he clock has ticked round, and it's time, once again, for Stylus' Euro-Pop observation panel to prepare their internationally representative cheese platters (cheddar for the UK, brie for France, and Cathedral City for the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia), rearrange their sofa cushions for optimum counteraction of arse-numbing, and deliver their opinions upon the finest international tournament of tunes the world has ever seen: The Eurovision Song Contest.
This year's contest takes place, for the first time ever, in Finland, following Lordi's world-shaking triumph in 2006 with "Hard Rock Hallelujah,” arguably the most atypical Eurovision winner of all time for goodness knows how many reasons, not least of which was their being from Finland, a nation who, despite many years of trying, had never even got within a sniff of Eurovision glory.
As such, the 2007 contest was one of the most anticipated in Eurovision history. How would the rest of the European pop community adapt to this brave new world of men with pneumatic wings and tiny plastic hats with the Finnish flag on them? How would Finland adapt to being internationally renowned for something other than mobile phones and ski-jumping? These questions, and many more, held Europe (and Australia, albeit on time-delay) enraptured, as the curtain slowly rose...
Doug Robertson: This year’s slogan is “True Fantasy,” and we understand that there are many sites on the internet which cater for those whose true fantasies involve a wide variety of sweaty Europeans, performing for their pleasure.
Marcello Carlin: How gobbledegook continues to take over the world. It doesn’t mean anything, it sounds like a strapline for Cadbury’s Roses or second-hand Volvos, but as Bangs said about Tull all those lives ago, if it looks good to its audience, it doesn’t matter if there’s nothing in it.
Peter Parrish: My dreams of a quiet night are shattered by an instant Lordi video. Still, looking on the bright side—snow! Trolls! Wolves!
Adem Ali: Reaching for my bottle of Xanax mere minutes into the competition’s OPENING is surely not a good sign of what’s to come, right?
Doug Robertson: Clearly some money has been spent. “Some” being the operative word.
Fergal O'Reilly: They’re all sitting in thrones of fire and turning into wolves and shit, the daft fucks.
Jonathan Bradley: I don’t think their hearts are in it anymore. They’ve probably been living the high life since they won Eurovision, and most likely have no desire to be torn away from the mixture of champagne, Scandinavian women, and Euro bills that they must surely spend their days bathing in. I understand that is indeed the way Eurovision winners spend their days.
Adem Ali: Let’s pay close attention to the incredibly good looking male host for the evening, who looks like a slightly older version of “High School Musical” sex god/jail-bait Zac Efron. LOVELY.
Doug Robertson: Ah, our hosts, and as is traditional they consist of a girl in a nice dress and a guy who, when he forgets the cameras are on him, looks like he’d rather be anywhere else in the world right now. As is also traditional, they bear more than a passing resemblance to other “famous” people, in this case Tom Welling from “Smallville” and Grace from last year’s “Big Brother.” They’re also both holding onto massive cards which they never ever look at and appear to be used merely as a security blanket.
Marcello Carlin: More Donny and Marie manqués as presenters, and a pink lady in the distance who I already know is going to make me wish for nuclear holocaust in five seconds. If Eurovision wanted to be really radical it would make its presentation as austere and authoritative as possible—tax inspector suits and solemn announcements, as per the Booker Prize. But this isn’t even the innocent naffness which passed for presentation in previous decades; the eyebrow has to be raised, the Cool Police must be kept in view, punk should never have happened.
Punk is why you have all those WRY, IRREVERENT programmes about XYZ whereas what we need more than ever is REVERENT broadcasting; the ability to be moved and to wonder, or just to laugh without the aid of giant cattle prods. It’s why you can’t have anybody approaching a subject, or life, straight; oh no, there has to be this damnable ATTITUDE. The knowledge that we, the television programmers, the trust fund students who knew which friends to make at university, go home and listen to Arnold Dreyblatt CDs and watch Peter Greenaway films, whereas we, the unwashed mass who watch television programmes, are the shit of the world and will be treated as such (q.v. address to incoming inmates at Auschwitz).
Introductions out of the way, it's time for the meat of the programme—the performances. 24 songs have qualified for tonight's final—the top 10 finishers from last year, the 10 highest-scoring songs from the semi-final, and the “Big Four” of Spain, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, who qualify by right by virtue of being the largest financial contributors to the contest. The running order is decided via a random draw—out of the gates first tonight, it's...
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
Maria Šestic - Rijeka Bez Imena
Jonathan Bradley: Terry tells me that Bosnia and Herzegovina’s entry is “sort of a prayer for forgiveness.” That’s not a promising start to the night.
Doug Robertson: We shouldn’t judge on first impressions so, despite initial misgivings we decide to wait a while before dismissing it entirely out of hand on the off chance it might suddenly get good. It doesn’t.
Fergal O'Reilly: The song is boring ballady shit, and clearly insufficiently beholden to the infinite wolfen power of the etc., etc.
Marcello Carlin: One of those stateless, wandering Girls Aloud-type melancholic ballads but performed by Nana Mouskouri’s backing singers, in their stilted pale green ballgowns looking like mouldy Daleks.
Jessica Popper: Her dress looks like pineapple slices. This is not a good look.
Adem Ali: This woman looks like Helena Paparizou, doesn’t she? Paparizou after a cat-fight with every single item of clothing Björk has worn circa 1990.
Jack Gladney: Marija Sestic does a consummate job; she looks pleasant, her delivery is solid, and we catch a glimpse of our first lute of the evening. The soaring instrumental section is alas, an ad man's approximation of last year's string part, which will probably cost them a top six finish.
Peter Parrish: She’s attracted the attention of a local farmhand minstrel, who attempts to seduce her with considerable disinterest.
Doug Robertson: The bouzouki player appears to be concentrating very hard on the not exactly taxing task of walking in a straight line. Indeed, it takes so much out of him that he needs to kneel down afterwards for a bit of a rest.
Iain Forrester: Let’s move on.
D'Nash - I Love You Mi Vida
Adem Ali: WHO LET THE DOGS OUT?! WOOF, WOOF-WOOF-WOOF-WOOF.
Jack Gladney: I can only assume that these guys are Spain's equivalent of Eton Road. Shit, but enthusiastic enough to partially disguise that fact.
Jonathan Bradley: Their song is called “I Love U Mi Vida.” Doesn’t that mean, “I love you my life”? Spanish Boy Band Is Against Suicide. Good for them.
Marcello Carlin: Their harmonies are approximate and the chorus weak. The tendency of Eastern entries to sound Western and Western entries to sound Eastern has evidently continued. Second climactic key change in the space of two songs. The unshaven Vernon Kay is not very good at miming.
Iain Forrester: The performance is certainly full of energy if technically a little lacking, carried by momentum through the occasional moment on the verge of falling apart, most notably when they get to the more complicated harmonies.
Jessica Popper: It was very ��90s, but I loved ��90s boybands so this was good for me, even if it was a bit dated (quite like a boyband of Ricky Martins).
Jack Gladney: Alarmingly, it's their best entry in years.
Koldun - Work Your Magic
Marcello Carlin: All teeth. Marti Pellow impersonating Pete Burns, or possibly a cheese grater, on lead vocals—doesn’t, or won’t, stop grinning.
Fergal O'Reilly: The creepily dead-eyed, plastic-faced Belarus entrant emotes heavily, surrounded by sharply dressed models. Far, far in the corner of the stage, a lone fat woman provides backing vocals and sheds a single tear.
Jonathan Bradley: Belarus have become early favorites by performing a song that has a modicum of energy. Such a thing has not been seen tonight. Also, they have gravity-defying dancers, who stick themselves to moving walls. Um, moving walls that shoot fire.
Doug Robertson: The dancers are apparently stuck fast to a vertical wall, which is quite impressive. Until, that is, they leap off and you can faintly hear the sound of Velcro tearing in the background.
