Vote for the Best ABBA Song Ever

waterloo35To commemorate the 35th anniversary of ABBA’s Eurovision Song Contest win with ‘Waterloo’, albeit a month after the anniversary but coinciding with this year’s competition, ABBA The Official Site is poling for the “Best ABBA Song Ever”.

Voting is open now until May 18. All voters are eligible to win ABBA merchandise prizes including a new limited edition ABBA necklace.


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6 Responses to “Vote for the Best ABBA Song Ever”

  1. Samuel Inglles Says:

    Hi Ian

    These articles are mostly associated with the Eurovision Song Contest 2009.

    Kind Regards
    Samuel Inglles

    * The Australian (Sydney) – Monday, 11 May 2009 (Page 9)


    Bjorn again with Benny

    With Eurovision and its cavalcade of (insert your preferred adjective here) performers very nearly upon us, the creative forces behind the competition’s most famous winners are working together again. Yes, ABBA maestros Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus have put their heads together for the first time in 15 years to pen the title track for Andersson’s new album, ‘Story of a Heart’ which excitingly, also features Andersson giving his accordion an overdue public squeeze. “I wanted to make music based on the Swedish folk tradition, but with new songs written by me,” Andersson says.

    * The Weekly Telegraph (UK) – Thursday, 7 May to Wednesday, 13 May 2009 (Page 17)

    Russia-Georgia Tensions. By Adrian Blomfield

    Russia defied international criticism last Sunday by deploying troops along Georgia’s internal border with the breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

    Troops patrolled the contested frontier three days after Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian President, said that Moscow was assuming formal control over the boundaries of the two rebel provinces. His declaration prompted accusations from Georgia that Russia was attempting the stealth annexation of the two regions, which it invaded last year to support Ossetian rebels in a war with Georgian government forces.

    The European Union and the United States condemned Russia’s actions, saying they contravened ceasefire deals.

    Karel Schwarzenberg, the Czech foreign minister and holder of the EU’s rotating presidency, said the plan violated last year’s Russia-Georgia peace agreement.

    * The Sydney Morning Herald – Friday, 8 May 2009 (News Review – Page 11)


    Moscow upset as EU woos its former states. By Adrian Blomfield in Moscow

    The European Union has angered Moscow with an unprecedented drive to forge a pact with former Soviet states.

    Ignoring Russian condemnation during a summit in Prague yesterday, EU ministers have opened up a third front in an escalating East-West row by meeting former Soviet bloc leaders.

    A summit on energy to be held today and attended by gas-rich countries of central Asia could reduce Moscow’s energy stranglehold over Europe and its political influence on its neighbours.

    Kremlin anger with the West has gown in recent days, and on Wednesday it formally expelled two Canadian diplomats assigned to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation mission in Moscow. The ejections followed NATO’s withdrawal of accreditation for two Russian diplomats at its Brussels headquarters after accusing them of spying.

    The Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, condemned Moscow’s actions, and the Russian ambassador to Ottawa was summoned to explain. “We are concerned about Russia’s behaviour on a number of fronts,” Mr Harper said. “We would like Russia to behave in a more acceptable manner.”

    Russia’s top diplomat brushed off the criticism. “These are the rules of the game,” the Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, told a news conference in Moscow, “our NATO partners, at least those who initiated the expulsion of our diplomats, could not have expected something less.”

    Further stoking tensions in what Moscow calls its “near abroad”, NATO began a military exercise in Georgia, a move denounced by the Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, as “blatant provocation”.

    Russia and Georgia fought a five-day war last year which some commentators said was partly triggered by the Kremlin’s opposition to Georgia and Ukraine’s ambitions for NATO membership.

    More than 1000 soldiers from the US, Europe and elsewhere have gathered at a military base near Tbilisi, The Georgian capital, for several weeks of training and simulated peacekeeping exercises, just days after an abortive army mutiny in the country.

    The war games, part of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program, had been planned before the war last year.

    Western hopes for better relations with Russia were further dented by Kremlin objections to the EU’s summit with its recently created “Eastern Partnership”, a bloc incorporating Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Azerbaijan.

    Mr Medvedev, outlining his foreign policy doctrine last year, insisted Russia was entitled to a sphere of “privileged interest” in the former Soviet Union. Mr Lavrov said on Wednesday that the Prague meeting represented an encroachment into that sphere.

    “Any processes leading to developments within the EU should ensure no overlap in the post-Soviet era,” he said.

    Observers did not expect the partnership summit to achieve much, but believed Moscow was much more concerned about the energy summit.

    Telegraph, London; Los Angeles Times

    * The Sydney Morning Herald – Tuesday, 11 May 2009 (Page 18)

    A Big Week For Eurovision

    After winning last year’s competition in Belgrade, and thereby the rights to host this year’s event, Russia has reportedly pumped huge resources into producing another champion at the glittering finale this weekend. The event has not been without political complications. A Georgian disco troupe has been expelled from the competition because of its song, ‘We Don’t Wanna Put In’, which criticises the Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin. The singer selected to represent Russia, Anastasia Prikhodko, has also caused unease, because of her ethnic Ukrainian roots.

    * The Age (Melbourne) – Tuesday, 12 May 2009 (Page 8)

    Eurovision ban on Putin protest song


    Despite the usual synchronised dance moves, hyper-kitsch costumes and cheesy lyrics, Georgia’s entry for Saturday’s Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow has caused one of the biggest controversies in the show’s 54-year history.

    ‘Don’t Wanna Put In’, a thinly disguised protest against Russian, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, has become the first song to be banned from the competition on political grounds. But the Georgians are refusing to go quietly. The band Stephane and 3 G have released the song in Britain and they have embarked on a Europe-wide publicity blitz to take the song to a wider audience.

    “We are not politicians but we are patriots, we love our country,” singer Stephane Mgebrishvili said. ‘When you hear bombs going off in your country you have to say something. This song was our little protest, and we were denied the right to sing it. The European broadcasting Union gave in to pressure from Russia and proved Eurovision is political. This is our chance to take it to the world.”

    John Kennedy O’connor, author of the ‘Eurovision Song Contest: 50th Anniversary –The Official History’, said: “I think Georgia stood a good chance of winning, and the Russians were scared of that.”

    He believes Georgia’s claim that the EBU gave in to pressure from the Kremlin is, “absolutely true”, pointing out that the 2007 Ukrainian entry, “Lasha Tumbai’, which sounded like “Russia Goodbye”, had much the same message, yet came second in Finland.

    In another first, Israel’s entry will see an Arab and a Jew singing together for peace. Ahinoam Nini, a Jew of Yemeni origin, and Mira Awad, a Christian Arab from the Galilee, insist they are not naïve about what their song, ‘There Must Be Another Way”, can achieve.

