Saturday, May 26, 2012

Liveblog: Eurovision 2012

Welcome to the annual (mostly) No Rock And Roll Fun Eurovision Song Contest liveblog. It's like Politics Live With Andrew Sparrow, only without the insight. Or the politics.

Or, actually, this year it's with the politics. The idea of holding the Eurovision in Baku - a contest about communication and fabulousness in a nation built for repression and hate - is just wrong. It's too hostile an environment, like dragging the Winter Olympics to Dubai.

Although it's surely only a matter of time before they do the Winter Olympics in Dubai.

Admittedly, the Song Contest could be said to have helped put world attention on the Ilham Aliyev regime; unfortunately, the Azerbaijani state is just taking the opportunity to show off its repressive skills. Just last night the secret police were beating the crap out of protestors from all nations.

Index On Censorship have created a petition of protest:

The Eurovision Song Contest is a guilty pleasure for millions across Europe. But this year the competition has a dark side – it’s being hosted by Azerbaijan, a country whose people face violence, prison and persecution for exercising their right to free speech. On 18 April, Idrak Abbasov, an investigative reporter who won the Guardian/Index Award, was beaten unconscious by private security guards while the police looked on.
Other journalists have been attacked, abducted and tortured. In November 2011, writer Rafiq Tagi was attacked outside his home and later died. No one has been brought to justice for his murder. In fact, in the last seven years, there have been no arrests or prosecutions related to violence against journalists.
But it’s not just journalists – musicians, gay rights campaigners and political activists are also under attack.
It would be great if everyone who watches and votes this year could sign.

So why not nip across and sign now? You've got a few minutes before it starts, and the Jedward jokes can wait for a minute or two.

Done? Thank you.

The Voice is churning through its semi-final. They haven't yet realised that they need to bring back the revolving chairs - maybe we could all vote for artists by texting their number, and the more we vote, the faster the chairs revolve. The last judge who is able to stay in their chair without throwing up gets to put a crown on their artist's head. (This is a slight variance from the US format, admittedly.)

Meanwhile, Charlie Brooker has rendered all tonight's tweeting and blogging redundant:

Becky's about to do her bit on The Voice. Is it just me, or does she look like someone who should be in Albert Square being asked by Dot "where did the baby come from, Becky?" Mind you, she's a better performer than that bloke who looks like what you'd get as a remainder if you divided Billy Idol by Spike from Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

Sorry, this isn't meant to be a Voice semis liveblog.

Although it does occur to me that BBC1 has got a ninety minute programme where contestants are supposed to be judged solely on the quality of their voice, followed by a three-hour show where contestants are weighed entirely on the song they sing. They could have folded them together and we could all have been in bed by half ten.

Oh, that guy Danny is still sitting on the judging panel after all these weeks. He's like that kid who somehow spent weeks living in AOL's headquarters without anyone realising he wasn't meant to be there.

"You know what?" says Jessie J, "there's six million people watching this programme..."

The football's started on the other side, Jessie. Maybe four million, if you're lucky?

The BBC has been doing its bit to try and get the nation behind Engelbert, with a Get Behind The Hump campaign. There's also cut-out-and-stick-on-sideburns. Perhaps more usefully, they've got scorecards and, erm, cake recipes.

Me, I'm especially looking forward to Italy's entry, which is called Love Is Female, a thesis I can't wait to have explained to me.

By the way, I've not seen the semi finals - as @brokentv said earlier in the week, it's like having a bag of crisps before you have your tea. It takes the edge off the experience. Nor have I spent any time rehearsing spelling Engelbert Humperdinck's name, so apologies in advance for that.

Just seen the latest odds...

So the UK is being judged as having as good a chance of winning as the contestant who claimed she'd been told to throw the competition. I hope they weren't keeping Saturdays free for next May at the O2.

Just realised that The Voice are actually sticking to Cheryl Cole's attempt to rebrand herself as Cheryl. I suppose if she managed to shake off beating up that toilet attendant, she must think she can pull off losing the surname.

Oh, dear: Ms Cole appears to have come dressed as Jeannie from I Dream Of... - apparently she's been fuming out the back "Holly Willougby told me it was a sitcom fancy dress night. She swore she was coming as Laverne, and Reggie was going to be Shirley..."

"Thank you for choosing to debut that here" says Holly, as if Cole was doing it as a favour to them and not to in the hope of squeezing a 'Cheryl snubs Cowell by going with rival show' story out of The Sun.

Will I Am is waving his Olympic torch around.

Thoroughly Good is also liveblogging events tonight.

Meanwhile, Paloma Faith is setting free the balls for the rollover jackpot. If this blog ends here, I've won.

Bugger. Oh well, back to plan A, then, and Eurovision.

Continuity: "the greatest show on earth, with lots of sparkle and flashing images." I'll bet the flashing images are the only ones you can guarantee.

Will Graham Norton mention Baku's human rights record? No, of course not, but he does reveal that they're four hours ahead of us. No wonder Hump's going on first, they must be worried that he won't make much further through.

We're getting some traditional Azerbaijani music - a small shepherd boy, whose space on the stage is liquidated as a group of identically-dressed dancers with mysterious hats take over.

Judging by these dancers, they've just got Tron in Baku. The first one, not the disappointing sequel.

Ooh, and now some Singapore Airlines air hostesses dance in front of massive, rotating Doritos.

