Let’s get the party started!

I spent Monday afternoon at the dress rehearsal for the first semi-final. There were no major calamities, and unlike in previous years we got through without having to stop for a technical error. That said some of the vision mixing on the screens in the auditorium was a bit fudged. What is looking stunning, however, are the transitions between songs: the postcards are charming, involving people from each nation, and then what I can only describe an ‘eurovision aura’ (loads of swirling dots) will fly onto your TV screens to first form the outline of each country, and then the flag from it. You’ll see what I mean! Also, as the artists enter the stage you will see that too! A nice touch that we haven’t seen since 1979, apparently (I didn’t know that – I’m not that much of a geek!). Some looked more nervous than others today!

So, on with the runners and riders for Tuesday night (BBC3 at 8.00pm!)

Oh, one MAJOR change to the proceedings this year is that you can text to vote for a song you like at any time, rather than waiting until the reprise after all the songs have been performed. This might just shake things up a bit.

01 MOLDOVA

A good opener for the first semi-final. I’ve liked this for a while, but today at the dress rehearsal she was a little off. Loving the M People stylee sax flourish – sounds a bit like Moving On Up from back in the day?

02 RUSSIA

Russia seem to have realised that now they have hosted the ESC they are in no hurry to win it back. The lead singer looks slightly bored – and you might be too..

03 ESTONIA

The first time I heard this it made me think of music from the 1980s (aah, the 80s – the best of times!). I think it sounds like Midge Ure and Heaven 17 mixed together. Must say that I have not been a fan of this song, but he delivers it really well – with a quirky style that makes the song sound better. I know you might laugh, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this gets through…

04 SLOVAKIA

Best song of the night so far. Is it me, or does the green costume remind you of that episode of Doctor Who recently when the people turned into trees? This is straight through to the final.

05 FINLAND

This is bonkers, but charmingly so. You’ll be clapping along by the end. The assembled press at the rehearsal today were doing just that!

06 LATVIA

I love this song. Not sure why Aisha has taken to the stage in what looks like her bath robe? Perhaps she’s going for the dirty old man vote…

07 SERBIA

Rearrange these words and I think it’s all I need to say:

BOX – FROGS – A – AS – MAD – OF

Except that – if you don’t judge the poor fella for having a haircut that his mother gave him because she’d hoped for a girl – it’s irritatingly catchy, and it’ll be popular with the voters in Eastern Europe for sure.

08 BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA

A bit retro. Bosnia have made the final for the last couple of years – I’m not sure that they will this year. What do you think?

09 POLAND

Poland need to realise that less is more, as there is far too much to distract the eye from the ear. Also, singer Marcin grabbing a backing singer by the throat during the performance it a little sinister…

10 BELGIUM

This is really popular here in Oslo. It’s got one of the best reactions in the auditorium today. As a song it does build in all the right places and is a clap along crowd pleaser.

11 MALTA

I’m on the fence with this one. Generally well staged – with great gospel singers adding very strong backing vocals to provide a dimension to the track that we have not heard before, and actually making me want to hear it again.

12 ALBANIA

There is a song every year that the fans love that never makes it to the final. I think that this might be that song this year. And if you thought that Pete Waterman had composed a song for the UK that sounds more cliché than retro, then I think that this is in the same league.

13 GREECE

Greece is the word once again this year with another strong contender. Infectious and catchy – sure to go to the final! Feel the testosterone…

14 PORTUGAL

2010 is quite ballad-tastic. In such a wide field this charming performer might struggle to qualify.

15 F.Y.R. MACEDONIA

I said today at the dress rehearsal that this would be one of the songs if I was watching at home during which I would put the kettle on and have a cup of tea. I quickly corrected myself. It’d be a song when I would refresh my G’n’T!

16 BELARUS

And then, following the previous song where my gin and tonic had been refreshed, I’d be on my feet again to go and get another one! A wee bit bland for me. A pity that they replaced their original entry this year with this substitute – the former song was much better. BTW: keep a close eye on the female singers who will literally sprout butterfly wings on the key change at the end. No, really! Eurovision, cheesy – surely not!

17 ICELAND

Hopefully you’ll be in the europop zone by this point in the proceedings. So, go on- push the coffee table to one side, put down that bottle of Lambrini and it’s hands-in-the-air-shake-em-like-you-just-don’t-care. Do it for me – sashay with Hera and her team. Love it – a great finish to the night.

‘Team Oslo’ – will deliver our “Napkin of Death” predictions tomorrow, for the third year. We did quite well last year!

😀

A warm welcome to Oslo…

Sunday in the Telanor arena saw the last of the individual rehearsals for each of the 39 delegations. From Monday afternoon we enter the dress rehearsal phase with the first full run-through of the first semi-final, which you can see on BBC 3 on Tuesday 25 May at 8.00pm.

Karen, Toni and myself spent most of the day in the press centre working on our preparations for the launch of the Eurovision Research Network, of which we are the executive members (and founders) – more of that later in the week. I did manage to see Ireland’s Niamh Kavanagh rehearse the strong ballad It’s For You, which she performs very well.  As a former winner back in 1993 she has proven Eurovision pedigree – beating the UK’s Sonia in what went down to the very last score. 

Josh continues his progress with a more confident performance – although as you will see from the footage in a later post, he was saving his voice.

At the end of the day it was time for the delegations and invited guests to walk the pink carpet (no really – black, silver and pink are the logo colours) to the opening reception which was held at Oslo City Hall.  We arrived too late for the festivities when in Moscow last year, so I think I made-up for it this year, as you will see from my pictures!

Me + Eurovision celebs + pink champage = …

 

Moments after arriving on the pink carpet I bumped into Swedish singer Anna – who is seen by some commentators as a good tip this year.  I’ve liked the song since the Melodifestivalen, so I wouldn’t mind a trip to Sweden next year…

The scene outside City Hall…

The building is stunning, and this is where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded each year…

As the Euovision anthem Te Deum was played to the invited guests, Karen and fellow Eurovision scholar Dr. Irving Wolther take their pledge of Eurovision allegiance…

The reason why we are all here – Alexander Rybak – reprises the winning song from last year…

And then I think my British reserve abandoned me!  The pink champagne was flowing freely, and what’s a boy to do if not to make the most of that opportunity.  Here are some of my new best friends.  The boys from Lithuania were great fun – and their trousers merit special mention – although my photo does nothing to tell you why…

For my friend and colleague Ruxandra, I just had to say hello to Romania…

Chanée & N’Evergreen  sing my favourite song of the Contest, and even though it is fifth in the betting odds, some pundits think that they will not survive the semi-finals.  They look rather like a married couple who are on this trip to save their relationship!  He looked very grumpy (and off his head), but she was lovely.  I gushed a lot about how much I loved the song, grabbed a photo opp and then moved on before I said something unkind about N’Evergren’s specs (about as stupid as his name I’d say?)

The French have sent a World Cup song as their entry this year.  Jessy Matador will sing Allez Ola Ole on Saturday night. Real men wear pink you know… 

Norway could very well do the double and become the hosts of Eurovision in 2010. It is one of the few songs this year that gives me what we called last year ‘a Euro-tingle’. The Norweigan crew have certainly pulled a blinder with how it is presented on television (as you will see from the footage in a later post)…

Hera Björk was lovely.  Although how many votes will the Icelandic singer receive.  That volcano wasn’t her fault!  Hera is the one on the left…

And finally it’s ‘our Josh’ with your Phil!  He is a *lovely* chap.  And I tell you something – his hair won’t move when they turn the wind machine on…

After all that excitement we left the party, heading out into a lovely night in Oslo…

 

 

 

