Friday, October 30, 2009

Idol 2009: you're just too good to be true

I've just finished watching this week's clips so here is my review.

Tove: Mack The Knife. Backed by dancers in white shirts and braces, and you know how much i love that look. She seems to be this year's Amanda Jenssen and I think it would be fair to say by now that she has it in the bag, as she definitely has the cheeky charm and charisma to win it. This week she did enough and did it well.

Calle: It's Not Unusual. Great fun to see the rock singer in a suit and bow tie. After his good performance last week he deserved to be here, however there was nothing special or spectacular about his version of the Tom Jones hit and I can't help but reiterate my view from a couple of weeks ago that his days are numbered and he will go in the next 2 weeks.

Reza: New York New York. She is really growing in confidence, talent and stature as this contest goes on and this week she embraced the challenge. Unfortunately the last note was a bit off, but she deserves to stay for another week.

Eddie: Can't Take My Eyes Off You. Looks-wise, Eddie is the kind of guy that I would probably create in a lab as a scientific experiment if I had to create a perfect-gorgeous-man-hybrid of reality-talent contestants, for example Mathieu Johann and Darius Danesh. But looks aren't everything and unfortunately, for me Eddie vocally took a step back this week and he seemed to get the lyrics wrong at various times. Not one of his best weeks, and probably best watched with the volume down.

Erika: Sway. There was nothing too wrong with this but she has no charisma and I think that's the main reason why she went. She will probably turn up in Melodifestivalen 2010 if the rumours are to be believed though, so Erika-fans may get their fix early in the new year.

Erik: You Don't Have To Say You Love Me. One of the most difficult songs that anyone could be given to sing, but he did it well, as he has done week after week. If this competition is based on vocal talent and consistent performances then he is way ahead of the pack and for that reason I hope he wins. However we know what these contests are like by now...

Mariette: You To Me Are Everything. The Real Thing's soul/disco classic. Like Calle, Mariette seemed to be in very unfamiliar territory this week. As ever, she was good but there is still something missing - I can't really warm to her, even though she is very talented, and I think that may be her downfall.

Rabih: That's Amore. Unintentionally hilarious and embarrassing. Imagine Michael Jackson singing Dean Martin and you get the idea. Is there some kind of "vote for the worst" thing going on here? This was rubbish. It's time he went.

Erika and Eddie in the bottom two: Erika leaves this week. I'm not too bothered that she's gone as I've never really warmed to her, but Rabih should really have gone this week.

The Turkey Diaries: Day 8 - Monday 21st September 2009

For the last time we woke to blue skies, bright sun and the usual over-30 degree temperatures. This time tomorrow it will be cold, dull and probably raining :( so we'll have to make the most of it as it's a long long time till we'll see anything like it again.

After breakfast we have our usual stroll down the prom, where it is 33 degrees this morning, and stop off for a Turkish tea (not an apple tea, as there's none available).
Afterwards we go back to the canal, which continues to be one of our favourite spots in Icmeler - as well as being a very picturesque centrepiece to the town. You only have to buy from a stall once and then on your return you are greeted like old friends.

We go up in the direction of the old village for yet another first-class lunch. The choice of food on this holiday has been amazing, there is so much variety on every menu, with something for everyone.

After another stroll around town we head back early to the hotel to do our final packing then have to check out. After sitting for a while in reception, we go out for a final stroll down the seafront, sit on a wall near where the taxi boats leave from, watching the sun set and the lights come on in Icmeler and Marmaris in the distance. It’s a magical setting and I’m feeling quite sad to be saying goodbye to this part of the world but hope we can maybe return some day, all things being well.

We then go back to the hotel and it's not long until the coach arrives to take us to Dalaman Airport for our flight home. The journey from Icmeler to Dalaman seems to go in quite quickly, punctuated by another stop-off at the 'comfort stop' (where Alexander Rybak's "Fairytale" and Hadise's "Dum Tek Tek" are playing over the stereo!) and we finally arrive later in the evening at Dalaman which functions in a rather unusual way, as your luggage is scanned even before you check-in. There are many distraught and tearful passengers in our check-in queue as they realise they are over the luggage limit and have to pay for excess baggage - thankfully we're not among them, and I realise I made the right decision not to buy all those tempting handbags on offer in Icmeler.
Then we go through passport control and then get our tourist visas cancelled (sob) Of course our flight is delayed tonight, so we have to hang around for a lot longer than we anticipated. Which could bankrupt you if you hang around too long....

If you are familiar with the concept of buying a 500 ml bottle of Coca-Cola in an airport shop like WH Smith or Boots, you'll be aware that this usually costs about £1.50.

In these credit-crunching days with the exchange rate of £1 = 1 euro, Turkey has been fantastic value for money at almost 2.5 lira to the £. So you would expect to be charged maybe 4 lira for your bottle of Coca-Cola.

For you will pay no less than 10 lira - yes, 4 of your British pounds - for that 500 ml bottle. Sorry to go on about this at length, but this is a robbery that even Dick Turpin would shake his head at. Dalaman has a reputation as "the world’s most expensive airport" and now I know why.

Eventually in the wee small hours we board our flight home, which is a lot quieter than the flight going out. We try to sleep but fail miserably as it’s too cold and uncomfortable, but we must have got some sleep along the way as the next thing we remember is the pre-landing announcements.

We arrive just after 8.00 am in time for breakfast at the airport. The temperature here is only a third of what we left behind in Turkey. There are now two very itchy mosquito bites on my legs (which subsequently take a couple of weeks to heal).

This has been a holiday filled with lots of laughs, new experiences, surprises and happy memories. Icmeler is a clean, safe resort and despite being targeted mainly at British tourists with the "full English" breakfasts, Sky Sports and "three for a tenner", we managed to get enough of an authentic Turkish experience and you never forget where you are. The people have been polite and courteous and always made you feel welcome.

As people who don't do package holidays, we found Icmeler to be a surprising revelation. I haven't stopped talking about this holiday since I got back home - and I'm sure it won't be our last time on Turkish soil. Verdict: highly recommended. If you want "the buzz" then head for Marmaris, but if you want something a bit quieter with a mix of tourist-appeal and a unique Turkish touch, then Icmeler is the place to be.

This weekend....

It's all gone a bit topsy-turvy as I'm doing all my Friday night things on Saturday so all things being well I'll turn tonight into Saturday night instead - I'll do a couple of blog posts tonight including the final instalment of the Turkey Diaries. Retro Saturday is now fortnightly so it'll be back next weekend.

It'll be nice to get the Swedish Idol results live too! (Good luck Eddie!!!!)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Grammisgalan 2010 TV blackout shock!

