As the little Swedish Elf said in the fantastic opening sequence – the best we’ve ever gotten, certainly better than the year before and a fantastic way to kick off the new millennium. Who knew Eurovision would survive beyond Y2K!
But then again SVT has already proven to be quite skilled in organising The Event (and their own national final surpassed some actual Contests as well when it comes to organisation) and by taking it all into Globen they really stepped up the game. What a location! So impressive, live and on screen! They did it justice by giving the Contest the most modern look and feel we’ve ever witnessed – although I’m still doubting those radio controlled pillars but they did provide enough flexibility to guarantee dynamism on stage. Hosts Kattis Ahlström & Anders Lundin were a great choice – even though they come across a bit cheesy at times I love their spontaneity and quirkiness. The silly bits are a bit lame at times (although I still snickered at the Swahili bit) but I’ll forgive them. Some of the introduction movies are a bit lame as well as the link with the country is far fetched at times but the overall idea was rather clever. And that montage to honour Eurovision’s 45th anniversary is simply fab. In short: SVT has my permission to host it every year really.
Too bad we’re let down on a musical level (again!) – Eurovision’s still painfully out of touch with the World Out There and it shows, even though some countries try to bring a breath of fresh air to it all – and only succeed partially. Take opening country Israel for example: their poppy song with electronic influences was quite okay but got raped by out-of-tune vocals. Not that it mattered, the crazy bunch that was Ping Pong managed to make me smile anyway. Or the Netherlands, pimping a schlager tune and trying to sell it by going way over the top – Eurovision perhaps is a circus but there’s no need to drag a real tent into it. Or Germany, trying to repeat Guildo’s effect by putting up a loud parody only this time ending up in shouty chaos and glittery mess. Or FYROM, attempting to ride the girlband wave and failing miserably with that bunch of out-of-tune Junior Eurovision rejects (timewise impassibal I know but you catch my drift). Or Estonia with their cute little song that’s degraded by a very weak performance – rabbit in the headlights, anyone?
Rather have those than the out of date and/or irrelevant crap we got from some other countries. Absolute worst was Ireland with that weak Love Shine A Light replica by a Johnny Logan wannabe. Not that our own Born Again Christian Bitch was any better – her weakly sung gospely entry was downright shameful. Others I find out of date and out of place are United Kingdom (that’s one unlucky title), Iceland (been there, done that), Spain (such a snooze), Switzerland (Romina revisited), Finland (I agree Anna Eriksson in the national final didn’t do swell but Oot Voimani Mun was at least exciting compared to this bore) and… Denmark. I still don’t see what the fuss is about. It’s got a nice flow, yes, and it’s crafted well but it fails to excite me. And the grey one sounds like a goat. I was disappointed when it won.
So on to the top ten in this rather average year – these are the points of the Dimivision jury:
1 point: France – On aura le ciel
Tying with Estonia actually but I have a soft spot for this one – call it my French little toe that can’t stop tapping along to the merry chorus. I love the lyrics in the poetic French language and even though it’s a bit too sweet I had this down as one of the favourites before the Contest. Pity Sofia Mestari ended up being too shy/nervous to sell the song the way it could/should’ve been but it’s still suave enough to capture my attention. Ow, and I want to tape Left Backing’s shoes to the floor so she doesn’t kick that high up. Or am I just being too Monica now?
2 points: Sweden – When spirits are calling my name
Such dynamite in the studio version and then it bombs live – watch me cry. I love this actually but I simply cannot stand the native wailing, something which was done much better/more fitting to the entire concept in the studio version. Roger Pontare does manage to summarize his fascination with all things native (Swedish or abroad) in a very clever way in this powerful song and he himself is vocally very strong. Shame he messed up the lyrics in English, should’ve stuck with Swedish!
3 points: Latvia – My Star
Such a beautiful, touching and above all relevant song and it’s butchered in such an unsightful manner – I could cry. Yes, Renārs Kaupers has got an undeniable boyish charm but he’s so nervous it gets the better of him. It almost sounds unrehearsed and it really ruins the magic for me – next to those godawful football shirts of course. Shame shame shame.