Peter Parrish: This is more like it, a Bond theme crossed with David Copperfield. Keys, potions, slow wavey hand gestures—it’s all here! They’re really pushing it with the magic metaphor though. Before the song is even finished, it feels as if the synonyms from thesaurus.com have all had a couple of airings. Like some restrictive creative writing exercise gone a bit wrong.
Edward Oculicz: I think this is a very slick, entertaining song but I'm not thrilled by it live, it's curiously punchless and Koldun's live voice is not particularly likeable. It also seems that decent choregraphy is as elusive as democracy in Europe's very own last dictatorship. There was something extremely, I don't know, plonked about the staging. A disappointing performance.
Marcello Carlin: Engelbert 1972 B-side.
Jack Gladney: I backed this song to win, and on paper it should. The production is marvelous (strings swirling all over the place), the mispronunciation glorious (“I am able and I'm wheeling, yes I'm wheeling”), and the singer looks uncannily like a male Princess Diana. Unfortunately, the sticky sliding door props aren't particularly effective, his attempt to hide the fat backing vocalist is futile, and he doesn't sing very well. Only Modest Mouse albums frustrate me as much as this.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
Dervish - They Can't Stop The Spring
Jonathan Bradley: The Irish entrant looks like Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde 3: Suddenly Brunette.
Marcello Carlin: Lead singer is Martine McCutcheon auditioning for this year’s Snow White panto.
Jonathan Bradley: She also appears to be unaware she was performing tonight. Or she’s drunk.
Jessica Popper: This could be a nice song if her voice was less painful to my ears.
Iain Forrester: No-one really says ��sprrrrrrang’ like that, do they?
Adem Ali: I will pay someone very good money to tell me three things: What the fuck is she on about, what drugs has she taken, and how much for a gram?
Peter Parrish: Musically, this feels like some sort of Ren-Faire protest song. Maybe thee olde blacke knighte has kidnapped someone’s sister, or blighted the crops, or something.
Edward Oculicz: One of the songwriters is listed as a John Waters and my hopes are briefly raised—maybe instead of some twee Irish bullshit we'll have transsexuals and canine coprophagia. But it’s evidently a different person with the same name so we get a mumbling bint, fiddling, tin whistles and some happy claptrap that is about... ooh, shall we say 20 years out of date about Europe being united? It's like a Very Special Tribute To The Corrs, as performed by people who are just a tiny bit special, if you catch my drift.
Fergal O'Reilly: “We don’t need no party, just a party band” also seems an incongruously hip phrasing in such traditional surroundings, but I am already too demeaned to care.
Hanna Pakarinen - Leave Me Alone
Adem Ali: Because the actual non-poor man’s version of Evanescence isn’t enough, apparently.
Fergal O'Reilly: Finland bring moody Evanescence-type rock from that aging woman who WOULD NOT leave you alone when you reluctantly went to a shit goth club in 2002 because there was nowhere else open.
Edward Oculicz: Having discerned that ROCK IS THE NEW HOTNESS at Eurovision, Finland send a really awful rock song sung by what appears to be a rapidly assembled Within Temptation tribute band. Nearly as sludgy as Lordi, minus a hat bearing the Finnish flag. Absolutely revolting, though I do like the brief guitar solo bit. Such is the lack of actual drama and passion in this song that when the stage fireworks come up it's all rather tragic.
Marcello Carlin: Actually quite reasonable in a third-on-the-bill-at-Camden-Underworld-circa-1989 sort of way, though the world could have done without her “mad (me)” eyes and lyrics of the striking originality of “I gotta go crazy just to stay sane.”
Jessica Popper: Here's one that took me by surprise—I'd never thought much of the song on my pre-Eurovision listens, but when she came on stage and the whole arena loved her (she was in her home country after all), the song sounded so much better and she performed it very well too, which surprised me as I'd heard quite negative reports from rehearsals. An unexpected big thumbs up from me!
Iain Forrester: She wails the chorus with abandon, the band kick up a surprisingly aggressive racket, and it’s easily the best so far. But then I have spent most of the year so far listening to Emilie Autumn so this kind of thing is right down my street, silliness and smoke machine on overtime and all.
At this juncture, most of Europe goes for its first ad break. The rest, however, get introduced to a very special guest...
Jonathan Bradley: The hosts, Green Dress Girl and Mikko are interviewing some audience member. (Krusty the Klown: “Now one of my favorite parts of the night. What’s that say? Talk to the audience? Uggh, this is always death!”)
Doug Robertson: They introduce Krisse, a girl in a pink dress who appears to not only be a walking, talking Barbie doll, but also to possess the same IQ as a lump of inanimate plastic. Apparently this is what counts for comedy in Finland.
Marcello Carlin: As predicted she will play a major role in this programme and already makes Lily Allen look like Aphra Behn in comparison. Perhaps Eurovision could be sold to ITV next year so that we could have commercial breaks and I would therefore escape having to see this wretch or her equivalent and I wouldn’t now be wishing, purely because of her existence, nuclear holocaust on all of my lovely readers in four seconds.
Peter Parrish: You can tell this section is staged because she claims her dream is “to host the Eurovision Song Contest.” No-one could really have such paucity of ambition.
Now, back to the music...
FORMER YUGOSLAVIAN REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA
Karolina - Mojot Svet
Jack Gladney: Macedonia are becoming a rather predictable Eurovision act. Good intro—check. One of the more attractive girls in the competition—check. Fairly catchy chorus—check. Semi-finals successfully negotiated—check. Will probably have to go through semi-finals again next year—check.
Jonathan Bradley: F.Y.R. Macedonia’s performance is the equivalent of doing your homework on the school bus the day the assignment is due. Sparkly lights, unnecessary dancers, a girl in a short dress singing a dull ballad, it’s the Eurovision performance you throw together when you don’t have time to think of something exciting.
Adem Ali: One of the best songs of the night. Not only is she decent to look at, but the song's overall beauty is quite luscious. From a country who have in the past sent some shocking acts (do you remember “Sto Posto Te Ljubam” from a few years ago?), it’s nice to see them getting it right for a change. More importantly, that is the most fierce usage of a wind machine in Eurovision history and, really, we should be voting on that alone.
Doug Robertson: Dress! She gets points, not only for her attire but for looking rather pretty in a Rachel Stevens-esque way. We don’t remember the “Rachel-clone does Eurovision” subplot from the S Club movie Seeing Double, though.
Edward Oculicz: To be fair, this is a head above their last few, and Karolina's dress is really nice. I'm not entirely convinced by the transition from the verses to the half-rock of the choruses, but the brief flit into English is a smart bit of base-covering. OK, it's pretty decent.
Marcello Carlin: An uninteresting series of vacillations between standard Eastern tropes and would-be explosive choruses, with a wretchedly damp squib of an ending. “Music is my world.” What about the rest of us?
Iain Forrester: The adoring gaze to backing singer is a NO, too.
Peter Parrish: Wogan reckons this one “has legs.” He might be referring to the semi-anthemic qualities of the chorus, or to the short-skirted conduit of said vocals. It’s not really clear.
Alenka Gotar - Cvet Z Juga
Fergal O'Reilly: Slovenian opera ambush kills 32.
Iain Forrester: Wow. The operatic bits are sort of difficult to buy into at first, but the song has an overwhelming force of its own even taken aside from the best staging so far.
Doug Robertson: This, for all intents and purposes, is nothing more than an unused theme for the World Cup coverage on ITV.
Marcello Carlin: Operatic/Housey chorus recalling Malcolm McLaren and his British Airways advert; not as good as the track on the new Amerie album which samples “Duck Rock,” but then not much at the moment is.
Peter Parrish: There’s a slightly worrying authoritarian air to this, as if it should be belting out while rows of tanks trundle past. Not to worry though, because it also sounds like a majestic, funeral tribute to a fallen warrior-king ... err ... with a trance beat. Fantastic.
