We are less than a week away from the competition that really matters. No, I'm not talking about Stoke City vs Manchester City in the FA Cup Final but rather the intercontinental cheese fest that is Eurovision 2011!
As per the custom round these parts, this calls for a weary eye to be cast over this year's entries.
The one thing, the main thing that jumps out from this year's entrants is just how serious it has become. Dozy media bosses in Western Europe have finally woken up to the fact that East European countries win because they actually enter A-List acts with regional profiles. Take Alexej Vorobjov, Dino Merlin, and TWiiNS, for example. They are big names. It's all about the fame game and has nothing to do with block voting. Therefore this year, Western Europe has rolled out some very big guns indeed.
First up, Ireland is offering none other than X Factor irritants Jedward. Their tune, Lipstick isn't bad by their execrable standards. Though you have got to ask how their ropey vocals will stand up to the rigours of a live performance. Still, they have hokeyness on their side and should, if they get through the heats, pick up a fair amount of points from the UK audience.
Germany, having toasted their first victory in 28 years in 2010 are determined to hold on to the Eurovision crown. They're sticking with Lena who will be singing Taken By a Stranger. It's alright and the song shows of her strange mockney warble, but it isn't anywhere near as catch as last year's Satellite. But still, could her new found star power pull Germany through?
The UK has got its act together and plumped for someone that not only have us pommes de frites heard of, but have had success on the Continent too. I am of course talking about Blue and their choon, I Can. As entries go it is much better than the dross the UK usually embarrasses itself with. It sounds like a proper Blue record, not underpowered nasal Eurovision fodder. And (and!) because of European chart success, they definitely won't be doing a Jemini and disgracing our good name.
France, however, could pull off something of a coup with their entry. Sognu by Amaury Vassili is a Corsican operatic number that's actually quite good. Mindful of the People's Operatic Societies of the East under the late and unlamented Stalinist regimes, France could pull off quite a coup on the far side of the Danube. And people fed up with Eurodisco married to folky beats might give it a punt for its sheer freshness.
But by far the biggest beast of the Eurovision jungle is none other than Dana International for Israel. It doesn't matter her song, Ding Dong isn't as good as Diva, her 1998 performance was a culturally defining media moment. And with a fan base in practically every European country, by rights she should be a hot favourite.
Well, you would think so. After all, I remember thinking tATu would walk it in 2003. I have instead read the tea leaves and consulted the Oracle and believe the crown will go to either Lena or Eric Saade of Sweden. But expect very strong challenges from Ell and Nikki of Azerbaijan, Hungary's Kati Wolf, France, and, of course, our Blue.
And so, in tribute to Our Boys, here's the UK's entry: