Monthly Archives: April 2011

Eurovision Sofa: The Songs (E to I)

We’ve already had a look at the songs from the nations beginning with A through to D, so lets go straight into looking at another eleven songs at this years Eurovision.

Estonia: Rockefeller Street – Getter Jaani
getter_48v6085 I’m still in a sulk over Malcolm Lincoln finishing 14th in the first semi final last year. This is no Siren, though to me, that would be tough to achieve. If I put my sensible hat on though, I’ll find this is an alright entry from Estonia. I’m looking at the odds though and see its the second favourite. Its upbeat, positive and you are going to enjoy the chorus. My only negative is the performance itself, which seems poor in the Estonian Final, though I’m sure will be ironed out for Eurovision. Also, Getter Jaani (who seems to be a magician, watch the video) reminds me of one of my substitute History teachers, which is slightly off-putting.

Prediction: Is definitely going to fight for the title. And will be fighting in the top 3 for victory.

 

Finland: Da Da Dam – Paradise Oskar
Tom Dice finished 6th with his just him and his guitar last year. This is a better song and is following the same principles as Dice. The message is simple, young lad called Peter and he wants to save the world from the mess it has found itself in. Its straight to the point and certainly has a deep meaning rather than just a wishy washy pointless love song about someone you can’t have but you really love. Da Da Dam is nice, sweet, lovely and so is the sound of the singer. In the BBC Preview show Your Country Needs Blue (brilliant pun by the way BBC, worth the license fee) it said this sort of song won’t work. Yes it will. Prove them wrong Oskar, prove them all wrong.

Prediction: Ahh, so what, it isn’t going to win. It’ll scrape through the semi finals and finish on the right hand side of the board on finals night, but it shouldn’t.

 

France: Sognu – Amaury Vassili
amauryvassili_fredericalenda-cropped Look, I’m 17. There is no way I should like this. It is in Corsican not English, it is an operatic song and is sung by a French bloke. Yet I like it. Maybe I’m just impressed. But on the grand scheme of things, opera is going to struggle at Eurovision. Despite it being, pretty good, it is going to be hard to appeal to the masses. It’ll stand out at least and I fear its the only thing that might go in its favour on the night.

Prediction: Another one looking good for the win. So far the bookies favourite and is good for a top 3.

 

Georgia: One More Day – Eldrine
The song was going well, a good bit of rock, I was even thinking that it might get itself into the final. And then, oh dear, they decided to put a rapper in it. It doesn’t work, at all. Bizarre mix and ruins everything.

Prediction: It’s a tough song to sell and I can’t see it happening in the first semi final.

 

Germany: Taken by a Stranger – Lena
It is a rare thing for a host country to enter a song which wants to win the competition back-to-back, but Germany have decided to do it. Coming back is Lena, winner for them last year, and Taken by a Stranger is a different beast to Satellite. Although I feel it is a better song, it doesn’t have the same grab to it as Satellite, which won’t appeal to the voting public. It falls down here, despite the song being unique and pretty damn good, it just looks like it will lack the spark to inspire votes.

Prediction: Sadly it won’t be back to back wins for Lena, but looks good still to finish in the top 10. Which for a host country is a good effort.

 

Greece: Watch My Dance – Loukas Giorkas feat.Stereo Mike
Oh Greece. You usually provide us with something memorable, something actually worth listening to and watching. I loved This Is Our Night and OPA, it was an outrage they didn’t finish higher up (UK votes tend to agree with me as well, both times Greece got the 12 points). But this isn’t. The rapper, Stereo Mike, is not very good at all, and in fairness, Giorkas is slightly better. The two however don’t really mix well and it turns into a disaster of a song.

Prediction: For the first time, Greece aren’t going to make the final.

 

Hungary: What About My Dreams? – Kati Wolf
img_9448 Hungary have decided to return in style. Well done MTV. This is a fantastic dance song which is certainly one of my favourites. Kati Wolf is an impressive singer and the dance beat itself isn’t too shabby either. I’m going to put my neck out here and say, if this is in the last five in the running order come Saturday night, this is going to win.

Prediction: As I’ve said, last five on finals night and this will win. Otherwise, I expect a top 3 finish.

