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The Best Night Ever: Meeting the world’s biggest boy band (and telepathically attempting to get them to Eurovision)

(This post was supposed to go out a fortnight ago, so please keep that in mind if/when you are reading it. It was totally hot off the press at that time…)

A few weeks back I mentioned that something kind of amazing was about to happen to me, and that I’d show and tell once it had. Well, last Saturday was the day. If the mere mention of the words ‘boy band’ make you physically ill, and you’re not in the mood for trashing my taste in music, you won’t like this next sentence: last Saturday was the day I got to meet a group of guys who look a little bit like this:

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By ‘a little bit’, I mean ‘totally’. Yes, that’s right…I got to meet ONE DIRECTION!!!

Ahem.

In case that outburst didn’t give it away, I should tell you that I am a major boy band freak. Said freakiness goes way back – I grew up in the 90s listening exclusively to the Spice Girls, and every single boy band in existence (the Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, *NSYNC, Westlife, Boyzone, NKOTB, Boyz II Men, Five, Human Nature…you get the idea). Sadly, I have the same taste in music today, with the addition of mass Eurovision/national final/Asian pop. So a few months ago, when I found out I’d won tickets to go and see THE boy band of the moment (which I never could have bought myself because you practically have to sell a kidney on the black market to afford one) I was just a teensy bit happy about it.

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Krista knows what I’m talking about.

Once I’d finished being a teensy bit happy, disbelief set in, because I never win anything that depends on a random draw. But that quickly gave way to “Screw that. Hashtag winning!”. I then broke the news to my mother, who said she’d be my plus one if none of my friends were interested. It turns out they weren’t, but only because none of them would admit to wanting to go. They are sorry now, believe me.

And so it was that a 22-year-old with a bachelor degree under her belt prepared to attend a concert geared towards teenagers with her mother (talk about YOLO). But wait – there’s more! A week or so before the show, I woke up to a phone call from the competition peeps casually letting me know that, not only would my mother and I be dancing all night to the best song ever, but we would also get to meet and greet the band before they took to the stage.

Umm, WHAT?!?

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You will may laugh, but I don’t think I’d ever screamed out loud in my life before that happened. More with shock than anything else, since stuff like this does NOT happen to me. I’d never encountered anyone even remotely famous, besides that time I saw a local newsreader in the supermarket and stalked him through the freezer section for half an hour. I’d seen famous people from a distance, but I’d never actually gotten to “accidentally” brush up against one. So the prospect of doing that to not one, but five of the most famous man-children on the planet was thrilling…and terrifying. But was I going to chicken out, or give the opportunity to one of those tween girls who owns all the 1D albums and merchandise and bursts into hysterical tears whenever the names Harry, Louis, Liam, Niall or Zayn are mentioned? No. No I was not.  

So a week later, I was having a panic attack as le mother and I headed down to the shiny new Perth Arena (which would make an excellent Eurovision venue should the EBU ever decide that Australia deserves a shot at hosting). All we knew was that we were meeting someone outside the box office who would march us and a small group of others into the depths of backstage to briefly fraternize with the guys before the concert started. When we arrived to do just that, we found approximately 10 million girls lined up outside.

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The reality was a LOT scarier.

I figured they were that breed of super-fan that does the hysterical crying, since this was 4.30pm and the concert didn’t start until after 7. It turned out they were lining up to attend the pre-show sound check, and after a while, we got the nod and the lanyards to join the same queue.

What felt like a year later, after a bag search and water bottle confiscation, we ended up in the arena foyer with the masses. They were filing into the arena itself, but our little group (consisting purely of hyperventilating, sweating people of various ages) was whisked away through a lot of swingy doors and into a massive room with a bar and very spongy carpet. There, we waited for what felt like another full year, having mini heart attacks whenever someone walked past the open door. I internally debated whether or not to grab a breath mint from my handbag (who knew how close we’d be getting?) and just as I did, through the door walked the actual, living, breathing One Direction. Naturally, I nearly choked on the mint.  