Georgia on my mind…

The first night in Oslo – a beautiful city – was spent at the lavish launch party for the Georgian delegation. It was held at the impressive Opera House…

The interior reminded me of The Lowry at Salford Quays, for those of you who have visited that venue. The booze flowed and the canapés were delicious. This was a good thing as alcohol and food is causing a lot of distress for the assembled Euro-philes – it is incredibly expensive. For example, half a pint of beer will cost you seven quid. So, Karen, Toni and I filled our boots and loitered at the party for a couple of hours. The Georgian delegation coordinated an impressive event, and on leaving we were presented with a goodie bag that included what looks like a small beach towel, pen drive, CD (it is a song contest remember!) and other treats.

It might be worth having a quick look and listen to the entry from Georgia: Sofia Nizharadze sings Shine, and she does it very well…

The view of the city during the evening was beautiful as we made our way back to the apartment at the end of a hectic day…

Oh my gosh – it’s Josh!

How remarkable that as Karen and I arrived at the Telanor arena yesterday for the first time, Josh Dubovie – the UK’s entrant for ESC210 – was rehearsing the Pete Waterman penned That Sounds Good To Me

There are many people who think that the song doesn’t actually sound good at all.  But to be fair the track has been radically re-worked since the BBC’s selection programme Your Country Needs You aired a couple of months ago.  You will get used to my quite dodgy camera skills over the week, but here is what the stage looks like – with Josh working on what isn’t quite a fully polished performance just yet…

 Here’s Josh doing his thang on Saturday afternoon…

After the rehearsal I went to the first UK press conference, and Josh seems like a likeable and genuine guy. Pete Waterman and Graham Norton will be attending the press conference on Friday, so more on that later in the week.

Josh made a point of saying that when he performs in the final on Saturday 29 May it will be the most important three minutes of his life.  Let’s hope that’s it’s not time wasted.

Are you in the Euro-zone?

It would appear that I am!

It’s really odd to think that after many months of preparation I find myself back at the heart of the Eurovision Song Contest.  For the third successive year I have been accredited to cover the event – thanks to Jamie McLoughlin and the BBC. Once again I’ll be offering you the view from the centre of all things ‘Eurovish’, and this year we are in Oslo, Norway.

I’m sure that those of you who have followed my exploits for the last two years will join me on the journey once again. If it’s your first time – welcome aboard… relax and enjoy the ride!

In addition this year I am here with Dr. Karen Fricker and Dr. Toni Sant to launch the Eurovision Research Network (ERN) which we hope will continue to develop the ongoing research into the Contest and highlight the dynamic and interdisciplinary nature of the work that is currently being undertaken by academics across the globe. No, really! More of that later in the week.

It was an early start today (Saturday) for myself and good friend (not to mention fellow Eurovision scholar) Dr. Karen Fricker. I had travelled down to London on Friday to make good use of my time (and terrible flight connections) only to be scuppered – not by volcanic ash – but by a bloody fog cloud!  A two-hour delay in the big scheme of things seems like a small price to pay for what must have been appalling circumstances for those trapped in the volcanic ash over the past few weeks. And we’re here now, so…

We left Gatwick at 0950hrs, and by 1620hrs Karen and I had arrived in Oslo, checked-in to our apartment in downtown Oslo (very nice, BTW), registered for our press accreditation at the Telanor Arena, and by 1620 we were in the arena for the first rehearsal of the ‘our Josh’ who is our entry this year. My excitement is palpable…

After a long day seeing this guy rehearse certainly perked us up…

Yes, that’s the UK singer for this year – ‘our Josh’, and more of him and rest of the developments so far in Oslo in the next post…

Are you ready to share the moment?

STARTING THIS WEEK!

ESC 2010 is already in the rehearsal stage in Oslo, Norway.

Once again Phil Jackson will be covering the ESC for the Trinity Mirror Group and Edge Hill University!

Be sure to stay in touch with all the developments as they happen and ‘share the moment’ with the rest of Europe…