Really? You travel thousands of miles to Baku, and you still get a sodding drum circle crashing your party.

There's some excellent moustache work amongst the male dancers.

Last year's winner now. To be honest, even as I'm hearing it, I don't remember ever having heard this song before in my life. Although it sounds like every mobile phone advert for the last three years.

The two prettiest women in Azerbaijan are sharing Katie Boyle duties these days. One of them has a hairstyle based on the tower outside the London 2012 venue.

They're proud that there are more contestants than there have been for years. It's like being delighted you're going to be punched in the face more than at any point in the century to date.

We're being treated to a timelapse film of the stadium being built, which is incredibly interesting.

Norton mentions "stories of riots and arrests" but "I have seen no trouble". So that's alright then - no secret police hanging around the minibar or the green room. Phew, eh?

The presenters are doing a "Ted can't hear you, Hi-De-Hi" bit of business. The two prettiest women in Azerbaijan have been joined on stage with a man who can only be the nephew of the president, grinning like a Rick Astley impersonator at Pete Waterman's house.

Engelbert Humperdinck - Love Will Set You Free
We're ushered on with a short film about museums.

Hump is all in black, like Johnny Cash or a man who's hoping to slink away once he's finished without anyone noticing. He seems to be doing a silly voice.

He seems to be on the point of going "rumpty-pumpty-poo", like a man trying to sound like he was once Engelbert.

"Love comes once if you're lucky enough" warns Engelbert. And the same is true of the number of times the Eurovision finals will ever go to Birmingham.

A good performance, but... even with catherine wheels in the background, it doesn't feel like a winner.

Compact Disco - Sound Of Our Hearts - Hungary
What the hell are those suits made of? Melted down lead stolen from orphanage roofs? Death appears to be playing one of set of keyboards.

Norton introduced this as a power ballad, but... it's somewhat underpowered.

They're projecting the Panorama logo on the back wall during this, which is cheeky, given what Panorama said about Azerbaijan...

Rona Nishliu - Suus - Albania
The pre-performance video was of polo players. Rona has got a rather elaborate hair do - it's like dreadlocks piled up to form a precariously-balanced basketball up there, but it has a snake of dreadlock curling down to nuzzle her own PVC-clad breast.

Clearly, most of the work here has gone into the hair, as the song sounds like someone's just tried to translate Jacques Brel into Albanian. Which Rona then screeches out over a tinkling piano.

At this point, the UK must surely still be in the lead.

Donny Montell - Love Is Blind - Lithuania
Goodness, the smaller countries are getting a go tonight, aren't they?

"When the day becomes the night, you know that I think of you" sings Donny. Donny is wearing a blindfold, as in his nation failure to win Eurovision results in a quick trip to the firing squad and, being intimate with his plodding song, Donny is a realist. He's already had his final meal, too.

Hang on - the drumbeat has kicked in, and he's pulled off his blindfold. He looks like a young John Barrowman.

I said John Barrowman before Graham Norton did.

Mayasar - Korake ti znam - Bosnia
Bosnia have gone with blonde woman sitting at a piano singing a song about, at a guess, lost love. She has thirty seconds to push her stool back and pick the pace up, or she's going to struggle to make the top half of the board.

I have to tell you have I received no such funking up of the song.

She's now stood up, but has actually managed to make the song feel even more pedestrian than when she was sitting down.

Buranovskiye Babushki - Party For Everybody - Russia

The famous Russian "grannies" as, apparently, we're meant to call them because they're older than some of the other contestants. They've taken their traditional dress to the extent of wearing headpiece microphones that appear to date from the time Laika went into space.

It's actually the first sign of life on the stage the whole evening. Plus, they've got some baking going on there, too, which is good. It's a dreadful song, sure, but it feels like something that might sound alright if you were as drunk as Wogan would have been by now.

They remembered to get the baking out the oven. I think we have wives for The Hairy Bikers.

Gréta Salóme & Jónsi - Never Forget - Iceland

Remember when Iceland were the economic pariahs of Europe? Now they seem like the Micawbers of the north.

Disappointingly, it's not Jonsi. He looks like he could be cast as the young Giles if they ever get round to making a Watcher series.

They've brought a fiddle but, really, we're now demanding baking from contestants before we'll be interested.

Ivi Adamou - La La Love - Cyprus
The most Eurovisiony song title of the night so far. Graham promises us this will be "infectious".

It's the first song that sounds as if it's been written by someone familiar with music released this century, to be fair to it. The lyrics, on the other hand, could have been knocked together by a street vendor in the 1840s.

And a stage of books is no oven full of pies.

Anggun - Echo You And I - France
The intro video is showing off Azerbaijan's finest cusine, which isn't making me hungry. Anggun is apparently the world's most successful francophone artist, which doesn't explain why the song starts as if it was being played on a tape recorder with dodgy batteries.

The chorus sounds like a rip-off of Garbage's Breaking Up The Girl.

Half-naked men do some half-arsed gymnastics to fill the stage.

Inevitably, they lift her off the floor. It fails to lift the song.

At last - Italy. Let us find out why love is female.

Nina Zilli - L'amore è femmina (Out of Love) - Italy
They appear to have got hold of some Amy Winehouse DNA and done something clever in the lab.

