Friday, December 30, 2016

The Top 20 Best Selling Artists

Here is the final Top 20 list, broadcast this morning on BBC Radio 2.

1 The Beatles
2 Elvis Presley
3 Michael Jackson
4 Elton John
5 Madonna
6 Led Zeppelin
7 Cliff Richard
8 Rihanna
9 Pink Floyd
10 Mariah carey
11 Celine Dion
12 AC DC
13 Whitney Houston
14 Queen
15 Abba
16 The Rolling Stones
17 Taylor Swift
18 Garth Brooks
19 Eminem
20 The Eagles

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Top 100 Best Selling Artists

BBC Radio 2 have constructed a Top 100 Best Selling Artists list and have been playing mostly two tracks from each one this week. Fascinating and also nice to hear some album tracks and less well-known editions from the BBC.

I guess they're including international sales which explains George Strait and Linda Ronstadt and I suspect more surprises still to come!

The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Queen, Carrie Underwood and maybe some other big Country stars from across the Pond are still to come,  Paul Simon should be there too, maybe with Art Garfunkel. Van Morrison too. Pink Floyd albums ought to get them in the Top 20, as could Duran Duran's 1980 sales and perhaps Frankie Goes To Hollywood but I suspect they might not have made the list with a shorter lifespan. then what do we make of Little Mix, One Direction and Girls Aloud who must have had vast sales recently. Perhaps not enough yet, though? I think it will be some older names - The Hollies? - we see and definitely US-based people. Taylor Swift, of course. Brenda Lee from the old days. Rhianna from recent days. Justin Timberlake. Andy Williams, Garth Brooks. Ariana Grande? Some of those will not be there at all.

Here is the list so far. I shall add the Top 20 when they're known.

21 U2
22 Billy Joel
23 Phil Collins
24 Aerosmith
25 Frank Sinatra
26 Engelbert Humperdinck
27 Barbra Streisand
28 Status Quo
29 Kanye West
30 Bee Gees

31 Bruce Springsteen
32 Lady Gaga
33 Metallica
34 Katy Perry
35 Adele
36 Bruno Mars
37 Justin Bieber
38 Jay-Z
39 Rod Stewart
40 Bon Jovi

41 Lil Wayne
42 Britney Spears
43 Fleetwood Mac
44 Tom Jones
45 George Strait
46 Guns n' Roses
47 Backstreet Boys
48 Neil Diamond
49 Prince
50 Paul McCartney & Wings

51 Kenny Rogers
52 Janet Jackson
53 Julio Iglesias
54 Chicago
55 Carpenters
56 Bob Dylan
57 Dire Straits
58 Bryan Adams
59 Def Leppard
60 Cher

61 Lionel Richie
62 Genesis
63 James Taylor
64 Olivia Newton-John
65 Stevie Wonder
66 Tina Turner
67 Linda Ronstadt
68 Donna Summer
69 The Beach Boys
70 David Bowie

71 The Who
72 Barry White
73 The Supremes
74 Duran Duran
75 Iron Maiden
76 Depeche Mode
77 Deep Purple
78 The Dave Clark Five
79 Bing Crosby
80 Pet Shop Boys

81 Santana
82 Earth, Wind & Fire
83 Wham!
84 Johnny Cash
85 Beyoncé
86 Shania Twain
87 R.E.M.
88 Coldplay
89 Van Halen
90 Spice Girls

91 Foreigner
92 The Doors
93 Reba McEntire
94 Meat Loaf
95 Barry Manilow
96 Kylie Minogue
97 Tom Petty
98 The Black Eyed Peas
99 Enya
100 Robbie Williams

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Jacob's Song from Douwe Bob

Here's a nice track from Douwe Bob from The Netherlands. Their Slow Down was 11th in this year's Eurovision.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Morning Dew

This week in 1967 Episode Six (with Ian Gillan later of Deep Purple) were in the Radio London Top 20. In a great week for music, the chart also included The Troggs' Night In The Long Grass, Pink Floyd's See Emily Play, The Monkees' Alternate Title, The Turtles' She'd Rather be With Me and Cream's Strange Brew. One of my all-time favourites,So Much for Mary by Jon was at its peak of 28.

What a great time to be a teenager!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Bobby Darin sings Clementine live.

Have to smile at this 1960 performance by the very talented Bobby Darin.

His #1 hit song, "Mack the Knife", had a strange connection with the number "59": it was the 59th #1 single of the rock era, it entered the Billboard charts at #59, and was the second biggest-selling record of 1959.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Eurovision 2016. The Top 10.

Tonight we'll find out whether Moscow has won the battle for Eurovision. Big Red has certainly thrown a huge amount of effort and one of its best stars into this thing. They really do mean business, and probably feel pretty hard done by after last year when they would have won had some juries not changed the numbers at the last moment.

Russia and Australia start the favourites bu quite a margin by I shall be brave and say that neither will win. I just have a feeling that the efforts and obvious attempts to appeal to everyone by Russia could backfire and make way for a simpler and more West-friendly nation. Australians may be super supporters of the whole Eurovision thing but, really, there should be a rule that says Australia can join in but we're not letting someone from a totally different part of the planet win. Dami Im is lovely, a super singer and demonstrates the power of make-up superbly but we already give South Korea a massive load of money with all the products we buy that they make without adding support for their recent emigrant to the pot. I am also a bit bothered by her odd sequencing of the lyrics. Paul Simon would definitely not approve, either, and I am a big fan of the guy.

So who will win?

This really is quite an odd year with no particularly good songs so I believe it will be a close-run affair. Here are my predictions, which, as always I have backed with cash at Betfair.

10 United Kingdom

Yes, I reckon the boys will make it this year. There's no-one vaguely like them and they have quite an appeal that our previous years' entries have not had. The singles selling well abroad too. But not that well.

9 Israel

If he gets things right, this guy could put on one of the better performances although I accept that Israel is not everyone's favourite nation, which is why I'm leaving him at 9. A worthy track, well-produced and the guy makes up each performance as he goes so it is very natural.

8 The Netherlands

Last year they nearly made it with their gentle strum-along song. This is pretty similar and is just a pleasant number with a nice guy singing with his band backing him. It doesn't do a great deal or make you want to go and buy it tomorrow but there is a certain charm about the track and the lead singer is a super performer who shouldn't put a step wrong. he;s been great i rehearsals all the way so far.

7 Cyprus

This is a bit of a long shot but this is a group that is unlike the rest of the crowd. Looking at how well The Disturbed have done recently then there may be some who vote for this band who rock along nicely with what is quite a catchy number. Their performances have been complicated and not that brilliant i some rehearsals but if they get it right there's a chance they'll be up there.

6 Australia

Dami Im will endear herself to lots and lots of fans I am sure and her dress and make-up and singing will be flawless. It's just a poor song in my view and, as I said before, Australia is a lovely country but it isn't in Europe. She will get enough votes to make the Top 10, though, easily.

5 France

This has been a huge hit across Europe and deservedly so as it is a good little pop song. It'll do well and many have predicted that it will win. I just have a feeling that it is almost too obvious with its ooo-ooo-ooo bits. The guy has also been missing quite a lot of notes in practice and relying on backing singers. he may do better than this but not a great deal worse.

4 Russia

After all their effort they will have to come close to the top. Sergei is a great singer, hardly ever puts a note wrong and also has a very difficult set of moves to do, with a tremendously impressive backscreen to work with as well. It's just, well, all a bit much. Russia will, though, get support and bags of votes from all their friends - and there are plenty, but not quite as many as before.

