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29 May 2010 @ 10:02 pm
Eurovision, semi final 2  
Mr Brammers is a god who walks the earth and has provided macarons for tonight's Eurovision watching. He went a bit overboard, though, so I am having to exercise restraint, as eating 30 macarons after last night's wine and limoncello consumption will be disastrous for my figure and also for my brain, which still has much writing to accomplish this weekend.

There's an hour until the telecast for semi final 2 begins in Australia (and PLEASE hide the final results if you're posting from Europe later on, as we are a day behind, damn the no live telecast situation!), so a little explanation first.

* The Eurovision Song Contest is an annual competition in which sees the nations of the European Broadcasting Union (which includes Israel, even though it's not part of Europe) enter a song each to compete with each other in a bid to win the grand prize. Which is, er, winning. Look, it's better than war, and since the contest started in 1956, the number of European wars has gone significantly downhill in both frequency and vehemence. Sure, the number of bad songs has seen a related rise, but it's a price we're willing to pay.

* It's not all crap, the contest has given the world such treasures as Waterloo and Nel blu dipinto di blu, better known as Volare. The first time most of us saw Riverdance was in the interval show in 1994. I should have stopped at two examples, shouldn't I?

* Songs are limited to three minutes or less, and groups are limited to six performers. There are a number of Eurovision Classic Themes: the costume reveal, where an article of clothing turns out to be a prop or a tear-away section; the hero note, where a singer goes for a particularly high or sustained note; the hero pose; which is self-explanatory and not limited to male performers; the sexually suggestive costume or dance move, for which we are all grateful; the Cutural Moment, where something appropriately ethnic is trotted out to remind everyone that this is about Europe (recent hits have ranged from a small embroidery-wearing grandmother with a drum to obscure folk instruments that look painful to play);  props, from wind and smoke machines to stilts and images; and finally, earnestness -- huge poignant levels of earnestness.

* It's not cool, but it is hilarious. The UK entry is almost always crap, the Greek entry almost always has a man whose shirt buttons have been lost in a tragic incident and the French entry will be either Unbelievably Earnest, or about sex, sometimes both (this year it appears to be about the World Cup. And sex.) It should be approached with alcohol, a bingo card, and a sense of jollity. In Australia, it is tremendously popular, because Australians love everything daggy, and this would win the Dag Olympics, if ever an Australian could be bothered to organise such a thing.

*Shrieks of "Nil Points!" erupt at particularly bad entries: this is the ultimate Eurovision insult, as points normally range from 1-12 and, given the number of countries voting, it is hard to receive no points at all. I should add that a country cannot vote for its own entry. Often such results are political comments: I seem to recall the UK receiving many nil points for a surprisingly decent entry the year after Blair went into Iraq. A new system begins this year where judges' marks make up half the final total, this is in response to some results that have had more to do with European political and social blocs than with the songs.

And now, on with the commentary ...

I should preface this by saying that I have the self-control of a rabid stoat and I have just eaten six macarons for dinner. I am, however, completely sober! If one does not count the raging sugar high. treacle_tartlet  is watching with me, well she is in Tassie, but we have IM! She has gin, I will quote her liberally!

The presenters are alleging that this is the GOOD semifinal. I find it hard to believe it could surpass semi final 1, but let's see! We open with a montage designed to make us believe that Oslo is a sort of Paris meets Copenhagen meets Barcelona: pingrid , is that true? The presenters' costumes are nicer tonight, and we have the Ushlo pronunciation of Oslo back, hurrah!

Start voting NOW!

Lithuania is our opening act and they are dressed like Madness in tartan trousers, white shirts and black ties. They are MIMING INSTRUMENTS!!! And doing fake kazoo vocals! Boyzone choreography, and now blow-up instruments? WHAT IS GOING ON????!! Now they are miming housework. This is very odd. I kind of like it, though. Get up and dance to our Eastern European Kind of … hand gesture, apparently, oh no, it's funk! Our Eastern European kind of funk. OMG! REVEAL! The trousers are gone and there are silver sequined hot pants underneath! YAY!!! GENIUS!!! The wrong kind of genius, but nevertheless ...