    “We don’t think our song will bring peace to the Middle East,” said Awad, the first Arab to represent Israel at the contest.

    Guardian, AFP

    * The Courier-Mail (Brisbane) – Wednesday, 13 May 2009 (Page 44)

    Rock queen off to Eurovision

    Eurovision is more than fluoro leg warmers and naff singers to RocKwiz’s Julia Zemiro, writes Geoff Shearer.

    Any good Eurovision Song Contest performance worth its salt includes a costume surprise, says TV host and comedian Julia Zemiro.

    “When the singer’s dress turns into a big piece of material and it flies up into the sky, I love all of that.

    “You can dazzle with that,” says the RocKwiz star who will go to Moscow with Sam Pang to cover ‘Eurovision 2009’ for SBS.

    “My favourite thing is when they are singing to the camera, the jib is following them around and then their hand disappears into some item of their clothing – and you’re thinking, ‘What are they putting their hand in there for’ – and they come out with glitter!

    “They throw glitter in the air and you go, ‘aww, look at that, that doesn’t cost much money but it’s effective’. It’s their own personal fireworks. That’s what I’ll be looking out for – a little bit of glitz.”

    Although it will be her first trip to Russia, Zemiro’s connection with Eurovision goes right back to, well, the womb.

    “My mum was pregnant with me in France when Sandie Shaw won with ‘Puppet On A String’ in 1967, barefoot I may add,” she says of her mum, not Shaw.

    “Mum’s a language teacher (French and Italian), my dad is French – so for us, when SBS started here in Australia it was like manna from Heaven. You could watch it in French and they would show the Eurovision contest and we loved it.”

    That interest has continued all her life and was never more prominent than when she toured with the stage production ‘Eurobeat: The Eurovision Musical’ about four years ago.

    Created by Craig Christie, with music by Andrew Patterson, the part-tribute, part send-up show had a small run before comedian Glynn Niholas bought it and toured it nationally.

    Zemiro, who played the show’s co-host, says it was one of the happiest times of her life on stage and she still keeps in contact with cast and crew, many of whom she now considers her closest friends.

    Just as they did for the stage show, many television viewers tune into Eurovision for a good laugh at the over-the-top songs and their singers’ wild routines as well as the flamboyant gushing of excited presenters.

    Zemiro warns, though, that it’s not politically correct to knock it while you’re there.

    “I’m from the school of loving it. I’m going to be laughing with love,” she says. “They take themselves quite seriously and the honour of winning that goes along with it.

    “They genuinely get excited and if you were to make fun of it while you were there, people would kick you out.”

    Zemiro, who admits to being a fan of France’s Eurovision representative Patricia Kaas, has a few tips about who to look out for this year.

    First up are Australian songwriters, Craig Porteils and Cameron Giles-Webb, who have contributed to the Greece entry to be sung by Sakis Rouvas. Also watch for the UK entry which was co-written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and will be sung by Jade Ewen.

    “Then there’s the young guy from Norway,” says Zemiro referring to 23-year-old singer Alexander Rybak. “Very spunky, with a winning smile and he’ll be playing his violin and singing and, best of all, he’ll have some Russian Cossack dancers behind him.

    “It is that cute kind of thing that might make some sparks and get through.”

    * ‘Eurovision Song Contest 2009’, SBS, semi-final 1, Friday, 7:30pm; Semi-final 2, Saturday 7:30pm; final, Sunday, 7:30pm.

    * The Sydney Morning Herald – Weekend Edition, 16-17 May 2009(News Review – Page 3)

    Eurovision marches to a distant drum

    For all its kitsch and camp, the annual song contest has hit high notes on the way to a mass audience, reports Daniel Lewis.

    The ‘Herald’s’ television guide described it this week as a “cheesefest of kitsch and bad music, which does more than anything else…to undermine the popular image of Europeans as stylish sophisticates”.

    Yet, in common with millions in Europe and around the world, about 200 people at Canberra’s Southern Cross Club will be a passionate part of the annual Eurovision Song Contest ritual tomorrow night.

    Paid-up members of the Eurovision Song Contest Association of Australia, they will be glued to the SBS broadcast from Moscow of the 54th Eurovision. Some will dress as past or present contestants, others in the national costumes and colours of participating countries. Entertainment will include the ABBA tribute choir Andante Andante, which takes its name from an ABBA song.

    Depending on your point of view, we thank or blame Eurovision for unleashing ABBA on the world.

    The Three Swedes and one Norwegian won the 1974 Eurovision with ‘Waterloo’, voted Eurovision’s best-ever song when the contest celebrated its 50th year in 2005.

    Andante Andante began five years ago as an initiative of Canberra public servant and ABBA tragic Allison Pyke, 41, who concedes Eurovision is “just a good fun evening”, not something to be taken too seriously. “The acts are pretty way out, but that’s partly why people love it.”

    The association brought Eurovision fans out of the closet. Pyke says people confessed to her: “I actually do watch that myself but … with the curtains drawn.”

    Eurovision was the brainchild of the European Broadcasting Union. The first, in 1956 in Lugano, Switzerland, saw the Swiss win from six other nations. This year, 42 nations from Iceland to Israel will compete. Its 100 million audience makes it one of the world’s most watched live television events outside sport.

    Last year’s Sunday night final attracted 427,000 viewers in Australia’s mainland state capitals – a healthy 10.3 per cent viewer share.

    But Eurovision isn’t all froth and bubble. Created to build European unity, it has become a serious vehicle for politics and nationalism. BBC veteran Terry Wogan quit the contest he has presented since the 1970s, complaining the show was about national prejudices, not music, with East European nations often bloc voting for each other. He told a television conference in Switzerland this month that Eurovision was a “triumph of appalling taste” and “everybody knows it’s rubbish”.

    “Eurovision is an exciting, camp, foolish spectacle. You can’t top it. It is fun light entertainment. It is not about politics or asserting your place in the community, not even about national pride. It is not an opportunity to show your neighbours how much you love them. It is about picking the best popular song in Europe.”

    Now, Georgia’s entry ‘Don’t Wanna Put In’, by Stephane & 3G, has become the first to be rejected on political grounds. Britain’s ‘The Guardian’ reported this week: “Despite the synchronised dance moves, hyper-kitsch costumes and cheesy lyrics, the message of this song is a thinly disguised protest against the Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, and the war in Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia last August.” For those who missed the play on words, they don’t want Put-in.

    Georgia accuses the European Broadcasting Union of bowing to Moscow’s pressure. The song’s composer, Stephane Mgebrishvili, said: “We are not politicians but we are patriots, we love our country. When you hear bombs going off in your country you have to say something. This song was our little protest.”