3 Italy

I think this is the best song of the evening and the singer is superb in terms of reaching the right notes and her delivery generally. She lacks a bit of personality which is a shame and she will need to smile and appeal a bit more than she has done so far to make this position but I feel there is much love for Italy and hope they do reach this position, or maybe even take the crown.

2 Ukraine

Controversial, this one. I may be completely wrong. The singer has written this herself and it breaks almost all the normal Eurovision 'How To Win' Book rules but that may even be in its favour. I don't understand all the lyrics or the history but suffice it to say she is unlikely to get any votes from Russia. If the singer manages to reach all the notes she has done in most rehearsals then this could be amazing. if she wails instead then I'll be very wrong and regret asking you to listen to it. Because it is so political, I fear that many voters will shy away from giving Ukraine the douze points and prevent her wining but I do expect to see her in the Top Ten.

1 Sweden

I am going for the double for Sweden. The song is not brilliant and the singer a bit bland but he is about the only modern thing on the menu apart from Justin Timerberlake and the Lithuanian guy. Hmm, maybe I should have backed the Lithuanian guy. No, Sweden are the only Scandinavian nation left in this thing this year which is remarkable but also likely to produce quite a few heavy points from their neighbours of whom there are plenty who have no-one else to vote for.

My personal favourites this year have been Austria and Croatia but, despite them both being well-produced numbers, the performers have been a little unreliable in rehearsals and the tracks are probably a bit old-fashioned for a 2016 contest.

Apart from Lithuanian's young fellow, the other two to look out for, each of whom could make the Top if they get things right and some others don't, are Malta's Ira and Armenia's Iveta. Both excellent singers with decent numbers who ought to be in the Top 10, if not the Top 5. One of them may, indeed, replace Italy and come fairly high but there may be some splitting of votes for dark-haired ballad singers this year and I shalls tick with Italy winning that particular battle.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Russia Crash but Armenia Impress at Rehearsal Day 1

The first day of rehearsals seems to have had an impact on some of the views as to who will do well on the Big Night. Russia, the major favourites since the start, had a difficult day. The staging seems so complex and requires all sorts of manoeuvres by the singer, few of which actually succeeded today. Having said that, Russia are renowned for not giving up and will, I am sure, put every conceivable effort into make things go perfectly on the night. For that reason, they may have broader odds now and, for the first time, France are 1st equal but they do remain at the top.

The young lady from Armenia got the only real appreciative applause from the various people watching, a sort of press gallery plus hangers-on and relatives I suppose. That does say something, though, and I get the feeling she impressed everyone. Armenia has been in the Top 10 for weeks already. This put her in the Top 5 for the first time.

The Netherlands and Hungary had a reasonable day but didn't do enough to move their odds much. They have each been consistently between 14 and 18 and seem to be around there still, Hungary climbing a few places but there are still 14 higher.

Croatia is the big disappointment for me so far. Once as high as 3rd, they are now 23rd. I can only assume that the singer simply isn't doing a good job at all. Or that expectations were way too high at the outset. Indeed, Croatia would,as the betting stands at the time of writing, not get through the Semi Final. There would be some recompense in that would mean Austria, another of my own favourites, would get through in their place. Group 1 is a tough one this year.

Although several others also rehearsed they are pretty unlikely to get very far so I won't bother with their reviews at this time. There is always some strange freak event that puts through a really bad act from the Semi Finals and I can comment at that time if and when it happens! For now, suffice it to say that San Marino, Moldova, Greece didn't exactly move from their 1000-1 odds and Finland, at 800-1 stay pretty much out there too!!

One surprise beneficiary of the misfortune of others seems to be our UK boys who have not only made the Top 20 but reached the dizzy heights of 18th equal! They are the only act who have closed odds so significantly as the chart above shows. It does also show, however, that they have not exactly wobbled much further down since mid-April. I still think they'll make it a fair bit higher. But then I always do overrate UK's chances.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Eurovision Update

With just a few weeks to go now, an update on the competing nations seems in order. Things have largely settled down as we await the first live performances, which is when we'll be most likely to see some changes as great recording artists just don't sparkle on stage or something that didn't catch our imagination suddenly erupts with the personality of the singer.

At the moment there are 6 groups. I've given them names. 

The Leaders

Since the outset, Russia has been in the top 2 and is now firmly established in the top spot with France a close second. France has closed in over the weeks, mainly due to the personality of the guy singing and his single has been very popular across much of Europe.

The Drifters

Sweden and Australia were both hot favourites in the Top 3 from the start. Sweden had a cool young lad doing something a bit different and Sweden just have that incredible enthusiasm for this competition and put so much effort and thought into the selection process that they almost have to do well every year. S it happens, though, the rather dreary performance has sagged to date and, whilst still with respectable chances of winning, it is not seen as likely now. He will need to find some magic in rehearsals and on the night to restore their previous threat to Russia. Australia have chosen the impressive Dami Im to represent them in their second effort to play the European game. We like Australia and Australians but, seriously. what are they doing in this competition? It messes up the whole affair, not just because they have a great singer who will steal loads of votes from others but also they simply aren't in Europe and already have their own similar show in that part of the globe. They simply cannot be allowed to win. Luckily, Dami has not got the best of tracks. Sound Of Silence is not the cool Paul Simon number but an oddly phrased ballad. It's good but not that good and even a bit annoying in places. They'll come 4th.

The Tenners

Not tenors as they're mostly female. No, these are entries that will almost certainly make the Top Ten or thereabouts, just not very high up the Top Ten. They'll probably come 5th to 15th. There is Ukraine, a remarkably good singer with a protest song that will not get them 12 points from Russia. She will not win as that would be too controversial but Ukraine always gets plenty of votes in this competition, whatever they do. Ukraine is joined in this group by several other contenders to this 5-15 area: Serbia have a serious lady and they're good at serious ladies. I don't think the track has a chance but quite a few others do for some reason. They seem to lead the Balkan ladies vote at things stand. Malta have a serious lady too but she is a little more modern and has a Carrie Underwood flavour which can do her no harm at all and may even propel her near the top of this lot. Voters do like Malta too. They don't have to think too much about voting for Malta. Armenia will get most of the small ex-Soviet state votes with their fairly harmless but not particularly inspiring entry. people like the small countries and an average song from a small country does better than a crappy song from a big country. Armenia tried to make theirs catchy but it really didn't work very well. Bulgaria could be the stars of the show with a little pop star performing for them. The song is pretty unexceptional but the singer is popular and should be confident on stage and appeal to the younger set who haven't got a great deal to vote for this year. Last of the six is a bloke representing Latvia. he has a catchy little ditty which will do well and probably come 6th as Latvia seem friendly to almost everyone, spanning Balkans as well as ex-Soviet lakes of voters.

The Undecided

Italy and the Czech Republic seem unable to decide which group they're in. Italy looks and sounds like a Top 10 act but doesn't seem to be able to hold its support as well as the Tenners, with whom they should belong. they'll probably come 10th at the end of the day but will oscillate up and down a lot between now and then. Czech Republic shouldn't really be in the final as their track is neither inspiring nor likely to get many votes but, somehow, they've garnered support from somewhere and have to be taken seriously. If they qualify and put on a good act then they may get enough average votes to make 15th. I am adding Croatia to this group too, although as I write they are predicted to be with The Others. That is because the song is excellent and has most of the qualities and features needed for Eurovision. At one point Croatia were sitting very pretty in 3rd place behind Sweden and Russia, well ahead of Australia too. Something has gone wrong for them in the meantime, however, as they've drifted out and out since. I had them as a winner at one point. I still think they'll be runner-up - if Nina can perform well.

