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Semi 2: #joinus, the world

Update, 9 May: 7/10 for me and Stine & Lasse, who #joinedus for semi 2, 8/10 for Mik. Biggest surprises Finland and Slovenia, while Ann had FYROM/Tijana in place of Poland. Gonna miss her and Vilja, real women with personalities not taking themselves too seriously. Making up the 10 Austria, Belarus, Greece, Malta, Norway, Romania and, obvs, Switzerland.

Back on Saturday with our predictions for the final. Hint: Eurovision’s coming home…

Below are our predictions for semi 2, with a full ranking again from Mik. This time only five go – how hard can it be? Bolded is out. Check back on Friday.

Tonight’s theme is #joinus, the world. No, me neither. We’re doing this one from the sofa, tweeting at @annonescdk.

Malta

Ann: this year’s Teardrops, calibrated for the win. The dulcimer makes a welcome return to Eurovision.

Mik: Perfect jolly opener from the Maltese Von Trapps. Sibling connection does the job with this harmless fun song. (2)

Israel

Ann: Mei may have dropped her big pants but still needs some backings walking in a line. “And now it’s time for me to clean up your mess”? Just no.

Mik: Spot on! In control. Don’t have to clean up her mess. Sexy! Only maybe: too aggressive and shouty. (6)

Norway

Ann: despite/because of getting Carl in Matchmaker this makes me want to slit my wrists. Ditch the formation violinists.

Mik: Very silent, yet intimate. You understand and believe the message, and more importantly this goes for both jury and televote. (3)

Georgia

Ann: guilty pleasure. Not sure if I’ve listened to it all the way through, mind.

Mik: Hippie heaven. Will do better than any Eurofan thinks. (12)

Poland

Ann: it’s ironic. Isn’t it?

Mik: Babushky polski! Cheeky and catchy: is it too much? Borderline, but you have to love the local flavour. (4)

Austria

Ann: Pollapönk pre-empted this on the red carpet (which is one reason why they went through).

Mik: Overrated, dated and tries far too hard. Gay vote is in da house, but too bizarre for the rest. (5)

Lithuania

Ann: love it, love Vilja. Original, creative, catchy. Best result since LT United (them again)?

Mik: Fresh, likeable and the 1 you remember, despite the shouting and repetitive chorus. Nice contemporary dance routine. Diaspora vote? (10)

Finland

Ann: this is from Finland? Gosh. Nul pointer.

Mik: Coldplay from Suomi but lacks Chris Martin’s charisma. Great stadium track. (11)

Ireland

Ann: now this really is the nul pointer. At least she’s had her nails done. 

Mik: Insecure performance with poor vocals, poor song and those riverdancers in kilts go back home. Definite nul pointer.  (15)

Belarus

Ann: don’t have a problem with this, unlike Robin Thicke

Mik: Great fun and Teo is convincing. Brings a smile to your face. (7)

FYROM

Ann: Go Tijana! Women will like. Not quite the full package, but deserves it, darlings.

Mik: Superstar-diva but too static, doesn’t take me to the sky. Kati Wolf had a better song and did not do well. (13)

Switzerland

Ann: picked this one out from the start, folk musician, Eurovision participant, lawyer…go Sebalter!

Mik: Surprise! Warm, hearty, charming and most of all genuine. You want him to do well! (8)

Greece

Ann: who needs a trapeze when you’ve got a trampoline? Great fun.

Mik: All rise to this very catchy contemporary chart friendly poppy song. (1)

Slovenia

Ann: still needs to sort out her look; pleasant but doesn’t really go anywhere

Mik: Comes across as dull, grey and boring. A shame but will get a few jury votes. (14)

Romania 

Ann: what’s Ovi for? I really don’t think he sees it. Shoulda done She’s after my piano instead.

Mik: Plastic Up with People, very manufactured. Will qualify, but won’t get anywhere, once there. (9)

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Semi 1: #joinus in Denmark

Update, 7 May: 7/10 for both of us. Neither of us predicted San Marino or Iceland, although we’re more than happy to see both #joiningus. Mik dropped Montenegro, while Ann dropped Ukraine. Making up the 10: Hungary, Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Sweden and yay! The Netherlands.

