Saturday, 24 May 2008

Eurovision Blog: LIVE!

[8pm] We're off to a good start, with the BBC making an on-air apology about last year's Making Your Mind Up, and the lack of money given to charity at the time. It looks superb in HDTV.

Confluence of Sound is this year's title, it seems. The show kicks off with a woman singing a capella that Tel likens to a grumpy Jimmy Krankie. We reckon she looks more like Joe Pesquale. She proceeds to rip several layers of clothing off a woman standing next to her, leaving her wearing a half-dress, half-suit combo. And still, the singing continues, still without instrumental backing. If it's like this all the way through, we can't see us making it to half past eight, let alone all the way through.

[8.05] A bit of music has piped up in the background, then faded away again, suggesting this is an audio cock-up rather than by design. It certainly looked stupid having backing dancers when there's no actual music.

[8.07] Tel's eye has caught the attractive host. "Hello yourself," he replies to her greeting. You sly old dog, Toggers.

[8.09] First up, it's Romania with Nico and Vlad with Pe-o Margine de Lume. One minute in, and we can just make out some music over the singing. It's disappointingly bland and generic. Plus, it's in Romanian. Tsk. We've already swung it so the host's announcements are all in English despite the UK taking up a tiny proportion of the European population, why can't we force them all to sing in English?

[8.13] Speaking of singing in English, here come Our Brave Boys, more specifically Andy Abraham performing Even If. And we've just made the startling discovery that the backing music is almost totally inaudible on BBC HD only. Switching to BBC One just to check almost saw us propelled backwards by sheer force of volume. Like that bloke in the 1980s Maxell adverts. Once we drag the volume to a more polite level, it's not too bad, considering it's a British Eurovision entry.

[8.17] Seventeen minutes in, and we've got our first belly button of the evening (thanks for pointing that out, Terry), courtesy of Albania's Olta Boka. She's singing Zemrën E Lamë Peng. which is probably going down a storm on the Albanian equivalent of Radio Two. And here's a picture of her we've culled from Wikipedia, to try and distract everyone from the fact that this live blogging isn't very interesting yet. It's not our fault there aren't any bald blokes in tight suits chanting about how they're going to win Euro 2008 or something.

[8.20] Germany now. No Angels performing a song called Disappear. More standard Eurovision fare. Given the fact that each country really wants to win this thing, and that you're allowed to bring in overseas 'talent', why on earth hasn't anyone snapped up Girls Aloud?

[8.24] Armenia, whose flag is represented by a crap clown. Sirusho are about to perform their Qele Qelere, so they're cavorting around like they're the opening ceremony for the Olympics, if the Olympics were being held in Shetland. The music still isn't coming through properly on BBC HD. Wonder how many people have been watching it all this time, wondering what the ruddy hell is going on. It'll probably prove a boon for amateur 'mash up' deejays, looking to meld Zemrën E Lamë Peng with The Strokes.

[8.28] Yay! Here's Bosnia's Laka doing Pokušaj, essentially some berks dressed up in funny costumes. The bloke has a drawn-on moustache we think, and a bottle green school blazer. The woman is hanging up some washing whilst wearing a funny dress. So idea what they're on about, but at least it's fun. We Brits like to think we're the de facto masters of irony - why can't we pull something like this?

Again: yay!

[8.31] Off to Belgrade City Hall. It's turned into Children in Need, it seems.

[8.33] Israel's turn, with a song written by Dana International. Sadly, Boaz isn't dressed up outrageously, so we've kind of lost interest already. Why not do something more interesting on stage, Boaz? Rip off that OK Go video with the treadmills, or something. Like that yoghurt advert has done.

[8.37] Finland. Teräsbetoni doing Missä miehet ratsastaa. It's 1980s-style heavy metal! In Finnish! And while the singer looks a little bit like the bloke from Nickelback, they're not shit! The winner, we're saying. Everyone else might as well go home. And we don't actually like heavy metal music. It's so ball-kickingly loud that you can even hear the music on BBC HD. Hell, it's so loud you could probably even hear it on QVC. Look everyone, we've done a joke!

"There's men!" announces Tel. Ace.