The Chancers

Poland, Netherlands and Spain are each quite different but are in a little band of nations that could either win this thing or disappear completely with half a dozen votes. Poland have a singer that looks like someone out of The Feeling or The Darkness, I can never figure out which. He warbles and looks pretty unique and will either appeal greatly and get lots of votes or do nothing much at all. The Netherlands have this thing about bubbling along innocently before competitions and then on the night suddenly looking like they might win and often come in the top few and nearly steal the crown. This year could be like that again with a gentle number that rumbles along nicely and, depending on how they perform on the night, will either be up there at No.2 or down there at No. 22. Spain have an immensely catchy number - a real Euro treat if you can get past the first bit which isn't so good. If you can't then this will bomb badly. If the girl performer can get it across then it could even win the whole thing.

The Others

Here is a group of contrasts as there's Germany and United Kingdom who are guaranteed a place and several others who really look a bit vulnerable and may not make it through the Semis, like Cyprus, Hungary, Austria, Iceland and Belgium. Maybe Israel too. Germany and UK both have very good tracks but who knows how well their performers will perform on the night? With phenomenally good presence, either could surprise us and threaten the favourites but, with odds of several hundred to one at the moment it seems unlikely. Cyprus have a pretty cool rock track, one of f=very few that are likely to make it through this year. For that reason alone they may get a lot of support, being the only place for that type of fan's votes. Expect them to be right up there if all goes well for them on the night. Hungary, Belgium and Israel can safely be ignored this year but may just scrape through to the Final so we have to mention them. Iceland deserve a mention as they have the most spectacular backscreen show this year. They may not qualify but if they do make it through they'll be a surprise too as I think the audience will react favourably and they'll get a slew of reasonable level votes from across the board. Austria is another country that may not actually make it through and that would be a shame as they have a delightful number and another smart backscreen show. It's trippy and sixties but gently fascinating and the girl is very watchable. I hope she gets a chance but fear she might not.

There is, of course, a seventh group: The Strugglers! These are the nations who seem to be struggling even to qualify. This includes Norway, Denmark and Greece who usually do pretty well and Ireland, who haven't been so great recently but are still a nation to be reckoned with in terms of past success and song-writing ability. To be honest, none seem to deserve better this year, though, with distinctly average tracks that are not going to inspire anyone very much. the only exception could be the Federal Yugoslav  Republic of Macedonia. They have a good singer and a passionate song that I feel should be in the Final. Maybe they're out at 1000-1 for political reasons.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Just found this really good live version by the incomparable Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Eurovision Top 10 Predictions

Prediction time. Here are the countries that I think will comprise the Eurovision Top 10 this year.

10 Malta

There's a certain Carrie Underwood feel to this lady's intensity and she can certainly sing. The song is still not great and not exactly memorable which is why it doesn't rate more highly but, out of the dark haired big ballad ladies with serious songs this year, she is likely to be the third favourite amongst voters. It is difficult to choose between her and Italy who probably have the better singer but my current thinking is that Malta will get a few more votes.

9 France

Already high in the charts in several countries, France have a good-looking bloke and a very catchy number, satisfying two of the criteria to do well in this competition. I just wonder whether it may not have peaked too soon and I am also unsure whether the live performance will match the video. In the blokes poll, he is likely to be a good second.

8 Cyprus

Those voters who like a rough-looking band of slightly older blokes and those who just like a bit of earthy singing and live euro-ballad-rock have few choices this year which ought to propel Cyprus into the higher regions of the board this year. It's a good driving number, well-sung and I suspect the band will be good on stage live too.

7 Bulgaria

The young girl pop star will always have a place in the Top Ten and this year it's the girl from Bulgaria. She is very popular there already and has a fairly good track. Not brilliant but it will get plenty of votes from those who like this sort of thing. Fairly modern with a hint of politic and rebellion in there too. She also has little competition in the sector.

6 Ukraine

A very powerful song and a tremendous performance will make this entry not only much talked about but also voted for by Ukraine's many friends out there. It has the potential of being a winner but I feel it may be just a little too dark and heavy on the political side to attract as many votes as would be needed. It will get respect, however, across the board and, in a year when there seems no obvious runaway winner, the middle ranking points mean a lot.

5 Russia

Big Red are predicted widely to win this year. They have a good song and the compulsory good-looking bloke to sing it. He is a major star in the big country and will appeal hugely to Russia's neighbours too, where voters may well have his albums on their shelves already. I just feel that this track is missing something. It is all big, dramatic back-screen projection and digital this and that but whilst that is enough to get it near the top I just feel it will fall at the final hurdles when the 40-odd countries allocate their top numbers on the night. He is the #1 ballad guy, though, this year.

4 Australia

A fabulous singer who will be really popular and I am confident she will put on an excellent performance too. It is just a shame that the song isn't better. Australia could have taken the 'Europe' crown this year with this girl but someone has chosen the wrong song for her. That's probably just as well as it is a long way to Sydney for every other entrant in this competition. Miss Im is, though, the best female singer this year.

3 Spain

I am going out on a bit of a limb with this one. It is, though, one of few pop songs this year and voters do need a pop song. It is catchy, cheerful and even has its own dance attached. I am not keen on the way they dress Barei in the videos I've seen so far and some of the dancing has been embarrassing but I am ancient now and may not appreciate what youngsters really enjoy now as much as I may need to. This has a lot of fans from what I can gather and is possibly the only track that'll get your foot tapping. It will get votes and, possibly, this year is a good one for an average pop track to do well.

2 Croatia

One of my favourites, this is a beautiful and quite atmospheric song. Unusually, the artist, Nina has been pretty well hidden from us so far so I don't know how well she will actually perform this on the night. I am hoping she will look and sound as good. It is a good, well-written song and has a Balkan feel but also a Celtic feel so covers quite a few important bases from the start. If it's a folk sort of year then this is the one to vote for.

1 Sweden 

So here it is. I do believe we will be back in Sweden again next year if the young lad singing about not being sorry performs this well. It is quite unlike anything else this year and the boy is a popular star over there already. He knows how to perform on stage and the track will be popular across a wide range of current genre pop fans. Assuming the votes do allow a good flow of the younger element preferences and aren't all from crusty old communists and Balkan warriors then the boy will do well.

Other entries that I feel are worth a mention and may still surprise us include:

United Kingdom

I haven't given up hope that Joe and Jake will manage to put in a strong and tuneful performance. If they do then their catchy and actually quite well-written number deserves a Top Ten place and could knock a few of the above off the charts.


It's a good song and has what will probably be the most dramatic back-screen effects. They do count for something as they make the performance so memorable when it comes to remembering who to vote for. If the girl does a good job and the setting is as dark as the videos have been then this may kick out one or two of the others.


They may not make it through the Semis, unfortunately, being in a tough group this year and will be competing with Netherlands (below) to get into the Final. I think this is a great track, very Eurovision, sung in French and quite delightful with, again, a groovy back-screen too. It is, perhaps, rather dated but then so am I. I'd love to see this do well but am resigned to that not happening. If it does squeeze through to the Final, however, it could well be one to surprise us all.


'Slow down, brother', sing the band. They're good and it's a cool song that trundles along nicely. The Netherlands have done well in the past with similar numbers that just appeal in a gently pleasant way to voters. Not enough to win, though. I like this a lot and if it gets through to the Final then it may be one to watch too.


