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Immigrant Song Contest - The Final

Sarah McDermott | 11:07 UK time, Thursday, 14 May 2009

This is it, the final day of the Immigrant Song Contest!

Over the past three nights we have seen six acts perform - the cream of immigrant musical talent. Each has told us how they came to be in the UK, given us a taster of their music and performed a classic Eurovision hit.

Later today our panel of three judges will be deciding who should be crowned our champion and get to play out tonight's special programme on immigration.

But before then we want you to help the judges out by telling us who your favourite is, who you think should win.

Here's a reminder of each of the performances in case you are still having trouble making your mind up.

Poland's Why Not Here and Somalian Dhalad:

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Zimbabwe's Mann Friday and Hashmat from Afghanistan:

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Iranian band Font and Ya Freddy from the Democratic Republic of Congo:

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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.


  • Comment number 1.

    Please don't do this again!

  • Comment number 2.

    Definitely Font! Brilliant cover version - can you make available to download????

  • Comment number 3.

    Font deserve to win. Much as I love the others too, they have the edge!

  • Comment number 4.

    Bravo Newsnight for this initiative - should have an Indy Euro too.

    Winner for me though, Font, easily!

  • Comment number 5.

    Not one Led Zepplin cover, how can this be about Immigrant Song?

  • Comment number 6.

    It has got to be Mann Friday. Waterloo never sounded so good.

  • Comment number 7.

    This is total nonsense. I'm sick to death of reality tv, excessive exposure of so-called celebrities - which seems to consist of musicians and actors and all the rest of the dumbed-down mindless rubbish on tv these days.

    Now Newsnight, one of the few refuges left for those who want to watch something sensible on tv, holds a ridiculous competition like this. Sigh. I switch channel when this comes on - so don't ask me anything about who will "win". The viewers won't, that's my view.

  • Comment number 8.

    Do not ever do this again. Whoever came up with this idea for a supposedly News & Current Affairs programme should be sacked.

    The BBC entertainment programmes are getting poorer by the minute and now they have to muck of one of the only reasonable programmes left.

  • Comment number 9.

    Font - brilliant arrangement that I would consider buying.
    Best of the bunch

    Well done Newsnight!

  • Comment number 10.

    I could almost hear the mocking laughter of the Oxbridge educated production team as the acts struggled to perform the tacky Eurovision covers in heavy accents. This item had totally the wrong tone for a serious new item on immigration. It trivialised the contestants situation and then went on to mock them by making them cover cheesy pops songs instead of performing their own material. At best this item was ill conceived, poorly made and patronising, at worst it was straight up racist. The item was around 13 minutes long and given the amount of real news happening at the moment who the hell thought giving this much valuable time over to this joke was a good idea for news night? It would have been out of place on channel 5 news let alone news night. Please bring back Peter Barron before the programme loses all credibility. I for one wont be watching tonight and adding to the humiliation of the wining contestant, after all havent they already been through enough?

  • Comment number 11.

    I think that for quality of presentation and vocal tone Mann Friday did well, but they had the easiest and best song to present. Taking into account the fact that singing a poor song is harder than singing a good one, and with very high quality tone, I'd suggest that the judges go for Hashmat, who gave a professional polished and interesting performance.

  • Comment number 12.

    Well, last night I could see how thrilled Jeremy Paxman was at having this tat stuck onto the end of a serious news program. I can assure you that I and many others share his feelings. It has its place and Newsnight is not it.

  • Comment number 13.

    Contrary to what some have written on here, I think that this has been a fabulous idea, a real celebration of the richness and diversity of London life and a wonderful opportunity for these artists to get some exposure. So yes, well done Newsnight.

    I liked Dhalad's reinvention of 'Save all your kisses for me' but Mann Friday's 'Waterloo' wins it for me hands down. Any chance of these as downloads?

  • Comment number 14.

    I repeat what I said on a previous day: my first thought on Monday was that this was the Beeb's surprise birthday present for Jeremy Paxman.

    Having said that, and with all sorts of reservations about (a) it shouldn't have been on Newsnight (b) it should have been longer and more serious, and (c) they should all have played their own music not old Eurostuff, - Font.

  • Comment number 15.

    Mann Friday - they made it more personal.

  • Comment number 16.

    Whilst decrying the inclusion of this trivia in one of the few news and current affairs programmes worth watching on the BBC, I am curious to know what the final vote count will be. i do hope the presenters will be allowed to tell us the level of indifference of the viewing public to this feature.

    yours despairingly

  • Comment number 17.

    This all sounds desperately sad.

  • Comment number 18.

