The Eurovision Song Contest 2004


(Saturday, 15th May 2004)


This is the Eurovision Grand Final. Below are pictures, captured live from the broadcast (thanks to ARD1 "Das Erste" for showing Eurovision on Astra 19.2°E). With each entry you will read my thoughts and comments. This was all written 'live' with the broadcast.


The event was opened by Sertab (you may remember from the charts from last Summer), who was the winning song in Eurovision 2003; hence why this year the event comes from Istanbul in Turkey - the only country to bridge two continents... The European part of Turkey is quite small, adjoining Greece and Bulgaria. The Asian part is much larger; adjoining Syria, Iraq, Iran, Armenia, and Georgia. The capital, Ankara, is in the Asian part of Turkey. Below Turkey is the island of Cyprus which is half-owned by the Turks. This is a bit of a hot-topic right now... When Cyprus is on Eurovision, it is always the Greek half (the lower half) as Turkey is (currently) the only country that recognises the Turkish part of Cyprus.

One thing that turns up a lot in the various segments are the spinning guys in white dress with the Ali-Baba hat. Mom informs me that they are the 'authentic' "Whirling Dervish". This is a branch of the Muslim faith in which the people perform devotional exercises (such as the whirling) in order to attain a trance-like state. It looks pretty weird, but I guess it is harmless enough. :-) Credit to the dervishes for spinning through a large part of Sertab's performance without tossing their cookies. I'm not sure I could do that!


Spain "Para Llenarme De Ti"

(sung by Ramon in Spanish - it means "To be filled with you")

The rhythm and music of this song reminds me a lot of Las Ketchup...



Austria "Du Bist"

(sung by Tie-Break in German)

Oh no! Yet another Boy Group (I prefer 'Boy Group' to 'Boy Band' as most Boy Band members can't play anything other than the fool).
These guys remind me of Before Four, only without the whininess.



Norway "High"

(sung by Knut Anders Sörum in English)

He is like Ronan Keating crossed with somebody from the '70s whose name I can't remember...
Of the three songs we've had so far, this one is the most 'Eurovision' to my mind. It starts off a bit slow, but builds to the expected climax. It ought to do well.



France "A Chaque Pas"

(sung by Jonatan Cerreda in French - it means "With every step")

The eye-candy here is - believe it or not - a tall coloured woman in a white dress. Oh, and stilts!
Not a bad song, though maybe a little on the weird side. This shouldn't be a problem though as weird is something Eurovision can do - who could forget Mein Hinst Danse?



Serbia & Montenegro "Lane Moje"

(sung by Zeljko Joksimovic in... Serbian? - it apparently means "My fawn")

Woo-hoo! David Schwimmer on Eurovision. Well, I guess he's gotta do something now that Friends has had its final season.
This song sounds very arabic to me.



Malta "On Again...Off Again"

(sung by Julia and Ludwig in English)

Bouncy chick and wimpy guy create a strange but oddly captivating mélânge of pop and opera. This should do quite well.



The Netherlands "Without You"

(sung by Re-Union in English)

A guy with a guitar, a guy with a microphone, and three guys called Vinny. The singer, unfortunately, sings a little too high, IMHO.
Maybe these guys should take a lesson from Abba... The most popular Eurovision song EVER is Waterloo, which is NOT a love song.
Enough with the soppy love songs!



Germany "Can't Wait Until Tonight"

(sung by Max in English)

Personally, I would disqualify this entry.
Why? Because I've watched the pop video on MTV and Viva... before the song contest.
I don't think that any Eurovision song should get playtime prior to the night. Okay, maybe an article on TOTP and obviously it'll need to be aired for the televote of which song will be chosen to represent the country; but numerous playings on the music channels (there is even a video to go with the song) shouldn't be allowed.
Don't get me wrong - I am not against well-known people singing for the country. After all, Russia was represented by the tATu girls (where are they now though?) last year. What I am against is... well, let's just say the song should be pretty 'fresh' for Eurovision. By the time the grand prix rolled around, I'd heard Max's song enough times to be bored with it!

Don't think I'm unfairly picking on Max - it is just that I happen to watch German TV as it is pretty much all my satellite kit can receive! I suspect Max isn't the only one to be in this situation. And it is wrong. Okay, rant over. :-)

Max is the product of a programme apparently called "Stefan Sucht Den Super Grand Prix Star". If you know any German TV, or ever seen a pop video by a group called DSDS, this is from "Deutschland Sucht Den Superstar" which is their version of these Pop Idol things, only in the German case about ten people 'won'. The title of the programme that found Max is obviously taking the ....

