Preparation for Eurovision 2012

This Sunday, commentators from all over will be in Baku to present the final of Eurovision 2012 to hundreds of millions of listeners and viewers.

I have been given the great honour to do with the commentary for JOY 94.9 with my talented colleague Andrew Bell.

A lot of the commentators will be wearing the finest for the three-hour plus broadcast this is what I will be wearing:

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It’s a five-hour broadcast so I have to be comfortable!

Tune in from Sunday 27 May 1900 (AEST) to JOY94.9

The JOY of Eurovision

Eurovision Song Contest 2011

Image by ianxn via Flickr

Eurovision’s super month is right on our heels: France’s song has made its debut, Switzerland, Albania, and Denmark have already chosen. I’m honoured to be a part of JOY94.9‘s Eurovision coverage at JOYEurovision.com, where there will be Eurovision History Chats and special interviews and live blogs (yes, this will be the home of my infamous post-mortems) during national finals season.

And that’s just during February & March.

Come April, I will be joining the Full Catastrophe as part of EuroSongCountdown 2012 (See fullcatastrophe.wordpress.com for more details) which will run all the way till the Final in late May.

EuroSongCountdown 2012 on TFC will air at 9 pm AEST (10 am GMT) and you can listen in many ways.

JOYEurovision.com is already up and running, so definitely jump over and take a look and a listen.

Eurovision 2011 Final Wadde Hadde Dudde Da?

You lot outside of this hemisphere have no idea how difficult it is to dodge spoilers for this year. Chief culprit? The Australian Broadcasting Corporation! (SBS’s fellow state broadcaster!)

If Aunty wanted Eurovision, the time has long since passed.

Anyway, Julia & Sam give us their greetings from Duesseldorf. They say there is no clear favourite amongst 10 countries.

Swirls galore…FEEL YOUR HEART BEAT…Australian commentators getting drunk in their booth.

Rhine Trio give us their welcome, and Stefan is still loud, but I hope he’ll drop the sexism. They do give Australia a shout out. Stefan mentions that Lena can’t perform “Satellite,” because she’s competing. He then ropes in non-blonde and blonde Rhine Frauleins to perform it, and then does a rockabilly version of “Satellite.”

It’s pretty good, but I want him to do his 2000 number or bring on Guildo Horn.

Hilariously, they bring on 43 Lenas and the real one to join in.

So all the crap jokes were leading up to that one actual humourous moment.

The Rhine Frauleins show us how the arena was made Eurovision-worthy. Julia & Sam go on about the postcards. The Frauleins mention that Lena is the 3rd ever entrant to defend her title.

FINLAND
Sam calls Paradise Oskar the winner of Junior Eurovision. Half this lot could certainly fall into the same category. Anyway, PO sings his crappy dirge. Crowd goes crazy when the Earth appears. Stop encouraging him, Europe!

During the song, I realise that this year it probably is a race to get close to the top without winning.

BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA
Sam calls Dino one of his favourites, but also doubts that he’s 48. I agree, but given what went down in BiH during the 1990s, he’s probably aged several decades. Still the same drinking song as before, but better than PO’s whinge. In this context, I rather like it.

DENMARK
Denmark is going to get a win before Sweden, because Europe seems to really like these Danish rock anthems. I think the lead of A Friend in London is the elder Jedward.

LITHUANIA
Sam doesn’t give Evelina that much hope. Neither does Julia, who also indirectly mentions that it’s very Andrew Lloyd Weber. Evelina does her ALW thing, complete with Sign Language! Julia isn’t terribly impressed.

HUNGARY
Julia & Sam love this song and the Michael Bolton joke. Well, I’m holding onto the Carrie Bickmore one. Kati is much better tonight than during the first qualifier. The portion in Hungarian is very clear and her English is equally clear. Hungary is also going to get a win before Sweden…if they manage to enter consistently.

Julia & Sam send us to adverts with a threat of an interview with Lena.

ADVERTS: Jason Donavan is Australian. SBS want you to know that.

Back from adverts we have Sam harassing Kati who likes Whitney Houston and Freddie Mercury…Julia gets Lena to admit that she didn’t want anyone to steal her thunder.

IRELAND
Julia & Sam have been sharing the same hotel as Jedward. Jedward is even more sharper than their qualifier but the running order is against them. Catchy as heck though! So would be happy with them winning even though RTE seriously doesnt need the aggro.

