Saturday, 14 May 2011

Eurovision Song Contest 2011

It's a big day - no, not the FA Cup final, sillyhead - it's EUROVISION FINAL DAY!! So if your heart's in Dusseldorf today, and not down Wembley Way, this is the place to be. We'll be helping you to make sense of the madness from the first fanfare to the last hurrah, as well as seeing whether Jedward can return Ireland to winning form, or whether France will prove that the hot favourites can actually go on to take the crown.

Click the iTunes button below to take a look at the track listing on the official soundtrack album, but don't be fooled when it says the UK entry - Blue's 'I Can' - is album-only. It's not, and you can get it here.


The German Double?

Germany's 2010 winner Lena is back for a second bite at the berry in 2011, giving her and her homeland the rare chance at a double Eurovision win. Is this the year a new superpower really takes hold of the competition, as Ireland did not so very long ago? Lena's winning entry from last year, Satellite, is below if you don't remember it - it was the 22nd song performed, so if you were playing a drinking game it's likely to be a little fuzzy.

Battle of the Brit Boys

OK, Ireland isn't really part of Britain, but it's fair to say Blue and Jedward are both representing the home nations in this year's competition. Jedward have taken their fair share of the pre-final headlines, but Blue have the pedigree and it's always a bit of a fairytale when a boy band comes out of retirement all grown up - just look at Take That for proof.

So we have Blue's I Can up against Jedward's Lipstick (two words that make me feel a little uneasy when I put them together...) after the Irish duo stormed through their semi-final. The UK, of course, pumps enough money into hosting Eurovision to get a free pass into the final, although that may explain in part the backlash seen in the voting in recent years.

The Live Final

We'll be live-blogging and tweeting our way through the live final, so come join us as the fanfare sounds - either here or on Twitter (@popsiculture) - and we'll try to fill in the gaps.

OK, the fanfare's trumpeted, the stadium looks fab and the heartbeat theme's been done to death already. Who's your favourite presenter? That one on the right who's dressed like a slice of carrot cake looks pretty good to me. One on the left's doing a better job of Satellite than Lena last year (see the clip above...).

Is the big band performing in a mini-TARDIS? That'll please the Doctor Who fans in the auditorium, and no mistake.

Jedward sixth - that matches the listing on the Eurovision website, so it should be Finland up first.

01. Finland

Paradise Oskar - Da Da Dam

This sounds pretty. Proper old-fashioned Eurovision 'music can save the world' stuff. I remember the days when this would be guaranteed top ten. Let's keep an eye out and see if it can do good things in the 21st century competition.

02. Bosnia & Herzegovina

Dino Merlin - Love In Rewind

I'm liking the slightly odd backing band more than the actual song - Dino looks like Sean Connery at a certain age though. Not sure Love In Rewind will do terribly well, but bloc voting might help it along its way...

03. Denmark

A Friend In London - New Tomorrow

Popsiculture's own Dansquad wants to know if this is Jedward... we've given it careful consideration and decided they've just nicked Jedward's hair. Song's not bad, although I thought 'A Friend In London' was the name of the song until just now - it's not, it's the name of the group. Oops...

04. Lithuania

Evelina Sasenko - C'est Ma Vie

Graham Norton says this was inspired by Jade Ewen's effort, so it should be God-awful. The staging's basically identical, isn't it? Evelina cuts a striking figure though and her frock's pretty. And she's not doing a bad job of the singing, either. I'll go all-in and predict a top-eight finish for this. Watch this space.

05. Hungary

Kati Wolf - What About My Dreams?

This blue dress might be my favourite of the night - love a blonde in metallic blue. Song's fine, but Kati's getting carried away on the chorus. Love the light-up jewellery on the backing singers, keeping the Tron revival going in 2011!

06. Ireland

Jedward - Lipstick

It's car-crash telly but they'll love it in the auditorium. I'm literally touch-typing and not blinking - oddly compelling. High-fives and high-kicks keep the performance uniquely Jedward, and it's way better than anything they ever did on The X Factor. I'm surprised... and worried.

07. Sweden

Eric Saade - Popular

Are they mime artists, or is there real glass there? Always love a dancer performing in an actual box on Eurovision - although silhouettes are better than clear glass. Think Norton might have been right with his pre-song warning - if you don't like flashing lights, this is probably a night to switch on the radio and switch off the telly.

08. Estonia

Getter Jaani - Rockefeller Street

I believe any song with Rockefeller in its title will be good. I truly do. Let's find out...

