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Junior Eurovision: the time is nigh

It’s the day of the big show, and the lads and lasses of Junior Eurovision are putting the last tweaks on their performances. Last night’s jury final was hit with a massive setback after the lights tripped out 20 seconds into the second performance. Poor little Bulgarian singer, Krisia, soldiered on regardless in the dark until a stage hand wandered on to tell her to stop. Bless.

There then followed and awkward hour where nothing much happened in the hall as the techies beavered away like bonkers around the back, trying to reconfigure the generators. Twenty minutes in and the lights came back on, then everyone had a sing-song, the nuns down the front leading a marathon rendition of Old McDonald’s Farm. Entertainment surely doesn’t get any better than this.

Although it was quite a worrisome setback, it’s better that it happened last night than on live Europe-wide television tonight, otherwise the TV stations of Europe would be forced to rapidly switch to emergency standby packages of their own local versions of Coast.

But when it did finally get going, the show holds together pretty nicely. There are perhaps a few too many intervals with local kids dancing, mind, but I guess this is Malta’s big chance to show off, so you can’t really begrudge them.

Of the songs, Armenia’s bouncy little turbo folk tune now has tiny birdlike children flying around on ribbons in the sky (no, seriously), San Marino have a dance routine that would be more suited to bedroom mirrors and hair brushes, while the Italian lad has been giving it a bit too much to the camera, resulting in some frankly off-putting gurning. Hopefully his mum has had a word and sorted that out, because as hot favourite to bag the big first prize, this contest is apparently his to lose.

Other songs that are in with a good shout are Russia’s simple ballad, Bulgaria’s piano-flanked warble and home nation Malta. Rest assured she’ll raise the roof with her operatic belter, but we’re still not convinced that the voting public really care for this kind of faux high culture, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Oh, and while I’m here, if anyone can find a bookie taking bets on this can you let us know. We fancy a cheeky each-way snifter on Armenia – although judging by our lack of success down the local racetrack last night it’s probably best that we keep our money in our pockets.

Oh, and if you want to actually see this show tonight it’s not on regular telly, because the UK’s not in it. So you’ll have to go to the event’s official website at www.junioreurovision.tv and run the stream. Go on, give it a look – there might just be another powercut and then anything could happen. I’ll go and alert the nuns.

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Junior Eurovision: still disappointingly lovely

Friday is upon us, and after a week of relaxed and casual individual rehearsals, the kids here on Junior Eurovision island are about to string it all together and turn it into a full show. This afternoon’s dress rehearsal is our first chance to see the songs in order and attached to each other, as well as the first time the poor nippers are going to take to the massive stage in front of real people. So it will be interesting to see how their nerve holds and sift out the pros from the terrified mites.

Mind you, they still all seem to be very happy and positive about the whole thing. As the week’s gone on, the organisers have been taking the contestants on trips around the island. The bulk of the trips have involved visits to local schools, where the singers and dancers have mixed with the locals and had a right lovely time. The feeling of goodwill on Malta towards the contest and it’s participants is enormous, and these trips have only added to the pride and inclusion this nation is feeling towards the show. You can only imagine how excited they’ll be if ever they win the adult show.

There have also been a few trips around some of the more touristy sites, too. People often forget how small and compact this country is, and they pack a lot of history into a small space. So the contestants have been taken on all manner of walking tours and boat trips around harbours. We latched onto one such tour around the narrow streets of Valletta, and were charmed when, as we walked into the ridiculously ornate Co-Cathedral, the organist cranked up the Eurovision theme tune as we gazed in awe at the eye-melting marble designs. That’s the kind of attention to detail that we like here.

The kids still seem to be getting on alright. The perpetual dance off between Armenia and Georgia shows no signs of abating, and there’s been a table football tournament going on between the Croatian backing dancers and the be-mulleted Bulgarian piano twins all week. And everywhere we go there’s smiles and waves and cheery hellos from the performers that make you feel all warm inside.

