by Catriona Mills

Articles in “Television”

Live-blogging Eurovision: Semi-Final 2, 2011

Posted 14 May 2011 in by Catriona

Reminder: the Doctor Who live-blog for “Curse of the Black Spot” will be posted immediately after I finish live-blogging this semi-final, not after Doctor Who finishes airing.

This live-blogging brought to you by my abject failure to meet today’s marking quota.

Also brandy and lemonade.

Once again, Nick will be moderating the comments while I sit over here and bitch about the performers.

I like Julia’s dress! It’s tres funky.

I hope someone punches that male co-host properly this time.

I love the way they recognise the patriotism and the voting blocs. Just vote now! You don’t need to wait for the end or even until your country has performed! Vote! Vote like the wind!

BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA: “Love in Rewind”, Merlin
Now, why are we mocking this man’s age when we could be mocking his yodelling?
Nick’s loving the guitar, but I’m actually a bit attracted this this song. It’s boppy and Euro-flavoured without being cloying. Just the way I like my Eurovision.
Also, I’d like to see more of the backdrop, because what I can see is intriguing.
I actually don’t hate this.
I know: I’m as surprised as you are.
We liked that. We’re voting for that, only not really.

AUSTRIA: “The Secret is Love”, Nadine Beiler
I’m automatically biased against anyone who just has themselves on stage.
Purely on the grounds that they’re less likely to have women rise out of grand pianos, or maybe ice skaters.
Disney lite, this.
But excellent legs, as always.
And “Disney lite” is a pretty damning inditement, given how light Disney itself always is.
NICK: I’m a bit worried about her eye shadow. From that angle, she looks like a Silent. So if we look away, we won’t remember what she’s singing.
ME: Let’s look away!
Key change!
Oooh, did she hit that?

Oh, whoa.
That hair should have a public health warning attached to it.
NICK: It’s times like this I’m pleased I’m bald.
I’m having terrible flashbacks to early high school. I swear I heard this exact song in 1989.
But I did my maths homework! The dog ate it!
I’m simultaneously bored and traumatised.

BELGIUM: “With Love Baby”, Witloof Bay
Wow, I’m bopping along to a song for the second time tonight!
NICK: He’s doing a bass line too! Crazy bastard!
The worst thing I can say about this is that the suits are truly, truly terrible. So is the hair, actually.
But the beatboxing is brilliant.
Two beatboxers! Okay, I’m loving these guys. I won’t remember the song in five minutes, but I’m loving them right now.
NICK: Bravo! I think the problem is that the presentation is hideous.

SLOVAKIA: “I’m Still Alive”, Twiins
So, they’re twins, right?
Hideous dresses, excellent legs.
Legs are to this year’s Eurovision what hair was to last year’s Eurovision.
NICK: They’ve got capes. Capes and boobs.
This seems a bit nasal to me, but then I know nothing about music.
Also? I really hate the modern fashion for Madonna partings and slicked-down hair.
NICK: I said capes and cleavage! Not capes and boobs! You’ll have to correct that!
We’re totally underwhelmed by this song. Even the fireworks aren’t winning us over.

You know what’s great? Brandy. Brandy and lemonade. I need more brandy!

Also? I’m been marking since 9 am. Hooray!

I want to go to tilt-shift Germany!

UKRAINE: “Angel”, Mika Newton
Ooh, sand painting!
I’ll be honest: I’m more interested in the sand painting her than in the song. The song is dull. The sand painting is incredible.
Nick’s digging the Cruella de Ville look on the sand painter.
I hope they get through so that I can watch the sand painting properly without having to type at the same time.
Seriously, how does she bring those subtleties of light and shade with just sand?
I paid no attention to the song at all.

MOLDOVA: “So Lucky”, Zdob si Zdub
I have no attention if I got that name right.
Wow, what’s with the wizard hats?
Is this actually happening, or is it a brandy hallucination?
There’s a unicycle.
This is definitely a brandy hallucination.
NICK: That girl on the unicycle looks a bit like Lucy Lawless. So I approve.
I would like this go through. We need psychotic gnomes in Eurovision.
That was insane.

