I've always watched the Eurovision Song Contest. In recent years, the contest has grown to have two semi-finals (due to the number of countries now taking part) and these are now broadcast live several days before the final, so diehard fans can increase their Eurovision viewing pleasure.
Unfortunately, the UK has grown increasingly out of step with the contest as it has evolved. Former presenter Terry Wogan used to enjoy a good moan about political and block voting, particularly as more and more Eastern European countries signed up for the contest. In truth, the type of music represented at the contest was changing, and we just weren't keeping up. I found it increasingly difficult to support the UK entries, particularly when we hit an all-time low by submitting a song by ageing rapper Daz Sampson and his dubious schoolgirl backing singers.
The UK is guaranteed its place in Eurovision each year, being one of five countries to qualify automatically (due to the level of sponsorship we've given the contest). We don't always deserve our place in the final, but we always get it.
This year it's Bonnie Tyler's turn to represent the UK. Perhaps we'll do a bit better than usual - she can belt out a tune, and she's bound to appeal to some of the countries voting. I can't help feeling, though, that we'll be left scratching our heads again as some unpredictable entry sweeps the boards.
I was 5 years old when my dad first introduced me to the Eurovision Song Contest. At this age I worshipped the Spice Girls so I assume he was trying to broaden my musical tastes. From this age I have continued to enjoy Eurovision every year and I hope for this enjoyment to continue for many more years.
The Eurovision Song Contest is probably the only time each year that large audiences from various nations tune in to hear the music of other nations. Based on recent entries from the UK, they may not reflect usual music tastes but that just seems to add to the brilliance of the competition. Another highlight for me is seeing what sort of quirk some countries choose to present - will it be singing grannies making cookies, knitting brides or Andrew Lloyd Webber on the piano? Press the red button during the BBC coverage and you will also be treated to singalong karaoke lyrics in both English and the native language if applicable.
There's a lot of controversy around the contest, coming from voting choices from certain nations but I find the best way to enjoy it is to forget it's a competition, forget about the politics and imagine it to be a marvellous international concert for all of Europe to enjoy. A yearly tradition that I love to celebrate.
The Eurovison Song Contest was originally designed to build bridges between European nations based on the shared love of music.....
These days it's a political battle where European nations, Israel, anyone who asks to join in and Andrew Lloyd Webber tactically vote to ensure that the music isn't considered but neighbouring countries all vote for each other and against any nation that has just looked at them funny.
The winning country then pretends to look happy that they've won, all the while calculating whether or not they can afford to spend millions upon millions of pounds to stage the final the following year.
In the past the UK has put forward such musical legends such as Cliff, Bucks Fizz, Gina Gee and Barry the Musical Pig to take part in this elistist contest but now, like so much else in this once great nation we invite anyone who can hold a mike to be put before the public vote. The winner gets to have their legs waxed by Graham Norton and then sing a song composed by a man with a face made of rubber in front of an audience that largely don't speak the language only to be voted against because of our recent exploits in Iraq / Afghanistan / Solihul.
Terry Wogan used to host the show and leant the proceedings a certain degree of wit and cynicism against a backdrop of garish costumes and high camp pomp but now the tv show has become 100% camp in the sticky mits of Norton.
I think it's time we stopped the slide into viewer voted campness and put forward one of our true musical greats to win back the competition, sing an original song free of 'boom bang a bangs', take the stage in normal clothes rather than sequins, play an instrument rather than merely sing and perform rather than follow a stage managed dance routine involving baby oil and penguins.
Why on earth do we as a great musical nation, a nation whose music dominates the charts across Europe decide to copy our European neighbours when entering this competetion?
It's time to say nay to the phone votes, nay to the meaningless pop tunes and nay to Graham 'oo-er missus' Norton.
This year lets take the music back and inject some true British grit into proceedings!
Ladies and gentlemen, write to your MP, telephone the pope, picket the BBC and speak in one voice and tell them, tell the faceless suits who deem it neccessary to squeeze every last penny out of old women with tvs and telephones, tel them that we want a true star to lead us into Eurovision, to blow away the opposition with a band that can sing, a band that can play, a band that doesn't give a flying **** about dance routines, tell the, tell them now that we want Monkey Peter and Vinegar Jenny to represent us with 'Don't You ****** Look at Me You ***** (reprise)'.
You know it makes sense!
The Eurovision Song Contest is an annual contest held in May in Europe, its a song contest which every European country can enter, the show was first shown in 1956, it is most famous for bringing Abba to the notice of the unsuspecting world with their amazing song Waterloo. It is less well known for Daz Simpson's awful rap song which was a nadir in British participation and marked the moment we realised we should perhaps take it more seriously again.
Eurovision has recently had a marked change, where it used to be an amateur competition countries now put in their best acts, last years winning entry for Russia was in fact written by Timbaland and this year an entry for Denmark was written by Ronan Keating.
Historically the contest gives us a chance to see our European neighbours exhibit their wacky side, highlights including the Finnish Emo rock winner a few years ago and Sebastian Tellier's hilarious song for France last year, it is also well known for the poor voting structure with the russian and slavic countries having a virtual monopoly by simply voting for their neighbours.
This year the public can also vote, although not for their own country, this has shown a marked change with a variety of nations being in the top five, rather than the usual ex russian states. This year the contest has lacked its usual air of amateurism and in a way its weaker for it, all of the acts are polished and almost uniform in their desire to be famous, there are pop acts, glamorous ladies but nothing eccentric and fun which is a real shame.
