The Eurovision Song Contest 2006
The Grand Final



As I said in the semi-final, we're in Athens. The capital of Greece, and home to the oldest civilisation in Europe. A smart bunch, here are some famous Greeks:
I think you absolutely have to hand it to the Greeks for raising the standard of welcome performances. People flying through the air, a giant golden sun with people all over it - all set to a suitably dramatic song...

As if that isn't enough, they "fly" in the two hosts! This is Maria Menounos. The other host is Sakis Rouvas.

Goodness! Where can you go from here? I might as well switch off the television now - the contest itself will be an anticlimax in comparison!
To keep the ball rolling, we're straight to Helena Paparizou for a recital of her winning song from 2005. And, well, more people flying around.

As the first postcard played, a caption appeared on the screen:
Dolby-Surround-Ton leider nicht möglich
Is this a first for Eurovision? Broadcasting the audio in surround (5.1?)...



The Songs

01 Switzerland "If We All Give A Little"

Performed by six4one, in English.

A somewhat hippy song - a line from the chorus sums it up "if we all give a little we can dry a million tears". It reminds me of Israel's thousand candles back in 2002.
I'd have given this some points (but not many) if it was only the female vocalists, but I found the men to be... how do I say it? Annoying?



02 Moldova "Loca"

Performed by Arsenum feat. Natalia Gordienko & Connect-R, in English.

If it wasn't Eurovision, this would turn up on one of the satellite music channels as a manufactured pop song to catch the Ibiza vibe. Bright, colourful, and somebody in the audience can walk away with a bouquet of flowers... but not a winner.



03 Israel "Together We Are One"

Performed by Eddie Butler, in English and Israeli.

Israeli "smoochy" music. Barry White this guy isn't! I think the percussion cheapened it - a simpler arrangement would have worked better (in my opinion).



04 Latvia "I Hear Your Heart"

Performed by Vocal Group Cosmos, in English.

An interesting idea for the backing singers to vocalise the instrumentation, the whole thing being a capella... It might have worked if it wasn't for the offputting falsetto.
The book that became a sort of walking robot at the end, that was different! But not enough to rescue this song.
Captioned on-screen as I Hear Your Heart, though the German announcer introduced this as I Follow Your Heart.



05 Norway "Alvedansen"

Performed by Christine Guldbrandsen, in Norwegian with a smattering of English.

Buxom blondes and violins... they're trying to do a 'Nocturne' again, with a song that sounds more Irish than the Irish songs! The style was, if you can imagine, classical transition crossed with an Irish ballad. The sort of thing you'd expect to see on Classic FM TV.
This is the first song of the night that I liked.



06 Spain "Bloody Mary"

Performed by Las Ketchup, in Spanish.

First thought - weren't there three in Las Ketchup? Now there are four. What are they wearing?
Let's face it, though, there is a certain Spanishness to the Spanish entries. Oddly enough, the Spanish group last year (Son De Sol with "Brujeria") sounded like Las Ketchup... and this year we have Las Ketchup but they didn't sound so much like Las Ketchup!
"The Ketchup Song" might have scored a bunch of points. This won't rank too highly.



07 Malta "I Do"

Performed by Fabrizio Faniello, in English.

Very ’80s EuroPop (think of something not a million miles from London Beat's "Requiem"). A respectable performance of an annoying song. He could do well with better material. This one just sucks.



08 Germany "No No Never"

Performed by Texas Lightning, in English.

Well, that voice doesn't look as if it belongs to that person! She's called Jane Comerford (which doesn't sound German!), and she also wrote the lyrics and the music. It's not often you see that these days.
Viewers that don't have access to German television might not realise that they sometimes broadcast songs like this - only the girl is dressed in a more regional costume (usually white and green, like lederhosen) and she is standing in a field with windmills in the background. Complete with the bass strings and the banjos. I'm never quite certain if they are serious or taking the piddly.
As for this song - it's the second one of the night that I liked. It received a big cheer in the hall, and deservedly so.



09 Denmark "Twist Of Love"

Performed by Sedsel Ben Semmane, in English.

When it started I didn't like it, but it won me over. I'm not sure if it was the energetic dancing or the built-in comedy, like the girl walking off with the guitar soloists instrument in the middle of his star moment (he wasn't really playing!).



10 Russia "Never Let You Go"

Performed by Dima Bilan, in English.

I didn't get the attraction of this song the first time. This song, and the performance, is weird in an arty sort of way. It has the vibe of being the 'dark horse' of the contest that will do well though half of the viewers (myself included) will be totally baffled as to why!
His shirt says "10" this time around, as it is the 10th song. Clever, huh?



11 Former Yugoslav Republic Of Macedonia "Ninanajna"

Performed by Elena Risteska, in English.

"I wanna be with you, I wanna geev it to ya". It is one of those songs that comes, happens, and goes, and then we're on to the next song.

