Molly Smitten-Downes with Children of the Universe, the UK entry to Eurovision 2014
This is the thing when you're a Eurovision fan. First listen of your country's entry and you start listening for what's wrong with it rather than look for the positives.
Unveiled this evening on the BBC Red Button service, Molly (will she just be 'Molly' in Copenhagen or is the 'Smitten-Downes' being packed with her socks and flannel as well?) is getting an overall positive response on social media. I really like it. After last year's anonymous sleepwalk through three minutes with Bonnie, this is the Contest in another gear altogether.
It's like Scooch never happened (thank God) and while a win may be just beyond its grasp, imagine Children of the Universe being performed in an arena (which it was made for) where the whole song dips and bobs through its various anthemic breaks and chanty 'Power to the People' parts. I can see it lifting the roof off on May 10 (please, please, please... let us have a draw in the final five slots).
All the UK has to worry about now is getting the staging right. A simple 'Molly and her band' may not be what is required here and a bit of pyro and clever lighting may just give this the edge it needs to go from Top 10 to Top 5.
For now, I just want to enjoy the best UK entry since possibly Lonely Symphony (a song with which it shares parallels). I was looking for the negatives at 7.30ish this evening but as I have typed this with the song running through my brain I realise that the positives far outweigh them.
You go, Molly. When do we get the studio version?
Tonight in a London venue, a live performance is being recorded which will be unveiled to the public on the BBC's Red Button service as the UK entry for the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest. All fingers are pointing towards this 25-year-old Leicestershire singer as the act in question.
And why is Molly Smitten-Downes suddenly looking like the one? I bring you the following tweets as evidence (@mollysd is Molly's Twitter handle). However, all those who attended the recording had their phones taken away at the door and have been sworn to secrecy in a Danny Boyle-Opening Ceremony kind of way. That hasn't prevented the odd seepage,
And this twitter user's tweets have *suddenly* become protected but had this to say earlier, after also claiming that Molly is our girl and that the song is called I Will Be Strong.
@AlissaMed Our Eurovision entry is actually fantastic! if we don't do well with this girl then we should definitely consider pulling out
Is it all a cunning scam or is this who we're looking at for Denmark? There's only one way to find out. All will be revealed on the BBC Red Button tomorrow night at 7.25pm.
Aiden Grimshaw, the former X Factor contestant who probably *isn't* representing the UK in Copenhagen (but you never know...)
It's been a busy old night if you're keen to know the UK/BBC's plans for Eurovision 2014. As another day of rumours and no-news seemed to be dwindling away, a spot of cunning detective work by Twitter user Callum Rowe (@CallumRowe_) found this listed on the BBC's Red Button schedule for Monday evening (March 3). It's basically a show where Scott Mills from Radio 1 interviews this year's UK entrant and we get the first performance of the song.
Are we meant to be able to see this? If yes or if no, a UK Eurovision announcement next week is brilliant pic.twitter.com/rPT4ptZAXw— Callum Rowe (@CallumRowe_) February 27, 2014
Since the Eurovisionally inclined curve of the Twittersphere went apoplectic over the discovery at about 5pm GMT, the programme - scheduled to run in a loop from 7.25pm to 9pm - has now been taken off the Red Button listing, appearing instead from 7am on Tuesday. Still no word of confirmation from Scott Mills or the BBC - but the listing being deleted is a sign that somebody somewhere in Broadcasting House is aware of the Twittercoughs (it's hardly a storm) this has created?
That was at 5pm. At about 9pm, things got even more interesting.
Ruth Lorenzo with Dancing in the Rain, Spain's entry for Copenhagen
At time of typing, we have a veritable douze of songs selected for this year's antics in Denmark, with three chosen through national finals this Saturday and a fourth given its official presentation on the telly.
As this is a British-based blog, I'd best start with the one which will resonate most with UK readers, that being the decision last night by Spanish TV viewers (but not the professional jury) to send former X Factor entrant Ruth Lorenzo to Denmark in May with her self-penned ballad Dancing in the Rain. Performed partly in Spanish with a chorus in English this is the emotive sort of balladry you'd expect of someone with more Latino spirit than a Magaluf beach bar.
