Eurovision Through the Years – In this new series I will (in irregular time intervals and non-chronologically) present a year of the Eurovision Song Contest. We will look at songs and singers, hosts, gossip, interesting stories and funny incidents. We already recaped the first Song Contest in 1956. Today we will look at the last contest held in Sweden: Stockholm 2000. You can find all reviews we already published here: Eurovision Through the Years: The (Hi)Story.
The Eurovision Song Contest 2000 marked several milestones in Eurovision history. It was, of course, the first contest of the new millennium, but also the first contest to be broadcast on the Internet (Today hundreds of thousands of fans in over 140 countries watch the contest that way every year). It was also held in front of the biggest live audience a Eurovision Song Contest had ever had at that time: The Globen Arena in Stockholm could seat 16,000 spectators. It was also the first year a compilation CD of all entries was released.
It was the 45th Eurovision Song Contest and the fourth one to be held in Sweden (second in Stockholm). The logo for the contest, a pair of open mouth lips, was chosen by SVT, and was described by its designers as “a sensual, yet stylistically pure mouth representing song, dialogue and speech.” This implicit motto of the contest was adopted by hosts Kattis Ahlström and Anders Lundin, who welcome the television viewers in a mix of languages aka „ Spasiba et Schalom to Jerusalem that presenter uns with such a magnifico espectaculo dernier year – last ano” Kattis also mentioned the “100 million viewers” which seemingly unsettled Anders a bit.
Slovakia, Greece and Hungary decided not to compete for financial reasons. The countries with the five lowest average scores over the previous five contests who had also participated in 1999, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal and Slovenia were excluded meaning that five countries could return. These countries were: Finland, Macedonia, Romania, Russia and Switzerland. Latvia also joined contest as the only country to debut.
The postcards involved Swedish themes and incorporated the respective nation in some respect.
The evening started with a provocation. The Israeli group “Ping Pong” sang their song, or rather message underlined with beats, “Be happy” mostly off-key and in clothes reminiscent of the century that had just passed. They waved Israeli and Syrian flags which they wanted to be seen as a message of peace (The two countries were in a state of war). Additionally the two male singers kissed for a very brief moment. All that did not impress Europe too much. Israel ended in 22nd place at the end of the night. The performance was voted one of the worst in Eurovision history by our readers.
Linda from the Netherlands seemingly wanted to press every cliché about Eurovision into the three minutes she had. She started off with a gigantic white and black crinoline dress from which, after the intro of the song, two well-built male dancers in tight glittery shirts appeared. Nina herself resembled a mirror ball after the crinoline dress was lifted off of her. The song was a simple dance song with some Caribbean (?) influences. Naturally the two male dancers had to lose the tight shirts and show their nipples on prime time television later on. Seen as one of the favorites, the visually exuberant presentation may have turned away some voters: 13th place.
The United Kingdom was represented by Nikki French, who had achieved international fame with a cover of Bonnie Tyler’s “Total eclipse of the heart”. Her song “Don’t play that song again” was generic Euro pop and many jurors and viewers that night seemed to agree with the title of the song. It reached 16th place which was the UK’s worst showing ever at that time. Apart from the song, the dance moves (two steps to the left, two steps to the right, raise your hands) and the incompatibility of her Thatcherite hairstyle and Britney Spears belly-free purple shirt may have turned off some potential voters.
The bookie’s favorite that year was Estonia. “Once in a lifetime” was a nice and catchy song but maybe Ines felt the pressure of being the hot favorite upon her. In her green suite with a green cowboy hat she did seemed very nervous, did not smile at all and moved very statically which did not really fit the song. Her necklace was reminiscent of that tripe in Thailand (or was it Burma?) you see on tele so often. As measured by the high hopes before the contest, Ines may have been a bit disappointed with her 4th place, which nevertheless was Estonia’s best place to that point.
There was a time when Francophone entries dominated Eurovision, in 2000 the negative trend concerning the results of French entries reached its low-point. The two only entries performed in the French language came last and second to last. Sofia Mestari performed an easy-listening song for France. „On aura le ciel“ seems like a nice song to me and I don’t really know what went wrong. Belgium came last with only 2 points for the anthemic “L’envie de vivre”. Nathalie Sorce performed the powerful song in a wedding-like dress, the “Com’on vivre sans amour” didn’t really fit the song, though.
Romania was represented by the group Taxi that year. A beautiful pan flute part was the highlight of the song. Easy-listening lounge-like music and a singer with colored glasses were apparently not enough to impress Europe: 17th place was the result. Maybe the lead singer’s thick accent that made most of the lyrics incomprehensible was also a reason. At least the main topic of the song was clear “The Moon”.
