Monday, 28 May 2012

SWEDEN
LAND OF AMUSINGLY NAMED FOODSTUFFS


Personal bankruptcy has never been so tempting...



Sunday, 27 May 2012

5th - 1st

Albania - Jury sponge clearly, not so much with yer televoting. Her vocal skill will always be in doubt, but it clearly won some people.

Azerbaijan. Home town result methinks. Not strong enough or close enough to win, but just interested enough to keep them going.

Serbia - As nailed on a Top 3 as you could ever hope to get. It hit all the right notes in the East and gained enough west of the Balkans to come 3rd. Not a surprise.

Russia - Nuff Said.

Sweden - Possibly one of the most commercial winners ever? - Modern sound and walked away with 18 Top scores and 5 2nd places. You can't argue with that!

Results. 10th-6th

Spain. Best result in ages. Deserved more cos of performance but satisfied I would hope. Fans wouldn't be as not wonning.

Italy. Confusing result. Great song under performed leads to 100 points but not as many as she could have squeezed out of it. Underpar score for this song.

Germany. Complete opposite of above, over scored if anything. Good looks helped but still a dodgy song. Televoter friendly you would think.

Turkey. Frankly your guess is as good as mine. This baffles me!!!

Estonia. Hooray, good song and emotion equals points. Ott sung well without trying too hard. ERR should be well chuffed.

The morning after the night before

Or should I say the late afternoon after the night before! We really are going to be struggling to pull ourselves back onto a western european timezone aren't we? Getting to bed at 9am and sleeping til 4pm isn't going to be easy to adjust from! No hangover today though as we only had a few beers at the euroclub as it was getting light outside, crazy! Glad next year we will be on more normal times next year so we might get to see lunchtime in Stockholm!!!

We are getting some great results analysis here on the blog already so I'll just mention a few things on the voting. Firstly, I am euphoric for Loreen after missing out on the final in Sweden last year and equally euphoric for Sweden after putting on such great Melodifestivalen shows over the years and doing badly at the contest in the main. Say what you like about the formulaic nature of their selection and the recent slump in standard of music, it's a continuing success story and proof that the UK seriously needs to look again at our relationship with the contest. We spoke to the UK head of delegation and, whilst disappointed, he seems to know what needs to be done in the future though getting that message to the decision makers in the beeb will be a continuing battle. Gosh knows what will happen next year and who and what will be our entry on the Stockholm 2013 stage. But that's for later isn't it?

Englebert performed well though many people said he was slightly off vocally in the jury final, the staging was great and I think we deserved better than 25th. Definately a case of killed by the draw in a strong field. We've been interviewed for the beeb too giving our reaction. They expected us to be shocked and gutted and were surprised we had predicted a low score and how enthusiastic we were for Sweden. Will they ever understand us fanoraks...?

So Sweden scored from everyone except Italy (a possible tactical jury vote?) and received 18 douze points... I knew when she was getting 7's and 8's from the Balkans she was going to be up there. Out of everyone who voted for her, the lowest was a 3 from Portugal.

Russia scored from everyone except Switzerland but generally more middle scores in the 5-8 range. Interestingly only one 12 from Belarus.

UK narrowly missed coming 26th which, had it happened, would have given us the dubious honour of being the only country to ever come 26th and on two occasions. Thanks Tooji for putting Norway in that special club too! He must be gutted!

So pleased that Albania and Estonia scored so well. Ott deserved that and we had a chat with him too. He was having his first drink in two months and I informed him I'd not not had a drink for two months...

I think it's safe to say that Lynda Woodruff (aka Sarah Dawn Finer) will be one of the hosts next year. Loved the fact that she read the Swedish results like that!

We're off to meet some other fans who are lingering longer in Baku for dinner in Fountain Square tonight and I fancy a final visit to that bar!!  Tomorrow we will do a free bus tour of the city and have a stroll-ette in the old town and basically gather our thoughts, dirty clothes and euro tat and shove it our cases for our early morning departure to Heathrow on Tuesday.

xx



Euphoric – but also ill...


Hello all, just a very quick post to comment on last night’s result. I’m thrilled for Sweden and Loreen which was my favourite all along, though a bit surprised it was quite such a runaway winner, almost equaling Alexander Bareback’s record total (perhaps ironically as Norway themselves came last). A very disappointing result for the UK, but all accounts are that he fluffed the jury final on Friday which was where his votes were coming from really. The draw in the final killed the televoting chances. Our very lovely friend Liam Jarnecki has pointed out that over the past 4 Contests 39 different countries have awarded the UK points, so that somewhat disproves the simplistic allegation that Europe just doesn’t like the UK. Oh well. We chatted to the BBC Head Of Delegation afterwards who was philosophical and agreed with us that it would be good for the BBC bosses who are the ones who actually make these decisions to have a rethink – Sweden’s success with both this and Melodifestivalen has been the result of somebody with good knowledge and vision taking the helm, whatever you may think of the merits of the show’s content. Being the biggest show in Swedish TV can’t be a wrong approach.  

Kurt from Malta was one of the last to leave the after-show party having danced his pants off. We chatted for quite a while before he left. He was disappointed to have done so poorly, but we tried to boost his spirits by pointing out he’d beaten two global superstars in the UK and France. Ott from Estonia was being mobbed for photos, and enjoying his first booze-flavoured drink for two months. And I got one last look at that Romanian boy, but my hands were still not quite on his squeezebox. You'll be pleased to know we stayed until the bitterest of bitter ends being thrown out of the party with the dregs at 9am, just so we could bring you any late gossip. You know it's a late night and you've overcooked it when even all the Finns have left before you...

I’m going to be quiet from now on, as my traditional Eurovision raspy throat has proved to be a bit if a stinker of a cold so what with the late nights and all that double-ended action (I’m talking about candle burning you realise) I am feeling particularly under the weather today. I will do a final round up before the season ends though. Hope you’ve all enjoyed seeing it through our eyes and I’ll blog for you soon. Oh, and you may have seen us on BBC Breakfast today: I haven’t a clue what I said so I hope it was coherent!

Monty x

15th-11th

Ukraine. Stumped here. Thought it would have done better, had televote written all through it. Guess their trumpet didn't make them Europes?!

Lithuania. Clear jury sponge. Thankfully his dodgy dad dancing stuffed his televote.

Macedonia. 13th is perfectly respectable for this one. Belted out by a seasoned singer and was a joy to watch. She could teach Jedward a thing or 10.

Romania. Perfectly passable and uptempo. Should have televoted well but I guess not memorable enough in this year to get em voting. I would be a little bit peeved if I was TVR.

Moldova. If Ukraines trumpets didn't work, his certainly weren't going to!!!! camp dancing a turn off???

Results part 2. 20-16th

Am tapping this out at burger king in Marylebone station #Stickingittotheman.

Iceland. Perhaps Europe didn't like big overblown ballads. Oh wait.

Ireland. Proof if it were needed that one trick ponies only work the once. I suspect we shan't be seeing then again next year. Backing singer more evident this time round and boredom of them lead to 19th.

Bosnia. If its all political how come 18th?? Balkan song for Balkan people, sung well but no appeal out of the old country. It didn't get it's mandatory 12 from Switzerland either.

Greece. Lowest position for an eternity 17th. Sighs of relief all round but c'mon, when your formula has this many holes in it not even your own fans should be surprised. Badly sung, badly thought out and finally got what it deserved.

Cyprus. Beat Greece which was not a shock, but only by 1 which was. Came across well but suspect throaty style and dodgy notes did for this one.

Ok. So let's analyse the results. Part 1

Am gonna do the finalists in reverse order I think.

Norway. You can't hide the fact that you are having trouble with a bad song with a dance routine. Europe are many things but they are not stupid.

United Kingdom. Bit harsh but not unexpected. A sweet song murdered in the jury final and Unmemorable in the final leads to not enough votes. 12 is a bit low, but totally understandable.

Hungary. Accidental low placing here. It's a credible album track but again wasn't punchy enough to get anyone picking phone up.

Denmark. First shock for me. I would have put money on this being top 5 as it's what Denmark have been doing of late. Perhaps Europe got bored with plodding and forgot to call. Either way this should be a wakeup call to change the song style.

France. Another shocker. France3 sent her everywhere, however when it comes to the crunch it was shown to be performance over substance- didn't help that she was having issues with singing. 2nd year in a row they have failed with fancied songs. Poor singer choice?

Malta. Arguably lucky to get to the final, but he milked all the points he could out of this in all honesty, and then some. TVM should be happy with this. It's better than camp Vella.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

The whole year for this night...

So we are here...

At the press centre less than two hours to go before the show! This is the most exciting time of the year for all of us and I have images in my head of the people that are not here in Baku making their way to friends' houses for parties or Tesco's to pick up a box of wine and nibbles to accompany them through the evening. Wherever you are tonight, enjoy the show and vote wisely!  I have had an absolute ball here in Baku and, despite the tiredness, enjoying every minute.  But I think you knew that..

We enjoyed a fantastic party at the Mirakel Hotel that apparently went on til 6am (so if Pasha Parforthecourse looks a bit tired tonight, that's why). Thanks to Konstantin Ohr and his team for pulling off a great night at last minute. We popped into the club with no name and had an equally joyous time and failed miserably in avoiding the one manat vodkary shots.  So it was a very big edge that needed taking off this afternoon when we sampled the eurovision vodkas at the Hilton 360 rotating bar. Is it a sign that we all chose Sweden?

