Reports from Copenhagen

LogoThe Preview Jump to latest update - May 19th
It hardly seems a year since the last Eurovision bash which, in case you forget, was in Stockholm, but here it is again. Denmark carried off the crown last year with "Fly on the Wings of Love" sung by the Olsen Brothers - an international hit in many countries, but the 12 point vote for it from the United Kingdom didn't get it a UK release. The Olsens will be on stage again on May 12th opening the show, with Denmark's more widely released music export, Aqua, as the interval act.

Before Aqua's zany tunes, there's the 23 contest entries. As ever, a mixed bunch with more in English than ever before. There's also been a rule change - countries who come lower than 15th place don't get to go to next year's party (unless its UK, Spain, France, or Germany), so the pressure is on.

The venue is the biggest ever - Parken in Copenhagen is a 38,000 seat soccer stadium - and the organisers expect to to the usual zillion worldwide viewers by offering it via Yahoo on the internet. What's in store? It starts low key with the Dutch entry from Michelle #1, inspired by her leaving home.
British commentator Wogan may get a treat with Bosnia's song Hano. The singer, Nino, dressed just like comedian Ali G in the Bosnian final. An unusual rhythmic song.

Friends.The dark horse for me is Norway. Haldor Lægreid gives a terrific performance of the sad ballad, "On My Own". He's sung in many musicals and the experience shows. William Hill had this at 20/1 - a good bet methinks.
The next stand-out song is Lady Alpine Blue by Russia's Mumiy Troll. they're very big in Russia, but it hasn't stopped them from entering a cheap copy of "My Star", last year's Latvian entry by Brainstorm. Russia may flop, unlike the next song, "Listen to your heartbeat" by Sweden's Friends. This is unashamedly an ABBA-clone complete with keyboardist, and blond & brunette girl singers. The ABBA-like song is so immediately catchy that this song must be a strong favourite.

Lithuania prove they've got style with Skamp - this more funky sound may do well, but neighbours Latvia have a joker in "Too Much" from Arnis Mednis. He tells how his "life is a like a cabaret". Entered as a joke, the joke could be on him, but I like it, and Wogan will love the yodelling & accordion bits (ah, the old melodion!). I well remember seeing Croatia's Vanna in hip-hop band ET way back in 1994. Now she's working with Croatia's Pete Waterman, Tonci Huljic, who is behind Bond. Perhaps that explains the excess of violins in "Strings of My Heart". Not to my taste, but very well done.
Portugal's MTM is only worth mentioning as the most likely last place. Pretty uninteresting duet that came out of 50 televised entries!
Ireland plays safe with a dull ballad, Spain sends a would-be Ricky Martin, while France sends a Celine Dion/Lara Fabian clone in Natasha St Pier. She was in the London version of "Notre Dame de Paris", and her slow romantic chanson sounds a little old-fashioned. Would've won in the 70's, but today who knows?, but it's my favourite - but ignore the English version, it has no magic.

Lyndsay.I'm doubly proud of the United Kingdom entry because 16-year old Lindsay comes from my home town of Sheffield, and because we're both British. Unfortunately the British press prefer to knock British efforts - so-called newspaper Daily Star slammed 'No Dream Impossible" the worst British entry ever. I guess the hack who wrote that bile will still be blagging a free seat come Saturday night like he did in Jerusalem.
Its a good song, just not good enough, and overshadowed by the similar next one up, "Energy" from Slovenia's Nusa Derenda. This should do well - uptempo, loud, and a stunning singer. Germany's hopes lay in Michelle, whose tabloid-friendly rags to unhappy riches story is bigger than this diminutive singer. Nice schlager song, but nothing special.

Malta has a cheery summery song in "Another summer night", and Greece provides many fans favourite - Antique with "Die for you". They should score well from Sweden where Nikos & Elena grew up, and where they have had hits, but I think the fans will be disappointed.
After Denmark's song comes your chance to vote and watch Aqua.
For some Aqua may be the highlight Just remember you can't vote for "Barbie Girl".

Who'll win?
Well everyone thought Denmark would score poorly last year, yet it won, so who knows, but I think France, Sweden, and Norway are the contenders, with Turkey & Portugal vying for last place. UK? - about 12th.

