK are to perform 26th and last...
My initial thought: well that's any chance of victory gone. My thought now: WE CAN DO THIS!
The best bit about the UK performing last is that 'Children of the Universe' has the potential to bring the house down! In reality, it's a producers dream because it can so easily finish the show. I guarantee that the UK was pencilled in to perform last since Molly grabbed that all important second half allocation. But what about the rest of the draw? Where does everyone stack up now?
Well Ukraine are opening the show. Hmmm... We could spend hours thinking about this, but if we just think about the song then surely we have a brilliant opener too. An attractive young girl with a modern and upbeat pop song, performed with a good looking man running in a hamster wheel. What a better way to open the show to fresh viewers! Looking down the running order and the producers have done a sterling job. Azerbaijan in 3rd...will they finish top 5 again this year? It looks certainly doubtful...early hot favourites Armenia are as early as 7th...not sure if that'll help them at all...Greece in 10th...Conchita will rock everyone for Austria in 11th...Sweden were given 13th, well we all expected that...the hot spots 16-22 give us Spain as potential contenders, but more importantly HUNGARY IN 21ST. Well surely we know we're all headed to Budapest in 2015? After that Denmark look good for at least top 10 in 23rd (but we all knew that anyway)...chart enthusiasts will be delighted with the Netherlands in 24th and so it looks good for them. San  Marino are in 25th, so at least we assured of Valentina Monetta not getting nil points. And then of course, the UK to close. As I just said, it looks very nice for Hungary to win...

The only people who still don't think Hungary could grab it are the bookmakers...oddschecker reports that many favourites are now drifting in the betting. You can get Hungary as high as 16-1 at 'bwin' which looks extremely tasty at the moment. Sweden currently lead, Austria have shortened to second, and the Netherlands look pretty in 3rd. As a Eurovision fan growing up in the 00s, I have to say that seeing those 3 as the top 3 seems absolutely bonkers, and the fact that Conchita Wurst is so hot to win is like winning in itself.

Below is the full draw for the final:

01 Ukraine
02 Belarus
03 Azerbaijan
04 Iceland
05 Norway
06 Romania
07 Armenia
08 Montenegro
09 Poland
10 Greece
11 Austria
12 Germany
13 Sweden
14 France
15 Russia
16 Italy
17 Slovenia
18 Finland
19 Spain
20 Switzerland
21 Hungary
22 Malta
23 Denmark
24 Netherlands
25 San Marino
26 United Kingdom

Good Luck to all performers in the final! A special Good Luck to Molly Smitten-Downes and the United Kingdom!

The final of the 59th Eurovision Song Contest will start in Copenhagen, Denmark at 21:00 CET, 20:00 BST on BBC1 for UK viewers.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Why is it so hard to predict?

Good afternoon readers...less than 3 hours to go now!!

Today's blogpost takes the form of "Why is the second semi final so hard to predict?". The only things certain to happen tonight are some form of Conchita Wurst related hastag, Jessica Mauboy, and Greece & Romania to make the final. But who else will qualify? Who won't qualify? Who will win the semi final? Who will make the top 3? Which country will be the surprise qualifier? Will we see another song shoot up around iTunes Charts across Europe? What's going to happen people!?!?

My 10 predictions are: Malta, Norway, Georgia, Austria, Lithuania, Finland, Ireland, Belarus, Greece & Romania. I just have an instinctual feeling that Georgia will qualify over fan favourite Israel, sending shockwaves and outrage across Europe. Although Eurovision fans will vote in their masses once again, it didn't stop Estonia falling out. Those 10 predicted were not my original 10 though, and indecisiveness is a theme across a large number of blogs. Perhaps we should just all wait and see? Hahahaha.
Maybe I'm trying to find a shock though...or maybe Georgia qualifying won't be that shocking at all...there are too few countries in this semi final for there to be a real shock. And that's where the problem truly is; too few countries. With the departure of favourites such as Serbia amongst others, Eurovision has declined once again. But still 37 countries is quite a few, and one massive semi final of 31 participants would be too exhausting even for some hardcore fans. Whatever the case, the situation is we will lose just 5 participants tonight, and for the sake of the former Yugoslavs, I feel relieved at least Montenegro will represent the region in the final - more walkouts would cause headaches. I never did a proper Congratulations to Sergej and Montenegro in yesterday's blogpost so here it is... Well Done!
But I won't waffle too much... I still have heaps of essay writing and exam revision to be getting on so I'll finish by reminding everyone the wonder of not being able to predict the qualifiers: this semi final will be very, very exciting! There does seem to be more buzz across social networks today as everyone seems in limbo over who might make it. I'm hoping that I get more than 8/10 correct for once!!

Good Luck to all nations competing tonight! I'm #TeamFirelight and #TeamRiseUp tonight, so a special Good Luck to Greece and Malta!
The second semi final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 will start at 21:00 CET and 20:00 BST (on BBC3).

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Who will the UK give their 'douze' points to in SF2?

Okay so I am procrastinating again... Well Done Eurovision!

This blog post takes a different look...who will the United Kingdom give their points to in tomorrow night's semi final? This seems a slightly odd blog post, but keep reading folks and you'll see why...

So in tomorrow's semi final, we have:
Malta, Israel, Norway, Georgia, Poland, Austria, Lithuania, Finland, Ireland, Belarus, FYR Macedonia, Switzerland, Greece, Slovenia, and Romania.

