So, here we are again... last year, we were off in Wiltshire and missed a big chunk of Eurovision, but this year... we're not going to miss a single glowing moment.
8.00 - A woman in a golden dress is singing to a big gold ball. Mind that long skirt on those steps, love. Oh, christ, and a big, silver, emotionless man. That'll scare off the few kids who weren't already firmly stuck behind the sofa after the cybermen...
8.04 - Here are this year's hosts, then - a woman with scary hair who probably counts as "sexy" in the host country, and a snarky looking bloke who probably thinks he's quite witty. We're told everyone is "amazing" (apart, presumably, from Belguim's already-beaten entrants). Last year's winner is back to do her stuff. She's not really had much of a year, has she? Maybe they should find a job for Eurovision winners to keep them busy until they have to appear again in the following contest - in the same way that Miss World and convicted tax fraudsters have to do community service for twelve months.
8.08 - The hosts tell us she was "amazing." The word of the year, then, would seem to be amazing.
The voting rules are up on screen - calls, apparently, are charged at EBU rate - that's presumably not used very often, then.
The between songs films are the usual "look at our nation" tourist information film fare.
First contestants are Switzerland - Ulrika Jonson and Mickey from Dr Who... oh, hang on, it's a sextet, also featuring a bloke in a hat, and Cher from her Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves period. They're called Six4One (remember, those numbers are charged at EBU rate) and ponder what could happen if we all give a little. Switzerland's successful policy of remaining neutral in world wars should be extended to song contests.
8.13 - "Digital viewers press their right button... red button..." - Wogan's already pissed.
Moldova: Asenium feat. Natalia Gordienko and Connect-R.
The song is called Loca, and it's being sung by a Britney Spears impersonator - if she was any more similar, she'd be throwing babies on the floor - and the Moldovan S Club 7. We suspect this might be the entire collection of musical professionals the country has to offer. The only-to-be-expected rap bit is delivered by a bloke who comes to the front of the stage on a scooter. A kid's one, not a mod's one.
Overall, it sounds like something you might hear coming from a beach as you say "let's try the next beach along."
8.20 - Israel: Together We Are One by Eddie Butler
Every year, Israel enter a song of peace, love and hope - usually the hope being that nobody will ask what part of Europe Israel is actually in. Eddie is straining at the edges of his white suit; many of his backing singers - and there are hundreds - are bursting out of theirs. Presumably the cleavage show is to try and stop people asking awkward questions about walls and things.
8.22 - Latvia: I Hear Your Heart by Vocal Group Cosmos
"It's acapela" warns Wogan. And so it is. It looks like a counselling centre has pulled together a glee club as one of its activities. Imagine the Kings Singers had decided to try and go after the Boyzone audience.
Bloody hell, they've got a robot - a rubbish robot; all it does is sit up and wave. That explains why it looks like they've got a bloke from IT support in the back row.
One of them had hidden a helium balloon in his pocket for the song. That's quite sweet.
8.25 - Norway: Alvedansen by Christine Guldbrandsen
A blonde woman in her wedding dress ("Buffy the Eurovision Slayer" suggests my wife.) Like all the bands so far, despite being a solo artist she's taken the stage with a bunch of white-clad supporters. No robots, no balloons, and no song; instead she just goes "aaah-iii-aaah-eee-aaah..."
8.30 - Spain: Bloody Mary by Las Ketchup
Bloody hell - Las Ketchup? It's not quite entering Tatu, but this is as close as Spain can come to pulling in their big international hit guns, isn't it? It makes a nice change for a band to appear in something other than white - they're in red, of course; and they've built a dance around, um, some office chairs. At the same time, they've got two modern ballet dancers writhing about, making it a bit like the Brassneck video. A bit. "Look at me, look at me, look at me" is the only discernable lyric. It goes on way too long, but isn't too bad. Not as bad as that novelty hit they had a few years back, anyway, but we can't support them because of that hit.
8.33 - Malta: I Do by Fabrizio Faniello
With a name like that, we're betting he's going to have big teeth and hair.
Hair? Check. Teeth? Check. We didn't guess the goatee beard, though. He looks very clean-cut, though, and it's probably the lack of carnal thoughts which gives him the confidence to carry off trousers that tight. The song, unfortunately, is lost entirely in its own Miaimi Vice style electronic drumbeat, and may never escape.