SWEDEN
Eric will look very sedate compared to Jedward. Sam gives Eric the Kiss of Death by calling it “a powerhouse performance.” Eric’s voice is still weak, and the homoerotic choreography works overtime to make up the difference. It still sounds like a bunch of a synth noise.

ESTONIA
There is no Rockefeller Street in New York, at least not in Manhattan. So I’m already writing this song off lyrically…unless they pretty much are inferring that the Rockefellers effectively owned New York. Argh! See this is why I don’t like English language songs, it makes me over think things. Anyway, Gettar from Glee does her thing with aplomb.

GREECE
Julia pretty much admits that the Greek voting bloc will make Australia declare Greece the winner. It’s pretty much the same as their qualifier, and bugger me, but Cyprus had the better “Greek” entry this year. Loukas performs the living daylights out of it, but Stereo Mike just mumbles. Julia calls it “like the end of Hamlet.”

RUSSIA
Julia really has it for Alexey. Well, his English pronunciation is better this time around. Considering that the producer behind Lady Gaga has also had his hands on this, I’m surprised it sounds ridiculously dated. Corny as.

FRANCE
Julia is nervous for Amaury. I wouldn’t mind Paris 2012. Amaury is alone onstage and lets the video wall really do its thing. I know Corsican and Italian are related, but with Italy following, I wouldn’t say that France is as strong a contender as before. Brilliant job, Amaury, nonetheless.

ITALY
Julia sums up the opinion of a lot of Eurovision fans when she says that Italy being back is worth celebrating. Raphael does the classic Italian Eurovision thing: performing a song excellently without making it look remotely difficult…even the screeching is perfect. If Italy stays in it for the next 2 or 3 contests, they will get a win on good will alone.

Julia & Sam sigh as we go to adverts.

ADVERTS: Heidi Klum makes “push up” rhyme with “pressure.”

Back from adverts, Julia harasses Raphael, who really wishes she’d leave him alone. She also harrases Amaury, who is too polite to say the same. Sam annoys Gettar.

SWITZERLAND
Julia & Sam call the song cute, but totally forget how the song goes. Lena Lite is really screwed by the running order. That is all.

UNITED KINGDOM
Sam doesn’t rank them much, but says it’s “muscles and no sleeves.” Lee starts off weak, and then…the song sounds like it’s been sliced and diced. They’re mostly in good voice, but geez they really need to start picking songs that can fit in the 3 minute requirement. Not as strong as they could’ve been.

MOLDOVA
Julia calls it a “hilarious song.” It’s also incomprehensible to any native Anglophone. Good performance though, not a step different from the qualifier.

GERMANY
Julia & Sam call the song “controversial.” I think it’s just quirkier. Lena minces about like she’s stoned while women in silver suits dance like ancient Egyptians. At one point, Lena just starts gargling. Makes no sense. Sam says the song goes nowhere. Yes, indeed.

ROMANIA
Julia wishes the song was in Romanian. I do too. Nonetheless, coming after Lena and her bag of crazy, anything seems very pedestrian. Hotel FM does the same thing as the qualifier, but again, they are coming on AFTER LENA.

AUSTRIA
Apparently Nadine is the sane German entry. Nadine glory notes her way through the song which pretty much involves her singing the phrase “the secret is love” over and over and over again. She wrote this herself, ergo I can only assume that she’s either being very vain with these glory notes or cover up her lack of versatility with English.

AZERBAIJAN
Oh, the lad does have facial hair. And the only Azerbaijani thing about this song are the performers. They pretty much do their qualifier performance, which borrows heavily from last year’s Danish entry as well as Alya’s last EMA entry. It’s not a bad performance, but its awfully derivative. Sam calls the lad “Charlie Pickering crossed with Ricky Ponting.” Ha!

SLOVENIA
Sam says “if you like big boots, this is the song for you.” Maja sings her song clearly, and pretty much attacks the stage in a way not seen previously since Aurela.

ICELAND
Julia & Sam repeat the sob story. It’s the milquetoast version of the Italian entry, and without the back story there’s really nothing remarkable about it. Catchy, without a doubt, but only the back story makes it interesting.

Julia & Sam promise backstage antics and Nina from Serbia.

ADVERTS: Apparently Australians have no idea what to do with their prescribed medicines, so much so that there’s a PSA!

Back from adverts: Julia & Sam freely admit that they want Serbia to win…Julia wonders how Iceland could even afford to host…

SPAIN
Julia & Sam pretty much write off the song. Indeed, Spain is the only one of the Big 5 to be off their game this year. It’s the standard Spanish “cute” song. Not aggressive like Soraya or Beth, but just cute. Lucia performs well, but no, Madrid 2012 isn’t going to happen. Nor could TVE afford it.

UKRAINE
More obsessive rambling by Julia about the sand artist. Did you read what I said about this last night? Well, the same applies except Mika makes a better attempt at English pronunciation.

SERBIA
Julia & Sam admit their bias. I freely admit mine as well as I’ve been in favour of it for quite some time. Nina does her thing a go-go and it’s still pretty charming, though the choreography still doesn’t fill the huge stage. If anything, I hope Nina puts an end to those dreary Serbian ballads.

GEORGIA
Julia & Sam gush over the postcard and Eldrine’s lead singer being the backing singer from last year. Eurovision 2011 will apparently end with thrash rock. The lead singer is also very nasal. The song seems to have lost its “wall of sound,” and now comes across a very weak wannabe rock-rap.

Julia and Sam seem happy that it’s over. I’m happy that they are talking over the Rhine Duo.

Recap: Finland whinge…BiH drinking song…Danish running anthem…Lithuanian Lloyd Weber…Hungary Bickmore has disco fun…Ireland Internationals…Swedish synth homoerotism…Estonian Glee…Greek scowling…Russia is dated…France attacks operatically…The return of flawless Italian casual performing…Swiss anonymity…UK seems off…Moldovan weirdness…German uber-weirdness…Romanian blandness…Austrian glory notes…Azerbaijani anonymity…Slovenia attacks…Iceland and their sob story…Spanish peppy blandness…Ukraine and their sand…Serbia a go-go…Georgia outdoes Turkey with Turkish rock.

They rerun that making of the postcards film again. Is that Coldplay playing behind it?

Well, I’m now taking the UK off the winners’ stakes, but I’m putting Italy and Ireland on the bullseye now.

Recap #2: I’m drinking Belgian (Flemish) beer now, and the beer doesn’t care to repeat itself, except to say WTF happened to the UK entry?

Now who amongst the broadcasters can afford to host 43+ entries next year? Pretty much Germany, the UK, France, and Italy. However, only Italy has a shot at winning as opposed to a high placing. Yet, I don’t think RAI is in the mood to host again.

Back from adverts. The Rhine Trio intro Jan Guille, who is apparently Germany’s style guru. He apparently sings very nasal go-go music. It’s catchy as hell, and yet another reminder that Germany is multicultural, although the Germans aren’t trying to beat us over the head with it like Norway last year. I’m praying for a British, French, Irish, or Italian win so that we can have a country that isn’t obsessed with proving its multicultural credibility.

Germans in the crowd are going bonkers over Jan, so perhaps he might get the offer to represent Germany next year. Personally I’d like the Fantastic Four, but they’d never do Eurovision.

Jan really is performing well. Perhaps it is finally time a funk song wins.

The Rhine Duo toss us over the new scrutineer who “asks for more time.” They do some crap jokes about “douze points,” and pass us over to Blonde Fraulein who opens the wall between the stage and the green room. (And of course there had to be a “Berlin Wall” joke.) Sam mentions that Blonde Fraulein is a newsreader and ponders what it would be like having Lee Lin Chin presenting Eurovision.

Voting

I am just going to write notable stuff down, I’m getting my drink on.

RUSSIA: Dima still can’t speak English. 12 to Azerbaijan.
BULGARIA: 12 to the UK! Lee kisses the camera.
NETHERLANDS: 10 to Sweden? 12 to Denmark? How random.
ITALY: I love La Carra! 10 to the UK, 12 to Romania?
CYPRUS: He’s a suave one! 12 to Greece. Julia hates the booing.
UKRAINE: Ruslana’s English is not at all better. 12 to Georgia.
FINLAND: 10 to Ireland (about time)…12 to Hungary!
NORWAY: It’s Nadia again. 12 to Finland,. PO don’t care.

Back from adverts and its the standard “please vote for us, Australia” plea.

