Category Archives: Eurovision 2007

Retro Rankings | Helsinki 2007

I would like to open this post by saying…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7UmV6FYvmA

That’s right: I’m still in the land of the living! You may have been fooled into thinking otherwise when you last dropped by EBJ and realised that it was growing mould because it had been untouched for so long (just over three weeks, but that’s like three years in blog time). However, dear readers/anyone who cares/anyone who doesn’t care ‘cause I’m not fussy – that was simply due to a little thing called ‘going back to university’. It has this way of stopping you from doing stuff you’d rather be doing, especially when it’s been a year since you’ve done any proper study and you have to re-learn how to be a student (which mainly involves complaining about everything and doing assignments at the last minute). But I’m back in business, and thought I’d try something brand new to celebrate.

After I did my updated ranking of the Malmö 39, I realised something shocking. Although I’d been ranking all the entries every year since I started this blog, I had never, ever gone back and ranked the contests from 1956-2008.

Oops.

That is a lot of contests to catch up on, so I need to get cracking, right? I’m starting today with one of my favourite contests. It wasn’t my first, but it was the first one I watched as a semi-knowledgeable fan, and so it holds a special place in my heart (aww…). I love everything about Year Helsinki, and now I’m about to find out which of the 42 entries I love the most. I’m a little scared, so let’s get going.

Oh, one more thing before we begin. I missed you guys! Especially you. That’s right, I’m talking to you.

 

ANYWAY, for starters, here’s a refresher: 

 And now, from #1 aaaaaallllllllll the way down to #42, my rankings.

 

  1. Slovenia/ Cvet Z Juga by Alenka Gotar – I was not expecting this to top the list, but here we are. Alenka must have bewitched me with her glass-breakingly high voice and the LED she had embedded in her palm. Seriously though, I love this song. Dance, opera and wind machine came seamlessly together to produce a dramatic three minutes that won Slovenia a place in the final for the first time; and that was in a huge (like, ‘Why, oh, why do I have to sit through this many songs in a semi-final?!?’ huge) field of 28 entries. Brava! 
‘You may think it’s stupid, but let me tell you – it sure beats fumbling in the dark for a torch.’

‘You may think it’s stupid, but let me tell you – it sure beats fumbling in the dark for a torch.’

  1. Armenia/ Anytime You Need by Hayko
  2. Bosnia & Herzegovina/ Rijeka Bez Imena by Maria
  3. France/ L’Amour A La Française by Les Fatals Picards
  4. Belarus/ Work Your Magic by Koldun – This remains my favourite Belarusian entry to date, and it has nothing to do with the crush I once had on the impossibly beautiful Koldun (which was weird because I was aware of the Princess Diana resemblance). Sure, he was great, and the staging was too, but the song is epic all on its own. Big, brash, and so very Eurovision = my eternal love.
  5. Serbia/ Molitva by Marija Šerifović
  6. Russia/ Song #1 by Serebro
  7. Spain/ I Love You Mi Vida by D’Nash
  8. Moldova/ Fight by Natalia Barbu – This song has had a big impact on me lately (which I’ll go into in another post) but I’ve always been a fan of it. After the horror that they sent to Athens the previous year, anything would have been a step up for Moldova (seriously, a box of Kleenex would have done the job). I think they took a massive step with this one though. It has violins! It has rock! It has power! It has fierceness! Plus, you can have hours of fun trying to figure out what the heck the lyrics are about. ‘Itch people will gnaw our wishes no more’? That’s a stumper right there.  
Natalia fights to get her pants to stay up during rehearsals.

Natalia fights to get her pants to stay up during rehearsals.

