Goodbye for a while

There has not been a whole lot of Becks activity on this blog lately, and that is because I will be quitting. Just like in 2007, I will keep the official YLE webpage in Swedish up and running, and as I will be blogging there, I can't keep my own parallel blog here.

So, bye for a while! If Swedish is your thing, please check me out, read my blog and ask me a question... And thanks for following until now.



Anžej is alive

Anžej Dežan, who sang for Slovenia in Athens 2006, is still around and recently he won Slovenska popevka. (For some reason, all the ESC sites only focus on the participation of Alenka Gotar, whose greatness I still fail to register.)

I had high hopes for Anžej back then, and I am happy to see that his career is not over. Even though I sense a certain lack of hit factor in this winning entry... But maybe it works in Slovenia?

Anžej Dežan - Šopek Maka
winner Slovenska popevka 2008


Estonia is in

After much discussion, and against the will of some important people at ERR, Estonia will take part in the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest. A good decision.

A multitude of half-hearted reasons to drop out have been cited, one less serious-sounding than the other. Estonia should show sympathy with Georgia, was one. Estonia fears that Russia will turn Eurovision into a propaganda machine was another.

Of course taking part is the only way to go. Estonia is too small a country to be able to afford missing out international exposure like the ESC. The best statement one can make is to be present.

Now is the question, who wants to pick up the task of representing the Estonian tricolor in Moscow after the ERR tainted the whole thing with so much politics?

My answer now, as always, is: Anne Veski. She is a grand old lady of Estonian pop, a real icon with real talent, and also very popular and appreciated in Russia. If anyone can be a gracious ambassadress in Moscow, it is her.

Anne Veski - Прости за любовь

Anne Veski - Электричка

Anne Veski & Rolf Junior - Sa oled liga noor

Dutch breakdown

The Netherlands are certainly not living their best days of Eurovision, that must be obvious to anyone gifted with eyes and, above all, ears. For a few moments, when it seemed NOS almost had Anouk on the hook, I thought maybe they would get it right this time.

Or, well. They let me down too many times in the last few years that I didn't really expect much. But I was not ready for the complete let-down that was announced today.

De Toppers will go to Moscow for the Netherlands. Gerard Joling, Gordon and René Froeger singing together. Absolutely hooray. The Dutch are wondering why nobody votes for them, and the hottest they can come up with is a collection of half-screaming has-beens? Well, good luck, people.

Maybe they will manage to find the best Dutch entry since the Ice Age and I will have to eat my words. (But I very much doubt it - just watch the gents murder some euroclassics below...) It seems the Dutch love them, but nowhere near as much as they seem to love themselves. They almost make Dima Bilan come across as modest...

De Toppers - Eurosong medley


The juries are back

The EBU reference board decided, in its infinite wisdom, to bring the juries back to Eurovision for next year. Hooray. What a lovely idea.

The verdict of the juries will somehow be wieghted against the televote (nobody knows quite how yet), as that will decrease all this horrific neighbourfriendly diaspora voting that keeps contaminating the voting lately.

Do I sound sarcastic? Really? Well, it is just because I am old enough to remember the juries. They did quite often vote like apes. Do you remember?

On so many occasions, the juries favoured the stereotypical and the expected, rejecting anything slightly modern och slightly different. Not to mention, come the 90's, the increasing level of traded points, which turned the voting into a complete farce.

If the EBU takes this whole matter seriously and makes an effort to keep the juries representative and un-pressured by their national broadcasters, then maybe it is a clever move. Until then, I am not quite extatic.

Serious jury work back in 1973

Sakis is back

Greece was the first country to announce their choice of singer for the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, and it was both surprising and expected to see Sakis Rouvas back for a second attempt to win.

For me, who first heard of Sakis back in 1997, "Shake it" was as close to a complete disappointment as one could possibly get. Simple, repetitive and way under his regular standard.

Let's hope 2009 sees an improvement song-wise and points-wise. Athens was a great host city...

To celebrate his return, I share the first ever song I heard from Sakis. And isn't it Maria Menounos in a blond wig that spreads her light over this clip...?

Sakis Rouvas - Tora arhizoun ta diskola

So much for saving silly season

Yes, yes. I know.

There wasn't much posting going on to save silly season, but the main good reason for that is of course the whole Russia - Georgia crisis and all the tension that brought along also in Camp Eurovision.

Rather than writing anything on the matter that one would have to regret later, it seemed much smarter not to write anything.

But now so much news keeps pouring in and it is time to start writing again. Starting today.



And also, there it is - the best interval act ever through Eurovision history. Eat your heart out, Riverdance!

Nothing beats Mixer. Try doing this at home, kids, and see how far into the number your heart failure kicks in...

Mixer - Interval act, ESC 1970, Amsterdam

Ilana Avital

An angel has landed on Youtube and uploaded a lot of Eurovision stuff I have never seen online before. Thanks to him/her, I can share one of my all time favourite Israeli national final entries.

I always had a soft spot for Ilana Avital (who of course should have won hands down back in 1987), and even if she may not be exactly spot on ever single note throughout this big belter, I love this song!

Enjoy and love! (But watch out for the hard note after the bridge...)

Ilana Avital - Ahavati ha'achrona - Israel NF 1991


In the Swedish preview of 1992, Lydia Cappolicchio described the Swiss entry as a "fine song suited for the ones of you who enjoy undressing in a rhythmical way", and well, there is some truth to that.

I must admit I used to HATE it. With burning passion. I thought it was by far the worst of the year, and I wished for it to end with a big fat zero. And then time passed and I find the overall 1992 standard a bit lacklustre, but "Mister Music Man" survived.

I don't find it particularly tacky at all anymore, and Daisy actually delivers quite nicely. I have forgiven her. A bit late, maybe, who knows? What does Daisy Auvray do these days?

Daisy Auvray - Mister Music Man - Switzerland 1992

However, I would still have preferred the "real" winner of the Swiss final to go to Malmö. If there ever was an überschlager, then this is the one. And don't miss the archi-typical backing singers, either. These people left nothing to chance.

Géraldine Olivier - Soleil, Soleil - Switzerland 1992 DQ
NF winner, later disqualified


No chance, sugar

Saw the 2007 Dora (Croatian national final) for the first time yesterday, and I think I will come back to the subject of Croatia soon, but I have to share this with someone with a real sweet tooth for the absurd...

Here you go, Posh! According to every rule in the universe, you should love this. For all the wrong reasons, but love is still love.

Trio Fantasticus - Nema sanse seceru - Croatia NF 2007


Beatrix from Austria

I am one of those people who are addicted to Wikipedia and who can surf aimlessly for hours, finding out random bits and pieces and add up to all the trivial knowledge I already possessed.

Thanks to the German-languaged Wikipedia I now know that Beatrix Neundlinger is still around. I am definately weak for Beatrix. Very, very talented indeed and enigmatically beautiful, she was the natural point of focus both times she represented Austria in the ESC, as part of The Milestones in 1972 and with Schmetterlinge in 1977.

Last year she had a new entry and is still active. I am very happy to see that. And the musical snippets sound good. Check her website out here. She still looks fantastic, you know.

The Milestones - Falter im Wind - Austria 1972

Schmetterlinge - Boom Boom Boomerang - Austria 1977

2008 in a parallel universe

In retrospect, the idea of having two semi finals instead of one must be seen as a true success. Even though many people would argue that the general standard of songs in 2008 is the lowest for many years, the final line-up was really strong, mainly thanks to most of the weaker entries getting stuck in the semis.

Initially, the 2007 formula was supposed to stay put also this year: ten countries pre-qualified for the final plus then four big ones, and ten additional finalists selected from a nightmare semi of 29 songs. Thank heavens the EBU had a change of heart.

Had the formula remained unchanged, we could have had a final line-up to look like this instead (given some artistic freedom here, selecting the top five countries from each semi, assuming they would have qualified also had there been only one semi):

01 Serbia - Oro
02 Ukraine - Shady Lady
03 Russia - Believe
04 Turkey - Deli
05 Bulgaria - DJ, take me away
06 Belarus - Hasta la vista
07 Greece - Secret combination
08 Armenia - Qele Qele
09 Hungary - Candlelight
10 Moldova - A Century of Love

11 Germany - Disappear
12 Spain - Baila el Chiki Chiki
13 France - Divine
14 United Kingdom - Even if

15 Norway - Hold on, be strong
16 Israel - The fire in your eyes
17 Azerbaijan - Day after day
18 Romania - Pe-o margine di lume
19 Finland - Missä miehet ratsastaa

20 Portugal - Senhora do mar
21 Denmark - All night long
22 Croatia - Romanca
23 Georgia - Peace will come
24 Latvia - Wolves of the Sea

A fair guess is that Hungary would have ended last in this hypothetical line-up, but all of a sudden I find myself missing quite a few good songs: Iceland, Sweden, Bosnia-Herzegovina...

I think the actual line-up turned out stronger, and I am happy not to have had neither Moldova nor Belarus in the final. Thank you, EBU, for the new rules.