Bad news for us Swedish music fans. The 2010 Swedish Grammy Awards, due to be held on 15th January 2010, will not be broadcast on Swedish TV. It will be the first time since 2003 that the annual music awards ceremony is not broadcast on television. TV4 has chosen to opt out for "practical and economic" reasons.

The annual music industry ceremony has not recently enjoyed high viewing figures, and the decision has also been made to move the Stockholm venue for the ceremony from the large Hovet arena to the much smaller Münchebryggeriet which holds only around 1000 people, therefore there will be no tickets made available to the public. Source: Musikindustrin

This week's Idol songs

The glitter, the glamour, the should be great fun on Idol this week.

I always look forward to reading Martin Söderström's excellent weekly analysis of the song choices - this week's article is at

I have to agree with practically all of what he says. Erik's 'gimmick' has been to turn every song he sings into a vibrant rock song. For me, he has been faultless week after week but could this week be his undoing? And I agree that Rabih could be on shaky ground. Eddie (cue swooning outbreak at EuropeCrazy HQ) has a very appropriate song title as we can't take our eyes off him (groan)

Tove Östman Styrke – ”Mack the knife”.
Calle Kristiansson – ”It's not unusual”.
Reza Ningtyas Lindh – ”New York, New York”.
Eddie Razaz – ”Can't take my eyes off you”.
Erika Selin – ”Sway”.
Erik Grönwall – ”You don't have to say you love me”.
Mariette Hansson – ”You to me are everything”.
Rabih Jaber – ”That's amore”.

All will be revealed on Friday night!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Turkey Diaries: Day 7 - Sunday 20th September 2009

It's a bit cloudier to start with today, but don't be fooled - the weather is as hot as ever. I wouldn't exactly say that we're acclimatised by now, but we have coped remarkably well in this heat, and the hotel air-conditioning has literally been a life-saver.

I wanted to mention one particular thing about Icmeler - everywhere is so clean and there is no rubbish lying around the street yet you very rarely see public litter bins!

Today it was time to get out and about again, but in another direction. Whilst Marmaris lies to the left of Icmeler, there is a smaller, prettier resort to the right hand side, it's called Turunc, and that was where we were heading today. The best way to get to Turunc is by taxi boat rather than taking a hair-raising journey by road. It’s probably the most hilarious boat trip we’ve ever been on (I won't go into detail, but it was great fun!) and we arrive in Turunc 25 minutes after leaving Icmeler. It’s also a very scenic trip past all the stunning rocks and mountains, and the sea is beautiful.

Turunc is lovely and small and is a bit like Icmeler-in-miniature, it even has its own little canal - just like Icmeler!

Turunc is more laid-back and there is less of the hard sell going on. We actually passed a couple of shops and didn’t get dragged in to buy something. Needless to say there was a morning tea stop and a fascinating chat with a very articulate and intelligent young waiter.

Afterwards, well what else but a bit of shopping! In one shop we receive the usual polite service and the owner tells us that today is the end of Ramadan which means that there are lots of treats and goodies around so he offers us some sweets too.

Lunch at the Sahin Restaurant, which is a real Turkish place so let's have something distinctly Turkish - pide, which is the Turkish version of pizza.

After lunch we go for a walk up the street and then down to the seafront where there is a nice little walkway, smaller but similar to the one in Icmeler. There are more Turkish holidaymakers here than in Icmeler.

Faithful travelling companion finally gets his elusive Galatasaray home top at a "good price". The seafront here is very nice and has a few bars and restaurants - very handy for another stop off in the afternoon for the usual apple tea (can you guess that I'm addicted to it by now?) By this time the weather is now very very very hot.

Later in the afternoon we take the taxi boat back to Icmeler and we take in more of the stunning scenery on the way.

We grab some more purchases including an expertly-haggled deal on boxes of Turkish Delight (I don't like the stuff myself but I know a lot of people who do!!) I have my own little haggling triumph as I buy a T-shirt with the Turkish flag on it and get a very good deal.

Unfortunately the gloom is starting to gather with the realisation that we're approaching the end of our holiday. Back to the hotel to start packing and get ready for our last night out. Tonight I want to go to Dream Boys again for one last time to see the gang (specially the legendary Yahya and his balancing fish bowl cocktails) for one last time. Get the hankies out - it's going to get emotional....

But before that it's time for dinner, which is usually determined by a meet-and-greet waiter catching your eye and by that time there is no escape! Tonight it was another set-menu deal with mezes, nan bread, chicken, chips and veg. Dinner is accompanied as ever by a very nice Turkish wine (served as ever by a very nice Turkish waiter!) Needless to say we also have the legendary Turkish coffee to finish. I liked that big nan bread....

It’s "Kalinka" time in some of the bars on the main street. We pass one bar and one guy asks us "You like that music? Are you Russian?"

So for the final time we head to Dream Boys which is very very busy tonight. Anyone for Turkish folk dance/Grease/Dirty Dancing/Michael Jackson/Stavros Flatley? Yes it is groundhog day once again, but when it's this much fun then we don't care. For our last night in Turkey we tried a Turkish spirit called Raki, which tasted of aniseed and was ok.

As usual the party ends at midnight and we finally leave at 12.15. Hugs, kisses, tearful farewells.... In the immortal words of the MC, "Dream Boys we love yoooooooooooo!!" We don’t go anywhere else but go straight back to our hotel. On the way I breathe in that last late-night Turkish air, as this time tomorrow we will be in the airport for our night flight home. Maybe feeling a little sad tonight at leaving Icmeler behind, but I just want to say that this holiday has been great fun, full of new experiences and different situations. The smiles never left our faces tonight, nor for that matter on this holiday.

Only one more day to go: I'll put the final part of the Turkey Diaries on the blog before the end of the week.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Turkey Diaries: Day 6 - Saturday 19th September 2009

We decide to spend today in Icmeler again and do some more exploring. We walk up what I call 'Icmeler main street'... see the old village area which is quite a distance from the beach area where we are based (or at least in this heat it feels like a long distance!) There are lots of apartments, supermarkets and restaurants, but we don't make it as far as the real old village which must still be quite far away and it’s too hot to walk any further. At one point I could hardly breathe and it felt as if the heat was choking, it was like a mixture of heat and fumes even though there were no cars around.

On our way back we discovered this nice little square.

We have something traditional and Turkish at lunchtime - yes it's kebab time again folks!!!

