What a moment!

So the ESC circus is off to Germany in 2011!  What a great night and what great entertainment. Poor Josh – although a bottom five finish was always on the cards, with a field of strong songs and a rather weak entry from the UK.

Germany are deserved winners.  Lena proves once again, perhaps, that teenagers might be deciding the winner of the ESC. We’ve had three relatively young winners since 2008, and songs which seem to sit more comfortably within mainstream popular music. I’ll be interested to see if Lena cracks the top 40 in the UK – Alexander Rybak made it into the top 10 with his winning song last year.

I had great seats on Saturday night.  Even though I was at the back of the arena I was in the raised seats section, so I had a stunning view of the stage – and it looked great as the show began…. 

Lena takes to the stage after her victory…

My fave song started with two ‘douze point’ and there was ‘a little bit of wee’ from me for a moment! It finished in fifth place. Here’s a pic I took in the semi-final which I really like…

I can’t wait to see the show unfold on television, as all the little accents (like the ‘Eurovision aura’ forming the map and flag of each country) and good humour of the hosts looked really effective on the screens in the arena.

Of the three Eurovision finals that I have been to this was my favourite.  Although I have to say that the 8 days that I have spent in Olso were exhilarating and exhausting in equal measure.  There are late nights and early mornings, and with a mixture of my coverage of the ESC *and* the launch of the Eurovision Research Network (ERN), those of us involved in the ERN have felt a different pressure this week.

I am very pleased to report that the launch of the ERN was a huge success. The panel discussion on Thursday was well attended, and one of the eager contributors was Paddy O’Connell (second from left, below), the BBC reporter and commentator for the semi-finals.

On Friday the University of Oslo hosted a symposium for us, with a selected number of contributors presenting aspects of their research to date and open discussions as to what might follow.  Again, well attended and we have even heard on the grapevine that the EBU sent people to view (spy on!) the events, as we hope to have their acknowledgement of our existence before the contest in Germany next year.

 

 

I think that Karen, Toni and I are relieved that the launch has finally happened.  We had been working on it for several months, and as co-executive members and founders of the network it’s fantastic that we have received international press coverage and genuine interest in the fact that research into the Eurovision is happening, and people want to know more. BTW: I was also profiled in the Times Higher Supplement last week, and I’ve not read it yet so I’ll have to see how I was reported… Oh, and we were filmed and interviewed by an Australian film crew (staffed by fellow Brits Steve and Rebecca) for a documentary co-production for More4.  I know – we joked that we had our own film crew for a few days!

 So, the week has been hectic and hilarious, as well as exhilarating and exhausting – but I wouldn’t have missed the opportunity to be in Olso and at the centre of the Eurovision universe.  That said, I’m not sure I’ll be going to Germany next year.  I’ll certainly not be there for the final. I fancy being with friends at home for a change – and it’s always good to change the routine from time to time. I have had the pleasure of the company of my good friend (Professor) Brian Singleton at the past three contests, and sat with him at the last two.  He’s managed to keep my ‘Euro mojo’ going when I’ve felt a bit low and needed a boost.  He manages to be passionate about the ESC as a fan *and* as a scholar.  He sees them in equal measure, but manages to not suck the life out of the thing. His friendship and good humour has been the tonic to my gin this week.

 One final thought: if you have followed my Eurovision exploits over the last three years you might remember when I reported one of the funniest things I have heard whilst doing this blog. Back in 2008 (in Belgrade) a woman who was sitting behind me – having seen the Latvian entry “Pitates of the Sea” being performed – turned to her friend and said ‘you can see better than that at Butlins’.  It was just the funniest thing I heard!

 Well, my mum provided the classic moment this year. As the first semi-final came to a close I received a text message from her.  I presumed there would be a comment about one of the songs, or given that her son is in Olso covering the event there would be something Eurovision related? I opened the text message to read ‘the kitchen looks good’… you see she’s having the kitchen done up! It was a reminder that the real world marches on whilst I’m at the centre of the Eurovision universe! 😀

Right, time to leave the Eurovision bubble for another year. And I can’t believe I’m going to say it – but thanks for ‘sharing the moment’ with me.  I hope I’ve managed to add a little something to your Eurovision moments once again

So, that’ll be Oslo then…

Good evening Europe, may we have your votes please…

The dress rehearsal was excellent – you are going to have a very entertaining evening.  There are very few *awful* songs tonight, and the host broadcaster NRK has done a stunning job on presenting the ESC this year – in a personal, and at times, quite touching way.  I’m not going to spoil the surprises that await you.  I don’t even know who is going to win.  My heart belongs to Denmark, but my head can’t decide, so I’ll leave it at that.

