Eurovision in Malmö
And if Sarah Dawn Finer looked familiar, she was the comedienne Lynda Woodruff from earlier.
David Landes, 11.36pm
Sweden leaving no Eurovision stone unturned...Carola, Abba, Eric Saade?!?! And now Sarah Dawn Finer does her own version of the Abba classic, The Winner Takes It All. Not long until we actually have a winner!
David Landes, 11.31pm
As Petra recaps the history of Eurovision, I'm going to give my two cents on the songs tonight:
Most memorable song title: Alcohol is Free (Greece); Happiest singer: Malta; Best Dressed: Petra Mede; Most amazing voice: Romania. Who will win: Norway...no Denmark...no Finland...no Denmark.
David Landes, 11.29pm
Two men kissing in bit illustrating gay marriage. Walking meatballs, a woman bathing in a martini glass. Carola...this is one helluva showtune. Petra's pulled off something special, I reckon.
David Landes, 11.26pm
Another number with Petra Mede making fun of Swedes' love of standing in lines. "Beneath the midnight sun, the blondes have all the fun." Vikings, men pushing prams. "The men don't have titties, but they can still stay home to raise the kids."
David Landes, 11.25pm
Funny interlude poking fun at Swedish stereotypes. My favourite was the the skit where Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt is told by an aide that he has to break off a meeting to go empty the office dishwasher. "Your mother doesn't work here, Fredrick."
Oliver Gee, 11.21pm
Aaaand... the lines are closed.
Oliver Gee, 11.20pm
Most memorable song: Romania, most fun singers: Malta, winning song: Denmark, Best dressed: Italy, Best legs: Belarus, Biggest ripoff song: Germany, Best Nordic God impression: Iceland. Most useless usage of a giant: Ukraine. My vote: Romania. A true standout performance.
Patrick Reilly, 11.15pm
Most original song: Netherlands, craziest song: Romania, most fun song: Greece, winning song: Denmark at Eurovision
Oliver Gee, 11.10pm
Loreen back on stage, singing a new song, fused together with Euphoria in case you forgot how it goes.
David Landes, 11.03pm
So, that's it then. Petra Mede back on centre stage after two straight hours of the best (!) that European pop has to offer. Pretty soon, the voting will begin. Who are YOU voting for? Let us know in the comment field below.
Senior Editor (and Irishman) Paul O'Mahony on Ireland, 11.02pm
Topless tattooed chaps beat on traditional bodhran drums. Lad in leathers belts out passable Eurovision tune. And we appear to have the Devil on drums. Would be surprised if this didn't finish in the top ten for Ireland.
Paul Connolly, 11.01pm (on Norway)
What a great song. It may be a little too progressive for Eurovision tastes but I Feed You My Love is probably my favourite Eurovision song EVER.
David Landes, 10.58pm
Last song! Ireland closing out the competition. Ryan Dolan with Only Love Survives. Up tempo, solid pop song. My viewing party guests are giving him two thumbs up.
Oliver Gee, 10.57pm
Speaking of Twitter, follow us all there. Oliver, Dave, Patrick.
David Landes, 10.56pm
Judging from my Twitter feed, Swedes are convinced that the ESC crown will stay close by. Money on Denmark or Norway.
Oliver Gee, 10.51pm
Just when you thought dresses couldn't get any tighter than the Ukraine one, Norway is here. See for yourself, below. I should add, I disagree with Patrick above.
David Landes, 10.49pm
Italy on stage now. The SVT announcer said he may have the nicest suit of the night.
Sophie Inge, The Local's woman in Italy, claims that no one there cares about Eurovision. She gives us the local lowdown.
“After sliding down to a disappointing ninth place in last year’s competition from second place in 2011, Italy has this year pinned its hopes on Marco Mengoni and his hit ‘L’Essenziale’ (Essentials). With his distinctive sideburns, earring and quiff, the Italian X Factor and Sanremo song contest winner has become something of a national treasure in Italy.