After lunch we do more exploring around the back streets and do more shopping. We then walk up as far as the end of the promenade where you get a full view of Icmeler promenade on the left, and Marmaris coastline on the right. It’s amazing that you can see the two places at once, and all the mountains all around. It’s just breathtaking. Here is Icmeler beach from the other end of the promenade:

And here is the view across from Icmeler Beach to Marmaris straight ahead in the distance:

We stop off at a cafe which has the radio on (Power Turk, which is the best radio station here) pumping out high-energy Turkish pop tunes. Most of the cafes/bars here have the radio on and we really enjoy it of course, of course you’d avoid it if you’re stuck on a hot Saturday afternoon in the Pig & Whistle etc, watching wall to wall English football on Sky TV. Which a lot of people here are doing. Why do people bother going abroad when they want everything to be the same as at home? Some pubs are even advertising tonight’s big event - X Factor at 9.00 pm!

Faithful travelling companion decides to go for another Turkish shave, and all the resulting facial carnage (!) whilst I stay back at the hotel and go for a swim. It's been nice to swim again on this holiday. Where I live it is only about a 10 minute walk from the local baths, so I should have no excuse, but you know what they say - the spirit is willing, but....

Dinner tonight at a posh, traditional Turkish restaurant, which involves chicken and expensive wine....and faithful travelling companion gets stuck into the baklava once again. Which is a good excuse for another photograph of baklava, in my never ending food-photography attempts to get onto Blogs of Note!

If you've had enough of quiet and refined dinners then there's the reassuring same old-same old sounds drifting out of the bars along the canal....yes it's "Country Roads", "Who the **** is Alice", and good old Lady GaGa complete with "Poker Face". Pitbull! The Black Eyed Peas! Tarkan! And....the "Cha Cha Slide" which worryingly I remember all the lyrics to but I'm a bit rusty on the moves. And good news girls, the 'eye candy' here never disappoints...! You don't have to look too far as there are lots of lovely waiters everywhere. I am sooooo loving Icmeler (for a number of reasons, but that's another one!!)

Monday, October 26, 2009

More Melodifestivalen rumours....

Expressen reports today that all four of the singers of the 'joker' songs in next year's MF will be female....and they named two of them, one being Sofia Jannok who is a relative newcomer, and the other one is none other than the legendary Lena Philipsson. Is it a rumour, is it true, or is it just wishful thinking?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Turkey Diaries - Day 5: Friday 18th September 2009

Decided to venture out of Icmeler today and take a trip to Marmaris by taxi boat. The journey takes about 40 minutes, even though Marmaris is just ‘next door’ and only minutes by bus. It’s a leisurely, visually stunning journey. This place really is like a little paradise, surrounded by mountains all the way round.

The taxi boat drops us off near the old town/castle/harbour area which suits us as this is the area we want to go to. The weather in Marmaris feels even hotter than it is in Icmeler.
We stop off at a cafe at the harbour and have doner kebabs for lunch, followed by our first baklava (dessert) of the holiday. Strangely enough, although we were familiar with this dessert after trying it in Turkish restaurants in our home country, we very rarely saw it on menus whilst in Turkey. If you haven't tasted baklava it is a very sweet pastry flavoured with honey. If you have a sweet tooth you'll love it!
As my feet are very sore and bleeding thanks to an uncomfortable new pair of sandals I buy a very comfortable pair of flip flops and haggle them down to a good price.

We then go up to the castle, where you pay a small entrance fee of 3 lira (just over £1) to go in. It also has a small museum with lots of old artefacts and stuff from the Sultan/Ottoman Empire era, and it’s quite fascinating too. There are also amazing, stunning views over the bay from the top of the castle.

We then make our way down to the covered bazaar, which is like a little shopping mall, Turkish style. The shopkeepers will do anything to get customers. One of them shouts "Hello young couple!" Which we like, but flattery still gets you nowhere :)))))

Stop off at a cafe on the seafront which is very good for people-watching. We don't really venture too far from the harbour/old town area as we've already seen other parts of the town on our journey to the Turkish bath and the Turkish night. Marmaris is very big, with countless massive hotel complexes and all-night bars and discos. It may be ok if you like that sort of thing, but I'm glad we chose Icmeler over Marmaris. Icmeler is smaller, quieter and dare I say, less 'tacky'.

Everywhere you go you see statues of Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey. Here he is on Marmaris seafront.

We make our way back to Icmeler on the taxi boat. Back to the hotel for a rest and then we went out for dinner - another set menu with the usual mezes and a big nan bread for starters. I have a chicken dish whilst faithful travelling companion goes for the sea bream, prompting the annual "any bream will do" gag from me. A very nice meal too. After dinner we walk along the seafront and along the canal. The shops stay open till about midnight. There is a shop here called 'Turkish Primark' which I thought was quite funny and I took a photo of the sign.

Inevitably we end up at Dream Boys again, which is just as well as once you’re spotted you don’t have the option of going anywhere else. We are greeted like old friends and I get my chance to flirt with my favourite waiters!

Flirting aside, it's been very interesting to chat to the various waiters whom we've met over the week. Each has a different story to tell, but they often have the same thing in common - they are not natives of Icmeler but many of them come from poverty-stricken rural areas of the country, where life is hard, unemployment is high and there is no industry to speak of. It's when you hear these stories, you realise just how important tourism is to the Turkish economy. Another thing that struck me when reading various internet message boards about Icmeler, and Turkish holiday resorts in general, was that people keep returning there. Now I've been here for a few days, I can clearly understand why: you get a unique, happy feeling here which you don't get anywhere else. The Turkish people make you feel wanted, and seem genuinely touched if you appreciate their country too.

Anyway I digress. What's happening in Dream Boys then? Well, it's the usual script - dancing waiters, tributes to Stavros Flatley (!!!), Grease, Dirty Dancing etc and dancing to the likes of the Black Eyed Peas, Pitbull, Lady GaGa and David Guetta. It may be Friday night but rules are rules and at midnight the party music is switched off as usual and replaced by slow tunes with the volume down. We leave shortly afterwards. Although Icmeler isn’t exactly jumping at this time of the night, there are still a few people out and about, and it still feels a very safe place.

The Turkey Diaries: Day 4 - Thursday 17th September 2009

Thursday. Groundhog day. Sunny again, hot again, so on with the hat and the sunblock :)

We're staying in Icmeler again today, chilling out (if that's an appropriate phrase to use in this excessive heat) anyway the good thing about this holiday is that the pace has been slowed right down. Which is something we're not used to, as we don't really do relaxation on holiday - trying to fit everything in. So this is good, and we've established this little tradition of a Turkish apple tea stop at 11.30 am. This is a picture of Turkish apple tea, which is a very wonderful thing indeed.