How Armenia will follow that, I do not know. Pretty girl smiling earmestly at the camera. She is wearing what seems to be bedazzled acid wash jeans under a formal gown. In the background, as treacle says: 'interpretive dance with a pot!' Catchy little tune about an apricot stone from the motherland, with a giant apricot stone prop and nicely cultural backing singers, plus an ethnically appropriate wood instrument. I think this is a winner. The dancer's not bad, but he looks like Jackie Chan. I like her hair, it's long and wavy! I think she uses the apricot stones in her conditioner ... wind machine! DRINK! and hero note! No, no drinking! Last night was a disaster of typos!

One of the hot favourites next, Israel, and the lad is very pretty, quite Gallic in looks and modest downward gazes. The song is in Hebrew, so I cannot mock the lyrics, but it is apparently Beautiful and Meaningful, if the emoting is to be believed. The commentators speak of wanting to run their hands through his perfect hair. In the chat window to my right, we have this: 
Oh, I want to put my hands in his hair, too!
me:  Hair. Sure.
Treacle Did I say hair? I meant trousers. fuck, I've only had half a glass. This could end badly.
Ooh, big Earnest ending, with Heroic Poses and Hero notes abungo! He should get to the final without worry, if only thanks to young women who want to see that face again. Treacle believes he is far too dignified for Eurovision

Denmark now, and actually, I like this bloke's hair more, it's a bit shaggy. Actually, no, too shaggy, he looks like a Welsh pony. And is wearing Adam Ant's jacket. She is wearing Shakira's frock. And they are singing back to back with a sheer scrim between them, bewailing the end of their relationship. Which I think ended because he stole all her hair product. It sounds like Heart -- this is a very international performance! Oh, the scrim is gone and they are holding hands. The song is pleasant enough, but all power ballady and -- fuck me, that is a tulle handkerchief hem on that frock! I haven't seen one of them in YEARS! Treacle pipes up with: 'He is also wearing Russell Brand's trousers. Eeew...' Which is true, but I did not want to think it. WIND MACHINE!! YAY!

French song from Switzerland, the title translates to something like showers of gold, and the chap who is singing appears to have been mugged by mothers of the bride from Vogue Weddings Annual 1977 on his way to the contest. Though that woman has the best afro bun I have seen in a very long time. HEY! They have tippets on their frocks! Oops, no, streamers. Chap in background who may or may not be playing a guitar, and pyrotechnics. Enough to be distracting, but not really as good as a seagull. It's still going. Ooh! Explosion! Treacle adds: 'And Artistic Facial Hair! Is he wearing sneakers with his suit? Oh, honey, David Tennant you ain't...' In the words of the Aussie commentator: Some three minutes take longer than others.

Ad break now. Nothing has topped the hot pants yet. SO not eating any of the remaining macarons! Julia from the Aussie commentary team is in there flirting with the Lithiuanians who are telling her they are straight, and worth kissing. Bless. She has also just convinced the Israeli chap that flying to Australia is as arduous as crossing the pole. Slightly true, actually. Julia is wearing some of the Lithuanian shorts now. Apparently the kissing worked!

Anna from Sweden is next, she is a lovely young woman in a white frock with a big guitar. Not convinced about the black opaque tights with that frock, even though I am a great lover of the BOT myself. Ooh, capri length. Mmmmm, no. Still, she is so pretty, it matters not. Treacle has just mentioned there is more earnestness, which is true. The guitar has gone now and the wind machine is out. 'This is my life, my friend, and I can't be no one else. I don't want to hide, I just want to stay free, to be me.' Did Justin Bieber write this? She seems to have the Greek dancers as her backing singers, or at least their outfits: albeit with done-up shirts.

