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Eurovision Song Contest 2012


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One of the highlights of the year is here at last - Eurovision 2012 broadcasts from Baku, Azerbaijan tomorrow night on BBC1 @ 8.00pm GMT.

Who else loves it! Having a party? It's perfect BBQ whether and what better way to enjoy one than with Eurovision. Pick your faves!

01 United Kingdom : Engelbert Humperdinck - Love Will Set You Free

02 Hungary : Compact Disco - Sound Of Our Hearts

03 Albania : Rona Nishliu - Suus

04 Lithuania : Donny Montell - Love Is Blind

05 Bosnia & Herzegovina : Maya Sar - Korake Ti Znam

06 Russia : Buranovskiye Babushki - Party For Everybody

07 Iceland : Greta Salóme & Jónsi - Never Forget

08 Cyprus : Ivi Adamou - La La Love

09 France : Anggun - Echo (You And I)

10 Italy : Nina Zilli - L'Amore È Femmina (Out Of Love)

11 Estonia : Ott Lepland - Kuula

12 Norway : Tooji - Stay

13 Azerbaijan : Sabina Babayeva - When The Music Dies

14 Romania : Mandinga - Zaleilah

15 Denmark : Soluna Samay - Should've Known Better

16 Greece : Eleftheria Eleftheriou - Aphrodisiac

17 Sweden : Loreen - Euphoria

18 Turkey : Can Bonomo - Love Me Back

19 Spain : Pastora Soler - Quédate Conmigo (Stay With Me)

20 Germany : Roman Lob - Standing Still

21 Malta : Kurt Calleja - This Is The Night

22 F.Y.R. Macedonia : Kaliopi - Crno I Belo

23 Ireland : Jedward - Waterline

24 Serbia : Željko Joksimović - Nije Ljubav Stvar

25 Ukraine : Gaitana - Be My Guest

26 Moldova : Pasha Parfeny - Lăutar

I think Ukraine's song sounds like a winner this year. Jedward's track is not anywhere near as good as last years so I can't see them bettering or equaling their 8th place finish from last years competition. Not sure how the rest of Europe feels about Engelbert...mostly I just think he's old, mostly. So I don't think he will win. Maybe a top 10 finish. But I am sure he can do enough to avoid nul point.

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I have so little to do tomorrow that I genuinely risk turning this on at some point. I will endevour to find something else to fill my time.

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I have a mate who's been living in Baku for the past 9 months. He says they are absolutely mental for it over there. It's like the biggest thing that's ever happened.

I think they've built an arena especially for it

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I think they've built an arena especially for it

Yeah, it's purpose built, pretty impressive too. It's an enormous building, and they've rigged it so the entire outside of the stadium, excluding the roof, lights up in the colours of the participating nation, at the time of their song. It looks pretty magnificent. Did garner some controversy though, as allegedly the government bulldozed a bunch of houses to make way for it, and the inhabitants were not best pleased.

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I'll be ribbing my mate about that. He's been going on about how cool the arena is, and he's working over there for Human Rights or some shit.

Conflict of interests there ;)

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Speaking to a friend last night who loves the Eurovision (as an excuse for a piss up), I was lead to believe Iceland's entrant featuring Jonsi, was the Jonsi, from Sigur Ros, for an hour.

It isn't.

The song is also like a cut price particularly soft Evanescence ballad.

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Haha classic Father Ted. Although it does ring a little true this year with Spain joking that they didn't want to win as they couldn't afford to host it next time.

I, like BOF, will be looking for something else to fill my time on Saturday night.

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Topical and of interest to Stevo

Eurovision does little to help human rights in Azerbaijan

Eurovision does little to help human rights in Azerbaijan

This year's host city, Baku, has had a makeover but journalists and activists say that under the surface, life is as grim as ever

Elnur Majidli, a shy 22-year-old Azeri, lowered his voice when he talked about the time he spent in prison.

He mainly read books to pass the time – 102 in all. "I discovered George Orwell," he said. "The novel 1984 is the situation we have in Azerbaijan today. [President Ilham] Aliyev is like Big Brother – he sees everything, knows everything."

Majidli was released from prison last week after serving half of a two-year sentence on charges of hooliganism that rights groups say were politically motivated. Amnesty International named him a prisoner of conscience, jailed for his participation in opposition protests against Azerbaijan's all-powerful president. "They wanted to lessen the pressure a bit because of Eurovision," Majidli said of his unexpected release. "They wanted to show they're humane."

Azerbaijan's hosting of the Eurovision song contest has thrust the oil-rich country into the international spotlight.

The very nature of Eurovision, a kitschy pop spectacle in which competitors representing about 40 countries (of which 26 reach the final) perform a song live on television, is in stark contrast to the grim reality of life in Azerbaijan.

The government has poured millions into the capital, Baku, turning it into a sort of European capital on the Caspian, with grand, illuminated buildings, a tree-lined boardwalk, and even a fleet of London-style cabs to ferry visitors around. Yet beneath its marbled exterior, and just outside the city limits, a different vision emerges – one where journalists are routinely threatened, human rights activists pressured and protesters and bloggers who dare to challenge Aliyev put behind bars.

According to Amnesty, 16 political prisoners remain behind bars in Azerbaijan. Reporters Without Borders ranks the country near the bottom of its press freedom index, noting the continuing imprisonment of five journalists and one blogger, and the unsolved murder last year of a prominent journalist, Rafig Tagi.

