The hot rumour now is that Jarvis Cocker (the Pulp singer who famously, and righteously, went on-stage during a Brit Awards to protest at Jacko's Christ-like self-depiction) may write a song and possibly even perform it. This means the UK will come in 16th place with 52 points... ☺
According to ITV teletext, the former "The Darkness" singer with the annoying falsetto voice - Justin Hawkins - is one of six acts hoping to represent the UK. Others being Brian Harvey (who used to be in East17) and Liz McClarnon (who used to be in Atomic Kitten).
[info from BBC interactive and ITV teletext - via digital satellite]
We welcome this year the Czech republic and Georgia.
Hungary and Austria make a return.
Serbia and Montenegro are back - but as Serbia comma and Montenegro... separate countries.
After some less-than-impressive results recently, the miniature country of Monaco has decided not to participate.
Luxembourg continues to remain out of the contest, and Italy has been sulking since some time in the last millennium; which is a great shame as songs sung in Italian sound really nice - as I'm sure any Katherine Jenkins or Amici Forever fan will be able to tell you.
I live on the far eastern tip of Brittany. This is basically Anjou in style. The closest bi-lingual sign is the town limit signs for Rennes (the capital of the region). You need to really go as far as Questembert (maybe 60-90 miles west?) before you start getting anything vaguely Breton and you need to go even further west before you'll encounter any necessity to know some words in Breton. Yet, our "Bretagne" info booklet that turns up every so often is in part bi-lingual. I can tell you about Une nouvelle régionalisation pour plus de cohérence de l'action publique or about Ur rannvroeladur nevez evit ma vefe kempoelloc'h an obererezh foran.
Where once Breton was suppressed, it is now a language and a culture growing in popularity in the region. And rightfully so. I like to think that Diwan'it bugale (roughly 'our beautiful language') entered into the Eurovision song contest helped in its own way to help bring about the end of the suppression of this subset of what it means to be French; for there is no such thing as a single French identity, and to try to make one will destroy more than it ever creates.
In a way this is similar to the idea of a British identity. There is no such thing. It can be loosely broken down into subsets such as a Scottish identity, a Welsh identity, and - of course - the English identity. Somewhere there is the Northern Irish but their identity has been in a bit of a state of disarray since 1920. In any case, the 'English' identity is further broken down. People from Truro won't feel the same way as people from the lovely town of Farnham (which is about to be royally messed up by overdevelopment), who won't feel the same way as people from Liverpool, who won't feel the same way as people from wherever Emmerdale is set.
That's not to say that you cannot be a part of more than one identity. A person (Le Pen and Sarkozy excepted) can be Breton and French and European. All at the same time. And I think the sooner those 'in power' truly recognised that we are all as different as the flavours of Mamie Nova, yet together we are one, the sooner we'll see people taking part in this construct called the European Union, instead of slagging it off for worrying about how to better pack cucumbers instead of anything that actually matters. We are not Borg, we are individuals. We are either disparate and lost, or we are together (with our differences) and strong.
This is a part of what the Eurovision Song Contest is all about. Okay, yes, it is a song-fest for people who like bad-eighties pop songs sung in incomprehensible languages, but it is also about togetherness. About identities, both individual and as 'Europe' as a whole. And while certain countries (naming no names Israel) enter songs such as that which we shall all hear this May, it shows that they just don't get it. While Lebanon and guess-who fail to put aside their differences for six minutes out of 525,960 - it shows that they just don't get it.
However, many of us Eurovision fans do get it. And it isn't just about the songs. It is about the identities. It is about discovering new places and cultures. I'm getting to be a fan of Asian cinema (Asian as in Korean/Japanese/etc, not Indian/etc). I love most of the Studio Ghibli work, as well as a number of horror films which are often badly Westernised in an unwanted remake. Why? Because it is new to me and different from that which I am used to. But, really, we need not go much further than maybe a hundred miles down the road to find things that are different. For greater difference, the 40+ countries in this year's contest. All have their own identity, built out of the many smaller regional identities. And all would be lost in some pathetic attempt to homogenise Europe into a single whole.
As this section started, it shall finish. Vive la difference!
It's what it is all about.
Eurovision 2007 - France This is what I think the song says - not the official words I remember jolie demoiselle Sur le summer, nous et la tour Eiffel I remember: comme tu étais belle So beautiful with yeux of Chanel Sur la pont de la Seine Let's do it again, again, again, again You give me a rendezvous What is it? What is it? Je le chercher a toi dans les rues Je ne suis pas venir Car tu ne l'es plus Je le regarde partout - where are you? My heart is bleeding Oh I miss you L'amour à la français Let's do it again, again, again, again You give me a rendezvous... Et je cours, je cours, je cours I've lost l'amour, l'amour, l'amour Je suis perdu, here without you And I'm crazy, cela Paris! Je tu le manque sans toi I can't - Dessus la pluie I feel sorry - Champs Elysées Alone - La nuit, le Moulin Rouge I feel guilty Et le soleil, est plus, plus long que les oiseaux Et dans la ciel, I miss you so Souvenir, a rendezvous Des fleurs, des fleurs, des fleurs for you Je tu le manque sans toi I can't - Dessous la pluie I feel sorry - Je suis perdu Here without you And I'm crazy, cela Paris! I remember jolie demoiselle The last summer, comme tu étais belle I remember nous et la tour Eiffel So beautiful with yeux of Chanel L'amour à la français Ce que je t'aime je t'aime je t'aime I give you a rendezvous Et je cours, je cours, je cours I've lost l'amour, l'amour, l'amour Je suis perdu, here without you And I'm crazy, cela Paris! Je tu le manque sans toi I can't - Dessous la pluie I feel sorry - Champs Elysées Alone - La nuit, le Moulin Rouge I feel guilty Et le soleil, est plus, plus long que les oiseaux Et dans la ciel, I miss you so Souvenir, a rendezvous Des fleurs, des fleurs, des fleurs for you Je tu le manque sans toi I can't - Dessous la pluie I feel sorry - Je suis perdu Here without you
Many other broadcasters would be showing this - NDR (semi) and ARD1 (final) for Germany, webcasts, etc etc.
Making Your Mind Up BBC One on Saturday 17 March 19h30 UK(read here) ESC Semi-Final BBC Three on Thursday 10 May 20h00 UK / 21h00 CET(read here) ESC Final BBC One on Saturday 12 May 20h00 UK / 21h00 CET(read here)