You may have noticed that a secret selection recently took place to pick a very important figure. A person that we truly hope will be more successful than the previous occupant of the role, who frankly was a little too old for the task. I bet you think I’m talking about the selection of the new Pope don’t you? Well I’m not, I’m talking about the secretive BBC cabal that selects the artist that will represent the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest.
the recent puff of smoke emanating from Broadcasting House signalled the appointment of Welsh songstress Bonnie Tyler as this years representative. A successor to Englebert Humperdinck from last year. Apparently Bonnie is still ‘very big in Europe’. I’m not sure that is an advantage for the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest. Bonnie’s song is called “Believe In Me” and for me it is an inoffensive ditty that will probably remain towards the bottom of the pile when the votes are cast. If the Beeb were ‘Holding Out For A Eurovision Hero’ I think they will need to hold out a lot longer.
The song was written by an Anglo US team consisting of Desmond Child (US), Lauren Christy (UK) and Christopher Braide (UK). the contest takes place on 18th May in Malmö in Sweden. Which means at least there will be no newspaper headline puns utilising Bonnie’s first hit “Lost In France“. It may also be the first Eurovision that I fail to blog about on the night. For two reasons; first last years contest was really dull and secondly I will be on holiday 🙂
What do you think of “Believe In Me” and how do you think it compares with earlier UK entries? In more Eurovision news the composer of the Armenian entry “Lonely Planet” is none other than the great Tony Iommi off of Black Sabbath. He is expecting it to be slagged off, but what the hell, he’s in Sabbath right?
So here we are again the cultural peak that is the Eurovision Song Contest. This is the 57th contest and it is being held in Baku, Azerbaijan. There are 26 entries in tonight show, with Sweden favourites and the UK fifth with the bookies. I will be writing this blog as it happens and I won’t be going back to edit it, especially my predictions! So you will be getting my first thoughts on each and every song in this years contest. At this stage I’m sticking my neck out and going for Engelbert to make the top three along with the singing grannies from Russia
First up it’s the traditional dancing and singing, that happens in every show doesn’t it? Guess who’s up first? It’s only the Hump himself a.k.a Engelbert Humperdinck with “Love Will Set You Free”. A truly consummate performer but he looks a bit plastic doesn’t he? But he is 76 now, which for me makes it quite amusing that the song has plummeted down the UK charts, apparently because those ‘silver surfers’ of the Hump’s generation don’t seem able to download it! Actually it’s not a bad song for Eurovision either and I reckon plenty more CD versions will be produced for next week if it does well.
Compact Disco performed the Hungarian entry. Not very compact or very disco really. Very 80s and very power ballad is “The Sound Of Our Hearts”. Are leather coats back in vogue? Rona Nishliu sang next for Albania, she is an experimental jazz vocalist, do I need to say more? Other than perhaps was that a real beehive on her head and a snake on her neck? Don’t give up the day job love!
Donny Montell sang “Love Is Blind” for Lithuania, with an oh so contrived blindfold which appeared to have been made from one of Michael Jackson’s old gloves. He whipped it off with a Bucks Fizz skirt type flourish. Bosnia and Herzegovina had a unmemorable ballad, I can’t recall the artist either!
They’re here, it’s those awesome Russian Grannies with “Party For Everybody”. Stop the contest now and hail them the winners. Absolutely spot on Eurovision entry. Twenty million YouTube hits can’t be wrong can they? They’re also raising money to rebuild a church that Stalin destroyed 70 years ago.
Iceland’s entry was a quite interesting song, but not winning material methinks. the song was “Never Forget” by Greta Salóme & Jónsi. A return to very traditional Eurovision Eurodisco values came next from Ivi Adamou for Cyprus. It was called “La La Love”, see what I mean by traditional contest values? She also danced on a table constructed from books, what was that all about?
It’s France with Anggun singing “Echo (You And I)” surrounded by topless male gymnasts. I wonder if it put her off at all? It was hard to tell for me, largely because the song was pretty crap. But there were some English lyrics in it, quite a departure for France. Italy, with their second performance after 14 years away gave us a fabulous Amy Winehouse pastiche from Nina Zilli. I quite like this, probably now my dark horse for winner. The English version is called “Out Of Love”. Great song, great look, great style and no gimmicks!
“Kuula” from Ott Lepland did the business for Estonia. An ok kind of song, reminiscent of many 70s ballads. The voice was very good, but those eyebrows had a life of their own. I’m sure they’ll be preparing to become moths or butterflies very soon. Tooji represented Norway with “Stay”. Apparently he was born in Iran. He also had a hoodie look going on, no chance of him getting into our corner shop then. He’d probably end up with an ASBO or a CRIMBO as they’re now known. The song was identikit and formulaic 80s disco.
Here come the locals! It’s Sabina Babayeva with the rather unfortunately titled “When The Music Dies” Of course the cost means they might not want to win two in a row. The song was pretty lightweight, so unlikely to win. Apparently she is a big fan of the Hump. Sabina is a very nice looking woman, but what was going on with the dress? Did she get dressed during a hurricane in a pillow factory? Mandinga were the Romanian entry and the group is made up of Romanians and Cubans. the song was an everything but the kitchen sink Eurodisco oompah sound production called “Zaleilah”. Was that really bagpipes? Surely not.
