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Saturday, 26 May 2012

Eurovision 2012 - Baku (Azerbaijan) - the final

The results of Eurovision Song Contest for 2012

Sweden is FIRST with 372 points
Russia is SECOND with 259 points
Serbia is THIRD with 214 points
- a very convincing victory for Sweden; although I did not cast one of my votes for them, they were in fact amongst the 8 countries for whom I gave my top score of 7 3/4 - 8 (yes, it's an inexact vote - so sue me!).

Congratulations to Sweden on their win and see you next year in Stockholm. Here's the winning song:





Above is the summary of the results and below is my report on the whole evening
So, tonight is the night - the final of the Eurovision Song Contest for 2012! There are 26 contestants tonight, 20 qualifiers from the first and second semi-finals, plus the 'big 5' who pre-qualify for the final by virtue of their major financial support for the EBU and finally the winner of last year's contest and this year's host nation which also pre-qualifies for the final - the 6 nations in all that this applies to are high-lighted below.

The final will begin at 9pm (Spanish time - or 8pm in the UK) and runs for 3+ hours. The full order in which the entries will be performed is in the Eurovision website here and the page has links to view video-clips of all the competing entries.

I'll be updating the list below (in performance order) as the show progresses with my comments on each performance (updated comments for the 20 qualifiers from the semi-finals). Apart from having watched a video-clip of the United Kingdom entry once only, I had not seen any of the entries until the two semi-finals and still have not seen recordings of the entries for Azerbaijan, France, Germany, Italy and Spain and do not plan to watch them before the performances on Saturday evening so that the whole evening will be as 'fresh' as possible for me.

United Kingdom - Engelbert Humperdinck - Love Will Set You Free Pre-qualified for final.
A true professional and a star performer singing a nice ballad - should do pretty well in a fair world. It is so low-key and nice - a real and welcome contrast to some of the other efforts 'pyrotechnics'. Will I vote for this (I'm in Spain)? - more later.

Hungary - Compact Disco - Sound Of Our Hearts
[My reaction during 1st semi-final - Not a bad effort and lead singer has a good and powerful voice. Unusual song, but I rather like it - should easily get to final. Sung in English.]
Another very sound performance - should do well.

Albania - Rona Nishliu - Suus
[My reaction during 1st semi-final - A rather strange-looking lady, singing what is probably quite a dramatic ballad, but her voice is a little 'off'. If this makes the final then I know nothing (but we knew that already – ed.)]
Just as off-putting as I found it in the semi-finals - complete joke and nonsense. Why is this in the final?

Lithuania - Donny Montell - Love Is Blind
[My reaction during 2nd semi-final - Singing in glittery blindfold, referencing the song title is a very good-looking man with a really rather excellent voice singing a ballad in English. Now he's taken off the mask (he has lovely eyes) and is doing sexy hip-twists and thrusts and it has upped the beat - this is certainly worthy of getting to final and might do very well there. Only flaw is that his pronunciation of 'you' is rather strange. On balance I like, though.]
Another great performance - he is so good-looking and is performing the song very well again - even is pronunciation of 'you' isn't so strange.

Bosnia & Herzegovina - Maya Sar - Korake Ti Znam
[My reaction during 2nd semi-final - Long-haired pretty woman singing and playing piano singing in another language a rather nice ballad - she has a very good voice, so this deserves to do well and will certainly make the final.]
She is really nice and has an excellent voice - the ballad is very tuneful (assume the meaning is 'worthy') - I am liking this a lot as it's another performance (like the UK) which relies on talent, not 'glitter'.

Russia - Buranovskiye Babushki - Party For Everybody
[My reaction during 1st semi-final - Is this some kind of joke? Eccentric certainly! A catchy tune, but surely this is so bizarre it can't win? It might just make the final I suppose for laughs! But for me it's NO, NO, NO!!!]
This is even more awful than I recall from the semi-finals! This is a joke - and a poor one at that!

Iceland - Greta Salóme & Jónsi - Never Forget
[My reaction during 1st semi-final - A bit of a dirge of the 'dum-di-dum' rhythmic variety - not a winner, I think.]
Just as their economy is beginning to get back on its feet could it really afford a win? Not something they are likely to have to worry about with this effort. Mind you the performances are very good and all are nice-looking, it is just the song that is rather 'tedious'

Cyprus - Ivi Adamou - La La Love
[My reaction during 1st semi-final - A leggy brunette. Not a bad song and she has a good voice, but not as good as San Marino although it is a very worthy entry. Should get to final.]
A nice song and well-performed - she has a great voice. Should do pretty well. However they are competing against a strong field - let's see.

