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Eurovision Sofa: The Songs – E to I

Estonia   Ott Lepland                                                                                                  Estonia
   Kuula                                                                                                                    66/1
EstoniaEstonia have sent a very strong, and vocally brilliant, song to Eurovision, but it’s hard to see it make much of a large impact when it comes to the big moment. In a year full of ballads, the only real thing that stands out is it isn’t in English, and that it’s rather better than most of them.
My Verdict: It’s not a bad song, but another ballad loses my enthusiasm for it.
Europe’s Verdict: Another ‘touch and go’ qualifier, though I reckon it will make it.

Finland   Pernilla                                                                                                        Finland
   När Jag Blundar                                                                                                   125/1
FinlandCould someone wake me up when this is over. While I appreciate it’s efforts to be sung in Swedish, it’s just so tedious and never ending. And when you see the likes of Israel, San Marino, Cyprus, Denmark and Russia follow this, I can’t help but see this get lost in the first semi final. And it’s one of the few bad songs in the first semi final.
My Verdict: Dull, tedious, dire, sleep-inducing. It’s a no from me.
Europe’s Verdict: Will easily struggle, especially with such a strong second half following her.

France   Anggun                                                                                                          France
   Echo (You and I)                                                                                                  100/1
FranceFrance tried to go big, and they kind of did, going with Anggun who is (or was) massive around Europe. However, it sounds like it could appear in a Mario Kart game, a 80’s disco and a GCSE French revision pack all at the same time, and that combination isn’t fantastic. And her vocals, well, I don’t think she was too chuffed to hear that she couldn’t mime at Eurovision.
My Verdict: France will get it right one year, simply not this year.
Europe’s Verdict: Won’t inspire anyone and will be in a battle with Spain for lowest of the top 5.

Georgia   Anri Jokhadze                                                                                              Georgia
   I’m a Joker                                                                                                          200/1
GeorgiaAs one of the two real ‘insane’ entries to this years Eurovision, I could certainly live with listening to this than whatever the hell Montenegro sent. But it really isn’t all that good to attract the televoters, his voice is surprisingly good and probably wasted on this song. However, put up a good show, which it no doubt will, could pull of a shock result.
My Verdict: While more enjoyable to listen to than Montenegro, I couldn’t put up with it very often.
Europe’s Verdict: Many expect it to make no impact, although a strong stage presence and I think this could sneak into 10th.

Germany   Roman Lob                                                                                               Germany
   Standing Still                                                                                                        22/1
Germany Germany have turned over a new leaf, and now can’t seem to stop sending very good songs. And, well, Jamie Cullum co-wrote it! How can you not love it? Roman Lob is clearly a talented singer, sought out in the same way as Lena, and the song itself is just fantastic. Well done Germany, good going.
My Verdict: Love it. Really couldn’t have picked a better song to suit me, at least.
Europe’s Verdict: Could easily get top 5, but I have my doubts on a push for victory.

Greece   Eleftheria Eleftheriou                                                                                  Greece
   Aphrodisiac                                                                                                           33/1
GreeceWell who’d have thought it, Greece have went out and done a Greece. Here, ladies and gentlemen, is your standard, typical pop number which is nothing new nor special. But, it works well for Greece so they might as well keep pumping them out, and it will no doubt work again in 2012. Assisted, no doubt, with very little clothing on the part of Eleftheria. Well times are tough in Greece, aren’t they.
My Verdict: I’m largely indifferent to this one, could stand three minutes of it, at least.
Europe’s Verdict: Being Greece, it’ll do well, but might only just edge into the top 10.

Hungary   Compact Disco                                                                                           Hungary
   Sound of Our Hearts                                                                                           100/1
I was highly sceptical of the live performance, the vocals seemed weak, and things just didn’t seem to click for Compact Disco. But since then I’ve grown to really like the song, granted the studio version. With any luck the vocals will have improved by the time we get to Baku, otherwise the quality of the national final will see it end in disaster.
My Verdict: The song is enjoyable enough, the live performance will have to step it up a gear to be good though.
Europe’s Verdict: On the borderline to qualify, I keep going back to the vocals of the lead singer, but it’s going to be the difference.

Iceland   Greta Salóme & Jónsi                                                                                  Iceland
   Never Forget                                                                                                        18/1
IcelandWow. As things go, this is pretty much the best. I’d normally contest the move from Icelandic to English, but, it’s still powerful, still stunning. It’s magnificent. 
My Verdict: Best song at Eurovision this year. 
Europe’s Verdict: They did get a rough draw in the semi-final, but it shouldn’t be an issue. The song is good enough to challenge for the victory. I reckon Iceland must look lovely in May.