I don’t know if this has happened to you if you’ve met someone famous, but as soon as they came in I went into this weird dreamland where nothing felt real. In a way, I think that saved me from having a breakdown in the presence of the band (on the outside, anyway). The meet-and-greet began, and it turned out to be more of a ‘Hello!’, photo, photo, photo, ‘Thanks, bye!’ situation. These boys are busy. My mother and I stepped up, said a star-struck bonjour and had a few photos taken – me on the end and her for some reason in prime position in the middle (it’s a sad situation when your parents get more action than you do) and with that, it was time to make room for the next in line. It was all over super quick, but we did get to exchange a few words with and manhandle some serious celebrities, which was epic enough to be THE most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me.

Yes...this happened.

Yes…this happened.

For the record:

– They smelled really good (a creepy but true observation).

– They were taller than we’d imagined. You always hear people saying how “small” famous people are in reality, so this was a surprise.

– As you can see, they are super tan, and my mother and I are just kind of…red. News flash: Australia is not full of bronzed beach gods and goddesses who walk around in bathers to show off their bronzeness. And it really shows when we stand next to people from anywhere else.

– They were genuinely friendly and played up for the cameras, despite the fact that there is rarely a time when they aren’t being photographed. Nobody would be able to help falling a little bit in love.

Alas, we and all of our newfound love had to leave the squishy-carpet room and head off to the sound check ourselves. We joined the millions of girls at the front of the stage (who seemed to pick up the scent of 1D on us and started giving us death stares) and soon the guys emerged from the squishy room to deafen us all with a few quick song run-throughs and answer some audience questions that involved the word ‘twerk’. The world we live in. In contrast to most of what had happened so far, the sound check was over in minutes, and we were all shepherded upstairs where there were canapés, non-alcoholic beverages, and shockingly, in a time when nothing comes without a price, free programmes. It all felt very classy, if you ignored all of the hotpants-clad teenagers sprawled all over the floor fighting with each other about which band member was their “husband”.

That was pretty much where the class/special treatment ended, but it was amazing while it lasted. I just wish I’d stuffed some tiny sandwiches into my handbag as a souvenir. But sandwich-less, I followed the masses into the arena again, and we found our seats, which thankfully weren’t right down on the floor but off to the side in a tiered section (I figured that meant that at my ripe old age, I wouldn’t be forced to stand up the entire night, but I was wrong). My sexy earplugs went in, because the screaming was getting louder as the stadium filled up – the show was sold out and the capacity of the place is 13 000, which equals an unsafe scream level – and then, the lights went out, and came up to reveal…the support act. Those guys were called Five Seconds of Summer, and are an Australian punk-rock band that I had heard of, but wasn’t really interested in hearing for 45 minutes when I could be being told what makes me beautiful. Having said that, they were pretty good, if you like that sort of thing.

ANYWAY, the time did arrive when 1D made their appearance, and I immediately thanked the god of earplugs that I had mine inserted (I could hear the music perfectly, but the screaming was down to a 9/10). Because this post has already gone on for way, way too long and even those of you who were interested at the start are dozing off, I won’t go through the entire set list (also because I don’t remember it). What I will say is that the whole thing was really, really good. They sang everything the Directioners could have asked for, and they sounded great – definitely more Klapa s Mora than Jemini. There were gigantic, Moscow 2009-esque (almost) video screens, lights, streamers and balloons in action, and at one point, the boys were transported across the arena via a floating platform and deposited on a mini-stage directly opposite where we were sitting, where they spent a while doing what they do best, answering more questions, and of course, accusing each other of farting.

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Of course, that wasn’t the closest I had been to them that night (wink wink, etc) but it was still an awesome feature of the show, especially for someone whose previous concert experiences have seen the artist/s stick to the main stage. I have to admit, it made me feel like I was at Eurovision Training 101, with the vast amounts of people going crazy in a massive venue, lights and cameras, costume changes, and satellite stage. I now feel prepared to make the pilgrimage to *insert European city here* 2015, should my back account allow, so thank you, One Direction. Thank you very much.

Speaking of, they saved the best for their encore. Best Song Ever and What Makes You Beautiful were the last two songs performed, and I didn’t mind at all standing up for those (standing up for the rest and complaining about a sore back had me feeling like an old woman, but if you sat down you couldn’t see a thing). There was a euphoric (as Loreen would say) moment during these songs when I got all high on the excitement and decided that I needed to buy all existing 1D albums ASAP, and that it was shameful that I didn’t already have at least one in my collection. I will let you know at the end whether I did such a fangirlish thing or not.

