Saturday, May 14, 2016

Eurovision 2016: The liveblog

It's that time of the year again, with an additional element for the liveblog in 2016: I'm jetlagged to hell. We've already had the first broken glass of the evening.

But, if I stay awake and manage not to cut myself to ribbons, we'll be back in about half an hour to try and make sense of whatever's happening in Stockholm.

If tonight's show doesn't start with a ten minute interpretative dance in memory of Terry Wogan, I'll be vexed. ("And there's the dancers representing the Eastern bloc, dancing together while the UK dancer dances alone, at the edge, unwatched and unloved."

"Scenes of repetitive flashing lights" - the least of the threats, surely?

The sound seems a bit scrappy already.

Hand-folded flags. Never let it be said the Swiss don't make an effort.

They're coming out on stage like a mix between the finals of Next Top Model and the Olympics opening ceremony.

What are these people wearing? It's like sex meringues.

The guys at Fuze who have brought this to the US must be sitting at home now wondering if they'll have jobs in the morning. "Nobody warned us that they'd be shopping for costumes at Lady GaGa's outlet mall, boss."

It's time to meet the hosts. Måns Zelmerlöw and Petra Mede. The former last year's winner, the latter "a comedian and dancer". Not entirely sure needing a second string to your bow is the mark of a great comedian. Especially if that string is dancing.

China AND the US are watching. That's a warning, rather than a statement of pride.

Mans is wearing a wine-waiter's uniform - come from his main job, then. Petra is wearing a glittery curtain. She expresses the hope that this is an event which will bring everyone together. I expect Leave.EU is already sending an angry letter claiming BBC bias.

UK viewers cannot vote by text, for some reason. Presumably because the new voting system is complex enough without also needing 26 short codes as well.

Mercifully little pre-show business before we get to act one.

Laura Tesoro
What's The Pressure

Ooh, the onscreen graphics are brilliant this year.

Laura appears to be doing Another One Bites The Dust.

In fact, this seems to be an as-yet-undiscovered Robin Sparkles track. I hope the robot comes on.

I am always a sucker for space-age silver shorts, though.

There's a speaky bit in the middle, too.

For some reason I'm getting the urge to pop down to the mall.


Czech Republic
Gabriela Gunčíková
I Stand

The first time they've ever made it through to the Grand Final, apparently.

Ah, they've gone with a mid-80s Bond Theme.

Did she just sing "perky android standing there, you're the one who always cares."

Jesus, this songs already feels like it's been going for three hours.

I can't work out if she's wearing a bustle or I'm being incredibly mean to a woman with a large butt.


Douwe Bob
Slow Down

Railing against the modern world, says Graham Norton. Judging by the way he looks like just-post-Take-That Robbie Williams, the "modern world" is anything post 1995.

This is the sort of music you'd hear if they tried to make Loretta Lynn into a Disney Princess.

I thought it was mercifully short. But it was just a pause in the middle.

The pause in the middle was the best bit.



Wasn't Samra one of the characters in The Lion King?

She's gone all-out with a nude-look bodysuit that makes it look like she's being attacked by golden snakes, but the song's so forgettable that I can't even remember what it was like and it's still currently playing.

Her backing dancers look like they've made their own costumes with gold spray paint and some old sports locker equipment. Bless.

"Mirror-mirror-miracle". Seriously?



Freddie looks like he could be cast as a bad boy in Neighbours.

Oh, there's a massive drum on stage. Chekhov warns us that it's going to be hit before the song is out.

There's also whistling.

Not entirely clear if the high notes are meant to be there, or if Freddie is wearing tight undies.

He sings of the hopes of a million people. A million people are hoping he'll just go away.

He couldn't decide if he was going to tuck his shirt in or not, so it was half-and-half. Kind of a metaphor for the song.


Francesca Michielin
No Degree Of Separation

Francesca is 'the slightly alternative one from a US sitcom', but for some reason is doing her song live from Tracy Barlow's flower shop.

Jesus, the shop's flooded. Todd must have left the tap on. Or maybe Phelan broke in and switched all the taps on to frame Todd. That's what's happening.

This is one of those songs which no amount of firm hand-waving can disguise is a bit lightweight.


Hovi Star
Made Of Stars

Hovi is also a bit gothy. Not quite Fall Out Boy, more like Background Radiation Kid.

Nice glittery glove-things. Lovely lips. Ponderous, triumphalist emptiness for the song, though.

"We are made of stars. We are. We are. We are." It's like Mrs Doyle crossed with Moby.


Poli Genova
If Love Was A Crime

Oh no, she's got something on her teeth. Are there no mirrors backstage?

