So what happens now?

Posted: 26/5/2005 in:

Team Eurovision knew that 2005’s main event was over once and for all when it found itself playing the Kaiser Chiefs the other day instead of listening to Helena Paparizou for the 900th time. But just because the contest is done and dusted for another year doesn’t mean to say that Eurovision Blog is following suit!

The fact is that Eurovision has gone from being an annual event to a year-round concern – winners Greece are already starting to plan the 2006 contest, while the less successful countries are beginning to think of ways in which they might be able to do better next year.

And while we’re at it, let’s not forget the 50th anniversary celebration show that’s due to take place in Copenhagen on October 21st – or Junior Eurovision, which will be held in Hasselt, Belgium, in November, and gives those pint-sized popstars from all over the continent a chance to shine. And no sooner will that have finished than countries will begin selecting their songs for next year’s main contest.

So over the summer we’ll be taking a look forward to the plans for 2006 – and a look back at the past 50 years of Eurovision, discussing some of our favourite – and least favourite – moments of the contest. We may even continue to lament the fact that our beloved Polish gypsy song lost out on a place in the final to Latvia by a mere four points. But then again we may prefer to speculate on what might happen next year rather than what did happen in 2005.

All of which should be enough to keep even the most hardcore Eurovision fan happy – but if you’re still suffering withdrawal symptoms now that the contest is finished, the good news is that the official DVD of Eurovision 2005 is released on June 6, and will feature both the semi-final and final in full. So now you can relive the highs and lows of the 2005 contest to your heart’s content….

Javine cannot be serious - maybe that is why she lost?

Posted: 22/5/2005 in:

While mulling over Javine’s disappointing performance at Eurovision (finishing 22nd for the UK with Touch My Fire), Team Eurovision came across this recent quote from the singer on the BBC News website.

“It would be a bonus to win, but it’s going to be an experience. It’s a singing competition which shouldn’t be taken that seriously.”

Sorry to say this Javine, but maybe the fact you think it shouldn’t be taken seriously is the reason you didn’t do very well in the contest? Because we couldn’t help noticing that the countries that did do very well last night are the ones that actually do seem to take it seriously – the ones that not only went out of their way to deliver a decent song but then actually performed it well on the night, such as Romania, Malta and of course the winning country Greece. Even Latvia put on a good show while Norway were fun, and both scored top ten placings as a result.

The reason the UK used to do so well at Eurovision is because we used to do the same thing – we often used to enter established artists (although this practice waned in the 80s) and gave them a damn good song to sing as well. Yet these days we seem to think it’s OK to enter reality TV show rejects and tabloid glamour models while the rest of Europe is putting forward some of the best local talent it has to offer. In other words, they’re taking it very seriously indeed – so why don’t we do the same?

There’s only so much longer that we can deliver a sub-standard performance and then cry foul when we finish near the bottom, using political voting or the Iraq war as a scapegoat. How can we blame Eastern European block voting this time around when only two of this year’s top five countries – Romania and Latvia – were actually Eastern European? As for the others, the fact is that most of those other countries put more thought and effort into both song and performance – and deserved to do better than the UK, regardless of whether or not their neighbours were voting for them.

It’s true there were parallels between the UK performance and the winning song from Greece, yet the two couldn’t have been more different on the night. Helena’s performance was slick and polished where the UK’s was shambolic, their choreography was tight where ours looked as though it had been made up on the spot, and her dress suited her perfectly, whereas Javine’s didn’t work at all. Perhaps most importantly, Helena engaged the audience and really looked as though she wanted to win the contest. Javine, on the other hand, looked as though she couldn’t care less.

Cynics have of course been quick to say that the UK will never win Eurovision again as long as the neighbourly countries are on hand to vote for each other – but personally we think we’ll only ever stand a chance of bringing the contest back to Blighty if we actually begin to take it as seriously as they do. The fact we came joint third in 2002 shows that with the right song and the right singer, we still have the capacity to do well if we actually put in a little thought.

Perhaps next year we should go right back to basics and opt for a simple ballad like Malta fielded this year, or maybe enter an actual band that plays its instruments instead of a bunch of dancers and a backing track. Or perhaps we should just consider pulling out of Eurovision 2006 altogether to rethink our strategy, and return in 2007 with a new approach to the contest. Either way, we need to change our current attitude towards Eurovision – and we need to do it fast if we want to prove our critics wrong.

Big Four No More?

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Glancing at this year’s final scoreboard, Team Eurovision can’t be the only people to have noticed that the bottom four countries – Spain, UK, France and Germany – are also the Big Four of Eurovision. In other words, they’re the ones that automatically get a place in the final every year regardless of how well – or how badly – they do, simply because of their financial contribution to the European Broadcasting Union.

Call us picky, but on the strength of their performances last night, are we the only people who think this really isn’t fair? OK, fair enough if any of those countries finish in the top ten or even mid-table – we can even justify the four of them getting through automatically if one of them does badly and all the others did OK (as happened in 2003, the year of the UK’s ‘nul points’ fiasco – Spain landed a top ten placing that time, while Germany and France didn’t exactly disgrace themselves).

But given that those four were left propping up the scoreboard this year, the question remains – how can the EBU justify giving them an automatic bypass into the final next year? Not one of those countries deserves to be in next year’s final on the strength of their performances last night – yet they will be, at the expense of such nations as Hungary and Croatia, who did a lot better and should really be given an automatic place in next year’s final.

