Archive for the 'Eurovision' Category



russia wins eurovision, norway places fifth

Congratulations to Dima Bilan and Russia for their first ever Eurovision Song Contest win last Saturday in Belgrade. Last year, Knut and I was able to watch the finals in Helsinki, but this year, my friends and I gathered together for a highly-anticipated final, score sheets and all. I didn’t tip Russia to win, but was rooting for Norway what with Maria’s pitch-perfect performance of “Hold On Be Strong.” Now that lady is one class-act.

I thought Dima Bilan’s 2006 performance and song was much better than “Believe.” I felt that he was trying too hard this time, even ripping his shirt towards the end which I thought was senseless. I spy a Gucci belt, though. Well, one couldn’t deny the charm of a body like that, but come on. Ukraine would have even made a “right” winner. She gave a solid and tight performance. She had sex oozing out of that €50,000-silver dress, something that was lacking in Sweden’s Charlotte Perelli, which was tipped to win but failed miserably. Ani Lorak’s voice was spectacular and she’s too charming for a diva. 3rd-placer Kalomira for Greece looked and danced like Britney Spears, and a prettier one at that. 4th-placer Sirusho for Armenia was cute and her song, hypnotic. If you would notice, all three are moulded into the same hip-gyrating, boob-popping, manicured-beauty form.

Then came Maria who was brilliant in her performance, giving a proper ending to the show contest. The song written by fellow Norwegian artist Mira Craig was the most current-sounding in the competition. Her fifth-place win is a farcry from last year’s Norwegian entry who didn’t even qualify for the finals. She got votes from 35 out of 43 voting countries, with 12 points coming from neighbors Finland and Sweden. I’m proud of our homegirl for doing a great job in Belgrade! I also truly enjoyed the performances of Israel, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Denmark, Iceland, Portugal, Spain, France, Sweden (despite a false note towards the end), and the three runners-up.

The final placings are as follows:

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

I won the tipping contest we had, I predicted 8 of the Top 10 songs, and placed one in its right position, and that was my own little victory Saturday night. And we’re looking at seeing the finals in Moscow next year! Now that would be just as sweet.

See the final scoreboard here.

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boaz mauda to eurovision 2008 for israel

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With the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest underway, here’s a song-singer combo to look out for – Israel’s Boaz Mauda singing Ke’ilo Kan (English title The Fire in your Eyes), which was written by international singer and ESC ’98 winner Dana International and Shai Kerem.

I’m drawn to the song, in the same way that I was drawn to Serbia’s winning song last year, Molitva. So drawn that I started learning the song. How’s that for Hebrew (or is it Arabic?) lessons? The singing seemed so heartfelt and the song, a strong, pining ballad. Boaz is easy on the eyes, too. If he sings this well live on the Serbian stage in May, he could be the competition’s dark horse, brooding and ehem, well-bred.

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This, along with Norway’s Hold On Be Strong, Sweden’s Hero, France’s Divine, Ukraine’s Shady Lady, and Greece’s Secret Combination are my early top favorites.

Related: Maria Haukaas Storeng to Eurovision 2008

maria haukaas storeng to eurovision 2008

Norway has decided in tonight’s Melodi Grand Prix Finals – and we very well did so – to send Maria Haukaas Storeng along with her powerful soul vocals to the first semi-finals of the Eurovision Song Contest 2008 in Belgrade.

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Song composer Mira Craig (left) and MGP winner Maria Storeng

Storeng gave a solid and sultry performance of “Hold On Be Strong” written by Mira Craig, one of Norway’s most successful artists to date. I’m not too sure how this will fare in the Serbian capital, when last year’s contest was hounded with strong region-centric voting (East Europe vs. well, the rest; “sister countries” voting for each other despite). But I’m sure that Storeng’s performance will be one of the classy ones, not something that relies on tacky theatrics or regional votes to sail through. And compared to the other entries so far, Norway has delivered one decent entry.

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Storeng got almost twice as much points of runner-up Torstein Sødal in the combined jury and audience televoting, with two jury votes giving her the highest number of points and 4 out of 5 Norwegian regions giving her a total of almost 165,000 points to win. Let’s just hope she’d be well received in the rest of Europe too in May!

Here’s the video of her performance from the Norwegian second semi-finals two weeks ago.

All photos courtesy of NRK.

hello from helsinki: camwhoring in the city

I’m so glad you all liked my photos from Helsinki. I have more to share, now that I got my laptop up and running again. You see, I left my laptop charger in the hotel room last Sunday and fortunately, Holiday Inn found it. Here’s the last installment of photos from my trip to the land of thousand lakes.

The Second Day
I noticed that Helsinki must be a land of thousand hills, too. The roads all over the city are warped like this one pictured here.


This was taken from Esplanadi Park, site of the Europe Market that showcased each participating country’s culture, wares and tourism. On the periphery of the park are two of the most exclusive shopping lanes in the city. One of which serves as the stellar address of Kamp Hotel, probably the poshest hotel Helsinki has to offer.


This was taken in front of the EuroClub, the Eurovision Song Contest’s official site for parties and events, located at the Old Student House.


The Market Square is one of Helsinki’s most famous market places and tourist attractions. It was brimming with stalls selling various wares – from the must-try fried Baltic herring to reindeer hide. At the background, you can see the other iconic cathedral in Helsinki – Uspenski Cathedral – which looks very Russian.