This year is all about the metallic dresses. Perhaps made from melted-down Euro coins?

It's not a bad song; still no clearer about the reasons for love being assigned a gender. It sounds like it's desperate to break into Big Spender by La Bassey if it's not watched closely.


Ott Lepland - Kuula - Estonia
Ott has the look of one those blokes who they write into Emmerdale to be a hunky love interest until they realise their acting skills are incapable of carrying even the smallest scene in t'Woolpack, and so they wind up being dispatched in a quickly-resolved murder mystery.

His song is so dull, even Gary Barlow is embarrassed for him, and he made that Jubilee thing.

Seriously, Ott, a song like this has never won Eurovision. A song like this would struggle to get played on a broken jukebox.

Tooji - Strong - Norway
Ah, the bad boy hoodie-wearer now.

Imagine, if you will, every song on the Hit Man And Her ever mixed together into one, and then a mere hint of some Eastern European traditional tunes washed over it. That's what we've got here. Along with that 'hands either side of the head moving your head about' move that Kylie did about ten years ago. Derivative, but of so many things you might just about be able to patent it.

It sounds like we've got to the commercial break bit. "How are you doing?" asks one of the prettiest women in Azerbaijan. "What?" he asks, before gathering himself to a lovely answer about how great music is and everything.

Oh, and we're back.

Sabina Babayeva - When The Music Dies - Azerbaijan
When the music dies, in Azerbaijan, everyone looks the other way and pretends they didn't hear any strange noises in the night.

Ooh, that's a lovely dress, though.

This is going down very well in Baku, what with it being the local team. Possibly helped by Azerbaijan being one of the few competing countries to have enough money to host the event again.

Did they not realise projecting red and purple blotches onto the crotch of a woman in a white dress might create the wrong impression in the viewer?

Hmm. I don't think that song sounds like a second-in-a-row winner.

Mandinga - Zaleilah - Romania
A Cuban-Romanian act singing a song in Spanish and English.

With bagpipes.

I'm playing my bagpipe veto card here.

I suspect Elena has looked at the white-clad, drum-thumping, piping men who share the stage with her and thought "if I could have kept them out of sight, I might have been in with a chance; instead, it's like Max Headroom's nephews have made a Pepsi commercial."

If you close your eyes, though, it's a pretty good Eurovision tune.

Soluna Samay - Should Have Known Better - Denmark
Not, obviously, the Jim Diamond song.

Soluna has brought the first sighting of a admiral's cap to a music stage since LaToya Jackson; she also has backing singer who seems to need a comfy chair in order to perform. This could be a winner, but it would mean we'd have to watch the drummer pretending to play the drums really, really badly all over again.

Eleftheria Eleftheriou - Aphrodisiac - Greece
Hey, everybody, it's the austerity Beyonce.

"You make me want your aphrodisiac"? What does that actually mean? That you're attracted enough to someone to want to take a substance that will make you attracted to them? Have you even thought these lyrics through?

Yeah, as Europop goes, this is fine. You might never want to hear it outside of a Saturday night in May, but it works alright here.

Loreen - Euphoria - Sweden
Apparently already been number one absolutely everywhere, hence its status as a favourite to win tonight. Isn't Loreen a type of marge?

She's brought a wind machine with her; a bit impractical with that Laura Ashley frock. No wonder she's running her nipples. They must be hard as mint imperials in that gale.

Can Bonomo - love Me Back - Turkey

I come back from feeding the cats to discover a sixth form college from Istanbul are putting on a low-budget version of cabaret.

Pastora Soler - Quédate conmigo - Spain
Remember, she claims she was misquoted when she said she'd been instructed to not achieve an Excehquer-punishing victory. Which means we're now seeing a woman trying to throw a contest while not looking like she's throwing it.

Frankly, given that she's bellowing a song that sounds like a pissy rainstorm in the Pyrenees, I don't think anyone in Spain needs to worry about having to book hotel rooms next years.

Only six to go. Be strong, people.

Roman Lob - Standing Still - Germany

Did Graham Norton say this was written by Jamie Cullum? Oh god, he did.

That tells you all you need to know about the song, so instead let's focus on the name. Roman Lob? That sounds like something that happens to men when they're not actually unable to walk, but are still worried that a half-glance at their crotches might give it away.

The way Roman sings "standing still" he manages to make it sound like "I'm scared of flu", which is quite a feat.

Oh, god, this sounds like the sort of song which exists purely so the instrumental break can be used in a Galaxy chocolate advert.

Kurt Calleja - This Is The Night - Malta

Malta often threaten to almost win Eurovision, but never do. Will tonight be their - heh - night?

Oh god. No.

@dillpickle has just asked "is that a handbrace or is it meant to be a nattyglove?"

Oh, god. No. His band look like they've been drawn by late-period Hanna-Barbera.

This song is so bad one of our cats just battered the bottom of the door as if he was trying to desperately put a cat flap in.

Kaliopi - Crno i belo - Macedonia
That's Jo Frost, Supernanny, isn't it? Perhaps she's been drafted in to calm down Jedward.

The band are doing Bond-style violin-thrashing. Whatever happened to Bond? Did even Classic FM tire of them in the end?

The drummer is wearing a hat and chewing gum, like he's really only doing the percussion while he's waiting to whisk the kit off down the market.