Survive Silly Season

It has been almost a month and a half since this year's extravaganza in Belgrade, and now this blog has been quiet for long enough.

We have all plunged headlong into the limbo known as Silly Season, full of weird "rumours" and non-news as there is nothing to report on, really. In case you feel you are Eurovision nut enough to keep things coming all year round, then you can keep an eye here.

We will keep you entertained (if that is the word I'm looking for) as well as we can until the real news starts dropping in this fall. And what could be more enjoyable than the 1973 Finnish entry? Here in its preview version, that I never saw before...

Marion Rung - Tom Tom Tom - Finland 1973



According to Swedish newspapers, the longstanding UK commentator Terry Wogan has now declared the ultimate reason to the British debacle in Belgrade: Andy Abraham is black and all of Eastern Europe is racist. Those people in the East would never vote for anyone of a different skin colour.

What is this? Seriously? Are we back in South Africa in the 80's? I am not denying there are racial issues going on a bit here and there on our old continent (oppression takes place due to skin colour, religion, sexuality and a lot of other things), but to claim that a last place comes down only to an issue of skin colour... That stinks!

Time to open your eyes up and realise that only TWO countries out of a possible forty-two voted for your song. Will you get the UN to put sanctions against the rest of us? Or are you so old-fashioned you demand us to vote for you only BECAUSE you were brave enough to selected a coloured singer?

We just thought your song was dull and un-inspired and nothing we were ready to waste our money televoting for. Try harder next time and leave the pathetic exuses on the shelf, please.


Winners and their points

It was so much fun making the statistics how many points the last-placings have recieved since the introduction of the current voting system. So, for all nerds out there (hey - I am one of you), here is the same for the winners. Who got most and who got the least number of points since 1975?

2006 Finland - Lordi "Hard Rock Hallelujah" 292 points
2004 Ukraine - Ruslana "Wild dance" 280 points
2008 Russia - Dima Bilan "Believe" 272 points
2007 Serbia - Marija Serifovic "Molitva" 268 points
2005 Greece - Helena Paparizou "My number one" 230 points
1997 UK - Katrina & The Waves "Love shine a light" 227 points
1994 Ireland - Harrington/McGettigan "Rock'n'roll kids" 226 points
2001 Estonia - Tanel & Dave "Everybody" 198 points
2000 Denmark - Olsen Brothers "Fly on the wings of love" 195 points
1993 Ireland - Niam Kavanagh "In your eyes" 187 points
1986 Belgium - Sandra Kim "J'aime la vie" 176 points
2002 Latvia - Marie N "I wanna" 176 points
1987 Ireland - Johnny Logan "Hold me now" 172 points
1998 Israel - Dana International "Diva" 172 points
2003 Turkey - Sertab Erener "Everyway that I can" 167 points
1976 UK - Brotherhood of Man "Save your kisses for me" 164 points
1999 Sweden - Charlotte Nilsson "Take me to your heaven" 163 points
1996 Ireland - Eimear Quinn "The voice" 162 points
1982 Germany - Nicole "Ein bisschen Frieden" 161 points
1978 Israel - Izhar Cohen & Alpha Beta "A-Ba-Ni-Bi" 157 points
1992 Ireland - Linda Martin "Why me?" 155 points
1975 Netherlands - Teach-In "Ding-A-Dong" 152 points
1990 Italy - Toto Cutugno "Insieme: 1992" 149 points
1995 Norway - Secret Garden "Nocturne" 148 points
1991 Sweden - Carola "Fångad av en stormvind" 146 points
1984 Sweden - Herreys "Diggi-loo diggi-ley" 145 points
1980 Ireland - Johnny Logan "What's another year" 143 points
1983 Luxembourg - Corinne Hermès "Si la vie est cadeau" 142 points
1988 Switzerland - Céline Dion "Ne partez pas sans moi" 137 points
1989 Yugoslavia - Riva "Rock me" 137 points
1977 France - Marie Myriam "L'oiseau et l'enfant" 136 points
1981 United Kingdom - Bucks Fizz "Making your mind up" 136 points
1979 Israel - Milk and Honey "Hallelujah" 125 points
1985 Norway - Bobbysocks "La de swinge" 123 points

Go get them, FYR Macedonia!

For the first time since the introduction of semi finals in 2004, FYR Macedonia missed being in the final. Quite unfairly, if you ask me. "Let me love you" is a very likeable little pop ditty, modern and well-performed, in addition to Adrijan sporting possibly the coolest outfit of the year.

Tamara, Vrcak & Adrijan - Let Me Love You - FYR Macedonia 2008
10/19 in the semi

In one way, this could be a blessing in disguise, even if they wouldn't buy that themselves now. No country has managed to enrage the eurofans quite like FYR Macedonia, and that only because they have managed to make it through the semi every year. There must be some kind of cheating going on, they reason. Well, there hasn't been, and maybe the average fan will be easier on them in the future.

In my book, their entries have been fabulous every year (apart from 2005, when there was no end to the lack of talent during their three minutes on stage), and they well deserve their success. Next year, they will be back with new force and do better than before. Or so I hope, anyway.

Tose Proeski - Life - FYR Macedonia 2004

Karolina Goceva - Od nas zavisi - FYR Macedonia 2002

XXL - 100% te ljubam - FYR Macedonia 2000

Vlado Janevski - Ne zori, zoro - FYR Macedonia 1998

Kaliopi - Samo ti - FYR Macedonia 1996
Did not qualify for the ESC


Best loser

The UK delegation may be very sad about ending in last place again, for the second time in only five years. This last place occured on the same date as the last one... and then as well as now, I watched the contest on telly instead of live. (Heavens - is it my fault the UK ended last?)

When I started following the ESC, anything like the UK ending last was simply unthinkable. In 1987, the UK placed outside the top ten for the second time through the history of the contest. And now...

Well, to powder the story with some sunshine, at least no other last place has ever gained as many points as Andy Abraham since the current voting system was introduced in 1975. These are the scores of the last places since:

2008 UK - Andy Abraham "Even If" 14 points
1996 Finland - Jasmine "Niin kaunis on taivas" 9 points
1990 Norway - Ketil Stokkan "Brandenburger Tor" 8 points
1990 Finland - Beat "Fri?" 8 points
2002 Denmark - Malene "Tell Me Who You Are" 8 points
1976 Norway - Anne Karine Strøm "Mata Hari" 7 points
1985 Belgium - Linda Lepomme "Laat me nu gaan" 7 points
1980 Finland - Vesa-Matti Loiri "Huilumies" 6 points
1979 Belgium - Micha Marah "Hey Nanah!" 5 points
1979 Austria - Christina Simon "Heute in Jerusalem" 5 points
1984 Austria - Anita "Einfach weg" 5 points
2007 Ireland - Dervish "They can't stop the spring" 5 points
1986 Cyprus - Elpida "Tora zo" 4 points
1992 Finland - Pave "Yamma Yamma" 4 points
2005 Germany - Gracia "Run And Hide" 4 points
1975 Turkey - Semiha Yanki "Seninle bir dakika" 3 points
1993 Belgium - Barbara "Iemand als jij" 3 points
2001 Iceland - 2 Tricky "Angel" 3 points
2001 Norway - Halldor "On My Own" 3 points
2004 Norway - Knut Anders Sørum "High" 3 points
1977 Sweden - Forbes "Beatles" 2 points
2000 Belgium - Natalie Sorce "Envie de vivre" 2 points
1995 Germany - Stone & Stone "Verliebt in Dich" 1 point
1999 Spain - Lydia "No quiero escuchar" 1 point
2006 Malta - Fabrizio Faniello "I do" 1 point

...and the ones who had to go home with a big fat zero:
1978 Norway - Jahn Teigen "Mil etter mil"
1981 Norway - Finn Kalvik "Aldri i livet"
1982 Finland - Kojo "Nuku pommiin"
1983 Turkey - Cetin Alp & The Short Wave "Opera"
1983 Spain - Remedios Amaya "Quien maneja mi barca"
1987 Turkey - Seyyal Taner & Grup Lokomotif "Sarkim sevgi üstüne"
1988 Austria - Wilfried "Lisa Mona Lisa"
1989 Iceland - Daniel "þàð sem enginn sér"
1991 Austria - Thomas Forstner "Venedig im Regen"
1994 Lithuania - Ovidijus Vysniauskas "Lopsine mylimai"
1997 Norway - Tor Endresen "San Francisco"
1997 Portugal - Celia Lawson "Antes do adeus"
1998 Switzerland - Gunvor "Lass' ihn"
2003 United Kingdom - Jemini "Cry Baby"


Sweden facing defeat

I am not really sure what happened, to be honest. I was expecting the Swedish newspapers to rip Europe to shreds when Charlotte did as badly as she did, but they have been surprisingly calm and down-to-earth.

One flop was one thing, in Helsinki everyone was really unprepared for the Swedish debacle and reacted thereafter. In Belgrade, it seems some tiny hint of disbelief lived somewhere deep down the minds of the present journalists, and it seems most people are more constating the fact that Sweden no longer knows how to spellbind the European audience.