Icmeler has a rather lovely promenade which we have become familiar with. Along the way there are a number of wooden signs and here is one of them.

One of the really nice things about Icmeler is the canal. There is a number of shops/stalls/bars/restaurants alongside. I took this picture of where the canal meets the Mediterranean Sea.

After this we do the Turkish shopping experience once again. Faithful travelling companion, being a Galatasaray football fan, haggles his way to the purchase of an away strip - which I like, because it is purple (my favourite colour) although he really wants a home strip. Meanwhile I buy lots of bracelets in different colours with the 'evil eye' which is a particularly Turkish speciality. Everywhere you go you are met with what I call the "Turkish Inquisition" - a regulation set of questions: what's your name, where are you from, what hotel are you staying in, when did you arrive, are you married, do you have children etc etc. Initially I thought I'd have found this intrusive but when you are in Turkey it seems to be the most natural thing and is a nice, friendly gesture. The shopkeepers/waiters seem to be taking a genuine interest and the amazing thing is that they always remember your name, or where you come from!

More shopping. I buy a box of apple tea: I really love this drink and was very happy to see that Whittards sell it at home so when my Turkish box is finished I'll be investing in some more.

We spend the day exploring, lunching, exploring some more, having a mid-afternoon coffee and cake stop at a cafe where I spot the most gorgeous guy I've probably seen all year (!) and then we make our way back to the hotel to get ready for our trip this evening to the Kervansaray Turkish Night in Marmaris.

If you go to Turkey on holiday you have to go to 'Turkish Night' which is basically an evening's entertainment of music, folk dancing, belly dancing and some audience participation (a belly dancing contest followed by some Eurovision-style nationalistic voting). There is some food and wine too! Here is the Shakira-lookalike belly dancer who was rather fabulous, like all the other acts in the show. I want to learn how to belly dance now!!

At midnight it was time to head back to Icmeler after yet another very enjoyable day and night.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Retro Saturday: Pluto Shervington

And now for something completely different. "Dat" by Pluto (Shervington) was a 1976 hit about the very unlikely subject matter of a Rastafarian trying to buy pork, something strictly against his faith. As a child growing up in the 1970s I didn't really understand what it was about then, but I thought it was very catchy anyway.

Retro Saturday: Johnny Hates Jazz

Surprised I haven't featured them before now. A brief explanation is required as to how I got here. Last Monday on the always excellent "Sounds of Europe" ( Rachel and Keira played Sergey Lazarev's cover version of "Shattered Dreams". Of course, being of a certain age where I remember the mid-to-late 80s original by Johnny Hates Jazz, I thought this would be a good one to feature tonight.

JHJ were a pop band and "Shattered Dreams" was their debut hit in the UK:

I liked that, and I liked "I Don't Want To Be A Hero" even more. For a pop song of its time, the anti-war sentiment is as relevant today as it's ever been:

Retro Saturday: Off

"Don't have to ask you to get up - you do it on your own!"

Anyone for a bit of musical nonsense from 1986? I haven't heard this song for many, many years but as usual, most of my Retro Saturday picks end up on here as a result of totally random musical flashbacks which pop into my mind in the strangest of places. I was walking to work yesterday and this, inexplicably, popped into my mind on the way.

I remember my local radio station playing this a lot, in a time when local commercial radio stations weren't strangled by rigid playlists, the way they are today. It's silly, it's fun, it'll bring a smile to your face.

Do we need an excuse for a gratuitous Eddie Razaz photo???

(photo courtesy of

Idol 23.10.09: Rock Week

An annual tradition in Swedish Idol, 'Rock Week' can sometimes be good, sometimes be bad and occasionally even ugly.

My verdict this year: good. Mainly because there is quite a high quota of 'rock' voices this year, and for them it was another day at the office. It was effortless for Erik as usual, for example, and even though I'd predicted Calle to go this week, he was firmly in his "comfort zone" (as they say on these reality-talent shows) and needless to say he sailed through. As for Tove, she was good although not spectacular. Reza meanwhile goes from strength to strength.

The bigger challenge in a rock-flavoured week was for those whose vocal style is not suited to the rock style. Before you accuse me of favouritism, I'll just say that Eddie Razaz was, for me, the most improved contestant this week. Since the live shows started, it would be fair to say that Eddie 'could do better' and finally, surprisingly, this week of all weeks, he did it. He took on U2's "Beautiful Day"....and of course it was :))


The other inhabitant of the bottom two this week was Nicklas. To use another over-used Louis Walsh-type phrase, "the song was too big for him". I don't know whose idea it was for him to sing "Black Hole Sun", as vocally Nicklas is no Chris Cornell; and the end result was a disappointment.
Rabih should have gone. I will probably repeat this phrase every week until he goes!

Friday, October 23, 2009

This week's Idol songs - Rock week

Rock week on Swedish Idol can usually be a bit of a nightmare but I would agree with Aftonbladet's view that this year it might just get better.

Erik Grönwall – ”Why can't this be love” (Van Halen)
Eddie Razaz – ”Beautiful day” (U2).
Erika Selin – ”Here without you” (3 Doors Down).
Mariette Hansson – ”Just a girl” (No Doubt).
Rabih Jaber – ”Driving one of your cars” (Lisa Miskovsky).
Tove Östman Styrke – ”Living in America” (The Sounds).
Nicklas Hocker – ”Black hole sun” (Soundgarden).
Reza Ningtyas Lindh – ”Don't stop me now” (Queen).
Calle Kristiansson – ”Are you gonna go my way” (Lenny Kravitz).

I still think Calle will go this week, I'm expecting strong performances from Erik & Tove, and as for Eddie....he might struggle or he might surprise us!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Turkey Diaries: Day 3 - Wednesday 16 September 2009

You've heard the saying 'shop till you drop' and nowhere is it more true than this morning in Icmeler. The weather is very hot again, and it's a long walk (or feels like it) to the market up the back of town. For it's Wednesday, and that means market day. If the shopping experience so far had been an eye-opener, where the most minimal eye contact kicks off the selling game (and boy can they sell, sell, sell) then Icmeler market is more of the same on a much grander scale.

You could be forgiven for thinking you've been dropped into a market in London rather than Turkey, with all the "lovely jubbly" and "cheap as chips" stallholders banter doing the rounds. It's a good laugh, but it can become quite stressful as you run the gauntlet while everyone tries to outdo each other at selling bags and designer clothes and football tops. Would I even dare to suggest that much of the merchandise on offer may just, allegedly, be of a fake nature.....! It was funny to see the police raiding a couple of stalls for selling fakes - they could have a very long job ahead of them :) The trick of course is to make your fakes look fake - why buy a Chanel bedspread when you can buy a 'Channel' bedspread? Or jeans by 'Viktoria Beckham'?