Denmark was represented by Soluna Samay with “Should’ve Known Better”, for some reason she was wearing a sailor’s hat, with some manky feathers in it. But the song was good, her voice is strong too. Shades of KT Tunstall. Soluna was supposedly once a busker. This is one of my favourites so far, but as Catwoman pointed out to me; Soluna is probably better than the song. Now is the time for Greece, surely they can’t afford to win can they? Will the IMF bail out the Eurovision Song Contest next year. Somehow with this song I don’t believe the Greek Government or the IMF need to worry. Incidentally the song was “Aphrodisiac” by Eleftheria Eleftheriou.
It’s time for the favourite, here come the Swedes led by Loreen with “Euphoria” which has already been a smash in many European countries. Her performance was clearly influenced by Florence off of Florence and the Machine and perhaps some Kate Bush mime dance moves. But I think I agree with the bookies, this has winner written all over it. But me saying that is probably the kiss of death for the song. But it really is a classy dance track. Can Bonomo sang next for Turkey with “Love Me Back”. I can only assume he is a big fan of English band sailor from the 70s. Well apart from the fact that his song was odd, bewildering and frankly shit! But yes clearly long leather coats are back!
Pastora Soler is a seasoned performer with quite a few albums under her belt, probably not as many as the Hump though. She sang “Quédate Conmigo” for Spain. She does have a superb voice, but this is not really my kind of song. Roman Lob (what a great name that is) stepped up to the plate for Germany with a pretty good song, “Standing Still” which was co written by Jamie Cullum along with Wayne Hector and Steve Robson.
Malta’s representative was Kurt Calleja, does that make him a Malteser? A reasonably competent dance track is what “This Is The Night” is for me. Kurt had a pretty trendy and funky suit and shirt combo, but why was he wearing a driving glove? And was that the ghost of Rick Astley on guitar? The Macedonians pushed forward Kaliopi to sing “Crno I Belo” That title looks like a Welsh road sign to me. The song struggled to make it’s mind up about what it was; ballad, pop song, rock song, dance track? Who the hell knows, but more importantly who cares?
Bloody hell it’s Jedward, their career can’t have much more life left in it surely. But “Waterline” is a pretty good song, so why did the writers waste it on these two talentless dorks? Jedward winning this contest would be on a par with a dog winning Britain’s Got Talent wouldn’t it? “Nije Ljubav Stvar” was the Serbian song from Željko Joksimović. Do you suffer from insomnia? This song might help you to sleep. Were those wellies or cowboy boots he was wearing?
Gaitana was next with a song she had cowritten, that song was “Be My Guest” and was the Ukrainian entry. Not a bad song and a damned good voice. But the dancers were camper than a row of pink tents. The brass intro and sometime refrain in the song did sound a bit like an elephants call though. Moldova had Pasha Parfeny singing “Lăutar” which was no more than just alright for me. As for his supporting dancers, a chimp with wooden legs could have done better.
So that’s it folks, now it’s results time. I won’t bore you with any commentary about the results though. But I will tell you about them in the next few lines. But right now I think the top two might be Sweden and Russia. Well I was right with that last line although some of my earlier predictions were way out! Sweden won the contest with 372 points followed by Russia with 259 and Serbia with 214. The UK finished second from last with just 12 points. Norway were bottom with only 7 points. Luckily Sweden are one of the few countries that can comfortably afford to put the show on in the current economic climate. So next year it will be from Sweden.
Is it me or does Mr Humperdinck look a little 'plastic'?
The UK is taking a rather novel approach to this years Eurovision Song Contest. They have selected septuagenarian crooner Arnold George Dorsey aka Gerry Dorsey but better known as Engelbert Humperdinck. After years of poor results in the contest with the nadir arriving in 2003 with a first UK nul points score from the hapless Jemini. Last year boy band Blue were our entry with the song “I Can”. They could only muster and 11th place finish which suggests that the song would have been more appropriate if it were called ‘I Can’t’
Engelbert will be 76 when the contest takes place in Azerbaijan on 26th May this year. he was born in Madras, India in 1936 to a British father and an Indian mother. The song is apparently not written yet but will be composed, at least in part, by Sacha Skarbek, a Novello award winner who cowrote James Blunt‘s bloody awful dirge “You’re Beautiful”. Not a great omen then! Hump had his first major success in 1967 when his UK number one managed to prevent the Beatles from achieving another chart topper with the double ‘A’ side “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane“. His song “Release me” was also the best-selling UK single in 1967. All that at the height of the hippy movement and in the summer of love.
Vote for me and I'll make your economy this big (The Hump addresses the Greeks)
Some Eurovision experts (yes there are plenty) have suggested that with so many countries in the competition the ‘youth vote’ is split. However experts believe that the choice of the Hump to warble for Britain will pick up the pan European pensioners votes. He also took his name from the German composer who wrote an opera called ‘Hansel and Gretel’, so that’s the German vote in the bag as well. He has had four number one songs in Ireland and release me was number one in the Netherlands so that’s two countries that’ll vote for him as well, so it’s certainly shaping up not to be another nul points year.
Personally I think he may pick up a few votes from the hip community, as opposed to the hip replacement community, this would result from his appearance on the ‘Beavis And Butthead Do America‘ movie soundtrack. The song was not a big hit, but it was for many, including me, a classic. That song was “Lesbian Seagull”. On the subject of Beavis and Butthead, Jedward have been selected to represent Ireland in the contest for the second year in a row. I have a degree of admiration for their management for extend their 15 minutes of fame so far beyond their sell-by date. They did do better than Blue last year though! Anyway let me finish by showcasing a few Humperdinck classics.