[8.41] Croatia now. Kraljevi Ulice and 75 cents performing Romanca. They've got the best flag in Europe, but will they have the best song? It's an old bloke in a white suit. And another slightly younger man in a black suit. They both have hats. There's a dancer in a frock. A gramophone on a table. And the old man has started shouting things. Eurovision is up and running now! We don't know which one is 75 Cents, but if it's the old shouting man, he literally is twenty-five cents better than 50 Cent.

Now he's scratching the gramophone record like a septuagenarian Mixmaster Mike! Marvellous! Another potential winner.

[8.45] Poland are up, Isis Gee, For Life. We're with Doug Stanhope when it comes to Polish women, although as feminists, we don't quite agree with his dick-sucking employment policy for them. We suspect lots of tedious racists in pubs right now are making jocular remarks about her coming over here to work in a chip shop on Monday.

Oh, and cheers to an anonymous commentgoer for letting us know the HD sound is working now. It's like we're the Guardian football website or something!

[8.49] Reverting to type now, with Iceland's euroband, erm, Euroband. If Steps were Icelandic, they'd be Euroband. This Is My Life is precisely the sort of song we used to fast forward through when listening to the imported German dance compilations we'd bought from Wrexham's mighty Phase One Records in the early-to-mid 1990s.

[8.53] Turkey have also gone for the rock option, but sadly Mor ve Ötesi's 'Deli' doesn't hit the same heights as Finland's entry. Still, it gives us time to put the kettle on, so it's not all bad. 'Deli' means 'crazy' in English, by the way. I'm sure most Turkish-speaking visitors to New York allow themselves a wry grin each time they see a delicatessen.

[8.56] We're off to the green room. And more shouty Serbian hosts squabbling with each other. They're quite annoying, to be honest, and they don't actually do anything.

[8.58] Back to the main hosts. The male host has the tiniest beard ever worn by a man, taking the world record away from Tony Almeida in the first series of 24.

[9.00] Portugal. Vânia Fernandes singing Senhora do Mar (Negras Águas). It's a bit rubbish. We're off to get some crisps. Hope there's some prawn cocktail Quavers left.

[9.02] Bah. Only salt and vinegar ones.

[9.03] Christ's soupy beard. Latvia's entry is a hi-NRG sea shanty, with a bunch of people in camp pirate outfits waxing lyrical on what it's like to be a pirate. The band are called Pirates of the Sea and the sing is Wolves of the Sea. It's surprisingly ace. Another possible winner, which would lead to inevitably po-faced reporting of the fact in the news.

"Ya ha ha!" shouts Sir Tel as the song closes.

[9.07] Sweden have chosen a monochrome woman to do their song.

[9.08] Oh, she's in colour now. How did they do that. It did distract from the blandness of the song, at least. Charlotte Perrelli, Hero. Now some backing singers have appeared. They should have just forced Whale to reform. Whale were brilliant.

[9.10] Denmark, whose flag is represented by two blokes chucking a woman into a box and then sealing it. Whuh? Ooh, Christ. All Night Long, performed by the not-particularly Danish sounding Simon Mathew is quite dull. And it doesn't help that Simon Mathew seems to be a bit of a Chico character. If that box is soundproof, we can see just what that woman in the flag sequence was thinking of. We've made our second joke of the night!

[9.14] Georgia's Diana Gurtskaya hopes that Peace Will Come. Meh. Meanwhile, over on Betfair Ukraine are the big favourites, with Russia not far behind. Latvia are 47/1! We're sorely tempted to put a fiver on it, just in case. With Finland on 37/1, that's another reasonable bet. Are these people backing Russia and Ukraine based purely on national preconceptions here, or have they all heard the songs?

[9.18] Here's our chance to find out. It's the woman herself, Ani Lorak (pictured) doing Shady Lady. What a rubbish title. The song itself isn't anything too special, if you ask us, but they've certainly prepared their dance moves well in advance. We can't see why this is the favourite, aside from the accusations of international everyone-pick-on-Britain collusion that we've been bombarded with over the last week.

[9.21] Tel is warning us again not to phone in, or he'll get in trouble. That'd certainly make for an interesting new incentive by the BBC Trust. If we phone up trying to vote someone out from The Apprentice, will they set about Alan Sugar with big sticks?

