Monday, 30 April 2012

Der Coutdown Läuft

I realise the Countdown 'läuftete' weeks ago, but it's the best I can think of.

Said countdown to the Baku bunfight is getting shorter, so I thought I’d share with you some reports I’ve received of how the lunacy is faring in the UK of stuff.

So I hear anyway, it was a busy weekend some fannage, drinking in the delights of Europe’s favourite TV show in the salubrious (or not) hot spots of London and Manchester. I’ll take London first.

Writers for this website were involved in the running of said event, so I can only talk in the most glowing terms about it. The party venue was suitably packed with slightly overpriced beverages – pricey for a northerner like me anyway – but some of the usual wallopers were there to perform to a loose collection of appreciators of fine music, appreciators of Schlager, and people with no better place to be on a Sunday night in Soho.

Admittedly, I hear most of the performances were pretty good. Air miles Anggun dropped in and did an act involving blowing on stage. Luckily for us it was to blow out the candles on her 38th birthday cake. Our ‘Dream girl’ Valentina sang an almost identical song twice. Eva Boto proved how tall she was – Omar Naber proved the opposite. One singer even took time out from negotiating the course at Epsom. And Donatas Montvydas never showed up. Still, his loss.

Manchester on the other hand was a fun night of preview-ness. I understand some wanfank (I think that’s the phrase) did rather well and there were free shots for everyone. And there was a disco until dawn I think.

Yours truly will of course be in Baku and there might be a Riigi with the stars feature, filling the void left by Franko – who will be there in spirit (and free beer). But of course as I cannot reveal my identity, precautions will be taken.

The London Eurovision Party 2012


The highly enjoyable London Eurovision Party 2012 took place at Shadow Lounge on Sunday. I was to eagerly reprise my coveted backstage role of chief piano-shifter and popped along during the afternoon to catch the artistes doing their sound checks and nibbling on the various savoury and sweet snack products on offer in the VIP room (‘popped’ potato crisps and miniature bags of Haribo, thank you very much; oh yes, I may be new to these parts but I know this is the level of detail the esteemed oneurope readership has come to expect from our reportage). As has been the case for the past few years the intimacy and smaller guest list than the Amsterdam concert provides a nice contrast and the performers are able to indulge in a longer set with a couple or three songs each, if they can be bothered.

Slovene 2005 entrant Omar Naber was invited as a special guest to open the show, on account of his living in London, and he was genuinely delighted to be asked and did an acoustic version of his 2010 attempt I Still Carry On as well as his Eurovision Stop. The ever-so-tall Eva who is singing this year’s Slovenian entry followed Omar onto stage in a rather smashing pair of pink heels as high as tree-tops putting in a very fine performance. I’m quite given to this and would love it to do well in Baku. Lovely, lovely Fillipa from Portugal had her ma and pa in tow, and was on the back of just a couple of hours sleep before an early flight to London. She’d done her homework well and added a UK song (My Time) and a Portuguese classic (Conquistador) to her repertoire in a way which pleased her crowd enormously. It was then time for the first of my starring roles manoeuvring the piano on stage for the Hungarians (a couple of whom are dishier than I’d anticipated).

The omnipotent and charming Nicki French opened the second act with an edited version of her 12 minute medley and that song again in full handing over to Anggun for France, who was celebrating her birthday by singing live for us in an intriguing frock. Valentina from San Marino turned in a defiant rendition of Facebook replete with its original offending name check before relenting to EBU conformity and reprising it as Uh Uh Oh Oh Oh. She was surprisingly engaging. I was backstage before Sabena from Azerbaijan came on and offered my services for the purpose of leaning on as she changed into her stage shoes. I thought I’d take the opportunity to effuse about my impending trip to Baku, although I got the feeling she was distinctly nonplussed by my enthusiasm. Anyway she shuffled onto stage, did a cracking performance of her song (she’s a dark horse this one and no mistaking!), and shuffled off again out into the back streets of Soho’s clip joints. I suspect we’ll be best chums in Baku.