NOW the UK's closest neighbour is Ireland, but will the UK give Ireland 12 points tomorrow night? I'd say that this year it really won't be as simple as that.
Other countries that the UK will give points to is: Malta, Lithuania, and Greece. I could guarantee you that the UK will also give something to Romania and probably Poland as well. Now I've already listed 7 countries with a high chance of getting points from the UK. In the past few years, the UK has also given points to those countries with a comical element for Brits: for example, Romania 2013, Moldova 2011 and so on. In this semi final, I'm convinced the UK will respond to Austria and Conchita Wurst - some finding it hilarious that there is a bearded lady representing us, some voting for who Conchita represents, and finally some because of the actual song (and let us not forget that she is singing a James Bond-esque ballad, a British icon). So that takes us to 8. Belarus also stand a good chance of a few comical votes, and Euro fanatics voting in the semi final will try to push Israel through. But then I look back to the list of competing countries and can see the UK also giving points to Norway, Finland and Switzerland. We tend to give points to the Swiss, so them too? And lest we forget the UK jury who could throw it all.

So have I sold the argument to you? Do you agree that the UK's votes are very hard to predict in this year's semi finals? Below is a prediction of where I see the United Kingdom's votes going this year:

UK votes for SF2?
12 - Ireland
10 - Lithuania
8 - Romania
7 - Malta
6 - Greece
5 - Austria
4 - Israel
3 - Poland
2 - Norway
1 - Switzerland


Good Afternoon readers! Who is still hungover from the excitement of the first semi final last night?

To start with, wasn't last night just spectacular? Its good to have Eurovision back on our TV screens after another year. I personally thought the stage was brilliant; the diamond floor and squared backdrop came across really nicely on TV, and it was used well throughout. The opening sequence was a little cheesy if we're all honest, and I did want it to end much sooner than it did. The hosts looked like they were having fun though. Oh and then there was the interval act. I never find out what the interval acts are and how they're rehearsing as I like to keep some magic for the show. Although forgetful, I thought the interval act was very nice, and the diamonte tracksuit will be remembered for time to come.

But what about the entrants! Well I thought every country gave it their all on the night and should be thoroughly congratulated on an excellent performance. The only exception to that is Andras Kallay-Saunders, who I found personally gave a weak vocal performance. Not too much criticism though, he gave an energetic performance and was rewarded with qualification. I predict that he won last night's semi final.

And that moves me on to the qualifiers!
They were: Armenia, Sweden, Iceland, Russia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, San Marino, Netherlands, Montenegro, Hungary.

Once again I only got 8/10 correct, with San Marino and Iceland replacing Moldova and Estonia. Were there any shock qualifiers? Well in reality, there weren't. I ate my words as I watched Iceland's "Pollaponk" bring the house down! Well they definitely were one of the favourites in my house anyway. I suppose the biggest shock was San Marino qualifying, but I did have them 11th in my pre-semi final prediction so it wasn't much a shock for me. I am so pleased for Valentina Monetta, it's true what they say about being "third time lucky"!

Eurovision fans have been mourning the loss of Tanja and Estonia from the competition, but it definitely felt very much like Cascada and 'Glorious' from last year, so at the most they would have qualified and finished in the bottom 5/6. Tanja had a great choreography, but I think it was a bit too generic and a bit too early on to qualify. As for Moldova! Well I've always got a soft spot for them, and perhaps prediciting 'Wild Soul' in the final was a bit too optimistic. Still I though diaspora voting would carry them through, but perhaps countries like Ukraine and Portugal were a bit too preoccupied with other entrants to send douze points there way. And that brings me to Ukraine...and Russia....

I've never been a fan of 'Tick Tock' but it's definitely a good song when performed, and we know the Ukrainians would provide some of the best staging yet again. The Giant Hamster Wheel went down like a storm and although in reality rather simple, it visually works perfect for a TV audience. And plus, Mariya is a very pretty girl, always guaranteed votes for being mega hot. Did Ukraine give Russia 12 points is the question? Well, who gave Russia points? Russia would always benefit from a generous diaspora vote, and former Soviets are likely to give them points. Plus, no matter how much Eurovision fans don't like the song/boycott the Russian entry, 'Shine' has all the elements that an Eastern European jury will marvel in, and two attractive blonde twins will go down well with males across Europe. I don't think the Russians squeezed into the final, but I still don't predict they will take the roof off in the final. I could see Russia finishing 14th or something, just missing out on a left-hand side position. The booing that the twins experienced when they were announced as qualifiers was absolutely disgusting. Booing Aram MP3 for 'potentially' homophobic remarks at Eurovision In Concert is one thing, but booing an act for making the final is just awful. There are many ways to express your current discontent with Russia, and Eurovision is not one of them. I say Good Luck to the twins for the final!

On a more positive note, who do you think just missed out on qualification to the final? Jan Ola Sand has since tweeted that there were just 3 points separating 10th, 11th and 12th last night. This means that two countries were agonisingly close to qualifying! My money is on Estonia and Moldova, but I've heard a number of combinations from the 6 countries who were unfortunate not to make it.