The song itself... It isn't my sort of music at all, but I'd give it a reasonable technical merit score - except for the climax where Max couldn't quite get the high notes.

Why oh why oh why does the group "Three Doors Down" come to mind? Weird!




Albania "The Image Of You"

(sung by Anjeza Shahini in English)

It's nice to see Albania has figured out a Eurovision song - hell, the crowd actually cheered the guitar solo!
With lyrics like "I'm the Queen of the world ... of make-believe", this song is both amusing and jolly. Good luck to Albania.



Ukraine "Wild Dance"

(sung by Ruslana Lyzhichko in ... whatever... English and Russian I think!)

Wild Dance, Wild Song. The lead singer is sorta 'Catherine Zeta Jones does Xena'. There's certainly a lot of action in this one (it and Estonia have a lot in common, though Estonia didn't pass the semi-final).
The song itself is a) rather repetitive, and b) nonsense. This, however, has never been a hurdle in Eurovision terms, and the performance certainly makes up for everything the song lacks! This will do well, I can just feel it.



Croatia "You Are The Only One"

(sung by Ivan Mikulic in English)

<sob!> Croatia is usually weird-yet-arty (think of the lovely and kooky Croatian Sky by 'Put' (1996?)). This year they have a man being dramatic and...
Again the song gets technical merit, though I think it'd have been better without the backing singers. I don't think it's Eurovision though. Of course, now I've said that it'll go and win...



Bosnia & Herzegovina "In The Disco"

(sung by Deen in English)

I thought this song was a cheesy '80s beat given a '90s twist, until it clicked that this guy is singing "In the disco...".
Does he not realise that nobody goes to discos any more?
The highlight of disco was possibly Friday Night Fever, and how lllooonnnggg ago was that?!?
Oh, and why are the girls wearing bright blue shoes with hot pink tops? Talk about a colour mismatch!



Advert break

During the break we went to link-ups in the Canaries, Hamburg, and Istanbul. The Istanbul link was 'broken', so we saw the announcer preening herself unaware that some twenty million people were watching! Also, pictures of the Canaries and of 20,000 people partying in Hamburg...
(I'm sure you can figure out which is which! :-))


Belgium "1 Life"

(sung by Xandee in English)

A very popish song performed with gusto by three red arrows...
You know, as I watch this, I think the song is performed well (if the English is a little bit dodgy), but I can't help to mourn the passing of the on-set band. Now with these backing tracks it is like TOTP-goes-Euro...



Russia "Believe Me"

(sung by Julia Savicheva in English)

Now that tATu has vanished from sight post-Eurovision, it is up to Avril Lavigne... sorry, Julia Savicheva... to give Russia the winning song. Will it? Personally I think it'll be somewhere in the middle of the scoreboard.

Remarkable trivia: There's a Julia in tATu as well. With the real name Yulia Olegovna Volkova, she was the energetic, shorter, dark-haired one.
The other - the generally more peaceful, taller, red-head is called Elena Sergeeva Katina; which sounds more like something I'd be able to pronounce correctly! Because they're Russian, they can both skate; as can our Avril Lavigne look-alike Julia Savicheva. I don't know this, I just have yet to hear of a Russian girl that can't ice skate!



F.Y.R. Macedonia "Life"

(sung by Tose Proeski in English)

Let us have a song.
Let us make it dramatic.
Double that.
And again.
That's the Macedonian entry.

The 'F.Y.R.' in the title stands for "Former Yugoslavian Republic (of)", so you can see why I use the abbreviated form.



Greece "Shake It"

(sung by Sakis Rouvas in English)

Well, they cannot do any worse than the recent "S.a.g.a.p.o"...
Two girls in white (wait for it, that changes - Bucks Fizz style) and a guy singing.
Give them 8/10 for effort. Knock off two points for a sucky song, and knock off 1,000,002 points because the guy is wearing ripped jeans. So not trendy!
However, since clothing gets ripped off, it'll do well.



Iceland "Heaven"

(sung by Jonsi in English)

Another love song of sorts, and another "Wasn't he in Boyzone?" type of person.
Actually, he reminds me more of Gary Barlow, god help him. On seconds thoughts, this song is way beyond Barlow's abilities... [*]

* - as is 'Ring-o-ring-o-roses' :-)


Ireland "If My World Stopped Turning"

(sung by Chris Doran in English)

Not a bad song. The Irish, traditionally, know how to do Eurovision.
This one comes from the Ronan Keating school of music.
Which is a shame, as it'd have been nice to hear something more traditional such as The Voice.
But... Not bad at all.



Poland "Love Song"

(sung by Blue Cafe in English)

The girl is called Tatiana Okupnik (!). The song is Latino inspired, it is just a shame that is seems to consist of about four words!



UK "Hold On To Our Love"

(sung by James Fox in ... duh! English!)

James Fox doesn't impress me. He looks like a very scruffy version of Keifer Sutherland and sings a song that, IMHO, needs a hell of a lot of work to make it decent. As it stands it is too blah. I say it'll get between 40 and 60 points and come in around 16th place. It isn't the worst song but it isn't that good. At least it'll do better than last year...



Cyprus "Stronger Every Minute"

(sung by Lisa Andrews in English)

I really like this song. It will not win as it isn't the sort of thing that does, but I wish Lisa all the best as this is a good song performed well. It is like a cross between Dido and Jewel (Kilcher) - though more Jewel than Dido. I have both of those in my CD collection, which I guess explains why I like this song!



Turkey "For Real"

(sung by Athena in English)

Obviously the crowd cheered this!
This is more the sort of thing I'd expect from Germany. With a Latino beat, this seemed to be quite a good parody of soft-punk-meets-soft-rock. At least, I HOPE it was a parody!
Thank goodness for something Turkish that didn't have a whirling dervish in it!

This song was... let's just say it'll do quite well because it isn't good form to not put in some points for the host country.



Romania "I Admit"

(sung by Sandra Ladosi in English)

A pretty generic Europop song sung by somebody who is possibly best described as 'Pink meets Scary Spice'...



Sweden "It Hurts"

(sung by Lena Philipsson in English)

Sweden... The home of Roxette and the very spirit of Eurovision - Abba...
We should expect something interesting from them.
Lena Philipsson provides us with something that is more Bonnie Tyler than Abba. She's cute, very Swedish looking, and the song isn't bad either. It'll do good.




With all of the songs performed, I'll give you my placings while the hosts yack about the televoting...

I predict:

  1. Sweden
  2. Norway
  3. Ukraine
  4. Malta
  5. Cyprus

I'm not sure if Cyprus will do that well. I put her in my top five because I really like the song, and to hell with the televoting! It'll probably be Greece there instead as, like I said, they did a Buck's Fizz...
Ukraine is there because of the 'weirdness' value, and actually as good as Malta might have been, you cannot deny Ruslana's performance. She put everything into it.

One thing I can be sure of is that I'm probably wrong. The Eurovision voting has rarely made sense; and the only two times I ever correctly picked a winner was "The Voice" for Ireland back in... when was it, 1996? And also Carola's performance for Sweden in... 1991 I think (might have been '92) with "Captured By A Love Storm" ("Fangad av en stromvind", from memory - t'was about twelve years ago!).
We don't count the year England won with Katrina and the Waves "Love Shine A Light" because that was so obviously a winning song...

Who will come last? I really hope it isn't Ukraine, it takes balls to pull that off! They should win rather than lose. Let's give Bosnia the loser spot to let them know that Disco Is Dead!


The Interval

We go from a sort-of native American routine into the Riverdance, and from there we spin dizzyingly into Riverdancing to arabic music.
They're taking the piddly ever-so-slightly!

This certainly has more dramaticism to this act, though I think I prefered the semi-final interval act with the drums.

We next dissolve into something that'd be more at home in a James Bond movie (the older generation, with Sean Connery as Bond).

After that, we're back to dancing with a cast of hundreds. Well, thirty or so...


And look, not a whirling dervish in sight! Cool.


The vote

Before the scores, Sertab went to the Green Room and interviewed Ruslana (Ukraine). She doesn't seem to speak any English so the guy translated. She said she felt the love and power from all of Europe, and certainly seemed like she hadn't quite calmed down from her performance yet!


I have pictures of all of the people who presented the votes from each country.