The contest has traditionally been commentated on by Terry Wogan and a bottle of baileys. This meant that as the night moved on his commentary got more and more funny with digs at all sorts of acts, this year Graham Norton has taken over as Wogan quit due to dodgy voting systems. Norton has had his moments and may grow into the role and has done a decent enough job this year.
The winner this year was a Norwegian entry which is full of charm and has a very nice chorus, the British entry did really well getting into the top five which has been beyond our reach for many years, we have seen some interesting pop acts, some really poor songs like the German version of Mambo Number 5 featuring Dita Von Teese!! for no discernible reason.
The contest has lacked its usual charm, it is becoming too professional and we do risk countries disguising their national identity to follow a pop formula when the contest is really at its best when we see how odd some countries really are.
Overall its a hugely popular event and one watched by many people throughout Europe, I remember seeing Thom Yorke of Radiohead on Jonathon Ross once say that he'd love Radiohead to represent the nation in Eurovision, now that would be something incredibly special if we really wanted to show Europe how good we really are.
The Eurovision song contest is a contest held every year in europe and over 50 countries partake to try and win and bring glory to their country. It has been held for over 50 years, and this year it is held in Russia, after Russian Artist Dima Bilan won last year and brought it to Moscow.
There are 2 semi finals where about 20 countries partake and the top 10 through voting will be selected to be in the final, held on the Saturday in Mid June. 5 Countries are automatically entered into the final: Germany, France, United Kingdom, Spain and the winner of the previous year which is Russia this year.
At the end of the final, each country through pjhone ins, shall report the scores with highest being 12 and lowest 1 and will accumulate until all the countries have reported and the country with the highest score wins! This year they are introducing a jury which will account for 50% of the score.
The winner will bring Eurovision to their country and also get a europe wide tour!
It is a great fun to watch and share and experience the culture!
It's that time of year again - the biggest musical extravaganza to be seen on television is almost upon us and some of us will spend this week familiarising ourselves with the 42 songs that will participate in a contest that stopped being about the song a long time ago.
On Saturday 16th May, in Moscow, the 54th winning song will be declared, with Norway supposedly the red hot favourite to win. You can see why - it's sung by a cute 18 year old lad who was born in Belarus and features Irish style fiddles, just the sort of thing the voters seem to like - and one which covers all bases - Ireland, Scandinavia and the former USSR.
The UK's entry will be performed by Jade Ewan, singing a ditty called "It's My Time" which was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Diane Warren. Lord Webber will be performing onstage with Ms Ewan, accompanying her on the piano, which may well lead to a name change of Beauty and the Beast.
I suspect the UK may well manage a result within the top 10 this time round - other fancied female singers this year include France's Patricia Kaas - who looks gorgeous but sadly has been saddled with a dirge to sing, and Malta's Chiara who has fine form in the contest, having come third in 1998 and second in 2005 and has to be fancied even if only on the basis of "third time lucky", although she does have a great song this year.
Before the 16th of May however there are two semi-finals to get through - one on 12th May and the other on the 14th. The UK, German, French and Spanish entries are exempt from competing in the semi-finals due to their status as the "Big Four" which means they provide the most money in staging the contest, along with last year's winner, Russia. Everyone else has to "earn" their right to perform in the final, which will consist of 25 songs of varying quality.
I first started watching Eurovision when I was a child - nearly 40 years ago. The first contest I can clearly recall was the 1970 one, when Dana won with the winsome "All Kings of Everything". This marked the first of Ireland's record breaking seven wins in the contest.
From then on I was hooked and even though I don't always watch the entire contest, I always take an interest in the song that has won and our own entry to it. I also enjoy the history of the contest, which hasn't provided much in the way of international hits for some years, but was however responsible for the standards "Volare" and "Love is Blue" and of course for launching the careers of Abba and Celine Dion.
Back when I watched the contest as a child the participating nations were mostly from Western Europe. I recall the excitement in 1974 when instead of only the UK and Irish entries being performed in English, there were several songs in the language - a practice which continued the following year before being banned until the 1999 contest. Now entrants can submit songs in any language of their choosing, but sadly this hasn't stopped songs with nonsense titles being put forward.
For the first 20 years of its history, the French language was king, with the vast majority of winners being from France, Switzerland, Monaco or Luxembourg, mostly doing "chanson" ballads in the process, with a few exceptions such as France Gall in 1965 with "Poupee de cire, poupee de son", a song which is my all-time favourite winner.
Italy couldn't win with the classic "Volare" but did with the quite beautiful "Non ho l'etat" in 1964 and had one other win in 1990. This lack of wins prompted Italy to withdraw from the competition in 1997 and they show no signs of returning. There is a strong argument within the UK that we should take a leaf out of their book but I have to say I disagree.
Spain haven't fared much better. They won in 1968, a year everyone thinks belonged to "Congratulations" by Cliff Richard with the first of the gibberish songs which blighted the contest for so long, Massiel's "La La La", and shared victory the following year in an embarrassing tie with the UK, France and the Netherlands. Ever since then they have been on a hiding to nothing, along with Germany who have one solitary win from 1982 with Nicole's "Ein Bischen Frieden" which bizarrely managed to reach number one in the UK once translated to "A Little Peace". Ironically it's probably a war that's hindered Germany's attempts to win more contests.
Typically for the UK within Europe, we were late joining the party, not entering until the second contest back in 1957 as the BBC were late submitting the song for the inaugural contest. It took ten years for a British win, coming from Sandie Shaw with "Puppet on a String" in 1967, a song she claimed she hated for years but given her reappearance on Eurovision shows of late it would seem she has had a rethink.