Finally we come to the first half, second half draw for the final. I've heard many UK fans say that the draw was fate, and well if we're honest, having quite a few favourites draw to perform in the first half makes it look even more positive for the UK. The draw so far looks like this:

First Half
(6 slots left)

Second Half
San Marino
United Kingdom
23. Denmark (randomly drawn before the semi finals began)
(4 slots left)

Well as you all know, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Sweden and Ukraine all performing in the first half means that one of them will not make the top 10, if not more. Performing in the second half has always been more beneficial, but it's not the be all and end all. However, the producers do now have a bit of a headache, having to select to choose where each of them performs. But as I said, they wont all do well. Is this the first year Azerbaijan wont make the top 10? Will they even finish on the left-hand side?
The second half of the draw does look very pretty for Molly and the UK at the moment. The only big rival is Hungary, and I have a sneaky feeling they might steal it this year. 'Running' is very well polished, and I think it could chart all over Europe...and that reminds me! Charts! I'm sure you've all heard how the Common Linnets are charting everywhere! This is brilliant news! The odds for the Dutch to win are falling rapidly, and could we be heading to the land of the orange next year? I'll be the first to admit that I never saw this coming. But Congratulations to them! They have a second half performance too, is it all falling into place for the Netherlands at the right time? I gave their staging a maximum 20/20 in my pre-contest scoring prediction, and I can see the juries lapping it up...but it seems televoters are too. All will be revealed Saturday, it's just too exciting!

Well the next semi final kicks off the same time at 20:00 CET and 21:00 BST on Thursday 8th May. We'll be joined by the final 10 qualifiers for the final on Saturday. It's a close one this year, no more close than the second semi final. Here are my predictions again:
Malta, Israel, Norway, Poland, Austria, Lithuania, Finland, Ireland, Greece and Romania. But I think it's impossible to predict. I could get just 5/10 or I could get the max 10/10 right.

And now back to revision I go, procrastination can survive no longer!

Monday, 5 May 2014

Who is going to win Eurovision 2014?

Well let's be honest, this is what it is all about. So many fans spend so many months trying to predict the winner of the contest. We have our favourites, we have our least favourites, and then we have the songs which we know will do well regardless of our own personal tastes. This year I've struggled yet again with the popularity of the Italian entrant, Emma Marrone grunting out 'La Mia Citta' isn't to my personal taste. Another country which has been favourited by fans is Israel and Mei Finegold's 'Same Heart', and once again, I struggle to enjoy the Israeli entrant just as much as my fellow fans. However, one of my personal favourites has been Malta with 'Coming Home' - whereas people have criticised the female vocalist in Firelight, I found her addition to the song quite nice. And then there's France and Denmark and so on. But for once I am loving the United Kingdom popularity! We have just been declared outright winner of the ESC Nation poll, and I'm yet to see us fair badly in any poll or anyone's personal choices. Whether people like it, I haven't seen anyone deny that this will do top 10. PLEASE EUROPE I BEG YOU! The Hump didn't deserve it, Blue sounded awful live, god knows what Pete Waterman wrote for Josh Dubovie, and Bonnie could've bored the pants off someone on an acid trip last year...but this year, we have a great song, a great vocalist, and undoubtedly our best entrant since Katrina and the Waves. Good Luck Molly! I'm hoping you bring it home!

Below is my personal poll of 2014. I've conducted a survey of various online fan polls, fan predictors, I've included an odds scoring system, as well as marks for staging and vocals, and then there's the bonus marks for countries like Azerbaijan who could enter cats drowning and still finish top 10 (no criticism there, I've actually liked all Azeri entries apart from 2008, and the top 5 placings are thoroughly deserved, but let's be honest, what I just said is kinda true). There is NO bias what-so-ever, my own personal favourites weren't given more marks for staging for example, I was brutal with most contestants, but like most other surveys, don't take too much to heart.

First up, here's my prediction of the 10 qualifiers from each semi final:
Semi Final 1
San Marino/Netherlands (I went with the Netherlands)

Semi Final 2


#2 Sweden - 95.3
#3 Hungary - 93.4
#4 Armenia - 90.15
#5 Greece - 83.85
#6 Austria - 81.15
#7 Norway - 79.65
#8 Denmark - 78.3
#9 Azerbaijan - 75.96
#10 Ukraine - 73.51
#11 Spain - 72.7
#12 Romania - 70.64
#13 Italy - 70.56
#14 Israel - 69.35
#15 Netherlands - 68.75
#16 Montenegro - 64.9
#17 Ireland - 63.3
#18 France - 62.1
#19 Germany - 59.45
#20 Finland - 59.09
#21 Malta - 57.6
#22 Estonia - 55.3
#23 Poland - 54.8
#24 Russia - 45.5
#25 Moldova - 36.94
#26 Lithuania - 28.65

Now taking a step back from that - if Lithuania do qualify as I think they will, will they finish bottom? I doubt it. Knowing Lithuania they'll probably end up finishing top half of the board.  And there is going to be a shock, there always is. Nobody saw Malta finishing as high as they did last year, or Germany finishing as low as they did. So whose up for predicting the big shocks? I think saying Lithuania will qualify qualifies as predicting a "shock", but next to that I'm staking it out on Georgia. I don't think San Marino will qualify, but good luck Valentina Monetta! From laughing stock to serious contender to heartbroken fans, MAYBE this is your year Valentina!