France - Anggun - Echo (You And I) Pre-qualified for final.
Acrobatics or singing? You decide. Singing in French (thank goodness!) an interesting song with a good beat to it - I quite like it and she has a strong voice. Hardly a winner though, I suspect.

Italy - Nina Zilli - L'Amore È Femmina (Out Of Love) Pre-qualified for final.
A glamorous woman and nice backing-group singing in English. A pretty good song and well-performed. Might do reasonably well I think - it's different from and better than the usual 'dross'.

Estonia - Ott Lepland - Kuula
[My reaction during 2nd semi-final - Very attractive male, with unfortunately a not-perfect voice singing a nice ballad in what is I take it Estonian. His beauty may get them through to the final, but I think this would be ill-deserved as his voice is just not up to it - a pity as I'd love to be more positive about this handsome man.]
Great-looking singer, but his voice is not particularly good. It's a pity for the song itself is quite nice. I don't think this should have reached final

Norway - Tooji - Stay
[My reaction during 2nd semi-final - Another rock effort from a very good-looking man with a very good voice and mixed-sex backing group. Has middle-eastern overtones (almost Turkish in parts). Should do well I think.]
Again a great performance - I learn from Graham Norton's commentary that he is born in Iran hence middle-eastern tone. He is so good-looking and this is a great song. A winner?

Azerbaijan - Sabina Babayeva - When The Music Dies Pre-qualified for final.
(Winner last year)
A slightly-weak start, but she seems to be getting into her stride. Singing in English - not a bad ballad and probably should do reasonably-well.

Romania - Mandinga - Zaleilah
[My reaction during 1st semi-final - Pretty woman singing a rubbish song (IMHO of course) - formulaic and boring with 'pseud' Romanian (presumably) rhythm. Not good.]
"Stet" - just as awful as I recall from the semi-finals. She is a beautiful woman with an OK voice, that's about all I can say about this.

Denmark - Soluna Samay - Should've Known Better
[My reaction during 1st semi-final - Not a bad tune and she is certainly pretty, but her voice is not tone-perfect. Possibly won't make final I suspect.]
Not a bad song but a bit of 'dirge' on balance. Her voice is a bit 'off' at times; she is very pretty though. Hardly a winner - but what do I know?

Greece - Eleftheria Eleftheriou - Aphrodisiac
[My reaction during 1st semi-final - Greece may be on the ropes financially, but this is a 'sexy' song - who will pay for next yera's show if they win? ;) It's quite amusing actually and will probably get to the final.]
Another great performance. What WILL they do if they win?

Sweden - Loreen - Euphoria
[My reaction during 2nd semi-final - Long dark-haired beauty singing in English a very lively song, quite dramatic - she has a very good and powerful voice and this certainly deserves to be in final and will, I think, do well there. Lots of echo-chamber effects. Archetypal Eurovision material.]
This really is very good - it's rather catchy and I like the syncopation. She has a great voice and is putting in a good performance.

Turkey - Can Bonomo - Love Me Back
[My reaction during 2nd semi-final - Modern song with Turkish overtones sung in English and Turkish, very amusingly and wittily. It's quite a lively song and I rather like it and it's certainly not your usual Euro-pop, which is a nice change. Deserves a place in final.]
I rather like this - whilst I don't think it will win, if it did I wouldn't mind at all.

Spain - Pastora Soler - Quédate Conmigo (Stay With Me) Pre-qualified for final.
She has a lovely voice - powerful and true - and is rather striking-looking. Starting as a nice ballad which I'm rather liking. How will next year's show be paid for if they win? Really this is pretty good though and should do fairly well, I think.

Germany - Roman Lob - Standing Still Pre-qualified for final.
A nice ballad sung in English (Graham Norton tells us it is written by Jamie Cullum amongst others) - he is putting in a nice performance and this should do pretty well - he has a good voice and ain't bad-looking either. Yes, this is pretty decent stuff and should do well.