Still, that might all change now we’re getting to the competitive end of proceedings, and we might just have a meltdown yet. Although to be honest it’s more likely to be from the ever-more-anxious looking mums than their constantly calm and assured children. We’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, we’re off to the horseracing at the track across the road from the arena. We hope we’re better at predictng the ponies than we are at plucking out a Eurovision winner from the ether…

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Junior Eurovision: Euroclub – the youth wing

Now telling you about the songs here is all well and good, but what you really want to know is who are the divas and who’s been getting up to no good. It is, isn’t it? Well ordinarily we’d be rooting around in the darker recesses, sniffing out the gossip and encouraging performers to misbehave. Well disappointingly – and also incredibly charmingly – this bunch of kids and tiddlers is just so incredibly sweet and well-behaved. Bah!

Where at the adult show all the delegations would be feeding us the secret dirt on their biggest rivals, this mob are positively chummy, helping each other out and just being plain nice. Where’s the fun in that? Indeed, even Euroclub is a staid affair. At the grown up event you don’t feel like you’ve had a night out unless it’s got light before you leave. Here it’s all done and dusted by 10pm, so our junior charges can be safely in bed before the witching hour. And even when you’re there it’s more like the creche in a holiday pub than the kind of debauched bacchanal that we’re used to.

But despite having to recalibrate to the new way it’s still got its charms. Monday night saw Maltese Eurovision alumni Glen Vella pop in to do a few songs, and his successor Kurt Calleja has been driving the decks on most nights. On top of that, on any given evening you can find a small handful of the artists at the back, quaffing pop and playing each other at ping pong and Twister, or glued to the Playstation in the corner (although we’re not sure how age appropriate Assassin’s Creed is for this event) – although last night saw another epic trans-caucus dance off between the Georgians and the Armenians. These kids really aren’t going to make it to the big show on Saturday unscathed, surely. Ah the abandon of youth.

While all this is going on, a handful of grown ups sit around the edges of the hall in glittery party hats dreaming of a free bar. Even the mums and dads have been on their best behaviour so far – although we’ll see how long that last once Euroclub’s opening hours extend to 1am tomorrow.

But don’t let that make you think we’ve come here for nothing, because there’s still plenty of fun to be had. Rather than the bratty drama urchins we feared, the kids have without exception been utterly charming. They may spend half their time running up and down the corridors of the Excelsior Hotel like kids at a posh wedding, but they’ll always dash up to you with a cheery hello, then veer off with their new international pals to go and cause some minor mischief in a corner.

We came to this event expecting to see showbizzery at its worst. Pushy parents driving their tiny tots to the edge of pain, and the more grown up singers attempting to be just that little bit too grown up. Instead they’ve been thoroughly professional and without exception really rather sweet. Good heavens, we must be getting old and broody.

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Junior Eurovision: rehearsals day 2

Day two of the rehearsal sessions and the kids are still looking chipper, perky and full of beans. This is especially interesting as some of the delegations were up as late at ten o’clock dancing like loons at Euroclub. But who are the winners and strugglers from today’s batch of songs? (It seems so mean judging these nippers on the quality of their performances. But hey, it’s a competition!)

Georgia
These tiny tiny kids have been the life and soul of the party all week, and have shown no signs of the inevitable sugarcrash yet. Eleven-year-old singer Lizi Pop and her backing imps are full of beans from start to finish, and their boisterous charm should win them plenty of fans.

Montenegro
If ever a song stood out of a competition like a sore thumb it’s this one. Where everyone else is trying to be all grown up, this pair are jumping about like the kids they are to a song that wouldn’t be out of place on a High School Musical soundtrack or as the theme to a remake of Charles In Charge. Heck, it’s the one song you’ll actually quite like. They’ve been pretty nimble in working the press room too, so keep an open eye on this one.

Croatia
There’s always one song that ends up being a little cut adrift from the pack, and I fear this may be it. Philadelphia resident Josie is 14, but looks much younger, and is struggling to adjust to the big stage, bless her. Whereas in the grown up show you always want someone to crash and burn, just for the cruel fun of it, here we hope she gets the better of her nerves and pulls through on the big night, poor love.