Famous (or infamous) TV-critic Anders Björkman of Expressen really nailed it today: when you look at how Sweden voted, you see we gave low or no points to the top four in the final ranking - we are not exactly mainstream in this contest anymore.

There is a certain amount of sadness attached to it, of course. When Pelé was no longer the best football player in the world, he was probably quite sad as well. Nobody seems to know where to go from here, but at least there is room for discussion what kind of song to enter in the future.

Most importantly, nobody is blaming Charlotte for the lack of success. They'd better not. She couldn't have done it better, and nobody else for that matter. "Hero" just wasn't what the world wanted, however difficult it is to digest that.


Bits and pieces

Some random comments and thoughts from last night...

- 7 songs in the top 10 came from semi 1 (the supposedly weaker of the semi finals)

- 4 songs in the top 10 were sung in another language than English

- Ukraine and Russia got points from all except 5 countries

- Russia got seven 12 pointers but Armenia who came 4th got one more 12 pointer than the winner. Runner up Ukraine only got one single 12 pointer.

- In the final Sweden voted: 1p Greece, 2p Armenia, 3p Latvia, 4p France, 5p Denmark, 6p Serbia, 7p Finland, 8p Iceland, 10p Bosnia-H, 12p Norway

- The UK was rescued from an embarrassing nil points by Ireland and San Marino (!)

- Bulgaria gave 12 points to Germany only because one of the girls is Bulgarian

- Poor San Marino came last in semi 1 with only 5 points. I liked their song!

- Estonia was saved from the last place which they deserved by Finland who rewarded them 7 points. Shame on you Finns!

- Finland got two sets of 12 pointers in the semi from Estonia and Andorra (!)

- The best ballad of the year came last in semi 2 - Hungary. Shame on you Europe!

- In the semi Sweden voted: 1p Georgia, 2p FYR Macedonia, 3p Ukraine, 4p Croatia, 5p Portugal, 6p Turkey, 7p Albania, 8p Latvia, 10p Iceland, 12p Denmark

- Slovenia just missed out on the final coming 11th in semi 1

- FYR Macedonia would have been in the final instead of Sweden if the jury hadn't been picked to choose one entry. Bulgaria also got more points from the viewers than Sweden did.

Bosnia 12 points

And if there was one performance that bettered France, then of course it must be the wonderful weirdness of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Laka and Mirela and their knitting ladies is my favourite entry out of all 43 this year.

Sir Terry Wogan of the BBC hated this one completely and more or less quoted it as a reason to give up on Eurovision altogether. Poor Terry, not to see the beauty and mastermind of this.

No more Balkan ballads, bring us things like these from now on, please!

Laka - Pokusaj - Bosnia-Herzegovina 2008

France 12 points

I know you all saw it yesterday, but I have to blog it anyway. It is just such a classic masterpiece. We will never forget this wonderfully silly French offering. 19th place, but 12 points from Becks!

Sébastien Tellier - Divine - France 2008

Dima Bilan 2006

Russia 2006: Dima Bilan - Never Let You Go

100 times better! Don't you agree?

Bitterness, anyone?

Just looked through the BBC broadcast of the ESC, where Sir Terry Wogan was less than enthusiastic throughout the voting. Apparently, he expected a grand score for the, frankly speaking, bleak and lucklustre UK entry and made no effort to hide how disappointed he was with the rest of Europe.

It was always Sir Terence's way to mock the contest and make fun of it, but it seems that was just enjoyable back in the days when the UK used to come out on top. Now, as other countries keep winning, the bitterness shines through in a less than pleasant way.

"This is not a song contest anymore", Terry said. "With the political voting, we knew beforehand that Russia would win!"

Such rubbish. I always wished sore losers would bite their tongues. It is one thing to be disappointed, but to diminish the Russian victory into pure political voting is very rude and also very incorrect. If the UK pulled out somebody with the same star quality and similar popularity as Dima Bilan (instead of somebody who couldn't control his dancing legs to save his life), they would stand a chance too.

I wish the BBC would take a deep breath, look into the matter and come up with a real contender next year. I promise it would be worth it. (I wrote a post about it a few months back. Feel free to have a look at it before making any decisions for 2009.)

Winners and Losers

The show looked fantastic on TV last night and I didn't feel bitter at all not being present in Belgrade. Honest. It brought me back to my childhood and how much I longed for Eurovision every year and how exciting it was to see the numbers for the first time. I haven't seen ESC home on a sofa since 1999 when I was still in school.

I'm pleased to say that I predicted 7-8 of the songs that finally made it to the top 10. Hurrah for me! But I am not happy at all with the winner. The song in itself is ok but Dima Bilan was too much this time around and I can easily pick 10 songs that are better suited as a winner. On the other hand I say congratulations to Russia as they have tried really hard to win this contest ever since they started participating. Just a shame that it wasn't with one of their stronger entries. I've been to Moscow and it is an amazing city and I'm sure they will make a splendid show next year. It's itching in my fingers to work with the contest next year again and re-visit Moscow. Their schwerma is worth the trip alone! :)

Then Sweden. What happened? Charlotte Perrelli made a flawless performance and is not to blame for the result. Neither is "the Eastern bloc" that the Swedes will try to say. Why? Because "the Western bloc" didn't vote either. Not even our Nordic neighbours gave high points. Only 12 points from Malta, much thanks to the Schlagerboys' participation in a Maltese tv-show where they begged everyone to vote Sweden. Go Schlagerboys! Thank you.

The only explanation I have for the 18th place is that Ani Lorak nicked the "pop song with strong female singer in silver dress with a dance routine"-votes and that the rest of the voters simply didn't like the old Scandischlagersound anymore and thought it sounded dated. Anyone with other explanations?

The popularity of Charlotte Perrelli in Sweden won't fade because of this though. Of that I am fairly sure. Everybody loves her here and rightly so.


Now the votes are cast and while one country is the winner, quite a few feel like losers and that they have been had. For a while, there will be talk about who will come back next year and who will drop out.

The Netherlands have been very keen in the past on declaring that they won't take part unless they qualify, but they already confirmed participation next year. But what about the others?

My guess is that most of this year's 43 candidates will show up in Russia next year, but there are some question marks. Hungarian MTV likes taking part as long as they get good placings, so will they get cold feet now? Andorra failed to qualify again, is the international exposure of being seen worth it or are they getting tired of never going through? Tiny San Marino, did they enjoy the experience despite their last place in their semi?

There were also some talk about Azerbaijan only going to ESC once and that would be it, but won't they want to continue after their excellent placing?

Alma Cardzic - Goodbye - Bosnia-Herzegovina 1997

Semi final shocker!

When you see the complete results of the semi finals, there are quite a few things there to make your jaw drop or at least to make your eyebrows go up more than usual:


01. Greece 156
02. Armenia 139
03. Russia 135
04. Norway 106
05. Israel 104
06. Azerbaijan 96
07. Romania 94
08. Finland 79
09. Bosnia-Herzegovina 72
10. Poland 42
11. Slovenia 36
12. Moldova 36
13. Netherlands 27
14. Montenegro 23
15. Ireland 22
16. Andorra 22
17. Belgium 16
18. Estonia 8
19. San Marino 5


01. Ukraine 152
02. Portugal 120
03. Denmark 112
04. Croatia 112
05. Georgia 107
06. Latvia 86
07. Turkey 85
08. Iceland 68
09. Albania 67
10. FYR Macedonia 64
11. Bulgaria 56
12. Sweden 54
13. Switzerland 47
14. Malta 38
15. Cyprus 36
16. Lithuania 30
17. Belarus 27
18. Czech Republic 9
19. Hungary 6

Lucky break for Sweden, thanks to the new rule that nine songs qualify through televote and the juries select the tenth "Hero" was not out on its ears already in the semi.

Horrendous to see Hungary last in their semi. What were you thinking, televoters?

Ukraine is the best

Well, yes, Russia won. That is true. But just look at the Ukraine and be amazed at how well they do in this contest. And rightly so. No other country comes up with such a breath-taking variety of styles and acts, and nobody does so consistently well. Three entries out of six has made Top 2 in the voting.

There is no country quite like the Ukraine, and when we gather what songs were the most commercially successful this year, I think we will have another strong showing from the Ukraine there.

The entries of Ukraine with placings:

2003 Oleksandr "Hasta la vista"

2004 Ruslana "Wild dance"

2005 Greenjolly "Razom nas bahato"

2006 Tina Karol "Show me your love"

2007 Verka Serduchka "Dancing lasha tumbai"

2008 Ani Lorak "Shady Lady"

I think we could all be heading to Odesa some time in the near future...

Ex-Soviet and Ex-Yugo

There have been so much complaining going on among journalists and eurofans that "those people" take over "our" contest. The countries from the former Soviet Union and former Yugoslavia, that is. Let's have a look at how well they did then, shall we?

