Newcomers Czech Out 2007

Posted: 13/7/2006 in:

After years of will-they-won’t-they speculation, it appears that Czech Republic – one of the few East European countries not to have graced a Eurovision stage with their presence – will finally make their contest debut in Helsinki next year. According to the Eurovision website Oikotimes , Czech national broadcaster Ceske Televizije is already making plans for a national final, to be held in March next year. The channel’s head of music and dance, Radim Smetana, said around ten competitors would battle it out to perform the Republic’s first ever Eurovision entry, with the public invited to vote for their favourite via mobile phone and email.

Although the full line-up of countries won’t be confirmed for some time, next year’s Eurovision has the potential to be a crowded one. Aside from the Czech Republic, it’s still possible that Georgia, who is now an active member of the EBU, could make its debut (following speculation they would do so this year), while Serbia and Montenegro could now both enter as separate countries, following the Montenegrin vote to become an independent nation in May.

And there’s also suggestion that Austria, who sat out the 2006 contest following a poor result the previous year, may return to the line-up in 2007 – as may Hungary, who also withdrew from this year’s event for financial reasons.

The most interesting rumours, however, surround the possible comeback of old favourites Luxembourg, who haven’t taken part since 1993 despite having one of the best track records in Eurovision history Apparently one of the country’s broadcasters, Tango TV, is set to become a member of the EBU this summer – and has already said it wants to see the Grand Duchy back on the Eurovision stage. Frankly it’s a prospect Team Eurovision is pretty excited about – after hearing the ‘Luxembourg are coming back’ rumours every single year, could it be that they’re finally about to come true?

Welcome to Helsinki!

Posted: 23/6/2006 in:

After several weeks of speculation, it’s been announced that Eurovision 2007 will be held in the Finnish capital Helsinki. The Hartwall Areena, a major venue in the city which can seat up to 12,000 people, has been chosen to host the contest which next year will take place on May 10 (semi-final) and May 12 (final).

While we’re not in the least bit surprised that Helsinki has been chosen as the host city, it’s worth noting that Lordi’s victory was greeted with such huge enthusiasm back in Finland that cities were positively queueing up for the chance to host the contest. No less than seven put in a bid to stage Eurovision 2007, with other hopefuls including the southern towns of Tampere and Espoo, the city of Turku (regarded as the cultural capital of Finland) and Rovaniemi in Lapland (which also happens to be the birthplace of Mr Lordi himself).

Meanwhile, the dust has barely settled on the 2006 contest, the enthusiastic Scandinavian nations are already starting to think about their efforts for 2007! The Danish delegation has announced that their song for next year’s contest will be chosen on February 10 next year, while Sweden is already accepting submissions for Melodifestivalen 2007 – the national final at which the Swedish entry is chosen. Sweden’s broadcaster SVT has said that would-be entrants have until September 19 to submit songs – and you can find out more at their official website – that is, if you speak Swedish…..

A Whole Lotta Lordi

Posted: 5/6/2006 in:

We always knew that Lordi wouldn’t just disappear from memory after their Eurovision victory in Athens, and sure enough they’re now set to make their mark on these shores. The masked Finnish rockers will be touring the UK in October, with dates as follows:

October 26 – Nottingham Rock City
October 27 – Carling Academy Birmingham
October 29 – Manchester Academy 3
October 30 – The Garage, Glasgow
October 31 (Halloween!) – The Forum, London

Tickets are priced £10 except for the London date where they’re £11.50 and are on sale now from venues and most major ticket agencies.

Meanwhile, for those seeking a further fix of Lordi, their winning song Hard Rock Hallelujah is released on Tuesday – yes, that is 6/6/06. Having entered the charts this week at No 59 on download sales alone, the band stand a good chance of scoring a top 40 hit next week – and there’s every chance that they could become the first Eurovision winners to top the UK charts since Nicole did the honours in 1982. If they land themselves a chart-topper, we reckon they’ll become the first Finnish act to score a No 1 hit in the UK. That’s unless anyone can tell us otherwise…

In other Lordi news, we couldn’t help chuckling over the cover of Private Eye this week. Follow this link to see what we mean.

Daz to dazzle competition in 2007?

Posted: 26/5/2006 in:

Despite his failure to drag the UK out of its Eurovision doldrums, 2006 participant Daz Sampson has said he’d be prepared to do it all over again. “I feel it’s my destiny to win it, and I simply have to go back and try it again,” he said on his website shortly after finishing 19th in Athens last weekend. “How many UK entries do you know who, having been the victim of a touch of neighbourly voting, have come back to these shores saying ‘I want to go and do it again’?
“I have what it takes to win this. I have learned lessons from the week which will stand me in good stead for next year. I have to go again.”

While we’re quick to admire Daz’s determination, we should just point out one thing to him, which is that in order to take part in next year’s contest he has to be voted in by the British public – and having finished so low down the scoreboard this year, would they be prepared to give him a second chance? It’s hard to say, really since Teenage Life divided audiences so sharply – it seemed to be one of those love it or hate it kind of entries – but one thing we do know is that despite his low score Daz certainly didn’t disgrace himself on the night. Team Eurovision thought he gave one of the best performances a UK act has given in recent years, and it’s a shame that didn’t translate into a few more points – although it’s worth noting that those points did seem to come from a wider spread of countries than in recent years. Perhaps our low finish was less to do with other countries not liking us, and more to do with Teenage Life being the wrong song at the wrong time? Daz’s love of Eurovision has endeared us to him, and it makes a refreshing change to see a UK representative being so enthusiastic about the contest after the apathetic competitors we’ve fielded recently, but if he does want to make an impact next year he’s going to have to come up with something completely different.

Still, it’s not all bad news for Stockport’s finest – according to midweek sales figures Teenage Life is set to rocket up the charts to number five on Sunday, giving him the highest chart placing for a UK entry since our 1997 winner Love Shine A Light. He may soon find himself up against some stiff Eurovision competition however, since Lordi’s winning entry Hard Rock Hallelujah, is released here on June 6 – and we smell a hit.

Meanwhile, Daz isn’t the only person who’s expressed an interest in representing the UK next year. Former Smiths frontman and self-confessed Eurovision fan Morrissey has suggested that perhaps the BBC should approach him about taking part if they want to improve their current standing in the contest. “I was horrified but not surprised to see the UK fail again,” he said during a gig at the London Palladium earlier this week, “And there is one question I keep on asking: ‘why didn’t they ask me?’ That question is going round in my head.” Morrissey for Helsinki 2007? Now that we would like to see.

In other news

Posted: 21/5/2006 in:

In other news…

The ten countries who have automatically qualified for the 2007 final are as follows:

FINLAND (host nation)

They’ll join the Big Four (the UK, France, Spain and Germany) in the final, while as per usual the remaining ten countries will be chosen in the semi-final. Provisional dates for next year’s are 10 May for the semi-final and 12 May for the final.

Meanwhile, Finland not only won the final convincingly but also scored a victory in the semi-final as well (winning Team Eurovision a spot of extra pocket money into the bargain). The top five in the semi was completed by Bosnia and Hezegovina, Russia, Sweden and Lithuania – all of whom scored top ten places in the final.

It’s Finland

Posted: 20/5/2006 in:

After 45 years of trying, Finland have finally won the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time. Heavy metal act Lordi scored a whopping 292 points with their song Hard Rock Hallelujah, fending off competition from second placed Russia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, who finished third.

The UK, meanwhile, finished in 19th place with 25 points.

More to follow.

The Final Running Order

Posted: 19/5/2006 in:

Following Thursday’s semi-final, we now have a complete running order for this year’s final. And it’s as follows:


Our thoughts on the running order

Before we start, a few words on the qualifiers themselves. Our final predictions saw us correctly predict seven of the finalists (and we did have Armenia as a possible spoiler and qualifier in our original predictions, so we claim that one too!) Despite reservations over Belgium, we really thought Kate Ryan would make it after her performance tonight – however, while we’re surprised not to see her in the final, we’re certainly not shocked. Our main disappointment is the absence of Slovenia, who we think really did deserve to go through – but we’re thrilled to see Ukraine make the cut – we loved Tina Karol’s song from the first time we heard it and it was a fine example of how a great performance can turn an outsider into a definite qualifier. We now feel that she’s definitely one to watch on the night.

The semi-finalists joining the line-up are at something of an advantage this year – the fact that the first nine slots have already been filled by finalists means that they all steer well clear of the dreaded second spot (poor Moldova!) and none of them have to kick proceedings off either (this is probably good news for Armenia’s Andre, given how nervous he looked at having to start the semi-final).

Russia have snagged the first final spot – singing tenth – and it’s not a bad starting position (let’s not forget Ruslana won a couple of years back from tenth place in the running order) While there’s a strong performance from FYR Macedonia to follow, he’ll benefit from coming right after Denmark’s forgettable effort.

Having sung eleventh in the semi-final, FYR Macedonia have landed the exact same spot in the final, and it shouldn’t do them any harm at all. Elena was terrific in the semi-final and should do well from this starting position also. Could be one to watch on Saturday.

Coming just after the halfway mark are Bosnia and Herzegovina, who gave a superb performance in the semis. The fact that Hari Mata Hari is sandwiched between two very different songs – from Romania and Lithuania – should help this classy effort to stand out even more. We’re increasingly beginning to see this one finishing in the top five.

We’re still not quite sure what Lithuania are doing here – but we can only think it’s at the expense of Iceland, since there was only ever going to be room for one novelty song in the final, and since Silvia Night appeared to be less than popular in Athens it paved the way for LT United to slide through and steal her thunder (the fact they seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely on stage probably helped). To be honest, wherever they are in the final is unlikely to make a difference – we can’t see them doing particularly well and they should just be happy to be there – but it’s definitely good news for our Daz, who performs right after them, when you consider some of the finalists he could have followed.

Ukraine and Finland were two of the highlights of the semi-final, singing one after the other – and they’re performing consecutively in the final, only this time the other way round. We originally thought that Tina Karol would be all but forgotten once Lordi took to the stage, but she was so good in the semi that her close proximity to the Finnish rockers shouldn’t make a whole lot of difference. The only thing is, this time she’s on stage straight after them, and we now know what a hard act they are to follow. Will be interesting to see how she fares, but we have a feeling that both of these are going to do rather well.

And so to the last four, all of which are qualifying semi-finalists – and they should all count themselves very lucky, since a late spot in the running order is always considered an advantage. This could be good news for Ireland, whose gentle ballad comes as a stark contrast to the lunacy of finalists Croatia (singing right before them). Sweden’s Carola has a great draw which should only further cement her chances of doing well, while the penultimate slot – often thought of as one to watch – falls to Turkey. Since we’re still quite surprised they qualified, we’re not entirely sure that having such a great spot in the running order is going to help them. And as for Armenia, who get to finish things off – well, we can’t help thinking that like Lithuania, Andre should just be happy to be there. But with a few shocks and surprises in the qualifying list, who knows what’ll happen on Saturday night?

And the qualifiers are….

Posted: 18/5/2006 in:

These are the ten countries – in the order in which they were drawn out – who will be joining the the 14 other countries in the final on Saturday….


We Are The Winners??

Posted: in:

It seems that Team Eurovision aren’t the only ones with an opinion as to who’ll be taking top honours on Saturday. A panel of Eurovision experts organised by the BBC News website has tipped Belgium to win this year’s Eurovision. The jurors - including former Eurovision winner Jorgen Olsen, Maltese diva Chiara, legendary ‘nul points’ Norwegian Jahn Teigen, and the UK’s very own Nicki French and 1982 host Jan Leeming - listened to all 37 of this year’s entries and selected the 10 they believe will do well in Athens. The UK and Ireland both made the chart:

1. Belgium
2. Greece
3. Sweden
4. Romania
5. Malta
6. Russia
7. Switzerland
8. Germany
9. Ireland
10. United Kingdom

The full story and profiles of the panel can be found here

No change in semi-final

Posted: 17/5/2006 in:

With just 24 hours to go until the semi-final kicks off in Athens, it’s been revealed that the format for next year’s qualifying round is set to stay the same. Initial reports had suggested that only 10 countries – the top six from this year plus the UK, France, Spain and Germany – would automatically receive a place in the 2007 final, with 14 countries going through from the semi. However, the EBU’s Eurovision organiser Skante Stocksvelius has told a press conference in Athens that it’ll be business as usual next year, with 14 countries qualifying automatically and 10 making it through from the semi-final. Apparently logistics for rehearsals has been cited as the reason for keeping everything the same.

Stockselius also explained how the change in voting this year – in which each country announces only its 8, 10 and 12 points – will work. Apparently a scoreboard will appear on screen as countries are being called up to vote, and their points from 1-7 will flash up on the board rather than being announced by the juror – but even though they’ll appear faster than they would be if they were announced, the audience will still have enough time to see them and react accordingly. The final three countries to vote, meanwhile, will announce their results in their entirety. So in other words, even though the new voting sounded like it would put a dampener on one of the highlights of the contest, it might not be quite so bad after all – and the new, speedier system might even stop it from becoming dull. But we’ll reserve judgment until we’ve seen it for ourselves on Saturday.

Daz Hits The Charts

Posted: 14/5/2006 in:

We’ll have to wait until next weekend to find out how Daz Sampson fares in Athens, but right now he’s not doing too badly in the UK charts. His Eurovision entry, Teenage Life, has gone into the UK Top 40 at number 13 – and although it might have missed out on a top ten placing, it’s still scored the highest chart position for a UK Eurovision song since Precious’ Say It Again, which reached number six in 1999.