‘L’Essenziale’, Mengoni says, “is about the “necessity of going back to essentiality...to overcome the difficulties of today”. The emotional ballad is an unconventional choice for Italy that reflects the country’s pessimistic mood.
In an article entitled ‘L’Essenziale is simply to take part’, journalist Paolo Gallori of La Repubblica says: “History teaches us that the best person doesn’t always win at Eurovision,” before reminding readers that if Italy does win, it will have to take financial responsibility for the next edition. And, considering Italy's economic woes, this is probably something the country could do without.”
David Landes, 10.46pm
We're almost there. Just four songs left. Someone sitting next to me, a seasoned Eurovision veteran from Sweden is not impressed so far. She thinks this is one of the least inspiring ESC finals in years.
David Landes, 10.44pm
After Greece's jovial, if not ironic Alcohol Is Free, we're onto Ukraine. Another Ballad of sorts, Gravity, performed by Zlata Ognevich.
The Eurovision Song Contest has never shied away from creative choreography, and the Ukraine has certainly thought outside the box this year. Ognevich is carried on stage by a 234 centimetre (7 feet 8 inches) tall "giant" meant to symbolise her inner strength, and "Gravity" has been well received by Eurovision fans.
Oliver Gee, 10.41pm
Break from the live blog for a live fact:
The last time Sweden won the contest was in 1999 when Charlotte Nilsson won in Israel for Take Me To Your Heaven. The countries to win since:
2000 - Denmark
2001 - Estonia
2002 - Latvia
2003 - Turkey
2004 - Ukraine
2005 - Greece
2006 - Finland
2007 - Serbia
2008 - Russia
2009 - Norway
2010 - Germany
2011 - Azerbaijan
2012 - Sweden
Patrick Reilly, 10.38pm
Funny moment happened earlier when the singer from Azerbaijan was found lining up the press pack to get inside. A volunteer rushed him in quickly after he was spotted. Clearly, he has been in Sweden too long already.
Oliver Gee, 10.37pm
Yes, the guy from Iceland definitely looked like Thor. Now for last year's winners -
Azerbaijan and 22-year-old Farid Mammadov with "Hold Me"
This song is better than their winning entry last year, but that't not saying much...
David Landes, 10.31pm
Yet another ballad. Iceland's Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson with aÉg á líf. I have no idea how to pronounce that, or what it means. One thing's for sure, his long blond hair isn't as finely trimmed as his close-cut beard.
Patrick Reilly, 10.21pm
Denmark's Emmelie de Forest has been charming the press all week. Has a cute lisp and is very shy when speaking Swedish. I'm off to berate my Swedish better half for not being Danish and not having a lisp.
David Landes, 10.28pm
One of the night's heavy favourites is now on stage, Denmark's Emmelie De Forest with Only Teardrops.
If we’re going by pure YouTube views alone, this song is far and above the winner of the competition. With over 2 million views already (and surely many more to come), Emmelie’s song has more than four times as many hits as Sweden’s entry.
Oliver Gee, 10.26pm
The Local co-founder James Savage has weighed in with his thoughts on the show and the UK's entry:
"We Brits treat Eurovision a bit like we treat Europe as a whole - slightly condescendingly, as a bit of a joke. It's something we feel we ought to be part of, but we secretly consider ourselves a bit above it. However, the humiliation of getting beaten by beastly foreigners year after year (coming last three times in recent years) has put the pressure on the powers that be to salvage a bit of national pride.
The new strategy: to find a household name who needs the publicity. This worked moderately well in 2011 with Blue, but last year's entry from Engelbert Humperdinck bombed. Will BonnieTyler's husky tones - or her big European fan base - take the UK to glory? Maybe not, but a respectable showing would be a relief."
David Landes, 10.22pm
This song grows on my every time I hear it. Robin probably won't be able to pull off a repeat, but it is a great song
Patrick Reilly, 10.21pm
I talked to Robin earlier this week, check it out here.
Oliver Gee, 10.20pm
Here comes Robin! Go Sweden!
David Landes, 10.15pm
At least one fan at my Eurovision party summed up Ms. Tyler's entry like this:
"She is NOT going to win."
Everyone is entitled to their opinion.
David Landes, 10.14pm
Okay UK fans...it's Bonnie Tyler time with Believe In Me. The Welsh singer's entry comes courtesy of American song writer Desmond Child, who has previously worked with artists such as Kelly Clarkson, Bon Jovi and Aerosmith. The country-flavoured number lacks some of the energy and drama of Tyler's megahits of the eighties, but could still to pick up nostalgia votes across the continent.
David Landes, 10.10pm
Cezar from Romania is going for something of a Dracula look. But don't be deceived. He's got a mean falsetto. He deserves an award of some sort for his vocal, ahem, skills. Check it out here:
Oliver Gee, 10.07pm
I asked Europeans on Twitter who they thought would win. The Netherlanders responded the most. Here is an example:
Patrick Reilly, 10.05pm
The Swedes in the press centre at #Eurovision are wetting themselves at these gags in the skit. Not many others are though.
Oliver Gee, 9.55pm
Paul Connolly is wondering what the German word for Euphoria is. Read more from Paul here, including his Northern Dispatch column
Meanwhile, Armenia's version of Ashton Kutcher just rocked the Casbah.
Here comes Lynda Woodruff... aka Sarah Dawn Finer, one of our past Swedes of The Week.
Patrick Reilly 9.37pm
Bumped into some Germans who got very irked when I suggested that their song is a rip off of last year's winner. Listen to both and make up your own mind.
David Landes, 9.56pm
We checked in with Jessica Ware, reporter at The Local Germany for the local reaction to Germany’s entrant.
“Germany's unshakable, inexplicable love affair with Cascada means that those watching tonight are especially excited and I'm sure the country's hoping for a repeat of 2010's Lena Meyer Landrut glory.
Sadly though, few countries love Casacada's particular brand of glittery dance music as much as the Germans so I don't think a win is on cards – especially because of plagiarism rumours doing the rounds earlier this year that Germany's Glorious entry was a rip off of last year's winning track Euphoria. I like to think this wasn't the case though, and know pop-veteran Natalie Horler will knock Stockholm dead.”
David Landes, 9.53pm
Another one of the big five. Germany's Cascada with Glorious. Perhaps the most successful contestants this year after Britain's Tyler, Cascade topped international charts in 2009 with the hit single "Evacuate the Dancefloor." Having sold millions of albums around the world, the dance outfit shrugged off accusations it plagiarized last year's winner Loreen.
David Landes, 9.50pm
Russia's Dina Garipova is belting out yet another mellow, soulful ballad What If. Hmmm. What If...this song wins? I'd be surprised. Have a look yourself:
Oliver Gee, 9.48pm
Here come the Maltesers. According to our man in the South, Patrick Reilly, this song has "the best ever Eurovision lyric" with "Risk assessment is his investment".
Oliver Gee, 9.45pm
If Belarus wins, it'll be on looks alone. A woman from Belarus at my viewing party liked the song, and just said "nice legs".
My early tip is on Belgium, by the way. Not heard any tips from our other live bloggers. Leave your comments below with predictions.
David Landes, 9.43pm
Just noticed one of the younger attendees at our viewing party passed out during the Estonia entry. Guess not everyone was moved by Birgit's ballad.
David Landes, 9.39pm
Estonia's entry, Birgit, started off being broadcast in black and white, but switched to colour at the chourus. Wonder if they were able to achieve the same effect for those watching live at the arena in Malmö.
Paul Connolly, The Local's music writer and columnist, 9.36.pm
The girls from Robert Palmer's Addicted To Love video have escaped and are attacking that Belgian schoolboy!