If Team Eurovision was running the contest, we’d be having a rethink of that rule right now, and we’d seriously consider having 25 countries in next year’s and putting through the top 15 from last night instead – thus meaning some very deserving nations would get through, while the UK, France, Spain and Germany would have to fight it out in the semi-final along with all the other also-rans. That way, they might actually make a bit more of an effort and come up with some slightly better songs.

Because right now it seems that they can get away with entering any old rubbish, safe in the knowledge that they can come right back and claim their place in the final no matter how badly they do – and no matter how much their competitors really should be taking their place in the final instead. And as far as we’re concerned, that just doesn’t seem right.

So how was it for you?

Posted: in:

Well, it’s all over for another year, and while Team Eurovision would hate to say we told you so, we weren’t in the least surprised to see Greece take top honours on the big night with Helena Paparizou’s You’re My Number One. As a result, we’ll all be off to Athens for the 2006 contest, which has already been given a provisional date of May 20 2006 (with the semi-final on May 18).

And as the dust settles on Eurovision 2005, here’s what we made of the performances:

HUNGARY – great start to the show. As on Thursday, Nox gave it their all – pity they had to go on first. Perhaps with a different draw in the running order they might have won? Still, they didn’t disgrace themselves.

UK – much as we hate to be unpatriotic, and while we acknowledge Javine had a sore throat, was this really the best she could do? She barely sold the song at all and the dancing looked seriously uncoordinated.

MALTA – we were never fans of this but we have to admit Chiara did a good job here. A great performance, and she really looked like she was enjoying herself. In an era when flashy performances tend to be the order of the day, she ought to be proud of the fact she came second with little more than an empty stage and a microphone.

ROMANIA – a great contrast to the Maltese ballad, it might not have been the best song of the night but it was hugely entertaining. Not surprised to see it do so well on the strength of this performance.

NORWAY – this was always going to be a good one, and the boys from Wig Wam certainly didn’t let us down. Although we have to say all that business with the microphone stand looked a little hazardous.

TURKEY – bit of a disappointment. We liked this song so much when we heard it that we were expecting great things, but it didn’t come across nearly so well on stage. Mind you, it did pick up quite a lot of points. So we were half right.

MOLDOVA – is it just us, or has the novelty of seeing Granny and her drum worn off a bit since Thursday? Nonetheless, this was still great fun, not least when the body-painted singer ended the song with a screech of ‘Let’s make love!’ Er, no thanks.

ALBANIA – not good. Ledina sounded like she was screaming the song rather than singing it. No surprise to see this one floundering about in the lower reaches of the scoreboard.

CYPRUS – we were suffering ethno-pop ennui by this point and Constantinos did very little to drag us out of our slump. A competent performance, but hardly an outstanding one.

SPAIN – a universal thumbs down from the whole of Team Eurovision for this one. Although one of our number was heard to remark on the recap “actually, this is quite catchy”, confirming everything we said about it pre-contest. Yes it is once you’ve heard it 38 times but since you only get one chance to make an impression on the night, Spain just about sealed their fate with this unremarkable performance.

ISRAEL – this played so unexpectedly well in the semi-final that we’d been expecting it to be one of the dark horses of the contest, and we weren’t disappointed. Shiri wasn’t quite as good on Saturday as she was on Thursday but the song still came across really well.

SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO – we never really took to this song and thought the performance was pretty shambolic, it almost looked as though they were making the dance steps up as they went along. Baffled that this did so well.

DENMARK – pleasant but dull. We can only think the reason this scored a top ten placing is because it was so darned inoffensive. Those red shoes, however, have got to go.

SWEDEN – we had high hopes for this one but the performance was a disaster – where was the charisma Mr Stenmarck displayed in the Swedish national finals? No surprise to see Sweden tumble into the relegation zone for the first time.

FYR MACEDONIA -Team Eurovision was in the kitchen getting ice-cream during this one so we can’t comment. However, we caught the tail end of it and we have to say it didn’t look as though it had improved since Thursday. The horrible pink jacket was still very much in attendance.

UKRAINE – bizarre. Really, really bizarre, and strangely underwhelming reaction for what was after all the host country. A brave attempt to do something different but this felt really out of place among everything else. Team Eurovision was left wondering exactly how this song managed to incite revolution.

GERMANY – possibly the only thing we got right in our entire predictions for 2005 was that Germany would come last. And we weren’t disappointed. Absolutely awful.

CROATIA – thought this sounded better in the semi-finals to be honest, but not bad. Couldn’t help noticing how much the Croatian singer looked, er, like last year’s Croatian singer, mind you.

GREECE – a total no-brainer. It might not have been the best song in the contest but Helena gave such a good, slick performance there was no way it wasn’t going to shoot straight to the top of the leaderboard. That said, it did divide those Team Eurovision guests who hadn’t heard it before – some were charmed by it, some weren’t so sure.

RUSSIA – seriously dodgy. This was the point when Team Eurovision decided to put the Ceefax subtitles on and sing along. Didn’t actually make any difference to the quality of the song, mind you.

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA – the cheesiest song in the contest, but it came across really well. Feminnem really looked like they were having fun – and their pale pink frocks fitted in perfectly with the mood of the song.

SWITZERLAND – another one that divided the room. It came across reasonably well but still can’t help thinking it’s one of those ones that sounded a lot better on the CD.

LATVIA – why do we not get the appeal of this song? It’s sweet, simple – and left us completely cold. And still can’t get over how gimmicky the sign language was. Certain Team Eurovision members came up with their own sign language during this song – although since this is a family website we’ll leave the details to your imagination. Knew it would do well, but we have to admit we were quite relieved it didn’t win.

FRANCE – A very dull way to round off a hugely entertaining contest – one which was reflected in the voting.

So how did we do?
We’ve been predicting and speculating for weeks over finalists, winners, losers and everything else in between – but how accurate were we?


We said: “it’s so infectious and fun that it could turn out to be the surprise package of the evening and do a lot better than anybody expects.”
What happened? The Moldovans came 6th thanks to the winning combination of a quirky song and a memorable performance.

We said: “A top five placing is a distinct possibility.”
What happened? Indeed it was. They may not have been strong enough to fight off Greece but Malta should be very pleased indeed with their runner-up position.

We said: “Expect to see this one in the final, and expect to see Switzerland making their mark on the leader board come finals night.”
What happened? Well they didn’t win – and their early lead was quickly eroded by Greece and Malta – but they still gave Switzerland their best placing in years – good enough to guarantee them a place in the 2006 final.

We said: “he fact that in the betting it’s one of the lowest ranked host countries for years is quite telling. On the strength of this, a return to Kiev next year looks highly unlikely.”
What happened? Greenjolly’s peace anthem made little impact on the night, thus sending Ukraine straight back to the semi-finals next year.

We said: “Those who are hearing the songs for the first time at the contest are unlikely to forget this one in a hurry. In short, it’s one of the strongest contenders, and certainly Greece’s best effort in years.”
What happened? Athens 2006 just about sums it up.

We said: “We’re going to stick our collective necks out here and say that not only are Iceland a dead cert to breeze through the semis, they’ll do even better than that and finish in the top five of the final itself.”
What happened? Oops. Iceland came 16th in the semis and didn’t even come within sniffing distance of the final. But we think this may be the one prediction that everybody got wrong, so we weren’t overly concerned.

We said: “Not only is it a very safe bet for the final, but the prospect of Budapest 2006 is actually a very real one.”
What happened? We were half right. Hungary got though to the final but finished a disappointing 12th, enough to send them back to the semis next year. Perhaps if they hadn’t been on first, things would have been very different.

Bosnia and Herzegovina
We said: “We have a sneaking suspicion this is going to do very well indeed.”
What happened? If finishing 14th can be regarded as doing very well indeed, then we were spot on here. Or perhaps not.

Serbia and Montenegro
We said: “In a contest full of ethnic harmonies, this one stands out as being the dullest of the lot – something which the band can’t possibly disguise despite their best efforts to make the whole thing sound epic.”
What happened? Clearly the voting public disagreed – this did far better than we could ever have suspected, the result being that Serbia and Montenegro go straight through to the 2006 final. They’re turning out to be rather good at this!

We said: “We reckon this will do well enough to automatically see the Netherlands through to next year’s final.”
What happened? Netherlands failed to qualify from the semis, never mind make next year’s final.

Enjoy the show…

Posted: 21/5/2005 in:

With Eurovision 2005 just hours away, Team Eurovision would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a pleasant final, and say thanks to everyone who’s written in for your kind words and comments about Eurovision Blog.

We’ll be back here on Sunday with a full review of the final, including our verdict on the performances, the winner, the losers and everything else in between. As for tonight, we’ll be on the Eurovision sofa, Bucks Fizz cocktail in hand, ready to cheer on our favourites (and even some of our least favourites).

And one final thought – if it all gets a bit too much to bear, then you could always turn to the Eurovision Song Contest Drinking Game to help your evening go with a swing! And even if you don’t, it still makes for fun reading….

So who’ll win?

Posted: 20/5/2005 in:

After weeks spent speculating over the semi-final, we now know which ten countries have made it into the Eurovision final this weekend – which means that talk is now turning to who might actually win the contest. But what do we think?

Well, if we’re being honest, we’re loath to actually pick a winner, simply for the fact that this now seems to be the most wide-open contest in years. Any one of about seven or eight songs has a very realistic chance of taking top honours – and given the sheer unpredictability of the semi-final, it’s impossible to know which way the audience will vote. The fact that rank outsiders Macedonia snagged a place in the final over the likes of Iceland and the Netherlands shows just how weird this year’s contest is shaping up to be.

So who do we think is in the running? Well, we reckon Hungary and Greece are still in with a great chance (although Hungary’s status as show openers puts them at a distinct disadvantage), while Norway are a force to be reckoned with at the moment. If the audience decides it’s the year of the ballad then Malta could be taking the crown, and based on Shiri Maymon’s fabulous semi-final performance Israel are definitely in with a chance too. Meanwhile, Switzerland and Latvia’s positions in the draw – both very late in the running order – has given them a bit of a boost (in particular Latvia, whose song has quietly but steadily been gaining a following in recent weeks). And although we think it’s unlikely, Moldova can’t be ruled out for a surprise victory – while Sweden are always a good bet, especially if Martin Stenmarck’s performance turns out to be as charismatic as we’re all expecting.

And that’s what’s going to make this year’s contest so much fun – because even if one of the favourites does win, we have a feeling that there’s going to be one or two surprise countries joining them at the top of the leader board. And let’s not forget that even though the semi-finals are over, there are still 14 finalists who haven’t had a chance to strut their stuff for the viewing public yet – and one of them could steal the show from the others. In short, anything could happen – and it probably will.

