Map drawings of Ukraine by Yuliya, Switzerland by Lorena & Hungary by Felician and Lisa

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

One of my favourite things about Eurovision parties is the potential to meet others from different countries, especially if that country has an ace song. When Greece won in 2005, I celebrated with a Greek guy at my party and ended up talking to his elderly father (on the phone from Greece) about how brilliant Elena Paparizou had been.

This year, at Eurovision parties, I met people from Ukraine, Hungary and Switzerland, and asked them to draw maps of their countries for my EuroRevision project.

Yuliya, from Ukraine, drew her country. She was bemused by my request.

Ukraine, by Yuliya

Lorenza, from Switzerland, was in high Eurovision spirits wearing fabulous gloves. She drew this map.

Switzerland, by Lorenza

Finally, Felecian & Lisa drew this map of Hungary. Both had been in the UK for three years, initially moving here to find work.

Hungary, by Felecian & Lisa

Vroom with a View

Thursday, May 21, 2009

While on holidays, I like to read something of the place I'm visiting. In Italy, I read Peter Moore's diverting Vroom with a View, his account of travelling from Milan to Rome on a 1960s vespa.

Some facts I gleaned were:

  • Vespas, named from the Italian for wasp, were designed as transport for ordinary Italians still reeling from the second World War. The cost of a Vespa was, however, just a bit less than that of an average Italian salary. So, Piaggeo (the manufacturers) came up with the idea of allowing their customers pay in installments, which was a radical concept for the 1950s. Piaggeo was the first European company to try this, and it paid off with more than half a million Vespas sold by 1953.
  • The Italian phrase cugi - which means tacky or cheesy - comes from the phrase cugini di campagna 'your country cousins'

London to Bologna, from above.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I took these aerial photographs on a flight from London to Bologna.

English Channel, aerial photograph

Italian countryside, aerial photograph

Italian countryside, aerial photograph

Moscow, Moskau

Saturday, May 16, 2009

With all eyes on Moscow tonight, I can't stop singing Moskau by Dschingis Khan - brilliant.
Enjoy Eurovision!

Eurovision in Italy...

Friday, May 15, 2009

They say there's no interest in Italy for Eurovision, but I spied:

  • This year's Hungarian entry blaring out of a car stereo
  • A full page article about Eurovision including a picture of Svetlana wearing Fuck The Crisis t-shirt
  • Lulu's Boom Bang a Bang being used to advertise fruit juice.

It's Eurovision week

Monday, May 11, 2009

Eurovision week has arrived, and all the joy it brings. This year, I've decided to skip watching the semi-finals, and just watch the final live (I'll watch them afterwards, obviously). By doing this, all the acts are a surprise, just like when I first starting getting into Eurovision (the 1990s).

So, to achieve this, I'm on holidays in a Eurovision-free zone: Italy. Anyway, without further ado, here's my Eurovision ru-down for 2009.

Semi-Final 1

  • Montenegro
    Utterly silly, camp nonsense, and a magical way to open to the show. In a word: fun
  • Czech Republic
    Gypsy rap that's much more ridiculous than it should be - is good enough in his own right. In a word: disheartening
  • Belgium
    Elvis look-a-like claiming Elvis is stealing his act. In a word: genius.
  • Belarus
    Dull rock ballad. In a word: boring.
  • Sweden
    The first of this year's opera-pop entries, with added camp. Malena is brilliant, but this is like asking Judi Dench to do an Iceland advert. In a word: kitsch.
  • Armenia
    Novelty tune, novelty dance routine, fabulous novelty costumes & hats. In a word: routine.
  • Andorra
    Catchy guitar pop tune that bounces merrily along. In a word: Nice.
  • Switzerland
    Pet Shop Boys, with guitars. In a word: unsung.
  • Turkey
    Likeable ethnopop dancing fluff, and hurrah for it. In a word: pulsey
  • Israel
    With singers from both sides of Israel, this could be corny. But it will be alive on stage. In a word: heartfelt.
  • Bulgaria
    The second of the opera-pops, with added ethno-warbling. In a word: desperate
  • Iceland
    Is it true? A moving ballad about loss and ending? How very Iceland in 2008/2009 financial year. In a word: moving
  • FYRO Macedonia
    Not memorable in the least. In a word: forgettable.
  • Finland
    A happy poppy dance song. About failure. Brilliantly Finnish. In a word: misanthropic
  • Romania
    Pop poppy about Bucharest's banging babes. In a word: tonic&lime.
  • Portugal
    Sweet, lovely, Portuguese ditty. In a word: obrigado.
  • Malta
    Third time lucky for Chiara with this ballad? In a word: handjabs
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina
    Delightfully rousing Balkan ethno-rock ballad. In a word: revolutionary
Semi-Final 2
  • Croatia
    An Aegean-esque folk song supplanted to Dalmatia. Nice, but nothing new. In a word: lully
  • Ireland
    I say it's Ireland's best entry in years. Girlband rockpop with nice line in shimmying. In a word: etc
  • Latvia
    Russia kraut-rock. Big in the hall, undoubtedly. In a word: null
  • Serbia
    Big-haired bloke and his old mate singing a daft song about shoes. In a word: overdone
  • Poland
    Nice ballad, delivered well. I'd like to like it more than I actually do. In a word: true
  • Norway
    Sweet love song hidden within some muscular Vikings-in-the-Urals fiddling. Great. In a word: winner?
  • Cyprus
    Sweet, swooshing story song. Maybe too big for its performer, sadly. In a word: fleeting
  • Slovakia
    A dull, plodding duet. In a word: snoozy
  • Denmark
    It is Ronan Keating, in disguise. Good, if you like that kind of thing. (And plenty do). In a word: commercial
  • Slovenia
    Violins ahoy, and a singer trilling behind a screen. Did you expect her to be blonde? I didn't! In a word: crescendo
  • Hungary
    It's called Dance With Me, but should be Camp Like Me. In a word: gay
  • Azerbaijan
    A catchy dirge. In a word: infectious
  • Greece
    Gym-toned Sakis leads an aerobics class, while singing a song. Olivia Newton-John for the naughties. In a word: flex
  • Lithuania
    It's sweeping, impressive, and he wears a nice hat. The hat is the thing I like best. In a word: sweet
  • Moldova
    Great red boots for Nelly, the singer of this Slavic-ethno-pop dancing riot. Nelly! In a word: bonkers
  • Albania
    A pseudo-thumping dance tune with nobody dancing. In a word: hopeful. Sadly, it may be forgotten because here comes...
  • Ukraine
    Riotious, surreal, almost nasty. And all the more amazing for it. BOM! This will have a huge performance. In a word: bumpy
  • Estonia
    Delightfully ethereal song, good contrast to what comes before. All it needs is some Kate Bush-esque hand waving. In a word: mystical
  • Netherlands
    Three camp old dears in shiny suits belt out a shiny song called Shine. In a word: shiny
The Final
  • France
    Wonderfully dramatic, brooding chanson ballad. Classy. In a word: superb
  • Russia
    Some lady warbling about her mother, or is it Russia? Who knows, who cares? In a word: orphan
  • Germany
    Novely song, sounding like Mambo No 5, with Dita Von Teese in the background. In a word: Inexplicable.
  • United Kingdom
    She's been down, down so long. And now the song's in your heard for the rest of the day. Strong performance expected. In a word: classy.
  • Spain
    The super sound of a fun night in Fuengirola! In a word: fiesta

And that's it. Who will win? My money's on Norway, and I'd love to see UK, Spain, Estonia, Ukraine, Belgium and Ireland do well.