    John Kennedy O’Connor, author of the contest’s official history, told ‘The Guardian’: “I think Georgia stood a good chance of winning, and the Russians were scared of that.” The union says Georgia’s entry does not comply with rule 4.9: “no lyrics, speeches, gestures of a political … nature shall be permitted”.

    A favourite this year is Norway’s fiddle-playing heartthrob Alexander Ryback with ‘Fairytale’, a song about lost love and a childhood sweetheart. Another fancied entry is Greek popstar Sakis Rouvas, whose lyrics for ‘This is Our Night’ were written by Melbourne’s Cameron Giles-Webb and John Porteils. Belgian Patrick Ouchene put many Elvis fans offside by performing ‘Copycat’ as a crazed Elvis impersonator. The British song was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

    Without the sardonic cult figure Wogan, SBS is sending its own commentators, Julia Zemiro and Sam Pang. Allison Pyke, however, won’t miss Wogan’s “constant mocking”; instead, she wants more information about competitors and their songs.

    * Eurovision final, live from Moscow, SBS, 7:30-10:40pm Sunday.

    See the colour from Eurovision

    Photo: Andante Andante rehearse their ABBA favourites this week.

  2. Ian Cole Says:

    Voting has been extended through to May 24.

  3. Ian Cole Says:

    Voting has closed and the “best ABBA song” will be announced on June 1st.

  4. Samuel Inglles Says:

    Hi Ian

    ABBA, Eurovision, Waterloo and sport

    Kind Regards
    Samuel Inggles

    Abba puts Swans in the shade in west

    Michael Cowley | May 21, 2009 – 11:07AM

    JUST a few weeks ago, Australian Rugby League chief executive Geoff Carr declared western Sydney could be a Vietnam for the AFL. They rejected that suggestion, and have said it won’t be their Waterloo either, regardless of some disappointing television figures in the city last weekend.

    Despite strong promotion throughout the week, focusing on the extraordinary rivalry between Sydney and the West Coast, fans in Sydney just decided not to tune into Network Ten to watch the match on half-an hour delay, with even Abba: The Movie on SBS, a film made in 1977 when just four of the Swans current crop of players were born, outrated the game.

    While it was ranked nationally the 10th best program of the day, the Swans-Eagles clash averaged just 76,000 viewers in Sydney, compared with the 77,000 for 9.30pm Abba epic. And the average for the program which preceded the Abba movie at 7.30pm, the Eurovison Song Contest the contest won by Abba in 1974 with the song Waterloo was a strong 118,000.

    On Seven, Kath and Kim and then The Vicar of Dibley, and the movie Meet The Parents all rated better than the Swans game, as did Nine’s pair of movies, so too The Bill on ABC, really almost everything did all day.

    The only programs with lower average audiences in Sydney were a Disney movie shown on Seven at 9am (75,000 average), the Saturday Disney show on Seven at 7am (62,000), and Ten’s Saturday afternoon AFL match between premiership favourites Geelong and North Melbourne which averaged just 50,000.

    While some might see the figures as Sydney turning off AFL a problem as the code looks to launch the Western Sydney team in 2012, AFL NSW/ACT general manager Dale Holmes said yesterday the poor ratings did not affect their plans for expansion.

    “You have peaks and troughs, and that can be correlated to the cycle of performance,” he said. “That’s natural, it happens to all sports, but what we are talking about is a long-term strategy for expanding the game. The [AFL] Commission has reiterated its commitment to that plan. We don’t make long-term strategic decisions based on short-term fluctuations.

    “These are short-term fluctuations, and what we are talking about is a generational investment for a long-term growth of the game. From that perspective, it [poor ratings] doesn’t impact at all on our expansion strategy. In some ways, it reinforces the need for us to grow the game across a broader base of Sydney.”

    A crowd of 33,079 attended the match at ANZ Stadium, and while not many turned on their televisions at home, a trend is for people to gather at local pubs and clubs to watch matches.

    The ratings could be a good omen for the Swans. In 2005, much was made of when SBS’s Iron Chef outrated a StKilda-Swans match. Sydney, of course, went on to win the flag that season.

  5. Samuel Inglles Says:

    Hi Ian

    More Eurovision news!

    Did you know that Agnetha Fältskog had previously sang songs written by both Andrew Lloyd-Webber (music to Swedish version of ‘I Don’t Know How to Love Him’) as well as Diane Warren’s (‘Are you Gonna Throw It All Away’ and ‘If You Need Somebody Tonight’)? The 2009 British entry was written by these two songwriters.

    * The Sydney Morning Herald – Wednesday, 6 May 2009 (Page 11)


    Georgia says Russia behind attempted coup

    TBILISI: Georgia’s Defence Ministry said it was negotiating with troops at a military base outside Tbilisi who had been accused of launching a “rebellion” to overthrow the Government.

    “The Defence Ministry leadership is currently negotiating with the rebels,” a spokeswoman, Rusudan Tsimakuridze, said yesterday.

    The organisers of the alleged Russian-backed plot had planned to assassinate the President, Mikheil Saakashvili, the ministry said.

    In a televised address, Mr Saakashvili said the ex-Soviet republic was “under control” following an attempt at a “large scale mutiny”.

    “The plan was to stage a large-scale mutiny in Tbilisi and to take steps against the sovereignty of Georgia and the Georgian Government’s European and Euro-Atlantic integration,” he said.

    “The situation is under control. There is order and calm in all military units.

    “I demand from our northern neighbour that it refrain from provocations,” he said, in reference to Georgia’s claims that Russia was backing a coup attempt in the Caucasus state.

    The mutiny of a tank battalion took place near the capital at a Georgian military base that has been sealed off, the Defence Minister said. The mutiny followed an announcement by the Interior Ministry that it had uncovered a Russian-supported plot to overthrow the Government and had arrested the suspected organiser.

    Mr Saakashvili has been the target of more than three weeks of street protests by demonstrators demanding he resign.

    The plotters were planning to disrupt NATO military exercises set to begin on Wednesday in Georgia, said a ministry spokesman, Shota Utiashvili. He said the organiser, a former special forces commander, Georgy Gvaladze, had been arrested with another army officer.

    Russia’s NATO envoy, Dmitri Rogozin, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying the allegations were “crazy”.

    Agence France-Presse, Associated Press

    * The Courier-Mail (Brisbane) – The Weekend Edition, 16-17 May 2009 (Page 24)

    It’s time for European Idol. By Geoff Shearer, TV Editor

    Eurovision is like eating rocky road with dentures – you never know where or when a sickly sweet morsel is going to stick.

    With more gold lame than Carson Kressley’s closet and more pyrotechnics than the Harbour Bridge on New Year’s Eve, the annual song contest kicks on this weekend.

