Tag Archives: Eurovision Song Contest

A Euro-evening with Mr Norton

We should have more of this. It was actually both fun and enjoyable. Unless that’s the same thing?

Last night’s replacement for Eurovision was far better than the real deal. I’d thought it would be, but it was good to be proven right. There was no avoiding Graham Norton, or Mr Norton, as he was addressed by the polite ladies in Rotterdam.

He behaved much better, most of the time. (But there is still room for improvement.) First we had the reminiscing of the past, playing an odd and partly predictable selection of oldies and occasionally goldies from the last 60+ years of Eurovision. It was nice to see [some of] them again. I remembered what my problem with ABBA in 1974 had been. Embarrassingly large group, embarrassing clothes, and the surprise of them suddenly singing in English. Plus the winning, except that wasn’t bad so much as a surprise. Katie Boyle looked like Mrs Thatcher’s prettier sister.

And then they won again, in Saturday’s ‘contest’. Daughter was torn between ABBA and Måns Zelmerlöw but luckily she was allowed to vote for more than one.

Then came the more ‘real’ Eurovision, with two hours of this year’s hopefuls, directed by three nice people in Rotterdam. It was lovely! I feel I got to know them so much better than through the ‘postcards’ they usually have. We saw many of them in their homes, and we enjoyed counting the pieces of IKEA furniture, or noting who seemed to have none.

We fell in love a couple of times; the lovely young Italian man and the charming cheeky chap in Austria among them. We’d not have seen any of this without the worldwide calamity that caused the change of programme.

Björn Ulvaeus appeared and spoke wise words as Eurovision’s grand old man. We discovered a UK winner from 1997 that neither of us remembers ever having heard or seen. It was good. And wow, hearing it sung by all the 2020 singers at the end..! Discovered a UK non-winner wearing an interesting dress, or vest, as I would call it. Again, a good song.

To finish a great evening, we had an hour of Eurovision A to Z presented by someone who looked like a Russian millionaire, with good teeth. That was fun, too. More memories to be revisited, and new ones made.

Four and a half hours later we rose from our armchairs, with some difficulty. Even the Resident IT Consultant had remained, and looked like he enjoyed it too. That’s never happened before.

A very long time ago

I was at the dentist’s yesterday morning, and managed to pay some attention to what was on the radio, while also being crowned and glued and whatnot.

They were looking back on the long career of Terry Wogan. Radio Two, not the dentist. So there were snippets from Eurovision, with a pretty hilarious voting commentary between Norway and Sweden.

And then Terry was heard to reminisce on the big changes to Eurovision after ABBA won in 1974. They played Waterloo, and while I didn’t quite lie there singing along, it was still fun.

The dentist asked me if I could remember this. I said that yes, of course, I could. I didn’t tell him exactly where I was or what I was doing, but I do remember. I wasn’t an ABBA fan in those days. (My dentist, who is a very lovely dentist, won’t have been born then.)

And the next thing he asked was whether the members of ABBA were well known in Sweden before Waterloo. I said they were, but didn’t dare point out I’d been a fan of BB almost ten years earlier. And more recently one of the As. He’s very good with general knowledge stuff and irrelevant facts, and can manage a long conversation on exoplanets if he has to. But clearly not ancient ABBA facts.

You had to have been there.

Eurovision 2015

Eurovision was strange this year. It was quite clear from the start that three songs were the absolute favourites, and they remained the top three throughout, and I happened to agree that they were the best ones. I don’t think that’s ever happened before.

Was it just me, or did the Russian girl cheer up and calm down when she knew she wasn’t winning? She looked worse than anyone I’ve seen; ready to fall apart at the mere thought of things going well.

The Italian boys were both cute and had a good song. And the less said about some of the other countries the better. It was mostly mainstream Eurovision stuff, but those who stood out really stood out.

Måns Zelmerlöw

I hope Sweden can afford to host another contest so soon again. Usually we hope that Sweden will win – for obvious reasons – but this year it was more than a little weird. Daughter’s favourite, Måns Zelmerlöw, didn’t just sing for Sweden, but he won. I don’t believe that’s ever happened to me. I’ve liked singers, and I’ve liked songs. But not like this.

