October 2009 Archives
That looks suspiciously like the rocket from Tintin's Destination Moon...
The home of the European Parliament finally became the home of the Eurovision Song Contest, the event had enjoyed 31 previous editions before it reached Belgium and the organisers were keen to show the millions of viewers what they'd been missing out on all this time. One thing they'd clearly been missing out on a woman called Viktor Lazlo (also the name of a character in Casablanca, curiously) with huge ear-rings hosting the show, so they hired her for the night.
It was arguably the most impressive and contemporary-looking production yet with some very late '80s dayglo pink contrasted with the pale grey used in both the stage and the suits of the orchestra members. There was also some flashy lasers zinging out from behind a big sphere at the whim of the director and the whole Contest did look as if it was finally being dragged towards a style that would sit more comfortably with the MTV generation. It has to be said, though, that the atmosphere and acoustics in Brussels' Palais du Centenaire (built for the 1935 Expo and in the shadow of the Atomium) was as flat as a crepe. At times, the performers sound as though they're belting a song out in a deserted out-of-town cash-and-carry in the hope that a passing sympathetic motorist will nip in and offer a round of applause.
Still, Eurovision wasn't remade in a day and the massive effort put in by Belgian telly to liven proceedings up would be built on over the coming years.
But sets don't sing and juries don't vote on the colour of the woodwind section's lapels - shall we have a shufty at the songs?
Many thanks to our business reporter and fellow blogger Alistair Houghton for passing this little gem on to Boom Bang a Blog - there's another European Song Contest taking place this weekend, celebrating the mother tongues you don't hear very much about in the mass media.
Leeuwarden in the Netherlands hosts the sixth (No, I'd never heard of the previous five, either) European Minority Song Contest Liet International on Hallowe'en night.
Sounds a lot more fun than Brucie's laboured jokes on Strictly...
It was confirmed today that, despite its monetary problems, Ireland will definitely be entering Eurovision 2010 in Oslo, although no news yet on how they'll be choosing a song.
The bookies are already having a go at predicting who will jet off to Norway for Eire, and the surprise second favourite at the moment is the talent-free zone of X-Factor siblings John and Edward. Fast becoming known as Jedward, if this pair do go on to sing for Ireland, at least Dustin the Turkey can forsake his crown of being the most unsuitable act to ever represent the Emerald Isle on the Eurovision stage.
Or am I just being mean?
Boom Bang a Bloggers, I bring exciting - and perhaps controversial - news.
It has been decided that, for next year's Eurovision in Oslo, a new way of casting viewers' votes will be introduced.
Basically, instead of waiting until the 10-minute window at the end of the songs to dial the number of your preferred tune, you'll be able to do it from the moment an act starts singing.
But is this a fair way to vote? Let's consider it whilst stroking our chins and nodding sagely.
Although Norway's victory in 1985 caused ripples of excitement over the spiritual home of no-points and the hosting of the 1986 Contest was a source of huge national pride, broadcaster NRK made the unusual move of not staging the event in one of the larger arenas available in the capital Oslo, but the tiny 1,500-seater Grieg Hall in the northerly second city of Bergen, birthplace of composer Edvard Grieg, whom the venue was named after. This did mean that the audience was even smaller than that in attendance in Harrogate four years earlier but, despite that difference, there was still a sense of scale and atmosphere to the event which put the BBC's shoddy 1982 production to shame.
Long-term fans of the Contest tend not to be enamoured with Eurovision '86, with its ice palace-style staging (reflecting the fact it was the most northerly Eurovision there's ever been) leading to comparisons with a panto. A very glitzy, hi-tech panto, but a panto nevertheless. Opinion-wise, that's all well and good, but if Norway really were going for that sort of thigh-slapping show, they'd have invited someone a bit more fun and frothy to present the thing...
Sad news to bring you this drizzly October afternoon, but the Hungarians will not be present in Oslo in 2010. And, quelle surprise, it's all about the money.
According to reports, MTV (that's Magyar Television, not the music one), has had its budget slashed by 50 per cent as the not-particularly-melodic economic situation tightens its grip.
Sadly, it's seen employees made redundant as well as programming creativity and spending take a tumble, so it would be difficult to justify an expensive jaunt to Norway when safe passage from the semi-final is no guarantee.
It's a real shame as the past three Hungarian entrants have all been enjoyable, but poles apart from each other in terms of style and presentation, be it a jazz-tinged ballad (which did very well in the later-released juries only vote), a real diva moment (actually, we really didn't like this at all but didn't want to ruin the sentiment of this post) and the skintight green denim daftness of Zoli in Moscow this year, who, as far as singing goes, has an excellent future in choreography.
Hungary, Boom Bang a Blog will miss you. In fact, we'll be Budapestering you to return in '11.
It's now been five months since my Eurovision adventure to Moscow and the insane chaos of wall to wall coverage that I threw out, not least the near constant Twitter stream from backstage and during the live shows. Just like a football fan, attending the concert is our Cup Final, so it's to be expected that we'll be very vocal as we walk to our Hampden [or Wembley!ÃÂ - Jamie].
Eurovision fans are now in the lull before the National Finals start up to choose the songs for Norway 2010 in May next year, but that gives many, including myself, a chance to look back on the performers from this and previous years. The majority of entrants have a career both before and after the Song Contest.
So when Jamie asked me if I'd like to do some posts on Boom-Bang-a-Blog my first thought was let's look at the songs and albums from popular Eurovision singers in recent history (actually my first thought was it's the Edinburgh Fringe, leave me alone!)
Given the platform that the Song Contest provides, it always surprises me that the artists don't make better use of the international opportunity they are being given (trivia watch... more people watch Eurovision than watch the American Superbowl). Having their website set up as bilingual at the very least, and ensuring albums are available digitally for everyone in Europe should surely be the first step to maximising your three minutes?
Before that hits the interweb, you may be interested in Ewan's reports from the World Blog Expo, held in Las Vegas, USA, last week where Mr Spence made his own presentation.
It's an interesting read - and there's even some stuff about Eurovision in there as well.
You can find out all about it right here.
According to this report, a major celebration of everyone's favourite European composition competition is taking place in Washington DC on Saturday night. See! We told you everyone in America can't get enough of the Contest.
Organised by the Swedish Embassy, it will feature a performance by Swedish vocalist (and former Estonian representative) Anna Sahlene and a meeting with Melodifestivalen organiser (and former Swedish representative) Christer Bjorkman and Billboard magazine journo - and unabashed Eurovision fan - Fred Bronson. Boom Bang a Blog is appealing to any of the organisers behind the event to realise that the presence of a British blogger at this event would enhance the occasion no end, and pop us a quick invite in the post. If the organisers don't do this, I have it on good authority that both the Queen and David Beckham will be very annoyed with them.
Anyway, on Friday, Christer and Fred are joining forces once more to lead a panel on both Eurovision and Melodifestivalen at a pop music seminar sponsored by the Consulate General of Sweden in New York.
Hmm. That doesn't exactly sound like hard work, does it?
The Bulgarian vocalist will represent his homeland at either the first or second semifinal in the Norwegian capital and after that, it's all down to the televoters (and juries, who will also get a say in who progresses from the qualifying stages for next year at least).
It is understood that Miro will perform five songs, each representing different genres, at the national final at some point in the new year. It has yet to be decided if the public, a panel, or a mixture of both, will decide on the song that goes to Norway.
And jut to get you in the mood, here's an example of Miro in action.
And now we must ask ourselves, is looking like a mixture of Daniel Bedingfield and Darius enough to take the trophy?