May, 2008

Winning the Eurovision Song Contest has become a highly debated topic. Fans and professionals from all over Europe and around the world discuss this event massively. I am constantly amazed to find out that serious reserachers like Oxford scientists and students make extensive research on Eurovision and publish papers on it. It seems like this European event plays a major role in the cultural life of the old continent.

Much discontent has been voiced over the televoting procesure, which was introduced just several years ago. In fact, the major changes came after 1993, when fresh former Yugoslav republics emerged on the political and Eurovision map. 2004 competition in Istanbul also saw many changes as more and more countries showed interest in the Contest. There was the need to centralise the event, which gave ground to the appearance of a centralised voting system.

Block voting, as it is called, could only appear with the new countries taking part in Eurovision. Many experiments, however, show that even if the results of the post-1993 countries (the participants who took part after 1993) are not taken into account, the final ranking will still be the same. According to Julian Vignoles from RTE, who made a so-called ‘pre – ’93 Experiment’:

Leaving out the votes of mainly Eastern ‘new countries’ who joined from the early 90’s, the 2007 result would have been:

  1. Serbia
  2. Ukraine
  3. Turkey
  4. Russia
  5. Bulgaria

instead of : Serbia, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, Bulgaria

So, what did it take for Russia to win this year? Even with the neighbour voting, this would have brought Dima Bilan only 72 points form the “kindest neighbours” – Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. This is a far cry from what got Russia to the top – 272 points coming from 36 countries. In fact, this is the number of countries supporting Russia last year as well. So, if it’s neigbour or diaspora voting, why does Ireland, Turkey, Norway, Andorra, and Spain gave Russia 5 points each. I don’t know many Russians living in Romania too, or in Serbia, Cyprus, or Montenegro for that matter. Greece also supported the winner with 7 points, just like Slovenia and Malta. Hungary voted for Russia as well, giving it second place (10 points).

Numbers can go on forever, and perhaps many Russians live all over Europe and click on their mobiles like mad during the televoting window. But many other nations do it as well. I don’t feel like discussing the quality of “Believe” or Bilan’s performance. Even if it were only for Plyuschenko that many people voted for, I, as a modest viewer, thought that if the Russian team brought these professionals on stage, then they respect the audience.

We are definitely about to experience a huge show in Moscow next year, don’t you think?

The European audience has just chosen its favourite 2008 Eurovision song – Belive!
He comes from Russia and this is his second participation in the Eurovision Song Contest.


Here is the top ten ranking:

  1. Russia
  2. Ukraine
  3. Greece
  4. Armenia
  5. Norway
  6. Serbia
  7. Turkey
  8. Azerbaijan
  9. Israel
  10. Bosnia & Herzegovina

After the slaughter of Dustin the Turkey, we are only left with 25 other potential winners.

Nine songs went on stage already and so far we’ve seen a great show. Croatia don’t make me particularly happy, but it’s a nice song, with nice lyrics. The granddan is still alive and kicking. Isis Gee from Poland is pretty mighty too. The Finnish heavy metal band Teräsbetoni seem to have negotiated successfully with the Finnish wireworks company and the stage during the performance of Missä Miehet Ratsastaa.

So, who’s gonna win? Journalists here at the Press center in Belgrade Sava Centre say it’ll be Portugal. My personal favourite is… I’ll let you know in a minute ;)

Enjoy the show

Here is the list of the 10 qulifiers from the Second Semi-Final.




  • Ukraine
  • Croatia
  • Albania
  • Iceland
  • Georgia
  • Denmark
  • Sweden
  • Latvia
  • Turkey
  • Portugal

The pressconference of the ten coutries qualifying from the First Semi-Final for the Final has just finished. Here is what they had to say, trilled with emotions 15 minutes after hearing the good news.

Kalomira was all too excited. In her typical girlish style, she found it difficult to say who is the biggest threat to her at the Final. “There are a lot of good songs and great performances in the SF2,” she said. Representing such a Eurovision-minded country like Greece is very hard, as a Greek journalist suggested. Kalomira’s answer was that the reason why she were so nervous was because of the people. GThe felt extremely grateful for the good energy from all the people holding flags in the hall and for the support from all the Greek people. Number for the final: 21

Niko and Vlad said that they are ready for a great success at the Final on 24 May. “We hope it will be a great success in the Final,” Vlad said. He admitted that the most important element in their performance that let them pass to the final was the connection between him and Niko. Whether it’s only on stage, it’s for you to decide. Number for the final: 1

Bosnia & Herzegovina
When asked how it feels being in the Final the eccentric Laka said that he is excited, because he had to pee. Laka revealed us a huge mystery in the life of artists, seems like. Number in final: 6

The Finnish hard-rock band confided that the fact that they have qualified for the Final means that still there are heavy-metal people in Europe. When asked what he thinks about the support of Sweden and Norway, expressed in various local media, the frontman of the band said: “We, Scandinavians should stick together.” Number in the final: 8

Dima Bilan was abvously very high after his victory. Excited and maybe a bit confused, Dima could not say many connected things. He expressed his hope that in the future, people should stay all happy, because music is magic. World figure-skating champion Evgeni Plushenko said that he was scared and excited to go on stage. And although he is a world champion, Eurovision is somethng completely different for him. Number in the final: 24

Boaz said that he was surprised that he qualified for the final. “I’m waiting for the real final, though,” he said, implying that the semi-final was just a warm-up for the real fight. Number in the final: 7

As freshmen in Eurovision, the representatives of Azerbaijan said that their good results are very important for their country. Number in the final: 20

Sirusho said that the last thing she was thinking before going on stage was her “beautiful country, the people I met during my tours. I was taking all the love with me on stage.” Number in the final: 5

Isis Gee expressed her hounour for being among the finalists. “…it takes tremendous courage to be an artist in this contest. It takes a lot of strength,” Isis said. Mrs. Gee said that she always project her emotions through her music, which is the most eternal blessing in the world. And that she is happy for all the steps she walked to get to the final. Number in the final: 10

Maria did extremelly well, and she got the well-deserved place in the final. A fascinating question was asked – how she felt waiting for nine envelopes to be opened until Norway found its place. “It was nerve-breaking,” Maria said with a lovely sense of humour. She expressed her gratitude to all the fans who were shouting all the time. Maria got a really lucky number in the final: 25

Tonight we enjoyed a magnificent show. The First Semi-Final was a blend of wonderful songs and performances. Only 10 survived out of the 19 participants.

Here is the list of the songs qualifying for the Final on 24 May:


  • Greece
  • Romania
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina
  • Finland
  • Russia
  • Israel
  • Azerbaijan
  • Armenia
  • Poland
  • Norway

During Azerbaidjan’s performance the stage exploded in pyrotechnics, and the red light enhanced the effect of dealing with the fight between good and bad. People in Belgrade say that the guys from Bacu are very likely not only to go through to the Final, but also win the Contest. If it depended on the money flows invested in promotion – for sure. Let’s see what you have to say.

Slovenia followed with a curious light show, which is far from contemporary, and it’s purpose is not known to me. Would you support Slovenia?

The LED screens during Norway’s performance are simply fantastic – Maria, you are simply the best!

Poland follows with a smooth step. I wonder if the European audiences will like Mrs. Isis Gee, or her American style, or her brown complexion, so much as to “give their love for her”.

The First semi-final for the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest has just kicked off. The hosts look amazing, the stage even more so.

First on stage comes Stefan Filipovi? from Montenegro with his Zauvijek Volim Te
What chances does he stand? With his simple show with four backing vocals, Stefan relies on strong voice and charming expression. His shirt, however, seems to contrast with his style.

Israel is just breath-taking. Boaz does know how to touch your heart. I guess he’ll manage to touch the hearts of most viewers.

Estonia with its parody is my least favourite, if it can be in the favourite list at all. Shut up, blokes.

The next to come are:

San Marino
Bosnia & Herzegovina

Semi-Final Predictions

Four amazing hours of Ukrainian party, and so many other participants performing during it: last night saw a massive Eurovision show at Euroclub, Sava Centre, Belgrade.

A show that we don’t get every day in Eurovision – this was last-night’s Ukrainian party within Eurovision 2008. Most delegations had come to the event marking it as one of the most significant nights withing the Contest.

Ani Lorak had invited the entrants of more than 10 other countries. On stage, we saw Sirusho (Armenia), Dima Bilan (Russia), Kalomira (Greece), Deep Zone (Bulgaria), Pirates of the Sea (Latvia), Boaz (Israel), Geta Burlacu (Moldova), Miodio (San Marino), Charlotte Perrelli (Sweden), Ruslan Alehno (Belarus), Morena (Malta), Diana Gurtskaya (Georgia), all coming out with mighty performances.

