Tuesday, May 31, 2011

114,5 million watched Eurovision 2011

The official viewing figures out and a total of 114.500.000 people watched the Eurovision 2011 shows. The separate figures were 24.800.000 for the first semifinal and 19.700.000 for the second semifinal. In the final a total of 70.000.000 were running scared and saw the Azeris win. We have to add the 800.000 who followed the show via live streaming on eurovision.tv or via satellite TVs. Also the radio listeners are not counted in these figures (15 national radio stations broadcasted the show live)  And on top of that all the viewers in Kosovo, Kazakstan, Australia and New Zealand. Eurovision is alive and kicking!

Paradise Oskar back on telly

Paradise oskar made his TV comeback Sunday night when he performed in MTV3's Pitkä kuuma kesä live from Tampere's Särkänniemi amusement park under pouring rain along with The Baseballs and Suvi Teräsniska. He did Da da dam and had an interview with the presenter Susanna Laine. In short he came out as the most relaxed person in Finland who doesn't worry just about anything but lives in a moment. He named his most memorable Finnish Eurovision song Lordi's Hard rock hallelujah but his real favourite is Laila Kinnunen's Valoa ikkunassa from 1961. In another interview recently he named Denmark's entry Angelique by Dario Campeotto from the same year his ultimate Eurovision favourite. He also said he has been mostly sleeping the first week post-ESC.
Paradise Oskar will be touring Finland this summer and will be in DTM Helsinki on June 4 and in Tampere on June 11. In July the gigs in Hyrynsalmi, Kaustinen, Imatra, Pöytyä, Tuulos, Isojoki, Oulu and Raahe are already booked. In August he will be in Turku and Oulu again but more gigs will be added so check here for details. Gigs abraod are under negotiations.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Northern Kings - Lapponia

This is old news as this single was released already in 2010. It was such a success I heard it only now :-). 
In some strange way it works though. Monica Aspelund of course did it greatly back in 1977 but these heavy tenors add a new dimension to the song and yes, it should have been a hit, but...
Northern Kings are of course Teräsbetoni's Jarkko Ahola, Nightwish's Marco Hietala, Sonata Arctica's Tony Kakko and JP Leppäluoto of Charon and Harmaja. Four great voices doing covers of all sort of songs for fun when not too busy with their own bands. They might have been busy lately as their latest album is from 2008 and this Lapponia is their latest release. But there's a rumour they are planning their third album with original material. Eurovision 2012 anyone?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Raf gives us the numbers - and says goodbye to pop?

Numeri (Numbers) is the title of the new Raf album, his 16th since 1984 including official compilations and re-releases. Even if his fame and popularity has faded a bit since his megasuccess in the early 1990's this album debuted in the Italian album charts at #6. The first single is Un'emozione inaspettata.
Known spokes person for alternative energies he now resides in Rome after his native Puglia region, Florence and Milan. Married with two kids and added 20 kgs since he got married the once skinniest Italian singer is in crossroads with his career. In an interview with TV Sorrisi e canzoni he says he still writes the songs composing the music first with fake English lyrics that then are rewritten in Italian. His first songs were in English back in early 1980's, most famous of course being Self control that Laura Branigan made a worldwide hit. He also says he's pretty much done with singing and will concentrate on producing and songwriting from now on. He says he also has material ready that will be propably released only online once his pop singer career is over. He is the co-author of the Sanremo 1987 winner Si puó dare di più and the Italian entry in the Eurovision Gente di mare and has won the Festivalbar three times over the past two decades.

Lukashenko: Belarus to win in Eurovision 2012

Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko hopes his country will win the next Eurovision song contest to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan in May 2012. He believes the Azerbaijan's success and next year's hosting will open the way to the first and long awaited win for Belarus. So he states in the congratulation message to the Azerbaijan president Ilham Aliyev. 
Lukashenko has been in the lead of Belarus since 1994. Under Lukashenko's rule, Belarus has emerged to be viewed as a state whose conduct is out of line with international laws and whose regime is considered to grossly violate human rights.Condoleezza Rice described Belarus as “the last true remaining dictatorship in the heart of Europe”. Belarus has been participating in Eurovision since 2004 with rather variable results. They have made the final only twice, in Helsinki 2007 with Dmitry Koldun's Work your magic and last year with 3-2's Butterflies. The national selection has been often questionable with changes of song culminating this year when they only got it right with the third song, each of them equally bland exploition of national pride. Lukashenko must have been proud. I can hardly wait what he comes up with next year (not).

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dima Bilan - Dreamer

The Eurovision song contest 2008 winner and 2006 runner up Dima Bilan has released his sixth album to the Russian market, titled Mechtateli (Dreamer). Fourteen more or less new songs in both Russian and English plus a couple of remixes. The deluxe version includes also a DVD with five videos to songs Changes, Po param, Safety, Ya prosto lyublyu tebya and Mechtateli. Three of the songs on the album are also duets (Anastacia, Juliana Krilova and his sister Anya). His career abroad outside the ex-USSR region may have been struggling but over the there he's still going strong scoring hits like there's no tomorrow.

Music from Italy

As always I spent some time in recordstores in Rome - unfortunately I missed a visit to Discoteca Laziale - and also found all I had on my list with the exception of the new Mango album as it was only released after I moved to out of town to continue my holidays. And I skipped Nathalie that I regret a bit now. Well, next time! Anyways here's what I got:
Giuni Russo - A casa di Ida Rubinstein 2011
This is pretty fabulous piece of work. I have the original A casa di Ida Rubinstein LP from the 1980's but this CD version has been remastered and as a bonus there's a live DVD of her concert, including also other songs like L'addio, Nomadi and Il re del mondo that all sound fantastic live. But my favourite of them all is Fenesta che lucive. A must for a Giuni Russo fans.
Mietta - Due soli
Mietta is back with a very good album including already two singles, Due soli and Io no. I also like Che colpa ho, Ecco perchè, Angoli diversi e Cadono gemme a lot. I don't know about her popularity or how she is doing on radio but this came out recently and was already sold for 10 euros. So, if you ever liked Mietta get this one, too!
Alice - Platinum collection
I have already featured this 3-cd compilation here but only now I have it in my hands for real. The solo version of Open your eyes is very good, even if Skye's vocals do add to it something special in the version we have known until now. And it's great her duets from 1984 are both finally on same CD: Zu nah am Feuer with Stefan Waggershausen and I treni di Tozeur with Franco Battiato.
Paola & Chiara - Milleluci
Now what to say? The 3D poster and cover photo are cool (but honestly who cares?) and the first two singles Pioggia d'estate and Milleluci promised a good album. The song titles like Sudoku and Disco Voodoo also promise of something good when it's a question of these girls. And indeed Disco Voodoo could become the much needed summer hit for them if remixed and reworked. Or will they go for Adesso stop? But... Surely this is not their best album! New Vamos a bailar or Festival there are not....