What’s in a name?

Posted: 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?

Final Predictions……

Posted: in:

With the semi-final just hours away, Team Eurovision presents its final predictions as to who we think will qualify for the grand final on Saturday….

HUNGARY – we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. This is our favourite song in the contest and as far as we’re concerned there is a place in the final with their name on it. If they don’t make it we won’t be the only people asking why.

ICELAND – another sure thing, this song is still strongly fancied to give Iceland their first ever Eurovision victory (even though it’s fallen back a little in the betting). Its place in the final looks assured.

SWITZERLAND – their strongest entry for years, it remains to be seen how well the epic choral harmonies will be reproduced on stage but it still looks like a very likely bet for the final.

BELARUS – Anzhelika Agurbash’s performance is rumoured to be spectacular, complete with a spot of Bucks Fizz-inspired skirt ripping. We love the song but Anzhelika’s onstage posturing should seal the deal.

NORWAY – we’re beginning to understand just why the glam rockers Wig Wam are among the favourites. Not only do we reckon this will sail through to the final but we suspect it’ll be up amongst the leaders come finals night. And expect a memorable performance.

NETHERLANDS – early rehearsals have been rumoured to be a bit shaky but Glennis Grace’s ballad is well liked by pundits. We still reckon they’ll make it through.

ROMANIA – their use of bizarre onstage instruments (including, we’re told, an electric saw), has intrigued us. Should be interesting on the night and the song is definitely strong enough to qualify.

POLAND – still in there as our mad random prediction – it might be an outsider but there’s always got to be one unexpected qualifier, and we think they might just surprise a few people. Fingers crossed…

ESTONIA – we originally had Israel down in this spot but suspect they may fall short now. And so what if there are a lot of girl groups in this year’s final? We reckon there’s room for one more.

LATVIA – Team Eurovision isn’t a huge fan of this one, to be honest. But it seems to be gaining in popularity. We suspect it’ll snag the tenth spot over our previous favourites Croatia.

Possible spoilers

ANDORRA – call us mad, but this song has really grown on us in recent weeks. Stranger things have happened – and with a strong performance you shouldn’t underestimate this one. A real dark horse.

AUSTRIA – gaining ground, it’s so bizarre and offbeat that the voting public might just go for it, like they did with Alf Poier a couple of years back. If anything is going to cause an upset on the night, it’ll be this one.

MOLDOVA – we’ve had our eye on this one from the start, and the performance is rumoured to be strong. Since they’re on right after rank outsiders Portugal this could well stick in people’s minds.

CROATIA – hanging in there, could still get through but we’ve cooled a bit on this one – there are definitely better songs out there and we think this could narrowly miss out.

ISRAEL – has slipped out of our top ten but with a good performance we think it’s still a possible qualifier.

We will of course be tuned into the semi-final tomorrow night and we’ll be offering our thoughts on the show as it unfolds together with post match analysis – plus we’ll be seeing just how many of the above predictions were right! In the mean time, Team Eurovision wishes you all a pleasant semi-final, and let’s hope it’s as much fun as last year’s!

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’s verdict…

Posted: 17/5/2005 in:

Now that we’ve had a chance to listen to and review all of the 39 songs taking part in this year’s Eurovision, the question remains – just what do we think of the line-up as a whole? A lot of people have suggested that this year’s crop of songs aren’t nearly as good as they’ve been in recent years – but we beg to differ. Because we reckon this is one of the most interesting, diverse Eurovision line-ups we’ve heard for ages – which probably explains why we’re even more excited than usual about the forthcoming contest. But just why do we think this year’s line-up is so great? Well, we have our reasons, and here they are:

1. Ethnic pop rules. OK, so the whole shift towards ethnic sounds and more traditional music might be starting to wear a bit thin, given the amount of songs in this year’s contest fitting that description. But personally we think this makes for fabulous diversity in the music itself – after all, when was the last time you came across a song in the contest like Hungary’s, with its Argentinian and Jewish influences, or Poland’s full-on gypsy music, or Turkey’s Bollywood-esque tune? The great thing about this year’s line-up is that so many of the songs sound like nothing else you’ll have heard in Eurovision before. Even the more straightforward ethnic efforts – Croatia and Cyprus for example – are well worth a listen, while others (Greece and Romania to name but two) have combined ethnic influences with modern pop to winning effect. OK, so there are a couple of naff efforts (Serbia’s mournful, overly pompous ballad springs to mind), but for the most part the diversity – together with the potential for colourful performances – is what’s going to make the contest so much fun this year.

2. The rock connection. We’re still not convinced that the Norwegian effort has what it takes to win this contest – but the prospect of seeing a bunch of satin-trousered rockers take to the stage on semi-finals night, belting out a song that bears more than a passing resemblance to 80s-era Bon Jovi, is one that we’re relishing. Colouful and offbeat performers make this contest what it is – and they’re the ones we can’t wait to see. And let’s not forget the other rockier songs on offer this year, specifically Switzerland, who are set to score their best placing in years with Vanilla Ninja’s overblown anthem Cool Vibes.

3. Cracking contemporary pop. OK, so there’s a lot of ethnic stuff going on this year but that’s not to rule out some of the more traditional entries which, for the most part, bypass the cheesy Eurovision clichés of yore and drag the contest kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. The likes of Iceland and Belarus promise to be very entertaining on the night – we’re especially looking forward to seeing Selma’s ‘Matrix’ inspired performance – and with all the ethnic goings-on, it’s not unfeasible that a contemporary pop tune could sneak in and take the title.

