Posts Tagged ‘commentary’

On Reaching D2: Tonight I’ll Be The US Commentator For The Eurovision Song Contest

Saturday, May 12th, 2018

Not long after attending my first Eurovision Song Contest (Moscow 2009) I wrote this:

Terry Wogan’s continuous thirty-year run as Commentator for Eurovision started in 1980, when he was 42. Graham Norton started commentating on Eurovision in 2009, aged 46. Paddy O’Connell started commentating on the Eurovision Semi Finals aged 38. Ken Bruce started commentating on Eurovision for Radio 2 aged 37.

For the record, I’ll be 35 in May next year, which gives me some time (not that I’m counting) but if anyone down at Wood Lane [Television Centre] wants to give me a call…

So, let’s add a few more data points to add to that list:

Scott Mills started commentating on the Eurovision Semi Finals aged 37.

Ewan Spence started commentating on Eurovision aged 43.

In just over an hour,  I’ll be taking to the airwaves across America as part of the first Eurovision Song Contest commentary team for the US radio broadcast. I’ll going to tell the longer story of this adventure over the next week or so, but I do want to put a marker down before the show starts, and type this out in full.

Tonight, I’ll be a commentator for the Eurovision Song Contest.

The list of thank you’s to get to this point is huge, but for now; Dave Cargill, Tony Currie, Lisa-Jayne Lewis, Ana-Filipa Rosa, Sharleen Wright, Ellie Chalkley, John Egan, John-Paul Lucas, Vikki Spence, Eilidh, Mairi, my family, to everyone else I’ve met and who has helped me on this journey… Thank you.

And now… let the Eurovision Song Contest begin!

Settle in for the second Eurovision Semi-Final

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Just before the second semi final of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest gets under way, you have time to download the mobile app from ESC Insight, EscXtra, and The Lab (powered by O2) from the iOS store. Head to bit.ly/esccommentary to download it. I’ve also put together a ‘Spotters Guide‘ to some of the highlights for the show tonight on ESC Insight. Enjoy!

Download the Live Commentary iOS app for Eurovision

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

A big thank you to The Lab at O2 for all their help in the last few weeks as they developed ESC Commentary, an IOS app to support the Eurovision Song Contest communities at ESC Insight and EscXtra. What does it do?

You’ll get a live commentary from the team in the press room (and it’s not the same as our long running Alternative Commentary MP3, which you can find here).

During each Eurovision show you can hit the green thumbs up button, or the red thumbs down button, to share your view on the song, and the worm will show the combined thoughts of everyone using the app.

Its a free download from the Apple App Store. Head to bit.ly/esccommentary to download the app for your iOS device. Or you can search for ‘ESC Commentary‘ in the store.

What are you waiting for?

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Semi Final 1 Commentary

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

(Cross posted from ESC Insight)

For the third year, it’s a delight to present my alternative commentary tracks for the Eurovision Song Contest. You’ve lived with the ESC Insight podcasts not just from Dusseldorf, but in the run up to the contest, through the national finals, and from the "Post Eurovision Depression" summer last year.

So let’s start the end of our journey for the 2011 winner as we begun, together, online, and with the podcast. You can either start with your national broadcaster, or head to www.eurovision.tv/esctv to watch the official stream (which is lacking a commentator).

As always, technical and legal reasons mean syncing up with the live broadcast without the help of the BBC Radio 2 production van mean you need to do a little bit of work, so grab the MP3, cue it up in your audio player of choice, be it portable on headphones, or on your PC. Feel free to start listening whenever you want, but starting as the show starts is fine.

I’ll remind you in the show, but when you hear a beep, you pause the track, watch the song performance, then start up the track again. Don’t stop for adverts or cutaways, just for the music.

The only potential gotcha is that with no opening ceremony or show, there’s no obvious starting point, so start the track, pause when I tell you and start up again when our hosts say "Let the Eurovision Song Contest begin!"

Enjoy! And you can still follow me real time on Twitter for updates direct from Dusseldorf and the Contest.