Malta - Kurt Calleja - This Is The Night
[My reaction during 2nd semi-final - My Twitter seems to be down. A good-looking male singer and a his backing-group are all equally good-looking. It's a lively boppy tune sung in English (of course) and is pretty good and he has a decent voice - should certainly get to the final, I think.]
Another good performance - should do pretty well.

F.Y.R. Macedonia - Kaliopi - Crno I Belo
[My reaction during 2nd semi-final - Black trouser-clad (the clothes, not the singer) dramatic-looking female singing what appears to be a feisty ballad which is perfectly tuneful and may well get through to final, not quite as good as Serbian effort on my reckoning, though.]
Deserved its place in final and will probably do quite well, but I suspect not a winner - but voting patterns may make that comment look foolish a little later, if past form is anything to go by.

Ireland - Jedward - Waterline
[My reaction during 1st semi-final - I find Jedward completely awful, usually, but despite myself this ain't half bad - in fact it is pretty good, it is fast-paced, lively and of course their choreography is very good and their singing is pretty good too - could easily do rather well.]
Another very sound performance of this catchy 'europop' effort - could this win and how would the country pay for next year's show?

Serbia - Željko Joksimović - Nije Ljubav Stvar
[My reaction during 2nd semi-final - Polished semi-classical instrumental introduction for the good-looking male singer who has a lovely voice and the ballad (although I don't understand it) is lovely - should certainly make it to final.]
I'm still liking this - perhaps not a winner, but still very good and he is still VERY 'easy on the eye'.

Ukraine - Gaitana - Be My Guest
[My reaction during 2nd semi-final - Female with flowers in her hair - lively song which I find AWFUL - it's not tuneless completely, but her voice is not perfect and she's just shouting a lot of it. Should not get to final, but probably will, with voting patterns in recent years.]
I still don't like this, but it is perhaps not quite so awful as I found it in the semi-finals. Her voice is really not good at some points. If this wins then I really do know nothing!

Moldova - Pasha Parfeny - Lăutar
[My reaction during 1st semi-final - A nice-looking fellow with a troupe of equally-attractive females singing in English quite catchy tune - and he has a decent voice. Could easily make final and if it does might do well there. Yes. it is quite a decent song and a good performance.]
Another good performance and I'm still liking this a lot. If this won I wouldn't be disappointed.

(23.10) I've voted now - rules say you can vote upto 10 times - I voted twice for UK, 3 times for Germany and once each for 3 others (Hungary, Norway, Moldova), 2 votes not used.

(23.35 - and so on)
I'm going to list the top vote (12 points) from each country (out of the 42 who vote) and for whom that vote was given:
1 Albania votes for Greece
2 Montenegro votes for Serbia
3 Romania votes for Moldova
4 Austria votes for Sweden
5 Ukraine votes for Azerbaijan
6 Belarus votes for Russia
7 Belgium votes for Sweden
8 Azerbaijan votes for Turkey
9 Malta votes for Azerbaijan
10 San Marino votes for Albania
11 France votes for Sweden
12 United Kingdom votes for Sweden
13 Turkey votes for Azerbaijan
14 Greece votes for Cyprus
15 Bosnia & Herzegovina votes for Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
16 Moldova votes for Romania
17 Bulgaria votes for Serbia
18 Switzerland votes for Albania
19 Slovenia votes for Serbia
20 Cyprus votes for Greece
21 Croatia votes for Serbia
22 Slovakia votes for Sweden
23 Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia votes for Albania
24 Netherlands votes for Sweden
25 Portugal votes for Spain
26 Iceland votes for Sweden
27Sweden votes for Cyprus
28 Norway votes for Sweden
29 Lithuania votes for Azerbaijan
30 Estonia votes for Sweden
31 Denmark votes for Sweden
32 Latvia votes for Sweden
33 Spain votes for Sweden
34 Finland votes for Sweden
35 Georgia votes for Lithuania
36 Italy votes for Albania
37 Serbia votes for Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
38 Germany votes for Sweden
39 Russia votes for Sweden
40 Hungary votes for Sweden
41 Israel votes for Sweden
42 Ireland votes for Sweden

(23.20)
The final tally of votes (top 3):
Sweden 372 points
Russia 259 points
Serbia 214 points


NB/ I shall also be 'tweeting' simultaneously my reaction to each of the performances in the final this evening - my Twitter feed is here. In case you are interested, you may read my blog articles on the first semi-final held on Tuesday 22nd May 2012 here and on the second semi-final held on Thursday 24th May 2012 here.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Eurovision 2012 - Baku (Azerbaijan) - second semi-final

(Please see UPDATES at end)

Tonight the second semi-final is being held and will comprise the next 18 competitors, singing in the following order (I'll update this post as each song is performed) and of these a further 10 will go forward to the final on Saturday, with the remaining 8 being eliminated from the contest:
1 Serbia - Željko Joksimović - Nije Ljubav Stvar Through
(21.07) Polished semi-classical instrumental introduction for the good-looking male singer who has a lovely voice and the ballad (although I don't understand it) is lovely - should certainly make it to final.

