Hello there, and welcome to what has become my regular coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest for the Post. I sit here at about ten to eight on the big evening, with several bottles of artificial fortification by my side, prepared to take you through minute by painstaking minute of this year's competition. Assisting me will be askh2g2's long-running Eurovision thread, tonight ably populated by Croz and Galaxy Babe.
In an attempt to ascribe some sort of order to tonight's proceedings, I will be giving each act two completely arbitrary marks out of ten:
- Musicality (M): The part of each song that appeals to my musical self, being vaguely qualified in that direction. Obviously, this mark will be adjusted downwards to suit Eurovision - The White Album, I am not expecting.
- Euro-Glam (EG): The bits that garner extra votes from the Euro-judges. Including, but not limited to: stiltwalkers; unusual musical instruments; amusing backing singers; songs sung in two languages; costumes in bright primary shades; supertonic modulations; and women removing clothes.
In theory, this will allow me to predict the overall result much more accurately. Ha ha ha!
8:03: Last year's winner - Ruslana - seem to have abandoned their 'Hairy Riverdance' costumes, but do have the distinct advantage of a woman in hotpants mucking about with a flamethrower. Nice legs and dangerous tools? Personally, I'd be quite happy watching this all evening.
8:06: Terry is clearly on fine form this year - he talks rubbish over the introduction and introduces the hosts as 'Ant and Shrek'. I hope he's got a lot of Baileys left...
8:10: Hungary Aha! Hungarian riverdance! Four unconvincing gypsie chaps strut impressively behind a woman who hasn't read the instructions on her trousers properly. They all look very hard and menacing before getting to the refrain, which sounds like it was written by The Tweenies. It's nicely synchronised, though, and a decent opener. M: 7/10 EG: 5/10
8:14: UK Cor, we're on early this year! Almost certainly the least British song we've ever produced, notable only for what looks like several out-of-work professional footballers playing bongos and backing-dancing. The Eastern sound is becoming old hat for Eurovision - I'll be surprised if this wins anything. M5 EG3
8:18: Malta Hang on, the fat lady's singing. Is it over already? Clearly, someone in Malta has been getting their 80s Naff Ballad songbook out. This is pretty rubbish, really, except for the exciting growl that the singer gives out leading up to the bridge. Maybe she should have removed the vibrating underpants before going on stage. M4 EG2
8:22: Romania Clearly the choreographers' highlight was snapping up half a dozen steeldrums, some angle grinders, and several gents who had been thrown out of Stomp (including one who looks suspiciously like Iwan Thomas). The song is better not mentioned; it's second rate mid-nineties Eurodance - best forgotten. M2 EG6
8:25: Norway **spends several minutes laughing too hard to write anything** Brilliant! Eurovision at its finest. A band called Wig Wam (Sweet-inspired, presumably), singing a song that sounds like Bon Jovi, dressed like a combination of The Darkness, U2 and the Village People! In fairness, it's a decent 80s-style rock song - if only I could get over the (male) singer's feather boa... M8 EG9
8:29: Turkey Terry waffles completely meaningless syllables over the intro film - obviously completely totalled already. This sounds precisely like the background music in my local curry house; big drums are in this year, I see. Turkey acquits itself satisfactorily with a ridiculous refrain of 'limi-limi ley-ley' and a chap who looks like Jason Lee's idiot older brother with a big drum. M4 EG5
8:33: Moldova (Terry drifts into complete incomprehensibility). Another delightfully idiotic band. A singer looking like a slightly lost children's TV presenter fronts a guitarist attempting to look like Noel Gallagher, a very old woman playing a one-man band kit, a chap with an ocarina, and a drummer who appears to be hitting his kit only accidently. They are performing what can only be described as a tribal punk song. The problem is: I really like it! A winner, surely! M9 EG9
8:37: Albania Song - awful. The main entertainment comes from the singer's buoyant bosom (about time!) and the background dancers, who seem to be performing a bastard offspring of Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor's violin dance. Some bloke has wandered onstage randomly and started jumping around - I think he might be a member of Fathers 4 Justice. M2 EG8
8:41: Cyprus Ever wanted to see Carol Vorderman partnering a Grease reject performing a dance from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? It's all here. The song is yet another of these middle-eastern ones; the style would be getting tiresome if it weren't for the VERY short dresses on the backing dancers. M4 EG6
8:45: Spain A vaguely welcoming break from the Ricky Martin rejects that Spain has fielded recently. Spain's equivalent of a rather brash Eternal ably thrust their way through the sort of song that you used to get on Majorca holiday compilation CDs, only vaguely interrupted by a tubby gent who sounds like he has bronchitis. A couple of Spanish London Boys (Madrid Boys?) do energetic gymnastics too. Passably entertaining - nice guitar solo. M6 EG6
8:49: Israel Terry is now making drinking jokes. A reasonably pretty ballad is only a little spoiled by being sung in guttural Hebrew. It's straight, unfancy and well-performed (in two languages, naturally). The singer has a strong voice, and although the song's not to my taste, I expect this to do well. M9 EG4
8:52: Serbia and Montenergo Oooh, minor key - there's ambitious. Serbia's answer to Blue are only spoiled by more ridiculous pretend drumming. A tip, guys - jeans and timpanis do not mix. M6 EG6
8:58: The hosts are back. 'Scuse me while I find another bottle.