 

Iceland: Coming Home – Sjonni’s Friends
Originally, this song was to be performed by Sjonni, however during the Icelandic selection process he sadly passed away. In tribute, his wife and a group of his friends decided to go on and sing this in his memory. It went on to win in Iceland and represent the country, beating former runner-up Yohanna in the process. Coming Home is also a nice enough song, its a sweet little number and with the back-story it has, might find itself being a popular song in Germany.

Prediction: Impossible to predict this one and it all depends on how Europe sees it. It’ll either finish 14th in the second semi final or go out and win it.

 

Ireland: Lipstick – Jedward
This song is brought to you by Marmite. Runners-up in the British reality TV show X-Factor, Jedward have decided to take a crack at Eurovision. I know many, many people who hate them (I may be included), the singing isn’t great and my God is it repetitive. Annoyingly though you can turn that on its head and also say those are good things. You aren’t going to forget this song. It is memorable and will get people talking, which in the end is only a good thing. Turning it again though, that didn’t help Dustin the Turkey. This will either be a massive hit or a massive failure and it depends on how they portray themselves to Europe in the semi final. For me though, they could be huge.

Prediction: Impossible to predict this one and it all depends on how Europe sees it. It’ll either finish 14th in the second semi final or go out and win it.

 

Israel: Ding Dong – Dana International
Dana International won the Eurovision Song Contest way back in 1998, in Birmingham. Ding Dong feels like it belongs in that same competition. Its a poor attempt from a previous winner, feeling very dated and just generally a very average song.

Prediction: Shame for a former winner to put out such a weak song, this isn’t going to make it out of the semi finals.

 

Italy: Madness of Love – Raphael Gualazzi
img_7564_b Italy’s 13 year strop with Eurovision is over as they, as part of the ‘Big 5’, return in Dusseldorf. The entry isn’t too shoddy either, a nice little jazz number from Raphael Gualazzi. It gets you going but jazz is a genre that rarely performs well at Eurovision, and while I imagine it will pick up points, it will only be the lower numbers (apart from when we get to San Marino, of course).

Prediction: In a strong year from the ‘Big 5’ I can see this performing the worst of them. Won’t make the top half, but just below mid-table for me.

 

As ever, if you agree or disagree, please do yell in the comments

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Eurovision Sofa: The Songs (A to D)

A record 43 songs will be performing in Dusseldorf and I, the kind chap that I am, have decided to give you a run down of all 43, in a nice alphabetical list which is hopefully easy to follow. Links to each song can be found under the country name. Naturally if you don’t wish to have the songs spoiled, then don’t read on or click any of the links.

Albania: Feel the Passion – Aurela Gaçe
To use a favourite expression of mine: meh. Its not the nicest song to listen to, it feels forced and shouty and it isn’t a nice thing to have in a song.

Prediction: Not going anywhere from the first semi final. Easy miss.

 

Armenia: Boom Boom – Emmy
emmy_final_02 A cheesy pop song over a Greek/Turkish bed. It’s poor, it has been done before, it offers nothing new and nothing I’d actually want to listen to again. The lyrics are also dreadful. This won’t get far.

Prediction: Like with Albania, this is staying in the first semi final and I don’t think anyone would miss it.

 

Austria: The Secret is Love – Nadine Beiler
This isn’t too bad but unfortunately found itself in the ‘semi final of death’ (a term I have just made up). Nadine is a good singer and its a fine ballad, nothing too spectacular however will see this low down the order in the final. Which isn’t the end of the world for the returning Austrians.

Prediction: Might just squeeze into the top 10 in the ‘semi final of death’, will end up finishing in the top 20 come the final.

 

Azerbaijan: Running Scared – Ell and Nikki
img_9876_2 Name a bad Azerbaijan entry to Eurovision. Hard isn’t it. That’s probably because there are none. Sure they’ve only been in since 2008 but its clear that they want to win Eurovision and they sure do put out some good stuff. Running Scared is not an exception either, its a good song that I really do like. Very friendly for the radio and generally in my eyes it is excellent. Ell is probably the superior singer which is the only issue, although Nikki is alright to look at (she has a bit of Louise Redknapp about her) which will partially make up for being not the greatest singer. I adore you Azerbaijan. You have my vote.

Prediction: Putting personal preference aside, this might not be enough, but still good enough for a top 5 finish.

