Number 9: ESC 2001

As Demark gears up to host the 2014 contest, it’s ironic that we’re looking at their last effort so soon. But no matter the glitz and glam that might’ve surrounded the production, it’s still all about the songs. The winner was an 80s shout-out but as for the rest of the field, anything goes… hopefully.

9 (2001)

Venue: Parken, Copenhagen, Denmark

Date: 12 May 2001

Hosts: Natasja Crone Back & Søren Pilmark

Countries: 23

Even though they’ve only made it through one monologue, those couplets are already old. That’s one of many seemingly wrong things about this year, aside from the enormous hall, bland opening act, and messy/sparse stage. Talking of Parken, actually, this year is most notable for being the “biggest” Eurovision ever, in terms of a real life audience. Not even Moscow, Düsseldorf, or Baku could top the 38,000 crammed into the football stadium turned ESC home. Also, should history have anything to say, this year’s contest (2014) should be plagued by some terrible misfortune; every other Danish-hosted contest has been. This year, it was the acoustics and logistical issues and in 1964, all the tapes of the show were destroyed in the mid-70s. But let’s keep our fingers crossed, not only for the 59th contest, but also for the 46th.

Song 1: The Netherlands

“Out On My Own” – Michelle Courtens

We’re off to an unexpectedly intriguing start with this very subtle ballad about self-confidence. The lyrics have Michelle declaring her freedom and independence; she’s “leaving behind all that has been” and it’s “time to spread her wings out on her own.” While most of the lyrics are simple strength platitudes, the line “I never felt so free in the choices of my life,” is sort of different. However, it commits the cardinal sin of adding a second half to the song without introducing any new lyrics. That’s a big, big problem. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that awful since the melody is where this song shines. It was never designed to be a big soaring ballad like a “Let Me Fly” or “My Dream.” Instead, this is very subdued, almost acting like she wants to slip through adulthood’s door rather than bash it down. The use of guitar to drive the melody introduced a fragile feeling to the piece during the verses but the addition of strings strengthened it, almost like Michelle’s resolve is at this point in the lyrics. It’s very nicely done.

The performance itself was solid, as Michelle’s singing was totally on point. Unlike the traditional ballad-belters Eurovision sees, she held back very well, only letting go during the choruses and even then, her voice doesn’t wallop the listener with volume like many singers’ do. And for this song, it would’ve been entirely out of place and silly. Likewise, the staging is surprisingly pared back, with Michelle and backings in simple tank tops and pants without any shoes. They start out on sitting on the floor before standing up and turning away from the audience at the very end, symbolizing their new adventure into the unknown world. Combined with the soft panning shots that never feel too big, it’s very effective and surprisingly integrated with the song.  Just like the fantastic “Tijd,” “Out On My Own” has been a pleasant surprise and great opener into a year that’s been regarded as one of the worst. Consider me sold.

Live: 8 | Staging: 9 | Lyrics: 7 | Music: 7 | Preference: 17

Total: 9.75 pts.

Song 2: Iceland

“Angel” – Two Tricky

And so, at least according to everyone else, the true 2001 contest begins! Could they possible have made this any cheesier? It’s painful. The guys from Two Tricky (*vomits at hideous name*) are singing about the wiles of this person who’s bewitched them. She’s compared to the “Queen of Hearts” before earning the titular moniker “angel” while the duo sings about her. Musically, it’s just as vacuous, with a few instruments accompanying two choruses and verses before going into the OKC and another chorus. Normally, I’d just be disappointed with this formula but this particular composition is surprisingly inflammatory. I can’t stand it.

Even though I was kvetching about Paul Oscar’s singing in Icelandic in the last post, I’d rather listen to that a thousand times before listening to these guys in English. Accents became a big deal after 1999 and it’s obvious here. At least their pitch is okay. To distract from the nothingness of the song, the staging became hectic, with swift wide shots, dancing girls, and distracting lighting. It stunk. If this isn’t a demoralizer for the other 21 songs, I don’t know what is.

Live: 5 | Staging: 1 | Lyrics: 2 | Music: 2 | Preference: 3

Total: 2.4 pts.

Song 3: Bosnia & Herzegovina

“Hano” – Nino Pršeš

In a welcome change, we’ve been treated to a national language… for a little bit. I’m not sure why, when songs transition into English, they lose all ambition to be poetic or interesting.  This is a perfect example. While a Bosnian lyrics reads “even if the snow fell now on the tree blooms and fruits,” an English lyric reads “you keep telling me to let you go, that makes me wanna cry.” Maybe I’m nitpicking a bit but my point still stands. With that rant over, the rest of the lyrics aren’t anything special. Nino is begging his lover to care about him but she won’t, even if bizarre things happen to him. Aside from the English section, they’re pretty decent. The music is a little more worthwhile, as it takes on the feel of a traditional ballad kissed by a few modern elements. Blending the traditional drums and strings with some synths might’ve been a bit much but it was done well here. It also doesn’t fall victim to the spell of a key change. This is the brighter point of this entry.

Nino carried the song well enough; his thin voice is a good fit for the style and his notes were crisp and clean. He came off very well. Now here’s where this song failed. Instead of looking like Željko Joksimović or Hari Mata Hari, Nino looks like he just got out of prison in that orange jumpsuit. The beret doesn’t do much either. It’s a ridiculous look for anyone who’s not pretending to be a traffic cone. Wardrobe excluded, this was an above average entry in what’s turning out to be a not so bad year. Good on you, Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Live: 7 | Staging: 3 | Lyrics: 5 | Music: 7 | Preference: 15

Total: 7.8 pts.