Patrick Reilly 9.36pm
Belgium's Roberto Bellarosa is the youngest in the competition at just 18. Looked like a scared little boy when he was brought into face the press during the week. Where's your Mum when you need her?
David Landes, 9.34pm
Song six...Belgium. Roberto Bellarosa. Sounds Italian, looks a bit like Joaquin Phoenix with a bad haircut. Here's a look at his song, Love Kills.
Oliver Gee, 9.31pm
Spain - ESDM - Contigo Hasta El Final (With You Until The End)
Alex Dunham, our reporter for The Local Spain, wrote a whole story about how Eurovision trumped the football tonight on Spanish TVs.
It's official: Eurovision is more popular than football, he writes. Click the link to read the full story.
Oliver Gee, 9.27pm
Here comes Finland. Finnish singer Krista Siegfrids kissed her female co-dancer last week in the semis. Shocking dress, shocking song, shocking shock tactics.
Patrick Reilly 9.20pm
Caught up with the Lithuania singer a few hours ago for a barbecue. If he was anymore laid back he'd be in a coma.
David Landes, 9.20pm
Now it's Lithuania. Andrius Pojavis.
Paul O’Mahony, 9.18pm
Jean Paul Gaultier brought a nice touch of Eurotrash to proceedings in the warm-up programme on Swedish TV. He designed hostess Petra Mede's dresses for the evening and was effusive in his praise for the multi-tasking comedian. Her English isn't half bad either by the sound of things.
Patrick Reilly 9.17pm
France hacked off at going first. Britain went first last year and ended up second last overall. So many tweets going round that the French singer is actually Courtney Love
Oliver Gee, 9.15pm
We asked Ben McPartland, Editor of The Local France, for the lowdown on the French entry Amandine Bourgeois (see video in post below).
“She’s a sexy 33-year-old with a cracking pout and powerful set of vocal chords. She's already released two albums and sold over 100,000 copies. She made her name when she won "Nouvelle Star" TV talent show in 2008, but is still waiting for her career to really take off.
She'll be singing "Hell and Me", described as melody-rock-blues, whatever that means, but France does not really fancy her chances of success especially with fellow blonde Bonnie Tyler in the competition. Top five finish and the champagne corks will be popped. She has promised to give it everything however, so you never know.”
David Landes, 9.13pm
Maybe so, but Petra's French is impressive. Now it's time for the first song. France. If you can't watch it on the telly, here's a clip:
France - Amandine Bourgeois - L'Enfer Et Moi
Patrick Reilly 9.11pm
If you are wondering why Petra is a bit slow on her feet it is because she hurt her back during the week and has been in pain during rehearsals.
David Landes, 9.09pm
Wow...opening number felt like an Olympics opening ceremony. Now host Petra Mede is on the stage in a flowing pink dress. And she's just thanked all the "Dancing Queens" in the audience...
Oliver Gee, 9.04pm
Benny and Björn from Abba teamed up with Swedish DJ Avicci for the opening number. Read more by clicking the link.
David Landes, 9.02pm
AND WE'RE LIVE...the show has begun...with a video of scenic views from around Sweden
David Landes, 8.49pm
Less than 10 minutes till showtime. At long last it's Eurovision time. But there are some around me here in the Stockholm suburbs who aren't quite ready to turn off the US-Switzerland semi-final match in the World Championships. US is down 2-0. Bummer.
Oliver Gee, 8.30pm
Welcome to The Local's Eurovision Final Live Blog
Tonight, we'll be providing some behind the scenes glimpses from Patrick Reilly who's on the scene in Malmö, as well as from Dave Landes at something of a viewing party in Stockholm, our own music writer Paul Connolly in northern Sweden, and me at a viewing party in Uppsala.
We'll be keeping our finger of the pulse of what's happening, including videos, pictures, and commentary from our journalists in the other Local countries.