It represents all that is good and bad about music and for that reason I shall attempt a 'live' blog of the 2009 event - this year from Moscow with no Terry Wogan and changed voting. It seems a shame that Wogan decided to give up on the event just as the organisers changed the way countries get to vote. He may have had more of an effect than he realised.
Anyway, this year...
"Citizens of each country vote by telephone or SMS, and professional juries in all 42 participating countries judge the songs. The country's 10 favourites are awarded 12, 10, then 8 through 1 points based on votes. Juries and televoters will each have a 50% say in the outcome of every country's points. All 42 countries present their awarded points, the country with the highest amount of points wins the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest."
I think that the public vote favouring the eastern block countries will sway the votes (there are too many - not that I have anything against Balkan states etc but I think Eurovision should be more 'old' Europe; lose the semis and include countries like Ireland, Belgium and Austria by default) but it should be fairer and more 'about the songs'. I don't care as long as it's entertaining :)
- Lithuania - Love by Sasha Son
- Israel - There Must Be Another Way by Noa & Mira Awad
- France - Et S'il Fallait Le Faire by Patricia Kaas
- Sweden - La Voix by Malena Emman
- Croatia - Ljepa Tena by Igor Cukov & Andrea
- Portugal - Todas As Ruas Do Amor by Flor-de-lis
- Iceland - Is It True? by Yohanna
- Greece - This Is Our Night by Sakis Rouvas
- Armenia - Jan Jan by Inga & Anush
- Russia - Mamo by Anastasia Prikhodko
- Azerbaijan - Always by AySel & Arash
- Bosnia & Herzegovina - Bistra Voda by Regina
- Moldova - Hora Din Moldova by Nelly Ciobanu
- Malta - What If We by Chiara
- Estonia - Randajad bu Urban Symphony
- Denmark - Believe Again by Brinck
- Germany - Miss Kiss Kiss Bang by Alex Swings Oscar Sings!
- Turkey - Dum Tek Tek by Halise
- Albania - Carry Me In Your Dreams by Kejsi Tola
- Norway - Fairytale by Alexander Rybak
- Ukraine - Be My Valentine (Anti-Crisis Girl) by Svetlana Loboda
- Romania - The Balkan Girls by Elena
- United Kingdom - It's My Time by Jade Ewen
- Finland - Lose Control by Waldo's People
- Spain - La Noche Es Para Mí (The Night Is For Me) by Soraya
Ok so the serious camp intro is in full swing, complete with dodgy special effects and some good work from Cirque De Soleil. Last years winner (from Russia strangely enough) is performing. Not a bad song but wasn't the best.
Our hosts are on stage. Graham Norton is a good mix of serious information and Wogan-eque wit and sarcasm. What he needs to do is be himself and not try to imitate. He talks all over the hosts who are just spouting the usual rubbish.
Each song is introduced with a living postcard featuring the current Miss World. Nice...
Lithuania - Love by Sasha Son
One man and a piano and backing singers in a different timezone. Bit of a dull opening. Now he's away from the piano and trying to put a bit of emotion into it. It's boring but subtle and he's got a decent voice.
Israel - There Must Be Another Way by Noa & Mira Awad
Hmmm. Interesting. A bit of politics this early in the competition - can only be Israel. One jew and one Arab showing solidarity. Spirited and gusty but a terrible song. The percussion is provided by some olive oil tins (and not biscuit tins)...
France - Et S'il Fallait Le Faire by Patricia Kaas
I always enjoy the French entry (as it were). Kaas is a striking figure and in the spirit of Edith Piaff, this is deeply emotional and slightly depressing. Last year's artist from France, Mr. Tellier was brilliant. My word, she might be about to explode. Steady love.
Sweden - La Voix by Malena Emman
Looking to Sweden to inject some much needed europop into the night. Good lord...this is fantastic. Looks a bit like a scary personal trainer of questionable gender but a lovely mix of opera and Pet Shop Boys produced camp. This is what Eurovision is all about...
Croatia - Ljepa Tena by Igor Cukov & Andrea
Back to the...erm...male performers, the Croatian entry is another rambling ballad with an Eastern feel. Oooo wailing harmonies as a woman in white turns up. This must be the aforementioned Andrea. A bit like Katherine Jenkins. Seriously guys, turn the wind machine down. People could start taking off...