9:00: Denmark Apparently the vocalist is a teacher of autistic children. Doesn't excuse him wearing Graham Norton's shirt, mind you. He's performing a classy little Go West-type number (think 'King of Wishful Thinking' and you'd not be far off). He's perky, has a silly little dance routine and sounds genuinely likeable. I like. I like a lot, in fact. M9 EG5
9:03: Sweden Delightfully tacky Barry Manilow song performed by a chap with far too much leather. Livened up by some typically hot Scandinavian birds in pit-suits. Cashes in on the latest Star Wars film by pulling his light-saber out. Possibly the most seedy and greasy thing Eurovision has ever seen, but it's much, much better than an Abba tribute. M7 EG7
9:07: Macedonia This reminds me of Saturday night down the student Union. Man in pink shirt pulls three identical hot girls in very small dresses, while geeky blokes sway about in the background. And the first cheesy modulation of the night! The song is uninspired Euro-fare. I'll be very surprised if this does well, despite the overblown drum solo break (nice idea to have the big drums played by the lead singer, mind). M3 EG6
9:11: Ukraine The Ukraine have had a fine, if short history of somewhat bizarre entries, so it is a bit disappointing to see them entering the Eastern European equivalent of the Happy Mondays. Dancing and drumming are equally unconvincing. The song is rather more serious and - I gather - political than we're used to. Top marks for trying something different. M8 EG4
9:15: Germany Germany have abandoned their previous tasteless efforts in favour of a lady who seems to be raiding Garbage's back catalogue. Not a bad song this, by Eurovision standards, with a suitably metalhead band to be convincing. M8 EG5
9:19: Croatia God almighty - the drums are out again! Clearly percussion instruments are at a premium in Ukraine. Terrible song, possibly the worst of the night, carried out with enthusiasm by the lead singer but not by any of his support. That's two years in a row Croatia have tortured me - throw them out! M2 EG3
9:22: Greece Apparently this is the favourite to win, but I can't see it. Makes an ambitious attempt to combine musical styles from every part of Europe, strung together by a J-Lo wannabe and four chaps who may well be New Kids On The Block. A good effort, yes, but favourite? Surely not. Not after Moldova...M6 EG6
9:26: Russia Female rock voices are clearly another favourite this year. This song is much too bland and repetitive, though, and fails to make up for the singer's rather revealing outfit. M4 EG4
9:30: Bosnia-Herzegovina Feminem? Sorry, a band called Feminem doesn't really get my adoration, even before they've appeared on stage. They don't really make life better for themselves by doing an Abba tribute, especially because their costume designer can't afford to make three the same. Awful, awful, awful. M1 EG2
9:34: Switzerland In direct opposition, any band called Vanilla Ninja can't be bad. Four very pretty girls perform a Bond theme tune (for want of better lyrics) while dressed in Status Quo's outcasts. They're naturals on the stage, remind me of the Go-Go's and I find myself warming to them. M7 EG6
9:38: Latvia Remember Charles and Eddy? Two lovely chaps who sang a beautiful, unpretentious song while strumming gently on guitars? This is nothing like that. Banality personified, in lyric, mode, and haircut. The consensus opinion is that these chaps either have a mental disease or Parkinsons. Somebody shoot me now. M1 EG1
9:42: France Mediocre, mediocre. It's a French word, is it not? Most amusing is trying to match up the backing dancers to which Spice Girl they're supposed to be. Not a cat in Hell's chance of winning. M4 EG3
9:46: End of the songs, and time for my generally inaccurate predictions. In general, I have been disappointed by the lack of backing-dancer variety this year: no circus rejects, stripping or amusing typecast people. But, the indie-band look is in, and it has produced some pretty decent songs, so I shouldn't really complain.