SWEDEN: “Popular”, Eric Saade
We need that Viking to sing.
I would never have guessed he used to be in a boy band.
NICK: He’s got one glove! Oh my god: Dr Claw!
Well, it’s energetic.
NICK: This is well-aged Euro-cheese.
As Nick points out, it is good choreography, but the white sneakers are distracting.
Is that one dancer wearing braces but no shirt?
Now that would have been the perfect place for a key change.
NICK: I’m holding out for a key change!
Wait, was that a key change? Or even two key changes?

CYPRUS: “No chance I was going to catch that”, Christos Mylordos
Nick’s still singing the Swedish entry.
We’re pre-disposed in this entry’s favour, because they’re Cypriot Goths.
I ca’t even repeat what Nick just said about the set dressing.
Are they on wires? Or are they on foot wires?
NICK: It must be those foot braces. Like Michael Jackson used to use.
ME: No, he did not!
Wow. Ball-and-chain swinging.
This is a bit lacking in energy, but I really want them to go through anyway.

BULGARIA: “Na Inat”, Poli Genova
ME: Heidelberg!
NICK: Yeah.
ME: That’s where Hamlet was studying! That’s how old that university is!
I mean, I love my campus, but Hamlet never studied there.
Why don’t I remember Poland? Have they performed?
What? Bulgaria? Well, it’s not Great Uncle Bulgaria, that’s for sure.
NICK: Watching this making me realise how good Pink is at what she does. And I don’t even necessarily mean that sarcastically.
Nope, flames can’t save this. It’ll probably get through, though.

FYR MACEDONIA: “Russinka”, I’m sorry: I missed that
Ack! Underwater elephant!
NICK: Who’s he trying to gun down with that Telecaster?
ME: Capital T for Telecaster?
NICK: T-e-l-e-c-a-s-t-e-r.
ME: I know how to spell it. I just don’t know if it’s a proper noun.
This is not winning me over.
NICK: This is better than the last seven James Bond themes. Which it’s channeling.
Bored out of my skull.
Nope. Even an accordion can’t win me over.
NICK: Accordion and megaphone! Two most annoying things in the universe! In one song!

ISRAEL: “Ding Dong”, Dana International
Ding Dong?
Ding Dong?
That dress is incredible. I mean, it’s ugly. But incredible.
Her biceps are fantastic. Aren’t they?
Key change!
NICK: It’s a musical education. Before Eurovision, I wouldn’t have been so confident identifying a key change.

SLOVENIA: “No One”, Maja Keuc
Another power ballad? Oh no!
How can she even move in that dress?
Of course, she’s not moving much.
I read somewhere today that women over 35 shouldn’t wear knee-high boots. Screw that. But thigh-high boots are another issue.
This song is so boring I think it gave me cancer.

ROMANIA: “Change”, Hotel FM
NICK: You’re as cooold as ice!
NICK: Back-up singers are crying out for a costume change.
I think I once heard this in a hotel elevator. In 1986.
Then we decided we didn’t hate it.
NICK: I like the Han Solo vest.
ME: It’s tartan!
NICK: Really?
ME: On the back!
NICK: Well, Han Solo never had that.
I am bopping to this. But I am tipsy.
Aw, it’s just so cute. I can’t hate this.
Am I out of booze already?

ME: I know I come across as a drunken slapper in these.
NICK: No, you don’t.
ME: I try my best.

I will really cranky when SBS went commercial. Now I’m just deeply grateful for the toilet breaks.

I always figured that Jedward was what Bella Swan would name her child if she’d had a son.

Wow, lips on her chest. Subtle. Subtle.

ESTONIA: “Rockefeller Street, Getter Jaani
I may have mis-spelt the singer’s name there.
Again with the same hair! The centre part and the slicked-down hair! What is with this?
Did she just sing 1-2-7-3? She did!
I’m assuming that’s an address? Or a bus number?
Why am I over-interpreting this?
NICK: I once played a game of Sim City that was a bit like this. But I think I was on cold medication.
I can’t type without snorting on my keyboard.
Still, good to see she’s keeping Europe’s hair-extension makers in business.