Jedward - Waterline - Ireland
This joke is now worn so thin, if it was trousers you'd be arrested for wearing them in public.

Seriously, it's like if we entered The Chuckle Brothers every sodding year.

This is perhaps the best Jedward song yet; you could even imagine it being alright if it was done by a decent band. Bananarama could probably even make a top twenty hit out of it. But why would they want to?

Strange keystroke combination alert!
Željko Joksimović - Није љубав ствар - Serbia

Love is not an object, apparently. Equally useful to note that peanuts are not nuts, bananas are not fruit and whales are not fish.

Kenny G is sneaking up behind Zeljko. Watch out, Zeljko!

Oh, it's okay this time, a woman with a violin has spotted him, so Kenny is just pretending he never meant any harm, just blending in. But thinking "you win this time, Zeljko... this time."

Oh hang on, was there a song there?

Gaitana - Be My Guest - Ukraine

Some of the most discordant piping we've heard all evening. The dancing shapes projected onto the backdrops are, disconcertingly, slightly more well-endowed than strict anatomical correctness would demand.

Gaitana has a very wide mouth. I don't mean that in a rude way, just as a genuine observation. It's a full-on Zippy. Without the zip, obviously.

Pasha Parfeny - Lautar - Moldova
Thank god, the last one. Lautar? I hope people understand the health risks from Lau Tar cigarettes are just as serious as from other types.

Apparently Pasha was gutting fish before coming on stage and didn't have a chance to change, which would explain why his backing dances are tricked-out like mermaids.

The music appears to be stolen from the soundtrack of a children's sitcom.


Okay, so we've only got to make it through the voting and then it's all over for another year. We can do that, surely?

So, I think I'm going to throw my weight behind... Greece. And then Russia.

Remember, everyone: in the UK, we can't vote for the UK; elsewhere in Europe, you won't want to.

They've done the recap of all the songs. They merged into one sort of mushy-music mess, which means it was exactly the same as the previous two hours, only this time like a suspended sentence.

In the real world, Baroness Warsi turns out to be pocketing cash without declaring it. She says this was a "discrepancy", which is understandable - it's not like there's been any attention on expenses recently.

Back in Baku, the pies are still on a plate in front of the Russian women. All that work to bake them, and nobody's even nibbled one. Bet they didn't wash their hands first, eh? I can picture Engelbert awkwardly trying to turn them down when offered - "sorry... uh... this suit would show the crumbs... I'm sure they're delicious..."

Oh god, they're showing the quick reminder of all the songs all over again. Is it like this when you die? Does your life keep flashing in front of your eyes? Especially the premature ejaculations?

You know who I miss? Ruslana. Can't we have Ruslana back again?

Perhaps in the way you have to measure yourself up to a cardboard cutout of a giraffe to ensure you're tall enough to ride a rollercoaster, there should be a cutout of Ruslana with the words 'You must be this good to compete' at the entrance to the Eurovision hall.

I'm not sure this would measure up, even if it was the Eurovisiony high water mark tonight:

We're not getting the musical entertainment while they count the votes (I'm not convinced it takes this long to do a sum on Excel); there's some torches, which surely means London 2012 LOCOG are going to be running down with cease-and-desist notices.

Norton is starting to get a bit more outspoken about how the president and his chums seem to have got a more than fair crack of the whip tonight. I hope he has a taxi already waiting for him by the exit. They don't like criticism in Azerbaijan.

Apparently this chap is, like, the Olly Murs of Azerbaijan. He's trying to win over the whole of Europe by singing something like a watered-down Tatu track.

In the green room, the prettiest woman in Azerbaijan is talking to Denmark's admiral cap, reminding her she used to sing on the street. She says it as if it's not even a step up from working the streets.

Voting is over. We move to the results stage. Brandy. Please send brandy.

Albania first, with their suit sleeves pushed up. Their 12 goes to Greece. Nothing for the UK.

Montenegro have spent all their money on a nice necklace for their presenter. Their 12 is for Serbia.

Did Romania just congratulate the hosts on a fabulous stoat? It's been a long night. 12 for Moldavia. UK still on zero.

Austria have turned up to give their scores looking like Jennifer Aniston doing a Celine Dion impression. 12 to Sweden.

Ukraine's presenter has got scribbled hair. 12 to Azerbaijan.

At this stage, Sweden is out in front. There's a load of countries with nothing, though.

Belarus give a point to Jedward. They're a cruel nation, Belarus. Their presenter is wearing an undershirt, for some reason. 12 to Russia. Engelbert being gently humiliated.

Belguim finally give a point to Hump, but that makes it worse. 12 to Sweden.

"Baku calling" - you're in Baku, isn't all of this Baku calling? 12 to Turkey,

The Maltese presenter flirts with the prettiest woman in Azerbaijan. Surely they won't miss out giving points to the UK? Nope. Azerbaijan get their 12. That's serious flirting, that is.

San Marino takes her time getting to the point, with her mad staring eyes. 12 for Albania. Again, bugger all for Hump. He used to be someone, you know.

Julian Rind-Tuit is giving the results for France. Sweden get 12; I think they're edging into a difficult lead.

Scott Mills mentions we've got the Olympics. Jesus, man, no need to make us seem so fucking needy. Our 12 goes to Sweden.

I didn't catch who this shouting old man is. Oh, he's from Turkey.