Daz has a fair way to go up the charts before he matches the success of past Eurovision entrants such as Katrina and The Waves, who made number three in 1997 with their contest winner Love Shine A Light – but he’s done better than Javine, who only managed number 18 last year with Touch My Fire. The last UK Eurovision hopeful to top the charts was Gina G’s Ooh…Aah Just A Little Bit in 1996 – but of course Daz could go higher if he does well in Athens. Let’s see what happens next Sunday….

Tune In On Tuesday….

Posted: 13/5/2006 in:

….and kick off your week’s worth of Eurovision viewing with Boom-Bang-A-Bang: 50 Years of Eurovision, BBC One’s own tribute to the Song Contest which is being shown this Tuesday at 10.35pm on BBC One.

Hosted by Eurovision stalwart Terry Wogan, the show promises a celebration of the contest’s five decades, including a performance from the UK’s hopeful Daz Sampson, and some of the best – and worst – Eurovision moments ever. We’re told this will include all of the UK’s wins, Abba’s victory in 1974 and a look back at the last time le Royuame-Uni hosted the contest, in 1998.

Not sure what else it’ll include, but with 50 years worth of clips at their disposal, there’s bound to be a few choice gems in there. We’d like to think the likes of Guildo Horn and Dana International will make it into the highlights – and let’s hope that old clip of Freddi and Friends gets pulled out of the archives too. As for the worst?? Well – as overplayed as it may now be – Jemini seems almost inevitable….

Lordy! It’s Lordi…

Posted: 11/5/2006 in:

You wouldn’t normally associate indie music station XFM with Eurovision (although it is Team Eurovision’s channel of choice when we’re not in contest season), but this year they seem to be taking the contest a bit more seriously – thanks to the presence of Finland’s Lordi. Breakfast Show presenter Lauren Laverne – a self-confessed fan of the contest – loves the death metallers’ entry Hard Rock Hallelujah so much that she’s even started a campaign to help Finland secure their first ever Eurovision victory.

Visitors to Lauren’s section of the XFM website have the chance to show their support by emailing a message to Terry Wogan, urging him to switch allegiance from Daz Sampson to Lordi (one of Team Eurovision tried it only to receive an auto-responder from the man himself, so we’re not quite sure if he even read our email). Lauren, meanwhile, has taken her own loyalties a step further by actually featuring a phone interview with Mr Lordi himself on her Thursday morning show. Obviously most of Team Eurovision get up far too late to have actually heard this but one early riser did catch the interview and was a tad disappointed to hear just how “normal” the masked Eurovision hopeful actually sounded.

A Fever Over Night?

Posted: in:

She’s already caused a stir thanks to her flamboyant costumes, over-the-top stage show and enormous ego, but now it seems Iceland’s Silvia Night has landed herself in a spot of bother with the European Broadcasting Union. According to Dot Eurovision, Skante Stockselius, executive supervisor of Eurovision, is none too happy that Night’s song Congratulations features the f-word (as in the line ‘the vote is in, I’ll f-ing win’) and has written to the EBU to complain.

Stockselius’ letter, which is also available at the singer’s official site suggests that any use of ‘foul expression’ in the song would bring the contest into disrepute and might even lead to Iceland being disqualified (but let’s face it, Silvia Night might actually enjoy that kind of publicity). And the singer’s response? “I’ll f-ing say what I f-ing like,” she unrepentantly declared on her website. Indeed.

Ne Party Pas Parties On!

Posted: 10/5/2006 in:

One of the best Eurovision sites we came across last year was Ne Party Pas, the site which offers hints and tips on how to throw a Eurovision party as well as contest history and other useful Eurovision information. The site’s now had a bit of a makeover and is bigger and better than ever – although our favourite bit is still the party section, which offers a bunch of inspired ideas for making your Eurovision night go with a swing.

While we’re still not convinced by its suggestion that “a shrine to Terry Wogan is a must”, we’re liking the new improved fancy dress section, offering advice on how to dress like past Eurovision performers on the big night. Some of these – dressing up as Bucks Fizz, Brotherhood of Man etc, are quite obvious, but we can’t help feeling that some of the site’s suggestions, which include kitting yourself out like Slovenia’s drag queen trolley dollies Sestre, 70s Finnish legends Freddi and Friends or tent-clad Dutch singer Linda Wagenmakers might be a step too far. Still, there’s plenty of workable tips in here, from ideas for food and drink to suggestions for music and karaoke once the main event is over. Check it out for yourself at its new home.

Two Weeks And Counting….

Posted: 5/5/2006 in:

Two Weeks And Counting….

…..and with just a fortnight to go until the semi-final, things are hotting up in the betting. Greece’s Anna Vissi is still the favourite – according to Sky Bet, she’s 11/5 to land the home nation a second consecutive win with the power ballad Everything. Sweden and Romania aren’t far behind, at 5/1 and 6/1 respectively, while our very own Daz Sampson is 9/1 to bring the contest back to the UK. At the other end of the scale Israel, Moldova, Andorra and France are rank outsiders at 150/1, while poor old Portugal are floundering right at the bottom of the heap with odds of 200/1.

Turning to the semi-final, Sweden’s Carola is the favourite to win at 2/1, closely followed by Bosnia and Herzegovina at 3/1, Belgium at 4/1 and Russia at 13/2. FYR Macdeonia are just behind at 11/1, followed by Finland’s Lordi at 12/1.And once again Portugal are propping up the list – they’re 125/1 to take top honours in the semi. As for Team Eurovision, we’ve already put our bet on Croatia in the final – with odds of 20/1, and a fabulous tune from Severina, they’re looking like a very good each-way prospect….

Our Favourite Rumour

Posted: 20/4/2006 in:

Our Favourite Rumour…

While we’re not entirely surprised by this news, it seems that Lordi’s participation in Eurovision has been causing a bit of a stir back home in Finland. According to a piece in the International Herald Tribune, the scary Scandinavian five-piece have inspired a “national identity crisis”, from religious leaders warning that they may encourage Satanic worship to worried Finns fretting that Lordi may damage the country’s reputation abroad. Some have even asked president Tarja Halonen to intervene and use her powers to veto the band’s participation in the contest.

However, our favourite bit of speculation from the feature concerns the rumour that the quintet – who never remove their monster masks in public – are in fact KGB agents in disguise, who have been sent by president Vladimir Putin to destabilise Finland ahead of a Russian takeover. You can read the piece in its entirety here.

April Fools!

Posted: 2/4/2006 in:

As per usual, April 1 brought with it the usual rash of April Fool gags from our fellow Eurovision sites. The ever-reliable ESC Today, led the pack with the news that next year’s line-up would be decided from five ‘pool’ semi-finals, consisting of ten countries each, which in turn would allow 55 nations to take part in Eurovision 2007. On reflection, it’s actually not a bad idea (if there were 55 members of the EBU that did want to take part), but it’s still completely untrue (although they didn’t reveal the joke before many users were fooled and wrote in to express their discontent).

Meanwhile, Irish site All Kinds Of Everything attempted to convince us that Isle Of Man were joining this year’s line-up with the track This Is The Song by Bumpsidezy. The song on the site claiming to be the Isle Of Man’s effort was in fact from the Monty Python musical Spamalot – but to be honest the cheesy picture of the so-called duo – featuring the male half in a really dodgy cardigan – was enough of a giveaway as far as we’re concerned.

Our favourite, however, came from DotEurovision, who reported on Lordigate. The story, adapted from a Finnish tabloid, claimed that the video for Lordi’s Hard Rock Hallelujah had been banned from Cypriot TV as it was “unsuitable for family viewing”. The site has now been forced to confess that the whole thing was a big hoax – but of all the April Fools gags, we can’t help thinking this was the most plausible.

Our New Favourite Thing…

Posted: 30/3/2006 in:

…and such a good idea, we can’t believe nobody ever thought of it before, is the Eurovision 2006 Voting Simulator which we stumbled across online the other day. Part of the much larger Eurovision Record Book site which is stuffed full of facts, statistics and trivia, the simulator allows you to assess the chances of countries already in the final, then pick qualifiers from the semi-final and assess their chances too. Based on the information you’ve given, together with statistics of the voting from the past few years, it then sets up an interactive scoreboard, with each country’s votes appearing in the order you choose.

OK, so it doesn’t have the fun factor of actually hearing the votes being announced or seeing those jury representatives bleating on about ‘what a wonderful show it was’, but this is still curiously addictive stuff – and there are so many different permutations of both countries and chances that the scoring possibilities are almost endless. So far we’ve seen it give victories to Finland, Russia, Romania, Greece, Norway, Iceland, Germany and –yes! – the UK – and although some of the voting patterns become a tad predictable after a while (Malta always seems to give 12 to Switzerland, for example), there’s enough variety here to keep us enthralled for hours (and on the edge of our seats when the voting is a close-run thing). So give it a try. Just don’t blame us if you get no work done until after the contest is over.

Opening Odds

Posted: 23/3/2006 in:

Hot on the heels of the draw for this year’s running order come the first set of betting odds for Eurovision 2006 – and unsurprisingly, it’s Belgium’s Kate Ryan who leads the back. Ryan is 15/2 favourite to win on May 20 with her track Je T’Adore. Joint second favourites are Sweden’s Carola and Greece’s Anna Vissi on 8/1, while the UK’s Daz Sampson, and Romania’s Mihai Traistariu are both currently 9/1.

Further down the list, we quite fancy a bet on Finland’s Lordi, who are 40/1 to take home the title with their track Hard Rock Hallelujah, or Russia, whose odds have been slashed from 80/1 to 40/1. Among the rank outsiders, however, are Moldova, Portugal, Bulgaria, Andorra and – amazingly – Eurovision stalwarts France, who are currently all 100/1 to score a victory in Athens.

Daz Goes 15th in Athens

Posted: 21/3/2006 in:

Following the UK’s second placing in last year’s Eurovision running order, this year we’re not due on stage until much later – 15th, to be precise. Both the draw to determine the running order for the semi-final and the final were made on Tuesday, and here’s how they look:

Running Order – Semi-Final, 18th May

FYR Macedonia
The Netherlands
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Running Order – Final, 20th May
Semi-final qualifier
Semi-final qualifier
Semi-final qualifier
Semi-final qualifier
United Kingdom
Semi-final qualifier
Semi-final qualifier
Semi-final qualifier
Semi-final qualifier
Semi-final qualifier
Semi-final qualifier

The Team Eurovision Verdict: When we first caught a glimpse of the running order for the final we were left wondering what had become of the semi-final qualifiers, and whether they were simply going to be slotted in at a later date! Because the first nine songs in the final come from countries who have automatically qualified for the final, pushing the arrivals from the semi-final towards the second half of the show.

And this could spell good news for those qualifiers, given the theory that songs performed in the second half of the contest have a tendency to do better than those in the first half (not always, of course, but it can be an advantage if your performance is memorable, and we still maintain that Hungary would have done a lot better last year if they hadn’t had to kick things off in Kiev). The last four songs in the final, in particular, are an unknown quantity, particularly if one of the stronger contenders from the semi-final lands a slot here.

And what of the UK? Well, we’ve had a similar slot in the running order quite a few times in recent years, and it hasn’t exactly helped us – but this year could be different, given that Daz is bound to put on a memorable show. There are, however, a couple of obstacles – firstly, we’re on just before Greece, meaning we’re in danger of being overshadowed by the inevitable excitement over the host nation (although Anna Vissi’s song Everything is a ballad far removed from Daz’s rap shenanigans).

Secondly, the fact we’re on right after a semi-finalist means we have no idea what’s going to be on before us. If a run of the mill ballad or a less flashy song lands in the slot before the UK, then it’ll only help us stand out even more – on the other hand, if a country like Finland are on before us (and having had a sneaky peek at Lordi’s video we have no doubt they’re going to bring the house down in Athens), then our predecessors could prove a hard act to follow. Once again, the UK’s success or failure could be down to the luck of the draw…

Meanwhile, now that the running order has been announced, the time has come for Team Eurovision to put on its headphones and start casting its verdict on this year’s crop of entries. Starting with the semi-finalists, we’ll be letting you know our thoughts on the 37 hopefuls over the next few weeks.

And finally, let’s spare a thought for Armenia, who are not only making their debut in the 2006 contest, but actually have to start off the entire shebang, having been drawn to sing first in the semi-final. Let’s hope they can live up to expectations.

Another running order!

Posted: in:

As well as the draws for the semi-final and final running order, another draw was made in Athens on Tuesday – to decide the order in which Eurovision participants will cast their votes. Normally countries vote in the order in which they performed – semi-finalists first, followed by finalists – but this year it’s all change, to allow satellite links to be ordered and established before each country is called. The running order for the voting is as follows:

Serbia and Montenegro
The Netherlands
United Kingdom
Bosnia and Herzegovina
FYR Macedonia

As previously mentioned, a change in the voting system will mean that the lower marks from each country will appear on the scoreboard as they are being called up to vote. The spokesperson from each country will then announce the 8, 10 and 12 point recipients. However, the final three countries will announce their complete results from 1 to 12 points – meaning that if it’s a close contest, the fate of the winners could rest with the Turk.

All Change…

Posted: 20/3/2006 in:

We haven’t even had this year’s contest, yet plans have already been drawn up for the format of Eurovision 2007. There’s been quite a bit of speculation over the past few weeks as to the future of the semi-final and the Big Four, but the European Broadcasting Union has now announced that both of these will remain in place next year.