"Puppet on a String" was also the first song to win which was sung in English, and over time the English language is that of choice for the vast majority of countries.
I well remember my excitement back in 1974 when Abba came onstage in Brighton to sing "Waterloo" and it's strange how the memory plays tricks as for years later I was convinced they had run away with the contest, when in fact they were involved in a two horse race with Gigliola Cinquetti, the Italian winner ten years before with a song called "Si". I was ten years old at the time and found Ms Cinquetti's song rather dull, and I suppose the fact it was sung in Italian would bear this out. To give her her due, she did manage to have a top ten hit with the song in the UK later in the year once translated to "Go" - which is strange considering "Si" means "yes"!
Abba however were brash, bold and for me anyway - they sang a song I could understand! From that day forward I was an Abba fan, and I remain one to this very day, fervently hoping they never reform and letting me remember them as they were in their very prime.
Abba's subsequent success raised the bar at Eurovision to a level few, if any, acts were ever going to be able to match.
Like any music fan, there are people who have favourite eras for Eurovision, and mine is the first 25 years of the contest. I lost interest for a while back in 1984 following another Swedish win for the utterly dreadful Herreys singing a song interestingly entitled "Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley" - and I think my interest also waned following the BBC's failure to attract decent singers to represent the UK - in the 70s we had the New Seekers, Olivia Newton-John and Cliff Richard but by the time the 80s came around most of the people representing the country were either stage school wannabes or desperate never weres.
Of course we did fit in a win back in 1976 with the Brotherhood of Man's twee "Save Your Kisses For Me" which incredibly enough is the song which won by the biggest margin in the contest's history.
This, along with 1981's victory for Bucks Fizz with "Making Your Mind Up" heralded a new kind of Eurovision entry however, where the desire to make the performance memorable took precedence over the song. As a result if you check out the performance Bucks Fizz turned in in the final you are met with appalling vocals but slick moves. Contrast this with the seriously out of tune and choreographically challenged Jemini who came away with "nul points" in 2003.
Of course once the Iron Curtain fell, Europe suddenly got bigger and all of a sudden the performance was even more important, resulting in forgettable winning songs from the Ukraine and Finland which are remembered merely for the over the top performance and crazy costumes onstage.
The political voting also became more blatant, although it's fair to say that ever since Cyprus joined the contest, they have been ensured of 12 points from Greece and vice versa.
The tendency for countries to vote for near neighbours has always been the case and I well remember Terry Wogan announce that hopefully replacing the juries who used to vote on the songs with tele-voting would see an end to this practice. How wrong he was - it merely got worse.
I actually think there is now a case for two Eurovision Song Contests - one for East Europe and one for the West, with the top five songs slugging it out to win the overall contest.
We are now in the situation where east only tends to vote for east and west prefers west but if there are fewer options (such as Greece not having the option to vote for Cyprus) perhaps the song might take precedence again. This may well be a forlorn hope but the fact the juries are back this year shows that the EBU are fully aware that tele-voting isn't the perfect way to do things.
So will I be watching this year? Of course I will! I will probably give the semi-finals a miss as that seems like overkill to me - however I shall spend my Saturday night watching the final and hoping for a win for a song I like and a decent showing for Beauty and the Beast, but will draw the line at flying the flag or having a party as others do, turning it into annual event in their social calendar.
Sir Terry has of course retired, leaving Graham Norton to pick up the baton in the commentary box for the BBC. I can't say I have high hopes for him, but hopefully he will prove me wrong.
I know I will be infuriated once the scores start coming in, but it never puts me off - perhaps having a year to get over it softens the blow.
If you find yourself at a loose end on Saturday night, you could do worse than watch this, and my top tip is to put the subtitles on for the few songs that won't be sung in English as the BBC very helpfully provide a translation for you.
My guess is the winning song will come from either Malta, Norway or Greece but shall edit this once the contest is over.
The Eurovision Song Contest has an official website which airs the entire contest worldwide and you can check out the songs here too, as well as watch rehearsals if you are so inclined!
Well no surprises at red hot favourite Norway running away with the competition, but I was surprised at Malta faring so poorly - I thought Chiara put in a good, strong performance.
The UK managed a very respectable fifth place, but how the Icelandic song got second place shall forever remain a mystery to me.
I thought Graham Norton was terrible - I ended up listening to Ken Bruce's commentary on Radio 2 as he was far more knowledgeable, far funnier and even managed to remember it was a song contest and comment on the musical offerings...
Here's hoping we have learned a lesson this year about taking it a little more seriously if we want a decent placing!
This years song contest will be the 54th, taking place on the 16th May I know I've got my seat prepared, all set to watch it. Nobody, and I mean nobody is going to stop me from watching this great musically entertaining show. OK, so I may be going over the top a bit here, but seriously when it comes to laughing at other people, this is a great and most definetly acceptable way of doing it!
Officially the last time the UK won the Eurovision Song Contest was in 1997, where Katrina and the Waves won it with the tuneful Love Shine a Light. I've actually done my research and I can safely say that with a staggering 227 points, I think we did rather well! Random fact, that year Ireland came second.
It's been 12 years now since we last won it and I'm sorry to say I don't think we we'll be getting the top spot anytime soon. It doesn't matter that we've got Andrew Lloyd Webber on hand and that they've changed the voting methods, it's still going to be a struggle. I'm not trying to put a dampner on things, there's nothing wrong with being a bit optimistic.