Thanks to 10 from the UK, Jedward are on 16. Humperdinck is desperately fielding calls from UK theatres who are trying to renegotiate contracts downwards.

Turkey's 12 goes to Azerbaijan.

Greece. Stop staring. Stop staring. Cyprus get the 12.

Engelbert is in a foetal position, muttering "it's not me, it's Cameron they hate. It's Cameron. It's not me."

The Bosnian presenter has taken time out to follow his dream of becoming an artist. 12 to Macedonia.

Moldova is tossing her marks around; 12 to Romania.

Hump is yelling at his agent "how can Butlins have gone cold? How can BUTLINS have gone cold?"

The Bulgarian 12 votes have gone to Serbia.

Switzerland's presenter is wearing the 43rd red dress of the results round; 12 to Albania. Sweden now on 140, and I suspect the orchestra are busily preparing to do Euporia again.

Slovenia's 12 to Serbia.


Twinkly old Cypriot presenter brought to you by Grecian 2000. 12 to Greece, just to allow people to do the "oh, they always do that" bit. Everyone would hate it if they couldn't tut.

Croatia give three to Jedward, which means they've scored 18 more than Engelbert so far. 12 to Serbia.

Humperdinck now constantly sending calls from Tom Jones to voicemail.

As advertising-supported broadcasters gasp for revenue, we're shown the top three and get a little interview with Sweden's Loreen.

Slovakia - again, a red dress. Is Special K guerilla marketing? Their 12 goes to Sweden.

Macedonia have gone for something distinctive - a polka dot dress and a massive corsage. Tat is a massive, massive corsage. 12 to Albania.

"Have you ever thought of Celebrity Big Brother?" whisper Jedward in Engelbert's ear.

Netherlands send 12 to Sweden.

Portugal next, bringing a severe hairstyle with them. Sweden have now hit 200 and I suspect will not be beaten, but we've still got 17 nations to get through. Portugal give 12 to Spain.

Iceland give points to Ireland, and Graham exclaims in delight, before remembering that he's not meant to be supporting them. Engelbert ends up on the bottom.

Janet Street Porter is giving Sweden's marks. 12 to Cyprus.

Norway's presenter has Dennis The Menace hair, and twelve points for Sweden. The UK are still on one point.

Engelbert is already back in his room, rummaging about in the minibar.

Aaaand we're running late. Lithuania have sent an estate agent to give 12 to Azerbaijan.

Estonia seem to be phoning it in, but give five whole points to the UK. "I'm so please for Engelbert, it would have been terrible for him to just have one point" says Graham, as if six is an achievement. 12 to Sweden.

Copenhagen calling, in a natty cardigan. 12, again, to Sweden.

Latvia give 2 to Engelbert - the Baltic states love the man in black. 12 to Sweden.

"Engel, Engel, don't worry - I can see you doing a tour of the East - Latvia, Lithuania, the other one... Eastontonia or whatever. What? Yeah, I'm sure they've got money. Enough to book you anyway. Engel... Engel? You still there?"

Spain give 12 to Sweden.

Lordi has popped up to do the Finnish votes, like the ghost of Eurovision past. He's rather milking his part, to be honest. The host has that half-laugh in her voice which says 'please just hurry the fuck up'

We have Scott Mills. Finland has Lordi. We even lose the voting. 12 to Sweden.

Georgia - and, by lord, we're deep into the votes from the Pointless answers by now - 12 to Lithuania, but their votes have taken Sweden over 300.

Italy are giving their twelve to Albania. Nothing for Sweden. That'll be remembered.

Engelbert is thumbing through his phone, looking for Rick Rubin's number.

Serbia give 12 to Macedonia.

Germany are forced to give 12 votes to everyone under the bailout rules. But really 12 to Sweden.

We're nearly through this. The News has been pushed back to 11.15, and might just make that second appointment.

Russia appears to be wearing a dress that would allow her to re-enter the atmosphere. 12 goes to Sweden.

Hungary says "lets see what we can do if we follow the sound of our hearts", which turns out to be giving 12 points to Sweden.

Israel, represented by Alan Cumming's uncle, appears to have popped out of a wedding for their scoring. 12 to Sweden takes them over 350.

Last bunch of results from Ireland. A grudging four for Engelbert and 12 to Sweden.

So, Loreen wins.

So, what have we learned?

First, it makes for a bloody long night if you accidentally start blogging the Voice as well.

Second, sending a great man into the contest with a weak song isn't an easy route to victory.

Third, could somebody please now take Jedward off the television, for they have delighted us enough.

Fourth, tweaking your own nipples during your song really helps boost your score.

Fifth, baking live on stage is appreciated, but not as much as tweaking nipples.

Sixth: it helps if your entry has been a hit across Europe by the time it comes to the contest.

That's it for another year - thanks if you've read some or all of this...

Embed and breakfast man: Tina Barrett

How long is it since S Club 7 split?

A rhetorical question, it's nine years since the band rolled up, with Tina Barrett expressing a wish that she'd like to continue with music. (Or, given that she'd been in S Club, perhaps start with music.)

Now, just nine short years later, Tina's released her first solo single:

You might wonder if the moment has passed a little, although given the amount of post-production slopped over the her vocals, you could perhaps ask if it counts as a song by her at all.