    For the first time it has been split into two semi-finals and a final, with the first round on SBS last night throwing up some typically over-the –top performances at Moscow’s Olimpiysky Arena.

    Bulgaria’s Krassimir Avramov was backed by half-naked stilt walkers, while Hadise, representing Turkey, used flamethrowers to sizzling effect. Not so hot was the Czech Republic’s in his superhero red leotard, complete with flares and a gold-lined cape.

    Out of the 18 performers in the first semi, Armenia, Sweden, Israel, Portugal, Malta, Finland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, Iceland and bookmaker favourite Turkey made it through. The second semi-final will be on SBS at 7:30pm tomorrow.

    “If I had to describe it quickly for people who have never seen it before, you would say it is a really, really long version of ‘Australian Idol’, but it’s ‘European Idol’ says ‘RocKwiz’s’ Julia Zemiro, who will co-host SBS’s coverage with radio broadcaster Sam Pang.

    “But they are allowed to have friends that can join them on stage and they can dance and wear magnificent costumes and it is quite hilarious.

    “And the highlight is the voting at the end, which is like the Brownlow Medal voting system where it takes an absolute age!”

    * The Age (Melbourne) – Saturday, 16 May 2009 (Page 15)


    Eurovision’s song and dance gala reaches for the stars

    The winner of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest may be announced from space as its hosts speak to the crew of the international Space Station during the final early tomorrow Melbourne time.

    “We will not disclose all secrets. But TV viewers in Europe will see a magnificent show. I can only say that we will speak to the space station,” musical producer Yuri Aksyuta said yesterday.

    Eurovision 2009 at Moscow’s Olympiyskiy sport complex is the most expensive show in the contest’s history. Forty-two countries entered and 25 countries have gone through to the final.

    Russia is hosting Eurovision for the first time.

    More than 1000 songs have been sung at the contest over its 54-year history. Last year, almost 9 million people around the world voted in the contest, and more than 100 million people watch the show every year.

    Voting at the contest this year will be conducted by new rules: professional juries in the 42 participating countries will vote together with the TV viewers. Contenders from Britain, France, Germany, Spain and host country Russia have automatic entry into the finals.

    Perhaps the most prominent contestant is Patricia Kaas, of France, who has sold more than 16 million albums. France has not won the contest for more than 30 years and Kaas is determined to win this time. She will not use special effects or dancers. “I prefer a modest performance based on emotions,” she explains. “It’s a contact between me and the audience without any tricks.”

    Britain’s Jade Ewen, 21, will sing ‘It’s My Time’ written for her by Andrew Lloyd-Webber (and Diane Warren), who may appear on stage with her.

    Spanish singer Soraya has also reportedly prepared a surprise. She will sing ‘La Noche Es Para Mi’, written in English and Spanish.

    Ukraine’s entry Svetlana Loboda and her arresting troupe of swarthy hunks leave little to the imagination. Think Charlie Chaplin’s ‘Modern Times’, or Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’, with bare-chested centurions who appear to have been drafted in from a Derek Jarman film.

    The finalists:
    Lithuania, Israel, France, Sweden, Croatia, Portugal, Iceland, Greece, Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Moldova, Malta, Estonia, Denmark, Germany, Turkey, Albania, Norway, Ukraine, Romania, Britain, Finland and Spain.

    Photos: Eurovision contestants include: Svetlana Loboda of Ukraine; Sakis Rouvas of Greece; Spain’s Soraya; Albania’s Kejsi Tola; and Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Regina.

    See a gallery of Eurovision Song Contest finalists at

    * The Sun Herald (Sydney) – Sunday, 17 May 2009 (Page 44)

    Gay Rally banned

    Protest dispersed

    MOSCOW police violently dispersed a gay pride rally that was banned by city authorities, drawing attention to Russia’s record on gay rights as it prepared to host an international pop music competition (Eurovision 2009).

    About 30 activists gathered near a university in Moscow yesterday to protest against discrimination against gays and lesbians in Russia.

    The group, which included British gay rights advocate Peter Tatchell, waved flags and chanted slogans, including: “Homophobia is a disgrace of this country” and “We are demanding equal rights.”

    After about a minute, riot police charged into the group and dragged protesters to waiting buses.

    * The Australian (Sydney) – Thursday, 16 April 2009 (Page 3)

    Pop star with HIV arrested over sex. By Fran Yeoman, Berlin

    A singer with Germany’s most successful girl band has been arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm by infecting a partner with HIV.

    Nadja Benaissa, who sold more than 5 million records and performed concerts around the world with No Angels, is alleged to have had unprotected sex with three people without telling them that she was HIV positive.

    At least one man has since found he has the virus.

    Benaissa, 26 a mother of one, became a celebrity overnight when she and four other young women won the first German series of the talent television show ‘Popstars’ in 2000.

    They formed No Angels, who were said to have been modelled on the Spice Girls, and went on to have a string of No1 hits.

    Their popularity was such that in 2002, Benaissa spoke publicly of her worries that the group may have become too famous.

    The group split in December 2003, but four of the original five members, including Benaissa, reformed in 2007. They were selected to represent Germany at the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest with their single ‘Disappear’ but finished last, Benaissa, who was born in Germany to a Moroccan father, was arrested in Frankfurt on Saturday evening, just before a solo performance.

    She was remanded in custody after a judge ruled that there was a danger she might repeat her allege offence. The public prosecutor’s office said there was “urgent suspicion that the accused had unprotected sexual intercourse with three people in the year 2004 and 2006 without telling them beforehand that she was HIV positive”.

    If found guilty she could face up to 10 years in prison.

    The Times

    * The Sun-Herald (Sydney) – Sunday, 17 May 2009 (Pages 30 & 31)

    The guide – Dublin Bars

    Top spots, to be sure

    Belinda Jackson drinks in everything the Irish capital has to offer.

    When the good times were good for Dubliners, you’d find them celebrating their good fortune in the pubs. Now the overheated economy has taken a frigid nosedive, you’ll find Dubliners…er, in the pubs commiserating their poor fortune.

    Dub pubs used to be a maelstrom of cigarette smoke and sticky floors. The first European country to go smoke-free, you can now see the ceilings but its best to avoid looking at the floors. Drawing on years of extensive research, here’s a smattering of Dublin’s best pubs. If we’ve forgotten your favourite, sorry.

    Best local: Finnegan’s
    It’s worth the 40-minute journey south on the DART, the city’s coastal train, to Dalkey to drink at Finnegans. On a weekend afternoon, the back bar is sunny and packed to the rafters with auld mates, young couples, families and the lads, squeezed in between the antiquities, on church pews and at big tables enjoying the warmth of this pub that’s a known Bono haunt (he lives not far up the road).
    Sorento Rd, Dalkey, County Dublin

    Best snug: Kehoe’s
    Ahh, we love a good snug, that little cul-de-sac in a bar where women traditionally hid away while getting plastered. Seating two or 20, snugs are cosy spots out of the public eye.

