So here’s what happened. Mrs Chrisparkle and I had our calorie controlled salad early and then laid out the wine and crisps in expectation of the company of Mrs Chrisparkle’s parents, the Thane of Duncansby and Lady Duncansby. This was to be their first hearing of any of these songs.
All guests duly settled we each had our own BBC score card and chose the ten songs we would “put through” – the Eurovision equivalent of a thumbs up from the Roman Emperor in the Colosseum. Fortunately since last year our area has gone properly digital, so our BBC3 reception was vastly improved, indeed it was actually watchable; unlike last year, when we had to make a heart-wrenching yomp across town to the inlaws’ which caused us to miss the first five songs and induced in me an ugly and unpleasant sulk. Anyway that was last year. This year:
Poland – decent song got pretty much annihilated with a lack of tuneful singing. The Thane and his Lady, Mrs C and I all agreed it wasn’t going through, thus it gets a score of 0/4.
Norway – lively stage presentation and an entertaining song. Still a bit flat in part. (2/4)
Albania – Good performance, the first one where the singer got most of the notes. All agreed she looked pretty scary though, and nobody liked the song much. (0/4)
Armenia – Enjoyed the boxing motif, and Lady Duncansby thought she would easily get down to this in the disco. But it quickly palled as the lyrics-lite took effect. (1/4)
Turkey – The guitars set a new theme and people quite liked it, but in the end there were some much better songs. And the contortionist just didn’t help. (0/4)
Serbia – Lady Duncansby actually does remember dancing to this song in The Cavern before you were born. A good tuneful performance. (2/4)
Russia – Don’t understand that opening sequence at all. Slick act though, and Mrs Chrisparkle confessed to something about “gutter thoughts” when she thought I was out of earshot. (4/4)
Switzerland – Having spent the last 6 months finding this just a bit too twee, Anna comes along with a knockout performance. Lady Duncansby was so taken with this one she almost dropped her Chardonnay. (4/4)
Georgia – A very good performance of a song that has been a favourite in the Chrisparkle household since its first hearing. Mrs C starting to go off it though. (2/4)
Finland – We loved the emerging planet. It didn’t look at all endangered to us. Only the Thane could see in this what others clearly can. (1/4)
Malta – A great performance from “my mate Glen” as we now term him, and the Thane became the second person in the world to like the song too. (2/4)
San Marino – Looked forward to hearing this lovely song. A very static performance though, which reminded Mrs Chrisparkle of someone frightened of tripping a PIR sensor. Shame about the vocals, but we largely gave Senit the benefit of the doubt. (3/4)
Croatia – Not that great a performance. The first dress change was a bit of a cheat with the camera looking away and then coming back to see her changed. Anyone could do that. No one liked it much. (0/4)
Iceland – Went down very well here, and not just because of the backstory. Excellent performance too. (4/4)
Hungary – Heard that rehearsals hadn’t been great, but she certainly pulled out all the stops. The room went into swoons of appreciation. (4/4)
Portugal – Was expecting a more quirky performance and the banners were just boring. As was the rest of it. (0/4)
Lithuania – a good performance of a dull song. References were made to the size of her hips. I’ll say no more (although the word “twins” was mentioned in that context). The Thane was in sole appreciation. (1/4)
Azerbaijan – I didn’t know she was from Enfield, and her enunciation of “nothing” as “nuffing” was a moment of delight. We all thought this would do well. (4/4)
Greece – The rapper was greeted with cries of “don’t like it” from the room, but it was amazing how the appreciation of this song increased when Loukas opened his jacket. Lady Duncansby hastily rejigged her scoring as a result. (4/4)
So three of us got seven out of the ten correct, and one, the Thane himself, got eight – he got the most last year as well if I remember. The five songs we gave 0/4 didn’t qualify, which is quite pleasing in retrospect. Along with many others I am amazed Turkey didn’t qualify, not so amazed at Armenia’s failure as apparently her performance in the jury-watching-rehearsal was dire, and somewhat surprised about Norway although the Stella Mwangi/Kate Ryan allusion had been made elsewhere previously.
My bets on Iceland and Azerbaijan are still safe, and it was a good looking show. Great set. Didn’t think much of the presenters though, and thought the UK commentary varied from just about adequate to ghastly. I understand there were “communication issues” from Düsseldorf which must have been difficult for new presenters to cope with. But cutting from a live Sara Cox to a pre-recorded Sara Cox when the pre-recorded bits were obviously meant to look live seemed very ham-fisted to me. We honestly thought she was under the influence of noxious substances at times, and I thought the little vignette she did about running to the commentary booth was, well, just pathetic. She could also have learned how to pronounce “Mwangi” in advance, just as Scott really ought to have known that the J in “Jestem” is pronounced like a Y. I thought he was going to become a bit of a Euro-basher in the Wogan fashion at first but he did have a few good lines later on. Room for improvement for Thursday!