Michelle on StageUpdate May 6th 7pm

Its a cool sunny evening here. Old friends & acquaintances have been renewed in the Press Centre and we've seen inside the hall. There's still grass there! They plan to cover it around Thursday. The stage isn't very ready yet, but has a white central staircase. The roof is partly back each day to let in the sun for the grass. Its huge, of course. 38,000 will be in on Saturday - 25,000 tickets are sold for Friday's rehearsal. The press centre is a bit chaotic. Only 10 international lines, and not yet working, and no PA system in the conference room. Photo shoot area has no lighting!
On the plus side we have a free bus pass, and a free copy of Johnny Logan's latest album. We are invited to his show Wednesday at midnight.
The programme (60Kr) says each song will have a firework display!
And I saw my first performer at the airport - Latvia. Too Much, I say!

Stage view from the backUpdate May 7th 11am

Rehearsals have just begun, and here are the first pictures, showing the stage with the Dutch Michelle singing.

Its not to well lit yet, and is an awfully long way away!
Back later

Natasha St pier at the Mayor's partyUpdate May 8th 6pm
Monday night saw the Mayor's party. Most of the acts were there, and we had plenty of food, and drinks.
We were entertained by some well-known Danish acts: I'll mention my favourite Ann-Louise, and there was even Sissel from Norway there - part of the 1986 interval act.

Rehearsals continue today Tuesday. Lyndsay seems confident in her Press Conference but has little to say - says she's proud to sing for Britain.

Erica Jennings from Skamp Slovenia has a gimmick. Tiny Nusa is lifted up by her backing singers during the song. Very strong. Her English lyricist is Lucienne Lonchina from Bristol, UK, and says Nusa has learned the song phonetically. However Nusa speaks good English.

Natasha St Pier (Above Right) was very confident in her packed Press Conference. She's from New Brunswick in Canada, but one of her parents in from Quebec. Flattered to be compared to Celine Dion, she has been singing for 8 years even though she is only 20. I caught her comparing notes Monday with the lead singer of Mumiy Troll.

On Monday Friends were in fine form, and we were happy to be compared to ABBA.

Norway's Haldor sang very well. He was in a musical, Atlantis, in Copenhagen for two years, so feels at home. On Wednesday he combines his party with Johnny Logan's.

Haldor from NorwaySlovenia has a party tonight.

Update May 11th 6pm
Sorry I haven't had time for updates, but its been crazy.
Just seen the first full dress rehearsal delayed for an hour until 4pm by a computer cable problem, and it was great - stage is fairly simple - bit dark with staircase which isn't used, but there is a trap door the acts come through.

The Olsens open the show with their new single, and then the presenters Soren & Natasja begin their rather awful rhyming introduction - yes folks they swallowed a rhyming dictionary, and before I forget watch out for the trophy being dropped as a joke. They didn't actually do it, but the signs are there.

Nusa performs in the Slovene partyLyndsay looks great, and performs well, Spain is really hot - two blond girls in gold furiously dance on either side of David in black. it storms!
Nusa for Slovenia seems to be in motorcycling gear - yellow shiny bodice. Really powerful, and she is lifted by dancers in the piano bit as the camera follows the piano.
Russia looks better than ever, Latvia provides the humour - very well performed silly song. Lithuania seems to have borrowed some of Jonathan king's coloured wigs for backing singers, but he is here in Copenhagen. Skamp certainly do have style - Erica is in gold, and performs well - only slightly different to the CD version.

Olsen Brothers meet MichelleVanna looks stunning. Last night's Croatian party was jammed, but she had time for us, as did flame haired backing singer Alenka who remembered me from previous years. She backs many a Croatian star.

And friends - well they are perfect - the girls doing great moves and sounding superb. After this rehearsal I'd put money on one of Spain, Sweden, Slovenia, Norway or maybe Denmark. I'd love to say UK, but it just doesn't quite make it for me despite Lyndsay's exuberant performance.

Aqua perform a medley of the hits during the voting and are just right for the show.
So to the low points:
The terrible rhyming jokes in the presentation
Turkey - despite the English bit still a bit dull, and
Portugal still two guys in black & white shouting at each other.

I hope to add more in the next 24 hours, but don't count on it - its gonna be busy.