However, only 10 countries will automatically qualify for next year’s final – the winner of this year’s contest, the next five placed countries, and the UK, Spain, France and Germany – who automatically bypass the semi-final on account of their large financial contribution to the contest. (Team Eurovision assumes, however, that if one or more of the Big Four were to finish in the top six, the next placed countries would also nab a spot in the final).

This also means that next year’s semi-final is likely to be bigger than ever, with 30 countries allowed to take part and 14 slots in the final at stake. The EBU has said that so-called ‘neighbour voting’ was one of the main reasons behind the change. Although research has indicated that no country could win purely on the strength of such voting, there is evidence that it can influence who qualify from the final – however, the EBU is hoping that increasing the number of semi-final qualifiers will lessen the impact of this.

One significant change in this year’s contest, meanwhile, is the way in which the votes will be announced. Not only is there set to be a draw for the order in which the countries announce their votes (as opposed to the usual way, in which they vote according to their place in the running order), but the lower marks – from 1 to 7 – will appear automatically on the scoreboard as each country is being called. The announcer from each country will then reveal who will receive their 8, 10 and 12 points. However, the last three countries to vote will announce their results in full.

The decision was taken due to the ever-increasing length of the contest and the fact that viewers have apparently been switching off during the voting – but naturally Eurovision fans have been swift to protest the move, with many suggesting that the spirit of the contest – and much of the suspense – will be lost. Team Eurovision’s verdict? Well, to be honest, we’re sitting on the fence with this once, since we can see both sides of the argument.

Obviously we love the voting, and we’re disappointed that the EBU has decided to make this move – we know as well as any other Eurovision fan that a small number of points can make all the difference in the latter stages of the contest – but on the other hand, this new system might not be as bad as we’ve all been fearing. The fact that the final three countries still get to announce their results in full will allow the suspense to be maintained if the contest is a close one – and if there’s a runaway winner then not announcing the lower scores isn’t going to make a huge amount of difference, in the long run. We’ll reserve judgment until we’ve seen the new system in action, but at the very least we’ll give it a chance.

Serbia And Montenegro withdraws - OFFICIAL

Posted: in:

After a week’s worth of to-ing and fro-ing, Serbia and Montenegro have officially confirmed they will not be taking part in this year’s Eurovision. Despite speculation they would re-stage their national final this week, the Montenegrin jury has rejected the idea of a new contest, saying voting in the first final (which saw Montenegrin boy band No Name winning) had been fair. With both sides unable to reach agreement, the only solution has been for the country to withdraw. Aleksandr Tijanic, the head of Serbian broadcaster RTS said in a statement it would “be better for all of us not to have a representative at the contest in Athens".

It’s good news for Croatia, who now look set to be awarded the place in the final vacated by Serbia and Montenegro (since Croatia just missed out on a place in the top ten last year, they would have had to take part in the semi-final otherwise). However, S&M’s future in the contest now looks uncertain, since RTS faces a fine of up to 35,000 Swiss francs as well as a possible ban from the contest for three years, as a result of the dispute - meaning their promising Eurovision career could be brought to a halt before it’s even had a chance to get going.

Serbia Tries Again

Posted: 19/3/2006 in:

Following reports earlier in the week that Serbia and Montenegro were considering withdrawing from this year’s Eurovision, word comes that they’re planning a second attempt at choosing a song for this year’s contest.

The original national final caused controversy after the Serbian audience accused the Montenegrin judges of tactical voting, following the victory of boy band No Name (who represented the country in Kiev last year). The story made headlines all over the world, and back on home turf it even overshadowed news of the death of former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic.

However, a replay of the national final is set to take place on Sunday night, with the winner to be decided by televoting – and for Serbia and Montenegro, it’s in the nick of time, since the deadline to submit songs to the EBU for inclusion in the contest is this week.

Serbia to step down?

Posted: 14/3/2006 in:

It’s looking likely that Serbia and Montenegro will pull out of this year’s Eurovision, following controversy over their national final a few days ago. The contest, which took place in Belgrade, was won by Montenegrin boy band No Name (who represented the country in Kiev last year and finished in seventh place) – however, the mainly Serbian audience at the event were none too pleased about the result, accusing the Montenegrin judges of tactical voting, and refusing to let the band even reprise their song.

News of a possible withdrawal from the contest came after the country’s two broadcast companies, Serbia’s RTS and Montenegro’s RTCG, called a meeting to try and find a solution to the problem and failed to reach an agreement. The two companies explored several options, including holding a new national final and also simply sending No Name to Athens, but both of these were rejected.

However, with just days to go before the deadline to submit songs to the European Broadcasting Union (final song selections are due to be made this weekend), the country may still have to pay participation fees if they withdraw – and possibly even face a fine from the Union.

However, if they do pull out it could be good news for Croatia, who are currently set to take part in this year’s semi-final. Since Serbia and Montenegro are set to proceed directly to the final thanks to securing a top ten placing in last year’s contest, any withdrawal from them could open up a vacancy in the final – which we reckon would go to Croatia, since they finished eleventh in Kiev. We’ll keep you posted.

Stranger and stranger…

Posted: 10/3/2006 in:

Is it just us, or is this year’s Eurovision shaping up to be one of the most eccentric in years? Fair enough, the contest has had its fair share of offbeat participants in recent times, from Dana International through to Slovenian transvestite trio Sestre, Austrian comedian Alf Poier and of course the frilly-shirted Eurovision legend that is Guildo Horn. But 2006 could be a memorable year too, if some of the entrants are anything to go by.

For starters, we’re thinking of Iceland, who are pinning their hopes this year on Silvia Nott’s track Til Hamingju Island. Which all sounds fairly straightforward, except that Silvia Nott isn’t actually a real person at all, but a character created by Icelandic actress Agusta Eva Erlendsdottir – and a fairly colourful one at that, if the neon-coloured tutu and spangly eye make-up she wore in the national final is anything to go by. What’s more, the lyrics of the song have raised a few eyebrows – we especially like the couplet which reads, “I know I’m gonna win the f_ing final, all the other songs have lost”. Whether or not this will actually be translated into English for the big night is, er, unclear.

A similar tactic seems to have been adopted by the Lithuanian entrants, LT United. The track, We Are The Winners, won the chance to represent the former Soviet state earlier this week– although early word suggests that even though it’s tongue-in-cheek, it’s not nearly as good as Silvia Nott’s novelty effort. Team Eurovision, on the other hand, is chuckling at the irony of the song title since Lithuania, relative newcomers to the contest, are still struggling to make much of an impact, and had the indignity of finishing last in the semi-final in 2005. Whether their 2006 entry will prove prophetic remains to be seen.

However, the Eurovision hopefuls that we’re most excited about are the Finnish rock troupe Lordi, who’ll be competing for the chance to represent their home country at Finland’s national final on Friday. Of course Norway dabbled in rock last year with Wig Wam, but Lordi are a different proposition altogether – for one thing they look a lot scarier than their Scandinavian glam rock counterparts (check out their website) for further evidence), for another we’re just loving the lyrics of their would-be entry Hard Rock Hallelujah – in particular the reference to the ‘day of rockoning’. Given that Finland have been trying valiantly to win Eurovision for decades now, and have never finished any higher than 6th place, we reckon they have nothing to lose by livening things up with a little metal mayhem. We’re keeping everything crossed for Lordi.

Of course, many countries are still playing it totally straight this year – but with several songs still to be chosen, who knows what else might make it into the line-up? At the moment we’re still reeling from the fact that Norway chose the folk-tinged effort Alvedanse over the drag act Queentastic – but perhaps this year’s contest already has more than enough eccentrics to be going on with. However well all of the above may fare, one thing’s for certain – they make Daz Sampson and his dancing schoolgirls look positively normal by comparison…

It’s Daz…

Posted: 4/3/2006 in:

After a nail-biting results show, Daz Sampson has won this year’s Making Your Mind Up with the song Teenage Life. The rap track will represent the UK at this year’s contest in Athens on May 20. The final results of the contest were as follows:

1 Teenage Life – Daz Sampson (121 points)
2 Beautiful Thing – Antony Costa (96 points)
3 All About You – City Chix (55 points)
4 Whisper To Me – Kym Marsh (53 points)
5 Hand On My Heart – Four Story (17 points)
6 Play Your Game – Goran Kay (14 points)

Here at Team Eurovision, we can’t say we’re entirely surprised by the result OK, so the song veers dangerously close to a novelty record, but it was certainly a lot more fun to watch than any of the other contenders on tonight’s show, and as we’ve been saying for the past few weeks, offers countless opportunities for some visual fun on the big night (in this case, it appears to involve backing singers dressed as schoolgirls sitting at classroom desks).

It’s true that the UK is taking a gamble with this one. It’s the kind of entry that could either win or score us another resounding nul points. But given our recent track record, we really have nothing to lose from taking a bit of a risk with our song. After all, we can’t do any worse than we did in 2003 (unless they introduce a rule which involves giving out minus points this year), and at least a track like Teenage Life has a greater chance of standing out that an identikit ballad or throwaway Motown soundalike.

To us this also seems like a very small gesture of defiance towards all the Eurovision naysayers who think the UK will never do well ever again – if we don’t stand a chance of a good result, then it makes much more sense to send something a bit more offbeat instead of trying to take it too seriously and falling flat on our faces once more. And who knows, it might even work in our favour. After all, other countries have tried it – let us not forget Moldova’s granny last year, Austria’s Alf Poier in 2003 and Germany’s Guildo Horn in 1998 – so why not the UK?

So let’s all get behind Daz and cheer him on in Athens, knowing that even if this particular risk does backfire on us, it will at least be fun to watch. At the very least we can rest easy knowing that he won’t sing out of tune on the night…

Spain Pays Us A Condiment

Posted: 1/3/2006 in:

For the past week, we’ve been hearing rumours about Spain’s Eurovision representative – and now those rumours have been confirmed. Yes, it appears that Las Ketchup will be making a bid for Eurovision glory in Athens come May 20 with the song Bloody Mary.

In case you’re still wondering, Las Ketchup are singing siblings Lola, Pilar and Lucia who shot to fame in 2002 with the insanely catchy/annoying (delete as applicable) Asereje (Ketchup Song). The track topped the charts in over 20 countries include France, Portugal, Spain, Germany and the UK, and even picked up a Latin Grammy nomination along the way.

Now they’re back – and they’re offering us an extra portion of ketchup for Eurovision, as a fourth sister, Rocio, will be joining the Andalucian divas on stage. And although we haven’t yet heard Bloody Mary, the website Oikotimes reports that it’s about trying to charm a man during a night out on the town. Er, we can’t wait….

Moldova x 3!

Posted: in:

They’re only two years into their Eurovision career, and already relative newcomers Moldova have hit a stumbling block. Their national final, which took place at the weekend, ended in deadlock after the three songs competing for the chance to represent them in Athens all scored the same number of points.

Hopefuls Berlacu Geta, Serj Kuzencoff and Moldstar now face an uncertain Eurovision future while an internal jury decides what to do next. Speculation has of course been mounting as to what will happen – while it’s still possible that one of the three finalists will find their way to the Eurovision stage, speculation is also mounting that the jury will choose a completely different song and artist to represent Moldova – who made an impressive debut with last year’s Bunica Bate Toba.

However, here at Team Eurovision we’ve decided we want to help. And so – just for fun you understand – we present our own solutions to the problem of choosing a song for Moldova:

1. Send all three songs and see if anybody notices. Let’s face it, the contest is long enough as it is.

2. Get all three finalists to draw straws. Longest straw wins. End of story.

3. Scrap this year’s entrants and bringback Granny from last year. She was of course one of the highlights of 2005 and we’re still convinced Moldova wouldn’t have done nearly so well without her (much as we championed their song from the off)

4. Combine bits of all three of the songs and turn it into one big glorious Moldovan anthem. Cue much enthusiasm in Athens and another inevitable top ten result.

5. If all else fails, get all finalists to write an essay about why they should have the chance to go to Athens. Best one wins. The end.

Team Eurovision would like to make it clear that if Moldova were to actually follow any of our helpful tips, nobody would be more surprised than us.

Veterans angling for Athens glory

Posted: 17/2/2006 in:

At last year’s contest in Kiev, Chiara, winner Helena Paparizou and Selma were among the singers who decided to have another crack at Eurovision, with mixed results.

As Athens fast approaches, we could see some more competitors who have some pretty formidable Eurovision form.

One singer who’s already in the frame for the 51st contest is Anna Vissi, who will be doing the honours for the host country. A delve in the Eurovision archives reveal that she represented Greece back in 1980 and then finished fifth for Cyprus two years later.

But a star with near-legendary Eurovision credentials is in the frame to make a grand comeback in 2006, causing the biggest ripple of excitement amongst song contest fans.

Greek-born Vicky Leandros, who scored a memorable win in 1972 for Luxembourg with Apres Toi, is bidding to represent Germany, a country desperate for a shot in the arm after finishing last in 2005.

The 56-year-old’s power ballad Don’t Break My Heart is a reminder of old-school Eurovision before it was all stagey dance routines and svelte costumes.

For a performer who first competed in the 1967 contest, this would be an impressive comeback - but she has to win the German national final first.

Swedish singer Carola is another former winner who wants to do it for a third time, 15 years after she squeaked to victory over France with Captured By A Love Storm.