It's not Tina's first musical adventure since S Club, of course. Who could forget her 2004 work as one of the Girls Of FHM on the ill-advised Rod Stewart cover? Admittedly, they didn't give her lead vocals but she did get nearly as much time in the video as Maria off Corrie and some women who had won some sort of demeaning competition.

Perhaps she should see if Maria off Corrie wants to join in for the (admittedly unlikely) follow-up single?

[via Clickmusic]

Happy Birthday, Golden Gate

The Golden Gate bridge is 75 years old tomorrow (it opened to the public on May 27th, 1937). It went on to inspire, of course, one of the greatest pop songs of this or any age:

[Buy: The Woods]

Gordon in the morning: Will Ferrell's rather good joke

I'm not the biggest Will Ferrell fan in the world - to be frank, I'd have to have a very full bladder and a window in my diary before saving him from fire. But this did make me do a snort-laugh, as he talked about playing in Soccer Aid:

He said: “If we win I’ll be celebrating by going out in Manchester. I know obviously it’s where The Beatles came from. And Marmalade.”

Friday, May 25, 2012

Takedown demands suggests RIAA isn't particularly concerned with detail

TorrentFreak has been wading through some of the requests that copyright holders have made for Google to delist content under the DCMA.

It suggests that perhaps most of the copyright firms have employed a Hulk like "Smash! Smash!" approach to their work:

[T]he RIAA asked Google to delist a review of the album Own The Night published on The Guardian. The artist behind the album is Lady Antebellum, signed to RIAA-member Capitol Records.

Even more worrying, the RIAA asked Google to delist’s entire Electro Pop section because they thought it carried a pirate copy of All About Tonight by Pixie Lott.

Warner also reappeared later on, asking Google to delist a page on news site NME which lists information on the latest movies, which at the time included information on the movie Hall Pass. The same page on NME was targeted on several other occasions, including by anti-piracy company DtecNet on behalf of Lionsgate, who had info on The Hunger Games delisted.
Maybe it's unfair to charcterise the RIAA as simply throwing their weight around like a confused bear suddenly trapped in a camper van. Perhaps they really did fear that the Guardian review might have contained enough information to effectively allow people to know what the record sounded like by imagining it.

Or perhaps they're a business who won't and can't adapt to the 21st century.

Beth Ditto: Above Evans

Beth Ditto, out of the anecdote about eating squirrels, dreams of her own fashion range.

Hang about: hasn't she already done a fashion range? For Evans?

Apparently that doesn't count:

''I wish that there was more control in that line, but there wasn't. It was really fun, but the things that I really wanted couldn't be turned around in time. It was made in India, which caused a lot of conflict for me. I really want to do my own line that's ethically made, and I can do whatever the f**k I want with it."
A lot of conflict, eh? It didn't sound like that at the time. Indeed, she actually did two collections, which suggests something managed to ease all that confliction. In fact, she sounded positively giddy:
Working with Evans the first time round was a dream come true and this time the experience was even better than before. Getting a feel for what people liked and didn’t like and working with the same wonderful team, I learned some new tricks and discovered a confidence in my instincts that carried over into this collection.
I am grateful to have the chance to design for you again.
Although, clearly, that gratitude was tempered by the turmoil in her heart.

Westwood goes west

Tim Westwood has been asked to move from drivetime on 1Xtra to a Sunday night slot.

I say "asked". He's been told.

He's not entirely happy about it, reckons The Guardian, decoding his tweets:

The 54-year-old informed his 262,000 Twitter followers on Twitter that the station had "sacked" him.

"I've been sacked from 1Xtra Mon-Fri 4-7pm from sept #Westwoodyourfired," he tweeted on Thursday. "It's official I've lost my afternoon voice due to schedule changes I will not be presentin 1Xtra Mon-Fri 4-7pm from Sept".
Is going on Twitter and making a fuss really that different from DLT's "changes I disagree with" flounce?

Mending Bridges

So, earlier this morning I posted a link to Vulture's story about finding the Bridge from Under The Bridge, and a tweet which suggested that Kiedis had actually been interviewed on the bridge, on camera, back in the early 90s.

I was pretty certain I'd seen that, too, but... old age. Memory plays tricks. Here's the clip:

So, it turns out he spoke about, not upon the bridge, which does make Vulture's discovery a genuine discovery. Apologies to them for having downgraded their discovery to a rediscovery.

Polkaobit: Eddie Blazonczyk

Eddie Blazonczyk, who turned from rock to polka, has died.

Blazonczyk had been a slightly-noveltyesque rock act, Eddie Bell, in the 1960s:

His love of Polish culture won out, though - perhaps wisely - and although he kept a rock tinge to his work under his given name, it was as a polka bandleader he found success.

He won a Grammy in 1986, in the now-defunct Polka category.

Eddie Blazonczyk was 70; he died in Illinois from multiple organ failure.

Chris Jericho knows his history

Chris Jericho out of Fozzy knows that music owes a debt to the past.

Only the recent past, of course:

Chris Jericho thinks all modern music is influenced by The Beatles.
The pro-wrestler-turned-musician exclusively told BANG Showbiz: ''All the best bands hark back to the Beatles, that goes for Black Sabbath to even bands like Iron Maiden or Metallica. They might not be completely Beatles fanatics but the bands that they're in were influenced by the Beatles. It's all about the melody and the harmonies, the hook within the song.''
It's a fact. The Beatles invented all music in Woolton in 1957. There was nothing before, and no other possible source of inspiration.

