Saturday, May 15, 2004

EUROVISION 2004: Last year's winner kicks things off; she's spent the last twelve months slowly trying to turn herself into Madonna. Another fifty two weeks of Maddy crumbling and her getting puffed and bleached and she might have pulled it off, meeting la Ciccone halfway. Is what she's singing here last year's winner?

Oh, now she's singing in English - "please, hold your head high" she implores, although she illustrates this by sticking out her sparrow chest. At least holding your head up would avert your eyes.

The hosts this year are Karen from Will and Grace and a bloke with a wig that Playmobil would think looked a bit too obviously stuck on. Karen warms up the crowd by singing Volare, badly. The audience fail to join in.

First up, Spain - Ramon. Looks like Peter Andre trying to impress Ricky Martin. Ricky Martin would clean up in Eurovision, seriously. The song sounds Spanish, which at least means it scores on some sort of credibility scale, and the drummer has got glitter on his drums, which is always nice.

Austria - Tie Break. Three boys - one with spiky hair, one slightly pudgy with kind eyes, one totally wet. Didn't this line-up take on Buffy in season six? They do a standard boyband-at-christmas tune, but have backing singers - even Boyzone managed their own harmonies, lads. For a group like you to have backing singers is like the guitar acts having someone hidden behind a curtain with a Spanish guitar and a Burt Weedon book.

Norway - Knut Anders Soren. A really, really cheap-looking silver suit here; they must have been collecting tinfoil all over the nation for this. The song is standard Euro "lifting me up" fayre.

France - Jonatan Cerrada - that's the French for "Peter Cetera", it seems. He's got an Erinsborough look about him, and some interpretative dance going on closer to his shoulder than we'd like. Sadly, the only thing they have to interpret is the words "dull ballad". Shit, that's Grace Jones on stilts dancing with him. What's that meant to tell us?

Serbia & Montenegro - Zeljko (or something, our notes let us down at this point). It starts with a flute, before Todd from Corrie wanders on - white suit, of course; this year is so Martin Bell in the male fashion stakes. There's also a balilaika or some other sort of not quite guitar. This is serbia's first time in the Eurovision, which might explain why they've gone for the sort of national folk tune that most other nations got out of their systems by 1963.

Malta - Julie and Ludwig. She's a flighty weather girl type - "Like a butterfly". He's a cod opera singer. It's mariah and Luciano, together at last. It's actually pretty good, in a European way; it has that Puppet on A String stop-go thing going on, and she sings poppy and then he replies in a big false opera piece of proper singing. Near the end, Julie gets to do some Lesley Garrett in the bathroom type scales, but it's not nearly as effective when the roles are reversed.

Netherlands - Re-Union. Two blokes sat on stools, one with an acoustic guitar. We don't approve of this in wine bars, and we don't approve of it here.

Germany - Max. Jesus, another stool. It's the quiet sit down stretch, is it? Max is like Phil Collins with hair, and just imagine how self-satisfied that would be. This song must have won some sort of national heat, but its hard to imagine - even having heard Coldplay - songs that could have been so weak as to lose out to this.

Albania - Anjeza Shahiri. This is what Dannii Minogue would have looked like after fifty years of working in communist coal mines and only having one pair of shoes. Albanians like their films to feature Norman Wisdom, and clearly don't have any higher standards when it comes to choosing songs. "I'm queen of the world" claims Amjeza, before the song ends suddenly, like the tanks have arrived.

Ukraine - Ruslana. It's cavegirl with boots. She's butt-fucking Holly Vallance, both musically and, quite possibly, back in the dressing room. There's lots of "Hois" and "Haa!" and fire and leather and bellys. And boots. The sound of glasses being smashed in a fireplace. With boots. Forever.

Croatia - Ivan Mikulic. Apparently this was a big hit in Croatia. He's got a tiny set of features placed on a very large face, like having a kid's meal on the All Day Breakfast plate. At times the song appears to want to turn into a James Bond theme - the AHa one, we think - but never quite works up the momentum.

Bosnia - Hezegovina - Deen. Called "In The Disco", by the look of it, inspired by Mr. Smiths in Warrington. They've stolen as much from Donna Summer's Hot Stuff as they dared. "Up and down, here we go" they trill. Deer's earpiece falls out, which is reason to hate him - he's the only person in Europe not having to listen to his song.

