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Eurovision 2013′s greatest lyrics

So the big show is nearly upon us. In a few short hours time, 26 songs from across the continent are going to battle it out to decide where we’re going to have a lovely two week holiday this time next year. But to keep up the excitement until then, here’s a selection of our favourite lyrics from all of this year’s songs. See if you can spot them among all the over-annunciated accents tonight…

Albania
Under the dust of time I found clouds and curse

Armenia
Bringing crowd against the squad

Austria

You will shine, shine, and fight the shadows in the sky

Azerbaijan
Hold me, Just unfold me

Belarus
And I heard a wonderful sound, coming at me like a tsunami
Belgium
Through the consequence of fire comes the burn

Bulgaria
Golden boys and girls for millions
Croatia
And my final crust of bread, with you I’ll gladly share
Cyprus
And I will be there for your hardest goodbye

Denmark
The sky is red tonight, we’re on the edge tonight
Estonia
The ice will melt and the bare trees will burst into leaf
Finland
Baby I feel like a sinner, skipping dinner to get thinner

France
At the end of the day I kind of liked it, hands of silk and leather ties
Georgia
My heart is higher than the highest kite

Germany
The little child inside of me, can rebuild my destiny
Greece
The ice cubes were spiked, and the ship seems to run on four round wheels

Hungary
She will build a carriage out of rosemaries while crickets sing this song for me

Iceland
Perhaps the wondrous gates of heaven will open, beautiful love will flood out

Ireland
And even if the sun don’t rise, in the end only love survives

Israel
How much truth remains among all queries?
Italy
I annihilate your every single pain

Latvia
I’m the man on the moon call me Andy Kaufman

Lithuania

Because of my shoes I’m wearing today, one is called love, the other is pain

Macedonia
Come on now, get up all gypsies

Malta
His name is Jeremy, working in IT
Moldova
The Maya were not so wrong, it’s the end of the world! It’s done!

Montenegro
I need a party that won’t stop while the hot girl is shaking
Norway
I have the future on my tongue, give me a kiss
Romania
I’ll find my story and fight for my glory

Russia
What if we chose to bury our guns

San Marino
Sometimes I feel torn inside

Serbia
Believe me sister, I’m doing you a favour

Slovenia
We found the place where we belong, out of the dark our flame is strong
Spain
You’re that light that crosses the universe
Sweden
I played the piano, and you would strum on your guitar
Switzerland
When the times are getting rough, gold and silver turn to dust
The Netherlands
Birds falling down the rooftops, out of the sky like raindrops

Ukraine
I’m like a butterfly, spinning round a sword as if to dare

UK
You laugh at the thought of putting your faith in stuff

Who says Eurovision isn’t packed with art? And stuff.
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Eurovision – it’s the final countdown

After an especially punishing semi-final last evening, there was only one word on the lips of we massed ranks of punterdom as we shuffled from the Malmo Arena…

“Armenia?”

Of course, we don’t begrudge them their berth in the final, cos they are, for the most part, lovely chaps. But it was still a bit of a surprise that their plod rocker bested some of our faves on the night. Our happiest success though was the qualification of Hungary, who’s lovely understated performance evoked a feeling of genuine love in the hall. It’s never a winner, but it’s building up a head of steam that could see it finishing higher than anyone expected a fortnight ago.

The draw for the running order was made public at 2:30am, and instantly the betting went berserk, with everyone trying to second guess who’s going to beat Denmark – who are now odds on with every bookie, but still lack a soul. The way the songs pan out is very interesting, starting pretty slow, but building to a proper peak, with a lot of the fancied mounts crowding the last few performance slots. We just sat through the first full run through of all the songs in order, so here’s how they look all glued together in show shaped form.

France
A surprise opener, perhaps, but we fancy Swedish telly are going for something a bit credible to kick the show off. And boy does she pace about the stage like a dirty mare! A nice one to start with, but probably little top ten potential.

Lithuania
The fabled draw of doom has never even come close to winning this show, so the Liths must have been pretty choked to have been plugged in here. Still, it was never going to be a winner, and his innocent charm counterpoints the French gal’s strut rather nicely, so this position might actually help him up the table a tad.

Moldova
The first big ballad of the night, her expanding frock will garner the first big gasp of the evening. She sings it so incredibly well that this might be a decent outside punt for a top ten.

Finland
While the second half is crammed with bombast, the early stages of the night are a fairly staid affair. That’s why this wedding-flavoured fare is going to stand out like a beacon of joy among the drear. Possibly the best place it could have possibly been drawn. Keep a crafty eye on this one.

Spain
Sweet, anonymous, last.

Belgium
Do you know what, we’ve got a sneaking feeling that this could cause a few surprises. He may look like a rabbit in the headlights, but the song is strong, and he may come top of the pretty boy pile.

Estonia
An incredibly pretty girl singing an incredibly pretty song. But it’s surrounded by similarly gentle tunes – so will it stand out? Not sure.

Belarus
She’s looking less frightened as she totters out of her glitterball, but this is still feeling like a mid-table performer. Might draw in the party time crowd, but could struggle for a top half finish in this company.

Malta
Still well down the betting, there’s something totally believable about this cheery chappy, and if it’s a sunny day across Europe he could do some good business on the left hand side of the scoreboard – and there would never be a more popular winner!

Russia
A well-performed ballad with a massive ending, it’s plugged between two big dance numbers so will stand out a treat. No one much is talking about it, so even though she has a secret backing singer hiding behind the scenery, she could sneak through the middle of all that noisy business and surprise us all.

Germany
She’s been struggling with the big notes for a couple of days now, but she still knows how to play to a big crowd. Our only fear here is that the juries may go all snobby on a big beat dance number form someone who’s had hits.

Armenia
Last night’s surprise qualifier got resoundingly booed when it was pulled out of the golden envelope (probably because it wasn’t San Marino), but it’s the only song of its kind left in the contest, so could appeal to the trendy rock mums as well as the more serious minded jury members. Still expecting a bottom half finish for it, though.

The Netherlands
Can’t call this one. Dark, complicated, minor-keyed ballad sung by a seasoned pro. It tingled our spine, but may not translate to the folks back home. Just bait for sure, though.

Romania
Don’t underestimate the power of Cezar. The place was buzzing for minutes after his performance last night, and the love for him amongst the man in the street is surprisingly huge. The apparent experts hate it, but the folks back home will be lured by his falsetto charms. Tricky.

UK
It’s looking surprisingly good, considering the song’s a bit dull. And following the popera insanity of Cezar could count in Bonnie’s favour among the more conservative viewers. She’s also incredibly popular out this way, and gains the biggest reaction out of anyone who isn’t Scandi, so we might just be surprised by her finishing slot. Is that a good thing?

Sweden
Big, noisy, and with no chance of winning – just what you want from a home entry. And the contest has never been won by a song that’s performed in sixteenth place, so I think Sweden is safe for at least another year.

Hungary
Like we said earlier, this is riding on a big sea of love. The atmosphere in the hall for him last night was bristling. It couldn’t, could it?

Denmark
A strong favourite, but we still can’t find a single person who isn’t Danish who wants it to win. Ticks all the right boxes, but lacks heart. Winner? Hmm…

Iceland
Coming up strong on the rails is this gem of a ballad. You hang on his every word, even though it is in a strange ancient tongue. It’s surrounded by form horses, but still stands proud among them.

Azerbaijan
Looks great, but we’re starting to think it’s maybe a little contrived – especially after the simple power of Iceland.

Greece
A fun time party tune right near the end? Danger danger! And with all the big Balkans players out, this could tweak some south east Europe voting muscles big time.

Ukraine
Still looking cluttered, it remains high in the betting, but gets a little lost among all the strong songs that surround it.

Italy
The beard’s gone, and he’s polished up back into full on spiv mode. Your nans will melt when he looks straight into the camera with his big dreamy eyes. Could come absolutely anywhere on the scoreboard.

Norway
A lot of the love is draining away for this, and in a heavily packed last few songs, it could also get watered down by all the heavy hitters that surround it. Love it, fear for it.

Georgia
The problem with this boy/girl ballad is that they’re just not sexy enough. Not the bolted on top ballad that everyone expects.