Good Luck to all those competing at Eurovision 2014! May the singing commence.

The Hottest Men of 2014

So here we go, a countdown of the hottest male stars of the Eurovision Song Contest 2014.

#5 - SEBalter (Switzerland)

#4 - Andras Kallay-Saunders (Hungary)

#3 - Riskykidd (Greece)

And now for second place... hold on! It's a tie. How could you separate them anyway? At #2 and #1 is FREAKY FORTUNE!

But let's have a serious conversation for a second... WHAT THE HELL EUROVISION? I mean last year was a pretty poor year by anyone's standards, but we still had the cheeky face of Gianluca (Malta), the soon to be buff Robin Stjerberg (Sweden) and the hunk that is Farid Mammadov (Azerbaijan). This year though. There were some 'goods' like TEO and SEBalter, the 'pretty goods' like Andras and Riskykidd, and the greats which are Freaky Fortune, but let's be real. Where's our Blue? Where's our Tim Schou? Where's Eric? Harel? Jedward? Alex Sparrow? I mean noone will ever top the almighty PASHA PARFENY, but most wont ever even come close to him. I expect better next year Eurovision. But still, for 2014, let's marvel at Nikolas and Theofilos, otherwise known as Freaky Fortune! Well Done Greece! Good Luck for the finals!

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Part VIII - Belarus

Oh my god, it's tomorrow!
Tomorrow night, we will be half way through the first semi final. Who's going to qualify? I've made my predictions, which I will release in the near future, but for now, it's time to rap up "the good, the bad, and the ugly". Today, it's the turn of the ugly.

The Ugly - Belarus

"Cheesecake" - TEO

Sorry TEO, just sorry. TEO also just missed out on my countdown of the hottest men at this year's ESC (let's be real, he is rocking this Robin Thicke type image) but in my opinion, the song is just ugly. What defines 'Cheesecake' as ugly? Well, when it came to selecting songs which made 'the bad' list, I thought long and hard about which songs are 'bad' and which songs aren't necessarily 'bad', they're just 'ugly'. Whereas the vocals of Lithuania, the wailing of Georgia, and the flat Iceland all offer something for the 'bad' category, I actually feel 'Cheesecake' isn't like that. As mentioned, TEO has some sex appeal, the song has some alright lyrics and the composition isn't all that bad - so what makes the song so absurd? My answer is I don't know. It's not good, but it has all the elements to be a 'good-ish' song. Hence, this is why Belarus made this year's ugly category. I have listened to this song 3 times; once for the first listen, once out of pure choice, and once when watching how they've decided to stage it. Compare that to 'Children of the Universe' which just became my most ever song played on iTunes and that tells you how I feel about 'Cheesecake'. Comments anyone? Even I'm struggling to waffle on about 'Cheesecake'. Well Good Luck Belarus, Good Luck TEO! I'm out.

Monday, 28 April 2014

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Part VII - Lithuania, Georgia and Iceland

Today you lucky readers are treated to another edition of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. I found it very hard to limit "the good" this year and went for a good mix of 6 entrants which can offer something different. But I found a similar problem in selecting "the bad"! In all fairness, there aren't many "bad" entries in the modern day contest, but some countries still offer us 'a load of tripe'. I've picked 3 candidates for that "bad" award which have split fans alike.

The Bad Part 7a - Lithuania

"Attention" - Vilija Matačiūnaitė

What on earth is this all about? Lithuania have an extremely clever knack of qualifying for the final of Eurovision - last year with singing shoes guy, the year before with Donny's quirky dance routine, and so on, and so on. So no matter what we all think of 'Attention', it will probably easily qualify, right? Well with friends like Belarus, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, and the United Kingdom all able to vote for Lithuania in the second semi final, I can see them qualifying despite this atrocity which is 'Attention'. I hate to sound so opaquely critical without providing sufficient reason as to why, but c'mon...!?!? I've got all of this year's songs on my iTunes; the country with the most plays is on 51, whereas Lithuania is second bottom with just 1 play. How I have sat and listened through this baffles me. From the horrific composition to the painful vocals, Lithuania for me have really tested how bad a Eurovision entry can truly be whilst still qualifying. And that's why for me, it is the worst song in this year's competition.

The Bad Part 7b - Georgia

"3 Minutes to Earth" - The Shin & Mariko

The winner of many fans least favourite song has been Georgia's '3 Minutes To Earth'. I can understand why; ethnic wailing with a poor lead female vocal isn't that appealing. I see it slightly differently in that there is that catchy lyric about skydivers and the opening couple of seconds sounds like it could be the start of a winning song (even though the start is lyrical, perhaps I'm still hungover from raving about Montenegro yesterday: all a direct result of that tin whistle from last year). But let's all be real for a minute here; what is with this Georgian entry? I am very appreciative of art, but the song needs to appeal to a certain market at Eurovision. Can somebody please tell me who the Shin and Mariko are aimed at? Middle-aged voters, teenagers, Southern Europe, the Balkans, who? Who on earth internally selected this? I'm listening to this again now, for the 5th time. Reiterating that it's not as bad as Lithuania because of that catchy skydivers lyric, but the composition of this is all over the place too. Were Georgia trying their hardest not to win?

