ello there, and welcome to Stylus’ review of the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest, which took place just over a week ago in Athens, Greece. 37 nations from across Europe Plus Also Israel submitted songs for this year’s competition, and after a live televised semi-final-cum-pre-qualifier-cum-qualifier type affair, 24 remained for the Grand Final on Saturday. These consisted of ten songs that qualified from the semi-final, ten songs that qualified by virtue of their nation having finished in the top 10 of last year’s competition, and the ��Big Four’ of Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Spain, who qualify automatically every time by virtue of being the four major financial contributors to the European Broadcasting Union.
Did that make sense? Good, cos now I’m going to explain the scoring system!
The final consists of performances of the 24 remaining songs, following which viewers in each of the 37 participating nations, along with Serbia & Montenegro (who were a late withdrawal), vote for their favourite. These votes are then tallied up and each country awards points to their ten favourite songs on the following scale:
12 (the song that accrues the most votes)
And after they’ve been round all 37 countries, the song that scores the most points wins and the winning nation gets to host the whole shebang next year.
This is the third time Stylus has put together a review of the final—our previous efforts can be found here and here. Once again, we have assembled a crack team of enthusiasts, commentators, and people who were free that weekend to give you their thoughts on the action as it unfolded. They’ve also given points to their favourite ten songs using the scale detailed above, thus forming the ��Stylus Score’ that you’ll see underneath each entry.
So now, without further ado: take it away, Mr. Forrester…
Iain Forrester: Turning on slightly early means seeing the end of the National Lottery, which is invaded by Fathers4Justice, leading to some near heroic time-filling while they go off air and ensuring that nothing in Eurovision can be the biggest farce of the evening on the BBC.
Doug Robertson: Feel the Rhythm, reads the titles. Which isn’t a hugely inspiring start unless you’re desperately hoping for a night made up of nineties style dance.
Edward Oculicz: There are Eurovision drinking games, but have you tried the Stylus Eurovision article drinking game? Take a sip any time a writer bemoans the lack of Kate Ryan or Silvia Night.
Adem Ali: Firstly, Kate Ryan and Silvia Night—you are both already being TERRIBLY missed. Second of all, the opening act is terrible. This woman’s voice, surely it's all quite a big joke, right?
Doug Robertson: A woman in a spangly dress sings piercingly high as people cling precariously to a gold ball suspended from the ceiling while girls dressed as dolphins somersault across the stage. It’s either Eurovision or the Beeb are broadcasting an episode of the Mighty Boosh by mistake.
Peter Parrish: Apparently the mythical ocean world is being awoken through siren-song. Quite where the massive, audience-threatening bauble supernova fits into all of this, I’m not sure.
Jessica Popper: The beginning is "amazing" (Terry Wogan's word of the night) with some cleverly made dolphin costumes and last year's winner, Helena Paparizou, singing “No. 1.”
Doug Robertson: As she’s not having to compete this year she’s decided not to bother singing live. She’s also decided not to bother learning how to mime convincingly.
Peter Parrish: This really does beat the shit out of any World Cup opening ceremony.
Doug Robertson: And now, flying in on uncomfortable looking wires that must pinch awfully, it’s… can it be? Can it really, truly be? Yes! It is! It’s Will and Grace! Or Maria and Sakis as they’re calling themselves for the evening. Must be a union thing. For the record, Grace is dressed as a canary, while Will has borrowed one of Gareth Gates’ old suits.
Peter Parrish: The caped water nymphs are still undulating in the background, rather like an unwanted plumbing error.
Edward Oculicz: I cannot understand a word that Sakis is saying. I understand his co-host all-too-well. She might as well have a gigantic flashing neon sign saying “I am one annoying Yank-voiced bint.”
Jonathan Bradley: Terry Wogan wants to pack up and go home, he says. Really? Ah… no, no such luck.
Six4One – If We All Give a Little
Edward Oculicz: Written by Ralph Siegel, who’s penned winners and low-scoring daft treats aplenty. This is neither.
Jonathan Bradley: I wish six4one had superpowers. They look like a team of spunky superheroes. But instead they sound like Michael Jackson’s “Heal the World,” which I believe has been scientifically proven to be the exact moment Michael Jackson lost any relevance.
Jessica Popper: I give them extra points for having a member of Alcazar in their midst, the closest Alexander Bard has got to being there himself, and Andreas was always my favourite as well. The idea is clever, having singers from six different European nations singing together, but the song is a little lacklustre and giving them all such different costumes may be aimed to show the variety of European fashion, but surely at least matching the colours would look much better?
Diego Valladolid: They're apparently asking for one or two points from each country, to spare them the embarrassment the song surely deserves. I would have liked the song better if it was sung by actual Swiss Bankers.
Adem Ali: What a brilliant start.
Arsenium ft. Natalia Gordienko - Loca
Edward Oculicz: One of the members of O-Zone that isn’t Dan Balan and some bird nobody knows and a song nobody wants to hear.
Jessica Popper: My dad immediately gives this 12 points, since he once spent a few months in Moldova organising their public transport.
Doug Robertson: Like Bucks Fizz, Moldova reckon that the road to victory is paved with discarded items of women’s clothing. Though they, at least, are slightly more decorous, allowing the girl to go behind a screen to change, rather than having her skirt roughly whipped off by the ever smiling and slightly scary Bobby Gee.
Diego Valladolid: I surely expected better from Arsenium, after his awesome Kalinka-sampling "Love Me Love Me", and of course his O-Zone years. Yet as a Spaniard I'm enjoying the cheap thrill of checking the Spanish words they use for a "summer jam" vibe. Not a bad song, but the performance wasn't very convincing.
Iain Forrester: Moldova’s entry is a slinkily ridiculous thing but totally overshadowed by the guy arriving for his rap on a micro scooter, which even manages to beat the underwear-clad woman singing for distraction. Who exactly though that he would look cool?
Jonathan Bradley: Well… it was better than Switzerland.