Ireland   Jedward                                                                                                        Ireland
   Waterline                                                                                                              20/1
IrelandI was scared when Jedward announced their intention to compete again. We all knew they’d walk the Irish finals (which they did), and I feared that it would be second time lucky for the really annoying duo. But, Waterline, is thankfully a song so unsuited to Jedward it’s great for the rest of us. It lacks the ability for them to jump up and down, and is rather muted for a Jedward song. While they may have more support from the central European teenage girls, I doubt it will be anywhere near enough to compete with the top half.
My Verdict: A poor song performed by the wrong people, what’s to like?
Europe’s Verdict: Should qualify from a strong starting position, will be lucky if it gets any serious points aside from the UK.

Israel   Izabo                                                                                                                Israel
   Time                                                                                                                   150/1
IsraelI can’t believe this is so far out, I absolutely love this song. It’s quirky, with a unique sound that really stands out amongst the field. I really want to see this one do well, and I live in hope that it will.
My Verdict: Fantastic song, I can listen to it all day.
Europe’s Verdict: Sadly, most others seem less keen than I. But, what do they know? (A lot, is the answer). It’s ‘on the bubble’ to qualify, but could do surprisingly well. With luck.

Italy   Nina Zilli                                                                                                             Italy
   L’Amore È Femmina (Out of Love)                                                                          9/1
ItalyNo one saw Italy finishing second last year, this year, Italy could well be disappointed to only finish second. They won’t bother with the rubbish pop that’s flung out by Cyprus and Greece, but they bring a classy, well sung and frankly brilliant song to the table. It’s a shame she drifts from Italian to English, especially as the all-Italian version is pretty much perfect.
My Verdict: Comes a close second to Iceland for me in terms of brilliance. If only it was all-Italian. 
Europe’s Verdict: Pretty much a certain top 5, and will be looking for the win.


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

The Second French Revolution

I’d like you to go to that part of the brain you have padlocked shut, hidden the key to the door somewhere you have forgot about and basically have a ten mile exclusion zone around it. Inside contains all those things you have decided to forget about, all those things you don’t want to remember, they are just too awful.

Come on then, I’ll give you time to find that key, its time to go in. Just be careful, I only want you to go to the bit which stores the 2010 World Cup.

There? Good, just be careful, some bad memories will come flooding back to you. Oooh, the 4-1 is there, the Rob Green howler, you can remember that again. Can’t you? I’m sorry.

But the reason for this rather strange and possibly pointless exercise is that I want to talk about France. And you thought England had a bad World Cup, it seems good, in fact I’m pretty sure that 4-1 against Germany still looks good against France. Hey, we won a game at least.

France got one point. In that drab and horribly dull game against Uruguay on the opening day. And then the capitulations against Mexico and South Africa.

It wasn’t the performances though that made the headlines. The spectacular internal implosion got everyone talking, from Anelka to the fitness coach chucking away his pass in front of, well, the whole of the international press and their cameras.

And the man who ended up with full responsibility was Raymond Domenech. The astrological lover who only four years early took his nation to the final of the World Cup.

How times change. And it really shouldn’t have come as a surprise. They did set precedent by finishing last of their (albeit difficult) group in the 2008 European Championships (behind the Netherlands, Italy and er, Romania). And then only got into the finals themselves because of the hand of Henry.

Out went Domenech, fair to say no one was really saddened by this decision.

In came Laurent Blanc, the ex-Barcelona, Internazional and Manchester United (to name a few) defender. He brought to the table three years of managerial experience in the French top flight, Ligue 1, with Bordeaux. He was the first manager since 2001 to break the Lyon stranglehold on the league, winning the Ligue 1 Manager of the Year in the process.

Not bad for a young manager.

His first job for France was to punish all 23 members of the World Cup squad. None of them would be present in his first international match, a friendly against Norway. They lost 2-1 but a precedent was set by Blanc, he was boss.

And its shown well in his spell so far, which has included wins against England (2-1 at Wembley) and Brazil (1-0 at Stade de France). France are getting back to their successful selves, like the team Blanc won the World Cup with back in 1998.

Of course it would be silly to suggest the European Championships in 2012 are nailed on certainties for France. There are still a lot of good teams in Europe, Spain will still have many of the top class players which won them the last Euros in 2008 and of course the World Cup, Germany have talented youngsters which served them well in South Africa and the Netherlands should never be discredited, even if their tactics these days aren’t as good as they used to be.

But Blanc has tried to make improvements, shift the dead wood, actually care about the national team and prove himself to be a capable manager who can take care of the players and manage them suitably.

