by Catriona Mills

Live-blogging Eurovision: Semi-Final 2, 2009

Posted 16 May 2009 in by Catriona

While I’m waiting for the second semi-final to begin, I’m watching an SBS World News story on gorillas.

And being distracted—not in a good way—by the truly hideous outfit that the fashionista newsreader is wearing. What is that? Some kind of asymmetrical, rigid mesh vest over a heavily ruffled, collared, white blouse? Why?

Maybe it’s an homage to Eurovision?

I’m making sure I don’t start live-blogging too early this time, to avoid the strange rambling that preceded last night’s post.

Although I’m sure you’ll all be interested to know that now the weather is getting colder, my bad ankle—the one I landed on when I fell down the backstairs, and then never bothered to have treated—is really playing me up again.

Damn, I let myself become bored again, didn’t I?

But that’s all right, because now we’re back in Moscow for the second semi-final of Eurovision 2009, to find out who will be the last ten countries to go through to the finals.

Now, we’re starting with the national performances, but I have no chance of writing down the name of this group. Frankly, I’m a little distracted by the beards.

The clothes are fabulous, though—ack! And the giant babushka dolls!

And the fact they’re now playing ABBA on traditional Russian instruments.

Wait, now the babushka dolls are rotating, and showing images of merry-go-round horses. But, then, that’s not as strange as the women who’ve just come out on stage. Or, for that matter, as the fact that this performance is a medley of Eurovision songs.

And now there are bears dancing with each other.

Oooh, apparently they change the images on the babushka dolls by hitting them with sledgehammers! The staging really is lovely.

Did I mention the bears dancing with each other?

Oh, no. We have the same hosts as last night. I’m so sorry, guys: you are truly, truly terrible. Truly terrible.

For example: “Now, Natasha, I hope you have found common ground with the bears.” What? No, seriously: what does that mean?

But now we’re starting the performances!

CROATIA: “Liepa Tena.”
Oooh, one of them’s called Igor? Really? Cool.
Hmm, string instruments. And a man in disturbingly tight pants feeling up his back-up dancers.
Yep, this is Eurovision all right.
Well, now his back-up dancers are feeling themselves up, so there is that.
Nick points out that the women have flesh-toned microphone covers, so we’re hoping for a costume change.
Goodness knows it’s dull enough now.
Ah, and here’s the female singer the song is “featuring”—doing some kind of falsetto wailing while being stared at lasciviously by the male singer.
Am I being a bit harsh on Croatia? His voice is all right. But the song is frankly boring.
And no costume changes! Dammit, Eurovision!

IRELAND: “Et Cetera.”
Will this be better than Dustin the Turkey?
Ah, girl rock band. Girl rock band in insanely tight pants.
Seriously, insanely tight.
No, I’m sorry, Ireland. If I wanted to listen to this, I’d be listening to TodayFM. I doubt even Triple M would play this.
Fantastic staging, as always.
I’m still betting on my “dead billionaire” theory from last night.
Nick is bewildered by the fact that people buy deliberately laddered tights. I told him that that’s so fashionable right now it’s passe. I didn’t further break his heart by telling him they’re actually leggings.
Though he may not have my irrational hatred of leggings.
No, I know I didn’t talk about the song. But did you hear it?

LATVIA: “Probka.”
“Probka” means “traffic jam,” apparently.
I think someone just mailed the lead singer a complete set of The Young Ones DVDs. That’s the only explanation for his outfit.
Ah, vocal interlude. Fabulous.
This song is all over the place. Frenetic, now soft and . . . well, a little whingy, frankly.
And now we’re back to frenetic.
Does that guitarist on the left have his jeans rolled up to his knees?
At least it’s not in English.
Frankly, I hope this doesn’t get through. It’s giving me a headache and deja vu. Simultaneously.
Well, that was odd.

SERBIA: “Cipela.”
Hmm, “follicularly enhanced work,” eh?
And the shoes!
(NICK: They looks like Blackadder’s codpiece, the shoes!)
And the bride!
Oh, and the hair! The hair!
The afro is amazing enough, but what is going on with the accordian player’s hair? And his leather suit?
Oh, and now some random domestic violence! Fantastic!
Nick hopes these guys get through.
I do like the pixellated version of the lead singer’s face, I admit.
Oh, that poor bride! I don’t know what’s happening to her, but she seems quite affronted. I wish I spoke Serbian.
Yeah, I wouldn’t mind seeing them again.