The semi was not sold out so we were able to move forward and had a bird’s eye view of the green room for some sweet Montenegro moments. You can also see us arriving on @drgrandprix’s timelapse, at around 24 secs:

Back on Thursday with more predictions.

We’re off to semi 1 this evening, sitting in Olsen as a tribute to the snubbed Jørgen and Noller. From Twitter and the bloggage it’s pretty easy to work out how the show will pan out, but we’ll cover that elsewhere.

The public areas have been done in the nick of time, and maybe don’t quite live up to the pre-show hype:

A big round of applause herfra for the creative use of shipping containers, which we’ve been anticipating for months, not so much for the less than subtle branding for Host City partners REDA. Danes on Facebook noted a lack of twin touchstones hygge and Danish design, plus someone commented that it looked like it had been thrown together in a couple of hours…

What about the music? Below are our predictions for semi 1, with a full ranking from ordensmenneske Mik. It’s tricky, because after you’ve heard the songs more than three times you have a love/hate relationship with them all and can’t decide if you like them or not, but we need to lose six of these lovelies. Bolded is out. Check back on Weds to see how wrong we were.

Armenia

Ann: a class act but not likeable and not enough of a story arc for the big win

Mik: Intriguing 3 minutes. If he catches the camera right and doesn’t look too stressed or serious this goes straight to the final. (1)

Latvia

Ann: charming tipping over into annoying, maybe rein Jöran in a tad to go through

Mik: Recipe for hyggelig amateurism, convincing though. And a very good draw, makes a nice contrast to Aram Superstar and his serious business. (7)

Estonia

Ann: the most complete show of the night, entertaining without resorting to gimmicks

Mik: Contemporary catchy dance and singing class. (4)

Sweden

Ann: manufactured and clinical; those ornamental flourishes grate but soars to a climax

Mik: Professional plastic sing-a-long, straight from IKEA. It will give you goosebumps. (2)

Iceland

Ann: trying too hard. LT United without the xtra factor (who was your favourite?)

Mik: LT United light, but we can’t all be Winners. And it has been 8 years. (14)

Albania

Ann: trying too hard (2), but lovely voice

Mik: Little girl with great voice, but uninspired & whining song with poor Albanese English lyrics. (15)

Russia

Ann: best use of twins, best use of mystifying props; effective if unexciting

Mik: Cutesy twin girls will do the trick, with their charming, though very calculated act on stage. (8)

Azerbaijan

Ann: Dilara doesn’t do fur – what’s not to like? Answer: the trapeze in a church gimmick.

Mik: Impressive stage show helps this classic jury jewel. Very convincing. (3)

Ukraine

Ann: ticked off – a poor effort, first ever NQ for Ukraine?

Mik: Gets on your nerves, but Crimea crisis will give this contemporary trash some sympathy vote. (10)

Belgium

Ruslana2
Ruslana shows her appreciation at the Belgian national final

Ann: should be safe enough, as long as pple remember it’s a song contest, with added interpretive dance UPDATE: Out; might have made it with a Ruslana hologram

Mik: Belgique’s got talent goes Eurovision, but the sentimental old fashioned style won’t make you pick up your iphone. (12)

Moldova

Ann: a slight led down from my fave country – borderline, needs more Pasha, plus Aliona’s smile

Mik: Fascinating and Barbu-esque. Maybe too shouty for some, but it sticks to you. And we all love her accent. (9)

San Marino

Ann: a pearl in a shell, a diamond in the rough…too many metaphors. Ave atque vale – and arrivederci! 

Mik: There is no pearl in the shell: Old fashioned boring Siegel trademark. (16)

Portugal

Ann: it’s Beautiful Song without Anmary, no #suzyshake here

Mik: Suzy-shake flying the flag for Portugal, but without charm, sparkle or cheekyness. All that’s left are her very poor vocals, but Martha does a good job! (13)

The Netherlands

Ann: unexciting but does enough for now

Mik: This years dark horse: real musicians, real emotions, real chemistry between them and it looks very good on TV. The jury will love this! (5)

Montenegro

Ann: no Zjelko ripoff – this is the real deal musically. Despite Skating Dolly goosebumps city – see you in Cetinje!