Taking part in 2008 were no less than ten countries that used to be republics in the former Soviet Union: Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Six of them managed to get into the final, where they all got decent placings:
1) Russia
2) Ukraine
4) Armenia
8) Azerbaijan
11) Georgia
12) Latvia

Also, a total of six ex-Yugoslav countries competed: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, FYR Macedonia and Montenegro, of which "only" three found themselves in the final, and only two of these went through the semi (Serbia being pre-qualified), placing:
6) Serbia
10) Bosnia-Herzegovina
21) Croatia

I honestly fail to see what many people are so afraid of - that old countries that split into several new ones will totally dominate this contest and not let anyone i to share the fun. The ex-Soviets did well this time, but they did less so last year. And compared to the impact of the ex-Yugoslavs, then the Nordic domination is way bigger.

Nordic points

All five Nordic countries were in the final for the first time since 2000, which is a great achievement in itself. We should all be proud and happy about it, but then it is in our nature to hope for more than just initial success.

Norway made us all proud and defended the Nordic flags in the top five of the scoreboard. Maria had great luck in the draw, but more importantly she sang very well and managed to be totally likeable on stage. A strong chorus that deserved to be Norway's best showing since 2003.

Iceland at #14 is a tiny disappointment as well. I thought the song would reach out and grab more people in the end, but making it to the final for the first time since 2004 should be enough to keep the icelanders happy. And they did beat Denmark in the last round of votes. Rightly so, may I add. Danes are lovely people, but all their last entries (including this one) leave me totally cold.

Leaving people cold is apparently what Sweden did also. Taking this contest more seriously than the EBU themselves, a second consecutive 18th place is very hard to digest. I don't for a second think that Charlotte or "Hero" deserved to go so low in the ranking, but the points talk frankly: this passed the voters by. Not even the Nordic neighbours spilled points over it. There is something in the Swedish recipe that passed its date of expiry, without the Swedes noticing. Being elegant, cold and impeccably produced won't take you far anymore. I just hope people realise that Charlotte is not the one to blame here - it just didn't work out. Sometimes the world is like that.

Finland had managed to whip up a frenzy on home ground, thinking Teräsbetoni could actually win the grand final. As soon as the initial disappointment goes away (who would be happy with a 22nd place?), the Finns will calm down and feel satisfied with being in the final for the third year running. And, hopefully, get the message from Europe: rock was really fun for a while. But now we would like something else.

Congratulations, I guess

Russia is the winner, and given how hard they tried to make it in the past, it must be a big relief for them to finally come out on top. Just too bad that they did just like Estonia and Yugoslavia: to win it with one of their less convincing acts.

Only two years back, I loved Dima Bilan. He was so sweet and convincing, and there was a heart beating steadily behind his stage show in Athens. But somewhere down the line, he got a bit too fond of himself and that is never a great thing in the long run.

"Believe" is an OK song, and as a song maybe a deserved winner. But it makes me a bit sad to see Europe buy something as cheesy and overloaded as the stage act that went along with it.

"Chef, the food we made is not very tasty!" - Then pour ketchup over it!
"It is still not tasty!" - Then cover it in mayonnaise! And if that is not enough, pour on chocolate sauce. Everyone loves chocolate sauce. Well, it seems everyone does.

So, congratulations Russia. I am happy you won. I just wish you had done it with another act.

The result, 2008

This is the way it ended yesterday.

Nota Bene: Since 2003, no placings are shared at the Eurovision, all ties are automatically separated. Same amount of points does not mean same placing.

1. Russia, 272 points.
2. Ukraine, 230
3. Greece, 218
4. Armenia, 199
5. Norway, 182
6. Serbia, 160
7. Turkey, 138
8. Azerbaijan, 132
9. Israel, 124
10. Bosnia-Herzegovina, 110
11. Georgia, 83
12. Latvia, 83
13. Portugal, 69
14. Iceland, 64
15. Denmark, 60
16. Spain, 55
17. Albania, 55
18. Sweden, 47
19. France, 47
20. Romania, 45
21. Croatia, 44
22. Finland, 35
23. Germany, 14
24. Poland, 14
25. United Kingdom, 14

If you compare to my prediction yesterday, you will find I didn't get it quite right. (Grumble) At least I picked the last place correctly...


Ukraine will win

This is the last post before the show starts. I would be less surprised if the sky fell down than if anyone but the Ukraine would win.

So, secretly I hope for somebody else to do it. Just for the sake of the surprise. (As long as that somebody is not Russia, Latvia or Spain.)

Enjoy the show!

Mil etter mil, French style

France is one of my favourite songs in this year's contest and yet I predict them to end up at the very bottom. How come?

Well, remember Norway 1978?

What fun is taking part if you know you can't win? Then it is better to be last! People are more likely to remember you if you end last than in, say, 14th place. And in Sebastien Tellier's circuits, it is probably more worthy to come last at Eurovision. So he does everything to turn voters away.

France nul points?

Jahn Teigen - Mil etter mil - Norway 1978
20/20 (nul points)

Becks' prediction

Me, Thomas Lundin, Eurofivestar and some other people have had a competition of our own for the last few years. You rank all participants from first to last, according to how you think the final result will be.

If you get the winner and/or the loser right, they give you ten points each. For every correct country on spots 2-5, that will earn you an extra five points. And finally, every correct placing between 6-24 will give you one point.

This year, I will get at least ten points. I am so sure Ani Lorak will recieve flowers at the end of the show. But for the rest? I am just guessing. In my last spot I have the UK - not because they would be bad, but because they are not good enough to stand out anywhere - but they could just as well be 12th with a good performance. I just don't want Germany to come last again. They are really trying, and a second last place in only four contests? Unfair!

Well, here goes:

01 Ukraine
02 Greece
03 Armenia
04 Sweden
05 Iceland
06 Bosnia-Herzegovina
07 Serbia
08 Russia
09 Israel
10 Norway
11 Croatia
12 Turkey
13 Georgia
14 Finland
15 Romania
16 Portugal
17 Albania
18 Azerbaijan
19 Spain
20 Poland
21 Denmark
22 Latvia
23 France
24 Germany
25 United Kingdom

Voting order

For the ones of you who take a keen interest, this is the order in which the countries will vote in tonight's final:

01. United Kingdom
02. FYR Macedonia
03. Ukraine
04. Germany
05. Estonia
06. Bosnia & Herzegovina
07. Albania
08. Belgium
09. San Marino
10. Latvia
11. Bulgaria
12. Serbia
13. Israel
14. Cyprus
15. Moldova
16. Iceland
17. France
18. Romania
19. Portugal
20. Norway
21. Hungary
22. Andorra
23. Poland
24. Slovenia
25. Armenia
26. Czech Republic
27. Spain
28. Netherlands
29. Turkey
30. Malta
31. Ireland
32. Switzerland
33. Azerbaijan
34. Greece
35. Finland
36. Croatia
37. Sweden
38. Belarus
39. Lithuania
40. Russia
41. Montenegro
42. Georgia
43. Denmark

Votes from Posh

Good Evening Europe!
My votes in Eurovision 2008 are the following...

1p Greece
2p Serbia
3p Iceland
4p Romania
5p Armenia
6p Sweden
7p Ukraine
8p Bosnia-Herzegovina
10p France
12p Norway

That concludes the voting from Posh.

Big 4 or not?

This discussion started up on another post, covering something else. But for all the world to hear, this is the Becks outlook on the system with the Big 4.

Four countries (France, Germany, Spain and United Kingdom) are always granted a free seat in the final, since their financial contributions to the contest are greater than the other countries. The fact they put in more money is not unfair, though. The participation fee of each country is decided through a mathematical formula that somehow matches the BNP of the country with the number of television license fees paid, and so you come up with an individual fee for everyone.

That is one of the reasons Luxembourg is not coming back for the moment: they have one of the highest BNP:s in the world and would pay a comparatively obsence amount of money to take part in the ESC.

If the any of the Big 4 countries drop out, then it is a serious blow towards the ESC. When Germany was kicked out in the 1996 pre-selection, NRK found themselves with a way tighter budget than anticipated, causing quite some problems for the entire production.

My view on the Big 4 system is simple: if that is what it takes to ensure that the ESC can be staged at all, then I find it a cheap price to pay for it.

But remember - the 20 songs coming from the semi finals have already gone through a first quality control. They were approved of by the viewers already. The Big 4 will have to make a tremendous effort every year to stand a chance in the voting, and so far they haven't really. Germany is trying, France did this year, Spain did on occasion, UK is yet to.

The notion that nobody votes for their songs because they are "jealous of the Big 4" is so paranoid that it would suit the TV news in North Korea or something.

Shock and horror!

Not to brag, but the fact is - on the day of the final, for the last five years, I have just suddenly known who is going to win. In 2003, my head settled for Sertab, in 2004 for Ruslana, in 2005 I actually knew even before the day of the final that Greece would walk it. I woke up confident of Finnish victory in 2006, and last year God (or whoever it was) spoke to me and said "Russia? Germany? You fool - the winner must be Serbia!"

Today is the day of the final and the song playing in my head is... "Nomads in the night". What on earth? I want my money back! The function seems to be out of order.