My nephew Luke has been learning the chorus of the French song in his class at school, so I know what he’ll be singng along to!  All the teenage girls rushed to the front of the arena to see Lena do a great job for Germany.  Perhaps the teenagers will decide the winner tonight?

Anyway, off to get ready, and then cockails before the shuttle bus to the Arena.  Enjoy, my Eurovision chums…

BTW: Rachel Rolfe – we’ll do Eurovision back at my house next year, unless Denmark win.  It just isn’t the same without my number one Eurovish buddy, so hope you enjoy the show from Cyprus tonight! I will miss you, as always.

😀 x

Five live…

With little more than 24 hours to go until we’re all done and dusted for another year, here are the final five songs that we need to thow into the final line-up for Saturday night. It’s the ‘big 4’, plus host country Norway…

NORWAY

This does sound rather like You Raise Me Up, which in turn sounded a lot like How Great Thou Art. Norwegian group Secret Garden recorded the original of YRMU many years before Westlife did one of their lifeless cover versions. If you haven’t heard it then be sure to, as Brian Kennedy does a great job on lead vocals. Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that the Norwegian song this year is very anthemic and sounds rather like YRMU! I have already highlighted this week how good the presentation of the song is on television, and so, with an early spot in the final I’d be really surprised if it flops… and not totally surprised if Norway won again…

GERMANY

What is with the accent, I hear you cry…

Apparently (geek fact alert!), this is the most searched for song of the ESC this year, according to Google. It’s also the firm second favourite. Best thing they have sent in years, but will it take the title back to Germany for the first time since 1982?

FRANCE

The Cup Of Life was a song that Ricky Martin did for the World Cup many years ago. This year France have sent their song for the World Cup as their entry for ESC2010, and I think it sounds very much like the Ricky Martin track. If everyone is going football crazy at the moment it might capture the zeitgeist ahead of the kick-off in South Africa next month…

SPAIN

Spain lost the Eurovision plot many years ago, and they have struggled to get it back. The toys are very much back in town, for what is a rather bizarre song…

UNITED KINGDOM

There’s NO WAY that the UK are going to win, but Josh has equipped himself well this week here in Olso, and I haven’t heard anyone say a bad word about him. The same cannot be said for the song, but we’ll not worry about that now. Be sure to cheer him on as – fair play to all those involved – Josh has actualy managed to make lemonade from what was a pile of old lemons back in March.

Magic Moments?

Thursday night in the Telanor arena was a more tense affair for the second semi-final of ESC 2010. This was seen as being the more competetive of the two,  with more than 10 songs having a better than good chance of making it through to the final on Saturday.

I thought that the sound in the arena was *shocking*, so I can only imagine what it might have sounded like at home. I think my napkin of death wasn’t too bad in the end, considering I have been changing my mind a lot. The only songs that haven’t budged from my list have been Sweden and Denmark.

I was very happy that  Denmark made it through with A Moment Like This, but with one song to go and Sweden AND Denmark still in the running, what a shame that Anna didn’t make it through. Let me tell you – that was a major shock here, and the Swedes (and a lot of us) were gutted. 

Even the supply of glow sticks couldn’t save the song.  As you can see I was very excited when it was time for us the play our part in the arena…

Show business is a cruel mistress, and by the end of the night this picture tells the story of  Sweden at the ESC this year…

Second time’s a charm?

OK, I’m flying solo for my napkin of death tonight. Karen and I did a provisional one this morning, but I didn’t save it! So here, my friends, is the kiss of death to the following ten countries. Will they, or won’t they? I say…

01 LITHUANIA YES
02 ARMENIA YES
03 ISRAEL YES
04 DENMARK YES
05 SWITZERLAND NO
06 SWEDEN YES
07 AZERBAIJAN NO
08 UKRAINE NO
09 THE NETHERLANDS NO
10 ROMANIA YES
11 SLOVENIA NO
12 IRELAND YES
13 BULGARIA NO
14 CYPRUS NO
15 CROATIA YES
16 GEORGIA YES
17 TURKEY YES

Enjoy the show! Off to the arena shortly…

Dress to Impress. Part Two

I hope you are all reading the great blog that my mate (and news editor of The Southport Visiter) Jamie McLoghlin writes? After reading this if you haven’t been over to Boom Bang A Blog, why not click the link over on the right and see Jamie’s take on the proceedings. You’ll also get some stuff from me – which is good, right?!

