Sunday, 12 May 2019

Semi-final wishlist

This time next week it'll all be over... apart from the shade, tea and multitudinous layers of data collection/analysis that'll keep us going over the summer.

To make things short and snappy, I have rejigged my ranking to take into account recent rehearsal footage and found the top 10 acts from each semi final. These are as follows:

                                                 SEMI 1                                                  SEMI 2
Czech Republic
San Marino
North Macedonia

So the countries in green are my top 10 in each semi, the ones in orange are outside my top ten, although as we know anything is possible - also remember that half of the vote is sealed on the Monday night with the jury final, so they need to be great both nights and failures have been secured in the basis of one bad show
In semi 1, even though San Marino and Belgium are in my top 10, they are looking like the least likely of that bunch to get through purely on performance and vocals. Portugal could be a little bit too avant garde for casual Eurovision viewer and Slovenia may well be too quiet and inwards. I feel that there is only a good argument for Finland and Montenegro NOT qualifying so I think that literally any of the other countries could qualify too (although I would rather they didn't!)
Semi 2, for me, is much more clear cut when it comes to who *should * qualify. Out of the songs in orange, Albania and Denmark are the two countries that probably have the best chance of sneaking through, mainly due to the countries voting in that semi. So many countries here are on a bit of a knife edge - Austria, Norway, North Macedonia, Romania - because of lack of neighbours or because their song/staging could be misconstrued, misinterpreted or misunderstood.

It's still very much an open contest! There is also the added complication that the big 5 have drawn their half of the final and all of them bar Germany are in the second half. That, plus the fact Israel are already in position 14, that means that there are only 8 slots left in semi 2 for the rest of the qualifiers fto fight over, and given that Spain and Italy are fan faves they could be given a huge boost by the producer led draw ! 

I'll do another round up on Friday once we know all the finalists AND the grand final draw.


Earlier today the big 5 plus Israel, the host country, had their second rehearsals. Here's how I think they went...

Kobi starts on the main stage with five backing singers where there are plenty of choreographed moments. At the end Kobi moves down the runway to finish right to the top.  He is dressed smartly although the faux bow tie is a brave move. There are some lovely camera shots and uses of fade in/out. There seems to be a lot of pryo at the end which distracts you from the singing. His voice sounds ok and still has the very individual styles but doesn’t sound yet like he is in 5th gear.

Well I did not see this coming. After disastrous staging attempts in the national final they've pulled something genial out of the bag. Bilal is onstage with a much longer blonde wig which is very striking. He has 2 dancers who are phenomenal and totally bring together the song’s meaning. The video backdrop blends in well in the close ups but keeps the feeling of the song in the long shots. The song seems to have been re-orchestrated too and his backing singers give it a lot of much needed lift. Wow.

Miki has 5 backing singers and they are all inside the prop which is the silhouette of a house (think Finders Keepers!). It helps create a feeling of stopping everything for a party but it is a very big prop for such a small gag. The backdrop is really colourful, dynamic and very memorable. Miki sounds great and the backing singers do a great job of adding extra energy to the whole show although I feel this will be usurped as soon as the audience get involved. However I am yet to see what the wicker man adds to this.

Mahmood sounds absolutely on point and looks and sounds really comfortable. The backdrop has themes from the music video which helps push the meaning subliminally and also attract those people who may recognise it. He is on stage with 3 dancers who really need to up their game. Although the choreography is fine their timing is out and then it looks a mess. During the chorus there are far too many chops and changes in camera shots, especially during the clap clap parts and the songs seems to lose its power here.

This starts off in black and white before moving into full colour at the first chorus. He is also alone on stage and then his backing singers come on when the song builds up nearer the end. Michael is in black whilst his backing singers are in white. He sounds really comfortable. The camerawork is a little bit predictable and the whole thing just comes across and a bit safe and stereotypical. The wide shots at the beginning are quite puzzling and Michael needs to open his eyes  and make more effort in connecting with the camera.


Much more restrained and less aggressive show than their performance in the national final. The backdrop still has the girls’ faces on it but this is not the main focus of the show. The girls use the walkway really well to signal what the song is about. They are less shouty and their faces seem much more smiley and open which is a good sign. They are dressed differently but predominately black.  The whole thing however is quite uneventful and there are no real distinguishing features.

Saturday, 11 May 2019


Everybody, apart from the automatic finalists, has had their first and second rehearsals - I'll be commenting on them tomorrow. All the stage rehearsing for the semis is now done and dusted - nothing more can be done! Soon we will know which half of the draw the 6 finalists will draw and after each semi final the participants will draw their placing in the post show press conferences.

Monday afternoon will see a full dress run of semi final one followed by a full uninterrupted filmed show. This has two important roles -  in the event of technical difficulties this show will be shown on the Tuesday night, plus this is the show that the 41 national juries will be voting on, you certainly can't win qualification in this show but it certainly can be lost. Semi1 proper will then he held on the Tuesday. This process is the repeated on Wednesday and Thursday for Semi 2.

Here are my last impressions of what's on show in the two semi finals


The wet look is not flattering. The male dancers are not really as involved as I would like in from the camera’s perspective seem superfluous. The ‘replay’ part is over egging the pudding. Vocals are not good. Either Tamta or/and her backing singer are out of tune and fighting for supremacy.

The choreography is static and dated but they pretty much nail it. The song seems slower than I remember and I am willing it to get up to speed, which it obviously doesn’t. The outfits actually look quite nice. Their individual voices aren’t bad but together the harmonies don’t quite work.

On the positive side Sebastian sings this really well and is on the beat and in tune. That said the visual are too spaced out and separated – nothing connects. Darude himself is stuck in a corner on keyboard and the dancer is centre stage on the iceberg. If all three were in shot of each other it’d be better.

Lots of zoom in/zoom out shots which don’t really work as all they do is emphasise the space and lack of movement. The girls’ dresses look a bit messy and their jackets make the arms up movements shoulder-heavy although their headdresses look lovely. Vocally their voices are very clear.

Staging has the openness of space yet also seems small and intimate, almost and the whole thing works. The camera work is clever with reminisces of “Calm after the storm” for Netherlands a few years back. The way the almost ignore the audience and the camera strangely works. Vocals are fine.

From the outset this looks really fresh and contemporary. Albert hogs most of the camera time dancing and moving around the whole set but the other two also get a look in. The white staging really emphasises the colours on the backdrop and on their clothing. The vocals from all seem clear.

The stage is filled with gold lines which for the outlines of different shapes and pictures. Although I really like the black and gold staging, having Joci also in black makes him totally invisible – unless that’s the point…? Joci’s voice waivers at times ad at points I feel like he is forcing it a bit too much.

ZENA’s outfit is very different from the national final and the whole thing has been sexed up a bit. There is a lot going on and she gets totally lost with the changing backgrounds and the brightly coloured backing singers. However her voice sounds really clear and powerful in the high parts.

The camera work here is pretty spot on and has a nice balance of near and far shots. The problem here is that Nevena is so busy emoting she is coming across as slightly aggressive. Also at times she sings in such a sway you can’t see her face just a solitary leg. Not a camera friendly performance.

This unfortunately just comes across as messy and unrehearsed. The background with the wavy stripes is very effective but the way Eliot and his two drummers are dressed looks  sloppy and out of step with the song. Eliot doesn’t look confident in his face and his vocals are not quite on time.

This is how staging makes an OK song totally amazing. Oto’s personality really ignites in this setting with the floor projections of a walkway the towers of fire and puffs of pyro. The addition of the choir in a line is so effective with the camera angles, Oto could even get away with moving a little less.

The use of the “edge of the world” projection on screen is really effective and make is look like she’s flying. This is a very technical show and lots of things could go very wrong. Kate looks amazing in her dress and looks very calm and collected. Voice was ok but not going full blast.

This now looks very strong. The use of the globe/cog makes a focal point which the others move around. There is a lot of pyro which adds to the vertical backdrop. Unlike many acts there is a lot of movement but it is captured well in the many camera angles. Vocals are sounding good.

Victor really sounds like he is struggling with the higher notes in the chorus. This is a shame as he is looking very much at home on the stage. You can actually see him too! I question why the stormy background is so strobing because if deflects attention away from Victor which is not a good thing

Conan and Joao look well rehearsed and to the trained Eurovision eye this looks pretty much like their national final performance. The green costume has a great sheen to it.To the casual viewer this will probably look and sound really very odd. I am starting to miss the face spoons

This sounds absolutely amazing and the visuals on stage are really eye-catching but something here is very amiss Although there is a lot going on it’s all a bit disjointed almost like there is too much. I want to see more of Katerine looking at the camera and fewer wide sweeping shots.

The visual effect of the white costumes against the stripy background is effective and creates a lot of extra movement down the camera. Unfortunately we need more actual movement from Serhat but he’s stuck on his podium. Serhat’s vocals are really not the best and seem quite out of tune in places.


Srbuk looks quite conservative and formal in her black trouser suit and in the long shots is totally invisible. Her voice seems really clear although during the end part the backing singers are doing most of the singing. The pyrotechnics are a bit OTT and the staggering about is a little disconcerting.

Oh dear, this looks very awkward. You can tell Sarah is being stretched to her chorographical limit because her face looks distant like she’s counting in her head and her vocals seem less than full. On the plus point the set is very individual and I quite like Sarah’s costume and hair.

Ana’s sartorial choice is odd, especially as the basic dress is nice but the one puffy sleeve choice makes her look unbalanced. The ‘snow art’ in the background is obviously sped up so makes you wonder why the artist is even there. Anan’s voice is powerful even if her pronunciation is not.

The shots for this are well formed especially as most of them contain Luca and his 4 backing dancers and keep their formation well stuck in your brain. The dancing is slick and Luca is able to join in, in a low-key way. That said I am less pleased with so much red and fuzziness in the background

Most of the camera time is focused on the lead singer who is wearing a green hat, which is a little at odds with the rest of the styling. The bokeh look is used in the background but not as a filter on the camera and the atmosphere is now flat. Sabine’s vocals seem ok although she looks quite nervous.

This is probably the song which uses the video wall to its best. Ester sings well and when she gets camera time she looks great – apart from that arm! Ester is still dressed a Victorian headmistress but her footwear makes her look stumpy and the two backing singers dressed as schoolgirls.

Leonora sings this well but she should so because she’s sat down for most of it! The bright colours in the backdrop make this eye-catching especially with the monochrome participants in front of it. Visually it has a clear narrative but apart from the chair movements this is rather boring.

Vocally this sounds fine although I’d like the backing singers turned up more, mainly because they bring so much richness to the song. The strobing in the background is a little monotonous and could be flashier and more random. John is looking a bit self-conscious, especially his left arm.

Goosebumps. The whole auditorium is blacked out and Paenda is stood in a spotlight. There are streaks of light flashing around her and the triangles on the roof light up and it looks truly magical. Her voice is a little shrill but it actually complements the emotion of the song. Good work.

The ending part has too many long shots and once again he’s invisible although this time it’s white against white. The stage looks better when in light colours. Roko is wearing his gold wings but they don’t affect his voice too much although he looks strained. The fanatical cutting shots don’t fit at all.

The adaptation f the backdrop into a giant green screen is an interesting one and although it makes the act pop with colour it looks more like a music video than an actual live performance. Michela’s voice is fine and she looks quite comfortable although I really hope she has a better outfit.

Jurij looks like she ditched the jacket when does help him with getting his arm movements right. The shot to the roof with his hand is a good one.Once again the long shots linger for a little too long but shot chopping motif in the chorus does work. Jurij sings ok but a bit pitchy in the chorus.

The use of the video boxes hones the eye and makes the stage much smaller. The screens build up the story really well and keeps you guessing! Unfortunately the whole thing comes across as very dark and lacking in movement. Sergey seems to be singing ok but the choir are turned up loud.