The Bad Part 7c - Iceland

"No Prejudice" - Pollaponk

Now Iceland have got something really interesting here. When I first heard 'Enga Fordoma', I was like 'dear God, Iceland have finally let us all down'. After the successes of Yohanna, Sjonni's Friend, Jonsi, and especially the extremely underrated Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson from last year, I was really keeping my fingers crosse Iceland would give us a winner this time around. Isn't it their turn as well? Finland '06, Norway '09, Sweden '12, Denmark '13... Perhaps we have to wait a couple of years. I do hope Iceland win soon though, I'd love to go there. But back to their song for this year, and I'd actually give the award to the country trying it's best not to win to Iceland (over Georgia). The overage band, the concoction of sounds, it's just one for turning off. But at heart they do have a good message, and nothing is better than a band with flair - Pollaponk's colours definitely offer something Bucks Fizz-esque. I would not say this is the worst song in the contest this year, but I've never liked this no matter how much I appreciate it, and I think deep down, most will agree.

So there we have it, Lithuania, Georgia and Iceland are my chosen 3 for "the bad". But there's still one category left unexplored: "the Ugly". I think people can take easy predictions from what I have already chosen. But please do comment and tell me if you agree!

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Part VI - Montenegro

The Good Part VI - Montenegro

'Moj Svijet' - Sergej Ćetković

The opening melody to this song is stunningly beautiful. The instrumental sections are very Zelijko Joksimovic and so ethnic that Montenegro can truly fly the flag for the whole of the former Yugoslavs this year! I think many were gutted to see Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and the like drop out, but in their absence, Montenegro can rise like a phoenix out of the ashes (as Conchita Wurst once sung). And I am so glad that the song is being sung in Montenegrin! With fewer and fewer countries opting to sing entirely in their own language, Montenegro have pulled though! So Podogorica 2015 anyone?

First off - the song has done poorly in online polls. Please can someone tell me why? I know many Eurofanatics who much prefer songs in the home country language, yet people seem to not really care when it comes to Moj Svijet. Perhaps it has ultimately come down to the amount of ballads entered this year; there are some very good ballads this year, such as 'Undo' and 'Dancing in the Rain'. Sergej has a winning card here though - a male ballad will stand out mountains against other female ballads. Montenegro do have that trickier first semi final, however they are the penultimate performers, and they really, really need to capitalise on this. Sergej has come out and said that he really wants Montenegro to reach the final. Well Sergej, if it was up to me, you'd easily make it. And I think Montenegro will make it.

Will they win?

Well I'm ever-increasingly being drawn to the fact that in such a wide open year, who wins will be decided on even the small things. Staging is going to be crucial! I won't look at staging plans and the lark before rehearsals start tomorrow, I want to base my ideas on song alone. The staging really needs to take an uplifting edge, and we definitely need falling sparks at some point - maybe even on the first key change. Oh yeah that's another thing about this song, it's key change heaven, which always goes down well at Eurovision! But back to the staging - it needs to be minimal. I've already made comparisons to Zelijko Joksimovic; Montenegro need to go back and see what worked for him in 2004 and 2012 and even directly copy it if they are so out of ideas.

What else will Montenegro need to win? A favourable draw in the final will be crucial this year and so naturally, anywhere in 16th to 24th (I think most fans agree with me that these 8 positions will be win-defining). The opening instrument needs to be as soft as Sergej's opening vocals; and Montenegro really need to ensure that Sergej's lyrics are heard above all else. That thing about language is coming up again... and it's because singing in your own language will help!

And what Montenegro really needed was a big PR campaign. I don't want this ethnic ballad to get lost like others have in the past. If televoters will really aware of the song before the competition, it would accompany what is sure to be a good jury score because of the simple fact that Sergej has an incredible voice! However, I don't think we need to be in fear of a lack of PR campaign - I think Montenegro will surely reach the final, but winning the thing is different. I don't think Montenegro can win, but I do hope they do bloody well. Good Luck! Good Luck Sergej!

Part V - United Kingdom

Time has been evaporating - Eurovision rehearsals start next week! I've been more emerged in Eurovision this year then any other year. I find that remotely strange in itself, but before divulging in my outlook of Eurovision 2014, I'll have a look at the UK's entry... which is uh-mazing!

The Good Part V - United Kingdom

'Children of the Universe' - Molly

Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes! That's all I have to say about the UK entry for this year. Children of the Universe is a punchy ballad spawning the hastag #powertothepeople and getting Eurofanatics from the UK excited once again. Molly has raspy vocals, and sings over the steady beat of a big drum. The lyrics suggest an 'empowerment' in my opinion, for example the lines "fire in our bones" and "ours to own" indicate a voice to growing unpopularity with society and system, the fire leading to the idea that a passive aggressive movement has already started. The fact that Molly is "not giving in", "she'll never walk alone" bolster this position of a "dawn of change" in the UK and the rest of the Western world.

Or perhaps I've read too much into the lyrics. But c'mon, POWER TO THE PEOPLE?
Yes Molly - subliminal messages for the win!

Hidden symbolism aside, the song is very good. It's a quietly catchy little number which evokes a good feeling inside after listening. After all it really feels like an 'empowerment' song whether you listen to the lyrics or not. The BBC have really done us proud here! For people reading from outside the UK, I apologise. This is going to come across extremely biased, but I will try and criticise and be balanced as much as possible.