  1. Romania/ Liubi, Liubi, I Love You by Todomondo
  2. Latvia/ Questa Notte by Bonaparti.lv
  3. Cyprus/ Comme Ci, Comme Ça by Evrdiki
  4. Lithuania/ Love Or Leave by 4Fun
  5. Croatia/ Vjerujem U Ljubav by Dragonfly feat. Dado Topić
  6. Bulgaria/ Water by Elitsa & Stoyan – As we now know, this duo cannot be counted on to bring Bulgaria Eurovision success, but they did hit the right note the first time round. Opening the semi with their chain mail and faux lightning and enthusiastic drumming (lethargic drumming is sooooo unappealing), they got the audience fired up and ready to attempt to sit through the next 27 songs without a toilet break…although there were quite a few songs I would have used to go for toilet breaks had I been there.
  7. Greece/ Yassou Maria by Sarbel
  8. Czech Republic/ Mala Dama by Kabat
  9. Switzerland/ Vampires Are Alive by DJ Bobo
  10. Finland/ Leave Me Alone by Hanna
  11. Turkey/ Shake It Up Shekerim by Kenan Doğulu – This isn’t up there with my favourites from our dearly departed Turkey (who had better hurry up and confirm that they’ll be in Denmark next year, or else) but it is Turkey doing what they do best…when they aren’t doing kick-ass ethno rock, that is. SIUS is ethno pop with a catchy chorus, and that has proved to be a magic formula for the Turks time and time again. I do find it a little sleazy in parts.
‘My milkshake brings all the belly dancers to the yard...’

‘My milkshake brings all the belly dancers to the yard…’

  1. Ukraine/ Dancing Lasha Tumbai by Verka Seduchka
  2. FYR Macedonia/ Mojot Svet by Karolina
  3. Ireland/ They Can’t Stop The Spring by Dervish
  4. Georgia/ Visionary Dream by Sopho – You can have your Waterfall back, Sweden, because THIS is the Georgia I want to see. Original, cultural, daring Georgia. Now, you may be thinking ‘If you like it so much Jaz, then why is it sitting un-pretty at #24?’ Well, to that I say this: I can find pros and cons in most of the Class of 2007, bar a few that I totally dislike. Therefore, #24 is the equivalent of like, 7/10. I don’t love, but I definitely like.
  5. Hungary/ Unsubstantial Blues by Magdi Rúzsa
  6. Andorra/ Salvem El Món by Anonymous
  7. Portugal/ Dança Comigo by Sabrina
  8. Germany/ Frauen Regier’n Die Welt by Roger Cicero
  9. Austria/ Get A Life – Get Alive by Eric Papilaya
  10. United Kingdom/ Flying The Flag (For You) by Scooch – Okay, so this wasn’t great by any stretch of the imagination; rather, the words ‘trashy’ and ‘tacky’ come to mind whenever I think about it. But it was harmless, sexual-innuendo-filled fun. My only peeve is that, having failed miserably with a camp novelty song in 2006, the UK decided to pick version 2.0 the very next year – and it wasn’t the last time they’d make that mistake.
Granted, flying would be a lot more fun if this was the crew.

Granted, flying would be a lot more fun if this was the crew.

  1. Albania/ Hear My Plea by Fredrik Ndoci
  2. Israel/ Push The Button by Teapacks
  3. Netherlands/ On Top of the World by Edsilia Rombley
  4. Sweden/ The Worrying Kind by The Ark
  5. Montenegro/ Ajde Kroči by Stevan Faddy
  6. Poland/ Time To Party by Jet Set – So far in this post I’ve used the words ‘sleazy’, ‘trashy’ and ‘tacky’, and all three apply equally as well to Poland. The song is a teensy bit catchy, I’ll admit, but generally…it’s ugh. The lyrics are awful (particularly the cringe-worthy line about being ‘a little bit crazy like a baby uhhh’) and the whole thing is uninspired. Poland has been overlooked a few times IMO, but this wasn’t one of them.
  7. Iceland/ Valentine Lost by Eirikur Hauksson
  8. Norway/ Ven A Bailar Conmigo by Guri Schanke
  9. Denmark/ Drama Queen by DQ
  10. Belgium/ Lovepower by The KMGs
  11. Malta/ Vertigo by Olivia Lewis
  12. Estonia/ Partners In Crime by Gerli Padar – Estonia, a country I’ve loved in Eurovision the last few years, has the dubious honour of being my least favourite from the 2007 contest. Well, not the country itself, but the “song” they chose to send to Helsinki. It’s never enough to rely on your name to do well in the ESC, so even though Gerli had the Padar in her corner (and on her birth certificate) it didn’t distract from the pedestrian yawn-fest that was Partners In Crime. Thankfully, what Estonia brought post-2008 more than made up for the indiscretion.
Hell hath no fury like woman related to Tanel Padar.