Outfit is very much second-string Batman villain.

"If love was a crime" this would be community service at best.

This is the best song so far, which shows how thin the field has been so far.


If I Were Sorry

Graham Norton's just done a sweet thing about Terry Wogan. There was even a catch in his voice.

George Ezra lite. #sorrynotsorry.

A salutary reminder that there are still branches of C&A trading on mainland Europe.

Frans has just used the phrase "the devil in disguise", which is the complete opposite of his outfit, which is more "junior manager on dress-down Friday".

The audience have clapped along, though.



Tim Burton's The Late Show. Clearly, they're hoping that the elaborate hat will stop people noticing the kinderwhore dress. I swear that hat can pick up shortwave radio.

It feels like something Chvrches might have come up with in a rehearsal room, and probably left there.


J'ai cherché

We've had a Neighbours bad boy already; Amir is more a Corrie type - the sort of person who'd menace Roys Rolls for two episodes.

I hope he's not going to do the whole thing in a squatting position.

Although for some reason 'a squatting position' suggests how the song might have been written.

I'm sure this has been used to sell mobile phones already, and often.

I think he said he's been looking for us "like a manatee on my soul".


Michał Szpak
Color Of Your Life

Ah, it's a Nickelback tribute act. Albeit dressed as a Janet Jackson backing singer.

Sadly, Michal, there's no prize for largest epaulettes in Eurovision.

How's the song? So dull, I'm going to mention instead that the cut of his coat would mean he could poop without taking it off.

"What colour is your life?" he asks, presumably because it intends to drain it.

Only two and a half hours to go, everybody.

They're doing a 'while the others are watching ads' bit. Mans says it's like being at a football game, "but with more champagne." What football games is he going to where there's any champagne?


Dami Im
Sound Of Silence

Australians appeared last year as a one-off, but now aren't leaving. I think we've all had Australian house guests like that.

Let's hope 'sound of silence' is a promise, not a title.

Her dress is a reminder that I need to buy a new large roll of bubble wrap.

Dami says her heart beats with the sound of silence. So, it doesn't beat, then.

She's now being menaced by floating ghostly faces. I'm assuming they're missing kids she's cut off milk cartons.

"Seriously impressive lungs" says Graham. If only it was an offal contest, though.


Minus One
Alter Ego

Your dad still plays in a rock band with his mates from the post office, then.

Here's a tip: unless you're absolutely sure your track isn't derivative, don't include the line "I've heard it all before" in the lyrics of your Eurovision entry.

The band name isn't miles away from a fair estimate of what their final score will be.


Sanja Vučić ZAA
Goodbye (Shelter)

So this is *serious face* about issues. Which is a bit like turning up at a barbecue to discuss global warming - sure, Al, it's important but we're trying to have a nice time tonight.

They've just mimed a sexual assault as part of the performance. It was even more awkward than the key-change that followed.


Donny Montell
I've Been Waiting for This Night

A mini-trampoline is promised for this one.

Actually, Al, come back, let's hear some more about the ice caps.

I see Donny has borrowed the white jacket for tonight.

The good news is that Lithuania has finally received copies of Smash Hits from 1982. Maybe they'll get some tapes from the 80s delivered soon, instead of trying to guess what the haircuts sounded like.


Nina Kraljić

Nina looks a little too pleased with herself. Like someone who carries a book everywhere because "I don't watch too much TV, I like to get my ideas from the source, yeah?"

She's come on stage now. Apparently got tangled in the shower curtain backstage and just had to accept that.

Underneath the shower curtain was some more shower curtain.

This is less lighthouse, more outhouse.


Sergey Lazarev
You Are The Only One

The phrase "poodle strudel" might be the best thing that has happened so far this evening.

Bookies favourite, so I'm expecting a lot.

Well, not a lot. It's not a place where you expect a lot.

There's some strange shadow puppet stuff going on behind him, but, oh the lyrics - "thunder and lightning, very exciting". Isn't that Queen?

The interaction with the screen behind him is clever. But there's not as much thought gone into interacting with the screen in front of him.

Sergey has the air of a cheeky chappie. Approach with caution.


Say Yay!

Say yay suggests not too much overtaxing of the lyricists by Spain.

Barei (or is it Kylie from Corrie) does a faux-fall, which might have been more effective if Graham hadn't mentioned it before the song came on.

She feels like a broken mirror. Seven years' bad luck, then.

That was alright, actually.


"You are watching the Eurovision Song Contest" says Petra. In case you thought this was BBC Two and you were sitting through a modern-dress Shakespeare.


Justs... no.

He sings like Tina Turner, but with his knob caught in a zipper.