To compare the changes, below I’ve listed the last game in charge for Domenech (South Africa at the World Cup) and the latest game for Blanc (Brazil in a friendly on Wednesday).

v South Africa (22/06/10) v Brazil (09/02/11)
Lloris (GK) Lloris (GK)
Sagna Sagna
Gallas Mexes
Squillaci Rami
Clichy Abidal
Diarra Malouda
Diaby M’Vila
Gignac Diarra
Gourcuff Benzema
Ribery Menez
Cisse Gourcuff

Only four members have remained. The talented keeper in Hugo Lloris (who was about the only player not to disgrace himself at the World Cup), as well as Bacary Sagna, Alou Diarra and Yoann Gourcuff. And its worked, Brazil’s team consisted the likes of David Luiz, Robinho and Alexandre Pato, all players who are world class. Even if it is only a friendly, the signs are promising.

I watched the France v Brazil match on ESPN instead of watching England, and despite me regretting the decision because for once it seemed the England match was a better spectacle, I could see France were getting much better. The goal consisted of a superb run from Jeremy Menez, who crossed the ball in for a Karim Benzema tap in.

Those two players show the quality France has available, from the reliable Lloris to the skilful Gourcuff, it has its talent. And I do believe Blanc is the right man to guide them forward, back up the rankings, back to the best they can do.

It’s too early to say for certain is Laurent Blanc is the genius I’m making him out to be, but why not? Top of their qualification group, Euro 2012 on the cards.

And no more Domenech.

The French Disconnection

June 18, 2010 - 06051041 date 18 06 2010 Copyright imago Panoramic Foot cm 2010 France Mexique Dos Santos Barreda Hernandez Abidal n LeGouic FEP Panoramic PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxFRAxITAxBEL Football men World Cup National team international match Polokwane Action shot Vdig xkg 2010 horizontal premiumd.

I’m depressed. Having watched my national football side look more like a mid-table team in League 2, and struggle towards helpless draws against the USA and Algeria, and face possible elimination if a win isn’t reached against Slovenia next Wednesday. It is bleak times.

Then, I think to my self. Thank god I don’t support France.

A team in disharmony. Struggling to provide performances worthy of a 2006 World Cup finalist and 1998 winners. Looking into the French team is like looking into a soap opera. Everywhere you look, there have been arguments, disagreements, obscure decisions and generally shocking and woeful football being played.

The latest drama revolves around the man who has started up front, by himself, for both games, Nicolas Anelka. What he has reportadly said cannot be repeated on this family friendly blog, but I will link to it, just for those who want to get more of an idea. It is looking likely that he will be sent home in ‘disgrace’, not allowed to take part in any further part of this tournament.

That will probably be just the one game, the way France have been playing.

No wins in international cup competitions since the legendary Zinedine Zidane retired. Overall, they have played five, drawn two and lost three. In Euro 2008 they finished bottom of the Group of Death. That also includes finishing behind Romania and a 4-1 defeat to the Netherlands.

The World Cup qualifying was no better, in the group stages they lost to Austria and struggled to beat the Faroe Islands. They finished second to Serbia and only qualified because of a certain moment in Paris. Involving the Irish, Thierry Henry and a hand. I think we all know what happened there.

Warm up matches are similarily unimpressive, they lost to China for example. And two games into the World Cup, they have yet to win a game and yet to even score a goal. They haven’t even looked like scoring a goal either. They look disjointed, not as a unit. They have some top quality players, Patrice Evra, Franck Ribery, Florent Malouda. Some brilliant players, but they do not work as a team at all. It is an average French time as a result of it.

And it all lies down to one man, a man who was told even before the World Cup that he was going to be replaced by Laurent Blanc. A manager who has at least managed to win something in his time at Bordeaux. Raymond Domenech is a manager that hardly anyone understands, strange decisions and yet somehow still took France to the World Cup Final in 2006.

Domenech took over in 2004 when Jaques Santini left to become Tottenham Hotspur manager, to the surprise of just about everyone. His critics have been proved right. Even in the group stages back in 2006 France drew two games, and only beat a Togo team who had tried to go on strike during the middle of the tournament. He has won 52.4% of matches, which is the worst of any French manager since the spell of Henri Michel between 1984 and 1988.

The team don’t like him, he has played people in positions that they do not like. He has reportadly been in arguments with Florent Malouda and now Nicolas Anelka. He has no control of the team, Domenech isn’t any good as manager.

Which will come to the relief of the many French football fans that he is leaving at the end of the World Cup (22nd June to be more precise). Laurent Blanc, the manager of Bordeaux who became the first manager to break the Lyon dominance of Ligue 1 in France. Blanc has won the European Championships and the World Cup for France. The future is bright for them at least.

No matter what, it will be another poor year for the French national team. Another year where a team of potential stars have failed to live up to any expectations, another year that the can’t reach the knockout stages. The future is bright, it just isn’t here now.