Thursday, 28 February 2013

Friday, 22 February 2013

Here am I [deep sigh], not lost and forgotten

I am still around people. Where have I been? All I can say is Kaitsepolitsei. Oops, maybe I’ve said too much. But before I disappear to somewhere in Võrumaa again (I have said too much now), I thought I’d just catch up with you all.

Some esteemed website out there tells us 28 songs have been chosen. I haven’t had the time to find out whether it’s true or not, but I’m sure the best is yet to come.

I won’t bore you with the minutiae of the results, as Webmaster Phil has already published the admin stuff around here somewhere.

Österreich rockt den Contest? Does it indeed*? Well it might rock ‘Der Semi-final’, but making it to a balmy Saturday night in Sweden might be another matter. But fair play to the Austrians for having a pocket-sized contest. Who needs interminable semi-finals where it seems everyone in a country has been forced to write a song – only for Siegelsome non-native to steal the show? Moving next door, Germany may have a contender on the cards. I’ll say first off that it’s not my bag at all. And it sounds a little too much like some Scandi-pop winner from 2012. And I wanted La Brass Banda to win. But it could have that elusive European appeal. Cascada has a pedigree going back a few years. If our friendly neighbourhood jurors are ‘advised’ to pick a summer hit, that advice could stretch to this.

Our Norwegian chums went through the whole semi-final process and have come up with something safe in my opinion. Not my favourite (again), but it has the Schlagerologists in raptures. I’m all for a bit of variety in Europe’s favourite TV show, but you do also need to appease the die-hard fanbase. Norwegian neighbours Finland also picked an interesting number. Would I marry Krista if she sang at me like that? Maybe. But the way she sings the song it’s almost a demand rather than a polite request. She may be a bunny boiler for all we know, threatening to do horrendous things with big cooking pots if her intended says ‘no’.

I’ll stay in the Baltic for Latvia. This semi-final malarkey is getting contagious and while I’m sure it boosts audience figures, sometimes they shouldn’t bother. The 12 song final had a wide variety of “pleasant” songs. There were a couple of high points, not least Ott Lepland performing the sublime song Kuula during one of the many many intervals. But the wrong song won. If Latvia seriously wanted to get out of the semi-final it/they* should have sent Samanta Tina. Instead we got ‘Here we go, here we go, here we go’. Change ‘go’ to ‘stay’ and the song might me a little more prophetic.

I couldn’t believe what I saw in Greece. Some 12 months ago we saw a national final in a shopping centre with DrachmaEuroland in the background. This year MAD TV(??!!) took over the show and threw most of Greece’s national budget at the thing. Dima ‘sniff sniff’ Bilan, Marija ‘Jimmie Krankie’ Serifovic, Alexander ‘Monkey boy’ Rybak and Ruslana ‘Hey’ Lyzhychko all turned up to turn their weight in moussaka. I tuned out some 45 minutes into the show as we STILL hadn’t seen any of the four songs in contention. But from reading your comments on the Book of Face, the best one probably won. However I’ll wager that like Latvia’s, the Greek song title won’t be a prophecy of things to come in Malmö.

Also picked are Slovenia and Cyprus through selection by committee (what could possibly go wrong?). Admittedly I’ve not really tuned into either of them yet. But when I do, I’ll give you my thoughts.
So onto this weekend. Ireland picks its song. That will be a treat, I’ll be bound. NO JEDWARD!!! The word on the street is that Ryan Dolan will win. But there’s a Hiberno-Turkish collective in the mix too, which can only be a good thing. Hungary, Sweden and Romania are three countries having semi-finals. Plus Estonia (“Mu isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm”). How can Eesti Laul top Winny Puhh making next weekend’s final? I can’t wait to see it triumph over everything else and watch Mr Hacksaw have his best Eurovision experience ever. Other songs, of course, are also available.

Fight the power


R x

*Point of order. Do I refer to a country as an ‘it’ or a ‘they’? Is it ‘Austria send Natália Kelly’ or ‘Austria sends Natália Kelly’? The English language is crazy sometimes. But what do you think?

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Montyvision: Another Nordic Night


Tonight we will know all but the Swedish entry from our Nordic chums as Finland and Norway choose their entries, joining Iceland and Denmark who have already selected theirs. I’ll miss both live as I’m heading out for more Kopparberg in The Harcourt Arms to see the second heat of Melodifestivalen, but as we’ve had semis in both countries we know what we’re up for.

Finland first, and it is quite a diverse selection. I’ve given them a second spin this morning and my considered opinion is that, well, some of them are just about OK but I still feel we’re lacking something. The favourite is Mikael Saari singing an unusual ballad that does admittedly have an impressive crescendo. I suppose it’s reminiscent of last year’s Estonian entry Kuula by Ott Lepland, which for me did inexplicably well. Perhaps it’s this similarity that means I’m also not quite getting this. Mikael is clad in what looks like a beige velour suit with a hairstyle to match and does seem to be missing a certain something which made Ott standout somehow.

Mikael’s closest rival seems to be Diandra’s Colliding Into You (and frankly I’m not surprised she is given how big her bum looks in those slacks). It’s more typical than the ballad, but again just lacks a certain oomph for me. Still, I’d be happy to see either of these win the ticket over what I hope remains just a novelty entry. Singing Marry Me Krista Siegfrieds is an eager piece! She’s popping the question (or more accurately using the imperative, I’m not sure whoever she’s asking can back out of this alive) whilst somewhat presumptively already wearing her wedding dress. I don’t know how long in advance you have to give notification of a marriage in Finland, but it seems to me she’s overlooked the crying of her banns. Nothing against the girl but let’s hope she’s jilted at the altar this evening for Eurovision’s sake.

And so to Norway, where they’ve been having a bit of a laugh so far this year. Given what they’ve voted to the final it’s safe to say nothing is a given. We might yet end up with a death metal ‘n’ classical combo by default. I do hope all my chums who’ve travelled to Oslo this weekend have local SIM cards and a spare £47.50 per call to vote for something good. For me we have to sit all the way through to songs 9 and 10 for it to get truly interesting.

The obvious choice, and quite clear favourite seems to be song 9 by ice-queen Margaret Berger, or The Feeder as I’ll call her. She delivers an engaging yet somehow slightly sinister number Feed You My Love designed to fatten us up with her lasciviousness. It’s all a bit dramatic, and thank heavens she’s only got three minutes else I fear I might have some terrible indigestion before she’s satisfied.

The Feeder gives way to song 10 I Love You Te Quiero in which we see two track-suited chaps do a bit of rapping before getting up to boogie with four dancers in oversized bunny outfits. It’s the kind of thing that could become a perma-fixture on the clip reels of Euro curios but it’s so infectiously happy that I just can’t help loving it. Tonight’s second favourite Bombo wasn’t terribly well performed in the semi finals so I think it’s really The Feeder’s to lose.

Meanwhile over in Sweden SVT are making a great show out of looking  like they desperately don’t want to win it again. I know we’re only half way there but there’s nothing from their one-minute smytittars that’s really showing promise again this week. I’m sure in the pub tonight the Swedish Housewives will go down a treat with our first whiff of schlager this season, and after last year Mr Banana (I’m Anglicising, forgive me) will be an entertaining spectacle, but it’s not a vintage Melodifestivalen yet.

To round you off this evening, Latvia completes their semi finals after the first heat last night and Hungary whittles down another 10 to 6. I must admit I’ve not yet tuned into their selection, but having heard a compilation of clips of all the entries I’ve neither the wherewithal nor the gumption to start.

Have a jolly evening, whatever you tune into, folks.

Monty x

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Maltesers melt in your mouth, not in your hand

So OK, I'm still stuck somewhere in northern Europe, but my compass has most definitely been pointed southward.  More precisely, at the powerhouse of song that is Malta.  Last night I watched the riotous cavalcade of song that I blogged about recently.  I was most impressed.  There was all sorts of fun stuff.  Soft rock stuff.  Balladic stuff.  Second class Schlager stuff.  Something for everyone in other words.  And the final didn't last the predicted five days.

Did I like the winner?  I really did.  The Kevin Borg song was OK.  Only OK.  We have to bear in mind that if TVM had opted for the 50/50 jury/televoting method, then he would now have the golden ticket to Malmö's fair city - Slagthuset/Slaughterhouse and all.  But no.  It is the pocket-sized Gianluca Bezzina heading north instead.  Them Maltese are always damn good fun and, so I've been told by my cohorts on the Med's happiest rock, they will be damn good fun in Sweden in May.

What else has been happening?  A national final in Iceland which produced a decent winner.  Hairdressers must be in short supply after the crash the other year.  He's threatened to sing in Icelandic which I would like but would be a brave move in this increasingly monoglottal world.  I'll reserve judgement.

Hungary, Sweden and Norway have also had semi-finals, and I know hours of material will have been blogged about them. You'll know doubt already have an opinion on the lucky songs.  If I feel inclined I'll have a gander at them and post my considered opinion in the coming days.

Stay lucky.  R x

Monty: There’s a national finals season going on?


