Page last updated at 10:10 GMT, Sunday, 30 May 2010 11:10 UK

Reporter's log: Eurovision 2010

Logo for the Eurovision Song Contest 2010

Musicians from 39 countries have competed in the 55th Eurovision Song Contest in Norwary.

More than 125 million people watched last year's competition, when 23-year-old violinist Alexander Rybak took home the trophy with a record 387 points.

The BBC's Mark Savage reports from Oslo on the atmosphere at one of the world's biggest and most colourful music events.

SUNDAY, 30 MAY. 1120 OSLO (1020 BST)

So, the dust (or, to be more precise, the glitter) has settled on Eurovision for another year.

Josh Dubovie performing at Eurovision 2010
Josh Dubovie keeps smiling

Lena Mayer-Landrut is catching a flight to Hanover this morning, where she will receive a hero's welcome outside the town hall.

Poor old Josh Dubovie will be sloping back to England with his tail between his legs. Someone joked at breakfast that he should be sent home inside one of the boxes he had on stage last night, but I'm pretty sure they've got him a plane ticket instead.

In a statement, the 19-year-old said: "This has been one of the best experiences of my life no matter where I've come in the contest.

"It's been a privilege to represent the UK, I will keep performing and I'm still smiling."

And, as Graham Norton said from the commentary booth, "he gave a very credible performance tonight and he should be proud of himself."

One thing that became apparent over the last week, however, was that despite a strong voice and a winning personality, Josh simply lacked the experience of his competitors.

Last night saw MTV Award winners, Pop Idol victors and former Eurovision champions take to the stage. They handled the audience and television cameras like seasoned professionals. It was unfair to expect a novice to share their poise and confidence.

Maybe we'll learn the lessons in time for Germany next year. I hope to see you there.

SUNDAY, 30 MAY. 0410 OSLO (0310 BST)

Lena's press conference was an odd affair - she seemed a little subdued compared to our last encounter, either because of fatigue, or shock, or both. It was hard to be 100% sure when most of the questions and answers were in German.

Most of the questions in Lena's press conference were in German

But Eurovision is actually a songwriter's award - and I managed to grab a couple of words from the two composers behind Satellite. John Gordon is a Dane who achieved moderate success in Europe with a band called Steam. More intriguing is his writing partner, Julia Frost, who hails from the US.

"I wrote the song in Georgia three years ago," Julia confessed. "I had never heard of Eurovision - but, you know what? I think it's one of the most fun things I've ever seen in my life."

SUNDAY, 30 MAY. 0013 OSLO (2313 BST)

Funny how political voting works. In the year when Germany breaks the lock on a 13-year losing streak for Western Europe, a last-minute love-in between Georgia and Belarus put the UK in last place.

Still, congratulations to Lena. A thoroughly deserving winner. Even if she's not strong enough to lift the trophy!

SATURDAY, 29 MAY. 2300 OSLO (2200 BST)

So, all the songs have been played and now we just have the concise and interesting voting segment of the show to breeze through before they announce the winner.

While we wait, here are a few more of your tweets.

Was Juliana Pasha channeling Madonna?

"If you cannot sing, confuse your audience with boobs" @skyefleur on a rather unfortunate opening shot for Armenia's Eva Rivas

"If Dick van Dyke had played Hitler, he would have sounded like this" @caitlinmoran on German singer Lena's unconventional English accent.

"Romania have just won it in my eyes. THE BEST BY FAR. I liked how creepy they looked when singing to each other" @mark_hoppers

"Wow, thanks opening minutes of Eurovision song contest, for being exactly as I imagined" @arnettwill (Yes, that Will Arnett, of Arrested Development and Blades Of Glory fame)

"She looks she's in a TV movie about Madonna's London years" @charltonbrooker on Albania's entrant Juliana Pasha (pictured)

"I can quite confidently say that this is the best song about Apricot stones I've ever heard. Seriously." @charlotteyoung

"87% of the women in this look like Crimewatch photofits of Marina & The Diamonds" @popjustice

"It's like getting chicken pox for a second time." @AL64 on Spain's second performance, thanks to a stage invader first time round.