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After basking in the noise, the boys disappeared backstage, never to return (until the next night, that is) and with aching joints, a bit of a headache and a jacket that I may never wash again, mamma and I disappeared off home. And that, believe it or not, was that. It honestly was one of the best nights of my life – totally worth all the money I would have payed for it if I hadn’t gotten lucky. You may laugh at that comment, but it isn’t every concert you go to that you get to meet a.k.a. touch and pose with the artists, attend their sound check AND get free sandwiches (the sandwiches clearly being the highlight); nor is it every concert you go to that ends up being so entertaining and lacking in bum notes. As much as it prepared me for the ESC more than any other I’d been to before, it also set a high standard for my beloved contest to meet. Don’t send me death threats, because I still love Eurovision more than any boy band, and I fully expect it to be amazing when I do get there. It’s just that, after last weekend, I can’t help being a little bit of a Directioner myself. Albeit a geriatric one.

One final word to make the title of this post make sense: there are a lot of artists (and not those brought back from the dead) who would do a great job at the ESC for the UK, and after seeing them live, I think 1D would be one of them. I did spend the evening imagining what it would be like if they did it, and then used all of my brainpower to put the idea into their heads, so we may get the announcement any day now.

Ha ha. I know it would never happen! Well, maybe in 15 years when their hairlines are starting to recede and they’ve broken up and reunited three times and they try to use it as an avenue for a comeback. Until then, this girl will have to dream.

But the guys should keep this in mind: boy bands have been pretty successful at Eurovision in recent history. Here’s proof.

Eden – 5th in 1999 for Israel

One – 6th in 2002 for Cyprus

Prime Minister – 10th in 2002 for Russia

No Name – 6th in 2005 for Serbia and Montenegro

Blue – 11th in 2011 for the UK

Yes, there have been exceptions, but more often than not the outcome of sending a European version of *NSYNC has been positive. So maybe the BBC should source a hypnotist who can convince One Direction to step up in Copenhagen. Either that, or they can wait a decade or so and let the band come knocking. It’ll happen, you’ll see. We’ll all be dancing to the second-best song ever.

So that is the end of this particular ramble. I apologise for the length and any brain cells you may have lost trying to get through it. Rest assured that normal transmission will resume in a few days. I have some (hopefully) exciting stuff planned for the rest of the year, including a countdown of my top 50 Junior Eurovision entries of all time, so have your judgment hats at the ready, folks!

But for now, answer me this:

What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to?

 

PS – I did go and buy all existing One Direction albums, but managed to stop myself from pre-ordering the third one (I still consider myself relatively sane.)

PPS – Here are a few more photos taken by moi on the night, for anyone interested.

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This really is the end.

 

Flashbaku: A recap of Azerbaijan’s first ESC

Can anybody believe it’s been almost a year since Baku?

I’m definitely having issues getting my head around it. One minute I’m all excited for the next installment of Eurovision amazingness – making stuff to wave over the three nights and contemplating baking a Swedish-themed layer cake to mark the occasion. The next, I’m having a panic attack about where the last 11 months have gone, and contemplating inventing a device to stop time instead of baking some stupid cake. It’s a little confusing. What is for certain is that Malmö is heading straight for us, whether we like it or not. Ultimately, that’s a very good thing!

Before the thirty-something days until the first semi are up, I figured it would make sense to go back in time (not literally…I haven’t invented a device for that yet) and remind everybody what went down in the Crystal Hall last May. I’m going to do this via a series of posts known as Flashbakus (see what I did there?) and this first episode is an overview of the Azerbaijani action made possible by Ell & Nikki…and Azerbaijan’s ability to do so well in the contest despite sometimes having an, ahem, average entry. So sit back, relax, and take a trip down memory lane feat. stats, facts and some of my personal highlights from the most easterly ESC of all time.

 

  lyf

THE BASICS

Edition 57th

When 22nd, 24th and 26th May, 2012

Where Baku Crystal Hall, Baku, Azerbaijan

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Motto ‘Light your fire!’

Broadcaster İctimai Television

Hosts Leyla Aliyeva, Eldar Gasimov & Nargiz Birk-Petersen

len 

Entries 42

Debutants 0

Returnees 1 – Montenegro

Withdrawals 2 – Armenia, Poland

 

SEMI FINAL 1

Participants 18

Opened Montenegro

Closed Ireland

Interval act Natig Rhythm Group

My highlights

– Albania: This was the first performance to give me goosebumps, which I really wasn’t expecting as I wasn’t a big Suus-aholic at that point. But you can never anticipate which entries will blow you away live, a la Ukraine 2010.

– Romania: Watching Mandinga’s tangerine queen Elena struggle as her earpiece failed her was both cringe-worthy and highly amusing. Fortunately, apart from a few timing issues she pulled off a decent vocal, so kudos to her for that. I also enjoyed the 2012 version of Epic Sax Guy – the Moonwalking Bagpiper.

The question is, is he a moonwalking bagpiper...or a bagpiping moonwalker?

The question is, is he a moonwalking bagpiper…or a bagpiping moonwalker?

– San Marino: Yes, I admit it. I enjoyed this performance more than I thought I would and more than I knew I should. It helped that Valentina could actually sing (and she’s getting the chance to showcase her voice in all seriousness this year) but really, anything would have been an improvement on the music video *shudder*.

– Cyprus: And I thought the Cypriots brought their A-game in Düsseldorf! Ivi and her gal pals totally outdid Greece in every department last year, which is not the norm. Costume, choreography, lighting and props all deserved…well, props.

– Russia: Oh, those grannies and their pizza oven! This was the act everyone was waiting for, and I for one was not disappointed. The BB gave us that promised party for everybody, as well as a midnight snack (the show had to be held later than usual thanks to Azerbaijan being über east, so thank you Russia for the sustenance).

Baking and representing Russia at the same time? That deserves a group hug.

Baking and representing Russia at the same time? That deserves a group hug.

– Ireland: I’d consider Jedward’s performance of Waterline relaxed compared to the ‘we’ve been living on red cordial for the last six months’ vibe of Lipstick. What I liked most was watching the twins’ perfectly primped hairdos be destroyed by the water fountain they carted across the continent with them. Although giving them a good scare by announcing them as the lucky last qualifiers was pretty priceless. 

 

The results

1. Russia 152

2. Albania 146

3. Romania 120

4. Greece 116

5. Moldova 100

6. Ireland 92

7. Cyprus 91

8. Iceland 75

9. Denmark 63

10. Hungary 52

– Greece made their ninth consecutive final, whilst Cyprus qualified from a semi for only the third time since 2004.

– Hungary qualified for the second year running, having returned to the contest in 2011 following several failed attempts.

– Switzerland, on 45, and Finland, on 41, missed out on qualifying by a Nishliu dreadlock.

– Austria lost the first semi, only getting 8 points’ worth of popos shaking.

 

SEMI FINAL 2

Participants 18

Opened Serbia

Closed Lithuania

Interval act (A rather horrifying) winner’s medley

My highlights

– Serbia: My beloved Željko back on an ESC stage once again? Of course that would be a personal highlight! His opening of the second semi with the atmospheric Balkan ballad (how unexpected) Nije Ljubav Stvar more than compensated for Montenegro’s, shall we say, unusual opener in the first.

– Macedonia: I kind of fell in love with Kaliopi during Eurovision week. Not only is she apparently the nicest person on Earth, but she’s a great performer too – as we saw on this Thursday night. It was a simple presentation from FYROM, but the lady rocked the house.

Kaliopi strikes a peaceful pose before the rocking begins

Kaliopi strikes a peaceful pose before the rocking begins

– Sweden: As is usual with Sweden, nothing had changed performance-wise since Melodifestivalen. Did anyone care? I don’t think so. The crowd was buzzing (with euphoria, perhaps?) as the lights went all laser on us before the camera closed in on Loreen, the woman of the moment. What followed was an act staged like no other in the history of forever/the contest.

– Turkey: They made a ship. Out of their COSTUMES. TWICE! Is that not one of the most amazing things that has ever happened?

– Estonia: Naturally I appreciated the opportunity to stare at my future husband for three whole minutes, while he sang his little heart out. Again, this performance was a simple one (with an exceptional selection of background images, I must say), all about the song and the emotion. And me drooling over my TV screen #pathetic.

