Eurovision 2011: A spotter’s guide for Saturday night

Willkommen meine Freunde. If you missed the Eurovision semi-finals (or if you’re just after a good wallow in Eurovision mud) please read on for our official Spotter’s Guide to help sustain you through Saturday night’s show.

  • UK: Blue. The song’s okay – we might get a decent mid-table ranking – but please god don’t let them speak. Duncan is my mid-life crisis crush until he opens his mouth to say things like: “It’s the craziest thing I think we’ve ever been a part of.  It’s like some big crazy Eurovision bubble filled with, like, crazy Eurovision people…” And let’s not get onto Lee and his stray comment about smoking that he and Sara Cox managed to make ten times worse with their blethering.
  • France/Spain/Italy: We only got snippets of the other four automatic qualifiers, but France seems a bit operatic, Spain – nice and bouncy and Italy’s all jazzy.
  • Germany: Last year’s winner Lena is back, but without a song as catchy as the one that brought the competition to Dusseldorf.
  • Serbia: Have you ever wondered what Serbian Motown would sound like? Wonder no more, but don’t forget to press the red button for an English translation… and perhaps look away from the screen so that the swirly backdrop graphics don’t make you feel nauseous. [Insert your own tired Eurovision gag here if you must.]
  • Russia: Ever wanted to turn the clock back 15 years or so? Then Alexey Vorobyov is here to help. Get You brings back memories of Bros and New Kids on the Block. He’s got nice teeth though. And I want some LED shoes like his too.
  • Switzerland: Too skinny, but the song’s not bad in a plinky-plonky way.
  • Georgia: Rock and white rap and hair that requires its own postcode.
  • Finland: Ray Mears’ younger brother singing about saving the planet. There’s a lovely graphic as the Earth rises behind him, but a classic worthy but dull, Dull, DULL song. And it’s called Da Da Dum. Personally, I’d rather have seen Norway in this spot, but there you go.
  • Iceland: All sorts of reasons to like this. Sjonni, who wrote and submitted this song, died in January, but his friends are performing it for him. They look like the kind of people you’d like to spend a night in the pub with (you can’t say that about many Eurovision acts) and the song is really quite lovely.
  • Hungary: Ballardy-Europop-Divary thing. Bored. Go and get yourself some peanuts while this one is on. It looks like an advert for women’s razors and sounds like a dreadful ’90s Tampax ad.
  • Lithuania: She’s got a lovely voice, but has been lumbered with a dreary ballad. Time for more peanuts. Or perhaps a glass of wine.
  • Azerbaijan: Feels like average X-Factor fare. Let’s hope they don’t run these last three songs back-to-back or we’re all going to get indigestion.
  • Greece has given the world many great things – this song is not one them. We’re back to the early nineties again but with added operatics. Don’t give up on this yet – there are some good songs. Honest.
  • But not yet: Bosnia and Herzegovinia brings us folky music and a beardy man skipping in a jacket even the Doctor wouldn’t wear.
  • Austria: I have to own up to loathing the warbling that Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston used to inflict on us. I can’t sing very well, but if I could I’d bloody well stick to one (long) note and not wander around seven or eight. I don’t care if it’s technically difficult to do that sort of 10-notes-per-second trilling, it’s horrible to listen to. You’ve probably guessed by now that Austria is guilty of this Houston-Careyesque warbling. And as my Norwegian friend pointed out – her legs look wrong  – probably those bloody awful shoes she had on.
  • Ukraine: I’m not sure if it’s her singing that got voted through or the fabulous sand art that accompanied her. I’ve heard worse songs and the sand art is bloody amazing.
  • Moldova: The best thing about this entry is the hats – but Google has failed to produce a picture so you’ll just have to tune in to see what I mean. My advice, enjoy the hats and then see what else is in the fridge. Make sure you’re back, though,  for…
  • Sweden: Eric Saade is pretty and he’s got a nice catchy song with a proper uplifting chord change or two. Wouldn’t be surprised (or disappointed) if he won.
  • Slovenia: I was going to press the red button for translation on Thursday night and then realised she was singing in English. (I know her English is 100 per cent better than my Slovenian, yes, yes, but her singing style was obscuring actual words.)
  • Romania: Reminded me of Katrina and the Waves’ Love Shine a Light. Sung by English group. If Romania win does that mean the UK can claim a win by proxy (like we will when Andy Murray wins a Grand Slam)?
  • Estonia: Apparently singing at Eurovision was this girl’s childhood dream. No wonder I got the sense that she was channelling Rachel from Glee. You’ll hear worse than this on Saturday night.
  • Denmark: Contains Jedward-style hair. Would benefit from going on early before Eurovision ennui sets in for viewers.
  • Jedward – sorry, Ireland. Words are not sufficient are they? I have never before heard Jedward sing and have to say it wasn’t as bad as I feared, and the song’s not awful either. I’m just not convinced that Ireland can afford to host the 2012 competition if Jedward bring it home for them. It would be nice karmic revenge for having let Jedward and their blue Smartie-fuelled hyperactivity loose on the rest of us though…

Those not joining us on Saturday:

