Wednesday, October 29, 2008

MTV - Europe's Favourite Act update

I don't think it's as exciting this year as it was in 2007 with the daily eliminations in "New Sounds of Europe".

The top 5 in the voting at the moment are:

Nightwish (Finland)
Leona Lewis (UK & Ireland)
Shiri Maimon (Israel)
Finley (Italy)
Emre Aydin (Turkey)

Something of interest for ESC fans is that Dima Bilan and Laka are also in the running, although I still can't understand the MTV awards' fascination with Neverstore. Nothing against them personally, but last year I was more than a bit annoyed about it....check out my posts from September & October 2007 if you don't believe me :)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Review: Electric Proms - Saturday Night Fever 25.10.08

I listened to this on Saturday night when it was broadcast on BBC Radio 2 and then watched it all over again on TV, via the 'red button' on digital.

The concert at the Roundhouse in London was a celebration of 30 years of the classic movie soundtrack by the Bee Gees, and featured one Bee Gee - Robin Gibb to be precise - and the BBC Concert Orchestra, with a few guest singers thrown in.

Actually, the line up was like a EuropeCrazy fan-party, with three of this blog's musical favourites of the last 12 months: Sam Sparro, Gabriella Cilmi and Bryn Christopher.

The various songs were interspersed with the soundtrack's many memorable instrumentals performed excellently by the BBC Concert Orchestra, in fine form.

Track listing:

"Stayin' Alive" - Sam Sparro: Sam in falsetto mode, doing great justice to this disco classic.
"How Deep Is Your Love" - Sharleen Spiteri: possibly the low point of the night, as I didn't feel this was really the right song choice for her singing style.
"More Than A Woman" - Robin Gibb: Bee-Gee-tastic.
"You Should Be Dancing" - Gabriella Cilmi: Proof that she isn't just good on record - what a great live performer she is too!
"Night Fever" - Sam Sparro: more great falsetto - only he could get away with it. What's that haircut about though, Mr Sparro?
"If I Can't Have You" - Sharleen Spiteri: she was much better on this - very good actually.
"Jive Talkin'" - Ronan Keating and Stephen Gately: the boys from Boyzone did a very good job here.
"Boogie Shoes" - Gabriella Cilmi: great gutsy version of the KC song.
"Disco Inferno" - Bryn Christopher: absolute highlight of the night as this outrageously talented and underrated performer blew everyone off the stage. He looked amazing too :)) I'm in love! I was watching this show with my mum and she's just a bit in love with him too...!

"Words" - Ronan Keating & Stephen Gately: pretty faithful version of the song, although I was never too keen on the Boyzone version if I'm honest.
"Heartbreaker" - Gabriella Cilmi: a great new singing talent with vocal maturity beyond her years.
"Emotions" - Bryn Christopher: just brilliant. I totally love this guy, he is a fantastic singer. Why isn't he a massive, massive star?
"To Love Somebody" - Robin Gibb: a fitting and dignified conclusion to an amazing concert.

If you haven't seen the show then some of the clips are over at YouTube. Not that I ever need any excuse for a bit of Bryn Christopher, so here's some "Disco Inferno"...

The Nice Diaries: Day 8 - Monday 22 September 2008

Our final day in Nice, but as our flight wasn't leaving till mid-evening, we didn't have to rush away early.

The continuing saga of the ‘mystery face’ contest on M6's Starsix Music has not been resolved. The prize for guessing the mystery blonde hidden behind the squares (above) is now up to 29400 euros. For all I know, this is still going: I checked a couple of weeks ago and it still hadn’t been won.

We took some time to chill out and relax before checking out, then headed out for a while. The rain had gone off and the seats down the prom had dried sufficiently for us to sit for a while. Watching the sea is such a simple, happy and therapeutic pleasure.
Lunch - more pasta. Fans of pasta and pizza will find paradise in Nice, and so it is for us. As I’m almost vegetarian (‘almost’ meaning I haven’t given up chicken yet), there are plenty of options available although for red meat and fish fans there’s equally so much choice.
After lunch we headed back to the hotel for our luggage, and the short walk to the bus stop for the airport bus. This was a perfect holiday in every way: even our flights home were on time.
This was our third summer holiday in Nice, and won’t be our last. It’s an utterly amazing place and if you ever get the opportunity to go there, then do it. You will not be disappointed.

The Nice Diaries: Day 7 - Sunday 21 September 2008

Our last full day in Nice. Sunday in Nice is always a good opportunity to chill out and do very little. Unlike at home, most of the shops are closed although the souvenir shops are still open.

The day began with rain battering off the window of our hotel room, but it had subsided to a slight drizzle by the time we left after breakfast. Stopped for coffee then went down the promenade. Looking out to sea we saw a number of yachts (above) sailing down the coastline: turns out they were part of a regatta.
One particularly iconic image of Nice is the blue seats on the Promenade des Anglais. Unfortunately no-one was sitting on them today as they were still in the process of drying out from this morning's rain shower.
We walked as far as the Hotel Negresco, the most famous hotel in Nice (below) which remains a distinctive and stunning sight.
The rain had stopped in time for lunch. There are lots of lunchtime meal-deals which are good value if there’s something on the menu which appeals to you. Luckily that was the case today, and delivered a more quality lunching experience than yesterday’s nightmare.

It was "open doors" weekend in France. This is a big event when many buildings not usually open to the public throw open their doors for us to visit. We’d seen the Russian Orthodox cathedral (above), in the west of the city, for the first time five years ago and it still hasn’t lost its wow factor. Today for the first time we’d get to see the interior of this small but outrageously ornate building, and it didn’t disappoint. Altar? Call that an altar. Sadly I don’t have any photographs of the interior: but just imagine gold, and more gold, and flowers, and icons, and more icons, and more gold.

Back to hotel and watched Star Academy. Two days in and already I’m getting a little suspicious of the editing - it’s more "reality TV" than ever.

Out for dinner: nothing too adventurous tonight, yes more pasta ‘au pistou’. Fell in love with a waiter, much to faithful travelling companion’s amusement. Well it was my turn tonight: he’s had lots of female eye candy to keep him happy!
As usual, we wound up our night at a local bar, before heading back to the hotel, this time to continue packing. Going home tomorrow :((

The Nice Diaries: Day 6 - Saturday 20 September 2008

Following breakfast we headed for Gare Thiers for a train to Monaco. We’d been there before, although it was on an organised excursion. Doing it yourself has its advantages: you’re not sticking to a set schedule and you’ve got more than 30 minutes in any one place. On the minus side, you don’t need to climb any hills or staircases....

After a beautiful scenic journey, we arrived in Monaco and were quickly faced with the dilemma of getting from over over there. With my injured knee, descending stairs is actually harder than climbing them so it got a bit distressing at times, but we made it over to the other side and reached the foot of the palace hill. Expecting a lift. Only there wasn’t one, just a defibrillator halfway up the hill. What a sense of humour those Monegasques have!

Surprisingly that climb wasn’t too bad, we got to the top of the hill and then paused for breath outside the palace (pictured above), and explored the old town. We prefer this part of Monaco to the overstated extravagance of the Monte Carlo side. After lunch outdoors we did some further exploring. I loved the gorgeous gowns in the Isabell Kristensen shop - viewing by appointment only. It is Monaco, after all.

Decided not to do the tour of the palace but we ambitiously decided to walk all the way from the palace to the casino. Downhill then uphill again. Surprisingly we were still alive by the end of this, although the heat had got to us by now and I could feel a river of soaking sweat running down my back. Arrived at a packed casino square, (casino pictured below) which is always a fascinating although ultimately artificial attraction.

Headed back to the station and returned to Nice, then back to the hotel just in time for the first daily Star Academy show.

For tonight’s dinner we returned to the Old Town: it’s one of our traditions that we always do a North African meal when in France and tonight was no different - it’s couscous time! Followed, as ever, by mint tea. Here's my vegetable couscous...

After dinner, we went in search of a bar - you’re spoilt for choice in this part of town. We found one which was, thankfully, un-trendy, but there are lots of pubby/clubby places here for the young and trendy folks of Nice.

A late night tonight: off to another bar for more people-watching. It’s great to sit in a pavement bar after midnight and not risk freezing to death. No wonder this idea never caught on at home.

The Nice Diaries: Day 5 - Friday 19 September 2008

It was cloudier today, but still warm. Off to the Megastore (no Zavvi here!), to spend my last 50 euro note on 2 DVDs - Mylene Farmer’s live DVD of her last tour, and the stage show of "Le Roi Soleil". Faithful travelling companion bought Chimene Badi’s last CD, a good bargain at 9.99.

Off to the old town again on a ridiculously packed tram. Lots of eateries competing for our attention - so why did we choose the worst restaurant in Nice for lunch? (I won’t mention it here as they might sue me!!!)

Its 8.50 euro menu seemed a good idea at the time with a number of main courses and sweets to choose from, and a glass of wine thrown in. The only thing was, half the menu options were suddenly unavailable, the tagliatelle was about three inches thick and there was gnocchi, but not as we know it. And the ultimate crime against red wine - it was chilled! Even the radio in this establishment wasn’t working properly.

Totally traumatised, we headed off to the port (pictured above, before the rain came on). Rain clouds started gathering and the rain followed, but it didn’t stop us exploring. We stopped off at a little cafe and were served coffee by a Matt Pokora lookalike, well there are worse things I can think of! On our way back up to Place Garibaldi, the torrential rain suddenly came on at 3.45 and luckily we were under a canopy outside a shop at the time. We continued to shelter there until it went off, then went back up to the Old Town, as I was determined to get a mid-afternoon portion of socca - a chickpea pancake which is an old town speciality. This was very enjoyable, however faithful travelling companion doesn’t share my enthusiasm for it. Here's some socca accompanied by a...coca.

The rain eventually went off and stayed off. After some shopping it was back to the hotel for the final of "Dance Floor" on TF1, which was deservedly won by breakdancing Tonio.

Back out for evening dinner- a fab Mexican meal which made up for our lunch horror - and some drinks afterwards. Early to bed tonight, as a busy day ahead tomorrow.

Star Academy: that don't impress me much

I didn't see last week's prime - none of the guests particularly impressed me and I was too busy doing other things this weekend.

What else didn't impress me much: the eviction of Harold, one of the best singers in the competition. Whilst I've enjoyed Yvane's rebellious moments, he should have gone as his time is up. I'm no fan of Gautier either, but he appears to be one of the "chosen ones" this year.

Catch-Up Week!

OK so I've finally caught up with myself :)

I can guarantee that the final instalments of the Nice Diaries will be published on here (barring any domestic catastrophes, of which there have been a lot lately) also the September-October TV review.

Hoping that from now on things will be back on track on the blog, here's hoping :)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Swedish Charts Update

Martin Stenmarck is back at the top of the Sverige Topplistan with "A Million Candles Burning" which is a very different sound from his usual and is an environmental-friendly charity single. With a title like that, I expected one of those "Winners Song"-type hands in the air ballads so I was glad it was more uptempo.

At no.2 in the Topplistan is Darin, who is back, to the joy of pop-bloggers everywhere. "Breathing Your Love" is very good, and has a little "Disturbia"-vibe going on, although IMHO it will never replace "Money For Nothing" as my favourite Darin song. My only other gripe about this one is that Kat De Luna is on it, I can't understand her appeal and it could have done without her.

I've never really been a Britney Spears fan but "Womanizer" has such a catchy hookline which has already eaten its way into my brain and it's now squatting there. I'm trying to evict it. No.3 this week in the Topplistan.

Poster Girl recently mentioned the debut single by Daniel Karlsson who was on Idol last year. I've decided that "Would You Believe", which is this week's highest new entry at no.9, is a rather excellent record and it has totally taken me by surprise as I didn't expect that type of song from him - commercial yet extremely credible. I hope this continues to do well and that we get to hear an album from him.