4. The guilty pleasures. There’s something for everyone in this year’s line-up, including those songs you know you oughtn’t to like but you do anyway. This year we’ve got a very soft spot for Sweden in that regard – how can you possibly dislike something so blatantly ridiculous – and although we know we shouldn’t, we have been caught sneakily listening to Bosnia and breaking into spontaneous dancing when we think no-one’s looking. We would also throw Austria into this category – quite the most bizarre Eurovision entry in years, yet it has a strange pulling power.

5. The staying power. Perhaps the most important factor of all in determining just how strong this year’s line-up is, is that after most Eurovisions we only ever revisit a handful of the entrants. This year, however, we can see ourselves listening to most of the songs all the way up to the 2006 contest, because we’re enjoying so many of them so much. How many of them continue to thrill us once the contest is over remains to be seen – but we reckon we’ll be listening to a lot more than usual once the dust has settled on Eurovision 2005.

Song reviews – Bosnia and Herzegovina and France

Posted: 16/5/2005 in:

Song: Call Me
Artist: Femminem
One of the first Eastern European countries to make their appearance in Eurovision after the fall of the Berlin wall, Bosnia have yet to score the victory that has been afforded some of their Eastern European neighbours – but it’s quite possible that all that could change this year. When Team Eurovision first heard this bright, bouncy, shamelessly upbeat number from the female trio Femminem, our initial thought was that it was about 20 years out of date – had this been the 1986 contest, the Bosnians would be looking at a landslide victory, but these days? Not a hope in hell. But the more we hear it, the more we think that it’s rather a clever choice of song. OK, so it’s cheesier than an entire rack of Edam, it has a chorus that wouldn’t be out of place on an S Club 7 greatest hits album, and the lyrics, to be honest, are a load of old tat. But even in these ethnic-fuelled, contemporary pop-filled days of Eurovision, clichéd-as-hell songs like this have a habit of doing very well indeed – remember Take Me To Your Heaven, Sweden’s bright n’ breezy 1999 winner? So while on the surface Call Me might be daft as a brush, its simplicity is actually its major selling point – it’s a very catchy little number that first-time listeners will remember, and that will doubtless strike a chord with older viewers who can’t quite work out where all the jolly tunes have gone – and coming so late in the running order, especially after the less than memorable Russian song can only improve its chances. We still think there are songs in the contest that are more likely to win – and there are certainly songs we would much prefer to see win – but like it or not, we have a sneaking suspicion this is going to do very well indeed.

Song: Chacun Pense A Soi
Artist: Ortal
And here it is – after weeks of heavy-duty listening, late nights slaving over the keyboard and general arguments about the merits of Ireland over Bulgaria, we finally come to the last song in the competition. But is the contest destined to end with a bang or a whimper? Well, somewhere in between as it happens. The honour of closing proceedings falls to France, who as one of the Big Four countries have the honour of being in the final every year no matter how badly they do. Their track record has been variable recently, to say the least – a couple of brushes with the top five, a couple more with the bottom end of the scoreboard – and an alarming tendency to enter what sounds like the same song every year, a moody ballad sung by an equally moody looking young thing. But this year – shock horror – they’ve actually tried something different. For one thing their entrant, Ortal is actually Israeli – for another, Chacun Pense A Soi (Everybody Thinks Of Themselves) is an uptempo disco number (and who can remember the last time France entered one of those? We can’t). However, just because it’s different doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any good. Chacun Pense A Soi is pleasant enough, and Ortal has a nice clear voice, but there’s something wholly underwhelming about the whole thing – it’s solid rather than spectacular. And the fact that it’s performed right after the last semi-final qualifier leaves it at a disadvantage too, since we don’t yet know what that qualifier is going to be – if it’s one of the favourites, such as Iceland or Hungary, the results could be disastrous for France. In short, this one looks likely to be swiftly forgotten as all across Europe viewers rush to put the kettle on before the voting kicks in.

Song reviews – Greece and Russia

Posted: 15/5/2005 in:

Song: You’re My Number One
Artist: Helena Paparizou
Maybe we’ve said this about a lot of countries already, but isn’t it about time Greece actually won this contest? They’ve come very close in recent years, losing out to Estonia in 2001 with Antique’s fabulous (I Would) Die For You, and of course who could forget Sakis Rouvas’ hip-wiggling antics in Istanbul last year with the catchy Shake It – which put up a brave fight but ultimately couldn’t fight off the combined powers of Ukraine and Serbia? This year they’re going into the contest as hot favourites, with You’re My Number One – sung by Antique’s frontwoman Paparizou – but can they live up to expectations? Well, as far as we’re concerned this is one of the few sure things in what’s shaping up to be a very unpredictable contest – and in a year where most countries have opted either for contemporary pop or something a bit more ethnic-sounding, Greece have cannily plumped for an upbeat song which combines both. You’re My Number One is not only insanely catchy, with a chorus that lodges in your brain and refuses to go away, but it also throws in a whole bunch of big booming drums, ethnic violins and Mediterranean sounds, resulting in one of the handful of songs in the contest that makes an instant impact. On the down side, it’s been a long time since the favourite actually won Eurovision, and we can’t help thinking that it’s a bit too much of an obvious winner (which could be a disadvantage, given the Eurovision audience’s fondness for picking unlikely champions in recent years) – but it’s bound to go down a storm on the night, and those who are hearing the songs for the first time at the contest are unlikely to forget this one in a hurry. In short, it’s one of the strongest contenders, and certainly Greece’s best effort in years. At least when it gets its 12 points from Cyprus this year it’ll be entirely justified.