    The best are to be found in Kehoe’s, but also Toners (139 Baggot St Lower, Dublin 2) or Doheny & Nesbitt (5 Baggot Street Lower, Dublin 2). Get in early to beat the suits, especially on Thursday and Friday afternoons, if you want to bog in for a serious session.
    9 South Anne St, Dublin 2

    Best wine bar: Ely Wine Bar
    The wine list is a credible blend of Italian – think Barolo, montepulciano – and French and the cheese platters are generous and carefully thought out with a heavy organic bent. The original Ely is full of little nooks made for tete-a-tetes, rendezvous and other French phrases suggesting naughtiness. Bacardi breeze drinkers should note that this bar is for grown-ups.
    22 Ely Place, Dublin 2

    Best daytime bar: Café en Seine
    With its belle époque décor and old French glamour, the perfect time to be in Café en Seine is 11am for coffee. Set your alarm clocks, people, and get out before it turns ugly. Late at night, the queues are endless, the crush intense and the prettiest bar turns into a high-end meat market that thinks nothing of charging €6 ($10.75) for your favourite beer.
    39 Dawson St, Dublin 2

    Best sidewalk café: Olesya’s Wine Bar
    Sometimes, usually in April and September, its warm enough to sit outside without gale-force winds reminding you you’re on the knife’s edge of Europe. When that happens, make for Olesya’s, just off the shopping mecca of Grafton Street, and grab an outdoor table for a spot of people-watching and the choice of 400 wines from across the world. A warning: sometimes it’s not pretty. Last visit, a nasty beggar cursed us with the charming “Cac an Deabhail ort”. (We’ll let you look up).
    18 Exchequer St, Dublin 2

    Best music: O’Donoghues, Whelan’s
    Received wisdom is you’re better off heading for Clare, Galway or Kerry – anywhere out of Dublin – for traditional (aka diddley-ay) music but O’Donoghues is a living legend that keeps it alive in Dubs. A haunt of Christy Moore and The Dubliners, there’s music seven nights a week. And if there’s no one playing, the patrons are guaranteed to conduct their own singalong. ‘The wild Rover’ is, of course, staple fare. For contemporary tastes, head to Dublin’s best live music venue, Whelan’s, for anything from punk to Gael-pop to Aussie rock, where the likes of David Gray, Jeff Buckley and our own Nick Cave have played. It’s a real pup as well as venue and has free entry to gigs on Mondays and Tuesdays and before 10:30pm on other nights.
    15 Merion Row; 25 Wexford St, both Dublin 2

    Best martini bar: Fallon & Byrne
    Sometimes you don’t want a strapping pint; you want an elegant little martini. The bar at the end of the restaurant that is Fallon & Byrne seems a little out of place with its 1950s ice-cream parlour stools fixed to the big bar. But the buzz of the room will welcome you here, long after the diners have finished in this hip Soda (South of Dame Street Area) haunt.
    11-17 Exchequer Street, Dublin 2

    Best tourist pub: Brazen Head
    There are few contenders for this crown, including Ireland’s smallest pub, Dawson’s Lounge (25 Dawson St, Dublin 2), and Guiness’s Gravity Bar (7th floor, Guinness Storehouse, St James’s Gate, Dublin 8), where you’re hard pressed to find a Dubliner. The Brazen Head reckons it’s been serving the hard stuff since 1198 from its spot near the Christ Church Cathedral. It’s sunny, walled beer garden is packed in Ireland’s short Summer and there’s live Irish music every night.
    20 Bridge Street Lower, Dublin 8

    Best view: Gravity Bar
    The Gravity Bar is waaaaaay up on the top floor of Guinness’s St Jame’s Gate brewery, reached by an external glass lift, and has sweeping views over the city and out to the Wicklow Mountains. Strictly for tourists (Irish and foreign), the price of a pint is included in admission to the brewing museum. Nip back downstairs for the Guinness and beef pie, if you haven’t had enough of the black stuff.
    Guinness Storehouse, St James’s Gate, Dublin 8

    Best gay bar: The George
    The George is Dublin’s first and landmark gay bar. Yes, Shirley Temple Bar still calls the ever popular bingo every Sunday at 8:30pm, bless her, and it includes a quieter lounge bar (aka Jurassic Park). If you’re wanting to branch out, head for the gay-friendly Front Lounge (33 Parliament St, Dublin 2) or The Dragon (64-65 South Great George St, Dublin 2) for a late pint or two, Space Invaders and a chance to meet young, hip and super-friendly locals in the back bar.
    89 South Great Georges St, Dublin 2

    Best literary bar: McDaids
    The setting for the James Joyce story ‘Grace’, and a former chapel and morgue dating from 1779, McDaids reeks of Dublin’s rich literary culture. Baggot Street is layered in literary tales and digs of Irish luminaries such as Brendan Behan (‘Borstal Boy’) and Patrick Kavanagh. Bloomsday, held annually on June 16, is a celebration of Joyce’s epic ‘Ulysees’ and pubs mentioned include Davy Byrnes’s Pub (21 Duke St, Dublin 2).
    3 Harry Street, Dublin 2

    Best rugby bar: Sinnotts
    When traditional foes Ireland and England crash skulls, Sinnotts is where the locals go to roar – expect the place to be mobbed. Antipodeans needing a dose of big-screen rugby action and Aussie rock jukeboxes head to Outback (Parnell St, Dublin 1) when the game is on – the pub flies the Australian, New Zealand and South African flags with equanimity and Mondays are comedy nights. Rugby matches are held at Croke Park, so try Fagans (146 Lower Drumcondra Rd, Dublin 9), the local of former taoiseach (Irish PM) Bertie Ahern. Note: Games are expected to move back to Lansdowne Road, so any pub in Donnybrook or well-heeled Ballsbridge will do the job.
    South King Street, Dublin 2

    Best hotel bar: Octagon Bar
    If you’re into Bono spotting, of course it has to be the Octagon Bar in the Clarence Hotel. With good reason – why give your hard-earned cash to someone else when you can drink in your own bar – even if you earn as much as the boys from U2? On the flip side, if you’re not up for being seen, the quiet bar in the Fitzwilliam Hotel (St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2) has lots of comfy leather booths and the cocktails won’t break the bank. Ideal for state secrets or a drink after dinner in the Michelin-star restaurant, Thornton’s, upstairs.
    Wellington Quay, Dublin 2

    Best for beautiful people: The Shelbourne Hotel
    After an €80 million refurbishment, the Shelbourne Hotel is a whole lot slicker than it used to be. Its Horseshoe Bar has always been an iconic haunt for legal types and men in pork pie hats after the races but the champagne bar at the front of the hotel is the place to be seen, as is the Saddle Room Restaurant that it leads in to. The last time we were there, we spotted ex-boyband boy Ronan Keating trotting in with a bevy of beauties, as is his wont.
    27 St Stephens, Green Dublin 2

    Belinda Jackson was a guest of Tourisnm Ireland and Ethad Airways.