Wolf Kati was a late, and inspired, addition to the line up, being as she was in town anyway with the Hungarians who had gigged the night before. She strutted around the stage as she reprised her Big Gay Dance Track #463, telling the happy crowd that this is what she had missed since last year. Some people are just born to play to a club full of whoopsie boys and Wolf Kati is clearly one of them. The whoopsies were still whooping as the delightful Kalliopi came onto to sing her Macedonian entry. I had starring-role-with-piano number #2 so she could do a live acoustic version in English to close the show. Just time to get Anggun back on stage for a birthday cake and a good old blow at her candles before the show was over and I carried on throwing wine down my blouse and some idiosyncratic shapes on the dance floor into the exceptionally small hours. A delicious warm up for Baku where Sabena and co are waiting for me!

Monty x

Baku do you think you are?


How do? Phil has posted below that the OnEurope team in Baku will be augmented (in size at least, I can’t possibly speculate on the quality) in Baku with the addition of moi and Jody West. We’re terribly excited to be bringing you some top-notch musings from the Land Of Fire and Brimstone, where our speciality will in all likelihood be the, erm, more social side of the goings-on. We shall be throwing ourselves headlong and selflessly into the local hospitality and keeping you up to date with the low down in the EuroClub and the gossip from the Miracle Apartments, although I do also plan to see a modicum of daylight to report on the delights of downtown Baku and environs. I lived in Russia as the Soviet Union collapsed around me in 1991 so I probably have a different take on going to Eurovision in a former Soviet republic than most travelling there from western Europe. I’m intrigued to see how much the social norms may be still recognisable, my experience being that odd things happen but odd solutions make them alright. It’s going to be a jolly adventure!

By way of a small introduction, lest you not already know me (in which case well done) my Eurovision interests span 5 decades from my very early childhood memories of Saturday night family viewing (and channel hopping during the dull bits) to full-on obsessional status since the early 90s. My first times at the Contest, or at least for the Friday night rehearsals, were in Birmingham 1998 and Stockholm 2000, and I went properly for the first time in Athens 2006. I’m also one of a team of five who produce Second Cherry, a London based second-chance party which we have thrown annually since 2006 and which I present with Jody.

So more musings to come from me, but in the meantime I’ll post a review of last night’s London Eurovision Party. Drop me a comment if you want to know anything, or as we get to Baku where we’ll be from late on Friday 18th May.

Oh, and my all-important cheese credentials! I’m a full-on halloumi boy. Nothing better than a bit of squeaky cheese. 

Monty x

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Honest Phil wll be putting his bookies cap on

Again this year - I'll be analysing the betting patterns and giving you some tips as to where to place your bets!!

I'm doing some analysis today so expect report nr 1 tomorrow!! ;)

Phil

Saturday, 21 April 2012

As Someone once said

Reports of our death are greatly exaggerated. Thanks to our reader that posted that they thought we had all done a runner - nope, just had a major mobilisation at work ( I am an IT service desk manager in real life) but that's now done and our team is now assembled for the big shindig. I'm in London today so when back home, I'll fill you all in! Enjoy the can can though!!!!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Six words each.

If I'd had less time, these would be longer...

MONTENEGRO - He's just talking words at me.
ICELAND - Dramatic silence is brilliant. More please!
GREECE - Buy one, get one absolutely free.
LATVIA - Paul McCarney's stopped answering his phone.
ALBANIA - One note is not a song.
ROMANIA - You can't go wrong with bagpipes.
SWITZERLAND - Swiss rock. Always a good idea.
BELGIUM - Would you sign our petition... non?
FINLAND - Second best Swedish Finnish entry - ever.
ISRAEL - I actually like this. It's doomed.
SAN MARINO - In Siegel's head, it's still 1980.
CYPRUS - First rehearsal could be quite entertaining.
DENMARK - Eurovision's safest country plays it safe.
RUSSIA - Georgian party will have better snacks.
HUNGARY - Surely that was *last* year's theme?
AUSTRIA - Nadine Beiler would have nailed this.
MOLDOVA - Clearly inspired by Humphrey Lyttleton's horn.
IRELAND - Other Irish musical artistes are available.

SERBIA - Law of diminishing returns seems applicable.
FYR MACEDONIA - Far less funny than Samo Ti.
NETHERLANDS - Because feathers worked well for Dustin.
MALTA - Stockholm Syndrome Ta'Qali style. It'll win!
BELARUS - Belarussian rock. Always a good idea.
PORTUGAL - Somehow feel I've heard it before.
UKRAINE - Eventually we'll assess Ukraine correctly. Eventually.
BULGARIA - Love unlimited. Points probably very limited.
SLOVENIA - Possible winner. But don't tell anyone.
CROATIA - According to Wikipedia, this song exists.
SWEDEN - So obviously winning, it'll surprise everybody.
GEORGIA - Will qualify, despite its best efforts.
TURKEY - Someone liked MFO as a kid...
ESTONIA - The 1990s want their song back.
SLOVAKIA - The 1980s want their song back.
NORWAY - Electronic farting is very much now.
BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA - Isn't this semifinal ever so lovely?
LITHUANIA - Tragically for Donny, love isn't deaf.

UNITED KINGDOM - Hindsight will make the outcome obvious.
FRANCE - Great song, but not exactly instant.
ITALY - Thinks it's better than it is.
AZERBAIJAN - Azeris master the art of invisibility.
SPAIN - Swedish ballad, Spanish diva: "fanwank" defined.
GERMANY - Europe picks up phone, orders pizza.

Monday, 9 April 2012

OH MY GOD, We're nearly at the end!!! ;)

Croatia
They pissed me off with this – principally cos it’s an album track that I hate – but hey, there you go.  Same old same old….

Sweden
You all know the hype, you all know  the song – sadly, though, for you, THIS SONG IS NOT WINNING.  There, I said it publically.  It’s going to qualify fo sho, but I can’t see it getting Mrs Ferira in Setubal picking the phone up for it.  What does it actually have going for it? – Good Tune?, Debatable.  Good Lyric? – Possibly, If Loreen actually learnt diction at the Stockholm Dancemusik  Conservatoire as she seems to mumble through the song – good stage show?  Not-so-much, more like a man dancing in his own Dandruff for me.  Now, don’t get me wrong it’ll do well – but not a winner. 

Georgia
Joker??Poker ??? It’s all a bit Lisa Del Bo on Acid for me!

Turkey
Can he do it??! ( See what I did there!??!) – I always thought Bonio were a brand of Dog chews, and indeed this is a bit of a dogs dinner of a song to be honest – full of nutritious meaty chunks that Eurovision fans love, with that subtle taste of familiarity and failure.  Probably get through, but more best in kennel than best of breed. 

Estonia
I couldn’t even remember how it went before doing this review – However having reminded myself of the lovely Ott, I tore my eyes away from him ( After deciding he looks like Chris thungummy who played Robin and is out of NCIS) and listened to the song – This is class with a capital F**K.  Jonsi made me cry…… Ott got me damn close and that’s not a bad thing – This has emotion written all the way through it, and he will perform the arse off this song.  It’s going to qualify easily. 

Slovakia
We all like a bit of rawk don’t we? Not so much – but it’s the best rock song this side of , well, this song to be honest.  Slovakia are going nowhere with this – but as a piece of music outside this contest, its not half bad.  Sadly, however, I have more chance of singing this song than it does of qualifying.

Norway
Following in the footsteps of….. well… Stig of the Dump, sorry Van Eijk, our Norwegian pop star Tooji dressed like a gangsta will try to engage the populace with his cheap Norwegian disco beats  - It’s immediate enough, he has some sort of stagecraft and wiggles a lot on the stage.  He gets the girls and the girly boys come over all unnecessary but, despite that, I can see this being televoted for – Juries, however, possibly directed against it – Qualifying definitely, Top 10 in the final should be a shoe in as well.   I also understand that in Eurovision terms, it’s “modern” – so 2001 then – also May 26th is his Birthday, it’s written in the stars!

