Long-standing readers will remember the excitement round these parts in the Spring of 2003, when the Estonian girl-band Vanilla Ninja came tantalisingly close to representing their country with the mighty Club “Kung Fu”. It therefore gives me great pleasure to report that the song’s composer, one Sven Lõhmus, has more or less re-created the magic with his latest bunch of young protegées, the wholly delightful Suntribe. Once again, Let’s Get Loud is a riotously rockin’, deliriously uptempo, “all girls together” slumber-party of a tune – but with the added gimmick of, wait for it, formation scratching. Yes indeed! Five crazy ladies + five turntables = one crazy-happy party! And you were thinking of escaping to the pub on Thursday night?
You know how with every Eurovision, there’s a Good Bit somewhere in the middle, containing many of the strongest contenders? Well, we have just entered the Good Bit.
From formation scratching to comedy stadium metal, as the four members of WigWam – the somewhat misleadingly named Teeny, Glam, Sporty and Flash – blend the style of The Darkness with the sound of Bon Jovi/Def Leppard, to eye-popping effect. Which could have been frightful, were it not for the undeniable power of the track itself, and the sheer entertainment value of the band’s performance. Avoiding the off-putting smugness which can creep into parodies of this nature (Stefan Raab, I’m looking at you), there’s a decidedly endearing quality to the sight of this bunch of slapped-up old bifters, galumphing about in unforgivingly clingy spandex. An absolute dead cert for the finals – and the more I hear it, the more I think it could go all the way on Saturday night.
Remember how last year’s contest was all about the Big Drumming? Well, the beat is most definitely back, as our crack team of invisible lesbian boom-thwackers is wheeled out once again, for the first of many similar excursions. Combine this with Ye Olde Hi-Energye Disco, Ye Olde Trancey Synthe Stabbes, and Ye Tyme-Honoured Key Chaynge At Ye Ende, throw in Ye Sounde Of Ye Gypsy Pan Pypes for good measure, and you have all the ingredients for success.
Sorry, sorry… HOLD the invisible lesbian drummers, as the Romanians have provided their own troupe of big yellow oil-drum bashing hunks, rather in the style of Stomp. Such spectacle! Whatever next?
A Magyar Riverdance, that’s what’s next, as treat piles upon treat. Having done spectacularly badly at Birmingham 1998, Hungary promptly stropped off in a sulk for the next few years, only to return in 2005 with a serious contender that is certain to qualify. Unfortunately, with the rules of the contest dictating that no more than six performers are allowed on stage, Nox’s extensive dance troupe has had to be drastically trimmed down – but reports suggest that the choreography is still quite something. (If the vertical bunny-hops have been axed, then I shall be most vexed.) Anyhow, the song itself claims to “build a bridge between the ancient Hungarian pentatonic scale with the world of contemporary music”, and as such, its aspirations are to be applauded. Watch out for gypsy violins, genuinely exciting syncopated clapping and tapping, and those all important Big Drums.
Whew, that was exciting. Do we all need the toilet now? Yes, I think we do. Now that the Good Bit is over and done, Finland are here to kill the atmosphere stone dead with this excruciatingly dull and “meaningful” ballad. Look, when has Eurovision ever successfully done “meaningful”, at least since Nicole’s A Little Peace swept to victory in 1982? Still, if you like your candles to be burning, while “winds of faith” are blowing and tears are “falling down like rain”, then this is the one for you. Just save my place on the sofa for when I get back, will you?
When the best strapline you can think of for your singer is “grandson of a famous bagpipe player”, then you know you’re up against it. However, potentially the biggest problem faced by the Macedonians is the stylistic similarity between this song’s uptempo blend of Eastern and Western influences, and a whole clutch of others which are already through to the finals. And there’s the rub. Every key element of “Make My Day” – the gypsy flutes, the Big Drums, the Big Key Change, the ethnically skirling middle section – is more successfully deployed elsewhere, leaving nothing else to remember but some strange lyrical business involving cuddly toys.
Jeezus, enough with the invisible lesbian drummers already! You’ve made your point! There’s the bar! This is only Andorra’s second year in the contest, but I’m sensing that the pool of available performers may already be running short, as they’ve roped in the owner of the local guesthouse to do the honours. From Saturday night after hours singalongs in the Lounge Bar, to a major international stage and an audience of millions, Marian has certainly come a long way – and one wishes her well, of course. However, I just don’t see this getting any further.