Eddie Butler – Ze Hazman
Iain Forrester: Israel go for horribly earnest soul and white suits, plus, argh, more screeching. Don’t let this be a theme.
Edward Oculicz: In possibly one of the least inspiring Eurovisions ever, this stands out as being particularly unworthy beyond being faintly annoying.
Jonathan Bradley: Oh, man, dude is lying on a piano! I think he bought those “Luther Vandross’s Guide to Being a Super Sexy R&B; Stud in 28 Days or Your Money Back!” DVDs that the Shopping Network was advertising. He’s sure taken the advice to heart, because he’s wearing a great suit and mugging like he’s actually singing an awesome song. I almost believe this is a great ballad! It picks up a bit toward the end, at least.
Peter Parrish: “Together, we are one.” See Palestine, there’s hope yet.
Cosmos – I Hear Your Heart
Peter Parrish: And now, six waiters from “Chez Foptacular” will perform an acapella Boyzone impression.
Doug Robertson: They dance like men who’ve never heard music before and, given what they’re performing, you could quite easily believe that to be true.
Jonathan Bradley: Their dancing is wonderfully unenthusiastic, and the jazzy R&B; is a lot of fun. And they have a robot? Ah, yes, that was their science fair project.
Jessica Popper: I covered my ears and my dad walked out in protest, but they did at least provide amusement and amazement at what they seem to consider high-tech: their robot had less technology in it than Pinocchio!
Adem Ali: These crazy Latvian's have solved the problem many pop acts face in their time out in the spotlight. If only those slack cows from The Spice Girls had thought of that when Geri pissed off.
Edward Oculicz: Hands-down the most technically proficient and impressive entry for some time—such a fluid translation from the six-part harmonising to the human percussion sections. Unfortunately, I’m betting absolutely nobody could remember a single line or melody from it—no structure, no tune, no point.
Christine Guldbrandsen - Alvedansen
Doug Robertson: Six blonde girls, all in white nighties, looking like some sort of scary, intimidating gang. Fortunately it seems they’ve spent too much time listening to Clannad to actually bother going out and beating people up.
Jonathan Bradley: Norway decides to send out an army of Snow Princesses to create an aural blizzard throughout the Eurodome. There’s a load of icy sounds and before long, I cannot see anything distinguishable about the performance at all, which is what happens in a real blizzard.
Edward Oculicz: The only way I can see that this won the Norwegian pre-selection is that Christine Guldbrandsen is really, really pretty. She has a nice voice too, to be fair, but I’d like to hear it do something other than go “haaa yaaah haaa haaa yaaah”.
Iain Forrester: Norway sing over the rhythm from Starsailor’s “Good Souls” for some reason. Where have all the great songs gone this year?
Las Ketchup – Bloody Mary
Doug Robertson: You know, if you ignore the actual singing, this is actually really good.
Peter Parrish: Welcome to THE DEVIL’S SALON. Las Ketchup are getting their hair chopped by fetishistic ballet dancers with motor neuron problems. And singing about it. I like it, but are the voting public ready for such a complex narrative?
Iain Forrester: It’s nice to have a colour other than white on stage, for a start. “Dutifree!’ they sing gleefully, and the whole thing seems to be trying to conjure up a feeling of immense luxury which of course fits nicely with their, er, office chairs.
Diego Valladolid: Strange that this kind of Spanish pop, like last year's "Brujeria," nowadays can only be heard in a contest that insists on ignoring it.
Edward Oculicz: Latvia managed six-part harmonies in tune, Spain can’t even get it right with one of them singing. And the song itself is sub-par, neither nagging nor catchy and it’s too damn slow to get the blood pumping and the legs dancing and I thought that was the point of sending songs that aren’t ballads.
Fabrizio Faniello – I Do
Jonathan Bradley: “There’s an old drum machine, and he’s a man with serious eyebrows.” I should just quote Terry for the rest of this. Even if his quotes are entirely erroneous—I’m not seeing anyone with eyebrows worth being rated “serious.”
Adem Ali: Sitting with 2 people whose favourite artists all choked and died on their own vomit whilst this song plays may not actually be a good idea, especially since I'm raving on about how great it is. Europop, nice, simple, and easy on the ears.
Jessica Popper: Malta have brought us some reasonable entries in the past few years and always make a big effort, my favourite being the sickly sweet duet of Julie and Ludwig in 2004, but their tastes are so cheesy that they just can't seem to appeal to the rest of Europe.
Edward Oculicz: Fab, a Eurovision veteran from a few years ago (2001’s “Another Summer Night,” which was miles better than this), admitted in his press conference that a few of his notes were off. Just a few?
Peter Parrish: It was bold of Zorro to enter a song without wearing his mask. Alas, he’s so bad at singing that he needs a chum to stand uneasily offstage and give him a hand on the mic. It doesn’t really seem to help.
Jonathan Bradley: Europe, what has happened to you? I’m crossing my fingers for Art Brut to come up next: “Look at us! We’re Playing Eurovision!”
Texas Lightning – No No Never
Jonathan Bradley: Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Even better than Art Brut! Germany is doing country!
Adem Ali: Ladies and Gentlemen, song of the contest. And an Aussie lass fronting no less! Who would have thought a sweet, tender, and downright charming Country number would find its way onto this year’s stage? Breathtaking. She could have done a bit more dancing though.
Doug Robertson: That double bass player is so going to spin his instrument before this song is out.
Edward Oculicz: A classic case of the fan favourite that never fires. Those that love it, and I count myself among them, are those that have heard it a number of times, where its limited ambition and sweetly-delivered melody can find easy purchase in the brain. But the average Eurovision watcher hears it for the first time and wonders, “Why bother?”
Jessica Popper: This is one of my favourites, although I only heard it in full for the first time this morning. I've been listening to it ever since and it's definitely by far the best entry by the "big 4" this year and the best by Germany in ages, the last 3 being Gracia, Max and Lou—each that little bit more horrific.
Iain Forrester: They all look like they’re having a great time, they have a great song and their singer gets it near enough right, not overdoing anything til the big ending demands it. Plus everyone knows that pedal steel guitar is the best instrument ever, right?
Sidsel Ben Semmane – Twist of Love
Jonathan Bradley: Terry warns us we’ve got Danish jailbait coming up. And, oh, god, the jailbait is fucking scary.
Adem Ali: Oh DEAR. You would think she would have at least attempted to keep her voice in key and maybe, just maybe, try and make it sound SOMETHING like the studio version, surely?
Edward Oculicz: A much more energetic song than the vaguely-ballpark German entry, and comes off badly coming after it. Sidsel’s vocals are absolutely awful, and she actually sounds actively annoying at the same time. It’s a pity, because this is the kind of feel-good, catchy number that could have picked up the votes of those old enough to remember the kind of song its lovingly pastiching. Or was, before Sidsel massacred it…
Peter Parrish: I was busy writing this off as utterly unmemorable, sub-50s jukebox pap ... but then an excitable gentleman slid along the stage on his knees, mimed a solo on a bright red guitar and started breakdancing. Tune redeemed!
Diego Valladolid: I'm one of those vapid Eurovision fans that tend to mistrust rock music in the contest but I'm enjoying this Suzy Quatro-esque song. The girl seems to be enjoying herself a lot, which is good to see. Plus handclaps. And bonus points for having a dancer ending the performance in a stupid posture.
Doug Robertson: “He doesn’t know how to twist,” and nor does anyone else on that stage, it seems.
Dima Bilan – Never Gonna Let You Go
Diego Valladolid: Mr. Dima Bilan sings and dances like he has ice cubes in his underwear.
Edward Oculicz: I follow the European charts for fun. Last year, I noticed that the Russians be loving some Rob Thomas. Whoever wrote this song certainly did, but it doesn’t have the breathtakingly arrogant, complex arrangement to elevate it. It’s still rather decent, and take away the mullet and I probably would.
Doug Robertson: He could have dressed up a bit. This is going to be on telly, after all. And shaved properly, for that matter.
Adem Ali: I cannot stop staring at Dima Bilan's general prettiness. The Mullet can go, but, in all honesty, it's something I could learn to work with.
Jonathan Bradley: I wish t.A.T.u was representing Russia tonight. t.A.T.u would have given this ten times the sass and about a hundred times the amount of badass righteousness. Eurovision has had a serious deficiency in badass righteousness this year.
Jessica Popper: This is good quality pop and will surely go on be a big hit across Eastern Europe however well it does tonight, and then he'll have to do some more English singles! And maybe if he makes lots of money he'll be able to afford a stylist who can persuade him to get rid of the ridiculous hair.
Doug Robertson: Argh! There’s a dead person inside the piano! What carnival of horrors is this year’s contest? We’re only 10 songs in and already we’ve had possessed books, piano zombies, mullets, country music, etc. What fresh horrors await us?
Peter Parrish: There are impenetrably arty antics at work here, as a pure white (of course) entity bursts forth from an equally pristine grand piano in a shower of bloody petals. If the frontman only had the decency to dress like Dracula, this could be a closet goth entry.
Elena Risteska - Ninanajna
Doug Robertson: Represented by Wonder Woman. Which is nice.
Peter Parrish: Wait wait wait. An “ooh oooh” AND a “na-na-nee, na-na-naa”, some shamefully eccentric dancing and a twelve point bosom—we have our winner. Call the rest off, it’s all over.
Edward Oculicz: A very good-looking woman performing a very bad song. Maybe only semi-final countries should vote in the semi-finals, and then this sort of thing wouldn’t make it through, as Macedonia’s always got the weakest song of the ex-Yugoslav republics (although they always do better than Slovenia, who should have been in the final, definitely) but gets in on neighbourly voting, and then falls flat in the final count.
Jonathan Bradley: This track is good on the basis that it sounds like a bunch of Destiny’s Child tracks mashed into that European style of white bread pop: extra cheese and boring beats. But they can’t clean out all the Bootylicious chug hiding in the background. There was potential there somewhere.
Diego Valladolid: It does the "give the public what they want" thing, via the singer slapping the dancer again and again.
Mihai Traistariu - Tornero
Jonathan Bradley: Lacking in ABBA clones this year, Romania go with the other default Eurovision performance: mind-numbing trance. Either way, it’s shit and I’m not going to reward average.
Peter Parrish: The underwhelming use of dry ice is just awful; it’s barely covering the floor! That’s not mysterious, it just suggests the act have something to hide about their feet.
Edward Oculicz: With no Belgium, this is comfortably the best song on the night. Sounding like the kind of tacky trance remix beloved of, say, Lightforce, and their ilk, and bearing more than a passing similarity to last year’s nearly-winner “Let Me Try,” this is a great Eurovision moment.
Iain Forrester: Romania have a genuinely amazing singer and know it—the first properly dancey backing largely makes do with keeping out of his way and just letting him soar, and it totally works.
Jessica Popper: It's much more typically Europop than the ethnic songs or the ballads and Mihai and his dancing pals certainly put some welly into it. This has to do well! I don't know any of the words except "Tornero" but I'm still singing along somehow, so that must be a good sign.
Peter Parrish: Meanwhile, a man spins rapidly on his head in the centre of a trilogy of platforms. For no discernible reason.
Hari Mata Hari - Lejla
Diego Valladolid: Ladies & gentleman: the CSI: Bosnia casting!!!
Peter Parrish: Everyone’s in white AGAIN, though the multi-instrumental backing gang are moping around like it’s a funeral. Whatever is actually going on, it all feels quite tender and sad. I guess Layla is dead, or something.
Jessica Popper: This song is so boring that in the semi-final it quite literally sent my mum to sleep. I knew it was going to do well though, as it reminded me of that awful yet inexplicably popular Macedonian entry from 2004 by a guy called something like Toes, and I think it's going to continue to do well tonight—a possible winner.