Last year we again didn't do very well, but lucky old us get a free pass into the finals just like Spain, France and Germany. Something to do with money I've been told. This year there's going to be 42 countries entering the competition, some tough opposition.
The most successful group to come out of the contest is the somewhat well known ABBA, but this years' UK entry, Jade, might get a record deal out of it. I know that the Lord Webber himself has helped out a bit, but I have to say I am disappointed by our song. It's just a bit, well, boring. But that's just my opinion and as I don't physically pick up the phone to vote who am I say who's a worthy winner!
The Eurovisions Song Contest has been well known for it's more politically voting of late that what's being sung, and sadly down to that, I feel we've lost Terry Wogans' sarky comments and jokes about the entries and the country who actually hosts it. We've got Graham Norton and out of all the people who've been rumoured to do it, I'd glad that he got the job. With the voting system they're going to re-introduce ta national jury alongside televoting. Which should be interesting.
Still, let's see what it's like on the night and hope that 'My Time' will get us some good points! The time has not been officiated yet but my advice is to book Saturday 16th May-just over a week away-(yes it's that close you can almost taste it) as a stay in night, even if it's just to have a laugh. Which is what most people seem to watch it for anyway!
As was once said on BBC radio 2 '30 seconds of Charpentier's Te Deum followed by three hours of Eurovision tedium." Well we love it really don't we?
The Eurovision was first staged to unify Europe through music and now the annual smorgasbord of pop involves over 40 countries. I have watched it each year since 1991, however, more recently it has only been due to Terry Wogan's rather acidic commentary on it. Now he has quit acting as the BBC host I may reconsider. Graham Norton has been given the job this year so it may be worthwhile watching it to see how he does. Whatever happens I will have the odd bottle of wine on standby.
The UK did very badly last year (so what is new?) but due to the fact we along with Spain, France and Germany contribute so much money to the EBU we get a "pass directly to the final" card.
The definition of Europe in the contest is rather unusual as it does not go on geographical lines but on whether or not the country is a member and pays money to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). Hence, for example, Israel whilst not strictly a European country geographically, is able to take part.
The contest its self has spawned some very successful artists. The best known are ABBA who won in 1974 and Celine Dion (yes really) who won for Switzerland in 1988. Notable failures at Eurovision include Cliff Richard (Twice!!) and Julio Iglesias (yes really, him in 1970)
There have been many rule changes to the contest but the biggest was the 'native language' rule. Whilst it was in place it meant that each country's entrant could only sing in a language native to their own country. This rule was not in place since the start but it was introduced in 1966. This rule was dropped in 1973. However, it was reintroduced only a few years later. The rule was dropped for the second time in 1999. Since then there has only been one winner which was entirely sung in another language than English (The 2007 winner).
For me it has long since ceased to be a music contest and has become a political love in and a vote for your neighbour contest. I have lost track of the number of times Cyprus has given Greece the maximum 12 points and the same for Germany to Turkey. The biggest problem has been the phone voting which was first introduced in 1997 when 5 countries used this in place of the traditional jury. The following year it went entirely over to phone voting. This system is flawed as for example any Brit living anywhere else in Europe can still vote for the UK. This year the national jury is being re-introduced and the results will be a 50-50 split between the jury and the phone vote.
Last year, well Russia won but they certainly did not have the best song yet got massive votes from Eastern Europe countries. My personal favourite in the final was the Ukraine which came second. My belief is that Russia won because it was 'their turn'.
There were also some quite ridiculous entries which really should not have made it past the semi-final but still came higher than some of the better entries, with the Spanish entry being the worst of the lot. Whilst the UK has had some really bad entries in the past few years (e.g. Scooch - what were we thinking voting for them to represent the UK?) Andy Abraham certainly deserved more points than he received. Whilst he certainly shouldn't have won a mid table finish would have been a more realistic result for the song.
This year the final will take place on 16th May. The UKs entry "My Time" is a product of Andrew Lloyd-Webber whilst it is better than some of the entries in the past it is far too repetitive and as it stands when it was performed in the final of 'Your country needs you' it was too long by about 8 seconds. (there is a 3 minute limit, and not one second over is allowed- but it can be shorter). Of the entries I have listened to so far my long standing 'banker' for putting a top ten place bet on is normally Sweden well this year I think they will be lucky to get out of the semi-final. It is not a good song and the singer sounded off key. Greece has a good up tempo number which should break into the top ten on the night. Estonia could win it for the second time, it is an unusual entry with the group playing their string instruments as well as singing and the unusual does at times do well (remember the entry from Denmark 4 years ago which was sung in a made up language).
Still roll on the 2009 contest, the Eurovision party and the laughing at the political bock voting.
Well it's all over for another year. Norton did a good job and the UK came fifth. However, I was not a fan of the winning song from Norway. I much preferred the Icelandic entry. Although they are probably happy they did not win as the winner gets the dubious pleasure of hosting it the following year.
Whilst the brilliant Lewis Hamilton was winning the Monte Carlo Grand Prix yesterday, Europe's most prestigious motor race, his black British counterpart, Andy Abraham, an ex bin man and X-Factor star, was finishing last in the Eurovision Song Contest the night before, Eastern Europe again exerting their power on the contest voting patterns, now that the public phone call and text decides the point's allocation. Since 2000 six of the last eight winners haven't been from the traditional old Europe and that won't be changing any day soon. No one, not even our Terry Wogan, seemed to mention the possibility that our guy was black and so bottom of the pile, although our entry was pretty crap to be fair. Ashley Cole and Emile Heskey know all about vile and open racism in Eastern Europe though. Having the final in Belgrade didn't help European unity and relations either. But last years winner gets the final and so you can't argue on that score. At least Roman Abromovich gets another European home final after the pretty Russian girl romped home on Saturday, much easier to buy the referees in this contest.