Portugal - Todas As Ruas Do Amor by Flor-de-lis
Whoa..nice set. Band in traditional dress with guitars and accordions. This must be new wave Portuguese folk! It's quite a jolly piece but not as good as it could be. Shame. Looks like they are all having fun though and that set is bloody amazing.
43 years and never a winner. Maybe this year? Not sure on this.
Iceland - Is It True? by Yohanna
Lol at Grahan Norton. Very entertaining so far. As is Jonathan Ross (@wossy) on Twitter. Wogan who?
Oh dear it's 80s power ballad time from Iceland. Nice vocal melody but a bit dull and safe. They seem to have run out of song and started again after a chord change. Singer is looking good but the song is a bit flat.
Greece - This Is Our Night by Sakis Rouvas
Always interesting with Greece. Here goes...
Wow this is more like it! A proper pop song. They seem to have a magic wall for this one and they blew the whole budget on fireworks. Shame they couldn't get Mr. Rouvas a new shirt.
Armenia - Jan Jan by Inga & Anush
Ouch this is looking mad. Sisters Inga and Anush look like extras in the latest Zhang Yimou movie (House Of Flying Daggers etc). The song is awful but strangly compelling. Horrible vocals and that crappy turkish-like backing.
Russia - Mamo by Anastasia Prikhodko
Here comes the host artist. Can Russia make it bacl to back wins? Not the evidence of these vocals. She looks like she's about to burst into tears. Apparently her face on the big screen is digitally aging throughout the song. Not sure the point of it. It's starting to freak me out. It's definitely a lot more serious this year...
Azerbaijan - Always by AySel & Arash
Another star in the Balkan states, Arash is the male side of the Azerbaijan duo. AySel is basically eye-candy but has a better voice, strangely. To be honest it's a close run thing who has the worst voice. Somewhere in here is a decent song trying to get free. Not a bad effort but decends into overused arrangement, a bizzarre instrumental break featuring a tiny guitar and way too much wind machine. Catchy...but not great.
Bosnia & Herzegovina - Bistra Voda by Regina
Another well known band from the area, Regina seem to have borrowed their wardrobe from the latest Coldplay tour - and then bleached everything white. Another stirring ballad this time with a militaristic twist. And they seem to have nicked Gwen Steffani! And I think that might be Stuart MacConie on the drums...
Ah Russian irony. Leaves a sour taste give what has happened in Moscow over the last few days. This is a film with loads of 'normal' people singing, starting with two police men. Hmm...
An hour gone and its....
Moldova - Hora Din Moldova by Nelly Ciobanu
The only song title to feature the country of origin. I like the singer's dress. Other than that...I have nothing good to say. Plenty of determination but very little actual talent...or tune.
Malta - What If We by Chiara
I always look forward to Malta. Normally a big fat guy prancing around. This year they give us a woman. A bit unfair from Norton to suggest that she has never met a Malteser she didn't like. Ok so she's a bit on the large side but a great voice. It's all a bit dramatic and Celine Dion but hits the right buttons. If this came on the radio I wouldn't turn it off. Nice segment just before the chord change.
One of the best so far...
Estonia - Randajad bu Urban Symphony
Ok this is strangely haunting and beautiful. Not sure about the vocals but the string work is second to none. And a nice rolling melody is dark and brooding. Seems to be a serious theme this year. Now she's playing the violin for the instrumental break. And then back to the wailing...but surprisingly good.
Denmark - Believe Again by Brinck
So a song written by Ronan Keating. This should be fun. Problem is the singer thinks he is Ronan Keating. Was Gary Barlow unavailable? Not a great song and pretty ropey performance. And a really bad impression.
Germany - Miss Kiss Kiss Bang by Alex Swings Oscar Sings!
Never quite know what to expect from Germany. But didn't quite expect this. A very dodgy title and a kind of 1930s swing meets Ricky Martin. Damn those silver trousers are bright...
In a blatant attempt to win some votes, they bring in a pin-up model in black underwear. This is a family show right?
