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Immigrant Song Contest: Day Two

Sarah McDermott | 12:47 UK time, Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Last night in our Immigrant Song Contest we heard performances from Hashmat from Afghanistan and Mann Friday from Zimbabwe.

Remember we want you to hear what you think about the bands ahead of the judges' decision in our special programme on immigration on Thursday night.

So to help you make your mind up, here is the film from last night. Watch as Mann Friday and Hashmat explain why they came to the UK, give us a taster of their music and each perform a Eurovision cover.

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The judges will read your comments and take them into account, but they will have the final say in selecting a winner. They will decide based on a wide range of criteria consistent with the BBC Code of Conduct on Competitions and Voting.

You can read more about the contest in this feature written by its host Tim Samuels.
He says the contest is not only a way to tell the stories of some of the millions of people who have moved to this country, but also a means to find out if they have embraced our cherished national tradition of celebrating the finest in cheesy music.

And if you missed the performances from Iranian indie rockers Font and Ya Freddy from the Democratic Republic of Congo you can watch them again here.


  • Comment number 1.

    It is a good initiative from the bbc to have a programm as immigrants song contest. I enjoyed watching it, all are good musician; however, I enjoyed a lot yafreddy from the democratic republic of Congo. The way he has modified the original song puppet on the string is very fantastic, he has mixed it up some african rythme, it shows he has got a very good inspiration for his music.

  • Comment number 2.

    Really, to say thanks to the Bbc for hightliting the problems DR CONGO has been facing for years now,altough some people are ignorant may say why the DRC? As many people who are connected to the rest of the world would know where the materials used to make mobile phones and computers come from, how mothers and children are being killed for it.

    For the eurovision song contest,what a really good way to light up a news programm and just the perfect way to end the day.I like all the acts but the one that really impressed me was Ya Freddy Wanga from the Democratic Republic of CONGO, he has got my vote to win, well done Ya Freddy.

  • Comment number 3.

    Mann Friday are an amazing band. I first saw them live at the Half Moon in Putney, bought their album Blue Sky Science straight away, and since then it has never been far from my CD player. The lyrics are beautiful and the music is expertly crafted. Blue Sky Science is one of those rare albums that doesn't have a bad song on it - they are all amazing. The complete commitment they show and sacrifices they make for their passion - music - is awesome.

  • Comment number 4.

    Surely noone can see beyond Mann Friday? I first saw them at Nottingham Uni, and their music is awesome live (and brilliant on the CDs). Great version of Abba, although I do think their own stuff is far better. If they don't win, I hope many people will still become fanns!

  • Comment number 5.

    I think this is a fantastic initiative - well done BBC for allowing the spotlight to shine on these imigrant bands, who a lot of the time would not have the connections in the UK to be able to get the exposure they need.

    I have been a fan of Mann Friday for a number of years now, and I know that this opportunity is incredible, and I truly hope that it opens doors for them. They have songs with deep lyrical yet are still very easy listening, and have a great commercial sound. I hope that the judges are judging on the sound and the long-term appeal to the UK market. If this is the case I believe that Mann Friday will do very well, it's too bad they weren't able to perform live in the BBC studio, but that's just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.

  • Comment number 6.

    Mann Friday get my vote, I've loved their music since I first heard them live several years ago. I enjoyed their cover of Waterloo, and it's a shame the whole band weren't able to play it togetehr, though I much prefer their own material. Among my favourite songs of theirs is Paradise Bird, which is a pretty song with clever lyrics.

  • Comment number 7.

    Mann Friday of Course!!! Doing a cover so, perfectly, like that just shows their jux of pose like the country we so love! Mann Friday are so multi talented, they can do an Abba song proud in acoustic, and if you have ever heard their own powerful music you would know and appreciate them as much as there hoard of fans following them around London! I am still listening and watching every move, sadly though on the internet as I now live in Hawaii. Next step... how do import them to Hawaii so I can enjoy them live again!!?? Miss you Mann Friday and Hope you win!!

  • Comment number 8.

    Loved Mann Friday's rework of Waterloo - lovely, chilled vibe

  • Comment number 9.

    Surely this is a racist song contest, how can a contest be permitted that limits it to a group from a particular heritage? Would the reverse be considered acceptable? Would Newsnight run a contest that restricted entrants from only indigenous English people? Of course not, hell would have to freeze over before the BBC did that! So is this immigrant song contest and example of the BBCs politically correct racism?

  • Comment number 10.

