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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!

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Eurovision: Semi final 1 – the contenders

So a week and a bit of rehearsing, carousing and mucking about is finally over. Tonight it gets really real as 16 contenders battle it out for ten slots in Saturday’s Eurovison. But who are the ones to watch out for? And who’s ultimately doomed? Read on for our top tips – but look away now if you don’t want any spoilers…

Armenia
Aram MP3′s moody ballad builds to an ace shouty dubstep crescendo, but even though he’s still hot favourite in the betting to win the whole thing and the juries will love him, will it appeal to the voters back home? We’re not so sure? Should qualify, mind.

Latvia
The unexpected stars of the dress rehearsals, Cake to Bake’s bouncy singalong is still way out in the betting, with most bookies offering outrageous three-figure odds to bag the title. Surely something this catchy at those prices is worth a cheeky each way punt?

Estonia
Poor Tanja gets chucked around like a rag doll during her performance, but you can’t take your eyes off her for a moment. But wonder how she manages to keep singing while she flies through the air like that? She’s got a gaggle of backing singers in black hidden away in the wings taking the weight of all the difficult notes. Sneaky!

Sweden
Lovely Sanna proved it was seventh time lucky when she finally qualified for Eurovison after years of trying. However, it may not turn out so well for her, as she had so many lighting problems at the jury final last night that Swedish telly are demanding a recount! Should be safe, but if she doesn’t qualify a cross-Baltic war may break out..

Iceland
You can’t fault Pollapönk and their punky children’s entertainer schtick. However, the notoriously fun hating juries are likely to mark it down, despite its positive message. Look out for the backing singer in purple, who’s an MP in the Icelandic Parliment!

Albania
Tiny Hersi might be a lovely girl, but her song is packed with the kind of tricky time signatures that only the Balkans really enjoy – and there’s hardly any of them here to vote this year. Add a slightly wanky guitar solo into the mix and we fear this has all the ingredients of a borderline non-qualifier.

Russia
Already garnering boos from the rehearsal crowds the Tolmachevy Sisters are this year’s lambs to the slaughter. It’s almost as if they’ve been set up to lose to prove some kind of point. PB fave Philipp Kirkorov has written this big beaty number, but the stage show of a massive dogs breakfast of confusing props and lumpy imagery. Their old colonies should help them through to the final, but anything much higher than a mid table finish is unlikely, surely?

Azerbaijan
A lovely Eastern ballad sung by a stunningly expressive girl, only with someone larking about on a trapeze in the background. So many props this year!

Ukraine
There’s a lot of love for Ukraine in the house, and Mariya’s finally letting her lively personality shine through on stage, despite the silly hamster wheel shenanigans behind her. Might be a bit too Eurovision-by-the-book to win the whole thing, but it should sail through the semi.

Belgium
Axel Hirsoux may look more like a Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist, and his song might be a bit Norman Bates, but it’s Mother’s Day week all around Europe, and the song’s soppy enough to haul in the votes – despite it’s giggle worthiness.

Moldova
Another over fussy performance is possibly the worst frock of the contest. She even managed to rip off half her hair in last night’s dress rehearsal, but none of us have worked out if it was part of the act or not yet. If this gets through there’s something rotten in the state of Denmark.

San Marino
Valentina Monetta’s third consecutive stab at this contest may be her best, and we may be seeing the song’s writer and Eurovision legend Ralf Seigel on stage for the first time in a century, but is it perhaps a little too stagey to make it through? After all, they’ve got no real mates in this semi. may struggle, sadly.

Portugal
While you or I might find this a little bit old fashioned, its sunny Lambada stylings have been getting the audiences on their feet at every turn. Singer Suzy’s got true diva potential too, so this one might confound the bookies and critics and scrape through.

The Netherlands
If you’d only heard this on the radio you’d think it was just a turgid old lump of faux Americana. But they’ve done an amazing job with the presentation, and the close, intimate camera work really gets to the heart of the song. The juries will absolutely lap this up, but will the punters nod off, despite the cool visuals?