I had Italy in the Top 10 initially but replaced them with Malta. Neither are going to win and I may have underrated Italy's chances of making the Top 10. Their singer is excellent, really good, and the track is reasonable although the video that went with it was dreadful. That is irrelevant on the night, however, and if this girl puts on a spirited and passionate performance and the Maltese lady doesn't then they may well swap positions.


In a year short of modern-style pop stars Jamie Lee may do better than I am predicting. She has a slight sense of the Satellite girl about her but she is not sufficiently different. She'll do well and a few votes either way could make the difference between where she comes in the middle of the Top 20.

FYR Macedonia

'Donna, donna, donna' will stick in your mind and you'll be thinking how much like a cross between Charlene from Texas and Chrissy from The Pretenders this girl is. Now that's no bad thing at all. A good, catchy song and a good singer ought to be a winning combination. It's Macedonia, though, and they'll be lucky to reach the Final.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Spain get better dancing but still have the wrong trousers

The Spanish girl has revised the Spanish entry quite well and it now becomes much more of a contender, being one of the few that might appeal to the kids out there.

The 'dance' is now quite a feature but, as it's all about the feet now and even looks quite cool, we should be able to forget the slightly embarrassing version Barei did before. If she can control herself on the stage Spain will do well this year. She now just needs to change the hair. Oh, yes, and the trousers.

United Kingdom get an improved version of their entry

The United Kingdom entry has been improved a bit. It has a slightly stronger start and stronger, less complicated, beat. It also seems to get to the catchy bit quicker as well but I fear that, unless the boys can do exceptionally well with the solo notes on the night - the register just seems totally wrong for Joe - this isn't going to do terribly well. Having said that, if they do manage, somehow, to get everything right then it is as catchy as the French number, currently predicted to be Top 5, and they could then match that.

It will be a messy competition at the top with changes all through the evening, I suspect, and the winner will depend upon the audience votes added on at the end. I reckon Russia will be leading but will not get the audience votes which will help Sweden, Australia, Croatia, France and even UK. In that mêlée, anything can happen!

Bulgaria. Back again, I think.

At last, Bulgaria have published their song. Oh. It's disappeared. It was available for about 30 minutes and then YouTube says it's 'private'. I can only guess they're tweaking the video again, not that it seemed bad at first glance.

The odds briefly fell after its release so I think it went down well with the few observers of note who managed to see it and it should definitely get Bulgaria onto the Final this year after a long period away and it may make up a little for Polina's bad luck in not being selected in 2012 with a good song.

It is back now. How long for, I don't know. This sounds like it might just make the Top 10.

We're also waiting for a revised one from Italy.

Croatia lead the Balkan pack

The video is brilliant and I could watch it again and again. I am also warming to this entry. If Nina can perform this well then it is one of the few that can challenge Big Red for the down this year.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Azerbaijan hope a Miracle will bring them 2017 hosting. Serbia would need one. Lithuania need to stay in tune.


Azerbaijan have a decent entry, a strong song and if Samra sings it well on the night then this will do well. Actually, it'll do pretty well anyway as Azerbaijan have lots of money and the top guys there would like the opportunity to do some more trading through hosting the competition in 2017,

In a year when almost anyone can win - there being no obvious favourites that I can identify - anything can happen and this may sneak in to the Top 10 more by luck and friendly votes than anything else but that sort of placing is, I reckon, pretty much assured.

I would not say the same for Serbia, who have a distinctly unpleasant and frantic sounding song, with its inevitable key change and crazy high notes too being quite annoying. It does have the regulation Balkan flute and big drum so may find a few votes in the region and from states unsure of who else to vote for. I don't like this much.


Not renowned for their success in Eurovision, one of their best efforts was 14th in 2012 and it was the same singer who got them there that time. It's a reasonably good track, lively and sung with some energy and passion, although not much accuracy note-wise. It will get some votes and ought to qualify too. This recording is rubbish, though, so he'll need to better on the night but I reckon they might make the left hand side of the scoreboard.

Sweden get more than the grammar right with their next potential winner.

Sweden put a huge national effort into picking their Eurovision entry and it seems to pay off. This year they are favourites again with this excellent track from a nice lad called Frans. It is easy to listen to and very cleverly doesn't throw every trick in the book at us but merely suggests we might sing along in the breaks.

This is not guaranteed to be the winner but it will be up there in the Top 5 for sure.

I really wish we could have a similar 'Melody Festival' here. We did get to choose, admittedly, after years of just being told by a small committee at the BBC, but we had just one week of limited exposure and one short programme with a vote amongst those watching a secondary TV channel. Songs now get a lot of publicity around Europe and people get to hear many on the radio as well as on the stage so the requirement for instant hit is not as necessary as it once was. The Swedish system may involve a little too broad an audience and favours the middle of the road rather than something a bit special.

Their guy is also an established performer. We choose a couple of nervous lads who didn't make The Voice finals.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The UK Eurovision entry needs a lot of work.

By my calculations there are just five more songs to be released for Eurovision 2016. We're waiting for Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Serbia and the host, Sweden.

I haven't published the UK number as I was waiting for them to tweak it a bit and make it a bit more solid, especially at the start. However, you'll need to get familiar with it so here it is as it currently stands. Those first few lines really do need work. Once they reach the I, I, I bit it's pretty good but one of them is so wobbly on the lower register vocals.

Amongst these there are three nations that have won before and regularly do pretty well so no-one should really be placing any bets until we hear what they have to say, or, rather sing.

There is a lot to be said for coming out late. Assuming the Powers That Be in each nation can tweak the results of any voting or assist in the decision-making for the final number then they can take a good hard look at what is already out there and looking good and ensure that they either beat someone at their own game or distance themselves accordingly and go for a different vote.

This year there are a lot of quite good female singers with well-written songs who, in my view, lead the field. I would include amongst these the dynamic Australia, who will certainly get a lot of support, Croatia, possibly the top Balkan with a very good entry that'll pick up support across the region and a few more elsewhere too, FYR Macedonia and Italy, each with a very good singer and impressive, albeit more serious, songs and, with a slightly younger feel, Germany with a song that could do well if she performs it well and Spain who, whilst a bit old-fashioned with its la la las is actually much more current than most others. Austria has a delightful number and singer with a distinctly French sound and she ought to appeal. There very serious Ukraine deserves a mention too but I don't see her with a chance of winning.

Although there are many attempts to cash in on the Swedish bloke's style from 2015, none really seem to work that well, Russia probably being the best of that bunch and more or less guaranteed a Top 10 place again. The best bloke so far, though, seems to be the one singing for France with a very catchy number and he will do well in a field where he has little competition so far. The Netherlands have a nice number again and should do well as that, also has little real competition so will garner all the votes from people who like that sort of thing.

There are very few duos or groups of interest. In fact the UK stand quite alone with Joe and Jake's effort and really may benefit quite substantially from that and also having one of the catchiest songs this year. The only other groups I expect to see get votes are the Cyprus and Georgia Oasis bands.Neither band look like the sort of group that would give Eurovision a second glance. Cyprus have the more commercial number but Georgia the mor interesting and original. I guess neither will win but those voteres who like their styles will not have many other people to back so they will do comparatively better as a result.

Greece, Malta and Czech Republic fail to impress


I was fairly hopeful at the start with some nice traditional-sounding instruments and a beat but then it all went wrong. A sort of Greek rap intersperses with the chorus line. There's not a great deal going for this. It is about refugees, apparently, which may be a good move and get some sympathy votes from the politically see-me-I-am-correct types but I doubt if that'll be enough.

Greece usually do well with support from all quarters so they'll get some way up the board but whether this will get off the right hand side is not guaranteed. The video is not that attractive. See it here.


Malta is neither here nor there this year. With the We are invincible line the singer seems to be echoing the sort of lyrics from a few years back. Molly tried Power to the people a couple of years ago and didn't do terribly well and I suspect Malta will rather fall by the wayside this year. I usually back Malta and they have had some great entries but this is a bit average and, with so many similar entries this year will lose out to several others anyway. Ira is a great singer - maybe better than a lot this year, but that will not be enough. Since coming 2nd in 2005, Malta have failed to qualify in five years and, apart from one respectable 8th place, they've been placed 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th. Not looking good.

Czech Republic

A reasonably good song but it isn't inspirational and not particularly memorable either. I feel this will struggle to get anywhere. It is not helped by a totally pointless video which shows Gabriela singing I Stand but mostly lying down. It also doesn't exactly flatter her either in a pretty poorly produced affair generally. You can decide here.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Australia look like improving upon their 2015 5th place.

This is Australia's Dami Im, the South Korean winner of their The Voice show. She is an extremely good singer and performer and, listening to some of her previous efforts, I came to the conclusion that she was a very likely winner this year if they found a suitable song.

If they found a suitable song... The trouble is, I am not sure they have. Sound Of Silence isn't the Paul Simon number but a new ballad, quite a strong number but which includes an odd pronunciation of the word silence with equal emphasis on each syllable for some reason I can't quite figure. It sounds wrong. Dami looks lovely. She hits every note where it needs to be hit and will, I am sure, be dressed perfectly and just wow the audience on the night with her grace and power. However, one slightly more catchy and less annoyingly phrased number could still beat her.

No, I don't know what that number is. If there isn't one then she may make it and I certainly placed a bet while her odds were very long but I feel she is just in the melting pot with Russia and others yet to emerge and winning will be more by luck than judgement.

To be honest, UK's entry is sounding quite catchy and if they can sort out the presentation to avoid the poor start and emphasise the mid-range stronger tones of the two boys and enhance catchy bits then they are in with a chance this year. I'll publish a video as and when there's a better one than their TV show win which was not very spectacular.

There is also Sweden still to declare.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

San Marino and Croatia may not be there on the night but Australia and South Korea will be.

San Marino

Oh dear. This reminds me of Charles Aznavour but without the charm. It's another bloke with a beard. Older this time and he does a spoken bit in low range, almost bring Telly Savalas in on the act too. He is also bald. It's a moderately pretty little number but I don't think the bald bloke with the big nose and, especially if he still has a strap across his head, will appeal a great deal to voters. Make your own mind up.


They have a reasonable song with a Baltic feel about it at the start. The girl has a nice tone of voice and the quarter tone flicker always appeals to me. It is definitely one of the better Balkan entries but it remains a bit weak and needs more to make it memorable and get attention. The song is called Lighthouse and it is, indeed, quite 'light' but won't light up the house on the night.


I have only heard snippets of the Australian entry but it has a superb singer doing it in Dami Im. She has a South Korean background and so Eurovision will have not only the oddity of an Australian entry again this year but also, I think, one of the first singers from South Korea or even a country in that area. She is popular there and won Australia's The Voice with some impressive covers.

Titled Sound of Silence,  I did wonder whether they had somehow managed to tweak Paul Simon's song into an entry! It's not as good as I had expected. The song doesn't flow brilliantly from what I've heard and success will be down to how much of Dami's personality comes across and adds to the overall impression. I would not, though, underestimate her ability to win this thing.

As soon as I get it I will publish the song in this blog.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Macedonia do the anthem thing but Estonia, Romania and Poland don't.


I have no idea why Betfair had Poland as favourite to win a few days ago but they have dropped to a predicted 6th at the time of writing. The lead singer reminds me a bit of The Darkness guy with his straggly long hair, twig-like legs and the voice is a bit similar too. He sings in English, a sort of ballad and has a habit of trying to appeal to camera. Not for me, though, thanks all the same.

I found the song a bit boring but it had its moments and maybe it will have some appeal. It does have an effectively catchy o-o-o-o bit but nothing like as good as either the UK's or another I can't now remember in that respect.

So it has no chance of winning but may be around there on the left side of the board for no reason I can really give you. Make your own mind up if you really are interested in Poland.


They have a pretty good record at Eurovision with a couple of 3rd places and they've been just outside the Top 10 in recent years with more consistency than most. This year, though, I doubt they'll even make the left hand side of the big scoreboard. It's one of those big and dramatic type of productions with mist and gloom and three rather ugly blokes dressed up like walk-on characters from Game Of Thrones. There are three blokes and two slightly better looking females but only one bloke seems to sing. Oh, there is a sixth who wiggles around with a sword for what I perceive to be no purpose whatsoever.

I really dislike this sort of entry and hope it fails to qualify as I really don't want to watch it again. You can here. It is called Moment of Silence and if you'd like to see how bad it is, watch the remarkable Disturbed version of Paul Simon's Sound Of Silence first. Now, that's how to perform in that style (if you have to, that is).


This nation has a strange record in Eurovision. They have either done really well and made the Top few or finished in the lower regions. They've won and come 3rd in recent history but also failed to qualify more times than most. This is not likely to be a good year as this is an unexceptional number and I can't see how it could garner much by way of votes unless all the voters are in their middle age and live in grey semi detached suburbia, visit IKEA and a garden centre on Sundays and find this sort of thing comparatively interesting.

The singer is a pleasant enough young man and, rarely for this competition this year, clean shaven. He can sing very well but has been given a dull number. Now sometimes dull numbers do well as we find something in them second time that we missed the first time. See if you can see something for yourself.

This may not even qualify if their group has a lot of Nordic competition.

FYR Macedonia

Macedonia would love to improve on their best place so far. 12th ten years ago. They really haven't done terribly well and haven't even participated that much. Kaliopi puts on an emotional performance of quite a good song. She is a talented singer with a rough tone in places which sort of works for a song like this. The backing orchestra seems a bit out of place but maybe the staging will change on the night. One or two violins would work well rather than lots of instruments. The girl is a cross between Texas and Pretenders lead singers in many ways so that has to be in her favour too.

It is unlikely to do a great deal better but she might get lucky and make 11th place if she qualifies. Now that is by no means certain either as I am not sure how popular the country is these days. I say it deserves a second play and to reach the Final for what it's worth. If it's a year for an anthem then Macedonia have a good one.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Norway and Germany will probably fight for 14th place, while Russia look set for another 2nd place.

Norway often do well these days, obviously getting nul points back in the 1980s had an effect and since then they have made quite an effort most years, including winning with the cute boy and a violin. And, it has to be said, a well-written song.

They won't come last with this year's entry but they won't do particularly well either. It's a pretty boring affair from a nice enough blonde lass in the regulation white dress. Agnete has Loreen's backing track at the start but then the beat changes and it's all a bit odd. The staging of the video version is odd too but maybe they'll come up with something better in the live show.

They should just make it through the Semis but don't expect a great deal after that.

Russia, as I said before, mean business and they are throwing one of their leading stars at the competition in an attempt to drag us all to Moscow in 2017. This is a different video to the one published before.

Not my favourite entry but it has to stand a good chance. I predict another 2nd place. They really should have brought Polina back.

Germany have another young girl in the shape of Jamie-Lee. She sort of swallows some of the English words and sounds quite odd at the start. She won their version of The Voice this year and certainly has some talent and a fun personality. She may appeal to some but I don't think she'll get very far with this.

France may have you singing the you-oo-oo bit. Israel and Montenegro won't.

France have a good entry this year. They did have the favourite a few years back but the singer completely failed to do the song justice on the night. Here, with a fast and solid driving beat, Amir, who is yet another bloke with a beard this year, should be fine on the night. With a backing group doing the you-oo-oo-oo-oo bit all should be well.

This is one of the better ones so far and should make Top 10 although it won't be remembered much after the event, I suspect. But that's the point - grab the voters' attention for the evening and get them to support you and you'll beat songs that may actually be brilliant but take more than one play.

Montenegro give us flashing lights and a heavy number which even includes some disco synth work in places. I don't think this will work live, though, unless they are very fortunate and talented. Lots going on in the equipment department and the video has a very earnest and energetic blonde dancing in a tight black swim suit. She's eminently watchable but is unlikely to have much impact on the night.

Israel follow the tend for having a single electronic beat prominent in the track, especially at the start. It's a pleasant enough number and, for a change the singer doesn't have a beard. There really is nothing to remember about this song, though, and towards the end it all gets a bit frantic and it all goes wrong anyway.

1432 hit the UK top 20. Fifth Harmony make it work.

Nice to see Fifth Harmony, from X Factor USA Season 2 in the UK Top 20 this week. In just about every article I wrote on the show all those years ago I said they really ought to be the first pop act to make it across The Pond - I was giving them rave reviews even as a new group called 1432.

It's nice to right sometimes. Winner, dear old Tate Stevens was a nice chap and runner-up Carly Rose Sonenclar, let down by a terrible and probably drunk LeeAnn Rimes duet performance in the final but the stars for me of that series were these girls by a mile. Having said that, had they appeared looking like this then the show would never had made it to air!

I think some are only just old enough to watch their own video.

Friday, March 04, 2016

We can probably forget Latvia and Switzerland 2016 but Ukraine won't let us forget 1944

Latvia have yet another earnest and good-looking bloke with stubble, performing with lots of graphics. Cool sound effects but it all goes horribly wrong a third of the way through.

The chorus is OK but I can't see this going very far. Make up your own mind here.

Switzerland's Rykka has a certain attraction. She is blonde and looks like something out of the 1930s but she seems to have real trouble with high notes on what might have been a decent track. She looks sweet and the song has its good moments but I doubt it'll get very far in this competition. Switzerland really do have a habit of messing up with their song choices.

Ukraine has an entry that is controversial with its reference to invasion of Ukraine in 1944 and is bound to be seen as a side-swipe at Big Red for events in Crimea and other land along its Eastern border.

Quite how this will work for them as a Eurovision entry I don't know. It is classy and Jamala has an amazing voice, extremely professional. Not the usual pin-up girl, half-naked, drum bashing here. I feel it will get respect and nods of approval from some countries and may make the Top 10. Ukraine nearly always do make the Top 10 anyway. It could be a highly controversial winner but unless something happens to swing people's votes specifically in Ukraine's direction between now and the Final, I think they will get token 5s and 6s from supporters. Now, that might be all that's needed in an open year and who knows what the competition will be with so many still to be announced.

Netherlands aim for Top 10 again. As long as they can hide the drummer.

One day the Netherlands will make it. They have been close several times recently and, again, I think they'll make the top few with this genuine but simple track. It hasn't the appeal of the Common Linnets and I don't know how appealing the guys will be on stage as opposed to having fun on a well-produced video but I reckon it is in there with a chance.

They might be best advised to hide the drummer.

Oasis band play well for Georgia

This is Georgia showing that they can do Oasis and even the Manchester accent. The rock band add feedback, just like the 60s but it does seem modern too. They are very accomplished and it's a good track that anyone fond of some rock would like. Is it Eurovision, though?

Probably not. The only vaguely similar sound that won was the extraordinary, visually, Lordi, and that was a bit more commercial as well and just had that shock factor that meant voting juries couldn't forget it. This is just a good band. I wish them luck.

Ireland's entry is just meaningless and not even meaningless in a Eurovision way.

Ireland add yet another earthy bloke in his late 20s / early 30s with stubble, basically copying Sweden without realising that Sweden won last year and have now moved on, and it is unusual for the same type of thing to win twice. It isn't the 70s any more when La La La could follow Boom Bang A Bang and get away with it.

The song is really pretty meaningless too which would have been great in the 1970s but now if it is going to be meaningless then it has to sound interesting at least or have a catch you simply can't get rid of and finish up voting for without necessarily meaning to. That's meaningless 2016 style.

So, sorry, Ireland. The country's had a tough time at Eurovision for a while, much like ourselves but they will never be forgiven for the Turkey thing or the way Jedward ruined an otherwise brilliant song a few years back.

I can't be bothered to publish the video. It just isn't worth the effort but you can see the bloke here.

Armenia will get plenty of attention. If Iveta can reproduce this live.

A really strong entry from Armenia who seldom get much notice. This should change things for them as it will certainly attract some comment with its dramatic start and  Iveta keeps the pressure up all the way through.

I just wonder whether she can produce that on stage in a live show? If she can, twice, then Armenia will be one to watch.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Slovenia reprise the Bucks Fizz dress thing.

Slovenia haven't had a great deal of luck for a while. They have had some good songs but the performances on the night have been poor and in several years they haven't even made the Final. This ought to make the Final. An effortless performance by Manuella helps this simple pop song along. It has pretty meaningless English lyrics but at least the words do rhyme in the right places.

So many acts seem to strain but this is a well-chosen song for the singer and sits exactly in the middle of her register and her performance is so much better as a result when compared to many of the other entrants this year who seem to struggle at some point or just give weak notes.

She starts off in a white jacket that reminds me of the Danish Navy girl a few years ago. Near the end, though, her two rather strict-looking, black-dressed backing singers advance and rip it off. I don't really get the point as there is a fairly crushed and creased red dress underneath and the whole thing doesn't quite work on any level. They obviously watched some old editions of the show and liked Bucks Fizz. I'd be inclined either to ditch that move or, at least have some blue dress first that switches to red maybe.

I would also ask her make-up team to have another go. I am no expert but, for me, she could be much more attractive without the 80s style extended eyebrows or eye liner, I don't know which. Fix the way she looks and the dress removal, cheer up the backing singers, put them in white or something less menacing and this will be a popular track. Not a winner though.

There's no video that I can add in here yet but this link will take you to the on-line one.

Big Red mean business.

Russia really do mean business. Last year they nearly won and they've been in the top 10 almost every year, a force to be reckoned with, particularly if you rely on them for gas supplies or live somewhere they fancy bombing. Thank heavens they have stuck with a decent singer and a decent tune and not reverted to grannies.

I am assuming that this number by Sergey Lazarev is, indeed, their entry although it was released in December and I thought there was some rule about how far in advance of the competition a nation could publish its song. I doubt that Russia will want to contravene any rules, of course, so I guess this is it.

It's a good number but a trifle dated, and sounds as if someone has picked features from the last few winners and put them in this one. Handsome chap with beard. Tick. Butch voice. Tick. In tune. Tick. Key changes near the end. Tick. Computer synthesiser noise like Loreen had. Tick. Heavy beat. Tick. So far so good.

You can rely on Big Red to put on the best show and I expect they'll do graphics in a big way or some impressive set of some sort so this has to be one to watch. There will be politics to play, of course, but they'll probably break even on that front with plenty of states to support them to counter what may be some loss of votes due to events in Ukraine and Syria. In a year when there has yet to be any obvious contender, they may not need that many votes to win. Heavens, even UK has a chance!

I would have preferred them to have sent Polina back for another go but Sergey will suit a good number of fans I am sure.

Belgium: another possible Top 10 but they shouldn't give up on the chocolate this year

This is Belgium's pretty respectable entry. What's The Pressure is a title and some of the track has been borrowed from Queen as well as some of the title. There is also a bit of Uptown Funk  going on in the background so it covers a few bases. The singer's good and seems relaxed on the big stage. My guess is that she is a young chart star there. Any song that has the line "we are invincible.." is asking for trouble, though, and, despite a good baseline and some energetic afros backing her, not a great deal actually happens and you're left wondering where the hook might have been and whether you missed it or, perhaps, it just wasn't there.

Anyway, it'll get a decent number of votes and is a possible Top 10, depending upon what else is in the lists. Early days, yet.

Belarus go for style over substance, but forget to add the style

Belarus seem to have totally ruled themselves out of the competition with yet another earthy bloke, this time with long blonde hair, just for a change. He sort of chews up the words and the song Help You Fly is rubbish, goes nowhere and even the graphics don't make sense.

You really don't want to see it but if someone else does this is the link.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Watch Austrian blokes watch pretty girl in Teletubby Land.

This is Zoë. She represents Austria and is about as far removed from Conchita as you can get, unless she turns out to be a boy after all. I featured some clips of the background to her song in an earlier post and this is the full song. I think it's quite pretty and trundles along nicely in a harmless sort of way that many voters like.

I had hoped that we would have something similar but, actually, this is better than what we might have entered. It stands out at the moment as so many of the others are either earnest and earthy blokes, scary, odd or just terrifyingly bad performers.

It's gently fun. Just do try to take your eyes off the dress. Watch the mushrooms. the audeince seems to comprise solely blokes. That must be why she won. It's not a bad number and may do quite well.

Whistling chaps with light sabres will get Freddie in the Final for Hungary

I've included Freddie's video as I think it will one that stands a chance of being popular on the night. He is one of several earnest and earthy and pretty good-looking chaps on the Eurovision stage this year, attempting to follow on, rather than in, I suppose, the heels of last year's winner.

One day they'll realise that in Eurovision every year seems totally different to the last so it doesn't make any sense to copy what someone won with but never mind, they might at least still get decent points.

Three blokes whistling is a risky move as whistling live never works well but good luck to them and it adds a catchy bit. Quite what the man with the huge drum is doing I do not know. He seems never to hit the damn thing properly or, if he does, no noise emerges. The three whistlers also have light sabres. OK, that'll put Freddie in the Final.

Finland don't do beauty competitions this year. Titled 'Sing It Away'. Far away, please.

Finland are clearly not very enthusiastic about the 2017 Competition being hosted by Helsinki. Sanhja is a rather unattractive lady who pounces on bits of the stage and has an almost too enthusiastic bunch of backing singers. With a very butch look, chunky legs in black leather trousers and an odd shade of lichen top with short hair and an angry face, this girl is not pleasant evening viewing. The song is just dreadful too.

I found any member of their winning band Lordi more appealing.

Hers is an awful performance of a song called Sing It Away. I hope she does. Far away.

If you are desperate, watch her here. Well, there.

If Egg Head and Beardy Rapper don't scare you the Black Lace will

If the idea of Eurovision doesn't frighten you already then a glimpse of the Bosnia & Herzegovina entry will do the job nicely.

I haven't added it to the blog as I fear for my readers' health but if you are feeling brave then the link will take you to their performance. Now, normally good old B&H do well but I don't hold out much hope this year. It starts with a sort of electro-cello that looks like parts of a robot gone wrong. It is probably made from very expensive alloys of some type but second fright comes with the lady playing it. Hair pulled back so the roots strain and she looks pretty ancient and that is too old for the see-through black lace affair she is wearing.

Blink and you'll miss her perhaps but open your eyes only for fear factor three when the Egg Man arrives on a balcony in a scary building somewhere in what used to be Yugoslavia. His head is so smooth on top it looks unreal.

He has another black haired partner who is just plain plain and then  just as you think it's all over, along comes Beardy Rapper Bloke looking and sounding dreadful.

Friday, February 26, 2016

So it's Joe and Jake to represent UK in Eurovision.

Tonight we get to choose the UK entry. First we see last year's winner reprise Heroes and, of course, it comes with its super light effects and squiggly characters. Our entries are simply not going to look as good as that which is a bit unfair. Having said that, I hope we go for a gentle number that will stand out becaise it doesn't have that huge background or shocks on the back screen.

The talented Mel Giedroyc is a super host, very intelligent and handles all sorts of odd happenings in her stride. For example, we were due to see the Stockholm stage but it didn't appear so she just remarked on how quick it came and went!

Katrina of Katrina And The Waves is there from 1997, the last year that we won.

Dulcima are first to perform. As a band they are pretty good but the girl struggles on her own, the lyrics not really flowing well. I guess she must be nervous. Seemed that way but the guys carried her along and she gained strength later. It's not bad and would get a reasonable number of votes. They have a good natural look, a bit folk-weird which is no bad thing.

Matthew James is the more mature entrant. He was in a boy band many years ago. I tend to worry about people who were in bands I don't remember doing terribly well now doing Eurovision. This is the straight song. I don't think it stands much of a chance. Nice bloke but not suitable for Eurovision and it really wouldn't do a great deal in the UK charts either. Cue polite applause.

Darline have been my favourite to date. Now, how will they manage on stage? They did quite well but were a little weak in places and I wonder how that would work on the very big stage. Still the best so far and, maybe if they stand a bit closer together, they'd do well. The audience love them. Good reception. They need to interact more and that would help. Lots of support from the crowd for sure and that counts for a lot.

Karl William Lund was in a Beatles tribute band in Greece! OK. This is all him. He wrote the song as well as performs it alone. Zero production on this. It needs some backing and more emphasis. It just doesn't work that well and he is off-key quite a bit too which I guess is due to nerves. He really ought to do his own song right.

Bianca next. She has a similar title song to the last winner in 97. She has a good number of smart people behind her, including Leona Lewis who helped write it. Quite professional. Quite commercial and a pretty girl standing there will get lots of votes too. But something doesn't work for me in the song. It's a bit of a mess, quite frankly with an accompaniment that sounds odd. Listening to the panel and the audience there, she stands a good chance of being selected. Interesting. She did certainly put a lot into that.

Joe & Jake were Voice UK lads from a while ago. Neither did particularly well there or have done much since. Now this is quite a good song but they are a bit weak as a pairing. Eurovision should like a couple of good-looking young lads, though, and they're not bad, mostly in tune as well. A fairly strong song but I don't see it winning.

So far, Bianca has made all the running. Joe and Jake have the catchy i, i, i bit.

And Joe And Jake win the vote. Their second attempt was a lot better too. Good luck to them. They'll need it. I do hope they get the last not right on the night.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Cheer up, Italy. You nearly won last year.

I don't know whether Francesca is looking angry because the lyrics require it or that she is none too impressed by the crappy graphics in this disappointing and slightly indulgent video. Luckily she'll be able just to sing on stage or, at least, have a nice background or something like everyone else seems to be getting.

If you can ignore whatever is or isn't going on amongst the annoying people on screen, this song is very good and extremely well sung. It is truly Italian and some will find it a bit old-fashioned but the three tenors took Italy very close to winning last year with a much older style number. Indeed, theirs was the most popular of all with the voting audiences across Europe. And maybe Australia.

