Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The Apprentice Season 9 Episode 5

Zeeshan is gone! I had predicted that he was going soon and once I knew Myles and Zeeshan were PMs this week I had a gut feeling a PM was going. It was a rather embarrassing way for Zeeshan to leave, after claiming to know Dubai like the back of his hand and being accused of sexism, I almost felt sorry for him! Throughout the episode they were editing it for Zeeshan to fall and fall he did, he also brought Natalie back in, which does not work when there were clearly two scapegoats for him to tackle (Kurt and Neil).

Alex - It is becoming increasingly evident that he is in it for the long run, probably around final 6 I'd say.

Francesca - I get more and more confused as to where she'll land. Not helped by bookies claiming she is their favourite to win. I don't see her going all the way but she really could falter at any point.

Jason - I am sure that when he finally lands in the boardroom he'll be fired.

Jordan - He has yet to lose, along with Jason and Myles. But out of those three he is being given the stronger edit. I still can't imagine Jordan bowing out before the final stages.

Kurt - He is continuing to make silly mistakes. The inches-cm fiasco was elementary but Zeeshan and Natalie should have picked it up as well. He had a lucky escape this episode but he really needs to start being seen as a legitimate contender for him to go far.

Leah - Liz Locke 2.0 finally breaks, she is no longer Liz 2.0 and this episode showed a rather mean (verging on vindictive) side to her perfectly done personality. This is a turning point for her and either marks her as in it to win it or someone marked for a shock exit.

Luisa - I'm increasingly warming up to Luisa, I don't expect her to leave too soon but she is showing some business acumen.

Myles - Like Francesca I don't know where to place him. I fear like Jason once he starts losing he'll be a prime target.

Natalie - I love how Natalie fights her corner in the boardroom. It was unfair that she was brought back and now she's in Lord Sugar's thin line books. Which means she either gets a redemption or she's automatically out if she lands in the boardroom in the next two weeks. Lets see what happens.

Rebecca - She is becoming increasingly quiet compared to earlier episodes. I wonder if her days are outnumbered.

The ones that will make it far: Jordan, Leah

The ones to look out for: Alex, Luisa, Neil

The ones on the fence: Natalie, Kurt, Rebecca

The ones in the middle: Myles, Francesca

The ones in the firing line: Jason

Thursday, 23 May 2013

The Apprentice Series 9 Episode 4

So Uzma is gone, there was really nowhere else for her. It was pretty evident to me that Uzma would leave when Neil's team lost because it was obvious she would be brought back to the boardroom and because of being in the boardroom 3 times out of 4 episodes she was bound to be fired despite not being the failure of the task. The reason why she lasted until now I believe was because she was in the beauty business which Lord Sugar wants to be in the industry. The two guys had much more to be blamed but they also put in a lot more work and made the decisions which could have won them the task if they weren't so risky.

Now most of the floaters have left and next week should be the start of the real fight.

So what has changed after this episode?

Alex - still fighting strong, he is outspoken but has yet to truly fail which will give him a good rapport with Nick and Karen therefore I'm sure Lord Sugar has a positive opinion of him.

Francesca - I'm still unsure if she has it in her to go far, whilst she didn't do anything wrong this episode she still hasn't been outstanding as of yet and I expect her to go soon.

Jason - We should be seeing his departure soon, he is one of the floaters left in the race and I think he is starting to grate on his team, which equals a boardroom appearance.

Jordan - He is doing well but it has gotten to his head slightly and given a bad impression to Lord Sugar, however a win is a win and if he continues on this road he has a lot going for him. Jordan, just learn that enthusiasm is appreciated but professionalism is still key for Lord Sugar.

Kurt - This was the first task in which he made an impact and whilst he didn't do as well as he expected he wasn't the main reason for the failure of the task. His major oversight was not buying any other produce other than that for the milkshakes. His enthusiasm and passion showed for his business plan and that is the reason why Lord Sugar saved him since the industry really has potential right now.

Leah - Liz Locke 2.0 continues to be edited well, however I'm waiting to see a crack in her so that she seems more relatable. Right now she is doing well but neither leading or making the decisive decisions.

Luisa - Whilst her strategy proved to be wrong she is continuing at a good pace I believe, I think she has some longevity in her still.

Myles - Well, we finally see him a bit more and from this episode it seems he has a good head on his shoulders. His performance, whilst not outstanding, has really split me in terms of his longevity on the show.

Natalie - This series seems to have a lot of candidates with an evident strong drive, Natalie is one of them. I believe she is seeing a redemption and that is what I expected to happen. Right now she just needs a few good episodes and she could be set for the following weeks.