POLAND: “I Don’t Wanna Leave.”
Oh, good start. Slow-motion people in white doing some kind of interpretive dance in the background.
And our first cape for the night! Admittedly, it’s an elbow cape, but it’s still a cape.
NICK: That top’s giving her quite asymmetrical cleavage.
Oh, Nick’s misbehaving tonight!
SINGER: It’s getting hard to breathe.
NICK: Certainly is, darling.
ME: Why?
NICK: I just . . . wanted to say it.
Key change!
The song itself is a standard Eurovision ballad. They’ll probably get through.
Nick’s singing the Aerosmith song from Armageddon, now. It is a little Steve Tyler towards the end.

NORWAY: “Fairytale.”
This guy looks like Brad Pitt? Oh, save me!
Oooh, high-kicking dancers! And a violin! And some drugs, I strongly suspect.
This is a bouncy little number. Has an oddly Romany feel to it, though I’m not sure what kind of Romany population there is in Norway.
I’m liking this, actually.
Except for the odd leap-frogging thing that’s happening in stage, now.
Well, the female back-up singers have turned up now, and Nick’s thoroughly in favour of this song making the finals. I hope they don’t have to lean forwards at any point.
Ooops, he broke his bow. It’s a good thing he’s not actually allowed to play that thing on stage.
But I’d like this to go through. I’m enjoying this one, especially the acrobatics on stage.
And fireworks! I’m a tart for fireworks.

CYPRUS: “Firefly.”
Right: I want spaceships. And space hookers. And Adam Baldwin. And Gina Torres. And a strangely inappropriate Western theme song.
I’ll be very disappointed, otherwise.
I think I’m going to be very disappointed.
NICK (singing): You can’t take my bra from me!
(Yes, I know. I’m thinking of muzzling him next year.)
Nick’s pointed out that the guitar part is very Coldplay. And we’re still waiting for someone to get kicked into a turbine.
NICK: You cannot muzzle me! I will not be silenced!
Is she wearing her rings backwards?
It’s . . . nice, I suppose. Some nice wavering in the vocals. Lovely stage sets. And she’s a beautiful girl.
But I just really don’t like Coldplay.
It’ll probably get through, though. She is terribly pretty. And they have those illuminated cube thingies, which are pretty awesome.

SLOVAKIA: “Let’ Tmou.”
This is a duet, is it? Hmm, in-jokes from the commentators.
Ah, that’s at least the second double-bass for this year’s Eurovision.
White grand piano! Do you think someone’s going to rise up out of that one, this year?
Gorgeous set. As always.
But—and I know this is unfashionable—the male singer, to me, looks as though he just shouted, “What do you mean I’m on stage in thirty seconds?!”
NICK: She’s going through notes no human should have to hear!
This is terribly overwrought, isn’t it? Both musically and emotionally.
I wish I knew enough about music to know if those are real notes, or not.
Remind me to drink out of plastic tomorrow night, if they get through.

DENMARK: “Believe Again.”
Ronan Keating helped write this song? Oh, please no.
What’s he sitting on?
Oh, no. We have boy band. I repeat: we have boy band.
You want to believe in love? I want to believe that this song will end soon. And also that the lead singer will one day be able to straighten his legs again.
And now he’s smirking at me!
NICK: It’s toe-tappingly terrible!
I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if this made it through, but I really, really don’t want to have to watch it again tomorrow night.
Ooh, fireworks!
Right, I’ve changed my mind.
I love fireworks.
And he didn’t quite make that last note.

Oh, dear: the hosts are back.

SLOVENIA: “Love Symphony.”
I’m worried about this song already—just based on the title.
Lovely, lovely staging once again. I’m partial to silhouettes on Eurovision.
Plus, I liked this song first time round, when ABBA performed it.
Wow, this is a long build up.
NICK: Is there an actual song?
The silhouette thing is getting a little old, actually, Do you think she’s coming out from behind that thing?
Nick’s waiting for Sutekh the Destroyer to turn up.
For the first time, the staging is completely (Ow! She didn’t make those notes!) overshadowing the performance.
Wind machine! Lovely!
Has anyone taken their kit off, yet?
That was terrible. That was terrible by Eurovision standards. Wow.

HUNGARY: “Dance With Me.”
What is happening with the back of of their skirts?!
Costume change! Finally!
NICK: Oh. Can they change it back, please?
Those trousers are . . . revealing.
SINGER: It’s written on your body as you’re putting up a fight.
That’s . . . really creepy, actually, singer.
As is your shirt.
NICK: He looks like he wishes he was the Irish contestant, actually. He has a kind of pervy leprechaun vibe.
The song itself—if you’re watching Eurovision for the songs—is pure 1980s’ disco.
Mate, you can wink at me all you like: I’m neither dancing with you nor making your body sway.

I loved, loved, loved Azerbaijan last year. I know there was some distaste for their performance, but it made my heart sing in a special way.
I’m betting this one won’t.
And turns out I’m wrong.
I love it already—just for the vaguely androgynous dancers in gold lame pants, purple chiffon, and corsets.
And I think we have a new contender for “shortest skirt of the competition.”
Nick’s right: this is the most purely Eurovision entry we’ve seen so far this year.
What is the female singer wearing on her knee?!
NICK: She’s got C3PO’s leg!
The song itself is rather boppy, though. It’s no Norway, but it’s not bad. And there’s some kind of steam machine behind the female lead singer—which is redundant, given she’s wearing a napkin.

GREECE: “This Is Our Night.”
Wonderful reveals? I feel a costume change coming on!
Why is everything so black and white this year?
NICK: Was that a Vulcan nerve pinch or a Tae Kwon Do move?
Ha! The leap off the stage is wonderful!
NICK: I’ve always thought Eurovision singer should be judged on the power of their thigh muscles rather than their singing.
Ack! And now he’s on a conveyor belt! Oh, I hope this guy gets through.
NICK: God bless you, Eurovision.
Key change!
This is pure Eurovision, too. Much, much better than last year’s Greek entry, which engendered homicidal fury in the ten-year-old boy I watched it with.

I’m starting to think no-one’s going to rise up out of a grand piano at all, this year.
Nick has named this singer “Twat-Hat Man.”
He really is a little sub-Freddy Mercury, isn’t he?
This is insanely dull. And perhaps a little creepy, judging from what little I can hear of the lyrics. There’s the odd little trilling effect to the chorus, which is rather sweet. But it’s too little, too late.
Ah, pefunctory key change. No point drinking for that one.
I’m not holding out much hope for Lithuania.
Did NOT see that coming.
NICK: I wonder if that was the rehearsal problem?

MOLDOVA: “Hore Din Moldova.”
Folk, eh? I’m hopeful already.
Ah, nice. I’m liking this already. Lovely, controlled, wavering vocals.
Cute, cute little costume.
Men in lovely national costumes doing kicky, twirly dances.
I like the kicky, twirly dances.
This is nice and bouncy—I’d like to see this go through.
And the stage set is one of the loveliest we’ve seen all competition, and that’s saying something. A stunning cross-stitch effect.
Right, Moldova are one of my new favourites.
Yep, “traditional but funky” about sums it up.

ALBANIA: “Carry Me In Your Dreams.”
Oh, dear. This is not starting well.
Nick thinks she’s Nikki Webster.
Pygmy. Vampire.
Bright green sequinned bondage gear.
Two pygmy vampires.
Break-dancing pygmy vampires.
And Nick and I are now convinced the sequinned bondage chap is only there to stop the singer from breaking her ankles in those heels.
Did I mention we have a winner for the shortest skirt in the competition?
And a wind machine.
I have no idea what the song is like. I haven’t heard a note.

UKRAINE: “Be My Valentine!”
Ah, unnecessary exclamation mark. I’m quite fond of unnecessary punctuation marks. In a kind of masochistic way.
What? The hell machine?
Oh. My. God.
Can’t blog. Laughing too hard.
Eyes up, cameraman! No, not that high!
NICK: Centurions! Battlestar Galactica style! But naked!
Still laughing too hard.
This is insane.
Strange bondage machines.
Strange bondage boots.
Now she’s riding one of the back-up dancers.
And now she’s drumming!
This is seriously (no other word for it) bat-shit crazy.
And I would say we had a new winner for shortest skirt, but that doesn’t even qualify as a skirt.
Words fail me.

ESTONIA: “Randajad.”
Oooh, nice trilling sound to this one. A little shrill, maybe.
I’m loving all the non-English songs this time.
John’s going to love this one—very, very Goth.
Well, we have a winner for lowest neckline.
Honestly, though: this has some lovely harmonies. There’s a nice rhythm to the lyrics. And the fact that I’m concentrating on the song should tell you how dull the staging is.
Wow, this is the Eurovision Of Violins.
Where are the fireworks? And the flamethrowers? And the wind machines? This is barely Eurovision, at all!