Here there are quite a few long shots but they seem to tie in with Jonida’s long notes so don’t seem too out of joint. Her 3 backing singers are visible and are doing a very good job creating the mood. The ring of fire makes finding her very easy She seems very much at ease vocally.

This is starting to look really good now. The use of the long shots brings in the flashing triangles on the roof as well as the video wall landscape. They are also easy to spot throughout and are cohesive but also different. The projections during the joik are beautiful. Sounding good too.

Duncan is sounding really good and his backing singers are also doing a nice job. Having Duncan sat at the piano really does not work for me, he feels distant, distracted and not looking at the audience or the camera. The mottled sky background fades in really nicely to the blackness around him.

Tamara looks very striking in her green dress and blond hair. The mirror effect is used off and on which is not a bad call. Her voice sounds good without feeling too strained. She’s not quite catching the camera when looking straight. Personally, I would like to see more open hand gestures rather than fists.

This is visually very striking. Chingiz is stood against a triangle and 2 robot arms projects lines on him. On the backdrop there is a gold heart beating in time with the music. The arena is bathed in red and blue. His voice doesn’t sound bad live but needs to keep the tempo and not quicken up.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019


Since Saturday 4th all of the delegations and participants have been gracing the brand new Eurovision stage in Tel Aviv. For many of the acts, especially those chosen via internal selection, this has been the first time we've seen their stage setups. It also gives us a very clear idea about how confident the acts are and how good they are vocally. Of course this is not the be all and and all as over the 2 weeks of rehearsing, nerves and technical issues can ruin their run throughs so not all is lost. Anyway isn't getting things wrong and working through the nerves part of rehearsing? Better to get all that sorted early on I say !

In this mini round up I am going to look at the semi-finalists first rehearsals and comment quickly on their staging ideas as well as any sartorial cues we might be getting. As I will have only watched a few clips, less will be said about vocal performance - that'll probably be something of not to write about after their second go. I'll do a second post on Sunday or Monday where I'll look at the first rehearsal of the six finalists and make some bold predictions !


Tamta is in a tight black jacket and thigh high boots but there is a costume change early on revealing a rathery spangly bondange-esque leotard. She has 4 backing dancers dressed in black also but are sporting very wide hats which really put me off. The backdrop seems quite vertical and colourful but no distinct theme in place.

Pretty predictable. All six of them are on stage, sometimes they sing to each other in pairs sometimes they are singing in a line across the stage. There also seems to be some dancing and fist-pumping choreography. Like in the video they are all wearing slightly different versions of the same white trouser suit with red embellishments..

Darude is static at his little mixing desk while Sebastian works the crowd by going and and down the V-shaped runways. They are also joined by a female dancer on top of what looks like a light up iceberg. The backdrop alternates between plain blue and different environmental videos. Sebastian's leather jeans are hopefully just for practising! 

The four girls are covered in large red veils which cover their faces for the first part of the song but their faces however appear on the video wall behind them They are dressed in national dress and large ornate floral headdresses.  They are also spinning on a small platform which is the only movement on stage apart from swaying.

The dup are once again dressed in white, with Zala singing, Gašper on guitar and both of them behind a small keyboard. They are centre stage and seem very small on the large space. The stage is very dark with a deep galaxy feel. There is very little to the actual act and I get the feeling that the camerawork will be doing all the work for this one.

Lake Malawi are having a lot of fun here. The bandmates have small platforms which look like photo frames. They are dressed in bright bold colour blocks which is mirrored in the backdrop. Albert, the lead singer, is having a lot of fun on stage and is moving around a lot and engaging with the wider crowd and catching the eye of the cameras too.

Joci is dressed in black and is singing centre stage. The backdrop looks like small lines of stars or fire joining up into the far distance. There are pictures of fathers made upf of the small dots too. Joci seems very small on stage and with the dark staging and dark clothes he is almost invisible. Guessing more camera trickery for this.

The props seemingly have not arrived so are dancing around boxes. Zena has two male dancers and lots of unseen backing singers. Her styling and dance routine seems to have got a bit raunchier which is a bit of a shame. The backdrop is very odd which geometric symbols, random animals and a picture of Zena with a multicoloured head...

Nevena has changed very little visually from the national final. Her dress is a little more refined and has a bigger slit on her leg but she still has the odd trinkets on her hands and arms. Behind her, the backdrop is dark switching between storms and creeping frost. She is very static although she does a lot of emoting with her arms.

The video wall switches between wide geometric horizons and wavy vertical lines. Eliot is joined by a male and female drummer who have two large drums either side of the stage but they also move around the whole stage and join in the chorus arm movements. Eliot does very little. He seems to have come dressed as a parachutist.

Oto is centre stage with his 5 man choir visible on stage from the start. The backdrop shows clear blue skies and snowy mountains but slowly turns dark and begins to be engulfed by fire. All the singers are dressed in plain black and essentially do very little but the whole effect makes it quite menacing and dramatic.

Instead of one woman up a pole - we have three - and in the biggest shock on the rehearsals Kate is one of them! Kate is wearing her trademark tiara and dressed in a white floaty gown whilst the other two are in black. The backdrop has another space theme but this time it gives the very powerful illusion that she is actually flying.

From the national final performance the only thing that has changed is that the two drums and a hammer has turned into a large cog/sphere being hit by a cat o nine tails. The performance is effectively the same, as is the backdrop and stage outfits, although I suspect some parts will be affected by camera angles.

Another slot that seems barely changed from the national final. Unfortunately most of this rehearsal was taken up with the filming and re-filming and re-re-filming of the prerecorded insert with the computer aided background near the end of the show. That actually meant very little was done today which could be costly.

Conan and his dancer, João, have the same setup and routine as the national final but the visuals are a little different. The backdrop is very red and focuses of the rose motifs. Boh are dressed in lush emerald green pleated outfits. Conan's gold spoon facial adornments are gone and have been replaced with large black sideburns.