The audience in the studio was clearly pro-Ruth (at one point the presenter did suggest they were being a teensy bit unfair on the other four entrants) which may have swayed the televoting public away from second placed Brequette who swept the judges' board with this which sounds like the sort of thing Azerbaijan orders from Sweden each year to take the silver medal on the Saturday night.
It's a tough call at this stage to say Spain has left a potential winner whithering on the vine but there's still enough in Ruth's tank to give her homeland a better finish than they managed in Malmo. Ms Lorenzo could still tickle the top 10.
An interesting tweet this afternoon from a certain BBC employee had the British contingent of the online Eurovision rather excited. Not bad for just four words.
First #Eurovision meeting, done.— Ed Brody (@chiefbrody1984) February 12, 2014
From what BBaB can gather, this wasn't a meeting where the BBC Eurovision crew sat down and said: "There's this Contest happening in May, what should we do to find a singer and a song?", it's more to do with how an ever more curious fandom (and to a lesser extent, the public) gets to know the name of the act flying the flag for Royaume Uni in Copenhagen.
Apparently, we'll find out more "soon". How soon is a piece of string? All this speculation has been good fun though.
Coming Home by Firelight, the Maltese entry for Eurovision 2014
Much as I love the Contest, I'm wary of letting national final season take over from some of life's more important aspects (such as socialising with people who don't necessarily love Eurovision as much as I do). Therefore, I spent part of this afternoon catching up with some of last night's musical based action (I know how to roll). And I'm pleased to report that (in BBaB's opinion) we have our first genuine trophy contender in the shape of the Maltese entry. It's unusual that Malta, whose Eurovision back catalogue is so soaked in sugar it could provide Europe's dentists with an enviable pension plan, could come up with something which sounds not unlike a song that could make the Top 40. However, in the shape of Firelight's Coming Home, we have a folksy/popsy number which - while it may not be rocking the zeitgeist - is at least on first name terms with it and has a chance of being asked to the evening do when it gets hitched.
It's unusual for Malta to send a band to Eurovision (1999 was the last time it happened and I doubt Times Three first met when shopping for plectrums in Valletta's premier guitar store) and it may - just may - be the shift in direction this island of song need to make its first determined stab at the title for more years than they care to remember.
Coming Home has everything it needs to draw in both the live crowd in Copenhagen and those who will be picking up the phone to vote. It's got oomph a plenty and the line-up of Firelight is so refreshingly different, in a Mommas and the Poppas kind of way that it could stand out in a very, very good way for Malta in May.
But the woman on the keyboard really has to stop pronouncing 'eyes' like 'arse'.
Hunter of Stars by Sebalter, the Swiss entry for Eurovision 2014
We'll get to Melodifestivalen in a bit but it's worth pointing out that two more songs for Copenhagen were selected last night. The Swiss preliminary has been very much under the radar as the songs in contention haven't exactly set the internet on fire. However, the ultimate choice for Denmark, Hunter of Stars by the group Sebalter, has a whistley folksy feel that summons memories of Pepe Leinhard and his Swiss Lady from 1977. Today is, if I'm honest, the first time that I've heard it and wasn't expecting much but I'm pleasantly surprised. There are moments in here where, if pitched properly at an arena crowd, could have them perking up sufficiently to generate enough applause to see it sneak through to Saturday. Let's be honest, with just 32 songs going for the 20 spots in this year's final, you would have to come up with something spectacularly wonky ditty-wise to not qualify for Saturday night come May.
Something Better by Softengine, the Finnish entry for Eurovision 2014
Perhaps my ears are being cheeky but I can also hear elements of Swiss Lady in the verse of the other song given the nod by national voters last night. That will not be an issue come the semi-finals. Something Better is another of those 21st Century Eurovision songs which fans whose devotion can be traced back to the 20th must pinch themselves are now submitted for the competition. It's commercial but it's still catchy, really rather credible and has the potential to give other countries a spot of bother in a former shipyard. I'm never the best at picking national final winners so I'm rather chuffed I got this one right. I fear I may have peaked too soon but unless some absolute barnstormers are on the way I can't Softengine reversing (oh hardy-ha-ha, I made a joke about a *car*) out of my Top 10 at the moment.