Few people can fall asleep mid-performance and still finish in the top 10.

Few people can fall asleep mid-performance and still finish in the top 10.

– Lithuania: If there was ever a one-man show, its name is Donny Montell. Well, its stage name, anyway. The man sings, dances, wears blindfolds, plays air guitar, and does all of them brilliantly. Well, he doesn’t look entirely normal in a blindfold, but who does?

 

The results

1. Sweden 181

2. Serbia 159

3. Lithuania 104

4. Estonia 100

5. Turkey 80

6. Bosnia & Herzegovina 77

7. Malta 70

8. Ukraine 64

9. Macedonia 53

10. Norway 45

– Sweden won the second semi for the second year running.

– Macedonia reached the final for the first time since 2007.

– Norway just squeezed into the top 10 ahead of Bulgaria, who also scored 45 points.

– Slovakia brought up the rear this time, suggesting that no amount of exposed flesh can guarantee one a good result.

 

THE GRAND FINAL

Participants 26

Opened United Kingdom

Closed Moldova

Interval act Emin, chewing gum and performing Never Enough

My highlights

– France: The French gymnastics team figured Eurovision was as good a place as any to get in some Olympics practice, and I agree. John-Paul Gaultier decided that stapling an entire roll of chiffon to the back of Anggun’s leotard was better than a mere few metres, and I double agree. That costume + a decent wind machine = a match made in Eurovision heaven.

'Throw your train in the air like you just don't care, s'il vous plaît.'

‘Throw your train in the air like you just don’t care, s’il vous plaît.’

– Azerbaijan: I don’t think the last-minute addition of ethnicity was a good idea, but that dress – you know, that dress – certainly was. It was a clever “prop” that struck a balance between ‘not exciting enough’ and ‘so exciting I’m distracted’. It must have caught on, because I’ve seen it done a few times since.

– Spain: This was the performance of the final as far as I’m concerned. Pastora delivered a faultless vocal that genuinely made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck (I’m telling you, I looked like a hedgehog) and when she launched into her epic note and the artificial breeze kicked in, there were tears in my eyes.

 

The results

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  1. Sweden 372
  2. Russia 259
  3. Serbia 214
  4. Azerbaijan 150
  5. Albania 146
  6. Estonia 120
  7. Turkey 112
  8. Germany 110
  9. Italy 101
  10. Spain 97
  11. Moldova 81
  12. Romania 71
  13. Macedonia 71
  14. Lithuania 70
  15. Ukraine 65
  16. Cyprus 65
  17. Greece 64
  18. Bosnia & Herzegovina 55
  19. Ireland 46
  20. Iceland 46
  21. Malta 41
  22. France 21
  23. Denmark 21
  24. Hungary 19
  25. United Kingdom 12
  26. Norway 7

– Sweden’s was a record-breaking win: Loreen out-douzed Alexander Rybak in being ranked first by 18 countries. Rybak scored 16 sets of douze points. What a loser.

– The honour of twelve points did not come easily to the other 25 participants. Coming a very distant second to Sweden in those stakes was Albania, Azerbaijan and Serbia, all receiving four sets of douze.

– Three Big countries, as well as host country Azerbaijan, made the top 10. Germany’s 8th place was their third top 10 finish in a row; not bad for a country that had struggled not to come last in the years BL (Before Lena).

– Spain’s 10th place marked their first top 10 appearance since 2004, when they also came 10th. Pastora Soler scored ten more points than Ramón did in Istanbul.

– Albania secured their best result ever, and after failing to qualify in Oslo and a disappointing showing in Düsseldorf, Estonia was back on form in 6th place. Their previous Estonian-language entry had also finished 6th.

– Ukraine’s recent results have been impressive – 7th in 2006, 2nd in 2007 and 2008, 10th in 2010 and 4th in 2011. But last year’s 15th was proof that they’re not invincible (and possibly that Europe disliked Gaitana’s floral and fringe combo just as much as I did).

– The same goes for Greece, with 2012 being their first finish outside of the top 10 since 2003.

