For those living on another continent, or perhaps another planet, there are nearly fifty countries taking part in the song contest. In past days, those that scored badly in the past contests would not appear the next year. I'm not certain how the remaining countries were sorted into those who will take part and those who will not - suffice to say that some thought the system was not always fair or sane. The answer? Two contests. The twenty-odd songs that may or may not be in the semi can fight it out for one of ten places in the final. One could argue that semi contest winners have an advantage with two live performances, though remember that the semi final is often pushed off onto a digital channel, which will obviously lower the potential audience. Besides, the big four (UK, France, Spain, Germany) are always guaranteed a place in the final due to finance contributions to the EBU - despite some less than satisfactory scores recently.
Comments added after the contest are set off, like this.
A friend wrote to me with his comments, and his sister liked the Belarussian girl's top.
That's the thing, you see, you remember the top but not so much the song. But, let's face it, does it matter what the viewers remember - so long as they do remember when it comes time to vote?
If you look at the right-hand picture carefully, you'll perhaps see that the other male singer had green hair...!
When we aren't in songs, we get the obligatory clips of Greece. I was surprised. I expected it to look like the Costa Del Sol (lots of tall white cement buildings), and all the men looking like Dexy's Midnight Runners. To be honest, it didn't seem that much different to southern Italy or, perhaps, Croatia.Here's a picture of a Greek ruin. There are lots of ruins in Greece, evidence of an advanced civilisation from long ago. I wonder what we'd leave behind in a few thousand years time? Half-lives?
13 Russia "Never Let You Go"
Performed by Dima Bilan, in English.A man with a white t-shirt that looks like he wrote 13 on it in marker pen, two ballerinas, and a ghost in the piano. Right... Okay Nataliya - all is forgiven - come back, please!
14 Turkey "Sûperstar"
Performed by Sibel Tûzûn, in Turkish.Horrible high and low pitched singing and tattoos. If this gets though, I'll stab myself to death with a plastic teaspoon!
The postcards begin with one of three girls opening shutters. Wasn't this girl one of Atomic Kitten?
15 Ukraine "Show Me Your Love"
Performed by Tina Karol, in English.A bouncy little thing and a skipping rope come together to put on a song that couldn't be, or sound, more like a Shakira number if it tried!
16 Finland "Hard Rock Hallelujah"
Performed by Lordi, in English.
Uhhhh... I understood WigWam'a glam-rock... but I'm afraid words completely fail me for this.
A quick visit to "The Green Room". Which, as usual, is anything but "green"!
17 The Netherlands "Amambanda"
Performed by Treble, in English and Dutch?Three girls singing a "gitano" song and sexing it up a lot. They look like they had fun.
More postcards... please, people, get a room! :-)
18 Lithuania "We Are The Winners"
Performed by LT United, in English.Oh yuck! A football inspired song. "We are the winners of Eurovision", talk about ego! It's only marginally a better a song than Turkey's entry. Deserves to fail miserably.
19 Portugal "Coisas De Nada"
Performed by Nonstop, in Portuguese with chorus in English.This is more like it - getting back to the style of the '80s when Eurovision songs sounded like Eurovision songs. I see that fluffy pink dress is back, well, half of it...Unfortunately their pronunciation makes the chorus sound like "Gonna make you dance, gonna make you smile, I'll make you start thinking sad things for a while"... Of course, it could be my wonky brain, but I've listened to my recording of this three times now back-to-back and it really does sound as if that's exactly what they are singing! I'll have to check the Eurovision site to see if they've got the proper lyrics.
20 Sweden "Invincible"
Performed by Carola, in English.Recognise her? She won it fifteen years ago. Now the song is okay, but I think a lot of what did it for her in '91 was the extremely well choreographed performance.
This had some interesting visual aspects, but will it be enough? I hope so. Then Carola can join ranks with Johnny Logan.After this song, we cut to an audience member who had a scrolling LED array embedded in his shirt - it said "Sweden 12 points". Clever!
21 Estonia "Through My Window"
Performed by Sandra, in English.A nice uplifting song, it's a shame Sandra didn't put more effort into the dance routine to go with it - Eurovision is visual as well. It doesn't get going until halfway through. If I understood the German presenter, he said she is from Iceland, and is the Barbie of the contest. Hehe...
22 Bosnia & Herzegovina "Lejla"
Performed by Hari Mata Hari, in Bosnian.It's an arty number. Perhaps a bit slow compared to many of the other songs.
23 Iceland "Congratulations"
Performed by Silvia Night, in English.Amusing lyrics, and a performance that is way out there... Imagine Aqua crossed with Bjork, and toss in a load of LazyTown... then take the piddly out of all of it. You might start to get the idea. It was really funny. You know what? I hope this one wins. Not the semi... the whole contest! She even managed to sneak in the line "Oh my God, a golden shower!".Just in case you didn't get it - I'd better point out that Silvia isn't a real person - she is a character from a TV show. With the likes of Silvia and LazyTown, I guess television in Iceland would be a heck of a lot more interesting than the English offerings off 28.2°E!
The voting processWhile they recap the songs, I'll go through my selection to pass into the grand final:
- NetherlandsI had originally listed 'Ukraine' in ninth favourite position, and 'Ireland' tenth. This was an oversight on my part due to the rush in getting this page ready for uploading, they should have been third and fourth respectively.
I'm not going to give my list of three worst songs in case I jinx it so that people actually vote for that Turkish monstrosity.
The female presenter (Maria) coaxed the male presenter (Sakis) to perform a song. He has quite a good voice, it's just a shame they gave him a rather insipid song.
The interval act was an interesting mélange of styles. Unfortunately the director seemed to like big aspect wide angle shots - perhaps to show off how big the stage is?Big wide shots might look impressive as an AVI, but as static frames it can be hard to see what is going on.
A sneak previewThey gave a sneak preview of the songs that will be in the final on Saturday. I thought the Spanish entry looked and sounded sort-of like Las Ketchup... it was!
There are some bizarre entries, but perhaps there is hope for the United Kingdom's entry? The main competitors, from the brief preview and the semi, will be Sweden and Iceland (if they get through), and Greece.
The winnersOkay, here come the ten winners... Here's who won a place in the final, in drawn order:#10 Russia (the ballet and piano ghost) #11 FYR Macedonia (naranja-pop) #13 Bosnia (slow and arty) #14 Lithuania (maybe ego gets you everywhere, gah!) #17 Finland (they'll do the monster mash) #18 Ukraine (the little bouncy girl) #21 Ireland (finally!!!) #22 Sweden (there's hope for Carola now) #23 Turkey (aaaaaaaaaargh!) #24 Armenia (their first song)
Comments? I can't believe they didn't vote for Iceland but they voted for that crappy Turkish song. Aaargh! Aaargh! Aaargh!
Here's the line-up for Saturday:
I'm now going to open a can of beer, JPEG all the pictures and turn this into a web page, and then console myself with the fact that both the Turkish and Icelandic songs were misunderstood - for the wrong reasons each... Then, I guess I'll have to prod myself a few times with a plastic spoon...
Oh well. Let's see how it goes on Saturday. We all know that the best song doesn't always win. ☺
Copyright © 2006 Rick Murray
Images copyright © 2006 EBU-UER
Broadcast in letterboxed widescreen by NDR Fernhesen