Adem Ali: My parents are Bosnian, and I have grown up listening to Hari Mata Hari for most of my life. Amazing songs, always of the finest quality, and this is absolutely no exception. It really does help you identify with the song when you can understand what they're on about, so I guess my emotional connection with this was always going to be quite strong. It’s an extremely tender and spellbinding ballad that has managed to bring a tear to, not only my mother’s eye, but mine as well; with time to spare before the song’s end.
Iain Forrester: Bosnia arse around for absolutely ages before getting to the actual song and then it’s rubbish anyway. The twinkling lights behind them are way prettier than the laboured ballad they come out with. In fact, it’s probably the most objectionable entry so far, even ahead of Latvia!
Edward Oculicz: An immaculately arranged, lovingly staged, and beautifully performed ballad. Haunting and genuinely timeless. Good even before the emotional climax, and then, fantastic.
Jonathan Bradley: Terry thinks this will go close to winning. What? My tastes are even further from those of middle Europe than I thought possible.
LT United – We Are the Winners
Adem Ali: God help us all.
Peter Parrish: This is superb, it’s the song Josef Goebbels would have written ... uh, had he renounced his evil Nazi ways and retired into a lucrative songwriting career. A bold statement of victory, combined with chanted instructions to make their ambitious prophecy come to pass.
Edward Oculicz: A playground chant, minus the nagging taunt that makes us pay attention. Runs out of song about 20 seconds in, kind of like the Swiss entry from two years ago except that actually came last, and this seems to be found entertaining by the audience. Pillocks.
Iain Forrester: Making me laugh the entire way through is always a good thing, and just when things couldn’t possibly get any more ridiculous they bring out a megaphone!
Doug Robertson: This is always a good sign. As is having a bald man dancing madly to an electric fiddler.
Diego Valladolid: There's the slight feeling of "we're too good for Eurovision," that's beginning to be kinda common in the contest, isn't it? Unlike Iceland's entry, though, this has a redeeming love for Eurovision novelty—it sounds like The Glitter Band vía Huey Lewis & The News or something like that, the kind of idea that's hard to find anywhere else these days. I wonder if the public's audible disapprobation means that people dislike meta-Eurovision songs, or if they're going along with the joke, or if they just happen to hate the guys. Would Pay TV's "Refrain, Refrain" have been received in the same way?
Jonathan Bradley: These guys are the Lithuanian Slim Shady. They’re stirring shit up and they just don’t give a fuck.
Daz Sampson – Teenage Life
Jonathan Bradley: This is great! Look! British skanks!
Doug Robertson: Daz, in no way looking like a perv, has been hiding behind a blackboard while school girls dance for him.
Iain Forrester: Daz Sampson has to overcome his song sounding vaguely reminiscent of “Where Is The Love,” one of the worst songs ever, but manages it in the end.
Edward Oculicz:The more the punters get excited, the harder they get slapped in the faces. But they should have known—“Teenage Life” is an absolute stinker, and if it’s the best they’ve sent in a while, it’s only because, frankly, Gemini, James Fox, and Javine all had terrible songs. This isn’t a patch on 2002’s “Come Back.” The UK does badly because it sends songs that even UK single buyers don’t like that much.
Jessica Popper: When I found out the finalists for this year's UK selection show, I was severely annoyed. After two years of sending nice pop songs that may not have brought Eurovision home to the UK (but at least wouldn't make us the laughing stock of the entire continent), we had a choice of various pop losers or the man behind some of the worst ("Rhinestone Cowboy," the Barndance Boys) and best (well, just "Kung Fu Fighting") novelty songs of recent years. The latter was chosen and here he is terrorising all of Europe with his sleazy yet annoyingly catchy entry. I still prefer Javine personally, but if we want a chance of winning we'll definitely have more of one if we carry on with individual, unusual songs like this. They just need to be good as well.
Adem Ali: You win some, you lose some. And there'll be no winning for the UK once again tonight.
Iain Forrester: He finishes by asking people to “vote for the music!”, which does make you wonder why he is surrounded by girls in school uniform.
Anna Vissi - Everything
Diego Valladolid: The TVE presenter mentions that this is the only artist to be completely alone on stage. There was supposed to be a ensemble of more than 50 musicians, but in the last minute they all happened to be allergic to stage smoke.
Doug Robertson: The stage is covered with enough dry ice to cause breathing difficulties for mice, small dogs, and anyone under five feet tall.
Jonathan Bradley: Greece is the home nation, and since I’m sure they command most of the crowd in the EuroDome this year, they can get away with smoke machines, dull balladry, and a horrible peasant blouse. Mystifyingly, it picks up some KISS-esque arena metal guitar in the crescendo.
Jessica Popper: There's nothing wrong with the song, although there's nothing particularly right with it either, but the melodramatic way Anna performs it, as though it's her last desperate plea to save the world from aliens or something, just makes the whole thing ridiculous. I don't think Greece will be “doing an Ireland.”
Adem Ali: Oh, I love Anna Vissi. I'm a bit one eyed when it comes to her, so even though her performance is a tiny bit off tonight, I still think this is one of the better songs in the contest. Plus, her diva theatrics towards the end, slamming herself onto her knees on the stage, flashy things exploding on stage... truly breathtaking.
Edward Oculicz: She doesn’t have the technical chops for it, and she actually sounds pleased, even though her performance was, frankly, terrible. Where the song climaxed, she merely shrieked over it and killed the drama in favour of needless histrionics. Guess the monitor problems weren’t a deliberate ploy by the hosts, then.
Lordi – Hard Rock Hallelujah
Jonathan Bradley: Here’s why Norway didn’t bring the metal: they gave their Satan-worshippers to Finland, who turned them into awe-inspiring behemoth trolls.
Diego Valladolid: The TVE presenter insists in telling us that "they're actually very nice people" and not fetus-eating Satanists. Bubblegum heavy-metal acts should be an accepted Eurovision feature nowadays, but both fans and detractors insist on making them the antagonist of the contest. Whatever.
Doug Robertson: And doesn’t he look cute in his little Finland hat.