– The UK was the lowest ranked Big country, only outscoring Norway (and I’m still not over it). Sending a household name with a less than contemporary ballad did not pay off, but at least they’ve learnt from that mistake going in to Malmö. Oh wait…

 

I realise now that it may have taken you longer to read this recap than go back and watch both semis and the final again, but, hey, you could have given up if you wanted to. Now that I think of it, maybe you should go back and watch the show again if you need to, then let me know below what you loved, hated, and were shocked and surprised by in Baku. We all need the practice, since we’ll soon be doing the exact same thing for Eurovision 2013.

 

COMING UP: If you thought I couldn’t possibly find any more ESC lookalikes, you were wrong! The Flashbaku doppelgangers will have you seeing double. Then, my longest and most difficult quiz EVER rears its head, in an Azerbaijan-tastic test of your Eurovision 2012 knowledge.

 

What to expect when you’re expecting (JESC and ESC, of course!)

‘Tis the season to be keeping up to date with every last Eurovision-related development! You may not think there’s much happening at the moment, but planning the ESC is pretty close to being a year-round job – and don’t forget the fact that we’re not too far away from December, when the 9th Junior Eurovision will take place in Armenia. As such, there IS facts and figures about both events piling up already. In case you’ve not had the time or you just want a second opinion, here’s my role call of what we can expect…so far!

 JESC 2011

– It’ll be a trek to win JESC this year, what with the logo and the slogan (“Reach for the top!”) having been selected, both of which are musically mountainous.

– The show will take place on December 3, at the Karen Demirchyan Sports and Concerts Complex in Yerevan, Armenia. The venue can seat 8000 – 11 000 people, and has previously had the likes of Eurovision representatives André (2006) and Hayko (2007) as well as Deep Purple (if all you know about them is Smoke on the Water, you are not alone) pass through its doors.

– It looks like there’ll be 12 countries stepping on the stage, 2 down from last year. They are: Armenia (I should hope so!), Belarus, Belgium, Georgia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine and…San Marino! Italy might not be in it to win it (or lose it, since they really are not in it in any way) but us fans will get to hear Italian after all. Let’s cross our fingers that SM can rake in a few more points than they did in Belgrade and Düsseldorf. Do you remember Düsseldorf? It was such a long time ago now…

– Unfortunately, neither Latvia, Malta nor Serbia will be participating. The lack of Serbia makes my face a particularly sad one as they always have me picking up the phone to vote in Junior Eurovision. Of course, I immediately put it back down again since I’m in Australia and can’t vote…but the mere fact Serbia makes me forget that says a lot! Come back in 2012, all three of you!

– 2 very strong songs have been selected so far: Kak Romeo I Dzhulyetta (which translates to Like Romeo and Juliet) by Katya Ryabova for Russia; and Candy Music (which, believe it or not, translates to Candy Music) by Candy for Georgia. Russia is my favourite so far, but it cannot be denied how up-to-the-mainstream-minute both of the entries are. It’ll be a fab show if these are any indication of the standard.

– The next entry we’ll hear belongs to the Ukraine, who select on July 31, followed (at this point) by the hosts and Lithuania in September and the Netherlands in October.

 

ESC 2012

– May 22, 24 and 26 are the preliminary dates set for the Baku show, which means that the EBU is making us all pay for having to wait less than a year between the 2010 and 2011 contests. We’ve now got a fortnight extra to wait, but remember: it’s July, which means there’s less than 45 weeks to go (I think…I don’t often check things twice, unlike Santa Claus). That must be a scary thought for the Azerbaijani organizers, who did promise a show to rival Moscow!

– Debates continue over where the contest will be held, which is a fairly important detail to determine. Rather than “to be or not to be?” the question seems to be “to use a stadium we already have or to build a brand spanking new one?”. If a 20 000 seat venue doesn’t get built especially for Eurovision (oh to have such power!) then it looks like the Tofiq Bahramov Stadium, which seats a mere 35 700 people, could be the one.

– After just 2 years, voting during the show had been abandoned in favour of the previous voting window system. And just when I was warming to the new one! It definitely made voting for songs rather than performances more likely. Oh well, I should know by now that one of the ESC’s favourite things is change – not the Hotel FM kind either.

– 17 countries have confirmed their 2012 participation so far, which means we’ll have at least one semi final! They are: Austria, Azerbaijan (again, I should hope they’d make an appearance at their own show!), Belarus, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey. I’m hoping the UK confirms soon and isn’t thinking, ‘If Blue couldn’t do it, and Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber couldn’t do it, what’s the bleeding point?’. It’d be nice to have the Czech Republic, Andorra and Montenegro back as well.