San Marino
This five-piece gaggle of 14 and 15-year-olds seem like a whole generation older than most of the contestants – heck, they’re all taller than me in their heels – and their singalong-by-numbers tune sticks easily in your brain. But there’s still something pleasingly ramshackle about their performance that’ll endear them to the mums back home who may have thought they were a bit too grown up for a kids show.

Serbia
A sweet-face young lass sits at a grand piano on her todd and sings an earnest mid-tempo plodder for all she’s worth. It’s a pretty little tune, and her multi-tasking should win some plaudits with the juries, but we fear it’ll get lost in the televoting pack.

Belarus
Folksy dance tune with flailing hair and giant trumpets. This one has skipped under most people’s radar, but it’s got a sweet enough melody to do some business in this show.

Slovenia
Ooh now, here’s a nice surprise. This song was sweet enough on the video, but on stage Ula is doing all she can to just act her age and be a kid – and boy does it work for her. Wearing age-appropriate clothes rather than trying to look all grown up, she stands alone and sings to the very edge of her voice. But where the Russian lass looked like she was trying to hard, this Slovenian lass looks all vulnerable like you just want to ruffle her hair and give her a big smile. This could cause some vote damage on the night.

Malta
By crikey! This is going to be the showstopper on the big night and no mistaking. This gappy-toothed child soprano absolutely heaves the big notes and operatic warble out of her tiny pipes, and had the 30-strong press corps on their feet with her soundcheck alone. And what with this being the home entry, the roof is going to lift after she hits the fat note at the end. On man, this has suddenly got really difficult to call. Thank heavens we’ve got no money on it. Yet.

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Junior Eurovision: rehearsals day one

So we’ve not just come here to Malta for the sun, sea and swanky receptions. There’s also some songs to have a look at. And while they’re not quite up to the usual bonkers-in-the-nut standard of the adult show, there’s still some fun to be had. Yesterday the first half of the sixteen artists had their first skip around the massive shipyard venue, and this is how they did.

Netherlands
At 15, Julia’s a little older than many of her competitors, and it shows on this bouncy little dance pop tune. Flanked by a troupe of street dancing boys, the chorus has a killer hook that’ll stick in your brain for hours. Slightly worrying though her voice is starting to crumble already, as she’s been giving it full throttle throughout the rehearsals. The show’s one potential earworm.

Sweden
A lot like the Dutch effort, only with girly dancers and much less of a chorus. And again like her predecessor, she’s also a teenage blonde lass called Julia. Not bad, but will probably be overshadowed by the Dutch.

Bulgaria
Now this is what you want from a kids singing contest. Little Krisia is only ten, but can belt out a ballad like a seasoned pro. She’s flanked by a pair of bemulleted twins on pianos hammering on the ivories, and together they make a pretty vote-winning package. It’s not among the fancied songs, but we fancy it could do pretty well on the night.

Russia
Little Alisa is so small she’d fit in a bee’s pocket. But she’s a massive star back home, winning the final of The Voice of Russia with over 50% of the vote. Her song too is a serious, bright-eyed ballad. But she looked slightly ill-at-ease during her rehearsal, and was struggling with the biggest notes. Is there too much pressure from back home on the poor mite? We hope not.

Italy
Now here’s the one to watch. Vincenzo is fourteen, but has the demeanour of a bar room singer of some vintage. His dark smoky eyes stare straight down the camera and clenches the hearts of both your daughters and your nans. No one this young should have this much charisma, and as the only boy singer in the whole show he could easily walk this.

Ukraine
Sympho-Nick are three lasses from the three corners of their battle-scared country dressed up like extras from Frozen and singing about their love of their home nation. So not at all political then. But this folksy little tune is still pretty likeable, and may well elicit a sympathy vote from across the continent too. Could still be there for the run in.