    Mann Friday is simply the best band !! They play such awsome and meaningful music. Their lyrics have such depth.
    I actually flew from Denmark to London just to hear them - and I was NOT let down in any way. Had one of the best live gig experiences of my life ! If anyone deserves this, it's Mann Friday !!

  • Comment number 11.

    Mann Friday Rocks. For the first time I think waterloo the song spoke to me in serious way that I really like. And I think I have found a new love for that whole song. Even the ABBA version which was always a little bit too happy clappy for me. Considering the songs subject matter I think it was beautiful presented as an unplugged ensemble.

  • Comment number 12.

    It is incredulous that Samuels has been allowed to dumb down Newsnight by turning it into some sort of music? contest.
    He is so lightweight. Get shot of him.
    If he is insistant on trying to weaken western culture go and work for Simon Cowell .
    Newsnight is and should always be a serious news programme (hence the name) so leave it alone.

  • Comment number 13.

    It is incredulous that Samuels has been allowed to dumb down Newsnight by turning it into some sort of music? contest.
    He is so lightweight, get shot of him.
    If he is insistant on trying to weaken western culture go and work for Simon Cowell .
    Newsnight is and should always be a serious news programme (hence the name) so leave it alone.

  • Comment number 14.

    I saw Mann Friday a couple of months ago and absolutely loved them. I think they're great and their music is very current - they def have my vote.

    Although they did well with the Abba cover, their own music is even more brill. If you haven't heard any its def one not to miss out on.

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.


    shh we musn't disturb the relativists from their segregationist pleasures with appeals to reason which would only serve to annoy.

    one must wonder who is the philosophical power house behind such segregationist promotion that emphasises and highlights divisions in society.

    would they hold a contest that excludes immigrants and hold that up as a model of the good? is a good question.

    Surely what is good is unity. the promotion of unity. So why promote division and call it good?

  • Comment number 17.

    i've know mann friday for a good number of years and i never tire of listening to them. i first met them at the half moon in mildenhall, suffolk and fell in love with their sound. they're so easy to listen to and really addictive. they've worked so hard on their music with sacrifices along the way. i wish them the best of luck and hope they will continue to spread their incredible sound.

  • Comment number 18.

    Font to win!! They managed to totally change the feel of the song and make sounds pretty cool. Reminded me of Joy Division a bit. Quite a chanlenge for a Cliff Richard song.


  • Comment number 19.

    Having posted a comment yesterday, that was posted on yesterdays page, about this racist inane drivel from D list bands fronted by nobody of any consequence for people, as Paxo just put it, "with a cloth ear and no razor", I see it has been removed. Seems saying derogatory comments about the Newsnight comrades and their judgement to run serious items of importance is not allowed and the BBC politburo have censored it. Nice!

    If I want this stuff, I am sure there is plenty at my local pub Karaoke night, personally I thought NN was supposed to be a serious current affairs programme. Poor.

  • Comment number 20.

    Mann Friday! Seen them a couple of times in London and they're pretty cool. Also have their songs on my iPod which makes for good listening. And they're decent dudes who have worked really hard for what they're after. So I vote them.

  • Comment number 21.

    Font I think did the best with the material provided. I mean they actually made a Cliff song sound good! Is t going to be made available on mp3?

  • Comment number 22.

    I've thoroughly enjoyed and learnt from the Immigration Song Contest. It's an engaging, innovative way to discuss immigration issues that really caught my attention. Better than just listening to the views of men and women in suits (sorry Jeremy P!)

    I loved all the acts! Some fantastic cover versions and it's really hard to pick a winner. I particularly liked Ya Freddy because his cover was vibrant and creative, particularly given the song they had to cover. Font were pretty awesome too. I'd love to know more about how they manage to keep up with their favourite bands from Iran.

    If only the real Eurovision had 1% of the sincerity and creativity of this mini-contest.

  • Comment number 23.

    I'm down with Dhalad the Somalian rapper dude, he's kool

  • Comment number 24.

    Mann Friday were great!!! Waterloo from South Africa travels very well....particularly unplugged!!! and don't lets get so serious about the whole thing......I have heard some great music that I actually may go and seek out if it ever reaches the outer areas of this country!!

  • Comment number 25.

    Banal, bland and ripped off from more banal, bland music.

    The lot of it.

    Newsnight should be ashamed of themselves for giving the middle-of-the-middle-of-the-road a middle-of-the-road platform.

    It's worse than the crap Mark Lawson chuckles at on Radio 4.

    And, yes, I listened to it all.

    There are a lot of people already making cool music in Britain (immigrants and otherwise).

    Broadcast that if it just about fits into your PC agenda.

  • Comment number 26.

    The Iranian band sounded brilliant, they took their given song and re-jigged the music , really, really well done. Most of the others did very well and made a good effort.

    But the Iranians (Font?) really turned the song upside down. No wonder they were imprisoned, they sounded like the best punk band I've ever heard. They deserve to go far.

  • Comment number 27.

    For what it's worth I saw Mann Friday last night and thought them very good but also liked the Somalian singing tonight. Interesting idea Newsnight though the blogs can be misused by fans and promoters....

  • Comment number 28.

    By definition, all Eurovision songs are cheesy and populist in nature. So which band managed best to overcome these inherent challenges? The vote must go to tonight's band from Somalia - sorry I've forgotten their name. They managed to invest some genuine, unsentimental musical qualities into this song whilst giving it a currency that people much younger than myself will recognise.I'm 60 for heaven's sake and can remember all of the original versions!
    The only other band that came close to this was the Iranian band's take on 'Congratulations'. And on this note, congratulations also to all the bands and the production team for an excellent bit of programming. More please!

  • Comment number 29.

    Seems to be quite a bit of chauvinistic support for Mann Friday? Can they all be from Zimbabwe? Are they related to the group?

  • Comment number 30.

    Mann Friday were absolutley fantastic. It is the first time I have really listened to the words of 'Waterloo' which they delivered with such meaning. They really do deserve to win

  • Comment number 31.

    The Immigration Song Contest is an interesting concept. It also shows us how fellow citizens of the world get treated if they want to take up singing as a career. The Iranian group get my vote because they were determined to perform their songs somewhere that they would be respected as individuals with a talent for singing. However, as the Polish group are already Euro citizens by birth, they do not have the problems that the others have faced. Good luck to the worthy winner because the all deserve credit for persevering with their talent come what may. Especially, the Iranian band as they've been to hell and back.

  • Comment number 32.

    hashmat. What a guy, what a life. Singing from his heart. He deserves a good life.

  • Comment number 33.

    In response to Bookhimdano's segregationist comments: I think on the contrary - this contest is a gloriously unique opportunity for all these artists to show their various talents and tell their own stories, in a positive way (for a change). This contest and accompanying report snippets can only help to enlighten the wider public that not all immigrants are here to rob, mug or worse - as the tabloids would have you believe. Top marks to the beeb for this slice of entertainment and offering the entrants the opportunity to show their talents to a national audience. Hope this becomes an annual event like the eurovision?!

    Anyway, DHALED gets my vote - thought the rap version of Save Your Kisses was inspired and gave the track a whole new lease of life! Go DHALED!

  • Comment number 34.

    Lighten up dicko1966, you're in danger of living up to your moniker. Suggest you change it to sourpuss2009

  • Comment number 35.

    Hashmat seemed to join his own natural style with this mad eurovisiony tune most successfully - I just loved the funky seriousness of both his singing and his playing.

    Lots of good stuff in the whole series though. I had a brief angry of Woking moment when the idea was introduced (what is Newsnight coming to?)but it has held up really well. Perhaps this exceptional news week needed something like this.

  • Comment number 36.

    Where can I vote for 'Save all your kisses' ??

    :D not just entertainment but the makings of a brilliant cover. Great arrangement, and though a bit raw (as live music is) a fantastic performance.

  • Comment number 37.

    I thought that the last act the two men from Somalia were the best and deserve to win.The song was lovely,a beautiful cover version.

  • Comment number 38.

    I enjoyed listening to all six. You have to say that each one was better than the originals they covered. I was most impressed by Dhalad as I couldn't begin to think how he was going to make anything worth listening to from the Brotherhood of Man. Consequently, he gets my vote!

  • Comment number 39.

    The contest was a great way of presenting the different stories behind each group, and I enjoyed every song. What about a download of them all?

    Font stood out as being more than just interesting: they created a brilliant cover version of one of the worst songs ever written, and their music also seemed driven by a real sense of urgency and reckless hope. I was inspired! I agree with georgepud that they're a bit like Joy Division they have something of that raw edginess. They're loads better than Radiohead, who they said were an influence. They should definitely win.

  • Comment number 40.

    I liked Hashmet from Afghanistan best and I hope he wins. He made a quite rubbish song sound touching. Congratulations and good luck. It's been a great item.

  • Comment number 41.

    Whilst I have enjoyed all the songs and I think the contest was an brilliant decision by the BBC, I must agree with comments made by zoe-trope - Font were totally amazing! They not only made a truly awful song sound fantastic but what they have endured to be able to play their music is both moving and awe-inspiring. They should most definitely win

  • Comment number 42.

