Probably my favourite annual TV event, well, more than probably. Eurovision 2009 did not disappoint for the amazing and often trashy spectacle we know and love.
The intro piece to the 1st semi-final this year was a strange fairytale about magic flowers, horses, birds and dragons. All a bit Bjorky, but quite boring for the main part. The Russian entrants for the last kiddy Eurovision flew in on a giant rainbow bird. I would have liked it more if it had been more Sid & Marty Krofft, I mean, all the elements were there.
And then to the hosts... the EV hosts of recent years have almost invariably been a differing Euro version of Will & Grace seemingly on happy pills, but the Russians broke the tradition with a model and some TV bozo. Possibly the worst hosts ever, which is saying a lot. Thank goodness they changed them for the final, but more about that later.
On the plus-hosting side, Julia Zemiro and Sam Pang provided a great commentary for all three nights and made the loss of Terry Wogan just a little less painful (however, having said that I would have loved SBS to rescreen the finals with the Graham Norton finals commentary). There was a stage (in the finals I think) where Julia and Sam appeared in t-shirts that said (t-shirt 1) "Terry Wogan isn't doing it this year." and (t-shirt 2), "Yes, we miss him too." Funny, but they did a great job all round.
To the Acts in the First Semi-Final in order of appearance.
1 - Montenegro - Not a great start, lots of dirty dancing, glitter and a guy striking John Travolta Saturday Night Fever poses. See you in the finals? Alas not.
2 - Czech Republic - There were capes, which is always good, and a crazy moustache and brylcreem, but fell victim to the "wacky" curse of Eurovision (see last year's Irish puppet turkey DJ for further eveidence of this affliction).
3 - Belgium - It's Elvis Hiselvis! With '50s rock, hip swiveling and pink & red draggy back-up singers. No idea why this blast of pop craziness didn't make it through.
4 - Belarus - I just love saying that, Belarus. Anyway, another I assumed was a shoe-in by EV standards, but maybe the blonde windswept Bert Newton in a wig thing isn't in this year (a surprise to me). Song was like Ultravox in their stadium rock period and the girl in wind blown chiffon (lots of wind machines this year) with projections on her was one of the oddest EV sights.
5 - Sweden - 'Popera', as they kept saying which is a fair enough description. Lead by a tan-tastic diva snow queen with bedroom hair backed by 5 Karen Walkers (Will & Grace had to pop up somewhere) in suits and later with bewjeweled masks. Quite good.
6 - Armenia - Costumes! Amazing - look on line, I can't do them justice. A Turkish meets Aguilera sound and the evening's 1st key change! Hurrah!
7 - Andorra - A girl group in the Go-Go's tradition. Lead singer looked a bit like Geri Halliwell, or Varla Jean Merman or both. Chorus a bit of a bust though "I I I I I I I I I I I I" etc... The Spice Girls wouldn't have settled for that ladies.
8 - Switzerland - "Lovebugs" was the group name which was about the only good thing about it. Sounded like U2 with an indie-pop singer. Asking the audience to clap their hands. Bah, I mean, if you have to ask...
9 - Turkey - We're back in Shakira-land (did we ever leave? So many of these types of songs at EV in the last few years). More audience invitations for clapping, a little belly dancing, certain amount of yawning (from me). They did wear Turkish style cullotes which may be some sort of first.
10 - Irael - Two lead singers, one looked A LOT like Gretel Killeen (from Logies to EV?) but with a few genes from Paul Capsis, I know, scary, right. Like a fairytale witch with her own hair and make up people. There was lots of emotion and pleading, a little symbolic fingertip touching, but effectively one big wail.
11 - Bulgaria - Like a amateur theatre performing a play about Blakes 7. Lots of bosoms, more capes, big hair and stilt dancers (not just walkers, dancers!). Add to that flames, the ever-present wind machine, crazed wailing and a bit of male falsetto. Bonkers but fun.
12 - Iceland - Where have the mad Iceland entires of yesteryear gone? This was pretty, but bland (or the reverse) and all blue and ice and fog. I also spotted a Viola and there was another key change!
13 FYR Macedonia - Hair rock! Twins! Clap your hands audience and a key change you could set the clock by. Is it over yet?
14 - Romania - Faeries in shredded blue/green costumes. Tune was a but unmemorable. Made it to the finals though so someone must have remembered it, or had a thing for faeries.
15 - Finland - "Waldo's People". Finnish rap, fire stick juggling and a female chorus provided a good pop element. Waldo the rapper I could have done without. Liked the "People" though.
16 - Portugal - Gypsy styling and gorgeous staging with a candy coloured rainbow LSD carousel. Accordian, acoutic guitar, flute and long long hair ribbons. What's not to love?
17 - Malta - Ballad, snore... An unexpected bit of "girlfriend!" head wobbling mid-way through though and finished well with a little trumpet flourish, but overall, not for me.
18 - Bosnia / Herzogovina - I liked this, people with drums all in white American Civil War styled costumes. Lead singer a bit "True Blood" vampiric with crazy hair do (which was modified a little for the final - details, that's what you pay me for). Best bit was the frozen tableaux in the middle of the song. A lot of unexpected elements elevated this one.
Coming soon - Semi-Final #2...