Armenia
A massive explosion of pre-teen fun and energy from 11-year-old Betty and her breakdancing cohorts. She may not hit every note, but unlike the Russians she’s somehow more likeable for it. Here’s a big bunch of kids having the time of their lives, and that enthusiasm is infectious.

Cyprus
Thankfully not looking quite so grown up as she did in the video, 13-year-old Sophia delivers this up tempo dance tune completely alone on the massive Maltese stage. And while she’s certainly got one of the strongest voices here, it’s a song that just demanded a hyperactive dance crew flipping about behind her. Possibly the best pop tune here, mind, so we’ll have to see how it flies.

All in all it wasn’t a bad day of rehearsals, and those in the know in the gusty press tent are reckoning that the winner’s going to come from this batch of songs. But what will today’s selection have to offer? Tune in tomorrow to find out!

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Welcome to Junior Eurovision

Good morning Europe, this is Deepthroat calling, live and direct from a shipyard in Malta. Yep, it’s Eurovision time again, only this time it’s the junior version.

There’s a junior version, you ask? Oh yes, it’s been going for a dozen years now, and this year’s show is probably it’s biggest yet.The main reason you probably haven’t heard of it is because it’s mainly an Eastern European thing, and we pulled out after the first couple of years because no one much was watching it. Which is a shame, because event though it’s mostly fuelled by precocious tots in shiny trousers, there’s still a lot of fun to be had.

This year’s contest is being held in a deserted ship factory around the back of Valletta. The Maltese have been busting to hold the grown up show for years now, so is is their chance to prove to Europe that they could make a good job of it. It’s now 24 hours in and they’re making a decent fist of it.

Last night’s opening party showed the host’s ambitions. After being shipped across the island in a fleet of luxury coaches, we were taken to the President’s lush summer palace and left to wander around it’s darker recesses while the junior artists were introduced to the cameras and drew their slots in the running order.

Once the formalities were over the food and drink were served, and 16 nations’ worth of talented nippers started to mill about looming a bit bored while grown ups in suits started to quaff the thick red Maltese wine. But then a beautiful thing happened…

A shiny suited DJ suddenly cranked up the pop hits, and fuelled by fizzy pop, the kids let their hair down and began to dance. And boy did they dance. It started slowly at first as the Armenian delegation began to skip about among themselves. But then the Georgians saw them dancing and fronted them out in what soon became an epic dance battle.  Suddenly tiny ballerinas melted out of the crowd and began to cartwheel about and fold themselves in three. It was equal parts staggering, terrifying and utterly utterly brilliant. After all the fusty adult organisation, the kids had cast off the shackles and made this event their own.

We bagged a lift back to the hotel in the Armenian delegation bus, and there was no letting up as together with their mums and dads they were belting out screechy versions of home town folk songs and Gangnam Style at the top of their tiny lungs. Something that on paper could have been a horrible carnival of bratty, precocious behaviour ended up being a most delightful and charming night out.

I suspect this is going to be more fun that I’d ever imagined. And we haven’t even started getting the mums drunk yet.

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The Popbitch Eurovision Awards 2014

So the day has finally arrived. After months of build up and weeks of rehearsals, but the end of this evening, the massed Europe-wide ballot to decide where we have our jollies this time next year will be over, and we can go back to talking about otters and Kerry Katona’s new hair.

By sometime around 11pm we’ll be able to gloat that we knew who was going to win all along (we didn’t), and regale you with dull tales about how we spent a cracking lift journey with the winner (we probably didn’t do that, either). But who were the real winners this Eurovision fortnight? The unsung heroes who made this whole sorry farrago worth coming out to? Here’s a few of our favourite Copenhagen moments

Nicest Performer
Although for the most part the class of 2014 have been a quietly professional bunch, there have still been a few really good eggs about the place. Iceland’s Pollapönk have proved themselves to be a really lovely bunch with no airs and graces, happy to chat to anyone, Sweden’s Sanna Neilsen is as nice as her nan’s hair would suggest, and our Molly is as sweet and friendly as a week old kitten. But it’s Tijana from Macedonia who wins this year’s badge of honour, for insisting on ferrying fans and journalists around the town in her delegation bus if she ever sees any waiting at a bus queue – bless her heart.