2 F.Y.R. Macedonia - Kaliopi - Crno I Belo Through
(21.12) Black trouser-clad (the clothes, not the singer) dramatic-looking female singing what appears to be a feisty ballad which is perfectly tuneful and may well get through to final, not quite as good as Serbian effort on my reckoning, though.

3 The Netherlands - Joan Franka - You And Me Eliminated
(21.16) Female singer dressed as Red-Indian 'squaw' - what is this all about. Perfectly nice song and she has a decent voice though. Might or might not get to final - who can tell?

4 Malta - Kurt Calleja - This Is The Night Through
(21.20) My Twitter seems to be down. A good0looking male singer and a his backing-group are all equally good-looking. It's a lively boppy tune sung in English (of course) and is pretty good and he has a decent voice - should certainly get to the final, I think.

5 Belarus - Litesound - We Are The Heroes Eliminated
(21.23) Rock song decently-enough sung (in English) although lead-vocalist's voice ain't perfect - a bit weak in places. Will most probably get to final, though, I should imagine.

6 Portugal - Filipa Sousa - Vida Minha Eliminated
(21.28) Pretty female lead-singer with female and male backing singers - nice ballad with decent instrumentals, sung in Portuguese. Unlikely to get through to final I suspect because it probably doesn't fit in with modern Eurovision. A pity really, but then it might just make it through,

7 Ukraine - Gaitana - Be My Guest Through
(21.33) Female with flowers in her hair - lively song which I find AWFUL - it's not tuneless completely, but her voice is not perfect and she's just shouting a lot of it. Should not get to final, but probably will, with voting patterns in recent years.

8 Bulgaria - Sofi Marinova - Love Unlimited Eliminated
My Twitter is very sporadic here in Spain, sigh. (21.37) Female singer in TIGHT cream leather/plastic(?) dress and similar thigh-length boots singing a very lively song, presumably in Bulgarian. I think it's awful, but it will probably do OK and get to final, although don't ask me to justify it, if it does.

9 Slovenia - Eva Boto - Verjamem Eliminated
(21.41) Pretty woman with long raven-hair singing a very nice tuneful ballad, thankfully not in English - will certainly get to final. A blond-haired beauty has just taken over for a few lines of the song with other equally-beautiful female supporting singers. Yes, this will certainly do well and surely must get to final.

10 Croatia - Nina Badrić - Nebo Eliminated
Abandoning Twitter for now as it ain't working here. (21.45) Dark auburn-haired beauty singing in another language quite a (so far) tuneful ballad with female backing singers and male dancers. It's become more 'dramatic' and strident. Not my taste, but may get to final I suppose.

11 Sweden - Loreen - Euphoria Through
(21.49) Long dark-haired beauty singing in English a very lively song, quite dramatic - she has a very good and powerful voice and this certainly deserves to be in final and will, I think, do well there. Lots of echo-chamber effects. Archetypal Eurovision material.

12 Georgia - Anri Jokhadze - I'm A Joker Eliminated
Twitter still down here. (21.53) A guy dressed like a monk in long red cloak with hood. Now we have female scantily-clad singers and he is now out of his cloak and is a blond good-looking slightly chubby fellow. It's a lively song, not entirely to my taste, but they are performing it well and it will probably get to final and may do OK there.

13 Turkey - Can Bonomo - Love Me Back Through
(21.57) Modern song with Turkish overtones sung in English and Turkish, very amusingly and wittily. It's quite a lively song and I rather like it and it's certainly not your usual Euro-pop, which is a nice change. Deserves a place in final.

14 Estonia - Ott Lepland - Kuula Through
(22.01) Very attractive male, with unfortunately a not-perfect voice singing a nice ballad in what is I take it Estonian. His beauty may get them through to the final, but I think this would be ill-deserved as his voice is just not up to it - a pity as I'd love to be more positive about this handsome man.