 

Belarus: I Love Belarus – Anastasia Vinnikova
vinnikova_03 Is this a Eurovision entry or a promotional song for the Belarusian Tourist Board? The lyrics have already been modified once because they promoted political views, and ultimately the title and the lyrics come across as arrogant and self centred generated for propaganda about Belarus. This isn’t going to impress the viewers and no matter how decent the song and beat is, I hope it fails miserably.

Prediction: Last in the second semi final. Hopefully with nil points as well.

 

Belgium: With Love Baby – Witloof Bay
Risky business from Belgium, acappella. I do honour their attempt at trying this out at Eurovision and the immense ability they clearly have to have to do it in the first place. However this can only flop in my eyes. This isn’t a song for Eurovision and is aimed towards a niche amount of people. Will be lucky not to finish last.

Prediction: Second to last in the second semi final. Shame I suppose.

 

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Love in Rewind – Dino Merlin
dm_img_12 I love this song. There is something about it that makes it fantastic. It might be the feet stomping and the clapping or the general feel that it puts a smile on my face when I watch it. Dino Merlin has done a good job here and really hope it gets into the top 10. Will probably do it easily if they get rid of that pianist, or actually give her lessons.

Prediction: You know what, top 10 finish this. Just top 10, but that is still a damn good result.

 

Bulgaria: Na inat – Poli Genova
This could be easily mistaken for a Pink song. I imagine Pink would do alright with this in the charts as well, as it isn’t too bad. It’s a nice little guitar powered pop rock song and might do well in a live performance.

Prediction: Will make it through the semi final but not get very far up the leaderboard on the Saturday.

 

Croatia: Celebrate – Daria
Anything that starts with ‘Friday’ naturally has me concerned, but thankfully this is far better than what you hear from Rebecca Black. Its a good dance tune with light lyrics and a lot of strong energy that will work in the clubs around Dusseldorf but not the stadium. When compared to other songs of the same genre, such as Hungary, it doesn’t quite seem as memorable.

Prediction: May, just, miss out on a top 10 in the semi.

 

Cyprus: San aggelos s’agapisa – Christos Mylordos
the5421 In the end this tries to be too many songs at once, and it struggles to pay off. I think it gets better towards the end and it is unknown how it could perform on a live stage. But in the ‘semi final of death’ I can’t see it making it out. Also, the music video for this seems to have been made in the 1980s and features the worst female actress of all time, which may have put me off slightly.

Prediction: Can see this finishing low down in the semi finals.

 

Denmark: New Tomorrow – A Friend In London
Come on boys, come on girls. You know it isn’t original, and it really lacks something towards the end of it, but this has the potential at least. The song reminds me of Coldplay, and while that might put some people off, I happen to like their music. Probably at the state it was in at the final though will find it mid-table come finals night.

Prediction: Will qualify easily, and be around or about 10th place.

 

I shall place part two (of four) up on Saturday. Till then, if you disagree with my suggestions, yell loudly at me in the comments and criticise me for not knowing a thing about anything. Or if you agree, do the same.

Eurovision Sofa: An Introduction

lena ‘Satellite’ by Lena probably wasn’t the best song at last years Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo. I’d rank it still in the top 10, but definitely not the winner (for the record my favourite was Paula and Ovi’s ‘Playing With Fire’ for Romania), but in the end it came out on top and Eurovision is heading to the German city of Dusseldorf for the 2011 competition.

And I, well, I will be at home, feet up and relying on everyone there to do the hard work while I lazy myself reading up on stuff and just writing about it all. Hence, Eurovision Sofa.

I know, it isn’t sport, what is with you Ryan?

Well, I just like Eurovision. Love the spectacle and the whole event, and the songs, which are mostly… good.

So what can you expect from this? In-depth analysis of the songs, venue, event itself. Just about anyway, think of this as a bitesize way to get up to scratch of everything Eurovision, it won’t necessarily spoil your enjoyment, but if you like the surprise of what happens on the night, then I suggest staying away from this blog for a while and even probably my twitter.

If you just can’t wait for my first post, then I do suggest Australia’s SBS Eurovision Radio, which is literally Eurovision songs 24/7. Just that. Though I’ve heard Latvia’s 2008 entry ‘Wolves of the Sea’ three times in five hours so it can get a little repetitive. Also check out the ESC Insight podcast which contains the latest news from the event and reviews each song from people who know music a little more than I do.