I didn't take any pictures inside the market as it was just far too congested, and after a while we got overwhelmed by it all.

On our way back down into town we passed the mosque: and at that very moment the call to prayer began, which we heard a few times on this holiday and which was yet another example of being in a totally different culture from our own.

After lunch we finally find a park where we can sit and get some shade for a while.
Back early to the hotel, because this afternoon there was something very special happening: the Turkish bath. Until recently I wasn't aware of what this was all about, but one of the girls from work came back from a holiday in Turkey and completely sold it to me.

We booked this trip yesterday and this afternoon we headed off by mini-bus to a hotel complex in Marmaris, for our experience of the Hamam to give it its proper name.

As this one was aimed at tourists it was a communal experience rather than being segregated into male and female sections, and also the scrub, wash and massage in this instance was done by men. I enjoyed it very much....!!!!

Firstly there is the sauna - I haven't been to a sauna for years, but faithful travelling companion has never ever been to one so it was a totally new experience. You are then taken to another room and you lie down on a big marble slab where you are given a very invigorating scrub down and then washed with soapy bubbles. After this we got some time in the pool before the final part which was the oil massage which was just fabulous!!! After that there was a little more time to unwind beside the pool before being taken back to Icmeler.

On our return, faithful travelling companion decided to try another typically Turkish experience: a Turkish shave! There are countless hairdressers in Icmeler offering this traditional razor shave, but let me say it's quite traumatic to watch it being done, and I was hoping and praying that nobody sneezed or had any sudden distractions!

The Masala restaurant is our destination for dinner tonight. Rather uniquely it does both Indian and Chinese food, we opted for Indian tonight and very good it was too. Can't remember what street it's on, but it is across the road from the Love Boat restaurant which is posh and pricey.

No partying for us tonight, we stop off for a beer before retiring for the night. I am not a beer drinker, but the local beer (Efes) is pretty agreeable for non-beer-drinkers.

Next instalment coming soon.

Visitor number mystery?

Just been checking my site visit stats over the past week and discovered that I had a record number of visitors to this blog on Saturday 17th October - seven times more daily visitors than what I usually get! I wonder what was the reason for this????

Edit 20.10.09: I got a bit carried away this afternoon when I discovered this - then I checked back my blog posts from Saturday and realised it might be the mention of Michael Jackson in the post title which might have been the reason. Or maybe not.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Turkey Diaries: Day 2 - Tuesday 15th September 2009

35 degree heat. If that was to happen in the UK we'd probably be hospitalised. Yet in Turkey, in mid-September, it's the norm, and for non sun-worshippers like us, we surprisingly cope. Hats and sunblock are most definitely the answer.

After only two hours sleep, we're both surprisingly feeling alert. After breakfast we get our first daytime look at Icmeler and all it has to offer. Whilst on first glance it is a custom built resort which 20years ago was a village untouched by mass tourism) appealing to particularly British tastes, on the other hand retains a uniquely Turkish atmosphere and its position on the Turkish south coast, surrounded on three sides by pine forested mountains, provides constantly breathtaking scenery. Pictures can't do it justice - you have to be there. But I will post some lovely scenic views as the week goes on.
We decide to do as many Turkish experiences as we can on this holiday, starting with something we'd never tried before - Turkish apple tea, which you can drink hot or cold. It may sound crazy in this heat, but we enjoyed drinking it hot.

Another thing that makes Icmeler special is the little canal which runs through it, all the way out to the sea. Alongside the canal there are a number of stalls offering the authentic Turkish shopping experience, and a number of bar/restaurants which come alive at night.

We decide to book a couple of trips - to a Turkish bath and Turkish Night - more about them later....

We very quickly realise that the stories about the warm Turkish hospitality are all true. Initially the "Turkish inquisition" - what's your name? where are you from? is this your first time in Turkey? which hotel are you staying at? are you married etc etc? - may have seemed intrusive, but it wasn't long before we realised that this is all part of the friendly service that you get everywhere in Icmeler (and elsewhere in Turkey by all accounts), and which we could all learn from. "Service with a smile" is a rarity these days, but in Icmeler it was the norm.

However, so is the art of persuasion, as each restaurant tried to get you into their premises morning, noon and night. You can't visit them all, can you? So most of our eating out choices were not planned, but instead resulted from just, well, random looking around I guess. And that Turkish charm...! Talking of which....

Our first encounter with Dream Boys came at lunchtime. Dream Boys is one of the notorious restaurants on the canal. It seems quiet by day, but at night....well that's another story!

After walking around and checking out the sights (and you see some sights here, but enough about the barbecued bodies on the beach!) it was back to the hotel then out again later for dinner at the Istanbul, whose meet-and-greet charm offensive was enough to get us in for a very wonderful dinner.
After a day in Icmeler I've decided that there is an amazing choice of menus in all the restaurants, to suit a wide variety of tastes. There are of course those well-known Turkish specialities (only joking) like "full English breakfast" and roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, but there are also real Turkish dishes too, and little touches like having mezes and pitta/nan bread served with every meal gives it that particularly Turkish twist. Not to mention finishing off with Turkish coffee, where you can stand your spoon up in the cup! The first time I ever tasted Turkish coffee was in....Prague no less, 4 years ago so it was nice to finally taste it in its spiritual home.

Although Icmeler is not really known for its nightlife - if you want that, then go to the all-night party that is Marmaris, and there is a local law in Icmeler which requires all the loud music to be switched off at midnight! - there are plenty of fun pubs to ensure that you have a very enjoyable evening. Most of the entertainment is provided by the waiters themselves, whether they are dressing up as Michael Jackson or Freddie Mercury, or dancing around to Kalinka and 'Kiss Kiss', or recreating 'Dirty Dancing'. it's great fun.

And so back to Dream Boys, which is packed out with an enthusiastic audience. It lives up to its name, with an appealing bunch of waiters strutting their stuff, dancing around whilst serving the drinks, accompanied by hilarious announcements from the MC.

Must mention Yahya, who manages to dance around and climb trees with cocktails perched on his head. You may have a long wait for your cocktail, but let me tell you the entertainment makes it worth the wait!! Oh's 'Tina Turner'!

Add to that a pounding soundtrack from the likes of Pitbull, Black Eyed Peas, Lady GaGa, Akon and David Guetta and the party atmosphere is guaranteed until midnight...when it all goes quiet, and the slow ballads mix is put on, with the volume down.

Time to head back - the combination of two hours sleep and a long, hot day meant that it was never going to be a late night tonight. Turkish bath tomorrow!