15 Slovakia - Max Jason Mai - Don't Close Your Eyes Eliminated
(22.07) Noisy rock-ballad, long blond-haired man in leather/jeans - very lively and he is certainly doing it justice. Not my taste of course, but will probably reach final, but I doubt it could win.

16 Norway - Tooji - Stay Through
(22.11) Another rock effort from a very good-looking man with a very good voice and mixed-sex backing group. Has middle-eastern overtones (almost Turkish in parts). Should do well I think.

17 Bosnia & Herzegovina - Maya Sar - Korake Ti Znam Through
(22.15) Long-haired pretty woman singing and playing piano singing in another language a rather nice ballad - she has a very good voice, so this deserves to do well and will certainly make the final.

18 Lithuania - Donny Montell - Love Is Blind Through
(22.19) Singing in glittery blindfold, referencing the song title is a very good-looking man with a really rather excellent voice singing a ballad in English. Now he's taken off the mask (he has lovely eyes) and is doing sexy hip-twists and thrusts and it has upped the beat - this is certainly worthy of getting to final and might do very well there. Only flaw is that is pronunciation of 'you' is rather strange. On balance I like, though.

(22.27) As I'm in Spain I can't vote tonight, but if was able to it would be a choice between Sweden, Norway, Bosnia & Herzegovina or Lithuania. Other worthy efforts by Serbia, Malta, Slovenia and Turkey. I think I'd probably have gone for Norway if I was able to vote.

- The contest this evening will again begin at 9pm (Spanish time - or 8pm in the UK) and runs for two hours.
- According to the Eurovision website page for the second semi-final, viewers in Spain will not be able to vote in this evening's semi-final (as viewers in Spain - such as me - were able to vote on Tuesday). However, viewers in the UK will be able to vote this evening.
- Once the results of this evening's semi-final are known I will add Through (to the final) or Eliminated to each entry.

To re-cap from my article about the first semi-final held on Tuesday 22nd May, the following 10 countries were voted through to the final this coming Saturday (re-arranged in alphabetical order) :
Albania
Cyprus
Denmark
Greece
Hungary
Iceland
Ireland
Moldova
Romania
Russia
- they will be joined in the final by the 5 countries which have pre-qualified automatically, the so-called "big 5" who pay most of the running costs (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom) and by last year's winner and this year's host nation (Azerbaijan) who together with those selected to go through this evening will comprise the 26 finalists.

UPDATE (23.10) I have now updated the article with all the results, showing the 10 countries which go Through to the final and the 8 countries which have been Eliminated. It was again an enjoyable evening and I shall look forward to the final on Saturday when we will in addition to the 20 so far selected from the two semi-finals see the 'big five' (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom) and last year's winner and this year's host, Azerbaijan. See you on Saturday!

2nd UPDATE (Saturday 26MAY2012 19.30 CET+1) My blog article on the final of this year's Eurovision Song Contest is here; it will be updated throughout the show later this evening as each entrant performs; I shall also be 'tweeting' simultaneously my reaction to each of the performances - my Twitter feed is here.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Eurovision 2012 - Baku (Azerbaijan) - first semi-final

(Please see UPDATES at end)

This year the Eurovision Song Contest will be held in Baku (Azerbaijan) as the Azerbaijani entry won last year's contest in Düsseldorf (Germany) with their song Running Scared:



- I didn't see the contest last year (the first time in many years, but I was out for dinner that evening I seem to recall), but it is quite easy to see why it won as it is a pretty good song and quite 'catchy'.

Tonight the first semi-final is being held and will comprise 18 competitors, singing in the following order (I'll update this post as each song is performed) and of these 10 will go forward to the final on Saturday, with the remaining 8 being eliminated from the contest:


1 Montenegro: Rambo Amadeus - Euro Neuro Eliminated
- (21.10) is this some kind of bad joke? A fat greasy-haired slovenly-dressed man? In fact the song is a sort of quirkjy 'rap' effort, that is not too bad, but I cannot possibly believe this could win - but what do I know?

2 Iceland: Greta Salóme & Jónsi - Never Forget Through
- (21.13) A bit of a dirge of the 'dum-di-dum' rhythmic variety - not a winner, I think.