It is, of course, the partisan immigrant vote that decides the winner these days, mostly in those fragmented new countries of the Balkans and Russian Republics -Armenia, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Ukraine all gave Russia the full 12 points. If you think racism is bad in the U.K then you wait until you go to these places! It was also noticeable that the Scandinavian countries shamelessly voted for each other on mass, Norway, the nil poi's of old Europe, earning an impressive 5th place off the back of the chilly country posse.
An example of this patriotic bias is abstractly shown in the Bosnia vote. The only way Bosnia Herzegovina would vote for its number one enemy in Serbia is if hell freezes over. Well it does seem to freeze over on the annual Saturday night in May. The reason it happens is because of that migrant vote in Bosnian, the one third Serbian immigrants in that enclave ,the ones that proudly pick up the phone on behalf of Bosnia and vote for their home state of Serbia. It's the same with old enemies Greece and Cyprus and with Turkey and Germany, and the more astute would have noticed that the bulk of England's vote went to Poland, 10 of their measly 14 points accrued via the market towns of East Anglia, but finishing rock bottom with Britain and Germany. Poland did not vote for us because its one way traffic from Poland these days. No penalty shoot out for Eng V Germany either.
The voting system...
People in each country can vote by tele-vote or SMS. Each country's 10 favorite songs are awarded 12, 10, then 8 through to 1 points based on the votes of the population of each country. All participating countries in the semi-finals and final had the right to cast points in the final
So if the phone vote is so skewed to voting for their own, from what ever part of the world the viewers are in, what's the point of carrying on this way? Russia have the biggest voting population and won this year, whilst the Ukraine also registered huge voting patterns, ironically Russians in the Ukraine voting for Russia and vice versa. As they are the biggest two Russian states its obvious they would win with that organized block vote. Some of the more cynical observers would say it was politically expedient of the Old Russian caucuses and the new eastern European E.U counties nearest to Russia to vote for them or they will get their natural gas cut off. Proof of that kowtowing had to be in Georgia voting for the motherland, the motherland that had cut of their gas last year! The most right wing country in Europe, Austria, withdrew at the last moment for obvious reasons. Russia's Dima Bilans, 'Believe', triumphed on a cheese packed night in Belgrade.
The number of entries was a record 43: 19 in each semi-final; 25 in the final (5 prequalified and 10 from each of the semi-finals). Debuting countries were Azerbaijan and San Marino, whilst Austria pulled out. Europe's four biggest countries contribute the bulk of the money to fund the event and the big broadcasters have to pay a flat 200k fee to take the event live. The BBC get an impressive 10 million viewers every year and the pubs are always quiet here when the show goes out, mostly lads in the pubs.
The top 10 in 2008
Russia, 272 points
Ukraine, 230 points
Greece, 213 points
Armenia, 199 points
Norway, 182 points
Serbia, 160 points
Turkey, 138 points
Azerbaijan, 132 points
Israel, 124 points
Bosnia, 110 points
With just two old European countries in the top ten and the vast majority of Europe's Muslim counties in their instead you can see who picked up the phone and who enjoys the show most. This is Europe's national pride on show here and perhaps a picture of the past and perhaps future divides. But we would rather see the bias here than in the Balkan streets. There was also a strong Jewish vote expressed for Armenia and Russia, where the forgotten genocides occurred.
The contest, of course, is a bit of fun and taken more seriously by the more European centric nations at the heart of the E.U project, and let's face it, what would gay men would do without it. Camp is not the word. We even had the story popup where General Franco rigged it so Cliff Richard couldn't win in Spain in 74. I hate to say this but for once France did something good. Then we had the comical Irish entry, a hand puppet from Dublin, rightfully disqualified in the semis (but only just). Eurovision had become a running joke in Ireland because they kept winning it and so had to host it, costing them a bomb. Every year they would enter a deliberately weaker singer an every year they did well, to the point when they were sabotaging their own acts, culminating in the puppet. I think there is an element of that with England now by putting up dire acts and giving them dodgy amps-who will forget 2003 and Love is Alive by a band I cant and don't want to recall the name of. But you what ever you think of it, you would have to say, as did Terry Wogan, this is no longer about the best song. The song remains the same indeed...
6 of the last 8 winners are the Eastern Europe entries. But previous to that all the winners were north and west of new Europe. The power is shifting in Europe and at the moment we are only singing about it.
2008 Russia "Believe" Dima Bilan
2007 Serbia "Molitva" Marija Serifovic
2006 Finland "Hard Rock Hallelujah" Lordi
2005 Greece "My Number One" Helena Paparizou
2004 Ukraine "Wild Dances" Ruslana
2003 Turkey "Everyway That I Can" Sertab Erener
2002 Latvia "I Wanna" Marie N
2001 Estonia "Everybody" Tanel Padar, Dave Benton & 2XL
2000 Denmark "Fly on the Wings of Love" Olsen Brothers
1999 Sweden "Take Me to Your Heaven" Charlotte Nilsson
1998 Israel "Diva" Dana International
1997 United Kingdom "Love Shine a Light" Katrina and the Waves
1996 Ireland "The Voice" Eimear Quinn
1995 Norway "Nocturne" Secret Garden
1994 Ireland "Rock 'n' Roll Kids
1993 Ireland "In Your Eyes" Niamh Kavanagh
1992 Ireland "Why Me" Linda Martin
C/O of Wikipedia for research purposes...