Going up to no.12, is an ex-Idol winner and participant in "Stjärnor på is" - the Swedish version of "Dancing On Ice", Markus Fagervall with "If You Don't Mean It" which is OK although a bit on the formulaic mid-paced-pop-ballad side. I was never really a fan of his when he was on Idol so can't get too excited about this.

Finally, at no.18 there's a really catchy track by Swingfly - yet another Swedish rapper, this genre really is on a high at the moment - and "Singing That Melody" has really grown on me with its rather cheesy mobile phone number hookline.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Retro Saturday: KC and the Sunshine Band

I wanna put on, my, my, my, my, my boogie shoes and boogie with you!

This always reminds me of the stage show with Shaun Williamson as the DJ!

I thought KC and his combo were one of the most underrated disco acts of the 70s. Here they are putting on their "Boogie Shoes":

Retro Saturday: Yvonne Elliman

More Bee-Gee-tastic music from Ms Elliman with "If I Can't Have You", which was performed at tonight's concert by Sharleen Spiteri.

Retro Saturday: The Trammps

Burn baby burn - Disco Inferno!!!!

Bryn Christopher did it tonight - but here's the Trammps in all their matching-disco-jumpsuit glory:

Retro Saturday: Saturday Night Fever special - Bee Gees

Tonight I listened to a brilliant concert on BBC Radio 2 which is part of the "Electric Proms" season which I always enjoy every year as there is a great variety of music featured, truly something for everyone.

I love, love, love "Saturday Night Fever" and it was a dream come true when I finally got to see the stage musical version of the show last year. Can you believe it's 30 years since this fabulous, gritty movie hit our cinema screens? To celebrate this milestone, a special concert took place to celebrate the Bee Gees' musical masterpiece and it's on BBC-2 right now (and will also be on the "red button" coverage for digital viewers tomorrow) of course I'm videoing it to watch tomorrow night. (On TV just now: one of this blog's faves Bryn Christopher, looking and sounding as wonderful as ever :))))))

I'll do a separate post about who sung what, but in a slight departure from the usual Retro Saturday format I thought I'd do my own little Retro Saturday Night Fever celebration, starting with who else but the Bee Gees...

"Stayin' Alive":

"Night Fever":

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Apologies for the lack of blog activity.

1. Painting-my-house-in-instalments which led to
2. A bout of post-painting fatigue and a general lack of time which is leaving me with no time or energy to blog!

I'm even too tired to complain over at EuropeCrazy's Random Ramblings, although this week there has been renewed activity at Planet Salem, with news of the great man's music being featured in a Volvo TV commercial.

I haven't even been listening to any new music either so still no weekly playlist but it will be back in about 2 weeks, by which time I'll have finished the Nice Diaries too. Bring on the weekend!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Star Academy: this week's nominees

Quentin was saved in the rattrapage therefore Gautier, Yvane and Harold will face the public vote this week. Is this another attempt to put some fizz into the competition/to get Yvane out/to go for a shock early eviction?

As I said the other day, I fear for Harold but I would like him to stay. Purely because I'm tired of looking at Gautier's permanent scowl, and I thought he was atrocious in that duet with Edouard on Friday's show.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Star Academy: I can predict this week's evictee will be male!

OK, OK, I've checked over at the official site which revealed that this week's pre-nominees are Quentin, Gautier, Yvane and Harold. Don't know who'll be saved out of this four - possibly Gautier or Quentin, can't decide. I reckon (correct me if I'm wrong) that the producers might use this week to finally dump Yvane by putting him in with a couple of potential big hitters, only for the whole thing to backfire, say, by Harold going out instead.

Nominees revealed tomorrow.

Star Academy: Prime 5, 17.10.08.

Prime 5 kicked off with a Johnny Hallyday medley, before the grand introduction of the man himself.

Quentin, Mickels & Johnny Hallyday: "Gabrielle": Good, as neither tried to out-Johnny Johnny, but he completely overshadowed them. Mickels got 13.5, Quentin 14.

Anissa & Lorie: "Medley". Lorie’s all grown up now and looks very ‘rock chick’. Although Anissa may lack the heavyweight soul diva characteristics of Joanna, I think she’s got more ‘modern-appeal’ and I could see her do quite well as a pop star. 14.2.

Joanna & Sofia Essaidi: "Femme D’Aujourd’hui" - exquisitely staged, with Sofia in full Cleo-dress.

Harold & Chris Stills: "L’Accord" - I think musical theatre may be his strength, rather than pop or rock.

Edouard & Gautier: "Ma Gueule": last week a fight broke out between these two: this week, music makes the people come together. But what’s with the freaky hairdos? A bit of an unsatisfactory bawl-fest. 13.5 for Gautier.

Anissa & Kat DeLuna - "Medley": Could she be a possible contender. Maybe...

Maryline - "Je Suis Un Homme". I don’t know why, but she still leaves me cold, and Zazie she certainly isn’t. 14.

Then comes rather stomach-churning marriage proposal from Maryline’s fiancé.

Joanna & Johnny Hallyday - "Unchained Melody". A bawl-fest, in two languages. 15.2 for Joanna.

Solene & Julien Dore - "Les Limites". I think she turned a corner this week with this dazzling and confident duet with the Nouvelle Star 2007 winner. This may be her turning point. 15.2.

Edouard - "Medley (Fever/Hit The Road Jack)". I think he’s ok, but still in places a poor man’s Quentin Mosimann. 15.2.

Alice - "Harley Davidson". A mixture of Vanessa Paradis and Elodie Frege, and obviously still has some purpose. She looks better than she sounds. 13.3.

Anissa & Sofia Essaidi - "Tu Es Mon Autre". I’ve never really been a fan of this song and I don't think it did any of them any favours. Sofia is fab though.

Yvane - "Et Si Tu N’existais Pas". A Bollywood-style tableau, and he looked every inch the Bollywood idol. Is a reinvention on the cards? 13.8.

Harold & Chris Brown - "Kiss Kiss". This was all Chris Brown here, and I didn’t think this really suited Harold who was a bit sidelined here. Good though. 14.3.