BELARUS: “I Love Belarus”, Anastasia Vinnikova
Well, it starts well.
NICK: They start like they mean to go on. In fire.
Once again, truly exceptional legs.
I like the way the bak-up singers’ mic stands act as modesty panels.
NICK: Belarus. Only slightly hellish.
This does nothing for me, but, then, I’ve never been to Belarus.
ME: I don’t even know where Belarus is.
NICK: All I can think of is Donald Belasarius, creator of Magnum PI.

LATVIA: “Angel in Disguise”, Musiqq
He does look like Elvis Costello!
NICK: He’s playing guitar like Oliver’s Army is chasing him.
The music to this is quite interesting, but the lyrics are killing me slowly.
Now he’s rapping? Rapping Elvis Costello? That is not right.
I actually have no opinion on this. Someone could ask, “Should we kill the Latvian entry to Eurovision?” and I’d be all, “Who?”

DENMARK: “New Tomorrow”, A Friend in London
Okay, I went to a boarding school. Semi-boarding. You know which band came out of that boarding school? Human Nature. Let that be a lesson to you.
NICK: Some Dragon Ball Z haircuts in this.
What is with these hand gestures?
You remember I mentioned a song that was so boring it gave me cancer?
(I’m glad you remember. I don’t remember which song it was now.)
This is even more boring.
The hair is truly awful in this.
NICK: I’m not hating this. Maybe I should be, but I’m not.

IRELAND: “Lipstick”, Jedward
NICK: I think I might need to start following them on Twitter.
I am making no comments about sexual orientation, whatever the Internet says.
When did Ireland decide to stop trying to lose?
Seriously, though, there is no justification for that hair.
NICK: They’re wearing Judge Dredd shoulder pads!
Secretly, they’re kind of awesome, aren’t they?
Also, those legs are way too gorgeous to be on stage with teenage boys.
Oooh, acrobatics!
Okay, I declare myself pro-Jedward.

Oooh, break!

Back soon, I promise, for the results.

Remember: only fifteen minutes remain for woting.

Seriously, what is with these green rooms? Who makes them? What building on Earth has room for them?

I think I might regret all this brandy and lemonade we drank tonight, come tomorrow.

ACK! Underwater elephant again!

I still love Bosnia & Herzegovina. And I’m a lot less sober than I was the first time we watched them perform.

NICK: The Ukrainian singer is also pleasingly diaphanous.
ME: You’re a pervert!
NICK: Yes.

I hate this male co-host with the fiery fury of a billion suns.

NICK: The fiery fury of a billion suns? Shout out!

MALE CO-HOST: Two things that do not go together? England and penalty shoot-outs.

Oh, I hate him even more now.

But seriously? Classical music and break-dancing? Oh, you wacky Germans!

The acts in the breaks are way, way better than the actual Eurovision acts this year.

Okay, I’m a bit over the classical break-dancing now.

United Kingdom, please don’t get nil points. Everyone laughs at me at the Eurovision party, and it’s kinda hard to pretend I’m not embarrassed.

Oooh, results!

1. ESTONIA. Oh, really? Wow. I mean … wow.
2. ROMANIA. We liked him! Hooray!
3. MOLDOVA. Ooh, the gnomes!
4. IRELAND. No surprise there.
6. DENMARK. Oh, we had no opinion about them.
7. AUSTRIA. No, really?
8. UKRAINE. Sand painting!
9. SLOVENIA. Did we like them? I can’t remember. Oh, yes! Hooray!
10. SWEDEN. No surprises there.

Oh, I’ll be able to watch the sand-painting tomorrow night, without having to type. I am glad about that.

And that’s it for the live-blogging for Eurovision 2011. No live-blogging for the final. But I’m sure we’ll all be hoping that the male host gets repeatedly kicked in the shins tomorrow night.

See you here next year for Eurovision 2012!

Live-blogging Eurovision: Semi-Final 1, 2011

Posted 13 May 2011 in by Catriona

And here we are for the first of the Eurovision semi-finals! Well, here I am. I don’t actually know where you are. But I’m just going to assume you’re here; otherwise, I’d just be talking to myself.

In the interests of full disclosure, I’ve forgotten to write out the song titles in advance. Again. For the third year running. So there are bound to be a few songs called “Damn, I can’t type that fast.”

(Nick will be moderating comments while I’m typing, as per usual.)