Another power ballad from a solo girl, Azerbaijan's entry with Drip Drip. FUCKING HUGE blue frock, and apparently Beyonce's choreographer. Bedazzled strappy heels! And the frock is only huge from behind, mini with handkerchief hem at front. SINGLE BEDAZZLED  GLOVE! WITH ONLY TWO FINGERS!! Nice main prop, though: a mystery staircase for her to descend in the middle of the stage. Treacle has just helpfully comented: '
I'm glad they didn't schedule 'Drip drop' straight after "Golden showers"'.  BAD interpretive dance from a chap with a porn mo and a pink tie. DO NOT buy a used car from that man! Now she is kneeling and emoting to the camera. Here we go, the big three: Earnestness hero pose, hero note and was she late getting back to that central mark? She just ran that whole wing-stage section. OMG HER DRESS HAS LEDs! I have already forgotten the song, alas.

Ukraine now. Their singer is wearing a hoodie, with one of Courtney Love's old frocks underneath, in a seriously skin-toned colour. Rock-type voice, and WIND MACHINE! I knew it. Um, I might have worn a slip if I was going to have that lighting and that frock, but I am not a twentysomething Ukranian. OOH! The first 'What about our children' of the evening. Hurrah! Treacle: '
It takes the phrase 'nude frock' to a new level, doesn't it?' Thank goodness she has long hair, this is a family timeslot. Hero note, finishing on hero pose, terrific! A stirring message of peace, there ;-)

It's the Netherlands! And she is wearing something so hideous that I cannot describe it. Will have to look up a photo later, here, check the gallery at this link. PROPS!  CIRCUS PROPS AIEEEEEE! It's a boppy little number written by the man who wrote the Smurf theme tune and I think the musical influences show. Oh sweet Jesus! The circussy backing dancers are pretending they are automata! NOOOO! THE HORROR! Surely there should be a law against miming in a cultural event! The bridge sounds as though she is singing 'Kurt Vonnegut' again and again, which would make this a far more interesting tune.
Treacle:  Has she borrowed those trouser from Milan [see yesterday's recap]? Thank god she didnt borrow his bedazzled jacket too.
me:  Just the bedazzler.

Romania now, two singers, one girl one boy, two pianos. The song is Playing with Fire, which is a nice safe lyric choice for anything poppy. OOH! The piano is see-through! Four backing dancers wearing the remains of ostriches who could not run fast enough, and THERE is the pyro, which was always going to happen with those outfits. The song is about two people who may or may not get together because they are so passionate and dangerous but only know monosyllabic words and oooh-oooh bits. Treacle points out that the girl has Days of Our Lives Hair, and now she is breaking out some operatic stylings! YAY! And on key! Double yay! Ooh, those trousers are sprayed on, and hers are even worse! This song is profoundly stupid, but they are so good at selling it I do not care. Treacle
: 'It's Olivia Newton-Johns's Sandy catsuit!'

Next up is Slovenia, a half folk, half rock group, with fringes, tassels and embroidery on one half of the group and leather jackets and white trousers (WTF?) on the other
. PIANO ACCORDIAN! I swear, I love that instrument. All those happy childhood memories of polka school ... Two of the blokes are wearing knickerbockers and knee-high boots. I love them, too. The rock guy is wearing a Beatles T-shirt and a scarf that seems to have been lifted from the Merlin set, as Treacle says, and I take it back, the white trousers may be acid-wash jeans, which have apparently all been dumped in Eastern Europe. On behalf of the West, I wish to apologise for this appalling tragedy. Despite the forced marriage of styles, it's not a bad song. Rock boy just did a pelvic thrust! HEE! And they end with a hero pose, lovely!

Ireland next, the lovely Niamh Kavanagh, who alas is feeling unwell. Her voice is still sure of pitch, but a bit weaker than usual, I think she has my cold. Treacle and I both question the combination of her stunning red hair with a royal purple frock. IRISH FLUTE! Smoke machine! Slow-walking backing singers! Oh it's all so relentlessly Celtic! I feel a shiver! KEY CHANGE! HURRAH! Oh Shadows are haunting and darkness is crowding my heart and the light of your love is shinging, Niamh, shining! I want this song played at the funeral they hold for me when I've not been heard from in seven years, before I turn up mid-ceremony in an airship! Lovely stuff, though.