Adem Ali: I seriously have no idea what’s going on here, but I’m very glad it’s happening. She’s just so excited to be out of the house, isn’t she? Not only is she in the most trashtastic outfit of the evening, but she also has a MAGICAL LIGHT INSTALLATION IN THE PALM OF HER HAND. Opera and techni-lighting gold, I can definitely see how the people of Slovenia thought this would be a wise act to represent their nation.
Doug Robertson: That must help when she’s trying to hail a taxi. Mind you, it does mean that she must be a cyborg or a witch. Either way she should be disqualified. Or we could try throwing her in some water and see what happens.
Edward Oculicz: Much as I enjoy the way that these traditional and occasionally comedy-ethnic structures are bolted onto simple trancey backing music, there's something particularly clumsy about the fit here. Ten points for atmosphere, but there's not much of a song here, and the singer's glowing hand and oddball facial expressions will scare children AND gays. No points, then.
Magdi Rúzsa - Unsubstantial Blues
Marcello Carlin: The approach, like the adjective, is novel. Zoe Williams on lead vocals with some incongruous 1974 lead guitar and a general Maggie Bell-type pub band atmosphere which hasn’t a hope in Hades of winning, despite the suitcase and the BUS STOP sign (do we really want a Fairground Attraction revival, apropos 1974 pub rock tarted up to look modern?). "Why did you leave me?” she howls, and she does so rather well. She actually has a bloody good voice but should have left those leather trousers in said suitcase.
Peter Parrish: Great prop-work on show here. Not just a Bus Stop, but a suitcase are added to the long-faced bluesy proceedings. There’s a bit of a narrative problem though, because our jilted lover is singing “why did you leave me?”—and sounding justifiably miffed—but clearly she’s the one who’s about to do a runner. Unless the idea is that she’s about to chuck a suitcase full of his clothes under a bus, in which case I suppose it makes sense.
Doug Robertson: She looks a lot like Carol Vordeman. Surely if she took her own advice and consolidated all her small debts into one huge, crippling megadebt she’d be able to afford her own bus fare.
Edward Oculicz: Listen to this one on the Eurovision CD and it will pass you by—the instruments just get in the way. But on stage, it's almost revelatory. A heartfelt, soulful and legitimately bruised delivery that shades the tunes perfectly, this eschews the gaudy and not particularly well done spectacle of fireworks and flashing lights and comes across as being genuinely different and interesting. The performance vastly exceeds the song, I can only imagine what Magdi would be able to do with something even better.
Jack Gladney: Her vocals are exemplary, and a place on the Radio 2 Playlist beckons.
Iain Forrester: While there’s signs of something good going on, it seems like more of a contender for a 1991 Brit award nomination than Eurovision 2007.
Marcello Carlin: The word “evanescent” makes one momentarily, if inevitably, think of Evanescence, but I like the line “breathless with nothing more to lose.” Well, in strict biological terms, there wouldn’t be, would there?
4Fun - Love or Leave
Iain Forrester: Oh dear, someone else who believes this to be a song contest.
Marcello Carlin: A Rock Chick (leather-clad, as if she wouldn’t have been) sits on a stool with her acoustic while the rest of the band are seated behind an opaque curtain, all looking away from each other, and all shadows. The inventive refrain “break of dawn” keeps cropping up, like Bob Mills on C4 list shows.
Doug Robertson: Following where their old mucker Cliff led, the Shadows finally enter Eurovision. Arf!
Jack Gladney: In many ways this is the most canny bit of staging of the evening. The song is so utterly anonymous, that hiding behind a screen so that people can only make out your silhouette is probably a good idea. The Irish group must be in the Green Room wishing they'd done the same thing.
Jonathan Bradley:It sounds like at the core of this there is quite a good song, but all the flamenco guitar runs and other assorted Eurovision floss obscures the robust chord progression underlying the track.
Edward Oculicz: Yes, that'll do—a very shy, inoffensive little song, the liking of which would automatically qualify one as a dullard. So dull I can’t believe it’s not Irish.
Sardel - Yassou Maria
Edward Oculicz: The way the singer is dancing, I think he's a bit of a Maria himself. Oh no, I didn't!
Marcello Carlin: The singer is Ricky Martin overdosing on Strepsils.
Jonathan Bradley: The Greek entry looks and acts exactly like Australian comedian Chas Licciardello. This is very disconcerting. I can’t be certain he’s not making fun of the entire event. His song sounds exactly like Ricky Martin, which is less disconcerting, as Ricky Martin songs are one of those Eurovision defaults lazy countries use when they can’t come up with anything better.
Doug Robertson: The apple of the singer’s eye is “Dancing,” apparently, ““Like a cheeky girl.” Still, she must have some good points and we don’t think it’s fair of him to point out her flaws live on European television.
Jack Gladney: Brilliant. Darius Danesh on a slim-fast plan singing a Ricky Martin-esque upbeat belter. Sure his vocals are awful, but this is high energy, high camp, and most brilliantly, uses the line 'dancing like a cheeky girl', as if this was in some way desirable. It's just a shame the Lembit Opik harmonica solo never materialises.
Jessica Popper: Fans of previous winner Helena Paparizou will surely notice the similarity here to her recent single, "Gigolo.” I can't help bursting into it every time I hear "Yassou Maria.” It's no bad thing though, I love Helena and Sarbel's copycat version is pretty good too, but the fact he looks and dances just like my best friend is slightly distracting!
Doug Robertson: It’s a good chorus though and, if this were still the seventies, this’d walk it. It’s not his fault that it’s the 21st century now and he’s not exactly moved on.
Sopho - Visionary Dream
Jack Gladney: I haven't seen a debut like this from an Eastern European since Mario Stanic scored that goal against West Ham.
Jonathan Bradley: The Georgian entry was produced by Timbaland. No? OK, but it does have some impressive drums and creative synth fills. Even if it does subsume it all under that wretched trance beat that seems to be a requisite component of every Eurovision track this year, this is much better than it needs to be.
Jessica Popper: The dancy bit here reminds me so much of "Professional Widow.” It really is still the ��90s in Eastern Europe!
Marcello Carlin: Begins with a half-tempo vocal drifting over a kinetic orchestration. There are some Cossacks but SUDDENLY it morphs into Achtung Baby!/Madchester/Acieed bleeps and blimey there’s even a dipping LFO bassline! This is magnificent! Mark Ronson should be here to take notes about how to do it properly. The singer is clad in an incongruously noble red gown but there are painted-on red marks on her back and upper arms. Her vocal performance becomes increasingly hysterical. It’s Ute Lemper sings 808 State! It’s glorious!!
Fergal O'Reilly: The violins and rudimentary beatz on the Georgian entry could almost be Patrick Wolf. The singer is doing a creditable Björk-yowl as well. Meanwhile, indie cossacks rapidly dizzy themselves in the background. Awright!
Doug Robertson: The effect is entirely spoilt by the grinning divs running around behind her, dancing with swords like they’re in a Butlins Knights of the Round Table Revue.
Peter Parrish: Four exuberant Cossack dancers bring disgrace to their profession when one of them breaks rank and shamelessly mugs at the camera. No doubt he’ll be disciplined later.
Jack Gladney: The perfomance, despite the on-stage sword fights isn't great. Instead of the earthy, ridiculously sleeved naturalness of the video she opts for a horrible red dress/ St Tropez combo, and she misses a lot of notes. But this is the still the best song we'll hear all night.
Edward Oculicz: Beautiful dress and a great, striking tune. The Eurodance elements are welded to this expertly and it's a pure, glass-cutting performance. As impressive a debut performance as you're likely to see unless Sweden breaks into micronations. Sopho's arm movements are hypnotically unfluid, and this is rather endearing. Yep, this is a good 'un.
The Ark - The Worrying Kind
Peter Parrish: Sweden GO GLAM! It’s all silver glitter and foot-stomping and androgynous get-up (well, not that androgynous really, he looks entirely like a lady). OK, in reality it’s a poor T-Rex tribute act, but it’s probably the most excitement I’ve had so far.