While I'm here, can anybody explain why they insist on the Former Yugoslav Republic Of part in their name? Plenty of countries have been occupied, split up, rejoined, and overrun. Through history the United Kingdom was overrun by loads of people - Vikings, Romans, Normans, and more recently Asylum Seekers. But they don't call it Formerly Known As Albion, then overrun by Vikings then Romans then Normans then Asylum-Seekers, Monarchy Of The Not-Very-United Kingdoms of England, Scotland, Wales, and that bit they stole from the Irish!



12 Romania "Tornero" (Come back?)

Performed by Mihei Trâistariu, in English, chorus in... sounds to me like Italian.

There's a whole story being acted out here, and a nice performance by the ballerina. Basically, guy meets another girl. Existing girlfriend isn't so happy about that. It goes deeper, but you'd really need to see it on video to get the full effect. Nice.



Time now for a short interval so certain channels can break for adverts.
What's the excuse for that? ARD1 shows adverts, called "Werbung" (say "ver-boong"), but it doesn't break in the middle of the contest. Would these other channels interrupt live coverage of the World Cup to advertise beer and new sofas? Can't they manage to schedule three hours continuous twice a year?
I think it is sad that we now need pauses for advertising, but ... money talks. I suppose in this case the British are unique in having the BBC as I can't put a name to any other advert-free channels. The suckiest thing is the likes of subscription satellite channels that expect you to pay for them and they show adverts.
I must hand it to NDR and ARD1 - congratulations and thank you (danke!) for not cutting up the contest with advertising.
We who didn't go to adverts were treated to a montage of pictures of the contest preparations, followed by a brief 'chat' with the hosts.



13 Bosnia & Herzegovina "Lejla"

Performed by Hari Mata Hari, in Bosnian.

Apart from the foray into the world of Femminem, the recent Bosnian entries have tended to sound very similar, and this is no different - basically Lane Moje reloaded... At least they put some thought into camera angles and the whole visual side of their song. It was interesting to watch.



14 Lithuania "We Are The Winners"

Performed by LT United, in English.

I hope this flunks. I would like to hope a winning song is more than a group sounding like a bunch of lager louts singing "We are the winners... of Eurovision; vote, vote, vote for the winners" over and over again.
There was an interesting response in the auditorium. As the song finished, it sounded like half the audience gave them the obligatory cheering, while a number were booing.
As horrible as this song may be, at least we can credit Lithuania for attempting something different. I don't recall hearing this sort of song in recent years, and certainly not one that claims "we are the winners of Eurovision". In a contest where alsorts have come and gone in the half-century of song, it isn't so easy to come up with new ideas. So yes - it was awful. But yes - it was an attempt at something new.



15 The United Kingdom "Teenage Life"

Performed by Daz Sampson, in English, duh!

A rapper and the belles of St. Trinians. Interesting combination. Perhaps not a winner, but a good performance by the girls. Daz? I think he needed to take all of the girls doses of Ritalin and calm down a little! He seemed...frenetic.
It's an interesting school uniform the girls are wearing. The last girl I knew that dressed like that for school attended a private school. Was Daz just trying to smarten the girls up, with the hats and blazers, or was there an underlying message?



16 Greece "Everything"

Performed by Anna Vissi, in English.

You know you watch a song and sometimes you just think "That's it, that's the winner". That's the feeling I get from this one. She just walked onto the stage and put it out there.
Sorry UK, sorry Carola... This is it. This is the one. Anything else would be a travesty... except perhaps...



17 Finland "Hard Rock Hallelujah"

Performed by Lordi, loudly, in English.

Well, the Eurovision performance is by far better than the video (which I saw on Viva earlier today - an outsider schoolgirl watching as Lordi rampage and possess a group of cheerleaders during rehearsal - yeah!!!).
This one is so different, it will probably win by a considerable lead.
Mom, who doesn't like this sort of music, said that it looks like a bunch of singing Klingons. I can't improve upon that, so moving swiftly on...



18 Ukraine "Show Me Your Love"

Performed by Tina Karol, in English.

Small and bouncy making a good Shakira song. Certainly a different performance, she's got a good set of lungs! I hope she does well, she deserves to.



19 France "Il Était Temps" (It was time)

Performed by Virginie Pouchain, in French.

I don't know how far the twins from Nantes got in the regional selections (refer to Getting Ready), but I'm afraid that I don't think Virginie could hold her notes very well.
Following Finland and Ukraine, I think she needed something more than to just stand and sing (or, more accurately, 'warble, like something in pain'). Let's have Alizée for France next year!



20 Croatia "Moja Štikla"

Performed by Severina, in Croatian.

Yes! This is what I remember of Croatia - performances that are weird as all get-out but seem to have a whole logic all their own. Severina put everything into this one, and not only crossed Sex In The City with Wild Dances, but looked like she was trying to flirt with the entirety of Europe.



21 Ireland "Every Song Is A Cry For Love"

Performed by Brian Kennedy, in English.

Here's Ireland's hope. Ireland has to compete with Norway sounding like them, Greece's entry, and - of course - Lordi.
Getting down on his knee for the 'sensitive' part is sure to win him votes. Will this song prevail? He couldn't have performed it better.