[9.23] France's Sébastien Tellier singing 'Divine'. Women in beards. The singer on a Hank Kingsley-issue golf cart. And a very catchy song that we've heard on 6Music before now. Sung in English, much to the chagrin of the French. It's easily the best actual song of the night, so much so that we might even buy it. It's got that special kind of pop hook that wriggles underneath your skin and doesn't go away until you buy it. Criminally, it's 94/1 on Betfair to win.

[9.27] Azerbaijan win the award for the first country of the night that we've had to check the spelling of. Elnur and his gang are dressed as angels, while Samir and his minions have come as the devil. Together they perform Day After Day, They both look quite silly.

[9.30] Greece's turn, with the glamorous Kalomira. She reminds us a bit of Dannii Minogue, and her song Secret Combination is nice enough. We're going to go out on a limb here, and predict this will get the maximum twelve points from a small island beginning with 'C'.

[9.34] Ooh, now we're talking. Spain's turn, and they've elected to be represented by a Rolf Harris impersonator playing a child's toy guitar-cum-keyboard, with a troupe of foxy bouffanted babes. Rodolfo Chikilicuatre is his name, and the magnificently titled Baila el Chiki Chiki is his song. He might just be the greatest Spaniard ever to don a beard since Rafa Benitez. 69/1 on Betfair, but that's not stopping us putting his picture atop this post.

[9.38] Host nation Serbia's turn, and quite brilliantly it's a dwarf with a banjo singing My Lovely Horse from off of Father Ted. Oh, alright then. Jelena Tomašević and Bora Dugić performing Oro. The crowd go mad, but we'd rather have used Live Rewind to hear Baila el Chiki Chiki again.

[9.42] Russia, represented by a bloke who's forgotten to put his shoes on, the chump. Dima Bilan and Believe. We're going to prepare a graph instead of listen to this.

[9.46] Norway. Last up, it's Maria singing Hold On Be Strong. Hang on, Maria? You're only meant to be able to get away with using one name in the world of pop when it's an unusual one. Kylie. Sting. Madonna. Not 'Maria'. Bah. We tore ourselves away from an Excel pivot table for this?

[9.51] A huge Serbian basketball star (in both senses of the word) takes to the stage. Both senses of the word 'huge', not the word 'star'. That would just be silly, as the entire venue would be destroyed if a massive, luminous ball of plasma was brought up to declare the phone lines open. Tsk. Oh, and the phone lines are now open.

[9.56] Pre-empting the inevitable kicking we're going to get in the phone votes (mainly because we've got one of the more forgettable songs), here's something we've just knocked up during the recap of the songs. Taking the information on Wikipedia for the languages the songs were performed in, here's a pie chart for you.

So, we've won Eurovision. In a way.

[10.00] We're still working our way through a recap of all songs. This is a good way to determine a winner, seeing each song distilled into a six-second soundbite outlines just how catchy each song is. The UK's track comes over as pretty forgettable, as do many others, while the songs from Latvia and France grab your attention quite instantly. Ukraine are even bigger favourites on Betfair now, at just 2.8, although we don't think they'll win.

[10.06] A spurious countdown marks the closing of the phone lines, along with a pleading caption from the Beeb imploring us not to call any more. We know you don't want another bollocking, but all this is coming over as quite pathetic. You're like Dwayne in Grand Theft Auto IV, BBC. Stop being like Dwayne.

[10.09] Sir Tel has just admitted he can't wait to get drunk afterwards. We're not being sarcastic when we say Terry Wogan is a national blimmin' treasure. Why can't all television presenters be anywhere near as good?

Meanwhile, we've busied ourselves by checking out Rodolfo Chikilicuatre's official website. Will it live up to our hopes?

Hell, yeah. Everyone do 'El Robocop'.

[10.15] Well, there's still an oom-pah band up on stage, as they have been for the last ten minutes. Meanwhile, Tel has just been given some lovely chocolates by his Belarussian counterpart.

[10.17] The votes are about to start flooding in. Tel's getting a name check on stage, which is nice.

[10.18] The realisation that we're about to spend the next hour of our one and only life listening to various Europeans reading out lists of countries and numbers dawns. We could probably get to Bargain Booze and back in fifteen minutes. Hmm. If only it wasn't closed.

