Saturday, March 15, 2014

ESC 2014 - the Norwegian final

Just so it's said: I don't like the format this year, and I don't think they've made a great choice in hosts either. Solbakken is OK, but Skavlan is no good ... and she seems to be dragging Solbakken down to her level. Without the so-called expert panel we were forced to endure in the semis, though, this is at least somewhat better.

And I quite like the Mammon spoof. Although it's hardly necessary - that show practically spoofed itself.

But! I'm very happy with the songs we've got to choose from. There were actually no ridiculously bad entries this year. Unlike what can be said about Copenhagen. But we've done well this year. Yay us. :-)

Entry #1: Ain't No Love (In This City No More) performed by El Cuero. I really like this entry. It would be cool to send this - some real rock'n'roll. It's really catchy, I love the chorus especially. They're real pros and they perform the song very well. Their band name may be a handicap though. I think this may do very well tonight ... it may appeal to the older generation where I know a lot of people will be watching. However, on the assumption that it's mostly the younger viewers who actually vote, that may be a handicap instead.

Entry #2: Sole Survivor performed by Elisabeth Carew. A pretty song, performed by a beautiful woman in a beautiful dress. That can't be wrong. :-) She sings it well, her voice fits the song well, and she's confident on stage ... it's a strong entry and should do well. What I don't like about it is the presentation - I resent it when songs are presented in our national final with a choreography that we can't use in the international final. It's kind of cheating. What you see will not be what you get. The song itself is a contender though.

Entry #3: Taste of You performed by Knut Kippersund Nesdal. Now this guy is really talented, he's so enthusiastic on stage and it really shines through. That's one of the things that can really bring in the votes internationally. And the song is good too, catchy, with a strong melodic line and a good chorus. I really like that he's alone on stage, that's a plus in my book. His voice is really good, and has character, I like him a lot as a singer. I would be happy to see this win although I don't think it will.

Entry #4: Needs performed by Dina Misund. A pretty ballad, but the blandest song in the lineup so far. Kind of ... fine while you're listening to it, but three minutes after it's over you can't hum it to save your life. I was actually surprised when this got through from the first semi, I didn't expect it to. I have nothing against it, but it also does nothing for me. Can't imagine this as our winner.

Entry #5: Heal performed by Mo. This is not the song I want to win, but it's the one I'm scared can really menace my preferred winner. Norwegians are stupid enough to actually vote this all the way to the top ... I don't know what's up with that, I really don't. We should pick the song that has the best chance to win, right? And this isn't it. It's not a bad song, not at all ... it's actually a good pop song. But it's a generic pop song. It's just that. And the singer's not that good, he's OK, but not what you'd call good. Plus the presentation has the same problem as Sole Survivor ... although in this case the choreography could easily be scaled down to fit the requirements. But I still resent it. There was a big cheer in the audience for this entry. I hope the TV audience is a little more clever. But past evidence indicates otherwise, alas. Fingers crossed that this won't win.

Entry #6: High Hopes performed by Linnea Dale. Oooh ... !! Now this is one of the songs I definitely want to see win. One of my top two favorites this year. I dig this song. It's almost a little magical moment to me when I hear this. The very first time I heard it, after just one minute I was totally in love with it. I mean, just listen to this. Her gorgeous voice, her performance, that melody, the lyrics ... this song is just the total package. Europe would so totally vote for this. And I will too.

Entry #7: Hit Me Up performed by Charlie. OK, not that there's any chance whatsoever of this winning, but if it did, I would seriously lose faith in humanity. Not that it's a bad song, it's fun to listen too, and while the singer is quite silly she is also very young and this is what you expect from this kind of bubblegum pop thing. But how anyone could hear this song immediately after High Hopes and then proceed to vote for the bubblegum ... that defies my powers of credulity. Let's all just forget about this.