Thought I’d fall asleep around song no. 13 but got up and walked about a little and consumed caffeine to wake me up. I was puzzled by all the warnings that there would be fishing images, but eventually there really was some fishing. So it all was good.

Eurovision 2014

Well, let’ see how long I last ‘live blogging’ this year’s Eurovision. No promises that I will reach the end.

It looked promising at first. After ten minutes all 26 countries had marched onto the stage and off again. That was the quickest of all. But it appears they expect to actually sing, as well.

So far I’ve noticed the bearded lady and the baking ladies, and am not impressed by either. What’s wrong with a plain singing a song contest?

But at least we have ‘Kasper’ to entertain us. Except the presenters don’t come into their own until the dreaded chat with all of ‘Europe.’

Number three looks nice enough, but is showing a lot of bottom where her dress ends prematurely. The Resident IT Consultant enjoyed seeing a view from Iceland that he’d actually visited. (I hasten to add I didn’t mean the lady’s behind.) Glad there was something for him too. Graham Norton is clearly not enjoying himself. Again.

Man number five looks the same as number two. Belarus, Norway, what’s the difference? Why have the green room in front of the audience? Green rooms are for participants to relax, go to the toilet, and so on. It’d be my worst nightmare to green room it in front of everyone.

Receiving flak on facebook for not liking this enough. Surely it used to be more fun? Or am I simply growing old?

Spectacular Polish hair. Spectacular other assets too. And I don’t care what anyone says, but I don’t like bearded ladies. Song is OK. And the audience appreciation managed to drown out Graham Norton’s voice. Do that again, please. Thank you Nikolaj Koppel. You may speak and silence GN.

The Grandmother is sorting her drugs, but I can still hear the Swedish song above the crackling blister packs. Not bad. Sweden knows how to song contest.

Practical joke played on the Russian twins. Someone tied their hair together. Or not. Do I have time to go empty the dishwasher? Yes. All done. The good thing about stopping watching is that you can just listen to the songs. On that basis I liked the Finnish entry.

The rain from Spain… Cute Swiss guy. Just saying. The Resident IT Consultant has just gone out for a walk. I suppose he watches better from a distance too.

Why the surprise that Malta could be any good? GN? Small is good. And the official website collapsed. Denmark, hmm. Their flag was better than the song. Dutch singers very retro. GN likes their song. So do I.

San Marino is unusual, at least. Smaller than small. Which just leaves British Molly. (The Resident IT Consultant wondered if people would vote for a free Scottish entry, next year.) Nice double deckers. The song isn’t an embarrassment, which must be a first for many years.

Pilou insults GN. Thank you, Kasper! Tak!

Now we have Mozart up a ladder… Singing hosts. Whatever next? Results would be good. Preferably instant ones. Mini Maltese junior winner. They can sing in Malta.

Curly wurly cake? Honestly.

Votes. Booing? Really? Need to remind the Europe correspondents not to make speeches. Hilversum. Reminds me of my old radio. It’s getting exciting. I don’t believe Sweden needs another win. Let’s give it to Austria.

Was going to ask if anyone actually still speaks French. The French do. Most of the other people speak several languages. They sing the votes. Austria doing well. La la la.

I suppose it’ll be Austria or the Netherlands. Conchita wins. Congratulations to her. Him. Both of them. Just goes to show we all love a beard. (Within reason.)

Claes-Göran Hederström

I’ve not forgotten him, but I don’t exactly think about him constantly, either. Him being Claes-Göran Hederström, who represented Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1968. He certainly had my vote, back then.

Claes-Göran Hederström

But you’re never sure if cute looking, sweet singing young men age well. Maybe he wasn’t all that good a singer? And now that he’s an OAP, he’s well, old.

But Claes-Göran turned up on television a couple of weeks ago, and he looked better than he used to, and the voice had survived as well. So all is fine, and I see he is still touring and singing. That’s what we like!

Oops,

that would be us, then. Euphoric over win. Sort of.