About Stalin's treatment of minorities in the Soviet Era. "Look, Al, just put the pamphlets down there and have a beer. Honestly, we'll read them after the guests have gone."

You can't argue that it's not heartfelt. And to be fair to Ukraine, they don't get many Europe-wide platforms to remind people what cocks Russia are to them.

Worth voting for just to annoy Putin.


Ira Losco
Walk On Water

They've sent a pregnant contestant. What's the maternity leave provision like in Valetta?

She looks like a Scouse Mariah Carey tribute act.

This song makes no sense - she can't get enough of our love because she feels like she can walk on water? And she can't get enough of our love, but she can't get us out of her heart? But why would she want to get us out her heart unless she'd had enough of our love?


Nika Kocharov and Young Georgian Lolitaz
Midnight Gold

It's My Sharona in a James Bay hat.

Hold on, one looks like the lead singer of Nowaysis.

I wonder how long they had to beg the director to use mid 70s Top Of The Pops split screen and multiplication techniques before he agreed?


Loin d'ici

Presumably not the Zoe who did Sunshine On A Rainy Day?

She is so smiley. Look at that smile. She's smiling. SHE IS SO HAPPY. You know like a dog where they've photoshopped a smile on? She's like that. She has a big smile. A massive smile.

Clearly, she's crying inside, like the mother of a thousand children tortured in a war that never ends.

But outside, she has a big smile.

Horrible flesh coloured dress. Something even the cruellest Bridezilla wouldn't have forced on her least-favoured bridesmaid.

The song? Something played during a chase scene in a romcom.


Joe and Jake
You're Not Alone

Graham says they might be dancing on his face by the end of the song.

I daren't even check the Urban Dictionary for that one.

You'll know this - Ant And Dec doing a theme tune for ITV coverage of the European Cup-Winner's Cup.

Providing Katy Perry doesn't turn up with a lawsuit halfway through, this isn't the worst thing we've done in Europe.

"I feel like I'm dancing in the sky". Over to you, Elton Welsby.


Iveta Mukuchyan

LoveWave sounds like a product that exists solely to be bought as a joke gift for hen nights.

It's Kiss Of The Spiderwoman!

No, scrap that, it's B-and-Q-once.

Armenia very much exploring how firm the softcore porn can be before someone pulls the plug.

On the button, we're at the end of the music. "Swedish song contest" the new "Swiss watch".

That Jacobi/McKellen bit would have worked better if any of the 200 million viewers had ever seen an ITV sitcom.

Graham Norton still halfway through explaining the new voting rules, and George Galloway is already filing an official objection with the Electoral Commission.

Meanwhile, in the real world:

Boris and the Brexit twits are convinced we don't have a voice in Europe. Mate, the EU isn't what not having a say in Europe looks like. THIS is what that looks like:

Although maybe we're being given a subliminal message:

We're in the green room now. It feels "like a lovefest" says Mans.

Justin Timberlake has arrived. Remember, when asking 'how did Timberlake end up here' he's a man who invested heavily in turning MySpace into the music force it is today.

Mans asks Justin if he's heard of the show before. Justin says he's seen the last two. I'm interpreting that as "my PA sent a DVD with the last two on."

Sweden now mentioning that Abba came from Sweden.

A four minute guide to 42 years of Swedish music. It's brave enough to include Roxette. Like a truth and reconciliation committee.

Justin Timberlake. They're clearly thrilled to have him. It's like when your nan gives you a Christmas gift that she thinks is perfect, but it's actually related to a hobby you had five years ago and have long since outgrown.

The reaction isn't great:

It's like a Harry Enfield's self-righteous brothers sketch:
"Timberlake might have won our hearts by emerging from the crush of an imploding boyband with his dignity intact, and his talent undiminished, but if he was to turn up at Eurovision trying to flog his new album, I'd yell OI - TIMBERLAKE - NOOOOOO."


The lines are still open. Why are they taking so long? Is everyone in Crimea having to share a phone to vote?

This is the best thing tonight:

They've got the winner of last year's Junior Eurovision on. Nope, me neither.

Petra's done a costume change, and is trying a bit of Merkel style scripted sterness.

It's some 'ultimate Eurovision winner' schtick.

This is unprecedented - it's a comedy bit that actually is mildly amusing - "having a DJ s actually thirty years old, but in Eurovision it'll give you a contemporary feel".

I'm going to shift my vote to Sweden. They can be trusted with this shit.

Hang on a moment, they're doing another comedy bit. It's unwinding a bit.

The lines are still open. Was there a vote by post option?

Oh. A third comedy bit.

There's a reason why "treble dipping" isn't a thing.