Michelle performs in the Dutch PartyUpdate May 12th 5pm

We've now seen three rehearsals - are we mad? - and are waiting for the big one tonight. Before I forget, I'll mention Aqua use some bad language, and some provocative gestures during their performance which is otherwise terrific with strobe lighting and flames & fireworks. Pity they couldn't avoid the f word.

What else? - well last nights audience were terrible - very restless, but this morning's were better. The Parken security are ugly. No cameras, and no drinks can be taken in. Quite annoying.
The monitors actually show the stage quite bright, even though it looks dim in the hall (or on your camera)
The audience seem to love Denmark, Sweden, Malta, Estonia, and Spain. Based on this I forecast Sweden to win. the fun is in guessing those relegated by scoring low. One list has Bosnia, Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Croatia,Turkey, & Portugal
The rhyming presenters seem OK to Danes, so I will give you a quote "Never mind the weather, never mind the rain, here we are together with 38,000 Danes". There's also some terrible magic, and breaking the trophy as forecast.

Reprise clips are interesting - France goes for ending "I am what I am, my life is my soul", Germany has Michelle going into English, 'To live for love means you'll never die", whilst UK has Lyndsay prancing around the stage. She has a red top, grey jacket & jeans - red shoes. Not well received in the hall. France has a red dress - moves little, as does Minnie Mouse - sorry - Michelle (actually I love her squeaky voice). Poland cones in with some animal's coat, and throws it off, but he's no Danijela. Norway's Haldor in white looks increasingly like John Inman (ie camp), but really knows how to perform. Greece - she in white, he in black. Elena gyrates a bit. Some support in the hall. Vanna is in gold matching her hair. Good performer, but not one Tonci's best.

So I forecast Sweden. Blond Nina is in red leather, and Kim in red leather trousers & a light top. Very Abba moves. They mumble some words but it doesn't seem to matter.

May the best song win.
Hope for another report after the show.

Update May 19th

OK, its a week after the show! You all know Estonia won with "Everybody" sung by Dave Benton & Tanel Padar

The proud winnersThe press centre closed at 2am on the Saturday night, so there was no chance of putting anything up, so here's my thoughts a week on about that night.

Well, the crowd were certainly lively. Plenty of Mexican waves. We were in our seats well in advance, and saw the warm-up act, which started well with the winner of the Children's Melodi Grand Prix, 15-year old Sisse, with a lively dance number. Then some 40 minutes of two Danes with The Cardboard Box Show. This seemed great to the Danes.

It seemed an eternity before they were playing our tune, and we were off on another three-hour roller-coaster ride that is the Eurovision Song Contest. Everybody performed well, but I have to say I found the crowd's rowdiness almost unbearable. I was pleased I'd watched quieter rehearsals. Pretty soon we were into Aqua's interval act. They still used bad language, but the BBC in the UK cut the sound! If only they had a wider brief!

The voting! - where was the green room? Did you see Brainstorm's lead singer with the Latvian votes?, or Corinne Hermes for France. Marlayne did the Dutch votes again. Veteran Colin Berry did the UK votes once more.

To get some on-stage winning pictures you had to sneak out during the voting, and this we did when it was obvious Estonia couldn't lose. We were escorted close to the stage as the last votes were coming in to get involved in the stage scrum. You'll see those pictures elsewhere, but then the scene moved to a chaotic Press Conference in the Press Centre. Then there was the official party - which seemed to be in corridors of the Parken. Antique, Nusa Derenda, 2Tricky and a few others were there, but it was a pretty paltry affair. A better time was had, apparently, at the Admiral Hotel.

Next day - another fine one - there was the noon press conference by the winners. Estonian TV were determined to host it next year, but had only a tiny budget. The Estonian Prime Minister was in support. Nobody asked if this would help them join the European Union (one of the daft questions from Saturday night!). Tanel Padar & Dave Benton had only done the one CD together, and yes last year's Estonian entrant Ines (Tanel's girlfriend) was in the audience. There's a picture of her coming up too. There was plenty of pictures taken of the duo with the trophy.

Then it was off to the airport. Vlado Janevski came over to wish us well. He represented Macedonia in 1998, and was along for all the fun. Then we found the British team was on our plane. Lyndsay came through the plane twice to thank the people she'd met for our support. Terry Wogan told me regarding his commentary, "Trust me, you missed nothing - same old rubbish".

And it was back to reality!

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