Winning the country’s mighty Melodifestivalen competition is no mean feat, but she is regarded as the favourite to win a berth for the qualifying round on 18 May.
If they get to Athens, it will be intriguing to see what these seasoned pros will make of 21st century Eurovision, and how popular voting will treat them.

The UK Makes Up Its Mind

Posted: in:

After weeks of rumour and speculation, the artists who’ll be competing in this year’s Making Your Mind Up have been revealed – and there isn’t a Scott-Lee or Chico in sight! The six artists – and songs – who’ll be competing for the chance to represent the UK at Eurovision 2006 are as follows:

Antony Costa – Beautiful Thing
City Chix – All About You
Daz Sampson – Teenage Life
Four Story – Hand On My Heart
Goran Kay – Play Your Game
Kym Marsh – Whisper To Me

In other words, the line-up is a mix of established artists – including ex Blue man-turned jungle celebrity Antony Costa and former Hear’Say star Kym Marsh – alongside relative newcomers Goran Kay and boyband Four Story. Completing the sextet are Daz Simpson, who’s scored UK chart hits with the bands Bus Stop and Uniting Nations, and City Chix, a duo featuring two stars of the BBC Scotland soap River City.

And our first impressions? Well, based on the 30-second clips we’ve heard on the BBC website it seems that we’re playing it very safe this year – no sign of any of the middle-eastern influences or faux operatics of 2005’s Making Your Mind Up. Instead, we have a bunch of ballads and mid-tempo efforts, with only Goran offering something a bit more upbeat. Although it’s hard to tell from such a short clip, these are our initial thoughts:

Antony Costa: Pleasant enough but a bit forgettable. A possible contender, depending on how he performs on the night.

Daz Sampson: The genuine oddity of the bunch, reminding us of Ukraine’s 2005 rap effort, only with a children’s choir thrown in. Downright bizarre, to the point that it’ll either crash and burn or go all the way – but surely the kiddie backing band might be a problem, given we were under the impression you had to be over 16 to take part in Eurovision?

Four Story: If they can pull it off, this ballad could sound really good on stage, but the song itself is a little bland, meaning they’re going to have to work much harder to make it stand out.

Goran Kay: The fact it’s the only uptempo number of the bunch may give it more of a chance – but it just doesn’t sound very Eurovision friendly to us. Once again, we’ll have to wait and see how it comes across on the night.

Kym Marsh: We weren’t expecting great things from this but were pleasantly surprised – it’s a decent enough ballad, which could well nab top honours if she gives a good performance.

City Chix: This seems to be an early favourite among Eurovision fans, and to be honest we’d have to agree. Not only is it catchy and likeable, but apparently it features bagpipes, giving it more of a distinctive twist without being gimmicky. Provided the Chix can deliver on the night, and provided the British public sees fit to vote on the basis of the song, rather than just going for an artist they’ve heard of, this could be the one to beat.

Whatever happens, we’ll find out on March 4….

Eight Down, 30 To Go….

Posted: 15/2/2006 in:

There’s still a few months to go, but this year’s Eurovision line-up is already starting to take shape, with a number of countries having chosen their song. Here’s a round-up of the entries so far:

Albania: Luiz Ejili – Zjarr e Ftohte (Fire and Cold)

Armenia: Andre – Without Your Love (not Stay With Me as was widely reported a few weeks back)

Denmark: Sidsel Ben Semmane – Twist Of Love

Estonia: Sandra Oxenryd – Through My Window

Norway: Christine Gulbrandsen - Alvedansen

Poland: Ich Troje – Follow My Heart

Slovenia: Anzej Dezan – Mr Nobody

Switzerland: Six 4 One – If We All Give A Little

Elsewhere, Ireland will be represented by Brian Kennedy (who recently scored a top five hit in the UK charts with his George Best Tribute), while Sibel Tuzen will sing for Turkey. However their songs have yet to be confirmed.

And once again Eurovision Blog will be reviewing and rating all 38 entries as the date of the contest draws closer. We’ll keep you posted….

It’s Chico Time! Or Is It?

Posted: 31/1/2006 in:

With the UK delegation remaining tight-lipped on their plans for this year’s Making Your Mind Up, it’s no surprise that rumours have begun to circulate about this year’s possible participants.

According to a story in the News Of The World over the weekend, those performers lining up for the chance to represent the UK in Athens include chart-toppers Liberty X, former Atomic Kitten Natasha Hamilton and a pair of less-known artists, DJ Daz (one of the people behind the dance act Uniting Nations) and new boy band 4 Storey.

However, it’s the name of the possible fifth participant that’s had Eurovision fans in a flap – the paper also reported that X Factor reject Chico (the Moroccan born former goat-herder) would be competing for UK glory with his spirited signature tune, It’s Chico Time.

The BBC has been very quick to scotch this speculation of course, saying it’s completely untrue and that the real line-up for the show, which is due to be broadcast on Saturday March 4, will be revealed in the next couple of weeks. In other words, we’ll have to wait a little longer to see if there’s any truth in the Chico rumours – but even if there isn’t, we wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised to see an X Factor contestant lining up among the other hopefuls. Just as long as it’s not the one who sang an elaborately choreographed version of Touch My Fire at his audition.

Language barriers

Posted: 23/1/2006 in:

News has reached us that this year’s Albanian hopeful, Luiz Ejlli, will be performing his entry, Zjarr E Fhtote, in his native language in Athens, rather than translating it into English.

According to ESC Today, Luiz took the decision after performing the song at a Eurovision fan club convention in Germany. There, fans had the chance to vote on whether it should be performed in English or Albanian, and overwhelmingly voted for the latter. It’ll be the first time that the country have sung in Albanian on the Eurovision stage – their two previous efforts, Image Of You and Tomorrow I Go, were both performed in English.

And frankly, Team Eurovision is hoping that other countries follow Albania’s suit and revert to their native languages for this year’s contest. Is it just us, or are there others out there who are none too keen on the ‘free language’ rule? Having been listening to a lot of past entries recently, we’ve realised just how much fun it is to hear Eurovision songs performed in all manner of diverse dialects – as much as we like the modern, English-language entries we can’t be alone in thinking they could be performed by any country.

As far as we’re concerned, a song sung in its native language has more of its own cultural identity and stands out a lot more – and in most cases it makes precious little difference to the quality of the song. What’s more, perhaps it might give those countries whose native language is English more of a chance of being noticed with their English language songs rather than just being another one of the pack.

We’re not saying that the free language rule should be dropped altogether – but it would be nice to see a few more countries opting for local dialect. We did have one other idea – which was to introduce a new rule, in which countries have to sing in someone else’s native language. But then again, that would just be silly.

Armenia’s debut!

Posted: in:

Having announced their intention to join the line-up in Athens, Eurovision newcomers Armenia have also become one of the first countries to choose their song for the contest.

According to ESC Today, popular Armenian singer Andre will represent his home country on the big night – although the exact title of the song has yet to be confirmed. As debutants in the contest, they’ll be competing in the semi-final on May 18. And what of Andre himself? Well, we don’t know much about him, although apparently he won an award for Armenia’s best male singer last month. Let’s wait and see if he lives up to the promise.

Lisa Scott Lee for the UK??

Posted: 3/1/2006 in:

So a new year is upon us, one in which, it has been noted, Eurovision has yet to take place! Which means that it’s time to start speculating once again about what might happen this year – and what better way to kick off 2006 than with a rumour that’s currently doing the rounds about the UK representative?

According to several websites and various newspapers, former Steps stalwart Lisa Scott-Lee is keen to represent le Royaume-Uni in Athens, in an effort to re-ignite her solo career. “People may laugh but some acts have had a lot of success after being in the contest,” she’s been quoted as saying.

Although her participation hasn’t been confirmed yet, if she were to make a bid for Eurovision glory she’d be following in the footsteps of singing sibling Andy, who missed out on a trip to Kiev after failing to impress Making Your Mind Up viewers with his dreary ballad Guardian Angel. The question is though – is having Lisa represent the UK really such a good idea?

Granted, given the right song she might well be able to pull off a good performance on the night but what’s the betting she’d end up singing the kind of throwaway pop that has served us so badly in recent contests? We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – the UK needs to have a total rethink for its 2006 representative and come up with something a bit fresher, rather than relying on reality TV rejects or popstars looking to recapture former glories, and giving them half-baked songs to sing. We’ll reserve judgment for now, but if this does turn out to be true let’s hope it’s not a disaster waiting to happen.

Hungary Withdraws

Posted: 12/12/2005 in:

Could this be the briefest Eurovision comeback ever? After returning to the contest this year with Nox’s Foragj Vilag, Hungary have once again withdrawn from Eurovision, and won’t be taking part in Athens 2006.

According to the website DotEurovision financial restraints are to blame, with the Hungarian broadcaster MTV reportedly facing money troubles.

Hungary are the second participant from 2005 to confirm that they won’t be back for more next year – Austria also withdrew from the contest earlier this year after their song, Y’asi, was poorly received in Kiev. There have also been rumours that this year’s newcomers Bulgaria won’t be back for more either, although these have so far remained unfounded.

Nonetheless, it’s a shame to see Hungary go – their song was one of Team Eurovision’s favourite in this year’s contest, and they came up with some interesting entries during their first stint in Eurovision (1994-1998). Let’s hope they’re back in 2007.

It Begins…With Monaco

Posted: in:

We’re used to Albania getting their Eurovision song selection all done and dusted before Christmas, but this year it seems someone has beaten them to it! According to ESC Today, Monaco have become the first country to pick the song they’ll be sending to Athens next year.

The actual tune itself remains shrouded in secrecy – all we know is that it’s going to be an uptempo number – and a singer has yet to be chosen to represent the principality, although this will be done in January. Monaco returned to the contest in 2004 after a 24-year absence – but so far have yet to make much of an impact since their comeback.

This year’s effort, the ballad Tout de Moi, finished a distant 24th in the semi-final, while 2004’s Notre Planete, didn’t do much better. Could a change of pace lead to a change of fortune for them? Time will tell…

Belarus’ Small Victory

Posted: 27/11/2005 in:

They may not have fared too well at this year’s main event, but it was a different story for Belarus at the 2005 Junior Eurovision Song Contest.

Their pint-sized performer Kseniya triumphed at the contest in Hasselt, Belgium, on Saturday night, scoring an impressive 149 points with her song We Are Together (to give it its English translation). The 10-year-old, who was the last to perform, beat 15 other participants, ultimately triumphing over runners-up Spain by just three points. Norway finished third, while Denmark and the strongly-fancied Romanian entry completed the top five.

Belarus’ victory came as a surprise to many punters, who had regarded them as an outsider – while Malta, who were favourites at the bookies pre-contest, ended up coming last with just 18 points. The UK, meanwhile, didn’t fare much better – poor Joni Fuller failed to follow in the footsteps of previous UK hopefuls Tom Morley (3rd in 2003) and Cory Spedding (2nd in 2004), and finished a lowly 14th with her ballad How Does It Feel. Better luck next year, perhaps?

Newcomers no longer

Posted: 9/10/2005 in:

It appears that two prospective new countries won’t be making their Eurovision debut in 2006 after all.

Czech Republic, who’ve been tipped as a newcomer for the past few years (they were believed to be close to taking part in 2005) have decided to sit next year’s contest out due to a lack of funds, while Georgia (who were reportedly very keen to join the fray) have said that they can’t find the necessary budget to take part in Athens either.

However, ESC Today is reporting that if Georgia does find a sponsor interested in stumping up the cash, they may still decide to take part, but broadcaster GTVR did not want to commit to the contest before funds had been found.

The site also reports that Bulgaria are in two minds as to whether to come back next year for a second go. The East European country made its debut this year with Kaffe’s Lorrain, but failed to make it beyond the semi-final stage. – and now their public broadcaster has openly expressed doubts about taking part again (although they haven’t actually confirmed any plans to withdraw from the contest).

But it’s not all bad news – we may still have one newcomer next year, in the shape of Armenia. They’re very keen to make their mark in Athens, and having now become active members of the European Broadcasting Union, are eligible to take part.

Eurovision Reject is Rejected

Posted: in:

If you’ve been wondering where you’ve seen X Factor hopeful Haifa Kayali before, let Team Eurovision enlighten you. For not only did the 25-year-old from Chigwell, Essex, narrowly miss out on the finals of the first series of Pop Idol in 2001, but she also made a valiant effort to represent the UK at Eurovision in 2004.

Frankly, we thought we’d seen the last of her then, after she lost out to James Fox, so we were as surprised as anybody to see her back for another shot at stardom, this time as one of Sharon Osbourne’s over-25 finalists on the ITV1 talent show.

Sadly for Haifa, it wasn’t to be this time either. Although she made it to the last seven in her category and landed herself a trip to Beverly Hills to compete for a place in the live finals, she fell at the last hurdle after being rejected by Sharon Osbourne.

And while we sympathise with her getting so near and yet so far on so many occasions, we have to say she didn’t seem too gracious in defeat. While others who didn’t make it through to the live finals seemed genuinely grateful for their chance to even appear on the show, a tearful Haifa made a swift exit before heading home to break the news to her parents. Which leaves us wondering what she’ll do next.

Have another bash at Eurovision, perhaps?

Fuller fulfils Eurovision dream

Posted: 3/9/2005 in:

Teenage singer Joni Fuller will represent the UK at this year’s Junior Eurovision contest, which will take place in Hasselt, Belgium, on November 26. The 13-year-old fought off strong competition from seven other performers with her self-penned ballad How Does It Feel, which features her playing the violin as well as singing.

Although Joni clearly had one of the stronger songs out of the eight which made it to the final, it was by no means a runaway winner. When it came to the voting, Vicki Gordon’s uptempo, 60s-inspired number Groovy Chick took an early lead after winning top marks from the results of the text voting.

However, she fell behind once the results of the phone votes from around the UK came in, with the final quickly turning into a three horse race between Joni and two 15-year-old male singers, Ben Smith (whose song Lovely was written about his girlfriend Lauren), and Craig Lees (with the gentle guitar ballad Clear The Air).

As we’ve said before, Team Eurovision still doesn’t like Junior Eurovision nearly as much as its grown-up counterpart, but we couldn’t help noticing that the quality of songs in the UK junior final was rather better than the ones vying for a place at this year’s contest in Kiev. We weren’t too keen on Sarah Robertson’s In My Life or Lizzie M’s rocky Devil In A Hood, but some of the other songs – especially those by Joni, Ben and Craig – wouldn’t have been out of place in the main event in Kiev, and might even have scored us a better result. Yes, we know they’re all too young to enter the contest proper, but we can’t help thinking that their songs are exactly the type of thing we should be entering for Athens 2006 – at this stage in our Eurovision career, a rousing ballad (as opposed to a throwaway pop song) could be just what we need to put us back on the map.

The question is, though – after coming 3rd in the first Junior Eurovision and 2nd in last year’s, can Joni go one better and actually win the contest in Hasselt? Hard to say without hearing any of the other competitors – but we reckon she’s in with a chance.

My Big Fat Greek Eurovision?

Posted: 1/9/2005 in:

Speculation is already mounting as to who will be hosting the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest in Athens. According to the website ESC Today, the Greek media have already put several likely – and not so likely – candidates forward. For starters, they’re tipping Sakis Rouvas – the hip-swivelling singer who almost scored a Greek victory at the 2003 contest with Shake It – as the likely male host of the show, although there’s no official confirmation of this.

They seem to be having a lot more fun speculating over the female host, however, suggesting such potential presenters as Nia Vardalos, the feisty actress-comedienne who shot to fame with My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Personally, Team Eurovision loves this idea, even though it sounds highly unlikely – although not nearly as far-fetched as their suggestion that a certain Yenovefa Anistonopoulou - aka former Friends star Jennifer Aniston – could be in line to present next year’s show…

Junior Hopefuls Line Up

Posted: 23/8/2005 in:

After a relatively quiet summer, Eurovision fans all over the continent are gearing up for another bout of song contest mania – but this time it’s the younger contenders who have their eyes on the prize. Yup, countries are busy selecting their songs for this year’s Junior Eurovision, which takes place in Hasselt, Belgium, on November 26th.

Although the format of the show is the same, there are some notable differences between Junior Eurovision and its grown-up counterpart – and it’s not just the fact that the performers are pint-sized. Fewer countries take part, for starters – although the number of participants is growing every year – and such Eurovision stalwarts as France and Switzerland will be absent from this year’s contest.

What’s more, the previous year’s winner doesn’t automatically get to host the show – even though Spain won it last year, the Belgians have the honour of staging the contest this year, while the 2004 event took place in Lillehammer, Norway (it was originally scheduled for Manchester before the UK passed up the chance of hosting).

One other noticeable difference – at least as far as Team Eurovision has noticed – is that the UK seems to have a far better track record in the Junior contest than they’ve had in Eurovision of late. In 2003, le Royaume-Uni scored its biggest ever Eurovision humiliation when Jemini sang out of tune and wound up with a big fat nul points for their troubles. That same year, Tom Morley finished a very respectable third place in the first ever Junior Eurovision with My Song For The World. Last year, as James Fox clawed his way up to 16th place in Istanbul, Cory Spedding scored runner-up spot in Lillehammer with The Best Is Yet To Come. All of which might suggest that we’re poised to go one better in this year’s contest – but obviously we’ll have a better idea of our chances once we’ve actually chosen our song on September 3.

All of which leads us to ask the question – what’s the secret of our success at Junior Eurovision, and how come we can’t replicate that success in the main contest? Yes, we, know – political voting. But as we’ve said on this site many times before, if the UK were to come up with a decent song and singer, properly performed, we’d actually stand a chance of doing well in the contest once again, regardless of how many points the Eastern Bloc countries give their neighbours, or whether Greece and Cyprus exchange maximum scores for the umpteenth time.

The fact is, the reason we’ve triumphed in the Junior stakes for the past couple of years is because we’ve entered simple but effective songs, very well performed by the young singers concerned – precisely the sort of thing we should have been doing when it came to grown-up Eurovision. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that if we followed the same sort of formula for the main event as we have been for the Junior show, we might well see a reversal of fortune. So maybe it’s time we did. Or how about getting some of those Junior songwriters to pen prospective entries for the UK’s 2006 Eurovision effort? Given they seem to be doing a much better job of it at the moment, maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

As far as the Junior contest itself goes, well Team Eurovision’s jury is still out on that one. On the one hand, we’re naturally pleased to be given two lots of Eurovision every year for the price of one, and of course it does go some way to turning the contest from a three-hour annual event into a year-long concern. No sooner will the dust have settled on Junior Eurovision than preselections for the 2006 contest will begin, with some really early birds (Albania spring immediately to mind), picking their song as early as December. And before you know it, we’ll all be hotfooting it to Athens, with Kiev 2005 becoming just a distant memory.

But on the other hand, we’re not convinced that Junior Eurovision is nearly as much fun as its grown-up counterpart – maybe it’s the lack of countries, maybe it’s the fact that for people of a certain age the performers have a kind of odd ‘Minipops’ quality to them – but it just seems to lack much of the charm that makes the main contest so appealing. That said, we can’t resist tuning in for the voting which, like Eurovision itself, is still the most exciting part of the night. And however much we may debate whether there is a need for a Junior contest, you can guarantee we’ll be cheering on the UK come the big night.

Newcomers for next year?

Posted: 14/7/2005 in:

It looks as though Armenia may be making their Eurovision debut next year. According to the website ESC Today, Armenia became an active member of the European Broadcasting Union last week – which countries need to be able to take part in the contest – and is very keen to take part in the 2006 event in Athens.

But they’re not the only ones looking to make their mark on the Eurovision stage. The former Soviet state of Georgia has also become an active member of the EBU and as such is also eligible to join the contest. And although their participation has yet to be confirmed, they’re so eager to take part they’re already making plans to select what would be their first ever entry.

Of course the withdrawal of Austria from next year’s contest leaves 38 countries from this year’s line-up on the participant list for 2006. And given that a maximum of 40 countries are allowed to take part, there’s scope for both the potential newcomers to step into the Eurovision fray.

All of which would leave just a tiny minority of European nations who have yet to take part in the contest. In fact, Team Eurovision can only think of three – namely, Liechtenstein, Czech Republic and San Marino. And we’re convinced we’ve missed someone out. Can anybody enlighten us?

Congratulations – The Line-up

Posted: 20/6/2005 in:

As Eurovision fanatics will already know, a special show celebrating the 50th anniversary of the song contest is set to take place in Copenhagen on 22st October. The show – called Congratulations after the Cliff Richard entry - will offer viewers the chance to vote for the best Eurovision song of all time, based on a list of 14 classics which will be performed on the night. And earlier this week Danish broadcast DR officially confirmed the list of songs – which is as follows:

1958 Nel Blu Di Pinto Di Blu (Volare) - Domenico Modugno (Italy)
1965 Poupée De Cire Poupée De Son - France Gall (Luxembourg)

1968 Congratulations – Cliff Richard (UK)
1973 Eres tu - Mocedades (Spain)
1974 Waterloo – Abba (Sweden)

1976 Save Your Kisses For Me – Brotherhood of Man (UK)
1980 What’s Another Year – Johnny Logan (Ireland)
1982 Ein Bisschen Frieden – Nicole (Germany)

1987 Hold Me Now – Johnny Logan (Ireland)
1988 Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi – Celine Dion (Switzerland)

1998 Diva – Dana International (Israel)
2000 Fly On The Wings Of Love – Olsen Brothers (Denmark)
2003 Every Way That I Can – Sertab (Turkey)
2005 My Number One – Helena Paparizou (Greece)

Team Eurovision’s Verdict On The Line-Up
While there are certainly some classics here (Waterloo, Save Your Kisses For Me etc. etc.) we can’t help thinking this list doesn’t go far enough. Having just 14 songs on the list simply doesn’t do justice to 50 years’ worth of contest history, as far as we’re concerned – for example, why only one song from the 90s?

Granted, we know that wasn’t exactly a golden age as far as Eurovision is concerned but it is significant for being the decade in which Ireland won four times – and given that’s a yet-to-be-repeated achievement, why isn’t one of those winning songs in there (instead of having both Johnny Logan songs, perhaps)? If you’re going to have all those 21st Century winners in there it at least makes sense to have a few more from the 90s. Strange, too, how none of the recent East European winners have gotten a look-in – Estonia, Latvia and Ukraine are nowhere to be seen. Surely it would have been nice to include at least one of those in the line-up, just to demonstrate the changing face of the contest in recent years?

Also notable by its absence is Katrina and The Waves’ Love Shine A Light – and yes, we know the UK is already well represented here but let’s not forget that not only did that song win, it scored more points than any other song in the history of Eurovision at the time (until the advent of the semi-final saw a whole lot more countries voting and subsequently a whole lot more points at stake). Seems like quite an achievement to us – at any rate, one that deserves a spot on the show. And why no entry from France? Again, we know they haven’t won for a while but they are still one of the Big Four countries (the others all seem to be represented here), and they have a good track record in the contest.

Ultimately, it’s a shame that only 14 songs are included here – perhaps if organisers had opted to feature just a few more (brought the total up to 20 for example) perhaps a few of those mentioned above could have got a look in. With some good performances and archive clips it should still be a good show, but it would’ve been great to see some other classics and recent winners return to the Eurovision spotlight.

Austria pulls out!

Posted: 19/6/2005 in:

The Eurovision website ESC Today is reporting that Austria, one of the song contest’s longest-serving participants, has pulled out of Eurovision 2006.

According to the site, the decision was taken after this year’s participants, Global Kryner, failed to make the final with their yodelling epic Y’asi (finishing a dismal 21st in the semi-final). Reinhard Scolik, the programme director of Austrian TV network ORD told ESC Today that the event had become “an absurd competition in which the Austrian music scene has become totally irrelevant”. As yet, there’s no word on whether they’ll be back in 2007 or whether they’ll follow in the footsteps of Italy and abandon Eurovision totally.

Austria first entered the contest in 1957 but haven’t won since 1966, when Udo Jurgens’ Mercie Cherie swept to victory. Their recent track record has been hit and miss, although Alf Poier’s wacky performance saw them back in the top ten in 2003.

Which is why Team Eurovision is a tad confused by their decision. True, they haven’t done brilliantly in recent years but there are plenty of countries who’ve done a lot worse, and some who’ve been taking part almost as long as Austria (Portugal and Finland for example), who’ve never won at all. Yet they seem quite happy to keep on having a go. Could this be a possible case of sour grapes on the part of the Austrians?

However, presenting the other side of the argument (which we like to do here), it could be that they’re making a stand for all those other long-term entrants who aren’t getting much of a look-in any more on account of the newcomers who keep on winning. If that’s the case, it wouldn’t surprise us at all if one or two more countries followed suit – and perhaps it might force the organisers to have a rethink of the voting system, and establish whether it really is biased in favour of Eastern Europe as so many have suggested.

But was this year’s voting really so political? After all the winning country, Greece, could hardly be regarded as Eastern European – and what’s more, they’d been taking part for 31 years before they finally scored their victory, so it was hardly a case of a newcomer breezing in and stealing top honours from someone more deserving. OK, so they did get their customary 12 points from Cyprus but they won by such a large margin that it would’ve made no difference even if they hadn’t scored them. And what of second-placed Malta, another long-term participant who has no neighbours to award them ‘friendly’ votes?

In other words, it is still possible for long-term participants to triumph over Eurovision’s young upstarts, given the right song and a good performance. So maybe instead of crying foul and flouncing off in a huff Austria needs to take a look at what it was that made them successful in the past, or what it is that makes other countries successful now – and try and emulate that pattern instead.

Either way, they will be missed. Let’s hope their departure is short-lived.

Big Brother’s Eurovision?

Posted: 16/6/2005 in:

In the down time between the end of one Eurovision season and the start of another, Team Eurovision knew it had to find something else to get excited about – and what better than the new series of Big Brother? The show’s been on for a few weeks now, but it took us all of five seconds to decide that dress-wearing dancer Kemal Shahin was our favourite housemate – because right from the start, he confessed to being a Eurovision fanatic. (he’s also a correspondent for the very fine ESC Today website.

But it doesn’t stop there – Kemal’s confessed that he’d love to represent the UK in a future contest, and one bookmaker, Sky Bet , has even gone so far to offer odds on it happening. In fact, if you fancy a flutter on Kemal taking to the stage in Athens next year you’ll get odds of 50-1 – which is very tempting to Team Eurovision, since we’re still smarting from not having won a penny betting on this year’s contest. As to whether the flamboyant reality star genuinely stands a chance of representing the UK, we say why not? After all, he couldn’t do any worse than Javine – could he?

What’s in a name?