    This production topic has degraded the quality of Newsnight irreparably. It does nothing to address the serious topic of immigration and political asylum and degrades the value of Newsnight to the level of armchair theatrics and triviality.

    Whosoever had the idea that this topic should be part of the scope of Newsnight should be fired as they are simply proving that the BBC is dumbing down its service levels to that of the lowest common denominator - the doombrains who find the Immigrant Song Contest of any interest whatsoever.

  • Comment number 19.

    Has to be Mann Friday, they sounded ace.

  • Comment number 20.

    I definitely think MANN FRIDAY were leagues ahead with their cover. The band encapsulates so much of Africa and the challenges they are faced with - and they took WATERLOO and literally made it beautiful and listenable! MANN FRIDAY ALL THE WAY - no question!!!!

  • Comment number 21.

    Mann Friday is the best band ever!!!
    And that song it's just great!

  • Comment number 22.

    Well done Newsnight. My vote goes to Front

  • Comment number 23.

    Mann Friday for sure! Who could have thought Abba pop could become so impactful and moving?!

  • Comment number 24.

    Mann Friday - genius - stripping away the cheese and surprising us all that at the heart of that big lump of mature cheddar, is a well written song. All good covers should make you hear or feel something that you never did with the original. The temptation would have been to 'rock it up', and having just had a look at the music on their website, the guys would have been quite capable of doing that too, had they wanted. Well done Mann Friday for taking the brave option.

  • Comment number 25.

    Man Friday to win!!!!

  • Comment number 26.

    Mann Friday for sure!

  • Comment number 27.

    Mann Friday's version of Waterloo is outstanding... I hate the original song as I'm not an Abba fan, but their version makes for a great song! They deserve to win.

  • Comment number 28.

    It has to be the Zimbabwean band. They were really good and about the only singer in tune.

  • Comment number 29.

    My vote is for Mann Friday, they are an AWESOME! band. Their version of Waterloo is amazing.

  • Comment number 30.

    I can't believe that my license fee is being wasted on this. How about the BBC start celebrating and supporting Great Britain and it's talent and culture.
    This is appalling.

  • Comment number 31.

    As I hate Eurovision / reality TV with a passion I was dismayed at the start but continued watching just to see how bad it would be and laugh into my sleeve as Paxman raised an eyebrow. The passion and warmth of the contestants has changed my mind. Maybe its a big city thing? These vignettes reminded me that everyone who live in the urban centers that make up the bulk of this nation of ours have come from somewhere else, even if you have to go back a few generations.
    Font win in it on their sheer determination to make music aswell the best attempt at reworking what is dog of a song

  • Comment number 32.

    This sure is a great lead up to Eurovision - and some far more credible and authentic (not to mention talented) talent!

    Wow, I was most impressed with the Waterloo cover. Never one to be much of an Abba fan, I am amazed at Mann Friday's ability to make a song their own! (a true Simon Cowell comment).

    Mann Friday are such fabulous ambassadors for Africa, a continent which such great music that just doesn't get the recognition it deserves!

    In fact, maybe Mann Friday can lead the Southern Africa music revolution - and put African music on the map!!

  • Comment number 33.

    It has to be Font or Man Friday. I thought they both made the songs their own and reflected their own musical styles really well.
    I don't know why the people above have been so grumpy about it, I really enjoyed this feature. Not often you get the chance to hear music from so many different countries and learn something about the people making the music. I thought Font were incredibly inspiring for such young people, knowing the problems and danger they faced when they return to Iran. Man Friday were honest about the problems in their country and yet not overly political. Like Michael Franti of Spearhead says when trying to educate through music, that songs can be nutritious and delicious! That is, they don't have to be so sincere as to suck all the life out of them.
    All the groups had interesting stories and backgrounds, but in terms of making the songs their own, Font and Man Friday did the best I thought.

  • Comment number 34.

    I really enjoyed watching all the bands, all very good, but my vote must go to Font. They were brilliant, they took the song and made it their own and gave it an up-to-date sound. The other songs were good but sounded much like the originals. Font must win, must win, must win.

  • Comment number 35.


  • Comment number 36.

    Why have an 'immigrant' song contest?
    Don't we hear, see, smell, breath and eat immigrant everyday?
    However, I'd go with Poland :)

  • Comment number 37.

    Some of the comments here have been ridiculously sniffy. I think this was a terrific feature: far from being patronising I thought it was sensitively and engagingly done, and I enjoyed both the performances and the background stories.

    Anyway, after that rather pompous preamble, my vote goes to Mann Friday.

  • Comment number 38.

