Over to you, Shannon.
In this world there are two types of people: those who love the Eurovision, and those who are pathetic losers. This special guest blog is not for the latter.
In these times of terrorism, war and syphilis outbreaks there are very few events that remind us of the innocent times of yesterday. Times when September 11 was S11 not 9/11, when Britney wore underwear and Pop was Queen.
The Eurovision is a shining beacon in these dark times.
In a competition that has seen Drag Queens, Transvestites, Transsexuals, Rock Stars, Pop Stars, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Monsters, Fairies and more recently (and perhaps more shockingly) Serbian lesbians, what will 2008 bring us?
With 64 days until the final on May 24, here is a heads up of what to expect and what to look out for this year.
First semi-final (May 20):
Sentimental money with be on the Israeli entrant Bo'az Ma'uda. The song has been written by former winner and global diva, Dana International. Sadly, it doesn't live up to Dana’s pizazz.
San Marino will be a serious contender with some heart-felt soft rock.
From Azerbaijan, we have Elnur & Samir. I have never heard a man reach these sort of notes without being kicked in the nuts. Hats off to them for taking the key change to a new level.
Interestingly, Dima Bilan returns for Russia this year. (Well, the girl coming out of the piano in 2006 was a master stroke).
Sadly, the song is awful. Even more sadly, he has just lost the right to use his stage name Dima Bilan. According to Russian law it belongs to a production company. He should have taken a tip from Tina “just my name, all I want is my name” Turner.
Finally, I cannot ignore this semi-final’s worst entrant. I really don't like these subversive sarcastic entries (e.g. Lithuania from a few years back) . . .
(Editor's Note: That entry from Lithuania is easily my favourite Eurovision song of the last few years.)
. . . introducing Dustin the Turkey from Ireland.
Admittedly, the last few entries from Ireland have been just that, turkeys. However, this is a puppet turkey and his opera-singing wench belting out a high tempo number called Irelande Douze Pointe. No doubt in an effort to get the French vote.
But I suppose we need a toilet break somewhere.
Second semi-final (May 22):
This is the round for the serious contenders.
I am personally putting my money on Ukraine to take out the whole competition, with Shady Lady by Ani Lorak. If they do, the move back to a colder climate next year will piss Terry Wogan off no end.
Monsters were so 2006. Now 2008 is all about Pirates. At least, that's according to Latvia's contestants Pirates of the Sea, singing Wolves of the Sea.
And now for the big four:
France is sending Sébastien Tellier, singing a surprisingly cool entrant for the power ballad lovers. He's best known for La Ritournelle, which has appeared on many ‘chill out’ compilations. A decent entry, but it doesn’t live up to the chicness of his better known song.
Germany has No Angles, their answer to the Sugababes. Pedestrian.
Spain continues its truly random run with Rodolfo Chikilicuatre. I can't really describe it, although secretly I like it. Secret no more I guess.
At least it's not Las Ketchup again.
Finally, Andy Abraham's disco number Even If is easily the UK's best entry in years. Enjoy it, as it appears Scotland is breaking away to have its own entry next year. God, it's Montenegro all over again!
And that's it for the entrants.
The Eurovision has always been a uniting force, with Europe and the world smiling together for those few brief hours.
I found comfort in a letter sent to all contestants from Serbian President Boris Tadic:
“I'd like to stress that Serbia is highly motivated in this moment to be a worthy host for the whole of Europe. As the President of Serbia and a man overseeing the proper functioning of all national systems and institutions, I can most earnestly assure all participants that they will be greeted and hosted warmly, as well as completely secure, and that their stay in Serbia and Belgrade will certainly be a pleasant memory.”
Can you not feel the warmth? I mean who would have thought ten years ago Belgrade would be hosting the Eurovision?
I would love to read the letter Slobodan Milošević would have sent.
Back to you, Matt
Stay tuned for for further updates, and catch all the action in May on SBS.
The first semi will be broadcast on May 23, the second semi on May 24, and the final on Sunday May 25.