Another dinner at the City Cafe in Fountain Square and we plucked up the courage to ask our favourite waiter to be in a photo with us! He was a bit puzzled as to why we wanted him to be in it. They're a bit slow on the uptake here in Baku in these areas!  Now in the press centre which is heaving, these part timers eh?

I'll not humilate myself with a prediction here but I am joint in the lead with the napkin of doom which I think isn't too bad for my first year!!

I'll just say that it's between Russia and Sweden but I'd love to think Spain will be up there too...
Watch out for Estonia
UK won't do well from that draw I fear and there will be the usual bash the foreigners post mortem afterwards!
Looking at the voting order, Serbia will take an early lead only to be caught up by Sweden as the west and nordics vote and possibly then Russia will have a late rally?

Oh gosh, now I am excited people!

Rose needs a glass of rose but none available here, aaargh!!!

xx

Eurovision minus 2 - Happy Christmas everyone!

Good evening On Europeans, just time for a quickie (steady!) before we go in to the hall. We have just arrived in the press centre following a lovely evening with other UK fans at the Baku Hilton revolving bar, with a full list of Eurovision cocktails, one for each competing nation. No we didn't manage 42 (they're 12 Man-nuts each and not even I can drink that much in one sitting) but I did choose a Euphoria which was a fruity vodka concoction, and I hope I shall still be Euphoric at 3.30am local time. I have fancy I may be in a body-bag the way things are going on the socialising front: partying is most definitely winning the contest over its opposition of sleeping. We've also just had a final dinner with some of the team from All Kinds Of Everything and a very mysterious Estonian.

So now it's all over bar the shouting. I know several of you will be seeing the whole thing for the first time tonight, and it is admittedly a slow start with the draw, but Enge is up first and then things lull a little for the average viewer until the Babushki come along. From there it's a real vintage year and you're in for a treat, replete with the President's son in law as your interval entertainment. Somehow he's more important to showcase than the past five winners they bussed in for the second semi final. Presumably they have been sent home now?

The press centre is a little subdued to be honest, but so many have been here for two weeks now fatigue is setting in, but once those votes come rolling in we will be as perky as you like, as there's no obvious runaway this year, and whilst most are tipping Sweden, Spain, Italy, Serbia or Russia we could yet have a big surprise on our hands: Valetta or Nicosia 2013 anyone? Or even back here in the Baku Crystal Hall...I'm certainly in.

I'd like to echo Phil's thanks for reading, viewing, and commenting, it has been a true pleasure to be part of this. Enjoy the show, folks, and look out for the flags of all nations being recreated in the lights of this amazing arena before each song starts: they're being shot live and they are spectacular.

Right, I'm off before I have my annual moment when I realise I'm actually AT the bloody Eurovision Song Contest and come over all a bit lachrymose. Oops, there's a tear welling up, I might be just a fraction too late...

Monty x

There is a cello (there is a cello) (there is a cellooooooo...)

I've had an email from THE FUTURE, informing me of tonight's results. Having said that, it also informed me of the best place to buy cheap Viagra handbags online, so take it with the usual pinch of salt.

First up, apparently the bottom 6 are going to be UK, France, Hungary, Lithuania, Norway and Iceland in some order. Norway came as a little bit of a surprise, but I'm told he's going to miss half the notes so badly that it can't pass unnoticed.

The rest of the bottom half is going to include Albania, Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Bosnia, Romania and Denmark. The latter two will be particularly disappointed with their result, but they're just swamped in a high octane part of the draw.

That leaves another three to finish outside the top 10, and that will be Malta, Moldova and Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan's 11th place will be a real shock to the system.

In 10th place, it'll be FYR Macedonia. Looking just at the votes from the Balkan region, it'll win. But as always with that country it won't travel.

9th place is lined up for Ireland. An excellent televote result all over will be tempered by a level of jury meh.

A safe 8th place is reserved for Turkey, apparently.

Greece will be 7th, just like every other year.

Spain will be delighted and disappointed with a 6th place finish, carried along on a wave of jury love.

Ukraine in 5th will put in a really solid show in televoting, but be dragged down a little by juries. This will annoy those of me who have backed them to finish in the top 4.

Serbia's lined up for Zeljko's traditional round-about 4th. He will be ever so pleased not to have lost to a Ukrainian woman who shouts "hey" many many times again.

Russia's a very respectable 3rd overall off a narrow televoting victory.

Italy's 2nd again - the jury winner by a narrower margin than last year bolstered by more televoting love than last year.

That leaves us with a compromise winner, and it's Sweden. Top 3 in both constituencies, taken over the line because so many music professionals around Europe know exactly what it's like to swallow a dollop of polystyrene snow when you're in the middle of singing a very lovely song, and will have sympathy. It's happened to us all, hasn't it?

I'm off now to buy an absolutely genuine Rolex for as little as £4.99. You can't argue with value like that! Enjoy the show, and don't forget to be irrationally angry about at least one of the results as that's three-quarters of the fun!

My usual round of thanks.

As is traditional, it's time I thanked people!!!

Firstly, to my spectacular team of 6. You have all been several shades of magnificent and compliment each other well Rosé and Mr Monty, this is a public statement to say you can ask any time to be accredited through us again. You clearly live the onEurope brand by caring just enough and not caring loads. Nick and F and Roy have had various shades of a life, but drive bys for the win, and a special shout out to Riigi who, despite the rigours of working for their website, made time to write for ours too.

Secondly, I'd like to thank a message board in a galaxy not that far away, for making me realise lots of things I can't type here, and mainly for making me trust my product and my own writing!!

Finally I'd like to thank you, the viewing thousands, for staying glued to your computers at Nina silly o clock in the morning waiting for me to write something!! I Always remember that you do not have to visit and there are other choices, but I am proud and honoured you chose to at least spend part of your Eurovision experience with us. it means the world to me.

Now. Presently. I am on a train to London town to watch the contest on telly live for the first time since 1999 and I hate it. Today is the day I have wished most that I was in Baku. I swear wherever it will be next year, OnEurope and I will be there!!!

So, who's to the wonning then?

Comment below. Winner, last and accidental last.

Me? Italy, Albania and possibly Hungary

Playback....


Morning! If this was an audio blog you would learn that I am croaking that with a rasp the size of Poland. Whilst others of this parish were writing and recording their thoughts Mr West and I were sampling the delights of firstly the excellent OGAE party that had been brought to our doorstep and which poured vodkas the size of Russia and subsequently the nightclub that dare not speak its name until stupid o’clock this morning . I shall be resting my larynx and be on playback for the rest of the week. I’m going to see if I can revive it with a medicinal cocktail at the swanky revolving bar in the Hilton Baku after I’ve picked up my ticket for the show. We’re anticipating security to be exceptionally tight tonight but hoping to be able to make it to the press centre to update before the show. But if not we’ll see you on the other side! FAB EUROVISION to you all, and thanks for being with us.

Monty x

Hacksaw musings

During a quiet time in the Press Centre, Roy of the Hacksaw gave his incredibly considered views on what we'll see tonight from the Crystall (sic) Hall.

See what you think.

http://youtu.be/SZEauCtextQ


R x

Day 956 in the Eurovision House

So we're here.  Happy Eurovision Day everyone.  I hope the roast Turkey is in the oven and the presents are under the tree with its Lys Assia at the top.

I'm having a quiet hour in the press centre with some associates and it's nice and quiet.  A bit like the first Sunday.  We're discussing what could win - more later - and determining the merits of cherry, feyxoa and pear fizzy pop.  It's all very pleasant.  And like the lull before the car crash that takes place at midnight local time.

Anyways, what could win?  We're finding possible reasons for pretty much every song.  I was working for another parish in the Crystall Ball Hall yesterday so wasn't really concentrating much on the performances.  But I have a sneaking suspicion it'll be a country beginning with the letter 'S'.

Loreen has been a favourite among the fannage for months and while she's not the best singer, it's a very modern progressive song and will be a summer hit all over Europe.  Serbia's Zeljko (Dennis Waterman of Belgrade if you will) is a solid performer.  He'll mop up large amounts of votes from his end of Europe, and he's on late in the draw.  And Pastora sings the arse out of her very very good ballad.

But what else could there be in the final mix on that lucky left side of the scoreboard?  The grannies will do well.  Maybe not win.  But will do well.  Iceland has arguably the best song from the Nordic area of Europe.  It's dramatic and a contrast to the aforementioned grannies before it.  Estonia (mu isumaa, mu õnn ja rõõm) has always been my own personal favourite this year.  Ott can not only carry a tune in a bucket, he can do it without spilling a drop and place it deftly in one of those water containers you used to see on 'Jeux sans frontieres'.  Fingers crossed he'll be there in the final mix.

Turkey was the big crowd favourite on Thursday night.  He sells a humdrum Turkey-by-numbers song very well and it's full of gimmicks that seem to work. Don't be surprised if the audience reaction bumps this up a few notches.  Jedward are Jedward.  Mad as toast and bouncing around the stage after what must be several litres of fizzy red pop.  Getting wet on stage is fraught with problems and could go horribly horribly wrong.  But they have a huge fan base all over Europe and might be up there too.  Ukraine has sent its anthem for Euro 2012 and is upbeat, catchy and will have the crowd on its feet.