Gordon in the morning: Coldplay bangle fandango

The phrase "very Spinal Tap" is lobbed around when talking about bands far too easily, but the Coldplay wristband story does have an undeniably Tapesqueishness* to it.

Everyone going to see Coldplay on tour gets given a flashing wristband. Only, as Gordon reports:

The gadget — which lights up during their live shows — is costing the band a fortune.
Chris Martin said: “Most of the money we’re earning on the tour is put into the wristbands.

“We have to figure out how to keep it going without going broke because it’s a crucial part of the concert.”
I suspect Martin is perhaps overstating his potential ruin here - based on a quick look round the internet, it'd be unlikely that these things would cost £2 a pop, at the most, so it'd be more a nibble at margin rather than a shortcut to the poorhouse. Unless they've cut a really bad deal with a supplier.

At the same time, Chris Martin reveals what he doesn't like his audience doing:
Chris also reveals he is OK with fans recording the gigs on their iPhones — but he can’t accept his audience texting.

He said: “The only thing I fear is texting. If they are texting they are not enjoying the music.”
If the audience is bored to the point of sending 'please rescue me' texts, that's not really the audience's fault, is it?

* - oddly, the spellcheck rejects Tapesqueishness.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

First night: The Stone Roses, Warrington Parr Hall

It's a shrewd move, playing a quasi-secret small comeback gig, especially when you're a band who weren't always that good live in the first place. A sense of occasion, people who feel they're part of a chosen few - you're not going to get bad feedback from that, are you?

More importantly, while the Stone Roses' reputation for clunking live performances was a fair one, they've all got a lot more experience under their belt now, so it'd be worrying indeed if their Warrington Parr Hall date yesterday had picked up where the Reading 'mare left off.

Gordon Smart, of course, would never have had any doubts but did find a subtle way of pointing out that everyone has got older since the last time round:

One [fan] even held up a walking stick as Ian Brown played tambourine and did his trademark monkey-style dance.
The songs were, perhaps wisely, drawn from the first two albums, and mainly the first, but the Roses' ability to try out things that must have seemed a good idea at the time is still there, reports the NME:
There were no new songs, but there were a few surprises. At the end of 'Love Spreads', Brown broke into a rap, which appeared to feature the phrase, "Stone Roses up on the stage".
XFM see a band who have taken the car out of the garage, and are happy to see the engine still runs:
There was no encore, but the band members hugged with a palpable sense of relief.
There's also a reminder of what was most irritating about Roses fans the first time round:
Mani, meanwhile looked, in the words of one onlooker, "Mad for it".
Oh, God, "mad fer it" and the hats. I'd forgotten.

But - with a crowd who had to prove they were fans to get in (although the barrier was 'do you have a CD you can show us') and a few miles from the Roses' Camelot of Spike Island - this was mostly about laying that ghost of 'not being very good live'. It's probably a good sign that Brown could joke about it. The NME again:
Before 'She Bangs The Drums' he quipped: "Are we in tune yet?"

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Gary Barlow: The white man's burden

If your toes curled at the "savages with spears" sequence of Gary Barlow's jubilee video, but were clinging to the hope it was well-meant but clumsy, I'm afraid it gets worse this morning as Gary Barlow gives an interview to The Sun in which he trots out the 'I saw a black person and thought they were going to eat me' line that you might have thought hasn't been seen outside a Punch pocket cartoon since the 1960s:

After travelling by canoe for six hours to the remote Pacific isle of Malaita, he was completely taken by surprise when he was surrounded by members of the clan wearing necklaces decorated with TEETH.

He told TV Biz how he was scared for his life and worried he would become the victim of cannibalism.

Gary said: “We were all white men and there were only eight of us.

“I really did think, ‘They’ve taken us all this way up the river and they could kill us and eat us alive and no one would know’.”
Just while that's sinking in, you might also want to ponder how Gary thinks you could be first killed, and then eaten alive.

Gordon in the morning: Didn't they do well?

Here's something to take on the chin:

FLORENCE Welch's wardrobe must be full of old tuxedos, tap shoes and dodgy top hats.

She admitted that before she started flouncing around in white frocks she used to dress like Sir Bruce Forsyth.
Did she really?
“I was like a cross-dresser but really it was just out of laziness. At times I looked like a cross between Annie Hall and Bruce Forsyth."
Not really, no.

Still, it hasn't stopped them cracking open Photoshop:
Did I say Photoshop? MSPaint, presumably. That's so poorly done there must be someone on the art desk taking the piss, right?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Gordon in the morning: A friendly warning

Uh-oh. Jessie J is putting together a girlband.

Maybe I'm being unfair. How bad can it be?

Jessie’s team are also behind new girlband The Scarletz.
The Scarletz. With a z.

If anyone needs me, I'm going to be digging some sort of shelter.

Monday, May 21, 2012

It turns out leaking records is good for sales

Ethan Kaplan is currently the horribly-named "VP Product, Live Nation"; prior to that, though, he was an executive at Warners Music Group. He's been on Twitter, confirming one of those things you've always suspected about what happens when albums leak:

Let me simplify this answer: YES IT LEADS TO MORE SALES. DEMAND = DEMAND W/ $$$$$$ IF PRODUCT GOOD.