Adem Ali: Surely there is a BETTER Metal act in Finland than Lordi? One of my metal loving friends sitting with me advises me that, yes, indeed there is. In fact, I know that there is because he always plays me Finnish Metal and I’ve been known to enjoy a minute or even two of it. Even he's unimpressed.
Jessica Popper: I just don't want the poptasticness of Eurovision to be lost, because above all the fun and games, that's what it's all about for me—one night a year you get 24 performances of Europop music on prime time TV, which for someone of my persuasion is absolute heaven! Don't steal it Lordi, or I'll beat you up. Those silly masks don't scare me!
Jonathan Bradley: The lead dude has wings that expand as he growls. I have a feeling this is what it was like when people first saw David Byrne’s inflating suit in “Stop Making Sense.”
Edward Oculicz: Finnish metal is good because it is hard, keenly melodic and heart-racing. This is sludgy drivel. Mr. Lordi’s hat was excellent, though.
Tina Karol – Show Me Your Love
Peter Parrish: Wait a second, Denmark have stolen Spain’s outfits and re-entered under the guise of Ukraine. Somebody stop them, this shameful deceit must not succeed!
Diego Valladolid: There's something to putting words like "red army" and "dancers" together. I worked for the Spanish army for a while and it was filled with middle-aged generals having problems with their Lotus Notes accounts. The Ukraine army is so different, so appealing. They sing and dance and play jump rope to a reaggeton-ish beat.
Doug Robertson: It’s Charlotte Church, and blimey! That’s some dress.
Edward Oculicz: This must be why Ukrainian women are often trafficked as brides for foreigners.
Iain Forrester: After a very slow start there are now almost too many great entries to keep track of, although their long held note in the middle while the dancers disappear is pushing things just a little far.
Jessica Popper: While everyone else is either doing variations of Elena Paparizou or attempting to find the next theme of Eurovision, the Ukrainians are hanging onto Ruslana, this time providing a mixture of her and Shakira. It's not entirely lacking in catchiness, but Tina's voice is a bit grating—she's nothing on the actual Shakira or Ruslana. Also, I was very disappointed when Terry announced "Dina Caroll" and we got her distant Ukrainian cousin instead. I quite liked “Don't Be a Stranger.”
Doug Robertson: Shame that, apart from the middle eight, the song appears to be the same 15 seconds repeated over and over again. But it does end with some tambourine action, so it can have an extra point for that.
Virginie Pouchin – Il Était Temps
Doug Robertson: It’s Charlotte Church! Again! She’s a busy girl, and has obviously tired herself out a tad with her somewhat energetic performance for the Ukraine, hence this rather more low-key appearance, which has all the excitement of trying to rewind a video by hand.
Peter Parrish: Unlike the rest of those English-pandering lackeys, France valiantly plough ahead in their own language. That’s where the plaudits end.
Jonathan Bradley: The guitar sounds like Green Day’s “Good Riddance,” but Miss France is doing the same Eurovision singing that pretty much everyone else has been doing all night. Not that I was expecting her to bust out a Billie Joe Armstrong impression. But even a Billie Piper impression would have been good.
Jessica Popper: It's a stereotype that France has the most boring music industry in Europe, and having visited Italy I can say that this is untrue, yet they have yet to prove it in Eurovision. Where's Alizée when you need her? Couldn't Myléne Farmer give them something she didn't need on her latest album? Even her cast-offs would be better than this.
Edward Oculicz: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a singer on the Eurovision stage look as petrified as this. Any notes she hits seem to be accidental, which is a pity because the strings are very pretty and there’s a lovely little song struggling to get out here. Not interesting, but passable, but beyond the performance being a car crash, nothing to see here.
Diego Valladolid: The title means "bathroom time."
Severina – Moja Štikla
Peter Parrish: Now this is just slapdash. You can’t expect to get by with funny national costumes and shouting in these cut-throat days of modern Eurovision.
Edward Oculicz: The chorus, with the chanted “hay-a-hay-a” is possibly the catchiest thing in the entire contest. The rest of it’s a bit of a shambles, but, crucially, it’s a loveable kind of shambolic spectacle. Severina’s songs often have a keen sense of national identity running through them (a single of hers last year translated as “Croatian Girl”), but to hear her shouty-man backing vocalists getting all excited about high heels has a preposterous charm to it.
Jessica Popper: This is a bit similar to Hungary's entry from last year, but that had some sense of madness about it making it quite brilliant. You could even sing along if you listened to it enough times, but this just doesn't do it for me. It was fun to watch but I'd forgotten the tune moments later.
Adem Ali: This was always going to go down a treat at my house. Not only can we understand what the delightful Severina is singing, but she's extremely energetic, and musically, has borrowed heavily from old Croatian AND Serbian folk sounds, and turned it into a classy pop song. It almost erases the fact she has a home-job sex video with a (then) married man.
Brian Kennedy – Every Song Is a Cry for Love
Diego Valladolid: Faux-bathroom time.
Iain Forrester: Isn’t Ireland’s entry the exact same (boring) one that they have every year? Terry is still trying to talk up their chances though I’ll be amazed if they do well at all. Actually, maybe they don’t usually sound quite as much like “When a Child Is Born.”
Jonathan Bradley: His face expresses the pain I feel.
Jessica Popper: This is the epitome of recent Irish Eurovision entries, but credit where it's due, they seem to have managed to pick out the best bits of all those songs and created a fairly good song. Personally I preferred their hilariously awful (but oddly enjoyable) entry from last year which didn't even qualify.
Doug Robertson: He’s more horrifying to look at than Lordi, being exactly what you’d imagine Eamonn Holmes’ son to look like. It’s nice to see him roping in the bar staff from his local pub in on backing duties, though.
Edward Oculicz: Pretty much the same tired schlocky ballad the UK wishes they could still write. A lot of work has clearly gone into it, but it’s so generic as to be completely punchless and without emotional believability. It will hoover up the “Oh, that’s a nice song” vote of people who don’t like songs by the scary Easterns.