3 Greece: Eleftheria Eleftheriou - Aphrodisiac Through
- (21.16) Greece may be on the ropes financially, but this is a 'sexy' song - who will pay for next yera's show if they win? ;) It's quite amusing actually and will probably get to the final.

4 Latvia: Anmary - Beautiful Song Eliminated
- (21.20) 5 "30-something" smartly-dressed ladies singing in English - a very tuneful ditty, bthat 20 or 30 years ago could have been a winner, but is too 'intelligent' I suspect for today's mindless pap. Could get to the final.

5 Albania: Rona Nishliu - Suus Through
- (21.23) A rather strange-looking lady, singing what is probably quite a dramatic ballad, but her voice is a little 'off'. If this makes the final then I know nothing (but we knew that already - ed.)

6 Romania: Mandinga - Zaleilah Through
- (21.29) Pretty woman singing a rubbish song (IMHO of course) - formulaic and boring with 'pseud' Romanian (presumably) rhythm. Not good.

7 Switzerland: Sinplus - Unbreakable Eliminated
- (21.34) dramatic start, from a not bad-looking fellow, but unfortunately he CANNOT sing - the worst kind of non-English speaker massacring English. Sorry, we won't be having the next contest in lovely Switzerland ;) Will this really make the final?

8 Belgium: Iris - Would You Eliminated
- (21.38) A pretty young thing singing in English - her voice is sadly not very strong, because it's not a bad tune, although she got better as she snag - perhaps nerves at beginning. Might get to the final, but absolutely not a winner.

9 Finland: Pernilla - När Jag Blundar Eliminated
- (21.41) Pretty re-head singing in Finnish, quite a nice ballad, sung in Finnish (presumably). In a fair world this might do quite well and probably deserves to get to the final if people can look beyond not understanding the words (unless you're in Finland, of course). A decent voice on her, too.

10 Israel: Izabo - Time Eliminated
- (21.46) A decidedly quirky song by a male (with guitar) and a female (on keyboard) - I rather like this and it should certainly get to the final - it's really catchy.

11 San Marino: Valentina Monetta - The Social Network Song (Oh Oh - Uh - Oh Oh) Eliminated
- (21.50) Golly this is good, it's a nice 'sexy' and boppy song with an attractive female lead singer. Certainly needs to be in the final - might even win?

12 Cyprus: Ivi Adamou - La La Love Through
- (21.54) A leggy brunette. Not a bad song and she has a good voice, but not as good as San Marino although it is a very worthy entry. Should get to final.

13 Denmark: Soluna Samay - Should've Known Better Through
- (21.57) Not a bad tune and she is certainly pretty, but her voice is not tone-perfect. Possibly won't make final I suspect.

14 Russia: Buranovskiye Babushki - Party For Everybody Through
- (22.01) Is this some kind of joke? Eccentric certainly! A catchy tune, but surely this is so bizarre it can't win? It might just make the final I suppose for laughs! But for me it's NO, NO, NO!!!

15 Hungary: Compact Disco - Sound Of Our Hearts Through
- (22.07) Not a bad effort and lead singer has a good and powerful voice. Unusual song, but I rather like it - should easily get to final. Sung in English.

16 Austria: Trackshittaz - Woki Mit Deim Popo Eliminated
- (22.10) A quirky sexy song sung in German, by an attractive if eccentric group. A sort of German rap effort and not bad at all - should get to final.

17 Moldova: Pasha Parfeny - Lăutar Through
- (22.14) A nice-looking fellow with a troupe of equally-attractive females singing in English quite catchy tune - and he has a decent voice. Could easily make final and if it does might do well there. Yes. it is quite a decent song and a good performance.

18 Ireland: Jedward - Waterline Through
- (22.18) I find Jedward completely awful, usually, but despite myself this ain't half bad - in fact it is pretty good, it is fast-paced, lively and of course their choreography is very good and their singing is pretty good too - could easily do rather well.

My vote this evening went to number 17 - Moldova - it's a good song, well-sung and the performers are polished and professional - easily deserves a place in the final in my opinion.

- The contest this evening will begin at 9pm (Spanish time - or 8pm in the UK) and runs for two hours.
- According to the Eurovision website page for the first semi-final, viewers in Spain will have an opportunity to vote in this evening's semi-final (but not in the second semi-final on Thursday)
- Once the results of this evening's semi-final are known I will add Through (to the final) or Eliminated to each entry.