Joanna, Solene & Harold & Laurent Wolf - "Medley". Are Joanna and Solene the Hoda and Lucie of 2008? Embarrassment time.....Nikos dad-dancing again.

Julia - "Message Personnel". This wasn’t right for her and she appeared to be a bit of a square peg from day 1. No surprise that she went, but she never turned her potential into progress.

Julia, Maryline & Alice & Julien Dore: "L.O.V.E.". Quite a hilarious little number, from the most bonkers talent show winner ever. I always thought he was rubbish, but now I realise he’s rubbish in a good way.

1. Edouard, Solene & Joanna
4. Harold
5. Anissa
6. Quentin
7. Maryline
8. Yvane
Bottom 4:
Mickels, Gautier, Alice & Julia.

Alice saved by the viewers, and Maryline by the students, sending Julia home.

Next week: I fear for Mickels, who will probably be a nominee along with Yvane and the ubiquitously nominated Alice.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

There's a shark approaching, and it's just begging to be jumped.

One of the many joys of the internet is the "Jump the Shark" phenomenon, a chance to identify the moment when our previously-favourite TV shows went downhill and just aren't the same anymore. (check out for many, many examples - it's great fun)

That shark is circling around "Strictly Come Dancing". Reasons? Well...rehearsed comments/marking; Brucie's "am I doddery? doddery I'm not" chip-on-shoulder catchphrase; the contestants taking it all too seriously - it's only a bit of fun after all; Tess "foot in mouh" Daly's post-dance interviews with the "cooples"; the pros more miserable and silent than usual. I have always loved Strictly, but more than ever this series is just too self-conscious and lacking strong personalities. After five series, is it getting ready to jump?

(Oh and in case you wondered, I'm hoping that Austin and Tom blow away the overrated female dancers this season, but they are still a long way away from the wonderful Mark Ramprakash/Jill Halfpenny/Alesha Dixon - great winners one and all :) )

Off on our travels again! :)

Holiday alert!

I'm off to Dublin in a few weeks for a weekend break with faithful travelling companion - got flights booked yesterday, just need to get a hotel sorted out.

I'm very excited, he's very excited, we haven't been away this type of off-season-pre-Christmas type break for 11 years so it's about time we did another one.

Reports to follow on here of course :)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Retro Saturday: Swing Out Sister

Can it really be 22 years since "Breakout"?

Swing Out Sister made some of the most sophisticated pop music of the mid to late 80s. I always thought that lead singer Corinne Drewery was one of the coolest frontwomen of that decade, with that very iconic short bob hairdo!

They were no one-hit wonders, and I continued to follow their career from "Surrender" through "Fooled By A Smile" to "You On My Mind" You could say their music had strong 60s influences - think classic Burt Bacharach for example - and I always thought it was very underrated.

Swing Out Sister continued - and continue - to the present day, as a duo of Corinne and Andy Connell, and as the old cliche goes, they're 'big in Japan'. They have also released their "Beautiful Mess" album in the UK: find some of their ever-sophisticated tunes at their MySpace (

And yes, Corinne still has that hairdo.

Retro Saturday: Visage

Kicking off with something in a New Romantic style :)

Visage was fronted by Steve Strange, a man who was no stranger to make-up I suppose. Their most famous hit was "Fade to Grey" but it didn't end there and I was particularly fond of some of their later material such as "Pleasure Boys" which was quite electro-tastic. The video is really just Steve Strange on a motorbike:

By 1982 they were still around. Here is a Top of the Pops performance of "Night Train": and let's have "The Damned Don't Cry" as well:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Nice Diaries: Day 4, Thursday 18th September 2008

Another in what is turning into an occasional series :( about my recent holiday in Nice.

Much as we love that wonderful city, it's also worth mentioning that it serves as a great base for exploring both ends of the Riviera. Today we headed west - to Cannes, home of the film festival, extra-posh hotels and the odd yacht or two. Once you work out the timetables and the ticket machine, local train travel is pretty straightforward. You'll get one of those fab double-decker trains which you only see on the continent, but the down side is that the class-system is still very much in operation. Who needs first class for a quick half hour jaunt down the coast anyway? Whatever class you travel in, you can't deny that the views are stunning as you pass various little towns and resorts along the way. With the coastline at one side, and the mountains at the other, this is one of the most memorable train journeys I can remember.

Arriving in Cannes, the main surprise is that you'll find reasonably priced places to eat within yards of leaving the gare. The prices are similar to Nice and we managed to get a very affordable lunch, with the ubiquitous Provence wine thrown in.

There's two sides to shopping in Cannes. The streets behind the seafront have some expensive shops but some 'normal' ones too: we spotted a Monoprix and a Galeries Lafayette. Perhaps the most jaw-dropping of all was the Boutique du Chien, yes, everything you ever needed to keep your pet pooch fashionable as you stroll down the Croisette. If ever there was a photo opportunity it was this one. This shop is a must if you need cool shades and Juicy Couture-style leisurewear for your petit chien.

It's not too far till you're on the Croisette, with the Palais des Festivals a few minutes walk away. This is the home of the Cannes Film Festival - and even more interesting for me, the annual NRJ Music Awards. It has its own Walk of Fame, and we took some time to look at all the handprints of the various French and international stars. Here's Johnny Hallyday: he's so big in France, he only needed the one handprint.

Took a stroll beyond the Palais des Festivals and straight into that wonderful French obsession - boules. There were several games going on, some being played very aggressively indeed! It's great fun to watch a bunch of predominantly old guys getting competitive at this game.

The weather today was cloudier and slightly cooler, but not sufficiently to remove my shades. Yes my big new prescription sunglasses saw lots of action on this holiday and I'm glad I got them, even if the guy in Specsavers did his best to put me off buying them.