Mik: Now we understand why Montenegro once joined the Serbian Republic. Zjelko has inspired many in a good way, but he wouldn’t approve of the roller skating. Might just miss out. (11)

Hungary

Ann:  I have nothing to say. MTV fodder.

Mik: Contemporary catchy believable song with a message and a hunky Hungarian. (6)

#metroxpressgate: wake me up when it’s all over

So, following the new rule of three there’s another Mumford & Sons in semi 2, it looks like Sweden really doesn’t want to win this year and the theme song is straight out of The Lion King. What else is up?

The countdown clocks are ticking. Over on Eurovision Island there’s no change and bills to pay.

ESC Today's countdown clock
ESC Today’s countdown – can anyone confirm that this total is different from the clock on CPH town hall square?

DR Indefra, a radio programme on DR’s highbrow station, took a look at progress at #bogwhallerne with Head of Show Jan Lagermand Lundme. It was snowing, not least through a hole in the roof, there were cranes and a lot of dirt, but still three months/100/90 89, Jan! days to go.

The reporter had a little #escdk checklist to run through. Back in October they’d only been able to tick off the first two points, but this time all six got a big fat tick, although only on paper and with brackets in some cases, and even that’s generous:

  1. The venue – they’re not moving. Yet.
  2. Theme/slogan – #joinus branding etc; somewhat defensively, JLL stated they were still happy with this.
  3. Lighting and sound equipment etc – on order.
  4. National song, interval acts – 100%, known to the second. So hold #myeurovisionidea. Dancers hired, graphics sent to the printer.
  5. Budget – På plads! ie a done deal. Much the same as for Eurovision 2013 in Sweden, DKK 150 million from DR, with income from ticket sales, sponsors, the EBU.
  6. Host/s – the trekløver, aka a three leafed clover.

Move along here, nothing to see…but what the programme omitted to mention was an article in freesheet MetroXpress, published on Tuesday evening, summarised med det samme by ESC Reporter: Broadcaster threatens to move Eurovision 2014.

Eagerly snapped up by the tabloids (Ekstra Bladet | BT, inc a video with a rather grumpy Exec Producer Pernille T in what we hope is faux fur and not giraffe), leading to a rebuttal from WoCo on DR’s Eurovision site – it’s not DR who need extra money and everything’s hunky dory between the #escdk players. ESC Reporter put the story to bed, but that’s not really the point is it?

Dogged Eurovision bloggers ESCKAZ (Thursday | Friday) and EuroVisionary have covered the increasing costs of converting a dilapidated shed into a modern arena for three nights only in forensic detail. Seems that It’s not just the now famous pillars which are causing a problem – the roof may not be able to hold lighting rigs etc, plus – who knew? – there’s only one road to Eurovision Island and transport plans are still on the drawing board:

They have not been having the right expertise in relation to this creative task and as such have underestimated the project. You can’t base such an arrangement on that it will be good weather or that you can find some volunteers who have a little rowing boat which they can use to sail the guests over. You have to think of a worst case scenario.

That from Leif Skov, former Head of Show, Roskilde Festival, to ESC Reporter. There’ll be a reason why neither DR nor Visit Copenhagen have comment facilities on their Eurovision sites. Regional councillor Mette Abilgaard had to leave a comment on Facebook to make her point, with a handy link to the council minutes.

Now it’s yonks since I sat through the blessed Borgen and atm for me #escdk host Pilou is a chubby ship’s cook w a beard, but never mind the kitsch, Kasper’s spin skills could come in handy. It’s lucky DR landed that one from the stock of 12 Danish actors.

Coming shortly after the latest ticketing crisis (let’s put the green room where we’ve already sold some seats and not tell the ticket retailer so their system crashes) you might get the impression that some people are good at setting fairy tale goals waay down the line but aren’t too bothered about the minor practical details.