Ireland
On paper it’s a plumb draw for the wee fella – although no song has won from the last slot since 1989 – and it’s never happened when there’s been this many songs in the tournament. A fine, high energy way to polish off the show, though.

So there you have it. Does the draw have any bearing on the eventual result? That remains to be established. but one thing is for certain – this is possibly one of the best paced finals in years, and despite Denmark’s hot favourite status, there’s a good half dozen songs at least who could nip it off them at the last minute.

We bloody love Eurovision!

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Eurovision: Semi-final 2 carnage prediction

If you thought Monday’s first semi-final was brutal, tonight’s second selection show promises to offer pure bloody carnage. While we don’t think there’s a single song that can’t make it to Saturday’s final, there’s not one that’s entirely safe, either, and we could lose some fancied runners and riders on the run in tonight – especially as there were a few nervy performances among the favourite during yesterday’s dress rehearsals.

So who’s going through, and who’s going home with Slovenia? It’s a tricky one to assess…

Latvia
Nobody’s even considered this happy-go-lucky cod rap singalong as a contender, but it’s bagged a plum opening draw, it’s full of life and dopey excitement, and it feature’s Eurovision’s first ever stage dive. After Tuesday’s shocks it could bag a surprise berth in the final.

San Marino
A strong fan favourite – but that ranking is usually a kiss of death around these parts… especially as it’s not sure if it wants to be a ballad or a dance number. But a few tiny tweaks to the choreography yesterday led to huge improvements in how it looks. A borderline contender.

Macedonia
Now that all their Balkan pals have bitten the dust, this one is bearing the flag for the former Yugoslavia. And while it’s not the most immediate of tunes, Esma, the old lady half of this duet, is a massive star across South East Europe and might just have the legs to qualify.

Azerbaijan
21-year-old Farid got a serious attack of the shakes yesterday when he performed in front of a huge crowd for the first time in his young life. But we fancy the song – and the comedy man in a box performance – has got enough about it to carry it through. This lot clearly still want to win it.

Finland
No signs of the Eurovision plague Krista was rumoured to be suffering with yesterday, and she sailed through the rehearsals with ease. Unless Europe suddenly takes against her Katy Perry hitting the gay marriage zeitgiest schtick, we should see her again on Saturday.

Malta
This sweet campfire social is just so damn likable that we’d be amazed if it didn’t qualify. It’s slowly dropping down the betting mind, so what do we know.

Bulgaria
This drumtastic duo came fifth last time they were in the contest back in 2007. But where they were bouncy and lovable back then, they’ve developed something of an over-grand edge that tempers their charm a little, and that makes us fear their prospects for further Malmo employment.

Iceland
The real surprise package of the rehearsals. This simple ballad by a less-worrying JLC looky-likely had grown men in tears in the hall last night. but is it just too sombre and minimal to make it? Might be worth a small qualification punt.

Greece
If this ska-fuelled folk stomper doesn’t qualify we’ll eat out kilt. It’s what Eurovision’s for!

Israel
The first song in real danger. You want to listen to the song, but your eyes keep getting drawn to her distracting cleavage. Shame, cos she’s a real sweety.

Armenia
After meeting these chaps in the week, it’s clear that they’s rather be playing some downtuned neo-prog rather than this plodding mum rock cobblers. And if they don’t care about the song, why should the viewer? Possibly doomed.

Hungary
It’s tiny and understated, but with incredible charm and warmth. And as Tuesday’s results seemed to support the plucky underdog, we’ve got a sneaking hope this little gem might make it too.

Norway
True fact. We saw this song’s singer Margaret Berger eating a burger in a nearby food court not one hour before her just final performance last evening. This technoclash stamper ought to be safely through – but who knows this year!

Albania
All the prog in the world condensed into three minutes of gloriously over the top pomp. It’s near impossible to predict how this will do – just sit back and enjoy the flame work and the guitarist’s Dave Hill hair.

Georgia
There are many people calling this as a potential winner, but we’re not convinced they’ve got the chemistry for this boy girl ballad to connect. It’s ex-Soviet connections should pull it through the semi, but in a lower slot than it may have hoped for.