ARMENIA: will they vote for Azerbaijan? Nope, they won’t.
FYROM: 8 to Serbia! 12 to BiH.
ICELAND: Italy not really scoring. 12 to Denmark.
SLOVAKIA: she’s pretty. 8 to Ireland! 12 to Ukraine?
UNITED KINGDOM: 12 to Ireland!
DENMARK: 12 to Ireland!
AUSTRIA: Only 10 to Germany? 12 to BiH.
POLAND: Why do all the Polish spokespeople look depressed? 10 to Italy! 12 to Lithuania.
SWEDEN: Danny’s popular in the arena. 12 to Ireland!
SAN MARINO: 12 to Italy. Italians sedately happy.
GERMANY: 12 to Austria. Azeris seemingly unconcerned.
AZERBAIJAN: 12 to Ukraine.
SLOVENIA: Finally a reference to Stefan’s entry. 12 to BiH.
Australian presenters getting bitchy.
TURKEY: Let’s see if they give Azerbaijan 12? Yep, they did. Azeris happy.
SWITZERLAND: Germany 8? 12 to BiH?
GREECE: 10 to Italy! 12 to France!
GEORGIA: 12 to Lithuania. Happy happy Azeris.
FRANCE: 8 to Italy! Sweden 10? Spain 12!
SERBIA: 12 to BiH.
CROATIA: 10 to Azer-bay-jen, 12 to Slovenia
BELARUS: 12 to Georgia?
Australian presenters baffled that Georgia didn’t go down well in the hall.
ROMANIA: 12 to Moldova,
ALBANIA: Everyone likes Anke. 12 to Italy! Italians non-plussed.
MALTA: 12 to Azerbaijan. Azeris freaking out.
PORTUGAL: Crowd demanding 12 for Spain. And they get it.
HUNGARY: 12 to Iceland.
LITHUANIA: Hello Vilnius! 10 to Italy! 12 to Georgia.
BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA: 10 to Serbia. 12 to Slovenia.
IRELAND: only 6 to the UK? FTS. 12 to Denmark.
SPAIN: 12 to Italy!
ISRAEL: 12 to Sweden.
ESTONIA: 12 to Sweden.
Australian commentators baffled at the appeal of Azerbaijan. Ditto.
MOLDOVA: 10 to Azerbaijan. 12 to Romania.
Sam calls it for Azerbaijan.
BELGIUM: 12 to France.
Azeris massively freaking out. They just won it.
LATVIA: 10 to Ireland. 12 to Italy.

Azerbaijan just won it with a Swedish-penned song. The EBU might clamp down on that rule soon.

Interesting to note that in going to Azerbaijan, the contest will be going the furthest East it can possibly go. Will Armenia join in? Doubt it.

Ell & Nikki freak out.

Now I wonder if we’ll actually have Azeri writers in 2012? Or even a song in Azeri?

I doubt it.

Eurovision 2011 Semi-Final 2: Bland Billy-No-Mates & The Qualifier of Death

Jedward (aka John & Edward) performing live on...

Image via Wikipedia

A brief rant before this shindig kicks off. ALBANIA was robbed! Finland and Iceland seriously lucked out.

Now, Julia & Sam warn us that if last night’s round was about songs, tonight is about singers and spruik Austria & Slovenia.

The Rhine Trio welcome us. Stefan is still loud, the women are pretty much indistinguishable apart from their hair colour. They spend FOREVER explaining the voting rules while Stefan makes sexist remarks. It’s just so awkward and dull.

BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA
Dino Merlin sings what sounds like a drinking song in English. I now understand why he didn’t sing in English back in 1999, his accent is thick as molasses. It’s not bad, and if I was in a Sarajevo pub, I’d totally vote for it. It’s still incomprehensible.

AUSTRIA
Julia tells us that this is an extraordinary performance (kiss of death: see Albania). Nadine has a very severe bob and an outfit left over from one of Robert Palmer’s 1980s videos. Nadine has the classical bland power ballad given to Idol winners around the world. Oh, she’s an amazing singer, but it’s a really crap song.

THE NETHERLANDS
Julia & Sam think the band’s name is very interesting. Well, lyrically this is no better than Austria, but it’s at least livelier even if you can barely hear anyone singing. Seriously Europe, if you are going to continue down this bland trail, you could at least have them not in English, otherwise they are even more dull.

BELGIUM
Julia really is impressed that it’s all acapella. She mentions Manhattan Transfer and I think she hit the nail on the head with that one. Pretty much it’s the Manhattan Transfer with a guy doing beatbox. Nothing terribly bad, dire lyrics, but yes, all you remember is acapella and beatbox.