The vast wealth that flowed into the country as oil prices soared and then peaked in 2008 failed to trickle down to most of the population, with the average salary standing at 351 manat (£285) a month, according to government statistics. Independent observers say it is much lower, at just 130 manat a month, on average, for doctors and other state workers.

While Majidli was released, more than a dozen men arrested alongside him in April 2011 for participating in an anti-Aliyev protest remain imprisoned and 11 have gone on hunger strike. Majidli was kicked out of university after his arrest, but vows to continue to challenge the Aliyev regime. "I'll continue my activities until Azerbaijan has democracy, human rights and respect for its people," he says.

Aliyev has ruled Azerbaijan since 2003, inheriting the mantle from his father, Heydar Aliyev, who died months after giving up power.

The elder Aliyev has since become the subject of a state-sponsored personality cult, lending his name to museums and streets. The airport is named after him, as is an enormous new cultural centre designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid. Posters bearing his image compete with adverts for Burberry and Chanel on Baku's spotless boulevards. There are at least three statues of the late leader in Baku, and dozens around the country.

His son and daughter-in-law, along with their two daughters, have been accused by journalists and activists of ruling the country's politics and economy like a personal fiefdom. A US diplomatic cable written in early 2010 and leaked by WikiLeaks compared the running of Azerbaijan to "the feudalism found in Europe during the middle ages".

The government has gone on the offensive to deny accusations of dictatorship and corruption. "Azerbaijan is not an authoritarian state – we want to prove this to the whole world," said Ali Hasanov, an aide to the president. "Is Ilham Aliyev to be blamed because he is the son of Heydar Aliyev, but got the majority of votes? Is this not democracy?"

With all television channels and most newspapers under the control of the state or members of the president's family, activists argue that it is not a democracy, comparing it to an absolute monarchy instead.

An Azerbaijan plainclothes police officer detains opposition activists in Baku An Azerbaijan plainclothes police officer detains opposition activists in Baku who tried to hold a rally near the TV station broadcasting the Eurovision song contest. Photograph: Vano Shlamov/AFP/Getty Images

"If we had one normal television channel, there would be an Arab spring in a minute," said Idrak Abbasov, a leading journalist for Zerkalo, one of the country's few independent newspapers. Abbasov lay wrapped in a blanket, his torso in a back brace – the result of a beating he received last month while covering the continuing demolition of homes to make way for apartment blocks and villas for the elite.

Other journalists have been blackmailed, with at least three clandestinely videotaped engaging in sexual acts. Two of the tapes were broadcast on a television channel owned by the president's cousin. A third, of Khadija Ismayilova, a journalist for Radio Free Europe who has spent years investigating the first family's wealth, was leaked online.

"It's not going to stop me," Ismayilova said. "Those who are stealing people's money are the ones who should be ashamed."

Hasanov, the Aliyev aide, blamed the video of Ismayilova and beating of Abbasov on "foreign special services", a commonly used euphemism for Armenia, Azerbaijan's neighbour, with whom it fought a brutal war over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Hasanov likes to remind visitors that Azerbaijan's army remains on full war footing.

Anti-Armenian propaganda and sentiment continues to run high. During the 2009 Eurovision, several Azeris who voted for the Armenian contestant were called in for questioning for posing a "potential security threat" and being "unpatriotic". Armenia is boycotting the contest this year. "Sport and cultural events should not be politicised," Hasanov said.

Baku city centre has been transformed into a Eurovision playground, with posters advertising the contest adorning every bus, pay phone and several of the city's new skyscrapers. "Eurovision gives us a chance to show our city, state and people at their best," Hasanov said.

Yet just outside the city centre, far from the oil wealth poured into Baku, lies a land where roads are rarely paved. In the suburb of Balakhani, just 15 miles away, dilapidated houses painted bright pink and blue stand in stark contrast with their corrugated roofs and grim surroundings. Children play in the shadows of oil pumps and black pools filled with rubbish. The sour smell of oil hangs in the air.

"Of course it's dangerous, but what can we do?" said Afag, a 43-year-old mother of three. "They give us water when they want and have promised to build a rubbish fill. Why haven't they? Ask the government."

"There has been a huge flow of oil money and a presidential decision was taken to turn Azerbaijan into Dubai," said Arif Yunus, a human rights activist at the Institute for Peace and Democracy. "It's like an Arab monarchy." He accuses the west of ignoring the country's problems because of the vast riches to be made there. "The situation in Azerbaijan is worse than in Belarus but the west closes its eyes to us and even takes part in it sometimes."

With the Eurovision finals nearly upon them, activists find themselves anxious of the government's reaction once the spotlight on the country fades.

"I fear there will be a strong crackdown and serious human rights violations," said Abbasov, the journalist.

"We were all expecting the situation would get better because of Eurovision," said Ali Novruzov, a prominent blogger. "It didn't – it's nearly Eurovision and we're in the same situation."

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and the inhabitants were not best pleased.
... as they were sleeping inside them at the time #ChineseStylee.

Also #IsraeliStylee.

They aren't there this year to approve though I don't think...

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my prediction?

greece will give cyprus 12 points and vice versa

Aha, now you're not following Terry's golden rule there. Only say who is sure to vote for who after they vote, then say something like, would you believe it, I wouldn't have guessed xxx giving 12 points to yyyy.

I predict your prediction will be wrong.

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**** 'aye.






The fact that Ireland have chosen Jedward to represent them straight away made me think of that episode.

"Anyone would think you wanted Ireland to lose the Euro song constest!"

"... HAHAHAHAHA ..."

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