Graham Norton’s in the hotseat for tonight’s rundown of the 25 cheesiest songs Europe can muster. It’s the first Eurovision since the ’70s without the familiar world-weary bile soaked observations from Terry Wogan but I hope to counteract some of Graham’s campy commentary.
Expect terrible lyrics, unpleasantly skimpy outfits, knee slides, national costumes and enough fake tan to keep Jodie Marsh glowing for years. Will Jade Ewen (with her Andrew Lloyd Webber penned song) be able to outfox the combined voting power of the East? Wogan quit after his paranoia over block voting got too much for him. Will the new scoring system – a strange hybrid of public voting and a mysterious jury – help the UK to avoid the dreaded “nul poit”?
20:00 And we’re off with an exciting montage of Moscow and a voiceover from Graham Norton: “I miss Terry too.” At least you realise Graham.
The Russians have apparently spared no expense. This seems to mean giving us a bizarre fable about last year’s winner performed by Cirque Du Soleil.
Tonight is the launch of Cirque Du Soleil in Russia even though 40% of their performers are Russian (well done Graham, you’ve been doing your homework).
20:02 Much running, skipping and jumping. And now a midget (Jeannette Krankie, according to Graham) is flying through the air attached to a parachute.
And now last year’s winner Dima Bilan is being lowered onto the stage dressed like Tony Hancock.
He’s ditched that to reveal some rather fetching white jeans. And he’s running through a wall. Oh and bunch of the most attractive looking paparazzi I’ve ever seen are now harassing him. And there’s some more walls to run through before he’s lowered into the crowd with an angel hanging somewhat listlessly above him.
20:07 The song – which I have never heard before – is like something by the Backstreet Boys or N-Sync in the mid-90s. Only, it’s one of the shit ballady ones they used for album tracks. Baby Bye Bye it’s not.
Still good for Dima, he’s putting his all into it.
And now we get a replay of him running through the walls – in case you missed the dramatic scenes just moments before.
20:09 Already having to use white wine as a crude anaesthetic.
Here come the presenters – the woman Alsou (a Russian singer) and Ivan (an actor). Alsou is wearing a dress that looks like she’s slaughtered Big Bird. Ivan’s suit is super-shiny. He looks like Vernon Kaye if he’d been struck repeatedly with a spade.
They’re pointing out that Moscow is actually pretty warm today. They don’t mention the fact that the police brutally put down a gay rights protest earlier. I expect that’d spoil the mood.
20:11 Graham says we’ll be impressed by the show. I’m reserving judgement.
20:35 Yohanna for cash-strapped Iceland is on now with “Is It True.” It’s true she’s slavered on enough lipgloss to stun a badger. It’s also true that her dress would, as Graham just mentioned, have looked on trend at a wedding in about 1986.
20:37 Yohanna has nailed that generic American accent required of blonde starlette singers. The song is a mid-tempo pop ballad with some strings bolted on for a bit of gravitas. The fact that the camera men are swooping around helps no end. Graham tells us Yohanna is one of the favourites. Iceland with no cash are probably hoping she doesn’t win.
20:39 Sakis Rouvas, the Greek Entry, has released 20 albums and used to be a gymnast. He’s in a tight white outfit that would have made Chico stop for thought. He’s the first example of the Eurovision nuclear tan tonight.
He has eyes that scream: hey baby, come back to my bungalow. I make a mean martini. He is also disconcertingly well waxed.
He’s now on some kind of moving platform which allows him to do a kind of moonwalk without actually making any effort. Points deducted for that.
And he’s doing a bit of a PJ Proby now (look it up pop history lovers), deliberately ripping his top to reveal his pecs.
“If he wins, there’ll be a keep fit video by Christmas,” quips Graham.
20:43 Armenia represented by sisters, Inga and Anshush.
They’re dressed in outfits nicked from Miranda Richardson’s cupboard of costumes from back when she played Morgan Le Fey in Merlin. They’re like the Cheeky Girls if they opted to cover themselves up a bit, learn to hold a tune and avoided any irritating Liberal Democrat MPs.
20:46 Anastasia Prikhodko for Russia singing a song called Mamo. Her dad’s an oligarch which may or may not have had some influence on her selection. She’s got the whole hog, five massive screen behind her.
She cannot sing and to quote Half Man Half Biscuit “that’s a shit arm and a bad tattoo.”
