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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Eurovision 2005 - The Review 

Eurovision 2005 - Ukraine

1. Hungary - Forogj világ
Up-tempo plinky plonky song with a sexy lady temptress and plenty of bald black suited backing dancers. Terry called it Hungarian Riverdance, but with their heal-toe, dosey-doe routine it reminded me of my primary school country dancing competition. Despite the fast beat and "Na-Na" sing-a-long-a-chorus the lyrics - "I won't wait for us" and "I want to be somewhere else for a long time" were quite depressing. Nevertheless, a nice start.

2. United Kingdom - Touch My Fire
Rumours of Javine's pre-tournament sore throat were all over the TV before the competition (ahh, bless) but thankfully she sang it alright. Shame it was such a rubbish song. "Crazy rhythm" my arse. Her group consisted of two dancing blokes who were wearing those flame patterned shirts Next always seems to stock and 3 colour co-ordinated female backing singers who slithered around the stage. It was all a little too Beyonce and Javine ended with a rather awkward face stroking hand movement that resembled the end of 'Face-Off' a little too much for my liking. Not great.

3. Malta - Angel
Is that a giant raspberry singing? No, it's Malta's spangly answer to Celine Dion. Pipes and piano dominated this big ballad with soaring chorus and mandatory key change. Fair dues though, the lady had a very good voice and grabbed the microphone off the stand for a big "Meeeeeeeeeeee" towards the end. "I'll be the sunshine when you're feeling blue" she sang. Finished second...deservedly so.

4. Romania - Let Me Try
Pipes and jungle drums (this year's instruments of choice) kicked-off Romania's Europop entry. The singer was a scary haired lady with a dodgy voice and a backing group made up of blokes busy hitting empty oil tanks. The fact that everyone seemed to be wearing spangly yellow and green costumes, coupled with the rather confusing line "I can feel your heart with breaks" suggested to me that they were all Norwich City fans upset about being relegated from the Premiership. Halfway through strange things happened. The lead lady ineptly joined in with the drumming and some musical power tools came out. Terry called it "pretty unremarkable", I called it "pretty shit."

5. Norway - In My Dreams
This was pure Spinal Tap rawk! A proper band with lots of spandex and make-up and a catchy tune. The guitarist was dressed like a pilot (or was it a traffic warden) and gave good guitar solo while the lead singer waved a big orange flag to win over the locals. There were some high vocal moments and lots of "c'mon, c'mons." I thought it was pretty good.

6. Turkey - Rim rimi ley
Colourful mid-tempo pop with the obligatory Turkish sounds. It started off quite good with a giant bloke dressed like a Morris dancer leaping about the place. Unfortunately he was soon joined by a female singer whose voice really wasn't up to it. It sounded awfully messy and I'm sure she forgot some of the words. Inexcusable considering all she seemed to say was "rim, rimi, ley". Equally appalling were her attempts to join in with the drummers while the giant morris dancer did some stage gymnastics. Very bad.

7. Moldova - Boonika Bate Toba
A qualifier from the semi-finals, this strange pop-punk tune made quite an impression. Not least because of the crazy band (think Moldovan Red Hot Chilli Peppers) and their drumming grandma. Initially oblivious to the jumpy antics of her band members, grandma gently rocked in her chair. Towards the end of the song, however, she took centre stage and shyly spun around hitting her drum. Included some bizarre lyrics about the Beatles, Peter Pan and rotting meat. At the end the lead singer shouted, "let's make love" and we all smiled...apart from Terry.

8. Albania - Neser shkoj
This was a bit forgettable really. There were little electronic glitches and some heavy guitars but again the Turkish/Eastern sound was most prominent. There was a blonde lady singer, an energetic drummer man and some unimaginative "didi-da" lyrics. The most amusing element of the performance were the backing dancers who spent the whole song pretending to play the violin. They were holding the bow 2 feet away from the strings....c'mon, make an effort! There was a big "ooohhhh yeeaahhhh" moment, but it could've done with a couple of Eurovision key changes.

9. Cyprus - Ela ela
This was really, really bad. The song itself was Europop with the now familiar Turkish melody and big drums (they even had an oil drum solo like Romania) but what scuppered it was the performance by the lanky lead singer. Looking suspiciously like Darius, he was kitted out in spangly fingerless gloves and pin-striped trousers and came across as a little bit smarmy. Occasionally joined by a slinky dressed lady, he attempted to get the audience to participate but when no-one bothered he danced with a cane and sang "I'm the King of the Night." We couldn't help but agree.

10. Spain - Brujería
Bad Europop with no melody. The group consisted of 3 backing blokeys and 3 lady singers who sang the same lines and had exactly the same hand movements. Initially it looked like Zorro was hanging around clicking his fingers in the background, but it turned out to be a bloke with a deep gravely voice wearing enormous sunglasses. He joined in singing halfway through while the ladies were tossing their skirts around. At one point the camera focused in on one of the lead singers...her eyes were enormous and she looked scared to death. Maybe she thought it was Zorro as well.

11. Israel - Hasheket Shenish'ar
This was a qualifier which Terry pronounced as the best Israeli entry for ages. Couldn't agree more really. A mid-tempo ballad, the song began with only a piano and guitar accompanying the long-dressed lead singer lady but during the bridge the drums kicked in and remained throughout. There was a big chorus and I feared she'd go a little bit Mariah with her vocals, but she soundly kept it simple and got good cheers from the fans when the song finished.

12. Serbia & Mont. - Zauvijek Moja
This was an excellent entry, certainly the best song of the night up to this point. Essentially boy-bandish Europop, it had a great melody and hands-in-the-air dance. While the entire group looked like they'd just had their daily sugar fix, the drummer boy-band member was, as Terry remarked, particularly "over excited." As he twiddled his drum sticks, two of the other cheeky blokeys took centre stage where they tricked everyone with a false ending before a third member joined in the singing for the big finish. Nice.