22 Sweden "Invincible"

Performed by Carola, in English.

Carola (a past winner, from 1991) put everything into this performance. This should come second... after Lordi.



23 Turkey "Sûperstar"

Performed by Sibel Tûzûn, in Turkish, with a smattering of English.

I didn't like the singing the first time around, and you know what? I still don't like it.
The song itself isn't bad, in the disco style, and it is one of the few that is sung in the language of the country concerned... but the vocals are awful!
I'd rather listen to an entire Gracia CD (last year's entry for Germany, with Run & Hide) than hear this for a third time.



24 Armenia "Without Your Love"

Performed by André, in English.

We welcome Armenia to the contest for the first time this year, and they bring a song that is like something you'd expect to see from one of the former-Yugoslavian countries - which isn't really a surprise when you look at a map.



The pre-voting process

That's all folks. While they yack about how to vote, I'll list for you for my top ten:

  1. Greece (perfection)
  2. Sweden (Carola's invincibility)
  3. Norway (sounds like Ireland)
  4. Germany (western banjos)
  5. Ukraine (Shakiralike)
  6. UK (Daz and those sixth form chicks)
  7. Ireland (crying out for some loving)
  8. Denmark (she thinks he can't twist)
  9. Croatia (spanking the inner moppet)
  10. Romania (the love and rejection story)

   Tina Karol and Shakira. Which is which?

For my prediction of how Europe's voting will actually go: insert Finland in first place and stick Russia around third. Put Bosnia in there around sixth place. And, sadly, drop out the UK.


Then they bring in a woman (Nana Mouskoury?) who took part in Greece's entry some 43 years ago. She helped them flip the giant hourglass to count down the ten minute voting time.



The interval act

The interval performance started with Helena Paparizou...


The next interval performance celebrated 4,000 years of Greek song. Let me guess - the woman with the wings was the story of Icarus, right? See? I did pay attention at school... once or twice. ☺

You can tell which the audience liked from the cheering!



The voting process

Our hosts, Maria and Sakis, came back for the voting process.


Their first step is to check with the "EBU Scrutineer" that the voting went according to plan. He already knows who won, which might explain his expression. Go on, tell us it was Lithuania...


The first country to give their votes was Slovenia, and Peter in Slovenia was wearing a little message for Maria...

The scores from one to seven were briefly flashed on the screen, with the presenters in each country reading eight, ten, and twelve. This should speed up the voting process.
Latvia gave ten points to Lithuania - and the audience booed it!
Nina, in Helsinki, has a big smile because the Finnish entry is leading, right from the get-go.

I expected Greece to perform better. I don't get the attraction of the Russian song...
Jasmine, in Brussels, is showing a vote of confidence in Kate Ryan, the Belgian entry that didn't make it past the semi-final.

When Norway gave full marks to Finland, the monsters held up something...
This, translated, means "Let's take it easy there in the home - Finland". Thanks to Jarno, via Moray, for this.

Ireland gave eight points to the UK, and 12 to Lithuania. That was followed by Moira in Malta who gave full marks to Switzerland. In the words of the German announcer - "wow, das ist strange!".

What had the vote announcer in The Netherlands been drinking? :-) I wonder if the number he gave out was really his number? He said: 00 31 62 474 443 210. Giving your number to a hundred million viewers... Could be inviting trouble, that.
Maria went to the Green Room and talked to the Ukrainian girl. I didn't see the UK contestants in the various pictures from there - perhaps it was past the girl's bedtimes?

Wow - the vote announcer from Poland almost smiled! He wound them up by giving 12 votes to Poland - before admitting it was top marks to Finland.
The UK's vote was presented by Fearne (Ferne? Fern? Fearn?) who will be known to viewers of Top Of The Pops. And maybe some of them will know how to spell her name!

Just to prove you can't always tell if Germany is being silly or serious - here's the vote announcer... in the studio riding a small horse... It appears to be a real horse.
Notice the Eurovision broadcast is on ARD1 and the caption of the announcer is the sister channel NDR.



The results

Bosnia & Herzegovina229Germany36
Ukraine145United Kingdom25
F.Y.R. Macedonia56Malta1

Read a complete analysis of the scoring



The winners

I don't know who the girl with the pen in her mouth is, a journalist perhaps? When she realised the cameras were on, she got out of the way pretty damn quickly!

Everybody needs a little affection, even if you're grey/green, have really bad complexion, and get turned on by big pyro-effects...

One last performance of their song, only without the loads of fireworks and without the wings.

Lots of photographers taking pictures of the monsters performing - to perfectly illustrate the headlines proclaiming garbage like "the nice days of Eurovision are gone" along with the usual calls to 'scrap' the song contest...


And, finally, I include a picture of the end credits. Check out that name - Elli Papageorgakopoulou!!!


Well, that's it for another year. Monsters rule, OK! I expect we'll be in Helsinki for 2007...


Read comments about this year's contest...

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Copyright © 2006 Rick Murray
Images copyright © 2006 EBU-UER
Broadcast in letterboxed widescreen by ARD1 - DasErste!