Bosnia AND Herzegovina
Not sure what to make of this song – although after :25 I want to say “ Get that Piano on Girders to Baku immediately!!!” – Typical Balkan Ballad fest to be honest – builds nicely and, again, they have stuck to what they know and will get votes from the usual places, including the juries.  It should qualify, but should struggle in the final.

Lithuania
Well well well, He’s clearly trying to be Stevie Wonder, or Jordie from Star Trek (The next generation, clearly) – but he ditches that idea and sings………. A typical Lithuanian entry, well at least two because that’s the amount of songs they have shoehorned into this one, and is, therefore, doomed to failure.  – It must be hard for someone to sing a song that’s doomed from the start – but that’s what he has. 

Friday, 6 April 2012

View from the Kiek in de Kök - Part 5

So by the time these final six songs get to perform in front of an audience of music lovers, 18 songs will have fallen by the wayside. Doubtless some of your favourites will be among then, and doubtless plenty of those I’ve tipped for finalists spots will have gone too. Either that, or I’ll be collecting a handsome number of Azeri Manats from the Serviette of Doom.

I’ll try and ignore the obvious proviso that how these songs fare may be affected by the songs that eventually get drawn around them. But as I gaze over yonder to the church of St Olav (at one time the world’s tallest building), I ask myself what I think of them…?

United Kingdom – Now I know in one of my former blogs I said that Eurovision is a young person’s game. But these words may come back to haunt me when Mr Dorsey-as-was performs his song a second time on 26 May as the credits roll up at the end. If you’ve got a seasoned performer singing a song suited to them, age is irrelevant. Cut back on the high risk strategies of fire-eating, women spinning around in boxes, fat guys dressed as penguins and twins of restricted growth, and a carefully crafted song in the right pair of hands will always do well. The Hump is on first, so Mrs Peres de Sousa of Faro will get to see this marvellous song before her port-induced stupor kicks in. So it might, just might, surprise us all. Go the Hump is what I say.

France – Air Miles Anggun appears to have been going where no French performer has gone before, namely every national final going, including her little stint in a Hellenic shopping centre. The French aren’t known for casting their net far beyond Francophone shores for Eurovision but I think this is a pretty good effort. It’s instantly catchy and includes bits in French and, heaven forefend, English. And she’s fairly easy on the eye too. All in all, them Frenchies haven’t done half bad.

Italy – A welcome return from the cold last year, our Italian cousins have kept up the good work, even though they may have been spooked by the prospect of winning and so changed their song. To my ears, it has that same friendly vibe that Serbia’s Nina gave us last year. It’s altogether inoffensive and what’s not to like about a decent Italian song. Top 10? I hope so. Top 5? Maybe. Winner? I doubt it.

Azerbaijan – Hmmm. What to say without sounding unduly harsh? Well, she looks pretty. A lot of the fannage out there really like this but I think it’s just a ballad too far. No doubt she’ll perform it well – better than her ‘interesting’ tribute to Whitney Houston all those months ago anyway – and our Oghuz hosts will go all out to showcase their three minutes of host-nation pride. But it just doesn’t hit me in the same way other songs have this year. It’ll be a respectable-for-the-host-nation top 10, but I can’t see the Eurovision circus having a second year on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

Spain – I’ve said it many times that this country has the potential to easily win Eurovision, and I’d positively relish two weeks of Contested-ness near the Costa Brava. But like their football team did for many many years, Spain just flatter to deceive. They missed a trick last year when they picked the wrong song for Lucía Peréz. This song is their best entry for a few years and may well give them their best showing since 2004. But it’s not a winner.

Germany – It’s a little known fact that this guy used to be called Etruscan Toss until they realised it might offend some quarters of Europe. So Roman Lob he is. I understand that this song has three illustrious British born writers, including Jamie Cullum. It’s another one that has something about it, but I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. It’s not as dull as some people claim, and he has a decent enough voice. The songs around this one will be key to how it does.