The BBC has finally done exactly what a lot of us have been calling for; it has chosen an artist based on the mass unsigned talent floating around the UK at the moment. Molly has won awards as an unsigned act for her music. I argued this last year and the year before, by using one of the many systems we currently have in place for recognising unsigned artists we can find a Eurovision gem. By giving Molly a platform to share her music on the European/World stage, the BBC has given her the start of what could be a fabulous music making career. If things don't take off for Molly for whatever reason, she is still a very credible artist with a fantastic singing voice and great song-writing capabilities. Molly is not only the UK Eurovision entrant - she is representing unsigned artists in the UK, an accolade which should not be forgotten!

The song presents some interesting options for Eurovision this year - if the juries and televoters go for it, we know which way the contest is leading. By this I am referring to how recent years have either been won by an old-fashioned number or a modern pop beat, for example the quirky song that was 'Satellite' to old-fashioned 'Running Scared', back to mega dance anthem 'Euphoria' and then last year's 'Only Teardrops' finding a good balance between the two. Children of the Universe for me provides a good basis for finding a balance between the two again, it has a slower beat with traditional styles, but yet the lyrical empowerment and raunchier vocals of Molly offer a more modern appeal to younger voters. Do you agree with me here? If you don't agree, please do comment because I am always interested to hear what others have to say, whether you agree or disagree.
I seem to always forget that I view the songs with a Western lens. I know for a fact that they way I hear and listen to music is very different to that of even close neighbours, but none more so than countries in Eastern Europe. Please, if any readers from Eastern Europe are reading, share your opinions on previous winners and how you see Children of the Universe. Ultimately, like all other fans, we are trying to find/predict the winner of the contest by polling our own favourites and checking the odds and so on. However we can never truly do this because we are all limited in that our own view will mostly follow cultural trends of the countries we live in. Therefore, I would love to hear the opinions of the UK entrant from other Europeans to see how underrated or overrated I see it.

I could continue to comment about the UK entrant, I mean there is staging and music vidoes and online polls to be talking about, but I won't make this blog post too long. Thanks for reading though!
Good Luck Molly! Good Luck United Kingdom! Bring the contest home to Birmingham (or London) for the 60th edition!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Part IV - Armenia

Ah I cannot believe my last blog post was 11 days ago! Time has been going by mega quickly, and we are now only 22 days away from the first semi final. Eurovision Season goes much too quickly for my liking! I've been listening to loads of classics recently, as well as my new favourite song 'Rainmaker'. If you haven't heard, it's Emmelie de Forest's new song and it's amazing. I have planned a blog post dedicated to out hosts for closer to the first semi final, but tonight the attention is on Armenia!

The Good Part IV: Armenia

Armenia have a very good record at Eurovision! Up until 2010 the Armenians could be compared to how we see the Azeri now - not just a certainty for the final, but a top 10 finish as well. And they surely deserved that reputation! Many fans argue that Qele Qele should have taken home the crown in 2008, Apricot Stone deserved higher than 7th in 2010, and one of my favourite ever songs in the contest, Nor Par (Jan Jan) scraped 10th in the 2009 contest. Inga & Anush are two of my favourite Eurovision artists and I absolutely love them - and their performance was brilliant. Truly Eurovision. Since then things have gone a little downhill. Emmy and 'Boom Boom' embarrassingly didn't even make the final in 2011 (even though we're all still going 'chaka chaka'), and following a boycott of Baku 2012, they sent a fan dividing song in 2013, 'Lonely Planet', which still somehow managed to accumulate 41 points when many thought it wouldn't even make the final. BUT many, many fans argue that Armenia are back to their best this year! And rightfully so, the artist is Aram MP3 and the song is 'Not Alone' - scoring top 5 in many pre-charts and for a long time, being the red hot favourite by the bookmakers (check out ESC Webs 'here' for a bookies update). So what makes Aram MP3 and 'Not Alone' so great?

To begin with, 'Not Alone' is one of those defining era songs - by this, I don't mean it's a classic, but I mean that from the first listen, you know it's around a 2013/14 song without hearing the other songs entered. I think it's very good because the composition is simple, the lyrics are direct and it breaks away in the middle to become more upbeat. Usually this results in disaster; fans don't like two songs in one, but it works in 'Not Alone' because the upbeat section still fits in with the lyrics and the early melody. I almost feel the first half of the song has a Zelijko Joksimovic feel about it, and we all know how well Serbia (& Montenegro) have done under him. How the song does at Eurovision will be extremely interesting - fans like this song across Europe - it's not necessarily their favourite song, but it's in many people's top 10's. I argue that the result of this will be interesting because it could easily divide your less dedicated audience: people who have never heard of this before may be put off by the sudden change in direction, and an older audience may be put off when the beat drops. Additionally, many first-time listeners often decide whether they like a song within the first minute or two; if they enjoy the ballad section then good, but if not, then very bad because what would rescue those voters is a fantastic staging, and in my opinion, Aram MP3 won't provide the best choreographed performance. How this is staged will pose problems; it could be quite boring if it's just Aram MP3 on stage, but tacky dancers, I feel, would ruin any magic created in the lyrics when the beat drops.