Malta sent a song that could have easily been part of the “Lilo and Stich” or “Tarzan” Disney soundtrack. Lead singer Claudette Pace had something of an early Chiara, in bodily proportions that is. The song has a positive feel and puts a smile on your face. It also includes one sentence in Maltese, the first time for 28 years the language appeared on a Eurovision stage. 8th place was the result at the end of the evening.
Norway sent happy Scandinavian pop. The song “My heart goes boom” was presented by a three member girl group dressed entirely in black and purple. The lyrics describe the first time a young woman sees her lover. Apparently her heart “boomed” so much that she couldn’t even hold on to her ice cream: “You were standing in the shadows, looking quite impossible/I lost my mind and popsicle“. 11th place was the respectable result for the happy pop song.
The Russian entry “Solo” was written by two Americans and performed by UK resident Alsou. The song was thus closer to the likes of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera in sound and performance than to the Russian soul. Europe loved the song and voted it into second place. They presented themselves as bad losers (or better bad runner-ups) however: The Russian delegation petitioned for the winning Olsen Brothers to be disqualified, after they had used a vocoder to give Jørgen Olsen an electronic sound to his voice during one of the verses of their performance. This issue was rejected by the EBU.
Cyprus was represented by Christina Argyri and Alexandros Panayi. Panayi had previously represented Cyprus at the 1995 Contest with “Sti Fotia”. The two performed a dramatic love duet in Greek and Italian. It was the first time the country did not entirely perform in Greek. Maybe “Nomiza” was too peculiar and didn’t have enough melody, because in the end 8 points were only enough for a 21st place and Cyprus could not participate the next year.
The clothes Iceland’s representatives wore were reminiscent of ravers at a trance parade. Surprisingly, they sang a soft pop song with very little trance and confessed their love for each other. The song came 12th.
Serafín Zubiri had already represented Spain in 1992 coming 14th. This time his song “Colgado de un sueño“ only came 18th. The blind singer and pianist accompanied himself on the piano and wore a black suit and dark glasses. His song was probably not catchy enough to make an impact.
After the successful joke entry by Guildo Horn had reanimated interest in the contest in Germany, the composer of the latter’s song, Stefan Raab, decided to enter the competition himself. The title of the song is baby talk in German and was inspired by a clip of an old lady asking her dog who had just pooped “Wadde hadde dude da” (What do you have there?). The performance included light effects, young ladies losing more and more of their clothes throughout the song, plateau shoes and sparkling suits. The “super sack of German television” came 5th mostly due to points from neighboring countries, where he was also popular.
Switzerland was represented by Jane Bogaert with the ballad “La vita cos’è?” (What is life?). The song was a slow ballad with a climatic chorus. She had prominent support: Al Bano, the Italian representative of 1976 and 1985 was one of her backing singers. Bogaert wore a lilac, sleeveless gown for her performance. She only came 20th with 14 points.
Goran Karan represented Croatia with the ethnic rock ballad “Kad zaspu anđeli” (“When angels fall asleep”). Karan wanted to perform the song in English but was not allowed to due to a public vote. During the entire performance a performer wrapped in a black cloth formed different kinds of sculptures, at times resembling the Death Eaters from Harry Potter. At the end of the performance, however, she revealed herself to be a beautiful angelic woman dressed in white, at the sight of which Goran could seemingly only fall to his knees. Europe liked the second Croatian transformation from ugly dumpling to swan (remember 1998?) and the song came 9th with 70 points.
The home entry from Sweden was the song “The Spirits Are Calling My Name”. A pop song with ethnic elements, the entry speaks of the efforts of indigenous cultures to protect their cultural heritage: “Let me be the native son with freedom in my heart” Roger Pontare wore a Sami costume associated with the indigenous population of Lapland in northern Sweden. He was additionally accompanied by an Indian dancer, a Thule Eskimo and a Norwegian Sami. The song came 7th with 88 points, among them 12 from Turkey.
The four girls of XXL representing Macedonia, wore tight multicolored clothes and danced in front of graphics of gigantic mirrored balls. They told a man that they love him 100%. In doing that, they sounded off key for most of the song and could not harmonize. That and the weak song added up to an unsatisfying result: 15th place for Macedonia and thus no participation in 2001.
Nina Åström performed her ballad „A Little Bit“ for Finland, accompanied by a violinist, two backings and a guitarist. The song deals with the feeling of love, one has towards one’s place of birth, regardless of where it might be. It can be qualified as easy-listening. The song was chosen in the Finnish selection due to the jury vote over Nightwish’s “Sleepwalker” even though Nightwish had won the televote. For many fans this is one of the biggest missed opportunities for a country. Nina Aström could only continue the poor results for Finland, coming 18th.