Katerine is joined by 3 backing singers dressed in powdery yellow dresses and two female fencers with swords. On stage there is also a small gazebo-esque platform and lots of odd little props. Katerine is wearing a heavily jewelled white dress and everybody has big hair. The backdrop in lilac has the motif of petals and flowers.

Serhat is on a small platform centre stage with three female singers to his side. In front are two male dancers carrying light up megaphones, mostly used for the 'na na na' bits. The words of the song are also on the backdrop. I was hoping this would be a bit more interactive with the fans in the auditorium so maybe it'll look better on tv.


Srbuk is alone on stage and more high thigh boots are on show. There seems to be a fair bit of choreography but seems quite static. The video wall and lighting seems quite nondescript but wonder if there will be a change of mood during teh key change at the end. The whole thing looks very sparse and little.

On stage there is a table making the stage into a 1950's style diner. The back drop is very colourful with lots of primary colours, chequered and Lichtenstein inspired art work which follows the narrative of the song. Sarach is joined on stage by two female dancers who she interacts with. Wondering if too much is happening.

The Ukrainian Mystic Meg sand artist from ages ago is back! Anna is stood at the front of the stage in a white dress with one full length puffy sleeve. The actions of the sand artist (although it looks more like salt than sand) is projected onto the backdrop, although you quickly realise its not actually happening live which spoils the magic to be honest!

Luca is dressed in a t-shirt and trousers and his backing dancers are dressed in red outfits. The backdrop is a bit messy and looks more like television interference than something that would emphasise the power of the song. There seems to be a fair amount of energetic dancing which might affect his vocals.

An almost identikit performance to the one during the national final. The band are spread out on the stage with the singer in the middle. The backdrop has the bokeh effects of lights and makes it quite atmospheric although very little happens on stage. I guess most of the tricks and magic will come from the camera lens.

Ester starts sat on her chair centre stage but is soon joined on stage by two male dancers. She also has a guitarist at the side and some backing vocalists out of sight. The backdrop is very dramatic with an animation of crumbling buildings falling into pits of fire. She is dressed a bit like a couture victorian schoolgirl.

Another translation of its winning national final show. Leonora still has her big chair as well as the two ladder wielding friends, which I still don't really understand. This time she is joined by 2 female backing singers on the chair which does make for more interaction. The backdrop is full of skyscapes and sunbeams.

John is dressed in black, although  he looks a little more smart than at Melfest. His four female backing singers are also dressed in black but with nice spangly detailing. Their layout on stage seems unchanged as does their choreography on stage. He still has the Kanye light effect above him bit seems a little out of place here.

They have tried really hard to capture the intimacy of the music video on stage and I think this will look very effective on the television screen. There is barely any backdrop at times, instead is looks more like the slight shimmer of light on sequins. She is styled exactly the same as her music video and still has her blue hair.

Roko has traded in his fluffy white wings for a pair of gold metallic ones. He is also joined on stage by two mare chested dancers who also sport the same wings. Everybody is also dressed in white and around them is our first main use of dry ice. This effect is also shown by the clouds on the backdrop, giving a heavenly effect.

They have brought their own alternate background this year to try and emphasise the 'chameleon' aspect of the song. Michaela is in white and is joined by 4 dancers whose clothing changes colour when in front of the multicoloured lights which is a good effect, however their actual dancing is rather odd and a little off-putting.

Jurij is alone centre stage with just a mic stand for company. The backdrop is mostly black with blocks of sequined light which comes in with the beat of the music. The stage feels very big and he looks very small. Jurij is also dressed quie darkly which makes him seems almost invisible, he has backing singers who are off stage.

Rain and fake mirrors. Sergey sings most of the first part in a lit up box however his visage is repeated slightly differently on a number of different boxes scattered on stage. The backdrop is mainly storm clouds , thunder and lightning (2015 reference!). He, and all his mirror images are dressed in white.

Jonida has a new dress which is black and floaty and has some interesting if not confusing gold embellishments on the front. The act seems to be quite static and she doesn't seem to have anyone else on stage. The backdrop is quite muted and dark but does give the effect of having steel pillars holding up the whole stage.

KEiiNO are dressed in black whilst the backdrop behind them shows a neon computerised mountainous landscape of blues and greens, mirroring the colours of the northern lights. They also have some dry ice and take it in turns to take the centre spot. There is a lot more movement than in the national final

Duncan is seated at his keyboard for the whole song. The backdrop is a moody shade of blue and has a mottled effect like clouds with some lasers. Next to him the is a large globe light hanging up and a bright spotlight shining from the side. Not being able to see him  sucks away every inch of it's power and now lacks individuality.

Tamara uses a similar effect to Russia with the backdrop made into a number of faux mirrors but this works much better as they are all doing the same thing and it is clear where you eye should be focusing. She is wearing a black and green dress which is individual but not over the top. She hs backing singers but are off stage.

Chingiz is stoon in from of a neon triangle and on each side of that there are two small robots. which also do some projections.Chingiz is wearing a strange half layered top which is slightly different shades of grey. The backdrop looks quite textured and seems to pulse and shake in time with the music. This will look great on camera.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Alternative Lyrics

For the last few years I have taken it upon myself to try and rewrite some of this years songs to make them, well, funnier. This year, quite a few songs this year are not in English which has made it harder but also some of the lyrics this year are almost beyond parody.... If you know the songs already they will probably make a bit more sense!!!