Onto the rest of the rest of the big five plus one:  Engelbert is saddled with too early a draw to win.  But like Jedward he is a known name all over this great continent of ours and might mop up some middle order votes here and there.  Anggun (10 dollar) seems to be doing too much with this.  It's busy busy busy and gymnasts doing things with boxes just doesn't work.  Italy is a class act.  She's confident, professional and knows what she's doing.  A contest in Turin would be very nice.  Azerbaijan have gone down the respectable-yet-won't-win road.  A very wise choice as winning two years in a row is never advised.  Sabina'll do well on home turf, but we won't be here next May.  Germany had a world beater of a song when they got here.  Great performance, genial singer, good pedigree.  But somehow it gets lost immediately after Spain.  Fair play to ARD and the other big five broadcasters for really raising their gamesthis year, but it ain't going to Germany.

The other songs I've not mentioned are also all in with a slim chance.  You have your favourites - I have mine.  We know it's going to be a darn good show tonight.  We're going to have the winner we deserve, just as we do every year.  We're going to look forward to going to [insert city name here] in 2013 and doing it all over again.

If I don't manage to blog before the show, enjoy it, sing along, dance around, drink your fill.  And I'd like to thank you all for reading my musings over the weeks.

I love ya all

Riigiametnik  xxx

Friday, 25 May 2012

Final rehearsal Live Blog

Right, thats it - Bedtime for me. Winner? - Well Italy, Spain, Ukraine, Russia, Sweden, Romania.... oooh I don't know lol - Ask me tomorrow!!!

21.57 - Moldova. Song 26 and possibly the most lively one of the lot. Pasha will attack this I suspect tomorrow as he has nothing else to lose, sounds ok and will look camp as Butlins, but may well do very well.

21.53 - Ukraine. Very good song, lively and uptempo and worthy of a good finish. I hope she beats her chest again tomorrow!

21.49 - Serbia. Its ok - vocally spot on as usual, which is good - dangerous draw position!!

21.44 - Ireland. It is what it is. Dangerous and backing singer led pap.

21.40 - Song 22, FYR(or not) Macedonia. This is how a good song should be sung. Pity it's not Samo Ti really, but Eurovision owes her a chance - and she takes it with both hands. Good song sung well.

21.37 - Malta. Where is Deborah C Feat. Layla James?? - They aren't here but Kurt is. He's a good live performer, and did well to qualify (probably in =10th), but I just think in this final it'll not do a great deal.

21.32 - Germany. Eeerm, Standard fayre here from Herr Flick, sorry Lob. Its an average song sung averagely by an average performer. It'll do OK but nothing to set the house on fire.

21.28 - Spain. Sounds pretty decent in comparison to some of the failures that we have had tonight, Pastora hits the high note and keeps it in the right modulation, this just might have a chance as the big one. Spain to the wonning? - Maybe.

21.24 - Turkey. HOW did this qualify? - Anyway This sounds better than it did on Thursday and, again, will appeal to its disaspora, but very few jurors. This song is a walking euphamism isn't it?!

21.19 - Sweden. Clearly Loreen is over-rated fanwank at Even Money with many UK Bookmakers of repute. Might as well go home, right? - not so much actually. Again, its the EUROVISION song contest and not Euradio cos she is a very bad singer, performing a very half arsed song like something possessed. Winner? - Maybe, but only because it's the one people think they "should" vote for, it could be said. - Edit, untill SHE forgot her line as well, well coughed on some dandruff actually..... last 45 seconds less than perfect.

21.15 - Greece. Now we can hazard a guess as to why this qualified the other night, but to my ear she sounds worse than she did in the rehearsals. She really does sound like a petulant 8 yr old screaming the words at me. However, It'll do well in its usual places and that should be enough to scrape into the top 10 - Sadly.

21.11 - Denmark. There is not a lot you can do with this song to make it do anything other than plod into the higher reaches of the 6th-10th bracket. Jury sponge and she makes a good fist of it to be honest. Not in contending for winning, but close.

21.07 - Romania. They are going to win in a 5 year moving window dont you know. Not with this, but they'll do "right well" IF her in ear monitors don't fail - I think she did incredibly well considering. Sounds spot on tonight again. Top 5 RIGHT up until she forgot her lyric in the middle of the song. Cardinal Sin there love.

21.02 - Azerbaijan. Hmmmm... not really sure about this. Gets hometown support, clearly, but I just think its forgettable tosh sung well though.

20.57 - Norway. Tooji coming after Ott, thats a bad idea. Shows up how light this song is in comparison to the leaden voice of Ott. He sounds in better voice than he was in the semi - Top 10 I suspect.

20.54 - Estonia. Ott making me cry again, this is what a ballad should sound like. Definite Top 10 me thinks.

20.50 - Italy. Still a class song. Performed very well to my ear.

20.46 - France. Air Miles Anggun took Ivi singing lessons at the start of this one and was off key massivly. However, she perks up towards the end and remembers what key the song is written in. Very shaky vocal and trying too hard in places.

20.42 - Cyprus. Ivi has murdered her chance of jury votes by very off key singing and it is really uncomfy to listen too. It'll look better but it sounds very very bad indeed.

20.36 - Iceland. Fab vocal perfomance and a nailed on Top 10 I would think.

20.33 - Russia. Some people say that this is winning?! - I can tell you it isn't, but as has been pointed out its going to go close. If this wins, then the Eurovision has taken a step back 20 years at least.

20.28 - Bosnia. It is what it is - well sung but a little bit dreary, however Jurors will like this kind of thing. To what extent? - Not sure. Can't see it scoring highly.

20.25. Its a shame this isn't a radio contest, because Donny sounds really good, he just oversells the song though and, as its Eurovision and not Euradio......

20.21 - Albania. It is what it is. She is very strong - I just think the song is a bit too "out there" for the jurors.

20.17 - Hungary. Much as it pains me, this has pissed on The Hump's chips. This is in key and sounds very competent. If I was a juror, this would be scoring higher than UK by miles. Genuine Top 10 contender.

20.12 - Hump on first! - Massive cheer in the hall can't hide the off key notes here. There will be better performances than that tonight, however not without chances.

20.10 - OMG the hosts are annoying on Audio - in the TV they are going to be even worse!!

20.05 - Good news, I can hear the background noise of Baku so we should have some info for yer ASAP ;) - Song one, the UK of Stuff!

19.58 - If it works it will be here!

Danga danga!

Great quote from one of the Bosnian delegation after they qualified yesterday. They were so relieved that a simple song like theirs had gone to the final rather than "another one of those songs with all that danga danga"

Whether you like your danga danga or not, enjoy the show tomorrow wherever you are watching it!
Still having a blast but golly, I'm tired!!

And the winner is..... Spain!

Well not really. The first rehearsal has just finished here in Baku and the dummy voting has proclaimed Spain as the winner! Could that actually happen in reality tomorrow Oneuropaneers? You know what, it's not out of the realms of possibilty....

Maybe I'm totally submerged now in the Baku bubble but I was sat with Monty and Andrew of the other parish in the hall and all three of us were in bloody tears at the Pastora's performance. She nails it every time, will Europe go for it?

As I watched Loreen I did get a strong feeling that I was watching the winner. Sweden aren't daft, they are getting better and better and it does indeed work well on screen now.

Serbia is also very dangerous from that draw and with the points he already has in the bag, he has to be a serious contender.

I have a sneaky suspicion too that Estonia could provide a shock.

Nina for Italy has a bright blue wig and wearing a horrid silver dress that makes her look flat-chested. I'm hoping that this is only a rehearsal outfit.

We are surprised that there is a break coming before Azerbaijan as that normally hinders a song's chances though they need an excuse to big up her entrance I suppose, local girl done good...blah blah blah!

Denmark being sandwiched between Greece and Romania really helps Denmark and I don't see Romania doing so well now. Similarly, Germany are looking weaker after the rousing Spanish song.

All in all a great final and I think the winner will beging with an S, but don't ask me which one!





The opening sequence looks nice by the way. That Danny Saucedo has a lot to answer for, lots of insertions of glowsticks into the dancers costumes here! A modern and traditional dance mash up with guys being propelled up into the air on wires. It's a kind of Azeri riverdance and an impressive opening. Eldar and Nikki then mince in and reprise their winning song. Nikki seems to be wearing huge Jackie O shades and I really can't see the point.


It’s all about Sweden. And Spain. And Serbia. And maybe Ukraine...


Fresh from the first run through of the final, with a chance to see and hear how the songs all work in running order and against one another, some are coming up whilst others are getting lost. The draw isn’t the most exciting start, and it’s only really when the grannies come on that things get going, which may be a worry for the casual viewer. Once it dews though it’s cracking. I’m very sorry to say that Italy isn’t quite as promising as it was, and Nina’s frock, which is silver and cut high on one thigh isn’t working. Fear not though, On Europeans, we have sent a message to her right hand man and suggested it’s changed pronto. If she does and it works we’ll pop in a bill for our commission.