SLOVAKIA
I think this is a serious contender, even though Julia & Sam don’t. It’s radio friendly, sung by 2 attractive young women who can hold a note and sing clearly in English. Bland lyrics, yes, but at least they aren’t as dusty as the previous ones.

Julia & Sam do their best to hide the fact that the vast majority of the previous songs were crap.

ADVERTS

Back from adverts, the Ukrainian girls sound stoned. Julia still thinks Dino Merlin was last at Eurovision in 1993, not 1999.

UKRAINE
Julia is really impressed with the sand artist. Really impressed. Well, Mika Newton sings a relatively incomprehensible ballad (honestly, Ukraine really should stop singing in English unless you’re Tina Karol and can SANG.) The sand art is the most remarkable component of the entire performance.

MOLDOVA
Julia & Sam can’t pronounce the band’s name and forget that they were the debut Moldovan entrants. ZsZ provide the most lively performance so far. It’s art-ska performed by people in cone hats and a backing singer riding a unicycle.

SWEDEN
Julia reckons Eric could be the 5th Swedish winner. Ok, strong improvement on the lyric front, but Eric & Co. don’t really do anything remarkable outside of choreography. It’s a lot of incomprehensible synth sung by a cute lad with a weak voice.

CYPRUS
Sam reads Christos bio as if it was a personals advert. It looks like we are back to the dramatic Cypriot entries. There’s some seriously impressive staging and I really have to say that the preview video gave no idea how kickarse this would be. Sam says that “it has everything.” Certainly does.

BULGARIA
Indeed, Sam, Poli does look like Ruby Rose. It’s a watered down version of last night’s Albanian & Georgian entries but in Bulgarian. Poli sings the living daylights out of it. Frankly, she’s earned Bulgaria a ticket to the final.

FYROM
Well now that Macedonia can’t count on automatic qualifying, they are really trying. Vlatko and his raspy voice are actually more distracting from the backing dancers. Macedonia also seems to remember that avant garde theatrics have always done them well. Not too shabby.

ISRAEL
Dana International is greeted by screams galore and now she’s got a bilingual version of Diva. It’s no winner, but Israel is definitely going to the final.

SLOVENIA
Julia calls Maja the Slovenian “Christina Aguileira.” Dark-themed glory noted midtempo songs do very well for Slovenian women at Eurovision. She pretty much shuts down Nadine in the belting stakes. She’d better get to the final.

ROMANIA
Sam calls the song very simple. Julia calls it catchy. It’s pretty much last night’s Icelandic entry without the sombre back story. The English lead singer is really selling the song, but I think they haven’t guaranteed their place.

Julia & Sam send us to adverts promising that amongst Denmark, Latvia, and Ireland are some of the best of the contest (i.e. Ireland)

ADVERTS: If you put old French music on anything you can convince Australians to buy anything, even Adelaide.

Back from adverts, Sam harrases Nadine, Jedward harrases Julia. Sam perves on Twiins.

ESTONIA
Julia says the song has a feeling of a Young Talent Time performance. Well, the cheap looking sets and Getter’s permasmile gives that impression. The backing performers look like deranged high school actors on cocaine. It’s bizarre but cute, which works very well for Estonia.

BELARUS
Are Belarussians even allowed to travel? Well, pretty much all the previous Belarussian entries were leading up to this: a fiery nationalistic mish-mosh performed by a scantily clad woman shouting in unintelligible English.

LATVIA
Julia perves on the males of the group. This year’s Latvian entry is remarkably restrained and devoid of Latvian theatrics. I really like the orchestration, but neither of those two should attempt rap. Not too bad, but not guaranteed to the final.

DENMARK
Sam says someone should send a song about death and destruction to Eurovision. Well, Denmark certainly won’t be that country. It’s the classic Danish anthem sound (but fortunately devoid of Ronan Keating), but unless your Irish, Swedish, or a transsexual there’s no guaranteed tickets.

IRELAND
Julia says that Jedward has really turned Duesseldorf “on.” Sam calls them 2nd favourites to win. If the Pet Shop Boys did an Irish entry this would be the result. The lads can’t sing but they can perform and they really PERFORM. Seriously, can you believe this is an Irish entry?

The Rhine duo look really sedate post-Jedward.