  • Norway – an entry in English and Swahili (perhaps a first for Eurovision). Very catchy song – better than some of the entries that did go through.
  • Armenia. A song called Boom Boom and a chair that looks like a boxing glove. I won’t shed a tear at not hearing this again frankly.
  • Turkey – all very rocky and not exactly memorable. I spent my time distracted by the contortionist trapped in a globe-shaped cage at the back. Not in a good way either.
  • Malta: I like Malta (as a place) and this song’s not terrible. But, I guess the voters want more than electro-pop and campery. Yes, really.
  • Portugal: A comedy act with a serious message (in Portugese) about the employment situation back home. Another one for people longing for another age. The 1970s in this case I think. You’ll have to watch Tuesday’s semi-final (or YouTube) to experience this for yourself. You glutton for punishment…
  • Belgium: For once Sara Cox had something useful to say: “They’re like your sixth-form teachers performing.” The beatboxer was good though.
  • Slovakia. The sort of twins you see in FHM. And their singing was flat. They drove my cat outside on Thursday night and me to drink.
  • Macedonia: Notable for stealing choreography from Glee. That is all.
  • Israel: Dana International wore a dress made out of the sort of weaving primary school children are forced to do at Easter and strutted very impressively. Sadly Ding Dong was no Viva La Diva.
  • Belarus: Despite consisting of little more than “I love Belarus” it was quite catchy. Still never mind.
  • Latvia: The singer had something of the Barrowman about him. Not as slim or sparkly as our favourite time-travelling omnisexual though. The song? Who knows. My brain was starting to melt  by now – only Denmark and Jedward stood between me and bed.
  • Poland, Albania , San Marino, Croatia, The Netherlands, Cyprus, Bulgaria : All very average Eurovision fare that I can’t find anything to  say about.
  • Scott Mills and Sara Cox. For which I am truly grateful. I didn’t get the sense that either of them wanted to be covering the semi-finals this week. If you’re going to broadcast snarky comments about Eurovision it has come to from a place of love (or at least respect). We know Graham Norton can’t do it all, but please don’t inflict this pair on us again BBC.

So there are the runners and riders. Make sure you have plenty of snacks and alcohol, plus access to your social networking site of choice on Saturday night. Enjoy yourselves!

Posted by Jo the Hat


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6 responses to “Eurovision 2011: A spotter’s guide for Saturday night

  1. pauseliveaction

    Bless! Another Eurovision fan! And a very exhaustive run-through, Ms Hat.

    The PLA family will be clustered around our telly with a bottle of champagne and a mega supply of nibbles, whingeing about how it’s not as good as when Terry Wogan was on it, till we remember that Graham Norton is actually as good. We’ll be filling in our little scorecards, full of boundless optimism that a song we like might win, till we lose the will to live about half way through the voting.

    Quite like Blue’s song. I enjoy them trying to look moody, and I always enjoy the moment when Lee Ryan steps forward with his “I’m going to sing a high note, me” expression.

    And thank the lord that Jedward got through. They were practically born to do Eurovision – mad as a box of frogs. Apparently they’ve been doing their bit to get themselves known in the rest of Europe. Mr PLA was in Stockholm yesterday and while he was in the taxi from the airport he heard an interview with John and Edward themselves. The Swedes think they’re adorable and call them “toothbrushes” because of their hair. Will this be reflected in the vote when we hear the words, “Hello Dusseldorf! Stockholm calling!”?

  2. Tim

    Hi Hat (there’s a musical joke in there somewhere …)

    Great overview. Having originally stated I wasn’t going to bother this year, I did skim through the second semi last night and have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I’d become a bit jaded over the last few years with the increasing samey-ness of the entries each year – basically, everyone just seemed to copy whatever the winning format was the previous year – but this year’s lot seem much more diverse, and I love the split stage set-up they have, which is great for swooping camera angles of really dull songs.

    The Swedish bloke was quite cool – proper Eurotrashpop, just what Eurovision should be all about. Quite liked the Romanian entry too, not least because he upstaged the Grimes boys’ hair. Jedward? Europe deserves ’em, I say. At least Ireland aren’t taking it too seriously.

    Blue? Meh. Watch as we finish in the bottom five again …

    • The main reason I feel we may scrape out of the bottom five is that Blue are apparently very popular in Europe already. But I’m not going to predict a win or anything foolish. At least they can sing in tune – they did a lovely acapella version of last year’s winning song for Lena in a bit of VT on Thursday night.
      I’d quite like Iceland to win – though, like Ireland not sure how they’d pay for it!

      • Tim

        Ah, I hadn’t realised they were big in Europe. What little I know about Blue I learned from watching Antony Costa on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.

        I can just see a second bail-out for Iceland to help them host Eurovision going down well. Heh.

      • I was completely oblivious to them first time around. Will probably be oblivious again in a week’s time (give or take the odd peek at Google images of Duncan #mustgetalife)

      • Tim

        *Clamps hands over ears at the very mention of Blue*

        I’ll be watching tomorrow, as Mrs Tim – my fellow partner in sarcasm – is out tonight, the fool. But the deluge of commentary on Twitter is rather entertaining … 🙂