Turkey - Dum Tek Tek by Halise
Well it's predictable. It sounds Turkish and the singer looks like she has come right from a belly dancing convention. Kinda catchy and with a rhythm - but sounds horribly outdated. Now a guy in huge green pants - or is that dress? - has just run onto the stage. It's ok it's part of the act.
Modern Eurovision done quite well.
Albania - Carry Me In Your Dreams by Kejsi Tola
Nice build up from Norton. Be prepared. The song is unfolding quickly like a freaky cabaret show. Slightly off vocals but the singer is just 17. The guy at the back looks like a reject from the Blue Man Group vegas show. Not bad but not great either.
Norway - Fairytale by Alexander Rybak
This is a grower apparently. Unfortunately the vocal delivery and awful violin distract from what should be a good song. The best thing Norway has produced for ages in Eurovision. I can see why this has captured people's affections but it doesn't quite do it for me. The singer is charming and that will probably get the votes.
A brief interlude in which our hosts show us the numbers to phone. Norton is actually very good - a bit of Wogan but mostly himself.
Ukraine - Be My Valentine (Anti-Crisis Girl) by Svetlana Loboda
Back to the music - Ukraine is another wonderful slice of euro-pop nonsense. Roman centurions, hamster wheels and the singer playing the drums. Sounds like the music is being played backwards. Fantastic.
Romania - The Balkan Girls by Elena
Looks good. Sounds terrible. It's got to that stage were you just have to fill the stage with five extremely cute women in tight dresses. It works for me. But back to the song. It's ok but dull and tedious.
United Kingdom - It's My Time by Jade Ewen
Right this is it. Based on what I've heard so far...the UK has a shot this year at a decent placing. ALW, who wrote the song, is playing piano. Here we go...
Good vocals so far...a bit rushed maybe. Hold it together girl.
Loving the stage..nice and simple and elegant. Like something out of Phantom Of The....oh hold on.
Oh dear the voice is starting to waver a bit. The big finish was a shaky one but given the occasion... Well done.
Finland - Lose Control by Waldo's People
What we need now is a bit of humour. Thankfully Finland are up next. The country that brought us Lordi now give us Waldo's People. Like four solo artists performing four slightly different variations of the same song together, with a rapper and some guys throwing fire around. Excellent. A glorious euro-mess.
Spain - La Noche Es Para Mí (The Night Is For Me) by Soraya
Last song. As the late great Humph said, love those words.
Spain are another unpredictable bunch. But this time they stole Turkey's backing track. The singer is a bit like Sarah from Girl's Aloud mixed with Pink. The song is a bit dull and flat, like most tonight.
And now the voting...
For me it's between Malta, Estonia and Greece. But it could be any from:
- United Kingdom
The phone lines have been opened...by two cosmonauts live from space. Extraordinary.
Phone voting over.
Now we are subjected to the interlude act in which huge undulating swimming pools are lowered over the crowd in the stadium. Health & Safety anyone?
Interview with Lloyd Webber declaring that 'a star is born' with Jade. And he agrees with me about Estonia!!! Great song.
LOL - UK was top of votes for all of 3 seconds. Then Norway got 12 points above us. It won't be Nil Points then...
Norway are running away with this. But UK are second! Malta and Estonia are doing really badly. Shame as they provided the best vocals. Greece is nowhere.
The block voting of Balkan states is still alive and well. Estonia are doing better but Iceland are beating the UK to second place. Predictably Andorra voted 12 points to Spain. Not just the Balkans then...
Estonia are about to overtake the UK into fifth place. Apparently the UK's favourite song (voted by the public) was from Turkey, who are making ground...Then again Germany got 7 points.
Norway, Turkey, then Iceland.
Greece and Estonia are now up there but Malta hopelessly ignored. UK is currently fifth.
UK up to fourth! Azerbaijan now doing well. The Norway song is now officially the most popular song in Eurovision history. Now 319 points. Looking for Ireland for some votes and the UK gets 10. No votes for the Ronan Keating song. Oh dear...
Iceland pipping Azerbaijan to second in the last round of voting. Norway runaway winners and Turkey beating the UK to fourth in the final votes. UK in top five again for the first time in years.
Well done Jade.
The winning song: