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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