Song: Nobody Hurt No-One
Artist: Natalya Podolskaya
Russia are yet another one of those relative Eurovision newcomers who (like Bosnia and Croatia) have performed perfectly respectably without actually scoring a victory yet. The closest they came was in 2000 when Alsou’s Britney soundalike Solo came second, only to be felled by Denmark’s Olsen Brothers with Fly On The Wings Of Love (we much preferred Alsou and thought she should have won, but that’s beside the point). And two years ago they grabbed more headlines than any other participant when they were represented by teenage chart-toppers Tatu, although the pair eventually came third with Ne Ver, Ne Bojsia. Impressively, they’ve also managed to avoid relegation over the past few years (even scraping the top ten with 2002’s Northern Girl, by ‘boy band’ Prime Minister), and automatically qualified for this year’s final by the skin of their teeth after finishing 11th last year with Believe Me (the presence of ‘big Four’ nations Germany and Spain in the top ten in 2004 ensured their place). But we reckon that 2005 is where their lucky streak ends. Nobody Hurt No-One (possibly the most grammatically dodgy title in the entire contest – surely it should be Nobody Hurt Anyone?) follows in the rocky footsteps of Germany and Switzerland, although it’s a tad more contemporary – try and imagine Russia’s answer to Avril Lavigne and you’ll get the idea. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t exactly scream ‘winner’ – and with stronger rock tracks from the likes of Norway and Switzerland (both of which are expected to qualify for the final) and its position in the running order just after the strongly fancied Greece, it’s quite likely to get lost altogether. Oh well, there’s always next year’s semi-final.

Song reviews – Ukraine and Germany

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Song: Razom Nas Bohato
Artist: Greenjolly
And so we come to the host country, a performance that will doubtless induce mass hysteria in Kiev’s Palats Sportu when it takes to the stage. Host countries always have a habit of doing very well indeed at Eurovision – last year, for example, Turkey came fourth with Athena’s bouncy, ska-inspired For Real, while Estonia’s Runaway tussled with the UK’s Jessica Garlick for third place in Tallinn in 2002. The only recent exception to this rule was Latvia’s Hello From Mars, which scored just a handful of points in the 2003 contest (we cannot for the life of us think why, since there were plenty of far worse songs that year). This year, however, we can’t help thinking that Ukraine’s effort is going to go the way of the unfortunate Latvians a couple of years back. Greenjolly’s rap tune has already created controversy – a surprise winner of the national final, it was also the unofficial ‘anthem’ of last year’s Orange Revolution (the one which led to a re-run of the country’s elections and Victor Yuschenko eventually becoming president), and in its original form contained some rather political lyrics (not least the band yelling “Yuschenko! Yuschenko!” repeatedly to get their point across). However, Eurovision organisers decided that just wasn’t on – this not being a political contest – and demanded they rewrote it. So what do we have instead? Well, minus the impactful words, what remains is a rather naff rap that might distinguish itself from sounding totally different to everything else that’s on offer but still sounds harsh and repetitive, and really doesn’t work. It may well pick up quite a few points simply from the fact that it’s Ukraine and the contest is taking place there, but the fact that in the betting it’s one of the lowest ranked host countries for years is quite telling. On the strength of this, a return to Kiev next year looks highly unlikely.

Song: Run and Hide
Artist: Gracia
Germany are one of those countries you always expect to have done a lot better at Eurovision than they actually have. In fact, they’ve only ever won the contest once – in 1982, when the winsome teenager Nicole swept to victory with A Little Peace (which also topped the charts in the UK). They’ve come close in recent years, but to no avail, although personally we’ve enjoyed their approach in recent years – half the time we’ve been convinced they are just having a laugh rather than trying to take it seriously, and they’ve certainly provided some of the most entertaining Eurovision moments of the past decade. After all, who could forget Guildo Horn, in his crushed velvet turquoise suit, clambering all over the lighting rigs on stage, or Stefan Raab’s jacket lighting up (while the rest of the auditorium was plunged into darkness) during their 2000 entry Wadde Hadde Dudde Da? This year, however, they’re remining steadfastly straight-faced. Gracia hit the big time on the German version of Pop Idol Deutschland Sucht Den Superstar and Run And Hide has already been a chart hit over there. It’s something of a throwback to the Poodle Rock genre – the kind of uptempo ballad beloved of Pure/Soft/Precious Metal Rock Chick compilations. It’s all there - a smoky vocal with emotive yelping on the chorus, plus a slowish tempo lifted by a guitar riff vaguely reminiscent of Van Halen’s Why Can’t This Be Love? Lyrically, it’s standard fare too – one-time woman-who-loves-too-much decides enough’s enough, although she still feels pangs about the bad boy she’s finally giving the elbow. Curiously, the last straw appears to be the 25 dollars she’s just paid to get him out of trouble - just how pants a criminal would he have to be to warrant bail being set at such a derisory level? Not abysmal by any means, but a tad forgettable.