She's only a foe of a foe of a foe of a foe
She's never home 'cause she works as a ho
She's had Pete and Al and Joe
She's only a foe of a foe of a foe of a foe

The digger's for us
It's gonna uproot the tree
This digger's for us
It's gonna clear everything we see

You left me with a sundae
And I still remember that day in September
Yeah you left me with a sundae
Made sure there’s no way that you had to pay

Get wood for the fire
Then fix the hairdryer
Then put on the frier
Clean the kitchen today
I'll scour hard, sweep the yard
Then breastfeed the new baby
It screams

Come on, come on, let your feelings out
Come on, come on, get your freedom now
Run wild
Run with all your strength, with all your might - THE WINNER TAKES IT ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!
(extra points if you get that random and niche reference 🍈🗡🍈🗡🍈🗡)

I see flames in your eyes
Damn, they burn so bright
Don’t you try to hide it
Christer, Christer, Christer
Mr Bjorkman
Christer, Christer, Christer

I've got all of the cash I’ve saved
So many shops but they're all the same
Small town boy in the Queens Arcade
Shopping in Cardiff is a losing game

I came to bite, I came to bite into you
Don't want your fries, don't want your fries, I need fruit
I have the right, I have the right not to queue
I will so cry, I will so cry and I'll sue

I see the rain outside my door
And I am mournful, I am woeful
Do we dare stay and go soft play?
It made me mournful, I am woeful
And now I can't be arsed, we'll stay at home

Give me ham, I'm a hamster
Give me hips, I'm a hipster
Give me toes I'm a toaster

Make me cry, sing "cry baby"
Take my bladder, Tena Lady
I like boats, especially gravy

When she sidesteps, when she sidesteps
Or she backsteps, or she backsteps
Oh, she feint steps
Oh, her feint steps got me morris dancing

Say Sean Banan
On a dark deserted way, say Sean Banan
There's a light for you that waits, it's Sean Banan
Say Sean Banan, say Sean Banan
You're not alone, so stand up, Sean Banan
Be a hero, be the rainbow, and sing Sean Banan
Say Sean Banan
(more points for getting the melfest reference)

Calling, this is Hear'Say calling, this is Bro'Sis calling, wanting our act back 
Calling, S Club 7 calling this is A*Teens calling, wanting our act back
Calling, Scootch and Deuce we're calling, Six4One is calling wanting our act back
Calling now Ralph Siegel's calling, he'll just keep on calling wanting his schtick back

You threw your spirit in the sky
When northern lads are dancing
Eyup Eyupah, Eyup Eyupah
I hear you whipping up a fight
The northern lads are belting
Eyup Eyupah, Eyup Eyupah

Sunday, 28 April 2019

My 2019 pre-rehearsal ranking

Every day this week I will add some songs to the list... 
Once rehearsals are done this may well be a very different looking list!!!!

If you have NO idea of what to expect, maybe have a watch of this taster video which presents short clips of all the songs in alphabetical order. There are also loads of full length videos on the official Eurovision youtube page.


1   ITALY Mahmood - Soldi 
This is just class. The different rhythms, rhymes and riffs are slightly intoxicating yet not annoying, the story of the song is contemporary and there is of course audience participation *clap clap*.

2   AZERBAIJAN Chingiz Mustafayev - Truth 

The more I see this as the ‘answer back to Toy’ the more I bloody love it. It’s very contemporary, radio friendly and if they focus on the vocals than the visual show this could be a dark horse.

3   PORTUGAL Conan Ósiris -Telemóveis 

Portugal will always send something Portuguese and since their win they seem to have gone Avant Garde, cool and frankly odd. The backing track is an actual work of art although its meaning may get lost in translation.

4   SPAIN Miki - La venda 

There ain’t no party like a Spain Club party! If Europe wants an uptempo, happy party number this is the one that’ll do it. Miki is a great performer and the song is terribly catchy. !Vamos España!

5   SWEDEN John Lundvik - Too Late for Love 

If Europe wants safe inoffensive gospel pop to win, this’ll walk it. John is a great singer and the interactions with his backing singers are very genuine. Do we want to go to Sweden *again*?

6   CZECHIA Lake Malawi - Friend of a Friend 

The run of great pop songs continues! The repetitive chorus is earwormy and the performance is fun and frothy. The spoken word bit is a bit naff but is the only time a performer directly addresses the camera personally.

7   SLOVENIA Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl - Sebi 
A tiny slice of loved-up dream pop in a sea of screamy disingenuous meaningless nonsense. Would not feel out of place on modern contemporary radio stations and the Slovene language sounds lush.

8   NORWAY KEiiNO - Spirit in the Sky 
This has been my grower. Didn’t think too much of this at first but it is very individual and memorable. The joiking might be a bit marmite but a bad memory is better than no memory at all.

9   SAN MARINO Serhat - Say Na Na Na 
Bite me. I don’t care. The underdog of all underdogs. Serhat is back for more! It is what it is and it’s not pretending to be something it’s not. It’s cheap, cheerful, happy, simple, fun and downright catchy.

10   NORTH MACEDONIA Tamara Todevska - Proud 
A nice understated ballad with a meaning that can be extrapolated to almost all audience members. The lack of a beat could help or hinder but she will need to have top notch vocals to qualify.

11   CYPRUS Tamta - Replay 
Fuego round 2 ! In some ways this is a more complicated number than its predecessor but familiar enough to link back. Which Tamta from the video will turn up? Why break a winning formula?

12   BELGIUM Eliot - Wake Up 
A simplistic song with a twang of 80s synths. Eliot’s voice is a wee bit thin but this helps push through the fragile nature of the song. I just wish the beat continued through the chorus at least once.

13   AUSTRALIA Kate Miller-Heidke - Zero Gravity 
Dancy-trancy opera with a powerful female message. Plenty of earworms here depending on your fave style of music! The NF staging is gone so I wait with trepidation about what it’ll look like.

14          NETHERLANDS Duncan Laurence - Arcade
A big favourite, but not so much with me. Don’t like the stomp/clap section and find his falsetto a little bit irritating. Interesting song but a bit worthy in places. Who’ll vote for this anyway?

15          ICELAND Hatari - Hatrið mun sigra
Something out of the box. At least nobody can say that this is forgettable in any way, shape or form. Their vocals are a little ropey and the show is shocking. I still wonder what it really means...

16          SWITZERLAND Luca Hänni - She Got Me
Male Fuego. The song has lots of little earworms and will certainly have the crowd up and dancing. I suspect his vocals may be hindered by too much dancing and the show lacking with not enough dancers.

