Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Cinderella Eurovision

What is it about Albania and the Eurovision? Every December they unveil their entry for the following year's contest far earlier than other countries, and with few exceptions it usually sounds pretty ropey. But at some point between then and May, magic dust is sprinkled, the fairy godmother waves her wand, and it transpires that the Cinderella of the Balkans shall be going to the ball after all. You hear their entry again, and it's hard to believe it's the exact same song as the disaster area you first encountered before Christmas.

But Albania wasn't alone in exhibiting a Cinderella effect in last night's first semi-final - which is just as well, as on the basis of the national selections this had been shaping up to be one of the lowest-quality contests in a good few years. If Thursday's semi follows a similar pattern, it looks like it might just be all right on the night come Saturday. In particular, Norway are doing themselves proud as hosts - pulling off the ingenious masterstroke of using presenters who look like they might actually have hosted television programmes once or twice before.

As for the results, I'm pleased that my prediction for the ten qualifiers was almost spot-on - the one blemish was that I had Finland pencilled in instead of Moldova. I'm particularly delighted to have been right about Portugal, as I feared my heart might have been ruling my head on that one. My biggest disappointments were seeing Slovakia and Malta fail to progress - I hadn't rated Malta previously, but it was a strong performance on the night. It's slightly galling to see Russia (as usual) go through in the place of those superior entries, but I'm not remotely surprised - 50% jury voting was never going to make more than a small dent in the traditional political voting from Estonia, Latvia, Moldova and Belarus.

Performance of the night - Iceland, by a country mile. I'm beginning to toy with the possibility they might just have a chance of winning - but then I have a feeling I probably did the same with the song's alter ego two years ago (ultimately it finished well down the leaderboard in the final).


  1. I've been to Albania; it's an awesome place, and the people are fantastic, but I went with a University study trip, just before the overthrow of Ramiz Alia's communist regime. At the time they had NO pop music at all. There was Albanian folk music and there was the stirring stuff that all the communist regimes had, you know, the choirs with half the population in them, and the Youth Orchestra of Albania, who were as good as a symphony orchestra, because all they had done since they were 3 was practise!

    Anyway, that was really apropos of nothing, except that they really don't have a terribly long history of "pop", unlike many of the other countries.

    As an afterthought, I do remember getting talking quietly with a guy in a bar who told me that if you were really clever with radios you could sometimes manage to pick up an Italian or Greek radio station which they hadn't manage to block, and listen to Italian or Greek pop.... Oh well, better than nothing I guess.

    My hopes are with Iceland (really because it’s the best country in the world, and I would have loved to have been Icelandic).... although how would they be able to afford to stage the event next year if they won..... ?

  2. Yes, it would be a shame, but they would probably either have to pass up the chance to host it, or do a radically slimmed-down version. Maybe they could host it outdoors on the foot of the volcano!

  3. I knew you'd solve their problem James.... Outdoor, late at night, at the foot of Eyjafjallajökull. Oh yeah, the volcano would be the winner.... I'd have to be there....

    Radically slimmed down versions of all these things might be a good idea.... London, are you hearing me?