Stand outs for me are Cyprus, as it’s come up so much – Ivi looks great and this is fun; Sweden, which has the real feeling of a winner as Loreen slumps down to get snowed on; and Spain which was electrifying as Pastora hit that long note – it’s a real wow moment, and a Spanish win is really – finally – a possibility I think. Serbia sounds great especially with its draw and Ukraine’s placing could see her slip into the lead too. Those of the bigger songs that didn’t really work included Turkey which sounds flat after Sweden, and Germany, which sounds flat after Spain, and whilst I think the home song is great and wonderfully well sung the projections they do onto her frock are a strange distraction and the addition of a wailing man is just incongruous. And of course, even with an early draw we still can’t really discount the grannies, though I don’t think this will actually be enough to win, but they will melt many a heart as the performance is extremely well staged.

So, what will it be? We’ll know in the early hours of Sunday local time. I might be asleep by then, I’m exhausted! There’s a party in our hotel this evening, the OGAE party moved from EuroClub due to ongoing discussions about the music policy. It appears the EuroClub organisers aren’t keen on a blanket, or even majority Eurovision playlist, which is a particularly odd thing for a fan club party and a blow to those who have travelled the distance without access to EuroClub via accreditation. The move to our gaff, and in the open air, somewhat precludes me having an early night, however...

Oh, and there is a small problem with my ticket for the live show: they are issued with names and passport numbers for security, presumably because all the president’s men will be in the good seats, an mine has the wrong name on. I’m hoping to have it in my possession tomorrow, and would like to publicly thank the OGAE UK team who have been so patient in dealing with ticketing issues. You’ve done a great job guys!

Monty x

Italy, Azerbaijan and Spain press conference

I am falling in love with Nina!  She's just striking the right balance between sassy, witty and charming. The Italian delegation hinted they would continue in eurovision and still link it with San Remo though, as this year, not send the winner of San Remo automatically to the contest.  In choosing Nina, they feel they are showing the modern face of Italian music albeit with a retro styled song.

Sabina next for the host nation. She presented flags of the sixteen nations who didn't make it through the semis. When I say presented, she flounced past the flags already assembled on the desk and then moved them a couple of inches along the desk helped by the moderator!  Still a nice touch.

She was asked 'that' question about certain nations not being here and gave 'that' answer that eurovision is all about music, not politics.

The gorgeous Pastora next. She's still nervous in English but fair dues for learning it for the contest. She was asked about the rumour TVE don't want to host the contest which she flatly denied. She said she had been mis-quoted and the many Spanish press in the room were clearly agitated at this rumour. She sang her song and then a traditional andalucian song Copla which brought the house down!  I love her too...

We are heading into the arena to see the dress rehearsal of the final!  Eek..


It's eurovision eve.....

Eek, it's eurovision eve!

Couldn't agree more with our myserious Estonian on our impressions of the city of Baku and its people. I love the way people just smile at you on the street and want to shake your hand ask where you are from. I can't believe how much eurovision branding there is in the city, banners, flags, posters.... every bus seems to be eurovision branded and of course the London cabs are too.

I have developed my usual case of eurovision throat. I think it was a very overblown version of Quedate Conmigo in the club the other night that did it. I am just not hitting the high notes anymore so am having to seriously scale back my performances! I couldn't cheer as much as I wanted to last night for my favourites.

Very happy for Malta and Estonia. I had Croatia and Slovenia as qualifying and was a little surprised with Lithuania. 8/10 which seems to be what most people predicted.

It's the big six press conferences this afternoon. Englebert has just been draped in a union jack at his and seems in very good spirits. He revealed that , had he been asked earlier  in his career, he would have said yes in a heartbeat. He also revealed a gift pendant that he was given by Elvis Presley back in the day and he's carrying it here in Baku for good luck. The BBC team feel there is a good vibe around eurovision in the UK press this year and reminded us that 13 million viewers tuned in last year. He was whisked out to do a live link into the Ken Bruce show so there's no rest for him... just like us!!

Lovely Mr Lube for Germany has just conferenced. He revealed there are no plans to record Standing Still in German as he feels in English it will be better received and his favourite songs this year are Sweden and Norway and that he is sad Austria didn't male it.


UK Press Conference


Engelbert has just done his second press conference and seems relaxed and happy, grateful for all the work that the production team are putting into getting every detail right, and gracious about fellow competitors. He’s hopeful the song will go on to be a standard of the type he is known for in his long career, and presented a lucky charm that was given to him Elvis Presley. We also chatted again to Arlene who has just flown back into Baku having returned to the UK to attend the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations.






Monty x

Video!!! Our pundits strike again

Just before things got too messy last night (and they did by all accounts), our hosts with the most gave us some more views on what they thought of the second semi-final.

 http://youtu.be/r3AqeiTN9Sk

Enjoy!!

Riigi x

Almost there


What a great second semi final! We now have all our finalists and a great line up for tomorrow night. We’re in the press centre for the last big 5 press conferences and the first rehearsal run through. A few words about last night: I predicted 8. Lithuania being first out of the envelopes took many by surprise, and I was also somewhat surprised to see Bosnia & Herzegovina qualify with what I thought was poor staging, but no surprises with the others. There’s a huge amount of disappointment for Joan not going through though there are many saying it was poor on TV. Biggest thrills for me, aside from the big-hitters we knew would get through, are Malta and Macedonia, both very lovely and engaging people. Biggest surprise for me was Slovenia, who I had as a top 10 for the final. Maybe that appliqué was just a bit too much after all?

It was a quiet EuroClub for us only arriving at 3am, though outstaying our welcome until 6am and into the bright sunlight for the journey home. Filipa form Portugal was in fine spirits, telling us her flight is so early on Sunday it’s possibly better they now won’t have to rush from the arena! I also had a lovely moment when the Romanian squeezebox player, who regular readers will know I have taken a bit of a shine to, stopped ME to chat! I have to admit to coming over a bit unnecessary!

So to tomorrow: looking good for Serbia and Ukraine with killer draws, and whilst we have a bit of a slow start it really picks up as the show goes on. I still think it’s between Sweden, Italy, Russia and Serbia with Italy’s draw not looking quite so favourable. It’s a great placing for Ireland too, and Ukraine could scoop up a lot of points and be in the final mix.

Energy levels are flagging today all over the press centre; the late nights are really catching up with everybody, but I expect the buzz to be back tomorrow. There’s another video blog from the EuroClub to come from last night but Rigi is still being so mysterious (and Estonian) we don’t know what he’s done with it.

Monty x

Tips and wrinkles on Baku

In what seems like three months at ‘the easternmost point of Europe’ I’ve made a few observations that I’d like to share with you.

The locals are very friendly.  From the moment I stepped off the plane, they’ve been there to guide, assist, and generally make life easy for the Eurovision traveller.  And this is a genuine friendliness, dear reader, not one that’s been put on for show.

The driving here is like a white knuckle ride.  There is always traffic around.  In the rush hour; during the heat of the day; even at 3am when some of us leave the Euroclub slight the worse for wear.  There is no yielding when driving, you take a chance getting out into a road or changing lane.  But I have yet to see a car with a single dent.  So either they drive really well or the panel beaters here are really efficient.

The language is a little incomprehensible.  If you can speak Turkish, you’re apparently at home as that and Azeri are mutually intelligible.  But otherwise there seem to be 20 different ways of saying ‘Thank you’, there is the character ‘Ə’ (a schwa if this character doesn’t come out in the blog) that appears in every word and is pronounced as the ‘er’ in ‘water’, and you can pronounce a word perfectly and they sometimes still look at you blank.  But that happens to me in my home country too.

The taxi drivers do not do any form of ‘The Knowledge’ in Baku.  The general rigmarole is this: you tell the driver where you want to go, usually a landmark.  He consults the map you show him with said landmark on it.  He then asks a couple of mates where it is.  He then asks you again and repeat this a second time.  After this, we agree a fare or the meter starts.  Because of the one-way system in the city, a 1km journey takes 2km.  thankfully, if you get one of the many London-style cabs, the fare isn’t excessive.

The city is very safe.  We’ve walked around it at all hours (bearing in mind the midnight starts to the shows) and no-one seems interested in mugging or harassing you.  The locals like to promenade along the promenade (surprisingly) until really late – families with children, groups of teenagers, pensioners – all intent on taking the air rather than menacing each other.  A few of my associates stand out a little and get more attention, but that’s through curiosity more than seeing ‘rich’ Western Europeans as easy pickings.

Finally, you never go into a cellar bar.  I’ve heard it’s been done and the individuals involved soon realised the mistake.  Once you see the ladies of dubious virtue sipping drinks, wearing skimpy outfits and watching for unwary travellers to fall upon their lair, you’re stuck.  If you’re in a mixed group you do stand a chance of getting back passed the pimps with the same amount of money (less the price of a beer, obviously) you arrived in there with.  But if you’re alone, then I pray for you, my friend.

I must add that despite all of the above, this has been one of my most favourite Eurovision experiences.  I’m glad I came here as it’s like nowhere I’ve been to before.  It’s not efficient-yet-dull like some Nordic cities.  It’s not provincial like Düsseldorf.  It has no uneasy air like some other capital cities I’ve been to.  It’s not stupidly big like İstanbul.  It’s a vibrant city on the up, with all the trappings of a capital.  No doubt Baku does have problems, but all big cities do.

President Əliyev, if you’re reading this, I’d like to thank you and your countrymen for making this a fortnight I’ll never forget.