9:48: Vitaliy Klitschko is brought on as the only example of a famous Ukranian.
9:51: While the votes are being counted, here are Master B's hot favourites:
- 12 Points - Moldova
- 10 Points - Norway
- 8 Points - Denmark
- 6 Points - Sweden
- 5 Points - Switzerland
- 4 Points - Greece
- 3 Points - Hungary
- 2 Points - Ukraine
- 1 Point - Spain
Clearly the Scandinavians have excelled themselves this year...
9:58: The interval performance is eagerly awaited. Bugger me - it's a bunch of blokes with drums. Is this Year Of The Percussionist or something?
10:04: Ah! Finally turned out to be Ruslana again, thankfully. Nice legs...
10:07: The second half commences. Time for 'Spokesperson look-a-like'
10:10: Austria - an ugly Cher. Impresses us with a bit of Ukranian.
10:12: Lithuania - Jamie Theakston.
10:17: Belarus - Faye from Steps. Gives 12 points to Russia - no surprise, there.
10:24: The Finnish chap doesn't look like anyone particulartly amusing, but makes a good job of being a Eurovision wally in a black and pink shirt. Vanilla Ninja are currently on top. It could be worse.
10:26: Andorra have a vote? Really? Given that they gave 10 points to Latvia, they really shouldn't have one.
10:31: Ireland give us a few points to save use from Jemini-misery. But Latvia is top! How can this be happening!?
10:33: Poland seem to have put their newsreader on by mistake.
10:34: Slovenia - Maria Sharapova, surely...
10:36: Cheryl Baker comes on to share the UK vote, sozzled out of her head. The best way to be at this time of night, methinks...
10:39: LATVIA ARE STILL WINNING!!!! I will commit violence if these two idiots are allowed to be victorious.
10:43: Romania - Phil Collins, obviously. Award Moldova 12 points. Far from surprising, perhaps, but if I ever emigrate I know where I'm going...
10:46: Turkey - Daryl Hannah.
10:48: How can a nation that produced such a good song as Moldova give Latvia 12 points??!!! Honestly, this competition defies belief.
10:49: Albania - Quincy, surely.
10:51: Cyprus are bound to give Greece 12 points, which will thankfully keep Lativa at bay for the time being.
10:52: Yup, of course they did.
10:57: Thankfully the Greeks are pulling away. I should be spared violence tonight. I don't approve of their song, particularly, but it's better than the Latvian dirge.
11:00: "It's Princess Leia", say I - a good four seconds before Terry.
11:03: Ukraine - Paris Hilton. The scoreboard breaks, restoring our faith in good old Ukranian technology. But the Ukranians vote the right way, much to the scorn of Terry, which is all that counts.
11:06: Croatia - Brigitte Nielsen.
11:09: Cyprus are so unsurprised by being given 12 points by Greece that they forgot to look happy.
11:10: Russian judge is even more sloshed than Cheryl Baker.
11:13: Even the hosts are sounding tired now...
11:16: France are last to speak. Well, they don't want to be in Europe, anyhow - by recent evidence...
In conclusion: The winning song wasn't exactly great but, as usual, it was widely acceptable, which I suppose is what counts. I do find myself wondering at what the Germans did wrong to be so cruelly cut out of the voting, and finish bottom.
Rock bands were clearly in this year, with Russia, Germany, Norway and Moldova all producing fine fare. Terry was scathingly on form this year - surprisingly, given the entrants were a lot more straight-laced than most. Overall, it still bodes well for Eurovision. I look forward to next year.