Eurovision 2011 Podcast: Semi Final 1 Commentary

Ewan Spence talks you though the first semi final of Eurovision. Press play before the show starts, and don’t forget to pause for the music when you hear the beep!

You can stay up to date with The ESC Insight Podcast by subscribing to the RSS feed for all the shows, or use iTunes to get the show automatically downloaded to your computer if you’re an Apple user.

BBC pilots in-vision text commentary… Eurovision potential?

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Something very interesting at the BBC Backstage labs from last week, an interface that takes textual content (in this example from an IRC application) and overlays the messages onto a live TV show via a set-top box.

There’s a demonstration video on the process running overlaid on BBC News (you can view it here), but I know exactly where the BBC should be using this… for an in-vision Eurovision commentary track!

Peter Nalitch

Anyone fancy working on a hack at Over the Air?

Eurovision 2010 Podcast: Grand Final Commentary Track

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

Eurovision 2010 Podcast: Commentary Track for the Grand Final (MP3 39.5 MB 43 minutes)
DOWNLOAD the podcast by right clicking on this link, or press play and listen in your browser.

[powerpress]

The moment has arrived, but it has been prepared for!

Yes it’s the Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final! In just a few hours 25 countries will have their three minutes with a 120 million strong TV audience ready to vote for the winner.

And the preparation? It’s your downloadable audio commentary fro the Eurovision podcast.

If you’re looking to add a little something to the official stream at www.eurovision.tv/esctv, have someone other than the regular commentator on your TV, or just want to finish the Eurovision journey you started with the podcast back in April, then read carefully!

Download the MP3 file beforehand, and cue it up in your audio player of choice, be it portable on headphones, or on your PC. Feel free to start listening whenever you want, but starting as the show starts is fine. I’ll remind you in the show, but when you hear a beep, you pause the track, watch the song performance, then start up the track again. Don’t stop for adverts or cutaways, just for the music.

Unlike the semi-finals, there is an opening ceremony, so you can start the MP3 before or at the start of the show, and there will be a beep in very short order. Un-pause the track at the end of Alexander Rybak’s Fairytale, and you’ll be all set to share the Contest with me.

Don’t forget to follow me real time on Twitter for updates direct from Oslo and the Contest.

Eurovision 2010 Podcast: Grand Final Commentary

Ewan Spence talks you though the  Grand Final of the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest. Press play as the show starts, and don’t forget to pause for the music when you hear the beep!

You can stay up to date with The Unofficial Eurovision Podcast (because the fun doesn’t stop with the end of the contest tonight) by subscribing to the RSS feed for all the shows, or use iTunes to get the show automatically downloaded to your computer if you’re an Apple user.

Eurovision 2010 Podcast: Semi Final 2 Commentary

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Eurovision 2010 Podcast: Commentary Track for Semi Final 2 (MP3 25.1 MB 27 minutes 18 seconds)
DOWNLOAD the podcast by right clicking on this link, or press play and listen in your browser.

[powerpress]

Here we go again! 17 countries, 10 shall stand, 7 shall fall… it’s the second semi-final of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, and here’s your alternative commentary track for the show.

Just like Tuesday, you need to grab the MP3 file beforehand, and cue it up in your audio player of choice, be it portable on headphones, or on your PC. Feel free to start listening whenever you want, but starting as the show starts is fine. I’ll remind you in the show, but when you hear a beep, you pause the track, watch the song performance, then start up the track again. Don’t stop for adverts or cutaways, just for the music.

There’s still no opening ceremony beyond some talk from the hosts, so I’ll go over all you need to know, introduce Lithuania’s “Eastern European Funk” and give you the beep. At that point, pause the track, and start up after the song finishes.

I’ll be commenting real time on Twitter during the semi-final, maybe see you there as well?

Eurovision 2010 Podcast: Semi Final 2 Commentary

Ewan Spence talks you though the second semi final of Eurovision. Press play as the show starts, and don’t forget to pause for the music when you hear the beep!

Stay up to date with The Unofficial Eurovision Podcast by subscribing to the RSS feed for all the shows, or use iTunes to get the show automatically downloaded to your computer if you’re an Apple user.

Eurovision 2010 Podcast: Semi Final 1 Commentary

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Eurovision 2010 Podcast: Commentary Track for Semi Final 1 (MP3 23.1 MB 25 minutes 7 seconds)
DOWNLOAD the podcast by right clicking on this link, or press play and listen in your browser.

[powerpress]

It’s a return of temporal social media, as I provide a downloadable commentary track for tonight’s live semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest. that’s not happened yet. This format worked surprisingly well last year, so here we go for a second year.

There’s a bucket of technical and legal reasons that providing a live stream of video with myself providing the commentator duties, so here’s what you need to get the full experience. Either your national broadcaster (if they carry Eurovision) or for those outside the Eurozone, head to the live streaming page on Eurovision.tv.

Download the MP3 file beforehand, and cue it up in your audio player of choice, be it portable on heaphones, or on your PC. Feel free to start listening whenever you want, but starting as the show starts is fine. I’ll remind you in the show, but when you hear a beep, you pause the track, watch the song performance, then start up the track again. Don’t stop for adverts or cutaways, just for the music.

The only potential gotcha is that with no opening ceremony or show, there’s no obvious starting point, so just pause when you get the beep after I introduce Moldova, and start up again when “Run Away” finishes!

Enjoy! And you can still follow me real time on Twitter for updates direct from Oslo and the Contest.

Eurovision 2010 Podcast: Semi Final 1 Commentary

Ewan Spence talks you though the first semi final of Eurovision. Press play as the show starts, and don’t forget to pause for the music when you hear the beep!

You can stay up to date with The Unofficial Eurovision Podcast by subscribing to the RSS feed for all the shows, or use iTunes to get the show automatically downloaded to your computer if you’re an Apple user.

It’s Eurovision Week – in a junior sort of way

Monday, November 16th, 2009

It’s time for the annual shot of methadone for addicts of the Eurovision Song Contest… yes it’s time for the Junior Eurovision Song Contest! Set roughly between the grown-ups version, Junior Eurovision (JESC) sees children between the ages of 12 and 15 representing their country by performing songs they have written themselves to an international audience.

 

Knowing the UK readers of this blog, I’m sure it won’t be long before someone pops up and mentions Minipops, but I’ll point to Hollie Steel if we get into an argument… deal?

All the trappings of Eurovision are here, there’s national pride at stake; there’s the amazing voting patterns of Georgia and Armenia; the scoring delights of douze points and calling all the countries; a spectacular half time performance (Ani Lorak this year, the Shady lady from Eurovision 2008); and of course the songs, costumes and dances.

With only 13 countries entered this year it feels more like Eurovision of old and gets everything in a two hour show that airs this Saturday from 7.15pm in the UK (2015 CET). The chances are that it won’t be broadcast in your country – it’s definitely not on in the UK, but this is the 21st Century Eurovision. You’ll be able to watch a live and official stream from the main website junioreurovision.tv.

As with the streams from previous contests, there is no official commentator; it’s the feed from the concert venue with the hosts providing all the interaction. Unlike May though, I’m not at the show so I won’t be able to record a commentary track and upload it here. Neither have I worked out the best way to create a new video stream with my commentary over the visuals that (a) stays in sync and (b) is legal.

But you can be rest assured I’ll be busy on Twitter on Saturday night in the run up to the contest with views, insight, commentary and repartee about and around the contest. The hash-tag is going to be #jesc.

Expect some more previews on the site here in the run up to the 21st November – and get ready for a secret Eurovision party that you never knew was happening!

One In Ten Tweets during Saturday Mentioned Eurovision (and some #media140 Thoughts)

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Yesterday was the first #media140 conference in London, talking about the use of Twitter and over instant short form methods of communication in journalism. I had hoped to get down to it, but it was so close to getting back from the Eurovision Song Contest (Moscow) that I just kept half an eye on it.