Going off in the opposite direction along the "prom" it was time to check out those mega-hotels for which Cannes is famous: one of these had its own shopping mall, but don't expect New Look, Primark or Dorothy Perkins here - think Dolce & Gabbana, Escada, Balenciaga and Jimmy Choo. It was like the Heat magazine had come to life with all those designer names. Sadly it was only window shopping today. :(

We spent five hours in Cannes before taking the train back to Nice, and very enjoyable it was too. We wouldn't want to take a holiday here though, as there is something rather surreal and over the top about this place compared to Nice, which manages to combine glitz and glamour with a harder and more gritty attitude. Dinner tonight at one of our old favourite restaurants. You can always get a great pizza in Nice, and tonight was no exception. Four days in, and the weight was creeping up, very rapidly indeed...but what an enjoyable way to gain it!! :))

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Star Academy: this week's nominees

Another girl to go this week then. This is a tough one, I don't know who'll save who, but I think Julia might just be toast on Friday, that's if the producers haven't decided that Alice has outlived her usefulness. I still don't 'get' Maryline, but she'll be saved one way or another.

Star Academy: Prime 4, 10.10.08

Not a full review, as I missed some of it.

Prime 4 kicked off with a Jenifer medley, with the guest of honour herself arriving in grand style.
Quentin & Roch Voisine & Garou: "La Dame de Haute-Savoie": this young man shines week after week on the prime, vocally he still reminds me of a young Florent Pagny. And Garou, well he’s still ol’ razorblade-tonsils. 15.

Top 10:

10- Julia
9 - Alice
8 - Maryline
7 - Edouard
6 - Anissa
5 - Quentin
4 - Mickels
3 - Solene
2 - Gautier
1 - Joanna

Anissa & Jenifer: "Comme Un Hic": I’ve made no secret of the fact I hate this song, but I can’t deny that Anissa did very well here and she is growing in confidence by the week. 15.3.

Quentin & Gautier: "Oh Les Filles": This was a fun number, the kind of thing which Star Ac always did quite well. 15.2 for Gautier here.

Then a bluesy number with Garou and one of those cringeworthy moments you get every series when Nikos sings.

Ana: "La Femme Chocolat" was ok but her days were numbered. 14.5.

Maryline & Jenifer: A rocked-up "J’Attends L’Amour" which, IMHO, didn’t work at all - from either of them.

Solene: "I’m So Excited": she’s got potential, but week after week her nerves let her down and she was off-key for half of this. 15.7 nevertheless!

Harold: "Lettre a France": it’s not up there with Nolwenn and Houcine’s version, but it erupted into a rather rocky, dramatic version, spoiled only by the major whiff of cheese when Mrs Harold arrived at the end to sing with him. 16.7.

Gautier & The Jonas Brothers: "SOS": Mass hysteria on a scale never seen before at Star Ac as "Les Jonas Brezzers" (thanks Nikos) took to the stage. It’s a bit of a family night as Gautier is joined by his sister.

Julia & Yael Naim: "New Soul": this was a very big hit in France last year. I still think Julia has nice stage presence and seemed quite at home on this, however those profs are doing their best to get her out. 13.3.

Alice & Edouard: "Parle A Ma Main": another lightweight throwaway number - it looks as if these two are being sidelined again. 13.7 for Alice.

Edouard & Roch Voisine: "City of New Orleans": Roch’s gone all ‘Americana’ on his new album. I thought Edouard sang rather nicely here: 15 for him.

Joanna & Jenifer: "Si C'est Une Ile": I like this song but I didn't think it worked here and don't really like the musical direction she's going in. Joanna of course is so far out in front she is lapping some of the other contestants, yet there is a voice inside my head telling me that she's not going to win this...

Yvane: the rebel was transformed into respectable balladeer for his nominees' song "J'te le dis quand même" and showed off a different side. 15.3.

Mickels & Garou: Didn't know the song, but it was a good enough duet as long as Garou kept his sandpapery vocals in check. Mickels is growing on me week by week, I'd say he is my favourite but I don't think he'll win. 15.2.

As I had previously predicted, Yvane "le terrible" (merci Nikos) was saved by the viewers, and following a very close, teary eviction vote which tied Ana and Harold, Yvane's powers of rebellion deserted him and he actually used his casting vote this time: when he saved Harold.

I feel quite sorry for Ana, as she was one of those contestants who was kept in the background and never really given a chance. But we know how these type of shows work by now, don't we?

Melodifestivalen 2009 songs (well, 28 of them anyway) announced

Here are the songs and songwriters of 28 of next year's MF entries - yes it's only 4 months away folks!

1. "I Got You"Rodrigo Pencheff, Tobias Karlsson
2. "Stay the Night"Anders Hansson, Mårten Sandén, Andreas Lundstedt, Tess Merkel
3. "Love, Love, Love"Anders Hansson
4. "Show Me Heaven"Sussie Päivärinta, Kalle Kindblom, Thomas G:son
5. "Med hjärtat fyllt av ljus" Ingela Pling Forsman, Bobby Ljunggren, Henrik Wikström
6. "Alla"Henrik Wikström
7. "What if"Amir Ali, Michail Numhauser
8. "Så vill stjärnorna"Ingela Pling Forsman, Marcos Ubeda, Bobby Ljunggren
9. "Mänskobarn"Ingela Pling Forsman, Bobby Ljunggren, Henrik Wikström
10. "Never Been Here Before"Jennifer Brown, Peter Kvint
11. "Tick tock"Johan Leander, Matti Alfonsetti
12. "Killing Me Tenderly"Amir Ali, Henrik Wikström, Tobbe Pettersen.
13. "It's My Life"Alexander Bard, Bobby Ljunggren, Oskar Holter
14. "Moving On"Sarah Dawn Finer, Fredrik Kempe
15. "Hope and glory"Fredrik Kämpe, Måns Zelmerlöw, Henrik Wikström
16. "Higher"Johan Becker, Johan Fjällström, Joakim Udd
17. "You're Not Alone"Fredrik Kämpe, Alexander Bard, Anders Hansson
18. "Snälla, snälla"Caroline af Ugglas, Heinz Liljedal.19. "Här för mig själv"Thomas G:son, Marcus Ubeda
20. "Jag ska slåss i dina kvarter"Lasse Lindh
21. "Du vinner över mig"Thomas G:son
22. "Jag tror på oss"Lars Dille Didriksson, Martin Hedström, Ingela Pling Forsman
23. "Esta Noche"Michael Xavier Barrazza, Jimmy Almgren, Adam Soleiman
24. "1000 Miles"Niklas Jarl, David Stenmark
25. "You're my World"Emilia Rydberg, Fredrik Figge Bodström
26. "The Queen"Tony Nilsson, Henrik Jansson
27. "Welcome to My Life"Samuel Waemö, Didrik Thott
28. "Den första kyssen"Lina Eriksson, Mollgan B:son

Poster Girl as ever has a wonderful, detailed analysis of the songs and possible performers so I recommend that you go over there and check it out.