Simplified further: MUSIC BUSINESS (RECORDED): your product isn't diamonds mined from a secret mythical land.

And beyond broadband/napster/whatever, what hurt you the most is PEOPLE FIGURED THAT OUT. Cynicism caught up with you.
Of course, it's only ex-executives who would be honest about that. Or soon-to-be-ex-executives.

Matt Cardle is dropped

Sorry, did I say Matt Cardle has been dropped? Allow me to correct myself. Matt Cardle has left his record deal despite being part-way through recording an album.

It appears that it's musical differences - presumably the label wants to sell music, whereas Cardle is content merely to make it.

Cardle won something like Masterchef in 2008, or possibly Strike It Rich, which had thrown an obligation on the label to find him something to do. It's rumoured the contract with X Factor winners includes a break clause, allowing Sony to liquidate the contract the moment the singer edges into Pointless answer territory.

Steve Brookstein was unavailable for comment.

Clinton, Peas settle

I think it's fairly safe to assume a large sum of money has changed hands, as George Clinton's claim against Black Eyed Peas for ripping off bits of (Not Just) Knee Deep has been settled.

The Black Eyed Peas defence was that they thought they'd licensed the samples and had innocently used them. And you know how the forgiving music industry tends to react to that sort of defence when it comes from someone accused of unlicensed downloading, right?

Discobit: Robin Gibb

It's been expected for a while, but it doesn't make it any less sad: Robin Gibb has died from his cancer.

Although they allowed themselves to slide towards easy parody, you can't ignore that the Bee Gees were as pivotal to music in the late 70s as The Sex Pistols were. Neither created their genre; neither moved it along creatively, but just as the Pistols created a High Street version of punk that made a saleable product, the Bee Gees Saturday Night Fever soundtrack took the potentially incendiary sound of disco and made it fit into a Woolworths rack. For that, if nothing else, they were a pivotal band.

And this, inarguably, is a great record:

Robin Gibb was 62.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Drumobit: Peter Jones

Crowded House have announced the death of their drummer, Peter Jones:

We are in mourning today for the death of Peter Jones. We remember him as a warm hearted, funny and talented man, who was a valuable member of Crowded House. He played with style and spirit. We salute him and send our love and best thoughts to his family and friends.
Liverpool-born Jones joined Crowded House in 1994 after original drummer Paul Hester quit mid-tour. Peter stayed with the band until the end in 1996, although Hester returned for some of the final gigs. Jones wasn't part of the reunion version of Crowded House.

Jones played with various other Australian acts, and worked on the side as a teacher.

Peter Jones was 45; he had been ill with brain cancer for some time.

Sammy Hagar makes 'colour me surprised' face at Van Halen cancellation

Van Halen have pulled all their summer tour dates. Sammy Hagar goes 'well, duh':

"They're hard people to get along with, those brothers," Hagar told The Associated Press on Friday. "Otherwise I'd still be in the band.

"I'm surprised it took this long" for the tour to experience major difficulties, he added. "I predicted this was going to happen a lot sooner. I lost money on that bet!"
I do like the subtle suggestion that 'hey, I'm probably the easiest-going guy in the world, and even I couldn't keep on with them' there.

Hagar is currently touring with Chickenfoot, and is using the tour - in part - to help raise support for food banks across America. Which is probably more important than anything he did with Van Halen.

Van Halen, for their part, are denying that there's any animosity involved in the cancelation (which they call a postponement, but isn't until they announce new dates):
The Van Halen News Desk now has some answers form our trusted and proven sources. Other than those Summer dates having to be moved, it’s actually good news.

First off, no one in the band is sick. No health problems.

Second, we knew right away that Rolling Stone’s “source” is completely wrong, and can not possibly be a person with actual inside knowledge of the tour, because all four band members have been getting along splendidly throughout the entire tour. Roth and the Van Halen’s talk every day, and they are all smiles on stage. Everyone who’s seen the tour or even youtube videos can confirm that.

In fact, the band is on such a high from playing together this year and they were really taken aback by the Rolling Stone quote. They’re older and wiser and haven’t had any issues with one another.
Or at least the USD93million they made from the last tour soothes a lot of trouble.

The official line is that the band are just keen that the second leg of their tour be "as awesome" as the first, and for that, they need to take a little break. Because, obviously, people who've been playing in bands for well over forty years would be surprised at the workload involved in live gigs and wouldn't realise until a few weeks before the dates that it might be too much for them.

This week just gone

The most-read things this week:

1. Mick Jagger loves Boris Johnson
2. Huey disses Kenickie
3. What the BBC cuts mean for music
4. Mail upset that 1977 included Gary Glitter
5. Britney Spears sells her clothes
6. Tatu upset at what people think about them
7. Knickers from Kylie
8. Sony Radio Awards 2012
9. RIP: Donald Dunn
10. RIP: Donna Summer

This is a bunch of interesting releases from the week:

Garbage - Not Your Kind Of People

Download Not Your Kind Of People

Dali's Car - InGladAloneness

Download InGladAloneness

Beach House - Bloom

Download Bloom

Best Coast - The Only Place

Download The Only Place

Simian Mobile Disco - Unpatterns

Download Unpatterns

Julian Cope - Psychedelic Revolution

Download Psychedlic Revolution