Typical of the medium, I started getting pings on Twitter that I was getting mentioned from the panel on “The 140 Character Story…” So I pinged back to ask what was being said (which is a horrible Web 2.0 feedback loop, I know);

  • Documentally: you were mentioned with love earlier for your amazing Eurovision coverage;
  • darrenwaters: [Darren was on the panel, he said] that it rocked;
  • billt I said it was great but I preferred it without listening to the songs!

There is no doubt in my mind that Twitter was one of the places to be during Eurovision. While I was busy working during the event, Nick Burcher had half an eye on the Twitter statistics and came up with this delightful fact-let: 9.95% of every twitter during the time of the contest contained the word “Eurovision”

One in ten twitters were about the Eurovision Song Contest!

And in all of that, I have to thank everyone that labelled me as one of the “goto people” on Twitter for Eurovision. I could see all the RT’s of my commentary being passed around, I could see the discussions and questions coming at me, which is almost like instant feedback – something that Terry Wogan never had, and an impromptu community had sprung up.

Eurovision was set up back in the 50’s to push new technology and ideas to broadcasters – it looks like it continues to do so in the 21st century?

And it leaves another problem for the broadcaster. How do you pitch your Eurovision coverage next year when you have this on the sidelines waving its banner? Adam Tinworth, who gave his blog readers a heads up regarding my coverage summed it up nicely:

Around an event like the Eurovision, the main broadcast is in real danger of becoming just a social object that people interact about elsewhere.

Discuss!

Download My Commentary Track for Tonight’s Eurovision Song Contest

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

More temporal reporting from the modern Internet as I present my commentary for the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest final. It’s the Grand Final tonight, with 25 countries battling it out for the right to, well, host the contest next year.

As I’m still here, reporting on the Song Contest in Moscow, while watching the dress rehearsals I’ve recorded a commentary track for those who (a) are watching on the free internet stream at www.eurovision.tv and have no commentator, or (b) who would like something a little bit different to the regular TV commentators.

Please note that the commentary is very much a neutral affair, with little bias towards any country and more factual and eyebrow raising humour than out and out bitching and catty calls about the songs.

After you grab the MP3 files, you need to start the track at the correct time. Start the MP3 before Eurovision starts, I’ll remind you of what I’m about to write.

After the introduction music and my first comments, you’ll hear a beep on the track. At that point press pause. When Dima Bilan stops singing “Believe” (last year’s winning track) and the audience begin to applaud, un-pause the track, and we’ll be away. My guess is that should have everyone synced up within one second.

Now for the rest of the show. Timing is a tricky one here, as the show is running to a timetable but could slip, so you have a choice of two tracks. Both should work, but choose the track that fits best with your watching habits.

Option One (Download MP3 by right clicking here)

A 105 minute long track that covers all the songs, with hopefully the right gaps between songs, adverts and visits to the green room. Once you’ve unpaused after the Dima Bilan stops singing “Believe”, leave your MP3 player running. The easier track to listen to, but more likely to slip out of sync

Option Two (Download MP3 by right clicking here)

After syncing at the end of Dima Bilan’s singing, after each of my introductions you’ll hear the same beep. That’s your cue to pause the MP3 and enjoy the song. Un-pause as the song ends, you’ll get my introduction, and then another beep. And so on through the contest. Note that you only pause at a beep, not a silence (so leave the track running through the commercial break and the two trips to the Green Room).

Whichever track you download, do let me know how you get on. I’ll be doing textual commentary on Twitter (which will be live!)  so follow @ewanspence for the full audio, text and pictorial commentary from 54th Eurovision Song Contest!

And once it’s all over, your feedback either in the comments or by email (ewanspence@gmail.com) would be very much appreciated.

Thoughts On My Current Eurovision Coverage

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Covering the Eurovision Song Contest this year is proving fun, if not a teensy bit more tiring than an event like SXSW Interactive (to put it into some perspective for many of you). The coverage is breaking down into roughly four areas, and all of them have a different tone and aim. I thought I’d go over them while ‘in situ.’