Neil - He is being considered a back seat driver and still is which isn't a positive. His cockiness has got Lord Sugar's attention but I'm yet to see whether that's a positive or negative right now for him. However I believe Neil still has a few more weeks in him.

Rebecca - This week was relatively quiet for her. She can't afford more episodes like this as the numbers drop.

Zeeshan - He has yet to impress and with a number of strong voiced individuals in the process Zeeshan might just be one too many at this moment.

The ones that will make it far: Leah, Jordan

The ones to look out for: Alex, Luisa, Natalie, Neil, Kurt and Rebecca

The ones in the middle: Myles

The ones in the firing line: Jason, Francesca, Zeeshan

Four episodes in I have yet to find someone I'm rooting for but there are more and more candidates I like/ok with. Right now only Alex, Jason and Zeeshan grate on my nerves the rest are decent.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Roland Garros 2013 withdrawals

With both Murray and Del Potro out of the French Open this year the field isn't as packed as before. They weren't really title contenders but without them success will be that much easier for some of the top players. I'm expecting this to fully benefit Roger Federer. 

I hope they make a swift recovery as they are part of the 8 that make up the best 8 in Tennis history I think. 

This is the Top 8 seeds now

Whilst the draws aren't out we can quite easily say that Ferrer (though a fantastic player he is) will be less dangerous than Nadal. The third and fourth seeds are to be drawn to decide whether they are in Djokovic or Federer's half (though I have an inkling feeling Ferrer will be in Federer's half).

Gasquet and Tipsarevic are also now in the Top 8, whilst they are good players and can tackle the Top 4 on their best days they still aren't as dependable as the Top 4 alternates Ferrer, Berdych, Tsonga and Del Potro.

I just wonder what the draws will look like, it might not be that skewed but there is potential for somebody to slip through.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Eurovision 2013 Finals Review

Well Eurovision 2013 has ended and the winner is none other than Denmark's Emmelie de Forest with Only Teardrops. But it was definitely not a landslide, as I predicted. Azerbaijan and Ukraine were consistently on Denmark's tail but in the end it was the consistent votes that Denmark got which scored them the win, Azerbaijan actually had more 12's. 

There were some shocking results but by on large the final ranking was predictable. The bookies were spot on this year with the Top 5 as Denmark, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Norway and Russia all filling in their spots. Greece, Italy, Malta, Netherlands and Hungary rounded off the Top 10. I was quite shocked how well Malta and Hungary did especially Hungary with what I thought was a rather oddball and repetitive track that wouldn't find its appeal at Eurovision.

I am quite happy with the results but I would have liked a shock. Belgium did better than I thought but the shock of the night was still Hungary.

Georgia didn't do as well as I expected, but I think it did split the viewers, from opinions I've heard people either liked the song for its big ballad duet style or found it a snoozefest. Germany also did unexpectedly badly. They've been one of the more successful western countries and I would have expected Cascada to keep them in the top half. I nearly got No.26 right, Spain came 25th but it was Ireland who came rock bottom which I didn't expect as they came last in the draw. As I predicted France, Spain and Finland came near the bottom of the pack. I actually liked all of them but their draw in the final and their rather less memorable performances let them down.

And good for you Bonnie, who came 19th. I don't think anyone was expecting much else. As I said my pre final favourites were Denmark, Azerbaijan, Norway, Netherlands and Sweden they came 1st, 2nd, 4th, 9th and 14th respectively.

We have also been shown the semifinal votes (though I would like to see the jury/public split as well). Denmark won Semifinal 1 with Russia in 2nd and Ukraine 3rd. Then there was a clear divide until 4th which was taken by Moldova. Netherlands only placed 6th, which is disappointing, but luckily they got in the Top 10 on the finals night. Ireland who came bottom in the finals actually didn't come bottom in their semis which is odd since they performed last and should have been fresh in voter's minds. Estonia was the one that scraped through denying the Serbian trio of a spot. Slovenia's Straight Into Love was the lowest vote getter.

In Semi 2 it was Azerbaijan who came first, not the much expected Norway, who came third. Greece came 2nd by just a point. Malta's good run in the finals could have been predicted as they came 4th in this semi but Hungary is the real confusion as they came 8th in this semi but managed to come 10th in the finals? Where did all those voters come from? Georgia came 10th which is rather surprising since duets tend to do decently at Eurovision. San Marino was unlucky 11 and Bulgaria was a close 12th. It was Latvia who came last in this semi.

Looking at the countries that got 12 points and who gave them out the East-West divide in Europe is quite clear. By on large it was countries in Eastern Europe who chose Azerbaijan and countries in Western Europe who polled Denmark. Scandinavian countries chose to support Norway.