Doug Robertson: As dance routines go, kneeling down for a bit, then standing up again, doesn’t really cut it.
Carola - Invincible
Jonathan Bradley: Did she just sing, “Love is like America! Invading your heart!”? God, anyone bitching that there’s not enough politics in today’s pop music just needs to watch Eurovision.
Iain Forrester: Eurovision fatigue definitely setting in by this point and Sweden don’t help—nothing to set them apart, at least until they become horribly grating by trying way too hard (check out those ABBA pianos) and the singer is just annoying. You get the sense that they believe themselves to be better than everyone else.
Jessica Popper: It's odd that even though I think Carola is an evil robot (she's just too professional, like the singing equivalent of Bree from Desperate Housewives), I still get really excited every time I hear the word "Sweden," hear the song, and even see the colours yellow and blue, including on the Ukrainian flag, which was rather embarrassing. It was great to see Swedish pop sung live, even if it wasn't the rightful owners of the Melodifestivalen and Eurovision trophies, Bodies without Organs. Still, we did get Andreas from Alcazar as well as two more Swedish-written songs in the semi-final, plus Svelte Stockmarket (or whatever he's called) is Swedish, so the Swedes do still kind of rule the show whether they're winning or not.
Adem Ali: You know, this song was my favourite when I first heard the finalists' studio versions a while back. For some reason, however, Carola decided to sing it in English, when clearly it was far more superior when sung in her native tongue. Pity.
Edward Oculicz: A few months ago, when she performed at the 50th Anniversary Eurovision Special, and sang the divine “Främling,” I loved her. But now, I know that she’s a homophobic diva trying to cover that fact up and that her song had no business winning the Swedish qualifiers, and that she’s there because of who she is rather than the song (and that the person she is ain’t that nice), and I resent it. Just passable Swedish disco-pop, and only the weakness of this field made her sound good.
Peter Parrish: Longest dress of the evening by several hundred feet—quickly dispensed with, naturally. I’m reminded of the kind of costumes which would appear in episodes of classic Star Trek whenever they landed on a parallel universe planet where ancient Rome never fell and now controls the whole world. In 2054. With the help of lots of silver velour.
Sibel Tüzün - Superstar
Doug Robertson: It’s Glen from Pop! And latterly the Crazy Frog dancers! And he’s dancing behind a bad Madonna drag act!
Edward Oculicz: Lovely disco pastiche until the singing starts.
Jonathan Bradley: When Gwen Stefani is 80, she’s going to look like this. Fortunately, she won’t sound like this, this being Turkey’s answer to Jamiroquai.
Diego Valladolid: Slightly archaic disco song, complete with string arrangements that are trying a little too hard, which left me a little cold (does it really say "vagina superstar"?)
Andre – Without Your Love
Edward Oculicz: As the first song in the semis and the last song in the final, I gave this a lot of scrutiny, or tried to, but spent too much time trying to work out if Andre was good-looking or not.
Doug Robertson: The song’s a bit Holly Valance, while the dance routine is very Rachel Stevens, albeit with an unnecessary element of cheap cabaret magician about it
Jonathan Bradley: Arabic melodies, big swooping strings, vague hints of bondage, and yet, Andre still sees it fit to sing the track like every other Eurovision song has been sung tonight. Is this how Europeans who aren’t Lordi sing everything?
Iain Forrester: Here we were, 23 songs in and still no eastern strings! Well, Armenia know that we can’t be having with that and bring plenty of them along with some kind of black Swiss Cheese thing. Nothing new, but a thoroughly likable finish to a contest with a wider range of the weird and wonderful than ever.
Edward Oculicz: And I think that overall he is quite cute, so well done Armenia.
And so ends the performance portion of the evening. Stylus’s predicted top five, and their projected scores (calculated by taking the Stylus score, dividing it by number of contributors to the article, then multiplying by number of voting nations), are as follows:
1) Germany – 261 points
2) Lithuania – 176 points
3) Romania – 166 points
4) Denmark – 162 points
5) United Kingdom – 157 points
Yeah, I don’t recall us liking Denmark that much either. Anyway, our hosts return to announce the start of the voting, and as is traditional at Eurovision, they’ve brought a Very Special Guest along to help them…
Peter Parrish: Sakis returns in GOLD, like he’s been felt-up by King Midas. Guess what Maria thought of it all? Yes, it was amazingly amazing.
Doug Robertson: Sakis is promising us a great surprise. It’s.. it’s… it’s your gran! Oh, hang on, it’s Nana Mouskouri.
Adem Ali: Bless Nana Mouskouri for going all out and donning the same moo-moo and the same glasses she’s been wearing for the last 70 years. She should also be applauded for almost knocking not only the voting timer over, but herself as well.
Jonathan Bradley: Maria says we can’t vote for our own countries, which is rather taking all of the fun out of things. The most motivated populace should win Eurovision! I would like to see people handing Get Out The Vote leaflets on the streets of Paris and Moscow and London, and couple it with some major Bush 2000 style electoral fraud.
Once Nana and the timer have been righted, there are ten minutes for the viewers of Europe to register their votes. This time is filled by The Interval Performance, a piece of theatrical dancey gubbins that Terry Wogan will almost inevitably compare negatively to Riverdance.
Doug Robertson: It’s the half time entertainment: 4000 Years of Greek Song. This may take a while, I’m getting a drink.
Jonathan Bradley: More shitty interludes. Torches and Gregorian chants. I know there’s a lot of shit in Eurovision, but pagans in academic gowns are pushing the quality quotient way too low. Bringing out a bird woman with giant wings does nothing to improve matters. I’m going to mute the TV and listen to “Jesus Walks” until the Kanye-style set pieces get off the screen. No wait, it’s picked up a bit. The chants grow more dramatic and the pagans have been replaced by parrots. My Kanye desires are reducing. I can’t imagine Mr. West dancing with parrots.