Blogging at The Stage

Although informal, these still have a tone of authority, and a decidedly pro-British viewpoint. probably the closest to the traditional view of ‘reporting.’ Al the coverage can be found here

Various Individual Articles

Two that are public with my name on them include the Political Betting Guide and All About Symbian’s Guide to Eurovision on your Smartphone. There are a few others not yet published which I’ll link to here if i can.

Downloadable Commentaries

A little experiment, providing an MP3 you can play at home while watching the semi-finals and finals. This is reasonably neutral, with little bias towards any country. For those of you who grew up with Wogan it might be a bit too ‘factual’ for you but the reaction via email today from those who used it was good.

Twitter Commentary

Now you all seemed to like this, and it defiantly had more sarcasm and wit than I thought it would – but when the Eurovision host is doing his best to be Matt Berry (The IT Crowd, Darkplace), and you have a pink inflatable tank on stage, what can you do…

It’s also great (and a touch humbling) to read tweets like:

LucieSmith@ewanspence can’t wait to see Thursday’s show – you make it sound amazing!!

squawkbox @ewanspence Thanks for coverage, sadly we only saw 5 seconds of Tatu due to BBC Three doing their own thing.

owenblacker So, @bbceurovision, why is it Graham Norton when both Paddy and @ewanspence would be *much* more entertaining? :o)

digitalmaverick Grrr I meant c’mon BBC sign up @ewanspence to do a Twitter feed or vocal commentary from #eurovision

scottm Loving Paddy O’Connell on the #eurovision commentary. He would been my first choice for the Final gig, 2nd @ewanspence, 3rd Graham Norton

If you’re looking to follow the Eurovision Tweet stream, www.twitter.com/ewanspence and follow me before the second semi Final (Thur May 14) and the Grand Final (Sat May 16)

Download My Commentary MP3 For The First Eurovision 2009 Semi Final

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

And now an experiment in temporal reporting. Tonight sees the first live semi-final of the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest. As I’m here in Moscow, and watching the dress rehearsals, I’ve recorded a commentary track for those who (a) are watching on the free internet stream at www.eurovision.tv and have no commentator, or (b) who would like something a little bit different to the regular TV commentators they may be used to.

After you grab the MP3 files, you need to start the track at the correct time. If you start the MP3 before Eurovision starts, I’ll remind you of what I’m about to write.

You’ll here a beep on the track. At that point press pause. When the children light up the magic tree with their key, un-pause the track, and we’ll be away. My guess is that should have everyone synced up within one second.

Now for the rest of the show. Timing is a tricky one here, as the show is running to a timetable but could slip, so you have a choice of two tracks. Both should work, but choose the track that fits best with your watching habits.

Option One (Download MP3 by right clicking here)

An 80 minute long track that covers all the songs, with hopefully the right gaps between songs, adverts and visits to the green room. Once you’ve unpaused after the magical Christmas Tree, leave your MP3 player running. The easier track to listen to, but more likely to slip out of sync

Option Two (Download MP3 by right clicking here)

After syncing with the magical tree, after each of my introductions you’ll hear the same beep. That’s your cue to pause the MP3 and enjoy the song. Un-pause as the song ends, you’ll get my introduction, and then another beep. And so on through the contest. Note that you only pause at a beep, not a silence (so leave the track running through the commercial break and the two trips to the Green Room).

Whichever track you download, do let me know how you get on. I’ll be doing textual commentary on Twitter (which will be live!)  so follow @ewanspence for the full audio, text and pictorial commentary from the first Semi Final.

The Twitter House That Jack (and Evan) Built May Be Taken Over By… Everyone

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

There’s been a lot of movement in the last week or so in the field of micro-blogging, from discussions about searching on Twitter, the fund raising of both TweetDeck (an Adobe Air based client) and Indenti.ca (an open source micro-blogging platform that mirrors Twitter’s functionality).

All of this is built on the principles of Twitter – an API that everyone can interact with is the main reason this has been possible – but there’s more and more movement away from the central Twitter service to having clients that talk to just the database from your computer, or that build up their own Twitter like services that can talk with each other (the federated model). Search functionality, tracking, threading of comments, all of these are not done by Twitter, on their server, but by others.

