Live: Grand Final in Oslo

Welcome to Escdaily’s live report of the Grand Final of the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest, Velkommen til Norge and the kickoff of the 55th edition of the Contest. Join ESC Daily as we blog along live with the event from the press centre in Oslo. We are also doing a live webchat all evening, right through to tonight’s winner’s press conference. Just click ‘live’, above.

Alexander Rybak opens the show with a reprise of the song that brought us to Oslo in 2010. Our hosts introduce the show and the acts before opening the voting.

Big steps, big heels, and a big Christmas tree dress. The performances of Safura and her (4 or 3) backing singers have been up and down during rehearsals, but the tuning is good tonight, even if the backing singers carry some of the more impressive notes. Safura sets a season’s best for the catwalk sprint with a wind assisted 3.4 seconds. It is good, but doesn’t feel like a winner.

We were expecting something unexpected to happen tonight, but we’ve just had a stage intruder who attempts to join in the dance. The artists on stage did fantastically to ignore him completely. Here come the conspiricy theories… After the Azeri entry, the Spain’s circus number does seem as “kitchen sink” as it otherwise may. The press room are enjoying this, and Daniel seems to be enjoying his performance too. Daniel’s last notes were rather sharp, but overall a good job.

The audience in the Arena give Didrik a hearty welcome. His backing singers have had a quick change from supporting Alexander Rybak in the show’s opening. Didrik is smiling more than in rehearsals, but it seems a tad nervous at first. A couple of notes are throaty, but Didrik overcomes the nerves for the big final chorus.

Moldova benefits from being the first dance number of the night. The performance is as secure as we have seen all week. They really seem to be enjoying their final show. A rapturous reception in the press room. 

Jon has grown significantly in confidence and in ‘selling’ his song during the last week. No problems with the execution of this song. The audience and press room really like this entry, but don’t seem to think it a winner. Is it Eurovision enough?

Vakasin and his song are a little incongruous with his backing singers’ outfits, but there is not much else to criticise. The song doesn’t capture everyone, but it is well performed tonight. Bosnia will benefit from being only one of two rock songs this year, plus there are not too many Balkan finalists.

A big change in tempo now as Tom takes to the stage. His performance comes across ernest and with some captivating expression. The juries are likely to love this, but how will the public respond? If the press room is anything to go by, it will be a strong mixture of delight and disinterest.

On paper, it doesn’t sound a good idea to take to the Eurovision stage with a bowl cut, white jeans and backing singers wearing bubble-wrap dresses. But, this works! The ‘candy shop’ concept is a boon compared to the traditional presentation at the National Final. But, how well will it translate north and westwards? There is a dancing swede in the press room if that is anything to go by.

At this point, host Nadia confirms that Spain will perform again, after song 25 due to the disturbance to their performance. If Spain win, this could get very interesting. The Spanish TV commentator has already stated that the stage intruder has been arrested.

Is there another song now? Everyone is preoccupied with the Spain scandal. Fake tan, spangly costumes and butterfly wings, but the song is not memorable. Richard Wells must feel a bit awkward, being dragged out to chug some very simple chords in the piano which a beginner could quite happily tackle!

Niamh has been struggling with her voice this week, including in the jury recording rehearsal last night. This evening all notes are well tuned but with a more gentle delivery than Plan A had intended. The staging is classy and Eurofans will perhaps vote for Niamh’s pedigree too.

This song is everything you would want and expect from a Greek Eurovision entry. Strong rhythm, a catchy hook; big guns and tattoos. Lit up drums is rather last decade, but the performance suits the song.

Hopefully there will be no stage intruders so we don’t have to watch this twice. The song and its staging is rather 80s, but Eurovision has moved on far since then. Josh looks a little lost on stage, albeit more confident than this time last week. The last note was a little flat, for all the difference that will make!

Sopho/Sofia gives the best performance in the ‘slow assault’ category as she is pulled back and forth across the stage. This song has rightfully risen in the stakes and sits well between contrasting songs.

The vocal performance is stronger than in first rehearsals. The staging of the song is very impressive, particularly in the arena. The robot dancer still looks a little awkward when stripping off her bodywork in time for the ending. This song will draw high votes thanks to Turkey’s diaspora and thanks to rock fans across the continent. maNga are a renowned live act and appear a very strong contender tonight.

The press room is enjoying a return to power pop fare. Juliana is very confident on stage; her vocal has been made more powerful in the TV sound mix than it was for the semifinal where the backing singers overrode her at times. She is also smiling a lot more than she did last week. This song is crying out for a key change, but perhaps maintains a little more class by avoiding the temptation. There must be no attractive violinists in Albania.