17          LATVIA Carousel - That Night
A country-folky number which seems to creep up on you, enter your ear then won’t go away. The sepia-cabaret setting gives the song a memorable quality although it might be a little uneventful.

18          GREECE Katerine Duska - Better Love
Florence and the Machine does Eurovision. It’s not terribly Greek sounding (which could go either way) and would not sound out of place on Studio Brussel. The music video is a collection of oddments.

19          ROMANIA Ester Peony - On a Sunday
Ester’s warbly voice teeters on the edge here which makes it rather intriguing, as is the slow but steady drum beat. Too much ‘ay-ay-ay’ ing for my tastes. Does she not realise it should be ‘on a Saturday’?

20          UNITED KINGDOM Michael Rice - Bigger than Us
The song isn’t bad, if a not a bit wet, but it allows Michael to show off his voice and personality which is at least something. More a jury song than televote but should be a better result than last year.

21   BELARUS Zena - Like It 
Belarus’ music taste has finally caught up to the early noughties. A very young pop feel with a radio friendly edge. It’s also very repetitive which could be good or bad depending on your tastes.

22   AUSTRIA Paenda - Limits 
Very, very low key.  Her voice is small and quiet and the whole thing could be misconstrued as forgettable but if you really listen there is a lot to listen too. I just hope it has a good visual show.

23   RUSSIA Sergey Lazarev - Scream 
Although the video is a rather cinematic masterpiece, it barely papers over the fact that there is no song. Once again the choir part is totally underused and the rhyming is abysmal. Also no actual screaming.

24   ESTONIA Victor Crone - Storm 
Grrrrrr, I don’t like it when new songs have the same titles of old Eurovision songs!!!! One of the few dancey up-tempo songs this year but also another entry where the national final setup was really confusing.

25   LITHUANIA Jurijus - Run With the Lions 
You have to win, you have to fight. Just don’t give up, get up and run with all your strength with all your might... ...with the lions…. I wish           🍈🍈🍈🍈🍈              (Get Frighten woz robbed)

26   HUNGARY Joci Pápai - Az én apám 
Joci’s previous entry was so much up my street that unless it was a total copy it was going to be a disappointment. Not enough build from start to finish. The chorus just isn’t good enough.

27   FRANCE Bilal Hassani Roi
Not a bad song, not a bad singer but the two together creates a vacuum of meh. Although the song has a great meaning and Bilal seems like a total hoot, none of this infiltrates the stage whatsoever.

28   ISRAEL Kobi Marimi - Home 
A safe ‘home’ entry. Literally. His voice is unique although I find him a bit warbled for my taste. Will go big in the hall, less so on the scoreboard but I get the feeling that is the point. But that Fuego !

29   IRELAND Sarah McTernan - 22 
Hmmm, the question is 22 – placing or points scored? The retro styling and production gives this character but needs to be much more ott and in your face to make a real impact. It’s just nice.

30   POLAND Tulia - Fire of Love (Pali Się) 
The slightly more conservative cousins of the Polish milkmaids from 2014 have turned up this year. Their choral style is very Marmite as is their folk/rock production style. Might be a bit shouty live.

31   DENMARK Leonora - Love is Forever 
A twee, frankly jESC, Eurovision song. But this one is further confused by the addition of a levitating singer, an over-sized chair and two random strangers with ladders. FFS, whatever happened to just singing?!!?

32   GERMANY S!sters - Sister 
Another song where the words about female empowerment and support is juxtaposed with two girls stomping in time with the music shouting in each other’s faces. The worlds worst frenemy anthem. Nein 

33   ALBANIA Jonida Maliqi - Ktheju Tokës 
Not actually a bad song but unless you are actually listening to it, it is totally forgettable. As decent as the theme and the music are, nobody bar the Albanian diaspora will be voting for this. Awful hair.

34   ARMENIA Srbuk - Walking Out
A song on the theme of control and abuse ends up being a shout fest and I start to lose all sympathy for her for being a wailer. Can’t help thinking it’s a slowed down version of the “Ducktales” music.

35          GEORGIA Oto Nemsadze – Keep On Going
Although it is nice to see more songs in Georgian, and in the rock ballad genre, this one takes far too long to get into gear and the choir is underused, especially as their bit is the best bit. Plus Oto is scary af.

36          FINLAND Darude ft. Sebastian Rejman - Look Away
Less “Look away” more 'Hear Away'. A very generic piece dance-pop with obligatory 'Earth Mother' message. This isn’t the song to rejuvenate your flagging career. It's just no Sandstorm. End of.

37          SERBIA Nevena Božović - Kruna
Although this is a very earnest and well written song, the chorus comes across as a bit shouty and the English bridge is not well placed. It's just boring. I hope she has a better outfit in Tel Aviv.

38          MALTA Michela Pace - Chameleon
The intro sounds like a trombonist down a toilet, the chorus is stupid, and the video is a mess. 
Give me ham I'm a hamster. I've got hips, I'm a hipster. I have ears, give me earplugs. PLEASE.

39          CROATIA Roko Blažević - The Dream
Dear Mr Houdek, please leave Eurovision alone. kthnxbai. Roko has a powerful voice but is wasted on this dreary over-emotional excuse of a song. Less said about the wings the better. Oh Bodyform...

40          MONTENEGRO D-Mol - Heaven
This was a mess in the National Final and its recent revamp is rather laughable. As decent as the individual singers are, this effort is rather amateur and dated. Music video sponsored by Daz (not Sampson)

41          MOLDOVA Anna Odobescu - Stay
Several months on from its victory in the National Final I *still* cannot tell you hot this song goes. All I do know is she's blond and the music video was very depressing. Please come back Mad Moldova.

SOA 1906

It's the final episode!
41 songs later and we finally got to the end. Not only do we have today's episode winner but we compare all the podcast winners and decide on our overall favourite song, which actually ended up being a tricky process!
Next week I will be uploading my final ranking of the songs, uploading a few songs every day until rehearsals start... As we all know as ideas are unveiled, dreams can be made or broken once rehearsals begin so things are still very much up for grabs!