If Twitter were to suddenly disappear, what would happen? Well it has happened before, and everyone on Twitter moaned a lot, wrote a lot of blog posts, but the only alternative then was Jaiku. But with a much less mature third party toolset, and little thought on transferring the information of your contacts, Twitter muddled through and didn’t bleed off their user base.

The result would not be the same now. Yes there would still be the problem of getting your friends out of Twitter (the data portability issue that is the last refuge of any dying Web 2.0 Service, not that Twitter is dying), but after that there are countless twitter like services that are using similar standards, that can all talk to each other in a cloud. It’s rather like everyone having the ability to host their own server for websites and blogs. They all talk to each other nicely as well.

There are tools that can talk to all these services. Companies would be more than happy to have an ‘internal facing’ Twitter as well as a public facing option for employees.

Where does all this leave Twitter? All the innovation I see seems to be in spite of Twitter, not from Twitter. There’s every chance that, just like Pyra and Blogger before, Evan Williams could be building the tool that proves the concept but does not reap the massive benefits.

Ewan’s Guide to The Eurovision Song Contest 2008

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

Tonight’s the night! While the semi-finals are both an acquired taste and require true dedication to watch (or perhaps wondering just what the frak Ewan is twittering about…) the final (tonight, Saturday 24th May) pulls in absolutely stonking viewing figures (last year topped eleven million in the UK). For all the media sniping, it is genuinely popular, and does unite Europe through the power of song; which was one of the original goals back in the late fifties.

Anyway, I’ve got the contest inked into my Filofax (yes ink, not pencil, it’s that much of a landmark), sat through the semi’s (FYI my predictions of the correct qualifiers was 6/10 and 7/10 respectively) and now it’s time for me to point out some of the highlights coming up tonight.

I’ll be on twitter throughout the contest (twitter.com/ewanspence) and tagging with #eurovision – please do the same if you join in.

Right then, on with the notes.

Playing second is the United Kingdom. As one of only five countries that haven’t been bloodied in combat by the semi-finals (the others are Germany, France and Spain, who pay for the contest, and Serbia as the hosts) we’ll be at a disadvantage for not having been heard previously, and not had the rush of a live performance. Oh and we don’t supply oil to anybody, or have a collection of former states to give us a block vote. Expect 12 points from Ireland, and not much else. Which is a shame, in a genuine contest this should be mid tables, but Eurovision is more than just the song.

It’s quite a slow start this year, and the UK is going to be leading in people’s minds, but then it’s time to open with the first strong true ‘Eurovision’ Song, in this case Armenia’s Gele Gele, a mix of traditional folk sound mixed with a nice ready for the dance floor track. They’re playing fifth.

Right after that in sixth place is the delightfully quirky Laka, representing Bosnia and Herzegovina. If Tim Burton ever decided to choreograph a music video, it would look like this. Ireland, take note, this is how to do a quirky song with amazing visuals on stage. This is Helena Bonham Carter / Johnny Depp mad.

Israel is seventh, and probably the best time for your first run to the kitchen for more alcohol.

Because Finland is eighth. For years the Finns sent traditional folk music, and got… nowhere, which was going to leave them abandoned in the semi-finals if that route continued. So the metal-heads influenced the voting, and they sent Lordi two years ago. And won. Last year’s power rock ballad threatened a more moderate tone, but they’ve come to their senses and sent Terasbetoni, a nice hard rock, galloping stadium rocker. No masks, no intricate pyrotechnics, but a very satisfying foot on the amplifier number.

And then ninth we have 75 Cent – and if you’re thinking isn’t that just an older 50 Cent but with a Croatian flavour, you’d be right. Enjoy it, this is a delightful euro-pop mix of folk, Las Vegas lounge lizard and someone really enjoying themselves in their old age.

Skip Poland (I scored them second last in their semi) and delight in Iceland’s return to form. The band is called, I kid you not, Europop, and when the clubs pick up songs from Eurovision to play next weekend, this should be there. Don’t forget that Iceland is, to all intents, a part of the Scandanavian Block Vote – more on that in a moment.