It's half time, so they attempt to hop around outside broadcasts. Only one works - the woman in Istanbul does appear in vision, but she looks as if she's plotting how to have her husband killed and doesn't speak.

Belguim - Xandee. One of the dancers is in the first hotpants of the evening, which doesn't offset the effect of a drummer in a soccer shirt - make an effort, lad. There's some safe sex styled bump and grind. "You are my brother, my sister tonight" insists the would-be Diva, setting up the prospect of some awkward incest role play later in the evening.

Russia - Julia Savichera. There's a small circus troop on stage. The Avril Lavigne lookalike looks terrified - not only is she having to sing in front of thirty million people, live, but she's being forced to take part in some acrobatic display as well. Mind you, the song's so lame she could probably have benefitted from having a spot of plate spinning to interest the audience too. By the end of the song, she's got a big patch of red dye from one of the body painted tumblers all over her arm, and she appears to have a disagreement with him before getting to the "thank you" bit.

Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia - Tose Proeski. Tose's cloak is almost as huge as his country's name. He actually puts some genuine sounding emotion into his performance, which is rare in these circumstances. His dancers get a big ribbon and tie him to a chair, but not in a sex way. "Life is a story and you've got to tell it. Life is a song, and you;ve got to sing it. You've got to know how to live it." Wasn't that one of the Buffy the Musical songs?

Greece - Sakis Rouvais. This was notable at semi finals for him pulling the hankies from the back of his dancers, but they seem to have dropped that - probably afraid that it would look too much like Tose's ribbon play. They still do the girls changing from white suits to gold bikinis - something Martin Bell would do, during the longer Newsnights of my youth, of course. The song sounds like a Hispanic reworking of No Doubt's Hey Baby.

Iceland - Jonsi. Another bloody white suit. He's this year's johnny Logan. Or maybe Charles Aznavour.

Ireland - Chris Doran. Oh, this is actually this year's Johnny Logan. In a white suit. Clearly, Ireland is trying to win again, which means their song is like when paul Merton is too busy trying to win on Have I Got News For You - it's a lot duller than it could be. Chris looks like he calls everyone "Mate", and he's going to be insufferable when he's back at the call centre on Monday.

Poland - Blue Cafe. Called 'Love song", which sounds like it was a working title and they forgot to change it. The singer is Betty Blue's more homely young sister, wearing a revealing dress which could have put a nymphomaniac in need of viagra; some guys in white suits with brass; a bloke with guitar - they all produce a bit of a mess. Betty Blue Junior sings Love Song "Laave Sung", like she's in fackin' eastenders.

United Kingdom - James Fox. Actually, compared with the other single blokes in white suits, James doesn't sound too bad this evening. He's probably the best in his class, although the song clearly would rather be a terrace chant than a love song, which might harm its chances. There's something of the Marti Pellow about Mr. Fox.

Cyprus - Lisa Andreas. Actually from Gillingham, which makes you wonder if Cypriots are sat at home going "I dunno, we open our borders to the EU and before you know it there's bloody asylum seekers from England taking all our slots on international song contests..." It's the sort of song that would go down well with an ITV audience - almost pretty girl in the most expensive dress Top Shop has to offer singing fairly empty words to a pleasent enough tune that wouldn't scare Dido. Unfortunately, all of them are watching Millionaire Olympic special.

Turkey - Athena. Fuck me, it's the red hot chili peppers. No, it's Bad Manners. They appear to sing "what you doing, you raving whore?" but presumably don't actually do so. It's very youth club with lottery funding to buy some instruments.

Romania - Sanda. The poor woman s Christina Milian singing the sort of song Sabrina would have treated as a cast-off. She's had an hour and forty minutes to get ready, but still forgot to put on a dress.

Sweden - Lena Philipsson. She does that walking while holding the mic stand thing that's meant to look sexy but just makes it seem like the stand is really heavy. "It hurts, oh how it hurts inside in the middle of the night" complains Lena. Never have a Cottage Pie before bed, love. She smiles all the way through this tale of pain and heartache, which means either she loves pain, or else she hasn't thought her act through properly.

Now, to the votes...

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