Friday, May 27, 2011

Italian sugar - Caterina Caselli

One lady we have to thank for the Italian well succeeded return to Eurovision is Caterina Caselli, the legendary Italian singer, producer and most of all talent scount. It was record label Sugar (that stands for the surname of the label's founder btw. And is also her married name as she married the son...) behind Raphael Gualazzi's PR and distribution in Germany that is now giving very nice results. This lady knows what she's doing!
La Caselli started as singer and had her big success in 1966 when she presented in Sanremo the evergreen Nessuno mi puó giudicare that gained her fame also in Spain and in France. Her success continued with Tutto nero and Perdono. By early 1970's she married the beforementioned Sugar, had children and pretty much retired from the public eye with occasional collaborations here and there. She made her short comeback to Sanremo 1990 with Bisognerebbe non pensare che a te and after that she has been on full blast with discovering new talents.
In 1993 she brought Gerardina Trovato to Sanremo's newcomers selection (2nd behind Laura Pausini), 1994 Andrea Bocelli (winner), in 2001 i Gazosa (winner) and finally in 2011 Raphael Gualazzi (winner). And on top of that also in the main category the 2000 winners Piccola Orchestra Avion Travel and 2001 winner Elisa are hers. Other names amongst others she has brought to Sanremo are Negramaro and Malika Ayane. Today also Enrico Ruggeri, Umbero Tozzi and Raf are Sugar artists.
After the praise she gave to RAI for returning to Eurovision and after seeing first hand what a huge opportunity it is - helped with the unexpected success - I hope she will pull all her strings and use her contacts to be able to return next year. Even if we have to limit us to selecting one of Sugar's artists, I don't care! They have many goodies... Elisa in Eurovision? A success guaranteed I'd say!

#1 in Finland this week: Poju - Poika (saunoo)

The #1 in Finland is for the second week running Poju's Ice Hockey world championships song Poika (saunoo). The #2 is another ice hockey celebration song, Finnish Hockey's Taivas varjele. And more is at #5 going down already,  A-Tyyppi's Ihanaa leijonat ihanaa. And guess what? At #13 there's yet another one, Antero Mertaranta's Nyt huudetaan - ihanaa leijonat ihanaa
Paradise Oskar's Da da dam drops to #19 and his album Sunday songs to #13. Straight at #1 in albums is a comedy character Munamies keeping Lady Gaga behind him as a new entry at #2.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Finland loves Italy

It is a known fact Finland usually gives Italy good points in Eurovision which is not a surprise considering how popular and well known the Italian music is in Finland. But how good exactly? 
If we look at the 17 entries Italy has sent since 1975 that Finland has been able to vote for (unfortunaly in 1997 Finland was unable to give its rather sure 12 points to Italy) we get an average of 6,94 points! We have given four times 12, once 10 and again four times 8 points, making the top-3 placings 52,9%! Only once we have left the Italian entry with nul points, in 1978 when Ricchi e Poveri failed to score with Questo amore. Interesyingly enough also in 1987 when Umberto Tozzi & Raf placed third with Gente di mare Finns didn't warm up that much, only 4 points. Same this year when Raphael Gualazzi's Madness of love only got from us 3 points. Also Riccardo Fogli's Per Lucia, that then became a big hit, only got one point from us. 
But here's the full list: 12 points: 1975, 1984, 1991, 1992 10 points: 1989 8 points: 1979, 1988, 1990, 1993 6 points: 1976, 1980, 1985 4 points: 1987 3 points: 2011 2 points: 1977 1 point: 1983 0 point: 1978
Unfortunately Italians don't love us back. We have only received them points three times: 7 points in 1979 (is it for the funny sounding title perhaps?) and 1985 and 4 points in 1984. That's 1,2 points per contest.

Barak Obama likes Jedward hairdo!

As we all know Barak Obama has been searching for his Irish roots in Europe the past few days amongst other important things and to celebrate that the Irish decided to show him the best they've got at the moment: the Jedward! The hyperactive twins did their Lipstick and chatted with Michelle and Barak afterwords about Jonas Brothers and Justin Bieber of all things. They also declared it's an honour to perform for the most famous man in the world, after Simon Cowell that is! Obama had complimented with their hair and they told Michelle Obama they saw her on loads of magazines like O Magazine and she looked really cool! And she said "ahh thanks". Here's their performance to the president.  Wonder if Obamas had time to watch Eurovision?

Azerbaijan and Baku 2012: No problem!

No problem for such annoying things like visas, being gay or being safe in Baku and in Azerbaijan 2012, informs Ali Hasanov, the head of the Azerbaijani presidential administration's socio-political department (now that's a title!) in this interview by News.Az. "I unequivocally declare that Azerbaijan is the stablest and safest country of the former Soviet Union today. It is an example of tolerance in the South Caucasus in all parameters." If he says so, don't we want to believe him?

EBU reveals the split televotes and jury votes

The big winner with the juries is as I expected Italy. The juries also liked Slovenia and Austria way better than televoters - no surprise here either. Neither liked France that much and the juries really dropped the UK! And Russia.Funnily the juries liked Ireland more than the televoters!

Here are the televotes for the final.