Lucky break it happened this year. Seriously, folks. It has to be the Ukraine. Any other winner and my jaw will hang between my knees in sheer surprise.

Tonight's the night

Every now and then I have this gift of waking up on the day of the ESC-final with the winning song playing in my head. Last year I woke up with Molitva and then it won. This morning I woke up with British "Even if" and that only means that my gift is fading dramatically.

So what country will win tonight?

Romania: Latvia got a reasonable result last year with the Il Divo-clones and had Romania got a better draw in the field I would have tipped them as a contender with this opera/popballad. If they make a flawless performance they might sneak into the top 10.

UK: 21th place is a valid guess. Maybe even lower. WHO will have this as their favourite, huh?

Albania: Will benefit from diaspora and neighbourly votes but it won't be enough for top 10.

Germany: If the singing would have been great they could have got a mid-table result but as it is now a failure is coming up - again.

Armenia: Was my tip to win after seeing the previews but wobbly singing and an early draw is holding them back. Still top 10 thanks to a strong song and lots of diaspora votes.

Bosnia: This one will surprise a lot of people by climbing the scoreboard. It is so clever on stage and the feelgood melody will make people happy. Top 10!

Israel: Good voice and OK song. Mid table.

Finland: Heavy fans stick together as we saw in the semi. Don't think it will be enough to break into top 10 but Finland will definitely not come last.

Croatia: High points from the other Balkan countries who understand the lyrics and also points from the rest of the East for the melody. Mid placing.

Poland: Nah, her voice is not strong enough for this Celine-ballad. People will favour the other ballads tonight.

Iceland: Good draw for them and will pick up votes from Scandinavia. Will probably be closer to top 10 than the bottom.

Turkey: A little too anonymous for a high score at the end of the night but diaspora votes will take it a fair bit up the scoreboard.

Portugal: Personally I still don't understand any of this but a lot of people are talking about Portugal's best placing ever could come tonight. Will be disappointing to see a good song lose out to this dramatic ballad but then again I never saw the greatness in "Angel" 2005 either.

Latvia: If there were justice in the world this would come last but fairness is not a synonym to Eurovision. Some people actually think that pirates are fun after a few too many drinks even if they sing like rats on fire.

Sweden: Coming after tuneless pirates could do the trick. Charlotte's performance is so slick and in tune it is silly really. My gut feeling is saying 7th but it could very well be higher too. Good luck Sweden!

Denmark: They shouldn't even be in the final and will no doubt be last of the Scandi-countries.

Georgia: The trick of the dress-change is still very smart and Georgia will pick up average points from a bunch of countries.

Ukraine: Ladies and gentlemen we have a winner. If she nails the singing I can't see how anything could go wrong for Ani Lorak tonight.

France: Is the song too brilliant? Most certainly but the last thing that dies is the hope. I love this song so much. There must be others who have the same excellent taste as me?! One factor that can stop Tellier from entering top 1o is the weird camera work. It is quite disturbing.

Azerbaijan: No I won't even worry about this one.

Greece: Likable popditty with a good draw will go far. Very far.

Spain: Chiki chiki could qualify for the lower parts of the top 10 or just miss out depending on the mood of Europe tonight.

Serbia: Even if we've all heard this before people will still vote for it. Very good draw too.

Russia: The buzz is still out there and I know that a lot of countries will back Russia as always but Dima Bilan is just too much. He will get a very unfair top 5 result but he can't win over Ani, can he?

Norway: I love this entry with all my heart and I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Western countries where the chart music sounds like this at the moment should reward Maria with high votes. Top 10 is a must.

Posh on Serbia

Jelena Tomašević feat. Bora Dugic - Oro 4/5
Beautiful Balkanballad penned by presenter Zeljko himself. It is dramatic and hypnotic but at the same time we all know that we’ve heard this sound before. Jelena is charismatic as well and with the good draw it will gather points. Guaranteed top 10.

Posh on Spain

Rodolfo Chikilicuatre - Baila el chiki chiki 3/5
Rodolfo earned himself an extra point because of his guitar. Check it out tomorrow! I am softening up to the Spanish dance feast for the simple reason that it works on stage. And when the only other choice is Latvia in the novelty act category in the final I back this one hands down. Perrea! Perrea!


Posh on France

Sébastien Tellier - Divine 5/5
Fantastique! The song is already heavily played on Swedish radio and I would love to see France do well in Eurovision again. Perhaps Tellier is too odd for the schlager-craving audience but his “Divine” is a bloody good song back in real life. If people like the retro Beach Boys sound I hope they vote for it no matter what. My second personal favourite of the lot!

Posh on Germany

No Angels - Disappear 3/5
The group should consider changing names to No Singers as anyone with a pair of functional ears can hear that their voices don’t match each other and at least two of the girls are off-key. On the other hand I do like the song but the performance is bland and won’t be many people’s first choice.

Posh on UK

Andy Abraham - Even If 2/5
Very anonymous entry that reminds me somewhat of the Belgian attempt last year which didn’t quite work. The dustbin-man who won X-factor sure can sing but he ain’t got the moves for disco and the UK will have to prepare for another failure. Not near as bad as “Flying the flag” but people expect much more from a leading music nation.

Drop Out?

The final hasn't even been held yet, and still it seems silly season just started. In Malta, the question has been risen whether the tiny nation should continue to take part in the ESC or not. Times of Malta conducts a survey, and so far the majority seem to be for Malta dropping out for next year.

How sensitive can you get? Malta just sent in three of their weakest entries ever in a row, of course they score badly. Go back to contributing quality songs, and you will be surprised...

Or drop out, if you so prefer. But who will miss you? How many people missed Austria this year?

Shame on the West

Last year, when all ten songs qualifying from the semi final came from the area that is commonly known as "the East", all Western Europe went berserk and made utter fools of themselves, spewing headlines like "Eurovision died this year" or "Hate the East" or "Throw them out" and other cheerful phrases.

This year, western Europe did a lot better: Finland, Iceland, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark and Norway made it through, and if one supposes that "West" means "country taking part before the East were let in" then also Israel, Greece and Turkey should be added to the bunch. Nine out of twenty qualifyers is a great step forward compared to last year.

But then the truth of the matter creeps out, and the whole ugly thing shows its real face: now many westerners are still complaining. The West made it, yes, but not the "right" countries from the West.

"We have to investigate the Nordic bloc" someone wrote. A Swiss newspaper had the story: "We were the only Western country in the second semi and we were kicked out!" Excuse me, what? What is Iceland? An eastern country?

And this is the whole reason why East keeps doing better than West: they take an interest in each other, they like each other's songs and care for the other singers. While the western countries just sit with their noses stuck in their belly buttons, complaining at every given chance.

The whole East/West division is sad and pathetic. Let's bury it now and never dig it up again.

Non-qualifyers, semi 2

When I think of the non-qualifyers of the second semi, I can't help feeling a bit sad. Quite a few fine songs disappeared here, and I will miss some of them immensely in the final.

If the good people of Lithuania, Czech Republic and Cyprus feel surprise in addition to their disappointment, there is no need to. Their failures were apparent to the rest of us, as they all had quite good songs but covered them up in loads of incomprehensible details. Lithuania - the outfit and the sick notes? Czech Republic - that disgrace of a DJ and the sick notes? Cyprus - well, what is there to say, really? Neither of them truly awful, but none of them good enough to make a real impact.

Malta was a fan favourite from the word go, but I would lie if I said anything else that I am quite happy to see it lose out. Now is the time for the Maltese to ditch these songwriters and find someone to write them solid entries again, like the ones they used to compete with. No more silly novelty from you, thanks.

Hungary was a surprise to see out - Csézy sang really well and the whole act looked brilliant. I hope her native folks will be nice to her when she comes back home, and that they treat her like the goddess that she is. FYR Macedonia was also an unpleasant surprise - they sang well and Tamara looked great. At least we will have an end to the headless discussions about FYR Macedonia going through whatever they contribute with.

Belarus, well. Not bad. But not really good either. Being pale is not a good quality when the people are let loose to vote.

And then the two I really shed tears for: Bulgaria and Switzerland. What happened? Paolo wasn't all too vocally convincing, but he landed in the right spots, and I thought the song would be strong enough in its own right to advance. And Europe - you voted for trash like Denmark and those horrid pirates of Latvia, but kept the magnificent Bulgarian scratch-fest out? Shame on you! I hope you all have bad dreams tonight. The signal sent out by the failure of Bulgaria is that it won't pay off to be modern and different. I hope very few countries take notice of that for next year.

Semi 2: what can I say?

Mixed emotions is the least I can claim to have after the second semi final. I am very happy for some finalists and left speechless when it comes to others. Somehow it seems that the uniformly good taste that marked the result of the first semi is now somehow shaken in its foundations. The burning question is really which one of these were selected by the juries...

My prediction after seing all 19 countries perform wasn't the strongest ever, as I only got six out of ten right: Iceland, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, Croatia and Portugal.

Well, this is what I think of each qualifyer (in order of appearance):

A very welcome sight in the final, where we haven't seen them since 2004. They sang well and kept their dancing under control - a well deserved success.

