Eurovision 2011: Can former pop pin-ups Blue score a victory… or will they be beaten by Irish twins Jedward?
Battle of the bands: Can former pop pin-ups Blue score a victory at Eurovision… or will they be beaten by Irish twins Jedward
1:34 AM on 14th May 2011
It’s time to dust down that silver spangly jumpsuit and start warbling an out-of-key version of Lulu’s Boom Bang-a-Bang.
Yes,the Eurovision Song Contest, the campest night of the year, is upon us once more as we prepare to throw impossibly garish Eurovision parties upand down the country. This time around, we are hoping for victory with the popular boy-band Blue and their anthemic new song, I Can, written by band members Lee Ryan and Duncan James.
The group, which also comprises Antony Costa and Simon Webbe, are among the most successful British artists ever to take part in Eurovision, and are currently second favourites to win.
But they have strong competition from Irish twins Jedward (aka John and Edward Grimes) who are also tipped to do well in the show and are currently bookmakers” sixth favourite to win.
Hoping for victory: Blue (left to right, Lee Ryan, Duncan James, Anthony Costa and Simon Webbe) will perform their track I Can at tonight”s Eurovision
In the running: Or will Blue be pipped to the post by Irish twins Jedward, who are currently sixth favourite to win the contest
Indeed, the boys, who first shot to fame on The X Factor, have already won enough votes to take Ireland through to tonight”s final, whereas the UK is an automatic entry.
Talking about their plans to win Eurovision, Jedward said: “When Abbawere on the contest it was all about the outfits, and we want to do thesame.
“We can”t wait to be really successful all around the world.”
And it looks like the boys” outfits will really be something, judgingby photographs of them rehearsing in Lady Gaga-esque studded red sequinned jackets.
Comeback: For the 56th Eurovision Song Contest taking place in Dsseldorf, Blue will be performing their anthemic new song, I Can
Meanwhile, Blue will undoubtedly be going for a more laidback approach, as they showed when they rehearsed their track in T-shirts andjeans.
Between 2001 and 2004, Blue were our most successful pop export to Europe. They had 40 number one singles across the continent. They have also won two Brit Awards and sold 13 million albums.
Earlier this year the BBC approached the band and invited them to represent the UK. They were initially dubious.
But, Costa says, ‘The more we thought about it, the more it made a totally weird kind of sense. We’re probably the best country at pop music on the continent. Why haven’t we won it since 1997’
Pin-ups: Boyband Blue enjoyed huge fame in the 90s with tracks including All Rise
Cheeky chappies: Jedward made scores of fans when they first appeared on The X Factor
At the time of writing, Blue are second favourites (behind France), and BBC Eurovision producer Phil Parsons says, ‘There’s a lot of affection for them. They’re real pop stars with superb vocal ability andpresence, and they can deliver on the night.’
Tonight”s contest will be watched by a staggering estimated global audience in excess of 125 million. That’s an awful lot of Bacofoil outfits.
In the live broadcast tonight, Graham Norton will be providing a suitably wry commentary on BBC1.
Norton, who took over from the famously irreverent Sir Terry Wogan two years ago, approaches the event as an unabashed Eurovision aficionado.
‘In the bleak midwinter, it isn’t the thought of daffodils, cherry blossom and lambs coming out of the oven that cheer me,’ he says.
EUROVISION: THE LOWDOWN
Graham Norton’s favourite Eurovision song is the Netherlands’ I See A Star, which came third in 1974, the year that Abba won.
One of the hot favourites, France, is represented by operatic tenor Amaury Vassili, who will sing Sognu (Dream) – in Corsican.
Judith Rakers, Stefan Raab and Anke Engelke. Raab wrote Germany’s entries in 1998, 2000 – which he sang – and 2004 and mentored last year’s winner, Lena.
The Esprit Arena in Dsseldorf holds 54,000 people but the contest’s unusual stage with catwalk means there will be 24,000 crazed, flag waving fans on the night.
‘What gets me through is thinking about that moment in May when I’m sat in a small dark room, with the lights dimmed and the strains of the Eurovision Anthem [Charpentier’s Prelude to Te Deum] filling the air.
‘The Eurovision Song Contest is always much greater than the sum of its parts. This is event television and, while it is easy to laugh at it, it’s easy to take it far too seriously as well. I fall somewhere in the middle.
“While I love the camp spectacle, I also acknowledge that every year there are a handful of really beautiful songs and extraordinary performances.’
The 56th Eurovision Song Contest is taking place in Dsseldorf. The final, which will stretch over an eye-watering three hours, will be contested by 25 nations: the ‘big five’ of the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain, who are all guaranteed places as the biggest financial contributors to Eurovision, and the top ten from the two semi-finals that took place earlier this week.
Viewers from all 43 participating countries will be able to vote by phone or text from the moment the first song begins until 15 minutes after the last country has finished. Over the past decade, the UK’s entries have not fared well at Eurovision.
Amid accusations of tactical block voting and widespread anti-UK sentiment, we have come last an ignominious three times in the past ten years – most notably in 2003, when the tuneless duo Jemini secured our first (and hopefully, last) ‘nul points’.
The Eurovision Song Contest is on tonight, BBC1 at 8pm.