Hell hath no fury like a woman related to Tanel Padar.

 

So that was a rather long ranking-themed ramble, wasn’t it? It was almost as long as the ’07 semi (how many times can I reference that before it gets old?). But after literally weeks without chatting about Eurovision with y’all, I had a lot to get off my chest.

Now I want to know what you guys think. Do you agree with how I’ve ranked the songs above, or are you horrified by my lack of taste? Which songs of 2007 do you love and hate, six years later? Let me know below ↓

 

BRB, just off to make sure I’ll be posting again before Christmas…2050. Until then, auf wiedersehen.

 

Time-Warp Tuesday | Malta FTW, but IDK why…

Where: Helsinki, Finland

When: 2007

Who: Olivia Lewis

What: Vertigo  

There are some things about Eurovision I will never be able to comprehend – for example, how Azerbaijan managed to win with what was their least impressive entry ever. Another comes in the form of Malta’s 2007 entry, which was one of the favourites to take out the trophy. What I want to know is, why?  

Olivia’s Vertigo didn’t end up making the final and so was in no danger of nabbing the top spot* (I can hear Marija Šerifović laughing maniacally as I write this). But the mere fact that a heap of fans were outraged by her failure to qualify is confusing enough. The Helsinki semi-final was bottom-numbingly long, and I just can’t see how, amongst all those songs, it was supposedly a given that Malta would stand out.

Don’t get me wrong – Olivia’s a very good vocalist and has great taste in kimonos and shirtless men. It’s just that…well, I think her song was overrated, and overrated = shock from all corners of Europe when it stayed put in the semi.

Am I alone? Will you hurl abuse at me via the comments section for even daring to dislike this? Or are there others out there who knew there was no way Olivia could compete with the walking tinfoil factory that is Verka Seduchka?

 

* Probably for the best – if she’d been high on the scoreboard her vertigo might have kicked in on live TV, and no one would have wanted to see that.

 

EBJ’s top 10…postcards of the past 10 years

I think the title says it all. Here’s one list with ten items on it. All you have to do is read away (and tell me what you think…)

 

1. 2007 – Helsinki, Finland

Why they’re #1: I think the Finnish show is up there, not quite with, but only a fuchsia feather’s length behind, Moscow’s, in terms of presentation and staging and all that jazz (plus, both had some very irritating co-hosts). But for me, the cutesy, quirky and oh-so-Finnish postcards of 07 completely overshadow those of 09. Every one is different and every one tells its own little story. My picks are the bride with the veggie bouquet, the Goth and his unlikely romance on a rollercoaster (see below) and the woman who manages to ride to work on a jetski, in a pencil skirt, without mussing a single hair. If that’s not talent, then I don’t know what is.

 

 

2. 2008 – Belgrade, Serbia

Why they’re #2: Beautifully shot and very original, these throw a whole bunch of elements together to produce some stunning and memorable visuals. Each one is centred around the creation of the flag of the country it introduces, and whether the end result is by paint, handkerchiefs or fruit salad, it’s always fun to watch. Extra points are awarded for the postcard scrawlings in native languages.

 

 

3. 2011 – Düsseldorf, Germany

Why they’re #3: That ‘making real places look miniature’ thing never gets old! The most recent ESC postcards raised the bar yet again, by simultaneously showing off Germany’s best bits, and telling the tales of real (allegedly) people from all 43 participating nations. Like their Belgrade counterparts, they also incorporated native languages, but all had the same message…feel your heart beat!

 

 

4. 2009 – Moscow, Russia

Why they’re #4: The Russians get douze points from me for just about everything related to their staging of the contest. Here, it’s more like seven – but a high seven. These make great use of CGI (or whatever it is), Miss World, and a lot of tank tops. 

 

 

5. 2003 – Riga, Latvia

Why they’re #5: I do love postcards that feature the artists gallivanting around the host country, although after the 90s the concept was a bit stale. The Latvians put a nice spin on it by putting Jemini and Sertab etc in stop motion.