Entry #8: Silent Storm performed by Carl Espen. OMG here it comes ... !!! This is my absolute #1 favorite this year. We MUST send this song. This is the perfect choice. This burly tattooed guy in a denim shirt and a beard comes out on stage and sings this sensitive ballad, and he has this AMAZING voice that just rips your heart out of your chest and leaves it bleeding on the floor ... !!! And his performance is soo emotional and genuine. They will love that down east.

We must send this song. And we will. I know something you don't.

Entry #9: Sing perfomed by Oda & Wulff. I was really happy to see this come through from the final. It's the funnest entry this year. I love their voices. They really have character. The song is so entertaining too. A very fun entry, really. Of course it can't win. But it's fun to see something like this in the lineup. I has amusement. Kudos to them.

OK, that's the whole thing. Now some of the songs will get through to a second round. My nerves ... !! My two favorites will get through, but so will their biggest threat. Augh, my nerves ... !!

I'm not a fan of this format, but I really like these little nostalgic collages in the intervals. More of those please. Although they are rather squirm-inducing.

So, now there's a break for some other program, and when we start up again in what, 40 minutes? four songs will be through to the final round. These will be Silent Storm, Heal, High Hopes and Taste of You, is my so-called guess. Like I said, I know something you don't.

Sole Survivor is totally bombing. I am slightly shocked by how badly it's doing. Like, Sing is totally crushing it. Wow.


Aaand ... we're back. My nerves have rather settled for the moment, since I know ... well, what I know. And the details have reassured me. But still, it's not certain yet. I'm still nervous, anyway. :-)

A quick runthrough of the songs, since we may have forgotten them in the 40 minutes that have passed.

Now they're going to go over the four songs. In random order, they say, but the order is actually this:
Silent Storm
Heal
High Hopes
Taste of You

Silent Storm ended ahead of the others by ... quite a bit. Then the other three are in a relatively even group. I'm pretty confident right now. Just hoping the foolish teenagers don't rally around Heal at the last moment. Fingers crossed ... !!!

Taste of You performed again. Still good. But, well, yeah. This is not our man.

Silent Storm is next. Called second but actually definitely in first place at this point. However, when it was competing against eight other songs, some of them not real contenders, then that was one situation. Now that it'll be up against only three entries, and they are all quite strong, well, that's something else again. I'm nervous ... !! If only your average Norwegian was a little brainier I'd be less so. But, augh. Fingers crossed again.

His performance ... !!! His voice!! We seriously HAVE GOT TO SEND THIS, people!!!

I'm seriously feeling shivers down my spine right now. And this guy has never performed in public before entering this contest ... !!! He will have all of Europe transfixed on May 10th. PLEASE vote for this entry!!!

It's a little mean of them to take such endlessly long artistic pauses between "the next finalist is" and the performer's name. Seriously. I say I have nerves, but these people ... !!

Heal is next. Actually in second place. Ho-hum ...

Stella Mwangi's hair ... !!! :-o

I actually kind of like Heal better each time I hear it. It's growing on me. It's not at all a bad song, in fact, it's pretty good for what it is. The singer would be a major handicap though. You all know what I mean. I personally don't have anything against us shooting ourselves in the foot like that, on principle - I dug it when we sent Stella, because that song was so cool and it was fantastic to be the first nation performing in Swahili, and in any case we didn't really have much to choose from that time - but in practice ... I do have something against it when we have something SO MUCH BETTER that we can send and have the chance to do really really well. A fantastic singer against a just OK one, and a great song against a good one. And the performances, well ...

To do really well in the ESC an entry has to appeal across the board. Both east and west have to like it. And I promise you, down east they are going to love Carl Espen's sincere and emotional performance. A slightly androgynous Somalian teenager*? Doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell. That's the reality.

*He may not be a teenager anymore, I'm not sure exactly how old he is. But he looks like a kid.

But I wouldn't care about any of that, I would happily see us bomb, if this was the best song. If the songs were switched between these two singers, then hell yes, send the Somalian. But they're not. Silent Storm is a much better song and for several reasons a much stronger entry. It really is the only choice.

Oh ... !! They're keeping their votes from the first round! YES!!! Then Silent Storm already has a significant head start. OMG nerves ... !!

A couple of old contestants to keep us entertained while we wait. And as they sing Silent Storm is pulling ahead. Way ahead. And High Hopes moving up to second place. Faith in humanity restored ... !!

The hosts are so unprofessional though, it's embarrassing ... !! Sheesh!

OK, Stella is so pretty even with that hair. Her smile ... !! She's going to read the east country votes. This is the most densely populated area of the country, so this is where the most votes will have come in. Mine among them. I've voted like 15 times for Silent Storm. :-) The results are very even between Silent Storm and Heal. But it'll only be here that Heal ends up in first place, I guarantee it.

Jørn Hoel with the votes from the north. Silent Storm pulls ahead. Yep yep.

Margaret Berger with the votes from ... what, the midlands? :-) Silent Storm wins again. It's still even, but that won't last.

Helene Bøksle from the south country. Wow, it's even!! But Silent Storm still ahead.

Christine Gulbrandsen representing the west country. Now they must have liked Silent Storm. Melancholy and all that. Plus Carl Espen is from Bergen. And OMG YES! They've gone crazy for it! And Silent Storm is our entry. YAY YAY YAY!!

I HAS A HAPPY!!!

Carl Espen has a happy too. Aw. :-)

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Books I've read in 2013 - June

Det ufattelige var sant by Walter Laqueur
Sannhetens pris by John Grisham – AUDIO
The Darwin Awards 4: Intelligent Design by Wendy Northcutt
Torka aldrig tårar utan handskar: 2. Sjukdomen by Jonas Gardell
Livet är kort Rytkönen lång by Arto Paasilinna – AUDIO
Stain of the Berry by Anthony Bidulka
Ondskapens kyst by Robert Wilson – AUDIO
Liberace. An American Boy by Darden Asbury Pyron
The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
Borderline by Liza Marklund – AUDIO

6 printed books, 1,786pp
4 audiobooks, 38h 54m

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Quote of the Week

There are other ways of transporting people besides the streetcar. Maybe those ways are both more efficient, cheaper and more environmentally friendly. We can't ignore that because supposedly the streetcar is the soul of the city. Once upon a time I guess horses and carriages were the soul of the city.
Mazyar Keshvari

Friday, May 31, 2013

Books I've read in 2013 - May

Etter begravelsen by Agatha Christie – AUDIO
Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Shit?, volume two
by Steve Lowe & Alan McArthur
Dawn Blossoms Plucked At Dusk by Lu Hsun
Maleren fra Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein – AUDIO
Galápagos – verdens ende by various authors
Barneselskapet by Agatha Christie – AUDIO
Nattefokk by Johan Theorin – AUDIO
The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg by Mark Twain (Penguin 60)
Jane and the Ghosts of Netley by Stephanie Barron
Spilleren by Fyodor Dostoyevsky – AUDIO
Sølvhesten by Lene Kaaberbøl – AUDIO
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

6 printed books, 1,402 pages
6 audiobooks, 47h 42m

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Malmö 2013 - final

OMG OMG OMG ... !!!

IT'S ON ... !!! :-D

This caterpillar thing they're doing in the opening is brilliant. We love it. Cute and fun and clever. Promising. :-)

Now on to the arena. Beautiful music - Björn & Benny, that's a coup - and the copy bridge, we're thinking Loreen will come across that at some point. :-) But no! It's all the performers! With flag bearers! It's the Olympics! :-D Wow, this is so cool. Seriously, this is fantastic. We love this. Brilliant idea.

Petra's dress is so much prettier tonight. Much better choice. But tonight she probably will change out of it. :-D

France. I hope she'll be wearing her little black flame dress. I really like this song, but it's not very accessible.  And she's wearing a different dress. :-( The song is so good though. I like her voice, it has character. And she's certainly putting a lot of energy into her performance. It's far from a standard ballad. She really has the arena going. This is a good way to open the show, certainly. I like this a lot, we all do, but like I said it's not all that accessible. Another song that would have benefited from going through the semis. Fingers crossed for France. Ooh, and plus points for singing in French.

Lithuania. We're not overwhelmed by this. But it is growing on us. It's kind of catchy while you're listening to it. He's not much of a singer but I can see how a lot of teenyboppers would find him physically appealing. I myself am put off by his bad pronunciaton though. Totally OK song, but totally bland. So not the winner by any stretch of the imagination.

Moldova! I'm rooting for them now, after Tuesday's semi. I love this song!! It's so beautiful and she performs it so beautifully. That melody ... !! She could have done without the dancers though. That dress is enough of a show in itself. :-) I love this! I'm totally going to vote for Moldova. Chisinau 2014!!!

Finland. My original favorite. Still like this a lot, but beautiful isn't the word that comes to mind first. A lot of fun though. Her performance is better than on Thursday. Hope they'll do well, but this isn't a winner. Good presentation, good song, fun entry, but not a winner.

Spain. Also not a winner. Pretty girl, OK voice, eye-catching dress, OK presentation and pretty good performance. This is also the best I've heard this entry performed. But it's nowhere near enough to take them anywhere. OK to listen to but nothing more than that. Same old same old from Spain, I'm afraid.

Belgium. Oh, it's the baby serial killer ... !! Eek. He's slightly less creepy tonight. Although that may be because I'm expecting it. o_O But the song is catchy, definitely. And I'm sure the teenyboppers go for this, big time. But we firmly oppose his way of smiling during the chorus! "Love kills", so what are you grinning about?? A pretty good voice. This could do OK, I guess, but it's no winner. I certainly hope not, then he'll never stop smiling.

Estonia. Maybe the most standardized entry tonight. Pretty girl, pretty voice, pretty dress, pretty ballad, good performance ... a somewhat evocative presentation, I'll give them that. But there's absolutely no hook to this in any way, shape or form. You can't hum this even when you're listening to it. Sorry, Estonia. Nothing wrong with this, but nothing to remember either. Ooh, except that the lyrics are in Estonian, kudos for that.

Belarus. A lot better than 2011, at least. ;-) Very catchy, not to mention very eye-catching, but I'm sure we've all heard this a hundred times before. Not that that's going to matter. It's super catchy. The presentation is a bit OTT, but who cares, it's the ESC. This is the kind of entry that I'm a little bit ashamed of enjoying so much. ;-) A serious contender. But of course the Belarusians can't be allowed to win ... !! :-o

Malta. Oh, if they could only win one time ... !! But they probably won't manage that this year. :-) This is a really cute entry though. Totally charming. And how could anyone dislike their singer?? I like this entry more every time I hear it. It's adorable. Precious. :-) Not the winner, but only because there's no award given for cuteness and charm. :-)

Russia. Beautiful singer with a beautiful voice. Maybe the best singer tonight. Her pronunciaton could be better, but you can't have everything. Striking presentation. Absolutely beautiful entry. Although I'm having to work a bit to suppress the irony of this message coming from Russia. This song isn't catchy, but it's beautiful. A serious contender.

Germany, with their entry Euphoria Light. Sorry, I mean Glorious. Honest mistake - this song is such a total ripoff that it's hard to avoid. Totally catchy though, a wonderful song. For obvious reasons. Not a very good singer. Kind of boring performance, but OK, I guess. Obviously not a winner. But I'm sure they don't want to win either. ;-)

Armenia. My biggest disappointment of the year. :-( Totally boring song. Incredibly boring presentation. And that guy is Armenia's best singer?? Seriously?? I'd like to see a list of who voted for him. They must all have been fourteen years old. That is really the only explanation. Awful performance. Annoying song. BLECH!

The postcards are good though. I've been forgetting to mention that. :-)

I'm the only one in the room who likes Lynda Woodruff. But I like her a lot. :-D

The Netherlands. I'm the only one in the room who likes this too ... ! But to make up for the others' lack of enthusiasm, I love it. Her voice has so much character. And the melody is soo beautiful. A really original entry, unlike so many of the others this year. I love it. It's not a winner, but I hope they do well. I think they have the potential to manage that this year. :-)

Romania. Sheesh. Did I call the Belgian kid creepy? I almost take that back. I mean, we all already know that Dracula was from Romania. Do they really have to rub it in? This is so totally messed up. At the same time though, it's fun to see something really totally out there. I don't know what to say about this. I would LOVE for Romania to win one day, but ... not right now. :-)

UK. A fantastic song that I love more every time I hear it. And I've heard it a lot of times already. :-) Please note that I really like Bonnie Tyler, though. However, I am worried that she will ruin this with a performance that was outdated 20 years ago. I kind of shuddered to see her on The Graham Norton Show. But so far this is much better. Yeah, she managed it pretty well actually. She did not at all disgrace herself. Yay. :-) They won't win with this, but it is a quality entry, they can hold their heads up this year.

Sweden. Our gracious host. OMG, their singer is so douchy. OK voice, I guess, but nothing special. The song is catchy while you're listening to it, but ... nothing special. And the performance is so pointless. Of course SVT doesn't want to win again this year. God forbid it. Fortunately the odds are very good that they won't. :-)

Hungary. Now this we like. Especially since the Swedish entry is so hysterically active, it's so great to just wind down with this. Another charming entry. Totally simple performance, which is perfect for this song. This is very good. It's music, not a circus act. And huge kudos for singing in Hungarian.

Denmark! One of the really massive favorites. I like this a lot ... and I like it more every time I hear it. Good singer, strong melody, great opening. Good performance and interesting presentation. But again, I'm the only fan in the room. :-) KAS and trilltrall are hoping it won't win. trilltrall is hoping for Bucharest 2014, so his opinion can probably be disregarded. ;-) I do agree with KAS though that this is kind of the ultimate ESC entry. I'd be happy to see this win, and it very well might.

Iceland. I LOVE that they're singing in Icelandic. Icelandic is the funnest language in the world. Icelandic FTW!! The melody though is way too bland to get very far. It's quite beautiful to listen too, but two minutes after it's over you couldn't hum it to save your life. And I can't stop thinking how much better this guy would look with short hair. Oh well. Awesome that they're finally singing in their own language. Nice and simple presentation. Good luck to the Icelanders. :-)

Azerbaijan. Another favorite. I LOVE their presentation. So original and clever. But Farid's kind of a douche. He's a pretty good singer though, so I guess it evens out. And the song's good too - again, rather bland, and five minutes from now I won't be able to hum this to save my life. But I like it a lot. V. good entry. Awesomely cool presentation.

Greece. The dark horse of the evening, if you ask me. They can, and probably will, do really well. A fun entry, catchy, with some ethnic elements. A fun performance. Europe's going to dig this. We love Greece. :-) And like I've said before, that title could prove to be a stroke of genius. We'll see. :-)

Ukraine. Another song that's so beautiful while you're listening to it, and then as soon as it's over you can't remember a thing. The singer's pretty good though. The presentation is striking, very evocative. But the song is soo bland. Beautiful but bland. It'll probably do well. Potentially very well indeed. But it's like almost everything else this year. Meh.

Italy. My second biggest disappointment this year. Boring. I expect soo much better from the Italians. :-( There's nothing wrong with this song, and the singer's pretty good, except his suit, but there's absolutely nothing to this entry. Nothing. Boo, Italy! Come back stronger next year.

Norway. Yay us!! Everyone who follows this blog, or who has watched my Youtube reviews, knows that I never praise our own entry unless we deserve it. And we really do this year. This is one of the very best entries this year, no question. Maybe the very best. We are a serious contender. Margaret's performance is great, she doesn't seem nervous at all, although she did claim to be. The presentation is cool, and suits the song very well. Just like her voice. We can be very proud this year, no matter how this turns out. But we could actually really win. :-o Calyx thinks we will win, because everyone will vote for us because we're the only ones who can afford to host. :-D Well, we'll see. Fingers crossed!!!

For everyone on Twitter who's wondering why she doesn't have dragons: Reptiles are illegal as pets in Norway.

Georgia. KAS soo doesn't get this. But trilltrall and I like it a lot. The singers are very good, and it's nice to see a duet. Beautiful melody. Again, pretty bland, but beautiful to listen to. Nothing wrong with this. I can see it getting a lot of votes.

Ireland. The last song already! Unbelievable. Almost as unbelievable as the fact that Ireland has sent a pretty good song. o_O The song's not bad, and his performance is fine, but the presentation is just way way too much. They're going totally overboard with the Celtic knots and everything. I can guarantee that it isn't helping them. And the song gets kind of enervating after a while. But that may be because of the total overkill on the presentation. Sheesh, Ireland, you always mess up.

It's done! :-( I'm nervous on Margaret's behalf already ... ! :-o

The first runthrough. Who to vote for?? Moldova!!! :-D

The interval entertainment. What can it be?? Something that involves Loreen. :-)

Yup. But not Euphoria. Huh. But on the other hand, she is flying. What weird costumes they all have. But here comes Euphoria ... !! Yay!

Second runthrough.

OK, I voted. Once each for Finland, the UK, Hungary, Denmark and the Netherlands. I also accidentally voted twice for Lithuania! I went off to pee during the first runthrough and I got the numbers mixed up. I'm sorry! If Lithuania gets any votes from us, it'll be my fault. :-( But of course I did manage to vote about seven times for Moldova. Good luck to them, fingers crossed ... !!! :-)

The voting's closed. Back to the interval entertainment. Petra's changed her dress! Into a very Swedish one. What will they do. Something ... funny! Hah! This is what you call toning it down. To those of us who know the Swedes, this is hysterical. Hahaha!!

Ooh, Sarah Dawn Finer. Wonder how many of the viewers are recognizing Lynda Woodruff. ;-) Good choice of song, if they have to have ABBA. Which of course they do.

The votes are in! And counted! Eek! Petra's changed her dress again. Well, she had to.

**************

OK, the votes are being called in, and we're watching, but my computer's died twice and I've had to restart. Halfway through now and we're in the top five. I'd be thrilled with that. :-) Denmark's leading the field, unsurprisingly. It's very even though, an exciting vote. Which is the best kind and exactly what we were hoping for. :-)

Of course I was planning a running commentary on the voting, but now I've lost track of what I was going to say. :-) Iceland voting now as #27. A pattern is starting to show ... I think I'm ready to call it - we'll be tuning in to Copenhagen next year. Azerbaijan isn't that far behind, but their problem is that every time they get points, Denmark also get points from the same country. So now that the Danes are about 30 points ahead, well ... you do the math. :-) I'd be very happy to see them win. I like the song a lot too. Plus Azerbaijan only just won ... !!

As long as we're in the top five we should be happy. We only just won too. :-) Plus it warmed our hearts that the Swedes gave us their twelve - they almost never give us their twelve, that is so touching. Aw.

I think the Danes just won with Macedonia's twelve. Good for them! But WTF? They're calling the winner after Macedonia's votes, OK, but we want to hear the rest of the votes too ... !!! WTF?? OK, they are showing them. Good.

I'm very happy for the Moldovans. Of course they never had a chance to actually win, but I'm so happy that they did so well with their beautiful song. Yay. :-)

Denmark's the winner and we came 4th. Not bad, not bad at all. Good for them and good for us. Congratulations Denmark - see you in Copenhagen next year!!! :-D

Friday, May 17, 2013

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Malmö 2013 - second semi-final

Wheee ... !!! :-D

A more arty opening this time. But very cool. Visually striking. Although I have to say this: I do understand the concern over safety issues, but bicycle helmets will just never ever look cool. Absolutely everyone looks like idiots wearing them. I've never worn mine. Ho hum.

OK, this was seriously very cool indeed.

Hello Petra! That's a hell of a dress. Not sure I would have gone with that one, but whatever. I'm sure she'll have changed into something else by the next time we see her. :-)

Latvia. Like I said in my video about this semi, this is in some ways a great entry to open the show with. But it's extremely annoying. And so glittery!! Hideous outfits. The song is rather catchy though, in an annoying sort of way. Maybe the youth segment of the audience will find this appealing. They seem to really get the arena going. Personally though I would just as soon not see it again. Hopefully this unfortunate slot will do its part to keep them out of the final.

NRK's having some serious problems with their broadcast ... !! :-o

San Marino. Same singer as last year, but the song is a hundred times better. I am so excited to see this presentation. Valentina's a good singer and this song is very well suited to her voice. A beautiful melody. I like this a lot. It's the best they've ever sent. I would love for them to get to the final for the first time, they would be so excited ... ! and I think they have real chances this year. I like the presentation a lot. Good luck to them, this is a very good effort. Pity they got such a lousy slot. :-(

Macedonia. Meh. This song is kind of schizo. The male singer's part is good, but they ruin it all with that woman. Boo for ethnic chic! Half pop + half folk music = usually doesn't work out. Some will no doubt like this but I think they will be too few to get this through to Satuday. I certainly hope so. And, barring head to toe gold lamé, I don't think she could have chosen a more unflattering outfit ...

Azerbaijan. Now here's a shoe-in. :-) Absolutely no way this won't get through. I really like this entry, even though their singer is a little douchy ... but there's about 20 million teenage girls watching right now who would no doubt vehemently disagree with me. ;-) A catchy song, a good singer, kind of weird presentation, but definitely memorable. Already looking forward to seeing it again the day after tomorrow. :-)

Finland! My favorite. A really fun entry, and very catchy, with a great beat. May seem rather bizarre though to those who don't understand English properly. But she's not singing very well tonight ... in fact rather badly. Started out very bad but is getting a little better ... but definitely an underwhelming performance. Alas!! But a fun and colorful presentation. And the first lesbian kiss in ESC history. May be off-putting down east. Really not sure Finland will manage this. Crossing my fingers for them though.

Yay, Lynda Woodruff. I think she's funny. :-)

Malta. Oh, how I wish they would win one day ... !! All their heads would explode with happiness. :-) But can it happen this year? Again, it's very difficult to call it this year, the lineup's so extremely even. But I don't think they can make it quite to the top. They could do rather well, though. The singer's cute, he has a voice you remember with a lot of personality, and the song is sweet and adorable and catchy to boot. I like the presentation. This has potential.

Bulgaria. Now this is the kind of mix of pop and folk music that can actually work. The folk music is constantly present rather than being thrown up here and there and not connected to the pop parts of the song. This may be a bit much though, as a whole. The song is catchy, but it starts to get on your nerves after a while. This feels like it lasts much longer than three minutes. And the drums, constantly with the drums ... Nah, I can't say I have high hopes for the Bulgarians.

Iceland. Who are finally singing in Icelandic!! YES!!! I think that's a really wise choice. Now let's see if they've given him a new suit ... since they obviously haven't cut his hair. >:-) This is a beautiful song, I like this a lot ... he's a good singer and this very simple presentation will also appeal to a lot of viewers. The song's not exactly catchy, but it's certainly very beautiful while you're listening to it. They have a very bad slot, but I think they still have the chance to get through.

Greece. Now to test my theory that the title of this song, Alcohol Is Free, is a stroke of genius. :-) This song is a lot deeper than it sounds, actually. But even if you just want something loud and catchy, this should suit you to a tee. This is very catchy. Starts your foot tapping. Plus it has that ethnic element and it's fun to look at. Should have no trouble getting through.

Israel. Is it just me or does their singer look like Nana Mouskori? Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course. She's a wonderful singer, one of the best this year. The song is beautiful, a powerful ballad that should appeal to a huge segment of the audience. Not the best choice of outfit though. Like 95% of the other songs here, it isn't exactly catchy, but it certainly is beautiful to listen to. And well presented. Should get through.