    * The Australian (Sydney) – Monday, 18 May 2009 (Page 10)


    Eurovision Victory a Norwegian Fairytale

    MOSCOW: Norway’s Alexander Rybak swept this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow with a brash performance of a folk-inspired ballad that he penned himself.

    The boyish 23-year-old, a highly trained classical musician born in Belarus, got a rapturous reception from television audiences who gave him 387 point, the highest ever number of points awarded at Eurovision, for the song ‘Fairytale’.

    Runners-up Iceland and Azerbaijan trailed far behind.

    “Thank you very much, Russia. It’s simply wonderful. Thank you,” declared a beaming Rybak, speaking in Russian and clasping flowers and his fiddle after the tense voting process was over.

    Rybak conquered with a no-frills show in which he combined deft dance steps and violin playing with huge self-assurance.

    The victory for Nordic Norway marked a departure from the recent Eastern European domination of the contest. Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said on television: “This is a great victory for Norway. It’s fantastic what he’s done.”

    Host country Russia pulled out all the stops to put a fresh gloss on its image, although its efforts were undermined when Moscow police broke up a demonstration by gay rights activists protesting against homophobia in Russia. About 40 people were arrested, including pioneering British campaigner Peter Tatchell.

    Images of Miss World beauty queen Ksenya Sukhinova adorned the Soviet-built concert hall, dancers performed in a transparent mid-air swimming pool and audience tele-voting was launched by astronauts on the International Space Station.

    Also in the running were the oriental rhythms and belly dancing of ‘Dum Tek Tek’ from Turkey’s Hadise and the disco beat of ‘This is Our Night’, a song written by Australian composers Craig Porteils and Cameron Giles-Webb for heart-throb Greek superstar Sakis Rouvas, who came seventh.

    Voting by specialist juries in each country was reintroduced this year alongside tele-voting in order to dilute the tendency for audiences to vote in regional blocs, which Western European critics say has skewed results.

    Photos: (1) Greek heart-throb: Sakis Rouvas (2) Laser fare: Armenia’s entry, Inga and Anush, in perfect synch (3) celebrity: Dita Von Teese with Germany’s Alex Swings.


    * The Courier-Mail (Brisbane) – Monday, 18 May 2009 (Page 14)

    Eurovision’s fairytale win. By Nick Coleman

    Norway’s Alexander Rybak swept this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow with a brash performance of a folk-inspired ballad he penned himself.

    The boyish 23-year-old, a highly trained classical musician born in Belarus, got a rapturous reception from television audiences who gave him 387 points, the highest ever score awarded at Eurovision, for the song ‘Fairytale’.

    Runners-up Iceland and Azerbaijan trailed far behind.

    Thank you very much Russia. It’s simply wonderful. Thank you,” declared a beaming Rybak, speaking in Russian and clasping flowers and his fiddle after the tense voting process was over.

    “Thank you very much. You’re the best audience in the world!” he added.

    In an event that is variously loved and loathed for its over-the-top performances, Rybak conquered with a no-frills show in which he combined deft dance steps and violin playing with self-assurance.

    The victory for Nordic Norway marked a departure from the recent eastern European domination of the contest.

    However, the song , with its catchy refrain “I’m in love with a fairytale” featuring eastern European-style folk rhythms and harmonies, appeared targeted to appeal to the crucial television voters of eastern Europe.

    The annual contest is watched by an estimated television audience of more than 100 million people, making it one of the most watched events on the planet. Past winners have either shot to meteoric fame – Sweden’s ABBA the most famous example – or disappeared without a trace.

    Host country Russia pulled out all the stops to put a fresh gloss on its image, although its efforts were undermined when Moscow police broke up a protest demonstration by gay rights activists.

    Photos: Plenty of sparkle … Norway’s Alexander Rybak, top, and Sakis Rouvas flies the Greek flag high, above.

    * The Age (Melbourne) – Monday, 18 May 2009 (Page 20)

    The Age Metropolis – Music: Eurovision

    Julia Zemiro’s Eurovision diary

    Live, on delay, from Moscow, it’s Eurotrash at its finest with the RocKwiz host.

    We get off the plane in Moscow after 30 hours of flying. We’re on an SBS budget, so not in business class, but my co-host, Sam Pang, says he usually travels in the overhead compartment, so he’s happy. We meet Larissa, our Russian translator, who will become indispensable over the next few days, though often totally powerless in the face of Russians in uniform: guards, postmen, cleaners.

    The taxi from the airport has no seatbelts – sweet. Our hotel is just a 10-minute walk from the venue, Olympiyskiy Stadium. Pity, then, that driving there with our seven bags of camera and lighting equipment takes us two hours. The uniforms at the venue refuse us entry and, with no welcoming committee, it’s every sequined commentator for themselves.

    We hit the media room, where hundreds of journalists/Euro-geeks/accredited fans on computers correspond furiously. A big screen relays dress-rehearsal dramas and a CD of Eurosongs plays on endless loop. I order my first Russian borscht. Oh, the cream.

    We walk the circumference of the Olympic stadium trying to find backstage. Access at last. We stumble on the smoking area for the crew. It would break 17 safety laws but smoko in Moscow is 24 hours a day. I feel sweetly nostalgic. Then, voila, there’s the stage, complete with 40 per cent of the world’s LED screens, a huge lighting rig, countless cameras, suspended swimming pools full of water. It’s an Olympics opening ceremony. Hundreds of people are fixing smoke machines, checking wind machines (to be used in most songs to blow hair back) and lugging huge Matryoshka dolls. It’s a bit like heaven.

    Tonight is the first semi-final. From our (two port-a-loo sized) commentary box up in the gods, it feels like a sporting event. I half expect Sam to start quoting stats and odds, and soon we do. Eurovision has a long history and there are facts aplenty. Our cameraman, Andy, is sandwiched between us and our producer, Paul. We’re on between songs. There are no ad breaks, and we are cramped and stifled, but the competition keeps our spirits up, especially when our favourites – a sweetly traditional entry from Portugal and a dramatic military one from Bosnia-Herzegovina – get through.

    We’re devastated though, when Belarus’ Petr Elfimov (who looks like the love child of Warwick Capper and Martina Navratilova) fails to make it with his limp rock anthem.

    Our first bit of sightseeing. We’re in Red Square to film a “how are Moscovites feeling about Eurovision?” piece. No one speaks English, so that was quick. We find two Aussie backpackers who can’t afford the $450 tickets to the final so go to the dress rehearsal instead. Needing a country to call our own and cheer for, we interview Cam and Craig, the Australian lyricists for Greece’s entry. The singer, Sakis Rouvas, is a huge star and has toured Australia three times. He is a favourite and totally charming when I doorstop him in his dressing room.

    Back to watch a dress rehearsal in the stadium, to get a surround-sound feel. Sam and I are like wide-eyed kids in a lolly shop. Yes, there are the prerequisite ridiculous costumes, strange musical hybrids and cheesy lyrics, but there is also real wonder in the spectacle of it. The set changes take only 30 seconds as a swarm of stagehands transform Lithuania’s grand piano set to Ukraine’s “Anti-crisis Girl”, with her Roman centurions and a contraption called “the Hell machine”. Show off.

    So far we have not sighted the big four on stage: as host country, Russia is also in – unless that parking officer in a uniform holds up his walkie-talkie and says: “Nyet.”

    No sleep last night. More borscht. Second semi time. We run out of our port-a-loo box and stretch our legs in the stadium to gauge audience reactions, to feed back to viewers in Australia. The show in the room is much more electric than can be captured on TV. Delighted to see Greece gets through to the final. Yassou.

    Backstage at the dress rehearsal for the final, and the big four are up. Germany has enlisted Dita Von Teese to bump and grind some extra votes, Spain has an amateur vanishing trick, Russia’s Anastasia is dramatically compelling with a video of her ageing while she sings, and Britain is plain tedious thanks to Baron Lloyd-Webber.

    But most entrants stop trilling and stretching to crane their necks and watch the French entry, Patricia Kaas. A hugely respected star in Europe, she’d be in with a chance to with her Piaf stylings if it were 1975. Still, anything could happen and, oui, French born, I am biased.

    Meanwhile, the Moscow mayor has banned a gay pride march, calling it satanic. Dutch entry the Toppers will boycott the final is the march is met with violence by police. (Later we discover it was.) Strangely, anti-gay marches are allowed.

    Ah, the final. The auditorium is packed, flags are being waved madly, and it’s anyone’s game. Then the “fairy tale” comes true: the handsome favourite from Norway annihilates the competition with more than 300 votes, the highest score ever in Eurovision.

    Did the best song win? Probably not.

    But I’ll see you in Oslo next year, regardless.


    Julia Zemiro, host of RocKwiz, and Sam Pang, host of new AD/BC, were in Moscow to cover Eurovision for SBS.

    View photo gallery at

    Photos: (1) American burlesque artist, fetish model and actress – and Germany’s Eurovision ploy for extra votes – Dita Von Teese. (2) Julia Zemiro and Sam Pang act like tourists in Moscow.

    * The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) – Tuesday, 19 May 2009 (Page 17)


    Eurovision blinder

    It was quickly condemned to the worst-dressed list, but Julia Zemiro’s Logies dress found a good home at the weekend at perhaps the planet’s tackiest annual event – Eurovision. The purple patterned floral flock – a vintage Pucci we thought striking but not in sync with Logies glam fashion – was at home at the song contest the SBS personality flew to Moscow to cover. Zemiro looked classy but funky among all the rubber leotards and leopard print pants. She returns to Sydney at the end of the week after the 10-day stint.

    * The Sydney Morning Herald – Weekend Edition, 23-24 May 2009 (Page 11)


    Stalemate as EU and Russia fail to settle differences. By Luke Harding in Khabarovsk

    RUSSIA and the European Union held a two-day summit this week intended to improve their battered relationship, amid exasperation in Moscow at the EU’s recent attempts to lure east European countries from Russia’s orbit.

    The Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, hosted the summit in the far eastern city of Khabarovsk, close to Vladivostok and Russia’s Pacific coast. The EU leaders included the European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso.

    The summit comes at a time of growing frustration between Brussels and Moscow over issues ranging from energy policy to the war in Georgia. The EU was irritated by Russia’s gas war with Ukraine in January and the failure to pull Russian troops out of the breakaway Georgian Republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

    For its part, the Kremlin is annoyed by the EU’s attempt earlier this month to improve ties with half a dozen post-Soviet countries. A summit of 33 countries in Prague brought the EU’s 27 governments together for the first time with the leaders of Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus.

    Russia believes the EU’s “eastern partnership” initiative is a challenge to its strategic and security interests in a region it regards as its backyard.

    Mr Medvedev insists that Moscow enjoys what he calls “privileged interests” in states occupying the volatile buffer zone between the EU and the Russian Federation.

    He joked yesterday with a group of students that the summit venue, 6000 kilometres from Moscow, had been chosen to remind the EU of Russia’s vast size. “They [the Europeans] should understand how big Russia is and should feel its greatness,” Mr Medvedev said. “On the other hand, we also want a partnership with the EU. It’s important for us to get together.”

    Yesterday analysts were pessimistic that the latest summit would make much progress. “Russia and EU relations are in stalemate,” Fyodor Lukyanov, the editor-in-chief of ‘Russia in Global Affairs, said.

    “Relations with [US President Barack] Obama and the US are now better. At the same time relations with the EU are getting worse. Since the 1990s, Russian-EU relations have been governed by the assumption that Russia would go the European way without applying for membership. This model is now exhausted.”

    According to Mr Lukyanov, the Kremlin was furious after the EU pressured Belarus this month not to recognise South Ossetia and Abkhazia. “It was absolutely unnecessary from the European side. Alexander Lukashenko [Belarus’s president] wasn’t going to recognise them anyway, for his own reasons,” Lukyanov said.

    Mr Barroso stuck a conciliatory note, saying: “Russia and the EU are interdependent. The global financial and economic crisis stresses the need to develop the potential of our relationship, remove obstacles and co-ordinate our efforts.”

    Photo: Time out…relations remain frosty between Russsia’s Dmitry Medvedev and the EU’s Jose Manuel Barroso.
    Guardian News & Media

  6. Samuel Inglles Says:

    Hi Ian

    An article mentioning ‘Dancing Queen’.

    Kind Regards
    Samuel Inglles,25197,25685080-16947,00.html

    And it makes us wonder
    Mark Juddery | June 25, 2009

    IT’S time once again to ask: What is the greatest song? Radio stations, magazines and websites have polled their listeners and readers on that, but the answer was simpler in the 1980s. Whether you were listening to the teen-friendly network show Take 40 Australia or an adult-oriented rock station, Led Zeppelin’s 1971 epic Stairway to Heaven was commonly voted the greatest song of all time.

    Then Triple J, the ABC’s youth-oriented alternative rock station, entered the fun, doing its first all-time Hottest 100 list in 1989. The winner was Joy Division’s darkly beautiful 1980 ballad Love Will Tear Us Apart. Led Zeppelin was demoted to No.30.

    Since then, the floodgates have opened. In February, listeners to Brisbane’s 4BH (“The Best Songs of All Time”) chose ABBA’s Dancing Queen as the greatest song. The more politically inspired listeners of MIX 106 Canberra gave the title last year to Cold Chisel’s Khe Sanh.

    When Britain’s Q Magazine did such a survey in 2006 (described, somewhat brazenly, as “the definitive countdown of the nation’s playlist”), the top two songs were Oasis’s Live Forever and Wonderwall, which served as valuable market research. The message to Q: plaster the magazine with Oasis stories (which it did anyway).

    Many other champions, from Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights (the much-missed Rock Australia Magazine) to Bette Midler’s The Wind Beneath My Wings (numerous easy-listening stations), perhaps said more about their audiences than about the songs.

    Most of these lists assume that “all time” began about 1964. A rare exception was BBC Radio 2’s 1999 poll that attempted to name the 100 best songs of the 20th century. The average age of Radio 2 listeners was 64, so the list contained a wide range of songs released between 1903 (Sweet Adeline) and 1997 (My Heart Will Go On). Number one? The Beatles’ Yesterday, the most recorded song in history and perhaps the most timeless song on the list. It could have been written in 1905, 1935, 1965 (as it was) or 1985.

    In September last year The Weekend Australian Magazine published the results of an online poll of the best 20 Australian songs since 1988. The clear winner was Under the Milky Way by the Church.

    Triple J is now compiling the Hottest 100 of All Time. The network does a Hottest 100 poll each year, but this is its first “of all time” compilation since 1991, partly because Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit seemed unbeatable. Times have changed, though, and the No.1 spot is no longer a contest between former champions Nirvana and Joy Division.

    “It feels like a very different culture now,” says Triple J music director Richard Kingsmill. “We’ve been thinking in terms of: ‘What would beat those two songs?”‘

    Even ABC Classic FM is polling its listeners on their favourite symphonies. The classical music network has done six Classic 100 polls, beginning with a general poll in 2001, then discovering the favourites in categories such as piano music, concertos and Mozart compositions. Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto topped the first poll and the Mozart poll, although it ranked only sixth among the concertos.

    John Crawford, Classic FM’s live music director, says he is rarely surprised by the results. “The list we end up with, from an intuitive or professional level, is pretty spot-on,” he says, noting listeners have a good musical knowledge.

    The results are typically from the mainstream of classical music. Modern composers such as Stravinsky, Shostakovich and Roberto Gerhard rarely appear in these lists, though Crawford believes Stravinsky would fare well on a list of ballet scores.

    Though the results of the Classic 100 Symphony won’t be announced until September – culminating in a concert with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra – Crawford is already certain of the top three. “People won’t be surprised,” he says with a laugh. “They’ll be interested, but not surprised. Let’s leave it at that.”

    All-time favourite song lists tend to be less predictable. South African music aficionado Warren Potter compiled the survey results from 40 websites worldwide for his website, The Greatest Songs of All Time, revealing the songs that most frequently do well on such lists. (Stairway to Heaven was followed by the Eagles’ Hotel California and the Beatles’ Hey Jude.) Why do certain songs stand out among the countless others recorded through the decades? A glance at the top 20 suggests they have epic qualities; they tend to be longer than average and often are structured in several sections, each with a different melody and style. (Check out Stairway to Heaven, Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody or the Beatles’ A Day in the Life). Their lyrics may aspire to poetry (Love Will Tear Us Apart) or humanity (John Lennon’s Imagine), or be hypnotically enigmatic (Hotel California).

    MIX 106 program director Barry Keohane isn’t certain why some songs are enduringly popular but he knows what his listeners like. Each year, the gen-X station plays its listeners’ favourites for five weeks, with the number of songs corresponding with the year. In October, they will play the “Essential 2009”, containing far more songs than their usual playlist.

    “We pretty much know what people will vote for,” he says. Audience research is conducted separately, so he is rarely surprised by the results. Nonetheless, the top 20 of 2007 was vastly different from last year’s list. Most notably, that old warhorse Stairway to Heaven moved from No.286 in 2007 to No.7 last year.

    “We’ve shifted the format on MIX,” he says. “It can have a very different audience in the space of a year.” Among other things, the station has increased its number of male listeners. “Females are more passionate about newer stuff. We (over-35 males) would happily listen to AC/DC and Cold Chisel for the rest of our lives.” With AC/DC’s upcoming tour, he believes It’s a Long Way to the Top, the 2007 champion, has a good chance of reclaiming its place.

    Simon and Garfunkel’s tour, however, may not work so well, as most baby boomers are no longer passionate enough to vote. This may also explain the flagging fortunes of former all-time greats such as Rock Around the Clock, House of the Rising Sun and Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, relegated to No.1720 in last year’s list.

    Although Keohane is confident enough to make predictions, Kingsmill admits Triple J’s poll has already surprised him. Voting closes on Sunday and the countdown starts on July7. “It’s great to get this feedback,” Kingsmill says. “Being Triple J, we don’t have any money to do market research. Still, that’s not the reason we’re doing (the poll). Literally every week someone asks me when we’re doing another list of all-time favourites.”

    As an under-30s station, Triple J’s audience obviously has changed since the previous list in 1998. “Before the 90s, you’d be into the music that came out recently,” he says. “Now, in these days of downloading and personal playlists, the iPod generation listens to songs going back more than 40 years.

    “Many of the teenagers nowadays see the 60s and 70s as a pure time for music, where it was judged on its own merits, rather than controlled by PR geniuses. Charts don’t have any weight any more.” The largest voting group has been 19 to 21-year-olds, “but seeing their favourites, you’d think it was a much older demographic”.

    There are always surprises. In 1990, when ABBA was considered shamefully daggy, Dancing Queen made the list. Kingsmill believes that, while it wasn’t exactly Nirvana, the song was there due to its quality. “How many seriously great pop songs are there, ones that last for years?” he asks. “You can’t tarnish all pop songs with the same brush. Songs are like photos. Some of them give you warm and fuzzy feelings when you see them in your photo album; others embarrass you.”

    Whether Smells Like Teen Spirit wins again, of course, depends on whether gen-Y listeners are inspired by Nirvana’s gen-X anthem. Will it have the staying power of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto (none of us will know) or eventually fade out like most pre-1964 rock songs? Some songs are more immortal than others.

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