Jonathan Bradley: Even if the song is shit, we finally have a half-decent stage set. Good use of spirals, Sweden. Good use of a drummer who looks like Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump, too.
Jessica Popper: The Ark happen to be one of my favorite bands—I've been a fan for years and even seen them play live in London, so it was very exciting to have them in Eurovision. It's not their best ever song but with its hints of ABBA's wannabe glam-rock tracks, it's great for Eurovision.
Edward Oculicz: Ola Salo is a consummate showman quite beyond his theatrical androgyny, and "The Worrying Kind" is glam with the spirit of schlager, catchy as hell, hooks lined end to end. It's nice to hear some rock that's tuneful and joyful at the same time. And it’s the most traditionally catchy and hooky song so far in a year where most of the intriguing entries have had tricksy, unusual melodies. This one is as subtle as a bulldozer, and none the worse for it.
Marcello Carlin: Just what this immolating world needs; another ��70s reproduction antique. The intro is “Blockbuster” and it sticks to a half-hearted schaffel rumble. “Grooves I like to shake ��em.” Mika gone to seed sings Real II Reel featuring The Mad Stuntman. “I’m just a silly old boy with my head in a can.” You know instantly that they’ve spent the best part of four months trying to come up with that “throwaway” line in the sense of “oh, look how stupid we are, except we’re clever and cunning really and it’s all a postmodern, wry double bluff.”
The song is a very precise mongrelization of “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” and “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” and it sounds like a Tom Jones 1972 B-side (perhaps to “The Young New Mexican-a Puppeteer-AH (He Saw the People All-A Live in Fear-AH)”). Ah, we’re getting the Status Quo vaulting horse routine now. And now the dolt strips off to reveal the manufacturer’s serial number on his upper chest. I’m sorry, but I was there and this wasn’t what New Pop was supposed to be about. I don’t want Queen or Bowie or Space Hoppers or Spangles back. IS THAT UNDERSTOOD?!
Doug Robertson: Waving like the Queen does spoil the effect somewhat.
It's the halfway mark, which can mean only one thing...
Doug Robertson: Another break, and we’re back with Krisse, who is live from the center of Helsinki and leading the audience in a sing-a-long of the EBU theme, proving conclusive that the IQ of crowds is exactly equal to that of the least intelligent member.
Marcello Carlin: “Twenty minutes ago I was nobody, and now…I’m everybody!” Made my bones shiver just contemplating the prospect.
Peter Parrish: Back inside, our male host announces “we’re ready to carry on with Eurovision ... OR ARE WE?” For one brief, beautiful moment I’m fooled into believing that a tremendously important news event has forced festivities to a close.
Les Fatals Picards - L'Amour À La Française
Adem Ali: I cannot believe Sarah Jessica Parker has finally let her facial hair grow out, good on her. That bald guy is an absolute riot of fun, isn’t he? In fact, isn’t that SJP’s gay friend Stanford, also from Sex & The City? Good to see them working together again.
Doug Robertson: This is brilliant! Bold, bald and brilliant! They’re probably the French equivalent of Right Said Fred and we should no doubt be thoroughly ashamed of loving this, but we don’t care! It’s ace!
Iain Forrester: Much like the UK and now Ireland, France are still taking up valuable Eurovision time every year to present types of music that no one else could care less about. This time round that is… shambling indie? In English? That’s actually rather likable? Well, voting is likely to show continued irrelevance, but it’s in a whole new way, so that’s progress. Of a sort.
Peter Parrish: Angling dangerously for the word “zany,” France have sent a Richard O’Brien lookalike in a pink jacket to run on the spot and witter on about a rendezvous. With a stuffed cat on his shoulder. Maybe he’s hoping to bump into a taxidermist?
Jonathan Bradley: France’s drummer with the angel wings is the real star of their performance, and he knows it. They may have a showboating bald fop dressed in pink singing the song and a guitarist running into a non-existent gale, but that drummer is out-performing all of them with little more than some glances at the camera.
Edward Oculicz: Best French entry in years. And yet, it's still not particularly good. Maybe I just don't like pink very much.
Jack Gladney: I could imagine this fitting quite snugly on a Del Amitri album.
Boniparti.lv - Questa Notte
Jonathan Bradley: The Latvian entry will be sung in Italian, apparently. It will also be sung in top hats. By sad drunken tramps.
Fergal O'Reilly: Latvia go for a sophisticated tuxes and top hats look, but alas, even with lucrative EU membership the wardrobe budget only extends to the top halves of their bodies, and the effect is irrevocably blighted by a rag-tag variety of charity-shop jeans. The daft fucks.
Iain Forrester: Almost enough to make anyone regret voting for joke entries in the past and wish that we could all go back to traditional pop songs and leave out trying anything different, because there’s always the chance that someone’s going to see the chance to make Il Divo look good.
Peter Parrish: Latvia have gone for some kind of light-waving, operatic number—sung by five potential suitors waving roses around. That’s all very well, but I suspect if they showed up outside the house of any self-respecting girl, she’d throw stuff at them until they buggered off.
Marcello Carlin: I have decided to rechristen them Fred Karno’s Army since not only do they resemble, in their battered top hats, the Wow-Wows sketch as performed by the young Chaplin and Stan Laurel (amongst others), but the third chap who comes on both looks and sounds like Oliver Hardy and the performance is exactly how G4 or the Bachelors would have sounded in 1911. Towards the end the song changes key.
Jack Gladney: If that man with the single earring doesn't hang around outside playgrounds, I don't know who does. My dad would probably buy this.
Edward Oculicz: My mum probably really, really liked this. As soon as I heard this I was instantly petrified it might win and when they qualified for the finals I instantly began to feel ill. The staging is the wrong way around. The stage started out empty and then a succession of progressively uglier men emerged. When the chorus came, I wanted them to start leaving the stage rather than multiplying. This is essentially the music that will be playing in my own private hell. You've got to hand it to the Baltics—they're doing a great job with gimmicky entries. It's just a shame they're also shit.
Serebro - Song #1
Fergal O'Reilly: Wogan somewhat controversially claims to remember when all Russian women had moustaches and looked like Khrushchev’s mother. Times have changed, as the 2007 Russian entry consists of three alarmingly nubile girls singing smut and suggestively fondling their mics like it’s going out of fashion. Fantastic.
Peter Parrish: “Put a cherry on my cake and taste my cherry pie,” mm, indeed ... hang on that makes no sense at all. Am I giving the cherries, taking the cherries? WHAT SHALL I DO WITH THE CHERRIES?
Edward Oculicz: The lyrics to this are just preposterous. But what's not to love about a trio of Russian slappers who probably idolized Bananarama? It's a lot less rock live than it is on the CD, which I think detracts from the impact because the beat is a tiny bit on the cheap, anaemic side. I think it's about oral sex, and that's always good too.
Marcello Carlin: This is pretty good with its “Killer”-derived rhythm track, its rhyming schemata of “funny bunny” (they can’t have meant Jive Bunny, then) and “money money” and its single entendres of “My bad ass falling for you” and “Taste my cherry pie.” Nicely frantic, clattering percussion interlude too, like a Light Entertainment Test Dept or Tackhead.
Iain Forrester: This is probably the first thing so far that would have any chance of being accepted as modern pop in its own rights in the UK, at least given the benefit of a couple of stylists. It’s perhaps unsurprising that it’s the easiest to love then, but really this is excellent—the chorus is great, the vocal interaction of three singers actually adds something and the stomping, metallic breakdown kills off for good suspicions that it’s no more than a Xenomania knock-off.
Jack Gladney: I find it impossible to understand how this is one of the favorites. It is horrible. The vocals are awful, the song is awful, the production is awful, they don't leave their mic stands for the first minute and a half, and the breakdown doesn't even work with the rest of the song.