Daniel Diges has been interviewed by TVE saying that he is happy to perform again.

 Now follows the campest moment of the night (which takes some effort). Hera looks so happy as always. The vocals are tight and powerful; Eurofans will love this, but we shall see how the rest of Europe judges this bilingual offering. Key change of the night! 

Alyosha is the only artist tonight to take to the Oslo stage completely alone. Love or loathe the song, her vocal acrobatics are highly impressive. The song has quite a long run-up to the high energy portions, so will TV viewers still be captivated? They may well be intrigued by her dress. This was not the first (or second choice) for Ukraine, so its a strong effort!

This song brings high energy and strong rhythm, but the spectators seem to lose the will to party after the first 30 seconds! The most popular segment of this song in the press room is when Jessy is working some moves facing the back of the stage! The odds of this song finishing last were slashed after their first rehearsal in Oslo, but there has been significant improvement in the backing vocals and staging of the song since then.

Paula and Ovi have been professional and consistent all week, tonight is no exception. Ovi is naturally given a strong reception by the Norwegian crowd, but the appeal of this song is pan-European. Whether that will include high scores has yet to be seen. The vocals are clear and tight, even the top E is no bother to Paula. The temperature in the hall genuinely rises with all the fire involved in this performance, so the artists do well to get through without anything melting or burning.

Not many people around Oslo seem to understand this song. It will probably baffle most TV viewers too. Peter has a tremendous tenor voice but it is lost in this song. Russia will benefit from following songs of a different genre, but they are likely to be receiving the bulk of their votes from old friends tonight.

Armenia has the longest hair and legs in the contest. Armenia also have the oldest ever Eurovision performer on the flute. The song’s not bad either and is definitely catchy. Ethno-pop has taken a back seat for the last couple of years, so it may be due a resurgence in 2010. The opening camera shots strategically aim slightly high when Eva holds a apricot stone in her hand in front of her wonderbra enhanced chest. A warm reception for this one in the press centre.

Lena is an artist transformed from last week; much more confident and energetic on stage than in early rehearsals. The backing singers work perfectly. Lena’s interesting English accent adds to the quirky allure, at least that’s what some people will say – others have not been impressed with this one. However, Germany do stand a chance of gaining a good result with a very un-Eurovision song.

Spain controversy: see for yourself:

It is easy to miss Filipa when you walk past her around the complex, she is tiny! However, it is noticable since her national final how her voice and stage presence have grown into what is a very big song. Key changes have been thin on the ground, so it is nice to have one here! The staging of the song suits it, but I’m not sure about the wind machine. A stronger contender than many expected it to be.

Along with Ukraine, Israel’s song is the most vocally demanding on offer this year. Rehearsals have seen Harel come out a winner and a loser versus the high notes in this one, but tonight he produces his strongest, apart from a wonky line shortly before the end. The song is somewhat of a grower, and may miss some public votes it could otherwise earn with something more immediate. Harel has an emotional and determinded delivery of a strong vocal. 

The last, but not the final song…
The perceived fate of this song has been subject to more change than any other thanks to some lacklustre rehearsals. N’evergreen manages a smile tonight, and avoids the awkward clunky high notes, delivering them more smoothly. Both sliding tea trays work this evening, unlike in the final dress rehearsal. N’evergreen also manages to avoid dragging Chanee down the runway at high speed, things are more leisurely, Safura keeps her speed record. The song is nothing original, but it is well constructed and will appeal to those who like their pop music pasteurised. A strong contender.

Song 2 / 26: Spain take two:
The concensus is that most TV viewers did not notice anything untoward during Spain’s first performance. This one will run and run. Daniel seems to be loving his moment in the limelight and all six performers give an assured delivery. Svante must be sweating right now…

TV clip recaps are offered to the viewing millions, the most notable point being that Harel Skaat’s 20 seconds includes a rather bum note. An interesting editor’s choice…

Madcon and the flash mob dance provide the main part of the interval entertainment after the voting lines have closed. Clips from around Europe are shown, and the live audience in Telenor Arena get a go too. They’re not too hot at it!

The voting is providing surprises and intrigue as always, but neighbourly and diaspora patterns do seem to be relatively less strong than in recent previous editions, before the introduction of the 50/50 jury and public vote.

An overawed Lena collects the trophy from Alexander Rybak, please stop her speaking! She is “so happy and thankful”, and seems rather flummoxed at the prospect of having to sing again!

The press room as a whole are rather satified with the overall results and the new voting system seems to meet with approval. Congratulations to Lena and Germany; ESCDaily will see you in Germany in 2011! Congratulations to Oslo, the EBU, NRK and the organisers at the Telenor Arena for a fanastic fortnight and thrilling event.