"Denmark: Sting is on the phone to his lawyer's about the bassline. Michael Bolton wants his wig back" @brokenbottleboy

SATURDAY, 29 MAY. 2145 OSLO (2045 BST)

I was worried that being in Oslo and missing Graham Norton's commentary, would detract from the Eurovision experience. Thank goodness, then, for Twitter, which has made me spit crisps across the press centre on three separate occasions tonight. Here are some of your best bits.

"For anyone who needs to explain eurovision to their American followers, I suggest: 'Think Glee, minus the plot.'" @FannyPeculiar

"So basically Beyonce's choreographer went to Robert Dyas and bought a desk fan" @Popjustice on Azerbaijan's entry.

"Leo Sayer appears to have reborn as a Spaniard" @BluesChronicle

"Moldova. Billy Idol on a Lazy Susan. Amazing" @salihughes

"You know when you sometimes think, "I wonder what it would be like to go on a cruise?" This. This is what it would be like." @mrchrisaddison

"How come something this wet isn't getting electric shocks from the mic?" @martin_carr

"This is certainly the most lesbian haircutty eurovision there's been for a while" @martin_carr

"Greece's entry are helping cut the deficit by promising not to shave. Anywhere". @peregr1n

"Good that we're keeping up the fine British tradition of writing a tune that even an idiot could hold and then not holding it" @mrchrisaddison

Obviously, the BBC does not endorse any of these opinions.

Join in the chat at the BBCEntsTeam twitter feed for the rest of the show.

SATURDAY, 29 MAY. 2055 OSLO (1955 BST)

Are you ready? The contest kicks off in five minutes with a reprise of last year's winner... followed by 25 songs of varying melody, musicality and merit.

If you're following the action at home, you can print off a scorecard from the BBC Eurovision website and don't forget to join me on the @BBCEntsTeam twitter feed.

Hope you enjoy the show!

SATURDAY, 29 MAY. 2000 OSLO (1900 BST)

Vox pops

It's one hour to go, and fans are streaming into the arena sporting flared trousers, gold lame suits, pink feather boas and flags of all descriptions. I collared a few of them to find out who they'd be cheering on.

Lisa Nordstrum and Love Elfvelen (top left) are Swedes living in Oslo "because there's not much jobs in Sweden". The had intended to support their home country, but Anna Bergendahl was elimiated during Thursday's semi-final.

"We live not too far from here, so we decided to go anyway," Lisa shrugged.

Londoner Ellie Garrod (top right) is celebrating her 27th birthday with a trip to Eurovision. She's dressed in a "Mighty Boosh-inspired mirror ball outfit" but despite her Union Jack tut, she's not supporting Josh Dubovie.

"I really love Romania - the pianos, and the fireballs," she says. "I love the song. Big fan."

Meanwhile, in the grounds of a nearby hotel, a huge group of British and Norwegian fans are having a last-minute pre-Eurovision picnic.

Neil Fenton (bottom left, singing into a foam microphone" will be cheering on Norway's entry tonight. "I think its got the sort of sound that a lot of people will vote for," he explains. "It builds up really well, with a big finish."

Local fans, led by Thor Kleppe (bottom right), are also supporting the home team. They have come dressed as Bobbysocks! who won the contest in 1985 - and they aren't worried about a second Norwegian win causing financial difficulties for national broadcaster NRK.

"Who cares? We can give the contest to Sweden!"

SATURDAY, 29 MAY. 1650 OSLO (1550 BST)

After four days of constant exposure to Eurovision, I was beginning to worry that my taste in music would be permanently altered, but they played Michael Bolton on the local radio station this morning and I still wanted my ears to fall off, so I haven't been completely brainwashed.

Still, a few of this year's songs have been added to the permanent tape loop in my mind.

Tom Dice
Tom Dice's guitar has become an earworm

Romania's Playing With Fire - a gutsy piano-driven duet - was on rotation when I woke up. Last night it was the Azeri entry, Drip Drop (complete with the dance moves) and I've even been known to hum Belgium's Me And My Guitar.

If you've got a favourite, let me know via the BBCEntsTeam twitter page.