Doug Robertson: There’s also a hell of a lot of people rising up and down on platforms for no discernible reason. I’m now watching people wearing scary papier mache masks singing and dancing. Maybe I shouldn’t have had that drink.
Peter Parrish: Confirmation at last that Greek Shadow Theatre is really fucking scary. Yes, dance my puppets, dance! I’m going to have nightmares about this section.
And so, with the gods of the performing arts sufficiently placated, we move on to the announcing of the votes—in theory, the tensest and most exciting part of the evening. In theory.
Peter Parrish: A sombre man in a suit assures us that the voting has gone smoothly. He has a laptop, so it must be true.
Jonathan Bradley: Maria flirts with the sportscaster-y guy who is running the voting. Sakis looks put out, because Maria is flirting with everyone but him, and even though they are hosting this thing together, he knows he will never have a chance with her. She even likes the Slovenian guy with her name on his shirt better than Sakis.
Doug Robertson: As they stumble over their words, fiddle awkwardly with their cards and generally stare into the middle distance like a rabbit, Will and Grace almost manage to convince the watching world that they understand what’s going on.
Iain Forrester: Only reading out the top 3 votes from each country is a bad move, as in many cases that won’t even get past the automatic neighbour votes! As seen straight away by Slovenia’s choices of Croatia and Bosnia, although an 8 for Finland is a good start for them already.
Jonathan Bradley: Everyone is giving Finland second place. Fair enough, but they’re giving the 12 points to all the worst acts. Spain? Europe is an odd, odd place. Bosnia is getting far too many votes. I can’t even remember what they did. Denmark is my favourite country so far because they voted for Finland and their act was vaguely entertaining.
Peter Parrish: Finland leap into an early lead! The judges have clearly been cowed into submission by threats of rivers of blood running through the streets of Europe. No-one wants to be raped and pillaged by a band who use that much rubber.
Doug Robertson: It’s a surprise akin to realising that your hair grows, but it may not be Britain’s year. :(
Iain Forrester: “I told you they’d be voting for this,” says Terry of Bosnia as they remain in the running thanks to Sweden, only beaten by Ireland in the ��votes::actually being any good’ ratio. Sweden also help (now their main rivals) Finland, who marvellously proceed to offer them nothing in return and pull away further in the lead.
Doug Robertson: More boos from the audience for Greece’s less than impressive scores.
Jonathan Bradley: I like the acts better in the shots of them backstage. They look like real people instead of robotic pop drones. I wonder what the Finnish guys look like clapping and cheering excitedly. Oh… there we go. Kind of like an ecstatically happy Slipknot.
Peter Parrish: The UK continue to pick up miserable 1’s and 2’s. Everyone still hates us for invading Iraq, but not enough for a universal snub. Or maybe Daz was just shit. Ireland take pity with an 8, but it feels quite condescendingly delivered.
Doug Robertson: Belgium’s scores are being read by KT Tunstall.
Iain Forrester: Belgium are staging a protest! Holding up a sign declaring their love for Kate Ryan (Belgian entry, controversially eliminated at the semi-final stage—ed.) while reading the votes, which certainly beats Fathers4Justice’s efforts.
Jonathan Bradley: The troll from Finland has a sign saying he (she? it?) hearts me. Aww. Finland is embarrassing the competition. When they win, I hope they’ll do “We Are the Winners,” because, great as trolls are, I love some smack talk. Next year, everyone will copy Finland and Eurovision will look like a giant Lord of the Rings convention.
Doug Robertson: 8 from Ireland! 3 from Malta as well! We’re on a roll! Though admittedly it’s a lot easier to roll downhill than it is to roll up it.
Edward Oculicz: And now, presenting a reason that the voting needed to be shortened; the Dutch presenter.
Peter Parrish: A confused Dutch man fills our screens with bafflement whilst Maria flees to the Green Room. Turns out he’s a bit like an excitable Martin Jol and can’t give out the scores without a few “hilarious” comments. “Give it to me now,” sighs a frustrated Sakis. Matron.
Jonathan Bradley: The Dutch guy is doing a Mike Jones thing by giving his cell phone number out. There should have been a Mike Jones type act tonight. Something like “We’re Bosnia Herzegovina (Who?) 281-330-8004! Who is Bosnia Herzegovina?” If they’d done that, I might be able to remember them and work out why they are getting so many votes.
Doug Robertson: The representative of Holland agrees with us that our hosts look like Will & Grace, but given he’s clearly an absolute idiot, I’m not sure I want to share thought processes with him.
Peter Parrish: In the Green Room, Maria emotionally batters the Irish entrants into admitting they’re excited. Eventually they crack and offer the weakest platitudes ever seen on national television.
Doug Robertson: “We’re very excited,” says Irish Bri, with all the convincing enthusiasm of someone who’s just sat through “Paint Drying: 1 Man’s 24 Hour Journey.” Or his own performance.
Jonathan Bradley: Poor Sakis. Even in the scripted DVD promo section, where Maria gives him gifts, she still makes it painfully clear that she considers him a boring tosser. This puts him in a bad mood, so he snarks to the audience “We’re not done yet.” Sorry, Sakis. It’s not our fault Maria hates you.
Edward Oculicz: Most countries in Europe send well-admired presenters and often past participants to read their votes, so often it’s fun to spot the entrant from the past. Cyprus have sent that idiot they’ve sent a number of times already, and he’s still as shit as ever.
Doug Robertson: The lovely Fearne Cotton is reading our scores. We give 12 points to Finland as Fearne gives a rock sign to camera. BR>
Iain Forrester: UK voters in getting it almost right shocker! 10 for Lithuania and 12 for Finland, although the less said about the votes for Ireland the better.
Peter Parrish: Surely none can topple Lordi’s epic lead now? They’re high above the clouds in their mountain fortress made of votes, while the other contestants mill around peasant homesteads below. Only a challenge to single combat can defeat them.
Doug Robertson: The home audience seem to have finally realised that they’re not going to do the double and are a bit less vocal about their less than impressive scores.
