Eurovision Song Contest 2009: The Day the Music Triumphed

In a contest which nobody could call close, Norway won the 54th Eurovision Song Contest in the Olympiyskiy Arena in Moscow. He scored a record 387 points, leaving him a long way in front of Iceland and Azerbaijan in second and third places respectively.

The contest was opened by performers from Cirque du Soleil and the stage was lit up by fire. This was followed by a reminder of last year’s winner, Believe, which Dima Bilan performed on the stage.  The hosts were different from the semifinals. Ivan Urgant and Alsou, who represented Russia in the 2000 contest, were given the task of guiding viewers through the evening. After the introductions, Ivan and Alsou left the stage to the 25 singers and songs.

Lithuania – Sasha Son – Love – Opening the contest, Sasha kept it simple. The backing track seemed more in the background than in the semifinal. Sasha again slipped out of English for the last chorus. A good start to the contest.

Noa and Mira Awad – There Must Be Another Way – Another excellent vocal performance from Noa and Mira. Drawn in the dreaded second position, they were up against it, but stranger things have happened.

France – Patricia Kaas – Et S’il Fallait Le Faire – The biggest star in the contest, Patricia was dressed all in black. As could be expected, her performance was professional, if slightly spoilt by the little dance at the end.

Sweden – Malena Ernman – La Voix – Malena is an opera singer who doesn’t take herself too seriously. This relaxed attitude to her profession allowed her to enjoy her three minutes, which added positively to her performance. There wasn’t a nervous bone in her body.

Croatia – Igor Cukrov feat. Andrea – Lijepa Tena – As in the semifinal, Igor was on early again to sing this beautiful Balkan ballad. Andrea started in a black cloak, which almost inevitably was removed to reveal a white dress.

Portugal – Flor-De-Lis – Todas As Ruas Do Amor – Portugal have benefited over the last couple of years from an increased appreciation of traditional music. All the band did their bit to make an enjoyable three minutes.

Iceland – Yohanna – Is It True? – Big ballad time! The Icelandics made effective use of the large video wall. Yohanna gave a very strong performance. United Kingdom viewers were probably breathing a sigh of relief that she had not been drawn in 22nd position.

Greece – Sakis Rouvas – This Is Our Night – Despite too much choreography and stunts, Sakis’ vocal was constantly good and it would be surprising if he wasn’t in the top ten at least. Viewers would love him, but what would the professionals on the juries think?

Armenia – Inga & Anush – Jan Jan – Perhaps one of the surprise finalists, Inga and Anush provided an insight into Armenian culture with the style of song and outfits.

Russia – Anastasia Prikhodko – Mamo – For the title defence, Russia offered the most ethnically Russian song since 1997. The video wall showed a film of Anastasia singing along with the real Anastasia on stage, but gradually aging as the song progressed. Naturally, it was popular in the arena, but stood an excellent chance of scoring well.

Azerbaijan – AySel & Arash – Always – Arash was added to the act after AySel won the national final. They combined very well and looked almost certain to finish higher than on their debut last year.

Bosnia – Regina – Bistra Voda – This was a case of style over substance. It was presented very well, even if Regina continue to deny links to communism, but the song doesn’t really develop.

Moldova – Nelly Ciobanu – Hora Din Moldova – Possibly the most surprising finalist of all of them. It was certainly lively, but was it too introspective to appeal?

Malta – Chiara – What If We – One of the ‘big’ stars in Eurovision circles, Chiara’s third entry is possibly the weakest. A good performance was guaranteed for her typical ballad.

Estonia – Urban Symphony – Rändajad – Appearing in the final for the first time since the semifinals were introduced in 2004, Estonia’s luck had finally changed for the better. This was a classy, well performed song, which was almost certainly going to be appreciated by the juries.

Denmark – Brinck – Believe Again – This song was entered in the Danish final after not making it on to the Boyzone album. They even found a singer who sounds like Ronan Keating. It was a good, mid-tempo song that would have done well in the charts if released by Boyzone.