I'll be there during the live show tonight, too, with "informative" (sarcastic) commentary on the acts.

SATURDAY, 29 MAY. 1430 OSLO (1330 BST)

If Eurovision has become known for political voting, then the Telenor Arena is the Parliament building - and the contestants are the diplomats.

You can try your best, but you can't make any of them endorse or criticise another nation's act.

"If the song is good, it doesn't matter where you come from and which countries like you," Israel's Harel Skaat told me.

"I cannot be the judge of the people participating this year because I am one of them," echoed Alyosha, representing Ukraine.

"It is just important is to vote for the song, and for the words that the artists are singing. We wish good luck to everybody."

How boring is that?

SATURDAY, 29 MAY. 1140 OSLO (1040 BST)

Safura is expected to make a splash with Drip Drop

All week long, Azerbaijan's Safura has been tipped to walk away with the Eurovision trophy.

Her song, Drip Drop, was co-written by Anders Bagge (Madonna, Cyndi Lauper) and she employed Beyonce's Single Ladies choreographer JaQuel Knight to plan her stage show.

I was lucky enough to catch up with the 17-year-old singer on the morning of the final. Here's what she had to say.

What is the song Drip Drop about?

The story of love, the story of passion, the story of broken heart. Of course, I'm only 17 and I have never felt something like that in my life ... but on the stage I'm another person, I can feel it with every part of my soul.

How did you get JaQuel Knight to choreograph your performance?

My team got several candidates, they've considered a lot of options and then JaQuel got interested in my song and in choreography for it.

Beyonce is my role model in every part of my career and Single Ladies is just amazing.

How does it feel to be tipped to win?

I'm not feeling relieved, I'm not that person. I feel that it's a huge responsibility. I'm not doing it for myself, I'm doing it for my whole country.

Have you any messages for the UK?

I want to thank to all my fans in UK for the letters they've sent to my site. It's lovely and I hope to see you soon, guys. Lot of hugs!

FRIDAY 28 MAY. 1850 OSLO (1750 BST)

Germany's contestant, Lena, has just finished a raucous press conference here in Oslo.

The singer does not suffer fools gladly - pretending to fall asleep at some questions, and answering others with outright lies (apparently she's been in a relationship with last year's winner Alexander Rybak for "three years and four months").

Her song, Satellite, is probably the only one in this year's field that I can see being a bona fide hit in the UK. It has a touch of Kate Nash and Lily Allen to it - although she denies any direct influence.

But the most notable thing about Lena's performance is how she chews up the English language like a hamster with its cheeks stuffed full of marshmallows. She's been asked about her "unique" accent so many times, she's written a song about it, which she performed at the press conference.

FRIDAY, 28 MAY. 1800 OSLO (1700 BST)

So, Josh got asked about the UK's terrible odds at the press conference. Here's what happened.

Josh Dubovie, Graham Norton and Peter Waterman
Josh Dubovie, Graham Norton and Peter Waterman were all on hand to answer questions

Josh: "That's fine. We're just going to have to go out there and prove them wrong."

Pete Waterman (interrupting boisterously): "Can I just say something? I once backed myself at William Hill on odds of 2,000/1 for Christmas number one. And I won. I took 30 grand off them. So that's what they know."

Radio One reporter Natalie Jamieson also asked Graham Norton if he'd be following Sir Terry Wogan's example and having a sneaky drink in the commentator's box on Saturday night.

"Well, I don't believe there's any alcohol allowed in the booths," he replied. "So I'll be arriving drunk."

FRIDAY, 28 MAY. 1715 OSLO (1415 BST)

The first full run-through of the Eurovision final has just finished inside the Telenor arena. It gave many of us the chance to see performances from Germany, Norway, Spain, France and the UK for the first time.

Germany's elfin starlet Lena was underwhelming. She wriggled around the stage half-heartedly, playing fast and loose with her song's melody. Maybe she was just saving herself for tonight's dress rehearsal, which is the one juries base their decision on.

France's entry was the polar opposite. Allez! Ola! Ole! doubles up as the country's World Cup theme song, and it shows. Jessy Matador stalked the stage like... well, a matador, as the carnival-esque dancehall track echoed around the arena.