So can I pick a winner? Can I b*gg*ry. I rarely have in the past, so I won't this time. Just as long as the 'right' song wins. And as long as the show is enjoyable, who cares?

R x

Monday, 2 April 2012

How Azerbaijan won Eurovision by accident

When Ell and Nikki won the Eurovision Song Contest for Azerbaijan last May there were immediate loud cries of “Foul” ringing out through the concourses of the Esprit Arena. There had been accusations of dodgy dealings and backhanders from this Caucasian nation for as long as they’d been in the contest, and their win, coming as it did with such an unspectacular tune, seemed to underline this fear – particularly as their song took a unexpected charge up the betting in the last few hours before the contest finally began.

Somebody had surely got wind of the story that the contest had been fixed in their favour and whacked a massive bet on? 





It’s a popular view, but one that can be proved almost certainly untrue if you cast a statistical eye over last year’s results. For it appears that rather than taking the Eurovision crown by any grave conspiracy, Azerbaijan actually won the 2011 contest by complete accident. And here’s how…



* The scoring was incredibly and quite unpredictably spread out. A record 20 countries gained at least one set of the maximum twelve points - with only Estonia, Russia, Switzerland, Serbia and rather surprisingly the home nation Germany missing out.

* Azerbaijan themselves only received the maximum 12 points from a record low of three juries – one less than the previous year when they came fifth. AySel & Arash’s third place came with only a single maximum, but received a hefty eight ten pointers along the way.


* Of the most recent winners, Russia (2008) got seven lots of 12, Serbia (2007) and Germany (2010) got nine each, while Norway (2009) got a massive 16.


* Running Scared was also out-scored for twelve pointers in 2011 by Bosnia (five) and Italy (four), while Denmark, Georgia, Ireland and Ukraine all tied them with three maximums apiece.

* The winning song got the lowest percentage of the overall vote since Anne-Marie David won for Luxembourg in 1973.

* It also earned the lowest winning percentage in the history of the 12 points, 10 points, 8 points voting system.

* On top of all that, it's the lowest scoring winner since the introduction of two semi-finals.

* Tellingly, Running Scared failed to get any votes at all from an unprecedented 12 juries – where usually the winner only drops votes from a small handful of countries at the most. (Lena and Marija S dropped five, Dima dropped six, and the boy Ryback got votes from every single jury).

* Azerbaijan also scored six fewer points than Katrina & the Waves's 1997 victor Love Shine A Light. But the UK's last winner was only able to call on votes from 25 juries, whereas Ell & Nikki had a whopping 43 potential nations who could have thrown the points their way. 


As statistics go, that lot do appear pretty conclusive.


But while it is indeed true that the scoring at Eurovision has become far more susceptible to nobbling since the reintroduction of the juries, the televoting is still a vast and complex beast, and it would be a massive undertaking to co-ordinate that kind of continent-wide scam. Close inspection of the freakishly spread out points allocation last year suggests that this most probably didn’t happen in any successful way.



Aside from all these facts and figures, you must also take into consideration the fact that traditional vote sponges (and allies to Azerbaijan) Russia and Turkey had sent uncharacteristically weak songs. The points they didn’t get had to go somewhere, and Azerbaijan was a likely first port of call.



Also remember that despite not really liking at the time, you’ve been singing Running Scared in your head at least once a week since last May – so it must surely have been a better song than you first gave it credit for. Add these factors to the huge body of statistical evidence I’ve outlined above and you’ll have to agree, however churlishly, that it can’t have won by anything other than fair means.



After all, looking at those scores in detail it’s evidently clear that anyone who actually tried to fix last year’s contest, from whatever nation, must have been really, really shit at it.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Are we STILL reviewing these fecking songs?!?!?!