The Turkey Diaries: Day 1 - Monday 14th September 2009

Finally getting round to this for two reasons: 1) I'm feeling a bit better now, and 2) It's been five weeks since we set off for Turkey and if I didn't post the diaries soon it would be the next holiday before I got around to it. So.....

Day 1 is more of a prologue than an actual diary entry, given that most of it was spent travelling to the airport, waiting at the airport, flying, arriving, travelling by coach and arriving at the hotel in the middle of the night. We had a bit of fun with the chav-tastic experience of waiting in the check-in queue with numerous underdressed and over-tanned bleach blondes called Chantelle and Danielle (yes!), and various men who could be mistaken for beached whales. The overdressed, pale redhead and the man with the flat stomach stuck out like a sore thumb!!! Welcome to the package holiday experience!! Of course we’re more used to DIY book-it-yourself flights and booking the hotel separately, so for once it was nice to have it all done for us.

After an hour’s flight delay (not too bad as holiday flights go) it was time for one of our longest flights ever - four and a half hours. I try to sleep but it’s impossible thanks to the constant stream of travellers going up and down to the loo. Now I am partial to the odd glass of wine (!) But one thing I can’t stand is people drinking alcohol before or during a flight. On the one hand, airlines don’t want to let drunk people on a plane and put us all at risk of "air rage" - so why do they sell alcohol on planes?

Anyway we eventually arrive at Dalaman airport....taking our first steps off the plane into warm, late evening air and onto Turkish soil. One unusual aspect of arriving in Turkey is that you have to pay £10 for a visa stamp. I was quite excited about this as the only other time I had my passport stamped was in Canada, 12 years ago. You know me by now, I can get excited about the most mundane little things!

After a further episode of the Chantelle/Danielle experience at the baggage carousel - how do these people survive beyond their front door, let alone in a foreign country? - it’s a two hour journey from Dalaman to Icmeler by coach, a journey broken up by a stop off at the "comfort stop" which is as far removed from the usual motorway service stations as you could ever imagine, as it looks more like an exotic old bazaar. The one thing it probably shares with its British counterparts is the overpriced food and souvenirs, but it did give me my first sighting of all the things I wanted to buy in Turkey. Here is a picture which I actually took on the way back to the airport, one week later:

Back on the bus on the way to drop off passengers in Marmaris and Icmeler. Although it’s the middle of the night, I am still mesmerised by the new and unfamiliar sights, like the illuminated mosques and the all night cafes. I’m a bit scared by the descent into Marmaris, but the coach driver ensured we had a safe journey. Eventually we arrive at our hotel in Icmeler, and after checking in and unpacking it’s time for bed: 5.30 am. We will be back up again in two hours. Tick tock, tick tock....nighty night.

The Square-Eyed Couch Potato: September-October 2009

After a few weeks where I was literally not watching anything, I've managed to get enough programmes together to do a review!

"Sailors fighting in the dancehall..." You know the script by now - Sam Tyler is run over by a car and wakes up in 1973. His iPod has turned into an 8-track cartridge player, and when he looks up he sees the Twin Towers. Yes it’s the American version of "Life On Mars" which is now being screened on FX. If you thought the original series was surreal, then this is twice as surreal, as it’s like watching a tribute act. It’s not that it’s bad, although Harvey Keitel’s Gene Hunt is just a little bizarre. It’s Life On Mars, but not as we know it, they’re not John Simm and Philip Glenister, and that’s where the problem lies.

Still on a time travelling theme, I’m enjoying E4’s quirky new Canadian import "Being Erica" (E4, Mondays) Imagine a time-travelling female version of "My Name is Earl" where she gets the chance to go back in time and make right her wrongdoings and regrets. Sometimes it can be a little too cheesy, but it works thanks to its charming lead and general simplicity.

More time travelling, but this time to a brief glimpse of the future. The new US mega-hit "Flash Forward" (Five, Mondays) from the makers of "Lost" stops the world for a couple of minutes, during which everyone has a ‘flash forward’ to the future. Not much really happens, but it keeps you coming back for more, week after week. Just one thing though: what’s with all these British actors doing American accents? This time it’s Joseph Fiennes. Good old Jack Davenport’s in it too, but reassuringly, he has kept his own accent.

Haven’t watched many films recently, but "The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas" left an impression on me. A simple story - the son of a concentration camp commandant befriending a young Jewish boy through the barbed wire of the camp - it was very moving and thought-provoking, and the two young boys in the leading roles were very impressive. Didn’t expect a happy ending, but I wasn’t expecting that sudden, horrific, shocking and brutal conclusion either.

You can’t accuse "Later With Jools Holland" (BBC2 Tuesdays/Fridays) of lacking in diversity - for example, a recent episode featured Calvin Harris, Echo and the Bunnymen, and the Spaghetti Western Orchestra in quick succession. It’s the only music programme on terrestrial television at the moment that we can still watch at a reasonably decent hour, and which (thankfully) has no risk of Cheryl Cole appearing on it.

Hotel Inspectors. Which is better? Ruth Watson or her successor Alex Polizzi? There’s only one way to find out...No need for a ‘fiiiiiight!!!!", though as we’re firmly in the Watson camp, so we’re enjoying "Ruth Watson’s Hotel Rescue" (Channel 4, Wednesdays). Think "Hotel Inspector: The Prequel" in which Ms Watson gives out advice to hoteliers at the beginning of their career, rather than when they are at a later soul-destroyed stage. There’s nothing new or original about it, it’s undemanding viewing, but I enjoy it all the same.

I’m still disappointed in Season Two of "Private Practice" (Living, Thursdays) which may have jumped the shark. There’s no interesting character development any more, it’s all about the bed-hopping antics of the docs and their patients and everything else is now a side issue.

Criticising Jamie Oliver seems to have been elevated to an Olympic sport in recent years. Yet in spite of that I enjoyed his "American Road Trip" which was a mix of cooking, travelogue and social comment. I suppose in these days of dumbed-down TV it’s as good as we’ll get.

Finally, "Coronation Street" hasn’t been too bad lately although still far from past glories. I was quite sad to see Amber and Darryl go; of the younger characters these were two that I actually cared about. It’s been a Platt-free zone recently, which has helped immensely. Tony’s proposed to Maria - but don’t expect the happy times to last too long, thanks to the return of Carla! On the down side, the continuing Kevin/Molly shenanigans would have you parting with the contents of your stomach. Luke Strong a.k.a. Craig Kelly of "Strictly" fame has also left the show - we thought he’d be out of "Strictly" before he was out of "Corrie" but hey, there you go....!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

"Beli Jablan" lives Spanish.

