Minipop Invasion

What are Minipops?

Well, they’re tiny cartoon versions of people and characters.

The minipops have taken the internet by storm and are becoming increasingly popular. The fantastic images showing the cartoon version of last year’s Eurovision acts were created by Ben Morris in 2011.

Clearly being incredibly popular, Ben decided to create new ones for the entrants in this year’s Eurovision. If you know what the people look like then you will agree that they truly are amazing!!!! So true to life.

Ben got the idea to create the icons after attending the 2010 contest in Olso. He said “While admiring one of the official merchandise stalls outside the Oslo Telenor Arena, I had the notion of creating a range of Eurovision mini pop icons”. Ben had already created icons for the cult TV show Doctor Who. You can the whole story behind Ben Morris and his ideas here on the ESCInsight site.

Ben now has quite a followingThe minipop icons have their own Facebook page. It’s worth a look, for sure.

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Last year, Blue represented the United Kingdom in Eurovision. Following their photoshoot for Attitude magazine, Ben Morris decided to undress Blue for their own ‘stripped’ Minipop picture. Take a look at the video showing how they were made below. Amazing stuff!

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Eurovision Semi Final 2

Less than a week to go! Eurovision Season is starting…

The second semi final for the Eurovision will be on Thursday 24th May.

Here are the entries (in order) for the second semi final.  I have said a little about each one. In bold are the ones I hope to qualify.

Serbia: 7/10 – This man knows how to do well in Eurovision. He represented Serbia-Montenegro in 2004, coming 2nd and then wrote the Serbian entry in 2008, coming 6th – as well as hosting it in Belgrade. Watch out…

Macedonia (FYROM): 8/10 – This lady has a voice. What a belter! Effortlessly sung. I think it will get a LOT of Balkan votes.

The Netherlands: 8/10 – The Dutch have a terrible record in qualifying – 2004 was the last time they made the final. I hope this gentle song about childhood memories takes them through. You’ll remember the Indian headdress – that’s for sure.

Malta: 6/10 – 1980s throw back. This is performed by a guy who needs to wear looser clothing.

Belarus: 6/10 –  Their 9th entry and one which won’t do particularly well. I liked it to start with, but have gone off it.

Portugal: 8/10 – Typical Portugal – anthemic and possibly not gonna make it through the semi.

Ukraine: 8/10 – This has grown on me. It’s very West End ‘Lion King’…

Bulgaria: Zzzzzzz. Possibly the second worst entry.

Slovenia: 10/10 – My personal favourite! This gentle ballad builds to a fantastic finish. The 16-year-old has a great voice. I LOVE it!

Croatia: 4/10 – A dull Balkan ballad. Zzzzzzz.

Sweden: 10/10 – Whoah! Time to wake up. Something different in Eurovision. Loreen does some contemporary dance with martial arts moves in this attention grabbing number. Brilliant. I won’t be surprised if we’re in Stockholm next year.

Georgia: 5/10 –  They qualify every year – I don’t know how. This probably will – but it’s not great.

Turkey: 8/10 – Another grower. After seeing this guy in Amsterdam, I love it. Ahoy there Turkey. See you in the final…

Estonia: 10/10 – A gentle ballad, sung by a handsome chappy. Estonia deserve to do well with this. But, there are a LOT of ballads in this semi.

Slovakia: 5/10 –  It’s a bit Bon Jovi – which is a little odd.

Norway: 9/10 –  Sung in English; written by a Swede and sung by an Iranian/Norwegian. Recipe for Top 5. They are recreating Sweden’s 2011 entry though…. blatantly.

Bosnia-Herzegovina: 6/10 –  And again – another Balkan ballad. Zzzzzz.

Lithuania: 5/10 – A dull end to the night.  Not great. This won’t be bringing the prize back to Lithuania. Sounds like Wham!

Which 10 do you think will make the final?

Watch the songs from Semi Final 1 and read my comments here.

REVIEW: Eurovision in Concert 2012

This year, for the fourth time, Amsterdam was the host city for the biggest pre-Eurovision concert. It has become quite an extraordinary event  with more than half of the contestants coming to showcase their entries. There are only a few weeks before the contest goes to Baku in Azerbaijan. The countdown is on…

This year the event was held on Saturday 21st April 2012 in the Melkweg, a popular venue for bands when playing in Amsterdam. The organisation was much better than last year, which had a series of sound problems which created endless issues for the evening. The Melkweg was fantastic and the evening went without a hitch! Perfect!

The hosts for the evening were Cornald Maas and Ruth Jacott, the Dutch performer in the 1993 Eurovision. She strutted her stuff in Millstreet and belted out Vrede coming a very respectable 6th for The Netherlands.

BEST PERFORMANCE: Spain. Pastora blew away the crowd with her live performance of Quédate Conmigo. What a pair of lungs she has on her! I expect (and hope) Spain to do very well this year in Baku.

MOST ENTERTAINING: Ireland. Jedward really know how to entertain a crowd. I really didn’t like them last year in Düsseldorf, but with Waterline as their comeback I love them.