Here is my brief opinion on the performances...

France - it was a shame she was first as I thought she was decent and had an interesting vocal. It is a song I would listen to but at Eurovision it didn't have the big stage appeal.

Lithuania - I am still baffled by the reason why the lyrics talk about his shoes "Love and Pain". He is also not a good vocalist. He is also very rude especially his reaction of coming 20ish rather than the Top 10 he expected!

Moldova - An ok performance, at times screechy but commendable. Her USP was definitely her dress and the theatrics successfully placing her 11th.

Finland - My guilty pleasure, I just love the energy of Krista. It didn't perform well in which I think the "controversial" kiss at the end was one reason.

Spain - I like it but it doesn't really work on a big arena.

Belgium - catchy but I just can't get over Roberto's creepy stare, it did much better than expected.

Estonia - I think Birgit is a great vocalist and I like the song but it's too low key and therefore it placed 20th.

Belarus - I think Eurovision has started to move on from these type of acts which were most successful in the mid 00s. I think viewers who still believe that a skimpily clad bombshell will do well are still in the view that Eurovision is all about cheese.

Malta - A surprise vote getter. There were some analysts who thought this could be a success but it was still rather shocking that it did so well. I did like the simplicity of it and Gianluca sings quite well.

Russia - An ok performance but it just wasn't the type of song that would get votes if it weren't for Russia.

Germany - It wasn't vocally great but I would have expected Cascada to pull in more votes. It was definitely one of the better songs.

Armenia - Just no.

Netherlands - It will undeniably split viewers, some will think it's too depressing whilst some will champion its uniqueness. I really liked it though it did need a bigger crescendo for an arena performance, coming in the Top 10 was really the best possible outcome.

Romania - Votes for this were obviously for the gimmick as I can't imagine anyone truly liking this song.

United Kingdom - If I'm honest vocally it wasn't great and the song, whilst decent, is too samey and therefore it was lost among the sea of artistes.

Sweden - It wasn't vocally great but I liked the chorus and it has a big arena feel about it, I thought it would do slightly better though.

Hungary - I am baffled by the support it got, maybe there are more voters like Graham Norton than I thought.

Denmark - I would say out of the favourites it had the most Eurovision appeal about it so it wasn't difficult to see how it would win. Only Azerbaijan would have seemed a plausible alternative. Ukraine lacked the hook, Russia was too preachy ballad and Norway was too alternative.

Iceland - Commentators expected this to do decently, it came 17th which isn't bad but worse than what they expected. Personally I find this generic and it lacks a climax.

Azerbaijan - It's a decent track and generally very slickly performed, it's easy to see how this could have overthrown Denmark.

Greece - I have slowly come to like this, there energy is infectious and at the end of the day Eurovision is about having fun.

Ukraine - Zlata has the voice but I still feel that Gravity is a let down of a song for her to perform.

Italy - Having heard this everywhere when I was in Rome I thought I would get bored of it but it is a decent song and Marco performed it well. It came 7th which is honourable.

Norway - Whilst I like it it doesn't have that Eurovision feel to it, it wasn't a song that I'd expect to win. I was very happy that it came 4th.

Georgia - I think this is one of the songs which suffered from overdose for me, I've just heard it too many times and it began to sound samey however I still think it deserved a top 10 spot.

Ireland - I didn't expect it to come last but I didn't like it.

This is my ranking of the 26 performances and their eventual place in the finals.

Norway           4th
Denmark          1st
Netherlands      9th
Azerbaijan       2nd
Sweden           14th
Italy            7th
Greece           6th
Georgia          15th
Finland          24th
Germany          21st
Ukraine          3rd
Estonia          20th
Malta            8th
France           23rd
Moldova          11th
Russia           5th
Spain            25th
Belgium          12th
United Kingdom   19th
Belarus          16th
Iceland          17th
Ireland          26th
Armenia          18th
Lithuania        22nd
Hungary          10th
Romania          13th

Once I know how the jury votes I would like to update this post, but for now goodnight and see you next year.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Eurovision 2013: Semifinal 2

So another 10 countries made it through in which all of the favourites made it. But the bookies got it wrong with San Marino who didn't make it through. Valentina got a huge boost by fans for whatever reason but I never felt that San Marino was safely in the finals as most voters would have only heard the song once and in my opinion it isn't strong enough to make an immediate impression. I also didn't like the sudden change in key and tempo, it's one of my pet peeves in music. 

This semifinal lacked the impact the first semifinal had but it had an interesting mix of tracks.

Here is a rough ranking of the performances for me.

Norway - Hands down my favourite of the night, but it does need a bit of tweaking.
Azerbaijan - it was decent, good all round. If a guy is going to win this year I'd bet on him.
Finland - I like the energy, it's a guilty pleasure.
Georgia - Slightly disappointed with the performance, hopefully they improve their vocals in the finals but still sung well.

Malta - it's ok, sounds better than I thought.
Greece - I think I'm starting to like it, just for the "Greekness" of it.
Israel - She sings well, bar the highest notes, but the song didn't work for me.

Iceland - To be quite honest I don't get the love for it, he is a good singer but the song is very boring.
San Marino - it's a nice enough song but I didn't get the sudden love for it.
Bulgaria - I was disappointed with the performance because the tune didn't work but I still applaud them for bringing something different.
Macedonia - it didn't work, I didn't like the song but the reason it's here is because I have a secret crush for Esma!

Latvia - better than I remember but still too bland.
Albania - Simply because I can't remember the tune but I remember they were rockers.
Armenia - I just don't like it.
Switzerland - I can't remember the song sadly, all I remember is the "adorable" 95 year old playing the double bass.
Romania - I'm really sorry but I just don't like it.
Hungary - There's a charm about it but it's too repetitive.

Which is why I was shocked how Hungary made it through since they aren't powerhouses either.

My predictions were:
Azerbaijan, Finland, Malta, Iceland, Greece, Norway, Georgia, Romania, Israel, Armenia

I didn't think San Marino would make it through. Israel was the iffy one for me but I thought the jury would save her. Whilst Armenia solely based on the countries past performance at Eurovision.

So my two shock finalists are Lithuania from Semi 1 and Hungary from Semi 2.

After the two semis the bookies have the Top 5 (in order) as
Denmark, Norway, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Russia

Netherlands, Germany, Georgia and Italy come in close.

I'd be pretty happy with that result if we can just take Russia out of that equation, the other 8 would be a good Top 8.

And we now know the running order. To my knowledge finalists drew out whether they were in the first or second half but the order is decided by the producers of the show.

France is leading us off, I fear they might be at the bottom then. Among the first 13 acts (assuming the interval is right in the middle) I fear France, Spain and Estonia will fade into obscurity by the end. Whilst I don't like the guys in this half I think each of them will manage to attract their respective voters. Russia, Germany and Netherlands are the contenders to look out for and Anouk will be closing the first half, I just wonder if watching "Birds" on TV will have the same quality as watching live on listening to the CD, I'm worried it won't translate. Moldova, Finland and Belarus should manage to stay in the minds of their voters as they have a strong enough gimmick.

Bonnie Tyler is 15th and coming right after Romania, I don't know if that's a good or bad thing. The host is at 16th which is a decent place to be I think. The big guns are all very close to the end, Denmark at 18th, Azerbaijan at 20th, Ukraine 22nd and Norway 24th. These 4 bookies favourites will be wedged by Iceland, Greece and Italy which could spell disaster for these three however I think they are strong enough with their supporters to come out unscathed. Hungary starts us off this onslaught but I think they will be forgotten by the end. Georgia is at 25th which is a good spot to be in whilst weirdly Ireland closes us off. I would have expected a bigger song to be put here. 

I'm thinking Spain's early performance and rather forgettable song might spell disaster for them in the finals (I think they're OK though) but we'll see.

I'm supporting Anouk, Robin Stjernberg, Emmelie de Forest, Farid Mammadov and Margaret Berger but of course I'll also cheer for Bonnie!

See you on Saturday.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

The Apprentice Series 9 Episode 3

Sophie was the victim this week, I thought she would have had a few more weeks in her but she continued to float under the radar which caught Natalie's eye and therefore two boardrooms in three weeks left her in danger.

This was the first episode where I didn't have a firm idea of who would be brought back into the boardroom or who would be fired until the final moments as throughout the show there was no clear indication of who was clearly to blame until Luisa brought attention to Sophie's lack of contribution when I thought Sophie could be the one going. I was really on the edge between her and Uzma but Lord Sugar didn't see what Sophie had done and therefore it became pretty clear towards the end that Lord Sugar was going to fire her.

This is a quick update on my opinion of the candidates.

Alex - he impressed this week and I'm sure this will be the start of where Alex starts to pave his way as a potential contender for the latter stages however much I dislike the idea.

Francesca - She didn't really do much, if she doesn't get a good edit soon she'll be seeing the cab.

Jason - he will probably be one of the first males out because he isn't showing much potential at all but it really depends when he gets into a boardroom.

Jordan - This week Jordan finally showed his potential and I think we're seeing a potential Top 4/5 candidate.

Kurt - He still hasn't made an impact but he's going in the right direction.

Leah - The producers are clearly editing her to be Liz Locke 2.0, it's just whether she'll be given a shocking exit or make it all the way through.

Luisa - I really would like to know how Lord Sugar views her, right now she is vulnerable to being dragged in to the boardroom because she tries to dip her feet into everything but if Lord Sugar views her in a good light it won't matter if she's in the boardroom for the following weeks.

Myles - It's pretty evident that he will go soon.

Natalie - I quite like her attitude and I think Lord Sugar likes her as well despite her performance this episode. She somehow reminds me a bit of Yasmina.

Neil - He was unbelievably quiet this episode.

Rebecca - As long as she doesn't continue to grate on her teammates she could go far, if she gets in the boardroom too many times she might crack.

Uzma - I think she is hanging on a thread right now.

Zeeshan - I think Zeeshan is showing cracks and unless he project manages a successful team or becomes the best seller he'll probably be out soon.

The ones that will make it far: Leah, Jordan

The ones to look out for: Alex, Luisa, Natalie, Neil, Rebecca

The ones in the middle: Jason, Kurt

The ones hanging on a thread: Francesca, Myles, Uzma, Zeeshan

I'm still not really rooting for anyone but these are the ones I like: Leah, Jordan, Luisa, Natalie, Rebecca

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Eurovision 2013: Semifinal 1

Just a quick review of the first semifinal as this will be a very busy week for me. I watched this whilst working so I can't really comment on staging and how the performance looked throughout.

Overall as only 6 acts wouldn't make it the results couldn't be too shocking. Serbia was probably the most shocking exit as they were strongly among the Top 10 for bookies but I had my reservations with girl groups (who haven't done well recently) and after watching their performance I was even more uncertain.

Slightly disappointed that Austria didn't make it through as Natalia performed decently enough though I must admit her act was unmemorable among all the female vocalists. Cyprus too wasn't bad though yet again quite boring.

I did enjoy Montenegro's performance even though it was not technically good, I just thought it was a catchy "only-in-Eurovision" track.

Out of those that made it I was only really shocked with Lithuania and his song about shoes. Other than that the others were generally predictable.

This is a rough ranking of the performances for me.

Denmark - the easy choice of the night.
Netherlands - It still needs more of an edge to sustain it through the whole song but for now I like it.

After these two the rest were rather bland.

Estonia - a nice and sweet track though will get gulped up in the final.
Ukraine - Zlata is a good vocalist but I just don't like the song.
Belgium - catchy though sung weirdly

My Bottom 6
Slovenia - sounded like a shrieking cat

If I was to predict the Top 10 after performances I would have went with: 
Estonia, Denmark, Russia, Ukraine, Netherlands, Belarus, Moldova, Ireland, Belgium and Serbia.

See you in Semifinal 2!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

The Apprentice Series 9 Early Review (Post Episode 1 and 2)

The Apprentice appeared back on our TV screens as if it had never left us. Back are the egoistical one liners, the classic hole-in-the-head moments and Lord Sugar's penchant to berate the contestants and then say this is a very tough decision. I was very excited for the return and I must say the series has started off on the right foot but this is because Series 8 was quite a lull. As much as I liked Ricky during the process I had forgotten about him a year on. Some contestants I had to search on google for me to remember and even the bubbly architect "Gabrielle" couldn't save Series 8 from probably being the weakest Apprentice season, not necessarily in terms of ability alone but on simply being a good show to watch.

The first two casualties were Jaz Ampaw-Farr and Tim Stillwell. Jaz always gave me the impression of being an "early out" candidate. After so many years of watching the Apprentice there seems to be a correlation in these things, especially when she volunteered to be PM. Tim was booted out in episode 2, whilst I thought Francesca would be fired it was Tim who shot himself in the foot in the boardroom by leaving himself vulnerable  by targeting the biggest seller, Rebecca. You just don't blame the biggest seller so early in the process!

So after two episodes what do I think of the candidates? Well it's still early days and I've yet to find somebody that I'm truly rooting for but here are my opinions on the chances these candidates might have.

Alex Mills, 22 - every show needs an "icon" and these icons normally stay long enough for us to remember and poke fun at. Series 8 had Nick's "Boris" hair, Series 7 had Jim's "hypnotic" eyes, Series 6 was Baggs the brand! so on. This year Alex seems to be filling that spot with his over-primmed eye brows and tendency for looking like dracula. He has already caused quite a stir on You're Fired and simply because of this I think we'll be seeing Alex at least until the latter half. I'm not saying this has anything to do with backhand politics on the show but one way or another Alex will find himself out of the boardroom, long enough for us to make many more gags on his metro-sexuality.

Personally Alex annoys the "silly shit" out of me, as he likes to put it. He's like a little boy trying to talk himself up so that the others don't treat him like a kid but in doing so he does the stupidest things to get attention. I personally wouldn't mind seeing him leave in the next few episodes.


Francesca MacDuff Varley, 32 - something about Francesca, before the show, made me earmark her for potential final 4/5 material, now I'm not so sure. Episode 2 was her undoing but somehow managing to survive such a catastrophe makes me think we might see a redemption or she simply loses the plot and gets fired soon however I'm slightly more inclined towards the former. But none of her bio seems to indicate a successful candidate so right now Francesca is a big question mark for me.

I need to see more of her to truly gauge an opinion about her as right now she hasn't done much but show her arithmetic incompetency.


Jason Leech, 29 - He is the underdog that the British public will most likely root for, because he makes for good TV. However he is no different from the other candidates, except he just presents his case differently. He is as "up himself" as Alex or Zeeshan are which made watching the trio on Wednesday so incredibly "mind blowing!" He will probably survive until the mid section of the show unless he shows that he has some entrepreneurial sense since he says he has never worked but he did win the first task and normally those candidates do make it far.

Right now Jason is among the candidates which I would rather see leave asap - please guys never team up Alex, Zeeshan and Jason ever again!


Jordan Poulton, 26 - I can legitimately see Jourdan staying for a good amount of time since he has been steady on the show as of now however I think his longevity will ultimately come down to what happens to him in the next show or two, unless of course he gets fired. If he doesn't get much more screen time he might be one of those "early outs" or more likely be fired when he reaches the boardroom as a "Lord Sugar doesn't know who he is" type of candidates. But Jordan seems to be the type that won't find himself in the boardroom too much so I think he will be staying for a bit longer still.

I haven't seen much of him to know but I think Jordan has potential to be one of the candidates I like more than I hate!


Kurt Wilson, 26 - He was project manager but how come I have no memory of what he has done? That doesn't bode well for him. He is one of those candidates that don't catch your eye possibly because he just seems too muted and when he does speak it's a bit monotonous in all honesty. However he did win as PM in a task which is somewhat related to his business plan (in Lord Sugar's mind anyway) which might save him for a boardroom or two.

I still haven't seen enough of his personality but for now he hasn't grated on my nerves so he ranks relatively highly among the 14.


Leah Totton, 24 - It's immediately obvious that she is being billed as the favourite. She has been edited as likable  relatable and generally competent. I'm just unconvinced that she'll win the show. The way she's being presented somewhat reminds me of Kate Walsh or Liz Locke, the nearly girls. I think she's a lock on for the Final 4/5 but don't start betting on her because I truly don't see Leah being Lord Sugar's next business partner.

Right now she is likable but I need to see more personality.


Luisa Zissman, 25 - To every Leah type character there needs to be a Luisa type character. She represents to us that feisty, somewhat relatable character that makes for TV gold. I am warming to Luisa simply because she has already been molded as a character out of the 14. In the early days of the Apprentice I would have easily earmarked her for mid-later stages but in previous years candidates that get this type of treatment are as easily fired early as they make the final stages. I don't think she'll go easily though, it will come down to a task where she is given more of a leadership role where her fate will be decided.

She is someone that I like simply because she's a character that doesn't seem pretentious even though I could never see myself being friends with her.

ALL OVER THE SHOT* A candidate who can as easily go in the next episode as make the final 4/5 (though she'll never win)

Myles Mordaunt, 39 - We don't really know much about Myles besides that he lives in Monaco and has an enviable physique! I did a bit of research on him and he seems to be a reputable candidate however he is not being presented in that way. Simply from how the show is leading us on I think Myles is headed for the You're Hired show in the future few weeks unless he has an inspired performance which brings him out of his comfort zone. However lets not forget how Helen Milligan was portrayed on the show until her sudden redemption.

There's nothing really to like or dislike right now but he does have a rather smug look about him.


Natalie Panayi, 30 - Something makes me like Natalie, I can't really pinpoint it but like Francesca she gives me a very difficult proposition right now. I can't really predict if she'll be an "early out" or a Helen Milligan. Right now I'm more inclined towards the former but if there's anyone that might get a "redemption", despite not having done anything wrong, it's her I think since she was seen sealing the deal with the Lucky cats.

As I said there's something about Natalie I quite like but I will leave judgement until the next one or two episodes.


Neil Clough, 32 - When he's on the TV it's all "me me me me me me me meme me me" it is really aggravating when he just doesn't know when to shut up about being the alpha male. In some ways he reminds me of Adam Corbally or Phil Taylor. That's why it's rather difficult to predict how well he'll do since his type can either excel or rub Lord Sugar in the wrong way. However he's one of the few guys that's actually been given an edit so it's difficult imagining him being fired soon.

Whilst he doesn't annoy me as much as the trip of Alex-Zeeshan-Jason he still makes me cringe every time he claims ownership of ideas for the 10,000th time.


Rebecca Slater, 35 - It's really difficult to dismiss the sales leader as Lord Sugar is all about sales but since the format change from becoming an Apprentice to becoming a business partner there has been a shift in focus for someone that has more spontaneity and brains. I think Rebecca will survive until the middle to later stages but her success on the show depends on whether she can convince Lord Sugar that she isn't a negative personality on the team. If the girls continue to gang up on her she'll see herself in the boardroom one too many a time for Lord Sugar not to fire her since her manner of speaking is too soft and Lord Sugar seems to favour his saleswomen to be like pitbulls e.g. Claire Young.

I kind of like her but she is coming off to be the one people target and from her performance in the boardroom I'm worried she might break if this continues.


Sophie Lau, 22 - I'm really happy whenever I see someone of East Asian descent on the show as there is a distinct lack of Asian people on TV however I'm really worried The Apprentice is typecasting her as a Susan Ma 2.0, they really couldn't have found someone anymore similar to Susan. They have similar appearances (not facially but generally) they are being edited as whiny and slightly immature and they both are edited as those that talk the right talk but don't have answers. I might be forgetting Tuan all the way back in Series 2 but he was edited like an abandoned puppy. But that is also why I think Sophie might have some life in her, being edited like Susan isn't necessarily bad for her chances since Lord Sugar took a massive liking to Susan when she competed, it's just a shame not to see more diversity when the rare chance we see an Asian candidate on the show. However I'm inclined to think that Sophie will fare less well than Susan.

I need to see her actually doing something because up to now all I remember her doing is selling lucky cats in Chinatown.


Uzma Yakoob, 32 - She along with Jaz had that "first out" vibe about them but now that Jaz has gone and Uzma is starting to be more vocal I just wonder if Uzma has it in her to get to the end? Lord Sugar was very vocal about wanting to move into the "Beauty" sector when Susan was on the show, which boils down to how much does the business plan affect the longevity of the candidate. Now that the business plans are clear and dead centre in the show Lord Sugar must have that at the back of his mind. Which makes me think that Uzma might survive her next few boardrooms simply if she has a solid business plan. Whilst I'm still hesitant on gunning Uzma for the interview stages for now I'm happy to consider her for a while longer. 

I think she is one of the more sensible candidates and with time might be one of my favourites.


Zeeshan Shah, 27 - He's like the second coming of Tre Azam. As much as I dislike him I can legitimately see him doing ok along the way. It's really hard to predict for him because he hasn't really done much besides put Jason down for being an incompetent salesperson. I know whatever Zeeshan does I will find it difficult to like him but there's a part of me which thinks he'll be an Adam Corbally type character in that people would love to hate him, it's just whether Lord Sugar will think the same.

Currently among my hated trio!


It's still too early to predict who wins or loses, I prefer to do the prediction on the episode anyway because it's normally easier and I haven't been far off yet, rightly predicting Jaz's departure once her team lost and Tim's departure after the boardroom proceedings. I think by next week things will start to become clearer and hopefully I'll be able to update you on my new opinions.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Eurovision - My favourite tracks since 2009

Since we are nearing Eurovision 2013 I wanted to make a countdown of my favourite performances since I started reviewing the show. This list is purely a list of my favourites, I'm not saying they are the best tracks or if they should have won but these 20 made the most impact on me since 2009.

In Love For A While - Anna Rossinelli
Switzerland 2011
Finals - 25th

A folk ballad from Swiss songstress Anna Rossinelli fluttered its way into my Top 20 for its simple sound. I thought I would place this higher but upon reflection I think it sits comfortably at 20th. 

It only placed 25th in 2011 probably because it was too low key and Anna's excessive snarling sounds however it still brought Switzerland back into the finals.

Standing Still - Roman Lob
Germany 2012
Finals - 8th

Now we have pop-rock ballad "Standing Still". It fell off my radar when I was thinking of my favourites but it quickly climbed back up when I listened to it. It's quite a generic love ballad but that doesn't stop it from being one of the more successful ones on Eurovision in the past few years.

C'est ma vie - Evelina Sasenko
Lithuania 2011
Finals - 19th

The song is pretty boring and bland but I just fell beautifully in love with Evelina's vocals. I do like the chorus of the song and the uplifting nature to the melody and lyrics

Jan Jan - Inga and Anush
Armenia 2009
Finals - 10th

The song's beat is just so addictive, I would never get to listen to something like this without Eurovision and I absolutely loved it. I would love to hear more tracks that meld traditional culture with a modern sound.

What About My Dreams - Kati Wolf
Hungary 2011
Finals - 22nd

This pop anthem of a song was one of my favourites in 2011. There are a few pitch problems but I just like the energy. This would have been the perfect Eurovision song a decade or two ago but of late Eurovision has really disregarded the "divas".

Haba Haba - Stella Mwangi
Norway 2011
Semifinals 1 - 17th

This sweet and happy little song split viewers in 2011. I do agree that Stella's vocals weren't the best but I like the simplicity and the meaning of the song it just invites you to dance along with it. The claims of copying Waka Waka were just laughable, because those people just linked the song name and the African beats and said this was copying the latter.

Milim - Harel Skaat
Israel 2010
Finals - 14th

You can probably tell the style of music I prefer by now. Milim is just such a beautiful ballad. The Hebrew lyrics also give this song an extra tonal quality that is quite interesting.

La Voix - Malena Ernman
Sweden 2009
Finals - 21st

I just found this so captivating despite some very questionable moments. Looking back at the video Malena has quite a creepy gaze. But let this teach the Romanian entry this year how to meld operatic singing with a pop track.

Allez Ola Ole - Jessy Matador
France 2010
Finals - 12th

This song isn't well sung or necessarily well written but it has an energy that invites you to dance along with it and when a song can do that in a crowded stadium I think it's worth commendation.

Kuula - Ott Lepland
Estonia 2012
Finals - 6th

There's something very beautiful about this track. I love how Ott pronounces Kuula, there's something very heartfelt and vulnerable in the performance and the vocals. Even though I didn't understand a word the song still managed to instigate an emotion.

Me and My Guitar - Tom Dice
Belgium 2010
Finals - 6th

This is just a simple track about one guy and his struggles with his passion but it managed to shine through among all the polished pop tracks that adorn every face of Eurovision.

Euphoria - Loreen
Sweden 2012
Finals - 1st

I can't deny Euphoria was the most distinctive and memorable track of Eurovision 2012. I wasn't a huge fan of it at first but the more I listen to it the more addictive it becomes.

Quedate conmigo - Pastora Soler
Spain 2012
Finals - 10th

I love it when the performance is purely about the vocal and Pastora absolutely smashed it. Sadly she was fighting an uphill battle as there was an even bigger belter that year!


Randajad - Urban Symphony
Estonia 2009
Finals - 6th

A hypnotic track, it is distinctive to all the ballads and pop tracks and easily one of my favourites. The whole performance works - another fine performance from Estonia.

Et s'il fallait le faire - Patricia Kaas
France 2009
Finals - 8th

This low key track is performed beautifully by Patricia. I love the emotion she gives. However I do think the song needs a stronger melody at the end but Patricia makes the performance work.

Taken by a Stranger - Lena
Germany 2011
Finals - 10th

Out of Lena's two attempts I much prefer the more alternative Taken by a Stranger over Satellite however I agree that Taken by a Stranger isn't right for Eurovision but I think it was chosen more so that there wouldn't be any comparison between the two tracks and shows Lena's musical development since the bubblegum pop track of Satellite.


This is my Life - Anna Bergendahl
Sweden 2010
Semifinals 2 - 11th

I'm amazed how this song did not make the finals, the song is so sweet whilst Anna's performance gave it the edge it needed, though she sounded slightly nervous. It was my favourite that year so I was gutted that I couldn't see it in the final.

Suus - Rona Nishliu
Albania 2012
Finals - 5th

If we were discussing which vocalist managed to blow the house down with their singing you can't miss Rona. Love it or hate it Rona belted out Suus and made everyone (everything) take notice. It was easily my favourite entry that year because it is such an emotional song sung with passion by Rona.

Playing with Fire - Paula Seling and Ovi
Romania 2010
Finals - 3rd

Not the best vocally nor the best track but Playing With Fire hit it just right that it's one of the most memorable songs of Eurovision of late.

Fairytale - Alexander Rybak
Norway 2009
Finals - 1st

The reason why Fairytale makes it to the top is simply because its now synonymous with Eurovision. The first song I think of when I think of Eurovision is this and because of that it has to be Number 1 on the list.

I hope you enjoyed that run through, see you in two weeks for Eurovision 2013.