If you're a fan of the best Serbian song of recent years to not represent their country at Eurovision - "Beli Jablan" by Aleksa & Ana - you might be interested to know that the song has been recorded in Spanish and is now known as "Quiero". Aleksa is probably my favourite Serbian singer - I also like "Samo Reci" and "Mila" - and I really hope he gets the opportunity to represent his country one day at the Eurovision Song Contest.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Swedish Idol 16.10.2009: Michael Jackson Week

Not my favourite week if I'm honest - purely because you can't really imagine anyone doing justice to Michael Jackson songs apart from...the man himself. Some did better than others though.

In previous weeks I may have rated Calle Kristiansson but I'm beginning to believe that he's out of place in this competition, and unfortunately his "Bad" this week maybe just lived up to its name, even though he made the concession of wearing the Jacko-style military jacket. I think he may be gone next week.

If I ever wonder what happened to my 1979 disco trousers then wonder no more....they found their way to Camilla Håkansson: unfortunately the best I could say about "Human Nature" was the same as last week: cruise ship cabaret. A pity really as initially it looked as if she might have something different to offer.

Someone growing on me as the weeks go on, is Reza Ningtyas Lindh who managed to inject "The way you make me feel" with some of her now customary 'oomph'.

I realise now what unnerves me about the (usually good) Mariette Hansson: she physically performs a song like an arthritic granny. I felt she had an off week this week as I wasn't impressed by her "I want you back".

Eddie Razaz - the mere mention of the name has me weak at the knees of course. But what about his singing ability, I hear you ask? Hard to tell, particularly as "They don't care about us" is probably one of my least favourite Jacko songs, but he did enough to survive this week. He does have very good stage presence, and vocally he was ok. Cue gratuitous Eddie screencaps....

Tove Östman Styrke now has a real chance of winning this, and she poured her usual passionate performance into "Will You Be There". For someone so young, she has a great talent, but again I got the feeling that Jackson-week wasn't really the best showcase for it.

Nicklas Hocker may have ended up in the bottom two, but I thought there was something very likeable about his "Black or White", for some strange reason.

Many of last night's contestants were clearly out of their musical comfort zone but that couldn't be said for Rabih Jaber who to me is probably a 'wannabe' Michael Jackson, so he had no problems with "You Are Not Alone" although, like his previous performances, it left me cold.

Erika Selin, rumoured to be competing in the 2010 Melodifestivalen, is still one of my least favourite contestants this year, because (IMHO) she overcooks every song, every week. As she did likewise this week on "Beat It" and I can't really understand her appeal.

Unlike the young rocker Erik Grönwall; by this stage of the competition I'm now eagerly looking forward to his weekly performances. His "Thriller" was probably my favourite performance from this week.

Idol got a real coup this week, landing no less than Jordin Sparks. The bad news is that she sang the over-played, overcooked "No Air"; the good news is that we didn't have to suffer her duetting with Chris Brown - instead we had none other than last year's Swedish Idol winner ....Kevin Borg! I wish they'd have turned "Battlefield" into a duet instead - this is a song which I initially hated with a passion (and said so on this blog) but then realised that it's actually rather good indeed.

Bottom two this week: Nicklas & Camilla. Camilla goes home, presumably to wait by the phone for that all-important call from Christer Bjorkman. It's her life's ambition to do Melodifestivalen and if I'm honest I'd rather see her do it than Erika Selin, who I'm tired of already.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Erik Hassle's "Hurtful" on the BBC Radio 1 playlist

I noticed whilst checking the new Radio 1 playlist that the wonderful "Hurtful" is now on the C-list playlist, which is good news, although whether it will ever figure on any commercial radio playlists in this country is another matter.

"Hurtful" is of course, one of the best songs of the year, in what (for me) has been a quite spectacular year for Swedish music releases.

I'm crossing my fingers for this to be his big breakthrough, but I fear that the timing is all wrong and I'm thinking his record company in this country should maybe have waited till the beginning of 2010 to give him that all important 'new year new artist' push?

This week's Idol songs - Michael Jackson week

1. Calle Kristiansson - Bad

2. Camilla Håkansson - Human Nature

3. Reza Ningtyas Lindh - The Way You Make Me Feel

4. Mariette Hansson - I Want You Back

5. Eddie Razaz - They Don't Care About Us

6. Tove Styrke Östman - Will You Be There

7. Nicklas Hocker - Black or White

8. Rabih Jaber - You Are Not Alone

9. Erika Selin - Beat It

10. Erik Grönwall - Thriller

I don't know if I'm looking forward to this or not?????

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Melodifestivalen 2010 songs announced

Ooh I'm excited, MF season is on the way!!!

Courtesy of Aftonbladet here are the song titles (and my speculation about who may be singing them in italics - I know I'll be completely wrong but it's only a little game)

1. "A place to stay", text och musik Torben Hedlund.
2. "Doctor doctor", text och musik Tony Nilsson och Mirja Breitholtz. (Ola? Or maybe Velvet again?)
3. "Headlines", text och musik Tony Nilsson och Peter Boström. (Another Tony Nilsson song, another guess at Ola or Velvet?)
4. "Heaven and hell", text och musik Håkan Larsson, Jörgen Svensson, Björn Lönnroos.
5. "Hippare hoppare", text och musik Vlatko Ancevski, Vlatko Gicarevski, Mats Nilsson, Teddy Paunkoski, Otis Sandsjö, Stevan Tomulevski och Douglas Leon. (Andra Generationen again?)
6. "Human frontier", text och musik Tobias Jonsson och Anneli Axelsson.
7. "Hur kan jag tro på kärleken", text Kenneth Gärdestad, musik Tony Malm och Niclas Lundin.
8. "I did it for love", musik Lars "Dille" Didriksson och text Kristian Wejshag.
9. "Idiot", text och musik Niklas Jarl och Per Aldeheim.
10. "Innan alla ljusen brunnit ut", musik Stefan Moody, text Danne Attlerud. (Maybe a dansband? One of the Dansbandskampen contestants maybe?)
11. "Jag vill om du vågar", Pontus Assarsson, Jörgen Ringqvist och Daniel Barkman.
12. "Magisk stjärna", musik Micke Wennborn och text och musik Py Bäckman. (An 'old star' making a comeback?)
13. "Manboy", Fredrik Kempe, text och musik, Peter Boström, musik. (?????? Can't see MZW, Charlotte or Malena here, but you never know?)
14. "Manipulated", text och musik Sarah Lundbäck, Iggy Strange-Dahl, Hayden Bell, Erik Lewander.
15. "Never heard of him", Figge Boström och Anna Engh text och musik.
16. "Road salt", text och musik Daniel Gildenlöw.
17. "Run", text och musik Niclas Arn, Gustav Eurén och Karl Eurén.
18. "Singel", musik Hamed "K-One" Pirouzpanah och text Håkan Bäckman.
19. "Stopp", text och musik Mikaela Stenström och Dimitri Stassos. (Maybe Sofia or Elena Paparizou - Greek connection?)
20. "This is my life", text Kristian Lagerström och musik Bobby Ljunggren.
21. "Thursdays", musik Thomas G:son och Peter Boström och text Sharon Vaughn.
22. "Tonight", text och musik Sharon Vaughn och Anders Hansson.
23. "Underbart", text Lina Eriksson och musik Johan Moraeus.
24. "Unstoppable", text och musik Dimitri Stassos, Alexander Kronlund, Hanif Sabzevari, Ola Svensson. (Ola?)
25. "We can work it out", musik Bobby Ljunggren och Marcos Ubeda och text Andreas Johnson. (Andreas Johnson?)
26. "Yeba", text Getty Domein Mpanzu och musik Tuomas "Tiny" Pyhäjärvi.
27. "Åt helvete för sent", text och musik Nina Eriksson, Mårten Eriksson och Susie Päivärinta. (Lili & Susie again?)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