Jonathan Bradley: In all honesty, this performance is pretty shit; the vocals are terribly weak and you wouldn’t possibly believe that there is even one girl singing, let alone three. But this has all the bratty sass Eurovision’s lacked in its 2007 incarnation, so I’m feeling quite well disposed toward it. Thank you, bad-singing Russian girls. The night just got a little bit better.
Roger Cicero - Frauen Regier'n Die Welt
Marcello Carlin: ROGER CICERO! With the words “ROGER” and “CICERO” flanking him in huge yellow neon letters just so that we don’t forget that he’s wearing a hat.
Jonathan Bradley: It works for me. I’m actually believing that he’s awesome. But is this what Eurovision has been reduced to? A tournament of typography?
Peter Parrish: Having attempted Country last year, the Germans are going for gangster-swing this time. It’s sort of the Blues Brothers crossed with Al Capone and an ill-advised Robbie Williams vehicle.
Jessica Popper: Swing rip-offs are awful enough in English but in German... that's a whole new level of smarm!
Marcello Carlin: “Women Rule The World” it’s called, but rather than revisiting or revitalizing Prince it’s a white-suited echt-Rat Pack farrago, reaching back to the golden age of 1989 and Harry Connick Jr. “Aye lassie!”—where the hell did that come from? “Posh und Beckham,” oh und dear.
Iain Forrester: Just like last year’s sweet country, part of the pleasure of Germany’s entry does come from it being a refreshing change of pace. That’s not to take away from how charming it is though, especially considering how much more of an overexposed genre they’re doing And between this, 2raumwohnung and MIA., I think German might just be the best language for pop. Everything sounds so much richer somehow.
Fergal O'Reilly: According to Germany, “all it takes is a sexy glance to make you change your politics.” The implications of this are alarming, but at least he’s not putting it down to an increased obsession with house prices as you get older.
Marija Šefirovic - Molitva
Doug Robertson: Come on! The rules for what girls have to wear on Eurovision are pretty clear. It’s either a nice dress or something made entirely from leather. Or both. A tux that you can’t even be bothered to do up properly just isn’t acceptable. Tsk!
Jonathan Bradley: Hmm… Serbia’s entry is Harry Potter. He… no, wait, this is a woman. She seems very upset about something, and it’s kind of exciting. My guess is that it has something to do with Lord Voldemort.
Marcello Carlin: Roland Browning Out Of Grange Hill with an undone tie…it is a passionate, enclosed ballad and she sings it rather well, though had Gerry Monroe yodelled it in English I doubt it would stand up to much scrutiny. And here we have the coup de theatre; five tall, besuited and sinister-looking women, wearing ties and scarlet cummerbunds, come up behind Marija as though protecting her and then start gently manhandling her, clutching at her, creeping around like a newly depoliticized Politburo after the revolution, not quite knowing where to turn. Anxious, emotional…this will do well, even if only on the basis of the just-back-from-the-pub male voters who I imagine will vote in their droves to see five tall women in suits feeling the singer up again. One for the Kleenex, in both senses.
Peter Parrish: Being a backing dancer on this one is the easiest gig in the world—all they’re doing is standing around and occasionally turning slightly. I suppose they could still be in shock about their frontwoman looking like an unholy union of Harry Potter and Joe Cole.
Edward Oculicz: Okay, whoever did the choreography for this should be shot. Having the rather homely boyish Marija flanked by lipstick lesbian prison guards and having them ALMOST lez up is not particularly flattering. It's a wonderful performance though, like the Hungarian one, a so-so song comes vividly alive and she's got a fantastic voice. It's just that the configuration of the non-dancing backing singers does nothing for her stage presence. A qualified triumph of performance over stagecraft.
Jessica Popper: A reasonably good ballad, but being much more partial to the uptempo poppy entries, the ballads have to work much harder to gain my love and this didn't succeed. She overdoes it a bit with dramatic singing and fist-clenching at the end too.
Jack Gladney: The staging is very “No More I Love Yous,” the codpiece instrumental is very “My Heart Will Go On,” and she looks like that bloke from the Futureheads, but lurking somewhere in the mix is a song that would sound very good on an Eastern European Airline advert. I've always liked Eastern European Airline advert music.
Adem Ali: I had no idea that Kelly Osbourne was Serbian.
Verka Serduchka - Dancing Lasha Tumbai
Peter Parrish: How to be a cert at Eurovision: inflate a transsexual Timmy Mallet, dress him in the kind of shiny silver army costume that the Pet Shop Boys would consider “a bit much, frankly,” stick a football number on the back (well, why not?) and force him to sing obnoxiously irritating, sub-Hamster Dance crap over accordion-tinged dance beats. Top 3, guaranteed.
Fergal O'Reilly: Beats! Everyone in silver! Scary demonic Paul O’Grady-looking dude ordering you to dance! Concludes with deadpanned “OK, happy end” and synchronised hip thrust! Absolutely fucking bewildering! Nailed-on victor, surely.
Marcello Carlin: I would say Christopher Biggins or Timmy Mallett or Su Pollard in Bacofoil but Wogan has already beaten me to all of those. Polka House is a hitherto underexplored facet of contemporary dance music and after this performance is likely to remain as such.
Adem Ali: This is what Eurovision is about! Fun, chirpy pop songs. My mother, father, younger sibling, and group of friends are sitting here dancing in our seats, clapping our hands and drinking a shitload of alcohol. That key change, it’s like having a really fantastic orgasm. Verka Serduchka, you are my hero! The first thing I’m doing after this finishes is turning my old disco ball into a hat. I’m going to be the life of the party at EVERY party from now on.
Edward Oculicz: I don't know if I really hate this or not, but I'm sure I don't like it. I hate Verka's outfit. I hate the "I bury Paul" of the title (does it or does it not mean "Dancing Russia Goodbye"? And as if this wasn't deliberate and perpetrated by the Ukraine contingent themselves). I hate the Army Of Lovers-esque spoken bits. I hate the key change. Trash for trash's sake and it goes on forever, or seems to. "That's the kind of stuff they like here,” says Wogan. And I wish it weren’t. Repulsive. Gives the contest, pop music, and fun a bad name. I just cannot countenance it.
Jonathan Bradley: Oh, fuck yes! Eurovision, this is exactly what we’ve been missing all night! Daft Ukranians dressed in silver with accordion-playing flight attendants. The only disappointing aspect is that with that set, those costumes and those gigantic frames on the lead singer, this should have been a cover of Elton John’s “Rocket Man.” Ah, and I just noticed that glasses guy has “69” written on his back. Classy.
Iain Forrester: It’s definitely no LT United, anyway.
Scooch - Flying the Flag for You
Marcello Carlin: One would have thought with the present state of the world being what it is, it was perhaps less than wise to come on with all fingernails blazing and sing loudly with painted-on smiles about how Britain is flying the flag for YOU (not for US, but for YOU, you ungrateful fucking native trash) ALL OVER THE WORLD.
Jonathan Bradley: Why is the United Kingdom represented by Scooch? I thought Morrissey was going to do this. I wanted Morrissey in a Ukraine-style Starman outfit.
Adem Ali: The name ��Scooch’ sounds a bit like a nickname for a pap smear, doesn’t it? “Oh shoot, I’ve got to go for a Scooch next month.”
Jessica Popper: Scooch were once a semi-ace pop band (well, they had one great song called For Sure) but this is more like Fast Food Rockers territory and it's really quite insulting to Eurovision and pop music itself.
Doug Robertson:It’s a fun pop song which works better when seen rather than heard. It does seem to jar somewhat with what the other countries have been doing though, but we’ve still got our fingers crossed.
Marcello Carlin: Their performance is completely and utterly devoid of genuine joy, pleasure, sex, or mischief—a quartet you would have thought essential to any workable conception of “pop”—and you can see it in their pinched eyes and cheeks; like Zoe Ball or Kate Thornton, their mouths smile but their eyes do not; in there lurk the dread-laden shadows of frightened, daily aging call center workers worrying about their outstanding debts.