Right, you want to hear about Melodifestivalen really, don't you? OK, follow me...
Eurovision 2005 champ Helena Paparizou in rehearsal for tonight's first Melodifestivalen heat with the song Survivor
Melodifestivalen 2013 runner-up YOHIO with To the End, the song which will get this year's search for a Swedish entry underway
It's been a fairly eventful national finals season so far. Things got underway before 2014 had even arrived with selections made in Ukraine and Albania. Belarus also joined the party early while Italy has now revealed its song for Denmark. Tonight, those four become six as Finland and Switzerland host their national finals. That's two more boxes to tick in the Find 37 book for Eurovision 2014 but - perhaps more excitingly - over in Malmo, in the very arena where Emelie De Forrest claimed the trophy, Melodifestivalen begins its six-stage journey which will culminate in one of 32 songs going forward to represent Sweden just a hop and a skip across the Oresund bridge in May.
Eight songs are competing tonight, with the first and last in the line-up getting the most headlines. Opening the show is YOHIO, the lad who was expected to be Sweden's home entry last year with Heartbreak Hotel. In the end he was - perhaps unfairly - beaten into silver spot by Robin Stjernberg and had to settle for announcing the results of the Swedish vote at the final in Malmo. This year's offering, To the End, is nowhere near as strong as his last one and it looks like he may have come back too soon.
At the other end of the show we find Helena Paparizou, who brought Greece its maiden win nine years ago with My Number One. Her song, Survivor, brings to mind the occasion when another former winner, Charlotte Perelli, turned up at Melodifestivalen with something called Hero. Survivor, judging by the one minute clip above these words, is more than a bit generic but any song with the benefit of having Ms Paparizou's substantial lung power behind it is hardly at a disadvantage. Even if you can't speak Swedish, Melodifestivalen is always a joy to watch as it celebrates the joy of well-crafted pop without ever taking itself seriously. If, like me, you want to follow the first heat online - click here at 7pm UK time (8pm CET).
But what's happening elsewhere on the continent this evening? Shall we find out? Oh, go on, let's.
Will you be tuning in? Saturday night (February 1) sees the start of Melodifestivalen 2014, Sweden's thoroughly entertaining search for the song which will represent them in Copenhagen in May. The line-up is always known months in advance (even if the songs aren't). The Swedish tabloids would have you believe that Sanna Neilsen, the person who brought us the memorable Empty Room and I'm in Love MF finalists in recent years is the hot favourite with the ballad Undo - but favourites can come Unstuck in this, the biggest national final of them all.
Also part of the 32-strong line-up is Greece's 2005 ESC champ Helena Paparizou, '90s chart hero Dr Alban. MF regulars Alcazar and schlager favourites Linda Bentzing and Shirley Clamp. You can follow all the fun at SVT1's live webstream. I will be - while inwardly weeping that the UK will never, ever have such a selection process to speak of.
If you're a Eurovision fan in the UK, then you'll no doubt be aware of the rumours that just won't go away over Geri Halliwell (who may or may not be a former Spice Girl such is the state of flux the '90s pop behemoth occupies) signing the BBC's dotted line for full-on Contest duty. It was one of a few rumours floating about but then this Tweet appeared last night which appears to put a bit more union jack-striped flesh on the bone.
Rumours like this are, of course, ten-a-penny at this time of year but the thing which caught my eye was the mention of the Brighton-based Freemasons production team which is the first time they've entered the fray. The name shouldn't be too unfamiliar to 21st Century pop-pickers as they were responsible for this wee number with Sophie Ellis Bextor a while back.
Imagine it's true for a moment. Could a combination of that team and Geri Halliwell's voice do any scoreboard business for us in Copenhagen come May?