And then there's what happened at 'Eurovision In Concert' - if you missed that, where have you been!? If you missed that, then here's a quick summary: some potentially homophobic puns were made by Aram MP3 to Conchita Wurst, the infamous bearded lady representing Austria this year. Wiwi blogs covered the basics in this article. In my opinion everything got taken out of context, but then again, Aram should not have made a possibly homophobic remark to a contest with an extremely large LGBT fanbase, especially in the year we go back to Denmark, the first country in the world to legalise gay marriage. Will any of this matter come May? It's hard to say because a lot of voters will not be aware of what happened, but to get booed at Eurovision In Concert (incidentally the same day as Aram's birthday!) speaks volumes in his current fan status - and this is only an estimate, but aren't a lot of semi-final voters mostly the mega fans? In the UK they are anyway, and so alongside being drawn 1st in the hotly contested first semi final could prove to be problematic. However, friends Ukraine and Russia also compete in semi 1, being drawn 1st in the semi final hasn't stopped popular songs from reaching the final before, and at the end of the day, it's still a very good song! People questioning whether this will qualify is crazy - of course it will! But where this finishes in the final is impossible to tell...

My prediction is top 10. As a UK fan that may be optimistic - for Armenia are definitely big rivals for the top crown, and so it will probably challenge 1st. BUT... will I get in trouble for saying that if the Azeri's do bribe voters and jurors like some argue, then will Armenia even do top 10? Azerbaijan and Armenia aren't friends. Or is that a ludicrous thing to say? Please do share your opinions on the matter!

Good Luck Armenia! I'm glad to see your back to entering good records and back on track to taking the contest to Yerevan! Good Luck Aram MP3!

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Part III - Romania

The Good Part III: Romania

We've got another edition of the good, the bad and the ugly today, with Romania taking the spotlight as the next "good".

'Miracle' by Paula Seling & Ovi

Oooooft. Eurodance stomper 'Miracle' really has got it what it takes to do well for Romania at this year's Eurovision. From the very first line to the end, the song feels like it is taking you on the journey. Well that's how I see it anyway. The fast pace continually picks up and does what it is supposed to do! It doesn't stop, and you can picture the lights and the fireworks already. What is great about this song is that it also feels a lot quicker than 3 minutes. By this I refer to the fact that with a ballad, you often feel the length of a song, whereas this song seems to happen in a heartbeat. Coupling that with the staging, and this year's Romanian entry will definitely get the crowd on their feet, whether they like the song or not. Romania also provide much needed pain relief for that ballad headache as well, and so this one will stick out like a sore thumb.

But I haven't mentioned the best bit... the return of Paula Seling & Ovi! Fans alike will remember their terrific 3rd back in the 2010 contest when 'Playing with Fire' finished strong, nearly going on to topple Turkey into 2nd place. That year was rightfully stolen by Lena and 'Satellite', but if the Germans hadn't turned up, would Romania have walked away with the grand prize? Quite potentially. But that's neither here nor there, the best thing is that the duo are back to try again. Since performing for Romania in 2010, Paula Seling has continued to grow as a national celebrity, with X Factor judging credentials and various work with films, including Cars 2 and Brave. Ovi has also been working hard, especially with Eurovision. He teamed up with the almighty Thomas G:Son in 2012 to have a crack at composing a winner, however this turned out not to be. But what can be seen is that by pairing up with Paula once again, Romania stand a cracking shot at success with name recognition alone.

What about the statistics? Well Romania have never failed to qualify for the final - they have 100% success rate in the semi-finals. In the finals, the last few years have seen varied success, but on the whole, they do fairly well, and I think with such a strong entry, predicting Romania to finish in the top 10 is a good estimate. I think what works well is that the whole package is there; they have a good song, they have respected and much-loved artists, Romania has many friends both neighbourly and culturally, and they have got luck on their side in that if they perform first or last they have something memorable.

So, could they win? I really don't see why not. I really don't know why they wouldn't win. If we're heavily critical, then the song isn't fantastic. The song also will need some choreography; I don't doubt that Romania will have good staging, but because of the nature of the song, there will need to be dancers or at least something happening in the chorus - if there's not, then the sheer power of Paula and Ovi's voices will ensure the juries mark highly, but will the televoters? See, without "something" I can't see televoters across Europe picking this over other favourites, even if Romania can rely on a few votes from the likes of Ukraine and Moldova - diaspora does not win Eurovision! Chances of winning? High, but perhaps not high enough...

Whatever the case, I like the song! It is performing okay in online fan polls and I'm yet to see anyone disregard Romania. The odds are pretty good for Romania, they're not down as a favourite, but I think if we were to predict this year's "dark horse" then Romania stand a pretty good shot at that.

Good Luck Romania! Good Luck Paula & Ovi! We look forward to seeing you in the final on the 10th May!

Monday, 31 March 2014

Part II - Sweden

The Good Part II: Sweden

Welcome to the second edition of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Today's post is another "good" and this time it's Sweden!

'Undo' by Sanna Nielsen

Sweden have one of the best records in the Eurovision Song Contest, and rightfully so. Last year I blogged a history of Swedish winners in the contest following Loreen's euphoric triumph in 2012. If you missed that, you can read it here. Sweden have won at pivotal points of the Eurovision Song Contest, could they be on for win number 6? Polls and odds indicate that Sweden 2015 is very possible - and with 2015 being the 60th edition of the contest, the winner of this year's contest is 'pivotal'. It seems to all point in Sweden's favour.