Germany – Alex Swings, Oscar Sings – Miss Kiss Kiss Bang – The second of the Big 4. With Dita Von Teese on stage with them, this was one for the red blooded males everywhere. The song itself, a swing number, was different enough to stand out, but would it score well?

Turkey – Hadise – Düm Tek Tek – It was no surprise when this qualified. Turkey has done very well over the last few years, after years of propping up the scoreboard. This song looked like continuing the recent trend.

Albania – Kejsi Tola – Carry Me in Your Dreams – Why, oh why is the green man there? Kejsi delivered a consistent performance for one so young. The Albanians have clearly made use of the six months they have had to prepare since she won the Albanian national contest. The song was much more powerful than it had been then.

Norway – Alexander Rybak – Fairytale – The fans and bookies favourites, Alexander was just as confident as in the semifinal. The song did stand out thanks to the fiddle playing. It had the mixture of instant appeal to the public and musical integrity to suit the professional jurors.

Ukraine – Svetlana Loboda – Be My Valentine – Svetlana apparently mortgaged her flat to pay for the set. It was certainly an eventful presentation and Ukraine usually does well. Maybe the presentation was needed to hide weaknesses in the song.

Romania – Elena – The Balkan Girls – Another surprise finalist. Elena’s vocal sounded slightly weak. The song would sound better in nightclubs than live. 

United Kingdom – Jade Ewen – It’s My Time – Thanks to the involvement of musical supremo, Andrew Lloyd Webber, this was one of the most eagerly anticipated songs of the night. Jade delivered a flawless performance, even if her one of her violinists accidently tried to knock her over. This was the singer and song that British fans have waited years to see.

Finland – Waldo’s People – Lose Control – A change of pace as one of Finland’s top dance acts took to the stage. Complete with fire twirlers, this came over well.

Spain – Soraya – La Noche Es Para Mi – Having survived a meeting of the EBU Reference Group about the first semifinal not being shown in Spain, Spain’s chances have been foolishly overlooked by some. A pretty singer, a memorable song and last to perform. The ingredients for success were there.

The phone lines were opened by two cosmonauts on the international space station. For the benefit of viewers, there was a reprise of the songs. After the voting lines were closed, the main part of the interval act begun. After a few bars of Riverdance, blocks of water were suspended from the ceiling. In these blocks were dancers/swimmers. The biggest block was lowered towards the floor and ended up suspended just inches above the audience. Possibly the weirdest interval act ever!

The voting procedure had been changed this year to reflect concerns over political and neighbourly voting, and in an attempt to address the success of acts that rely on the performance rather than the song. Instead of awarding points solely on the results of the voting public, juries made up of music industry professionals made up 50% of the score from each country.

To keep everyone up to date with the voting, there was a progress chart along the bottom of the screen showing how many countries had voted. It was soon clear that Norway were on the way to a third victory. The only questions were who would finish second and third, and would Norway score the highest points ever.  The answer to the second question was a resounding ‘yes’. Alexander achieved a massive 387 points, almost 100 points more than Lordi scored in 2006. Dima Bilan presented him with the prize while the stage was frantically swept to clear it of all the ticker tape. In keeping with tradition, Alexander performed Fairytale again as the contest drew to a close.

And so another Eurovision year comes to an end. There will be arguments and joy, amazement and discussion. Some will agree with the result, others will be left scratching their heads. Whichever category you fall into, one thing is certain, we will all tune in to the contest next year to do it all again.

In my view

The EBU’s decision to use a voting system which included professional juries was thoroughly vindicated. Political voting has always been a perception rather than a reality, but there was no sign of it this year. Three western European countries were in the top five and the emphasis on four of them was the song, not the presentation. Oh, and from a British point of view, no Terry Wogan to spoil the show. Graham Norton didn’t talk over the songs, and was amusing without being disrespectful.

The opinion expressed in "In my view" are those of the author and are not necessarily the one of
Source: EuroVisionary
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