No sooner had the dry ice faded and all hope has been lost for the seven counties sent packing on Tuesday night, it was time for the next batch of Eurocelebs to take to the stage for the first rehearsal of the second semi-final (you still with me?!).

The rehearsal on Wednesday afternoon was just for ‘us press people’ at the front of the arena. I took a few (dodgy) snaps and then gave up! I do, however, have some thoughts on all the songs that are on telly on Thursday night…

01 LITHUANIA

What a load of pants?? Yes! And undergarments!

A fun and quirky start to the second semi-final. If energy alone were enough to get to the final then this would be a shoe-in. Hope it does. Mind you, the big reveal underneath those Velcro-ed trousers might cost them votes…

02 ARMENIA

I still haven’t got clue what this song is about. That said, she’s just belted it out at the dress rehearsal. It should get through, although there are loads of good songs that are suffering from overly fussy staging, of which this is one.

03 ISRAEL

One of the best male singers in this competition strangely hit a bum note on the big key change. Pity, as other than that Harel is 10/10 for effort. My friend Apostolos hopes that he doesn’t faint on the night (that’s Harel, not Apo) – as that *big* note is fantastic.

04 DENMARK

Sound of schlager-harps! I had my close encounter with Channee and N’evergreen earlier in the week. I thought they did a good job on stage this afternoon. I hoped that it transferred to the telly, and when leaving the arena I was pleased to see that the reprise of the song for the recap has *that moment*, on the big key change. As in Belgrade and Moscow I will stay faithful to my pre-Contest fave – which is different to the song that I think will win, BTW.



05 SWITZERLAND

Popular in the arena. But again, all rather fussy. Best thing? The backing singer with the HUGE afro!

06 SWEDEN

This is seen by some as a good bet to win – has been steadily climbing with the bookies. I’ve always said that if Anna gives everyone in the arena a glow stick to wave in the air it’ll win. And do you know what… word has it that they are.

7 AZERBAIJAN

The hot favourite for months, this hasn’t quite transferred to the stage. It’s still a good song, but has got lost in translation a little.

8 UKRAINE

I have to say that she pulled a blinder with the vocal, and might be a sleeper for Thursday night…

9 THE NETHERLANDS

Not sure about this at all! What’s with the rather sinister child catcher overtones, and evil toys from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? Surely this won’t get through? Finland did the whole herdy-snurdy-flurdy thing a lot better on Tuesday night and that didn’t make it. Oh, and the singer is only 17 – has she had a hard life, do you think?.

10 ROMANIA

LOVE IT! Would it surprise you to know that there was FIRE and everything for this. Surely going to the final?

Let’s pause and remember the other time when we saw a man and a woman with a piano at Eurovision…

Aah – good times! That was Lynsey De Paul and Mike Moran doing the piaono-tastic Rock Bottom way back in 1977. I was seven, you know…

11 SLOVENIA

Doesn’t do it for me. But seeing some of the results you never know what’s going to happen here!

12 IRELAND

She’s Eurovision royalty (winning for Ireland back in 1993) and great value. Niamh can give it some welly, but will it do the job for Ireland? I’m not 100% sure. I have yet to hear her nail the last note, and that’s a worry. FYI: she’s wearing a purple frock, which I’m told is very brave with her colouring?

13 BULGARIA

Very slick, covers all bases for fans of all persuasions. He’s tantastic in real life – does he look orange on the telly? If Albania got through I would imagine that this might.

14 CYPRUS

Good performance. Will get loads of points from the UK, because we’re voting in this semi and the guy’s from Wales! Some weird diaspora going on there!

15 CROATIA

The Dixie Chicks – I mean Feminem – gave me my first ‘Euro-tingle’ of the day. Very strong, slick and I hope it gets those girls though after doing a rather dodgy job for Bosnia back in 2005.

16 GEORGIA

Well I tell you – it’s a good job that Georgia put on a good show, otherwise all that free booze and food the other night would have gone to waste. Complex choreography and FAB vocals should see her to the final. I mean – that last note is stunning! Although the battle of the ballads might be the kiss of death for some tonight?