Josh Dubovie got a decent reaction from the audience - but while he was on stage, bookmakers revealed that he has the lowest odds of UK any Eurovision entrant ever - just 175/1 at Ladbrokes.

He's about to hold a press conference with the rest of the UK delegation, so we'll see whether they're ready to fight back.

FRIDAY, 28 MAY. 1415 OSLO (1315 BST)

What's the link between Wales and Cyprus? Er... nothing. There aren't even any Welsh towns twinned with a Cypriot equivalent (according to Wikipedia, at least).

So how did Welsh singer Jon Lilygreen come to be representing the Mediterranean holiday destination at this year's Eurovision?

"How long have you got?" jokes the 22-year-old.

"In a nutshell, the drummer and the piano player in my band had a basic idea sent to them over the internet by two Cypriot songwriters, who wanted this track to be produced, and they needed a singer on it.

Jon Lilygreen and The Islanders
Jon Lilygreen says any money made will be spent on driving lessons

"So they asked me, and I made about 70 quid off it, and then a few months down the line, the guys who wrote the song wrote back and said 'everybody in Cyprus is really digging the track and is it okay if Jon Lilygreen comes out there and performs it?'"

The song went on to triumph over several more established artists in Cypriot's song selection, winning 12 points from both the telephone vote and the jury - a first.

Not that Jon and his band, The Islanders, went out with any intention of winning.

"We had £200 each, to last us a week," recalls pianist and arranger Sylvia Strand, a Norwegian-born musician who moved to Wales after marrying a Scotsman.

"All the other artists were famous in Greece and Cyrus, and they all had stylists and make-up artists, and we were dossing about in shoes from a well-known supermarket!"

Nonetheless, the band have made it through to Oslo, and defied most pundits by being selected to go through to the final tomorrow night - quite an achievement for a song recorded in a "back bedroom in a miner's cottage in Wales".

But, despite exposure to a 125 million-strong audience, Lilygreen has modest ambitions.

"On my 21st birthday, I took my driving test and I failed," he tells us.

"I think I owe it to myself to save any money I've made off all this and book in some extra lessons."

FRIDAY, 28 MAY. 1100 OSLO (1000 BST)

Abba's home country, Sweden, was the shock loser at last night's semi-final. Some bookmaker's had tipped Anna Bergendahl's acoustic rock number, This Is My Life, to come third overall.

Instead, she was ingloriously sent packing.

Sweden's contestant Anna Bergendahl
Sweden were last absent from the final in 1976

Sweden doesn't take Eurovision lightly, sending some of its biggest artists to the contest every year. In 2009, internationally-renowned opera singer Malena Ernman took part, and others include chart-topping glam rock group The Ark and Carola Haggkvist, whose debut album is the biggest-seller in Swedish history.

So they are decidedly unhappy at being kicked out of this year's contest before the final.

"I am felling really bad. I'm so sad," Swedish fan Ana told us.

She added that there was bad feeling towards the UK back at home because, as one of the "big four" countries who provide 40% of the funding for Eurovision, they get an automatic pass to the final.

"The UK get it so easy each year," she complained. "It's no competition to go through to the final."

Her friend Don added: "In the Swedish papers today they were saying that you're not allowed to bring live animals on the stage, but maybe if we could bring a white elephant, do something extra, we would get back on top."

You heard it here first.

FRIDAY, 28 MAY. 0050 OSLO (2350 BST)

Eurovision press conferences are indescribably dissimilar to the sort of thing you see at Downing Street.

For a start, they don't just let journalists in... the fans get to play along, too. This actually makes things much more entertaining - like those town hall meetings President Obama held during the US election campaign, if he'd been trying to get elected on the set of West Side Story.

The 10 qualifying acts from the semi-final have just endured such a press conference. It was delayed by a tense stand-off between Israel and Cyprus, whose supporters stood facing each other on opposite sides of the hall singing at the top of their voices. If anyone had started clicking their fingers, I'd have run for my life.