UK the only country in Europe with none whites in the contest just typical, Never win in Europe like that in a million years. Just pull out of contest in the future please.
For anyone who has lived under a rock for the past few decades, the Eurovision song contest is a competition among the countries of Europe as to who can enter the best song. This is known mainly for Terry Wogan's wonderfully snarky commentary, and hilariously bad songs.
There are two reasons why wonderfully awful songs end up in the Eurovision Song Contest.
1. Germany, France, the UK and Spain have untouchable status due to the amount of money they throw at the thing. This means no matter how badly they did in pre-selection, they will still feature in the same program.
2. The winning country gets to host the next year's contest. This costs a lot of money, and provides a decent incentive to try hard not to win (Father Ted did a very good episode mocking this part).
I have always suspected that there are two types of people watching Eurovision. There are those who take in seriously, frowning at the obvious politics in the voting, and complaining about the badness of the acts. And there are the rest of us, who are trying not to wet themselves laughing. Seriously, last year's entry for France involved a male band dressed in pink with angelwings and a singer who, for reasons I STILL don't understand, had a cat sewn on his shoulder. (I am completely serious about this, and if you have not seen this you NEED to watch it on youtube. You can find it at http://youtube.com/watch?v=P4VcSQE7DXg Go on, I'll wait.) There is NO WAY I can take that seriously.
If you have not discovered the True Secret of Eurovision of Eurovision it is this: you need to watch it with friends. This may be an group you pull together on AIM; where people alternately hide their faces as their country's acts come on and the poor Americans stare in confusion at what the crazy Europeans are doing now, or it can be a group of real life people you gather around the TV to giggle together. I even know people who throw little parties for Eurovision, with different European foods and drinks to munch on as they watch, and bets placed as to who will win and who will be the last to lose their "null points" status. Treated the way it should be, the Eurovision Song Contest can be an event of the BEST type.
So, that settled, I'll see you the last weekend in May. You bring the tiramasu, I'll supply the tapas, okay?
The Eurovision song contest is a competition thats held on an anual basis and held among active member countries of the EBU. Each country is likey to have a competion, to see who will represent their country. Then there is a semi-final where members who are going to be entered into the finals are annouced. In the finals, each country representive sings live and afterwards the lines open, and you can dial up for any country you wish to win except your own, then there is a live broadcast from each country participating and each country annonces their most popular votes, and the most popular votes from each country is given points, according to how many votes there were for each country. At the end, the points are added up, and as you could imagine, the one with most points win.
This show started in 1956 and is watched all over Europe. The folling countries who have made a debut entry are:
(1956) - Belgium
(1959) - France
(1956) - Germany
(1956) - Luxembourg
(1956) - Netherlands
(1956) - Italy
(1956) - Switzerland
(1957) - Austria
(1957) - Denmark
(1957) - United Kingdom
(1958) - Sweden
(1960) - Norway
(1961) - Finland
(1961) - Spain
(1961) - Yugoslavia
(1964) - Portugal
(1965) - Ireland
(1971) - Malta
(1973) - Israel
(1974) - Greece
(1975) - Turkey
(1980) - Morocco
(1981) - Cyprus
(1986) - Iceland
(1993) - Bosnia and Herzegovina
(1993) - Croatia
(1993) - Slovenia
(1994) - Estonia
(1994) - Hungary
(1994) - Lithuania
(1994) - Poland
(1994) - Romania
(1994) - Russia
(1994) - Slovakia
(1998) - Macedonia
(2000) - Latvia
(2003) - Ukraine
(2004) - Albania
(2004) - Andorra
(2004) - Belarus
(2004) - Serbia
(2005) - Bulgaria
(2005) - Moldova
(2006) - Armenia
(2007) - Czech Republic
(2007) - Georgia
(2007) - Montenegro
Even though this is a European contest, it is broadcast to other parts of the world: Australia, Canada, Mexico, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Jordan, New Zealand, South Africa, South Korea, Vietnam, and the United States.
Last years United Kingdom performance
In my opinon, I would describe last yeard performance as "embarassing". We were second last on the final scoreboard. But, how could this be? Well, perhaps due to the fact our act were a bunch of complete idots trotting around dressed as flight attendants singing an embarrasingly cheesy song, "flying the flag (for you)" which became a top hit in children's school discos. So, maybe the Eurovision is about cheesy songs and funny performances, but this wasn't even funny! I even recieved a phone call from one of my friends in Turkey, and the first thing she said was "what the hell was that?". I don't exactly blame her, the performance was simply outragous. Heres a bit about the band:
Natalie Powers, Caroline Barnes, David Ducasse, and Russ Spencer are four singers which make up the British-Pop band, Scooch. They have brought out four singles
When My Baby
More Than I Needed To Know
The Best Is Yet to Come
Flying The Flag (For You)
Welcome to the Planet Pop
This band reached fame of some sort, in October 1999 when they auditioned for a singing/dancing contest. They were judged by Mike Stock and Matt Aitken and future manager, Steve Crosby. They got their 'inspiration' for their band by a sofa or bench (very strange) and they got their name "scooch" meaning the term as in asking someone to move up a bench or sofa.