Switzerland
This Superannuated Salvation Army band aren’t turning up on too many people’s prediction lists, but don’t underestimate the power of an international organisation in getting together and voting their representatives through. Also don’t underestimate the power of having a 93-year-old man on stage with you, either.

Romania
This high-pitched popera song is clearly here to be mocked – despite the worth with which the singer holds his abilities. But the hall was buzzing with shock and delight after our Cezar finished his show last night, so he may just trawl in the comedy vote.

So, you can clearly see our dilemma. Whatever way we look at it we can only trim three or four from the pack when we need to lose seven. Whichever way you look at it, we’re going to lose a contender tonight – but will it be your favourite? Tune in tonight, on BBC3 at 8pm to bathe in the brutality!

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Eurovision: Semi one – the aftermath

So then, that was interesting. Even the most seasoned Eurovisionists among us never imagined that both Belgium and Lithuania would sneak through. Of course, we’re most gutted to lose our boys from Montenegro. For want of any actual information, we’ve decided that the home voters loved it but the juries marked it down. We thought they were supposed to be looking for contemporary pop hits?

DEATH TO JURIES!

Ahem, anyway. It was a poor night all round for the Balkans, and if the only remaining ex-Yugo, the unfancied Macedonia, fails to make it through to Saturday’s final, it’ll be the first time they’re not been a song from that neck of the woods through since Yugoslavia split up back in the early 90s! Which begs the question – where are all their lovely points going? And of course, is Macedonia’s nan and lad singalong does make it through, that’s 60 points in the bag from their old pals before they even take the stage – so try and bag them for a top ten finish bet immediately!

Russia may also be a beneficiary of the Slavic purge, but we’re not entirely sure if the lass is up to the song. From our lofty point in the hall yesterday we could make out the figure of a fifth backing singer hidden behind a huge chunk of scenery singing every word that little Dina was singing. Surely that’s just to keep up the visual symmetry, right…?

Our only other big surprise was that Belarus scraped through with a song so lacking in honest joy that it even seems to hate itself. Unlike the Balkan wipeout, every ex-Soviet made it through last night, so we’ve all got the slide rule out trying to work out exactly what it all means for the betting field. If anything it’s made the whole affair even more complicated and unpredictable.
Last evening’s after parties were a reasonably subdued affair. Euroclub was heaving, but with no artists and hardly anyone we’d ever met, while Euro Cafe had a nice little Balkan shindig (ironically) with both Bulgaria and Macedonia staying up perhaps a bit too late, considering their early rehearsal calls today. Sadly for us, the usually riotous Georgian bash turned out to be a mere afternoon embassy reception, but our spies there tell us that enough of their chewy red wine was consumed by the half a dozen or so hangers on that made it to ensure a very hazy rest of the afternoon.

Also on an Embassy tip was out Bonnie, who had a very polite reception at the UK gaff. The ambassador’s DVD shelf consisted almost entirely of popular Scandi noir and box sets of Borgen. Nice to see that he’s been doing his homework.

As we speak, the big six are going through their second rehearsals, and we have to say that of them all, France is looking spectacularly filthy, Germany appear to be having sound issues (either that or her voice has gone!) and Spain is still instantly forgettable. Our Bonnie’s up soon, bless her.

Then comes the first full run through for the second semi-final. The song we’re most interested to see is Finland, as rumour has it that Krista has been laid low with the same nasty bug we rank and file have been suffering with all week. Fingers crossed for her, because we want at least some nonsense in the final!

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Eurovision Semi-final 1 – the runners and riders

So we’ve finally reached the business end of proceedings, and by the end of tonight we’ll know ten of the qualifiers for Saturday’s big show, and which unlucky half dozen will be packing their bags for the first flight home in the morning.

It’s a tough old year to predict, but who stands the best chance of making it though? Here’s the runners and riders…

Austria
Natalia Kelly may have form as a winner of the Austrian version of The Voice in Austria, but that will count for nothing here as this bright-but-plodding number will surely be forgotten once all the lunacy starts a bit later on.