I rather regret not watching this entire Eurovision doco now. The bits I’m seeing here are actually quite interesting—and disturbing, given the bit about the Russian police attacking that gay rights march.

Encouraging Nick to go and get a beer. He can’t abide watching Eurovision sober.

Ooh, I think we’re actually starting! Yep, this looks German all right.

I know this is probably unAustralian, but I miss Terry Wogan. Come back, Terry! All is forgiven!

As usual, Eurovision is being hosted by a staggeringly tall woman and a man with what looks like a handlebar moustache. Actually, that last one might be a bit new. I do like the swirly stage.

Ooh, look! The traditional Eurovision misogyny!

NICK: The banter is even more forced than usual.

I was really, really hoping someone would punch that host; I only hope someone punches him properly in a minute.

This misogyny schtick is wearing thin for me already. Punch him! Punch him!

(Wendy, Nick was trying not to make a German comedy joke. Thank you for taking the responsibility out of his hands!)

Punch him!

Punch him now!

Reverse sexism doesn’t make the misogyny funny!

Oooh, it’s all tilt-shifty! How lovely!

POLAND: “Jeslem”, Magadelena Tul.
Quoth Nick, “I’ve got to say; the new TARDIS control room is looking good.”
Oh, I see Poland just decided not to bother with pants. I suppose it saves them from the costume change.
Oh, wait: two are wearing pants.
NICK: Okay. Those two in the back better be taking their gear off.
This song is deeply, deeply boring, but the legs are exceptional.
Are we even getting a key change here?
And no, I don’t count those weird puffs of steam as proper fireworks.

NORWAY: “Haba Haba”, Stella Mwangi.
The Norwegians are singing in Swahili? Is that a Eurovision first?
The stage, despite those nice swirly bits, is really quite dull, don’t you think?
The song’s not grabbing me so far, but that dress is a bit wacky.
Oh my god: it’s not a dress. It’s formal shorts with a bustle.
Who said Eurovision wasn’t wacky this year?
Still, at least the front row can’t see up her skirt.
But it’s like her bottom is wearing a cape. It’s distracting, and not in the way a bottom is supposed to be distracting.

ALBANIA: “Feel the Passion”, Aurela Gace
Isn’t it strange how much Germany looks like Brighton?
Well, Albania seem to be doing something a bit more interesting with the staging than the last two acts tried to do.
Flamethrowers! That’s more like it.
NICK: Dry ice and flame? I mean, seriously. It’s got everything.
We don’t care so much about the actual music. You might have noticed that.
This sounds a bit like an’ 80s European metal band decided to do an album of covers of ’50s pop songs. But I like it more than the last two.

ARMENIA: “Boom Boom”, Emmy
I need a chair that looks like a boxing glove.
NICK: Lady Santa in a giant glove. I can think of at least three fetishes right now.
This is staggeringly awful.
I hope it gets through!
Believe it or not, the male back-up dancers are showing even more cleavage than the singer.
Nick hasn’t been commenting because he can’t stop laughing.
Where did that boxing ring come from? I only looked away for a second!
Oh, she didn’t hit that note. Not by a long shot.

Wow, the commentators are trying really, really hard not to be bitchy about that one.

I’m loving the tilt shift.

TURKEY: “Live it Up”, Yuksek Sadakat
I don’t mind the back drop and I love his gold fringy shirt and their whole-hearted commitment to flamethrowers.
Nick thinks it sounds like the opening to the Beverley Hills 90210 theme song.
They have a female contortionist in a sphere. That’s definitely something new.
This is not staggeringly awful, but to be honest, it’s a bit dull.
More than a bit dull.
And that contortionist in a sphere is worrying me a bit. What’s the purpose of that, do you suppose?
No, the wings don’t actually answer my question.

Oh, I cannot wait for Portugal!

They really didn’t get that Les Murray joke.

SERBIA: “Caraban”, Nina
Well, they’ve already won me over with the funky pink background and the funky dresses.
The orange back-up singer’s dress is a bit short, isn’t it?
NICK: That orange singer’s trying to hypnotise the audience! It’s … working.
I wouldn’t listen to this voluntarily, and the white tights are as wrong now as they were in the ’60s (and again in the ’80s). But the song’s cute. We haven’t had much cute yet.
This is definitely the liveliest thing we’ve seen all night.
Nick and I both liked that one. We want Serbia to go through.

