God kväll Helsingfors!! Took us a bloody long time to be able to say that – not because my Swedish is that bad (thank you, I won’t even try it in Finnish) no but obviously because Finland has been robbed of the victory enough in the past and it was high time the Scandinavian country played host to our favorite event. Then why ‘the new Ireland’ you ask? Patience, young Padawans, patience.
It was to be expected we’d see an impeccably organised show – we’re in Scandinavia after all and with their history of impressively organised national finals we’d settle for nothing less – and the Finns surely delivered. The video screens at the back and integrated in the stage floor provide a flexible and atmospheric stage setting – eat that, Greece. Not too sure about the construction center stage but I suppose a ‘fin’ is quite suitable in this case, and after all we’ve already had a whale tail in ’98 so what’s another fish part? The hosts do a great job and Mikko Leppilampi (best name ever) is simply yummy. Jaana Pelkonen does look slightly artificial with that concrete hairdo though, and the thing with the superfan isn’t the best idea ever. Santa Claus on the other hand simply had to be there so bonus points for that. I’m having fun!
After the awful 2006 edition I’m happy to learn Europe came to its senses – well, most of the countries anyway. I’m looking at you again, Ireland and UK! Because again you’re at the bottom of my list, what on earth were you both thinking? The Irish Dervish I can get past as I feel another singer (with a better nerve system) and better virtual wall paper could have saved this. There’s no saving the UK entry though: painful doesn’t even begin to describe it. My my, how they’ve lost the plot. I won’t go into detail, everything has been said and it’s there for everyone to see after all. Run to the emergency exit and don’t forget to blow into the mouthpiece. Now Scooch away. The other joke entries leave me stone cold as well this year: The Romanian bunch folksy sirtaki approach just annoys me, Latvia might not have meant for their local Il Divo to be a joke entry but with those outfits and nothing but synthesizer sounds it quickly became one and while I can see the joke in Verka Serduchka I can’t for the life of me see why it/she/he should have gotten silver.
Nor do I get the fuss about the winner to be honest. It’s an okay Balkan ballad, brought with a lot of passion but it doesn’t really grab me the way it seems to grab so many others. What am I missing? Marija Šerifović (or is it Marijo?) is obviously a gifted vocalist but there’s too much staged drama for me – imagine! There were a couple of other ballads in the same style that pleased me more to be honest. Like Armenia for example, which I think was visually stunning and Hayko sounded fantastic. I even have a comparable ballad in my top ten. So sorry Serbia, but I don’t agree at all with that victory.
And then there were the regular misses. Spain went for the wrong performers of an okay ethnic pop song (though the blonde one can entertain me anytime), Slovenia was lovely kitschy but took it a notch too far (The dress! The light effect!), Sweden counted on the MF effect while I’m sure nobody got what The Ark was trying to convey, Germany chose the Chicago direction but Roger Cicero failed to really dip us in the jazzy atmosphere, Greece relied on the Paparizou effect and gave us instant ethnic soup (a bit of warm water and ta-dah!) by a very doubtful ‘straight’ boy and Turkey for some reason went for the circus theme in its ethnic tune. Some bizarre choices there…
No bizarre choices in the semi though where I feel only one really should have gone thorugh to the final:
The One That Got Away: Cyprus – Comme ci comme ça
I can obviously see what’s wrong here: it’s not very believable. It feels a bit forced and that’s a shame. The French lyrics don’t really work and the combination of it all just doesn’t come across. But I still think Evridiki is a class act and I love that we finally got a bit of electro pop in the Eurovision bubble. So Cyprus it is.
But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Not complaining though, I simply love every song in my top ten – here are the points of the Dimivision jury:
1 point: Bulgaria – Water
This was at the top of my list after the semi were it benefitted hughly from opening the show as it is so different to anything else in the Contest. Now it got stuck somewhere at the end and that diminished its flabbergasting effect. But it’s so out of this world I really like it, even though you can say it’s more of a style excercise than an actual song. Loving Elitsa Todorova all the way, from her high shrieks to the weird vocal bends in the middle. Mitre le!
2 points: Russia – Song #1
Now I wouldn’t dare to call you a fanny banny, so slaaw daawn! Awful accent on those Russians and that might have done their chances more harm than those weird looking boarding school uniforms. Such an odd choice for this great pop song, it really does translate a bit weird on screen even though the lighting and the choreography are very effective. A bit more glam on Serebro would have benefitted them big time.
3 points: Lithuania – Love or leave
One of two songs in genres we hardly hear in Eurovision and it was a real shame this was right behind Hungary in the line-up as the effect was completely lost. Just4fun is a bit of an odd name with a somber tune like this but I love the simple sadness in it. Very nice presentation as well with the shadow effect but I guess in some way it was too understated (or almost far fetched) for Eurovision. Still it’s a lovely atmosphere that works for me.