I will not lie to you - after seeing all 19, we were in serious doubt. The performance wasn't as strong as we wanted it to be and we feared people would forget about "Hero" before it was time to vote. Was this one selected by the jury?

Felt like a sure qualifyer from the word go, especially when they looked and sounded way better than in the previews. Fairly engaging rock that will do reasonably well in the final.

Ani Lorak couldn't lose, could she? Good thing they called her first - she was as sure in the final as a Finnish flop in the 90's. Impeccable on all account except the vocal - not as 100% as one would have expected.

I really wanted this one to pass on, but didn't expect anyone else to understand. Olta was wonderful and acted like a different person compared to that shy little girl that won the Albanian final in December. Did the jury pick this one?

And this is where it all went wrong. In my list, this is the worst out of all 43, and Europe votes it into the final instead of, say, Bulgaria or Switzerland. What is wrong with you people? Fun for Latvia, but horrendous for the rest of us. If the juries picked this one, they ought to be taken down.

A good decision to put this one through. Old man 75 Cents was almost as over-heated as I feared, but the whole package still came across as totally charming.

And again, I understand nothing. Weak, repetitive, bleak, uninspired, boring... (did I already say bleak?) It is great to have all five Nordic countries in the final for the first time since 2000, but this ditty makes no sense to me. The juries had better not picked this one.

The lady did the trick by singing really well, and making our jaws drop with that rather intriguing dress trick - the best one since Marie N back in 2002.

Again - great fun for Portugal, who are very welcome back on the board for the first time since 2003, but I still don't understand an inch of this. Over-worked, fake passion and quite a lot of drama, and Europe bought it. Or was this the jury choice?


Becks' prediction, semi 2

Oh dear, second semi on tonight already, hardly leaving us any time to digest the first one. Most people claim, in high-pitched voices, that the second semi is A LOT stronger than the first one, but I'm not too convinced. Semi 1 had a strong ending, Semi 2 has a strong opening. Also, Semi 2 has some favourites that sound fairly similar, so we could end up with a real surprise/disappointment/shock before the night is over.

Well, the ten songs that will pass on tonight, according to what I think, are (in order of appearance): Iceland, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, Switzerland, Croatia, Bulgaria, Malta, FYR Macedonia and Portugal. It could be that Malta drops out and gets replaced by Georgia, and that cheeky Dane could also convince people despite an appalling lack of song.

If I got to pick my favourites instead, they would be: Iceland, Sweden, Ukraine, Albania, Switzerland, Croatia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Hungary and FYR Macedonia.

Worst case scenario tonight is that Ukraina steals all the disco points, and Sweden and Iceland kill each other off and miss the final altogether. Not as unthinkable as I would want it to be, I'm afraid.

But as long as those tacky, horrid, soul-less, intelligence-insulting and insultingly horrific pirates from Latvia are kept away from the final, I promise I won't cry, whatever the result.

Posh's Prediction Semi 2

I got 8 out of 10 correct in the first semi both here and when we did our own predictions during the Eurovision-party on Tuesday. After having seen the broadcast I picked Israel and the Netherlands instead of Belgium and Poland. It still came down to the same amount. For this semi I don't even have 10 songs in my "wish list" as I only care for about 8 entries and predicting is much harder than last time. I'm pretty sure on 3 songs qualifying, the rest could be almost anything. Hopefully all the pieces will come together once I've seen the show with the correct camera work and surround sound. For the moment I'm going to be bold enough to say that poor Iceland won't make it but I sincerely hope that I'm wrong. Please do prove my gut feeling wrong!

Wish list
FYR Macedonia
+ 2 (Albania, Czech Rep, Belarus, Croatia, Georgia or Malta)

FYR Macedonia

Had it already been the final I would have dreaded Latvia but I don't think kids are allowed to stay up this late on a school night and there can't be enough music-hating alcoholics in Europe to put them through on their own on a Thursday night. If the Irish turkey had to go home I think the pirates will sail away never to be seen again. Please, let this gut feeling be correct!

Go for it, Iceland

Ever since their debut back in 1986 (and yes, I am old enough to remember), Iceland has been one of my favourite countries at the ESC. Always doing their own thing, never being too eager to please, often being violently entertaining, often overlooked when it comes down to voting.

Tonight, I think Iceland will have wind in their sails again and make it to the final for the first time since 2004. Unless Euroband loses their marbles and become too over-enthusiastic on stage, this should go down very well with the viewers.

So let's keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best and reminisce of few of the Icelandic entries that should have done better:

Silvia Night - Congratulations - Iceland 2006
13/23 in the semi final

Selma - If I Had Your Love - Iceland 2005
16/25 in the semi final

Paul Oscar - Minn hinsti dans - Iceland 1997

Sigga - Naetur - Iceland 1994

Icy - Gledibankinn - Iceland 1986

Boaz - hit of the year?

A quick sniffing around on the net makes me wonder a bit about Saturday's final. I am getting a feeling that the entry I really under-estimated so far is Israel. I always liked, but never thought it would do particularly well, and not even pass on to the final.

Just like I did with the lovely Shiri Maimon three years ago.

And the key element this time again lies in a magnificent performer. It seems the entire continent is cracking up for handsome Boaz and his beautiful voice. The keyword analysis for this blog shows that the single most used search term to find this blog was Boaz. Also on other sites, it seems to be quite a lot of talk going on in connection to Israel.

The buzz is on Boaz, so to speak. Could this mean a top five finish on Saturday?


Posh on Portugal

Vânia Fernandes - Senhora do Mar 1/5
I don’t get this at all. Supposedly a big fan-favourite over in Belgrade. Please enlighten me. Over-seriousness on stage in a language I’ve never understood in this contest. I can probably count the Portuguese entries I like on one hand. Shame as I’d love to spend a week or two in Lisbon - but not next year. Weak finish of semi 2.

Posh on FYR Macedonia

Tamara, Vrčak & Adrijan - Let Me Love You 3/5
“Let me love you” is one of those songs you like while you’re listening to it but afterwards instantly forget. Vast improvement from the national final when I didn’t rate it at all. There’s a touch of the good old “less is more” rule on stage but Tamara is a good singer and I just can’t sit completely still.

Posh on Cyprus

Evdokia Kadi - Femme Fatale 1/5
Had this entry been done by real musicians and a real singer I would probably have liked it as I’m a big fan of everything Anna Vissi and Greek music in general. Now I don’t. Enough said. I’m allergic to 3-in-1 songs. Specially outdated and local cabaret ones.

Posh on Malta

Morena - Vodka 2½/5
Not really sure what to think of this. Could go either way. Fun idea on paper to write a song about vodka and Russian spies but the result is uneven and somewhat shouty in the last minute. Morena is better than the song and where’s the key-change?!

Posh on Hungary

Csézy - Candlelight 4/5
Some may say that this is yet another boring ballad but I couldn’t disagree more. Csézy’s deep voice is fantastic, the performance classic clean and the song probably the best ballad of the year. Still can’t help but wondering what would have happened if Hungary had decided on the up-tempo demo version. That one rocked!

Posh on Georgia

Diana Gurtskaya - Peace Will Come 3/5
There’s something about the singer that bugs me terribly but I can’t put my finger on it. Same goes for the song, perhaps it is the bloody predictable peace message?! Although squeaky, her voice is good and the stage setting looks alright. The dress-change is rather smooth too.

Posh on Denmark

Simon Mathew - All Night Long 2/5
Simon was seriously off-key in rehearsals while practising some questionable dance moves to look cool. To me they only looked forced and clichéd. And last year’s German singer wore the same look much nicer by the way. The song in itself is ok but way too repetitive and slightly boring.

Wonderful Hanne

Congratulations, Norway!

Not only to the place in the final, but also to having yourselves a spanking new, truly terrific Eurovision commentator. Hanne Hoftun is about as good as commentators get on their first try - witty, well-informed and very engaging.

Listen to her commentary on NRK, and hear her scream with delight when Norway pops out of the last envelope.

How was your country's commentators, people? Were they any good?

The final so far

This is the line-up for Saturday's final as it looks right now, after the first semi:

01 Romania
02 United Kingdom
03 Qualifyer
04 Germany
05 Armenia
06 Bosnia-Herzegovina
07 Israel
08 Finland
09 Qualifyer
10 Poland
11 Qualifyer
12 Qualifyer
13 Qualifyer
14 Qualifyer
15 Qualifyer
16 Qualifyer
17 Qualifyer
18 Qualifyer
19 France
20 Azerbaijan
21 Greece
22 Spain
23 Serbia
24 Russia
25 Norway

The final looks good until now, I'd say. I just feel a bit sorry for the last three countries. I am not sure their draw is as good as one would think at first. A ballad, a ballad and then a midtempo number is not an ideal way to finish the run-through, perhaps.

But for next year, I would prefer if the draw was made during the live broadcast. It can't be that difficult, can it? For me, it is sensationally weird to miss out on that piece of drama and to do it in a press conference later.