UPDATE (23.05) I have now updated the article with all the results, showing the 10 countries which go Through to the final and the 8 countries which have been Eliminated. It was an enjoyable evening and I shall look forward to the second semi-final on Thursday even though [because I am in Spain] I won't have a vote. See you on Thursday!

2nd UPDATE (Friday 25MAY2012 08.40 CET+1) You can see my article on the second semi-final held on the evening of Thursday 24th May here.

3rd UPDATE (Saturday 26MAY2012 19.30 CET+1) My blog article on the final of this year's Eurovision Song Contest is here; it will be updated throughout the show later this evening as each entrant performs; I shall also be 'tweeting' simultaneously my reaction to each of the performances - my Twitter feed is here.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau - Obituary

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau has died aged 86 at his home in Berg, Bavaria (Germany). I grew up listening to the voice of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, sadly only in recordings as I never heard him perform live. He is best known for his performances of songs by Schubert although he was also a noted performer of works by J S Bach (who is, as long-time readers of my blog will know, my 'favourite' composer). There is an excellent full obituary in the Telegraph here and I limit myself to quoting its first two paragraphs, but the whole article is well worth reading:


Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau

28 May 1925 - 18 May 2012

"Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, who has died aged 86, had one of the most sublime baritone voices ever to grace the concert platform or opera house; he was also a towering musical intellect and a crucial cultural figure in the post-war reconstruction of Germany and its rehabilitation within the international community.

"The spiritual centre of Fischer-Dieskau’s endeavour was his singing of Schubert. He performed and recorded more than 400 of the composer’s songs, and his interpretations of the cycles Winterreise, Die schöne Müllerin and Schwanengesang with the English pianist Gerald Moore have become a benchmark by which all subsequent readings have been measured."




~ Rest In Peace ~

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
Der Lindenbaum Die Winterreise - Franz Schubert





Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
Ich Habe Genug (BWV 82) - Johann Sebastian Bach


Thursday, 17 May 2012

Blog lists - blogs which have been taken private

I have noticed a tendency recently for some blogs to be taken 'private' - in other words access to them has been restricted only to invited readers. Those who write these blogs have presumably taken this step for reasons of their own and I make no comment whatsoever about that. Whether I have asked for access and been granted it is however irrelevant in relation to the continuing appearance of such blogs in lists of blogs linked to from my little blog - in all cases where I become aware of a blog which is included in my blogrolls having been taken 'private' it will be removed from such lists here as my blog is, and will always remain [so far as I am concerned], viewable by anyone who cares to visit and read it and it is only logical that blogs I suggest others may like too, should actually be viewable by anyone who cares to try and do so. I will continue to monitor such 'private' blogs [where I can] and if and when they are restored to 'public' view I will consider reinstating them in my blogrolls here.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Graham's Dairies downgrades Nairn plant to distribution unit

(UPDATES - please see contrasting 'good news' story near end, plus a further later report about Graham's itself)

I wish I could write that the announcement that Graham's Dairies, based in Bridge of Allan in Perthshire, is to downgrade its Nairn dairy processing unit to a distribution centre only is any kind of surprise to me. Unfortunately it is not. In any case it is projected that 13 employees at Nairn will lose their jobs, reducing staffing levels there to 42.

As I wrote here in January of this year, its profits had been badly-dented in 2011 as a result of pressure on margins with the acquisition of new contracts to supply supermarkets - I described it then as perhaps a classic case of seeking growth in turnover by over-trading. Later in January I became aware that Glasgow-based Robert Wiseman Dairies had been acquired by Muller following its own poor economic results and simultaneously learned that Muller had cut the price it paid for milk from some suppliers.

The latest news about Graham's Dairies plans for its Nairn unit (until Setpember 2010 known as Claymore Dairies until its acquisition by Graham's Dairies) is not, I fear, the last we will hear of it. Supermarkets which are competing with each other to gain market share try to protect their own margins by squeezing their own suppliers, such as Muller and Graham's Dairies, and they in turn try to squeeze those further down the supply chain, in this case dairy farmers. As we now learn is already happening, from the first link above, the farmers supplying the Nairn unit are believed already to be receiving less in payment for their milk than those farmers who supply direct to the Bridge of Allan unit and it remains to be seen how the increased transport costs of trucking the raw milk to Bridge of Allan and back again to Nairn for distribution in the North as processed items will be factored into the costings - who will pay, in other words. I hope the optimistic projections from Graham's Dairies that innovation, marketing, new products and new contracts will not only increase sales, but allow it to maintain or improve its margins and thereby allow it to remain a viable concern.

