That’s what DR must have thought when they decided to go for Parken Stadium as the location for the 2001 edition of the Contest. Quite the remarkable decision really as it had so much impact on everything and my guess would be the Danes realised they bit off more than they could chew a bit too late in the preparation process. But that’s not the only issue with this edition…
The only thing that goes through my mind when I see the opening shot of the 2001 Contest is: what the hell were they thinking? Parken is just immense, too much so to guarantee a qualitative and entertaining musical television show as the sound is everywhere and nowhere at the same time, the atmosphere doesn’t translate to the small screen and the artists seem to struggle to try getting across as good as possible because they feel (and look) simply tiny in that giant space. The stage set-up doesn’t help at all as if offers no flexibility and is very hard to fill (and those that try look very awkward) and the lighting only works in the cases where you have a song that qualifies to fill a stadium. The set-up is too bombastic and it’s a curse for (almost) everyone on stage. Not that the presenters needed a curse to be doomed, with Natasha Crone & Søren Pilmark (better known nowadays as Dr. Death & the Toothfairy thanks to sir Wogan) rhyming their way through the evening, trying to be funny while being the absolute opposite.The only thing I’ll give the Danes credit for is the fact that everything runs very smooth, the show starts before we know it (are you reading this, Israel??) and the introduction movies are nice and short.
But it’s not only the organisation that fell short that 12th of may. Musically I am hardly ever excited with only 4 songs I still play regularly and 4 songs I don’t mind listening to when my iTunes burps them out by accident – the rest is just plain grey or plain bad. Let’s start with the latter shall we, just to get the hatred out of my system? All the way down at the bottom we stumble across Latvia, rapidly undoing the rather nice first impression they gave us in 2000 with the mess that is Too much (has Nicky French taught you nothing??) – I simply want to put that screaming backing out of her (and my) misery. Not toddling far behind are the Irish (again!!) and German attempts, both suffering from an acute lack of 21st century. At least the Norwegian dramaqueen has got a bit more entertainment on offer with the manic look in Haldor Lægreid‘s eyes – and judging by the vibrating jaw he’s from the School of Carola. His ode to Celine failed to excite me. Following Norway in the line-up on the night and in my top 23 is Israel, suffering from a lack of charm in every note and movement. The Kibbutz feeling is now officially annoying, Tal Sondak comes across like a used cars salesman and one of the backings is terribly off key and is on top of that too loud in the soundmix. Memorable, but not the way they intended.
The rest of the field that’s not in my top ten is one grey zone that I don’t feel like discussing into detail because I simply do not care at all – the one is more forgettable than the other – so I’ll do a very quick run through with oneliners. From bottom to top we’ve got Portugal (the live translation of Baunilha e chocolate), Turkey (from another planet and era), the Netherlands (looks like an exam in a theatre/musical college), Poland (should have left it to the backings), Iceland (Ronan Keating from the mental ward), Lithuania (second rate Studio 54 pastiche), Sweden (I want to slap the brunette) and the United Kingdom (cheap Mel C copy) – they all basically showed up with songs that seem like replica’s and the stage presentation for every single one of them was off. And that’s only partly due to the stage set-up by DR.
Which meanse these are the points of the Dimivision jury:
1 point: Croatia – Strings of my heart
Vocally very strong, that Vanna, but she comes across so sterile! I can imagine having given birth a couple of weeks before means your body cannot cope with choreography but at least try to have your body language communicating that you enjoy being in Copenhagen. The song’s a bit of a snooze as well, substandard pop really that floats by without being ever remarkable. Only top 10 because I didn’t feel like giving my precious point to any of the others.
2 points: Bosnia-Herzegovina – Hano
A weird experience this. All of the elements seem to work: Nino Pršeš looks like a cool guy (even though the orange outfit is highly disputable), his vocals suit the song and the song itself is quite lovely actually. But it simply does not come across well in Parken and perhaps in this setting Nino wasn’t the ideal choice to perform this lullaby. But I’ve seen a lot worse in this evening.
3 points: Estonia – Everybody
This is a nice disco song, reminding us of the days of the Four Tops, but it feels too outdated to excite me. I’m not a big fan of either of Tanel & Dave, with their comical interjections every other line. Dave looks like a used car salesman as well and Tanel seems a bit drunk but I agree that they know how to sell the song and it’s probably the engaging vibe that got them the victory – but it’s too ‘been there done that’ for me to rate it any higher.