One his backing dancers looks like daughter of bird-killer Emma B. Surely she's not relocated to Malta?
8.36 - Germany: No No Never by Texas Lightning
Cactuses - oh, god, it's Teutonic Country. Imagine country music sung by emotionless robots. That would be Shania Twain, actually, wouldn't it?
Oh, indeed it is.
With a backing band who look as if they took no persuading to wear the six-gallon hats. In fact, they probably started from the hats and developed their act in that direction.
"I'm never ever gonna not go and pick up the phone" runs the words - what? You're not going to call? Or you'd never not call, which means you'll always call? You're going to be constantly ringing me? Like a stalker?
8.40 - Denmark: Twist of Love by Sidsel Ben Semmane
This sounds promising - surely a Scandanvian singing about a twist of love can only be getting fruity, right?
Wrong. It's Sonia's Copenhagen cousin doing what sounds like a skiffle reworking of the Fat Boys version of The Twist. She's doing Donald Rumsfeld style pointing, too.
Ah... Blogger's gone to sleep now, too. Always a service to rise to the occasion.
A dancer has come from nowhere to push his face round the floor - something Chubby Checker never included in the rules for "it going like this."
8.45 - Russia: Never Let You Go by Dima Bilan
Dima seems to have come hot foot from gym class, where he's spent too long working on heavy lifting and given no attention to his sparrow chest. In a similar fashion, he probably could carry a tune, but doesn't have anything with which to lift one.
Oh god, a scary mime-faced dancer has just crawled out the piano. Dima doesn't look like he knew she was in there, but has made a good hand of ignoring her anyway.
8.48 - FYR Macedona: Ninanajna by Elena Risteska
"Give me what you're waiting for" instructs Elena from within her tiny denim hotpants. But if we're waiting for it, how can we give it to you? Never mind, because it turns out she wants to give it to us anyway. If you try and walk in those shorts, love, we'll all be getting it.
8.52 - "Last year was naval" says Terry, "this year, the legs have it."
Romania: Tornero by Mihai Träistariu
Yet more interpretative dancing, this time by a woman in an Ethel Austin blouse trying to keep up with Mihai's over-frenetic bounce-along. Mihai looks a little like a stage hypnotist.
Oh, now there are some lads in flat caps doing basic dance moves behind him. They're lucky they didn't get him on a normal show, he'd have convinced them they were talking to a beautiful woman and made them kiss a mop.
One of the cap lads is spinning on his head on a podium now - this year, it's like the Rock Steady Crew have taken on the choreography.
Half way already? Bloody hell. Nothing so far has really tickled us.
8.58 - Lady presenter has changed from a horrible yellow into a silver and white bridesmaid's dress; the bloke hasn't changed the stupid look on his face. But to be fair, they don't seem to be doing quite as much plodding two-handed comedy knockabout stuff as usual this year.
Bosnia & Herzegovina: Lejla by Hari Mata Hari
Not the Mata Hari, we presume. Ooh, this is quite nice, although perhaps a little bit too close to the sort of "sounds of the Pan Pipes" CDs you hear on constant test loops in garden centres. And Hari does have an unfortunate stance for singing, like a man desperate to poo, but afraid to actually put his bottom on the toilet seat lest he catches something.
He's got a stack of white-dressed supporting singers, too.
9.03 - Terry has made his first comment about how the Balkans will block-vote. That's taken nearly an hour, though, which is the closest this man comes to self-restraint.
Lithuania: We are the winners by LT United
In rather a bold move, the lyric consists of a statement that "we are the winners of Eurovision". Perhaps they wrote that on a flipchart when they were coming up with ideas, and forgot to replace it with a proper song. They do look as if they might have been put together by a Lithuanian Alan Sugar for The Apprentice, and they even have someone singing through a loud hailer, Saira style.
David Yelland comes forward to do a dance.
Nobody wants to point out they're just doing an old Gary Glitter song, though.
It might be mind control, but they're the best so far.
9.06: UK - Teenage Life by Daz Simpson
Our finest hour. This isn't it. Daz has all the charm of a drivetime host on BBC Radio Surrey, and his song is like a poor hybrid of Grocer Jack and Smiley Culture's Schooltime Chronicle. It's debatable if Eurovision is yet ready for a proper rap song, but if it is, then why not give it a proper one, rather than something Tony Hawkes would have baulked at for Morris Minor and the Majors.