The lyrics make it seem like a slowed down Papa Don’t Preach style ode to youthful mistakes: “Mum, I didn’t know where trouble lay/ Mum, love is trouble.”
There’s some exciting Sinead O’Connor style crying in the video that plays behind her with her face subtly ageing. Full marks for the visuals. Shame they weren’t a silent film though.
20:51 Aysal and Arash for Azerbijan. Arash is apparently a huge recording star in the Balkans. He was born in Iran (it says here) and wrote the song himself. It’s pretty catchy.
Arash has now got hold of some kind of tiny guitar – traditional instrument alert!
The wind machine is back again giving us a quick flash of Aysal’s pants. It’s clear she’s on the ticket because of everything but her singing.
20:54 Bosnia-Herzegovina. Regina are there representatives. They’ve been together for years and once supported The Rolling Stones. Taking a look at them you realise why: Mick doesn’t want to be upstaged. Their outfits are a cross between Les Miserables and those irritating human statues that clutter up the high street.
The song is starting pretty slow but the lead singer is giving it some pulling the legs akimbo, fist-in-the-air stance.
20:58 Graham keep encouraging us to sing along. I’d really rather not.
We’re now getting a little interlude while the rest of Europe watch ads.
The sketch is of the police trying to stop her filming. As Graham notes, it’s a bit ironic as the real police spent their day breaking up protests.
21:00 Nelly Ciobunu for Macedonia. She looks like Esmerelda from the Hunchback Of Notre Dame (if we’re being charitable). The song is a traditional Macedonian style song perked up with some beats and some male dancers seemingly choreographed to look like they’re bursting for a piss.
21:04 Chiara singing for Malta. “She’s never met a Malteser she didn’t like,” says Graham before the screen fills up with Chiara. She’s a big woman who’d have been well advised to give the sequins a miss.
Oh she just winked at the camera. Cheeky.
The song is another big ballad with superbly generic lyrics: “What if we could be free? Throw the dice. Unravel our lies. And learn how to be…who determines your destiny?” Imagine if Blowin’ In The Wind has been rewritten by Celine Dion while she was taking strong painkillers.
21:07 Urban Symphony are competing for Estonia. It’s song number 15 and my fingers are already starting to seize up.
Lots of strings in this one and a lead singer with a very severe fringe. Did they skimp on the styling? Your mother and a pudding bowl is now the answer.
She’s clutching a violin so I predict Vanessa Mae style antics any time now.
21:11 Brinck is representing Denmark. He sounds like Ronan Keating because Ronan Keating wrote the song. His performance is also a carbon copy of Ronan’s trademark blandage.
“I’ve never had a picture of an end.” Brilliantly, Ronan, a man who’s native language is English has still managed to write utterly baffling lyrics.
The guitarists would rather be in Nickleback.
21:15 Germany, have only one once in 51 years. They’re act is Alex Swings Oscar Sings. They’re secret weapon is an appearance from Dita Von Teese.
Oscar looks like Chuckie-Doll turned Cabaret kid Ray Quinn. Meanwhile the pony-tailed prat on the piano (I assume that’s Alex) should have stayed in the hotel foyer. Dita is removing her clothes but the camera is not really dwelling on her.
Nope, she’s to the fore now. She’s wearing an unfeasibly tight to corset and has picked up a riding crop. Prepare to do some explaining if you’re watching with kids.
Oscar has got in on the act, opening his shirt to reveal his abs.
21:19 “That’s the low point over,” promises Graham. Oh how I wish I could believe you.
Turkey’s taking the stage. Hadise singing Dum Tek Tek. She’s also apparently a big star. Her performance is pretty polished. And the song is catchy. The wind machine is on full blast again to send her skirts flying. More unneccessary knickers.
21:22 Albania up next. Graham predicts that this will be a surpise.
The subtitler for BBC One has gone crazy and stopped writing what Graham is saying.
A man in a sequinned gimp mask and a pair of twin dwarves dancing with a 17-year-old in a tutu. This is not a Eurovision song, it’s an outtake from a David Lynch film.
The dwarves are now break-dancing.
21:26 Now, Fairytale by Alexander Rybok for Norway. Graham tells us he’d quite like to give him a slap. And I can see why – he’s a gurning creature that could well be a badly designed Pinnoccio puppet.
“Years ago, when I was younger, I kind of liked a girl I knew…I’m in love with a fairytale.”
