After Greece’s stunning first victory the previous year, Eurovision 2006 provided hope to all the countries who had not yet managed to triumph. 37 nations lined up this year – two less than 2005, but with the addition of Armenia, also hoping to make a splash.
Greece’s ancient culture and beautiful scenery provided the backdrop for this year’s contest, hosted by Greek-born US TV personality Maria Menounos, and superstar Sakis Rouvas, who had represented Greece at Eurovision 2004, coming in third. The lights came up in the Athens Olympic Indoor Hall on Saturday the 18th of May to the familiar face of Helena Paparizou for a reprise of her winning song.
Switzerland opened the show with an anthem penned by dynamic duo Bernd Meinunger and Ralph Seigel, their fifteenth collaboration. The song, performed by multicultural sextet Six4One, lacked originality and impact, as did song number two from Moldova. Despite Arsenium’s fame (he had reached number one on the charts in many countries in 2004 with the group O-ZONE) and the appeal of Natalia Gordienko’s mild striptease, ‘Loca’ fell flat, and, characteristic of the songs performed in second place, ended up in a dismally low one.
Latvia brought something a little different to the proceedings, with acclaimed a cappella group Cosmos taking to the stage in dapper white suits to sing ‘Hear Your Heart’. Using only their mouths for instruments and with the help of a robot (the first appearance of such a gimmick on the Eurovision stage), the group carried off the modest song with style, and finished by releasing a heart-shaped helium balloon into the air. The crowd applauded wildly, but perhaps had forgotten about the song by the time voting was to undertaken, as it failed to reach the top ten.
After a disappointing result in 2005, Spain pulled out the big guns by employing the mega-famous girl group Las Ketchup to represent them. Three of the four sisters who arrived in Athens were responsible for 2002’s infectious dancefloor hit ‘Asereje (The Ketchup Song)’. Perhaps another gastronomically-themed tune would elevate them to the heights of contest glory…or perhaps not. ‘Bloody Mary’ was carried off with aplomb by the girls, who used office chairs to great effect during the song. But in the end, it was not to be their year. There has been much controversy during the televoting age regarding partisan voting, and this may have been a case of such, with only Andorra and Portugal ready to support Spain.
‘We Are The Winners’ by the all-male LT United, was a not-so-subtle attempt at vote swaying by Lithuania, with equally ambiguous lyrics such as ‘We are the winners of Eurovision’ and ‘vote for the winners’ being repeated several times throughout. Strangely enough, the audience seemed to love it, although there was a fair share of booing going on too. A finish in the top half would have been impressive for any song of the novelty persuasion, but in an uncharacteristic turn of events for the country, 162 points were garnered and 6th place achieved.
Greece had picked Anna Vissi, a woman with more Eurovision experience than most, but the home country was overshadowed by the most intriguing act seen since Dana International. The one in question was metal monsters Lordi, from Finland. Since 1961 the Finns had been desperately fighting to be at the top of the scoreboard, instead, for the most part, ending up at the other end. It was not likely that this group of other worldly creatures could change their fortune. And yet, the press flocked to Finland, and their heavy rock, but still commercial track ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’ was one of the favourites. Lordi gave what was undoubtedly the best performance of the night, raising the roof off the stadium, and receiving the biggest reception of the evening. They still had to bypass some tough competitors in order to win, however.
Ireland’s Brian Kennedy was a novelist and had had the honour of singing Eurovision’s 1000th song in the semi-final. . Sweden brought back another familiar face. Back in 1991, in her second Eurovision attempt, Carola had only just edged out France to win, and she was back for more. ‘Invincible’ was a sprinkle of schlager pop and very Swedish, performed by the ageless Carola and translated into English for the final. Her voice was as strong as it had been all those years ago and it was clear that Europe loved her. It was not to be a second win for Carola or Sweden, but the fifth place acquired was nothing to be sneezed at.
Armenia’s first entry came from their three-time singer of the year Andre. It was a very slick performance, using choreography, and props such as elastics and a table, to full advantage, and was a great example of the ethnic-pop fusions that dominate Eurovision nowadays. Armenia’s great result was a sign of things to come. They haven’t missed out on a top ten spot since.
Once the voting commenced, Finland’s popularity became emphasised. However they had some tough competition, from Romania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Russia’s Dima Bilan whose stage show had included a woman emerging from inside a piano. But 8 lots of twelve points for Finland were too much for the others, and with a total of 292, they had achieved the highest winning score in history, and were the first, and only, to date, hard rock song ever to win. Russia came in second some fifty points away, with Bosnia & Herzegovina, Romania and Sweden rounding out the top five.
And so it was that another country got the chance to showcase themselves to the whole of Europe, and in what fashion! Lordi’s win will always be a memorable one, for many reasons, perhaps none more so than their appearance. This certainly made the continent wonder exactly what they were in for in 2007…