This girl just doesn't have the appeal of those guys, though, and there is a certain sombreness in the track that the Ukraine entry could have done with. I wouldn't want to upset this girl and wouldn't be at all surprised if she didn't come from Sicily. Great number and I hope she does well but I fear it will struggle to reach Top 12 this time.

Austria provide pink flowers, magic mushrooms, bubbles and a see-through skirt. What more could Eurovision want?

Now if you like pretty graphics this is the Eurovision entry for you. Austria seem to want to get the competition back to Vienna again with this strong entry in the flowing, fairy-like girl department. If she is billed next to the Cyprus ugly gang then that would be interesting.

Good singer and the song is in French which is often more pleasant on the ear than German. It is a bit repetitive which is, of course, pretty normal for a Eurovision song but it doesn't actually go anywhere and that might disappoint a few who might have been about to give it a big vote.

The scenes are amazing and will certainly get attention on the night if they repeat them.

Albania - not a winner but impressive none the less

You can usually rely on Albania to be a bit different. Not always for the better but they have a pretty good record in gathering votes over the years. They will get a good number for this dramatic stuff from Miss Eneda, assuming that she doesn't have to sing this too many times that her voices gives out in the meantime.

In past years Albania has promised a lot but seldom delivered when the live performance comes. This girl seems a bit more reliable and has a whole pile of people around, of whom she'll be able to pick five to help her out and if she can keep the band too she'll stand a chance of making the Top 12.

She certainly gives it her all but, at over 4 minutes there's some editing needed here and, with a false ending already in the track, that might be where it ends in the official version. I would prefer to keep the finale and lose something somewhere else but we'll see. It's not going to win anyway so I suppose it doesn't matter a great deal.

Cyprus could do well if voters close their eyes and like late 80s rock

Good strong rock entry from Cyprus. Four blokes that I'd rather listen to than watch but they do know how to sign and play. Classic late 80s early 90s rock but if this is the year when voters are going to like classic late 80s early 90s rock then they could do well.

They'll certainly stand out amongst the wailing women in white dresses.

Denmark's older boy band look scared

Another nation I inevitably find myself backing, if not even singing along with several weeks later, is Denmark. This year they're gone very Middle Of The Road - no, not the Mississippi group, the genre - and three heading for middle-age men perform rather more nervously than you'd expect.

Now, they may improve by the time May's competition gets here and you do hope they do because at the moment the song gets pretty much spoilt by the one that looks very scared with a sort of wobbly effort at finding some notes for the last line of the chorus. This song should have failed on writing grounds and, to be fair, the guys make a good job with some dodgy construction.

They did well with Evergreen and then the girl in a white dress and no shoes and another girl in a white coat and a sailor's hat but 2016 won't be Denmark's year, I'm afraid.

Spain: great song but either the dress or the dancing need to change.

Every year I back Spain to do well but they never manage to garner the votes across the board. Occasionally a few countries will love their entry and give them big points and they reach the left hand side of the scoreboard but there have been years when with one of the best songs they came close to last. Their fortunes seem to have matched UK's of late.

This young lady has bags of energy and it is a real pop song. I love the shoes although I am not so sure about the dancing. Or the dress. One needs to change.

For all that, though, I like this year's too and wish her well. It is a strong contender again. But, yes, I have said that many times before.

Iceland may have to change those graphics for Eurovision

I nearly always find Iceland's entries either excellent or intriguing and occasionally both. This year they have gone more commercial and seem to want to combine the Loreen effect with a background graphic effect to grab the votes.

They certainly grab attention and at one point I thought I was watching the Smoke Monster in Lost! Whilst very effective in parts, the shadows of hands, apparently without thumbs, were simply creepy and slightly worrying.

It could even be a future theme for X Files too.

Darline could give us our best chance for many years in Eurovision

We now have the six tracks offered for Eurovision 2016 as the UK Entry.

The stand-out for me is Until Tomorrow by Darline who opened for The Shires and have done some cool stuff over the last year. If the link isn't working and to hear the others, go to the BBC page.

Of the others, Joe & Jake seem pleasant enough lads who did reasonably well on The Voice a while back but their number is a bit reminiscent of Sweden's Heroes without the style.

Bianca is probably my second choice with a nice track co-written by Leona Lewis and a few others are behind the scenes on this one with experience. She's good but I can't really see it doing much.

Dulcima are another duo who sound good but it's a pretty forgettable number. Your fingers may strum for a while but odd things happen in the middle and you'll want to go and make some coffee.

Matthew James is an excellent singer. No idea where he comes from or who is behind him. Nice but 'nice' doesn't win. And this is a bit tedious after a while too.

Karl wrote Miracle himself and he's an impressive singer and it's not a bad song at all. It just wouldn't do much in Europe and probably wouldn't do much in our own charts. I guess it might challenge Bianca for second place but they all lose out by quite a long way to the young girls, Darline, who should be our representatives in May.

They remind me of a Netherlands duo from the year before last and one or two other quite gentle but appealing tracks that have made the Top 5. I give them a decent chance and get the feeling they won't be totally put off by the live show either.

One of the girls is Cára Beard so expect some silly jokes about a girl with a beard winning Eurovision again.

Friday, February 19, 2016

New Eurovision Voting Calculations

An interesting change this year in how the results will be calculated. This article explains it well.

In essence, before the various countries' juries would determine from their own and their national votes which ten acts would receive points. First would get 12, 2nd 10 and so on. Those all got added up as the evening progressed and, as you may recall, recent years have seen a clear winner established some twenty or thirty minutes before all the votes had been declared. Not ideal, especially for presenters and jury representatives delivering the last few scores.

Now there will be two sets of points awarded: the juries' as before and then the top ten acts based on national votes will also be noted and similar 12 to 1 scares allocated to them. These national votes will not be announced from act to act but accumulated behind the scenes and totals for each act announced at the end of the juries' figures. These will then be announced for each act, starting with the lowest. It is quite possible that the large numbers involved could have an impact on the acts' final positions so we would not know who had won until very close to the end.

The table below shows what the positions would have been had the system been in place last year. Sweden would still have won but the overall audience voting preference for Italy would have resulted in Italy taking second place. Had we been watching the scoreboard, we would have seen Latvia in second place for quite a while!

CountryPlace old systemPlace new systemTotal oldTotal newJuryAudience
United Kingdom2427516124

Unfortunately for us here in the UK, our act would have finished last but noone would have received nul points. We would have started as 23rd equal with the juries' 12 points. Then the presenters would have announced  our extra 4 points (after Austria's 0 and France's 3) giving us 16 and lifting us into 22nd place for a while but once Poland got their 47 added and Albania their remarkable 93 A huge difference between jury and public there!) we would be down at the bottom and that would be that.

Sweden's 353 jury score would have had them at the top for most of the time but with five nations still to declare it would have been Latvia in 2nd place. When Australia's total is announced they leap into 2nd place an Belgium briefly take top spot when their scores are announced! Sweden's get announced next and that'll put them back at the top and it can be seen then that Italy would need 454 to catch them and Russia 391. (Someone with a calculator may have worked out by now that there are only 642 left and the next scores both have to be greater than Sweden's 272 so the highest one could be is 369, so not possible but not obviously so).

Russia get their 286 announced and fly from 5th to 2nd. The final vote is Italy and they get just enough to overtake Russia to take 2nd place after being 8th for most of the evening.

These figures are from the table shown on the site linked above. With 39 countries voting the total votes would be 2262 which is what the audience figures add up to but the jury figures only total 2204. That seems to indicate that one country's jury votes were not counted. No idea why. It is unlikely to affect the comparison, though.

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