I'm not doing analysis tonight: all I will say is .....


(and BWO and Alcazar and possibly Ola!)

What we do know is that Andreas Johnson definitely won't be back at MF in 2009 - he said as much in an interview in Aftonbladet today.

Monday, October 13, 2008

"I started with nothing..."

Some people love Peter Kay and think he's a comedy genius, others hate everything he does.
I'm in the "love" camp - "Phoenix Nights" was one of the best comedies of the past few years.
Event TV is a rarity these days, so a new Peter Kay show was definitely a must-see. Thankfully, last night's "Britain's Got the Pop Factor . . . And Possibly A New Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly On Ice" (Channel 4) delivered.
I finally managed to watch the show tonight. It may not have been the side-splitting comedy you'd expect, but as a sharp, acutely observed parody of "X Factor" - even down to the set, the opening titles, the voiceovers, the camera shots - nothing was overlooked. Reuniting the "Pop Idol" panel of Pete Waterman, Nikki Chapman and Doctor Fox was a stroke of genius. The sob stories of contestants R Wayne and 2 Up 2 Down (think Same Difference with wheelchairs) may have been in bad taste, but it was funny bad taste nonetheless. And Kay's own gender-bending creation Geraldine's medley of "Free Nelson Mandela-ela-ela, under my umbrella" was inspired.
And that "Winners Song" co-written by Peter Kay and some little-known chap called Gary Barlow (!) has been stuck in our heads all night. Strangely enough I remember it more than the new Take That song which was on the radio this morning, and which I wasn't too thrilled about on one listen. One year ago I said the very same thing about "Rule The World" and went on to love it, so I won't make any judgements just yet. :))

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Chippy Chips!!!!!

Only six days to go till one of the best TV shows ever, "Harry Hill's TV Burp" returns to ITV.

I just had to celebrate this with some..."MEAT!!!!!"

I've got another new blog!

You probably wonder why I'm bringing yet another blog into the world when I don't seem to have the time these days to update this one :)

Anyway I started EuropeCrazy's Random Ramblings ( yesterday, it's going to be a place for off-topic thoughts and trivial stuff which don't have anything to do with music or TV or travel or Swedish singers I'm obsessed with.

It will be a totally random thing so there may be some days when I don't post anything, and others when I won't be able to shut up. There have been times that I wanted to post stuff on EuropeCrazy but I didn't think it would fit into this blog so now there's a new home for it. Feel free to pop over from time to time, you're all welcome :)))

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Retro Saturday: Rick Astley

What's with this whole Rick-rolling phenomenon?????

Tonight let's celebrate one of Stock-Aitken-Waterman's finest :)

"Never Gonna Give You Up":

"Together Forever":

Retro Saturday: Seal

He's still going, and still popular 'on the continent' but will probably never achieve the level of super-stardom he achieved back then with "Crazy".

Yes, I was in love with him then...!

Retro Saturday: Divine

Tonight I watched "Hairspray" on Sky Movies, which was OK, although as a musical-purist I still have a problem with musicals-which-weren't-musicals-to-start-with (!)

Anyway "Hairspray" was once a non-musical movie which had the late great Divine in it, so what better reason and tenuous link to feature him tonight on Retro Saturday.

"I'm So Beautiful":

"Shake It Up":

"You Think You're A Man":

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Nice Diaries - Day 3, Wednesday 17 September 2008

Today, a trip to the Old Town via yet another packed tram. There's a tram stop just past the big open space of Place Garibaldi (above), and that's a good enough place to start. The Old Town is a sprawling maze of shaded streets from Garibaldi all the way down to Place Massena in one direction, and the Cours Saleya in the other. Place Garibaldi has also been done up since 2005, a lovely stately square but a bit concrete-y in places.

The Old Town (Vieille Ville in French) is where the real people of Nice do their shopping in the butchers and the bakers, then they'll stop off to grab a quick bite of socca I guess. No socca for me today though, as we lunched at a Turkish kebab restaurant. If the Old Town is the place to find the most traditional Nicoise specialities, you'll also discover an interesting international selection too...Turkish, Tunisian and Afghan, and even a tapas bar along the way.

It's full of shopping opportunities for the tourists - lots of bright yellow Provencal souvenirs from traditional skirts to the ubiquitous olive oil bottles. Here's a typical souvenir shop display.

On previous holidays we spent quite a bit of time in the Cours Saleya, an area just behind the seafront which is basically two long lines of restaurants/bars with a market in the middle during the daytime and then the restaurants spill outside at night. Decided to make a brief return although strangely enough on this holiday we didn't go back there at night. Too many other eating/drinking options I guess. I mentioned the Albert I gardens in Day 2's post and it will always be special to us, mainly because of its proximity to the seafront and it's one of the rare opportunities to get out of the sun for a while. I also like these palm trees which give it a kind of exotic feel.

Another thing we love about Nice is the 'shelters' (I'm sure they have a proper name) on the seafront, in the vicinity of the Palais de la Mediterranee and the Hotel Negresco. These provide a good opportunity to sit down check out what's happening on the beach, or just do a little people-watching if you can't get a sea view. It was fun checking out the 'beautiful people' on the beach: certainly much more fun for faithful travelling companion than for me: he got to see the beautiful girls and all I got were old men with varying degrees of sunburn.
After heading back to the hotel we were back off to the Old Town for our evening meal in a very traditional Nicoise establishment - and what else but soupe au pistou, followed by gnocchi!!