All of the countries vote, not just those that made it to the final.
The vote order is supposed to be alphabetical:

The picture is in greyscale because it converts more quickly - I didn't have time to do a colour process.
Switzerland comes under a 'c' because its real name is ... I can't remember, something Helvetica. That is why the Swiss cars have 'CH' on them (like England's 'GB' or Germany's 'D').
No idea why Serbia is there, I presume something similar. Spain is with the 'E' because the real name is "España" (though, P comes before T so it should be before Estonia, surely?).
Don't ask me why the UK is where it is... And what does Croatia call itself to be after Greece?


Early on, the top five were:

  1. Turkey
  2. Bosnia
  3. Greece
  4. Ukraine
  5. Spain

Estonia was one of the countries to give 12 points to Ukraine.


Greece, obviously, gave 12 to Cyrpus. Hey, I liked Lisa's song, I won't complain! The UK gave her 10 points, which is good.


Latvia gave points to Cyrpus as well, referring to her as Barbra Streisand. Looking at the picture, I can see exactly what he means - though Barbra is a little before my time so it wasn't who popped to mind when describing her.

(PS: Barbra really does spell her name like that, she was born Barbara (on 1942/04/24) and somewhere along the way she changed her name. Maybe everybody else kept mis-spelling it Barbra so she figured 'what the hell'?)

Israel gave Ukraine 12 points, as did Turkey...


I must make a special mention to Monaco who gave 12 points to France. Talk about ass-licking!


Is is known that Cyprus and Greece vote for each other, and neither votes for Turkey. Likewise, Turkey's votes don't go to Greece. It is political. This year, maybe in a small gesture of peace, Turkey gave 2 to Cyprus and 10 to Greece.


As the Ukraine announcer finishes his reading of the Ukraine televote, we'll look at the state of the scoreboard...


I must make a mention that the scoreboard actually shifted position as the votes were read out, so you didn't have to perform a feat of memory to keep track of the top five. That's a good idea, and well done to Turkey for doing it.


My thoughts

I can understand why Ukraine won. This year, it seems, the votes went to power and energy rather than a quality song. Nothing wrong with that, the televoting allowed unfathomable numbers of people to have their say, so unless it is a big fix, it is fair.

I told you Greece would do well with the clothes-removal bit. It's a tired cliché but it still gets the votes!

Turkey came fourth? Are they serious?!?

I am so happy to see Cyprus fifth. Okay, it is a joint fifth, but it is a pretty good score nonetheless.

Cyrpus was joint with Sweden. I expected Sweden to do better, but joint fifth isn't so bad.

I'm also pleased that the jolly number from Albania had a decent score; though I cannot believe Bosnia made the top ten. Maybe I'm wrong and Disco Isn't Dead in the nether regions of Europe?

Russia and Malta. Both deserved a better score.

The UK came in exactly sixteenth. If you think I'm making this up, I wrote it in an email to a friend (hi Ewen) that they'd come in sixteenth. Cool. Scary. Tatiana's song for Poland (the one with few words repeated a lot) came in two points lower - so maybe I'm right in my slagging off of James Fox and the lacklustre song?

This brings us to the final two: Ireland and Norway.
Ireland. Oh boy... Chris Doran will have to go into hiding, maybe move to another continent. Ireland is traditionally good at Eurovision (they've won it often enough!), so what went wrong here? The song wasn't so bad, the singer wasn't ugly, why did it only score 7?
But my heart goes out to Norway. Poor Knut put in a perfectly reasonable performance, even if his stage presence reminded be of Morten Harkett (that's A-ha to some of you). Norway spent most of the night with the infamous "nil pwah" until somebody gave them a mighty three - probably Sweden. There's no justice in that score, none at all...


Ukraine - the winners

Congratulations to Ruslana for winning the Eurovision Song Contest 2004 for the Ukraine.
Next year, the contest will most likely be held in Kiev - which interestingly enough is about one and a half thousand kilometres due north of Istanbul. The other side of the Black Sea.
Small world, huh?

A celebration in the Green Room.


I think she (in yellow) wrote the song.


Thanks be to the audience and everybody who voted...


Ruslana took the time to give us all a proper bow. That was nice.


Sertab, after getting her shoe stuck in a metal grating on-stage...

...presented the odd-glass-trophy-thing to Ruslana.

And, as always, the winner sings their song again...


...this time, with a spot of improvisation.



That was the Eurovision song contest 2004. Thank you for reading.

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Text and HTML copyright © 2004 Richard Murray
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