I don’t often think of the Finns as being terribly amusing. This one was. And it doesn’t matter if he wakes up tomorrow wondering what on earth he said, because none of us know for sure who he was. Masks are good, occasionally. Even the Swedes had a person reporting on the votes who could actually speak English. People seem to have caught on, realising the importance of not making fools of themselves, language wise.

The UK thought they were finally taking this song contest seriously enough. But they didn’t. Look at what everyone else does! Even the Russian grannies were better than Engelbert. And it goes without saying that we want Wogan back. Now. Or at the very least, next year.

The Swedish song wasn’t too bad. And let’s hope they can avoid the exam season for next year’s contest.

Baku calling

There is a strangely Transylvanian theme to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Lots of capes and menacing dark looks, as well as those weird wing things on people’s shoulders.

Somewhat unusual that so many performers appear to be fully clothed. And old. Older, I mean. Like Engelbert and the Grannies. What’s more, they sing in languages other than English. Unless the songs are written in very poor English and sung in even worse. But I’m guessing several countries have opted to use their own languages. Good idea.

The Nordic countries like having immigrant singers, unless going for the superblonde look like Iceland did. The German boy was pretty (so many of them were, even if they did look Mafia/Dracula-ish) but could somebody please tell him to take his stupid hat off!

Who do we dislike enough that we want their country to win? Please not Greece! Though their song makes that less likely.

Let’s go for the Grannies, cookies and all.

Eurovision – a post script

Not only am I a fortunate witch, but my earlier post on Bookwitch about it being a small world, is definitely true here. Less than four years ago Son told me about his teacher in one of his subjects at university. (Isn’t it nice that he talks to me?) It took me a while to make the connection, but his teacher began reading and commenting on the witch blogs. Apart from being nice, Lauren also knows more than I do about most of my Culture topics. If I need to know something, I can always trust her to sort me out. If I’ve seen something early, she saw it before me, and some. And she always has the DVD box set.

So it’s hardly surprising that she went to the Eurovision dress rehearsal last week. And she promised to bring me back a little something. I’m very grateful to her, and I apologise for any suffering that might have taken place in the interests of this post. Over to Lauren:

My initial comments after watching the dress rehearsal/jury final were as follows…

Intro act: surprisingly entertaining, and probably justifies Stefan Raab’s presence as host. He certainly wasn’t there for his English skills or suave appearance in a suit! (Question: will international audiences find German humour funny?) Anke Engelke is fantastic, however. We left the hall shouting ‘Danke, Anke’, and weren’t the only ones. But I’m fairly sure it wasn’t coincidental that she did all the linking moments which required actual brainpower…

The songs: My favourite – Iceland. Crowd favourites – Germany (obviously), Ireland, Sweden, UK. Grandma’s favourite – Finland. Bookie’s favourite – France (?). Dark horse – Azerbaijan. Trashiest outfit – Slovenia, closely followed by Hungary. Weirdest act – Moldova. Most of-out-tune – Lithuania. Most overshadowed by background action – Ukraine. What were they thinking? – Georgia. Dodgiest hair – Denmark and France. Most retro – Serbia. Welcome back – Italy. Nice but bland – Switzerland. Best ‘feelgood numbers’ – Romania, Spain, Iceland. Best voice – Austria. Biggest fear – that Ireland wins! (Does Europe have *less*’ taste than Britain?)

It was interesting to see how different things sound in the hall and at home on television. A few acts improved noticably between Friday and Saturday – Italy was much better, and more in tune, as was Serbia and Georgia (whom I still couldn’t stand, but at least resembled a rock song instead of a mistake) – while others remained abysmal. (UK, for a global pop act you really need to try and find a tuning fork somewhere…)

The arena felt smaller than it appeared on TV, but they had transformed the football stadium very well. The atmosphere was incredibly friendly, complete with face painting, cocktails and a lot of strange outfits. One amusing thing to note was how obvious the pyrotechnics are in the arena – the fireworks almost deafened us, and Greece’s flames felt rather like an instant blowtorch. I wouldn’t want to have been sitting any closer.