Estonia
Birgit’s another casting show alumni, but this ballad could just be sweet and simple enough to scrape through. A borderline case, we reckon.

Slovenia
Probably the only song we can convincingly predict is not qualifying. Its jarring mix of weak dubstep, balladeering and trad Eurodisco, coupled with Hannah’s reedy voice is just too messy for broad appeal, and feels sadly doomed. (You watch it go an win the thing, now!)

Croatia
Six blokes in regional dress singing a heartwarming choral number with huge voices – it’s bang in the middle of a run of seven girls in bad outfits so stands out a treat. Its difference to the rest should see it through.

Denmark
This hippified posh girl has been the near-as-dammit even money favourite to win the whole thing since the year dot, so it should sail though – but it might be worth a cheeky couple of bob on the Not To Qualify bet just for a lark.

Russia
A serviceable ballad with a massive last 20 seconds. Does everything it needs to do to qualify. Rumour has it she’s using the old Coldplay-style colour-change light bracelet macguffin across the whole crowd, so if that’s true it could look stunning.

Ukraine
Second in the overall betting, but both looks and sounds a proper mess. The song itself is a tad harsh, with no real melody, while we’re not sure if the giant is a help or hindrance. Can’t call how this will do, but it’d got enough near neighbours in this semi to just scrape it.

The Netherlands
This classy piece of darkness is stunning, but may be just a touch too serious to attract the phone votes, but has just bait written all over it. Its flirtation with minor keys should help it get votes from the East .

Montenegro
Our rapping dubstep space opera chums just keep getting better and better. It’s funtime, but it knows exactly what it’s doing, but be sure to vote for it to help it over the line!

Lithuania
We like Andrius’s song, but many people are seeing his easy, everyman charm and amateurish and awkward. If that translates as such across Europe we fear we won’t be seeing him on Saturday.

Belarus
This big glitterball singalong has all the ingredients of a classic Eurosong, but there’s a nervousness in her eyes that’s coming right down the camera, and that might make this the surprise non-qualifier.

Moldova
This was one of the big winners in the hall for last night’s jury rehearsal, so it should have enough residual points in the bag to sneak it through. One of the better ballads of the night.

Ireland
The song we’ve heard most coming out of bars and shop windows around the town for the past week, and although Ryan himself is still just a tad wooden, it’s got enough honest charm and big beats to carry it through.

Cyprus
Many people have discounted this one out of hand. But this simple, one-voiced ballad is performed incredibly well, and is the last slow one of the night, so stands a great chance of a surprise qualification.

Belgium
Many people’s favourite to come last, the song’s been growing on us, but he had a disaster in last night’s rehearsal when he lost pace with the music. He got to perform it again, but we suspect that it was nerves that hit him more that technical issues. In grave danger, we fancy.

Serbia
Were this not from Serbia and earlier in the running order we’d have been sure that this shouty mess of a song would have been destined for the dumper. Their horrific outfits don’t help, either. Only their Slavic pals who will understand what they’re rattling on about can save them!

We’ve looked at this list many a time over the last week and a bit and we still can’t confidently predict who’s going through. If there’s still a fistful of favourites undeclared going into the last three envelopes this could prove to be a very exciting night!

So who do you reckon the winners and losers will be?

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Eurovision opening party fun

Despite this old thing having been trundling away for a good week now, the arrival of Eurovision’s big six heralds the occasion of the official opening party, where everyone puts on slightly posher clothes and gets just that little bit more debauched. But this year they played with the format a touch.

It started with a grand opening at the city’s Opera House, where the stars and their entourages strolled down a red carpet towards a posh reception at the other end. It was a great chance for the local people to see all of this year’s singers in the flesh – although the poor souls we set behind two sets of barriers, so could only just about see the top of the talent’s heads behind the liggers and hangers in front of them.

Only a couple of the acts broke ranks and piled off into the real people, with home performer boy Robin Stjernberg running the whole length of the barrier, giving the  real people a little bit of his time. Good man.

Undoubted stars of the catwalk were Finland’s wedding party, who were marching about singing ‘Uh oh a ding dong’ until long after everyone else had started on the free grub, the Ukranian giant, who seems to get bigger every time we see him, and rather gladdeningly our Bonnie, who garnered a massive cheer. Let’s hope that reception translates into points come next Saturday.