When it finally settled down, each country got to answer two questions, which ranged from the bland ("how do you feel") to the unfair ("what role will you take in uniting northern and southern Cyprus?")

Crueller still was the moment when each contestant had to plunge their hand into a bowl and draw out the number that would determine their place in the running order in the final.

Georgian beauty Sofia Nizharadze was hoping to get 13, as it represented her mother's birthday, and succeeded.

But the luckiest draw of them all went to Azerbaijan. Their act, Safura, claimed pole position - and will open Saturday's show with her song, Drip Drop.

Because the phone vote opens at the beginning of the programme this year, that could put her at a distinct advantage.


UK hopeful Josh Dubovie has just performed on an open-air stage opposite the Nobel Peace Centre in downtown Oslo.

Mark Loder and Carl Pfeiffer
Mark Loder and Carl Pfeiffer are among the UK fans

The 19-year-old was in fine voice - especially when you consider all the amaretto he drank last night.

He was cheered on by a large contingent of flag-waving UK including Mark Loder and Carl Pfeiffer.

"We've seen him a couple of times and every time he gets more accomplished," said Carl.

"There's a lot of power ballads this year so hopefully he'll stand out," added Mark. "When you come to Eurovision you want to have a dance and a bit of a boogie."

Still, the fans are realistic about Josh's chances. "Where will he come?" mused Carl. "Top 10 would be amazing!"


As many 40,000 people are descending on Oslo this week to take part in the Eurovision carnival.

It's tempting for the city's restaurants and bars to hike up prices - and, given that a solitary bottle of beer costs £7, you could be forgiven for thinking they'd succumbed.

But taxes on alcohol and tobacco are traditionally high in this clean-living country, and the local tourist board is working hard to make sure visitors don't get fleeced.

"We prepared the industry not to increase prices," says Frode Valland, from Visit Oslo.

"They are running with high season prices, but nobody has increased prices on top of that."

Oslo is well prepared for the influx. Buses, trams and taxis headed for the Telenor arena are branded with the Eurovision logo, and there are special events at the national ski arena, the opera house and even the Viking ship museum.

It helps, says Valland, that Oslo has previous experience in catering for international events.

"We have the trial world skiing championships in March, we work on the Nobel Peace Prize, the Bislett games - all of these events.

"Oslo's image is not created by two crazy weeks like this. It is created by a good, steady service."

But what about those of us who want a cheap drink to wash down our cheesy pop?

"Alcohol and cigarettes are expensive and, generally, they should be," he argues.

"But vegetables and juices are inexpensive."


I'd forgotten from my previous Eurovision experiences that the dress rehearsal goes through everything in exhaustive detail... right down to the voting and the scoreboard, so apologies for the late update.

Eurovision press centre
The press working hard in Oslo

The best reaction at tonight's recitation went to the Dutch representative, Sieneke. Her song, Ik Ben Verliefd (Sha-la-lie), is probably the most traditional Eurovision ditty in the line-up. Written by Pierre Kartner (aka Father Abraham of "The Smurfs" fame), it's a simple, melodic folk song with a lilting barrel organ accompaniment. It is also dreadfully irritating. Whether the voting public will be as enthusiastic as the Eurovision faithful in the arena tonight remains to be seen.

I don't want to give away too much more about the show, in case you're planning to watch it on BBC Three tomorrow night, but here are few things to watch out for:

• A robot stripper

• Performers shooting balls of fire out of their hands

• Something from Slovenia that probably sounded like a good idea at the time

• A "Bucks Fizz moment"

• A tree

And that is your lot.


I've just caught up with UK hopeful Josh Dubovie for a chat about his time in Oslo.

Apart from the rehearsals, he's been out seeing the sights and making the most of his Eurovision experience. Today, he had tea with the British ambassador, Jane Owen, and went to a local school where the pupils had all learnt traditional English songs to sing him. Not Greensleeves, mind you, but Congratulations and Making Your Mind Up.

As for the rehearsals, he says: "The first one was about getting used to the Telenor arena and getting the sound levels and camera angles right.

"The second time, I tried to imagine the arena filled with 18,000 people. It was more about the performance and giving that extra 10 per cent. We decided on a few changes to the camera angles in the viewing room afterwards, but now we're all set."