Iain Forrester: Why do we even bother anymore? We’ve missed the point spectacularly yet again, through a process which goes something like “everything in Eurovision is cheesy euro crap” + “we’re better than everyone else at music” = “if we enter something that everyone here thinks is total crap it will be perfect!.” With an edge of “when we lose, we can blame it on tactical voting anyway.”
Edward Oculicz: Does anyone who votes for the UK entry pay attention when they watch Eurovision itself? There seems to be some assumption that this is the kind of song that's popular in the contest when historically, it's never been so. Of course there's nothing wrong with a bit of cheesy Steps-esque pop, but would it have killed them to actually write the song first and then do the double entendres, rather than build a cheap song around some bad jokes?
Jonathan Bradley: The camera pans past some cheering Brits with stars on their foreheads. Even those guys are more excited by the Ukraine’s entry than that of their home country. Please Britain, next year, get your shit together. The only way that could have been worse is if you put Lily Allen on the stage.
Todomondo - Liubi, Liubi, I Love You
Fergal O'Reilly: Romania go for a jack-of-all trades approach, somehow omitting to to include any terrifying eurotrance elements.
Jonathan Bradley: I guess it kind of makes sense that their song would sound like a non-punk version of New York/Eastern European punk act Gogol Bordello, but I would much rather if they’d taken a hint from Gogol Bordello and thrown some punk in.
Doug Robertson: Sung in a variety of languages, including, no doubt, Elvish and featuring a variety of stereotypes from all over Europe. It’s amazing what can seem like a good idea.
Iain Forrester: The main problem here seems to be too many people on stage who are well up for their 15 seconds in the spotlight but don’t really know what to do the rest of the time and mill around aimlessly, much like the song for a bit. The guy with the filthy French drawl is fantastic though and they hit their stride from then on, going from confusing to exciting as style after style blurs together.
Marcello Carlin: Think Opus, think Art Company, note the sideswipe of “Everywhere you go, my baby, even Italy!” The Cinema Paradiso accelerando hi-jinx proceed in a way which Stevie Wonder would have seen coming.
Edward Oculicz: Possibly the best use of multiple languages meaning the same thing in a song since, ooh, shall we say Nicole & Hugo for Belgium in 1973? Nah. It's far too well-meaning and jaunty to properly hate, awful tuneless chorus notwithstanding. One can't help but think some outfit co-ordination would have been nice. The audience isn't so stupid that they need to have the different languages underlined by silly outfits.
Jack Gladney: You can only assume that this song was planted in the competition to see whether Eastern-European block voting was so forceful it could keep something this shit clear of the relegation zone. Somehow I fear the hypotheses will be proven.
Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankoulov - Water
Jessica Popper: For this my notes were simply "What a racket!" My ears hurt, please stop!
Iain Forrester: Well, this even outdoes Slovenia for BIG, with really BIG drums and BIG wailing attached to the flimsiest of songs. Again, sort of works through sheer power, and Björk-channels-Crazy Frog is a vocal style that turns out to have its merits.
Jonathan Bradley: Bulgaria has some interesting wailing and blue lights. If I know Eurovision, a trance beat is inevitable. And there it is. The song is OK, nevertheless, but why must they play so aggressively to type? I’m not suggesting they make any outlandish changes, but how about a generic house beat instead? Then again, the Eurodome erupts into applause at the end. I guess if trance works, they stick with it.
Marcello Carlin: Begins with the obligatory out-of-tempo Voix Mystere ululatory drone but it quickly turns into a dual (male and female) percussion Stadium House workout with added Jew’s harp and a general air of “Eastern Bloc: What Time Is Love?” which is no bad thing and indeed rather an excellent one. Almost on a par with the Georgia entry.
Jack Gladney: I was astonished that this got through the semifinals, given their unparalelled tunelessness on Thursday night. The song isn't terrible; the beat is actually quite infectious, and the bit in the chorus where she shouts “EEE!” is rather cute. They probably could have made a career out of opening for 2Unlimited. The main problem with “Water” though, is that Elitsa's vocals are worse than Stoyan's haircut. Which is an impressive achievement.
Fergal O'Reilly: They’re basically alternating between hitting the drums and going “AAAAAAAAAAGGGHHHHH.” It’s probably quite cathartic for them, but not very enjoyable.
Peter Parrish: A wild-haired, wailing waif batters the hell out of an array of drums with the aid of a trusty chum. Good for her. Even though it sounds suspiciously like the theme music to Mortal Kombat, it’s awfully watchable.
Edward Oculicz: Whatever moves you, I guess. How many neighbors do Bulgaria have again?
Kenan Dogulu - Shake It Up, Shekerim
Jack Gladney: The only thing that this entry brings to the contest is Terry Wogan's observation of the year; that the lead singer is Chris Moyles' slightly more handsome younger brother.
Peter Parrish: No amount of belly dancers can disguise the fact that Turkey are clearly being represented by professional reactionary prick Garry Bushell.
Jessica Popper: I found this particular disturbing because he reminds me of someone I know, and the idea of this man dancing like that and singing "Shake it!" is not one I want to think about ever again.
Adem Ali: This guy is like the annoying drunken uncle nobody really wanted invited to the wedding.
Marcello Carlin: “Shake It Up” as Tony Christie might have done in the wilderness years. Much is made of the backing dancers being British (i.e. Scooch have no chance so you might want to give your consolation vote to them).
Edward Oculicz: Perhaps the most baffling qualifier from the semi-final, this has some energy to its performance, but it's just a lifeless song that no amount of welly can revive. The middle section is incongruous, and the belly dancing just brings back unfavorable comparisons with Sertab's sublime winner from 2003, "Everyway That I Can.”
Marcello Carlin: “I’ve got lots of candy for you.” Don’t all rush at once.
Hayko - Anytime You Need
Jessica Popper: Oh dear, it looks like another act has tried to sabotage poor Armenia's chances by toilet-rolling his tree!
Jonathan Bradley: Damn kids.
Peter Parrish: Our vocalist looks at this wanton act of vandalism, slowly turns and solemnly asks “why ... baby, why?” I share his confusion.
Iain Forrester: “Baby, tell my why…” Zero to insufferable in three seconds! I almost feel guilty for laughing at this, but… nah. It’s been a long contest already.
Jack Gladney: The way in which Armenia not only qualified, but also avoided relegation in last year's competition was an impressive feat. It looks like they're here for the duration. The tree on stage is a nice touch, the presence of a recorder is not as unwelcome as it should be, and the song is quite nicely crafted. If they continue at this rate, it's only a matter of time before Yerevan hosts a Eurovision party.
Edward Oculicz: This is a touching, subtle ballad—half serenade, half lullaby, the kind Ireland probably thinks their entries are like but usually aren't. Hayko's eye closing doesn't win any sincerity points but the song's strong enough to withstand his slightly cloying movements on the "emotional notes,” one of which sounded a bit flat to me. Still rather likeable.
Marcello Carlin: His heart starts bleeding through his white shirt towards the end. I suppose it makes a change from having a climactic key change.
Natalia Barbu - Fight
Jonathan Bradley: Terry says this is the last song. Oh thank god.
Fergal O'Reilly: The Moldovan entrant is surrounded by bondage nuns and dressed like a valet in a near-bankrupt British wrestling federation. The song is firmly in the chuggy angst-rock mold, as this would perhaps lead you to expect.
Jessica Popper: This song has been quite a favourite among people I usually agree with, but I can't see its charm at all. Those long "fight foreeeeeverrrr" screeches are just painful.
Doug Robertson: There’s also a lot of flag dancing going on. Or lazy juggling, as it’s otherwise known.
Peter Parrish: Unbeknownst to the singer, her troupe of dancers are waving red rags in what I can only assume is a desperate attempt to attract a passing bull to knock their leader off-stage.