Riigi x

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Squeaking with excitement

So you have our latest video blog below with our last minute thoughts. We're just in the press centre waiting to go in and it's BUZZING with excitement! I can't imagine what it's going to be like for the final. We''ve just been interviewed for a Dutch gay TV channel because I am sporting matching Joan Franka t-shirts with Elaine from All Kinds Of Everything and David from The Eurovisionary blog. Who, dear? Gay, dear? Me, dear? How very dare you!

We've also just met Lys Assia who is here in what she probably thinks is Baghdad so should the excitement prove too much for her she will at least pass away happy in the knowledge that she's met us. Valentina Monetta was behind us in the queue for a photo and was completely star struck, name dropping Ralph Siegel to limited interest from Lys.

So on with the show, folks. Enjoy the ride and see you on the other side.

Monty x

Video!!!!!! More expert opinion

Filmed in the Press Centre where we've spent most of the last two weeks, Monty and Rosé give their honest and expert views on the 18 songs in the second semi-final.  See if you agree with them...

http://youtu.be/-4D9yomQ-5s

There maybe more to come later.   ;-)

Second semi-final predictions

OK, here we go.  Very tricky to call this one.  After getting nine last time, I don't think I'll be as lucky this time.

But here they are (in draw order):

Serbia
Netherlands, The
Malta
Ukraine
Slovenia
Sweden
Georgia
Turkey
Estonia    ;-)
Lithuania

There's one country I'd love to put in there, but I don't think Europe will get it.  I might tell you later on what it is.

Riigi  x

Neck on blog time..

So I've got to put my neck on the blog now for semi 2 and try to figure out who the hell is going through. Yep, this one is pretty tough to call. I'd dearly love Malta, Netherlands and Portugal to go through tonight but my head is telling they will miss out.

Let's rule out the no hopers which have to be Slovakia and Bulgaria. Apparently Sofi has pressed the pyrotechnics panic button but she's flogging a dead horse here and although there is an appetite for rock somewhere in Europe, Slovakia is just bad rock.

So there's four dead certs
Serbia
Ukraine
Sweden
Turkey

Serbia has the song, the name and the neighbours
Ukraine has a performance and neighbours
Sweden has to be a dead cert, I'd be shocked if it didn't go through
Turkey has the diaspora voting in this semi and a good performance of a bad song

Now it gets hard... 6 places from 12.   oh gosh....

I wonder will all the Balkan ones make it?  I predict a lot of moaning from the other countries if that happens and I doubt it will with juries now voting in the semis.

I like all of them though I'm very disappointed with Bosnia's staging. I just see Macedonia missing out due to the draw and it not being instant enough though I love Kallopi I'm calling her out. So I'm adding Slovenia and Croatia to the 'ins' and holding onto Bosnia for the minute!

So four more from Malta, Lithuania, Netherlands, Georgia, Norway, Belarus, Portugal, Bosnia and Estonia..

It's not getting easier...

Malta has vastly improved from the national finals and he's added the shimmy..
Lithuania is belting out a great sounding version of a naff song but the gimmick blindfold is offputting
Georgia is just awful
Netherlands is charming but I think people will be focusing on her outfit and not listening to the song
Norway is slick and pretty and nothing else like it
Belarus is not slick but very pretty to look at
Portugal I love but it's just so Portuguese
Estonia to me is sublime

I'd say Norway and Estonia go through first.
I'm eliminating Lithuania, Georgia, Netherlands and Belarus for the above reasons.
Bosnia was my favourite before coming here but it's going down all the time for me now but I think she'll just make it...

So that must leave Portugal and Malta fighting for my last spot and I'm going to plump for Malta as I think a strong UK vote for this will nudge him over the line that Glen didn't get last year.. Unless Scott Mills slags off  Kurt

So I have..

Serbia
Sweden
Turkey
Ukraine
Croatia
Slovenia
Estonia
Norway
Bosnia
Malta

There you go....
I'd love to be wrong on a few of these...

Enjoy the show

Rosé

We found one!

Good afternoon OnEuroPaneers!!

It's midway through our Baku adventure and last night was the night to try to find one of those, you know, homolulu bars... And by golly did we?

The club I'll not name is a stones throw from the old walled city in a basement location and to say it's not particularly luxurious would be an understatement. Decorated minimally with an Azeri, Turkish and upside down Cypriot flag (go figure), a gaudy painting of a naked woman (to perhaps detract from the men whom frequent it) and an old fishtank (I didn't notice if there were actually any fish in it) this place is a dirty sweatbox but FUN FUN FUN!

We didn't know exactly what we were letting ourselves in for as we wend our way in at just after 11. A couple of camp locals mincing their way through a rendition of La La Love told us we were in the right place. The DJ (playing from a cupboard) at first wanted 2 manats per eurovision song but as word got around the fanorak community and the bar swelled in numbers he gave up that as the bar was suddenly doing great business. Small Efes beers were 4 manat, large Sirvilan beers were 3 yet shots of vodka were only 1 so against all better judgement we opted for the most economical of the three.  Consequently I am suffering my first proper hangover of the week having rolled in at 7am...

It's going to be an interesting day.....

Another day, another drive-by...

Well this is embarrassing. I've seen a grand total of two rehearsal runthroughs in total from this semi, Time seems to have slipped away from me this year. So in this utter carnage of a semi, I shall abandon all attempts at nuanced analysis of considerations like the draw, the acts, and the songs, and predict our 10 qualifiers to be those who Always Qualify Because They All Just Vote For Each Other You Know. That would be:

Serbia
Ukraine
Sweden
Georgia
Turkey
Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Oh, that leaves some gaps. Alright, that's probably left room to add:

FYR Macedonia
Slovenia
Estonia
Norway

There, that was easy enough. It may be H.I.Lariously wrong, but at least it's H.I.Lariously wrong at a decent rate of knots.

Semi 2 qualifiers anyone??

Post yer thoughts here. This one is a bit harder.

For me it's:
Ukraine
Netherlands
Norway
Sweden
Estonia
Slovenia
Serbia
Belarus
Bosnia
Malta

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Rolling blog of Semi 2

8.14pm - Sadly ESCXtra are relaying sound from speakers (not their fault) and its not great so can't really say much. Visit them at http://www.escxtra.com for more details as they are live blogging!

8.03pm - I think its starting!!

Apparently I am now

Blogging semi final 2 rehearsal and final rehearsal. I was having a life, serving you instead!!!

Rolling blog at 8pm :)

Second semi run through..

After a late start and a stroll through the shopping disctrict we wended our way to the arena to see the second semi from a good vantage point whilst keeping one eye on the giant screens to see how it's looking for the tv show. We'll not see the screens tomorrow night as sat behind the stage, that'll be interesting..

The hosts struggled a bit today but it only a rehersal..

SERBIA
I'm sure I counted 7 people on stage here but this is as polished as you like and sailing through.

MACEDONIA
Always going to be hard following singing second and following Serbia but she's got a great voice and this has a more raw and real feel to it that I think MAY carry Kalliopi over the line.

NETHERLANDS
Indiana Joan looks so lost and vulnerable onstage bless her. That headress looks ever so heavy too. This is so sweet and I'd love it to qualify. Who put the band so far away from her?

MALTA
I think UK viewers will vote for Kurt Schwimmer, he's just so smiley and the schimmie shots are looking great on tv. Whether many others will vote for him is yet to be seen.

BELARUS
Dmitry is far too pretty for this song. They had to restart the song in this run through as there was a technical hitch, fingers crossed for tonight.

PORTUGAL
Filipa in a metallic gold frock looks great. The Lisbon backdrop makes me long to go back to my favourite European city. I'd love this to surprise everyone and make it.

UKRAINE
Only at eurovision you'd go from fado to Gaytana in her shredded frock with trumpeteers!  This looked and sounded strong today.

BULGARIA
I like salmon shaded pvc as much as the next one and she sounded good but where's the performance?

SLOVENIA
This was a stand out one for me this afternoon. A rousing lesbian love in darling dresses, fantastic!

CROATIA
Vocally this was good but the performance seemed a bit messy. I don't understand what they are doing with that sheet and her dress looks like it should be doing something! I like this but am worried for it.

SWEDEN
Claudia Winkleman still in the dark in the snow sounding vocally strong. This has to be going through and, depending on which ball she pulls out, still a favourite.

GEORGIA
From the sublime to the ridiculous. All sorts of nonsense going on here. Not interested mate!

TURKEY
Still a bit flakey for me but I think there's enough voting support in this semi for this.

ESTONIA
The biggest wow for me today. This just blew me away and I'll be on my feet if this gets through.

SLOVAKIA
I know all kinds of genres should be represented but please Slovakia no..

NORWAY
Looking prettier as the week goes on, this is slick. Vocally not perfect but it doesn't need to be. Following Slovakia is a plum draw too.

BOSNIA
Someone must have forgotten to put her lid down because her face shot was blocked by it during most of her sat down part. They really are doing all they can to stop my favourite song getting through aren't they? Borderline!

LITHUANIA
Mmmm, I'm not sure about this. Ridiculous still with the blindfold on yet when he reveals those eyes and moves into song two something kind of works for me. Could scrape it!

I'm going to have to have a think about my qualifiers and will need the healing powers of a drink to do that!