Song reviews – Serbia and Montenegro and Sweden

Posted: 12/5/2005 in:

Song: Forever Mine
Artist: No Name
Serbia and Montenegro made an impressive debut at Eurovision 2004, entering the beautiful ballad Lane Moje and coming pretty close to snatching victory from under Ruslana’s leather-clad nose. Which of course means that they’re automatically into the final this year – but can they possibly go one better with their sophomore effort. Well, to be honest, we think not. Like last year’s effort, Forever Mine is both ethnic and dramatic in tone – kicking off with big bombastic orchestrals (putting Team Eurovision in mind of the theme from Black Beauty for some reason) the track then resorts to mournful fiddles, over-the-top orchestrals and some emotive singing from No Name – yet it left us completely cold. In a contest full of ethnic harmonies, this one stands out as being the dullest of the lot – something which the band can’t possibly disguise despite their best efforts to make the whole thing sound epic. There’s a possibility it might work better on stage than on CD – and of course the country’s status as a former Yugoslavian nation may result in some love from the neighbouring territories – let’s hope so for their sake, otherwise you can expect to see Serbia booted straight back into the semi-final.

Song: Las Vegas
Artist: Martin Stenmarck
Sweden are of course one of the most successful Eurovision performers of all time, winning the contest four times and bringing the world Abba – and they’ve managed over the past decade to avoid both relegation and the semi-final. With such a pedigree, we’ve come to expect a certain degree of quality from them when it comes to Eurovision entries, especially given the back-to-back fabulousness of Fame’s Give Me Your Love in 2003 and Lena Philipsson’s It Hurts in 2004. So what do they have for us this year? Well, overlooking the fact that Martin Stenmarck is a firm favourite with Team Eurovision’s female contingent (which alone is enough to give him a top five placing in our book!) Las Vegas is a cheeky showtune-style number which takes a rapid romp through the gambling capital of the world. It suffers from some seriously naff lyrics – Stenmarck tells us he’s ‘got a room at the Mandalay Bay’ (silly boy! Doesn’t he realise the Mandalay Bay is miles away from the rest of the hotels on the Las Vegas strip?) and goes on about ‘picking a fight’ with other visitors, and is as cheesy as hell but it’s actually rather good fun. And as silly as the whole thing is, we have no doubt that Stenmarck will deliver a great performance on the night, thus sealing Sweden’s path into the final for another year. At the very least we’ll enjoy watching him strut his stuff on the night.

Song reviews – Cyprus and Spain

Posted: 8/5/2005 in:

Song: Ela Ela (Come Baby)
Artist: Constantinos
Although they’ve yet to score a victory in Eurovision, Cyprus haven’t done too badly of late, notably last year when Kent-born singer Lisa Andreas came fifth with the rather sweet ballad Stronger Every Minute. Given their notoriety for political voting (‘and the 12 points go to our good friends Greece…..’) and vice versa), it’s nice to see them getting into the top ten on their own merits for a change – but what of this year’s entry. Well actually we rather like it, in spite of its uncanny resemblance to last year’s Greek effort Shake It (crossed, bafflingly, with K7’s mid-90s hit Come Baby Come). And Constantinos himself (who entered the contest in 2002 as part of Cypriot boy band One) has certainly scored a few brownie points with Team Eurovision’s female contingent. The problem is though, that as we’ve said so many times already, there’s an awful lot of ethno-pop this year – and this is just one of the crowd, and while it’s certainly likeable and will doubtless be entertaining on the night, it’s also trapped right in the middle of a long run of ethnic and Mediterranean flavoured pop. Under those circumstances, we can’t see it standing out enough to score anything higher than a mid-table placing. Shame, because we’d like to see it do well.

Song: Brujera (Witchcraft)
Artist: Son de Sol
Just how many girl groups are there in Eurovision this year? There’s Estonia, Switzerland (via Estonia, since that’s where their entrants Vanilla Ninja hail from), Bosnia (later on in the contest) and now we have the female trio Son de Sol, representing Spain. And to be honest, this is another one of those entries we really can’t make up our minds about. Quite aside from its uncanny resemblance to that ‘classic’ Spanish hit The Ketchup Song, it’s an altogether peculiar little number, all frantic vocals and tinkly xylophone (and a shouty bloke who shows up for no reason in the middle). We can’t work out if we like it or not – we weren’t at all impressed at first but that hasn’t stopped us from breaking into spontaneous dancing and hand gestures whenever we hear it. A grower, in other words, which is fine if you’ve had the chance to listen to all the songs repeatedly but given it’ll be first impressions that count on the night (when much of the viewing public will be hearing the songs for the first time), this doesn’t bode too well for Spain. Of course, being one of the Big Four countries that’s automatically guaranteed a place in the finals each year, they don’t have to worry so much about reaching the top ten – but they have done quite a bit in recent years. This time around, however, we’re not so sure.

Song reviews – Turkey and Albania

Posted: 6/5/2005 in:

Song: Rimi Rimi Ley
Artist: Gulseren
Following a run of sub-standard efforts, Turkey took everybody (except for the astute minds at Team Eurovision, that is) by surprise when they swept to victory in the 2003 contest with Sertab’s fabulous Every Way That I Can. Having performed in a manner befitting for a host country last year, coming fourth with Athena’s For Real, many are now tipping them to drop comfortably back into the lower reaches of the scoreboard this year and seal their place in the 2006 semi-final. But Team Eurovision isn’t quite so sure. Granted, the Rimi Rimi Ley may sound as though it’s waltzed straight off the set of a Bollywood movie (Bride and Prejudice springs immediately to mind), but there’s something rather infectious about it – and what’s more, it’s the kind of track which will doubtless lend itself to a spectacular stage show on the night – which, in this performance-driven Eurovision era, may give the Turks a distinct advantage come voting time. Personally, we love the offbeat feel of this track and reckon it could be one of this year’s ‘dark horses’ – in other words, a track that does a lot better than everybody’s predicting. Let’s hope so.