So what of the song? Well 'Undo' is a classy ballad. A beautiful melody starts the song before Sanna's soft lyrics ease into the song. The first verse builds to a gentle first chorus, juxtaposing the tragedy for which Sanna sings about. By the time the beat kicks in on the second verse, Sanna's voice begins to strengthen and leads to a big second chorus. All the while, the song is just beautiful: the composition, lyrics, everything, just works. Sanna Nielsen adds that necessary elegance, and you feel the emotion channelled through her voice. As well as that, if her Eurovision performance is anything like her Melodifestivalen performance then the choreography will be perfect; no cheap gimmicks, just the right lighting - a cold, yet soulful blue. It's a recipe for success.

But there's just one thing hanging over me - in my opinion, something is missing. I think this song is very, very good, I've almost played it too much over the last 2 months, and I just think there's not a "winning factor" about it. I could easily see this song finishing in the top 10, potentially top 3, but not winning. I speak brutally honest, and I appreciate the fact that many will disagree with me. Over on ESC Stats, Sweden dominate the current poll, and they come a very close second on ESC Nation - I don't deny its a good song, I just can't see this winning. I have this horrible feeling that if this was to win, people would vote for it in polls such as "worst winner", for which it just doesn't deserve (in my opinion that crown could rightfully go to many countries: Latvia's win in 2002 still baffles me for example).

Additionally, it's another ballad, for which we are not short of this year. Being female does help, since 2004, 6 of the last 10 winners have been solo females, and in fact there have been more solo female winners than males or groups who have won the contest since Lys Assia's win for Switzerland at the first contest in 1956. But because of the ballad pile up this year, although not admittedly on the same scale as the fiasco that was 2012, we can pretty much guess that the draw for the final will play a strategic role in who wins the contest. For example, another popular female ballad is the UK's 'Children of the Universe' by Molly, which probably won't finish higher than Sweden if the Swedes perform last and the UK performs first. Therefore, it's all to play for. Sanna has been dealt position 4 in the hot first semi-final. Not ideal, but recent patterns suggest that performing 4th makes you at no great a disadvantage than performing last.

Could Sanna Nielsen do it? Could we be going back to Sweden once more? Let's be honest, it would be nice to go somewhere hot for Eurovision once again, but we all miss Petra Mede's hosting so it wouldn't be so bad. And plus, Sweden is a fantastic country.

Good Luck Sanna! Good Luck Sweden!

I leave you with this gem from the Greek entrant Freaky Fortune & RiskyKidd - it's a medley of the last few winners, although the seem to missed out 'Molitva'. Perhaps singing in Serbian was a bit too much for them, but nevermind, this still is pretty good. Could 'Undo' be mixed into another medley next year?

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Part 1 - Hungary

Another week has past and it's been another exciting week of Eurovision madness! From allegations over corruption at Portugal's National Final, to the sudden rush of online polls, Eurovision In Concert line-up announcements, more debate over Russia, and finally the all important semi-final draw. In my opinion, the contest can be won by the song alone, but more often than not, the occasional exogenous factor will come into play, whether that be from artist promotion to favourable odds. Therefore, I shall be doing song reviews once more. I'll review the good songs this year, the bad songs this year, and that odd one or two which more often than not pop up. To begin, I'll look at "The Good".

And so, welcome to the first edition of this year's "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly"!

The Good Part I: Hungary

Hungary - 'Running' by Andras Kallay-Saunders

My Birthday falls on February 21st and that usually coincides with the start of my Eurovision season. By this, I refer to the fact that national finals have already taken place, some country's selecting as early as December, but my own interest won't kick off till around the end of February. But in all fairness, the end of February/start of March usually brings with it a rush of 'Eurovisioning' across the EBU nations. I remember hearing 'Running' as Hungary's selection around about the time of my birthday and thinking "This is the winner". Since then, my opinion on the song has changed, and lots more countries have released their songs, but when it comes down to the final, a lot of televoters are hearing the song for the first time. If they get the same first impression that I did then perhaps Hungary are on the way to victory! And they surely deserve it! Fans alike will remember Frederika from the 90s, 'Unsubstantial Blues' from '07, and the casualty that was Kati Wolf and 'What About My Dreams?' back in 2011. That fan favourite had an almighty flop in the final. Recent history has shown that Hungarians are very serious about the contest and they enter a good standard of song. I personally see 'Running' as no different to this, with an emotional tale of young girl suffering from abuse. The artist delivers an emotional connection to the song, and as well as that, the composition has broad appeal. Lyrically, the song delivers on a simplistic chorus and an explicit verse, but some have argued that the melody and lyrics don't go together, perhaps maybe too opposing for a Eurovision audience to grapple. However, I argue that Hungary have got a recipe for success with this song; and let's not forget the artist himself. Andras comes from a musical family, as well as the fact that he is a national popstar in Hungary. With chart-topping hits and a celeb status in his own right, Andras has the experience to succeed in Copenhagen. And he is a pretty good-looking chap, something which always goes down well with Eurovision fans (e.g. Farid Mammadov). The turn of the millennium saw many first-time winners, maybe it's time for Hungary to taste some of that success. Good Luck to Andras and 'Running' in May, and Good Luck to Hungary! Budapest 2015 anyone?