Also entertaining was watching the mock vote after the interval act (forgettable). Apparently the video links need to be rehearsed too, so we were witness to a selection of actual hosts and substitutes in dreadful clothes reading a selection of fake numbers. This requires more skill than you’d think – the ability to announce ‘This is the result of the Moldovan’ and recite 8, 10 and 12 points is not exactly universal.

I watched the actual final at a party with a group of dedicated Eurovision fans, and none of us could agree on a potential winner, so the fairly wide distribution of points didn’t come as much of a surprise. We tipped Italy, just, over Serbia (who we knew would never win given they didn’t sing in English.) However, we suspected Euro-popular but bland would probably just make it, so the eventual winner wasn’t a great surprise. (They’d been my dark horse). I think we thought Sweden might just make it over the line instead. Italy’s position caused great jubiliation at our party, and some irritation – not only did we vastly prefer the song, none of us can possibly travel to Baku next year.

That’s probably enough rambling to be going on with. The whole occasional was ridiculous, but it was certainly an experience, and I’m very glad I went, even if I couldn’t get tickets to the actual final.

Danke, Lauren. So grateful that someone is mad enough to travel far and wide for some culture.

McFly, again?

Miss Vet called round for tea and scones again today. No, make that orange juice. And scones. It was very nice to see her. But this was her fourth trip to the UK in less than nine months just to see McFly. Over the scones I was foolish enough to enquire if she knew when they’d be appearing next. Well, yes, she’ll see them in London in two weeks’ time.

Danny Jones and Tom Fletcher of McFly, photo © Anna Bernström

Of course she will. She’ll just McFly over here again. I suppose I’m relieved I’m not the only one around here who is mad.

And I do like the way you can hang out near the hotel where your stars are staying and get to see them and talk to them. I now have a good idea of where to search for the famous when they come to Manchester. Whether I ever will is another matter.

Harry of McFly with Anna

Miss Vet came with some Belgian McFly fans/friends, which just goes to prove how you can make friends with the help of the internet and jet-setting.

For someone like me where my favourite act only tours every two years, and then always as his final tour, this business of McFlying several times a year sounds great. At her age she has the stamina, although there are the clashing interests of whether she naps on the plane or studies for the Chemistry exam on Wednesday.

Over the scones we descended deeper into the world of light music by discussing Eurovision songs old and new. It seems the pretty boy in the red leather jacket will be representing Sweden. Looks before song or voice. On the other hand he is no puppet turkey.

More Eurovision, quizzes and missed programmes

Speaking of Eurovision as we where, we had the pleasure of catching – very briefly – a programme called Skavlan, which my encyclopaedic brain identified as something I’d heard of before. It’s another of those ‘pratshows’ as they call chat shows in Swedish, although this one is Norwegian. Or is it? Could be that it’s just Skavlan himself who’s Norwegian and happens to ‘prat’ in Norwegian on a Swedish show. Or not.

Doesn’t matter, as we barely watched it at all. Daughter found the language and the ‘pratty’ subtitles less than enchanting and asked permission to switch channels. Before she did, we caught the Norwegian contribution to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, which looked really, quite, well, African. Upbeat music sung by someone with a very African looking name. When she came to be interviewed, however, she sounded thoroughly Norwegian. So, all well and good.

We found some sort of quiz show, second half of. I was told off for trying to show off, when all I did was answer the questions.

Before these bits of entertainment on a Friday night (I believe Fridays are the new Saturdays for staying at home and having a cosy evening in front of the telly) we had caught the last two thirds of På Spåret, which strangely enough I’d never watched before, despite reading about it often. It’s another quiz programme, with celebrity contestants. Not that I’d heard of them, but they seemed nice enough. We learned things about Haparanda and Acapulco that we didn’t know before.

And, it’s funny, but after Saturday’s heat of the ESC we hung on in front of the box, and were treated to episode one of Downton Abbey. We missed it at home, due to some other programme having the temerity to be on at the same time, and Downton Abbey lost on that occasion.

But, thanks to our travels we got to watch what everyone had talked about on Facebook and elsewhere, and it wasn’t bad at all. In fact, we liked it. Now all we have to do is find the rest of it.

I see that Zen is on tonight. Episode one. That, too, was a loser in the channel war at home, so maybe I will..?