Oh, no. They’re talking to the audience. I hate that.
Ack! Disco-ball jacket!
“Love will make us glow in the dark”? I certainly hope not.
Wow, this is my primary-school song! “Let your light shine, let your light shine, let your light shine out for all to see!”
Well, close enough.
What on earth is that woman . . . playing? Does that qualify as playing? I can’t tell, because I don’t know what that is.
Hey, they’re actually disco-ball suits! Those must be uncomfortable to sit down in.
I really, really hope this doesn’t get through.
Key change!
Too little, too late, Netherlands. This is dull—and I don’t think you hit that last note, frankly.
Ha! And bitchy comment from the SBS commentator about how old they are.

Oh, dear: here are the Russian hosts, again. And the damn magic button again. Bring back last year, when they signalled the beginning of voting by hurling a basket of apples into the crowd.

MALE HOST: Are you ready?
FEMALE HOST: No, no, not yet.
NICK: Stop doing that to me, Andrey. You’re very unatttractive man.

And here we are with the recapping. Do you think we’ll get two sets of recaps again tonight?

Still seven minutes to vote: we’ve just recapped everyone, but I’m sure we’ll recap them again in a moment or two.

Actually, the painting montage was rather sweet. But what has the female presenter done to her hips?

And now we recap everyone again. I knew it! I knew it!

And now we’re back with hosts. But we still have thirty seconds to vote for our countries. If we’re in Europe. And have a time machine.

At least they’re counting right this time around, and not several seconds behind as they were last night.

These hosts are truly, truly terrible—but we have some sort of national performance, here. Apparently, they’re the “pride of Russia”—they seem to be a dance company. Honestly, I think Russia are doing a lovely job: the staging is brilliant and beautiful, and the national performances are fascinating.

(These are folk dancers from different nations, apparently.)

It’s just the hosts who are awful.

Ah, and the SBS commentators are being patronising again.

And now we have Greek folk dancing. According to Julia, you can’t not do it. I can, Julia. I assure you of that.

Now Russian folk dancing. Now, those are awfully pretty dresses. Yes, I am getting flashbacks to a couple of truly terrifying Russian fantasy movies (from the 1950s) that I’ve seen recently, but those dresses are so pretty. I would wear those to work.

The films weren’t deliberately terrifying, by the way. Have you ever seen old Russian fantasy films? Shudder.

Will we never run out of jokes about how old The Netherlands’ performers were?

We have to see these hosts again tomorrow night, don’t we? Oh, what a shame. But here we have the top five. Quick: stop Nick from grabbing the remote control this time!

FRANCE: As insanely dull as I remember. It is in French, but it’s still dull.
RUSSIA: As whingy as I remember it from last night. Maybe a little more angsty.
GERMANY: Did I say boppy yesterday? Did I add “slightly creepy”? And “unnecessarily retro”?
U.K.: Andrew Lloyd Webber? Kill me now. Please. But I hope we get more than zero points this time.
SPAIN: Typical vaguely disco Euro-pop.

And now we come to the results!

Wow! There’s more than one magic button? Kinky!

The results:
Azerbaijan! Well, I liked them. The androgynous dancers: we need more of them.
Croatia! Do you think it’s a coincidence that we saw a shot of them just before this result? They were a little waily and dull, for me.
UKRAINE! Oh, thank goodness. The naked centurions will be back.
Lithuania! The twat in the hat? Really? Wow. That was so, so dull.
Albania! Pygmy vampires? What is happening here?!
MOLDOVA! Well, we wanted them.
Denmark! Really? The boy band? I’m losing faith in your voting, Europe! Where’s Greece? And Norway?
Estonia! Dull, dull, dull. Greece now! And Norway! Okay, Europe?
NORWAY! Good. I liked this boy. He was sweet and peppy.
GREECE! Had to be. But I believe Julia when she says it’s not as random as they say it is.

Well, I’m quite happy with that. I didn’t want to watch The Netherlands again. Or (shudder) Hungary. Or Slovakia: so painful.

And that’s the live-blogging of Eurovision for 2009—at least as far as the Circulating Library is concerned. But we’ll do the semi-finals again next year. Of course we will! Where else will we find anthropomorphised bears and magic horses and such short, shirt skirts?

‘Til 2010, Eurovision!