Montenegro
Ah yes, this year’s mournful Balkan ballad. Despite a superfluous ice skater, they go through all the standard elements, like building to a massive dramatic peak and all walking to the front of the stage as the song’s about to finish. But with only Albania of their usual mates among the voters in this semi, it may struggle.

Hungary
This good looking lad’s been wowing the crowds with every performance, and must be a decent contender to top this semi. The song may be a bit more up-to-date than your average Eurovisionist, but it’s still pretty accessible – despite its slightly dour theme of domestic violence.

Of that little bundle, we reckon the songs most in danger of getting knocked out are Iceland, Albania, Moldova, San Marino, The Netherlands and Montenegro – although in a year this tight there’s practically no one who’s completely dead in the water (shy of perhaps Georgia in the second semi). So tune in tonight to see who qualifies, and to discover how little we truly know. It’s on BBC3 at 8pm and it’s going to be proper tense come envelope opening time at the end! It’s all getting exciting now!

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Eurovision: Euroclub adventures

One of the fringe benefits of attending this song-based farrago is the Euroclub. Each year the organisers hire out a big club or historic building for a fortnight and ply us with an ever expanding roster of camp delights.

This year we all head out to the cool Westerbro neighbourhood to the sprawling Vega club to listen to a constant parade of PA’s by this year’s artists, Eurovision DJs, and the occasional speciality act to add to the strangeness.

Case in point this year is South African songstress Cole van Dais, who’s been entertaining us with Afrikaans cover versions of popular Eurovision hits of the past and present. Although ‘entertain’ is possibly pushing it a bit. Our hostess for the fortnight is the popular local drag princess DQ, who’s been leading the karaoke and quiz in the upstairs lounge, and last night saw the first appearance of Israeli dance troupe Eurofalsh who mime along to fab faves of the past for hours on end with a seemingly bottomless pot of energy. Makes you feel tired just watching them!

But most of the gems come from the brief gigs the acts from Eurovision proper offer up. Latvian buskers Aarzemnieki delighted us with skiffle versions of this year’s songs the other night, while the Greeks got the whole place bouncing to the point the stage nearly collapsed. But quite the most unlikely thing we’ve seen all week is the Belgian Phil Taylor lookalike Axel Hirsoux pumping out a cover of past winner Euphoria like a true disco diva. We never saw that one coming.

The the Israeli kids came back on and we all danced until daylight – which is about 3.3oam around these parts. It’s filling up incrementally every day now, so the place will be busting at the seams now the second wave of punters are turning up.

The excitement is building, and we’ve STILL no idea who’s going to win the bloody thing. Still, the big six of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and hosts Denmark don’t arrive until tomorrow – then we’ll start to have more of an idea. Possibly.

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Eurovision: Viking day out

So you may have noticed that we’ve been a bit quiet with the old Eurovision news over the last 24 hours. It’s not that we’ve been ignoring you, but they’ve been keeping us busy with out of school activity.

yesterday was a national holiday, so they shut down Eurovision Island and sent us off into the wilds of Copenhagen to fend for ourselves. Many the wide-eyed, pasty faced Eurofan was to be found nervously prowling the streets of down town Copenhagen, their accreditation passes still swinging proudly but pointlessly around their necks, not entirely sure what to do with themselves on an enforced day off.

We however had two priorities. A quick trip to the hippy squat town of Christiana – where the slightly legal cannabis trade ensure that you can also buy the best cake and munchies in the city in the adjoining sheds – before heading off out into the leafy suburbs to a swanky reception to a select few invitees at the Icelandic Ambassador’s residence.

After a brief finger buffet, the first free booze of the week, and an infinite table of cheese, the Ambassador introduced the bouncy and colourful Pollapönk, who did a cracking little acoustic set in the massive glass conservatory around the back of the lovely wooden house. Upon chatting with the band afterwards we discovered that half of them were in an Icelandic cool wave band called Silt, who toured with Blur in the 90s. I wonder if back then in their glory days they ever imagined they’d be singing songs in brightly coloured suits round the back of an Embassy in Denmark?