Marcello Carlin: She fiddles (in the Vanessa-Mae fashion) and sings (in the tuneless goat stranded on the wrong end of a seesaw fashion) over bad 1988 AoR which doesn’t quite scale the immense heights of “The Final Countdown.”
Edward Oculicz: OK, this is an absolute MONSTER, it's like... the bastard child of "Bring Me to Life" and "Lose Yourself.” Oh, I love it a whole big lot and it's sung with some real oomph. The long note near the end is explosive, the staging's top-notch, and the only sour point is her outfit. My reading of this is that Moldova is so poor that they are deliberately sabotaging their chances of winning because Chisinau would crumble under the strain of hosting Eurovision 2008. But if you're going to fuse last year's rock with the previous east/west divide, you can do a lot worse than this great little song sung by a badly dressed lass with an enormous Claire Richards-sized mouth. Excellent.
Iain Forrester: A bit too close to the obviously superior Finnish entry to stand a chance, although it’s sort of nice to have proof that I am up with the European zeitgeist for once.
And so the songs are all sung for another year.
The contest, however, is just about to begin. Voters in all this year's participating countries (all 42 of them—the 24 that qualified for the final, plus the 18 eliminated at the semi-final stage) now have 15 minutes to vote via telephone and text message for their favorite song (though, obviously, they cannot vote for their own country). These votes are then tallied, and each country awards points to the 10 most popular songs among its viewers—the most popular gets 12, the second most popular 10, then 8 through to 1 point for the other eight songs. Whoever gets most points wins. Nice, simple, completely uncontroversial. Theoretically.
The Finns have promised a very special guest to open the voting lines—who could it possibly be?
Edward Oculicz: The voting has been started by Santa! Outstanding. Santa appears to only have one hand.
Jonathan Bradley: Will he sing? Oh god, please let him sing. I would love for Santa to win Eurovision with a write-in campaign. From the standard this year, he would have to be in with a chance.
Doug Robertson: Since when has Santa been Finnish? Were the Moomins busy that night?
Jonathan Bradley: This Santa isn’t very nice actually, he’s brought a gift for Green Dress Girl, but it’s not wrapped. And it appears to be gift intended for no one but himself, since he’s the only one who gets to use the bell inside his not-wrapped box.
With this bell, Santa opens the voting lines. There then follows a swift recap of all tonight's acts.
Doug Robertson: We use the time to vote for Russia, holding firm, as we do, to the view that people die for the right to vote and if you don’t partake in democracy you have no right whatsoever to complain about the outcome.
Peter Parrish: Oh wow, a video montage of the fans of Eurovision! Oddly, they all seem to be outside, rather than stuffing their faces with cheesy nibbles and beer in horrible student dives. Or maybe they’re just not showing any English Eurofans.
Fergal O'Reilly: In the recap, the Bulgarian entrant smiles ingratiatingly then ducks below the sight of the camera, inadvertently resembling the intro of a low-budget grumble vid in the process.
Edward Oculicz: I take a bathroom break and miss what Wogan says about the second half of the entries in the recap. Probably something about Ukraine being a potential winner. Jesus, god no. I get back in time to hear him say "bottom four" for Scooch.
Of course, they can't very well count all the votes in that 15-minute spell, so now comes one of the great traditions of Eurovision—the interval act. The host nation provides Europe with a flavor of its own culture in a theatrical/dance/mime/juggling spectacular. This is where Riverdance started, y'know. What will Finland come up with?
Doug Robertson: It’s Apocalyptica! Which is apparently the Finnish for “Rubbish circus.”
Peter Parrish: It’s a chap trapped inside an egg.
Doug Robertson: There’s a Bubble Boy. Perhaps they’re going to recreate classic moments from “Seinfeld” for us. Though, to be honest, we don’t remember where they all dressed up as ballet dancing birds.
Peter Parrish: Wait, no, it’s a chap trapped inside an egg AND some ballet dancers wearing pants made out of dead swans.
Fergal O'Reilly: “Don’t encourage those eedjits at the back”! Increasingly soused, Wogan shamelessly drops the E-bomb, killing 11.
Peter Parrish: Hold up, all of that was a distraction from the main event—heavy metal cellists ... and acrobats. Fair enough.
Marcello Carlin: Roy Wood on ��cello, lots of abstract balletic leaping about, author retreats speedily to kitchen to prepare tea and toast. Perhaps they should have booked Ant and Dec featuring Angela Rippon to perform “A You’re Adorable.”
Doug Robertson: Bubble Boy breaks out of his rubber prison and immediately starts swallowing a neon tube. Perhaps he just fancied a light snack. Arf!
Peter Parrish: The dead swan dancers look a bit miffed that they can’t really properly prance about to the cello-thrash. Admittedly, it’s probably tough to mosh with bits of bird corpse around your waist.
Doug Robertson: And now there’s a man in a hoop. This has officially now Gone on a Bit.
Peter Parrish: Meanwhile, a man in a top hat on a floating bicycle performs a moving tribute to ET. And that’s the end of that.
Peter Parrish: Back on stage, our hosts try to flog the official Eurovision DVD and CD set, whilst barely able to conceal their disgust.
But enough of that—now is the time for the scores, time to find out who's won this thing. Using the scores given by each of our contributors to their ten favorite songs, then dividing by the number of contributors and multiplying by the number of voting nations, we predict that the final outcome should look something like this:
Stylus Predicted Result
1) RUSSIA - 298
2) GEORGIA - 256
3) SWEDEN - 252
=4) FRANCE - 197
=4) UKRAINE - 197
6) HUNGARY - 181
7) FINLAND - 139
8) SERBIA - 126
9) GREECE - 113
10) BULGARIA – 109
But how finely trained are our Euro-noses? More importantly, how finely trained are Europe's Stylus-noses? Let's find out...
Marcello Carlin: To speed things up they go through the 1-7 point league in one second, which may save time but also destroys the slow-building tension which is sort of the point of Eurovision voting.
Peter Parrish: This minor change is enough to bamboozle Wogan, who wonders why no-one has been given 11 points. Because no-one ever is, Terry. Poor lad.
Edward Oculicz: Montenegro's 12 points to Serbia is understandable. Belarus's for Russia less so, why don't you two countries just go and get a room already. Booing when Russia gets Armenia's.
Jonathan Bradley: Russia is pulling ahead to an early lead. This is really great, because it means Eurovision voters are still valuing good old Eastern European gumption over good singing. Everything is right in the world.
Doug Robertson: Three votes in and we’ve received sod-all. It seems unlikely that this is going to be our year. Again.
Fergal O'Reilly: A text from a UK viewer reads “Serbia is Charlotte Church in 10 years.” What it lacks in veracity, it makes up in spite.
Edward Oculicz: Austria goes for Serbia, putting the boy-girl ahead of the girl-boy from Ukraine. Hurrah Austria. I revoke my call of last year for you to be banned, though your vote for Turkey is a worry.
Peter Parrish: France give Turkey the maximum 12. You fools, Bushell hates your country!
Edward Oculicz: I've just realized! Latvia hasn't got a point yet as we get the Serbian vote. I was petrified this one would win, so I am ridiculously happy.
Doug Robertson: Albania give Ireland some points, and Latvia get gifted some from Romania, leaving us as the only country on nothing and thus officially rubbish.
Jonathan Bradley: Greece has an old man presenting their votes. Apparently they didn’t get the memo about votes being presented only by excitable young women. There’s a reason for this: Old Greek Man appears to forget that Greece’s 12 points are going to Bulgaria.
Fergal O'Reilly: Bosko Balaban is not the Croatian representative, leaving his number of Eurovision appearances at a disappointing 0. This woman might be his wife, I suppose.
Doug Robertson: In a nod to their country’s entry, the Slovenian man waves a torch about his his face. It is, to be honest, a no less impressive effect.
Fergal O'Reilly: Wogan’s chipper mood has finally been crushed under the overwhelming march of Eastern Europe. He manages to be surprised by this every year.