The second semi interval act probably sounded wonderful on paper but it looked a bit awkward just now on this run through. Last five winners all onstage singing their winning songs except Eldar and Nigar who launch them all into a rendition of Waterloo. They must be saving Running Scared for Saturday. Dima Bilan has no idea of the words to Waterloo, Marija Serofovic has piled on the pounds and I didn't recognise Lena. Alexander B still knlow his way round a fiddle.

Predictions later people....


A quick review of semi 2


Well, that was interesting. What for me was the stronger semi now feels like a slightly weaker show than last night. I think there are more certain non-qualifiers, though of what’s left those that miss out will be bigger names. Serbia is a great opener followed by a fantastic vocal by Macedonia which really engaged the crowd. Joan continues to charm for the Netherlands, along with her banjo player the lovely Mark. I had a moment during Malta, which is just charming and I really hope this goes through.

First nonqualifier for me is Belarus, who had a small pause for a technical hitch at the start. Next is Portugal and though Fillipa delivers a great performance I just can’t see who’s going to vote for it. Ukraine fills the hall though having seen it live and on the screens it’s not quite the big number I thought it would be. Coming directly after it Bulgaria is thoroughly lost alone on stage, but ther gap is quickly filled by a string and charming performance by Slovenia. Nina from Croatia is still looking like something should be happening with her very strange frock, but as yet there’s a lot of flounce and not much action: will be get a gimmick on the night?

Sweden next and a very good show from Loreen with a killer end shot in slow-mo but the high-level plummets for me with Georgia up next which is a mess. Can for Turkey is managing to limit the annoyance and up the charm, thankfully, before Ott from Estonia turns in what I have to concede is a class act with, for me, a dull song. The dullness plumbs new depths of dull with Slovakia which is a bad performance of a very bad rock song, which fell flat in the hall. Tooji ups the game for Norway and I think this is sailing through, but the last two mean we limp rather lamely to the end of the show. Bosnia is just not working for me, and there were a couple of terrible camera shots where the piano lid is cutting out her face. Finally Donny from Lithuania continues to be miles better than his song.

Spoiler alert for the interval: We caught this from the press centre, a medley of the 2007 – 10 winners reprising their songs with a marginally local twist before being joined by Ell & Nikki for a chorus of Waterloo, which is, at the moment, a bit odd.

So what do I think is going through? I’ll say: Serbia, Macedonia, Netherlands, Malta, Ukraine, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey, Estonia and Norway.

Monty x

Twenty-five hours a day

I think my last post was before the first semi-final.  Apologies because I was 'on duty'.  I have to say I enjoyed the first semi-final.  To be fair, there were not any real shocks in it as far as I was concerned.

I scored nine in the predictions, getting Switzerland and Albania wrong.  I know one of my associates scored a full 10, winning the princely sum of 10 Manat in the process.

I stayed at the press centre for the winners' press conference and witnessed a Russian hack proposing to Ivi Adamou and one of the Babushki not knowing who Loreen was.  All good fun.  The after show party was OK.  Plenty of free beer - Xirdalan, but of course other beers are available - and little nibbles and fruit kebabs.  It's good to know the organisers are thinking of our five-a-day.

Jedward and Engelbert held a little joint press conference today in one of the behemoths of a hotel that are liberally sprinkled along the sea front.  It was all very genial and good-natured.  The Hump appears to be a little Mutton Jeff.  On being asked about the starting positions of the UK of Stuff (1st) and Ireland (23rd) in the Final, the Hump congratulated Jedward on being 'about half way through the running order' despite being told (on his deaf side presumably) that there were only 26 songs in the Final.  They were soon whisked away to the restaurant on the 98th floor (or thereabouts) for interviews and photos with 'special' organisations.

I've just watched the first dress rehearsal of the second semi-final (still with me), and this is a lot more open.  There will be a shock - Georgia qualifying or Norway NOT qualifying perhaps.  I'll try and persuade the J&M Punditry Show to make another little video just to guide you through tomorrow's field.

Until then, I have a Lebanese restaurant to find.

Spot ya  ;-)

Riigi x

Second semi and a bit of Baku and the EBU conference


We’re in the press centre and about to go into the first run through of the second semi final. I’m looking forward to this; it’s a really string line up and there are going to be some tears before bedtime tomorrow evening, and they could be from just about anybody. Our seats tomorrow night are actually behind the stage in a tiny block there so it will be good to see it from a better angle.

I’m sorry we haven’t yet seen more of the city; it’s just been nonstop since we arrived, but I am hoping for an earlier night tonight (after rolling in at 7am this morning...).  Generally things are still slightly unusual for the western visitor but interesting for the more seasoned traveller. I’m being stopped a lot on the street to be greeted and welcomed, and people are really friendly. The city is clean, and pleasant, and like any capital one of contrasts. It has a crossroads feeling to it, with more Turkic influence than Soviet, which has surprised me a little, but perhaps not unexpected given a shift towards more traditional cultural connections that more recent political ties. I’m having a great time though, and would be happy to return here for a future show.

The EBU has held a conference this afternoon, and information is available here. The dates are announced for next year, 14th, 16th, and 18th May. There is discussion that the Contest as an event could be significantly scaled down in future with a refocus on it as a TV show, which may limit the possibilities for fans and media to travel to it, but may be a perfectly logical decision based on the financial burden of such a large scale local set-up. There are also rumours that – finally – the missing 1964 Contest has been found and will form part of the planned digitised archive to mark the 60th Anniversary.

Ok, we’re almost into the hall, so we will be back with you later.

Monty x

Jedward exclusive!


OnEurope can be the first to reveal to you a photo from last night’s after party of two of this year’s acts celebrating together. Jonsi from Iceland met Jedward. Well, Jedward’s stunt doubles nat least, as out very own Rosé dragged up with All Kind’s Of Everything’s Elaine Humperdinck-Dove in the Euro Club. They will be available for weddings, birthdays and more probably, funerals. For full rates apply within.




Monty x


Video!!!! Port mortem

Our pundits who are here in Baku just for you give their thoughts on the ten qualifiers from last night's opening bunfight.

See if their opinions match your own...

http://youtu.be/roI4GFkxZsc
 

Final draw


1: U.K.
2: Hungary
3: Albania
4:
5:
6: Russia
7: Iceland
8: Cyprus
9: France
10: Italy
11:
12:
13: Azerbaijan
14: Romania
15: Denmark
16: Greece
17:
18:
19: Spain
20: Germany
21:
22:
23: Ireland
24
25
26: Moldova

Hungary get the draw of doom, I think that may help Englebert be remembered a little longer?
Albania at three means it's a fairly slow start to the show but certainly different. I was chuffed this made it.
The grannies get a disappointing draw but at least they will be able to go and rest in the green room fairly early on.
Iceland, people are going to be talking about the grannies during their song though there is a nice contrast here?
Cyprus, bit too early but I feel a good result for them
Romania, we think there will be a break before them, if not then nice contrast after the dark and moody host country's song.
Denmark, ok draw for the Danes, I had texts from UK liking this last night
Greece, they made it didn't they? Ok draw for them
Ireland, Linda Martin must be chuffed to bits, fab draw but I don't see this winning
Moldova, fab draw too for the lovely Pasha

We've got all carried away with ourselves and done another piece to video (again fuelled by euroclub beer) with our post show reaction, someone take that camera away from us dear god!!   Don't worry it's not as long as the last one... It should be posted at some point later...

I'm dying to know how Scott Mills commentated and what that Sarah Cox was saying and doing....

Just another quiet night then?

Let's just pop into the euroclub for a couple they said and see how we feel...

Yeah right...  Well it would have been silly to turn down the free booze and buffet wouldn't it?  The beers were flying out of that bar and nice and cold they were too.  An assorted buffet of nibbles, hard to determine what you were eating, not much cheese and a fair few fishy ones....But nice nonetheless after the late show and the traffic hell getting out of Crystal Carrington Hall..

We finally ended up getting back at 7am slightly worse for wear, we keep telling you this is a hard working holiday but no one listens..

I was loaned a Jedward outfit for an hour on the dance floor and together with Elaine of the other parish we worked the room giving photo opportunities to the many Azeri volunteers and eurovision d-listers. I have to say I made more than I needed to of this minor celebrity moment and now have a taste of what it must be like to be a eurovision, ahem, celebrity!  Highlight was when we pounced on Jonsi from Iceland and he was convulsed with laughter at our outfits and we congratulated him on joining us in Saturday's final....priceless!  He cuts a fine figure on the dancefloor too and has some greta moves (not a typo..)




Tuesday, 22 May 2012

No major shocks there..

I got 9 from 10... Only Hungary I had just outside the top ten but happy they made it as musically I think it's good...  The envelopes are so nerve jangling aren't they?  Gosh knows how the artistes felt, the journalistes were tense...

Very happy especially for Iceland, Albania, Moldova and Cyprus...

My voice is starting to go so Rose might need to revert to play back for most of the rest of the week...

Night night all, it's 2.20am here....  zzzzzz!

Nightcap at evroclub anyone??

Well I'm never listening to RDH again

" Hungary won't qualify" he said, " It's boring" he said. No, said I, Its a great song.

I was fucking right but did i include it in my list... nooooo... it got mentioned in dispatches instead!

9/10 though - so am happy ;)

We have our 10

So there you have it, our first 10 qualifiers, and no real surprises. There were a few tense faces in the hall at the 'biggies' were left until late in the draw but in the end it's pretty much as expected by most. Well done to the qualifying nations.

