Dirrrty Pop Review: Eurovision 2005!

You can watch the show again in full at http://www.nrk.no/programmer/tv/eurosong.

The show begins with large drums, something we’re going to be seeing a lot of tonight. Lots of dancing about with green lights. It’s Ruslana! Hey! Hey! Wild dancing! But it’s not “Wild Dances”, it’s some other song. Look! A flamethrower! This is what Eurovision is all about. Ruslana was supposed to be presenting the show but then they remembered her disasterous past attempts at speaking English and gave the job to a duo named Masha and Pasha. They’re actually not too bad compared to some of the hosts we’ve had in recent years. Masha likes to shout at us and dresses like a scary Barbie doll, while Pasha is probably the youngest male presenter we’ve had since Ronan in 1997 (8 years ago, can you believe it?).

Still it’s not time for the first song. There are some clips from behind the scenes of the semi-final, including that Irish boy looking as daft as ever and yaaay it’s Vanilla Ninja!

Nox – Forogj Világ
Every time I see their flag I think Ireland is back in. However I’d much rather have Hungary as their song is ACE. They cleverly borrow from two Eurovision success stories from the past, Ruslana and Riverdance, to create one of this year’s best entries (and my mum’s firm favourite). I’m also loving the half trousers/half shorts look of the lead singer. These guys are going to be hard to beat in the dancing stakes.

Javine – Touch My Fire
Poor Javine! She is, without doubt, the unluckiest girl in pop. She missed out on being in the best girl group of the 21st century, her pop career dried up after a few (mostly very good) singles, she had to record a song for the Garfield soundtrack and then she’s finally about to get her big break on Eurovision and she gets a sore throat! I would normally say she was making excuses but you can really tell she’s having trouble, which I think is a huge shame cos we know she can sing and it’s out best song in years. In other news, the drums are back!

Chiara – Angel
This is a real power ballad, Celine Dion style, borrowing from several of her hits. I know Malta are really crazy about Eurovision and they usually come up with good songs. Their reluctance to move towards the ethnic styles that are so popular in the contest these days actually works in their favour as they stand out with one of the strongest ballads this year.

Luminita Anghel & Sistem – Let Me Try
I am quite mystified at how this won the semi-final. It’s got an optimistic ‘let’s all work together in harmony’ kind of vibe which goes down well at Eurovision (and the biggest drums of the night) but the song itself doesn’t stand out to me at all. It’s not bad but neither is it anywhere near a favourite.

Wig Wam – In My Dreams
Amazingly, we have found a ‘comedy’ rock band frontman more annoying than Justin Hawkins. I thought Norwegians were supposed to be sweet and lovely! They do put on a good show and against my better judgement I really like the song. Definitely a big contender.

Gülseren – Rimi Rimi Ley
Turkey seem to have got so carried away with being ethnic that they’ve forgotten to be pop. Although technically there is no reason why Eurovision songs have to be pure pop, they need to be pretty amazing if they’re not and still want to do well, and this is not (but it still did better than us!). However, they have gone one better on the drum front by dressing theirs in skirts to match the dancers’. I also liked the cry of “yeee-haa!” from the singer – it’s about as American as this show is going to get.

Zdob si Zdub – Boonika Bate Toba (Grandmamma Beats The Drumm-A)
“Chilli Peppers meets Rednex” according to the ace & all-knowing Mike – an extremely accurate comparison in my opinion and certainly one that’ll send you off searching for the video if you haven’t seen this. It’s utterly insane! It was probably better seen for the first time but it’s still brilliant and hilarious and they too have a new take on the drum gimmick – they have a drum-playing Grandma!

Ledina Celo – Tomorrow I Go
This is so boring that the only way I’ll remember it is precisely as the most boring song of the night. And Albania were so good last year as well – what went wrong?

Constantinos Christoforou – Ela Ela (Come Baby)
Failure to win Making Your Mind Up didn’t mean Andy Scott-Lee would just give up. He is a Scott-Lee after all! So he took his initiative and a few months’ supply of black vests to Cyprus (stopping at the gym on the way) where he presented himself as Constantinos Christoforou and with a song Peter Andre (well, he was the only famous Cypriot he could think of!) would be proud of, he won the nation’s hearts and now he has achieved his goal of appearing at Eurovision! Obviously a few people sussed him out as the UK were one of only 7 countries to give him any points at all.

Son De Sol – Brujería
‘The Ketchup Song”s younger sibling accompanied by 3 men even scarier than the Norwegians makes an absolutely rubbish song.

Shiri Maymon – The Silence That Remains
This is my favourite of the ballads, although it doesn’t really get good until the final section where she sings in English. It’s not because she sings in English, that bit is just loads better! She has a good voice and an extremely lovely dress as well.

Serbia & Montenegro
No Name – Zauvijek Moja (Forever Mine)
This lot are certainly not the only boyband rejects to appear tonight, but they must be the weirdest! I can’t even work out which of them is in the group and which are backing dancers/singers. All of them? None of them? Who knows?! The apparent lead singers prove that mixing in every boyband member in two boys does not make perfection…far from it.

We’re halfway through so it’s time for a quick break to promote the new Eurovision book and show a few confusing behind the scenes clips from rehearsals.

Jakob Sveistrup – Talking To You
You’re all going to laugh at me now, but I LOVE this song! It’s Ronan Keating on a particularly jolly day and he looks like Sean, The Gay off Coronation St, and still I’m not put off. it seems he has got all his mates from the pub to do the bobbing from side to side thing he calls dancing. It’s so, so cheesy, but mums Europe-wide will be falling in love with this bloke (and he’s a teacher as well – a sure-fire mum hit!).