Song: Tomorrow I Go
Artist: Ledina Celo
If we’re being honest, few people really expected Albania to make their mark on Eurovision when they made their debut last year. Except for Team Eurovision that is, who immediately spotted that their entry, The Image Of You, was a cracking track that would do very well indeed – and so it did, breezing through the semi-final and scoring a very respectable seventh place on the night itself. But how can they follow it up? Well, we’re not sure they can actually. Tomorrow I Go was the first song to be selected for this year’s contest, with the Albanian national final all done and dusted before Christmas – but getting in there early isn’t necessarily a sign of quality. It’s another entry into the ever-increasing canon of ethnic pop that seems to be dominating this year’s contest, and as it stands is perfectly pleasant – but there’s very little about this track that makes it stand out from the pack, and its position in the contest, coming so soon after Turkey’s striking effort and so near Mediterranean sounding tracks from Cyprus and Spain, is potentially disastrous. Much as we’d like to see Albania qualify for 2006, we have a feeling this is going to get buried under the mound of similar tracks jostling for attention this year. Which is a shame, but we’re sure they’ll bounce back in 2006.

Song reviews – UK and Malta

Posted: 2/5/2005 in:

Song: Touch My Fire
Artist: Javine
Since the now infamous ‘nul points’ incident of 2003 the UK’s presence in Eurovision has become a bit of a standing joke. Bookies no longer make them the hot favourites to win, while fans and non-fans alike make wry comments about the Iraq war and political voting (never mind the fact that Jemini were seriously out of tune on the night and the song wasn’t much good to start with) and our general uselessness when it comes to all things Eurovision.
Somehow the fact that the UK remains one of the most successful countries in the contest’s history seems to have been all but forgotten. While Team Eurovision has a sense of humour (and let’s face it, to get through this contest you need one) we can’t help thinking that the ‘nul points’ joke has been taken just a little too far. Fair enough, the reason we haven’t done too well of late is because we’ve had a run of pretty duff songs, but let’s not forget it’s also harder to win the contest now because so many more countries take part (many of whom, as proven by the recent run of East European winners, are pretty good at it too). With the right song and the right performance, there’s no reason why we can’t triumph again in the future – and we’ve got no doubt it will happen at some point. And last year the UK did the right thing by picking James Fox’s gentle ballad Hold On To Our Love – it wasn’t a strong effort by any means but it was bland and harmless enough for us to avoid total embarrassment in Istanbul.

But what of this year? Well, if one good thing has come out of the whole Jemini debacle it’s that UK performers no longer boast quite so loudly about how they’ll bring the contest back to Blighty – and indeed Javine has remained refreshingly non-committal about her chances so far. But Team Eurovision actually thinks this is our strongest effort since Jessica Garlick’s Come Back in 2002 (which finished a very respectable joint third) – and with a good performance it could do a lot better than cynics are predicting. True, Javine is going to have to work hard to impress given she is on so early in the competition, but she is at least a singer with a proven track record and it’s a decent, catchy pop tune that’s clearly been inspired by the recent run of ethnic-flavoured hopefuls (aside from anything else, she isn’t Jordan, and for that alone we can be grateful). If we’re being honest, we don’t think she’ll win. But we wouldn’t rule out her sneaking into the lower reaches of the top ten, if she does a good job on the night. If nothing else, Touch My Fire should claw back some of the credibility the UK lost by sending Jemini to Riga.

Song: Angel
Artist: Chiara
We’ll be honest – of all this year’s Eurovision entries, this is possibly the one we were least looking forward to hearing. It’s not that we don’t like Malta – if anything they’re the country we’d most like to see win the contest in the near future, since they have an almost fanatical devotion to Eurovision and it’s about time they scored a victory. And let’s not forget, they’ve given us some of the most entertaining songs of recent years, culminating in 2004’s terrific On Again Off Again. No, our total lack of anticipation for this year’s offering has everything to do with the return of Chiara – the Maltese answer to Michelle McManus – who we didn’t care for that much when she represented them in 1998 (as we’ve mentioned before, her big ballad The One I Love lost out to Israel at the very end of the contest and she looked none too happy about it). This year, true to form, she’s gone for yet another schmaltzy slow number – and yet, to our immense surprise, we actually don’t mind it that much. OK, so it’s entirely as we predicted – all soppy lyrics and (heaven forbid) Celine Dion-esque flourishes – but it’s oddly sweet and lilting, thanks to a smattering of flute and a backing track that stays simple and sparse rather than attempting to go for the big overwrought finish. We wouldn’t go so far as to say we liked it, but it’s not nearly as bad as we had feared, and it’s certainly a good deal better than some of the other ballads in the contest. But could it give Malta that all-elusive win? Sadly for Chiara, we think she may once again be left standing in the green room looking a bit bereft – for one thing she faces competition on the ballad front from the Netherlands and Israel (both with very strong songs by female soloists), for another it’s just a little bit too old-fashioned for its own good. But a top five placing is a distinct possibility. At the very least, it may have a sparkling future as opening dance music at Maltese weddings for years to come.

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.