On the show we discuss many things including -
Who owns Eurovision?
Keeping the man bun
Moldovan Top Gear
Elocution by Lena
Eurovision song writing camps
Swiss sloppy seconds
Is it a song solely about women...?
One Eurovision song to the tune of a non-Eurovision song

In this final episode we discuss in alphabetical order: Czechia, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Moldova and newly renamed North Macedonia.

If you have enjoyed the podcasts, please get in touch and/or share my stuff  :)
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Thursday, 25 April 2019

SOA 1905

It's time for another irreverent (or should that be irrelevant) look at the 2019 Eurovision song contest! Lots of chat and quite a few differing opinions on the show which makes for a slightly surprising winner! There is also lots of accidental remembrances of last years winner and runner-up which seems to send Andy into some kind of post-traumatic stress over the whole thing...

Tangental chat includes -
What *is* a Wiggli Willi?
Can "Derek had a double dose" be done live?
Edward Pickaxehands or Mr Spoons?
Duck Tales - the depressing years
The KFC Netto Box
Remember Amy Studt...?
"The bald Roger Pantare"
Alexander Don't come-bak

In this episode we discuss in alphabetical order:
Armenia, Australia, Belarus, Estonia, Israel, Norway and Portugal.

If you have enjoyed the podcasts, please get in touch and/or share my stuff  :)
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Saturday, 20 April 2019

SOA 1904

Time for episode 4 which means we are now over half way through !

Just so you know, once the last 'shite or alright' podcast has been uploaded, I will be listing my ranking of the 41 songs,from the bottom up revealing about 6/7 songs each day. I have been re-jigging my 1-41 ranking since March and some parts have stayed static and some parts are changed dramatically. In fact I predict that my list as is today won't be anything like my final list next month!
Then it'll be rehearsals (cue lots of chat about staging helping/getting in the way) and then it'll be showtime !!!!

Digressions this episode include:
Trombones down a toilet
‘ay-ay-ay’ is NOT a chorus
Couture Mrs Haversham
Why Paul Oscar doesn’t have children
Visible backing singers for once!
Something more than just jury/televote splits
‘He never had good songs with lyrics”

Songs scored in this episode are, in alphabetical order: Croatia, Finland, Iceland, Italy, Malta, Romania and Sweden

If you have enjoyed the podcasts, please get in touch and/or share my stuff  :)
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Monday, 15 April 2019

SOA 1903

This is the third of six review episodes looking at all 41 songs in the 2019 Eurovision song contest.

Ann is the fan whilst Andy is the slightly dragged-along husband but together, hopefully, it gives a well rounded view of the songs and possibly a more realistic view of how songs might do. That doesn't mean we don't have many questions or doubts over certain entries as we well know that live singing ability and staging could turn something from zero to hero - and vice versa! We sift through the entries to see if we can separate the wheat from the chaff and the serous from the daft!

Tangents on today's episode include -
Frankee and Eamon
Paul Claffey (google him - unless you are Irish and should know better!)
Pray Tell as Eurovision host
Being dragged through a hedge backwards
(anti)Tourist Board Videos
The Herne Bay 'telly-go-round'
Comebacks (Eurovision or not)  through the ages
Cbeebies memes
... and lots and lots of cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese !

In this episode we discuss in alphabetical order: Austria, Azerbaijan, France, Montenegro, San Marino and Serbia.

If you have enjoyed the podcasts, please get in touch and/or share my stuff  :)
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Wednesday, 10 April 2019

SOA 1902

It's episode two of our Eurovision reviews!

It's a little more positive that our first episode and this one also seem to bring out some discussion about how/where/when songs were selected and their suitability as actual Eurovision songs. A couple of pre-contest faves get a grilling and opens a debate on whether all songs scream 'vote for me!!!'

Non-ESC related tangents include:
BBC Scotland
Multitudinous Cbeebies memes (again)
Twee and its many meanings
Fame Academy (and the fact between us we remember a little bit too much about it!)
Failed fruit sponsorships
Big eyebrows
... and we once again end with another helpful public transport announcement from Budapest...

Today's countries are, in alphabetical order: Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Netherlands and Spain

 If you have enjoyed the podcasts, please get in touch and/or share my stuff  :)
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Friday, 5 April 2019

SOA 1901

Well, no-one asked us to come back, but we've come back anyways...

We listen to the songs and watch the videos and report back to you.
If you are the regular listener (I think we have one) you will know we are NOT easily pleased.
If you are a newcomer you will very quickly find out we are NOT easily pleased!!!
We score each song out of 5, although as you will hear we spend most of the beginning for the show figuring out the scoring system, then each heat winner goes through to the super final when we crown our overall favourite - although many year's it's not necessarily our favourite, more our least hated!

Apart from the Eurovisioning there are plenty of other things to talk about such as:
Jacob Rees Mogg (we are allowed - he's our MP)
Random early 2000s Germanic singers
Dropping in Cbeebies memes (if you get any then well done!)
Alternate, but very odd, UK acts

Reviewed today are in alphabetical order: Albania, Cyprus, Georgia, Poland, Russia, Slovenia and United Kingdom.

 If you have enjoyed the podcasts, please get in touch and/or share my stuff  :)
Follow us on twitter at
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You can download or listen to it here

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Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Semi final running orders

Every year we have the umming and ahhhhings about who should go where in the running order. The producers can have a hard time making it 'fair' and sometimes they cannot help but make it blindingly obvious what they want to win!! It's almost become a bit of a custom to have a go at being Christer Björkman for an hour or two by making the running order ourselves, if only on the basis that when the real one comes out we can complain at how our versions are much better!

The songs competing in the semi finals have been placed into a semi but also allocated either a top half or bottom half slot, hence why each semi is separated into 2 in my pictures. I have tried really hard not to allow my own favouritism, or lack thereof, to influence the draw making. Instead I have tried to space out similar entries (so no back-to-back ballads) as well as keeping apart acts of a similar nature e.g. not putting groups next to each other.

