IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAR!
Coming to you LIVE from a certain international postgraduate college, somewhere in the northeast of England, we’re here to cover Baku 2012: the Eurovision Song Contest!
The real deal starts at 8pm GMT, 3pm EST, and a horrible midnight AM in Azerbaijan, the host country this year, as their song “Running Scared” by Ell/Nikki took first place in 2011. Some of you might contend that Azerbaijan is not strictly in Europe. Some of you are clearly unfamiliar with the total lack of logic that is the backbone of the Eurovision Song Contest.
Favourites for the title this year include “chive-headed split zygote” Jedward, from Ireland – more on them later – and, no joke, a posse of singing grandmas from Russia who are attempting to raise money to rebuild a church razed to the ground by Stalin 70 years ago. Reams of glorious pop, terrible dancing, and questionable costumes will no doubt also be in attendance.
Paint your faces! Open your beer! Tie on those flags! Pull up a chair and GET READY FOR EUROVISION!
11.20 PM: And it’s Sweden by a landslide! I’m really happy with this, actually, although “sleeper hit” might not have been the best choice of words, looking back. Loreen prepares to sing her hit “Euphoria” again, as Graham reminds us that it’s twenty past three in the morning in Azerbaijan. She (Loreen, not Graham) looks elated, although a bit shell-shocked, as she begins the final performance of the night.
And that’s all, folks! Feel free to hang out, discuss, swap videos, relive past Eurovisions, and keep the party going! Remember: PARTY FOR EVERYBODY. If you can’t take life advice from a bunch of Russian grannies, who can you trust? Dr. Song, signing off!
VERY LATE RE-EDIT: I had to come back and add this. Graham Norton, the UK host for Eurovision, was in a show years ago called Father Ted. Father Ted was about priests in Ireland. Father Ted was fucking genius. It had an episode satirising Eurovision and featured this mock entry for Ireland. No Eurovision conversation is complete without a reference to “My Lovely Horse.”
11.16 PM: Irish Michael just pointed at the Irish vote presenter and said, “Oh, I adopted a dog from her. A deaf Dalmatian.” THIS IS MY LIFE, PEOPLE
11.15 PM: Yes, Israel gets to vote. No, we don’t know why.
11.14 PM: Now that we’re out of the former Soviet countries the grannies are doing much better. Come on, people! The grandmas just want to make pasties! They didn’t put you in the gulag! PASTY FOR EVERYONE!
11.11 PM: Germany is here to remind everyone that “Europe is watching you,” which sounds really sinister coming from the country that has all the money.
11.06 PM: OMG THE HARD ROCK HALLELUJAH GOBLINS ARE BACK AND HITTING ON THE GRANDMAS
11.02 PM: Can we get Sandi Toksvig in here next year? Either as a presenter or performer? Maybe she can work in her Antiques Master cred.
10.58 PM: The UK is in the BASEMENT here, and Sweden are about to break some kind of record. Portugal, meanwhile, voted for Germany, presumably to ensure they get a nice cut of the next bailout package.
10.51 PM: Graham Norton and I agree, at voting halftime, that the success of the Serbian song is mind-boggling. Especially as they just replayed the Russian clip to reveal that THE OVEN DANCES TOO.
10.50 PM: Switzerland’s presenter is class in a dress.
10.47 PM: Sweden is pulling right out in front, and Azerbaijan are enjoying some success out in third.
10.42 PM: The UK have the distinct privilege of being represented by some dude I have never seen before.
10.36 PM: Suddenly it’s a tight contest between Sweden and Russia. I’m very happy about this.
10.34 PM: Whoever is announcing votes for Ukraine is just one missed lunch away from eating someone’s face off.
10.30 PM: And Greece takes an early lead! The votes for each country are announced by a local famous person. Last year the UK’s votes were read out by Alexa Chung. I am on the edge of my seat to see who represents us this year. Gok Wan? Louise Mensch? IAN HISLOP???