4 points: Belarus – Work your magic
Koldun, Dima Koldun. With a nasal sound to top it off. Which diminishes the effect of this entry for me, a better singer (or someone with a less specific sound to put it more mildly) could probably have taken this to another level. Philip Kirkorov was clearly on an inspirational high these years (we all know what will follow in 2008) and instead of being a bad Bond pastiche this really could serve as a song featuring on 007’s soundtrack. With a bit of imagination. I like the act as well with enough movement and novelty without going overboard. Nicely dosed, this.
5 points: Bosnia-Herzegovina – Rijeka bez imena
My favorite beforehand and I still fail to see why everyone picked the other Marija above this one. Marija Šestić does a great job vocally, despite a couple of wobbely notes at the start and she’s simply stunning. I’m obviously not talking about the dress which I think is an unforgivable mistake – you’re in the land of Christmas but that doesn’t mean you have to dress up as a tree. Not too keen on the switching to the red lighting midthrough the song, a bit too in your face when it comes to getting emotions across. But I’m still in love with the beautiful melancholy in this ballad.
6 points: Hungary – Unsubstantial blues
I was completely blown away when I saw this in the semi. I disregarded this a bit beforehand but my my Magdi Rúzsa knows how to tick all of my boxes. So powerful yet so emotional: very well done. She’s flirting with the borderline of going overboard but manages to keep herself upright and by keeping things simple (this time the jeans are allowed because they fit the theme) it comes across very effectively. Loving the bus stop idea and the road visuals on the screen. Very well put together and simply beautiful.
7 points: Moldova – Fight
Well there are vocals for ya! I challenge anyone to try and get those notes – Natalia Barbu rules! Another one I disregarded before the Contest but this just jumps off the screen, especially with those effective colored visuals on the screen. Could have done without the flags but I suppose the dramatic feel doesn’t suffer from it, much unlike miss Barbu’s accent that’s very hard to overcome. But the power is overwhelming.
8 points: Georgia – Visionary dream
I am ever so happy someone dared to put some Björk influences in a Eurovision song! Sounding very much like the ’90s edition of the Icelandic elf (I hear Post everywhere) in the composition and Sopho manages to carry it quite well – those floating high notes are a real challenge and she tackles them very well. Loving her dress but the act for me, perhaps I’m to carried away by the Björk feel, could have been more daring although the sword thing doesn’t exactly bother me either. Very nice debut!!
10 points: France – L’amour à la française
This just totally cracks me up really. The Frenglish is absolutely hilarious and though I can understand it’s simply too far-fetched for three quarters of the people watching it’s actually very nifty and the entire act only makes it more absurd. I love the poppy flow here and I will give my little toe for the outfit with the cat on the shoulders. It’s nice to see the French showing some humor and I am totally in love with this. Vive Les Fatals Picards!
12 points: Finland – Leave me alone
Scoring a seventh win in my book making it, are you feeling this, my own Ireland. I am simply blown away by the guitar power in this disguised pop song, much in the style of Lordi really bar the outfits obviously. Hanna Pakarinen is one angry chick and perhaps the lack of any positivism (in both her and the song) was its downfall but for me this is just top notch. Too bad she falls away in the soundmix in the chorus but that can’t spoil the fun for me. LOVE!
A great year I must say and it gives me new courage to go to the end – almost there!!
France is running away now in the all time top 25 while Finland is claiming the bronze:
1 France 214 (1960 – 1977 – 1991)
2 Netherlands 193 (1970 – 1971 – 1993)
3 Finland 173 (1962 – 1979 – 1985 – 1988 – 1989 – 2006 – 2007)
4 Belgium 169 (1968 – 1983 – 1986 – 1990 – 2003)
5 Portugal 152 (1972 – 1998)
6 Italy 149 (1958 – 1964 – 1978 – 1992)
7 Sweden 145 (1974)
8 Norway 144 (1966 – 1982 – 2000)
9 Germany 141 (1959 – 1975)
10 United Kingdom 132 (1961 – 1965)
11 Spain 130 (1973)
12 Ireland 119 (1969 – 1980 – 1984 – 1996)
13 Israel 112 (1976)
14 Turkey 97
15 Greece 87 (1981)
16 Denmark 84 (1957 – 1963 – 2001)
17 Switzerland 80
18 Austria 59
19 Slovenia 60
20 Bosnia-Herzegovina 52
21 Croatia 49
22 Russia 45 (1994)
23 Iceland 41 (1987)
24 Cyprus 37
25 Estonia 30 (1999)
Now back to the south we go!