What has become very obvious is that even though the semi allocation draw was totally random, and done before most songs had been chosen, it has created some rather noticeable imbalances. Semi one is where the majority of the non-English songs are - even then almost all of those are in the bottom half - whilst semi two is high on ballads - most of those also in the second half. Although this is a useful, if not sometimes frustrating, tool for creating the running orders, it does make you wonder what the balance of songs will be in the final. We could end up with no duets or groups in the final or have almost no non-English songs or have a very ballad heavy final which would help the efforts of the non-ballads.

The only thing that is not taken into account is where the breaks will be taken. There are usually two during each show but not always spaced out evenly over the evening. Obviously if someone has an intricate staging, they might be eyeing up a spot before or after a break, at the start or at the end of the show. As I don't know where these breaks will be I cannot take this into account. However, when the real order comes out,identifying the acts either side of the breaks could give us some insight into staging. However one might say giving extra time for such acts might be deemed favouritism. It is a tricky business!

Anyway, here is my attempt

   BLUE - male soloists   RED - female soloists   GREEN - duets   ORANGE - groups



Now, I very much doubt this will be the running order, for example it is very unlikely they will give Sweden, and possibly Netherlands, such a bum draw. Although the draw can help or solidify the favouritism of certain songs, with some entries this year I don't think they need such help, hence why I have put them were they are. One of the issues with a producer led running order is that emotions and hearsay about songs influences you. I mean, if I was able to push some of the acts I really like then Slovenia would be at the end of semi 1 and Azerbaijan would end semi 2. If I can see one major change to show favouritism, there might be a switch around of Croatia and Russia, although the fact we know the Russian staging is quite complex they may need a break slot.

Sunday, 17 March 2019


The Israeli entry was unveiled on March 10th via the host broadcaster's website and on youtube. The act chosen to sing for Israel was chosen using in the HaKokhav HaBa show which concluded on February 12th at the Keshet Studio in Neve Ilan, hosted by Asi Azar & Rotem Sela. The act who will perform in front of the home crown is Kobi Marimi with the song “Home”

This is another black and white video but most of the shots are of Kobi’s head and shoulders. There is also a lot of use of mirroring and creating multiple bodies almost in a kind of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ kind of way although this song is nothing like that! There are also shafts of light, like a door coming ajar at points in the video although it’s not particularly clear why but I am guessing it is to do with the coming or going ‘home’.

The song is a very emotional ballad that has more than a nod to ‘You raise me up” in its construction. The song starts like a religious chant but soon going into a softly spoken verse but gradually his voice becomes more full and rounded. Without any change or signal in the backing track we go straight into the chorus. If fact you don’t really realise is the chorus until the final word ‘home’. The next verse starts up but this time it is an ensemble effort with Kobi backed up by a number of singers. The backing track is still just a piano so you can kind of predict how the song is going to progress. Straight after this there is a short pre-chorus before going into another chorus. This time a drum kit and strings enter the backing track with the piano, but this doesn’t last very long as it goes back to the piano for the very end of the song.

This is a lovely, calm and emotional ballad and it is certainly the kind of safe song you sometimes expect from a host nation. Kobi’s voice is a little unusual and had some very ethic tones to it but at times it feel a little too ‘normal’ for his style and I almost would have like to have seen a bit more of the chanting at the start filter through into the body of the song. Compared with some of the ballads that need to qualify this is much more understated and doesn’t have some of the drama and probably won't have some of the outlandish staging others might have.
I think that this is a great stand alone song but with its mid-running order placing it might get overrun and overshadowed by many of the slightly more unusual entries on offer this year. It’s a good song but not another winner.

ARTIST –  Kobi Marimi
SONG – Home
MUSIC -  Ohad Shargai, Inbar Weitzman
LYRICS - Ohad Shargai, Inbar Weitzman


The Armenian entry was released on March 10th on various listening and video services. Way back in November, it was revealed that Srbuk, a former Armenian X Factor and Voice of Ukraine participant, had been internally chosen by the local broadcaster. Her song is called “Walking out”.

The video is shot in black and white although some of the shots bring through the colour red. Even though the narrative of the video is quite simplistic is bring out a lot of emotion from the song. Most of the video takes place in what seems like a studio but with a ceiling of strobing and flashing lights. She is surrounded by a number of male dancers who interact with her but not always in a positive manner. There is a lot of barging and pushing around and a lot of anguished faces. There are also shots of female dancers in different guises randomly inserted into the shots but each one only lasts a second or so, if that. Although it breaks the firey tension in the bulk of the video, these scenes are rather abstract and don't actually add or distract from the main body.

The song heavy ballad and that has very bluesy/urban feel to it. The song starts off which 2 verses in quick succession. The tune of this is very staccato and a lot of it is quite talkative and monotone. This leads into a short pre-chorus which is much more melodic and shows Srbuk’s higher register. This leads to the chorus which is quite full on again but only lasts 15 seconds which just isn’t long enough to get it into your system. We then have two more verses but this time it goes straight back into the chorus but this rendition is longer, almost 30 seconds, which works much , much better. There is then a very mellow coda which leads into the final goes of the chorus AND a key change! Most of the work here is done by the backing singers whilst Srbuk is freestyling and shouting her way through until the end

On the face of it this is a really good song. The hook is catchy in the chorus and some of the melodies and repetitions make it feel like it could be a really cool jazz song. But it is not. This song is swallowed up by the production values and I actually think that in the verses she is fighting against the music rather than being complimented by it. I also wonder if her stage show will be this aggressive as I don’t think that will be something people will vote for. I also wish there was a tad more room for light and shade in her voice because it just seems full on in the main chorus..
I think that this should qualify from semi two although it will have a lot of male ballads to fight off. I think this is just too busy and loud  in the main parts of the song to make a serious impact

ARTIST –  Srbuk
SONG – Walking out
MUSIC -  Lost Capital, tokionin
LYRICS - Garik Papoyan