10.26 PM: Is… is the Azerbaijani singer stoned? She can barely talk. I mean, I’m not making fun of her English, it’s just like she has no control of her mouth.
10.20 PM: But first, a display of virtuoso Azerbaijani traditional music, mixed with the leftover special effects from that Iron Maiden concert your dad went to in the 80s that he’s never shut up about. Some major pop star has just been lowered through the ceiling. I have no idea who he is, but his backup pals are really into dreads.
10.15 PM: Voting’s over! I’m not telling until I find out if my country won or not. Now we go through the tedious process of tele-linking with every country to see who they voted for.
10.03 PM: Irish Michael on Cyprus’s lead singer: “I don’t want her to win, because if she doesn’t get famous then there’s a better chance I’ll actually get to know her someday and ask her to marry me.”
10.01 PM: So the singing is over! LET THE VOTING COMMENCE. It’ll be a while before all the votes are in and the presenters start announcing the winners. Interestingly, you’re not allowed to vote for your own country.
9.58 PM: Well, at least we’ve solved the mystery of why Edward Norton couldn’t play The Hulk in “Avengers”. He was too busy rehearsing to be Moldova’s frontman. This one is weird, guys. The backup dancers are like malfunctioning windup dolls.
9.56 PM: MOLDOVA IS IN THE HOUSE! It’s the last song (26th) and I have to say, I have high hopes for this based on what they got up to last year.
9.51 PM: Ukraine’s song has been described as “an advert for sanitary towels just waiting to happen.” The singer thinks she’s Pocahontas, and has something on her hands that can only loosely be described as “gloves”.
9.49 PM: Serbia has a clarinet! And another hot girl with a violin. People are walking around very slowly on stage and then playing DRAMATIC CELLO.
A quick shoutout to Twitter, where both @caitlinmoran and @petepaphides are cracking my shit up. Pete’s tag #eurovisionwithmydad is comedy gold.
9.47 PM: THEY JUST MADE A HEART WITH THEIR HANDS AND JUMPED INTO A FOUNTAIN. I rarely use “gay” as an adjective, but that was it. That was gayer than Velvet Goldmine, right there.
9.45 PM: BUT NOT AS POPULAR AS JEDWARD! The boys are back, wearing polyester Power Ranger costumes they apparently Bedazzled all by themselves. God they’re TERRIBLE. This song is nowhere as good as Lipstick but that doesn’t mean you can’t leap around like an idiot to it! Jedward sure are. It’s so awful. I love it.
9.42 PM: Hot girls with violins are very popular this year.
9.40 PM: Strobe warning again! This time for F.Y.R. Macedonia. Somehow they’ve pulled off a time-travel trick just like Italy, only they went back to the 70s and picked up young Anjelica Huston. She has a gorgeous voice, lots of vibrato – and here comes that hard rock we were all waiting for!
9.36 PM: Malta has taken the bold step of putting their mixing desk right on stage. They have a lady drummer and a frontman who looks like Lee Mack with a facelift. Ooh, and some ridiculous dancing! I love ridiculous dancing. Irish Michael says that there’s a great song somewhere in here, but it has to break out of this actual song first.
9.32 PM: Germany now, with some guy in a floppy cap doing his best Justin Timberlake impression. Very Snow Patrol-esque, not that that’s necessarily a compliment.
9.28 PM: Well, no one’s gonna top that. Certainly not Spain, who have plumped for a ballad-style song. Their singer is wearing that rope-and-sail contraption Ariel first puts on after she gets her legs.
9.26 PM: IT GOT BETTER. The backup guys just made a sailing ship out of their capes. I’M ON A BOAT MOTHERFUCKER
9.23 PM: Turkey is up! Their band looks like a Sacha Baron Cohen sketch come to glorious wonderful life. Everyone is going nuts. Their front guy can’t dance, the song clearly has its roots in the Inspector Gadget theme tune, and the animated background consists of animated anchors.
9.22 PM: We’ve just been shown the “first lady of Eurovision,” who I think was the first winner ever! She looks bemused.
9.21 PM: This is quality stuff from Sweden. Different enough to stand out, incredibly dance-able, memorable visual presentation… this might be a sleeper hit.
9.19 PM: Loreen is up from Sweden, doing her own funky little dance up there. Remember that Eurovision was responsible for unleashing Abba on the world, and thus, indirectly, for the film “Mamma Mia.” Make of that what you will.
9.16 PM: Greece’s song is a total rip off of Shakira’s “Whenever, Wherever”, but it’s f-u-n. Singalong choruses for the win!
9.13 PM: Now Greece! Greece is commonly held to be not allowed to win Eurovision this year because we all know there’s no way they could host it, not for a decade.
9.12 PM: That was really a nice entry, actually. Solid pop song. I like it.
9.10 PM: Denmark is attempting to recreate the front cover of Sgt Pepper for Hipsters with this group. One guy is actually wearing a hoodie onstage; the rest of the ladies are in faux-military uniforms, some even with epaulettes. I do give them props for being the first band that is majority-female, where all the ladies are playing instruments to boot. Oh, and hang on for the xylophone solo!
9.09 PM: Some gorgeous shots of the Azerbaijani ballet corps.
9.06 PM: Annnnnnnnnnd Romania has upped the game with moonwalking bagpipers. That is not a typo. They’ve got an entire multicultural, marching, high-fiving ooompah band up there. CLASSIC EUROVISION ANTICS.
9.05 PM: Apparently my college has gotten a shout-out on the Eurovision Twitter feed! This is probably the biggest party around, I can’t lie:
9.02 PM: Home country Azerbaijan is up now, with a lovely young woman in an incredible dress. It’s quite good. The dress, I mean. She’s pretty good too, but there’s some dude WAILIN in the background who I feel should get more screen time. OMG THE DRESS CHANGES COLOUR.
8.59 PM: Halftime! Interviews in the green room, firstly with Englebert. His face is melting slightly.
8.55 PM: Norway is techno-ing it up! Dude is pretty attractive, apparently, if you like that kind of thing. His backup dancers are HILARIOUS. Michael has the whole number pegged as a secret hair gel ad.
8.51 PM: Estonian singer Ott Lepland is wearing a questionable vest, and that’s really all I can find to say about this entry.
8.48 PM: Italy up next; they took second last year. They’ve fielded the ghost of Amy Winehouse to represent them, which is… really unsettling to see, actually. I mean, the song is great, the backup is fun, she’s a good performer… BUT THAT’S DEAD AMY WINEHOUSE ON STAGE. FOR ITALY.
8.45 PM: France’s effort consists of buff dudes in sweatpants backflipping around while a lady in some vaguely Viking inspired corset sings and wafts her trouser-dress around. I am underwhelmed.
8.44 PM: We’ve just had a strobe effect warning for France’s entry; that’s how you separate the goofily posturing, shirtless men from the boys, folks.
8.40 PM: Cyprus up next, with “La La Love”. The fashion on display is breathtaking, and also gynecological. These are short skirts, people. And they all look so happy! Aww, A for effort. Except for the hairstyles.
8.38 PM: The lead dude from the Icelandic band is terrifying. Michael: “He’s about to turn into a werewolf!” His partner is a woman with crazy blond hair and a violin. The whole thing has a vaguely death-metal feel to it, which is interesting, but it also looks horribly like the rousing part of a musical involving the rise of the undead.
8.36 PM: It’s over, you can all stop watching. Babushki 4eva.
8.34 PM: THE GRANNIES HAVE REMOVED THE BISCUITS AND ARE DANCING WITH THE BAKING TRAY. THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER.
8.33 PM: BABUSHKI! THE GRANDMAS ARE BAKING ONSTAGE AND THEY ARE ALL AT LEAST 135 YEARS OLD.
8.31 PM: Apparently it’s a player piano, as she’s just got up and walked away to get her diva on. I give it a solid “whatever.” BRING ON THE GRANNIES!!!
