2000 EUROVISION SONG CONTEST - STOCKHOLM
This is where Daniel Viles makes his highly valued opinions on the songs of the Eurovision Song Contest held on May 13, 2000 in the Globen Arena, Stockholm and won by Denmark's Olsen Brothers. The stage used was the smallest used in Eurovision that I have ever seen, however, the use of giant movable video screens at the back of the stage were used intelligently to open and close the stage at various moments. The hosts, Kattis Ahlström and Anders Lundin, were full of humour and warmth and they were easily the best Eurosong hosts since Carrie and Ronan in 1997.
It should be noted that this was the first contest where I was able to listen to the songs prior to the contest. As a result, some of the versions available on "Eurovision Jukebox" are of studio versions of the songs, which can vary greatly in quality from the versions presented in Stockholm on May 13.
1. ISRAEL - Ping Pong - Sa'me'akh **
The song has a boring house beat, an unconvincing vocal performance, and an even more unconvincing brass accompaniment, yet, to prove the adage that a song is more than the sum of its parts, this is quite listenable, largely because Ping Pong are obviously having so much fun doing the song. The lyrics are hilarious, any artist that can get away with a line like "I want, I want a cucumber" deserves at least one point.
2. NETHERLANDS - Linda Wagenmakers - No Goodbyes *
I'm trying to remember the last time I liked a Dutch ESC entry (1993, I think). This is a dance song that sounds like something Steps would do. Basically, if you want to vote for a song with a house-beat, vote for the cucumber. This is trash and is the latest in a long tradition of trash from arguably the worst performed Eurovision country.
3. UNITED KINGDOM - Nicki French - Don't Play That Song Again *
The title of this song is killing me; there are just too many jokes. It wouldn't be so bad if the song was any good, but unfortunately, it's just another dance number to be played under a thousand mirrorballs. If this wins, next year's contest will be another disaster like 1999. Winning dance songs make incredibly crappy Eurovisions. Oh, and don't tell me that the 'Oh, yeah' towards the end of the chorus wasn't influenced by a certain Swedish foursome often associated with this contest.
4. ESTONIA - Ines - Once in a Lifetime ***
I'm going to take a wild guess and say that the lyrics to this song were written by someone whose first language wasn't English. If there's one thing worse than pop songwriting clichés, it's pop songwriting clichés that don't actually make sense together. This is a mid-tempo pop ballad with a verse that owes a little to that Swedish quartet we won't name and a chorus that is actually quite uplifting. The vocals are nothing special but they do suit the song. If you can ignore the lyrics, the feel of this song is quite lovely.
5. FRANCE - Sofia Mestari - On Aura le Ciel **
Well, I've heard better singing voices. If you want an example of the type of backing harmonies regularly used in Eurovision songs that really make me cringe, listen to this song. It takes a very good pop song to utilise six part harmonies, this is not one of them. As for the song, it's pop fodder, but it deserved a much better performance.
6. ROMANIA - Taxi - The Moon ****
One of this year's outstanding entries. Dan Teoderescu has a wonderful voice and the vocal harmonies create a warm nighttime atmosphere. Eurovision hasn't seen a lot of acoustic guitar pop songs so this entry is most welcome. The sound of the pan-flute is a little stark; I would have used a tin whistle for a more subtle effect. The electric guitar solo also seems a little out of place. But I really am splitting hairs here. Overall, this song is wonderful. Listen to the Romanian language version if you can.
7. MALTA - Claudette Pace - Desire ***
The lyrics to this song are cheap and the calypso-beat is a little laughable, however, I am reluctant to bag this song too much because it's good fun and it's a genuine attempt to do something a little different. Even though I don't like this song too much, a Maltese victory would have been a good result as 23 impersonations of this style would have made for a fascinating ESC2001.
8. NORWAY - Charmed - My Heart Goes Boom ***
"I need love, love, love, ooh to ease my mind". Diana Ross was apparently abducted from Heathrow Airport during "that" customs raid and forced to write the Norwegian Eurovision entry. Not only did Diana write the entry, she also found a group of vocalists who don't sound all that dissimilar to the diva herself. This song will wear off quickly, but it's a lot of fun until then.
9. RUSSIA - Alsou - Solo **
"Hit me baby, one more time!" I was half-expecting this song to be performed by a singer in a school uniform with the blouse tied in a knot. The song has a good funk-influenced dance beat, then lets itself down in the singing department, but never in my worst nightmares did I expect the future Queen of England, Britney Spears, to have an effect on Eurovision. The chorus of this song owes quite a lot to America's #1 Lolita, so if you enjoy Britney, you may enjoy this.
10. BELGIUM - Nathalie Sorce - Envie de Vivre **
Yay! A song not sung in English! The verse makes a great foundation for the song but the chorus fails to deliver, sounding liked a funked up Sousa march in some parts. The mid-song change of tempo only makes the chorus sound more inadequate. This song perhaps would have best been served by really going for the Mahalia Jackson-style gospel feel, which the song continually hints at without ever going the whole way. The singer sounds perfectly capable of pulling off a song of that style. Still, this song has its moments.
11. CYPRUS - Voice - Nomiza ****
Great to see a nation trying to retain some of its ethnic flavour in its entry. This song is a Mediterranean dance tune augmented with heavy percussion, which gives the song a very strong sound. The vocals are brooding throughout and the dark, stormy mood of this song is absolutely magnetic. If, like me, you're a sucker for songs that create great atmosphere, this song has atmosphere in spades.