Once again there is gratuitous violin playing. Someone needs to institute a quota. Is this some secret plan to sort out the EU Violin mountain?
21:28 Graham predicts Alexander may well win. Oh come on please no.
21:30 The Russian presenters are back. The woman is wearing a dress made of left over Christmas ribbon. Chummy is still in the fire hazard suit.
21:31 Representing the Ukraine, Svetlana Loboda has morgaged her flat to pay for the set. Which appears to have been bought from a futuristic pole fancing club. Svetlana herself would benefit from that kind of low light.
“Because I’m crazy BOM!” Yes, Svetlana, you clearly are.
Her dancers are dressed as centurion strippers. She’s certainly got a vision.
21:34 “I’m your anti-crisis girl.” I do actually love it. In fact, I’m crazy BOM for it.
21:35 Romania: The Balkan Girls “sung” by Elena. Graham suggests that the woman in the blue dress to the far right of the stage to actually sing the hard bits. It seems like Elena and her disconcerting bosoms is just another bit of the stage decoration. Still Romania are sticking to the rules. There is someone on stage singing the live vocal. She’s just hidden behind a rock now.
“My hips are ready to glow.” Steady on love.
21:39 It’s Jade’s turn representing the UK. She’s been on a propaganda campaign to win Europe over and is on the cover of Russian OK. The down side is that she’s got living gargoyle Andrew Lloyd Webber on piano for her.
He is very popular in Russian but let’s be honest it’s not that long since they were greatful for a pair of Levi’s and a potato each.
21:41 Jade is doing a good “Leona Lewis”. The girl can sing. But the song is just bland. On the plus side she’s actually wearing quite a nice dress. Whether the sequin encrusted mic was neccessary…well, I’ll let you be the judge.
A good performance but may not be enough to outdo general European emnity towards the UK.
21:46 Finland’s most successful dance act Waldo’s People jump into the fray. “Welcome back to the 1980s” cringes Graham. He’s spot on. Here comes that ill-advised rapping we’d all been dreading. All those years of idolising Vanilla Ice have obviously paid off for this guy while the rest of the band seemed to be three vat grown blondes.
“Like Peter Piper I take Control…thats how I role…I’m a man who’s out of control.” Yes, we can tell from your backwards baseball cap.
21:49 The final song – Soraya for Spain with a song written by a bunch of treacherous Swedish songwriters for hire. She’s a dead ringer for Sarah Harding and wearing a hankerchief covered in sequins. “Come on and take me, come on and shake me,” she demands. I would but I find you slightly intimidating.
Oh there’s been a bit of magic. She’s disappeared and popped up on the opposite side of the stage. “Apparently there are no taboos” and she wants to “nail you to my cross.”
21:51 The presenters are doing comedy, in English in front of a crowd that doesn’t speak it. As Graham points out that’s a bit tricky.
They presenters are encouraging us to vote nicely.
The International Space Station astronauts are giving the signal to start the voting. Seriously? Are they not a bit busy?
21:53 Right, they’re recapping the songs. Sweden was frigthening but Albania, well Albania probably deserves some kind of sympathy vote. She will need therapy after the midgets and mirrorball gimp routine.
I say go for Portugal. They were nice weren’t they. And if someone could actually put Waldo’s People down, I think that would be best for us all.
Special mention for S
vetlana of the Ukraine. She really
was crazy bom!
Another hilarious skit: “Lots of people think Russia is controlled by KGB types.” Based on today’s events that’s rather ironic. Well done to Graham for bringing that up whenever he can.
22:02 We’re in the green room with another irritating presenter. Graham tells us the guy who was doing it before got the boot for being dreadful.
22:07 Ivan, the Russian Vernon Kaye just stole an audience member’s phone, well he had to do something to fill the last minute of screen time before voting finished.
22:08 Now the interval acts. Rapidly chugging wine to make this less painful.
They’re Argentinia acrobats suspended in pools of water high above the arena. It’s very impressive but Graham tells us they must have been up their for hours as they can’t have been set during the show.
Two larger pools have joined the smaller ones. They’re all going to be lowered down so the crowd can touch them. One has also been lowered over the Green Room. They are seriously massive.
Graham has a good point: “It’s like you went to a giant fair and won a girl in a plastic bag.”
The crowd clapping beneath the pools look like cultists awaiting the arrival of their alien overlords.
