Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Helsinki throws party for Eurovision

If there was ever a question whether Helsinki could throw a party, I think the city answered it with an emphatic, YES!

The 52nd Eurovision Song Contest was held in Helsinki this past weekend due to the victory of the Finnish rock band Lordi in the 2006 contest. Eurovision flags were everywhere around town, even flying on the head of the trams. The city provided lots of free music. Friday night was a street party with a concert stage at the Senate Square. Yvette and I got there in time to see the end of Tijuana Taxi, the pop-rock band The Crash (a favorite with the high-school girls), and the Don Johnson Big Band (no, not THAT Don Johnson!).

Saturday was more music, followed by the live broadcast of the Eurovision finals in the Senate Square. Senate Square was packed solid on Saturday night. Claustrophobes probably should have kept their distance!

Saturday's night broadcast opened with a fantastic new video for Lordi's "Hard Rock Hallelujah." After that, it was all 24 finalists "performing" (i.e., singing over the karoake versions of their songs) their music. Any upbeat music made the crowd go crazy. Crowd favorites were the entries from Greece, Turkey, Ukraine, Sweden, and, of course, Finland. The Russian entry, while catchy, elicited some boos from the Finns.

After all the songs were performed, each country's residents dial in to vote. Top vote getters from each country get awarded 12, 10, 8, 7, 6, ..., and 1 points in that order. (Of course, you cannot vote for your own country.) Each country then is surveyed and the scores are assembled. Serbia won this year with their broken-love ballad "Molitva." Singer Marija Serifovic sang the crap out of the song, which won the hearts of the voters. Many other eastern European countries voted for the Serbian entry, leading some to assert bloc voting, as in this commentary.

Like other years of Eurovision, it's not necessarily the best song or the best performance that wins. But, it's good clean fun, and a chance to dance to this, sung by this:


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