Song 4: Norway

“On My Own” – Haldor Lægreid

Oh no. I don’t think there’s ever been an entry fraught with such obvious problems. Let’s start with the music. It tries and almost succeeds initially at being a charming piano ballad, albeit with a few too many strings accompanying it. Then it just goes to shit from there, adding on more and more until the OKC tops it off like hot fudge to a frozen yogurt cup filled with ten different flavors. It’s so sickly sweet. In a nice inversion, the lyrics actually tell a story; Haldor has been dumped and finds himself on a “winding road, trying to find his way to paradise.” Now he’s “on his own, where he belongs” because he’s lived life, which was the ”winding road.” Sure it’s nothing spellbinding but it’s likeable enough. Well, until it turns into a screamfest in the end.

One of the problems about this entry was the singer himself. We get it Haldor; you love to sing. Any chance you get, you’ll belt a note out of the park. However, this was a ham performance for the ages. Did he even sing the last chorus or just scream into the microphone? We’ll never know. What’s for certain, though, is that he rushed to get ready and accidentally grabbed a blouse instead of a shirt. And that he must’ve creeped everyone out within 10 seconds of the song starting. There’s no excuse for that. After the first rehearsal, they should’ve readjusted all the angles so that he never sang into the camera, except maybe at a few moments. This was just bad all around with only the lyrics even slightly saving this flop fest.

Live: 6 | Staging: 2 | Lyrics: 6 | Music: 3 | Preference: 5

Total: 4.05 pts.

Song 5: Israel

“En davar” – Tal Sondak

These are the worst backing singers ever… for now. The women, one of whom was obviously trying to be the star of the show, were so shrill it almost made the song unlistenable. It was beyond terrible and ruined Tal’s quite decent, if a little melodramatic, performance. The song itself isn’t much, just an ode to tango with more repetition than a music box. It’s not very interesting but annoyingly catchy. That goes for the lyrics and music, which are birds of a feather if ever there were ones.

With the vocals already covered, let’s talk about the look of this entry. All six of them looked very smart in all black, except for Tal who had on a purple shirt under a blazer. It created a nice air of cohesion between the members of the group. The choreography, which was pierced with occasional tango outbreaks, looked a little forced but did its job well. All in all, this was an okay song enhanced by its staging and totally ruined by its singers. What a shame.

Live: 1 | Staging: 7 | Lyrics: 4 | Music: 4 | Preference: 9

Total: 5.1 pts.

Song 6: Russia

“Lady Alpine Blue” – Mumiy Troll

This is just totally bizarre. Out of all the oddness, the lyrics are the most discernible so let’s start there. Ilia is trying to convince the “lady Alpine Blue” to spend the night with him to see “if they fly.” He makes it clear that there are “no promises, no kisses goodbye,” just “smiles.” The story is interesting and some of the lines are quite interesting, like “the slipping serpentine night.” However, the grammar is a tad weak but it’s almost endearing, in a peculiar sort of way. The melody is a little all over the place at first before turning into a guitar-driven, easygoing, breezy song. Lots of less obvious instruments lift the mood from sultry to intriguing and mysterious, as a distinct Russian flavor is introduced. It works incredibly well and is a treat to listen to.

Here’s where things take the weird turn. Ilia has one of the most offbeat voices I’ve ever heard. It’s far too heavy to be an accent alone but I just don’t know why. That being said, it made the song much more memorable and actually worked with the music. It made for an enjoyable three minutes. Finally, the purple light and calm camera angles worked well and the outfits onstage were ideally sedate, except for that tablecloth the drummer was wearing. Sidenote: Ilia looks like he could be Fanny’s (France 1997) brother. They both have the same wide mouth and skinny eyes. As a whole, this is fun, quirky, and so fully different to anything else in the year. I quite enjoy it.

Live: 7 | Staging: 6 | Lyrics: 7 | Music: 9 | Preference: 15

Total: 8.85 pts.

Song 7: Sweden

“Listen To Your Heartbeat” – Friends

On the road of schlager, this feels like a charming little town lost to time. What I mean by that is draws from songs past and gives to songs that will come later. There’s the super obvious and controversial “borrowing” from Belgium 1996 in the chorus and the bells have a strong scent of Charlotte Nilssen/Perelli’s winner from 1999. Likewise, the piano-driven melody is similar to what Carola’s 2006 entry used and the overall feel of the verses reminds me heavily of Andorra’s oft-maligned, loved by me song from 2008. But as an individual effort, “Listen To Your Heartbeat” is sadly typical. The singers are trying to bolster someone’s self-confidence by telling them to “listen to their heartbeat” and “follow their emotions” so “they can be lovers.” Had the references to “being lovers” not been included, this actually could’ve been a far more interesting song about staying strong through tough times. That would’ve been much nicer and appreciated. Musically, it’s also very generic, complete with the OKC. However, the piano was a smart base for the song, providing a more energetic and light mood. It worked so well, it’s no wonder why G:son, the King of Schlager, used it again for “Invincible” five years later.

Onstage, Friends carried the song pretty well, as Nina and Kim held it together before the OKC. At that point, it got a little sloppy but the end result was still strong. The group, along with their pianist, seemed to fill the stage well, complimented by sharp angles and smart lighting. Even though the outfits were painfully dated, they worked with the entry. Overall, this is a slightly above average schlager that will be given an obscenely high score just because I like it. A lot. So much so that I changed Belgium’s 1996 score from 6 pts. to 7.5. Let the criticism roll.