Well, it was fun and upbeat... I guess it wasn't totally perfect. Liked the lead-in to the last chorus though, think it did good things for the rest of the song.

09. Greece

Loucas Yiorkas feat. Stereo Mike - Watch My Dance

Rap returns to Eurovision - Daz Sampson, your legacy lives on. With a kind of Jonathan Ansell type figure providing the more operatic elements... not a bad combination, weirdly. Don't think it'll do very well in the voting, though.

10. Russia

Alexej Vorobjov - Get You

I'm just disappointed it's not "Oo, get you, your momma too... and your daddy!". Vocals are reminiscent of 2001's brilliant Mumiy Troll, but Get You is a long, long way from being Lady Alpine Blue. And that's a tragic shame.

11. France

Amaury Vassili - Sognu

Well, it was a stop-and-watch performance. Wasn't quite the kind of ballad I like the best, but Amaury did a decent job of it. Can see why it's the favourite... but the voting could come as a surprise on that one.

12. Italy

Raphael Gualazzi - Madness Of Love

Italy round off the first hour of performances with a Michael Buble meets Chicago effort, alternating the languages, jazz sextet on the stage, big finish, what more could you ask for? I reckon that'd get my vote, of the songs so far.

13. Switzerland

Anna Rossinelli - In Love For A While

Loved the introduction... and the ukulele's doing good things despite slightly off-perfect vocals from Anna. To be fair to her, she's not doing too badly with all the na na na nas in the chorus...!

And that must mean it's time for...

14. United Kingdom

Blue - I Can

Come on, boys...

Graham Norton's jizzing all over Blue - not literally, thankfully - but Lee Ryan murdered the high notes and actually looked unconvinced after the first 20 seconds. Norton says "they'll have really enjoyed that", so that's lovely, at least Blue had a good night out.

15. Moldova

Zdob si Zdub - So Lucky

First of the night that I expect to see people searching for in the next few days - the Moldovans have a unicyclist on the stage and massive cones on their heads. Jedward may have been outdone on the lunacy factor, yet the song's kinda catchy. Given recent years, I reckon this is set for a top-four finish.

16. Germany

Lena - Taken By A Stranger

Lena's looking pretty... well, just pretty, really. But can she successfully defend her Eurovision crown?

<Objective mode off...> Lena's looking FOXY and giving a full-on sultry performance, holding together an understated song that might otherwise be in danger of becoming boring. Would have been better with the lingering last note, rather than the pyrotechnic ending, but I'm actually liking the minimalist style of Taken By A Stranger. <Objective mode on... kinda>

17. Romania

Hotel FM - Change

Pianist looks like a young Conway Twitty with curtains, while the singer - a Brit - has combined a tartan waistcoat with stripy trousers and a John Barrowman performance. That last part is probably the most positive thing to say about this one, although it's far from being the worst song so far.

18. Austria

Nadine Beiler - The Secret Is Love

A slow builder; Nadine looks the part and hits the big notes well. Looks a bit like Melissa Porter, which is definitely a good thing. She looks like she really believes in her song, so that's lovely. I predict... top six, for that one.

19. Azerbaijan

Ell & Nikki - Running Scared

High hopes for this one - the preview pic from the rehearsals alone is enough for me. So we've got a bit of electronic synth, some good-looking singers and... wait, some fairly decent harmony for the first time tonight? Azerbaijan, it could be the singing, it could be the schnapps, but I'm predicting you at least a seventh-place finish with this. Maybe pushing through to the top five.

20. Slovenia

Maja Keuc - No One

This is undoubtedly the best frock of the night. Harks back to Cheryl Tweedy's X Factor dustbin lids dress. OK, Cheryl Cole, if you insist. Song's not so bad - got some Bond brass in there, which is pretty sweet. Gets a bit samey though, so I'll predict 11th-12th for this one.

21. Iceland

Sjonni's Friends - Coming Home

Quite a moving back-story, this, as Sjonni's honest-to-God friends perform the song he wrote before dying suddenly in January. Please be good... wait, it IS quite good. Is that a trombone? And is that Ricky Gervais??

Seriously... not a bad song, and performed well. Love the too-loo-rah-ey slow-then-fast Come On Eileen style bit towards the end. In fact, I think I like that one full stop.

22. Spain

Lucia Perez - Que Me Quiten Lo Bailao - They Can't Take The Fun Away From Me

Do not adjust your set - there's nothing wrong with your contrast. Her dress, and her face, really are both that pink. Massive change of pace from the last song, but there's a lot of oh-ho-ho and not so much proper lyrical content.