8:28 PM: Bosnia & Herzegovina have a wicked tough act to follow. They’ve fielded a lovely lass playing her own piano and singing in whatever the native language of B&H is. (Google says: Bosnian, Serbian or Croatian. Please forgive me if I can’t make that distinction myself.)
8.24 PM: SCREAMS OF DELIGHT in the bar as Donny rips off the blindfold, does a few one-handed cartwheels, and shakes his money maker. This is Expanded Disco Deluxe. Donna Summer would be proud. Michael’s verdict: “In it to win it!”
8.23 PM: Lithuania! Singer Donny Montell is driving home the central message of his song “Love Is Blind” by wearing a bedazzled blindfold. Classic Eurovision fashion decision – or maybe he just has crippling stagefright.
8.21 PM: My source was not wrong. This is creepy as shit. This lady has one long dreadlock coiled up on her decolletage and it looks like it’s ALIVE. Props for singing in Albanian rather than English, though – although it does add to the Ming the Merciless vibe that’s already going on.
Irish Micheal: “Oh, she was in the Fifth Element.”
8.20 PM: I’m being warned in advance that the Albanian act (up next) is terrifying.
8.18 PM: I changed my mind. I don’t like the sound of this. Serviceable, but boring, pop-rock. WHERE ARE THE FREAK SHOWS, EUROVISION?
8.16 PM: Hungary’s band is called Compact Disco. I like the sound of this.
8.14 PM: Englebert appears to have no idea that there are two dancing couples, a guitarist, and FIREY PINWHEELS behind him. Bless our OAPers, that’s what I say.
8.12 PM: First up is the UK, with legendary performer and subject of several Eddie Izzard monologues, ENGLEBERT HUMPERDINCK! His song is called “Love will Set You Free”. Irish Michael informs me that EH is wearing a special medallion given to him by Elvis Presley, presumably in reparation for stealing his sideburns and career.
8.06 PM: Rehash of last year’s winning song, only with more fire special effects. I hated that song, to be honest, I was holding out for Moldova with the unicycles and the hats and the girl in a tutu.
Our hosts are
Lena, the German winner from two years ago, and… three people whose names I missed. They look gorgeous. They will now talk about the background of the contest while Graham Norton judges them thru voice-over. One of them is the dude from Ell/Nikki, who is doing a great imitation of a kindergarten teacher on Valium.
8.00 PM: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
We’ve opened, after the very classy opening music, with a gentleman sitting on a rug doing some amazing singing. Then there is terrible dancing, with white TRON-type suits. God, it’s all so trashy I LOVE IT. Harnesses! White porkpie hats! Acrobatics! Dancing ladies! God, they’re really kicking off here. Where did they get all this money? Nobody has any money in Europe these days.
Seriously, this is some really gorgeous traditional dancing on display. Kudos to Azerbaijan for really going the cultural route.
7.58 PM: IT’S ALMOST TIME OMG
You can watch a live stream here if you’re not in a Eurovision-broadcasting country: http://www.eurovision.tv/esctv. Seriously, get on this. If you’ve never seen it before, you are in for A TREAT.
7.50 PM: Our host this evening is one Graham Norton. You may know Graham Norton as Father Noel Furlong from Father Ted:
Emotion is running high over here for Ireland. If you don’t know about Jedward yet, I highly suggest that you google them, as there is no way I can do them justice in the space of a paragraph. Irish Michael sums them up as “embarrassing candle-folk”, but this is where I have to admit that I really liked their song from last year…
Just think of them as twin Tiggers with far too much access to hair gel. God I hope they win.
7.45 PM: It’s filling up nicely in our student bar:
Here’s me and my good friend, Irish Michael. Irish Michael will be helping me with the ins and outs of Eurovision, as I’ve only ever seen one, whereas he remembers the days when Terry Wogan used to host it blind-drunk.
The bar is full of friends of ours, all ready for kickoff! Where are you watching, P’neers? Let us know in the comments.