Sorry I didn’t post this on Sunday. I was hungover. After that I was kind of busy for a while. Just pretend I had to get it off Bittorrent like my weeklyDoctor Who episodes. Adam has already posted links to YouTube vids for all the entries, so I won’t do that again. Here are my notes from the evening, edited so that they at least approach comprehensibility. I’ll have some more substantive comments on the losing entry at the end of the post.

1. Bosnia-Herzegovina: Maria Sestic – Rijeka Bez Imena
She’s not blonde, he (her partner in the act) looks gormless. "Eastern" scales, balalaika, appalling costumes. Decent song, nothing special.

2. Spain: D’Nash – I Love You Mi Vida
Boy band! White uniforms, dance beat. Ornamental percussionists. Would have done very well just a couple of years ago. Turkish-style break. Some Bollywood influences. They say they heart their lives, but they won’t once the points have been handed out.

3. Belarus: Koldun – Work Your Magic
James Bond! I like a good spy tune. Somehow, the singer morphs into David Hasselhoff though. The singing isn’t too good. Reminds me of Toto Cutogno from the 1980s, but the poor guy must be spinning in his grave. The song has a nice hook, though. Calvin, who dropped by at the very beginning of the contest but couldn’t stay for the evening, said he liked the lighting. David Copperfield, says Jelena. 20 more songs to go, say I, at which Adam is aghast.

4. Ireland: Dervish – They Can’t Stop The Spring
Dervish! They’re famous! it turns out they’re also awful. The singer looks like she can’t hear her own voice, and sounds like it. She looks like a deer caught in the headlights. She gets points for soldiering on in spite of whatever bothers her, but this group is going to fail badly. Adam puts his goggles on; they do nothing. I feel sorry for the singer.

5: Finland. Hanna Pakarinnen – Leave Me Alone.
Goths! It’s what finland does best, after linux and drinking. Decent goth-metal lite material, not too sure about the singer. Why are the backing band dressed like the blues brothers? Jelly likes this one. Adam says it’s not awful, which is high praise coming from him. He also notes that it reminds him of Cher, and despite the Gothy touches, he’s not wrong. Adam doesn’t know pop music very well, but he’s got ears and isn’t afraid to use them.

6. FYR Macedonia. Karolina – Mojot Svet (My world).
Nice dress. I approve. Jeroen says she’s too old for it though. The song is pretty incoherent. Where did they find the FYR Macedonia’s only redhead? Just a few years ago, they all used to be blonde.

7. FYR Slovenia: Alenka Gotar -Cvet Z Juga
Another goth! Can’t say I like this much. The voice is too operatic for me. She uses a gadget. The song contains a key change, so it’s time to get a drink.

8. Hungary: Magdi Rusza – Unsubstantial Blues.
Indeed it was. Rusza gets points for not looking like a Eurosong contestant, though

9. Lithuania: 4Fun – Love Or Leave
It’s 1989 again. This song is laid-back, but too earnest to work. The singer is a bit older. Later in the song, she seems to be enjoying herself more

10. Greece: Sarbel – Yassou Maria
It’s gay night in Greece. But then EVERY NIGHT is gay night in Greece.
Dancing like a chicken girl? Ricky Martin is spinning in his grave. Lord have mercy indeed. On the plus side, there’s a hint of bondage in the act, and some happy bum fun. Musically, it’s just about on the right side of OK.

11. Georgia: Sopho – Visionary Dream
On the night, several people in the room said she sang like Kate Bush, which I took a bit of offense at. On second thought, now that I hear it again on the Youtube vid, I can hear it, though. But I still think she more closely resembles the singer from Propaganda. Jeroen likes this one. The dancers are pretty ghastly.
Hmm… actually, this isn’t too bad.

12. Sweden: Ark – The Worrying Kind
Hard rock! T.Rex! I’m gonna leave it all to the spirit in the sky! (Who did that, again?)1970s retro kitch/powerpop influences. This probably got my brother’s vote. It’s catchy, but not as good as the real thing.

13. France: Fatals Picards – L’amour à la françle;aise
The fuck you Eurovision song of the evening. It’s Rob Halford, and he made Jelena laugh. The song appears to be in Fringlish. Rob’s got a cat for a scarf. This isn’t a problem. It’s all very gay. That isn’t a problem either. It’s terrible – now that is a problem.

14. Latvia: Bonaparti.LV – Questa Notte
They’re coming to take us away ha ha ha. It’s the final countdown! But with operatic voices and top hats. It’s pretty dull stuff though. I think this is the first in 6/8 time. Key change, time for a drink.

15. Russia: Serebro – Song #1
At last, something to get down and boogie to! LBDs! This entry resembles the Spice Girls but is a good deal better. Unlike the Spice Girls, these girls can sing. The song is good and the fact that the singers are quite pretty doesn’t hurt their chances. Good dance beat. Actually, the first that would cut it as a mainstream single.