RUSSIA: “Get You”, Alexej Vorobjov”
Okay, if I had to visualise a Russian stunt man, this is what I would have visualised.
NICK: Back to The Outsiders, Pony Boy.
Nick is fascinated by this one.
NICK: He has two George Michael impersonators and a Zac Efron impersonator!
That line “I lost my mind somewhere between your …” is a bit too risque for Eurovision, isn’t it?
I don’t know what’s happening here, but I wouldn’t mind watching it again on Sunday night.
There was a back flip? I missed the back flip!

SWITZERLAND: “In Love For A While”, Anna Rossinelli
Oh, dear: I hate this already.
In fact, I might hate the entirety of Switzerland for somehow managing to make a ukelele horribly twee.
This is like the musical version of blank verse: nothing seems to scan or fit the rhythm.
The back drop is gorgeous, though. I’m warming to this staging, after the boring first couple.
Don’t these songs go for about three minutes? They couldn’t stretch to writing the full complement of verses?
NICK: We’re getting short-changed on lyrics here!
I know, I know: I sound bitter. I just have a really low tolerance for things that are hatefully twee.

GEORGIA: “One More Day”, Eldrine
I really don’t want to think of Offspring and rappers at the same time, thanks.
They’ve got an interesting stage, too.
Nick’s fascinated by the dress.
NICK: Is she holding out for a hero?
We’re more impressed by the guitarist’s awesome jacket than we are by the song, which we’ve decided is like an Evanescence tribute band.
Okay, I’m rooting for them to go through.
The singer is single-handedly filling Eurovision’s hair quotient.

FINLAND: “Da Da Dam”, Paradise Oskar.
Moomins! Moomins!
Nick thinks the lead singer looks like Michael Cera.
I’m going to change my name to Paradise Catriona.

No, I’m not. Not now I see it in print.
Can’t type. Laughing too hard.
Oh, he’s so sincere, and he’s got such a cute accent, and it’s so bad.
I wish it were in Finnish. That would be better.
I hope he gets through. He’s so sincere and the back-drop is pretty.

MALTA: “One Life”, Glen Vella
I would like Malta to win. But only because they’ve never won before. This song itself is not grabbing me.
Why are the back-up singers wearing fetish gear and the singer’s wearing jeans?
NICK: More traditional national costumes should be in rubber.
I had no idea that the ’80s were back so … so … unironically.
Key change!
I’m a bit besotted with those two male back-up dancers. No, not for that reason. They’re just so cheerful!
They do look like Cate Blanchett in Indiana Jones!

SAN MARINO: “Stand By”, Senit
More dry ice. They’re really loving the dry ice this year.
Well, I hope there’s not a zombie attack. She’ll never be able to flee for her life in that dress and retain her dignity.
As Nick pointed out, there’s not much energy in this. Which is why I’m visualising zombie attack instead of blogging.
Also, fraught love ballads should never include the lyrics “if you don’t mind”.
Except for Canadian ballads, natch.
Oh my: that was dull.

CROATIA: “Celebrate”, Daria
NICK: Oh, they’ve got a prat in a hat!
ME: Nick, you have a hat just like that.
NICK: No, I want a hat just like that. There’s a difference.
The quality of legs in this year’s Eurovision is excellent.
The DJ looks like he’s from The Mighty Boosh. He also approves the legs.
Magic costume change!
The DJ is also a magician!
NICK: But the dress is longer! It doesn’t work that way round!
The song has made no impression on me at all, but they have a DJ-magician. I want them to go through.
And another magic costume change!
I vote for Croatia.

ICELAND: “Coming Home”, Sjonni’s Friends
I probably shouldn’t be bitchy about this one, should I?
I do wish it wasn’t in English, though.
I like the steampunky background.
This is cute and boppy. I could say some acerbic things about it, but then I’d feel bad.
I do like the way they slow it down at the end. Is there a word for that?

At last, a little breather for the fingers.

A very little breather for the fingers.

Oh, this Russian chap is fairly confident in himself, isn’t he?