Armenia. One of my favorite countries in the contest, but they've disappointed me this year. This is just so generic. I've already forgotten it while I'm still listening to it. It's fine to listen to, but there's absolutely no hook to it. The performance and presentation is so bland too. Sorry, Armenia. But you can do so much better ... !! :-(

Hungary. I hardly know what to say about this entry. It's strangely soothing. I could fall asleep listening to this. I mean that in a good way. I love that they're singing in Hungarian. The melody is ... yeah, soothing. His voice is perfect for this song. Simple presentation. Good entry. It may have a good chance.

Norway ... !! I hate bragging about our own entry, but we really are one of the very best this year. We are a very serious contender. The melody is very strong. Margaret's a good singer and her voice suits this song perfectly. Or vice versa. :-) A beautiful blonde is of course never a bad thing. Even the bizarre title may work to our advantage since there's such a plethora of mindless song titles this year. At least ours is memorable. The presentation is striking and Margaret did a good job with her performance. We're a shoe-in! :-)

Ooh, Lys Assia ... !! Now there's a coup. But Petra's still wearing that dress. What are they thinking of ...

Albania. Meh. This is one of my least favorites this year. Although it's significantly better tonight than it was in their national final. Their guitar hero's still a lousy singer though. But the other guy's not too bad. Hm. Somewhat creative pyrotechnics. But it's all a bit much to be honest ...

Georgia. Another very good entry. A beautiful and powerful ballad. Very good singers. Should breeze through. Not very memorable, and of course there are a lot of ballads, but this is definitely one of the better ones. I'm not sold on the presentation though. Oh well.

Switzerland. V. catchy melody, but it's wasted on these lyrics. And I'm a little annoyed by the ancient bass player, he's a gimmick more than anything. I always kind of root for the Swiss, but this isn't their best, not by a long shot. Catchy though, I'll give them that.

Romania. Another favorite who's disappointed me this year. They so want to win, so why are they sending this?? Worst outfit of the night. Weird presentation. Seriously, Romania. ROMANIA. STAHP.

That's all the songs! Petra still has the same dress ... ! o_O But who cares, we're almost ready to vote ... !!!

Have to mention that I love the fact that we can only vote a limited number of times this year. The limit's way too high, but still, it's a start.

First runthrough. Then back to the green room. Ooh, and another history lesson. I like these. :-)

Second runthrough. I've voted four times, or was it five, for Finland, twice for Iceland and twice for San Marino. My civic duty is done for tonight.

OK, voting's done! Eek, I'm nervous already. :-) Now for the interval entertainment. Of course, since this is Sweden, they have to show off an immigrant. I'm so glad I'm not Swedish. I love Sweden, but you'd have to pay me to live there.

Yawn.

OK, the girl's a little better. But what does this have to do with the ESC? A missed opportunity.

Time for some guesses. Who will get through? Let's see.

Norway :-)
Azerbaijan
Greece
Georgia
Israel
Iceland?

Also really hoping for Finland and San Marino. The latter's chances may be good, the former ... not so much.

Potentials:
Malta
Hungary

But sheesh ... !! It's all so even this year. I don't know what I'm doing. :-)

Sand confirms the validity of the results. So let's hear it ... ! Oh, I'm so nervous ... !! :-D

Which are the last ten finalists??

Hungary. Good for them. :-)
Azerbaijan. No surprise.
Georgia. Yup.
Romania?? WTF???
Norway! Yes!! Wild cheers in the arena, so cool. :-D
Iceland! Yay!
Armenia. Huh. You never can tell.
Finland!!! Yes!!!
Malta. Good for them too. :-)
Greece. Yup.

Eight out of ten, that's a pretty good guess ... ! Maybe I have some clue after all. :-D

Well, Saturday's lineup is complete. Except for Romania, I'm pretty happy with this. Already SO excited for Saturday ... !! :-D

I still can't believe that Petra didn't change her dress ... ! o_O