We're trying to beat the queues out of here as it's already 2am so no hanging around for the press conference I'm afraid, but news of the draw will be online soon.

Monty x

Enjoy the show folks

Jody has updated on our evening so far, so only really for me to add my wish that you all enjoy the show. The Crystal Hall looks utterly stunning lit up, probably the most amazing venue we have ever been in, at least from the outside. I've not yet checked whether the hot-dog stalls are ready inside. Now, will there be beer?

Have fun, and see you on the other side!

Monty x

Two hours til show time...

Had a nice old stroll along the promenade today after collecting our tickets for the shows from the JW Marriott hotel from our lovely friends at OGAE UK. The wind fair blew my wig off and it's a blustery night here in Baku Baku...

The wind machine I eluded to yesterday is not required as the gods have looked down upon the Abshelon peninsula kindly and provided us with a fully extended Azeri flag.  The flame towers have now been programmed to pulsate to the flags of the semi final countries and it really is a sight to behold.  The buzz is palpable and the backdrop is really quite remarkable.  The strobe lights are still beaming up from the points on the roof of the Crystal Hall and the outer shell is illuminated with blue lights.  Look out for the images at the end of the postcards tonight during the show as the Crystal Hall will be illuminated in the colours of the respective countries. A nice touch!

We had a fantastic dinner at the Fountain Square City Cafe with friends from All Kinds Of Everything and did the traditional 'napkin of doom' predictions...

I am absolutely thrilled to be here and will pop if I get any more excited...

Enjoy your semi people!!!!


Euro Semi 1

I find it hard to pick 10 deserving qualifiers from tonight's line-up but maths and contest rules suggest that 10 of these will indeed be joining us on Saturday nighjt.

So let's get the definites out the way:

Russia
Denmark
Greece
Ireland

I think everyone will have these 4 on their list>

probables?

Albania
Iceland
Moldova
Hungary

Possibles?
Switzerland
Belarus
Latvia
Belgium
Israel
Romania

No hopers
Montenegro
Cyprus
Austria

I'd vote Romania and Belgium to join the first 8 making my 10:

Romania
Belgium
Hungary
Moldova
Iceland
Albania
Ireland
Russia
Greece
Denmark

However you spend tonight. ENJOY!!!

Tonight.... Tonight.

In front of an audience of tens, acts from 17 countries and San Siegel will compete in the first semi final of the grand prix of cheese 2012.

Wherever you are. Enjoy watching San Marino FAIL :)

Until afterwards my European Children.....

Canned Cheese?

At SIX POUNDS a can - it'd better be good!!

Ok, prediction time by Monty


Good morning On Europeans. I’m a little behind today. I decided that last night would be my early night after feeling exhausted part way throught Roman Lob’s party. It did turn out to be an early finish though sadly an early morning one, at around 4.30am. I’m a little shatterted today. I hope you’ve enjoyed the video blog: we must do it earlier in the evening next time...

Not much to add to the write up of the first rehearsal and the video, but it is still all hard to call. My biggest moments were Albania (that voice!), Romania (that squeezebox player!) and Russia (that cute tiny babushka!). I think there’s only 4 songs that aren’t going through and they are: Montenegro, Finland, San Marino and Austria. Any of the other 14 could qualify, but sticking my neck out I will say they will be Hungary, Israel, Belgium and Latvia.

So that leaves: Iceland, Greece, Albania, Romania, Switzerland, Cyprus, Denmark, Russia, Moldova and Ireland.

Right, I need to drag myself to lunch!

Monty x

Riigi's ramblings - Part 1

It's a tricky one to call tonight.  I've been coming to these things since God was a lad and still can't predict a winner to save my life.

But here goes.  I have five certs:

Iceland
Romania
Cyprus
Russia
Ireland

The other five places could come from 10 countries.  But I'm going to stick my neack out and plump for the following:

Greece
Switzerland
Denmark
Hungary
Moldova.

Sorry to the other eight.  But you all had fun here.

See yas later.

Riigi x

Hacksaw's half-baked half-final 1 predictions

So then, who does one think? I'm never much cop at this cos I'm prone to last minute stabs, but here's my gruesome tensome, in order of likelihood. Although to be honest, I can see a good case for any of 'em - except Montenegro. Don't get me wrong, that's my fave of the whole decade, but I can't see it doing much business at all.

So here goes...

Russia
Romania
Israel
Ireland
Iceland
Cyprus
Denmark
Moldova
Austria
Switzerland

So, how do you like them apples?

First semi as seen by Rosé

The postcards are nice, showing different regions of the country though in this run through they played the Albanian one for the first few songs before getting it right. Also the video of sights and sounds of Baku wasn't played in the arena, perhaps it's not ready?

MONTENEGRO
The worst opening to a show for ages. He seemed pissed as he was mumbling and he couldn't get his arm through the guitar strap. Is he meant to be acting like this? SUNK

ICELAND
Jonsi wobbled slightly at the start but this is slick with a capital S. When they switch positions at the key change and the lighting changes I was beside myself. SAILING

GREECE
This still seems a long 3 minutes to me and very plodding for what is supposed to be an up-tempo number. I'm worried for the Greeks. BORDERLINE

LATVIA
As a fellow blonde, I'm happy she's stuck with blue but added some diamonds to her frock and taken it in by a couple of sizes and up by several inches. The fanoraks love this and I have to say it's fun and flouncy and I'd never really got it until now. BORDERLINE

ALBANIA
Second goose-bump moment here for me. I hope Europe feels it too. Simply stunning. THROUGH PLEASE!

ROMANIA
A summer hit in the making this is looking and sounding great. People here think it's sailing through. There's something telling me it will make it, but not with ease. It's a bit circusy but it's instant enough and will hoover up the southern european votes. THROUGH

SWITZERLAND
Seems dark and a bit dull after Romania though those pretty boys are giving it their all. I'm worried there are not enough votes for this genre and Hungary may steal some of theirs. BORDERLINE

BELGIUM
This is simply and effective and there are votes for this kind of stuff. JUST THROUGH

FINLAND
Not accessible nor instant enough. Get a stronger wind machine love and blow yourself away. Boring, sorry Finalnd. SUNK

ISRAEL
Jeff Goldblum with silly dancing and quirky camera shots. Mmm, quirky is most definately the word here. MISSING OUT

SAN MARINO
The patient is dead. You can stop CPR now everyone. SUNK

CYPRUS
Quite delicately done for an up-tempo number. I'd never noticed that she's got female dancers and a male singer stage left helping her. It works! I think this is still peeing on Greece's bonfire though it's too dated for juries. JUST THROUGH

DENMARK
Zzzzzzzzzz, but she's got a nice voice. Jury-tastic. JUST THROUGH

RUSSIA
Very wobbly vocally at the start. I am convinced the camera is zooming in on a message on the side of the oven that hasn't been revealed yet. I can't think of another adjective than charming but they are all it. SAILING

HUNGARY
I loved this on audio before the contest, went off it in the previews season but now like it again. I think the lead singer carries it well and will be noticed by the juries. BORDERLINE

AUSTRIA
Visually much better. We really do see it all at this contest eh? But it's such a bad noise, someone call Austrian airlines, they need five seats on tomorrow's flight. SUNK

MOLDOVA
I'm slightly biased as I love him but this is a slick as you like fun and frolick. If I were his backing dancers, I'd let him ride me like a gondola too. Is he wearing jodhpurs? SAILING

IRELAND
Cue jokes about golden showers. It's all naff as you like but I'm liking the hair down look. The song is still flat for me but I think it's irrevelant. SAILING

So looking at all of the above, I think there are 5 definates...

Iceland
Romania
Russia
Moldova
Ireland

then a large group of maybes and (in order of their chances) I think they are..

Denmark
Albania
Cyprus
Greece
Belgium
Hungary
Latvia
Switzerland

and the rest are sunk..

Montenegro
Finland
Israel
San Marino
Austria

So that's got Belgium just pipping Hungary to the tenth spot but what do I know?  I'm not convinced there is a place for Greece and Cyprus and would happily have either of the rockier ones from Hungary or Switzerland in Greece's place. But Greece ALWAYS qualify eh?

 Enjoy the show everyone!

Rosé

Drive-by predizzioni 1.

In no particular order:

Montenegro
San Marino
Finland
Latvia
Hungary
Austria
Iceland

and...

shockingly, Ireland...

will be going home tomorrow. That doesn't look particularly correct, but we'll see.

Keep an eye out for bulletins on Albania, however - the last I heard, a fatal bus crash has left the country officially in mourning and RTSH hoping to compete in - but not broadcast - tonight's show. When real life hits, this makes a frothy European party rather unimportant, so I'm pretty confident that whatever RTSH and Rona's wishes are, they'll be respected by the organisers. My expectation is that it'll have little visible effect on tonight's event, and from a shallow fluffy Eurovision-bubble viewpoint Rona's performance of a tragic, unhappy song lent extra resonance is likely to be absolutely electrifying.

Video - yes, video!!

I had to reveal my true identity to Monty and Rosé last night to shoot a little video synopsis of the first semi-final.  This was after the first dress rehearsal.  It was also after the German party and a bottle or two of Xirdalan at the Euroclub.



Feel free to post your comments on what you think of the punditry.