So, to the next 18 days, bring on Dusseldorf. Hell there’s even a Geordie singing this year.

The Merchant of Venice

Golf is currently witnessing some of the ‘golden generation’ of golfers coming through from the amateurs and into the professional game. The likes of Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Jason Day were paired with each other for the first two rounds at Augusta and proved to be a dangerous force. McIlroy leading for much of the way while Day ultimately the runner-up behind Charl Schwartzel.

But, despite the fairly justified hype around the names such as McIlroy, one man (term used loosely) has so far done better than this and isn’t even allowed to buy a drink (in the UK, he can in his homeland) for another two days.

Matteo Manassero is only 17. That is to put in some sort of context the same age as me (for two more days that is) and he’s done considerably more impressive things. To start things off, there is his first European Tour victory at the Castelló Masters Costa Azahar in Valencia, Spain, by four strokes at the tender age of 16 years, 11 months and 22 days. Then, just today, he defeated the resurgent McIlroy to win the Malaysian Open. His second win on the European Tour.

That is more than McIlroy has managed on the European Tour, that is more than Day and Fowler have won on the PGA Tour. He is three years younger than McIlroy and Fowler as well, better than them.

He’s even proven himself at major level. Winner of the Silver Medal at the 2009 Open Championship for being the lowest scoring amateur over the weekend. In the 2010 Masters, Manassero became the youngest person to make the cut at the tournament. He’s talented, and years of golf ahead of him.

It’s scary to think he is so young, almost reminiscent of Sergio Garcia’s breakthrough onto the scene in the late 90s. He’s going to be big, he’s going to go on and be a star, around the world. Probably not on the same level as Tiger Woods obviously, but be among the top people of the sport, and with golf as competitive as it has been for a very long time, he will be up there fighting for tour wins and major championships.

But, like Garcia, I’m worried he’s becomming too successful, too soon. Garcia effectively burnt out after Open Championship disaster in 2008. Same could happen for the young Italian effectively. This is not like football, there is not an age when you could put away your clubs, as proven many a time by Tom Watson and others, but he needs to make sure he is capable of producing such good form on a consistent basis.

Italian golf is ultimately looking up, along with Manassero is the Molinari brothers, winners of the World Cup in 2009, also big names in the world of golf. Matteo Manassero will go on to great things without a doubt, he is already on the path to being a successful golfer. He just needs to make sure it doesn’t go awry.

Five Footballing Stages of Grief

In the season 5 episode of Scrubs, a popular patient passes away and J.D and Dr Cox go through five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Ultimately this happens and they reach acceptance stage at the end of the episode.

And like with J.D and Dr Cox, the same can be applied to Tottenham’s away performance at the Bernabeau. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, all felt over the course of the day and especially during the 90 minutes itself.

Denial All day I was fearing the worst. I had in my head Real Madrid scoring goal after goal, after a few more goals, before the referee calls the game at a halt after 67 minutes with the scores at 24-0. Of course, that wouldn’t happen, Spurs do at least have a half decent defence when it wants to be. And then the build up comes, decent teams, no complaints to be had. But then at 7:40PM BST it went wrong. For some reason Jermaine Jenas appears on the pitch, where is Lennon? This can’t be good…

Anger For some reason the line up was all wrong, everything about it. The midfield was a mess, Bale started on the right, nobody seemingly fit to play on the left. Why not put Kranjcar on in that case Redknapp, further proof of tactical naivety on his part. Jenas had an awful game, constantly giving away possession, I know it is almost a cliché that Jenas gets blamed every game, but this game is proof why he gets that tag. Three minutes in, goal, Emmanuel Adebayor, ex-Arsenal, villain. For some reason Jenas is given the task of marking him, not Dawson, not Gallas, but Jenas. Nonsensical, free header, Modric messes it up a bit on the line. But hey, 177 minutes still to go right. No. Thank you Peter Crouch. Two idiotic tackles, two yellow cards. The referee had an excellent game in my view, despite Sergio Ramos getting away with two bookable offences. That ruined the game for Spurs, playing effectively a 4-5-0 formation. Rafael van der Vaart not fully with it, Luka Modric marked tight, Bale anonymous.