Posted: 20/5/2005 in:

Israeli singer Shiri Maymon may well be celebrating at getting through to the final, but here at Team Eurovision one thing is bothering us about the singer – just how is her surname actually spelt? According to the official Eurovision to some websites it’s spelt Maymon as above, but Wirenet News, a leading Israeli website, spells it Meimon, while the website Totally Jewish goes for Maimon, as does the official Eurovision website ( and The Official Israeli Eurovision site (

So the question is – just which one is it? Frankly we’re baffled. And we’re going to stick to Maymon for the time being – just to be different…

Eurovision Finals Running Order

Posted: 19/5/2005 in:

It’s all over bar the shouting, and we now have the line-up for the Eurovision 2005 final. And it is as follows:

Serbia and Montenegro
FYR Macedonia
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Our thoughts on the running order
While we’re thrilled to see our favourite song from Hungary in there, we’re not at all pleased to see them kicking off the show. The first song tends to get lost among the crowd and it’s a very difficult position to actually win the contest from (although as Sweden proved in 1984, it can be done). They will have to turn in a very strong performance on the night to be in with a chance. On the other hand, now that the other favourites Iceland are out of the running, they could well have a clear route to victory. Or perhaps not.

Romania have the spot that saw Turkey swoop to victory in 2003, and coming after Malta’s big ballad they’re bound to provide a bit of contrast. On the other hand, they’re on right before Norway, and if they do as well on Saturday as they did in the semis they could well blow the competition away.

Norway have a fabulous position in the running order as far as we’re concerned. Given the heavy concentration of ethnic pop in the first part of the show, the fact that they’re steaming in with something completely different is bound to make them stand out.

Given they weren’t heavily tipped to qualify until grandma turned up (except by Team Eurovision), Moldova should be thrilled to even be in the final, no matter what position they hold in the running order. They should go some way to livening up the run of identikit ethno-pop around this point in the contest, which ultimately could benefit them. Top ten finish, perhaps?

Israel’s position in the draw isn’t half bad, after a comparatively weak song from Spain and an equally unfancied one from Serbia and Montenegro. If Shiri gives as strong a performance on Saturday as she did in the semi-final she could do a lot better than predicted.

We were surprised to see Denmark go through, and we’re not sure the mid-table placing will do them any favours, especially since they’re on right before fellow Scandinavians Sweden (who should deliver a very flamboyant show). Still, we’re sure their neighbours will vote for them in droves.

We’re still not quite sure how FYR Macedonia made it through (we’re still not sure how they made it through last year but that’s beside the point). Not sure their placing in the draw will make any difference since we’re still amazed that they went through over the likes of Iceland and Belarus. Will be watching with interest to see how they do.

We’ve been saying all along that if Croatia does get through it’ll do very well and we still stand by that, especially given how good it sounded on stage. One problem though is that it comes before the favourite, Greece – this may well have a negative effect on Croatia but it could just as easily have a negative effect on Greece if they turn in another strong show. One to watch, we think.

Switzerland should be very pleased with their position in the draw. True, they’re on right after another girl group from Bosnia, but with a very different song, and they have the chance to make a real impact given the Latvian entry that follows it is very gentle. Another one worth keeping an eye on.

Latvia’s position is very interesting indeed. This song will be fresh in people’s minds when they go to vote, and its simplicity could be a distinct advantage. Could they possibly pull a sneak attack and bring the contest back to Riga? Stranger things have happened – and let’s not forget it was from the penultimate position that they won the 2002 contest. It all depends really on how Switzerland perform on the night since France really pose no threat.

Semi-final – the results!

Posted: in:

One down, one to go. The semi-final is done and dusted, and now we know which ten countries will be joining the 14 countries that have already qualified for this year’s Eurovision final. And they are as follows:


Our verdict on the show

AUSTRIA – bit of a flat start to the show given the weird and wonderful novelty factor of this track. It sounded interesting on CD but not sure it worked so well on stage. Perhaps if the men had swapped their trackie bottoms for more traditional lederhosen.

LITHUANIA – Solid but dull. Which kind of sums up our feelings about this song really.

PORTUGAL – the media have been saying it in Kiev, but we have to agree. Portugal’s duo are 2005’s answer to Jemini. Truly shambolic.

MOLDOVA – we’ve had our eye on this one for a while now, and the performance was everything Austria’s wasn’t – manic, energetic and utterly insane.

LATVIA – not unpleasant, but the sign language made it far too gimmicky.

MONACO – we were expecting this one to be dull. We weren’t disappointed.

ISRAEL – very strong performance from Shiri Maymon although the decision to sing partly in English let it down a bit – it sounded far better in the original Hebrew. It did highlight how weak the previous ballads were, however.

BELARUS – first truly great perfomance of the evening. Angelica’s voice sounded a bit weird but they really pulled out all the stops to make this one entertaining. You can never go wrong with multiple costume changes in the space of two and a half minutes.

NETHERLANDS – is it us, or did Glennis not sound nearly as good live as she does on CD? Bit disappointing.

ICELAND – didn’t let us down. It’s one of the strongest entries and Selma sells it well.

BELGIUM – dull, dull, dull, dull!

ESTONIA – Suntribe danced around behind record decks, coming across as a kind of Eastern Bloc answer to Girls Aloud. Not nearly as strong as that other Estonian girl group.

NORWAY – as we suspected, one of the performances of the night. We’re beginning to think this is the one to beat.

ROMANIA – not sure all that business with the giant oil drums and electric saws worked as well as it should, and it wasn’t helped by being sandwiched between two of the semi-final’s best performances.

HUNGARY – sheer class. It didn’t let us down.

FINLAND – looked very colourless and ordinary after Hungary’s bright, polished performance.

MACEDONIA – all we could see was that garish pink jacket, so can’t even comment on the performance itself.

ANDORRA – still love this song, and a nice performance using feathers in the way that Macedonia used ribbons last year.

SWITZERLAND – blew that other Estonian band off the stage with this very strong powerhouse performance.

CROATIA – we said this was one of those ones that could go either way and the performance was very strong indeed. Sounded great on stage.

BULGARIA – nothing wrong with the performance but even stage presence can’t disguise a truly appalling song.

IRELAND – was Joe’s body popping the comedy high point of the night? We think it’s a contender.

SLOVENIA – would this have worked better if Omar had actually had a band on stage behind him? We think so.

DENMARK – we’re not fans of this song but it came across a lot better than we thought it would.

POLAND – insane. There’s no other word for it.

Our verdict on the qualifiers
The first question we’re going to ask is the same one everybody else asked – what the hell happened to Iceland? This song was among the favourites and the fact that it didn’t qualify can only be regarded as a major shock – or perhaps it’s the case that this kind of contemporary pop doesn’t sell as well as we thought. The absence of Belarus from the final line-up would also suggest that you never can tell what a Eurovision audience will go for! On the other hand, we weren’t quite so surprised to see the Netherlands fail to make the cut. In ballad terms, it didn’t sound nearly so good live, and to be honest we thought the Israelis blew them off stage.

On the plus side…..just how long have we been tipping Moldova to go through? From the very first time we heard it we thought this one had the potential to surprise everyone and even though we might ultimately have plumped for Poland in our top ten we never completely ruled out the possibility of a Moldovan coup. We’re not entirely sure how well they’ll do on Saturday but getting through to the final must surely rank as a major achievement for them.

We’re also thrilled that Hungary went through, given our fondness for that song, but the fact they’re on first is potentially a disaster. They are going to have to work extra hard to create an impact on the night if they want any chance of winning from a starting position. On the other hand, the Latvians must be rubbing their hands together in glee to have the penultimate spot – it’s a very good position for a potential winner and given the French song that comes before isn’t nearly so good, they have a real chance of making an impact. Alternatively they also have the chance of being squashed flat by the sheer silliness of the Bosnian entry.

And just one more question – how on earth do FYR Macedonia keep on getting through?

Insomniacs take note….

Posted: 18/5/2005 in:

If you’re awake during the small hours on Friday morning (whether working through the night, staying up all night or just too excited by the outcome of the semi-final to sleep), then be sure to tune in to Radio Five Live’s Up All Night programme, for your chance to catch Eurovision Blog editor Caroline Westbrook live on air. Caroline will feature on the show’s hour-long Eurovision special from 2.30 – 3.30am, talking about that evening’s semi-final, looking ahead to Saturday’s grand final, and chatting about the whole phenomenon of Eurovision and what makes it so much fun.

If you’re asleep during the small hours on Friday morning, or you’re outside the UK and can’t tune in, you can catch the programme on the web here. You can either listen live via the Internet or download the show at a later date.

Team Eurovision predicts…

Posted: 1/5/2005 in:

So, now that we’ve reviewed all the semi-final songs, which ones do we think will make it through to the final on May 21? Bearing in mind that the contest is still a few weeks off and we reserve the right to change our mind before then, here, in no particular order, is our early prediction for who will go through…

HUNGARY – a no-brainer, since this is pretty much our favourite song in the competition and very well liked by most of the major Eurovision sites and pundits (to say nothing of the bookies – it’s been steadily creeping up the betting for the past few weeks). It would be a big surprise if this failed to get through.

ICELAND – another sure thing, as far as we’re concerned. Like Hungary, Selma is one of the favourites to qualify for the final, and we’re pretty certain she’ll do it. We’d even go so far as to predict that the final itself will end up in a three way tussle between Iceland, Hungary and Greece (our favourite finalist – review coming soon). But we wouldn’t be so reckless as to do that.

SWITZERLAND – we weren’t too sure about this song at first, but it has really grown on us – and even though there’s a whole lot of girl groups vying for attention in this year’s contest, Vanilla Ninja’s song clearly stands out from the pack. At the very least, we can safely say Switzerland will do better than they did last year, showing how to bounce back from a ‘nul points’ humilation in style (take note, UK Eurovision songwriters).

BELARUS – a good, solid contemporary pop song that should stand out all the more given it’s performed in between a whole bunch of ballads. Expect to see Belarus in their very first final.

NETHERLANDS – one of the few ballads from the semi-final that genuinely stands out – and common sense tells us that not all of the qualifiers will be uptempo songs.

NORWAY – as much as we like this one, we’re frankly baffled by its status as one of the favourites to win the entire contest – sure it’s entertaining but there are definitely more likely winners out there. That said, it’s a fun song that sounds like nothing else in the contest this year – and the colourful performance should see it comfortably through to the final.

ROMANIA – we were a bit disparaging about this one at first but the more we’ve listened to it over the past few weeks the more we’ve grown to love it. It reminds us of last year’s Belgian entry, which suggests a lot will depend on its performance – but if Luminita does a good job on the night, she’s in for sure.

CROATIA – again, we weren’t too sure about this one, but Eurovision voters tend to be suckers for this kind of thing – it’s reminiscent of last year’s Serbian effort, and that’s no bad thing. And let’s not forget that Croatia have a habit of doing very well at Eurovision – if they can get through with the rather boring ballad they fielded last year, they can do it with this.

ISRAEL – this is their strongest entry for years, and as with Netherlands audiences are likely to want a break from the stream of uptempo pop and ethnic numbers – so on those grounds this has a very good chance of sneaking in.

POLAND – oh why not? Even the best Eurovision pundits are entitled to one mad, random prediction – and we know it’s an outsider but we love it. We found ourselves torn between Poland and Moldova when it came to picking the last potential finalist – but ultimately gave this the edge because we’re such huge fans of Ivan and Delfin’s song. Besides, the fact it’s the last to be performed, and sounds like nothing else in the contest, must surely mean it’s in with a chance.

Possible spoilers

Estonia – just narrowly missed out on our top ten, but could still make it if voters favour a more conventional Eurovision effort over the likes of Poland or Croatia.

Austria – so deeply bizarre it might attract some attention. Don’t rule out the possibility of it causing an upset on semi-finals night.

Moldova – we still think this is going to do a lot better than everybody is predicting. However with very strong competition, it might get left out in the cold.

Lithuania – didn’t do much for us, personally, but it’s a decent enough bit of mainstream pop so could sneak in there.

Latvia – again we don’t care for it but Eurovision audiences are a sucker for this kind of gentle guitar ballad.

Slovenia – not sure about this one. Which is why we’ve mentioned it as a possible spoiler – it’s one of the few entries that could really go either way and we’re not sure which.

What are the chances?

Posted: 26/4/2005 in:

Now that we’re at the halfway mark on the reviews front, Team Eurovision would like to pause for a minute, and ask just what is the possibility that:

1. A foreign language song will win this year’s contest?
It’s a tough one to call, to be honest. Not since Dana International swept to victory in 1998 with Diva, has a song in any language other than English taken the Eurovision title. And if you look at the favourites for this year – Greece, Norway, Malta, Iceland, Switzerland – they’re all sung in English too. Frankly we’re beginning to wonder whether a country can ever win Eurovision again with a song performed in their native tongue – but this year, thanks to Hungary’s very strong entry, there’s actually a possibility it could happen. We would also have put Croatia into this bracket, since it’s one of a handful of tunes which have really grown on us since initial listening – but since they plan to perform in English on the night, they don’t really count. Pity, really, since that song sounds so good in Croatian that we can’t help thinking it’ll lose something in translation.