The group entered the ESC by winning on the TV Show, Eurovison: Making Your Mind Up, Where they managed to overcome Cyndi, a solo singer by 6% of the votes. Even though they had great sucesses in this round of Eurovision, they didn't do so well in the finals, coming second place. This was only possible by getting top points from Malta. However, this was due to the fact that Malta beleived many people were voting for their neighbours in Eurovision. So, basicly, those 12 points wern't even earned by Uk, just a protest from Malta. The seond highest score we got were from Germany.
The Uk gave top points to Turkey, with Kenan Dogulu signing "shake it up sekerim". they came third in the competion. There was arguments in online blogs with people claming on a German blog "they only gave Turkey the 12 points because of high tourism " How this one works out, I do not know.
The Eurovision is suppost to be about good signing and creatful performances, but over time it has been more about politics. Either way Scooch let us down terribly, and hopefully Eurovion 2008 will have better to offer.
The Eurovision Song Contest first started back in 1956 as a show that could be broadcast to all members of the European Broadcasting Union at the same time. After all those years, the contest is now broadcast worldwide, even in countries that do not participate. So if you live in Alaska or Hong Kong, you can still watch the cringe parade that is Eurovision.
Come on folks, lets face it. A lot of these entrants are one-hit wonders! Can anyone remember the Norwegian entry in 1985 by Bobbysocks. Did they have another hit in the UK? I have never heard about them since then! But it can be the starting point for a fantastic career. Back in 1969 Lulu sang "Boom Bang-a-Bang" - she has topped the charts on and off for about 40 years now and still has a firm fan base.
The contest does have its own controversial issues as well. Back in 1998 (yes only 10 years ago) Israel won the contest with a song by Dana International aptly called "Diva". It later emerged that their entrant was a trans-sexual man who had become a woman. I can still remember the look on my dad's face when he realised that he had been practically drooling over a man!
Another name that is so well known is that of Johnny Logan (and yes I drooled over him as a young girl!). He first won the contest for Ireland in 1980with "What's Another Year?" and came back in 1987 to win again with "Hold Me Now". He has also been involved in at least one of Ireland's subsequent winning songs.
So who have been our winners here in the UK? Since its inception in the 1950s, we have had 5 winners, these being:
1967 - Sandie Shaw - "Puppet on a string"
1969 - Lulu - "Boom Bang-a-Bang"
1976 - Brotherhood of Man - "Save Your Kisses For Me"
1981 - Bucks Fizz - "Making Your Mind Up"
1997 - Katrina & The Waves - "Love Shine A Light"
So what about this year? Do we have a chance or are we going to end up with "nil points"?
This year our entry is Andy Abrahams with "Even If". If your watch television you will have seen Andy on ITV's "X Factor" with the dreaded Simon Cowell. Andy came second to Shayne Ward in the 2005 series and has never stopped since! Since the X Factor, Andy has released 2 albums and is working on his third, and also has his own record label as well!
Do we have a chance?
Well, personally, I think we have a blooming good chance of winning with Andy. I find him to be a fantastic singer, who really puts all of himself into his performance. He really enjoys what he does and it shows. He is always smiling and cheerful and just watching him sing on the television will go a long way to brightening up my day. I will admit to owning his albums without shame and they are regularly played in my house. My kids love to listen to him. He appeals to all age groups and that's the big thing for me.
If the voting is fair this year then I think we have a real shot at winning. We know Andy is not going to be a one-hit-wonder. He is going to be around for a long time. But with the voting, I have found that the Eastern Bloc countries tend to vote for each other, and there is always some sympathetic voting for the host country as well, no matter how bad their entry is!
We all know Terry Wogan has a great aversion to political voting but we also know that it is rife within Eurovision. It has gone from being just a bit of harmless fun, to being a political tool in some countries.
If the judges have any sense about them, they will see that Andy has a great talent. They will see that it is a good song, sung by a man who loves what he does, and they will vote accordingly.
Yes I will be watching the contest on 24 May, and I will be cheering on Andy. After last year's embarrassment, I swore I would not watch but when Andy got through and it was confirmed that he will be representing us, I admit that I quickly changed my mind and said I would definintely watch.
My final word - will we win? I do not know! Unfortunately I don't own a crystal ball and I can't see into the future. But what I do know (in my own honest opinion) is that we have a blooming good entry and just as much chance as anyone else.
I hope we win, I think we have a good chance to win. What do you think? I know this isn't the longest review I have written, but it sums up my opinions in my own way!
And all I can really now say is - GOOD LUCK ANDY!
Thanks for taking the time to read! Di x
Ive seen some strange behaviour around the world Sadhus in India who will sit with one arm in the air for 20 years to show how holy they are; Spaniards wholl dress up in what looks (to our outside eyes) like Ku Klux Klan uniforms and beat themselves ritually during Holy Week. But if you want a painful and ritual humiliation, theres little to beat the annual Eurovision Song Contest for a bit of mental and aural self-flagellation.
Since I was old enough to hum along to Waterloo and jig around my grandparents living-room, the Eurovision Song Contest has been a must-see event. Admittedly back in the early days we watched out of excitement that we might win and even if we didnt wed always do pretty well but these days its a torturous evening of being forced to realise that nobody else much likes us. The eastern bloc might have been seen to have lost the Cold War (although that in itself is debatable) but sure as hell they are winning the Eurovision peace. All the old European countries that were forced into the qualification rounds got kicked out poor old Malta! Over in Valetta Eurovision is the biggest event of the year - although they invariably put up the same overweight warbling lady. Imagine being pushed out by countries that didnt even exist 10 years ago.