But it's not all about the telly. Tonight, Josh is performing his track, That Sounds Good To Me, at the Euroclub in Oslo town centre and tomorrow he's doing a show in the Eurovillage, an open air stage in front of the town hall. All good preparation for the big night.


It may only have been the first semi-final last night, but the Eurovision party has been in full swing for weeks.

Rehearsals started on 16 April, and every up, down, pout, pirouette and pyrotechnic has been documented and dissected by an army of journalists and Eurovision fans.

There are about 2,200 accredited members of the press here and, despite what you might think, they take it all very seriously indeed.

The Telenor Arena
The Telenor Arena: Not the most attractive site in Norway

Put it this way - they sell toothbrushes and toothpaste in the press centre cafe. And journalists only wash their teeth on extremely special occasions.

The UK entry, Josh Dubovie, got his first run-through last Saturday (there's video on the official Eurovision website if you want a sneak peek). That was followed by a 20-minute press conference, where he described the experience as "unbelievable".

There have been countless more practice runs throughout the week and, later tonight, we'll see the second dress rehearsal of the second semi-final. It's a pretty big deal - not only is it a ticketed, public event, but it is also the performance juries will base their votes on.

I'll be in the arena tonight to see what happens. Check this page later for a full account.


Eurovision flags

Stunning views of Norway's forests and fjords as we flew into Oslo about an hour ago.

Sadly, the Telenor Arena, where I'll spend most of the next five days, isn't as picturesque.

En route to the venue, I stopped off at a McDonalds - they say the price of a Big Mac is one of the world's most accurate economic indicators.

In Oslo, you can expect to pay about 76 kronor for your bun and burger. That's £8. It's going to be an expensive couple of days.


As I sit in the departure lounge in Heathrow, I've been reading up on the Eurovision Song Contest's logo (the newsagent ran out of copies of The Economist).

The design remains the same every year - but the heart at the centre changes to reflect the flag of the host country.

According to the organisers, the logo "symbolises the emotions experienced by the fans and enthusiasts of the show and the flag waving behaviour which is unique to the Eurovision Song Contest".

Amazingly, the logo for next year's contest will be available immediately after the winner is announced on Saturday night. That means the "heart flag" for each country has to be designed in advance.

Here's just some of the options they've got sitting on the Eurovision supercomputer in a secret underground bunker on the moon.

Mark Loder and Carl Pfeiffer
Mark Loder and Carl Pfeiffer are among the UK fans


All the fun kicks off in Oslo later - but I'm grounded in the UK until tomorrow morning. Bah, humbug.

The first semi-final is broadcast on BBC Three tonight from 2000BST (1900 GMT) and you can play along at home, thanks to a handy scorecard on the BBC's official Eurovision site.

Few of the big favourites for the 55th contest are taking part in the first show, however.

Bookmaker's are backing Azerbaijan's entry, Drip Drop, a rousing ballad which will make its first appearance in the second semi-final on Thursday.

Safura (Azerbaijan) and Lena (Germany) rehearse for the Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo
L-R: Safura (Azerbaijan) and Lena (Germany) rehearse for Eurovision

Google, meanwhile, is running its own analysis of the potential winners , based on the volume of searches made for each individual act.

By their criteria, German singer Lena - whose song Satellite sounds like Paloma Faith doing Russell Crowe's "English accent" - is the surefire winner.

You won't get to hear that song until Saturday's final, though, as Germany is one of the "big four" funders who get an automatic pass to the last round.

But fans of the contest are backing Ireland as this year's dark horse. Niamh Kavanagh lifted the title for the Emerald Isle 17 years ago and is among the strongest vocalists in this year's line-up.

For better or worse her song, It's For You, calls to mind Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On. If you have an aversion to penny whistles, put the kettle on when she makes her debut on Thursday.

And who is worth watching among tonight's 17 hopefuls?

Fans of men in leather waistcoats will appreciate the Greek entry, OPA! And during the Polish song, Legenda , dancers will be doing unnatural things with apples.

Don't you just love Eurovision?

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