We need a Can Denmark host Eurovison story in Eurosong’s Fantasy Eurovision series pdq – after Parken withdrew it’s difficult to see what feasible alternatives there were, although in better news the Copenhagen Arena should by ready for Eurovision 2016. Is it possible this experience might put other countries off the idea of hosting the thing? Glasgow could be up for it – the arena for the 2014 Commonwealth Games is in Finnieston, a gentrified former industrial wasteland.

And despite rebuttals it really does feel like WoCo and DR have fallen out – we’d noticed a certain distancing already, and are starting to really look forward to the uncensored version of DR’s documentary on the long and winding road to Eurovision 2014. Maybe best to show it in January next year, like Sweden did, so we can all bask in the after glow. Because, det skal nok gå. 

Det skal nok gå! The #escdk drawing board

There’s been a touch of det skal nok gå about this week – a Danish mantra meaning it will all be alright on the night, or rather “if we put it in pending it will sort itself out”. Let’s look at the evidence,  which gives two chief impressions:

  • it’s #escscandi – we’ll do what the Swedes did, that went well…but while Sweden stressed small is beautiful from the start the Danes can’t help themselves trying to go large with their very own sparkly Olympics, Games Makers and all – plus more than half an eye on Euro 2020
  • as a result there’s a growing tension between yay Denmark! and a more international spirit – it’s #joinus, not We are one

Those shuttle boats

The shuttle boat problem summed up by Eurovision.tv:

A harbour bus typically has room for 64 passengers so there needs to be put on a few extra round-trips in order to accommodate 10,000 strong audience expected at each show.

Obviously everyone can’t leave at once, so another possibility “on the drawing board” is to extend bus route 9A. Checking trusty travel planner Rejseplanen reveals that the bus hurtles from the central station through town to the Opera in less than 15 minutes, but to reach Refshaleøen at the moment it’s a further 20 minute walk across some interesting topography:

the route to Eurovision Island
the route to Eurovision Island

How will this circle be squared? ESC Reporter senses fingers being crossed.  If you arrive early, what will there be to do on Eurovision Island besides admiring the view? What about the return journey, at gone midnight on Sunday 11 May? And what if it rains?

CPH weather, May 2013
CPH weather, May 2013

The Fan Mile

Strøget, Copenhagen’s main drag, isn’t exactly the Champs Élysées – hordes of flag waving fans are going to get up some shoppers’ noses. Plus what about the Metro building site at Kongens Nytorv? Update: there’s a competition on to hide it.

Meanwhile, three of Host City CPH’s seven attractions are particularly worth highlighting:

  • you’ll be able to get married on Strøget (echoes of a recent DR reality show with couples set up by the producers to get married the day they met)

  • you can drink the tap water in Copenhagen (who knew?)
  • Bejing will be represented on the Fan Mile (Emmelie is popular in China)

See ESC Reporter for the rest, apart from no 7, aka  mixed messages corner, where the right hand of Host City CPH states there will be limited activities on Eurovision Island – while the left hand of transport co Movia said earlier ways of keeping people entertained before the concerts start are being explored.

We’ve lots of ideas, it will be great…

This reassurance is undermined somewhat by the fact that so far most ideas have been a) Swedish b) not quite thought through c) drafty.

Is Team CPH is starting to believe its own hype? It’s all rather more reminiscent of the other recent contest with a virgin venue than the one at a practical arena accessible by regular trains with a shopping centre attached – but det skal nok gå.

Happy Eurovision 2014!

December has been one dizzying whirl of #escdk announcements, all to be forgotten by 11 May 2014. Did you see the SVT doc about Eurovsion 2013? Haven’t seen so many whey faced Swedes since they last lost to Denmark in the girls’ handball.

an abandoned Xmas tree
Xmas passed (credit: The Hollywood Walker)

Enough of the existential angst, let’s celebrate the fairy tale which will be Eurovision 2014 with all December’s news.

Eurovision 2014 logo
that logo

The diamond in the rough – this rushed looking effort pre-empting Eurovision’s own 60th anniversary has attracted much opprobrium as well as a lot of looky likeys. Here’s the clunky symbolism:

A diamond is sparkling and strong. It has many different aspects and shows the diversity which will be shown on the stage at the Eurovision Song Contest…it shows the visual thinking we have for Eurovision 2014: The raw B & W combined with the sparkling show and in the middle on the stage, the diamond as a combining force, right there where it all takes place.