 

 

6. 2010 – Oslo, Norway

Why they’re #6: Now we’re on the lower half of the list, and as reluctant as I am to trash the hard work of a bunch of strangers (as if I could do better), I have to be truthful. Last year’s postcards weren’t bad. They just didn’t capture my attention, and they didn’t show anything of Norway. I did like the flags flying through the air (on our screens, at least) and the glimpses of the artists pre-performance…but that wasn’t enough for me.

 

 

7. 2006 – Athens, Greece

Why they’re #7: Greece is a beautiful country, no doubt about it. But there are only so many panning shots of beaches and temples and ruins a girl can take before she starts to press the skip button on her remote. I also wonder if Apple picked up on the rather familiar ‘dancing silhouette, coloured background’ slotted into these.

 

 

8. 2002 – Tallinn, Estonia

Why they’re #8: I like the idea of using fairytales, but I think these postcards in general were a messed-up mish-mash. Some were live action, some were animated (in different ways); some made sense, others did not; and all were concluded with a true but seemingly irrelevant remark about Estonia’s internet connections – just as an example.

 

 

9. 2004 – Istanbul, Turkey

Why they’re #9: Go back to number seven. Remove ‘Greece’ and insert ‘Turkey’, then remove ‘ruins’ and insert ‘whirling dervishes’ and you’ve pretty much got it. I love your country and culture, Turkey– but when I get a snapshot of it nearly forty times over in the collective space of a few hours? Not so much.

 

 

10. 2005 – Kyiv, Ukraine

Why they’re #10: Go back to number seven/nine. Remove ‘Greece’ or ‘Turkey’, and ins…okay. I’m not doing that again. Anyway, these postcards don’t just resemble those of 2004 and 2006. There’s a little bit of Estonia in them too. I stress – they aren’t bad. They just aren’t, well…good. In my opinion.

 

 

I hope you enjoyed agreeing/vehemently disagreeing with my picks. Drop by again this week for another Time-Warp Tuesday, another news roundup, and something brand new….

 

Jaz ❤

 

Eurovision Challenge: Day 15

The best costume

Almost there:

Linda Wagenmakers (No Goodbyes, Netherlands 2000 – a circus tent and shredded silver)

Ruslana (Wild Dances, Ukraine 2004 – Xena, Warrior Princess for the 2000s)

Tina Karol (Show Me Your Love, Ukraine 2006 – mainly for the boots and backup dancers!)

Gisela (Casanova, Andorra 2008 – weird but wonderful…and possibly painful)

Alyosha (Sweet People, Ukraine 2010 – also weird, in a fantastically post-apocalyptic way)

 

But the best costume is:

Marija Šerifović (Molitva, Serbia 2007)

(Of all the posts for my picture uploader to not work for! If you need a refresher on Serbia’s winning costumes, check them out here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ESC_2007_Serbia_-_Marija_Serifovic_-_Molitva.jpg)

Unlike men in dresses, which doesn’t seem to work out too well at Eurovision (take note, Slovenia) ladies in suits can be a winner…literally. I think this is a rare case of a costume that is memorable without being hideous. Classy but unique.

Bonus points for working the spectacles, Marija!

 

Eurovision Challenge: Day 14

The sexiest performance

Almost there:

Everything I Want by Vesna Pisarović (Croatia 2002)

It Hurts by Lena Philipsson (Sweden 2004)

Ninanajna by Elena Risteska (FYR Macedonia 2006)

No One by Maja Keuc (Slovenia 2011)

 

But the sexiest is:

Song #1 by Serebro (Russia 2007)

I’m just assuming that the uniform thing works for a lot of people. But the fact that these three did look more than remotely attractive in knee-high socks, knee-low skirts and jumpers, as well as the fact that they knew how to work their microphones, makes them the winners of my sexy gong (that was Gong…with a G).

 

The Eurovision doppelgangers exposed: Part Deux!!!

 Yes, they’re back, and looking more like each other than ever before…or less, depending on the quality of your vision/computer monitor. These are the Eurovision lookalikes who thought they’d escaped from being discovered in the first installment (https://eurovisionbyjaz.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/exposed-the-eurovision-doppelgangers/). Silly, silly people.
 

