Friday Five #1: Eurovision

Hello lovely people! Apologies for having been so slack on the blogging front recently; work has been super-hectic the last few weeks, then we went on holiday and it's all just been crazy busy. But I've thankfully got a bit more time over the next few weeks so hopefully I'll be able to post a bit more regularly, and am launching my good intentions with the Friday Five.

The 'Friday Five' is a new semi-regular series of five songs linked together by a particular theme. It could be themed around a particular occasion or simply what I'm loving that week! For the first in the series, I thought I'd kick off with a Eurovision-themed post in honour of the contest, which is happening in Stockholm tomorrow night (good luck Joe and Jake!). I will admit most of these are quite obscure, because I am that person who always likes the really random songs that come somewhere in the lower mid-table, but they all have a special place in my Eurovision-loving heart.

1. Guildo Horn - 'Guildo hat euch lieb' (Germany, 1998, seventh place)

1998 - the last time the UK hosted the contest - was the first time I watched Eurovision. However, my abiding memory isn't Dana International winning, but Guildo Horn. 1998 was the last contest where countries still had to sing in their official language, and the sight of a middle-aged German Terry Nutkins lookalike, wearing a billowy yellow satin shirt and green trousers, playing cowbells and climbing the lighting rig, seared itself into my nine-year-old brain. To me it's what Eurovision is all about - silly costumes, a cheesy song, and a performer enjoying every second of their three minutes of international fame. Although looking at the rest of these I think it set a worrying template...

2. Jedward - 'Lipstick' (Ireland, 2011, eighth place)

This feels like a confession ('Hi, I'm Laura and I think Jedward were a good Eurovision entry'), but hear me out! Ireland had struggled at Eurovision since the introduction of the semi-final in 2004 and so when Jedward, who were somewhat divisive on The X Factor, were announced as the Emerald Isle's representatives in 2011, a nation collectively groaned. But when the twins burst onto the stage in Dusseldorf, with shoulder pads almost as high as their hair and a ridiculously catchy song, they were a huge surprise. (I apologise now that it will be in your head all week.) Eurovision can get you like that; sometimes, something you're worried is going to be terrible actually turns out to be quite good. Ireland clearly liked them so much they sent Jedward back to the contest a year later, but unfortunately they didn't do quite so well, only coming 19th.

3. Sidsel Ben Semmane - 'Twist of Love' (Denmark, 2006, 17th place)

I stand by my view that 2006 was the best Eurovision ever. You had Lordi winning, Lithunia's slightly overly optimistic 'We Are The Winners' (which finished sixth), and this, which became something of a running gag amongst my university friends. The lyrics are completely random - 'while poor old O'Smarty was left in the ring' anyone? - but it's uptempo, fun and in a strange way we all fell in love with it. Ever since it's been a regular feature of our various get-togethers, including our annual Eurovision parties, and Nick and I even played it at our wedding. If I had to pick a favourite Eurovision entry, purely for the memories associated with it, it would probably be this one.

4. Pirates of the Sea - 'Wolves of the Sea' (Latvia, 2008, 12th place)

You might have guessed that I have a running thread of liking the stuff at Eurovision that is slightly bonkers, so it was only logical that one of my favourites would involve a silly costume. There have been some brilliant examples of them over the years - the aforementioned Lordi and Guildo Horn to name two - but I've gone with Latvia's Pirates of the Sea, who unsurprisingly modelled their look on Jack Sparrow. Despite everything about it being inherently silly, it does stick in your head (again, apologies) and the performers look like they're enjoying themselves, which is really all I want in my Eurovision entries. And you can't argue they weren't committed to a theme...

5. The Common Linnets - 'Calm After The Storm' (Netherlands, 2014, second place)

There had been attempts to introduce country to Eurovision before - witness Texas Lightning, who came 13th for Germany in 2006 - but The Common Linnets were the first to make an impact. Sounding like something that wouldn't be out of place on the 'Nashville' soundtrack, with beautiful harmonies and simple staging, it's a song I still listen to regularly even now and - had it not been for the legend that is Conchita Wurst sweeping all before her - it probably would have won. I really like the Country seems to be a thing for Dutch Eurovision entries; they're through to the final with Douwe Bob's 'Slow Down', which is where my vote is going on Saturday.

Will you be watching Eurovision tomorrow? What's your favourite moment from the contest?

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