1st UPDATE (Friday 11MAY2012 11.40 CET) I've just come across another item of business news in the Nairn area which is very happily a positive one - Asher's, the Nairn-based bakery business is to open a shop in Grantown-on-Spey, creating 5 jobs which will probably be part-time. According to company Director Ali Asher, its already-existing outlet in Aviemore (operating since 1998) means it already sends its distribution trucks to the area so supplying the new shop will be straightforward. It is expected the new shop will open toward the end of June, once the premises have been re-fitted and the new employees there will increase the company's workforce to 125.

2nd UPDATE (Saturday 2NOV2013 12.03 GMT) I posted a further article about Graham's on 31st October 2013, this time with much better news - please click here to go there now.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Prince Charles has a new job - weather forecaster

Well, I suppose if we ever have a[nother] revolution (see here) and finally dispense with our monarchical system of government (something I would much regret, for all sorts of reasons), then the Heir Apparent to the Throne, HRH The Prince of Wales (aka 'Prince Charles' or 'The Duke of Rothesay' whilst in Scotland, which is relevant to this story) should have no difficulty in finding alternative gainful employment as a television weather forecaster:



Prince Charles did his 'stint' as a weatherman during a visit to Pacific Quay in Glasgow, the headquarters of BBC Scotland. During his weather delivery, reference is made to a number of properties not usually mentioned in regular weather forecasts, but with specific 'Royal' connections:
- Dumfries House in Ayrshire houses an unique collection of Chippendale furniture and in 2007 was acquired alongwith its contents and adjoining land (about 2,000 acres) by a consortium of charities headed by Prince Charles, with the aim of keeping this historical jewel intact and accessible to the public;
- Balmoral [Castle] and its estate has, since 1848 when it was purchased by HM Queen Victoria, been the Scottish home of the British Royal Family;
- The Castle of Mey was purchased by the late Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in 1952 as a 'holiday home' following the death of her husband, King George VI, and she spent many summers and briefer periods at other times of the year here until her death in 2002. In 1966 She transferred ownership of the castle to the Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust and since Her death the Trust has opened the castle and grounds/gardens to visitors, except during a period of about two weeks at the end of July and the early part of August when Prince Charles and his wife (known in Scotland as the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay) spend a holiday there - his wife is perhaps better known outside Scotland as the Duchess of Cornwall, after another of Charles' titles, Duke of Cornwall, traditionally held by the [male] Heir to the British Throne from birth - very importantly the Duchy of Cornwall is a major land and property owner and provides an independent income to the Heir.

I think Prince Charles did a pretty good job overall, specially for a first effort. However it would be remiss of me not to mention that when I first saw a recording of his appearance as a weather forecaster I could not quite get out of my head the idea that He was conducting a very clever parody of Himself as portrayed by satirist Rory Bremner:



You decide!

Addendum: I've just discovered a lengthier recording of Prince Charles' weather forecasting exploits to which is appended the same forecast being read by his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall - and I have say she is pretty good, too. You can see it here

US President Obama 'comes out' in support of gay marriage

It is good to see US President Barack Obama finally affirm what have been thought to be his views on the issue of gay marriage (or his 'evolving' views) - that same sex couples should be able to get married. It has taken him some time to state this plainly, rather than couching his views in decidedly ambiguous language, but this is a sensitive issue in the US and in many other countries and of course it has certainly required some courage in a US Presidential Election year:



Here's a reasoned riposte to the recent passing, 2 days ago, of Constitutional 'Amendment 1' in the US State of North Carolina which outlaws any form of civil union other the marriage of one man to one woman, a very retrogressive step indeed. However, as this video-clip points out, North Carolina has 'form' when it comes to unpleasant legislation as it was only as a result of a Supreme Court ruling (the case of Loving v. Virginia) in 1967 that laws against inter-racial marriage were finally deemed unconstitutional and in North Carolina it was not until 1971 that the first legal mixed-race marriage took place:



One day soon I hope same-sex marriage will be allowed and uncontroversial in the US - and of course of more relevance to me in the UK, too.

PS/ I hope you find my little joke in the title of this article amusing.