Bargaining But look, half time. It is only 1-0, that isn’t too bad. We can still get into this, one more goal. Stick a striker on, hope for the best. Heck, I can still just about laugh about Ray Wilkins’ new catchphrase of ‘stay on your feet’. Bale showed some glimpses, keep giving it at him, Pepe is now yellow carded, out for next game, one tackle away from a red. Run, Gareth, Run. Defoe comes on for van der Vaart, smart move, the Dutchman was dreadful in the first 45 minutes. Still time, 45 minutes and another leg at White Hart Lane to come, we did it against Inter Milan…

Depression Alas, no. Shot, shot, shot for Real Madrid. Cristiano Ronaldo ended up with 13 overall, 13, an insane amount. 36 shots for Real Madrid. That just sounds like Tottenham really, except they score with their chances. The second goal, more defensive woe, Gallas left with two men, forgets to jump. Adebayor with two, painful. The third is unstoppable, beautiful curler from Di Maria. The fourth, oh Gomes, he was solid all game in fairness, but one mistake clouds a game. No goals in four games, 410 minutes. Les Ferdinand out and all that.  Madrid deserved four, Spurs deserved nil. Poor all round, bye bye Europe. Europa League here we come, book your tickets for Finland, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina now.

Acceptance Full time, 4-0. Brushed aside. But it isn’t anything to be ashamed of, is it? Surely Real Madrid are the second best team in Europe, just after Barcelona. And what a ride Tottenham have sent everyone on. From 3-0 down away at Young Boys, to the highs against Inter Milan (3-1), AC Milan (both games), hell even being there has been special. We did it, judging by the league it may be the only opportunity Spurs get for a few years and they gave it a damn good crack at it. Quarter finals is nothing to be ashamed of. We went one round further than the lot down the road. Arsenal only made the group stages at their first attempt of the Champions League as well. Spurs had one of the best debut seasons in the Champions League without a doubt. Kings of Milan, stars, nothing to be disappointed about. Bring on FC Honka, RNK Split and FK Željezničar Sarajevo. Europe is Europe, its still more attractive to players than no Europe. It hasn’t stopped Manchester City this season, nor the likes of Porto and Napoli. One leg to go, why not go out in style.

Why I Love Ryo Ishikawa

I like to consider myself to be a fairly considerate and generous person. I give money to charity, I’ll promote if I find one that I can appeal to, all that stuff. And I’m sure most of you do the same, especially around the time of the big television appeals like Children in Need and Comic Relief. In short, it is good for all parties.

But would you consider donating everything you earn in a year to charity?

That is what Japanese golfer Ryo Ishikawa is planning on doing this year. After the earthquakes and subsequent tsunami’s in his homeland, Ishikawa is planning on donating everything he earns on the Japan Golf Tour to help Japan recover after the devastation.

And after this, I have nothing but absolute respect for the golfer. He isn’t some average golfer who sometimes makes the cut and sometimes misses it, he’s good, pretty damn good. Ishikawa has already won nine Japan Golf Tour events, his first coming in 2007 at the age of 15. You can find him 45th on the Official Golf Rankings, just behind the likes of Ross Fisher and Anthony Kim. He even rounded the Wago Course in Japan in a 58. Yes, 58. 12-under par to win The Crowns by five shots.

The kid has talent, and as I just said, still very young. While some golfers start showing potential in their late 20s and early 30s, Ishikawa is only 19. To be donating everything you earn at that age is a remarkable thing, considering the price is expected to be £1.5 million.

And it shows a rare act of severe sporting donations, while many often earn a lot more than Ishikawa will this year, they at best won’t follow up his generosity. Back in 2007, the last major charitable thing in football that I can recall was the Mayday for Nurses, an appeal which asked every single Premier League player to give up their wages for just one day. Only one day, it was a well publicised appeal, but only 50% pledged to do so, 50% of those actually followed up on the pledge. In the end £200,000 was raised, but you do wonder if it could have been more.

It is unwise to compare football and golf. But the mark between the charitable personalities can be massive, a whole year for Ishikawa and he will not make a single penny, yet 75% of Premier League footballers couldn’t bare losing one days pay, even when the majority of time that is more than an average person living in the UK. Oh no.

But it is great for Ryo Ishikawa to be doing this, he says that it will help him do better, and I do agree, he isn’t just doing it for him anymore, each place, each birdie, helps him pocket that little more to help his home country through this tough time.

Go on Ishikawa, I hope you win everything this year.