Finlande douze points

And well, Finland is in the final. A bit unexpected, if you ask me, and it does feel peculiar - after all these times we wanted Finland to get to the final and failed, then the Finnish contribution makes it when I am less keen on it.

It doesn't matter much, though. It is a relief to have Finland on the scoreboard in the final for the third year running. This has not happened for many a good year. It is also good for public interest at home, it will improve the ratings for Saturday's final and it will, once and for all, kill any misconceptions of Finnish being an "impossible" language to sing in.

One of the reasons Finland made it to the final is surely a certain roughness; while many others kept flashing more or less genuine smiles all over the place, desperate to be loved, Teräsbetoni didn't care for being liked at all. And that quality hit home in the semi, let's see how many points they gather in the final.

I just worry a bit what the national final will look like next year. Will we have 12 rock acts singing in Finnish? All I ask for is a little bit of diversity, and for Finland to do a new genre next year. For a change.

Non-qualifyers, semi 1

Overall, I am more than pleased with the outcome of the first semi, but the world is not a totally perfect place, and I feel sorry for a few of the non-qualifyers. A few of them would have deserved a spot in the final as well. And some of them did clearly not.

Montenegro, Moldova and San Marino should not feel too surprised to see themselves relegated. They all performed well and made the most of their three minutes on stage, but a blind could see that these songs would not reach out to a large enough audience to proceed to the final.

The Netherlands, on the other hand, could be asking themselves why nobody is voting for them anymore. Hind sang well, was very charming and did everything right, but probably the whole package was a bit too polished and inoffensive to grab any attention. Andorra suffered the same fate - good but not good enough. Maybe Gisela would have done better with a real dress instead of wrapping herself in metal. Also Belgium tried to hard to be sweet and appealing, and probably ended up annoying more people than they pleased.

Slovenia was a bit of a surprise not to see in the final as well. It seemed very welcome in the mix, Rebeka sang well and even the silly stage act seem to come across quite well on the screen. Less is more, Europe said and decided not to vote for it.

And as for Estonia and Ireland... There are no words to describe how happy I am to have neither of them pass on. Shame on you both, get a grip and contribute decent songs instead of messing around like this. We are willing to forget and forgive, as long as you promise never to do wrong like this again.


Semi 1: not too bad, eh?

I can hardly remember what countries I predicted beforehand, but we did predictions also after seeing the entries on telly, and then I had a new bunch of songs.

The ones I thought
Israel, Slovenia, Norway, Poland, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Armenia, Netherlands, Romania, Russia, Greece.
Not too inaccurate, I must say. I had two things wrong and eight countries right. I am particularly happy about Ireland and Estonia losing out, proving there are still things such as sensibility, taste and fairness in the world.
I feel genuinely sorry for the Netherlands - this time they really deserved going through. And I wonder if Andorran television is beginning to have second thoughts about entering the ESC.

But the finalists!

Fantastic to have them through, as Boaz sang very sweetly and the song is enchanting. Also good to see that being drawn as #2 doesn't automatically stop you.

They did well live, but I thought the cocktail would prove a bit too much for the average viewer. It seems the average viewer is capable of more than I thought.

I got really nervous about Norway as they were in the last envelope. For a while, I thought they had failed and was prepared to cry bitter tears. Maria was brilliant and sang really well.

There is something about Isis Gee that is a bit scary: especially the teeth and the drop of sweat that came off her during the song. But she sang like a marvel and the song is truly worthy of a place in the final. Most probably the choice of the jury, though.

The stars of the night! Wonderful, brilliant, wacko, hysterical and very, very good. They can still win it!

A video went around Youtube of Friday night's rehearsal, where Sirusho sang quite flatly all the way through. Tonight she sounded a lot better, and danced with more gusto. But it feels like the director of the show is not her best friend - lousy camera work on this one.

What happened here? Finland in the final for the third year running? I don't understand a thing, but it is good for the domestic ratings. I am contented. But I hope Teräsbetoni won't do too well, for the sake of next year's national final.

Classy and good, but I had hoped for something more. Even more drama and prettier clothes. But still, surely a contender for Saturday night.

I don't think the stage show really worked. Frenetic, too many things happening, too much acting. I just get bored and distracted, but it was expected that people would like this.

Just like Armenia, the director seemed not to be too keen on this one and missed the big trick with the book. Wouldn't surprise me if it was tonight's winner, though. Better vocal performance than the Greek final suggested.

Now it is time to head for bed, more analysis to follow tomorrow...

Becks' prediction

"You haven't predicted your top ten?", miss Posh said in an accusing tone and with lifted eyebrows. So here goes. My desperate attempt at guessing what Europe will like or not tonight (and I haven't really seen the rehearsals online) comes here.

These are the ten I would select if I was omnipotent, in totally random order: Slovenia, Norway, Poland, Andorra, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Armenia, Netherlands, Romania, Greece and Israel. Russia will have to stay out, all the reports in the newspapers have turned me off their entry completely. Only a year ago, I still loved Dima Bilan... Go figure!

But the ten that will go on are: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Norway, Greece, Armenia, Netherlands, Romania, Russia, Greece, Azerbaijan and Poland. I sincerely think and hope that both Estonia and Ireland will flop. Please, please, please.

Poor reports

I know that Sweden does not take part in tonight's semi final, but still. Today's reports in the newspapers made me seriously depressed. Whiney, depressing, patronising. "All these foreigners singing bad songs-blah-blah-blah!" When did Sweden turn into the United Kingdom? Where is Per Bjurman or Annika Sundbaum-Melin when you need them?

And the best thing... A short snippet about "superstar" Diana Gurtskaya, who must be a snob since the reports have not once seen her without sunglasses. How can they possibly have missed that she is... blind?

Quite surprisingly, Dagens Nyheter had by far the best report. When I worked there, they hardly even mentioned the contest. Things change, for sure.

Becks on telly

Right before I left Finland to spend euroweek in Stockholm, I was interviewed by TV-Nytt, the YLE News in Swedish. I say some very wise things about the contest and why it is a great contest.

You can see the broadcast here. The eurothingy starts at 10:18 and I come in at 10:58. Enjoy!


Posh on Bulgaria

Deep Zone & Balthazar - DJ, Take Me Away 5/5
The recorded version is splendid and utterly fantastic. Shame that the girl can’t sing live and shame that the song most likely is too modern and odd for the general Eurovision-audience to like. If she’s not totally off on Thursday Bulgaria will get my vote in semi 2.

Posh on Croatia

Kraljevi Ulice & 75 Cents - Romanca 2/5
The melody is actually quite nice and the singer is competent but I have big issues with the shouty old Hugh Hefner look-a-like. He scares me when he starts poking that stick and I wouldn’t want to run in to him in a dark alley any day soon. Or night.

Posh on Latvia

Pirates of the Sea - Wolves of the Sea 1/5
1 point just because it is catchy but I really don’t like this and I even doubt that my kids at work will fall for something so cheap. When they take their last note I seriously feel like if I had been working out for 3 hours non-stop in the gym. And I don’t do gyms. Ever. Though I fear that it will qualify.

Posh on Belarus

Ruslan Alehno - Hasta la vista 2/5
My God how important the live act is! I don’t think much of the song but I absolutely love the props on stage and would want those light balls in my flat. Check them out! Before having seen the rehearsals I would have said that Belarus is chanceless but it’s one of the best stage shows that will look fantastic on TV and that alone might get them an envelope in the end of the evening…

Posh on Czech Republic

Tereza Kerndlovà - Have Some Fun 3/5
The act is cute and juvenile as is the mainstream pop song and Tereza herself. However, her 2nd rehearsal was breathtakingly weak and I can’t imagine that her nerves will improve in front of millions of viewers. Hopefully she’ll beat her country’s debut score of 1 point last year though.

Posh on Switzerland

Paolo Meneguzzi - Era stupendo 4/5
Singing in la più bella lingua del mondo is always an advantage in my book but in rehearsals Paolo hasn’t been convincing enough vocally. He needs to shape up considerably to do the song justice. It’s a mix of old and new but I would have preferred it as a ballad from start to end for a full fiver from Posh.

Posh on Albania

Olta Boka - Zemrën e lamë peng 3½/5
I admit that the song could do with a stronger, more mature singer but Olta’s frail voice is still nice to listen to. The whole act is pleasant in a naïve, innocent kind of way. And feels like a masterpiece coming after the drivel from Lithuania.

Posh on Lithuania

Jeronimas Milius - Nomads In The Night 1/5
This could have been good you know. If there was no screaming singer with long hair and leather pants and without the lyrics and song. Because I do like musicals in general. What I don’t like are pretentious mullets who take themselves too seriously. And who sings like a Muppet on crack.

Posh on Ukraine

Ani Lorak - Shady Lady 5/5
Last year’s disco ball Verka is light years from sex-kitten Ani but I love them both and predict a similar result for this shady lady. What a show stomper, what an amazing voice, what a beautiful girl and what a cool choreography. I wonder how well Miss Perrelli sleeps at night knowing that Lorak is fighting for the same votes as her?! Let the cat-fight begin!