Among the outfits on show there were some cool threads and some true frocky horrors Israel’s Moran Mozar proved that you can accentuate your curves and still look amazing in a stunning cerise number. Swap it for your frightening stage gear, love! The Greeks looked fab in punky kilts, Montenegro had matching black tracksuits, while Italy’s Marco Mengoni just oozed cool out of every pore.

On the more dubious side, Slovenia’s asymmetric riot of fabric just didn’t quite work – much like her songs, Malta had a massive woolly scarf on all night, which looked like his mum had knitted it, and there just a few too many of those flimsy white done-up-to-the-top blouses that the hipsters all stopped wearing about a year back. Latvia’s PeR were the overall winners, though, with their beatboxer wearing a floor-length Chinese-style coat that looked at though he’d just put some sleeves on his old nan’s carpet.

After a poor selection of wines and beer, some tasty snack and a long drawn out introduction show, the great and the good were shipped back across town to the cavernous Slagthus for the proper party. And to their credit, a good slice of the singers put in at least a partial appearance.

Stars of the night were the Armenian band Dorians. Handsome lead singer Gor was absolutely hammered, and was constantly guarded by a gaggle of girl guards who were trying to keep him out of trouble. Another of their number, guitarist Gagik, tried cadging some fags of us, then instantly became out best mate for the night when he discovered we’d heard of all his favourite Swedish metal bands. After 15 minutes of fabulous conversation that covered everything from prog rock, the history of religion and the Armenian genocide, he got quickly dragged away save his singer from getting involved in another sticky situation. Proper rock’n'roll!

Our boys from Macedonia continue to be the party kings, pitching up on a corner near the bar and happily chatting to anyone who came near, while Moldovan songwriter Pasha Parfeny worked the room like a pro, putting in some miles as he glad-handed pretty much everyone in the building at some point.

Conspicuous by their absence was our Bonnie, who was apparently guarding her voice, Holland’s Anouk, who didn’t even make the red carpet, and most of the performers from semi-final one, who had an early mark for the full dress reherasals this morning. So fair play to Hannah from Slovenia, who despite her shocking frock, put in a long stint at the coalface.

We drifted off into the night at an ungodly hour, and there were still a good few performers still cutting the rug to the old Eurovision tunes down the front – admittedly most of them backing singers – so it’ll be interesting to see who’s still in a fit state this morning… especially as there’s been an especially nasty bug working its way through Eurovisiona over the last few days. Are we going to lose anyone to the lurgy? Only time will tell…

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Eurovision – the big six have arrived

After what seemed like an endless afternoon of watching 17 songs that we already knew inside out yesterday, the fresh meat has finally arrived in the form of the big six. Spain, France, Germany, Italy, the UK and hosts Sweden don’t have to qualify (for arcane money-reliant reasons) so they never bother turning up until the second week, and today we have the pleasure of their company. Will there be a contender among them? We reckon there might be…

But before that we’d better report on last evening’s Belarussian party. Despite their lack of branded vodka, they still had plenty of treats for us, with a fabulous buffet, more chocolate treats than we could stuff in our pockets and exactly one hour of free booze. this, of course, led to sprint drinking of the highest order and the kind of glorious minor bad behaviour that kind of thing evokes.

Undoubted stars of the night were our favourite Montenegrins Who See. Where other acts remained corralled behind the velvet rope of the rudimentary VIP area, they stepped out into the rank and file and cut hop hop poses with anyone who wanted a snap. It was just a shame their English isn’t too strong, as they had the twinkle in their eye that suggests they’d be a grand night out.

Also good form was the old guy with the moustache from Greece with a name that even his own countrymen would have trouble spelling (so we won’t even try). With facial fur big enough to hide a battleship under, he danced and jigged all night, while his considerably younger bandmates affected a modicum of cool in the corner. I know who looked like they had the better fun.

Also excellent company was Macedonia’s Esma. She may look like a nice little old lady, but she’s a massive star back home in the Balkans, and even has a Nobel Peace Prize nomination under her belt. But that didn’t stop her stuffing armfuls of the free chocolates into her bag on the way out. That’s our kind of gal!