13. Denmark - Tænder på dig
Sung by a Patrick Kielty lookey-likey and 4 aging backing singers this was a very cheesy ballad. In fact it reminded me of Take That. Perhaps the most interesting part of the group's performance was the constant bouncing. They couldn't stop it...all the time with the bouncing. Bounce, Bounce, Bounce. I think it was the orange shoes they were all wearing. Harmless but boring.

14. Sweden - Las Vegas
Cheesy winks, smouldering eyes and the odd sticky out tongue certainly enhanced this classic Europop entry which, quite appropriately, sounded like a television jingle for Las Vegas. "You'll be a star if you do it right," sang the sexy lead bloke and his attractive white tracksuited lady friends while they romped around the stage. Halfway through someone threw him a flashing microphone stand and while the ladies jumped on podiums he gyrated to the showtunish sounds. Upbeat.

15. FYR Macedonia - Ti si son
Was it just me, or was this year's Eurovision gimmick the attempts of every lead singer to show off his or her drumming skills? They were at it again during this shoddy Europop song. The group consisted of a tall pink-jacketed lead bloke and three female backing members. The girls pushed and pulled him. His voice cracked. He went for it on the drums. One girl did the splits. Someone performed a bagpipe solo. Phew! The best part of the performance was undoubtedly the hilarious swirl-your-finger-in-air dance routine. I don't think they were just checking which way the wind was blowing either.

16. Ukraine - Razom nas bahato
The political anthem that originated during Ukraine's dodgy election dilemma, this song/chant had some added significance for the local audience members. The performance itself was quite passionate. Actually everyone looked a little scary. There was the scary Owen Wilson lookey-likey on green guitar, the scary looking dancers in hoodies and handcuffs and the scary shaven headed lead singer who bounded across the stage. My favourite moment was when the lead blokey started rapping and rather than deciphering the lyrics teletext came up with the invaluable description, "he raps in Ukraine." Not too bad.

17. Germany - Run & Hide
"Bit of a rock chick" explained Terry as a black-leather clad lead singer took to the stage to sing this arena pop. She and her bandmates certainly went for it with plenty of head banging in the chorus and punching of the air. Unfortunately, after rubbing seductively up to her guitarist, the leading lady seemed to strain her vocals and ended up with a mouth full of hair. Not the worst song or performance of the evening, but certainly not memorable enough.

18. Croatia - Vukovi umiru sami
Although a little dodgy, this folksy Eurovision song provided a much needed breather from all the pop. It began with some pipes and female chanting before a sincere suit wearing fella told us "to forget everything." Unfortunately the chorus wasn't up to much, but the country girl backing singers swayed in unison and we were treated to a grand key change. Somewhat predictably, there was another excited drummer man who, when egged on by the lead singer, treated us to "extreme" tambourine playing...he went right up the arm!

19. Greece - My Number One
Declared the pre-tournament favourite this song actually ended up winning the contest. I have no idea why. Admittedly it did contain the choice lyrics, "you're my lover undercover," but there wasn't really anything else to recommend this average Turkish sounding pop song. The lead singer was a smouldering red haired lady in a short dress who had surrounded herself with a gang of ugly looking bare-chested blokeys all wearing matching sweatbands. The gimmick lay with a strange human pyramid-type-violin's all very difficult to explain.

20. Russia - Nobody hurt no-one
Another rock chick, another melody-less dirge. After walking onstage the leading lady tried to give it some, only to find that the wind machine had been turned up to 11 and her hair was all over the place. I think it might have affected her vocals which were quite weak and frail. Towards the end she got in a strop, threw down her microphone stand and rhymed "pain" with "refrain" and "boys are insane." Oh, the angst.

21. Bosnia & Herz. - Zovi
This was the Abba tribute group from hell. Three desperate housewives dressed in slinky pink dresses grinding around the stage while uncontrollably flicking their hair. The Europopish song was actually quite catchy with the odd blast of synthesized horns exciting one and all. Then, during the middle 8, the backing singers who had been perched on a podium at the start ran on stage to join in with the handclapping shenanigans. All in all, it was pretty good.

22. Switzerland - Cool Vibes
Terry had a "sneaky suspicion" about this rocker. Alas, it didn't win. I think it was because they'd clearly pinched the song from a Rialto album (must be what they're doing since breaking up). The main culprits were two guitar wielding ladies and their compatriot stuck behind a synth. They were actually billed as a girl band...but what were those two blokes stuck in the background doing? Included one of the more memorable lines in the whole contest with, "stay close to me, infinity."

23. Latvia - The War is Not Over
My personal pre-tournament favourite, this was a gentle acoustic guitar driven ballad sung by two blokeys in white suits. Sat on stools at the beginning of the performance there was a slightly scary moment when their heads followed a swooping camera to almost Exorcist proportions. Thankfully, they looked away just in time. Halfway through, the drums kicked in, the boys ditched their guitars and took to the front of the stage where they completed the song. They even managed to provide sign language for all the lyrics. I love Latvia.

24. France - Chacun pense à soi
Despite finishing very low down in the voting I thought this was rather good...I now know why. Forget the yellow dressed lead singer and her muscular dancers. Forget the big haired backing singers, who had to sit down for a rest halfway through. Forget the scratching and electronic glitchy noises. This sounded exactly like the cult favourite S.A.G.A.P.O (Greece entry circa 2002)....I'm telling you, the verses sounded just the same. Ah well.

So there we have it. Another exciting Eurovision song contest. For five minutes I even thought there was going to be a worthy winner....


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