Posh on Turkey

Mor ve Ötesi - Deli 3/5
I can’t help but like a song translated into “Insane” but that’s just me. Catchy, melodic rock which works better in my iPod or in concert than on a TV-screen. Turkey is becoming one of my favourite countries in Eurovision for their innovative selection of styles every year. They are never stuck in the same genre. I applaud that!

Posh on Sweden

Charlotte Perrelli - Hero 5/5
Schlagertastic, as the fab Schlagerboys would say. Charlotte’s vocals are on top, the performance very slick and luxurious and last but not least a song Kylie would kill for. Not even the lousy starting position can stop Sweden from qualifying. I won’t go calling out “Globen 2009” just yet but bare in mind that last time I didn’t see ESC live, Perrelli represented us and then walked it. An omen? Top 5 is more realistic though with a good draw on Saturday.

Posh on Iceland

Euroband - This Is My Life 4/5
Even though I’m not hot for the 90s sound I do like Iceland as always. Powerful voices and a very danceable beat that I will bop myself sweaty to in Club Lino all summer. Hopefully Euroband gets a ticket to the final but I fear the fun stops there.

Prediction Semi 1

Ok, here it goes.... my prediction for the 10 qualifying countries from semi final 1 tomorrow. It has never before been so difficult to predict the outcome and I'm taking some wild chances. There's only 5 songs I'm pretty sure about. But first my "wish list" in no particular order.

"Wish list"
San Marino

Belgium (yuk!)
Finland (!!)

What's YOUR prediction???

Poor Slovenia

My direct hotline from Belgrade tell tales of a very fancy and slick show coming up on our screens tomorrow. Slightly too nationalistic at times, possibly, but otherwise very pleasing.

Some did well, some did well, and apparently Slovenia still doesn't work at all. I can't help but feel for Rebeka, who wanted to represent her country ever since 2005. It is so easy, when you really want to make an impression, to over-complicate things and make them go completely down the drain.

Miracles can happen, fingers crossed. Why are the Slovenian entries always so good at not working out on the night? Is it something in their water?

Rebeka Dremelj - Pojdi z menoj - Slovenia NF 2005

More Laka... and Alf

Doesn't Laka's "Pokusaj" reminisce a bit of Alf Poier's "Weil der Mänsch zählt" from 2003, at least madness-wise? The attitude, the madness... not to mention priceless sidekicks.

Alf had his wonderful Tamara Stadnikow in red - Laka has his sister.

The real difference is that "Pokusaj" is an almost perfect composition, while Alf was more fun than good, in all fairness.

(What else unites them? They both compete in years when I sit at home instead of being present in the hall. Hooray.)

Alf Poier - Weil der Mänsch zählt - Austria 2003

Laka rules

I hope nobody is expecting us to be balanced and neutral or anything... cause here it comes. I just LOVE this year's Bosnian offering. Everything about it is pure magic and poetry and I can hear it over and over...

And see it. Because all versions have been totally amusing; the first presentation on Bosnian TV as well as the rehearsals in Belgrade. Not to forget the rather fabulous video clip.

I hope they win!

Laka - Pokusaj - Bosnia-Herzegovina 2008

Multiple mentions

Thanks to Statcounter (a great device, recommended for bloggers everywhere), we see when people come into this blog from other pages linking to ours.

Curious as one is by nature, I checked out two of the pages mentioning us lately, and I want to say thanks for the link as well as recommend them - interesting stuff!

Belgrade 2.0 is mainly about this year's beautiful host city (I've seen pictures! I am still bitter about not seeing it with my own eyes!), but can't help noticing that there is some sort of song contest going on down the block. Well written and witty and very much recommended.

Onnik Krikorian wrote a good piece about Caucasus in Eurovision, and is quoting several blogs (including this one), trying to predict the outcome for these countries.

Where the action is

Who said all the happenings are taking place in Belgrade? "Posh & Becks in bed with Eurofivestar" is quite a tasty headline, isn't it? There will be action going on also at home in the living room.

Well, in fact, quite a few quality eurobloggers will gather to see the week's events on telly, and both me and Posh will stay overnight for practical reasons. (See how easy it is to create a headline out of nothing.) I am very much looking forward to the company, and sitting at home the odd year isn't as bad as it could have been.

I am just wondering how much one dares talk in a room full of bloggers. At a song contest far far away, many moons ago, I used to hang with a journalist who was very eager to discuss this and that, tit and tat, over a cup of coffee, and I thought it was pleasant and nice and all that. Until I realised that all my words, thoughts and theories soon appeared in print, presented as the journalists own. And then the coffee meet-ups came to an abrupt end.

Long time ago, as said. These days I gladly share my wisdom, but I want to be credited. But fellow bloggers would never be rotten enough to steal anything, would they?

So, let "Te Deum" roll, I believe we are ready. Predictions will be coming up soon, very soon.

First Division - Where The Action Is - UK NF 1984


Jurassic Eurovision

Today, twelve years ago, I attended my first Eurovision, in Oslo, Norway. Looking back on it now, I am extremely happy to have been there and seen it, the last dinosaur Eurovision ever held.

It is very much old school, the way the contest was in the 90's when people were mainly watching out of habit and nobody in the recording industry enthused particularly about the event. There is a huge orchestra that efficiently erases every single drop of originality and own profile of each entry, and most songs sent in more or less sopoforic ballads in an attempt not to stand out enough to annoy the judges and at least attract some sympathy points from some bored jury.

Compared to 1995, the level of songs were at least a few steps up. Quite a few of the songs are good ones, and had there been compilations issued back then, some of them could have become at least radio hits. Very few of the singers really shone on the night, however, and most of the ditties sound better on record.

The craziest entry, by far, was a violent gospel from Austria and the most modern effort, from Gina G of the UK, managed to get a new rule through - for the first time ever anyone could use a drum machine in the backing tracks. The following year, it would be up to every country how heavy backing tracks they wanted and if they wanted any orchestra at all.

NRK really wanted the show to look modern and hip, but made use of some visual gimmicks that look very dated today. Much fuss was made about the virtual reality-studio where the score board was animated, but the voting was like any old voting back then, complete with Irish victory and all.

It could come across as if I didn't like the 1996 contest at all, and I must admit that the total production isn't among my favourites. But it doesn't matter, it is the year that my dream came true, to see Eurovision up close and personal. And I got to interview Maja Blagdan and wave my handmade Estonian flags for "Kaelakee hääl". (If I had only known then that we had Kreisiraadio coming...)

Maarja-Liis Ilus & Ivo Linna - Kaelakee hääl - Estonia 1996

Mariana Efstratiou - Emis forame to himona anixiatika - Greece 1996

Maja Blagdan - Sveta ljubav - Croatia 1996

Posh on Greece

Kalomira - Secret Combination 4/5
Elena Paparizou she is not but despite her squeaky voice the number is tight and the dance routine has worked before (with Elena…). Simple pop song with a draw which makes it impossible to miss Saturday’s final. Not a winner in my book but good enough a year like this.

Posh on Russia

Dima Bilan - Believe 3½/5
Ok, one more time: Less is more! So they got rid of the ladder but there is still a skater on stage and a singer who is playing the role of a drama queen to put it mildly. The Russian package in 2006 was awesome but 2008 the same team overdo it on the verge of looking desperate. Not a pretty quality. Less. IS. More.

Posh on Romania

Nico & Vlad - Pe-o margine di lume 4½/5
The reason for not getting full points from me is that it is not perfection like “Avrei voluto” (Italy89) but the spirit come close to the old-skool ESC-duets that I love. I could very well see Romania in the top 5 battle of the final but Nico & Vlad need to step up the game one more inch in front of the cameras. Rehearsals haven’t been mind blowing yet. Superb voices though!

Posh on Finland

Teräsbetoni - Missä miehet ratsastaa 1/5
Dear old Finland, you are becoming predictable with this rock behaviour and although it’s your comfort zone perhaps you should be courageous enough to move on. On a positive note, you have no competition in this genre and that might just get you off the hook. But the song does nothing for me. Cristal Snow would have been an exciting choice and you know it…

Posh on The Netherlands

Hind - Your Heart Belongs To Me 3/5
Better than average from les Pays-Bas but on the other hand that doesn’t say much really. Good song but not strong enough, good singer but not spectacular. I hope they make it to the final but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them fall on the finishing stretch again.

Posh on Armenia

Sirusho - Qele Qele 5/5
One of the top candidates for victory come the final. Combine the diaspora vote with a modern pop hit with oriental influences and a talented young songtress and the points will be flying in. It’s also worth to know that I’ve already heard “Qele qele” in Stockholm several weeks ago. Could be the hit of the year!

Posh on Bosnia-Herzegovina

Laka - Pokusaj 5/5
Sweet Jesus, I’m in love! I get all bubbly inside when I hear “Pokusaj” and how the song builds up to fabulousness, happiness and craziness. Watching the rehearsal made me give full marks (had it as 4/5 before) and knowledge of that Bosnia is this year’s Ukraine. Intelligent humour + hooky song. Ljubavi!