"Körslaget": Week 2, Saturday 10 October 2009

It all kicked off with "I Gotta Feeling" with all the choir leaders and their choirs.

Team Pontare: "Go West" - I liked the flags and the blue outfits and changing the lyrics to "Go North" was inspired and funny.

Team Rigo: "La Bamba" - lively but all over the place vocally. I just wanted this one to end. They'll need to improve or I can't see them lasting beyond next week.

Team Amy: "Fairytale" - gold lame outfits and a very lively performance. Very well done - I enjoyed it.

Team Ola: "New York New York" - the all-male line up did very well, dressed in matching outfits - and Mr Svensson was looking very nice too!

Team Andreas: "Poker Face" - started ok (choir members all wearing Calvin Harris/Kanye West shades) but it got pretty messy vocally towards the end.

Team Caroline: "800 Grader" - like Team Rigo, they are dressed in red and black. They are definitely enjoying it and as Ms af Ugglas seems to be flavour of the month they will probably stay in for a few weeks.

Team Stefan: "Inget Stoppar Oss Nu" - are you sure this isn't Dansbandskampen? :)))

Result: Team Andreas go home, but it really should have been Team Rigo, who stay in by the skins of their collective teeth for one more week.

Eurovision 2010: some more good news

The official website of the Eurovision Song Contest reports today that following the success of the reintroduction of professional juries in the 2009 final, the 50-50 jury/televoting split will also be used in next year's semi-finals.

I think this is extremely good news as the jury vote brought some long-overdue integrity to a contest which (for me) was on its last legs thanks to the partisan neighbour-voting which was turning the contest from a once enjoyable entertainment show into a complete sham.

This news might also inspire a few countries to send some better entries too, as there's now a possibility that where previously, they might not have bothered as they were probably never going to make the's hoping that will all change now.

R.I.P. Stephen Gately

I don't really have much to add to what everyone's already been saying in blog-land today. This morning I switched on the radio and heard the news that the Boyzone singer and musical theatre star died suddenly in his sleep yesterday whilst on holiday in Majorca. I'm sad and shocked and still can't quite take it in. Only 33 years old...far too young to leave us.

Stephen of course found fame in the 90s as a member of Boyzone, the Irish boy band, and his distinctive soft vocals provided a contrast to those of Ronan Keating. Stephen will always be remembered for "coming out" at a time when this still seemed to be frowned upon within the pop community - he was the first boyband member to ever publicly express his lifestyle.

Happily he received lots of support following this announcement and when Boyzone took a break he went on to have a brief solo career and he starred in various musical theatre productions and also got his skates on to appear on "Dancing On Ice".

When Boyzone reunited, Stephen was part of the line-up which made a comeback tour and album. In recent years he married his partner Andrew in a civil partnership ceremony and his latest venture was writing a children's fantasy novel.

By all accounts Stephen was happy and healthy, and his final message on his Twitter page ( posted on 06.10.2009 read "still busy - lots going on. Focussing on finishing my book next so may be quiet here".

Rest in peace Stephen.

Idol 2009: Friday Finals Week 1 09.10.09

So here's where the hunt for Sweden's Idol 2009 gets serious. Friday's theme was "Club Idol" and here's how it went...

Nicklas: "Get The Party Started": white shirt? bowtie? Not really a look you'd associate with the young rocker, but this worked for me and I think he's good for a few weeks yet.

Rabih: "When Love Takes Over": I can't really understand why he's so popular. Ditch the baseball cap Rabih - it does you no favours. He did a decent version of this, although at times was covered by the backing vocals.

Karolina - "Just Dance": an unfortunate choice as anyone singing this would be dwarfed by the personality of its originator. Not too bad though, and she didn't deserve to go.

Erika - "About You Now": vocally suspect in various places, and I think she should have been bottom-two this week. I know that she can do better than this.

Calle - "Destiny Calling": another good rock vocal performance. He won't win, but I think we can be guaranteed some reasonably consistent performances over the next few weeks till he outlives his usefulness...

Reza - "Superstar": one of the best female vocals of the night, she used that little gritty quality in a positive way - I'm glad that this time "the curse of Superstar" didn't materialise.

Erik - "Leave A Light On": this managed to do the impossible: turn a Belinda Carlisle song into something which I didn't hate. He manages to combine the rock and pop worlds and I think he'll have a long run in this competition.

Camilla - "All Night Long": sorry darling, but it was pure cabaret. I can't really see her sticking around for too long.

Eddie: "Release Me": it wasn't perfect, but he has the looks and the popstar quality and once he manages to combine this with an improved vocal performance, then he could be an unstoppable contender.

Mariette: "When Tomorrow Comes": she is already outclassing every other female contestant this year, but (maybe some of my Swedish readers could answer this?) is she as popular with the Swedish public as she is with the media and the jury?

Tove - "Hot N Cold": she is very young, and I'm always very sceptical of young singers in these competitions, but she has a lot more personality and star quality than some of the others this year and I think she'll be around for a while.

Bottom two this week: Eddie (noooooo!) and Karolina: it was Karolina who went home. This (IMHO) was very wrong: Camilla should have gone this week.

Next week the theme is songs by Michael Jackson. Cha'mone!
Oh and here's another gratuitous Eddie screencap for no reason whatsoever :))))