So, the last time I blogged here I was “Exhausted of Baku”. The Xirdalan beers had finally caught up with me, along with the ignominy of travelling back to the UK in the same class of cabin that I’d paid for. Really! Fast forward 8 months or so and we’re already some way into the on-season. I need to throw a six and catch up! Fulfilling a vague promise to “that Phil” to blog a bit as a chunk of the On Europe team whoop it up in the Mediterranean this weekend here goes with a round up thus far. There are spoilers, for those who don’t know the results, but you don’t really come here for the news, do you?

It was the squealing of the masses that accompanied the rolling into town of the Nordic caravanserai that is the Melody Festival last night which awoke me from my semi slumber. Not that there was a great deal to squeal about there last night but more of that in a bit. The train has been in motion since well back into 2012 and causing a bit of a commotion along the way.

First up Belarus, with a song that I’ll hold back commenting on until it’s been inevitably changed at the behest of a power-that-(erm?)-bes. Then Switzerland, which prompted intervention by the EBU as the group is made of representatives of the Salvation Army. Many of the contest’s homosexualist fans were quick to question the organisation’s teachings in regard to gay people (the Salvation Army’s not the EBU’s you understand) but the problem turned out to be merely one of association (and not being best keen on the natty uniforms). After a period of quiet reflection the band are staying and making the requisite changes.

Albania has plumped for a cacophonous, stirring rock song with folky elements enhancing the percussion. It’s the genre of song that regularly remains stuck in a Eurovision semi-final, and one of the singers possesses the gruff vocal qualities of an electric sander with a made-for-radio look to match. I don’t rate its chance much, but it will undergo the regulation Albanian make-over before Malmö, not least as it’s currently well over time, so it may be radically reconstructed between now and then.

The Lithuanian entry is an unconventional love song and actually quite jolly, but needs a keener presentation come May than Andrius in a top hat flanked by masked clowns and a ballet dancer. Rounding off last year for this, Ukraine snuck in a final on a Sunday afternoon and finally chose Zlata Ognevich to do the honours. It’s another rousing number, all staccato and big notes. Its success seemed to come as much from the apparent popularity of Zlata herself as there being not much else to choose from.

After such a rush of activity we’ve had to wait over a full calendar month for the next confirmed entry in Denmark. Once again the Danish final was a high-quality production with some big, ballsy dance numbers, several of which would had brought the Eurovision audience and the Euro Club to their feet. Unfortunately for me my own favourite Mohamed flitted between several erroneous keys in his delivery, although it didn’t stop him from finishing a close second. The winner is all penny-whistles and celtic angst but done quite nicely nonetheless, and should be enough to draw plenty of neighbourly support from across the Øresund Bridge.

Malta’s marathon show last night tested the attention span of all but the very eager and courted controversy when the official EBU website announced the (wrong) winner before the voting had even commenced. I think they were probably just trying to get clocked off and into bed like the rest of us, and checking whether there was anybody left even paying any notice. That Phil has this as a bouncy, happy-go-lucky number which indeed it is, but not one I think will trouble the left hand side of the scoreboard should it even get the chance. Meanwhile over in Iceland they’ve selected another celtic-influenced number performed by a man whose hairdo was old-fashioned back in 1999 when it was worn by Rui Bandera for Portugal. Along with most of the selections so far it’s by no means a definite qualifier and its fate will be sealed by the quality of those songs yet to be selected.

Which brings us to the rest of the Nordic heats that have filled the gloomy winter thus far: Finland is as bonkers as ever and could be won by any one of the finalists, with Norway seemingly determined to elect the most unlikely of songs into its final line up. With gothic stage shows, Norwegian rap, dancers dressed as enormous Duracell bunnies and a bizarre mash-up of opera and death metal you can’t claim it’s been dull. Melodifestivalen on the other hand served us up two rather predictable qualifiers, David Lindgren an inferior imitation of his previous attempt and Yohio, notable more for his gender presentation than his melody. It’s perhaps telling that the one stuck in my head today is the Swedish language Vi Kommer Aldrig Att Folrlöra which gained a second chance a month from now. Still we had a lovely song and dance routine as the interval act.

So there you go, a quick round up of the season so far. It appears there’s a sizable bunch of us hoping it gets a lot better... Come on BBC, surprise us!

Monty x

It's 2.05am in the Morning Malta time

and I have just frequented the local Chick-King restaurant for a "royal delight" - fried chicken in a style that only they can, chips and a repeat of Maltasong on TVM.