And who knew it was possible to dress adults up as schoolgirls and reduce their sex appeal?
"What did you learn at school today/ that's what the teachers used to say" -- eh? Surely that's what parents say; teachers, erm, do the teaching.
Mind you, it seems to have gone down really well.
9.11 Or maybe they were just excited because the home girl was up next.
Greece: Everything by Anna Vissi
Is she using a wind machine, or is that just a natural eddy being caused by her flapping dress-wings? Someone has put a lot of work into sewing the details and sequins onto the outfit. Presumably they were also meant to be writing the song, and ran out of time for that bit.
9.14 Finland: Hard Rock Hallelujah by Lordi
Hot favourites, but their death metal killalotness has been seriously undermined by Mr Lordi's decision to wear a comedy Finnish flag hat.
Actually, this whole thing looks like a gag dreamed up by Joss Whedon for a throwaway scene in an early season of Angel.
Still, it's the look the kids will be trying for tomorrow.
Mr. Lordi has wings which open out, to allow him to present like a peacock. Presumably the ass-shake will be held in reserve for if they have to do it as winners.
Everyone must vote for them. They simply must.
Wogan asks if it's Roy Wood doing the singing.
9.18: Ukraine - Show Me Your Love by Tina Karol
Ukraine try to pull off a Ruslana by thowing in a lot of traditional cossackyness into this, but Tina is no Ruslana. If you want to make the rock-cossack work, you have to give off a vibe that anyone who crosses your path is going to be enslaved in a land-army of sex demons. Tina's not dressed for dragging whelps across the Urals. Indeed, in that skirt she won't be getting on any horsebacks.
Actually, whatever did happen to Tracy Shaw?
9.22: France - Il Est Temps by Virginie Pouchin
Wogan is obsessed this year by "Greek fisherman's caps."
Oh, there's a proper double bass. A signal from the off that France are, once again, going for serious, sweeping balladgs rather than jolly, bouncy pop. Or plastic-faced death metal, come to that. She tries hard, but Virginie's lost it.
She should, though, try singing some of the Sundays' back catalogue. She'd suit that quite well. And they deserve a few extra points for not padding out the stage with interprative dancers.
9.26: Croatia - Moja ·tikla by Severina
It starts out like Private Lives by Grace Jones, but only for the briefest of moments. Severina looks like Gaynor Faye, and spends a lot of time with her arms outstretched - presumably to lay forever the old lie about European women's armpits.
She's backed up by what might be men in Croatian dress.
Oh, she's ripped her skirt off, although she still looks like she's a little overheated.
9.30 Ireland - Every Song Is A Cry For Love by Brian Kennedy
Every song? What about You Should All Be Murdered? Or I Hate Nerys Hughes?
Brian Kennedy's haircut, though, is a cry for a barber. Ireland apparently feel ready to start winning again, but seems to have forgotten how. You can imagine this dirge was written, then compared with a Johnny Logan song, and even they could see why it didn't quite match up, but were unable to tell what was missing.
If this song is a cry for love, it's going to be a terrible sort of love - the sort of love which ends up with someone locked in a closet.
Kennedy did sing better than any of the other blokes so far, though.
9.34 Sweden - Invincible by Carola
Have the auditions for WonderWoman closed yet? Carola is singing with metal leggings and a six-foot flowing top, which shows she could manage anything the part might demand. The song is a bit by-numbers, but the attention to hair detail might swing the gay vote behind her.
9.37 Turkey - Super Star by A. Sibel Tüzün
Umlauts! Umlauts! Shit tattoos that you can't tell if she's midway through having removed or have just faded really badly! A cony-flesh coloured top that looks like a Madonna knockoff. Can it fail?
Unfortunately, yes, because she sings the title as if she was singing "Suicide" rather than Superstar.
Her dancers try and take away from her poor diction and crappier body art by doing some human pyramid stuff.
9.41 Armenia: Without Your Love - Andre
Ooh, Andre looks right mean, like one of those lads who hangs around the market smoking roll-ups with their hooded tops up because the butcher's laid them off and they're waiting for a job mixing cement for the bloke rebuilding the Civic Centre. You know the sort. He does have his position at the end of the contest going for him, as people will be able to remember his song as they come to vote. On the other hand, people will be able to remember his song as they come to vote, and its so empty, that's not an advantage.