Recap: BiH is elderly drinking nonsense, Austria is bland shouting, Netherlands was not remarkable but lively, Belgium had no instruments, Slovakia was amazing, Ukraine had pretty sand, Moldova had ska and cone hats, Sweden was supposedly remarkable, Cyprus was dramatic and acrobatic, Bulgaria performed well, Macedonia had theatrics now that they have really work, Israel was Dana International, Slovenia did the Austrian song but better, Romania was simple and catchy, Estonian Young Talent Time High, Belarus doesn’t even try to hide the propaganda, Latvia was very sedate…for Latvia, Ireland was Jedward International.

Jedward harrases the blonde of the Rhine Trio as we get a recap of all the postcards (minus the Italy, Germany, Spain, France, and the UK).

Who I want to get in: Slovakia, Moldova, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Israel, Slovenia, Estonia, and Ireland.
Of that lot, only Israel and Ireland are dead certs and Israel is looking a bit shaky after that performance.

Oh, the Rhine Duo were doing comedy. Hmmm. Ok.

Julia & Sam send us to adverts.

ADVERTS: SBS’s secret? It really is the bogan channel while also trying to edify them as well. Thus the Euro art/porn as well as Go Back To Where You Came From.

Back from adverts and we get the welcome from all the entrants, and only Jedward sounded sober.

The Rhine Duo again do dire borderline offensive humour as a way of introducing the breakdancing-to-Bach interval act. Apparently German television asked Black American pop culture to do the intervals. Unlike the “I refuse to believe they aren’t all American” drumline, this is definitely a German act, representative of the new “many colours, all German” Germany. The interval just kind of ends.

The Rhine Duo preview the Big 5: Spain is really bland, France is powerful, Italy is cool, the UK is a juggernaut, Germany is just weird.

Blonde Rhine Fraulein interviews Lena, who is very sedate while sitting next to Blue.

Non-blonde Fraulein is back doing the reveal. (Julia calls the scrutineer “grumpy bum.”)

Estonia is through! Julia & Sam are surprise.
Romania is through. Julia & Sam have a theory involving camera 4.
Moldova is through. Phew.
Ireland is through. Arena goes crazy.
BiH is through. That was random.
Denmark is through. Not too surprising.
Austria is through. Eh?
Ukraine is through. They’re really surprised.
Slovenia is through. Julia & Sam’s theory is proven.
Sweden is through. Eric & Co. go crazy.

Bulgaria, Israel & Slovakia are SHUT OUT. FTS*, I tell you.

I reckon it was a razor like difference between the qualifiers and non-qualifiers.

Tomorrow night: Jedward versus Blue versus Amaury. Yes, the Eurovision old guard has returned and they mean business. Also, has Lena’s schtick reached its sell-by date? And Italy returns like 1997 was last year.

*fuck that shit

Eurovision 2011 Semi-Final 1 Awkward im Duesseldorf

So what if it happened to have already aired in Euroland, 2 days ago. In SBS Australia, Eurovision 2011‘s first qualifier airs on Friday the 13th, and the 2nd on the 14th. No ifs ands or buts.

Julia (still Franco-Aussie) and Sam (still awkward) spruik Serbia (yay!) and Russia.

Then we get the now standard galaxies of light and then we get the trio of hosts again. (Stefan Raab is so much more sedate.) They are…German. I’m sorry, but it’s bad humour (“looks don’t matter[ in Germany!]) and Sam Peng awkwardness times 100. Ok, English is an offshoot of German, why is it so hard for Germans & Anglophones to speak each other’s respective language?

Julia & Sam proceed to diss the Rhine Trio, which honestly, is not that hard as we get into postcards that show how multicultural Germany is.

POLAND
I rather like “Jestem” but it sounds a lot like “Lipstick.” La Tul & Co. do their calisthenics while reciting a dance pop self-esteem booklet in Polish. She’s not a slack performer, and it’s a decent opener that just isn’t that remarkable.

NORWAY
Oh, lord. Norway will not stop this nonstop “We.Aren’t.All.White.Blondes.” thing, will they?
Anyway, it’s France’s 1990 entry except that it’s shit and in English and Swahili. Its really shit and while Stella is pretty she has no voice and the Haba-Habettes pretty much carry the whole song. It’s all a bit trop Cocodanse pour moi. Julia & Sam are very polite in their crtique.

ALBANIA
Julia pretty much calls Aurelia “Kim” out of Kath & Kim. It’s her favourite and Aurelia is pretty much the first singer to attack the stage with her voice and fiery faux-hawk. Lady you can sing sang song. Yet Albania pretty much sends someone screeching and hitting glory notes every year. Still, the best Albanian entry so far. I agree with Julia & Sam, it’s a powerhouse performance.