22:15 Andrew Lloyd Webber is being interviewed, he looks like an animatronic toad. He’s claiming Jade is Britain’s best artist. The man is delusional.
22:17 “She gave a fantastic performance…she couldn’t have done any better.” I think Andrew is hedging his bets there. Time for the juries.
22:18 Spain: “It’s the BEST Eurovision ever.” They award 8 points to Portugal and 10 points to the UK. 12 points for Norway. Not that berk.
22:19 Maureen from Belgium: 10 points for Norway. 12 points for Turkey. None for us. After all we’ve done for you Belgium. Hadise from Turkey looks very pleased.
22:20 Belarus – displaying a frightening cleavage. UK gets 3 points. She’s going very slowly. Not suprisingly their big points go to Russia, Azerbaijan and…Norway. His caterpillar eyebrows are dancing with joy.
22:21 Valetta from Malta is going on a bit. Tell us the votes love. There’s a night club in the background. UK – 10 points. We’re currently at Number 3. We’ll let you off for the waffling.
22:22 Now Thomas from Germany: he looks like a battered up version of Alec Baldwin. 8 points for the UK. We’re still at Number 2 but Norwat are streaking ahead (54 to 31).
22:23 Czech Republic. Petra’s made an affort. Bit of brown nosing about the show. UK – 6 points. Good but come on Petra, that’s not enough. 8 points to Russia. 10 to Azerbaijan (in fifth place).
22:24 Sarah from Sweden: “Good evening Europe…” She’s a bit pleased with herself. Azerbaijan gets 8 points and Sarah gives us a little bit from the song. Does the same thing for Iceland. And for Norway who get the 12 points.
22:25 Recap: Norway at 1, UK at 2 and Turkey at 3. Long way to go.
22:26 Dora from Iceland. They award some points to Finland. Waldo’s People? Loyalty should only go so far. Top points go to Norway again.
22:27 Jan from Paris in front of the Eiffel Tower, cliched. Norway pick up some more points. UK get 4 but we’ve dropped to Number 3.
22:28 Shalom! Israel (who shouldn’t really count). Oh, I’ll take that back we got 4 points off them. That was nice. Armenia jump up to third though and we’re down to 4th.
The “legendary” 12 points fo to Norway. His lead is solid.
22:29 Inga Borga for Russia. Well, she’s sweet. UK – 6 points. Norway pick up 12. They’ve now got double the points we have.
22:30 Latvia. “Dear God, does he know he’s on television?” asks Graham. The representative is the definition of swarthy and stingy too. We get 2 points but are back in 3rd. Iceland are ahead of by 1 point and Norway get 12 points AGAIN.
22:31 The slightly vampiric representative of Montenegro. “That’s either natual dress or a horrible dress,” mutters Graham. His quips are improving as the night goes on. 10 more points for Norway. She is stringing her part out a bit. Their 12 points go to Bosnia Hertzegovina. Local voting.
22:22 We’ve dropped out of the top 3. Graham is still encouraging us to press the red button and read messages from other viewers.
22:32 Four points from Andorra for the UK. 10 points for Norway. 12 points save Spain from nil poit!
22:33 Jerry in Finland is wearing a slightly unwise plaid shirt. 12 points go to Estonia. More points for Norway. Nowt for dear old Jade.
22:34 We’re competing for a runners-up place now. Norway are now on 161 points. UK = 57. Graham’s now forced to note that we’re still in the Top 10.
22:35 Very happy woman from Bulgaria. 7 points for the UK. 2 for Norway. 8 points for Azerbaijan. 10 points for Turkey. 12 points for Greece giving the former favourite a welcome boost.
22:37 Lithuania, Villnus – European Capital Of Culture 2009 and giver of 3 points. We’re still in a 5. 12 points for Norway and the man from Lithuania goes a little bit mad ruffling his own hair.
22:38 Our representative is…Duncan James from Blue. Is that the best we could do? 8 points for Iceland. 10 points for Norway. 12 points to Turkey. Seems that Twitter’s love of Molodova and the Ukraine didn’t translate to phone votes.
22:39 Macedonia give the UK 6 points. We’re still in 5th place. Norway could be still be beaten but they’ll have to stop getting 12s.
22:41 Another hilarious skit from Elena in place of the ad break the rest of Europe are getting. It’s a folk rendition of “Not Going To Get Us” by Tatu. Tatty-hilarious.
22:42 The presenters take a moment to try and flog the official DVD.