9.46 That's the singing over with, then.
She's back in a short, spangly silver number, but the bloke has traded up, too - he's wearing a gold lame jacket. While we're being "amazing" and voting, we're going to be entertained by Member of the European Parliament Nana Mouskouri.
Is she going to sing? Or just babble on about great everyone has been?
These days, she looks more like Ronnie Barker's impression of her than ever.
"There are no losers" insists Nana, which may comfort Daz Sampson who looks like a loser if we've ever seen one.
The giant heart-shaped egg timer which was meant to control voting time slips back on itself, and everyone looks more than a little bemused as what they should do. We don't know the Greek for "plough on regardless and stop standing like you've got a frozen turd in your buttcheeks", but we imagine that's what the presenters were hearing.
The dramatic shots of the sand running out through the eggtimer during the intermission song are slightly redundant now we know it's not actually the control clock at all.
9.58 "An amazing night" says the bloke-presenter, as the audience countdown the end of voting from, erm, 11.
"What an amazing, amazing night" testifies the she-presenter (now in black, by the way.)
The votes are now going to be counted, apparently, although since its all electronic, we're a little at a loss to why it takes the length of a mini-Olympic opening ceremony musical number (based on Aristophanes, apparently) before we can get to the voting.
10.10 Slovenia start the voting and give maximum marks to Bosnia. That's Terry off on his block voting grumps, then.
This year, they've sped up the process by not making the countries go through all their votes - the first seven marks are just flashed up on screen. Finland are leading after the first few countries - if they win, presumably everyone will enter a death metal song next year.
10.15 Does Terry really believe Latvia give Russia twelve points to stop Putin re-invading them?
Lordi are holding up "We Love You" signs; Daz Sampson has got stuck on seven points for the longest time.
Because Finland don't give any marks to Sweden, rather than saying "oh, there isn't block voting at all", Wogan suggests "Sweden won't like that."
10.20 Terry has at least found another obsession, worrying over how hot it must be for Lordi in all that make-up.
Ireland have given twelve points to Lithuania, suggesting they might be the most suggestable nation in Europe.
Daz has by now managed a mid-table ranking, which means he's done better than Javine. Javine might want to think about what that means for her career.
Finland are running away with it, though. Helsinki next year...
10.30 The Dutch Chris Moyles is delivering their votes live from Weesp, and trying to be a character; it's a race for second. Mind you, he's upsetting Terry Wogan so he's not all bad.
Terry also has the hump about there being 37 countries involved in the voting process. But it gives us the chance to discover that, for example, Stephen Colbert is doing the Polish results.
Fearne Cotton is giving our results. Not her finest hour. But she does make rock hands when she gives 12 to Finland, so we forgive her.
10.40 Israel are still on zero - doubtless this is part of some terrible conspiracy being orchestrated by Iran, rather than because their song sucked.
France have just given Israel four. That leaves Malta on the bottom alone.
"This is not a great scoreboard... you need fifty-fifty vision to see the score" says Wogan, before greeting the arrival of the German results with a snarky "who do you think you are, Lord Haw-Haw?" Mmm, what was that you were saying about countries stuck in years-old patterns, Tel?
Iceland give their maximum to Finland - the only nation to do so because they thought some death metalling demons were a natural Eurovision choice rather than a giant cosmic joke. "I'm only surprised it took them so long to find a troll to enter" said the Icelandic people, as one.
10.50 Daz is slipping down the table quite rapidly - it might be a little too soon for him to send that "in your face" text to Javine; 25 points seemed a solid start but he's not had a single point for about twelve rounds of voting.
Finland have it in the bag - along with their giant mallets and spare horn-cleaner by now; the only question is if the rapidly disintegrating grip on affairs held by the production team can make it through the rest of the show.
10.55 The Finns have done it. Which is lovely, because it's a sign that the contest isn't quite as dull and predictable affair as it could have been. And Hard Rock Hallelujah beats the hell out of Diggi-Loo, Diggi-Lay.
And who doesn't love seeing a man-troll being presented with a bunch of flowers?
Saturday, May 20, 2006
So, here we are again... last year, we were off in Wiltshire and missed a big chunk of Eurovision, but this year... we're not going to miss a single glowing moment.