The blags continued apace this morning when we were bused out to the fine city of Roskilde to learn how to be a viking. After being fed a glorious banquet of viking themed foods, we were plied with mead and led to a genuine viking (style) longboat and expected to sail the thing out into the fjord. After some huffing and puffing on some chunky oars and a bit of rope tugging we actually picked up a head of steam and dashed our way around the harbour for some minutes, before it started to rain and some of the more delicate members of our party started to get a chill. Upon our proud return to shore, we were plied with mead and then shown some old bits of boat while we struggled to stand up.

Forget the songs, THIS is the kind of thing that we come to this funny old event for! And the blags are only going to get better, you wait… More about songs and parties tomorrow. In the meantime, we need a bit of a quiet lie down…

 

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Eurovision: Have we seen a winner yet?

So then, now we’ve seen all the semi-finalists rehearse in some shape or form, are we any nearer knowing who’s going to win this pesky thing? Or even qualify? To be perfectly honest, not really. Some songs we thought would look great have been struggling a bit, while others we had no hope for have offered some pleasant surprises. But who were the winners and losers from the first round of rehearsals?

(CHECK OUT SOME VIDEOS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE POST)

From semi 1, we’re really struggling to see where Armenia are getting their winning votes from. Don’t get us wrong, it’s a great tune, but it’s a bit static, and he’s not whacked the charisma level into top gear yet. This semi is heavily frontloaded with contenders over the first few songs, so there’s an outside chance this could get lost in the pack – which would be a crying shame.

The heavy hitters in the middle of the pack may also cancel each other out. The run of three ex-Soviets with increasingly silly on stage equipment all seem to run into each other like a car boot fair Cirque du Soleil, and the casual punter may have problems distinguishing them from each other – although it would be a weird year when Russia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine don’t make the final.

Of the semi 1 success stories, the Latvian floppy kids are charming everyone in their path, and their sweet singalong is building something of a qualification bandwagon, while the dreary Dutch country song looks amazing on stage, and may well trawl in some unexpected votes from the punters as well as the juries. Big winner on the day though was the Hungarian lad. He did the slow/fast, ballad/two step thing much more sleekly than the Armenians, and is a fine looking boy too. Might be a good shout for winner of this half of the draw.

Semi 2 also had its light and shade. Malta felt like the big winners of the day, and even though their watered down Mumfords stylings may stick in the craw of you or I, I can see it going down a storm with the mums at home. Austria also have played a blinder. By taking a good half minute to slowly pan into Ms Conchita’s face we get to fall for the song before we get to twig it’s a bloke in a frock with a beard. It’s the sure fire watercooler moment at work the next day too. not sure if it’s perhaps too provocative to go the whole way, but it’s one to watch out for.

Surprise stormers were Switzerland. they may proffer a similar raggle taggle schtick to Malta and Latvia, but they follow a run of dreary and hamfisted performances, so explode like a fun time ball of delight. But out faves of the second period were the Greeks. Gloriously dumb Sam & the Womp style holiday pop, they leap around like they’re having the time of their lives – even more so once they wheel the trampoline onto the stage.

Going rapidly in the opposite direction are the Irish. Poor Kasey looked like a fish out of water as she ambled about the stage, missing every camera cue and looking like she was counting her steps. Word has it that she’d taken a nasty fall in her oversized frock on her way to the  stage, so there may still be hope for it yet. But the Irish delegation have been seen in worried huddles in all corners of the building, so we’d hope they’re working on it.

Romania too piled on the hurt. They may have thought that their hologram and circular piano was a good idea in the planning stages, but it elicited the biggest guffaws of the week from the press tent – especially as the keyboard looked like a giant bog seat. They were among the early favourites for the title, but there’s some serious shark jumping going on here, so they may just have talked themselves out of it.

We’ve got a day off today, as it’s the May day holiday, so the party season is about to start in anger. We’ll be off down the Icelandic Embassy in for a swanky reception in a bit, followed by something a little more debauched later. We shall keep you posted on all the hi jinks and bad behaviour, and be back down the front for the next set of rehearsals tomorrow.