Party Animal
Although the spread out nature of this year’s event venues have meant that fewer of the artists have been out partying, there have still be a few notable performances in the raging stakes. Greek lads Freaky Fortune and Risky Kidd have lit up every party they’ve been to, with their bouncy, infectious charm, and tiny Hersi from Albania was straight into the semi-final aftershow with a massive beam on her face, despite having been knocked out only minutes earlier.  But there was only going to be one winner in this category, and that’s Ireland’s backing singers, who’ve were out dolled up to demure the nines and swearing like dockers for most of the first week. We salute you girls!

Don’t You Know Who I Am?
There’s not been too much bad behaviour from the artists this year, but a few have been making thing’s difficult for the folks working around them. Ireland’s Kasey Smith looked like she thought even the tiniest bit of work was the most terrible chore, and Romania’s Ovi has been strutting around like he’s the prince of Eurovision, and last year’s winner Emille de Forrest has allegedly refused to make any personal appearances with anyone who’s not from Scandinavia. However, most Spinal Tap moment of the week came when PB hero and writer of the Russian song, Philip Kirkirov was repeatedly refused access to all the emergency exits when he was trying to leave the second semi-final, no matter how hard he waved his delegation pass, and had to trudge out of the main exit with the rest of us plebs with a sheepish look on his face. You’re never too big to walk out of the venue with the real people, Phil.

Worst Prop
There’s been some on stage concepts that would have been best left on the drawing board this year. Georgia’s prog parachutist was ill-advised at best, Ukraine‘s hamster wheel has just about worked, but we still feel that Mariya’s long floaty frock is going to get pulled into the workings at some point, and Russia‘s seesaw looks just plain silly. But streets ahead of the rest is Romania‘s circular keyboard. Little Ovi may feel all smug and rock starry when he’s playing it, but it still looks like he’s poking his head through Liberace’s bog seat.

Worst Outfit
Again, it’s been a relatively poor year for wardrobe malfunctions, but there’s still been some real frocky horrors about. Lithuania‘s bonkers black and blue lycra get up looked like something from a crap circus, Slovenia‘s massive blue gown appeared to be eating her, but clear favourite in the frocky horror stakes was Moldova‘s, erm, part-floaty frock, part-Game of Thrones garb that got even more confusing when she started tearing bits off of it.

Best/Worst Hair
A curiously objective category this one, but there were some fine barnets on view this season. Moldova make another appearance here, as we’re not entirely sure quite why she pulled her long, plasticky extensions out at the peak of the song – but we’re still rather glad that she did. Russia were also mucking about with the extensions with their rather creepy conjoined ponytail weave, and Iceland‘s orange backing singer (the one who looks like Frankie Boyle who isn’t an MP) has a beard so thick and lustrous that you could build a treehouse in it. However, our favourite do has to be the towering afro mohawk coming out the top of Twin Twin singer Lorent Idir‘s head. With each passing day the Frenchman’s coiffure has got taller and more bouncy looking, and we’re convince that it must now have its own roadie.

So that’s it. This time tomorrow we’ll be sat on out own sofa wondering quite how that song managed to win the thing, and wonder which hotel we’re going to be renting in some curious foreign capital next year. And don’t forget to download the Popbitch Eurovision app if you want the true insider knowledge on all tonight’s runners and rider. You can find it right here… 

Right then, eyes down for a full house – let’s see who’s going to win this thing…

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Eurovision: Semi final 2 – the aftermath

There was only one winner in the hall last night – Ms Conchita Wurst. We’ve never witnessed such a massive reaction to a semi-final performance in all our Eurovision days, and it was the kind of reception only usually reserved for home entries and a winner’s reprise. Her odds slashed to 7/2 during the performance, and although she’s been drawn reasonably early in the draw, there’s almost nothing surrounding her to cause her any significant bother.