Latvia made its spectacular debut on the Eurovision stage with the band Brainstorm: The song “My Star” came third, which was the second best debut result at that time. The lead singer Renārs Kaupers (who also wrote and composed the song) apparently persuaded many people with his eccentric dance moves and enthusiastic performance. The song was often compared to Brit pop efforts by bands like Oasis.
Turkey sent another ethnic entry. Pınar Ayhan performed her song in English and Turkish accompanied by two guitars and an accordion player. Some of the guitar passages sound quite Spanish to my ears. “Yorgunum anla” (I’m weary) did much better than similar Turkish entries, coming 10th. The introduction of televoting now seemingly favored Turkey. They got high marks from France and Germany but also from the Dutch jury.
Ireland did not change the formula that had made them the most successful Eurovision nation: They sent yet another traditional Irish ballad. The song “Millennium of love” performed by Eamonn Toal (who seems to be related to Michael Bolton) was dripping with sentimentality and spoke of the hope inspired by the new millennium: “Celebrate the new millennium of love, where our footprints leave a harvest for the children”. Even though, it was even dubbed “Millennium Of Cheese” by critics in Ireland, it did much better than many expected: Performed with fervency and with burning candles as a backdrop it came 6th and achieved more points than the following five Irish entries combined.
Austria had the honor of performing last on the night. The Rounder Girls (I shall not be inclined to relate the band name to the bodily volume of the three ladies) performed the up-tempo song “All to you” in long black dresses. The “girls” from Vienna, London and New York did their best to add value to the bland song with a slick dance routine and good vocals. In the end they came 14th and Austria was not eligible to enter the contest the following year.
The surprise winners of the evening were two brothers from Denmark. They performed a catchy ballad in black suits, accompanying themselves with guitars. Their advanced age and the fact that they sang about the beauty of a woman which increases with her age (The original title of the song in Danish was “Smuk som et stjerneskud” – “Beautiful as a shooting star”) seemed to speak against the song doing well. However, the Olsen Brothers performed with such enthusiasm and ease that they positively stood out from the competition and looked fresher than all of their much younger competitors. The audience clapped along from the very beginning and Denmark dominated the voting from the very beginning as well. The song became a hit in Sweden, Norway, Germany and Austria.
The interval act/movie “Once upon a time Europe was covered in ice” included impressions from all participating countries: Weddings, music, drinking, dancing, soccer fans and more. The movie was directed, composed and edited by Johan Söderberg and produced by John Nordling. On stage were violinist Caroline Lundgren, drummer Strängnäs Trumkorps plus street musicians from Stockholm and dancers from the Bounce Street Dance Company.
Due to the Enschede fireworks disaster, the Dutch national broadcaster NOS decided to take the show off the air half way through. Later, NOS declared that it was both for practical reasons as well as because they found it “inappropriate to broadcast a light entertainment programme on the night of such a catastrophic event”. The Dutch votes were thus decided by a jury.
You can watch the entire contest here:
Here is the full scoreboard:
|1||Denmark||Olsen Brothers||Fly on the Wings of Love||195|
|4||Estonia||Ines||Once in a Lifetime||98|
|5||Germany||Stefan Raab||Wadde hadde dudde da?||96|
|6||Ireland||Eamonn Toal||Millennium of Love||92|
|7||Sweden||Roger Pontare||When Spirits Are Calling My Name||88|
|9||Croatia||Goran Karan||Kad zaspu andeli||70|
|10||Turkey||Pinar Ayhan & The SOS||Yorgunum Anla||59|
|11||Norway||Charmed||My Heart Goes Boom||57|
|12||Iceland||August & Telma||Tell Me!||45|
|13||Netherlands||Linda Wagenmakers||No Goodbyes||40|
|14||Austria||The Rounder Girls||All To You||34|
|15||Macedonia||XXL||100% te ljubam||29|
|16||United Kingdom||Nikki French||Don’t Play That Song Again||28|
|18||Spain||Serfín Zubiri||Colgado de un sueno||18|
|18||Finland||Nina Âström||A Little Bit||18|
|20||Switzerland||Jane Bogaert||La Vita Cos’è?||14|
|22||Israel||Ping Pong||Sameyakh (Be Happy)||7|
|23||France||Sofia Mestari||On aura le ciel||5|
|24||Belgium||Nathalie Sorce||Envie de vivre||2|
It was the second Danish win. Russia, Latvia and Estonia achieved their best results ever. Germany reached the Top 5 for the second year in a row. The UK and France achieved their worst ever results. For Belgium it was the 8th last place.
Inspirations = wikipedia, Klaus Berg ogae.de – ESC Geschichte(n)