    Mann Friday were accomplished and made Waterloo sound different and thoughtful but I loved the last act - Dhalad the Somalian rapper the best.

  • Comment number 43.

    Mann Friday put Abba to shame! Listening to Mann friday is a powerful, emotional and uplifting experience. Music as beautiful as theirs leaves you overwhelmed and wordless. Just by listening to them it is clear who the winners are.

  • Comment number 44.

    I think the volume of comments for Mann Friday reflect the dedicated fanbase in the UK. Mann Friday inspire a generation of displaced Zimbabweans, lucky to be living and working in the UK, but homesick nonetheless.

    Their songs are imbued with a deep pride and love of our land and acknowledge that wherever we may live now, it has made us who we are.

    The lyrics are extraordinary, unadulterated, clever and poetic. Just as being Zimbabwean resonates through the lyrics, subtle Southern African riffs and rhythms weave in and out of the songs, whether acoustic, rock or electronica.

    The band do not skirt around the political issues plaguing our country and the relative inaction of the world around us. In 15 mins of Shame hey ask "what are you dreaming of, a million miles away, as Africa sinks under the weight of another day?" They have a strong social conscience, proceeds from their single "Rise" going to support Zimbabwean medical professionals in the fight against HIV.

    A beautiful rendition of Waterloo, however this band deserve to be recognised for their own, heartfelt songs, which despite having a distinct Zimbabwean flavour, can move people of all ages and nationalities.

  • Comment number 45.

    Mann Friday was OK, the rest was awful.

  • Comment number 46.

    "and tell their own stories, in a positive way (for a change)."

    MUPSEYMOO, with the BBC that is hardly true for it never leaves an opportunity go by without telling us how wonderful immigration is, in fact before the 2005 election Times newspaper got a leaked Government memo that praised the BBC for its positive stance on immigration, now for an organisation that is supposed to be politically impartial that's a damming memo. More revolutionary would be if the BBC actually looked at the damage mass immigration is doing to the country. For years the BBC has put questions to Ministers about the housing crisis, but never, NEVER has the BBC questioned the sanity of us building 170k homes a year but adding to our population in excess of 300k people a year. Same with global warming, again the BBC doesn't let an opportunity go by without haranguing us about global warming, but it never, NEVER questions the sanity of growing our population through immigration from 60 million people to in excess of 70 million during a time when there are going to be resources shortages, food, energy, etc with global warming thrown in that will cut food supplies, when we are already an over populated country that can't sustain the population we currently have. And the same can be said across a whole range of services, road congestion, public transport, public services, etc the BBC never, NEVER questions the sanity of growing our population through immigration when we already can't cope with the demand already impacting on our services.

  • Comment number 47.

    Ya Freddy - Great - Super version of Puppet on a string.
    I enjoyed thyem all - differently!
    Every show! Get the politicos involved!
    The thought of Hazel Blears doing "making your mind up" !
    What Eurovision song would Vince Cable select?

  • Comment number 48.

    As an avid fan I think the most successful entrants are those that really change the songs and for me Font's `Congratulations` was a crowning achievement.

  • Comment number 49.

    I enjoyed all the songs and would love to download them if this could be made possible by BBC??? The best was a close run thing but for me Font did the best job at covering the song they were given - I would def want to hear more from them.....

  • Comment number 50.

    #46 i.moore I agree with every word you say. Immigration is sold to us as a positive step, even down to this music rubbish. When are people in this country going to wake up to the fact we haven't the room?!!!!!!!!!! It's not that we hate foriegners, it's we are a very small island, with not enough food to feed ourselves! Just how many millions do the Beeb want us to import, surely not the entire world!!!

  • Comment number 51.

    As always Mann Friday are playing incredible music and spreading the word on Zimbabwe. Its fantastic to see them on the BBC and to see the BBC put a show like this on air.
    Rock on Mann Friday!!!!

  • Comment number 52.

    Mann Friday all the way!!!
    With their soulful thought provoking lyrics it has to be them and their version of Waterloo was beautiful!!

  • Comment number 53.

    Wow, what a great cover by Mann Friday & an inspirational story of musical love & persistance - I just hope that the judges acknowledge the less than ideal acoustics of the satellite broadcast.

    With out exception their CD's are top of my music list - Their lyrics are masterful and provocative & the execution soulful and uplifting, combining seemlessley to present a signature style, that is both contemporary, african & above all human. A song for every emotion... You guys make me proud to be a Zimbabwean, and stoke my fires of hope for a renewed nation.


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