75 Cents (Croatia 2008, RIP) looks like Hugh Hefner

Eric Papilaya (Austria 2007) looks like r & b singer Jay Sean

Ich Troje lead singer Michal Wisniewski (Poland 2003/2006) looks like this troll doll

Mika Newton (Ukraine 2011) looks like Aisha (Latvia 2010)

Natalia Podolskaya (Russia 2005) looks like Kejsi Tola (Albania 2009)

Verka Seduchka (Ukraine 2007) looks like The Wizard of Oz's Tin Man...and this Christmas tree

Nikki (Azerbaijan 2011) looks like DJ Havana Brown

 
Got any twins-separated-at-birth from the ESC that I’ve missed??? Comment me and let me know. Together we can reunite the lost siblings!

We are the winners of Eurovision: EBJ’s top ten

All you Eurovisionaries may or may not be aware of the weekly podcasts from ESC Insight, and their accompanying website, one that takes an in-depth look at the contest through feature articles, reviews and more (www.escinsight.com). If you haven’t visited iTunes to subscribe to the podcasts, put it at the top of your priority list, because they are great! They began by judging the 2010 entries, but have expanded to keep us all up to date with the latest Düsseldorf developments, gossip, national finals and everything else that is Eurovision-related. At the moment, the podcasts are mainly devoted to the subject of winners, in what they call the Ultimate Jukebox Jury, in which four winners (and occasionally a well-reputed wildcard) are pitted against each other on the long road to determining THE greatest Eurovision song EVER! Hurrah!

I’ve been enjoying these UJJ’s immensely, so much so that they got me wondering: which winner would I deem the best of them all? We all have those songs which we like better than others, and those that didn’t really make an impact on us. It was difficult for me to pick my absolute favourite, so I’ve spent a bit of time compiling a list of my top ten winners ever instead (which involved a great amount of last-minute switching) which I have scored in the good old-fashioned ESC way. There is a numero uno song that I’m not sure many people will agree with, but remember these are my opinions. If you have one, which I’m sure you do, share your top ten with me here or on Facebook (just search for Eurovision By Jaz =D). So, I present to you Part 1 of Jaz’s Terrific Ten:

#10. 1974/ Waterloo/ ABBA

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4a9iVRb0l4

I can’t see many a top ten Eurovision winner list existing without Waterloo, the quintessential ESC song, on it! There may be cries of outrage at my only deigning to place it at number ten, but it’s my prerogative (I say, sticking my tongue out).

The song is irresistibly catchy and was well-sung and performed by the then relatively unknown Swedish supergroup. Its mark on Eurovision has never faded – think of how many entries (and not just those from Sweden) have emulated this one since then and up to now. More than a decade ago, Charlotte Nilsson’s 1999 victory was with a song that reeks of Waterloo. Even in 2010, Sieneke’s Smurf song for the Netherlands filled the Telenor Arena with a very similar sound. Waterloo is a classic winner, and I don’t think any amount of attempted replication by Scandinavia and beyond will ever measure up. One point goes to ABBA in my countdown.

#9. 2007/ Molitva/ Marija Šerifovic

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWo1XXflfPU

2007 was a year when, unlike 2009, few could have predicted the outcome of Eurovision. The majority of press and fan attention was focused on a fabulous tin-foil encased, Maybelline guinea pig named Verka Seduchka and whether or not his/her song was indeed bidding goodbye to Russia. And yet it was a drastically different song and performer who took out the top prize that May in Helsinki.

Molitva is my idea of a stellar ballad, one that I didn’t find clichéd, despite the fact that in essence it was ridden with them (flute interlude, loveheart gimmick, backup singers rallying behind emoting soloist…). It is anthemic, it is powerful, and it was belted out by a faultless vocalist in a dapper suit. In comparison to Verka, the whole thing was very understated and serious, but they were both great songs. In the end though, I think Serbia was the right winner. Two points. 