17 TURKEY

Turkey have sent this song to Eurovision before. Again, lots of effort with the staging but something doesn’t connect. I had thought is was a dead cert to get through to the final, but I’m not sure now. What do you think?

So that’s it for the first run through. No cock-ups, no gaps – unlike the broadcast on Wednesday night when there was a loooong continuity pause. I said earlier in the week that there were a load of balls here in Oslo, and I have a feeling that somebody had their’s handed to the producer on a plate the other night!

😀

Dress to impress, Oslo! Part One

So, everything finally got going last night with the first semi-final.  Here I am, suited and booted and ready to cheer hysterically…

 

Here’s my view of the semi-final from my seat in the Telanor arena last night.  Can you guess which section we were in?

I hope that the stage looks good on TV…

Things warm-up as the hosts take to the stage and eveybody gets their flags out!

Midway during the proceedings the hosts wait to make one of their links. All in all people think that they are doing a great job. Much better than last year.

Hera rocked the house for Iceland – and as a result her odds have shortened dramatically. Good to see that volcanic ash didn’t cause Hera to have an early exit from the competition.

After the television broadcast, the aftermath in the arena…

In the press centre we waited to see the 10 successful acts through to the final. I loitered for 30 mins then caught the midnight shuttle bus back to our apartment. I’d shared enough moments with the Eurovison world for one day…

 

The first cut is the deepest?

Did the ‘napkin of death’ do its job?

Ever since Karen, Brian, Milija and I travelled to Belgrade for Eurovsion back in 2008, we have attempted to predict who we think will survive the semi-final phase of the ESC, and make it to the grand final. This started with pen and a napkin (duh) over dinner, and so a ritual was established. We try to be flashy and do it on a laptop, but it’s just not the same.

Apologies for posting the votes from ‘team Oslo’ a day late. We did rather well last year, but I think that my lack of Eurovision mojo is reflected in my success last night!  Here are our predictions. For this semi-final it’s Karen, Apostolos, Milija and myself  predicting that the following would go through…

 01 MOLDOVA

 We all said YES! We were all right!

 02 RUSSIA

 I was the only one to say no. I got it wrong (swapped it for Estonia at the last minute!).

 03 ESTONIA

 Apostolos and I said YES – we were wrong!

 04 SLOVAKIA

 We all said YES – we were all wrong!

 o5 FINLAND

 We all said YES – we were all wrong!

 06 LATVIA

 I said YES – and guess what, I was wrong!

 07 SERBIA

 We all said YES – and we were all RIGHT!

 08 BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA

 I was the only one to say NO – and I was wrong!

 09 POLAND

 We all said NO – and we were all RIGHT!

 10 BELGIUM

 We all said YES – and we were all RIGHT!

 11 MALTA

 I was the only one to say YES – and I was wrong!

 12 ALBANIA

I was the only one to say NO – and I was wrong!

 13 GREECE

 We all said YES – and we were all RIGHT!

 14 PORTUGAL

 We all said NO – and we were all wrong!

 15 F.Y.R. MACEDONIA

 We all said NO – and we were all RIGHT!

 16 BELARUS

 Only Milija said YES – and he was RIGHT!

 17 ICELAND

 We all said YES – and we were all RIGHT!

 So, that’s 6/10 for me, isn’t it.  A moderate prediction!  I’d like to say that I’ll do better on Thursday – but that’s the better semi-final and the songs are much stronger. ‘Team Oslo’ are disappointed that Slovakia and Estonia didn’t get through.  Latvia deserved not to get through – she sounded really flat in the arena. 

Team Olso, out…

Man about town…

Oslo is a beautiful city. If you get the opportunity to visit I would highly recommend it.  As we move about the city the Eurovision host theme is clearly visible, but in a subtle way…

   

On Tuesday morning Apostolos and I took a trip to the Munch museum. I was pleasantly surprised by the collection – with a range of styles that say more about his work than the iconic Scream  probably represents.

Later in the day we were back in the press centre getting ready for the first semi-final.  It has said been said before: Eurovision is not a sprint, it is a marathon!  Over the course of three nights we’ll see who battles to victory, culminating this Saturday on BBC1 at 8.00pm.

Here’s a glimpse of the arena…

And let’s not forget that the Eurovision Research Network (ERN) launches  this week: Karen, Toni, Milija and I are promoting our activities in the press centre and beyond…

If you are interested in what the ERN is all about, then go to www.eurovisionresearch.net for further details.  I’ll report back with how the events go on Thursday and Friday.