Also high up on the list of party notables were the Moldovan lass, who was happy to chat with any gurning fan who passed her way, Croatia, who dazzled us once more with their spine-tingling choral music, Ireland, who are just an all-round bunch of nice kids, and the hostess, the Alyona Lanskaya, who after performing her song, passed through the crowd handing out chocolates to the drinking masses. This is the kind of attention to detail we enjoy.

It’s the opening do tonight (yes, a week in – we know) so we’re quite sure it’ll get even more hazy and debauched.

Back to today, two of the big four have already had their first run through: the sweet-but-forgettable Spanish and the just-dragged-out-of-bed looking French. Both bring something fresh to the show that we haven’t seen yet (especially the French lass with her filthy Courtney Love eyes), but neither should be troubling the scoreboard next Saturday.

Casacada are up next for Germany, and they might be the first contenders of the day. We’ll keep you posted!

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Eurovision – halfway house

Have we really only been here a week?

Today sees the end of the semi-final rehearsals, and we’re still no nearer being able to confidently predict who’ll be making the final next Tuesday and Thursday. We can’t ever remember it being so difficult to predict the qualifiers, and even the hardcore betting sites who’ve set up permanent camp in front of the press centre’s big screens can call it confidently.

However, they do suggest that the only place to make any kind of decent money is by laying the fan favourites to not qualify from the semis – San Marino, come on down!

Yesterday didn’t teach us much more than we already knew. Slovenia still has trouble finding her pitch in the big hall, and the song features the first of this year’s pointless dubstep drops, so we’re feeling the dooms for this one. Denmark’s remains to top the betting for us, but we’re still not feeling it, while Ukraine’s giant is now wearing the kind of leather jerkin that even the cast of Game of Thrones would balk at. We think this will just squeak through to the final, but only just by the hair of its teeth.

Montenegro, of course, is still marvelous, but its Balkan hip hop bombast is such a fringe taste, so it needs your votes to get it to the final. Tell your friends, because the whole of Europe needs to see this next week.

Serbia, on the other hand, is coming over like a huge mess. It’s clear that they’re acting out some kind of devil-and-angel skit, but it’s so clumpily delivered that only the most ardent Slavophile will be able to decipher it. We’re not sure that even the love of its pals and neighbours can save this one.

Out of school, the evening’s events are gradually filling up, and we attended another of those chatshows with the stars at Euroclub last night. Stars of the show were the Croatian Klapa choir, who treated us to a full set of traditional Dalmatian choral music – there was scarcely a spine in the whole building that wasn’t tingled.

Of this morning’s treats, Latvia have scripted in a crowd surf, where the burliest of the stage crew are holding the young singer above their heads for a few short seconds. Let’s hope he chooses the right place to drop off the stage on Thursday night, because the fanboys will almost certainly step out of his way when he drops…

More news as and when – and don’t forget our constantly updated Twitter pipe at www.twitter.com/popbitch

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Moving day – Eurovision part five

After four days in the lovely brick-build envirions of the Slagthaus, they’ve moved the massed ranks of Europe’s press and hangers-on up to a giant aircraft hanger next to the Arena. Despite its functional appearance, they’ve done it up lovely, with trees made from lights, comfy sofas and syrupy coffee on tap.

It’s also the start of the second batch of rehearsals, where the artists hone their acts and start to panic if their mechanical macguffins stop working. But let’s have a look at the best of yesterday’s second semi-final second-half. The Greek’s, of course, were brilliant. Stomping ska folk featuring a man with a huge moustache and a formation dancing in a big-booted yob mob way – you can’t really go wrong with that. Although sadly, with this being Sweden, their mantra of Alcohol Is Free is proving to be surprisingly unprophetic.

The Saturday night TV viewers back home are going to love this, so hopefully is should sail through to the final. The Israeli lass, sadly, is still wearing a frock so horrific that you just can’t take your eyes off her cleavage. She a handsome young lady, but looks more like a porno Nana Mouskouri. Apparently it’s a John Galliano creation, which begs us to wonder if he really is that anti-semitic after all.