4 points: Malta – Another summer night
I must be feeling ill, giving Malta points the second year in a row. But in this very weak year Fabrizio Faniello is endearing enough to make me not hate his substandard pop song and it’s awful presentation that feels almost Spanish. A high cruise ship factor but at least it gets through it’s three minutes without me wanting to press the ffwd button.
5 points: Spain – Dile que la quiero
Ah, señor Civera! As a fresh out-of-the-closet guy I had such a crush on this fellow and the odd glimpse on his belly button only made me go even more weak in the knees. Sure his song is thirteen-in-a-dozen Spanish pop and sure I could shoot those backing dancers – come to think of it this is quitessential Spain-@-Eurovision – but I could still stare at him all day long. Ah, men! If only he’d sung Dile que LO quiero, I’d have taken the plane to Madrid in an instant. Memories…
6 points: France – Je n’ai que mon âme
I still shrug my shoulders when I hear somebody say this is soooooo good but I admit in this field it’s one of the best, even if I think it’s too Celine for its own good. Natasha St-Pier is styled very well but comes across a bit scary with that giant mouth of hers and that stern look in her eyes when she gets to the English bit. I’ve said it before: I don’t like the mix of languages as it breaks the atmosphere for me and this one’s a prime example. The French bit sounds so poetic but when we get to English it all becomes a bit harsh. But the way miss St-Pier fills the stage all by herself (see what I did there?) is admirable and 75% of her colleagues in the field would do best to take a look at her performance to learn a thing or two.
7 points: Russia – Lady alpine blue
I seem to appreciate Russia’s peculiar view on the Contest and Peculiar this is. Is Ilia Lagutenko on acid? Well whatever he’s having I’m having as he seems to be having fun and I’m having fun as well watching him – cuckoo! Not too keen on the way he sounds but I’m simply in love with the music and the build-up of this somewhat bewildering song. But I’d rather have bewildering and intriguing than plain and boring. Oh, and I just LOVE the way Lagutenko salutes the audience at the end. Slightly brilliant all in all.
8 points: Greece – Die for you
Hello lips! I used to think Helena Paparizou was quite the anorexic type but now I realise it’s just the fault of that ill fitting top and those out-of-proportion lips that threw me off. A bit of a smile would have worked wonders for her and that might have cost her the victory as I feel this is one of the cleverest songs in the field, balancing the traditional Greek sounds and the traditional Eurovisionpop build-up very well. A bit sterile perhaps yes, but in this field one of the strongest entries nonetheless. And on a side note I think it’s funny to see Shirley Clamp making an appearance keeping in mind the MF carreer she’ll build in the years to come. Eurovision inbreeding you say? No way!
10 points: Slovenia – Energy
God how I hated her when I saw THAT outfit. My favourite beforehand and the second I saw her I knew it was not going to happen and it’s all due to how they screwed up the presentation of what is an exciting pop song. It’s hardly innovative but it keeps the, here it comes, energy going all the way through and I think the production is very clever but they could have sold it so much better!!! Ruining your chances like that is simply unforgivable and so no ‘douza’ for Nuša Derenda but I still think this is a clever pop song and one of the only ones to be able to fill the Parken stadium.
12 points: Denmark – Never ever let you go
For a long time I disregarded this but this is really the best thing on offer in 2001 – a clever little countrypopsong in a great production and a simple but effective presentation. Excellent vocals (even if I don’t really like Søren Poppe‘s colour of voice) and the atmosphere is just great. Would have made a better winner than what did win for them the year before. Yeah!
I’m glad that’s over and done with, now all I need to do is survive the even more awful 2002 edition and than we’re good again. Be prepared!
In the all time top 25 France is threatening the number 1 again and Spain manages to sneak back into the top 10 at the cost of Norway. In the battle for Best Balkan Country Slovenia overtakes Croatia and is slowly crawling towards mid table:
1 Netherlands 188 (1970 – 1971 – 1993)
2 France 183 (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 Spain 118 (1973)
11 Norway 120 (1966 – 1982 – 2000)
12 Ireland 119 (1969 – 1980 – 1984 – 1996)
13 Israel 102 (1976)
14 Denmark 83 (1957 – 1963 – 2001)
15 Greece 79 (1981)
16 Switzerland 72
17 Turkey 68
18 Austria 53
19 Slovenia 52
20 Croatia 46
21 Cyprus 37
22 Iceland 34 (1987)
23 Bosnia-Herzegovina 31
24 Russia 30 (1994)
25 Poland 24 (1997)
Right, on to 2002. I don’t wanna!