Yes, once wasn't enough - i'm working and watching it again... just to make sure the queeny fans did indeed get trololololol'ed by real music!.  Kevin lost for many reasons...  arguably one of them being the 87.5-12.5 televoting jury split, or that it really wasn't that good of a song.  Tomorrow makes me happy, it makes me smile and more importantly, it makes Mr Bezzina smile and cry and his sister, Dorothy, was the first to congratulate him on stage this evening -  and that was sweet.

What was not so sweet, was Eurovision.tv's faux pas that went round the green rooms like wildfire in about 5 minutes after it had been posted and removed, such is the power of Social Media.  Despite it being a blank story it was got hold of and ran round like Roger Bannister and his 4 minute mile... Thank the Lord it was a place holder and not the real story, otherwise we would have been having a different conversation.

Props too to Deborah C who should continue to enter until she wins in my humble opinion.  9th was a decent enough result and better than last year ( even though last years was a better song) - You're getting closer...

Malta have chosen real music over pap - people's heads explode at that concept (mostly Schlagerqueens) - It'll go far!

Saturday, 2 February 2013

4 fecking hours!!

FOUR...FECKING.. HOURS

Whilst I love this island and its pea pastizzi, cake, water, weather..... four hours to eliminate 8 songs is a little bit excessive.

We tried, and failed, this morning to interview Christophe from Heilsarmee, however we did not come back empty handed... We now know the following :

They were got together through a casting show ( God idol?!)
They have yet to decide their name and look.
The EBU have done them a favour ("We were big in Switzerland, but the EBU's decision has made us "That band that has to change its name)
They didn't know what was going to happen in Malmo, but they were looking at a good show and the result was unimportant....

Pretty standard fayre then I guess.  We didn't ask him "Babbon or badger?" or " If Switzerland was a cheese, what would it be?" - but if we get to see him tonight, we will.

Tonight, Sixteen songs will be whittled down to Deborah C or Amber if I am any judge ( which I am not) - and may the best song win!!

I'll try and update tomorrow and Monday but thanks for staying with us!!

Friday, 1 February 2013

Malta really needed me to be there

I see that several of my Oneurope colleagues are currently living it up somewhere on a rock in the Mediterranean.  I have to say I am most most jealous.  Especially as I hear it's pushing 20C and dry and sunny.  If only it was here in the part of northern Europe where I currently am.

I understand that the Maltese semi-final tonight will be a riotous cavalcade of quality music.  At least it will if Deborah C gets through.  If you're reading this in said rock in the Mediterranean, please vote for it - song number 18.  You know it makes sense.

Riigi x

Afternoon in Valletta, sirs....

We had a lovely water taxi ride across the harbour from Gzira to Valletta where we managed to drink in the glories of the set, in a way that OnEurope knows how to - followed by drink in Oliver Reeds pub, food in a bar opposite the Co-Cathedral and, most importantly, our first cake of the weekend!!!

So, what did you do last night?!



While my cohort gently slumber, being as they are still on UK Time and Not CET, I think it would only be befitting to describe what we did last evening. 

Now as many of you know, I pretend to be an organized kind of man, however reading a bus time table was clearly beyond me last evening and between us all we got all narked and went out to Paceville ( The home of Claudette)…  Paceville is what I can only describe as Vegas meets Skegness a la Med.  It has more neon lights than the MEB would like you to pay for, more high class “gentlemans clubs” that I have ever seen in my life (some of which describing a life changing experience….  Well it certainly would have been if I had gone into them) and a set of steps descending to the waterfront which were very very steep, with bars on either side with more obligatory neon lights.
Having descended into Hades, we then looked for suitable eating establishments that we not…. Well…. Generic, and after several seconds of choosing, we went for a generic American diner, replete with genuine Americans in it.  (Cue wails of “oh it’s allllll so quaint and other catch all Americanisms).    We all ordered plates of meat, some of us were instructed to eat the fresh meat and not the frozen shite as it came with extras, and waited for it to be slapped at us and for us to be thoroughly disappointed.  
Thankfully the food was good and plentiful and tasty which then made up for the long walk to try and find a bar that served Cisk ( that didn’t take that long I hasten to add) – We ended up in an Irish Karaoke bar where scouse MC “Neil” was not, as you would expect singing the classics, but had a myriad of off the wall songs with lots and lots of words which astounded the assembled throng of ex-pats no end.   Our cue to leave, however, came when 2 local lovelies decided to murder a Rhianna song about murder…..
We got the bus home and then topped that off with a walk along Sliema front to find a lovely quaint bar with French pictures on the walls and UK newspapers on the ceiling….
In Cheese news, we had plenty of cheese and then some yesterday, so you won’t be disappointed!!