Martin Stenmarck – Las Vegas
Did he just sing “You’re like a turd”? It really sounded like it – how rude! That’s no way to win over an audience. However, he’s Swedish so I’ll let him off. It’s a very catchy song but I still wish Alcazar or Pay TV had been entered instead. I think they’d do better and they simple are better!

FYR Macedonia
Martin Vucic – Make My Day
This guy has to be the weirdest yet. His head is too small for his body and he dances like a puppet. He might be quite good-looking if you ignored from the neck down, as he looks like the wrongly buff Calin S Club 8 mixed with another Coronation St character, Warren the footballer. If Coronation St isn’t on this week, you’ll know why – all the characters have flown off to Kiev!

Greenjolly – Razom Nas Bahato, Nas Nye Podolaty
If the rest of Europe is anything like our family they’ll all miss most of this while one of the family members (in our house this job somehow belonged to me) explains the Orange Revolution and the youngest sibling makes rubbish jokes about Orange phones. Why wasn’t it the Vodafone Revolution? The future’s bright, the future’s Orange!

Gracia – Run & Hide
Gracia came 5th in the German version of Pop Idol, making her their Hayley Evetts. However, she has done a bit better than Hayley as she has managed a fairly successful pop career. Sadly the other singles of hers I’ve heard were much better than this and I don’t think many people are going to remember her from this performance. Perfectly competent but perfectly boring.

Boris Novkovic Feat. Lado Members – Vukovi Umiro Sami
I have christened this guy Neil Borissey due to his extreme resemblance to Bob the Builder Neil Morissey. What is it with this show and UK TV look-alikes? Borissey doesn’t even bother to actually hit the drums, just kind of throws himself at them. Very bizarre.

Elena Paparizou – My Number One
Hooray! This is my highest scorer yet on my nifty BBC scorecard. I love Elena’s band Antique (who incidentally came 2nd a few years ago with ‘Die For You’) and it’s nice to see a Swede succeed, even if it’s not for Sweden exactly. The fantastic braces trick should also be noted down now for every ‘best of Eurovision’ montage ever from now on and I love her use of the word “capricious”.

Natalia Podolskaya – Nobody Hurt No One
She looks rather different than in her video, much less scary. This is slightly better than Gracia’s similar song but again nothing interesting or unusual. If they pulled a trick like last year’s colourfully painted dancers I may take more notice.

Bosnia & Herzegovina
Feminnem – Call Me
Excellent news: Femminem have nothing to do with Eminem – in fact they couldn’t be further from from him! Blonde girls parodying Abba and singing about being “United in the song, that’s all it takes, Fifty candles on the forty cakes” – I bet they were really cross when Lebanon dropped out leaving only 39 cakes! The song is still brilliant and has the best lyrics of the competition. Bonus points for being the only ones to celebrate 50 years of Eurovision.

Vanilla Ninja – Cool Vibes
Vanilla Ninja are one of the best girl bands currently in Europe and so popular that they’ve been poached by Switzerland to save them from further embarrassment (last year they came 22nd in the semi-final!) and their home country of Estonia created a new version of them to compete this year in the form of the rather ace Suntribe. If only Vanilla Ninja had been able to re-enter their original entry which for some reason wasn’t picked to represent Estonia a few years ago, Club Kung Fu, they may well have been ruling the world (or at least Europe) at this very moment. This song is also good but much rockier and not half as fun as their usual output, plus it involves them asking to be killed, which is not exactly the most positive message for our lovely Euro viewers.

Walters And Kazha – The War Is Not Over
Is this the Latvian answer to Sam & Mark? It has to be! They even sing “Sam was the loser (of Pop Idol), Sam was the winner” (cos he gets parodied on Eurovision – an honour in my book!). They are extremely sweet but the song is so utterly feeble that you can’t imagine any wars would even consider stopping for them. I do kind of like it though, and the sign language at the end is heart-meltingly cute.

Ortal – Chacun Pense Á Soi
The French are rubbish at pop, but luckily this girl is part Israeli so it’s not too bad.

Some boxing brothers hit a chime thing (probably the most delicate thing they’ve ever hit) and the voting begins! Then there’s a recap which makes me realise what a great year this is for entries. There are so many good ones! Then the voting ends and it’s time for an interval act with, guess what! More drums! Then a kind of acrobat/gymnast thing which I have to say is very impressive. I think we should get him as our entry next year – do the rules say we need singing? Then after some more frantic drumming, Ruslana is back with a really great song. The only one of hers I’ve heard thats as good as Wild Dances. It has “hey!”s and “nanana”s!

I won’t guide you through the voting as with 39 countries to get through it inveitably went on a bit. An interesting fact is that Andorra, Albania and Monaco had to use a jury vote, which means they must have had less than 100 votes! I know they are small countries but that is still quite shocking.

I will take this chance to give you my own points, using the Eurovision system:

1 – Norway
2 – Latvia
3 – Israel
4 – Moldova
5 – Denmark
6 – Switzerland
7 – Sweden
8 – UK
9 – Hungary
10 – Bosnia
12 – Greece

After a slow start, Greece pick up a strong lead about halfway though and end up points ahead of second-placed Malta. So the final results are:

1. Greece – 230 points
2. Malta – 192
3. Romania – 158
4. Israel – 154
5. Latvia – 153
6. Moldova – 148
7. Serbia & Montenegro – 137
8. Switzerland – 128
9= Denmark – 125
9= Norway – 125

She’s a bit aggressive this Greek girl isn’t she, pushing people out of the way! But of course she is extremely ace and well deserving of her win.

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