And is it a song contest at all any more? Surely its now the equivalent of a Euro vote for Head Boy or Head Girl who do we like best? Whos got the most friends?
Elvis at his best, in a nice cat suit and a big chunky belt around his hips, and with his lip curved into his trademark sneer could have stepped out onto the stage and belted out his best song of all time and if he had a Union Flag on his back hed still have been wallowing down at the bottom with the Irish.
(A slight aside for a moment what WERE the Irish thinking of with the girl in the Snow White costume and the funny drum? Did they find her and her pals in a pub and dare them to do it? It reminded me of the Father Ted episode where Ted and Dougal were entered in the contest to prevent Ireland from winning and having to pay for hosting another contest. My Lovely Horse would have wiped the floor with this years Irish entrant. Oh and dont get me started on the French chap with the cat on his collar or the Swede with the silver chest wig).
Anyway, I digress. Despite the UK having the second most successful music industry in the world (first place going to the only country everyone seems to dislike even more than us) new Europe thinks we are a joke. And its not as if they arent having a joke themselves. The Ukrainian entrant in his/her silver Christopher Biggins meets Dame Edna outfit was leaping round the stage shouting out random numbers in German. The eastern bloc pulled off lots of Mad Max Post-Apocalypse drum bands and girls in leather trousers to appeal to the dirty old man vote. But despite all of that the winner proved that you dont have to look like a supermodel to win and if your backing singers/dancers look like a bad advert for 1970s hairspray that wont necessarily get in the way either.
On to the presentation what a stunning arena they had this year. I dont suppose anyone in the hall could see a thing it was about twice the size of the new Wembley Arena and the guys with the buttons to control the lighting were having a ball. Who ever guessed the land of sauna and Nokia could be so over the top? The presenters were marginally less irritating than many Ive seen and the lady presenter stuck to a less than average number of wardrobe changes I guess they needed the wardrobe budget to keep feeding the meter for the electricity bills. The alleged dream come true fairy presenter in the pink dress was utterly mind-numbingly dreadful to a degree not seen since Samantha Fox and Mick Fleetwood presented the Brit Awards back in 1989. Even the contestants seemed to be embarrassed by her.
Our entry OK, Im not going to pretend it was a stunner although I have to confess I quite liked it in an ironic retro kind of way. The sound engineers didnt do them any favours (no chance of anyone in Reykjavik picking up the saucy innuendo of would you like some salty nuts? or something to suck on for landing sir? with such lousy sound quality) and I dont know why they picked up a couple of needless dancers for the show. Never mind their shoulders were broad, they took it on the chin and at least they sang in tune.
Could Royaume Uni ever get back in the top five? The way things are going at the moment Id have to say the hell will freeze over and the lady in the pink frock will be president of Finland before its likely to happen. Even if we set aside the fact that nobody likes the UK (although ironically half of Eastern Europe seems to want to live here welcome!) that doesnt really explain it. Most of the eastern countries hate Russia even more than they hate us but they are near enough geographically to know that its best to be nice to the neighbours. The Balkan bloc can put aside decades, if not centuries, of hating each other and play nice on Eurovision night whilst we can only drum up a bit of token support from Ireland and Malta. And speaking of Malta, how come tiddly countries get the same amount of votes as big ones? If Germany got a vote for every region and we got one for each county then maybe wed stand a chance. When Iceland and Germany hold the same power you can only see it as a form of getting their own back on the EU where the number of votes you get on little matters like politics, economics and such like depends on how big you are. In the real world big is beautiful but Eurovision gives the little guys the chance to thumb their noses at the other kids who live in the bigger houses and whose dads drive bigger cars.
But just think how awful it would be if we had to nominate 40 or 50 different songs for the various counties, or even just one each for England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales its hard enough getting one tune you can hum along to without cringing. The rest of Europe always complains that we get multiple teams in the football tournaments but it doesnt seem to improve our chances of winning. And how long would the voting take? it would make the recent Scottish elections and the hanging chads of the US presidential election before last look like a walk in the park.
OK, so Ive had my little rant and let off steam. I know that next year well do the same thing pick a song without a hope in hell of winning head off to Belgrade with our flags and get humiliated again but with a stiff British upper lip. After all if you had a great song would cast it like pearls before swine onto the stage of Eurovision? And you know what? Ill be at home on my giant pink leather sofa with a bottle of white and some nibbles and Ill be putting myself through it ALL OVER AGAIN like an England football fan with three lions on my shirt and sod-all hope in my heart. Because when it comes down to it, it is Eurovision and you just cant miss it, can you?
OK, so this is a show you watch just because you watch! Just like Christmas, it comes around every year and it's kinda traditional to watch it, good or bad!
The GB entry for the last 2 years was absolutely BRILL and didn't deseve not to win!
Eurovision is a fabulous forum for seeing what kind of music our European (and other) neighbours can come up with. It gets better and better and at last we're seeing some proper music and not the crappy naff stuff of a few years ago
Having said that, the voting system needs a total revamp. Just because some countries in Europe don't like things the UK may have done, they don't vote for us any more. How childish is that? We could have Shirley Bassey, Elton John and Steve Wonder all onstage together and they STILL would't give the GB any votes, so under the present voting system, there is no point in the UK entering as they won't get a fair hearing. Why not open the votes completely to the GENERAL PUBLIC and then we'll find out for real which is the true EUROVISION SONG?