Live: 7 | Staging: 6 | Lyrics: 5 | Music: 6 | Preference: 18

Total: 9 pts.

Song 8: Lithuania

“You Got Style” – SKAMP

(Oh if Sweden didn’t kill me, this surely will). Let’s get this out in the open right now. I love this song. The funk, the disco, the cheesiness, the self-awareness, I love all of it. Playing the role of a disco diva, Erica details how she’s taken by this ravishing man who’s “got style” abundant. She openly admits that he’s probably “just another cute fool” but she’s fine with that because he “looks so divine.” Then the cosmopolitan (lol) rap comes in and the man lets us know that he feels the exact same way and believes “a hot night is approaching him.” The structure is interesting and Erica doesn’t come off as some doe-eyed girl fallen in love; she knows exactly what’s up and she’s couldn’t care less. All she wants is some fun. And that’s, in a different way, is precisely what this entry gives us. The equally entertaining funky disco composition has loads of personality and wonderful little early-00s flairs. And this piece does the wonderful thing where it manages to reinvent parts of the melody throughout the run time. Every chorus feels fresh and it never seems like the song leans too much on itself. It’s great.

The stage show was so beautifully self-aware, as everyone had on disco outfits and big colorful afros. One complaint is that, vocally, Erica just wasn’t strong enough to be a true diva, but she carried on well and did a good job. All the fun made sense and it was very welcome. The one other flaw I can pick up on is that some of the camera shots were too wide and made the stage look empty but that’s a pretty unavoidable problem, unless you were to load the stage, which wouldn’t have worked for this song. At least everything else fell in Lithuania’s favor.

Live: 7 | Staging: 7 | Lyrics: 8 | Music: 7 | Preference: 20

Total: 10.05 pts.

Song 9: Latvia

“Too Much” – Arnis Mednis

Did this really just come into my life? This is so stupid, it’s heart wrenching. Arnis is singing about how his playboy ways on the night of his bachelor party is about to ruin his marriage one day after the ceremony. There’s no attempt to be clever, interesting, or decent. It’s just ridiculous. Same goes for the music, which is totally forgettable except for an unbearable accordion. In the proper place, it can be a great addition to a song. This was not the right place.

The vocal performance was weak, at best, and the look of the entry was god-awful. This little recap is so small because I just want to stop thinking about this atrocity. No more. I’m out.

Live: 3 | Staging: 1 | Lyrics: 1 | Music: 1 | Preference: 1

Total: 1.2 pts.

Song 10: Croatia

“Strings of My Heart” – Vanna

This isn’t a great song by any means but at least it’s not a total affront to good taste. The melody made good use of the titular “strings” by having them drive the piece forward. Even when something else took over, there was still a lonely violin providing that input. While it was a tad on the nose, it sounded okay and did the job of backing up the lyrics well. However, that odd noise that comes in about 30 seconds into the song, right before the chorus, is 100 percent stolen. It’s a very common loop of stock music for dramatic TV shows. Talking of those lyrics, they seem to have been an exercise in restraint, since they literally say nothing aside from “stay with me” for three minutes. The idea of “strings of my heart” could’ve been interesting but it’s evident that they didn’t even try.

While the song was somewhat dire, Vanna made a decent attempt to sell it. Her vocals were strong and her outfit, gaudy as could be, was effective. The backings were equally fine and the overall staging was sparse, especially when they had wide panning shots. Part of me wants to like this entry, mainly for the strings but I just can’t. And I have no regrets about that.

Live: 6 | Staging: 3 | Lyrics: 2 | Music: 6 | Preference: 10

Total: 5.55 pts.

Song 11: Portugal

“Só sei ser feliz assim” – MTM

Is it really the day where I am unable to gush about a Portuguese entry? Almost but it’s not quite there yet. Specifically, the poetic charm of the lyrics saves this song from the bin, even if the overall meaning is somewhat trite. That meaning being that this guy finds everything he needs in this one person and “only can be happy this way” by being with them. Lines like “it’s in your kiss that I find the charm” and “crystals off illusion, you are my fantasy” add an interesting dimension to the worn-out story. However, nothing is able to save the ultra-cheesy melody, which just reeks of terrible elevator music and tired funk beats. And of course there’s an OKC. Because why not ruin any chance of success this song had.

That wasn’t the only failure of this entry. Marcos simply wasn’t a great singer and neither was Tony. Together, MTM fell flat and sounded quite boring. In the same vein, Tony’s suit was so oversized it looked pathetic. Coupled with the bland lighting and uninteresting shots, you have a kiss of death for this entry. What a shame.

Live: 4 | Staging: 2 | Lyrics: 6 | Music: 1 | Preference: 8

Total: 4.35 pts.

Song 12: Ireland

“Without Your Love” – Gary O’Shaughnessy

This sucks. Nothing about this song is original, from the lyrics, to the music, to the performer, to everything. It’s awful. The one benefit I can scrape from the barrel’s bottom is that there’s no OKC, but even that would’ve at least added some variety to things. Sadly, that didn’t happen, and we’re left with the same glob of the equivalent to high fructose corn syrup. The premise is that Gary’s life will be meaningless without this person in his life and it’s all set to what I’m sure the composer thought was “beautiful strings.” No.