Petra's just done a gag about her own mortality. Things are getting a bit grim.

The votes are, at long last, closed.

Mans is now here in his role as last year's winner. It's a bit awkward, coming ten minutes after he'd just sung a song pointing out every cliche in the Eurovision book, that he now is using every cliche in the Eurovision book.

They've counted the votes. It's about to get real, people.

Petra is talking about "history", like this is going to change the prices of coal and steel in continental Europe.

Even they bloke in charge seems confused by the new rules.

National jury votes first, them.

Austria - Lorraine Chase apparently dressed in bathroom tiles gives 12 to Australia. Presumably slightly illiterate voters thinking they were voting for themselves.

Iceland has brought a dog. Petra flirts clumsily. 12 to Netherlands.

Azerbaijan have sent a Butlins hypnotist. 12 to Russia.

San Marino appears to have got Dappy to give their score. 12 to Ukraine.

Czech Republic's woman has a massive bun on her head. 12 to Sweden.

Ironically, the point of this new voting system is meant to make the outcome less obvious, but this seems all over the place anyway.

Ireland vote for Belgium.

Georgia has just climbed out of her crypt, and mutters something vaguely threatening about Justin Timberlake. 12 to Ukraine.

Some elaborate hair from Bosnia, and 12 points to Ukraine.

Malta's guy has taken time off from selling real estate. Petra trying to desperately hurry him along. He's not buying. 12 to the UK.

It shows how shit we are at Eurovision that just coming top in one country's votes is treated like a win.

Spain give 12 to Armenia.

Finland's jury vote is delivered by a low-budget Pee Wee Herman tribute act. 12 to Sweden.

Switzerland are fucking whistling. Petra's pissed off. Australia get the 12.

(Sweden didn't think through having the sting played after every jury vote when they're rushing through the votes like this.)

Denmark give 12 to Ukraine.

France is wearing the H&M version of Jennifer Lawrence's dress from last week. 12 to Italy.

Moldova nail it, though - she's come dressed as Imperial era Timberlake. Nice bit of crossplay. 12 to Ukraine.

(It would help if the sting wasn't constantly threatening to break into Psycho Killer).

Armenia bloke wearing same outfit as Moldova, but not as well - 12 to Ukraine.

A game show host from 1970s Cyprus gives 12 to Russia.

Bulgaria has a red suit split at the shoulders. 12 to Armenia.

Is that velvet being rocked by The Netherlands? I think it's velvet. 12 to Australia.

Latvia has sent a tourist punk. 12 to Ukraine. He might have been doing fake sign language.

Israel next. But they're not there. Petra tries to fill - "anything can still happen". There's a note of rising panic in her voice.

Australia are leading at this stage - so, a tiny Union Jack is at the top of the scoreboard, which hasn't happened this century. That's something.

NOW it's Israel. Bill Nye doing their votes for them, by the look of it. 12 to Ukraine.

The voting, clearly, is just to piss off Putin.

Belarus... what are you on, Belarus? I think he's high. 12 to Russia, of course.

Germany have come as a 1970s air hostess. 12 to Israel. Ken Livingstone's piping up "that's interesting, of course, because..."

Russia have the best dress so far - your Gazprom dollars well spent, Putin. 12 to Armenia.

Norway have had a little wine, haven't they? A small wine. Just to take the edge off. 12 to Italy.

Australia have got their head stuck in a lightshade. 12 to Belguim.

Belguim, represented by The Great Soprendo. 12 to Australia.

Richard Osman. 12 to Georgia. Doesn't even explain what he means by a country.

Croatia give 12 to Australia.

Greece are just kicking back and just enjoying things, yeah? 12 to Russia.

Lithuania have the largest hair ever seen on television. 12 to Australia.

Graham Norton starting to suggest that the new voting system might not have preserved the surprise.

Serbia 12 to Ukraine.

Macedonia haven't bothered to get dressed up, then. 12 to Ukraine.

Albania talks about people who love Albanian music. Not the largest of markets, I suspect. 12 to Australia.

Estonia give 12 to Sweden.

Ukraine HAVE dressed up. Dressed up as Christopher Biggins, but at least they've dressed up. 12 to Lithuania.

Italy were cruel to you in High School. 12 to Spain.

Poland's massive earrings can't distract from their 12 to Ukraine.

Slovenia does some DJing at weekends. 12 to Ukraine.

Hungary, severe in canary yellow, like an Anglia Tonight host from 1983. 12 to Australia.

Montenegro is possibly voting through Moby's less successful brother. 12 to Malta.

Final jury is from Sweden. She's popular. 12 to Australia.

So probably Australia have this in the bag, but there's still the popular vote. Which might change things. But almost certainly won't.

