Read from the bottom up – sorry it’s just how these things work!!
2247 Press conference just getting under way, and I need a break. On-the-spot reporting from our friends at AKOE (bad luck on Sinead, guys, it was a crackerjack of a performance in the end after all the worries), and I’ll return later for a chocolate biscuit and a think about what the final draw’s done for the price of fish.
2240 Reports coming in to OnEurope HQ that RTVE Spain didn’t broadcast the semifinal live as they were supposed to, even having specifically ASKED to be moved to voting in this semi rather than the first one. Apparently the Madrid Masters tennis comes first. I wonder what the reference group will think to that, if it’s correct?
2224 Just for completeness, the nine countries we’ve lost tonight are: Ireland, Latvia, Serbia, Poland, Cyprus, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Netherlands (The). Commiserations to all – I want to see you back in Eurovisionia next year, bloodied but unbowed by the experience. London’s absolutely ghastly at this time of year – you’ll love it!
2205 Pity Serbia wasn’t in the ninth envelope really, that would have been entertaining carnage. The press conference will be a bit later, and I’m expecting numbers to be drawn in this order: Croatia, Norway, Denmark, Azerbaijan, Greece, Lithuania, Moldova, Albania, Ukraine, Estonia.
Estonia, obviously, will just have to accept what everyone else has left for them – but as it’s their first time in the final since Vaiko Eplik and his Amazing Friends in 2003, they’ll probably just be happy to be there. It’s also the first time Lithuania has made any serious headway at all without the use of megaphones.
2159 So who’s missing then from my 10 then? Oooh, it’s Serbia. There you go, they *can’t* send a farting nun on rollerskates and qualify. I’m glad we’ve cleared that one up. 9/10 is my best ever serviette, which is extremely disconcerting considering my new selection methodology!
2158 GREECE The last two minutes were very very boring. Phew.
2158 NORWAY Guess what’s coming next?
2157 ESTONIA I hope the next two minutes are very very boring.
2156 DENMARK Still no Norway or Greece. Ooh!
2156 MOLDOVA Didn’t think they and Albania would both. No Norway or Greece yet. Four to go.
2155 ALBANIA Five for five – yay midgets!
2154 LITHUANIA Paddy is detecting an East bias, and I’m detecting a 10/10 serviette 🙂
2153 UKRAINE Unsurprising, and my bet riiiiiides!
2152 CROATIA Good. I called that one.
2151 AZERBAIJAN Well, obviously.
2150 Here we go…
2148 FT Leeds 1-1 Millwall (1-2) Despair for the home crowd, and five bookings in the eight minutes of stoppage time suggest they didn’t go down without a fight. Trips to Exeter and Wycombe loom. Heartbreak for Leeds, joy for Millwall. Joy for 10 other people is now imminent back in Moscow… but for now, the five direct cauliflowers.
2145 Sarah’s on the sofa now with Chiara, Waldo, and a Person. “It’s a privilege” to follow Jade on stage, apparently, and Waldo wants to High 5 ALW on the way on stage. I bet he’d rather touch Jade in the backstage area, and I’m going to keep delivering that double entendre until it’s funny.
2141 Ooh look, it’s Jade Ewen! She’s representing the UK, you know. Anything interesting going on in the arena, Mr. SMS Correspondent?
2137 Third can of Tesco Red Bull equivalent of the night. Surprising what a difference one extra song makes to the exhaustion factor, and there are 25 on Saturday. I won’t cope. Are we nearly there yet?
2134 Seven minutes to go at Elland Road, and it looks like Leeds may be resigning themselves to another year playing the likes of Norwich, Southampton and Charlton. Hey, hang on a second… that’s not much of a languish!
2132 In spite of the fact that “UK VIEWERS DO NOT VOTE IN THIS SEMI-FINAL – YOUR VOTE WON’T COUNT AND YOU MAY BE CHARGED” is plastered all over the screen… and there *is* no phone number to call… Paddy is still emphasising every 5 seconds that people shouldn’t call in. My, but the televote scandal hit hard. We do at least get the second set of recaps…
2129 More bigging up of Teh Jade, but then there would be. A bit of general Western bigging up… Spain, France, Iceland all good… and some talk about the 50-50 jury/televote. “It’s sort of like Strictly”. Yeah, I suppose it is. “Bilan won because that song had been #1 in all those countries… not just because it was Russian, it was a *hit*.” Wow. That’s a SERIOUSLY new party line!