Peter Parrish: Wogan’s Eastern-European conspiracy theories are being somewhat undermined by most of the Western nations gushing over Russia, Ukraine, and Serbia too. Not to mention the fact that half of the nations supposedly voting for Serbia out of neighbourly kindness used to be at war with them.
Jonathan Bradley: Terry needs to quit bitching about biased voting blocs or whatever he calls them. Sure, maybe countries are voting for their neighbors, but it isn’t as if France, Spain or the U.K. had shown up with songs worth giving votes to.
Doug Robertson: Ireland have given us seven points! We’re only third last now! Brilliant! Oh boo, they’ve given twelve to Lithuania now. We’re back down to second last again.
Marcello Carlin: Before long it’s clear that Serbia are nosing ahead (because they MEAN it). At various stages there are no Western European entries in the top ten at all, and rather than accept that the axis of the world has moved, Wogan indulges in preposterous guff about there being no “fun” in Eurovision any more (that’ll be Graham Norton doing it in 2008, then, and we’ll all pine for the golden age of Wogan) and all the nasty Eastern Bloc citizens—he doesn’t quite go as far as “nicking all our women and jobs” but he does come awfully near it, with the accent on the “awful”—but naturally when Ireland and then Malta bail the UK out of nul points oblivion he instantly switches track before going off to have his second shave of the day (once for each face).
Indeed, not ending up with nul points (rather than the 19 points with which they are likely to end up, and Ireland will, unsurprisingly, still end up bottom with five points) is in a lot of ways a worse fate; the notoriety awarded to the gravely miscued Jemini will not be theirs—Scooch will simply float off into a genuine nothingness, another dull nothing of an entry which wasn’t even notable enough for the wooden boot.
Fergal O'Reilly: I feel like each year Wogan edges closer towards saying something career-endingly offensive at around this time of the evening. He’s talking about building a wall, ethnic cleansing can only be so far away.
Peter Parrish: Pink dress lady rubs it in to Scooch by pretending to sympathetically interview them, only to defect mid-question and lead Ukraine in a victory dance in front of their faces. Bitch.
Fergal O'Reilly: Frumpy self-important lesbian leading ahead of batshit gay robot and Russian sexpots, the magic of Eurovision eh?
Peter Parrish: The Finnish crowd continue to gamely cheer whenever anyone gives their contestant any kind of points whatsoever. With a 126 point deficit at this juncture, it seems a touch optimistic.
Edward Oculicz: Why are Bulgaria and Turkey doing so well? I don't get it. Curse my central European ears. When Germany gives 12 to Turkey, Wogan says it's the British belly dancers. Or maybe it's the voting from descendents of Turkish migrants from years ago, you historically-ignorant, cloth-eared fuckwit.
Jonathan Bradley: Terry’s started threatening the correspondents. Oh how I loathe him. The Dutch correspondent winks at the camera. I loathe him even more than I loathe Terry.
Adem Ali: I have a bone to pick with Terry Wogan this year, or at least the people taking alcohol up to his booth. Every single year the man brings IT, but this time around, the magical commentary I’m so used to just wasn’t there. It’s almost as if they’re not allowing him to drink as much as he used to… why not? There is nothing funnier than Terry Wogan after three bottles of port, smack bang in the middle of the contest laughing hysterically at his own (rather good) jokes, and I’ve no idea why we’re being DENIED of this comical brilliance.
Doug Robertson: Ah, reading out our votes, it’s the lovely Fearne. She does build her part up a bit, looking shiftily from left to right as she builds up the tension before announcing our top vote. Twelve points to Turkey. We have absolutely no idea why.
Peter Parrish: Serbia have blazed 31 points clear of Ukraine and look like they’ve taken it. I can’t really remember what their song sounded like, but I guess I must have missed the innate qualities of it. The good news is, this means Garry Bushell can’t win.
Fergal O'Reilly: Macedonia’s 2006 entrant makes a desperate lunge to relive past glories, and sheds a single tear in between gratuitous bouts of inappropriate melisma.
Adem Ali: So the short, angry guy and his Serbian Femmebots have won Evrovisia 2007.
The night ends in triumph for Serbia, then, Marija et ses filles bringing home victory in their first-ever Eurovision as an independent state. The final top ten wound up looking like this:
1) SERBIA - 268
2) UKRAINE - 235
3) RUSSIA - 207
4) TURKEY - 163
5) BULGARIA - 157
6) BELARUS - 145
7) GREECE - 139
8) ARMENIA - 138
9) HUNGARY - 128
10) MOLDOVA - 109
As regards our predictions six out of our top ten ended up in the mix, which is better than we usually do (even if we didn't get them in quite the right order). Georgia came home 12th, Finland were 17th (the highest placed western European nation, assuming you count Finland as western Europe), Sweden were 18th, and France ended up tied for second-last with the UK. Ireland were at the bottom of this year's pile after only picking up 5 points. Which is about right, really.
And so Marija returns to take her moment in the spotlight. Eventually...
Doug Robertson: Serbia are taking their time about getting to the stage to receive their prize, leading to a lot of desperate filling from the hosts, who managed to repeat the fact that this was Serbia’s first ever victory in a million different permutations. Eventually they make it to the stage, she shakes her fist as she walks through the audience, looking a little bit like the Incredible Hulk, so God knows what would happen if she did get angry. Santa attempts to present her prize, but she wanders off into the crowd. “I will follow you until the end,” declares Santa, in a frankly terrifying manner. If we were a small child we’d be having nightmares about that. And, given the amount of rum we’ve consumed tonight, we’d probably be taken into care, so perhaps it’s for the best we’re an adult.
Adem Ali: Nice song, definitely, but I’m not sure it was really winning material. Obviously the block voting helped, but it wasn’t just Serbia’s neighboring countries, dishing out the big guns point wise their way this year, so obviously they did SOMETHING right. I’m just still trying to figure out what that was exactly.
Fergal O'Reilly: The winning Serbian entry is actually quite a lot like “Miracles” by PSB to begin with, but with the depressing knowledge that nothing interesting will happen on the chorus.
Doug Robertson: Despite knowing it’s a winner, it still doesn’t sound like a winner or, indeed, anything we��ll ever remember for more than five minutes. Still, at least it wasn’t the Ukraine, so some good came out of the whole affair.
Jonathan Bradley: Europe as a whole needs to revitalize itself for next year’s competition. There is no reason for such a sensational cheese-fest to be so thoroughly dull. I’m disillusioned with the entire thing. I guess, with Eurovision, nothing is quite like your first time. How utterly depressing.
Edward Oculicz: Okay, a Serbian win. Bloc-voting again! But oops, it's the first Eastern winner since 2004. And the Western countries are voting for the Eastern countries too! What does it say? Oh, I don't know—but the message is clear—bloc voting will only get you so far. And it was certainly the best of the former Yugoslav republics, so it's justifiable, if not close to my favorite. Rock did poorly, even a great song like "The Worrying Kind" couldn't get a look in. Europe's preference for Bulgaria over Georgia baffled me. Hungary was a bit robbed. Maybe people confused Bulgaria with Hungary. When Hungary gave 12 points to Bulgaria, hell, I reckon THEY got confused between the two. I'm pleased that Armenia, only two years in, has put in two strong songs and had two strong results. Maybe Eurovision's too nice to newcomers. And Latvia did terribly and at least fucking Ukraine didn't win, thank god. There's still a bit of life left in this contest yet after Lordi made the outlook very bleak. Well done, European voters. You nearly got it right in the semis, and you didn't completely screw up the final.
Marcello Carlin: Meanwhile the world continues to turn and burn and in an hour from now I will remember none of these songs (unlike the contents of Eurovision TOTP2, which I am about to change channel to watch).
Fergal O'Reilly: Ah, binge drinking and bewildering foreign music, how I’ve missed you.
Indeed. The Road to Belgrade 2008 starts here...
By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2007-05-29