#8. 2000/ Fly On the Wings of Love/ Olsen Brothers

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEwlSyd7DH4

This is another song (featuring pan flutes) that almost came out of nowhere to win. I must mention that I do prefer Alsou’s Solo over FOTWOL and wish a little bit that it had won instead…but having said that, there is something about the Olsen brothers’ humble song that I just love. They may have been middle-aged back then – I can only assume they’re in nursing homes now – but hey, they employed the use of a vocoder years before Kanye West decided it was worthy of his genius (though not before Cher. Darn you Cher…) and I liked it! The chorus is great to sing along to in the car/shower/middle of dinner etc which is always a point-scorer for ESC songs, and the rest is simple and repetitive but catchy enough to catch your attention. Or mine, at least. Three points for the Danish duo.  

#7. 2006/ Hard Rock Hallelujah/ Lordi

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mh3hj9-J76Y

Ask someone to name a Eurovision winner from the last five years and it’s highly likely you’ll receive one of two responses: a) A vacant look and a ‘Euro-what what?’; or b) ‘The monsters from Finland!’ or something to that effect. Yes, 2006 brought us one of the most unforgettable winners in Lordi, and a song that somehow managed to appeal to even the hardcore pop fans like moi. Hard Rock Hallelujah stood miles out from the rest of the entries despite what I believe was a strong year. I’m betting that after 40+ years of failure to win, very few Finns thought that a heavy rock song performed by Lord of the Rings extras who had forgotten to remove their costumes would be the one to clinch it.

Once again there is just something about the song, even when you remove the visual, that is special. For me, it’s the one where I take my hair out, put my hands in the air like I just don’t care, and do some neck-injuring head banging…generally alone. In my lounge room (mosh pit for one, anyone?). It just goes from level to level, getting better as it goes along. And it sure packs a hell pf a punch in three minutes. A monstrous four points to you, Lordi.

#6. 1963/ Dansevise/ Grethe & Jørgen Ingmann

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEDqFIbUgvU

Denmark’s first winner and a very unusual song make 6th position on my list. James Bond movies come to mind when I hear it – there’s an air of mystery and intrigue in the sound. After seven years of relatively similar winners (no discredit to them), this broke the mould simply because it wasn’t quite a ballad and it wasn’t quite a happy-clappy tune either. It’s very surreal. Yeah, I can definitely see 007 romancing a woman (shirtless) or deep-sea diving (shirtless) to this. Or even having a fitful dream. Still shirtless.

A-hem.

There are not many Eurovision songs pre-1980 that I love, perhaps due to my age, my taste or coincidence. But Dansevise gets me every time. Five points.

So there you have it – points 1-5 have been allocated and my justifications made. But which five songs have scored the big points with me? You’ll have to wait and see! Drop by again soon if you want to know ‘my number one’*.

Jaz.

* It isn’t My Number One, FYI.

Vote, vote, vote for the winners!

DON’T BE ALARMED! This is not a post devoted to Lithuania’s Eurovision entry from 2006. Though it was apt to borrow some lyrics for this title, so LT United – cheers.

This is what it’s really about:

Happy voting =)

(PS – Just in case your wondering, my pick is a tie between 2006 and 2010…but I love them all really)

Remember…Helsinki 2007

 

Eurovision 2007 was a true fantasy – at least that’s what the organisers believed when they adopted it as a theme. A record number of countries – 42 – came to Helsinki, the nightlife capital of Europe, with Georgia and the Czech Republic jumping on the bandwagon, and Serbia and Montenegro participating for the first time as independent nations.

The semi-final allowed for final tickets for both Georgia and Serbia, but unfortunately not for the Czechs, and seventeen others. The ten who did make it were raring to go alongside the direct qualifiers as Lordi opened the show with a music video, before appearing on the stage (which was designed to look like a kantele, a traditional Finnish string instrument) to welcome Europe to Finland.  

The metal monsters gave way to a petite Bosnian whose father was responsible for writing their national anthem, followed by a four-piece Spanish boy band who failed to break the curse of number two.