The performance was about as poorly done as the song was. Gary sounded like his voice was slamming into a ceiling every time he got to the chorus. Maybe it’s just an effect of listening to too much Alicia Keys but his range seems very limited. Aside from that, he just sounded schmaltzy and not nice. The visual palette was equally disgusted, as the stage was bathed in an awful orange color that had no relationship to the song whatsoever, except that it looked like fake fruit juice. It’s terrible, in every sense.

Live: 3 | Staging: 2 | Lyrics: 2 | Music: 2 | Preference: 1

Total: 1.65 pts.

Song 13: Spain

“Dile que la quiero” – David Civera

Unlike the last song, this had a chance at being good, mainly because the lyrics were actually quite interesting; David sung about how he wishes to reconcile with a jilted lover that won’t speak to him. The point of view is different but it’s the same poetic touch found in the Portuguese lyrics that make these better. My only issue is that they could’ve easily had a third verse but just stuck the chorus in again. Sadly, the music fails to be as good and comes off as ethnopop at its worst: no interest, no creativity, no chance. Again, this song avoids the OKC but it actually works without one. Good on them for not falling victim.

David proved himself to be a quite good singer, one of the first in a while. He really held the song together and made it very enjoyable. The performance could’ve done without the dancing girls but excluding them, it was fine and passable. This song’s going to get sort of an unfair score just because it did two things right but that’s okay with me, because 2001’s been a total bust so far. Hopefully this sets us down a better path.

Live: 8 | Staging: 4 | Lyrics: 6 | Music: 1 | Preference: 10

Total: 5.85 pts.

Song 14: France

“Je n’ai que mon âme” – Natasha St. Pier

What happens when a contest has lost its course? Obviously, France saves the night by sending a signature big, female ballad. And this is quite a good one. In a turn from recent French lyrics, these don’t feel too heavy and melodramatic. Instead, they’re crisp and honest, using simple metaphor to drive home their point; Natasha’s mourning the loss of her love, “only having her soul” with whom to share her feelings. “Since his heart doesn’t burn anymore,” she’s not shared herself with him before changing languages (mon Dieu!) and declaring that “she’d rather be damned and answer her fate” than continue loving from afar. They’re simply wonderful, especially since the English lyrics don’t feel like a ploy to get extra attention. Instead, it signals a shift in Natasha’s demeanor and fits with her Québécoise background; she’s done playing games with the past and is ready to embrace a new day and speak her mind.

Onto the music, which is equally fabulous. This never feels far from a typical chanson but it’s spiced up with various modern touches, like the two types of guitar and soft drums. The structure is also changed for the better, with a key change accompanying each verse change. However, this coincides with the lyrical evolution from the recognition of lost love, to accepting it, and finally to shedding the past and embracing “her fate.” This can be seen in the official video for the entry, as her facial expressions change at the same points.

Finally, the ever-important vocals were done superbly, for the most part. At the final verse, I wanted her to get bigger and grander but it just didn’t happen. Aside from that, it was great. Her pink dress was elegant and appropriate, as was her hair. The only thing off was the lipstick, which, like Portugal’s Rita Guerra from 2003, was far too glossy and distracting. And the actual camera shots were fine except for one huge sweeping shot. Rule of thumb; your artist should always be visible as a person. That didn’t happen and that particular shot felt very out of place. But that’s not too important, because I really enjoy this song. Merci beaucoup, France!

Live: 8 | Staging: 7 | Lyrics: 8 | Music: 7 | Preference: 17

Total: 9.6 pts.

Song 15: Turkey

“Sevgiliye son” – Sedat Yüce

Never shall I get happy about a language change again because this came along and ruined itself with one. For the beginning of the song, Sedat’s pleading with this person who’s leaving him to “look behind for the last time and see what they’ve left,” since his “heart trembles because they’re not here.” It’s generic but effective, especially in that odd little section where everything goes minor and he talks about how his heart is filled with pain. But right after that, he starts “longing for all he left behind.” That makes absolutely no sense! If there’s any way to make an unnecessary language switch worse, it’s by ruining the continuity of your story. An unfortunate side effect of this is that it signaled for the music, which had been sweet but intriguing, to settle into a generic OKC mold. Until that point, there were truly tons of little flourishes of a fairytale style story, like playful flutes and violins.

Sedat’s vocals were quite good but fell victim to that same issue of range that Natasha’s did. However, it wasn’t so evident that he had hit his limit. The silky texture on his suit was a big problem, though, as it made him look incredibly sleazy and nefarious. It was a huge misfire when compared to everything else on stage, which was quite decent. Overall, this is a nice surprise in such a shitty year.

Live: 9 | Staging: 5 | Lyrics: 5 | Music: 6 | Preference: 14

Total: 7.95 pts.

Song 16: United Kingdom

“No Dream Impossible” – Lindsay Dracass

What a weird little song this is. Basically, this is a self-esteem booster wrapped up in a Eurodance beat with rap thrown in, for good measure. And strangely enough, it works. The lyrics are probably the weakest link in the formula, as they have a nice message and interesting construction but are marred by repetition, some stretched metaphors, and just being a little trite. Examples include “the city is a jungle and the strong survive” and “as long as you’re living with hope in your heart.” Musically, it’s somewhat interesting, never sounding as samey same as the lyrics but still staying cohesive. It builds throughout well and has some very nice modulation in the chorus. Those minor chords add a lot of dimension to the piece and it just sounds good, even if it’s dated now.

