And now I don't want to get my hopes up, however...
A team of professionals, music industry people, and Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, will be grooming a number of individuals who will perform on televised programmes for public votes. The public will choose the act they like the best, and ALW will write a song specifically for that person/group/act to perform.
Graham Norton, co-host and Sir Terry replacement even offered up the opinion that the Eastern Europeans take the contest extremely seriously and there is some amount of resentment that we walk in and mock it all (and as a Big Four country, we have guaranteed right of passage, how far would we have made it if we needed to pass a semi-final?). I think it is a very good thing for the commentator of the contest to be aware of this fact, for I'm not sure Sir Terry ever fully appreciated it.
What worries me greatly is that ALW is playing with fire, what with getting the public to vote. I just hope, behind the scenes, the vote results can be 'rigged' slightly if the public do something spectactularly stupid... you know, like in 2007 when we sent a gimmick act instead of the girl that could actually sing...? What the hell were we thinking?
Lots of people sent in lots of videotapes, DVDs, on-line submissions. Some got the idea:
This production, involving Andrew Lloyd Webber, wasn't going to settle for simply saying we've annoyed the hell out of Eastern Europe. Oh no, we first go visit Dima Bilan (who is filming in London) to ask for some advice.
This all pales in comparison to the next interview. ALW only flies over to Russia for a few minutes with... yes, President Putin. Like, what, did he pick up the phone and say "don't s'pose you can pencil me in for Tuesday?"?!? Does he know how long it took the Americans to meet the Russians on home turf? Don't s'pose he could click his fingers and say "It's good to be in control"? ☺
In amongst all these interviews we see some test performances and while some are discarded (a number of solo females were grouped, and the girl group idea eventually discarded).
Recognise these two?
The second? In their audition song they performed "No Frontiers" (The Corrs) which may seem an odd choice, especially with some of the lyrics in that song ("and we stack all the dead men in self-addressed crates" being a great example); however the delicacies of the song really allowed the girls to show their capabilities and also how well they harmonise with each other. It is also a fairly emotional song. This is key.
Many a Pop Idol act, Eurovision act, and general talent scout act has performed well, but been lacklustre. I think this is the trap that our 2008 entry (Andy) fell in to. His song didn't set the night sky alight; and while he performed well, he seemed to perform mechanically.
Now compare this with Dima:
Webber has something of a challenge on his hands, for they have selected a range of different performers and he cannot start writing the song until he knows who he is writing for and what they are capable of. Thank God for that, for recent entries from other countries (<cough>France</cough> etc) have shown what a disaster it can be to try to squeeze a performer into an Identikit song.
Furthermore, Webber was right to discard the girl groups. Sure, they might have made it as a clone of Girls Aloud or The Pussycat Dolls or... I'm sure you can name half a dozen girl groups that all have avid followers but are, from the outside, all remarkably similar. We don't need another girl group doing another girl group number. We don't really need a bloke that sounds like one of Il Divo vying for a solo career. We need something unique, something special, something that will make the animosity of a decade of Wogan insults evaporate, something that will melt Europe's heart and garner the all-important votes.
In short, we need The Twins:
...and I'm not just saying that because they are cute (wow, the fluffy-haired one is on the other side of the picture!). I'm saying that because I see something in them, and I believe Webber is capable of making best use of this.
More tears when they found they had made it through selection:
It's up to the public votes now. Let's hope there's some sense of logic and a desire to win; that the era of Wogan-insults will start to slip away as a bad memory...
There will be more next Saturday, BBC One - if you can receive it.
Now that the website is running again; more content to follow...
For those who can't wait, the Leona-Lewis lookee-likee won; which was something of a disappointment to me as her singing ability was, I feel, the weakest of the three finalist acts. The Twins, at least, can be proud of coming in second place and being strong contenders all the way through (Ms. Ewen had to be 'rescued' by ALW once).
Back to the Eurovision 2009 index