12. ICELAND - Einer Ágúst Víðisson en Telma Ágústdóttir - Tell Me! **
God bless the Hammond Organ! This song is a standard sixties-style rock tune a la Chubby Checker. It's not bad in parts, but loses momentum just as it should be building due to a few poor chord choices. The vocal performance is OK; Einer’s voice is definitely better than Telma’s for this type of song.
13. SPAIN - Serafín Zubiri - Colgado de un Sueño ***
When it comes to consistently submitting crappy Eurovision entries, Spain is right up there with the Netherlands. This song, however, is certainly not the worst in the field. Serafín, although using too much vibrato, has a nice husky sound to his voice, and although there are, once again, a few superfluous backing singers, the dreamy feel of the song is endearing. Maybe the Spaniards will get it completely right by about ESC 2015.
14. DENMARK - Olsen Brothers - Fly on the Wings of Love ****
This mid-tempo pop song has a wonderful feel, although I prefer the song with Danish lyrics as the English lyrics are a little cliché-ridden. The Olsen brothers perform the harmonies wonderfully, which is a pleasant change for a Eurovision entry. Their vocal style is also sensitive to the style of the song, something also not usually associated with Eurosong entries.
15. GERMANY - Stefan Raab - Wadde Hadde Dudde Da? ****
Germany is reputedly the straightest, most boring country in Europe, and yet they have turned out three consecutive entries that have been nothing if not esoteric. The 70s funk feel of this song stood out wonderfully on the night (think KC and the Sunshine Band and you'll have the style of this song just about right). Stefan's voice is hardly virtuosic, but for this song, who cares as long as he's having fun?
16. SWITZERLAND - Jane Bogaert - La Vita Cos'è? *
Oh, yay! A mega-ballad. Next!
17. CROATIA - Goran Karan - Ostani **
Never say that Julio Iglesias didn't have a big effect on Eurovision. The idea of a fiery Croatian singing a Spanish ballad might take some getting used to. As with most Eurovision Julio ballads, the song is spoiled by the excess of backing vocalists. When will nations learn that the limit of six performers on stage doesn't mean that you should have five backing singers? Basically, this song doesn't go anywhere at all.
18. SWEDEN – Roger Pontare - When Spirits are Calling My Name **
Norway in 1996 was the last host nation to produce a decent song; no reason to break with tradition now. This rock shuffle contains a very dated electric guitar sound, a vocalist who is probably drawing one of Sweden's world famous pensions and once again, too many backing vocalists of no great quality. The "American Indian" part in the middle actually sounds quite good compared to the rest of the song.
19. F.Y.R. MACEDONIA – XXL - 100% Te Ljubam **
It's a girl group, so I didn't expect much, but I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of this song. It's a dance-funk song that actually works, the verse complements the chorus nicely and you can't fault the vocal performance. That is, you can't fault the vocal performance on the record. At the contest, they were easily the disappointment of the night as they struggled to get a single note right. This was compounded by their attempt to sing the final chorus in English that just did not work at all. Overall, the record is fun but the performance is worthy of the fast forward button.
20. FINLAND - Nina Åström - A Little Bit ***
The downside of performing in English is that I can tell when the lyrics are shit. Still, for what it is, this is not a bad song. This slow tempo ballad actually sounds like something Savage Garden would write (sans violins of course). The voice suits the song well, which is always a pleasant surprise in Eurosong, and the backing vocals complement the feel of the song nicely. It's probably the pick of this year's contest for the 4KQ set.
21. LATVIA - BrainStorm - My Star *****
This is an absolute classic. Apparently, Bob Dylan saw this performance and loved it. Yes, it’s a pop song, but what a pop song! The English lyrics work in the same quirky way that Bjork’s English lyrics work and BrainStorm’s musical performance is faultless. The undisputed star of the whole contest was singer Renars Kaupers who would go on to host the contest in 2003. His stage presence and vocal perormance left everything and everyone else at this show in the dust. Just trust me on these guys, utterly brilliant.
22. TURKEY - Pinar Ayhan & S.O.S. Band - Yorgunum Anla ***
Turkey can usually be relied upon to produce a song with a good folk flavour and the verse of this song is promising. And then, the onslaught of those Eurovision six-part harmonies. Why, oh why?! You had the Latin feel, you had the accordion, you even had a decent vocalist (if not quite in the same league as Sebnem Paker). And you just threw it away!
23. IRELAND - Eamonn Toal - Millennium of Love
It's a pity Eurovision didn't have the foresight to ban any reference to the millennium in this year's contest. Ireland is making the world pay for their lack of foresight. This song is the worst in this year's contest as every note and every word of this ballad in the "join arms and sway in time" style is merely a part of a cliché. If Europe ever wanted a chance to make Ireland pay for winning four out of five during the nineties, this is it!
24. AUSTRIA - The Rounder Girls - All to You *
OK, I understand the influence of ABBA or Julio Iglesias on the Eurovision Song Contest, but Motown? With two songs? I've missed something here! This song is not as good or as much fun as the other Motown entry this year (Norway). The vocals are a bit underdone and the musical feel of the song will appeal to those who love imitation Motown and not many others. It's hardly a strong ending to the contest.
This contest was an improvement on the dreadful 1999 contest but never looked like approaching the heights of 1995-97 despite the best efforts of the Swedish host broadcaster who brought back a little professionalism to the hosting of ESC after the fiascos of 1998 and 1999. The standout song was from Latvia closely followed by Romania. Germany, Cyprus and Denmark are the other songs that I'll keep listening to. I then struggle to complete my top ten, eventually going for Finland, Malta, Estonia, Croatia and Turkey. The dud of the night was easily Ireland, which is one of the worst ESC entries of the last decade.
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