OH FANTASTIC! THE NEXT ACT HAS WINGS!! You Are An Angel, sung by a man from Bulgaria. And beneath their wings the angels are wearing hot pants and halter-neck tops. Who do they think they are? France? Ooh! Oilled shirtless men in harem pants! With body glitter! I will stop whining. Lots of Ooh-oohing in this song, and the lead singer looks like he should be in Wham. Those hot pants have ruffles on the back! This song seems to be mostly Oooh-oooh and techno beats, with few lyrics about how you must be an angel, my love. I could have written this in the shower. But I would never have dreamed to add the harem pants, I confess. The wings are back! The lead singer looked a bit older than me, but passing as young. In treacle's words: 
'Bad bad bad bad bad hair! It looks glued on! Poorly!'

The Cypriot entry is mostly British, indeed Welsh, and probably heaps better than the actual UK entry. Nice slick pop-indy band look, the lead singer looks very young, Treacle has just suggested 12. The chorus implores us to tell him, tell him about our feelings and tell him about our stories -- surely that's his job as a singer? He looks like one of the earnest poor mid-Western boys who win the girl in American teen films. The backing band look like his uncles who are all there to make sure he isn't molested by any passing American girls. Except that one girl vocalist, who has her eye on the wee one. Treacle says 'A Cypriot group who are actually Welsh, singing a song in an American accent. Hrm...' to which I say: PERFECT EUROVISION!

Ad break. Must resist remaining macarons! The Aussie presenter is now interviewing the Welsh lad pretending to be a Cypriot, he is a sweetie, and I now hope he does very well!

Croatia up next. I have seen this one before and I am slightly terrified by the pre-show miming of love to the camera they are now putting on. It's a trio of girl singers, each more languid and doe-eyed than the last.
Here they are, all wearing their best formal frocks and post-stylist hair. How can she lift her head with those huge earrings? That is some seriously good hair-drying, though. Some BASTARD has stolen the front bit of each of their frocks and you can see their slips. Poor dears! No wonder they are singing such a sad song: 'Where are our skirts? Will our mothers forgive our shame? Oh Europe can see our knickers ...' Which I originally typed as knockers and I should like to say not quite anything revealed at that end. Confetti is adding to the bridesmaidy look now. They have no shoes! Probably the same thief.

Georgia is beginning their set with passionate interpretive dance, which includes the singer, it's all very Kate Bush, red and white and the blokes have no shirts, thanks chaps! No shoes again, bad backstage security, no idea what this song is about even though it is in English. And whoever choreographed this seems to have ended up with one extra girl dancer who keeps being stuck out on the corner while the singer steals the two boy dancers. Maybe the singer is a big hog and insisted on her own two-man-supported Hero Poses, which she is rocking, I must say, along with her Hero notes, about Shining, Like the Stars in the Sky. Big finish with pyrotechnics, the girl dancer leapt in front of the girl singer for the last close-up before the pyro: REVENGE!

And now Turkey to end the semi, with a very hard rocking (for Eurovision) set and a man who appears to be wearing a PVC sailor suit leading the group. WIND MACHINE! It's a song about peace, but they are all wearing black, red and white, which I think could have been
better thought through. OOoh! Robot Dancer! In silver robot outfit! And using an angle grinder to produce sparks to highlight the pyro! She looks like The Stig. And now she's undressed and looks like Catwoman, and has flags that she is waving around like a deranged Formula One pitgirl. This is an odd one, I think I love it. Treacle has dubbed it EmoTurk, which fits!

And BRAVO Norway! Their interval entertainment clip tonight consists of the Worst of Eurovision, and it is both genius and hilarious. And the nice boy presenter is now wearing some Lithuanian hot pants, too. I swear, they had better wash those things the number of people who have been wearing them. Maybe they brought an extra box to hand out as gifts? They have just asked a random Australian in the audience who he liked best, and he has said that on behalf of all Australians, he has no hesitation in saying Lithuania, because we're a nation that loves hot pants. I feel a spiritual bond!