Share your thoughts [30]


Wendy wrote at May 16, 09:51 am

too many changes latvia..and just notice thesneakers matching the tie


Kirsty wrote at May 16, 09:52 am

Well after reading about the first semi-final this morning, I’ve decided to follow you tonight. I don’t know how you manage the live-blogging with so many flashing lights and erratic camera movements to distract you…

The dancing bears were gold.


Wendy wrote at May 16, 09:55 am

ok if serbia don’t get through i’m going to be VERY disappointed


Wendy wrote at May 16, 09:59 am

poland very boring


Wendy wrote at May 16, 10:04 am

if he’s brad pitt i’m angelina jolie


Catriona wrote at May 16, 10:06 am

Poland are always boring, I think, Wendy. I seem to vaguely remember that from the coma they put me in last year.

And, yes, Kirsty: the dancing bears were full of win. Welcome to Eurovision! Have some anthropomorphised apex predators!


Kirsty wrote at May 16, 10:11 am

Cyprus is like a bad rock eisteddfod number.


Kirsty wrote at May 16, 10:15 am

That girl from Slovakia has damaged my ear drums.


Wendy wrote at May 16, 10:18 am

slovakia..they weren’t actual notes…they were shrieks


Kirsty wrote at May 16, 10:23 am

Ooh, those men from Slovenia are nice. I think they might be the first genuine smiles all competition. But is that girl ever ging to emerge from the shadows?

Ta dah!


Wendy wrote at May 16, 10:23 am

i have an irrational dislike of ott ramped up string quartets


Wendy wrote at May 16, 10:27 am

hungary too much dancing and plain revoltingness


Kirsty wrote at May 16, 10:28 am

No, I think Julia really did mean ‘Good-bye’ in a judge-like way.


Wendy wrote at May 16, 10:34 am

yes Kirsty me too.
Greece…power pop…aaagggh…


Kirsty wrote at May 16, 10:39 am

Well, Lithuania may be dressed like Justin Timberlake, but he ain’t bringin’ sexy back. Even with that spontaneous combustion act.


Wendy wrote at May 16, 10:42 am

loving moldova nearly as much as serbia


Kirsty wrote at May 16, 10:44 am

Agreed on Moldova.

This Albanian girl looks a lot like Nikki Webster circa 2000 complete with pink tutu.


Wendy wrote at May 16, 10:47 am

i though bjork swan dress actually


Kirsty wrote at May 16, 10:53 am

No, no, Ukraine has the shortest skirt now. I think there’s actually a panel missing at the front.


Kirsty wrote at May 16, 10:56 am

Or did her skirt just get caught up in her underwear after a visit to the bathroom?


Kirsty wrote at May 16, 10:58 am

I think Estonia might have entered the wrong competition. Too classy. Where are the writhing spandex clad dancers?


Kirsty wrote at May 16, 11:02 am

It’s a Christian Revivalist Group from the Netherlands, and somewhere along the road they picked up Divine.


Wendy wrote at May 16, 11:06 am

nick am crying with laughter at your beautiful summary of the ukraine.
yes estonia were too classy.

was that netherlands woman supposed to be “mixing” as in dj turntable? either that or selling icecreams at the movies?


Catriona wrote at May 16, 11:54 am

Thank you both for such assiduous commenting in addition to Twittering!

Was it just me, or was this much more fun than last night’s performances?


John wrote at May 16, 03:05 pm

Hey all. Sorry I missed the live blogging: we went to the musical again (final night).

But… Yay! Estonia!


Wendy wrote at May 16, 10:09 pm

welli’m very new to eurovision but this seemed much more “entertaining”


Catriona wrote at May 16, 11:19 pm

Oh, Estonia. So very dull—for Eurovision. Still, there are at least two countries this time that I actually like (in Portugal and Moldova) and one that I find so insane it’s hysterical (in Ukraine), so I’m all set for the final.

Wendy, we seem to have converted you to the Dark Side!


Wendy wrote at May 17, 05:44 am

oh indeed you have. I have never seen the attraction of eurovision before but now have seen the lights…and the fireworks…and the fire emerging from peoples’ hands…


Kirsty wrote at May 17, 10:14 am

I thought you were blogging tonight as well. You’re not?


Catriona wrote at May 17, 01:48 pm

No, I don’t tend to do the final—too tiring, three nights in a row! I could have had my Ph.D. written in a week if I written it at the speed I have to type these.

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