As a vocal effort, Lindsay was slightly above adequate. There were about three “showstopper notes,” of which she hit one. Thankfully, she hit the last one and the other two weren’t outright bad, they just faded at the ends. Now here comes the big wallop. The outfits weren’t horrendous, as they fit with the urban-inspired style of the entry but the lighting and camera were big disasters. Like France, there was an ill-advised wide shot that didn’t last as long but still felt odd. Also, the oval lights behind the performers were far too busy and distracting. But aside from that, there really isn’t too much to diss. I like this decent British entry.

Live: 7 | Staging: 4 | Lyrics: 7 | Music: 7 | Preference: 15

Total: 8.25 pts.

The rose bit between this song and the next is by far the best thing these hosts have done. It gave off some strong Getter Jaani’s cloth/magic stick vibes.

Song 17: Slovenia

“Energy” – Nuša Derenda

The big selling point here is the composition and rightly so because it’s fantastic. Unlike other entries from this contest, this song doesn’t feel dated or lifeless, mainly because the music injects such… well, energy into the three minutes. That piano breakdown before the key change (one of the best I’ve heard in a long time) is absolutely stunning. Love it. Sadly, the lyrics are a total letdown and word salad of the highest order. One of the lines in the chorus is “electric runs right through me.” Just take a moment to absorb that. Yeah.

Apart from that failure, the vocal and visual aspects of “Energy” are quite strong. Nuša carried the song very well with her peerless voice, never missing a note or sounding out of her element. It was great, as was the general look of the entry. Drenching the stage in white lights was a brilliant way to stand out and the bright costumes only solidified that effort. All in all, this is a good song with a big blemish that I enjoy.

Live: 9 | Staging: 7 | Lyrics: 1 | Music: 9 | Preference: 14

Total: 8.1 pts.

Song 18: Poland

“2 Long” – Piasek

First, the decision to write out the song title with the number two is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen. Next, this song is just bad. Just flat out not good. Lyrically, it starts out almost if he’s admitting that this whole act is a “joke and maybe he’s just fooling” us. But, sadly, they didn’t take the high road and instead gave us another song about a love in peril. At least the technical side of things was worked out, unlike the last song. The music is totally peculiar, with some big band touches added on top of the insanely generic rhythm. It’s not an unfamiliar sound but at the same time, it’s like nothing else I’ve ever heard. Of course, an OKC ties things together in the end but there are only about 20 seconds left in the new key, compared to anywhere from 30 to 45 in other songs. Alas, that is probably the highest level of intelligence that this song will require.

It’s unfortunate that Piasek and the backings had to sing this song because with another, more competent piece, they would’ve had ample opportunity to do a fabulous job on something that actually utilized their talents. The gospel-like backings, in particular, actually fit in well with the uptempo nature of this song, so at least they were on that right track. As for everything else, it was bad, from the lighting to the utterly fugly fur jacket that PIasek wore when he entered the stage. How on Earth could this be the same country that sent the gorgeous “Ale jestem” not four years ago? What the hell happened? It’s a great tragedy.

Live: 8 | Staging: 2 | Lyrics: 3 | Music: 3 | Preference: 6

Total: 4.2 pts.

Song 19: Germany

“Wer Liebe lebt” – Michelle

Okay, this isn’t a massive improvement, but it’ll do. Most importantly, the lyrics are outstanding. There’s an outstanding poetic quality to them that makes them feel much more special than they should be; they’re just talking about how magical life is with love. Compare the German lyric “summer sunshine falling into your room, bright and warm, embracing you” with the unfortunate English line ”you’ll see forever’s here to stay.” It’s seriously reality vs. expectation and I’m so happy to see it go down this way. Sure the language change was cheap but it was so late in the song, it didn’t cause too much harm. The music was good but not triumphant. There was a prevailing feeling of authenticity that felt very refreshing when compared to Siegel ballads of this nature. It most likely had something to do with the way the verses never sounded too major or minor. That was a very elegant touch that added significantly to the composition, as did the omission of a key change.

Michelle did a fine job singing the song but the pitch of her voice was somewhat annoying at times. Especially when the fact that the woman singing about experiencing love sounds like she’s in junior high school is considered, it might’ve been a good idea to pick someone else to sing “Wer Liebe lebt.” But that is a reality that we’ll never know and this one’s good enough as is. Her dress, while a bit old-fashioned, complimented the song well and the camera angles and lights were expertly done. The only problem was the painfully apparent staged wave at the beginning of the performance. It was the one thing that hurt the song but it’s not enough to change my opinion; I quite enjoy this.

Live: 8 | Staging: 6 | Lyrics: 8 | Music: 5 | Preference: 15

Total: 8.55 pts.

Song 20: Estonia

“Everybody” – Tanel Padar & Dave Benton feat. 2XL

So, this was the winner. And it really did deserve it. Unlike nearly every other song and performer(s) tonight, Tanel and Dave singing “Everybody” managed to look like they were having the time of their lives onstage. With the already laid-back nature of the song, their energy is what brought them victory. The lyrics are an ode to letting music ignite “the spark that always stays within our hearts” and brings us good times. Are they cheesy? Oh God yes but the lighthearted air of the song makes it feel appropriate. Using dialogue to form the verses made it seem very easy-going and it worked in the song’s favor by a long shot. The music is equally silly but has some subtle benefits of its own. Namely, the use of a piano bridge to introduce a preliminary key change made the big moment feel less abrupt and more impactful. Also, the “aahs” from 2XL in the pre-chorus added a ton of atmosphere to the performance, even if the rest was somewhat tawdry.