That's it, they're done! Tomorrow night we'll have the delayed final here, which you will probably have already seen if you are in Europe. Probably won't recap that, since it's all just repeat performances.I'm hoping for the Coldplay chap or Neville to take it out on current form. Maybe the Welsh Cypriots just so we can have some British success. Niamh would be perfect, but can Ireland afford to host another Eurovision? Since I  have NEVER predicted a winner, I expect it will be someone horrid instead. Perfect! I'll try to sneak in a recap of the five entries who went straight through to the finals, and then I can spend a year trying to get all of these songs out of my head. (On past experience, should take a week ;-)

Current Mood: enthralledenthralled
Loyaulte Me Lieshocolate on May 29th, 2010 12:12 pm (UTC)
The Netherlands were so 1970's I could die!!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on May 29th, 2010 12:17 pm (UTC)
I was expecting Sandy Shaw to leap out of that steam organ!
shu_shu_sleepsshu_shu_sleeps on May 29th, 2010 12:15 pm (UTC)
Well it was the night of the power ballad wasn't it? Looking forward to tomorrow night's broadcast of the final.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on May 29th, 2010 12:17 pm (UTC)
It's good to see that wind machine technicians will always find work in Europe ;-)
Hueyphoenixacid on May 29th, 2010 12:21 pm (UTC)
LOL, it's just too bad we don't get Eurovision on tv here. It sounds like fun.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on May 29th, 2010 01:18 pm (UTC)
You can download it from the website: www.eurovision.tv!
Sherrysherryillk on May 29th, 2010 12:55 pm (UTC)
Damn it's time for Eurovision again? I have a Russian friend who always throws the videos at me year after year, I still have yet to get it. And it always meant no new Who so I've resented it in past years...
blamebramptonblamebrampton on May 29th, 2010 01:18 pm (UTC)
Clearly, you have had neither enough alcohol nor enough sugary treats. Both are essential. If you can get together a crowd of people who can be amused by awful costumes, so much the better!
AutumnHearti_autumnheart on May 29th, 2010 12:56 pm (UTC)
I remembered to watch this time! The Lithuanian hot pants should have totally made it in. I initially assumed they were making a tribute to the Norwegian curling teams' olympic trousers, but the sparkles were even better.

Loyaulte Me Lieshocolate on May 29th, 2010 01:00 pm (UTC)
Those shorts were pocket sized epic!!
(no subject) - blamebrampton on May 29th, 2010 01:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
mousiclesmousicles on May 29th, 2010 01:08 pm (UTC)
Lithuania were robbed!

Once again I only managed to pick half of the finalist.

Now it's media blackout until the finals. The winner will be all over the news tomorrow morning and it's a challenge to avoid finding out until the show.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on May 29th, 2010 01:14 pm (UTC)
SBS is the only safe channel, alas, it is all football all day! And YES! Totally robbed! I disapprove of this new judging system if it is going to favour countries who actually sing sensible songs. NOT EUROVISION!
(no subject) - i_autumnheart on May 29th, 2010 02:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
pingridpingrid on May 29th, 2010 01:10 pm (UTC)
We open with a montage designed to make us believe that Oslo is a sort of Paris meets Copenhagen meets Barcelona: pingrid , is that true?



But apparently we're the safest capital in Europe, which must count for something! ;) And there some truly gorgeous areas in the city, and nice people, especially if you catch us in summer. Also, very close to nature, with loads of accessible-for-all fields and forests.

Oh dear, I suppose I won't be going into PR any time soon. But! I may watch Eurovision on TV tonight after all, thanks to your and Teacle's enthusiasm! :D
blamebramptonblamebrampton on May 29th, 2010 01:16 pm (UTC)
Safety counts! And it does produce delightful people, I've never met an Oslo-dweller who was less than lovely. You're doing a better job than me: Australia, it's great if you like near-death! England, perfect for the person who likes cloud and good public transport, though the latter only within certain larger cities and not between same.