MOST EMBARASSING WARDROBE MALFUNCTION: France. Poor, poor Anggun wore a lovely red dress, which for those on the first 6 rows of audience (me included), got a perfect view up… I rather feel that someone should have advised her against white pants with a red dress… oh la la…

HOTTEST PERFORMER: Moldova. Hello, Pasha! That’s all I have to say on the matter.

MOST CRINGEWORTHY: San Marino. Deranged doesn’t even begin to describe this. San Marino decided to ‘test’ the rules of Eurovision. A song all about ‘Facebook’ although it’s not allowed to be called that now. I think Facebook should sue!

MY FAVOURITE: Slovenia. Eva’s song is my far my favourite for Baku, although on the night it didn’t come across well. Unfortunately, her backing singers weren’t there and they play a vital role in the performance as one sings the gentle aaaah bits.

THE ONES I MISSED: Sweden and Russia. Oh how I would have loved them to be there. Sweden has the song of the year and a great performance (but will it win?) and Russia have the grannies who I adore.

I predict a close one between Sweden and Russia.

Enjoy my photos from the night.

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Humperdinck sings a classic ballad for UK… 12 points?

After all my years of watching the Eurovision Song Contest I don’t remember the UK sending an entry to match this. The first time you hear it you may dismiss it, but ‘The Hump’, Engelbert, has got an amazing voice. At 75 years you cannot discount him. Age has nothing to do with his very obvious talent. He can carry a tune – very well. The song is a gentle ballad with a big finish. The lyrics are beautiful too…

In May he will be first up in the final, hoping to bring the contest back to the United Kingdom: It’s a possibility. He is currently 4th favourite to win  – after Sweden, Russia and Denmark (however the betting odds will surely change between now and May).

Engelbert had so much negative press after his name was announced as the UK representative. People joked that the BBC were mocking Europe by sending him. I think quite the opposite this year. If the British public are left to make the choice then they send ‘something Eurovisiony’ – Scooch, Andy Abraham, Daz Sampson and Jemini…. all of which prove to be disasters in Europe. The British public do not ‘get it’ when it comes to Eurovision. They still harp on about the bloc voting; they claim that ‘nobody likes the UK’… It’s pretty untrue. The last time the UK actually made an effort they came 5th, in 2009.

This year the UK will do well. Mark my words. Here is the video of the UK’s 2012 Eurovision entry.

Eurovision: It’s more than one night in May.

Love it or loathe it, Eurovision is here to stay. It’s quite remarkable that the Eurovision Song Contest has withstood the test of time and evolved into the present day contest that we see now. A few years ago the number of competing nations reached an all-time high and as a result Semi Finals were introduced. Instead of one night to ‘enjoy’ there are three, with Two Semi Finals and one Grand Final making up the Eurovision Song Contest.

From a small contest comprising of 7 countries it has expanded to include over 40 countries. The popularity and credibility of the Eurovision differs hugely from one country to the next. Western Europe, with a few exceptions, contained the ‘founder countries’ and enjoyed the majority of the success in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. During the mid 90s, as Eastern Europe divided more and more nations entered creating new challenges for all, however it was 2001 when the balance swung in favour of the Eastern European countries (Although this balance is evening out with changes in the voting system).

Winning the Eurovision is an undeniable honour for any country. Winning means hosting the subsequent contest (although many moons ago a couple of countries did not host the contest due to financial reasons). In order to win the contest each country uses a national selection process to choose their entry. Whilst Eurovision takes place in May, the national selection processes begin way back in October/November and continue through to March.

UK's Blue - 2011

The selection process varies hugely from one country to the next. In 2011 for example, the United Kingdom’s entry was selected internally by the BBC. A few other countries also selected either the performers or the song internally – among the list were Azerbaijan, San Marino and Russia.

In Ireland, 6 acts competed in a TV special of The Late Late Show, where the infamous ‘Jedward’ (from the UK’s 6th series of the XFactor) were selected.

Israel’s national selection, Kdam, took place in recent weeks with Dana International, the 1998 Eurovision winner. She will return to the stage in May as one of many returning winning artists.

Some countries pull out all the stops and host national selections of a grand scale. Denmark, Norway and Sweden go big. However, Sweden (irrespective of the songs) does it better than most countries. Sweden’s Melodifestival is huge – some fans prefer this national final to Eurovision itself.

Sweden hosts a series of semi finals, each in different cities/towns throughout Sweden, over a series of weeks: After those semi finals and a second chance round 10 songs compete to win the ultimate prize of representing Sweden in Eurovision. Eurovision is big business in Sweden. Taking part in Melodifestival means record sales, media exposure and almost guaranteed chart success. In the weeks after the national final, which has 32 competing entries, the Top 20 is dominated by the Melodifestival songs. Which other country can claim such similar success? Sweden’s ‘Grand Final’ is held in the Globen (venue of the 2000 Eurovision) and seats over 20,000 people. They think BIG!

By the time you sit down to watch Eurovision in May – whether you watch it to enjoy the music, laugh at the whole concept or simply to see what ‘Johnny Foreigner’ is doing – you may watch with some admiration that Eurovision is pretty unique and not to be understated. That’s got to be special.

You may want to find out more here.

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