– The participation of Israel and Portugal is in jeopardy, with the preliminary final date clashing with a Jewish holiday for the former, and some serious broadcaster issues for the latter. NOOOOOOOO!  

– On a happier note, the Netherlands, Slovenia and Sweden have all begun their selection processes – albeit tentatively. Sweden is calling out for Melodifestivalen entrants, with one small requirement: NONE of the songs can feature the word popular. I am, of course, joking. But really, I think we’ve had enough repetitions of that word to last us a hundred years. Perhaps then Eric Saade can make a triumphant return to the contest via live satellite feed from his nursing home singing (I Used To Be) Popular.

 

So cheer up, because it is certainly not all quiet on the ESC front! If you’re not a JESC fan then keep your eyes on Baku, and if you are, enjoy the upcoming selections and the fact that I like you way better than those people who aren’t JESC fans! Ha ha. Eurovision can last 365 days a year if you really want it to…

Big love for the Big 5

It’s often debated whether automatic entry into the Eurovision final is an advantage or disadvantage. Less than impressive results from the Big 4 (and occasionally the previous contest winner) in recent years would suggest the latter…but then again, we’re going to Düsseldorf in a little over a month for a reason!

Personally, I have generally found the standard of the Big 4-and-5 entries to be pretty low in comparison to the semi final qualifiers, especially those like Ukraine and Azerbaijan who always impress me. But this year, I have to say I’m impressed. Though I hold a few of 2011’s finalists in higher regard than others, all of them have grown on me – especially Germany and Italy, whose songs I hated at first. My preferences  would be: 1. UK, 2. Italy, 3. France, 4. Germany, and 5. Spain, which differs quite a bit from last year (though obviously, Italy was out and Norway was in back then). Mainly because the UK were at the very bottom of the pile…for everyone.

Anyway, my point in posting this is to figure out what you fans think of the Big 5 this year. I have a sneaking suspicion of who will come out on top, but please humour me and vote anyway!

I’m looking forward to the results =)

PS – 37 days and counting!

Making progress

So Oslo is just a few short weeks away (conveniently screened on TV the Friday, Saturday and Sunday just after I finish uni for the semester – what a way to celebrate!) and I couldn’t BE more excited! I’ve been re-watching all my DVD’s from 2000 onwards whenever possible, making some flags for me to wave during the broadcast representing my favourite countries, and re-reading all my Eurovision books for the billionth time in earnest. Unfortunately I’ve still got tons and tons of assignments to finish so I don’t have a lot of time to blog my happiness about the event. I’m feverishly typing this one out in a break from a website I have to create, but it’s something I really want to do!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’ve once again made my predictions as to who will make it to the final from each semi. I’ve tried to take into account the jury influence which is stronger than it has been in more than a decade (which I’m secretly thrilled about) and the people’s possible voting preferences, without factoring in my own. I don’t believe I’ve ever gotten these 100% correct….maybe this is my year! Anyway, please have a read and let me know what you think of it, and who you are vouching for to make it through.

WHO I THINK WILL MAKE IT:

SEMI-FINAL #1: Iceland, Greece, Albania, Moldova, Serbia, Slovakia, Finland, Portugal, Belarus and Poland.

SEMI FINAL #2: Turkey, Georgia, Croatia, Ireland, Romania, Azerbaijan, Israel, Sweden, Armenia and Denmark.

WHO I WANT TO MAKE IT:

SF#1: Belarus, Albania, Belgium, Serbia, Slovakia, Finland, Moldova, Iceland, Portugal and Greece.

SF#2: Turkey, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania, Sweden OR Switzerland, Azerbaijan, Israel, Denmark, Georgia and Bulgaria.

As for who will win, I’m thinking Germany, Azerbaijan or Croatia. The latter is my absolute favourite this year, but I would love to see Germany win, both to witness a contest in a Big 4 nation for the first time since 1999, and just because I also love that song and the Germans haven’t had much luck recently in ESC, despite, in my opinion, providing some very good entries (2004 onwards). Good luck to everyone though, and may no country leave Oslo empty-handed!

Until next time.