Like most winning songs, this one shines because of its performers. And while Tanel might not have been the strongest of singers, he had Dave to carry the song and carry it he did. Both of them, along with 2XL were unbelievably exuberant and gave off tons of positive vibes. Dave’s suit worked well but Tanel really could’ve used a different hairstyle. That and a few bum camera shots were the only negatives on this very fun and carefree little song. Honestly, I love it and it has a proud place in my iTunes library.

Live: 8 | Staging: 5 | Lyrics: 5 | Music: 7 | Preference: 18

Total: 9.15 pts.

Song 21: Malta

“Another Summer Night” – Fabrizio Faniello

*BANG* That sound was my head slamming against my desk because I don’t understand why anyone thought this was a good idea. The lyrics piss me off greatly, mainly because they fail to make any sense. In the chorus, he says that they’re “walking on a beach beneath the moonlight” but right after that in the second verse, there are “blue skies all around us?” Then, in the same verse, “a million stars” suddenly pop up out of nowhere. I just fail to comprehend why anyone with a lick of sense thought this was worthy of a finish in the top 10. Similarly, the music is painfully boring but at least it has some sense of actual beachiness with its guitar. Another stupid OKC comes along and takes whatever sad but decent parts of this song that are left and sends them up the creek without a paddle. It’s plainly unfortunate and annoying.

Because he just couldn’t let this entry score too poorly, Fabrizio had to be a pretty good singer. His voice is very enjoyable and it’s a crying shame that it had to be wasted here. In fact, he got his chance again in 2006 but I’ve never heard that song and won’t for another 24 contests. Hopefully the stakes will be less dire. And also, he will have ditched that wannabe Justin Timberlake styling and ridiculous dancers. Other than those pronounced misfires, most else was passable, at best. It’s another “whatever” song for me. I’ve heard it and now I’m moving forward.

Live: 7 | Staging: 3 | Lyrics: 0 | Music: 3 | Preference: 2

Total: 2.55 pts.

Song 22: Greece

“Die for You” – Antique

And with that, we have another soon to be returning artist in the glorious form of Helena Paparizou! Sadly for the present and 2001, this song is nowhere near as good as her winning effort will be. But, let’s chin up and see what she offered up in Copenhagen. Not much. There’s literally no development in the lyrics. Like, none whatsoever. It’s just, she realized that her lover loved her back and then she proclaims that she would “die for him.” That’s all. It’s shockingly thin. Then, the ethnopop beat that’s supposed to be masking this terrible inadequacy is watered-down and worthless, too. In another case of Swedish improvement, it sounds like Alcazar took this track and made it into “Not A Sinner, Nor A Saint” and made it about 100 times better. Even the pointless key change sounded good there. Right now for Greece, it stunk.

This experience was probably good for Helena because she doesn’t sound nearly as strong as she did in Kyiv when she won. Her voice had no depth here and it totally deflated whatever air was left in the song. Her partner in Antique, Nikos, certainly wasn’t as featured but sounded okay when he was actually heard. At least the Greek team nailed down the look, because that’s about as substantive as it’ll get. The props, clothes, lights, and shots were great, unlike everything else. This certainly isn’t “my number one.” *massive groans from you.*

Live: 5 | Staging: 9 | Lyrics: 1 | Music: 3 | Preference: 9

Total: 5.4 pts.

Song 23: Denmark (hosts)

“Never Ever Let You Go” – Rollo & King

Let me just say out front that the harmonica is by far the best part about all of this. I totally adore it and think it adds heaps of personality and charm to the song. As for everything else, it’s pretty meh. The country-inspired music was a good idea but, like so many good ideas, was made too complicated and given one too many “adjustments.” This song’s nail in the coffin for me was the barely discernible bongos drum through the first few verses and chorus. It wasn’t evident when I first heard the song a long time ago but now I just fixate on it and wish it didn’t exist. That’s a huge problem. Otherwise, the structure of the song is okay and the rest of the orchestration was well done.

Onto the lyrics, where Søren and Signe play lovers who have moved on past each other but can’t seem to let their feelings for one another go. The other “brings back memories all the time” and they end up pleading to each other to “come back again.” They’re certainly not anything noteworthy but they’re endearing and sort of sweet in their own strange way. I’m compelled to enjoy their freshness.

It’s good that all of my praise has been exhausted because the performance of this song left much to be desired. First, Søren looked very awkward onstage. Whenever he’d look near the camera, his eyes would get huge and disconcerting. Thankfully Signe came out to balance things a bit but ended up looking ridiculous in her purple ensemble that matched nothing. Vocally, he was fine but she didn’t seem to fit with the poppy nature of the song. It sounded like she should’ve been doing a ballad, as her voice had some very deep quality to it. It would’ve been so nice to hear something different from a Nordic country. As far as ditties go, I’ve taken a small shine to this one. After all, it’s always better to end on a good note and this contest really needed one. Tack, Danmark.

Live: 6 | Staging: 6 | Lyrics: 6 | Music: 6 | Preference: 13

Total: 7.5 pts.

9 (2001p)

Average score: 6.385 pts.