    Font FTW!!

  • Comment number 39.

    People are getting too heavy about this: it's a bit of fun, and a good introduction to the immigration debate.

    My vote is for Font.

  • Comment number 40.

    Got to be Font. They made a cringingly awful Eurovison song into something pretty good! They did their own thing with it and greatly improved on the original performance (sorry Cliff). All the groups/singers did well with, let's face it, not the most exciting songs in the world, but I think Font did it best.

  • Comment number 41.

    Mann Friday's touching Waterloo. This "songtest" was such a great idea. I see Rufus Wainwright doing an album of Eurovision covers.

  • Comment number 42.

    It has to be Font.Anybody who has never heard of cliff richard gets my vote.Besides their cover version really was the best of the lot.well done.

  • Comment number 43.

    The winner has to be the guy from Afghanistan, Hashmat, he has such a soulfull voice and I would love to hear him sing in his own language.I also enjoyed the version of "congratulaltions" but Hashmat is my winner! Congrats to Newsnight for a lighthearted look at an issue that is in many people's mind at the moment. We need a bit of "cheese" every now and again to cheer us up

  • Comment number 44.

    Ya Freddy is my man! Such a smiley person in spite of his troubles. Gave the song an African twist, some energy and sense of humour. By far the most characterful performance.

    As to all the comments criticisng this competition - get a sense of fun, you people!

    I can be serious too - that's why I watch Newsnight, but I think this is a great twist on that dreaded Eurovision contest and highlights some immigrants' problems. Just because it's done with a light hearted flavour does not mean it is belittling or making fun of them!

    Well done Newsnight!

  • Comment number 45.

    I would love to see Font win and hope that they gain something from their performance.

  • Comment number 46.

    Mann Friday - definitely!

  • Comment number 47.

    So many votes for Mann Friday - I just don't get it. They were so pedestrian.

    Ya Freddy was something else - sheer brilliance.

  • Comment number 48.

    What a load of utter rubbish. Typical of the PC multicultural morons who bend over backwards to favour immigrants over native Britons. Utter crap !

  • Comment number 49.

    Another load of tiresome BBC multicultural rubbish. A complete waste of licence payers money.

  • Comment number 50.

    Doesn't limiting entries to immigrants only break harriet harman's equality laws? Can second generation immigrants enter? If not, why not...this would be discrimination !

  • Comment number 51.

    Sarah come on, lets have a French Kissing contest in Blackpool...

  • Comment number 52.

    A waste of the licence fee. No wonder we get so little quality on mainstream BBC TV channels when money is spent on tripe like this.

  • Comment number 53.

    Totally talentless performers. A waste of time.

  • Comment number 54.

    Font have got to be the winners. They made an old tiresome song sound new and fresh. Is there anyway of getting a copy.

  • Comment number 55.

    It has to be Mann Friday for me- best on show!

    Also liked the last group from Somalia.

  • Comment number 56.

    I have entered into the spirit of this contest as it is interesting in it's own right. However, as others have pointed out, it does not really belong on a serious news programme such as newsnight. Why not have an immigrant song contest as a separate entity wuth more entrants over a longer period?

  • Comment number 57.

    Immigrants pay their license fees too...! Eurovision is not meant to be taken seriously! Newsnight is blending the serious with the ridiculous....the immigrant cultural heritage with the European musical heritage! For losing your sense of humour and for pure bah humbugginess! Nil Point!
    Mann Friday to win!

  • Comment number 58.

    They allowed 2 bars of Font before cutting to the bloody weather! Jez-us!What a 'blooming' disgrace!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 59.

    I have just enjoyed the informed discussions on immigration.
    I am amazed on this very show you have an immigant only competition, for whatever reason, I know most are refugees but having showed the recent Italian contract, you then hold a competition which excludes British people from promoting their bands.
    I presume you will have a Non-Immigrant Song competition very soon to balance and bring even handedness to a delicate problem.

  • Comment number 60.

    Well done to the judges for choosing Font - now someone please get them a record deal!!!!

  • Comment number 61.

    Sandie Shaw
    Best part of the show.
    Seeing one of our national treasures and heroine.

  • Comment number 62.

    Fonts. Anyone who is prepared to give up their freedom for their music deserves to play their music freely and I really hope these guys can get to stay here for as long as they want - great version of 'Congratulations' and better than the original. Also happen to be a Radiohead fan and old enough to remember the Floyd, so was wryly amused by the adaptation of the song.
    Hows about getting a warm up spot for Thom Yorke and a campaign from Radiohead fans for an extension to their artists visa.
    Best of luck lads and hope we will hear from you again.