Lots of sellers out on the street tonight with the usual handbags and watches. They never give up do they? However I manage to resist some retail therapy for a change. An earlier night as a very busy day ahead on Thursday.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Star Academy: this week's nominees

Yvane, Harold and Ana.

What the ....

Why Harold? He's one of the best singers in the competition! OK so I haven't really been up to date with the daily updates this week, but ....why?

Yvane's nomination was inevitable this week, but this is like Star Academy 3 all over again, when weekly nominations were the norm for Lukas, and every week he was saved. I can see this happening with Yvane.

So my foolish prediction:
Yvane saved by the viewers
Harold saved by the students
Ana goes home.

We'll see what happens on Friday.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Square-Eyed Couch Potato: August-September 2008

Bit belated, for which I apologise :)

I’m not usually too thrilled with celebrity-presented documentaries and I’m no fan of Joanna Lumley, but despite this even I was captivated by "Joanna Lumley In The Land of the Northern Lights" (BBC-1). She said it was something she always wanted to do, so off she went to northern Norway to find them. I won’t ever complain about the cold again! It was hard not to feel her wonderment and emotion at finally seeing the Northern Lights, which truly look phenomenal. She ended up in Svalbard, just 620 miles from the North Pole: the end of northern civilisation.

It’s been going for a while but only recently, and by mistake, I discovered "Come Dine With Me" (Channel 4) a daily cooking contest where a group of five people take turns to host a dinner party. It’s such addictive viewing, but it was only on for a couple of weeks before Paul O’Grady’s tedious teatime chat show returned. The format also translates well internationally: in France it’s "Un Diner Presque Parfait" and doing very well in the ratings over there.

The anniversary of 9/11 was commemorated by a couple of documentaries on Channel 4: "The 9/11 Hotel" interviewed survivors from the Marriott Hotel which was next to the towers, and "The 9/11 Faker" told the shocking story of a woman who claimed to be a survivor of 9/11 but it turned out that she wasn’t even there.

Saturday night of course is now dominated by X Factor (yawn) and "Strictly Come Dancing" (BBC-1). There will soon be weekly reviews of Strictly on here once all the male and female contestants are together, at the moment it’s males one week (Phil Daniels evicted week 1) and females the next (Gillian Taylforth evicted week 2), then back to males (Gary Rhodes evicted week 3) It’s still a winning format, but my gripes from the last series continue. There is too much airtime given to the over-inflated egos of the judges; Bruce Forsyth may just be losing the plot; and why do we have to wait till Sunday for the results show - which is an hour long! The only good thing about the results show though is the professional exhibition dances which are fab.

Anton Du Beke may have gone out in week 2, but who decided he would be the next over-exposed TV presenter then? As if his big chin and cheesy grin wasn’t enough on "Strictly" we are now subjected to him on "Step Up To The Plate" (BBC-2), in the pre-teatime cookery slot, and as if that’s not enough, those with a nervous disposition can drool over him in silver lycra (!?!?!?!?), on "Hole In the Wall" (BBC-1) which may just be your bag if you like Z-listers in silver lycra. The last straw was a silver-lycra-clad Vanessa Feltz, and by that time my nerves could take no more.

I’ve been enjoying "Don’t Tell The Bride" (BBC-3) where a soon to be married couple are given £12000 to arrange their wedding, the only catch being that the groom has to arrange the whole thing from start to finish.

"Lipstick Jungle" (Living, Mondays) was described as the new Sex And The City, however after two episodes I couldn’t agree with that, purely because I couldn’t warm to any of the three main characters and the whole thing just left me cold.

"Grey’s Anatomy" (Living, Thursdays) is now on series 4 and has got off to a cracking start, mainly because it’s spent less time on Meredith’s tedious dilemmas and concentrated on the whole Izzie-George-Callie love triangle, and introduced new intern Lexie - none other than Meredith’s half sister!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Star Academy: Prime 3, 03.10.08

Didn't have time this week to watch the full prime - would need about three days to do that ha ha, it's getting more of a marathon by the week.

Anyway I really enjoyed this week's show and thought that most of the eleves raised their game this week. So here is my review, not in any particular order:

"Ma Liberte de Penser" - all the students sang this in tribute to this week's special guest Florent Pagny and this was, I thought, rather good.

Quentin and Florent Pagny - "Amsterdam". Pagny, like Johnny Hallyday, can be a tough act to sing with but I thought Quentin did well, and for one so young he has such control and vocal maturity. 14.8.

Solene and Sheryfa Luna - "Il Avait Les Mots". Sheryfa is such a star - but Solene still has that rabbit-in-headlights quality and needs to overcome her nerves to progress in this contest. 13.7.

Mickels and Lenny Kravitz - "Are You Gonna Go My Way". I really enjoyed this too: Mickels is one of my favourites in the contest and I hope he goes far although I don't think he'll win.

Anissa and Mathieu Edward - "Comme Avant". Oh I love this song so much! Mathieu really has grown into an absolutely convincing r'n'b star, and Anissa did quite well here too. Sheryfa Luna also made an appearance halfway through this song. 15.2.

Harold and Daniel Powter - "Bad Day" and "Next Plane Home". There is something quite appealing about Harold, even if his name still makes me think of Steptoe and Son (!) and I thought he was the vocal equal of Mr Powter here and certainly deserving of more than 15!

Joanna - "I Will Always Love You". It was her turn for the tableau this week, all white swans and extravagance. She was very good but her vocals wobbled in places. 17.5.

Maryline and Pauline: "Allo Le Monde". Hard to tell who was the professional here - Pauline was awful and was out-sung, but I'm still not sure if I like Maryline or not. 14.7.

Julia and Solene: "Les Brunes Ne Comptent Pas...." a fun and lively number, but still couldn't cover up for the fact that Julia's days are numbered in this contest and it's only a matter of time till she's out. 13.2.

Joanna and the Pussycat Dolls - "When I Grow Up". Showing a very different side of her personality and this absolutely worked.

Yvane - "Bouge De La". Seemingly changed the words of the MC Solaar classic. I'm still not sure of his 'talent' but his 'rebellion' - even if it's becoming tiresome - is needed this year, and he needs to stay for a while!