Hungary’s ByeAlex seems a sweet hipster lad, but we’re not sure if his understated little gem is going to pass muster with the televoters, and Albania’s portion of prog pomposity seems to crowbar and entire Rick Wakeman concept album into just under three minutes.

But the true star of yesterday was the show-closer, Cezar of Romania. The unlikely-looking countertenor was perched on a plinth in the kind of sparkly jacket that even Elvis himself would have balked at, surrounded by a massive pulsating circle of fabric that looked more like a giant plate of cured meat. It’s utter cobblers, of course, but you really want Europe to see this on Saturday week, so we hope this high pitched wizard makes it through – but we fear he’s sadly doomed.

The party season changed gear last night at the San Marinese bash, where their veteran German songwriter Ralf Seigel dipped into his pockets and treated us to some rare free booze and a lovely lunch, including a local delicacy of meat in jars that forced orgasmic faces onto all who tasted it.

The stars also turned out in force for the first time, and were almost too numerous to list. But stars among them were the almost impossibly friendly Farid from Azerbaijan, the towering Albanians who decamped to a corner at looked a little confused by all the campness, and the male half of Macedonia, who strolled through the crowds like Captain Peacock off Are You Being Served? making sure everyone was alright. We even got a little jazz set from SM’s lovely singer Valentina – although to be honest it did quickly descend into a slightly unlistenable scat-fest. Too much bee-boo-ba-dee for most tastes. Still, we can’t complain about the free lunch.

After today we’ll have more of an idea about who’s likely to be the likely contenders in semi-one. If anything jumps out at us we’ll inform you immediately!

eurovision2013_malmo_bid

Alcohol Is Free?

Good morning pop fans.

As I sit here in the plush surroundings of Malmo’s Eurovision press centre, which looks every bit like screen three of the Peterborough Gaumont, the Greeks are having their first run through of their fabulously stompy little ska folk tune Alcohol Is Free. The title is though perhaps a tad ironic as the locals are very sparing with their liquid hospitality.

Up until yesterday afternoon, the best we’d got was some rather watered down sangria at the Euro Cafe opening bash. But thank heavens for the Celts, who plied us with complimentary Guinness and Irish Coffee at a cookie cutter Irish bar in the old town.

The boy himself, Ryan Dolan, is a tiny little chap, but more than makes up for it in easy charm. Before he did his stint we were treated to the delights of some diddly-di folk and some formation dancing, then they gave us all a nice big dinner, and they saw us all off into the night with a big old box of Bailey’s chocolates. And you thought Ireland was skint!

It was also the top display of talent of the week so far, with the Montegrins huddling together in a slightly confused corner, the Moldovans having a go at some ethnic dancing – to the imagined hilarious effects – and the nice ladies from Russia and Slovenia floating about somewhere in the shadows too. All in all it was rather a nice way to spend an afternoon in a provincial Swedish city.

As far as the actual songs went yesterday, the first half of semi-final was looking pretty strong. Azerbaijan provided the main jaw-dropper of the day, with our Farid standing on a big perspex box, while a contortionist mirrored his every move from below. Then halfway through, a lady with an endless dress and her spine on the outside strode towards them, and by the end something you thought was a bit rubbish at first turned into a right barnstormer. People have asked whether the Azeris are bothered about winning this thing again. On this form they clearly are.

The main controversy of the day came when Finland’s wedding-themed performance ended with the bride snogging one of the female waitresses (it’s a high concept number to be sure!). It would have been all the more impactful had both parties not furiously wiped their mouths like an eight-year-old who’d been forced to kiss his nan the second the song had finished.

Kudos must go to the man who operated the wind machine for turning it on just a bit too much and nearly scalping the bride when the hurricane-strength wind caught hold of her massive train. But fair play to her, she continued like a trouper until the song was finished.

Also worthy of note was the Bulgarian tune, which, while not being especially exciting, does appear to feature an man in a hoodie throttling a goose at the start.

Right then, we’ve reached an interval in proceedings, so were hoping that a nice lady comes around with some kia-ora and Magnums. More news as and when…