[10.20] Phew. They're only reading out the top three scores from each nation, the lower scores just pop up on screen. That's much better than the previous method, while lasted about three weeks. Albania get twelve points from the Macedonian presenter, who appears to be some sort of Timmy Mallett looky-likey.

[10.25] We really can't be bothered commenting on the people reading out numbers, so here's a look at the website for Pirates Of The Sea.

They've got a forum!

Meanwhile, we've got our first points. Thanks for the pity voting, people of San Marino.

[10.30] Ukraine are slipping down the betting now, to third place. Told you they won't win. Turkey - third place in the voting - are still 19/1. Fill your boots.

[10.33] Bosnia-Herzegovina's entry gets twelve points from someone, much to the annoyance of Tel. Lighten up, sir! The UK are now second to last in the table. Will Cyprus give us some points?

[10.34] No. Greece got their twelve points, though.

[10.36] The scruffily attired Moldovan presenter is trying to eke every last second from his appearance. Come on, man. You're like the least famous celebrity presenting an award at an awards show, frantically and quite pathetically trying to make a name for yourself.

[10.38] No wonder no-one votes for us. This is three hours of live primetime television, and about 90% of the total television audience has to sit through the majority of it listening to a language they don't understand. If all the commentary on the BBC and ITV coverage of Euro 2008 was in German, there'd be an armed uprising.

Here's a question for any Eurovision buffs reading this: does the coverage in other Eurovision nations include commercial breaks? There's no gap left for any, but if it's as popular as it's made out to be, surely it'd be a goldmine for the commercial stations.

[10.46] The award for Best Fake Tan And Whitened Teeth of the night goes to the Slovenian presenter. It's as if he was fathered by Dale Winton, although that's statistically unlikely on several levels. The Armenian presenter runs him quite close, but as she's absolutely gorgeous we can forgive her.

[10.48] First cock up of the night - the Czech presenter messes up their results, leaving her perilously close to erupting into a fit of giggles. We're still second from bottom of the table. Not even Malta have given us some points! Expect a furious reaction from the Daily Mail on this matter.

[10.54] Some consolation points from Ireland. The presenter lady almost seemed embarrassed by this. As Poland have also picked up some points, we're now last in the table.

[10.57] We're getting bored of the numbers now. Russia are going to win, we're going to finish last. Happily, we've just discovered Sébastien Tellier's MySpace page. And we've also just discovered that Swedish people have trouble pronouncing Bosnia-Herzegovina. Every day's a school day.

[11.01] Sébastien Tellier fact! Divine was produced by 50% of Daft Punk. Which is why it's so great. We've just bought it. It downloading now. Whee. The results are nearly over, so soon we'll all be able to get on with our lives.

[11.04] Sébastien Tellier fact two! The cover of his album has a bare lady on it.

[11.06] The presenters reading out the results have taken to singing bits of the songs. That isn't really helping anyone. Oh, and Russia have won.

[11.08] And that's pretty much it. The evening ends with the winning song, a shitload of fireworks, and Tel grumbling about how it's all a big fix, and how all the west European countries might as well just stop entering it. Never mind the fact this is the first time Russia have ever won it. Mind you, it's not as if the winning song was anything to write home about, so maybe he's on the money. We don't know. We do like the fact that as next year's contest is going to be in Moscow, there's an outside chance Tatu will make an appearance. We're now definitely going to be watching it again next year.

And with that in mind, what better way to sign off?

See you next year!

12 .:

Anonymous said...

Sounds still working on BBC One; shame to miss HD though :(

Anonymous said...

Anyone know how to stream Terry Wogans commentary outside the UK?

Anonymous said...

hd sound now working, hooray ?

Mark X said...


Mark X said...

Anonymous 2: Not sure, but might be your best bet.

Anonymous said...

No luck with, thanks though.

Anonymous said...

Can you not get Radio two online ?

I think its on that too.

Anonymous said...

You're right, thanks. Almost over now anyway ;)

Brig Bother said...

> does the coverage in other Eurovision nations include commercial breaks?

Yes they do. You know that there was a gap between some songs where the hosts would banter and they'd throw to a crowd somewhere? That's for the benefit of those countries that don't have ads, everyone else gets an ad break.

Mark X said...

Cheers, Brig. So, if the contest had been on a commercial channel we wouldn't have had to put up with the interminable 'visits' to the green room? Come on, Michael Grade.

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