ARMENIA
Maybe one year, the diaspora will realise that they are being served crap and asked to vote for it. Emmy does Kalomira in a boxing theme. Yep, it’s a rehash of an old Greek entry…for Armenia. Emmy can’t sing, she certainly can’t sang either. And that boxing glove is annoying as is the rehashed Greek choreography. Julia & Sam politely say it’s crap but the diaspora will vote for it, so whatever.

TURKEY
Turkey is still on their rock kick, and really they all are pale imitators of “Deli” (despite Manga scoring very well). Anyway, slightly pervy and sedated singer tells us to live it up. He harasses a female dancer and there are pyroteccies. It’s very dull.

Julia & Sam send us to commercial.

Appropriately there’s an advert with Heidi Klum.

Ok, I like new look Virgin Australia.

Back from adverts, and apparently the Portuguese entry is 1974 Portuguese Socialist Kitsch.

I just came.

SERBIA
Nina is Em Rusciano. Seriously! Julia likes it, I’m already a confirmed fan. Nina does her 60s Jazz thing flawlessly, but it seriously needs more onstage than Nina & her Nenas. The choreography is the only weak point, but hopefully Eurosongland likes happy upbeat Serb Jazz Pop.

RUSSIA
Julia pretty much perves on Alex Sparrow (whatev). Anyway, it’s the standard Russian male entry (basically Dima Bilan): incomprehensible mumble masquerading as English, Western pop producer, and good looking and in Alex’s case stoned male.

SWITZERLAND
Sam dissects the inanity of the Swiss lyrics. So the Swiss are trying to do the stoner version of “Satellite” complete with trippy backdrops and bohemian backing musicians. Anna is pretty much aping Lena…blatantly. It’s just too sedate to be quirky.

GEORGIA
It’s a Georgian Kitchen Sink performance by Eldrile. Kitchen Sink RAWK that is. Ok, Germany tried thrash rock and bombed. Russia tried it and did modestly. Georgia does it with extra American accented rap and will still place in the final.

Awkward non-blonde Rhine Trio is really awkward and not funny.

FINLAND
Environmental message or not, I get the feeling that I’m going to hate this song. I hear the strumming of the guitar and Oskar’s shit-eating grin and it makes me vomit. Listen, a lot of people buy this boy-mit-guitar scheisse but not me. Tom Bice, what hath thou wrought?

Sam disses Paradise Oskar. I like you, Sam.

MALTA
At some point every Maltese must apparently represent Malta at Eurovision. And this year, Malta will be milquetoast-ing Adam Lambert and every other gritty gay dance music performer. It’s every cliche and as a serious Jason Walker fan, I really think Jason should snatch Glenn’s metaphorical wig.

SAN MARINO
I want to like Senait. Seriously, I do. She looks so relaxed, but then I hear her shaky voice and I wonder if she’s just stoned au Sparrow. In fact everyone onstage is just blah. Seriously, San Marino, I think Italy is here to stay, so I think you’d better step up your game.

CROATIA
Julia & Sam warn us about the warbling and the pesky DJ. Well, if Glenn was every gay male dance singer cliche, Daria is every gay dance diva cliche. Why they changed it out of Croatian, I don’t know. It’s so effing dull in English. For the Australians: It’s Brynne Edelstein with more coordination.

ICELAND
Julia & Sam give us the sob story behind the entry. Dead singer. Happy-clappy lyrics and Dixie Jazz. Were this the 20th Century or even last decade, this would trouble the scoreboard big time. However, we’re a jaded people now. Take your position in the final and low placing and deal with it.

ADVERTS: Heidi Klum, Bogans living like boat people because it’s SBS and there’s always a message, and Harvey Norman adverts still…cheap as. Won’t you buy something from the SBS Shop.

Back from adverts and Julia harasses Alex. Alex really can’t speak English. Sam still looks awkward trying to pick up Nina. Paradise Oskar: tossed.

HUNGARY
Kati Wolf doesn’t look like Michael Bolton to me. J&S warn us that it’s a disco stomper and indeed it is. Kati Wolf looks like Carrie Bickmore, and I must say she’s a bit warbly but Croatia was dire and this is pretty much the best dance song so far. Still looks like Carrie Bickmore.