AUSTRIA

HUNGARY

GREECE (1st Rehearsal)


ARMENIA

AZERBAIJAN

UKRAINE (1st rehearsal)

 

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Eurovision – day three in Copenhagen

But of course, it’s not all about the partying. Not entirely. There’s a few songs of varying quality to look at now and again too. And yesterday offered up some very strange delights.

Georgia’s curious folk prog fusion brew was made even more confusing by what looked like a drummer on a parachute. It’s got difficult time signatures, weird beat changes and a full thirty seconds of an ugly bloke yodelling at the start. It’s pure glorious cobblers – you’ll love it, but be peering through your fingers throughout.

Then we had Poland, with their shouty, breasty folk hop. Lots of ladies in regional garb stand clapping at the back, while two milk maids do the washing down the front with cleavage to the fore. This performance elicited the first cheer of the weekend from the massed ranks of press and hangers on, and it’s guaranteed to impress your dad.

Meanwhile, there was a raft of ultimately doomed entries jumping the shark with an ever-increasing range of  pointless props and dancers. Following Russia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine’s run of ludicrous gymnastics on Monday, yesterday offered Montenegro’s needless rollerblader (In a ballad? Really?), Portugal’s massive lambada bongos, and San Marino’s giant floppy seashell, making poor Valentina look like a stumpy version of Botticelli’s Venus.

But we also had some true contenders too. Malta’s Mumfords-tinged campfire social adds an unexpectedly welcome change of pace, while Hungary’s pretty boy gives some gravity to his two-step child abuse singalong. If we’re thinking with our betting heads on, expect this pair to finish very highly in their respective semis – and you can still get some pretty decent odds for the both of them to win the whole caboodle.

This morning started well, with Austria’s bearded lady Conchita Wurst wowing the early risers with her monster Bond ballad. Cleverly the camera takes a full half minute to reveal her confrontational face, so you’ll have fallen in love with the song well before your nan gets the shock of her life.

By the end of today we’ll have seen all the semi-final contenders, so we’ll be able to give you more of an idea when your betting pence should point.

Right, heads down, Lithuania are coming on. Oh my life…

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Eurovision: Enter Euroclub

Good morning popfans.

Day two in the big sweaty tent, and there’s a few bleary eyes cowering in the darker corners after last night’s Euroclub opener. It wasn’t the biggest, or most wild night we’ll have this fortnight (well, there was no free booze, for starters), for sure. But it was a sweet little taster for the joys to come.

This year’s venue is the smashing and labyrinthine Vega – a multi-level building with the crisp 50s design of a municipal hall in the Black Country. What it lacked in punter numbers it more than made up for in stars, as a plethora of (mainly East European) contestants cut some rug and sang a few of their songs.

The Russian twins were the unlikely early party beast contenders, storming straight to the dance floor and apparently knowing the words to every Eurovision song from the past ten years – although they did strangely seem to disappear for then minutes just before the Ukrainian lass came on to do a turn.

Actually, Kiev’s big hope Mariya was the surprising on stage star of the night. Her more relaxed version of this year’s Eurovision tune was far better than her cluttery and confused big stage performance, and her word-perfect rendition of the 2009 Moldovan entry gained massive applause after the initial confused looks from the faithful down the front.

Elsewhere, Belarus’s Robin Thicke-alike Teo proved to be far more likable than his video would suggest, Cypriot old boy Alex Panyi made a surprise appearance, and near miss Danish trans star DQ tottered about a lot on high heels like a slightly disinterested hostess.

Cowering in the darker corners where Hungarian (American actually) dreamboat András Kállay-Saunders, who looked petrified by the whole affair, Estonian Tanja looks even more like Lady Gaga in real life than she does on the telly, and the Albanian lass is so tiny she could fit in a bee’s sock.

Meanwhile, Latvia’s cake-baking singer Jöran helped man the disco decks – although it didn’t look like anyone had actually asked him for his input.

It may have been a more dignified affair than we’re used to, but at six-and-a-half quid a pint no one wants to drain their inheritance this early on. Still, early days yet. This place hold some promise, and with more artists (and we use that description very lightly) arriving today, things are only going to get better.

More tips and filth later…