Peter Parrish: Israel and France have slyly snaffled some points, leaving Malta isolated in the metaphorical corner of shame on zero. Poor old Zorro.
Doug Robertson: I’ve just realised how badly Malta are doing for a song of such rare genius. What on earth is going on here tonight?
Iain Forrester: Not as harsh as the continuing lack of appreciation for Germany, though they eventually climb their way above the UK, who continue dropping.
Peter Parrish: Credit to the Germans for continuing their bizarre Elvis-as-a-cowboy theme right through to the voting stage and delivering the scores from atop a horse. It’s not as amusing as they think it is, but an admirable show of thematic persistence nonetheless.
Jonathan Bradley: Terry Wogan calls Eurovision, saying he doesn’t think Finland could be caught now that they’re on 220 points. I beat him to it, having pegged them as the winners about 100 points ago.
Edward Oculicz: The tension really has gone out of the counting this year. Not just because the outcome looks certain midway through, but also because there are so many more countries to get through, meaning that that long period where the result is known is now even longer.
Doug Robertson: Malta finally have a point! From Albania! This may be a case of too little, too late, but I’m still going to ignore the basics of arithmetic and hold firmly on to the hope that they can still pull it back.
Alas, it was too late for Fabrizio and chums—the victory was Finland’s hours ago now, and they wind up winning with the highest points total in the competition’s history. The eventual top ten, all of whom qualify automatically for next year’s event, went like this:
1) Finland – 292 points
2) Russia – 248
3) Bosnia-Herzegovina – 229
4) Romania – 172
5) Sweden – 170
6) Lithuania – 162
7) Ukraine – 145
8) Armenia – 129
9) Greece – 128
10) Ireland – 93
So, comparing that and our prediction… well, we were sort of right about Romania. Kind of.
Anyway, tonight is Finland’s night, and the magnificent masked men and woman make their way to the stage to receive their trophy. Surprisingly, they manage this an awful lot quicker than most recent winners have done.
Peter Parrish: Strangely, the celebratory bouquet of flowers does not instantly wilt upon contact with the hand of our Satanic Majesty.
Jonathan Bradley: And that was Eurovision. Finland wins and plays their thing again while the guitarist wears a Finnish flag hat that is the most mental piece of millinery since Slash. And really, shouldn’t Lordi be headed for big things? In a world where Kiss and Mudvayne and Guns and Roses can attract sizable followings, aren’t there any metalheads out there who can take an assortment of Scandinavian Dungeons and Dragons rejects to their hearts?
Doug Robertson: Oh well, at least we beat France, but we were soundly trounced by a group of hideously disfigured monsters. This must be what it feels like when the Pussycat Dolls beat you to number one.
Adem Ali: I had a feeling Lordi were going to take the gong this year. To say I’m disappointed is an understatement. Metal may be pop in Finland, but there is an absolute plethora of Metal from that country with a lot more substance than “Hard Rock Hallelujah,” believe me, I know, It’s forced down my throat at least once a week when I visit the home of my metal-loving friend. The patriot in me was really hoping for a Bosnian victory, but to be honest, I think I would have even preferred Lithuania took the title rather than Lordi.
Jessica Popper: So, it's off to Finland next year. Not too far from Sweden, so at least they'll have a big presence at the event. Obviously I'm not pleased about a rock band winning Eurovision, but I am pleased that it was something different and considering it could have been Boresnia-Hurtseargovina, we've been quite lucky.
Edward Oculicz: Speaking of the Eastern bloc, seems to me that the last two winners were Southern and Northern, not Eastern. This despite the fact that those pesky Eastern Europeans are the ones submitting the interesting, catchy tunes.
Adem Ali: Each year, the whole “voting for your neighbours” things gets brought up. Has anyone bothered to take into consideration (in particular for the Balkan Countries) that the reason why people vote for their neighbours is because they can actually understand the language it’s been sung in? Just a thought.
Edward Oculicz: The new big point is that the semi-final countries dominated the final. This should be expected. Because there’s an additional hurdle to be cleared for a semi-final song to clear before it gets into the final, those songs will be of a higher standard than the automatic qualifiers. Also, fans will have heard them twice, and have more of a chance to get the song in the head.
I consider this a very bad result. This is the first recent winner that I cannot appreciate on the level of the song—it was a very dull song that had little to recommend it compositionally other than the fact that it was a striking performance. It’s true that the last few winners have been entertaining performances, but, with the possible exception of 2002’s winner (Marie N’s “I Wanna,” which was slight but catchy), they were all much more substantial, interesting songs. Worst winner ever. Bring back juries? I wouldn’t go that far… the kind of person that sits on those values a different kind of songcraft to the Ruslanas of the world, but I’m not sure that Lordi winning is any better than something like that bloody crap Irish song winning. I love Eurovision—it’s like Christmas and my birthday at once—because I love great pop music that neither panders nor insults, and there was precious little of that this year. Lordi are a fun act to watch but whereas “My Number One” and “Wild Dances” were instantly memorable earworms, “Hard Rock Hallelujah” is mediocre by any yardstick you use to measure it. It hasn’t subverted the contest because, as I said earlier, in Finland, metal IS pop, and people who voted for it under that kind of “this contest’s crap, let’s slash the seats” mentality is stupid. Actually, anyone who voted for it is stupid. AND WHERE WAS KATE RYAN. Pardon, I’ve got something in my eye….
Adem Ali: As if Silvia Night would not have won had she gotten into the finals?
Ah well, chaps. Que sera sera, etc. Next year, Eurovision comes from Finland for the first time in its history, and judging from the reception Lordi have got back home, it really ought to be quite a spectacle. I don’t recall Helena Paparizou getting endorsed by Santa Claus…
Oh, and as for our red-hot tips for the crown—Texas Lightning came home fifteenth, tied with the howling Norwegian lass and just ahead of Latvia and their tin-ribbed chum. It’s a funny old game, innit?
See you next year…
All pictures used in this article are copyright EurovisionAthens.net, without which this article would not be possible.
By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2006-05-30