PORTUGAL
Now that I know that it’s 1974 Socialist agitprop comedy, I like it. Now, my political and cultural leanings and background put me so in their camp, I might as well be onstage. I doubt most people would share my opinion, so diaspora and hard Left votes might be the only saving grace.

LITHUANIA
Evelina is apparently singing popera, and that always goes down a treat (unless your last year’s Latvian entrant with peculiar English). It’s very Andrew Lloyd-Webber that I half expect Evelina to say “it’s my time!” She’s good, but the simplicity might be its downfall. She could’ve really sold that ending better.

AZERBAIJAN
J&S tell us this is not a mother & son act. Well, he looks 12, and she looks like Snooki. I think Azerbaijan has yet contracted a Swede or a Slovene to compose their entry. The song sounds like a failure at either EMA or Melodifestivalen. It also sounds like a Cadbury’s advert.

GREECE
Greece always get through, and we have traditional Greek pop meets Greek rap. It kinda works, Stereo Mike struts his rap. Lukas scowls and wails his dirge. It is very over the top, and yes, Greece has yet again totally earned their not-yet-guaranteed place in the final.

The Rhine Trio do the recap: Poland decent, Norway is abysmal, Albania attacked the effing stage, Armenia weak as hell, Turkey is sedate, Serbia kicked arse, Russia was Dima mk. III, Switzerland was Lena lite, Georgia was Linkin Park lite, Finland can rack off, Malta tried to snatch some wigs and got some strands, Azerbaijan has yet to reach puberty, Croatia woeful, Iceland has a sad story, Hungary Bickmore, Portuguese Socialist Agitprop circa 1974…Hikaru loses it, Greek gods of music go full on. Ten of this lot will make it. In other words, the odds are just barely in favour of your favourites (except if you like Portugal, like me, and realise that the rest of the world isn’t that quirky).

ADVERTS: Jason at RACV is a twat…When SBS isn’t about making you feel guilty it’s about making you feel gluttonous…

Stefan and short haired non blonde give us the interval act, a classic Black American drumline. I’m shocked to see one. Well, not totally shocked, there’s a lot of US bases in Germany. Still it’s nice…and awkward in a general sense. Now for a serious drumline go look up Grambling v. Southern football games any year. These guys are restrained. The Eurocrowd is agog.

Blonde Fraulein tries to create mystery and fails. Rest of the Rhine Trio intro the Big 5 (con italia!)

Blonde Fraulein indirectly disses many contestants, but only is polite to Nina.

Now onto Eurovision’s torture festival: how long can we stretch out qualifier results.

Serbia is through. Yay!
Lithuania is through. Julia & Sam are shocked.
Greece is through. Greeks stampede.
Julia & Sam jinx us by mentioning how fast it is.
Azerbaijan is through. The boy has facial hair?
Georgia is through. Eh.
Switzerland is through? Lena Lite was effective.
Hungary is through. Carrie and the 7pm crew are happy.
Finland is through. FTS, I’m telling you.
Russia is through. Julie gives us insight into the mind of Alex Sparrow.
Iceland is through. Now bugger off and take your sob story.

Well, I’m shocked about Iceland getting through and Albania and Turkey being SHUT OUT.

So I guess tomorrow is the Billy-No-Mates Qualifier of death with BiH, FYROM, Israel, Ireland, the rest of the Baltics, and the BeNe no-lux-but-Aus.

Eurovision 2011: Early Favourites Jukebox

Two old Hikaruland favourites are back: the jukebox and my take on Eurovision. How better to combine the two, but in this post.

First off, Italy is back. Unfortunately, the song is a bit weak, saved by the fact that it’s partly in Italian and a jazz song.

The best of the Big 5? The United Kingdom, this year represented by Blue (yes, that boy band):

Germany has decided  that if Lena with a song in nonsensical English won last year, well why not try it again?

Of the rest, Serbia is my personal favourite as I’m a total sucker for jazz-pop. (Be afraid, there’s a Japanese Soul/Funk jukebox coming soon)

Croatia was pretty decent in Croatian, but translated into abysmal English.

WordPress has been chomping at the bit for me to tip Dana International (Yes, she’s back too), but while her song is decent dance-pop, it’s not all that memorable.

And there are some absolute horrors this year. Witness Norway (seriously, we get it Norway, you’re multicultural, but did you have to choose such an inane song).

and the perpetually oblivious (especially to English grammar) Belarus

I’m thinking this is the year Western Europe proves that its been taking notes over the past decade.