2. A ballad will emerge victorious?
If you think it’s been a long time since a foreign language song won Eurovision, spare a thought for the humble ballad – the last one to score a victory was Norway’s Nocturne in 1995. (unless, as we’ve said before, you count Love Shine A Light as a ballad, and to be honest we don’t). There’s a few possibilities this year – Netherlands and Malta being the obvious choices – but collectively, the ballads just haven’t impressed us nearly as much as the uptempo tracks and ethnic tunes. The simple fact is, if a country wants to win Eurovision with a ballad again, they’re going to have to do a bit better than some of the old-fashioned, overwrought and frankly cheesy efforts that are on offer this year. A simple, gentle number like Serbia’s runner-up from 2004, or Belgium’s haunting folk song from 2003 would do nicely. So in answer to the question – we reckon this year is going to give us yet another uptempo winner. Prove us wrong, balladeers!

3. A contemporary pop song will triumph over the ethnic tunes?
An interesting one, this. Given the recent popularity of ethnic-flavoured pop at Eurovision (and the triumphs it scored for Turkey and Ukraine), it’s no surprise to see countries going back to their musical roots and coming up with all manner of Mediterranean, middle-eastern and Eastern European sounds. Hell, even the UK is having a bash at it with the Bollywood-esque Touch My Fire. Personally we like the fact that a whole range of diverse musical styles is creeping into the contest, but the question remains – are we in danger of ethnic overkill? After all, Cyprus, Spain, Albania, Turkey, Serbia and Greece, to name but a few, have ethnic-flavoured songs in the final already – while there’s plenty more in the semis, including Hungary, Croatia, Andorra and Poland (which Team Eurovision loves – watch out for a review in the next few days!). So we have to ask – when faced with such a cavalcade of exotic sounds, will the public be enthralled or will they be so overwhelmed by the sheer volume of ethnic pop that they’ll go back to basics and vote for something a little more conventional? If they do, it could spell good news for Iceland, Malta, Norway, Switzerland, or even Romania (which cleverly combines hi-energy dance with a smattering of ethnic pop) – but as with previous contests, a lot could be down to the performance on the night.

4. Sweden will be relegated to the semi-final?
Apart from the Big Four, Sweden remain the only country who have never actually been relegated from Eurovision – and so far they’ve also managed to avoid a brush with the semi-final. As we’ve said before, there’s a first time for everything – so what are the chances of it happening this year? Well, we’ve heard their effort, Martin Stenmarck’s Las Vegas – and although we’ll be posting a full review very soon, we can tell you that it’s frankly bizarre – a big, cheesy show tune that’s very different from the solid pop tunes they’re in the habit of sending to the contest. It could go one way or the other, we acknowledge that, (especially given the song’s potential for a colourful performance) – but the competition this year is fiercer than ever, thanks to some very strong songs in the semi-final. Now if we assume for one minute that none of the Big Four countries (UK, France, Spain and Germany) finish in the top ten – which is quite possible this year, given none of them is particularly strongly fancied – then Sweden would have to finish in the top ten to be guaranteed a place in next year’s final. Do we think they can do it? Well, it’s possible, but with a song that’s by no means a sure thing, and some very stiff competition, we have to say we’re really not sure. They have proved us wrong on numerous occasions in the past (notably with that ‘red Indian’ inspired number a few years back). But we still reckon they’re on fairly shaky ground this year.

5 . Cyprus and Greece will give their ‘douze points’ to other countries?
Now that’s just being silly.

Party time!

Posted: 19/4/2005 in:

If you’re planning to throw a Eurovision party on May 21st this year (and Team Eurovision most certainly is!) then why not visit this fab website we came across for a few hints and tips on making it even more fun? Ne Party Pas offers all manner of ideas for partying on Eurovision night, from basics such as who to invite and where to host it, to serving food appropriate to the participating countries (although some of these are a bit tenuous – Viennetta in deference to Austria’s capital?), and how to decorate the venue so it’s Eurovision friendly.

There’s also ideas on what to wear – including wearing national costume or dressing as a former Eurovision artist – but we have to admit we were a tad perturbed by the site’s suggestion that “everyone comes as Terry Wogan, complete with tweed suits, face masks and Irish accents”. Rest assured, there will be none of that round Team Eurovision’s place on the night, although we did quite warm to Ne Party Pas’ idea to “set up a stage in your garden for performances of famous old Eurovision acts (why not recreate the skirt-stripping routine from Bucks Fizz classic ‘Making Your Mind Up’?)”

The site’s also packed full of info about this year’s contest and past contests and is also promising an ‘ESC Big Brother’ style tournament, coming up in June. Well worth a visit.

Monaco stays in the contest

Posted: 14/4/2005 in:

Rumours that Monaco are set to withdraw from this year’s Eurovision following the death of Prince Rainier appear to be unfounded. The rumour spread after Ukraine’s Eurovision 2005 website printed a story earlier this week suggesting that Monaco would be dropping out of the contest, but the ever-reliable ESC Today swiftly scotched the rumours, with Phil Bosco, head of Monaco’s Eurovision delegation, telling the site that the royal family had asked him to continue with the preparations for the contest.

So it looks as if Lise D’Arly will get her moment in the spotlight. She’ll be singing Tout de Moi in the semis on May 19th and will clearly be hoping for a better result than last year, when the principality returned to Eurovision after a lengthy absence, but failed to make it through to the final.

Athens 2006?

Posted: 3/4/2005 in:

If the bookmakers are to be believed, it won’t just be Cyprus giving Greece ‘douze points’ at this year’s Eurovision. According to bookmaker Coral, Greece’s Helena Paparizou is 11/2 favourite to win the 2005 contest with her track My Number One. Greece have never won Eurovision before although they’ve come close in recent years, both with Antique’s (I Would) Die For You in 2001, and of course last year with Sakis Rouvas’ Shake It. But Norway’s glam rockers Wig Wam are snapping at their heels – their song In My Dreams is second favourite at 8/1, while Malta’s Chiara and Switzerland’s girl troupe Vanilla Ninja are joint third favourites at 9/1 each, followed by Iceland’s Selma at 10/1.

As for the UK, well Javine is currently floating around the 20/1 mark, along with the likes of France, Estonia and Sweden. And the rank outsiders, at 66/1, include newcomers Bulgaria and Moldova (oh well, we liked them anyway), as well as Belgium, Macedonia and Poland. Surprisingly, host country Ukraine isn’t too heavily favoured by the bookies either, with Coral currently offering odds of 50/1 on them bringing the contest back to Kiev (given the track record of host countries at Eurovision, we’d say they’ve got to be worth an each way bet at least with such high odds).

As for the others, well it’s no surprise to see Malta and Iceland in there, given the return of experienced Eurovision performers Chiara and Selma, while it’s even less of a surprise not to see the UK among the favourites given our poor performances in recent years. But perhaps the most welcome return to the favourites fold is Switzerland, who haven’t made much of a mark on the contest since Celine Dion won in 1988 (in fact they have scored the dreaded ‘nul points’ twice since then, including last year with Pietro and The All-Stars’ sub S Club 7 nonsense Celebrate).

Before you all rush to the betting shop though, a word of warning; both 2003’s winner Sertab Erener and 2004’s victor Ruslana began the Eurovision betting as outsiders, as did 2003 runners-up Belgium and 2004 runners-up Serbia and Montenegro. So be sure to have a listen before you have a flutter….

April Fools….

Posted: 1/4/2005 in:

Here at Team Eurovision we wouldn’t dream of trying to catch anybody out with a Eurovision-themed April Fool joke (largely because we’re too busy trying to listen to all 39 songs at the moment!), but that hasn’t stopped other people from having a go.

According to the website Doteurovision the main news agency in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, reported that the country would be taking part in the 2005 contest along with other Central Asian states – with a view to the contest becoming a “Eurasian” affair next year. Eurovision organisers quickly denied there was any truth to the story, and it vanished from the Internet as quickly as it had appeared, but not before fans all across the world had been fooled.

But it doesn’t stop there. Doteurovision also decided to have a bit of April Fool’s fun, posting a story that suggested Italy would be returning to the contest to replace the recently departed Lebanon – although they would only be allowed to appear as guests and not actually take part in the contest. Team Eurovision, we’re happy to report, wasn’t taken in for a second – although we did think it was quite funny…

Should have been a contender

Posted: 29/3/2005 in:

Every decade of Eurovision brings with it a whole batch of songs which should have done much, much better than they did. As a tribute to those tracks, Team Eurovision presents its own pick of the also-rans that, in our opinion, really should have won the contest….

Baccara – Parlez Vous Francais (Luxembourg, 7th place in 1978)
The lovely ladies of Baccara had of course made their mark on the charts already with Yes Sir I Can Boogie before this disco-era gem came along, only to be beaten into submission by Israel’s amazingly-coiffed Izar Cohen (and, er, five other countries). We love it because it’s everything a Eurovision winner should be – bright, catchy and memorable with the sort of chorus that inspires you to leap from your armchair and throw embarrassing dancefloor shapes in the comfort of your living room. Not that we’ve ever tried it, of course…

Selma – All Out Of Luck (Iceland, 2nd place in 1999)
Poor Selma. She came so close to securing Iceland’s first ever victory in Eurovision, but ultimately Sweden’s Charlotte Nielsen just proved to be too strong a contender. In our opinion though Selma was robbed – for this was clearly the best song in the 1999 contest. She’s back for another go this year, but we’re still not convinced she’ll be able to match the three minutes of perfect pop that was All Out Of Luck.

Stefan Raab – Wadde Hadde Dudde Da? (Germany, 5th place in 2000)
OK, we admit it, the song was a load of old nonsense. But the guy had a jacket which lit up! And since this is one of the few things we remember about the 2000 contest – which, given a few notable exceptions (Latvia’s fabulous Brainstorm, for example) was one of the dullest in recent memory – this alone suggests to us that he should have hoisted top honours from Denmark. And while we’re at it, let’s not forget 1998’s Guildo Horn, who should have won simply for wearing a turquoise crushed velvet suit and clambering all over the light fittings as though his life depended on it.

Clodagh Rogers – Jack In The Box (UK, 4th place in 1971)
We debated long and hard to come up with a UK entry which should have been a Eurovision winner, but in the end this one seemed more popular than any other, despite some heavy lobbying for the likes of Bardo, Michael Ball and of course Lindsey de Paul and Mike Moran. But Clodagh wins out for just being so damned perky – and having a song which was a lot more fun than that year’s winner, Un Banc, Un Arbre, Une Rue (the only song ever to score a victory for Monaco). Too young to remember it? Get hold of a copy and you’ll see exactly what we mean.

Ofra Haza – Hi (Israel, 2nd place in 1983)
Ofra Haza was of course one of Israel’s most famous exports (she even scored a top 20 hit in 1988 with Im Nin’ Alu, and she was bringing ethnic rhythms to the contest while the likes of Sertab Erener were barely even in double figures. Hi grabbed the runners-up spot in 1983 and should have gone one better – because Corrine Hermes’ winner, Si La Vie Est Cadeaux, is frankly one of the most unmemorable Eurovision winners ever, and this would have been far far better.

Seventh Wonder/On Again Off Again (Malta, 2nd place in 2002, 12th place in 2004)
Much as we loved Marie N and Ruslana, isn’t it about time Malta actually won this contest? After all they go to so much trouble every year (this year’s national final, for example, featured no less than 20 songs) and take the whole thing very seriously indeed. Seventh Wonder was a great little tune, and as for Julie and Ludwig – well, it had operatic trilling, and here at Team Eurovision we’re suckers for that kind of thing.

Eurovision entries online

Posted: 25/3/2005 in:

Now that all of this year’s Eurovision entries have been chosen, they’ve become widely available to see and hear online.

Team Eurovision’s favourite website for pre-May 19th sneak previews is the Irish site All Kinds Of Everything which has all 39 songs available to download in Real Audio and Real Video formats. While the site does focus fairly heavily on the Irish bid for Eurovision (and understandably so) there’s plenty of other useful news and information here – and if you’re feeling nostalgic you can even go back to the 2004 section and relive last year’s songs.

As for this year’s, well here at Team Eurovision we’ll be putting on our headphones and offering our verdict on the 2005 hopefuls very soon (once we’ve managed to plough our way through all 39 of them!), together with our own thoughts on who might be heading the leader board come the big night. Stay tuned….

UK to go second in Kiev

Posted: 21/3/2005 in:

Eurovision hopeful Javine is set for an early start at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, after the UK were drawn to sing second in the final on May 21. Both the draw to determine the running order for the semi-final and the final were made on Tuesday, and look something like this:

Running Order – Semi-final, 19 May
The Netherlands
FYR Macedonia

Running Order – Final, 21 May

Semifinal qualifier
United Kingdom
Semifinal qualifier
Semifinal qualifier
Semifinal qualifier
Semifinal qualifier
Serbia & Montenegro
Semifinal qualifier
Semifinal qualifier
Semifinal qualifier
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Semifinal qualifier
Semifinal qualifier

The Team Eurovision Verdict: Is it us or does there seem to be a pattern emerging in these running orders? We speak of course of Austria, who sang third in the contest in 2002, second in 2003 (the year of the infamous Alf Poier) and second last year. This is of course the first time they’ve taken part in the semi-final, and this time around they’ve been chosen to kick the whole thing off!

Of course first isn’t necessarily the best place to be in the line-up to guarantee a win (the only act we can ever remember starting the show and going on to win the entire contest were Sweden’s golden-booted trio The Herreys in 1984 – and the less said about that the better, probably). That said, it can’t be easy to be the first on stage, so best of luck to Global Kryner, the band who’ll be representing Austria on the big night. (although what’s the betting that if they make it through to the final they’ll be singing, er, first??)

