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Eurovision: From A to UK… part 3  
Continuing his Eurovision roundup, Mark Cook takes us from Iceland all the way to Norway...
Iceland entrant Johanna Gudrun

Our resident Eurovsion expert Mark Cook gives us the latest roundup on the Eurovision entries that the UK’s Jade Ewen, performing Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s “It’s My Time” at the concert on 16th May, will be competing with.

Odds supplied by Paddy Power, correct at 24th April 2009.

Another pretty girl, another ballad. “Is It True” is a gentle song performed by attractive blonde Johanna Gudrun. Nice music for a wine bar, or at home on a Sunday morning.

Apparently, “Et Cetera” was written by a group of people living miles apart on the internet. Sinead Mulvey and Black Daisy are Ireland’s representatives with this all-group rocky number. It’s been done before but at least it’s a huge improvement on last year’s turkey. (Last year Ireland entered a puppet called Dustin the Turkey to perform the track, “Irelande Douze Points.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, Dustin failed to make it to the final. Wonder if he survived Christmas?)

Female duo Noa and Mira sing “There Must Be Another Way,” a mid-tempo number, in English and Hebrew. Wonder if there’ll be one of those Israeli backing groups doing that sideways strut thing again?

LATVIA 250-1
Intras Busulis is the performer, “Sastergums” the song. At least it was when it was chosen – controversially, given Latvia’s past, it will now be sung in Russian in Moscow, under the title of “Probka.”

No one has won Eurovision sitting at a piano since Udo Jurgens for Austria in 1966 (but then England hasn’t won the World Cup since then either). So good luck to trilby-wearing youngster Sasha Son with “Pasiklydes Zmogus”, which will be sung in English under the, simpler, if cliched title of “Love.”

MALTA 16-1
Will it be third time lucky for Chiara, having finished 3rd in Birmingham in 1998 and 2nd in Kiev in 2005? “What If We?” is not nearly as strong as 2005’s “Angel”, and it’s another woman singing a ballad. Malta, as ever, is keen as mustard to record its first Eurovision win.

I think there should be a rule where a country has 50 points docked if they mention the name of their country in their song. Sung by Nelly Ciobanu, “Hora din Moldova” means Dance of, er, Moldova and features trumpets, accordions and, yes, folk dancing.

“Just Get Out of My Life,” sings Andrea Demirovic, adding “out of my head, out of bed”. OK, OK, we get the picture! This is Montenegro’s third entry as an independent nation (previously it was Serbia and Montenegro) and its first female singer. Think Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff” and you get the idea.

This is the stuff, the sort of cheesefest every Eurovision needs – Edam, Gouda and Leerdammer all rolled into one. The Toppers are three men not in the first flush of youth who are backed by three women. “Shine,” not to be confused with the Take That song, is up-tempo and anthemic, and the boys’ costumes live up to the song title. This ought to be in the final just for light relief and to remind us of Eurovisions of yore.

This was the big favourite to win the contest even before it won the Norwegian final, which it did with a landslide. The clue is that fresh-faced singer Alexander Rybak was born in Belarus and the song, “Fairytale,” is unashamedly aimed at the Eastern European vote. It has the on-trend for 2009 violins plus three young lads leaping around.

Mark Cook (watching Eurovision since 1967)

Mark Cook is a journalist and theatre critic for the Guardian Guide and The Big Issue

Posted on: 24th April 2009

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