The Third Day
In the morning, we met Ola Salo of The Ark, which represented Sweden. We saw them outside their hotel, a neighbor to ours. God I’m such a cheesy fan!


The rest of the day was spent shopping and trying out the world-famous Fazer chocolates of Finland. I looked at Stockmann, one of Finland’s largest department stores, but got nothing. I moved to Moda where I found an Esprit collared short-sleeved shirt and to the big Diesel store where I got a nice white summer tee.


Afterwards, we spent a cozy afternoon at the Karl Fazer Cafe, built in 1891, where I had these citrus-flavored mousse and sponge cake and a specially-made Eurovision cake with chocolate and white truffle layers.

That night, after six months of waiting we finally found our way to the Hartwall Arena where the Eurovision finals was staged. I was impressed with how everything – from getting tickets for the train ride to the security check at the arena – went smoothly.


I was also impressed with the show, well at least from the performances we heard inside Hartwall. When I saw a short replay on TV the day after, I wasn’t so impressed with the vocals of some artists. Anyway, I was happy with the winner Serbia, as well as with Ukraine’s and Russia’s second and third placings respectively. The Ukraine act was so crazy everybody inside the arena was dancing and jumping to him. Of course, my crushes also fared nicely in the competition – Belarus, Spain, Greece, and Turkey. I took around 300 photos of the show from where we were seated, but unfortunately, most of them were blurry due to the slow shutter response of my cam, my distance from the stage and the performers’ constant movement.

Back home, but wait!
We flew back to Oslo last Sunday from the Helsinki Vantaa Airport, and while waiting for the boarding time, we strolled around and saw a couple of artists – Croatia’s duo (which were so horrible in the semi-finals) and Germany’s Roger Cicero who was doing an ambush interview. Of course, since he’s a cutie, I had to take my photo taken with him. And you know how I love guys who can swing. Le sigh.


That’s it! I hope you enjoyed my adventures in Helsinki. Thanks for dropping by!

hello from helsinki: day 1

We arrived in Helsinki around 11 in the morning and the airport was oddly quiet and empty, the only people there were those from the Finnair flight we took from Oslo Gardermoen. The bus from the airport took only around 30 minutes to the city center and we got off at the central bus terminal, right in front of the hotel we’re staying in for the next four days – Holiday Inn Helsinki City Center.


I would recommend it for its unbeatable central location. The room is on the small side, though, with unmistakable Finnish-design interiors. The wide windows offer expansive views of the central terminal, the busy boulevard beyond, and some of the city’s iconic skyline tops – the Cathedral dome and the Central Terminal clocktower.


After settling in, we decided to explore the city. Helsinki is a big city much like Stockholm minus the dramatic bridges. Compared to Oslo, Helsinki has a more international appeal, has that old-world Russian feel, grand boulevards lined with buildings throwing back to turn-of-the-century Art Noueveau and Classicism. Like any boy from Asia who has only been to a couple of other European countries, I was wide-eyed while battling the cold wind that stings my contact-lenses-laden eyes.


The main purpose of our visit to Helsinki is the Eurovision Song Contest 2007. Everywhere, the city is clothed with the contest’s colorful patterns – from flags fluttering in the wind to trams and taxis bearing the design. A Eurovision Village was also set up on Narinkkatori in front of the modern Kamppi Shopping Mall. There are tents selling official Eurovision merchandise, wide screens from where people could see both the semi-final and final shows, a stage for performances by top artists, and a European Year pavilion. There is a EuroClub at the Old Student House, site of parties and events related to the song competition.


We then headed off to Con Hombres at around 9 pm for the live broadcast of the semi-finals. Con Hombres is touted as the Eurovision Bar, and you can clearly see why when you enter. They play non-stop Eurovision songs from then and now, and the walls are covered with Eurovision memorabilia and album covers.


The basement dance floor was converted to a viewing room with a huge wall screen. We easily got front seats from where we enjoyed each of the 28 performances. Well, some were just a bore, which were basically cues to visit the toilet to relieve one’s self after drinking some martinis. My top favorites include Belarus’ “Work Your Magic” with singer Dmitri Koldun hot, tall, and perfectly tanned, as well as Serbia’s “lesbian love” power ballad “Molitva” performed by obviously-gay and Dolce & Gabbana-clad Marija Serifovic. Austria’s Eric Papilaya and Turkey’s Kenan Dogulu both looked sexy and good, as well as that black guy from Poland. Scandinavian entries did their fabulous best in the semi-finals – Icelandic rocker Eirikur, Danish drag queen DQ, and Norwegian accompished performer Guri, who had three costume changes, ripping one expensive Swarovski-sewn dress into another, all under three minutes. But all their efforts proved weak compared to the apparently strong voting prowess of the Eastern European countries, who obviously were voting for each other. Nine out of ten who went to the finals were from Eastern Europe, and well, Turkey who also comes from that part of the continent. Well, most deserve to be there, but others came as a shocker.


Well, enough for the night. There is still the Finals we are seeing live on Saturday night at the Hartwall Arena. Can’t wait to see other favorites like Greece’s Yassou Maria, France’s L’amour a la Francaise, Sweden’s The Worrying Kind, Russia’s Song No. 1, Ukraine’s Dancing Lasha Tumbai, Spain’s I Love You Mi Vida, and Finland’s Leave Me Alone.


Good night!


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