Hall of Fame Entrants: 0

My Favorite Song: Lithuania (1st)

Technically Best Song: The Netherlands (2nd)

My Least Favorite Song: TIE Ireland (22nd)/Latvia (Last)

Technically Worst Song: Latvia (Last)

Once again, the Dutch have saved the day with a pleasant surprise. The French also helped but in the end, it was all Lithuania and they can thank their lucky stars that their first two contests have had their best songs. The hosts probably didn’t want to look like fools in front of everyone so I have some sympathy for them, but it only extends so far. Aqua were totally insane as an interval and, should they be a peek into what DR has in store for 2014, we should be excited and scared. Talking of, hopefully the Danish organization was to your liking, since our next contest is actually the only other Danish hosted contest in 1964! That post will require some explanation, considering the lack of video but that’s for another time. Before that, though, I’ll update you on my finish in the Your Eurovision. Let’s see if Malta can “improve” on its 9th place here. In the future, though, expect a few different things because there are going to be a few changes around here. Till next time.

Peace,

-Nick

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Posted in Eurovision History
21 comments on “Number 9: ESC 2001
  1. thegoatmarket says:

    I agree on most of the songs. Latvia in particular – though it is so bad that I can’t help enjoying it just for that.

    We disagree on Lithuania, Germany and Greece, though. For the first two I find them rather weak (Michelle saves the German song a bit with her vocals though). I actually like “Die For You” quite a lot. Not originat in any way, but catchy.

    The Danish entry was sung in Danish in the national final. It worked a lot better.

    An interesting fact about the British singer; she recieved singing lessons from UK per telephone during the week of rehearsals, thus improving a lot. In a Danish documentary about the making of ESC 2001 she can be seen doing some singing exercises while on the phone.

    My own ranking of 2001:

    2001
    12/12:
    10/12:
    9/12: France
    8/12: BiH, Russia, Turkey, Slovenia, Greece
    7/12: Netherlads, Sweden, UK, Estonia, Denmark
    6/12: Israel, Croatia, Spain
    5/12: Norway, Portugal, Germany, Malta
    4/12: Iceland, Lithuania, Ireland
    3/12: Latvia
    2/12: Poland
    1/12:
    0/12:
    Average: 6,04

    • Nick P. says:

      The “So Bad, It’s Good” award went to Poland, for me. Something about it seemed too naïve to detest.

      It’s annoyingly catchy, which isn’t necessarily a problem. The real issue is that it feels too thin; there’s almost nothing to support it lyrically, vocally, or musically, although the last point is the least troubled.

      That’s both charming and peculiar. 🙂 But couldn’t the BBC have just sent the teacher to Copenhagen? Why incur the hassle?

  2. togravus says:

    Now that you have done 1996, 1997, 2001 and 2003, you have got a pretty good picture of the dramatic decline in quality caused by the rule changes introduced in the late 90s. What did we get? A lot of laughable English lyrics (simplistic, gramatically wrong, inconsistent imagery, clichés etc) and pretty weak attempts at being modern/contemporary. Yes, it is true that ESC in the 90s only had the most tenuous relation to what was going on in the charts but on the other hand, ESC had crafted a niche for quality music in the mid-90s. The line of argument suggesting that the changes were introduced to modernise ESC has always been wrong imo, it was an attempt to bring ESC in line with the expectations of the Saturday night TV audience which equals generic, trite and silly on most occasions. And how many modern songs have we seen in ESC since 1998 anywway? Only a handful: Russia 2003, France 2008, Switzerland 2009, Germany and Turkey 2010, Italy 2012, Germany 2011 and some others. All the europop, ethnopop and schlager stuff ESC has been dominated by since the turn of the millenium only qualifies as modern or contemporary in the very limited universe of ESC fandom anyway. Besides, there is absolutely no connection between what is perceived of as modern or contemorary and quality. If the charts reflected quality, Kate Perry would be a nobody and Cristina Branco would be a world star. Over the last 4 years, ESC has found some balance between quality music and the generic or silly stuff that had conquered and dominated ESC in the naughties. Entries like Greece 2012, Belarus 2013, Norway 2010, Spain, Israel, Croatia 2011 etc. still bug me a lot but I can live with those atrocities as long as I get songs like Albania 2012, Greece 2011 or Netherlands 2011 too. I still love ESC because I can discover quality music there that I would not encounter anywhere else, and that is the reason why I love songs like “Suus”, “Mundu eftir mér”, “Watch My Dance”, “Kuula” or “Rak bishvilo” or “Kedvesem” like crazy. They are fantastic songs I would not have found without ESC.
    Luckily, the 2010 to 2013 contests have been a big improvement on the tacky and cheesy mess most of ESC was from 1999 to 2009. Even if the 1998 contest was significantly weaker than 1994 to 1997, it was still miles above anything we got in the dismal shake it! and televoting will love it years in which I almost lost all hope. And don’t get me wrong, there were some fantastic songs in the naughties too, in particular in 2008 (Serbia, Portugal, Turkey, Israel, France) and 2009 (France, BiH, Moldova, Estonia) but it was never enough to save those contests as a whole.

    • togravus says:

      * Netherlands 2013

    • thegoatmarket says:

      I agree 1996 and 1997 were exceptionally great years, 1995 being more mixed (“Sama”, “Nocturne”, “Vuelve conmigo” and “Fra Mols til Skagen” being the highlights). But I don’t really get the hype about 1994.

      There are two really great songs: “Rock’n Roll Kids” and “Kinek mondjam el vétkeimet?”, and a handful of ok songs, but sadly also a whole bunch of anonymous and more or less identical ballads which you forget after five minutes. There’s too little variation (unlike in the following years), though the few uptempo songs “Bye Bye Baby” or “Wir geben’ne Party” aren’t much better.