Ana and Madcon - "Beggin'". I guess the reason I liked this week's prime so much was because a lot of my current/recent favourites were on. Sadly Ana is being given the wrong song choices and set up for an early eviction. 13.2.


Gaetan - "La Boulette". Enlisting the help of resident-rebel Yvane on co-rapping duties wasn't enough to keep him in. He may be quite a decent rapper but wasn't a good enough singer to remain in the academy.

Alice - "Ce Matin". An improvement on some of her previous performances but she is still falling short of what's required.

Edouard - "Ensemble". He's not Sinclair (who is?) but he made a decent job of this and was helped by his fellow students on a well-staged number.

Alice saved by the public, Edouard saved by his fellow students and bye bye Gaetan.

Busy busy busy

OK then, I didn't deliver all the things I promised this weekend: it was a very busy day yesterday which left little time for anything else. Hopefully I'll be a bit more organised over the next couple of nights.

Haven't even seen this week's Star Academy yet although I know who was evicted. I previously meant to mention that has the full prime every week and also a selection of clips.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

This weekend...

...just popped in to say that I haven't had too much time to blog over the past couple of nights or today, and, as they say on TV, 'in a slight change to the usual schedule' I won't be around here tonight either. This was all due to a combination of a big clean-out at EuropeCrazy HQ and a slightly busier social calendar than usual :)

Anyway Retro Saturday will take a break and should return next week. Normal service should be resumed tomorrow on the blog, so expect another instalment of the Nice Diaries and a review of this week's Star Academy.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Nice Diaries: Day 2 - Tuesday 16 September 2008

Following an authentic French buffet breakfast of deliciously decadent croissant, pain au chocolat and unlimited supplies of orange juice and strong coffee, sunshine and shopping were on the menu today.

Before that though, some reassuring stuff still around: There’s lots of French radio stations to listen to, all of whom still operating that wonderful quota system where they have to play so much French music in addition to the usual Rihanna/Pink/Pussycat Dolls/Katy Perry/Kid Rock etc etc. So it took me no time to compile my holiday hit list (see a previous post).

Another reassuring thing is that Starsix Music is still on M6 after our return from breakfast, still with that ‘guess the mystery face’ contest. It hadn’t been won by the end of our holiday, and as far as I know the big money prize still hasn’t been won: no one it seems can guess the identity of the mystery blonde with Paul Belmondo (pictured above). Oh, and although it’s called Starsix Music there’s not too much music, just the odd video or two. They seemed to particularly like Mathieu Edward’s new video. Oh, and the girl co-presenting the show is Karine Ferri, who was the girlfriend of the late Gregory Lemarchal.

Today: the pilgrimage to the Megastore and FNAC in search of some French music. I’d made up my mind that I was definitely buying Mylene Farmer’s "Point de Suture" and the soundtrack album to the new "Cleopatre" musical but eventually decided against getting Quentin Mosimann’s "Duel" as I wasn’t particularly keen on one of the albums being swing/big band style. Maybe he should have made just the one album, in electro/dance style. I did pick up a bargain though, Popstars winner Sheryfa Luna’s debut CD (pictured above) is now down to 9.99 euros, her music is a nice mix of r'n'b-pop and the new version includes "Comme Avant" which is rather lovely.

Nice Etoile is a better-than-average shopping mall on Avenue Jean Medecin with some quality restaurants rather than the usual standard food court. After a lunch stop there for a Nice speciality, gnocchi quatre fromages (pictured above) : it may not look too appealing but it's very tasty, so don't 'gnocc' it till you've tried it. (groan) it was then time for the Nice Tram Experience.

I had become a bit obsessed with the Nice Tramway over the past three years: from its construction to the end result, the introduction of an extensive tram route crucially stopping at all the places you need to be: from the railway station to Place Massena to Gare Routiere and Place Garibaldi and beyond. I watched all the YouTube video footage and had got rather desperate to finally take the tram journey. For only 1 euro you can travel as long or short a distance as you like, as long as it’s one journey. There are ticket machines at each tram stop and you must validate your ticket on entering the tram.

The reality is, prepare to be packed tightly and squashed like sardines. Just like the Paris Metro, the term ‘standing room only’ is, well, having a laugh, and you will get very up close and personal indeed with the Nicoise tram-travellers. We did get a seat on one very rare occasion during the evening later in the holiday. Surely some mistake :)))

A brief jaunt to the ever-fascinating Old Town which we’d explore in more detail on Wednesday.

Nice can be punishingly hot, which isn’t always an agreeable environment for your fair-skinned milk-bottle-white Factor 40-wearing blogger and her equally fair skinned boyfriend. It was hot today, but a few degrees less than what we’d experienced on previous trips to Nice. We're not sun-worshippers or beach fans, and Nice beach is pretty challenging as there's no sand, just pebbles. However I love being at the sea, it's just so special. Today the sky was a beautiful blue, the sea was sparkling like silver and it was just the best place on earth to be. If you are seeking some welcome shade in Nice then check out one of our favourite spots, the Albert I gardens just off the Promenade des Anglais, which has a lovely old carousel and some very exotic large palm trees.

After a packed day exploring it was back to the hotel and on with the telly. "Dance Floor" on TF1 was basically a "So You Think You Can Dance"-type show with members of the public in dancing duels, the winner proceeding to the grand final. This was followed by "Wheel of Fortune" which was always good fun, even if my French wasn’t up to the standard of forming catchphrases.
Tonight’s meal involved the biggest portion of onion soup ever, followed by the biggest pizza ever. Oh yes, and some red wine. Quelle surprise.

The seafront wasn’t too busy tonight, but is very striking on a dark September night, as the lights twinkle all the way from one end of the Baie des Anges to the other. One of Nice’s most famous landmarks, the Hotel Negresco, is also distinctively lit up at night. Ended the night at one of our favourite people-watching bars. A great day with no real departures from the holiday norm, but just doing things that make us happy.
There will be more photos to follow, had a few problems with uploading these so will do later. :)