Because Turkey happily pops up in slot number 12 with a song that is rather Muse/Chemical Romance/Pop Punk but has a very strong performace. That really helps the song, especially as it is sung in Turkish. The emigrated Turks got this comfortably out of their semi final and this is is going to be the one that gathers the ‘he’s a bit of rough’ vote. And they use the most pyros of any act!

And then there’s Latvia. Or as everyone else describes them… the pirates! Quite simply, if Johnny Depp had been replaced in Pirates of the Caribbean by Steps, you would get Wolves of the Sea. I love this track and was really upset at their performance in the semi finals – nerves seemed to get the better of them and the audio lost all the bass that makes the song work. But they still qualified (hey they are pirates!!!) so on that strength, I’m saying top ten for them

First potential winner in my mind now, in the form of Sweden’s Charlotte Perrelli. She’s won the contest before (incidental she was playing fifteenth in that final, the same slot she occupies tonight – is that a sign?) and this hits all the right notes, it’s pop/dance, it sounds like Abba, it’s catchy as hell, has a fantastic key change, and if the Scandanavian Block gets behind this one there’s 48 points in the bag without even trying. If Western Europe falls in line as well she can do a Johnny Logan.

One of the surprises from the Semi finals was from Denmark. All Night Long, the sort of song you could see Robbie Williams singing (except it’s Simon Matthew here) and getting everyone bouncing in their seats. In a weaker year this would do very well, but I think there’s too much quality (and Balkan states) to allow more than one challenger from the older countries.

Ukraine plays eighteenth, and the Shady Lady of Ani Lorak is one of my picks for success this year. The song is a driving dance number, and the on stage performance appears to have been organized by Penn and Teller with a dash of Baz Lurman. Pay close attention to this one, and expect the Baltic countries to decide if their loyalties are going to this or Russia.

France is singing in English. That’s big news… in France. Next!

Quick roll out Eddie Izzard, becase Azerbaijan is singing in twentieth, proving that a good stage show can make up for a rather predictable man on man duet. White Angels, Black Devils, and a good stage show will give them a respectable result.

Greece comes up with a catchy number in Secret Combination. Its probably a strong song to make a chart appearance after the event, but on the night, with only Cyprus and potentially Armenia in a block vote cabal it’s not stand out enough to stand on it’s own. Mid table, which is a shame.

There’s not much to say about Spain apart from it sounds like it was performed on a Commodore 64 and has “Dance like Robocop” as a lyric.

Watch for an absolutely massive reaction in the stadium from Serbia – coming after the quirk of Spain will help this song immensely although the appeal outside the former Yugoslavian states is not going to be enough to see us return to Belgrade next year.

Russia is our penultimate track in twenty forth and they’ve got two strong advantages. The first is that singer Dima Bilan is an absolute hearth throb across all the Baltic states and is going to gather a huge vote on the strength of that. And they have a portable ice rink. Oh and Russia supplies a lot of oil to a lot of countries. Not that this would have any effect on the result at all. You’d be a fool and a communist to suggest otherwise. Err…

And we finish up with Norway and a belter of a diva in Maria, who’s under doctor’s orders to not talk or risk loosing her voice before tonight. If there’s a song I’ve been singing in my head out of all 43 entries this year, it’s this one, so I’m kinda glad it’s playing last. I think the Scandanavians are going to go for Sweden as opposed to Norway but there’s absolutely no chance of nul points here. If (and it is a big if) Sweden messes up on the night, there’s a fighting chance Maria could just sneak into contention.

And there we have it, twenty five songs, a mass of culture and fun (and Terry Wogan hitting the bottle just after Bosnia and Herzegovina take the stage). It’s going to be fantastic! Once the songs are up, a group of us, by tradition, will pick our favourite three songs, and whoever gets the highest scores by adding the three countires scores together is informally declared the winner. If you’d like to join in, then once it’s all over just submit your three countries on Twitter (include #eurovision in the text). And assuming it stays up, I’ll be commentating there all night!