16. Germany: Roger Cicero
Frauen Regier’n Die Welt
1940s Swing. In German. Or Kölnisch. I’m too drunk to tell. Well done. Key changes, but it’s part of the idiom, says Adam. Me like, but not as much as Russia.

17. Serbia: Marija Serivovic – Molitva
Girl, boy, creature from alpha centauri?
Decent singer, though. Very like a bad Cher song, but better vocals. Two Marlene Dietrich clones in the background. Three key changes, according to Adam. More drinks, then.

18. Ukraine: Verka Serduchka – Dancing Lasha Tumbai.
It’s DIVINE! Key changes galore! More than the rest of the contest combined (in other words, lots of drinks in a short time. Another fuck you, Eurovision song. Rather good, actually. OTT

19. United Kingdom: Scooch – Flying The Flag (For You).
How much are they going to suck, was the question on my lips before it started.
Oh, dear, it’s a song about a willy. They look like the cast from Are You Being Served? I swear I saw Mrs. Slocombe among them. It also reminded me of the debacle that was Double Date’s Email from Berlin, which was thankfully squashed by the Dutch voting public before it could have embarrassed us in the finals seven or so years ago. This is arguably worse – we don’t need another round of the Vengaboys.

20. Romania: Todomondo – Liubi, Liubi, I Love You
First song in two-step tempo. Oh, God, another Italian tenor! And a French peasant.
What were they thinking? But it has its moments. Mind you, the actual minutes are awful.

21. Bulgaria: Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankoulov – Water
Apart from its dominant but not very inspired techno beat, this one’s got some interesting things going for it. Ornamental percussionists, jew’s harp, long notes with a dash of microtonality thrown in. A bit like Ofra Haza meeting Gjallarhorn. Me like.

22. Turkey: Kenan Dogulu – Shake It Up, Shekerim
It’s another Turkish entry.
Ricky Martin is spinning in his grave.
Not as good as Tarkan.
Not even as good as Arkan.
Bellydancers not a patch on Shakira.

23. Armenia: Hayko – Anytime You Need
Adam screams in pain. Claims it’s laughter. Whatever it is, it’s hysterical. He may never recover. They’re coming to take him away ha ha ha.
Adam’s hysterical breakdown continues throughout the song with high-pitched, screamy laughter, and even the key change doesn’t slow him down. He misses out on another drink, then.

Seriously, this wasn’t nearly the low point of the evening, but that tree with the streamers, the earnestness of the singer, everything contributed to a perfect storm of sillyness.

24. Moldova: Natalia Barbu – Fight
Another goth. Church organ and fiddle.
I see Paris, I see France.. Maybe it’s because I’ve been pummeled, but it’s not leaving much of an impression. For all I know, it’s probably as good as the previous Gothic entries.
(Tuesday evening update: Naaaah.)

Now. I’d like to take a closer look at the loser. I always find those more interesting to do a postmortem on than the merely mediocre, and since this year’s final placement was particularly ghastly, figuring out what made that happen has become an itch that I need to scratch. Dervish are a well-known Irish folk group with half a dozen albums out since 1989. They were also groomed for the festival and given four songs to sing in the Irish selection round. Yet on the night, they looked like a bunch of pillocks. You don’t stick around for that long if you consistently sing like a broken bagpipe and look like a frightened ungulate in a tasteless dress.
Indeed, take a look at the video with the studio recording of the song:

… still not my favourite thing ever, but the singer is singing properly, wears an outfit that suits her and moves in a natural way. This was what they wanted to present.
Adam thinks the choreography distracted the band, particularly the singer, from her real job of singing the damned song already.
Me, I wonder if she could even hear herself sing. That would definitely explain not just the out-of-tune singing but also the panicked look on her face. This Irish commentator agrees with me.

Finally, on block voting: It definitely does exist, though the reasons probably aren’t just neighbourly back-pattery or attempts by the voters to stop their old enemies from killing them again. A large part of the explanation is a shared musical ear, as well as different attitudes between the various blocks. It does look like the FYRs took the event far more seriously than the western countries did, with England and France apparently thinking that goofy, camp novelties would get them high final rankings. The Netherlands sent in what sounded like a Mai Tai album outtake from 1986, and deservedly failed even to reach the finals, which was another piece of bad news for Dervish.
Block voting pretty much guarantees that, for the next few years at least, the contest will be dominated by the FYRs. But it didn’t cause Lordi’s win last year, and it won’t be enough, by itself, to pick the winning entry. Serbia got 8 points from the Netherlands, seven from Belgium, 10 from Norway, and so on. Those votes were what lifted it ahead of, say, Slovenia, which ended up in 15th place.

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