Oh, no! Not more Finnish song! Please!

HUNGARY: “What About My Dreams?”, Kati Wolf
What does she have on her hand?
NICK: It’s a hand fascinator.
I had a Barbie with that exact dress, except in pink. You could unwrap the sleeve bit and wind it round her knees to make a fetching evening dress. I hope that happens here.
I’ll give it this much: it’s lively.
Also, she seems to have a ninja.
I’m not convinced she’s hitting all the notes, though.
I don’t like that asymmetrical skirt. It looks like her dress is tucked in her knickers.
She’ll probably go through, though.

PORTUGAL: I missed all of that, because I was trying to work out the accent over the “e”
I have to admire them for their whole-heartedness.
But I’m having horrible sympathetic acid flashbacks to a year before I was even born.
I’m sure I saw Sarah-Jane Smith in that outfit with the red beret.
I have a feeling I might engage with this song better if I had the faintest idea about Portuguese history (or Portuguese, for that matter).
It seems so chirpy for a song with so many placards and fist salutes.

LITHUANIA: “C’est Ma Vie”, Evelina Sasenko
NICK: It’s always “my life”. It’s always “It’s my life” or “what about my life?” or “oh, I left my life over there”.
Full disclosure: I’m automatically going to hate anything described as an “operatic ballad”. This is no exception.
NICK: She’s definitely got the chest of an opera singer. There’s no need to put that on the blog.
The sign language has won us over a bit, but apparently it was only relevant for that one verse.
NICK: They’ll be like “where’s the chorus? You just boned us out of a chorus!”
I hope someone bursts out of that piano. That would be the only thing that would reclaim this.
Too late.

AZERBAIJAN: “Running Scared” Ell/Nikki
Sam is being really unpleasantly bitchy about the women in this competition. He might be bitching out the men as well, but I’m really noticing it with the women.
Oh, there goes the hair quotient, up again.
With those skirts, they want to be a bit careful with the wind machine.
Does this one sound like an inexpensive Kate Bush tribute band to anyone else?
Oh, good: flaming rain.
She better watch her hair extensions.
They’re the favourites? Wow, I’m out of touch on Eurovision trends.

GREECE: “Watch My Dance”, Lukas Yiorkas feat. Stereo Mike
Yes, but can you sing?
A rapper and breakdancing?
I am partial to breakdancing, it’s true.
Wait, why are they all just standing over in the corner during the serious ballady bit of the song?
I have to say, this isn’t really working well as a single unified song.
I’ve warmed very much to the set design, though. I thought the sets were boring, but really it was just the first couple of acts who were boring.
Nope, even the fireworks aren’t winning me over with this one.
And wow: it just ended. I mean, just … ended. With no warning.
Oh, I didn’t think the genres came together well at all.

Back soon for the results!

The automatic entries:

FRANCE: Nick thought it was Benedict Cumberbatch for a minute there.
SPAIN: Oh god! Clowns! Or something!
ITALY: I’ve forgotten it already.
UNITED KINGDOM: Awful. But did you expect anything else?
GERMANY: Is that Lena again? Or just a Lena clone?

Is there a company somewhere that specialises in just making these Eurovision green rooms? They all look the same.

And why does everyone only have one sleeve?


1. SERBIA. We liked them: they were boppy and adorable.
2. LITHUANIA. Oh, the opera singer … and her chest.
3. GREECE. Really? I didn’t care for that at all. Anthemic? Really?
4. AZERBAIJAN. No surprises, but I wasn’t a big fan. Kirsty’s right: it’s a bit Twilight.
5. GEORGIA. We liked them. Hooray!
6. SWITZERLAND. Oh, the horrifyingly twee one.
7. HUNGARY. With the hand fascinator. It’s is a perfectly Eurovision song.
8. FINLAND. Paradise Oskar. Oh, well there’ll be more laughs on Sunday night.
9. RUSSIA. Nice to see the ’80s are still popular.
10. ICELAND. I bet it was Iceland, and (for once in my life) I was right.

I’m sorry not to see the giant boxing glove back, but, let’s face it, it was terrible.

Well, that’s all for tonight. I’ll be back here tomorrow night for the second semi-final. Pop in if you’re passing!



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