2. SWEDEN   221
3. GREECE   176
4. UKRAINE   168
7. RUSSIA   138
7. GEORGIA   138
9. GERMANY   113
10. IRELAND   101
11. ITALY   99
12. MOLDOVA   98
13. SERBIA   89
14. ROMANIA   79
15. FRANCE   76
16. SPAIN   73
17. HUNGARY  64
18. DENMARK   61
19. ICELAND   60
20. LITHUANIA   55
21. FINLAND   47
22. SLOVENIA   39
23. ESTONIA  32
24. AUSTRIA   25

And here are the juryvotes:

1. ITALY   251
3. DENMARK   168
4. SLOVENIA   160
5. AUSTRIA   145
6. IRELAND 119
7. UKRAINE 117
8. SERBIA   111
9. SWEDEN   106
10. GERMANY   104
11. FRANCE    90
13. ROMANIA   86
14. GREECE   84
15. MOLDOVA   82
16. GEORGIA   79
17. FINLAND   75
18. ESTONIA   74
19. ICELAND   72
20. LITHUANIA   66
21. HUNGARY   60
24. SPAIN   38
25. RUSSIA   25

In semifinals Finland was third with the televoters and 5th with the juries in the first semifinal. The juries number one was suprisingly Lithuania! They also liked Malta and San Marino that didn't make the final. In the televoting we have the usual Greece-Azerbaijan-Russia-Georgia-Armenia on top split up only by Finland and Iceland. Surprisingly Turkey managed only 10th place. 
In the second semifinal surprsingly the juries liked Slovenia the most. They also liked Estonia and Belgium that didn't make the final. And they didn't like Ireland that much but then all of sudden in the final.... And what happened to Finland in the final? Was it the number one slot to sing?
You can check the full lists here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Paolo Meneguzzi - Sei amore - the best of

Our little Paoletto has already 15 years of career behind him, who would believe that? He started from Chile's Viña del Mar festival in 1996 that he won as Pablo Meneguzzo, moved on to Sanremo  in 2001 (five of them so far), Festivalbar, festivals in Argentina and Acapulco and of course Eurovision. He has also written a book and shortly his latest album Miami will be released in the USA in Spanish with the first single Mi mission. But here in Europe this new compilation features two new songs, Sei amore and Love plus his greatest hits like fantastic Musica that in my opinion is his best song, his break through VeroFalso, Guardami negli occhi and Grande. And of course Era stupendo.

1.307.000 Finns watched Eurovision

The viewing figures in Finland were at the usual high this year. The media made sure everyone knew Paradise Oskar was high on betting ods and the hopes were high also at home sofas. 1.307.000 Finns watched the final which is twice as many as last year when we sadly missed the final, but in line with 2008-2009 and 2002 when we were in the final. 2006 with 1,6 million and 2007 with 1,9 million are exceptions with a reason. :-)
But the ice hockey reigns here: the final on Sunday that final won against Sweden was watched by 2.051.000! Eurovision final was only the 4th most watched programme of the week as also the TV news on Sunday and the previous ice hockey match where Finland beat Russia scored more viewers. The first semifinal gathered 606.000 viewers but the second didn't make it to top-20 (so it had < 345.000 viewers)
But the figures have been very high also in other countries, especially in Ireland and Hungary, also considered favourites. In Ireland the share was 71% or 1.174.300 viewers in average with a peak of 2.244.600 during the voting! Hungary scored nearly 3 million viewers or 32%. Greece, the usual Eurovision mad country scored once again the highest share, 87,7% which makes me always wonder: How many channels do you have in Greece? Malta's figures are still missing but they might be pretty close to those... Sweden and Denmark did very well as well with 2.800.000 and 1.587.000 or about 1/3 of the nation in front of the TV.
The certified viewers for the 2009 edition from Moscow are some 125 million viewers and it looks like this 2011 edition is getting close to them, despite the rather low figures in Russia (33,1% is a lot but it's lowest there since 1995).

ESC 2011: Reactions in RAI, media and politics. Italy to return in 2012?

Almost two weeks have passed from the final night of the Eurovision song contest 2011 that  marked the welcome return of Italy and it's surprising success when Raphael Gualazzi's Madness of love came second only 32 points behind Azerbaijan.
Anyways, Caterina Caselli, Gualazzi's record label Sugar's boss and a leading figure and talent scout in the Italian market said: "I thank RAI for this opportunity and hope they will go on with this strategy as it can be a lot of help for the whole industry. For a new artist and an independent label like us, this is a real musical Olympics on a high technical level. I truly hope RAI will go on as this gives us all a chance to compite in an international market and make us known. Besides Italy the show was seen by some 120 million people; only in Germany Raphael was sen by 8 million people at once, many more millions in France, UK and Holland, other diccifult markets for us. This kind of musical and cultural exchange, meeting other artists and diverse styles can only do good to an artist!"
Raffaella Carrá, who hosted the show for the Italians commented afterwards: "This is a show you cannot miss, it's Europe singing together. It's not only a competition, amongst the artists of different countries there is a huge friendship and respect. I don't know how Italians took it. I have been very happy to have been involved and I don't know if next year I will be doing it again but it's a show that I love!" Many Italian papers noted the cheers Italy and Raffaella got in the Arena when it was time to announce the Italian votes.
Massimo Liofredi, director of Rai2, expressed his satisfaction of Italy's return with enthuasism. "This is in line with the renewals we have been working on the past two years. Information, music and films on our channel. When I was offered to take on Eurovision I couldn't ignore the 70 million viewers. I'm very proud of La Carrà and Gualazzi!" He goes on thanking Marco Simeon, the director of international relations in RAI, Caterina Caselli. On the other hand he was quoted of saying "Italy's return is very difficult in a near future" when the poor viewing figures were published...
Raphael Gualazzi, the shy artists said right after the results on Saturday night: "I'm very happy for the result. It's a great honor to know my music is taking part in the recreating of popularity of jazz music to the level it once was!"
Another RAI boss, Nino Rizzo Nervo said: "RAI has to reconnect with the European networks, therefor the return to the Eurovision after 13 years has been very important" underlining the Italian success in an international ceompetition seen by 80 million people cannot be ignored. 
Also the Italian vice presidents of the Europarlimant Angelilli and Pittella praised the Italian participation and success.  And last but not least Italian minister of culture Giancarlo Galan: "I congratulate RAI for its effort in the Eurovision song contest. Italy returned after 13 years to this contest founded in 1956 gaining a second place and taking its place as a public service provider promoting European culture, aimed especially for the younger generations. I hope in the future they will give space for this important international event again."
So, it looks like it has worked. The politicians have realized the importance of being there, being shown there. La Caselli can show how good Eurovision can be in sales and concerts abroad and Gualazzi's success abroad is doing just that. Besides, for example in Finland every Italian artists who ever did Eurovision have enjoyed a certain popularity and success afterwqrds if only marketed a little. 
After all the articles I have read, comments here and there, blogs and various media I'm pretty confident Italy will stay on and we will see Italy also in Baku 2012. Italians didn't maybe warm up totally yet to it, but then they didn't know what to expect. Gualazzi's success has raised the interest and I'm sure next year it will all go much better. Besides, Liofredi said before the final "should we win, of course we organize the next contest!" Speriamo accada presto!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

ESC 2011 compilation hits #8 in iTunes Italia!

Italy is the only country in Eurovision where buying the official CD is made very difficult as I have written before. But here comes the confirmation Italians did like the show after all: the Eurovision 2011 album enters the Italian iTunes charts at #8 in the albums! Italians are downloading the songs - can someone go and tell RAI and the local record companies? If the CD was in the shelves of the record stores regularly who knows how well it would sell?

Paradise Oskar hits the charts

Finns do love Paradise Oskar. The hopes were high for the Saturday night over a week ago and the 21st place was a big disappointment. Yet, no one pointed the finger on him saying it was his fault, his song was bad anyways and bla bla bla...  You see, that was the Finnish medias normal behaviour. When Waldo's People qualified for the final and came then last the headlines screamed "LAST!" and pretty much made fun of them. Just to name the latest example. (I guess Finns have only loved CatCat after their failure...) 
But not Paradise Oskar. He was welcomed home like a hero and the papers have been writing nicely about him ever since. And Finns have finally agreed as well as the single Da da dam enters the charts at #6 and his album Sunday songs climbs to #4 on its second week after a #28 debut. On top of that he's #4 on the radio play! Congrats, Axel!
Oh and in iTunes he is charting in Sweden, Germany, Norway and other places so.... :-)

ESC 2012: To Baku or not to Baku?

Back in business! While I have been away not much has been happening it seems. The main news concern the possible venue and possible withdrawels for various reasons. On the other hand Hungary has confirmed its participation also next year helped by the excellent viewing figures and that's always nice to hear! In Germany Stefan Raab has declared he's done with Eurovision and who can blame him? He has been the songwriter, performer, organizer of the national final, presenter of the real thing - what else is there to do?
Meanwhile in Azerbaijan the president Ilham Aliyev himself has set the committee to organize the 2012 Eurovision song contest in Baku, including the foreign minister and the minister of culture and tourism. And the first lady as the chairman! These people take certain things seriously over there!
As for the possible venue they seem to have three choices but one, The Haydar Aliyev Sports Complex is clearly too small with its max 8.000 seats. The other option is Tofig Bahramov Republican stadium with its 35.000 seats but then a roof must be build. The third possibility is to built a new 20.000 venue in the city center, next to the National flag square. The design and such might be ready to use as Baku was bidding for the 2016 Olympics.The National flag square hosts the world's largest flag pole: 162 meters high and the flag is 36 x 70 meters!
The question of Armenia remains open. Will they withdraw, or will they force their way into Baku? It's a win-win situation for both - ir is it lose-lose? Dare the Armenian singers go to Azerbaijan and if they do they will be treated as national heroes at home but how will Azeris react? If they go, they win the situation it seems. If they don't Azeris win.... Tricky, very very tricky!
Israel on the other hand has problems with the date - again. According the Israeli law Israelis can't take part in international events during national holidays and May 26, 2012 when the final is due to take place is Shavou'ot, an Israeli holiday. They are propably asking EBU to change the date but that is difficult for both football and ice hockey events taking place on May 20.Not only that, Azerbaijan borders with Iran...
And to end with a lighter note, Italian fans were already dreaming Azerbaijan couldn't host the contest and RAI would step in as the runner up .... a scenario even EBU might find a bit alarming....
And one more thing to remember: Eurovision starts always at 8pm GMT which means midnight in Baku. This will bring new challanges as well.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Arrivederci a Roma!

So, here we are. Another edition of Eurovision is over. It has been rather hectic, busy and also tiring two weeks as I’m covering it all alone besides having my normal daily work but I’m very happy and pleased by little blog has made new viewing records both daily and weekly since I started, and in the middle of this all I also passed the 600.000 visitors mark. In overall I have had some 25% increase in visits since last year’s Eurovision weeks. I may not have any original videos and photos to publish this time either but you still have come to check on me, even when Blogger made it impossible to post anything for some 36 hours. Thank you all!
As I said I have blogged, commented and researched all by myself and need a little rest now, so I’m off to my second hometown Rome now for a week. If you would like to participate and collaborate with me next year send me a message on Facebook!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Italians don't take on Eurovision

Despite the splendid return of Italy on Eurovision stage when Raphael Gualazzi's Madness of love came second only 12 points behind the winner the Italian fans are worried RAI will pull out again. Apparently RAI's bosses had put two major conditions to participate. 
One: to do well - done. Two: to get good viewing figures - failed big time. 
The semifinal two on Rai5 scored a share of 0,14% or some 37.000 viewers (small yes, but in line with this new channels figures). Last night final was watched by some 1.291.000 Italians, or 6,43% share. Rai1's variety show Me lo dicono tutti scored 3.085.000 or 18% and Canale5's Italy's got talent 4.752.000 or 23,48%. Not even Raffaella Carrà managed to attract Italians to follow Eurovision. The fans have also criticized heavily the show made by Rai2 - partly for the information and comments given by La Carrà herself as misinformative and her guests also were clearly not having a clue what Eurovision is all about. 
Also in the media Eurovision has been labelled kitch and waste of time basicly. And if all media says so people will believe it, don't they? One good example: Massimo Bernardini (Tv Talk): "Questa situazione di attesa che si crea nei voti l'Eurofestival l'ha mutuata senz'altro dai talent show. Solo che qui all'Eurofestival lo fanno in modo più povero". ("This situation created while waiting for the votes Eurovision has copied from various talent shows. Only that it is done even worse." Oh really? How many talent shows there were back in 1975 when this landmark voting system was introduced with its famous 12 points? No comment. 
While Italy is struggling and RAI propably wondering if it makes any sense to particiate again - and being relieved at the same time they only came second - in other countries the viewing figures are rather different figures: 73,6% in Greece, 65% in Austria, 49,8% Germany. In United Kingdom the show peaked at 62,7% or 12,7 million with the average of 9,5 million viewers or 40,4% almost doubling last year and being the highest since 1999.

Paradise Oskar left Germany and speculations behind

Axel aka Paradise Oskar was peaceful and in a good mood despite the 21st place last night. He partied the night away in the closing party. "It is useless to wonder and speculate" he says in Iltalehti "countries have voted as they have voted. That's it!" If it's any comfort many other hot tipped countries like France, United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany and Hungary saw their hopes for the Eurovision glory crash and burn last night when Azerbaijan went on to win which has caused a lot of talk and comments on various blogs and websites. Was it Azerbaijan that won? or Turkey? Or Sweden?
In my opinion it's always nice when a new country wins but this year they didn't deserve it with this mediocre song, that even has nothing Azeri about it. A product bought from Sweden with two clued on singers. I doubt it will be a success anywhere really, and we won't hear about the singers until next year's contest in Baku and then never again (think Estonia 2001) A wasted Eurovision year indeed. A more pleasant surprise was Italy's second place and don't tell me people voted for it because "they wanted Italy back and would vote for it just because of that" as you know it's bullshit. A regular televoters in Europe wouldn't even know Italy has been absent and wouldn't care. He succeed because they liked the song. Period

UPDATE: He is home. Here's the video. Happy as ever about his "two weeks in fairyland"!

Azerbaijan - winner with 3 times 12

When is the last time we have a winner with such a low score? The lowest since 2003, before the semifinal system. Besides that if you look in detail Azerbaijan got only three times the full 12 points: from Malta, Russia and Turkey. Five times 10 from Croatia, Moldova, Romania, San Marino and Ukraine. And finally 10 times 8 points - talk about compromise! On the other hand twelve (12) countries didn't vote Azerbaijan at all: Bulgaria, Denmark, FYR Macedonia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, United Kingdom and not surprisingly Armenia. Even Sweden gave them only 3 points. What does that tell? (Finland gave 5 points)
Italy that came second againt all predictions and odds got points from all but 12 countries as well. Four full marks, five times 10 and once 8. Anyways, that should make RAI happy - the same way iceland was happy for the second place in 2009 - and make them return also next year. Or will they? More about the Italian media reaction, the commentators and the fan outrage a bit later... stay tuned!
Sweden was left pointless in 11 countries. It scored twice full points, seven times 10 and no country placed it third. So in short the top-3 countries apparently were either liked a lot of ignored completely.
In all twenty (20), I mean TWENTY countries got at least once 12! How spread is that??? Finland from Norway, Lithuania from Georgia and Poland (she is Polish), Hungary from Finland, Greece from Cyprus (he is Cypriot), United Kingdom from Bulgaria, Moldova from Romania (no comment), Romania from Italy and Moldova (no comment either), Austria from Germany, Slovenia from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iceland from Hungary, Spain from France and Portugal (sigh...), 
But who I to say? Finland got its biggest points from neighbours Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Estonia and Sweden.
Both Finnish tabloids have a poll in their website "Did the right song win?" and Iltalehti has 91% no answers, Ilta-Sanomat 79%.

Eurovision 2011 - the results

2. ITALY   189
3. SWEDEN   185
4. UKRAINE   159
5. DENMARK   134
7. GREECE   120
8. IRELAND   119
9. GEORGIA   110
10. GERMANY   107
12. MOLDOVA   97
13. SLOVENIA   96
14. SERBIA   85
15. FRANCE   82
16. RUSSIA   77
17. ROMANIA   77
18. AUSTRIA   64
19. LITHUANIA   63
20. ICELAND   61
21. FINLAND   57
22. HUNGARY   53
23. SPAIN   50
24. ESTONIA   44

It is quite interesting how  the big favouritesFrance, Russia,   Ireland, United Kingdom, Hungary, Estonia and Finland all did so badly. No one saw Italy coming so strong, nor Ukraine really. Also Greece's good result is a bit surprise after all. What do fans, bloggers and bookmakers know? Ok, Azerbaijan was a favourite but no one really believed it would win, right? But maybe Turkey out of the game and them doing a very clever PR trick by saying they will represant Turkey as well got besides their own already strong votes also the Turkish vote? And what does Armenia think now? Do we see Armenia in Baku? Will Hungary, San Marino, Italy return next year? And is EBU happy for bringing the show to Caucasus? Or are they running scared? Very confusing night indeed...

The results vs. my predictions

I can't stop laughing when I checked my results. I got the whole top-5 wrong and out of 25 countries I only guessed two position slots right: Switzerland and Spain in bottom-5! How hilarious is that? My top-5 finished 6th, 8th, 10th, 11th and 15th. Well, my consolation is the other bloggers didn't do any better. Let's take example: Keith from All kinds of everything. His top-5 finished 8th, 10th, 15th, 18th and 23rd so I guess I should be happy! :-)
And I am very happy for Italy. Those RAI bosses can't stay away from next year now, can they? And this was just like the best thing that could happen, 2nd. Imagine if they won? They must have been with cold ring around the asses there, lol.... (Sorry!)

Paradise Oskar 21st ... :-(

Paradise Oskar gave a very good performance but clearly the opening slot for the contest wasn't working for his favour. He came 3rd in the first semifinal after Greece and the winner Azerbaijan. In the final Finland got 12 points from Norway, 10 points from iceland, 7 from Estonia and Sweden, 5 from Denmark, Poland and Switzerland, 3 from Ireland, 2 from Germany and finally 1 from Lithuania. And on top of that the Marcel Bezencon awardby the press.
He commented after his performance: "The full arena gave a fantastic feeling. It was great! Now I will just enjoy the other performances!"

ESC 2011 - The semifinal results

EBU has just released the results of the semifinals. Greece won the first one followed by Azerbaijan and Finland. Malta was the first one missing out with only one point and Poland surprisingly the last! Sweden won the second one and Belgium was the first one missing out - again with one point only, the Netherlands surprisingly the last! Very unexpected. In general the results are quite different from the actually final result.

First Semi-Final

  1. Greece   133
  2. Azerbaijan   122
  3. Finland   103
  4. Iceland   100
  5. Lithuania  81
  6. Georgia   74
  7. Hungary   72
  8. Serbia   67
  9. Russia   64
  10. Switzerland   55
  11. Malta   54
  12. Armenia   54
  13. Turkey   47
  14. Albania   47
  15. Croatia   41
  16. San Marino   34
  17. Norway   30
  18. Portugal   22
  19. Poland   18

Second Semi-Final

  1. Sweden   155
  2. Denmark   135
  3. Slovenia   112
  4. Romania   111
  5. Bosnia & Herzegovina   109
  6. Ukraine   81
  7. Austria   69
  8. Ireland   68
  9. Estonia   60
  10. Moldova   54
  11. Belgium   53
  12. Bulgaria   48
  13. Slovakia   48
  14. Belarus   45
  15. Israel   38
  16. F.Y.R. Macedonia   36
  17. Latvia   25
  18. Cyprus   16
  19. The Netherlands   13

Azerbaijan wins Eurovision 2011. Italy returns with a bang!

Very mixed feelings in this household. Most of all the big delusion of Finland: from third place in semifinal to 21st... :-( but then, Italy as second place! Who would have thought about that!!?? Azerbaina's victory? Well, wasn't it Sweden? Or Turkey? Swedish song and Turkish votes - Nigar was even waving the Turkish flag on stage, not the Azeri one. If I was an Azeri I would be a bit offended!
It also means I'm not going next year so I can put my soul in peace about that...
But as I predicted a very close run when Azerbajan wins only with 221 points, followed by Italy 189 and Sweden 185. Just think about the votes Lordi and Alexander Rybak gathered!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Paradise Oskar wins the Marcel Bezençon award!

Paradise Oskar's Da da dam was voted the best song by the international press present in Dusseldorf. Great! Previous winners include Lordi, Alexander Rybak , Magdi Ryzla and Harel Skaat.

ESC 2011 - The final. Tonight

So, here it is again. The 56th Eurovision song contest final with 38.000 people inside the arena, some 125 million in front of the TV live in 45 countries. Stefan Raab, Anke Engelke and Judith Rakers are hosting the show that starts at 9pm CET. If your country doesn't show it, you can watch it live on eurovision.tv .
And I have done my prediction - based on pure instinct and reason, but mainly on my own feelings. I'm just too emotional to think things in cold facts so I may get it all wrong. Just for fun I have thrown in a couple of wild guesses to mess it up a bit. In my opinion there is no obvious winner here like in 2009 for example when I had no doubts Norway would walk it and it did. I was also pretty sure about Russia and Serbia the previous years. I think this year the voting will be very close, and not only because of the compurized voting order! My pre-contest winner candidate United Kingdom hasn't totally convinced me on stage, so... Are  we in for a 2003 like finish? Here goes:

1-5:     Bosnia-Herzegovina, France, Germany, Ireland, United Kingdom
6-10:   Finland, Hungary, Moldova, Russia, Sweden
11-15: Austria, Azerbaijan, Denmark, Estonia, Iceland
16-20: Georgia, Greece, Italy, Serbia, Slovenia
21-25: Lithuania, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine

I will be here right after the show with the results and comments as always. Have fun, enjoy the show and comment below what you think will happen!

And you can spot many Eurovision stars as spokespersons, like Dima Bilan, Safura, Sofia Nizharadze, Aisha, Ruslana, Piret Järvis of Vanilla Ninja and Susan Aho of Kuunkuiskaajat. Sweden gives the job again to Melodifestivalen runner up so Danny Saucedo will get the honor.

Good luck wishes from the president and the ice hockey team

Paradise Oskar has got good wishes for tonight's final not only from the Finnish ice hockey team in Bratislava (where they will beat Sweden tomorrow and win the world championship) but also from the president Tarja Halonen through her twitter. The ice hockey team has invited Paradise Oskar for the joint celebration party at Senate square should they win....

Eric Saade - a real nice guy?

We already know all about Eric Saade's comments on Alexey Vorobyov and their war. We also know he said he would kill Ola Sand for letting Sweden in as the last country from the second semifinal and making him suffer. Nicely said, right? Today we can read in Expressen he thinks the Jedward guys are there just to warm up the audience for him...  And a minor scandal came out also from his comments on parking places for disabled people that he uses regularly jusr because "he's annoyed for looking for an available place for his car"... 
All that put aside, is it only me but doesn't he look, act and say arrogant things about most everything all the time? It is true an artist may need that a bit to succeed and make things happen but when too much is too much? I'd say like now. This is beyong being an act to create headlines and get pubblicity. This seems to be his real nature. Nice guy. Not. I hope both Paradise Oskar and Jedward will kick his ass come tonight....

Paradise Oskar: Eurovision is like a funny holiday trip in a fairyland!

That's what he says in YLE's interview. I guess no one has said it so well before. He says it's all dreamlike and so different from his normal life. On the other side it's a bit tiring and after a while gets a bit worklike but he keeps on smiling as the people who want a photo or interview with him are genuinly interested in him.
He is camly waiting for the final tonight and is confident he will reach the top-10 if the people like him and his song. Otherwise he is just happy he can sing his song to millions. The album has been released already in Finland and Sweden, Germany is likely to follow and the other countries if all goes fine. He has gathered also a band and they will go out and play in summer. Hopefully also in Europe.

Finland Vs. Sweden this weekend

Well, this was expected. it's a real Finland Vs. Sweden this weekend in media. Not only tonight will Paradise Oskar (born Octover 23, 1990) try to beat Eric Saade (born October 29, 1990) but tomorrow night Finns try to beat Swedes in the final of the Ice Hockey World championships as well. Will it be 1-1 or 2-0 to one of us? Sweden looks stronger on table but Finland has been extremely lucky and also beat Russia last night 3-0 so are they in the right track now?
Sweden did this double already back in 1991 with Carola and ice hockey - will it be Finland's turn to taste this sweet double celebration?

ESC 2011 Betting odds: France to win?

If you believe the bookmakers France will win tomorrow night and Marie Myriam is no longer the last French winner, the status she has held the past 34 years. Or will Ireland take its 8th win with those crazy ADHDx2 Jedward? Or will Azerbaijan's money and Swedish product bring them their first victory, only 4 years since their debut? Or is it another Big5 country the United Kingdom? Or will Lena win again? Will Estonia score its second win? Denmark its third? Or Hungary its first making it a double win - they already got the OGAE fan award ... and will Finland beat Sweden tomorrow in Eurovision and the day after in the final of the Ice Hockey World cahmpionships? :-)

This is the bookmakers top-10 less 24 hours before the final: France, Ireland, Azerbaijan, United Kingdom, Germany, Estonia, Denmark, Hungary, Finland, Sweden. It's remarkable the west and Big5 are definatelyclaming back their crown as Azerbaijan is the only tipped new country from the east. See west; all you needed were good songs and some effort! You can stop lamenting now!

Friday, May 13, 2011

ESC 2011: Do we have a romance?

The Finnish commentator Tarja Närhi was joking about Austria's Nadine Beiler last night as the Finnish bride and daughter-in-law but today the papers are reporting also the Austrian commentator was talking about the romance between the two artists who were seen spending time together already in Amsterdam's Eurovision in concert earlier this year... Do we have this year's Eurovision romance? Axel aka Paradise Oskar comments in Ilta-Sanomat: "Oh so they say? Of course I know Nadine, we met already in Amsterdam. She's nice. We have talked even here." You make the math.... Is the answer love or da da dam?
(Remember last year Malta's Thea Garrett and Poland's Marcin Mrozinski?)

Paradise Oskar and Alexey in duet: Get you in Russian!

The Russian organized a great party lead of course by Alexey Vorobyov. Axel aka Paradise Oskar was one of the guests he invited and they performed together the Russian version of Get you while Axel was playing guitar. Axel and Alex together... let's see how it goes in the Ice hockey World champs tonight when Finland meets Russia and the winner goes to play for gold... Here.

The letter D, number 1 and fairytales.... good omens?

Now also Finns have woken up to the Ding-a-dong, Diggi-loo diggi-ley, Da da dam connection. I wrote about it days ago but could not imagine the big D would get another meaning: all three songs are also starters of the show, performed at number one! Is that on omen?
I could add another omen: both Lordi and Paradise Oskar are kind of a fairytale creatures: Oskar from a children’s books and two movies, Lordi from a childlike imagination of Mr Lordi himself, also featured in cartoon and a movie.

ESC: Parties, booze, sex and sly games

That is how another article in Iltalehti today is headlined. Talking about the gay in  Eurovision. Or actually in the fan base. For many gaymen the Eurovision is an annual pilgrimage for partying, sex and making contacts. 
Finnish Kalle tells he has been to Moscow, Oslo and now Dusseldorf and it’s very good, especially after homophobic Moscow as a gay man who’s single during these weeks. The city is full of saunas, bars and sex is available easily, for free or for cash.  He says he spends about 3000 euros a week there. He also ads there could be more fights and sly games like the Russian and Swedish fight this year, and Norway complaining the Eastern Europe didn’t like the African rhythms.
Two German gay couples Stefan & Peter and Sven & Henrik are also interviewed. They have been to Helsinki, Moscow and Athens before. They think the Helsinki 2007 was the best: many gay bars and good local transport, and one could walk to the hotel afterwards. As couples they are not interested in available sex, music and international atmosphere are more important. They spend some 3000-4000 euros each during the week. Another Finn Antti who lives in Hamburg says he already had contacts and company thanks to gay chat lines and his phone has a dating service, a real Gaydar so he has been busy. 
And the partying and boozing and sex goes on.... still afor  couple of days.

Christer Björkman: Finland could win.

The Finnish media has gone a bit mad today. Iltalehti has Lordi and Paradise Oskar in the frontpahe with question Will the miracle repeat itself? Full spread article inside the paper repeats what’s happened until now, the betting odds and such. Also the comments by Lena and Johnny Logan are repeated but now another names to praise him and believe in his chances are France’s Amaury Vassili and Sweden’s Christer Björkman who says Finland can even win (how about Eric?) He comments the spot Finland had in the semifinal was better but believes we will do well. Also Thorum Clausen, the co-author of the Icelandic song and widow of late Sjonni Brink says she was very touched by the Finnish performance; simple beautiful song by a young guy with the planet earth in the background. Stunning! Also Jari Sillanpää has come out as a fan and strongly believes Paradise Oskar will win – before saying he is more than ready and willing to try it again himself!
And then there are many fans and accredited journalists from Dusseldorf saying their comments and most every one say only good things and many believe in the second Finnish victory. Even the Olsen Brothers. Is it all happening? Will Finland do Sweden 1991 when they won both Eurovision and the Ice Hockey World championships over the same weekend?

ESC 2011 Semifinal two - the draw

The winners’ press conference went on without much excitement but the Jedward made up for all the others. The journalists and “journalists” (you know who you are) didn’t have much to ask and makes me wonder what the purpose of them there is? If you get accredited as a journalist, do your job!
Anyways, Estonia got number 8 for the final, after Hungary, Ireland and Sweden so we have four up tempo show numbers neck to neck followed by Greece and Russia. Will they eat each other out? That’s good news for France and Italy following them!
Romania picked number 17 between Germany and Austria. Moldova got number 15 after United Kingdom and before Germany,  that makes another row of songs that is hard to predict how they effect each other.
Ireland got number six between Hungary and Sweden and in the before mentioned row of up tempo songs. Maybe not so great for them.
Bosnia-Herzegovina got number 2 and Denmark number 3. For some reason I was sure Bosnia-Herzegovina would follow Finland. We will have a rather slow start for the show and I was hoping we would have got something more different to follow Finland than those two. But even if number one slot isn’t quite that unlucky as number two, and three for that matter, I think their chances are gone.
Austria got number 18, Ukraine number 23, and Slovenia number 20 and all seemed rather happy with their slot. And indeed their chances seem have increased with that.
Sweden was left at number 7 in the troubled line of songs.
So, it is a very interesting draw indeed. France probably sticks out like a needle in this pack so is it France’s year after all? Or will Finland’s charms keep until the end?

ESC 2011 Semifinal two - the results!

So, here we have the results and this one didn’t provide any real surprises. Israel and former winner Dana International is out as feared, so is Cyprus that was tipped by many. Also Latvia that seemed to have a last minute rush for the qualifiers list didn’t make it in the end. And the ones I wanted to see out; Estonia, Latvia and Romania all did it. But I had 7/10 right again in my prediction, mainly because I took the risk and dropped Ukraine and Romania in the last minute from my list… The Escdaily team did 9/10 and various All kinds of everything editors each  8/10.

The show itself went on smoothly it seems and apparently the commentators lines were ok and working and they even finished in time unlike on Tuesday when the show run almost 15 minutes late. The interval act followed Tuesday’s trend and was nothing new or exciting. Wasn’t classical music and modern music mixed already in 1980’s – Hooked on classics anyone?

But the qualifiers? Here they are: Estonia, Romania, Moldova, Ireland, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Denmark, Austria, Ukraine, Slovenia and Sweden.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

ESC 2011: The Italian party! Gualazzi goes Blue

One gets almost emotional with a title like that! Italy back in Eurovision, and hosting a party! Che emozione! 
Anyways, Raphael Gualazzi and the Italian delegation are hosting a party in Dusseldorf's Jazz Schmiede Club and of course Raphael will perform. One of the surprises is his version of Blue's UK entry I can that you can have a teaser here. Blue will be amogst the guests while the artists in the second semifinal are busy with their jury rehearsal...

Predict the unpredictable - what's going to happen tomorrow?

While the Finnish media has been delighted today and also rather surprised Paradise Oskar actually did make it to the final in some other countries it's a different story. Ask Norway. Ask Stella Mwangi. She was quoted commenting "Shit happens" before bursting into tears. The Turkish guys seem to have taken it easier but has anyone seen Emmy for comments? Turkey misses the final for the first time and after 6 top-10 finishes in the past eight years including one winner and one runner-up. Armenia misses the final for the first time, too. They have scored 5 top-10 placements in the past 5 years. And more importantly lose the personal battle with Azerbaijan that went on to the final and is one of the favourites even for the victory.

Last night's qualifiers brought some surprises. Who would have thought Lithuania would make it? Evelina is a mighty singer but the song was concidered maybe a bit dated. And then we have a trio of good mood rather acoustic simple songs Switzerland, Iceland and Finland. No thrills and stage shows, just a song and its performer(s). All three qualified when before the rehearsals no one cared for neither of them. Finland became a favourite once the rehearsals started and I personally thought Iceland could maybe make it while the other bloggers favoured Switzerland. I thought they would eat each other out. Nope. All three in final.

What does all this mean for tomorrow's second semifinal? Will it go as predicted or will Stella and Emmy have company in the loser's club and who in the end gets the Kate Ryan award? A big fan favourite Hungary made it to the final from the first one but how will Sweden, Estonia and Ireland do in the second? I wouldn't be surprised if two of them won't make it. Or will Bosnia-Herzegovina fail? Will Belgium do Lithuania? Will Dana International go ding dong and good bye? This is getting interesting now....

ESC 2011: Problems, protests, surprises and scandals

Germany is well know for it's punctuality and that things work. Eurovision 2011 apparently has proved that image wrong. And the worst happened last night when several countries were left without their commentators when the sound faded. Like Finland. We had two commentators, Asko Murtomäki, an Eurovision expert and newcomer Tarja Närhi (who was absolutely fabulous!!!), they got tired of the problems and the German saying just "We'll fix it" and 5 minutes before the start took their mobile phone and the whole show was commented by phone. It ment that most of the time only Tarja was speaking and they couldn't use their written script but had to improvise mostly - but they did a great job! Greece, Cyprus, Portugal, Norway, Spain, Croatia and Serbia were amongst the countries that were left without commentators according Iltalehti. 

And that brings us to protests. Norway was one of the biggest favourites to win the contest and instead didn't make it past the semifinal. It seems that the commentator sound wasn't the only problem but in some countries also the sound of the show was missing at times. In Finland there were no problems on that. Norway seems to have been ready to give a written protest but it apparently nothing came out of it.... (Sour grapes anyone?)

The big surprises were Turkey and Armenia not qualifying. Most every one took for granted they will qualify no matter what they send but instead no, they can drop out! That also blew most bloggers predictions, including myself. Most got seven right. I got six plus two that I had as one of these two so did I get 7,5? The best were once again All kind of everything's Keith and Andrew with 8 right. (*of those blogs and sites I have checked and they are quite many!)

The war between Swedish Eric Saade and Russian Alexey Vorobjov goes on. The old photo of naked Alexey that I have published already ages ago was re-published in Germany in attempt to get pubblicity which made Eric call Alexey with certain names... And talking of that, Alexey caused a scandal in Russia by yelling something like "Fuck Russia!" while waving the flag. On live TV. What he propably thought was ment to be positive after qualifying but.... you know, some people have taken it in a bad way!

Meanwhile Finland has climbed to top-10 contender in the betting odds while Paradise Oskar and the team celebrated in the night of Germany. Finland is in the final for the 5th time in 6th years, who would have thought about this in the 1990's?

But what was that interval act? Drums are so 2005!
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