Thank you, Pernille Gaardbo (in translation). See Eurovision.tv’s gallery of theme art in past years for comparison, plus Internet reactions and ESC Reporter’s critique

Meanwhile. things are stirring around Eurovision Island:

Undercover detective work also reveals that the predicted pontoon is on its way.

#escdk was the 29th most popular hashtag in Denmark in 2013 with 20K tweets (including RTs), 13K of which were made during the show itself. The @escdk14 team has only really been tweeting since September, even if they have changed their bio and/or handle three times, and Twitter isn’t huge in Denmark, so it’s all a bit new, unlike in the UK, where both Junior Eurovision (#jesc2013) and the Albanian national final (#fik52) both trended.

We’ll look at this a lot more closely in 2014, but you can’t knock them for trying. The #myeurovisionidea meme has already garnered more than 2.5K original tweets and DR’s creative team has promised to look at them all – good luck with that! Missed a trick though with not doing an easy Twitter/Faceboook/Instragram aggregation on the #joinus website

And don’t most people go to the loo and recharge their glasses during the interval act? I do – though I hung around for the crawling on the ceiling in 2009: 

What should the interval act – and Eurovision – really be about? Should it “ooze Denmark”? Should the postcards be about the singer or their country? The SVT doc stressed that it’s not about the production team (who looked exhausted throughout) but about the participants and bringing Europe together. Those of us concerned at the #joinus ethos will be playing close heed to the developing Us vs Them balancing act.

Finally, if you’ve stopped by here before you might notice that we’ve freshened things up a bit with the new WordPress Twenty Fourteen theme – more content and lots of on trend pretty pictures to resize. 

We’re spending Hogmanay on a train – see the vid below for how the Danes celebrate the New Year. Best wishes for Eurovision 2014 and beyond!

Join us on Eurovision Island

Knew it! While we had hoped for a Malmö rerun so we could get some decent food in this never seemed likely what with the Night of the Lorry. Given the options west of the Øresund, Reshaleøen is the best of a bunch of pretty poor options.

The CPH Post’s Eurovision jumps on industrial bandwagon piece calls the decision a “calculated gamble” – after all the venue has already hosted Copenhell and Distortion, just how different can Eurovision be?

In the article Fabian, a music, events and media boffin from Roskilde Uni, points out that empty post-industrial spaces “help create an experiential universe…that gives the audience a more holistic experience” than, say, Boxen – but that this is not as easy to achieve as the producers may think, plus new ground for a TV audience of millions.

Fantasy island 

Refshaleøen is to be transformed into the rather more non-dansk friendly Eurovision Island for the duration, connected to the fleshpots of Copenhagen via a Eurovision Fan Mile and a bit running from the central station to Nyhavn. It all feels like an inevitable fusion of the experience economy driven vibe which currently dominates in Copenhagen with the flood of waterfront developments reimagining a once proud shipbuilding and harbour past, both pimped by WoCo and aimed at giving CPH – and Eurovision? – a so called ‘edge’. 

Poor old Jutland, it’s a shame but what can you do with a Lilliputian country dominated by a fairytale capital, not even handily placed in the geographic middle? We predict things will be alright on the night, but that some delegations won’t be too happy and transport will be a major pain. How about a pontoon or hop-on hop-off solution, it’s not that far across the water from the Little Mermaid?

a hop-on hop-off ferry

Refshaleøen’s Eurovision transformation will be eagerly tracked across the blogsphere in the coming months. For now, watch this video from Copenhagen Suborbitals, one of the island’s current tenants, whose aim is to launch a human being into space. This stuff just writes itself.

Join us!

One last thing, if you must have a slogan try to find something with a bit more oomph that doesn’t invite accusations of monomania – think party planner rather than hostess with the mostest.

Back story and back chat: København bliver vært… (announcement) | DR vil modernisere Grand Prix  – as previously reported, portraits not postcards, getting closer etc, yaaawn; Eurovision Ireland has this covered.