Next came Belarus, presenting its fourth entry, called ‘Work Your Magic’ sung by Koldun, a 22-year-old who had shot to fame in his home country as the winner of a Pop Idol-type reality show called Star Factory. He appeared on stage wearing all black, with four dancers in the same. Two sliding doors enhanced the performance further as two of the dancers seemed to stick to them as they floated across the stage. The song was certainly an original effort, with a great crescendo building from verse to chorus. Koldun sang well, and as he finished on a literal high note, the crowd gave him a rousing round of applause. It was to be Belarus’ most successful entry so far. 

One country that also made an impact this year was Slovenia, who turned in a great performance and managed to coin a new genre of music. Alenka Gotar’s strong soprano voice and ethereal looks combined with a thumping bass line led to a newspaper succinctly labelling the style ‘popera’. ‘Cvet Z Juga’ was popular in the semi final, but failed to notch up a notable amount of votes when it came to the crunch of the final. 

The ever quirky France was being represented by a group called Les Fatals Picards, who had been together since 1996. They sang in a mix of French and English, and wore predominantly fuchsia outfits designed by Jean Paul Gaultier, one of which included a black cat as a lapel. The five men ran around the stage very enthusiastically, but the whole spectacle may have been a bit confusing for the audience who were used to more ‘mainstream’ pop. 2007 marked the fifth year in a row that France had failed to make the top ten. It was a similar situation for the rest of the Big 4 countries.

One of the more controversial entries of the contest came from Russia. Legendary producer Maxim Fadeev had brought a newly formed three-piece girl band to Helsinki, called Serebro, and had also co-written their entry ‘Song #1’. Marina, Elena and Olga wore promiscuous costumes inspired by school uniforms, singing what was one of the favourites to take out the title, but one which featured lyrics such as ‘I’ve got my bitches’ and ‘my bad ass’ which were frowned upon by the EBU due to Eurovision’s reputation as a family show. But the audience didn’t seem to mind, as the band rose to third place in the ranks. They went on to release a debut album, with several tracks making the Russian and European-wide charts in the top ten.

 Serbia had chosen established vocalist Marija Serifovic and a dramatic ballad to represent them as an independent nation. She and five backing singers used subtle choreography to great effect, whilst ensuring that the song ‘Molitva’ (meaning ‘prayer’) got the right amount of attention. In 2006, Serbia (who did not go to Athens) presented their votes with TV host Jovana Jankovic saying that despite her country not having a song that year, ‘next year we promise to give you the best one.’ It was a promise they would keep, because the small Balkan nation managed to win the contest on their debut, which blew Ukraine’s 2004 victory after only one previous participation out of the water.  

Another big surprise came in the form of Ukraine, and the flamboyant alter ego of comedian Andriy Danylko – Verka Serduchka. Eurovision has always been an attraction to the unusual, and this year was no exception. ‘Dancing Lasha Tumbai’ was a disco-inspired effort, and like Romania’s entry, was sung in a variety of different languages. For those who weren’t prepared, the sight of Serduchka wearing more makeup than all of the female soloists combined and what looked like several tonnes of alfoil may have come as a shock. But he knew how to work the crowd with a song that featured one of the most infectious refrains in contest history.

Whilst the United Kingdom failed to impress dressed as flight attendants, Bulgaria did with an ethnic percussion-based piece from Elitsa Todorova and Stoyan Yankoulov. Like Secret Garden had done in 1995, the duo performed a predominantly instrumental song, called ‘Water’, which incorporated the sound of both drums and Stoyan’s oral manipulations, whilst Elitsa provided the vocals and joined in for some of the drumming. It was a very strong effort, and had been Bulgaria’s first to make it through to the final since their debut in 2005, and subsequently was their first to make Eurovision’s top ten.

The Serbians seemed very surprised, but of course pleased, when they took out the top prize – indeed, the margins between the top three weren’t massive. Ukraine followed them by just 33 points, with Russia in third by only 28. And it was the most successful contest performer Ireland who was left in last place, with the UK not far in front.

Thanks to Marija Serifovic, in 2008 the well-travelled Eurovision would be heading yet again to a place it had never been before. After the victory of Denmark in 2000, each contest had been won by a nation who never had before, and for a country that had been a small part of another when Eurovision began, to win now was an amazing thing.