Serbia

He's as dependable as your local LibDem councillor is old Zelikjo, you know what you're gonna get. Lots of bluster, lots of knocking on doors in his constituency to ask if you want to vote for him, you*say* yes, but ultimately he comes in 3rd. And so it is with his latest Lane Moje Copy.  I understand why people think this will do well, but I think it still misses the mark, his constituency will vote for it, don’t think the swingometer makes it across the winning line.  Qualifying? - Yes

Macedonia ( FYR or not, depending on leanings)

We demanded Samo Ti the 2nd and got something completely different.  I'm not sure what to make of it - I think its going to grow on me, however the Juries might like it, but its not televoter friendly - doesn't stop it being good, though but the 2 songs sellotaped together feel might.  Close, but no cigar - not qualifying  

Netherlands

Well when I was 5 or, indeed 3, it was 1983 or 1981, which is precisely where this song takes me back to.  Its nostalgia with a capital Cheese, and yet - it has a sweet understated quality which never fails to get me humming to it.  All the bollocks about red Indians and PC stuff really is just that, bollocks! - It's cowboys and Indians, not cowboys and native American indigenous people FFS.  Anyway back to the song, I don’t know if Joan will be right up your Street, but it should well qualify on niceness alone.

Malta

We were there when this beat Deborah C Feat.Layla James into not-very-close-to-the-top place ( indeed my slightly thinning hairline and large frame is plastered ALL over goddam youtube in every bloody Maltese video, but that’s front row seats for you!).  Kurt's preview video is quite frankly hideously wooden and doesn’t represent what an engaging live singer he actually is so discount that.  His live Final performance in Ta Qali should get his close to qualifying, but 8th-14th place is the best he can hope for.

Belarus

If ever you have asked yourself the question " That Magnus Carlsson from Barbados and Alcazar, if he had a  younger brother, would he be Belarusian?" then firstly, GET OUT MORE, and secondly, the answer is yes! - For those of us of an older age, this reminds us (and by us, I mean me) of something from the Swedish final of 1998, but it is revolutionary in terms of Belarusian Eurovision Entries.  I think its just about strong enough to get through on likeability and the schlagerness of it is good, although he shouldn’t dress in his best BMX kit in Baku though.

Portugal

And so to my friend Carlos and Mr Eurovision Andrej Babic writing for Portugal.  I'm rather miffed that RTP won't let Andrej on stage or anywhere near this entry, but are quite happy to write genius like this.  Senhora Do Mar was indeed a high water mark ( see what I did there?!?) with regards to Portuguese Fado in Eurovision and, despite FDC 2012 being Fado esque in style (year of it, dontcha know?!) - This is lighter than Senhora.... Diet Senhora, if you will, with a diet singer in Filipa Sousa.   It doesn't have the intensity or the "fuck me!" moments, sadly, not qualifying but I still think its ace.

Ukraine

Be her Guest?? - Oh all right then, but then again, would YOU refuse Gaitana?  She is a singer in the vain of Ani Lorak but she doesn’t have Ani's songs, or stage craft, but I will pay money to see cornet players on stage in Baku.  Qualifying easily though.

Bulgaria

Love Unlimited you say?! I suspect its limited to 2:59 to be quite honest with you.  Bulgaria's best attempt since Voda I would hazard to say, however it seems to be lacking something again, though Sofi is doing a darn good job selling the song to be honest.  Qualifying? - Nope, just missing out

Slovenia

I can't believe that Eva is only SIXTEEN years of age, firstly, if anyone saw her perform this song in the EMA ( well you all should have, its the goddam preview video!), you can't fail to be blown away by the talent and vocal range that she has.  RTVSLO has decreed it to be in Slovene, and that’s the right decision as far as I am concerned, it has all the right ingredients for a good song, cracking backing singers, Israeli dance moves, Molditva moments... it borrows the lot from everyone, her talent just drives this forward and will rightly qualify.  Unfortunately come the final, I fear she'll have to take back all of the things she borrowed to their rightful owners and she might get swallowed up, but lets hope not ;)