2127 Well, we’re not seeing the reprise clips. I mean, we’re not voting in the UK so why would we even care about them? *sigh*. Graham Norton mentions the W(ogan) word finally, and is especially unimpressed with Latvia and Slovenia. He loves Sakis’s box, and would like it in his house as a coffee table. “The staging’s better than him”. Ukraine… not rated, and certainly not worth mortgaging the house to build the set.
2123 GOAL TO MILLWALL Nadjim Abdou shoots into the bottom corner to put the away fans into dreamland and the Leeds support into despair. 15 minutes for Leeds to save themselves from a third season at level 3. Leeds 1-1 Millwall, 1-2 on aggregate
2119 NETHERLANDS, THE My lovely horse riding through the… field. Where are you going with your fetlocks blowing in the… wind. It’s more competent than Avramov, anyway, but yeucccch. Horrid. That wouldn’t get my televote if I had one. Seriously.
2116 ESTONIA I don’t know, I’ve never gagared. Anyhoo… I want to see a lot more of Sandra than they’re showing me here, and that’s not even a double entendre. Beautiful, elegant performance. I do like a bit of beautiful elegance in my Eurovision, and that *would* be getting my televote if I had one. I wonder if there’s some more beautiful and elegant performances to come?
2111 UKRAINE Apparently Arlene wasn’t allowed to float Jade in on a harness. Anyway… I’ve backed Ukraine to beat everything except Greece and Norway on Saturday. That’s ten pounds I’ll not be seeing again…! Oh, and the Anti Crisis Girl flag which was the main selling point of the performance has gone too. I expect it’ll still qualify, but I’m not sure that it should.
2106 ALBANIA Well, that’s not something you see every day. And another one. And another one. That’s the kind of dream that normally follows many, many mini Welsh Rarebit canapes before bedtime. That *was* a guy entirely in turquoise and two midgets dressed as The Joker, wasn’t it? Arlene Phillips liked it, and yet she didn’t like John Sergeant’s paso doble. It’s just blatant favouritism with that woman.
2102 MOLDOVA Sorry, I got distracted there. Anyone would think I was nicking this format from elsewhere. Yep, liking the Moldova. Good effort.
2100 GOAL TO LEEDS Luciano Becchio with a low shot into the centre of the goal. Leeds 1-0 Millwall, 1-1 on aggregate
2059 LITHUANIA A lot better than I thought it was a fortnight ago, I like the language switch… Never thought I’d say this, but Sasha would be in serious danger of getting my televote if I had one to award. That’s so through it’s untrue.
2055 GREECE Right, I’ll have to watch this. That’s… impressive and leaving me slightly cold. There is such a thing as too perfect. It’s such a great try, and I can see why it mightn’t win. I did think the vocals were being carried by others, but that’s not necessarily bad.
2051 AZERBAIJAN Always Aysel and Arash. This year’s Azeri entry is brought to you by the letter “A”. There are *so* many A’s. This is definitely a song that could be improved by being 30 seconds shorter – it does seem to be going round the same loop many, many times. Dammit buttons, this is *that* close to being a great entry, but it’s just a smidge too… boring.
2048 HUNGARY Did I ever mention that this was Hungary’s third-choice entry? It’s all a bit Deen on a Budget, really. And there’s some pretty strainy notes in a disco fantasy there, if you ask me. I have to salute the sheer nerve of sending this to an ESC that has a Sakis in it, because chips are going to get sprinkled in condiments in the very near future.