Enjoy the show

Riigi x

Good morning Europe!

Good morning Europe from a windy but bright Baku. As usual having a slow and fuzzy start to the day and trying to wake up by throwing copious amounts of coffee down my neck and nibbling on some dry Azeri bread, the cheese has all been eaten up by that Monty and I can't get into the ruddy jar of gherkins we bought! It's all glamour here dear readers...

We did a video piece last night from the lobby of the euro club of our thoughts on the first semi run through though it was well after midnight and many beers so perhaps this site's technical director has deemed it untransmittable...If he can salvage anything more than drunk ramblings, I think it will be posted at some point today.

So hot footed it straight from the rehearsal yesterday in order to get to the German party in the Otto Efes bar near Fountain Square in the centre. There were no shuttle buses running as they were setting up the entrance turnstiles and crowd control barriers for the late evening rehearsal. Well you would have thought that some of the press people there were being forced to run a marathon, there was a particularly awful display of rudeness by one group from god knows where, screaming that this was the worst eurovision ever and how disgraced they were. Come on people, it was a 15 minute walk, deal with it. It really made my blood boil. The people here in the main are falling over themselves to help and ensure we are having a nice experience here. There are always little things that go wrong no matter who is the host nation. Rant over!

We arrived too early for the Germans and were told to come back for 9 prompt as only a German organiser could. When we arrived we welcomed warmly and told that a complimentary cold beer was waiting for us at the bar, that was a cue for quaffing about 17 of them whilst enjoying the delights that Roman Lob had to offer. He really is more stunning in real life and did the obligatory photos with us before doing a set with his band.  Gaytana from Ukraine was milling around too and I was milling with her dancers, read throwing myself unashamedly at them and fawning about how slick their routine is....

Nina Zilli arrived next in ANOTHER Vivienne Westwood ensemble, she really is stunning in the flesh and so charismatic. We got chatting to her backing singers who seemed totally overawed by the whole eurovision experience. I am sure they had no eurovision expectation before leaving Italy and now here they are on the verge of winning the contest.  She sang her song and brought the house down. I love her!

We hung around waiting for the free bar to run dry but it didn't so had to steady ourselves with a midnight McDonalds run. A couple of off duty volunteers got talking to us in the queue and latched themselves onto us. One was only 19 and pretty as you like so I entertained them for longer than I possibly should and they even escorted us to the taxi rank. After being asked on numerous occasions how sexy I think the Azeri girls and which football team I support, my blank expressions finally forced the proverbial penny to drop. "Are you one of those homosexuals?" he asked. "Would it make a differnce if I said yes?" I said. "Not really." "Then yes, I am" I replied to an awkward pause but bless them, they still carried on escorting us and wanted us to go to their uni campus for lunch with them later in the week. All very surreal.

We arrived at the euroclub for a nightcap which lasted us through to about 4.30 when we finally decided it might be a good idea to leave. Danced with bloggers from other parishes and had a jolly old time.

So, who the devil is qualifying???

Lordi knows! I think the ten are thus in order of likleyhood

Ireland
Moldova
Russia
Denmark
Iceland
Albania
Belgium
Cyprus
Greece
Romania

No place for Latvia or Hungary there which is a shame but do not be surprised if either they get in or my list is total bollocks!!!

Edited cos I forgot Romania. Thanks anonymous!!!



Monday, 21 May 2012

Rolling live blog of semi 1 here

21.27 - Well thats the songs done - Lots of awfulness going on there and only 5 safe qualifiers., Denmark, Russia, Iceland, Hungary and Ireland. 

21.18 - Ireland.  Alleged that they are dressed like the white power ranger, their backing singers sound great as they are carrying the boys ( as usual) - Qualifying, sadly!

21.14 - Moldova! ( Thanks Shai!!). Again, like Austria its a song that is built for a show rather than built for Audio ( I must remember its Europe's favourite TV show and not audio stream!!) - Vocally average, but it remains to be seen if the busy choreography will make Europe howl with laughter and forget to vote for it - I suspect they will. 

21.10 - Austria.  Sounds fine, but then again I cant judge this properly as it is all show, am guessing the boys are shaking it like good 'uns.....

21.07 - Hungary.  This is probably the 2nd song that has impressed me all evening.  I had a wogan-esque sneaking regard for this song, and this performance just confirmed it.  It is good and will qualify.  No dodgy notes, well peformed - that's all you need? right?!?!

21.01- Russia.  It is what it is I guess - and it sounds messy but that is the supposed charm of the song I guess. 

20.57 - Denmark.  More dodgy notes at the start of this song - there are too many for it to be a singer problem, and the more I am thinking its a mix issue.  However Soluna recovers mid song and this song will get what it deserves, it's qualifying with ease after a raft of bad songs and poor singing mixed together.  

20.53 - Cyprus.  Dodgy notes ahoy here in this one too - sounds like it could well be a sound mixing problem in general but they are not mixed at all well, however, Ivi is flat as a pancake and the backing singers are too loud.  Raises the question if people have forgotten that 100 Jurors will be casting their votes.  It goes on too long in a dodgy key and has lost all of its appeal.  Not sure.

20.49 - San Marino. Well even a 4 course meal with Ralf Siegel can help this song. What on EARTH have they done with the lyric, there is glissando all over the place and judging by the look on Liam's face at http://www.escxtra.com it appears it looks as hideous as it sounds. They are all over the place vocally and shouldn't get any jury votes at all!

20.45 - Israel. I like this song, but again the backing singers sound weak on the mix, possibly how ESCXtra has their stream but hey. I still like this song to hell, however and its a big but, who is going to vote for it. Think he's trying to get the juries and its pleasant enough without being overfacing. Possible.

20.40 - Finland. Blew her chances within the first 30 seconds by singing some big notes not entirely in the right key and had to struggle to get it back from that disaster to be entirely honest. She's going to need shedloads of televotes to get this back into the reckonning.

20.36 - Belgium. I still wouldn't to be honest but, and its a big but, its a nice girl singing an average song, though some of the long notes sounded very nasal indeed to be honest. However, it builds nicely and the end of the song is considerably stronger than the first half. Maybe qualifying.

20.33 - Switzerland. They are now swimming against the strim which is a little bit better I guess. They sound a little bit weak on the sound feed I have to be honest, which has always been this song's downfall. Earnest band singing an earnest song, but not enough televoters or jurors will get this through.

20.29 - Romania. This sounds fantastic, not a note dropped anywhere!. It'll look "the dogs" as well to be honest - Unless something goes drastically wrong tomorrow night, this may well have already got through based on jury votes alone. Qualifying with ease.

20.21 - Albania. I still dont like the song - but vocally this was not bad at all, shot of qualifying? - an outside shot but there you go!

20.17 - Latvia - When did they start going "lala" at the start of the song?!? - Anyway it provides a great contrast to the awfulness that has just gone before. Europe's 100 Jurors will be pleasently shocked at how this sounds compared to the one that has gone before - In tune for a start. Still think its qualifying!

20.15 - Greece. 2nd note was hideous and that set the tone really, she sounded very pitchy and screaming lots at me ( and i'm 2100 miles away). It didnt get any better to be honest - Its a very very long 3 minutes and I am struggling to see which jurors think this is a good idea. Eleftheria's voice sounds like a 9 yr old screaming schoolkid - banish yourself back to Junior, love.

20.12 - Iceland. Starts off VERY ropey and on the audio I can hear it doesnt sound brilliant, Jonsi sounds a bit off key and Greta isn't helping. However, as they get into the song they seem to bring it back. Qualifying Definitely, but with a lower score based on this performance.

20.08 - Well Montenegro sounded hideous. It didnt sound particularly coherent and sounds as though the jury isn't going to give any points. Hurrah I say!

19.57 - www.escxtra.com will be the stream of choice!

If in doubt, get the map out!

That is most definately the rule when getting into the taxis around here.  Make sure your driver has the map in his hand with your destination clearly marked and that he actually knows where the hell it is!  It's been getting a bit better today, or perhaps we are just getting used to it.  It's my only real complaint I want to mention.  That and the traffic and the heat but I'd be nit picking to go on about it.  Last night really was fun fun fun and I am having an absolute ball here..

Can't wait to see the run through at 6 to see who stands out and who doesn't. Am guessing it will be tomorrow before we can blog out comments and, dare I say, predictions... we've got a private audience with the lovely Roman Lube...  Eeek!

More later..


If in doubt, get the mop out!

That seems to be the overriding rule here at the Crysal Carrington Hall, even at this late stage there is an array of cleaning ladies in red overalls sloshing soapy water and moving it around the floor with huge mops.  Then there is an even bigger army of guys with dusters buffing up the railings that encircle the complex within an inch of their life!  Talk about a photo finish for the finishing touches!  Last night on our whistlestop and unexpected taxi excursion to the Iranian border we passed the hall which was all illuminated with the most impressive strobe lighting effect I have ever seen.  Powerful strobes beaming vertically up from the roof of the hall and then swirling and pulsating for the whole city to see. Locals were stopping their cars on the side of the main road nearby to take pictures.  They are certainly throwing everything at this event here in readiness for the eyes of the world on them this week. It wouldn't surprise me if the authorities are going to somehow get an enormous wind machine blowing against the giant flag to make sure it's unfurled enough for the big night....