Other songs were available, but you’d have been excused for thinking so as you left the arena, with every fifth phone belting it out in the bus queue. The Greek trampoline schtick had the house bouncing like an Ibiza warehouse, the dour Finnish indie kids turned a three minute song into a festival appearance, and Carry On Poland delighted and unsettled in equal portion.

Israel, though, are said to have a considerably big hump on after not qualifying with one of their most popular stars, and there’s a massive rumour going around that we won’t be seeing them at the show last year.

Rumours also abounded after the unprecedented delay in announcing the results last night. At first it was suggested that Belarus had refused to show the Austrian performance on their broadcast – which was quickly poo-pooed by their broadcaster. Then it quickly transferred to suggestions that the same nation had been accused of power voting – again swiftly denied by the EBU. But the sniff that endures is that there was a tie for tenth place, and that the invigilators had to apply their complex countback system to see who actually got through. We’ll wait to hear back on that one.

And then at around 2am, the draw was announced. Perhaps of most note is the UK bagging the final slot in the running order. While a late draw is usually considered a good thing, last in the draw has had a bit of a chequered past. No song performing last has won since way back in 1989, and it’s never happened when there’s been 26 songs in the final. Oh well, every sequence is there to be broken, we suppose.

Other points of interest see the show open with Ukraine’s comedy hamster wheel, Belarus bagging the traditional slot of death in position number 2, and the fast-rising Netherlands coming out of the bag in 24th position. Rumour has it that the Dutch won the just final by a street, and their plunging odds suggest there’s some inside info driving the betting – so could we be going to Amsterdam next year? Now there would be an interesting host city.

The first full rehearsals for the final show are about to begin, so we’ll be getting more of an idea of what sits well in the running order soon. And as soon as we know it, you’ll know it. One thing’s for certain though – it’s all getting VERY exciting!

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Eurovision: Semi-final 2 form guide

The big shows flood on apace, and after Tuesday’s surprises nothing should be taken for granted. Tonight we have to perm ten from 15, so the best way to pick out your ten is to pick out the five flecks of chaff from the wheaty list. But is anyone really dead in the water? (Well except Georgia? Perhaps?)

Malta
These plucky island dwellers wowed the punters at last night’s jury final, but their odds have stuck solid at about 60/1. Their Mumfords flavorings are proper jury bait, mind, so expect a rally if they qualify tonight.

Israel
Her stampy, efficient dance pop looks a treat on the big stage, but shouty singers fare notoriously badly at this show. But as this year’s results have proved, nothing’s a certainty in this game. Should just fall over the line in a  favourable position with what is rumoured to be Israel’s last ever entry.

Norway
The big fella’s sombre, doe-eyed ballad may be spine-tingling to the ears, but it’s not been setting the live audiences alight. Should wow the juries, but it’s punter rating will be interesting to see.

Georgia
With a full minute of yodeling by a middle age bloke, and some of the most difficult time signatures since early King Crimson, this is almost completely unlovable by a Saturday night TV crowd. But they’re game old boys, and we kind of hope this is the first one pulled out of the envelope tonight, just to put the wind up the rest of the field.

Poland
Or Carry On Up The Eurovision as we now call it. The dirty milk maids will entertain your dad and teenage brother in equal measure, but the juries tend to hate anything with the remotest sniff of novelty about it, so we fear it’s a borderline qualifier.

Austria
The packed crowd went absolutely batshit mental for Conchita last night, and there’s been a monster press scrum around her from day one. If she’s being judged for song alone this classy bond ballad should finish top five. But will the image to too confusing and confounding for the Moldovan housewife voter?

Lithuania
First of the probable doomed tunes. It’s shouty, messy and the frocks are a fright. The only thing that will pull this through is her great personality, or if at least five other acts have a shocker tonight. Conversely,  you can still get evens for her to qualify tonight, so if you fancy a risky punt, that could be your fun bet.