Special focuses of the night were Dana International, who wished good luck to Boaz, and most impressive last-year’s Ukrainina entrant Verka Serduchka. Verka gave a fantastic show singing 3 tracks, among them last-year’s cult hit “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” which reached position number 2 in the Final ranking, and two fresh hits. The new tracks follow the old path of her magesty Eurovision Queen’s art.

Ani sang her own interpretations of many world evergreens, such as Tina Turner’s “The Best”, Bon Jovi’s “My Life” to name but a few. The author of the lyrics of Shady Lady, the imminent composer Fillip Kirkorov attended the event, and supported on stage his newly-found hope, wishing her the best of luck.

Another fascinating moment was the presentation of a prototype instrument, which will be used by the Bulgarian entrants Deep Zone and DJ Balthazar. The Bulgarian band uses a Japanese Vesatax DJ guitar, which will be available on the market in not less than two years and promises to change the DJ image completely.

Seems like we are in for a terribly curious Eurovision year.

Now, I really have to add this after hours of fight: the net connection in my hotel is, unlike anything else in Belgrade, so impossibly bad, that you will have photo coverage of the event a bit later.

An ambitious Serbian project gathers six most beautiful Eurovision 2008 women for a special photo session.

Journalist Goran Iovanovic and photographer Zoran Ilic selected six most gourgeous ladies from Eurovision 2008 for a special photo session, which will be published in Alo daily newspaper, and Blitz Puls magazine. What’s so special about it, you might wonder. Well, something you don’t get every day is that the ladies wear nothing but the national flag of their country. Just like Marilyn Monroe with the US flag, back in the 40s.

The beauties, invited to participate in the project are Ani Lorak from Ukraine, Kalomira from Greece, Morena from Malta, Joanna from Bulgaria, Charlotte Perrelli from Sweden, and Isis Gee from Poland.

Asked how he decided to kick off this project, Goran said that he wouldn’t have missed this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, when tens of lovely ladies come to Belgrade. Goran promised to send over photos, so you will be able to enjoy them pretty soon. If you are too impatient, and are luckily in Belgrade, have a look at Monday’s issue of Alo.

Indeed, I’m not a very diligent blogger, and I feel even worse talking to the hundreds of serious writers who analyse Eurovision in the manner such a contest truely deserves. Part of my failure to contribute to the world of letters might be attributed to the 30 degrees of Serbian heat pouring over my head. Or simply to the fact that I’ve been busy visiting various parties. And there’s been a lot of parties so far, and this is just the beginning.

So, once you enter Belgrade, you can immediately feel the atmosphere of a festival city. Everything from the posters, through the billboards, to the T-shirts and smiles volunteers wear makes you feel grand. Perfect organisation is too weak a word to describe the way people here work. Belgrade, the venue, the people, the weather… all tick like a Swiss watch.

I’m not tempted to analyse any of the songs. They are all different – some more than others, but most of them are worth noting. There is of course the camp show, the brit-pop crazy guy, the theatrical performance, the variety theatre show, a pinch of Molene Rouche, some parody as usual. But I do hope that true art will jubilee this year (I’m not saying, for a change).

Every night parties rock the Euroclub in Sava Center and the Eurocafe. It does look like a confluence of people, music, cultures, ideas and energies. (Not all positive, I must admit.) The more you dig into Eurovision, the further you go, the more you want to know how it’s made!

You must have already taken a glimpse at the stage – it is simply GOURGEOUS. Once you get inside the Arena, and have a close look at it, you can’t help thinking that the idea could have been carried out in a better way, which should not underestimate the value of this facility. Seen on screen, however, everything changes into a brilliant fairy-tale. Director Sven Stojanovic has come up with fascinating concepts challinging the viewer with curious points of view. The light director, the graphic designer, the sound manager, the stage manager… I must be missing out someone, they all know all 43 songs, and sing along the tracks during rehearsals. I simply adore the way these people work.

Okay, it’s all about the songs and artists, isn’t it? Why, do I need to tell you anything, when you’ve already picked your favourite? Mind you, I’ll post some curious pieces of news in a couple of hours, but let me first take a short nap after a night of three amazing parties.