Eurovision, part two. Watching from the couch here in Amsterdam, Thursday night promises more of the same - 80% fromage, 10% sexy, and 10% being music that you would readily admit to listening to.
1) Bosnia-Herzegovina kicks things off with a folksy tune sung by the oldest person in the competition, a graying, tweed-jacket wearing Bosnian-Herzegovinian. Sex appeal at its lowest point in the contest.
2) Austria - rights the sex appeal ship within seconds, as a very fit girl in a black mini-dress. These aren't your grandpa's lederhosen. The Whitney Houston-ish song (early Whitney, not crack-Whitney) is actually quite nice.
3) Netherlands - the "3J's" do a soft-rock ballad. I'm guessing the J's stand for Jan, Jeroen, and Jawnnn. Fittingly for the Dutch, it's pretty cheesy.
4) Belgium - no waffling here. Brutal. Singing A Crapella, about 8 men and women sing without instruments. A beat-boxing youth spices things up as background music, but it is not salvageable.
5) Slovakia - "The Twins" sing a soulless but nicely melodic song, shades of a Brit girl group from the 90's whose name thankfully escapes me. No, it's actually All-Saints. I feel shame, knowing this. Early front-runner.
6) Ukraine - Some kind of yelling power ballad, with a sand-drawing artist projected onto the background screen. Clearly a ruse to distract from the shoddy song. Insane in the Ukraine. So far all the songs have sounded roughly the same; sleep beckons.
7) Moldova - Bam! Wakes me up in a hurry. Trumpets, huge cone-shaped hats, a girl on a unicycle. I've had dreams just like this. Part-rap, part... sort of early Red Hot Chili Peppers. You know, I can't describe this any other way. Huge points for trying to be different though.
8) Sweden - by far the slickest, most professional act of the night. A boy band to the max. Very poppy, a little 80s techno, and pre-teen European girls are crying already.
9) Cyprus - Tonight, these countries are making my job tough. They are mashing up categories to make description nigh impossible. Eat me, Cyprus. That's all I got.
10) Bulgaria - More power-ballad, complete with fire effects and huge wind machines. I am not blown away. Their chances of making it to Saturday's finals are nil.
11) FYR Macedonia - Very FYR Macedonian.
12) Israel - Hmm. Not every day you see a post-op transvestite (now a woman) wearing a dress apparently made entirely of palm fronds. (In Amsterdam, however, it's every second day). Above-average doctor, average song.
13) Slovenia - Tonight is power-ballad night, it seems. Again, I need a shot of Vitamin Moldova to wake me up.
14) Romania - Accompanied by a spunky piano, a Mika-voiced Romanian sensation rocks the Eurovision nation. Actually, not really, but it was fun to write. Lose the pianist, I say. (That's what #12 said too).
15) Estonia - ANOTHER impossible-to-describe type of song. I think Jay-Z said it best: live bloggin' ain't easy. Call it Katy Perry, with more talent and some "doo-wop" thrown in for good measure. The song is called Rockefeller Street, and see if you can describe the style.
16) Belarus - sings a fist-pumping song that makes it seem that they are making fun of themselves, "I Love Belarus". Well, somebody has to. Next!
17) Latvia - these guys did a kind of nerdy rap pop duet. Actually kind of cool, enough so that they've robbed me of any mocking juice. Damn.
18) Denmark - like Sweden, pure pop, and a little sumpin sumpin for the ladies. The guy is wearing a backless shirt, which seems odd. So generous, he gave the back off his shirt.
19) Ireland - WOW. Ireland as a nation is likely cringing. Jedward, as they're called, are twins. And if you've ever longed for music that bridges the gap between Devo and the Spice Girls, well, tonight is your lucky night. They put the gae in Gaelic. Check their song out here. Warning: you will be singing the chorus all day.
Head to YouTube and enter any country and "eurovision" and you can check out any songs I haven't included here.
The finals go Saturday night, with 25 nations competing (France, Italy, the UK, and Spain all get a free entry, as does host country Germany). And then I can go back to never admitting that I watched every second.