Finland
This stern-faced indie pop boyband have been wowing the crowds with their stabby guitars and their soaring singalong chorus. With undoubted jury love, and half decent punter support, this should sail through.

Ireland
Danger danger. Tonight might be the last time we see our Kasey and her awkward marching about. The delegation have made great efforts to polish the doo-doo, and it’s about as good as they can get it. But if this does wheeze through the semi, it’s in dire danger in the final proper.

Belarus
Another borderline qualifier. While it’s likable enough, it rattles on for about 30 seconds too long. Look out for the backing singer hidden in the dark depths of stage right, singing all the difficult bits.

Macedonia
Tijana’s been one of the stars of the Euroclub nights, shipping her adoring minions too and fro in her delegation bus and having time for a chat and a laugh with just about anyone. But is this song memorable enough to drag it out of the semi? We’re not entirely sure that it is.

Switzerland
Yet another bit of busking chic, they’ve tried to over egg the pudding just a tad with all kinds of explosions and bits and bobs firing off throughout the performance. The whistling intro is truly infectious though, so we should see another raggle taggle tune in the finals.

Greece
Pure bouncy genius. From its funereal opening to its head-nodding holiday pop it’s gloriously dumb fun from start to finish. And when they get the trampoline out the crowd go wild. Can’t see this not getting through, and doing some good business in the final. Best performing Balkan? Almost certainly!

Slovenia
Nice song, well performed, ultimately forgettable. Doomed in any other year.

Romania
Oh my life what a dog’s breakfast. This pair think they’ve only got to turn up to win the thing, but with an ever more ludicrous succession of stagery they’re hampering their chances with each new shitey gimmick. If this didn’t qualify it would be the most popular moment of the night, but we fear it’s got the legs to get through despite all the messy on stage cobblers.

So who’s in danger? We reckon Slovenia, Lithuania and Georgia (obv) are in the most trouble, and then the last two berths are anyone’s guess, with only three or four songs being completely safe. Could we be in for some more envelope-based carnage tonight? You betcha!

And don’t forget to download our free guide to Eurovision, with all the stats, info and funnies to make your viewing pleasure all the more pleasurable this evening. Click here and spread the love…

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Eurovision: semi-final 1 – the aftermath

So that was interesting and unexpected last night. San Marino and Montenegro qualified for their first ever final, Iceland and The Netherlands confounded the critics, and massive crowd pleasers Latvia, Estonia and Portugal failed to impress the voters – all of which makes for a very interesting final on Saturday, and means that Thursdays second semi-final will be incredibly difficult to predict.

And word has it things were tight. Eurovision boss Jon Ola Sand has tweeted that there were only three points between tenth and twelfth places, so speculation is already rife as to who bombed and who only just missed out.
We suspect though that those Dutch sailed through. Word from the delegations suggests that they reaped in the 12 pointers from the juries, and their odds plummeted accordingly – from around the three-figure mark to around 8/1. Might be worth keeping an eye out for this one on Saturday then!

From our perfect view of the green room, we could see the thrills and ills as the evening went on. Portugal’s lambada nonsense got a conga going, led, strangely, by the previously grumpy Armenian singer – but their heads began to drop as each new announcement envelope was opened. Iceland were bouncing all over the furniture at every available opportunity, while the unfortunate Belgians looked grumpy from the start.

Very few artists turned up to the aftershow, but those that did were welcomed with open arms. The tiny Albanian lass bounced into the do with a massive grin on her face, despite her disappointing result, and piled straight into the dancefloor. A few plucky Icelanders were seen bouncing about in the darker corners, while San Marino’s third-time-lucky girl practically owned DQ’s karaoke bar.

Latvia, though, were less lively. Katrina from the band was often to be found looking a bit sad on the smoking terrace, while main man Joran held sombre court out by the front door, looking like he was in the mood for nothing more than energetic than drinking and sighing a lot.

So one down and one to go. What unexpected wonders are we likely to get come Thursday? Who knows – you just can’t guess this thing any more!