  • Comment number 63.

    I too am a Radiohead fan and would gladly join in a campaign to extend the guys visas

  • Comment number 64.

    Ooops! smack my hand! and apologies to the New Breed Of Rising Young that like and pander to this kind of mind numbing c**p.

  • Comment number 65.

    28. At 4:17pm on 14 May 2009, giantpaxmanfan wrote:
    It has to be the Zimbabwean band. They were really good and about the only singer in tune.

    I tend to agree. But then I have been and remain in the dark about the criteria behind everything from the selection to the judging (and selection of judges. Sandy fine, you need a performer. The other two....) from the start.

    Benny from ABBA on the Eurovision Song Contest - 'it may be a great TV spectacle, but as music it means absolutely nothing'.

    Which as this is a claimed 'homage' this may explain a lot, but not what was in the heads of the production team.

    I wish the performers well with anything they can make of this as I suspect that, with some experience, now the show's over and they got what they need in the can, the BBC will move on.

    But I'm sure 'as seen on Newsnight' will be pretty unique on the flyers around Camden.

    Now... 'Best Mail Order Bride Trainee Independent Financial Adviser' slotted into CBeebies? I'm sure you could get Robert Peston, a cashier from NatWest and Gordon Brown on as judges to offer their insights. Though the first two might not see the association as helping their professional careers.

  • Comment number 66.

    going by the number of new one post one band supporting posters i see this practical joke has attracted eurovision style voting?

  • Comment number 67.

    I'm new to blogging and all things internet chatwise, but some of the posturing seriousness around what was a light-hearted and topical way of highlighting the stories behind the struggles of immigrants really impelled me to make these remarks.
    I don't know where to go from here - I guess the next step would be to join the Radiohead official fans website or check out Font on YouTube - any suggestions?

  • Comment number 68.

    PS With regards to les Eurotrash(thrash),could'nt Andrew Lloyd Weber have saved a lot of BBC licence payers funds and just run an immigrants song contest. They were all more genuine, original and musical than the Wogan international vote bartering fest we've been subjected to for far too many years than I would care to remember.
    Would be interesting to know from Newsnight what happens to all these bands in the future and congratulations to the Newsnight team on an item aimed at engaging the young(or the young at heart at least).

  • Comment number 69.

    To all these people moaning about how only immigrants can enter this contest at the expense of British bands you are missing some obvious points: Firstly, this isn't a real or even serious contest but rather a creative angle looking at immigration in the UK today. There are no prizes and no record deals for the winner. Secondly, if you still feel so strongly about this 'non-competition', remember that most of these bands couldn't enter Eurovision if they wanted to by nature of where they come from.

    Surely you have bigger things to moan about than a bunch of musicians getting 30 seconds on television to play someone else's songs?

  • Comment number 70.

    I'm not sure that all those posting critical comments actually bothered to watch the report. I thought it was really interesting, and got over the stories of these people in an innovative and entertaining way, whilst poking a bit of fun at the cheesy institution of Eurovision.

    And R3DSKULL: "the acts struggled to perform the tacky Eurovision covers in heavy accents". And you are calling Newsnight patronising?? The acts spoke great English, and all bought their own style and character to the songs. I don't think they need you "defending" them.

  • Comment number 71.

    I really enjoyed the competition and thought it was a great alternative to the dumb eurovision thing.

  • Comment number 72.

    Font def the best! Their version of Congratulations very catchy and have found myself humming it over the last couple of days. hope the exposure from this gives them the break they obviously deserve.

  • Comment number 73.

    Where can we hear the full version of Font? Is there youtube or myspace etc? They should all be posted. Hits = £. Interesting way of addressing a much more serious issue. Certainly better than the intermidable nonsense at Eurovision.

  • Comment number 74.

    69. At 10:19am on 15 May 2009, omnisuperslinky wrote:

    "this isn't a real or even serious"

    You hit the nail on the head right there.

    Newsnight isn't serious
    Newsnight isn't real
    Newsnight has lost all credibility.

    Reminds me of when the BBC got into all that trouble in 2007. Their response was, "Hey, it's not meant to be taken seriously, it's only TV".

    If the BBC doen't even take it's own output seriously, then there's no reason why we should take the BBC seriously. No reason to have any respect for the BBC whatsoever. No reason to be forced to pay for it under the threat of prison.

    If the BBC was actually in touch with public opinion, this would have been an anti-immigration song contest with lyrics about overcrowding etc.

  • Comment number 75.

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

  • Comment number 76.

    Great programme, great idea and great result. Well done Font!


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