      My average for 1994 is only 6,00, whereas 1996 is 8,09 and 1997 is 8,00.

      • togravus says:

        I think that we can observe a development in the 90s which conveniently starts 1990, when France and Spain brought new sounds to ESC. All in all, it was a move away from the pop, schlager and melodramatic world of ESC in the 80s, eventuelly substituting the old sounds with ethnic, singer-songwriter (f. e. Belgium 1990, Hungary and Ireland 1994 etc.) and more experimental (f. e. Cyprus 1992, France 1994 etc) material. This fantastic development culminated in the 1996 and 1997 contests before coming to an abrupt end (in 1999), mainly thanks to NDR/ARD who took revenge for “Blauer Panet” by sending ESC to the musical gutter for 10 years.

        I agree that 1994 is one of the weaker contests of the 90s.

    • Nick P. says:

      The disparity in quality between the 90s years and the 2000s is a big shock. I agree with you that the big divide had so much to do with the variety found in the 90s, like you mentioned in the comment below. But, talking of the past four years, it really feels like Eurovision has entered a period of experimentation, where rules are being changed and no one style of song stands above all. Except for 1996 and 1997, most contests are filled with repeats of the same idea. The 50s and 60s had chansons, the 70s and 80s orchestral pop, the 90s ballads, and the 00s schlager and ethnopop. Since 2009, the contest seems to be subject to greater stylistic variation. It’ll be interesting to see where it goes and as a fan who joined the ride in 2010, I have the unique position of not experiencing a contest of clones… yet. Hopefully we’re on the brink of a new period of high quality. 🙂

  3. togravus says:

    And my 2001 list:

    1. Russia 10.00
    2. France 9.83
    3. Denmark 9.00
    4. Estonia 8.83
    5. Greece 8.67
    6. Germany 8.67
    7. Spain 8.50
    8. Turkey 8.33
    9. Lithuania 8.00
    10. BiH 7.83
    11. Slovenia 7.83
    12. Netherlands 7.50
    13. Portugal 7.33
    14. Israel 6.67
    15. UK 6.33
    16. Norway 6.00
    17. Poland 4.83
    18. Malta 4.17
    19. Ireland 3.83
    20. Iceland 3.67
    21. Sweden 3.00
    22. Croatia 2.67
    23. Latvia 2.17

  4. Eulenspiegel says:

    A very boring year. A clear sign that the glorious 90’s were over. The Canadian borrowed Céline Dion ballad for France was the best in this bunch imo. The Greek entry became a big hit here in Sweden and can still be heard on radio sometimes. Much better than Elena Paparizou’s winning entry four years later. The Danish song was a catchy country tune and the only good one from the Nordic who sucked big time this year if you ask me. 😛

    1. France
    2. Germany
    3. Slovenia
    4. Turkey
    5. Denmark
    6. Estonia
    7. Greece
    8. Bosnia & Herzegovina
    9. Russia
    10. Croatia
    11. Portugal
    12. Israel
    13. Spain
    14. The Netherlands
    15. Poland
    16. United Kingdom
    17. Ireland
    18. Lithuania
    19. Malta
    20. Latvia
    21. Iceland
    22. Sweden
    23. Norway

    P.S. And the Russian guy is creepy.

    • togravus says:

      The Russian guy is a close friend of one of my colleagues and she tells me that he is a very nice man. 🙂

      • Eulenspiegel says:

        Nice but creepy, in other way. I think the band name fits him very well. 😉

      • Nick P. says:

        Aww. 🙂 His three minutes made him seem sweet and it was just such a likeable performance. Your colleague is very lucky.

        Off-topic: My sister actually is friends with Mika Newton. I haven’t asked my sister about how Mika is or if she even knows about Eurovision but I don’t see how she couldn’t know about it.

    • Nick P. says:

      Although I agree with it being a boring year, it’s odd because it doesn’t feel like an average-y year; either songs were good but safe or terrible and still safe. The only songs that stood out were Lithuania, the Netherlands, France, and Russia. Everything else sort of amalgamated into some medley of awfulness.

  5. marcpanozzo says:

    My 2001 rankings…

    12/12:
    10/12: Russia
    9/12: France
    8/12: Denmark, Turkey
    7/12: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Netherlands, Estonia, Slovenia, Germany
    6/12: Greece, Spain, Lithuania
    5/12: United Kingdom, Portugal
    4/12: Israel, Poland, Sweden
    3/12: Malta, Croatia, Norway, Ireland
    2/12: Iceland, Latvia
    1/12:
    0/12:

    Average = 5.48/12

  6. Patrick P. says:

    I hate Eurovision 2001. It’s the only edition that I refuse to rewatch in due to the lack of anything of interest to watch: awful songs, awful hosting, awful stage, awful everything… However, if you want to see how I ranked the songs based on that one time watching it (and I rewatched all the 1/12s and 0/12s in full to see if I still thought they deserved it, and I decided that yes, they did.):

    12/12
    11/12
    10/12
    9/12 Germany
    8/12 Bosnia & Herzegovina
    7/12 Russia, France, Estonia
    6/12 Netherlands
    5/12 Turkey, Denmark
    4/12 Portugal, Slovenia, Greece
    3/12 Iceland, Sweden, Spain
    2/12 Norway, Israel, Ireland, Poland
    1/12 Lithuania, Latvia, Malta
    0/12 Croatia, United Kingdom

    Average: 3.73 pts.

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