4 points: Cyprus – Nomiza
Arty farty yes, but a lack of drama was never the issue for the Greeks and their neighbours on Cyprus. I like the concept and it all fits well, except for that odd choice to add Italian to the mix. Why? Can’t have been political thinking as Italy’s sadly no longer among the participants. The combination of both languages doesn’t work for me and diminishes the charm. Luckily there’s Alex Panayi, whom I’ll gladly pick up to put in my pocket.
5 points: Croatia – Kada zaspu andeli
Why oh why would you go and change the title from Ostani, the most repeated word in the song and thus something Europe might remember, into Kada zaspu andeli? Very bad marketing I say. Or should I leave my work hat at work? I like this anyhow, inspite of Goran Karan‘s ’80s look even Jon Bon Jovi would deem not done. The rumba sway of it all sweeps me away and I catch myself singing it regularly still. And I like the thing with the bag – simple but effective ideas, those Croatians!
6 points: Austria – All to you
Hairspray’s back! Starring Whoopi’s sister and two other foodloving women who’re blessed with great voices that aren’t helped by the lack of quality in sound – not the first ones in the Contest, mind. The solo parts are a bit dowdy but once the harmonies kick in it’s a real shaker – me likey. The visual presentation however is a disaster – the dresses are okay but the virtual surrounding is a mess and there’s no real concept to grasp. Could’ve come across a whole lot better with some tweaking. But I wouldn’t mind partying in Vienna with them.
7 points: Malta – Desire
All hail and hurray for malta finally scores some points – may they savour it for a while because this is the exception to the rule! But how can I not love this? The song isn’t genius or even remarkable at all and Claudette Pace isn’t the best singer in the world but it’s all so charming and well sold – it all comes together brilliantly. Cheesy yes, but I love a bit of cheese now and again. But don’t go and overcheese it now, Malta! (Who am I kidding really?)
8 points: Turkey – Yorgunum anla
Istanbul meets Paris in this atmospheric song that puts the accordeon to very effective use. I love the atmosphere in this and even though Pinar Ayhan sounds a bit stressed now and again she does a great job. A bit of a specific sound perhaps, yes, but it all offers more quality than half of the rest of the field put together.
10 points: Russia – Solo
Britney’s Russian niece takes to the stage and looks amazing! Everything fits the idea perfectly: the pop princess with the most modern song in ages, simple but effective moody staging and dancers that reinforce rather than disturb the performance – too bad Alsou’s vocals are shaky at best! Such! A! Pity! But it all looks and sounds gorgeous and it should have won by miles and miles. Would have done the Contest a world of good I say (it’s always best to do these things in hindsight, you know…).
12 points: Norway – My heart goes boom
Before you get all worked up: I realise what’s wrong with this. Believe me I do. This kind of schlagertastic girlpop belongs in ESC as much as the others that are way down at the bottom of my list and yet I can’t help but love this – it makes me cheery every time I hear it, no matter how disappointing the live performance may have been. The homemade outfits were all over the place (though I love the colours), as were the vocals at times. And the lyrics. And everything else really. Chaos with a twist and I adore it – makes me lose my mind and popsicle! Now off to the hairdresser to copy Hanne Kristine Haugsand!
Over to the all time top 25 then, where Norway manages to charm its way into the top 10. And while Turkey gets ready to play with the big boys we see the first glimpse of Russia, at the expense of Estonia. So exciting! …
1 Netherlands 188 (1970 – 1971 – 1993)
2 France 177 (1960 – 1977 – 1991)
3 Belgium 157 (1968 – 1983 – 1986-1990)
4 Italy 149 (1958 – 1964 – 1978 – 1992)
5 Portugal 148 (1972 – 1998)
6 Finland 147 (1962 – 1979 – 1985 – 1988 – 1989)
7 Germany 134 (1959 – 1975)
8 United Kingdom 132 (1961 – 1965)
9 Sweden 124 (1974)
10 Norway 120 (1966 – 1982 – 2000)
11 Ireland 119 (1969 – 1980 – 1984 – 1996)
12 Spain 118 (1973)
13 Israel 102 (1976)
14 Switzerland 72
15 Denmark 71 (1957 – 1963)
16 Greece 71 (1981)
17 Turkey 68
18 Austria 53
19 Croatia 45
20 Slovenia 42
21 Cyprus 37
22 Iceland 34 (1987)
23 Bosnia-Herzegovina 29
24 Poland 24 (1997)
25 Russia 23 (1994)
Hejdå, Sverige! Hej på dig, Danmark!