22:43 Slovakia: 7 points for the UK. 6 for Iceland. 8 for Bosnia. 10 points to Norway. 12 to Estonia – keeping it in the Eastern European family.
22:44 “One of the oldest things in Athens,” says Graham, “It’s Alexis…” from Greece. 10 points for Norway again. 12 points to the UK!
22:45 Bosnia has offered up a drug casualty to present their votes. UK does get 4 points which is helpful.
22:46 Ukraine: dressed like Raquel Welch as a cavewoman and offering up 6 points to the UK. Current score 102. 12 points for Norway. UK =5th with Azerbaijan.
22:47 Turkey is taking her time. 8 points to Bosnia. 10 points to Albania…really? The mirrorball gimp. Azerbaijan get 12 points. UK now in 6th. Norway now has 238 votes.
22:49 8 points for UK from Albania. Greece get 12 points which eases his embarassment slightly.
22:50 Jervana from Belgrade is talking about something “unforgettable” then she’s slung 8 points to the UK. Back in the Top 5.
22:51 7 points from Cyprus. UK now on its highest score since 1998. 12 points for Greece (“A bit of a pity party from Greece,” says Graham).
22:52 Poland’s representative is singing. He won’t be representing them next year. UK gets 4 points. 10 points for the Ukraine who although very “cool Bom!” is in at 10. Norway score the 12 points. Getting close to a record.
22:53 Netherlands give UK 3 points. Turkey overtake picking up 8 points. They’re now 1 ahead of us. The 12 points go to “someone I fell in love with tonight” says the Dutch rep before awarding them to Norway.
22:54 Estonia award their 12 points to Norway. Graham tells us it’s the most popular song ever. No points for the UK
22:55 4 points from Croatia keep us in the top 5. Norway pick up points again. They’re now on 309 points. It’s now 2am in Russia.
22:57 Portugal award the UK 10 points. We’re back in the top 4.
22:57 Romania give 10 points to Iceland and 12 points to Moldova. That’s a baffling choice.
22:58 Ireland’s turn. He’s really going on but awards the UK 10 points so we’ll let him off. 12 points go to Iceland which moves into Number 2.
22:59 Felix Schmitt for Denmark looks like Brad Pitt playing Boris Johnson. 3 points for the UK, still 4th. Norway move up to 339. “That boy is going to be unbearable,” says Graham. Yep, no doubt. Perhaps we can send Lordi to gore him.
23:00 Andre in Moldova looks like he’s going to fall alsleep. Only 1 point for the UK. “I’m proud I was tiny part of the show,” he simpers. Azerbaijan gain points catching up on Iceland.
23:01 Peter from Slovenia asks for one minute of silence. Very awkward. Norwat get the 12 points. In the Green Room they are about to explode with joy.
23:02 Armenia’s representative looks like an animated shop doll. UK picks up 7 points. Still 4th.
23:04 Hungrary. UK 1 point. Norway have won but can we stay in the Top 4? 12 points go to Norway. “They must be building the set in Oslo already,” chuckles Graham.
23:05 Azerbaijan penultimate country. “They haven’t got through a single rehearsal without technical difficulties,” says Graham. And they don’t tonight. The picture disappears and the ladies hair is clearly malfunctioning. Turkey get 12 points. There’s now 1 point stopping them from equalling or overtaking the UK.
23:06 Norway – the final. “Thank you so much Russia, thank you so much Moscow, thank you so much Europe…” next he’ll thank his mother.
Norway win with 387.
“We can feel very proud indeed,” says Graham. It’s our best result for years. In the Top 5. He’s brown nosing Andrew Lloyd Webber again.
“It’s an extraordinary year where music came back to the forefront of the Eurovision song contest.” claims Graham. But also fake tan, false boobs, burlesque dancers and terrible rapping. Truly all forms of bad taste music have been here.
And now Alexander (soon to be played by Zac Efron in a cash-in biopic) takes to the stage. Lis Asia and last year’s winner are presenting the award to him. He’s man handling poor old Mrs Asia.
23:12 Norway’s entry is being reprised. It’s a fairytale victory (oh come on, it was begging to be said). But unlike the Daz Sampson embarassment in 2006, Scooch’s Flying The Flag and Andy Abraham’s disasterous performance, the UK managed a good showing.
Goodnight everyone. I’m off to soak my fingers in a bowl of ice.