If you do, note down your thoughts so we can compare afterwards!
(no subject) - pingrid on May 29th, 2010 01:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on May 29th, 2010 02:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
ladyjanevaladyjaneva on May 29th, 2010 01:42 pm (UTC)
I had no idea this was popular Down Under! I thought only Europeans knew about this and hid it in shame ;-)

I'd never ever watch it alone, but you're right: only alcohol makes it bearable. I'm going to be watching it with friends. And alcohol. And we're very curious about the dresses (which are always a revelation in horridness) and the singers in general (make for great laughing and something we call "fremdschämen" in German, which means that one is deeply ashamed for someone else/in their place)

And we're curious whether the cute little chick that Germany has been crazy about ( and I was very sucessfull in never listening to anything by her) will actually win some points. Check her out, she's legal. He.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on May 29th, 2010 02:09 pm (UTC)
I got into it before I moved here, but only in the fremdschämen way, since living in Australia, it also has an edge of friendly nostalgia about it: with so many Europeans here, it is a much-loved thing! And the show is screened on our multicultural channel, which is a bastion of non-English films, news and TV programmes from around the world, including sport. It's called SBS, which given the number of art-house films and football games, is said to stand for Sex Before Soccer.

I quite like the German entry! She has a really sweet voice, and the song is pleasantly boppy. But is there a costume reveal?
Penguin: Moodyfacepingviini on May 29th, 2010 01:53 pm (UTC)
Swedish entry - sooo boooring...
blamebramptonblamebrampton on May 29th, 2010 02:10 pm (UTC)
She's made a fatal error in taking the whole thing seriously. Now if that dress had been whipped off to reveal some sparkly hot pants ...
drgaellon on May 29th, 2010 02:11 pm (UTC)
After Adam Lambert, no one else will ever enthrall me with a hero/glory note again.

Reading this while watching Peter O'Toole and Katherine Hepburn chewing the scenery as Henry and Eleanor is creating cognitive dissonance. (And Timothy Dalton and Anthony Hopkins played the homo subtext WAY down, unlike Jonathan Rhys Myers in the recent remake, who got rid of the subtext and made it text, thank you very much.)

I just found a YouTube of the Bulgarian, and all I can say is... WTF?!?!?

Edited at 2010-05-29 02:19 pm (UTC)
AutumnHearti_autumnheart on May 29th, 2010 02:23 pm (UTC)
It seems to be the year for Australia's Eurovision fixation to be noticed: both on your FList and the official site.

I think the popularity is probably because most of us have more of a general fondness for all the entrants than any strong links to a particular one: we're free to cheer for the most amusing, or most bizarre (or the one we drew out of a hat at the beginning of the party) without having to support or cringe for the 'home' team. Much more fun than sport.
Kerryblazekerryblaze on May 29th, 2010 02:23 pm (UTC)
I watched it last year via shocolate and our slingbox thingies. It was awesome!
Ann: stewie!dracotsosh on May 29th, 2010 08:12 pm (UTC)
The Eurovision is so funny and ridiculous. I missed it this year because I don't have a TV, but I hope to watch it online later.

The song is in Hebrew, so I cannot mock the lyrics
That's very lucky for Israel, because the lyrics are pretty bad...
Klara: Blue Mummimammamummimamma on May 29th, 2010 10:18 pm (UTC)
I hope you will enjoy the finale! (I am currently watching the last couple of votes tumbling in). Anyhow, I loved your introduction. At least the Norwegian guy has worked on his pronunciation these last weeks. In the Norwegian finale, he sang "My hard is yours", for which he has been ridiculed these last weeks (at least from the linguisticly inclined). But I still miss the times when they all sang in their mother tongues - it's probably one of the reasons why I became a linguist.
prone to mischieftreacle_tartlet on May 29th, 2010 11:20 pm (UTC)
Next year, we should attempt to be more organised and have a Eurovision party. That way I could share the joy with like-minded people instead of having to contend with Blondie stomping about the place in a huff and refusing to enter into the spirit of the thing!