Incidentally, lots of Twitter peeps are watching the tennis?? What the hell are you all thinking?? They must have two tellies...

23. Ukraine

Mika Newton - Angel

Mika's a bit of a cross between Taylor Swift and Lauren Laverne, isn't she? The dress is the second-best of the night and the sand art makes the third stop-and-watch moment of tonight, so all the elements are in place. The song's not the best, but it's not entirely God-awful either.

24. Serbia

Nina - Caroban

Back to the 60s with this one... if you're watching with the subtitles or singalong lyrics on, you'll spot that it doesn't make much sense though. Apart from that it's not so bad... been some good backing music tonight, bet the recorded versions of some of these songs sound far better than the nervy on-the-night performances.

25. Georgia

Eldrine - One More Day

It's the last of the night, so will it round things off in style? Let's find out...

Something a little bit Stacey Solomon about the singer, and a bit chocolate-limes in the outfits. It's a powerhouse performance, although hard to tell that she was singing in English... I guess that's the price you pay for a 'rock' song, though.

And relax... it's over. Well, the songs are. It's time for the half-time show, and we're gonna take a break here too. For schnapps. Back to guide you through any shocks and major changes during the results... could be a Jedward-led affair, based on the exit polls!

The Results

Will Jedward take an early lead? Will Moldova get the renegade vote? Will Blue score ANYTHING? Let's find out, together...

Azerbaijan into an early lead after the Russian vote... will they slip back to seventh as I predicted??

WOW - 12 points from Bulgaria?? WTF?? Come on, United Kingdom?!?

Seven countries in, and Azerbaijan back on top... it's still close up there though, no runaway winners as yet. How long till the favourites start to pull away from the pack?

After ten countries:
Ukraine - 49
Sweden - 48
Greece - 48

...and four points from Slovakia for Switzerland means no countries will be scoring nil points this year. Well done all round.

And it's a huge surge for Jedward with 12 points from the UK and then 12 more driving them well up the table!

More shake-ups as ten points from Austria to Germany sends defending champ Lena shooting up the table.

Ireland further up the table as Sweden give 12 points to Jedward. Could they? Could they possibly...?

After 20 countries' votes:
Sweden - 87
Azerbaijan - 85
Ireland - 79

OK, 24 countries in and the UK's early scoring has tailed off significantly. Looks like Ireland and Jedward are the only hope now for the UK and its nearest neighbour. But even they're over 30 points off the lead...

UK still scoring but somehow slipping further down the table... gonna be in the second column before long. Sigh.

After 30 countries' votes:
Azerbaijan - 143
Ukraine - 130
Sweden - 124

Azerbaijan a full 12 points and then some into the lead... just 13 countries still to vote, but it could all still change.

Late surge from Italy as Malta's 10 points takes them to 118, but a full 45 points behind Azerbaijan after 32 countries' votes.

And six points from Bosnia - 36th to vote - take Italy to 148 points and SECOND place! How did that happen?? (After their poor start, I mean - I actually loved the song).

Spain 38th to vote and it's looking like a win for Azerbaijan, although it still hangs in the balance technically... they've had a lead of 30-40 points for a few rounds of voting now. Italy somehow clinging to second for a while.

After 40 countries' votes:
Azerbaijan - 206
Sweden - 178
Italy - 171

It's all a formality now - Azerbaijan score low in the last two rounds, but finish on a mighty 221 and an unassailable lead from 41 countries in. Ireland 8th with 119 and UK 11th on a round 100.

Amazingly, 12 points from Latvia get Italy into second place at the last moment! Nice to think my vote wasn't totally wasted... and a lovely fanfare to herald the winners on to the stage.

Nikki's the girl, then. I actually wasn't sure. Ell's the guy, and their song is Running Scared - number 19 in the line-up, so perhaps the alcohol kicked in but the fatigue hadn't taken hold yet? Time for another performance of it, I expect...

Glitter and ticker tape - what else would you expect? There's rarely a celebration as heartfelt as the Eurovision final performance, and this one puts the half-time show to shame. Ell and Nikki give an emotional performance and are well deserving of their win - looking forward to seeing them in 2012.

And that's all from us... check out the iTunes album link to preview the recorded versions of the songs, and we'll update with YouTube clips once the official videos are available... thank you for the support, it's been a pleasure as always.


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