Turning to the final, as we mentioned previously Javine will be on stage second with Touch My Fire. As we know singing early can have its disadvantages, the main one being that 22 other songs still have the chance to imprint themselves indelibly on the viewer’s mind long after you’ve had your turn – but then again going second didn’t do Jessica Garlick any harm when she was in the same position in 2002, (OK, so she didn’t win but she did give the UK its best placing for years which counts for a lot) while the likes of Turkey’s Sertab, Israel’s Dana International and of course Ruslana were all in the first half of the show and all went on to victory. Plus when the songs are reprised for phone voting, they show them from last to first, meaning the UK will be the penultimate song heard by the viewing public. Fingers crossed, then, that Javine isn’t forgotten.

Jemini man on Buzzcocks

Posted: 20/3/2005 in:

Team Eurovision caught a late-night glimpse of the BBC2 pop quiz Never Mind The Buzzcocks on Saturday night, and was most amused to spot Jemini’s Chris Cromby in the ‘Identity Parade’ round – in which a pop star from the past lines up with four other look-alikes in the studio for the teams to identify.

There was just one slight problem – given it’s been only two years since Jemini’s memorable Eurovision appearance, Chris hasn’t changed a bit! Which kind of defeated the object of actually having him on really. Presenter Mark Lamarr said he was now a ‘TV presenter’ but given that the only other thing Team Eurovision have spotted him on recently was the kids’ TV show Dick And Dom In Da Bungalow (in which he and fellow bandmate Gemma Abbey were locked in a cage in the cellar) we’re not quite sure what he’s presenting, exactly. Can anybody enlighten us?

Lebanon pulls out

Posted: 18/3/2005 in:

The excitement about an Arab country taking part in Eurovision for only the second time in the contest’s long history has sadly proved short-lived.

Lebanon has withdrawn from the event because Lebanese television is not permitted to broadcast the Israeli performance, while Eurovision bosses insist that it has to be shown without interruption.

New countries are always welcomed with glee at Eurovision, especially when they come from an exotic location, promising something unusual and eye-catching.

But we won’t have a chance to find out in Kiev. It looks like politics has got in the way of good old-fashioned entertainment and seeing the scope of the contest grow just that little bit more.

This year we’ll have to make do with debutants Moldova and Bulgaria and welcome them into the fold with open arms. Let’s just hope any other budding Eurovision countries from farther east won’t be disheartened by Lebanon’s departure.

Chiara’s back too!

Posted: 17/3/2005 in:

Well, it’s not just Selma who’s back for another go at this year’s Eurovision. Anybody remember Chiara, the Maltese hopeful who came oh so close to winning in Birmingham in 1998, only to be outdone on the very last vote by the infamous Israeli transsexual Dana International (in fact, if memory serves us, she ended up coming third thanks to a last minute surge from the UK’s Imaani? Well, she’s back for another go this year. Seven years after her debut on the Eurovision stage with the big ballad The One That I Love, she’ll perform the, er, big ballad Angel at Kiev on May 21 (Malta having scraped through to the final this year after finishing 12th in Istanbul).

According to a recent press conference, Chiara said, After I participated in 1998, I was quite sure this would remain my one and only participation to the Eurovision Song Contest. But after years have gone by, I felt like I wanted to do this again.” And she is remaining optimistic about her chances. “I believe in this song very much and I hope it will do well in Kiev,” she said.

Of course having not heard Chiara’s effort yet we can’t comment – but we do know that if any country is long overdue for a Eurovision win then it’s Malta. They’ve come so near, and yet so far, on so many occasions (notably in 2002 when Ira Losco ultimately proved no match for Marie N’s Latvian charms) and given how obsessed they are with the contest you just know they would put on a good show. Valletta 2006, anybody? We’ll just have to wait and see…

Welcome back Selma!

Posted: 13/3/2005 in:

Iceland’s Selma Bjornssdottir is quite possibly one of the most undeserving runners-up in Eurovision history.

Her song All Out Of Luck, which took part in the 1999 contest, came within a hair’s breadth of beating the eventual winner, Charlotte Nielsen’s Take Me To Your Heaven – and as far as we’re concerned, it should have won (not that we have anything against Nielsen’s cheery little ditty – it’s just that, well, Selma’s was better!)

The good news, however, is that Ms Bjornsdottir is back for another go. Yes, she’ll represent Iceland at Kiev with the track If I Had Your Love – although given the country’s poor showing in last year’s contest she’ll have to get through the semi-final first. Whatever happens in Kiev, we’re delighted to see her return – but will she go one better this time or will she be ‘all out of luck’ on the night? (sorry, we couldn’t resist)

Problems surround Serbian song

Posted: in:

Hot on the heels of the controversy surrounding Ukraine’s Eurovision entry, it appears that Serbia and Montenegro’s 2005 entry is also causing a spot of bother. The former Yugoslavian republic entered the contest for the first time last year and made a sensational debut, nabbing second place and scoring an automatic spot in this year’s final. But last year’s representative, Zeljko Joksimovic, has branded the selection of this year’s winning song Zovijek Moya, by the group No Name, as ‘deeply unfair’.

The track beat one of his own songs, Jutro by the singer Jelena Tomasevic, into second place – but he has been quick to point out that his song, which won the Serbian final before proceeding to the national final, received no points from any of the Montenegrin judges who were voting. Just to complicate matters further, accusations of plagiarism have been levelled at the winning song – which, according to reports on, organisers are currently investigating. Depending on what happens, it looks as though Ukraine may not be the only ones who may have to submit a second song this year – but we won’t know more until after March 21, which is the deadline for all countries to officially submit their songs to the EBU.

Ukrainian hopefuls aren’t so jolly

Posted: 9/3/2005 in:

Controversy is surrounding the Eurovision entry from this year’s host nation Ukraine. The winning song, a hip-hop number called Razom Nas Bagato! (Together We Are Many!) by Greenjolly, won the right to represent the country at this year’s contest last week – but according to BBC News Online, organisers have now decided that the lyrics are far too political for the contest, and have given the band until Thursday to tone them down.

The track became the anthem for the country’s ‘Orange Revolution’ late last year (which ultimately led to the re-running of the Ukranian election and the appointment of Viktor Yuschenko as president), with lyrics that include the phrase: “No to falsifications… No to lies. Yushchenko –yes! Yushchenko – yes! This is our president –yes, yes!” But while this might be inspiring stuff for those taking to the streets of Kiev in protest, it’s a different story when it comes to the Eurovision stage.

“It was a political song so we cannot allow this since this is a non-political contest,” said Svante Stockselius, the contest’s executive supervisor. If the new words don’t meet with the organisers’ approval then Ukraine have until 21 March to submit a different song.

Greenjolly should of course have realised that if you want to make a political statement, Eurovision isn’t necessarily the best place to do it. Witness the case of the contest’s last would-be activist, Finnish entrant Kojo, who gave us the quite staggeringly inept Nuku Pomiin (otherwise known as Don’t You Drop That Neutron Bomb On Me) in 1982, and wound up with a big fat nul points for his troubles. Finland have stuck to inoffensive tracks about tango dancing and the like ever since – thus providing further proof that Eurovision and politics just don’t mix.

Javine goes to Kiev

Posted: 6/3/2005 in:

Much as we would hate to say we told you so, our tip for the top Javine romped to victory on Saturday night’s Making Your Mind Up show on BBC One. The former Popstars hopeful triumphed over nearest rival Katie Price (aka Jordan) with her Bollywood-inspired dance number Touch My Fire. As such, she’ll now represent the UK at this year’s contest, which takes place on May 21st in Kiev.

It was pretty obvious from the start of the show who the front-runners were going to be – Javine, wearing an orange frock that didn’t leave too much to the imagination, kicked things off with a cracking performance that showed she meant business. Operatic trio Tricolore and balladeer Andy Scott-Lee were solid if unremarkable, while Gina G did little to impress voters despite an energetic routine. As for Katie Price – well, her skintight pink catsuit was memorable, which is more than can be said for her performance.

Despite all the pre-contest banter about how this year’s Eurovision would see appearances from Israel, Lebanon and, er, Jordan, UK viewers ultimately went for the strongest song rather than allowing themselves to be influenced by the cult of celebrity and the all-too-obvious hype. Had Katie had the best song then there would have been no question of her winning, irrespective of who she was. Ultimately though she was outclassed on the night.

But now that Javine has triumphed, can she go one better and win the contest itself? Well since we haven’t actually heard any of the other entries yet (we’ll be listening to them all over the coming weeks and will of course be posting our opinions on them) we don’t have anything to judge her against. What we do know is that she’s had plenty of experience in singing live, which should help a lot come the big night – and given it’s one of the stronger entries we’ve had for a while, there’s no reason why she shouldn’t do very well indeed.

Mind you, that’s what we said last year….

Making Your Mind Up 2005 – the runners and riders

Posted: 3/3/2005 in:

Once again it’s time for the nation to decide who’ll be representing le Royaume-Uni at Eurovision this year. Yes, the competition once known as A Song For Europe, recently revamped and renamed Making Your Mind Up, is on BBC One on March 5, presided over by Natasha Kaplinsky and Terry Wogan (who has of course become as much of a Eurovision institution as nonsensical, monosyllabic lyrics and debates over so-called political voting).

This year’s contest has attracted more than its fair share of attention, largely thanks to the presence of the artist formerly known as Jordan (here kicking off her music career under the name of Katie Price). But away from the inevitable media hype that goes hand in hand with having a well-endowed glamour model performing one of the songs, what can we really expect from Saturday’s show – and who is most likely to be taking the hopes of the nation to Kiev on May 21st? Here’s what we think:

1 Andy Scott Lee – Guardian Angel
When it comes to Eurovision, solo male singers have a habit of performing really bland ballads, and the former 3SL frontman and Pop idol finalist is no exception. Guardian Angel is pleasant but frankly dull – and entering a solo artist with a ballad did us no favours last year.
For It: He has proven he can sing live, and dull is better than embarrassing – far better to lose with a bland song and walk away with our heads held high than to enter something ridiculous and embarrass ourselves in front of the entire European viewing population.
Against It: As we said – it’s BORING! And no solo male performer has ever won the contest for the UK – although Michael Ball and Cliff Richard came close.

2 Gina G – Flashback
She did her bit for the UK nine years ago, and now she’s back for another go. The problem is that this disco thumper isn’t nearly as good as 1996’s Ooh Aah Just A Little Bit. And it has some of the worst lyrics to grace a Eurovision stage since Israel decided A Ba Ni Bi was a good title for a song.
For It: She’s been here before, and is a recognisable face.
Against It: She sounded very out of tune on the big night in 1996, and as a result the song didn’t do nearly as well as it should have done. In other words, she had her chance and she blew it. Not sure she should have another.

3 Javine – Touch My Fire
The singer who missed out on a place in Girls Aloud delivers a cracking bit of bouncy pop, clearly inspired by some of the recent ethnic-sounding winners. The front-runner by a long chalk – here’s hoping it does well on the night.
For It: Not only can she sing, but there’s loads of potential here for a spot of visual spectacle. And we all know how much Eurovision juries like that!
Against It: Er, Jordan(or whatever she is calling herself these days)? It’s by far the stronger song but without the hype machine, Javine is going to have to work that much harder to win the public vote.

4 Katie Price – Not Just Anybody
And so here it is, the most heavily publicised Eurovision hopeful in years. But is it any good? Well, the song isn’t nearly as frightful as it could have been, but there’s no escaping Katie’s thin, rather reedy-sounding voice.
For It: It could actually turn out to be a good thing – if she wins, it’ll give the contest loads of publicity and likely generate more interest here than it’s had in years. Which in turn might actually lead the organisers to start taking it a bit more seriously. Cue lots of proper songs next year from the likes of Coldplay and Radiohead (or perhaps not).
Against It: Whether she can sing or not remains to be seen – but more importantly, she’s just announced she’s five months pregnant. Given she’ll be eight months gone by the time the contest rolls around, will she actually be allowed to travel to Kiev?

5 Tricolore – Brand New Day
The genuine oddity of the bunch, it’s a bit of operatic pop from a trio reminiscent of recent X Factor runners-up G4. Given the recent craze for this kind of thing, it could well be the surprise package of the evening.
For It: This is real old-school Eurovision – it combines epic scarf-waving quality with the kind of flourishes (bit orchestral finish, harmonious chorus) that win the contest. Or at least they did some time around 1990.
Against It: Could be seen as a bit too much of a novelty, and has such a Disney-esque quality that you almost expect them to end the performance by presenting Simba The Lion King to the audience. One of those songs that could go one way or the other if it were to represent the UK - which isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Whatever happens, it all kicks off at 5.45pm on Saturday, with the result announced at 8.20.

Welcome to Eurovision Blog

Posted: in:

Hello and welcome to Eurovision Blog. Over the coming months we’ll be offering our thoughts and opinions on the forthcoming 50th Eurovision Song Contest, which takes place in Kiev, Ukraine, on May 21st.

We’ll also be covering aspects of past, present, and even future contests. If it’s Eurovision themed and it catches our eye or we have an opinion on it, you’ll find it here.

Eurovision Blog is edited by entertainment writer and self-confessed Eurovision obsessive Caroline Westbrook, and also features contributors who love the contest but don’t take it too seriously. Ultimately, it’s a bit of fun, and we feel the blog should reflect that.

If you have any questions or want to be a part of Eurovision Blog, please get in touch.