Now, they're going to split open the popular vote.

The Czechs got bugger all.

The UK got 6.

So that's all over for the UK, then. Not the worst result, not the worst of recent years, but still... pretty shitty overall.

It's already clear that it's possibly Ukraine but probably Australia.

It does show that the juries don't really share the taste of the popular audience at all, I guess.

It looks like the presentation is falling apart a bit, judging by the rictus grins on the faces of Man and Petra.

They're looking a bit more relaxed now. Have over-run already, though.

Hasn't stopped them dragging out the four highest scores.

Ooh, Australia have only come 4th in popular vote. That's interesting.

Poland, who were hard bottom on jury votes, comes third in popular vote. Really?

Ukraine v Russia in final two for popular vote.

Ukraine come second in pop vote but overhaul Australia.

Russia win popular vote, but just end up in third.

Okay, then - the scoring system didn't seem that interesting until the very end.

It's a pity, though, as if Australia had won you know we'd have got to host this year.

Tin hats on, then, we're off to Ukraine next year.

Let's not forget who the real winners are tonight: data journalists:

Jamala a little bit Colin Welland with her bellowing of "UKKKKRAIIINE".

Petra says it's the greatest week she's ever had, although during the jury votes she appeared to age about three years.

The disparity between popular and jury votes does make us more convinced than ever that the juries are selected from people spotted buying CDs in motorway service stations.

Finally, though, here's a selfie from a Eurovision fan:

Do you know the way to Knotty Ash?

The Dionne Warwick biopic sounds like it might be, erm, singular:

[It was] announced at a Cannes Film Festival press conference this morning; with Warwick herself confirming the project. The soul icon also revealed to the crowd that [Cilla] Black – who died last August – “stole” her music, and was her “nemesis”.
Yeah. Cilla Black as the evil genius in a movie. I suppose at least she has a name that sounds like a half-arsed scriptwriter would give to such a character.

Can this project sound any more like something which will never see the light of day?
Lady Gaga has been cast as Cilla Black
Yes. Yes, it can.

The passing of the days is captured in art

From the equally soon-to-be-gone Our Valued Customers:

Twittergem: Spandau Ballet

They don't do it while you wait; it's stictly an Only When You Leave business.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Yacht: coming last in the boat race

Surely the weakest link in Yacht's tiresome sex tape hoax was the fundamental problem that - for their story to have worked - you would have to have believed there was a market for a Yacht sex tape in the first place?

Azeailia Banks: Pretty unpleasant

It's not simply that Azeailia Banks managed to cram quite so much racism and homophobia into her tweets to Zayn Malik; it's the way she discovered to double-down on them:

Throughout the day Banks has continued to argue with people on Twitter about her rant adding even more offensive content to her stream of tweets.

The rapper even went live on Periscope where she continued her heavily racist rant against Malik, saying how he had been kicked out of One Direction for being a "brown b****".
It's to Rinse's credit that they've uninvited her from the Born & Bred festival:
After increasing calls upon the festival's organisers to remove Banks, who was due to headline the festival's second day, from the bill, they have now responded with a statement saying: "We have decided to cancel Azealia Banks' appearance at Rinse | Born & Bred Festival. Rinse | Born & Bred is a celebration of rave culture and has been created for EVERYONE. We celebrate inclusivity and equality."

Her name has now been removed from the festival's website and replaced by a blank space.
After the over-crammed suitcase of shit Banks has been pushing into the crowds this last day or so, a blank space has never been more welcome.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Eurovision: NME tumbles over Timberlake

Oh, NME. Oh, NME. Your story on Eurovision is poor:

Justin Timberlake will become the first ever act who isn't a competitor to play the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm on 14 May.

Every year, they have guest performers. Conchita Wurst, for example, wasn't a contestant last year but still performed.

I'd advise you to stick to what you're good at but... not entirely sure what that is anymore.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Beyonce: Turns out Houston police sirens go waaaah, waaaah, waaaah

So Beyonce played a gig in Houston last night, and protestors turned up.

Did the police take steps to ensure the protest remained peaceful?

Well, not really. It was the police who were protesting:

Members of the Coalition of Police and Sheriffs (Cops) stood a mile away from the NRG Stadium and shone a blue light towards the venue.

They were protesting about Beyonce's Formation video, which they claim is "anti-police".
This is "anti-police" in the sense of "how dare you criticise the behaviour of any police anywhere", of course. There's a lot of that about, and it doesn't really do anyone any good. If COPS (seriously? That's the name of your protest gang?) want to ensure that the police get the respect they deserve, they might want to think about shining their blue light in the other direction.