2044 SLOVENIA I’m getting very good at ignoring the presenters here, you know. Is that Slovene that Martina’s singing in? Oh, phew, she’s switched to English. Gosh, she’s not even all that attractive, is she? You get such a false impression from postage stamp sized Youtube. That’s three minutes of my life that *I’m* not getting back. And Paddy compliments the stage. Well, yes…
2039 DENMARK He’s never had a picture of an ant, you know. It really shouldn’t be as difficult to sing the word “I” at the start of a chorus as he seems to be making it. I still think this is qualifying. I still think it shouldn’t be. I’d like to hear the real Ronan Keating sing this, frankly.
2035 SLOVAKIA With Ireland’s decent showing earlier on, this is now my hot tip to come last in the semi. I suspect that this is the very best the song can possibly be delivered, but she’s painful on my ears and… both of them are even *more* painful on my ears. “I’m feeling very proud… you’re singing much too loud… that’s the way that this song goes… you’re standing on my toes”. I’m not teh happies.
2031 CYPRUS I can tell after the first verse here that this is transformed from the horrors of the national final (well worth looking up, fans of Avramovesque off-keyness!). Very very sweet, until she starts inviting us to jump, and then it starts to veer off… but it’s forgiv(e)able and we might very well be looking at a major surprise qualifier there.
2025 NORWAY Is this the winner? Let’s see. It’s entirely possible, contrary to scurrilous speculation you may have read earlier today from some no-good blogger, that he really *does* want to win the semifinal. Absolutely knocks spots off anything from Semi 1. Goosebumps. Huge reaction in the hall, but then we knew there *would* be. Paddy and Sarah are wowed by Ireland and Norway so far, and pretty much nothing else.
2022 POLAND Please let the rehearsal blogs all be wrong about this…! And the first verse is inconclusive, but not “good”, exactly. I miss Isis Teeth. This is just making me not happy in not good ways. Rhythmic gymnastics now? Heavens above, save the acrobatics for Frikar! This may well be the best performance she’s given in Moscow, but it’s still Katie Hideous.
2018 SERBIA Well, this is all the right shades of wrong. I must have overlooked the warnings about the onstage “business” with the bald fellas and the ballerina. This is just very very strange. Good strange, I think. Possibly.
2014 LATVIA I can’t see anything at all wrong with this – and yet everything’s wrong with it. Stick Intars in a superhero’s cape and it’s Aven Romale all over again. Probably with the same result. I can’t be bothered to report Paddy’s utterances this time, as it would mean listening to them. No. It’s a good try, it has depth, it’s going nowhere.
2010 IRELAND Was that Big Ben in the postcard? *watches carefully* Apart from a slightly off note right at the end, I think that’s FAR better than I’d been led to believe, and I’m willing to say that ain’t finishing last in the semi. Far from it! Go Team Et Cetera!
2007 CROATIA Ah, he’s back. The line went down, apparently. It’s a love-in between Igor and the camera here. This is nice. Gentle little thing. I thought it was going to get totally lost at the start, but it might be more Neka Mi Ne Svane than Rijeka Bez Imena. Andrea’s contribution (I assume that’s Andrea) isn’t particularly helpful, really. She looks like no-one gave her the memo about dress code… but yeah, that’s nice enough.
2005 Paddy and Sarah are very quiet. Remarkably quiet. SUSPICIOUSLY quiet. Oh, finally he wakes up to mention there’s no UK voting tonight.
2004 Fake dancing bears to Believe. OK, so Tingaling *was* only controversial because it had nicked all the Russian’s own ideas.
2002 Waterloo and Ding a Dong and Diva all Russianed up. How very… something.
2001 And we start with Volare on an… instrument. It’s illegal not to, apparently.
2000 Paddy and Sarah want to see the crowd more agitated. Tell ’em that they’re not going to see the interval act, that should do it. Oooh, we get the Te Deum this time!
1958 Or possibly it’ll work better if I close the lj-cut tag. That works too.
1956 And the interwebs clearly don’t like my preprepared block of bold text tags for the times. How tedious is that? Ooh – a special edition of Pulling on Sunday at 9 on Three. I must remember to miss that.
1954 Real music on BBC Three right now. Phew, I think they’re going. Thank Lordi for that.
1949 Here we go again. 19 of the damn things tonight. And feel free to discuss in real time on the discussion thread, or on the majestic ESCNation messageboard if you prefer.