A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Monday, September 12, 2011

Tobson's Winners: 2006 - 2010

During these five years, further modification was tried out by the EBU. After a nightmare of a semifinal in 2007 (with twenty-eight songs in the running), the qualification system was completely re-vamped in 2008.

Now, only the host country and the big four were guaranteed a place in the final - everyone else had to go through the two semi finals. This has resulted in way stronger final line-ups than before.

Not only stronger line-ups - it is in general much harder to predict the result this way. The final changes everything: the draw, the odds, the chances, the favourites. In short, the two semis contribute to way stronger television than before.

Also, the juries have been forgiven and are back in the game gradually since 2008, where they got to select the tenth finalist in each semi final. In 2009, they did that too but also had a fifty percent say in the final result. And from 2010, they have half the power already in the semi finals.

To tell you the truth, I am not convinced that this was a good move. It could have been, but I still see the same old countries voting extensively for neighbours and friends, the juries obviously joining the game rather than doing anything to prevent it. Also, as from 2011, the juries seem to have favoured strong voices over pop songs. They would need a reminder that this is a song contest - not a singing contest - and that we do not want to return to the old hit-less days of the 90's again.

2006 - Russia

Dima Bilan - Never Let You Go (Russia 2006)

Of course I am deeply happy that Finland won, that's beside the point, but in my book Russia was by far the best. A lavish stage show, slick presentation and one of the best pop compositions to grace a eurovision stage in the last ten years.

The whole production is classical and modern at the same time, and for some reason I find the slow drum loop a tiny bit Beatles-esque.

How sad to see that in only two years, the lovely Dima Bilan would grow into a pompously arrogant nobody. And even sadder to see him win, when he clearly no longer deserved it.

Real winner:
Lordi - Hard Rock Hallelujah (Finland)

2007 - Georgia

Sopho - Visionary Dream (Georgia 2007)

Ever wondered what "Ray Of Light" would have sounded like had Madonna been born in Tbilisi? Wonder no more.

Georgia's debut entry in Helsinki is a real knockout of an entry, it doesn't sound like anything that was ever heard at the ESC before. A wild mix between etno, ballad, aggressive beats, sword dancing and, in the middle of the storm, the wonderful Sopho Khalvashi, queen-like and supreme, keeping the whole thing together.

Too demanding for the average voter, perhaps, but it gives me serious goose bumps.

Real winner:
Marija Šerifović - Molitva (Serbia)

2008 - Bosnia-Herzegovina

Laka - Pokušaj (Bosnia-Herzegovina 2008)

As eurovision has filled up with more and more quality pop songs, modern and chart-friendly, it just gets harder to decide which one is my favourite each year. Often something quirky makes the top of my bill, I've noticed.

Calling this entry quirky would be something of an understatement, though.

It is artistic, experimental, edgy, boundbreaking, melodic, fun and Wogan hated it. Laka is a real artist (and his sister too) who uses his three minutes in full to present himself to a potential audience, not caring the slightest for the people who won't understand. When eurovision allows something as demanding as this to make top ten, that's when I really love my old contest.

Real winner:
Dima Bilan - Belive (Russia)

2009 - Bosnia-Herzegovina

Regina - Bistra voda (Bosnia-Herzegovina 2009)

If there is one national that truly emerged like a real quality engine since the semi finals were introduced, then it is Bosnia-Herzegovina. Once they got their machinery running, after the civial war and some hopeless attempts at staging fair national finals, few others can match the Bosnians when it comes to personable performers, strong melodies and memorable performances.

Rock band Regina, who possibly heard a track or two by Coldplay through the years, deliver a tender, delicate melody line, demanding and inviting and the same time, and how this song didn't reach higher than ninth place remains a real mystery for me.

Real winner:
Alexander Rybak - Fairytale (Norway)

2010 - Germany

Lena - Satellite (Germany 2010)

When there are forty-something entries in the line-up, the chance that your personal favourite will be the winner in the end diminishes quite clearly. My joy was immense as my big pre-contest favourite made it all the way in 2010.

Even more so since I had been hoping for Germany for a few years already. They had been trying to deliver quality entries for quite some time without really getting it right, ending in failure year after year in spite of creating quite a few domestic hit singles.

Lena was a bull's eye in many aspects: young, appealing, hit friendly, equipped with a bubbly personality. A dream winner for Eurovision in many ways. And the importance of one of the Big Four countries winning can hardly be over-estimated.

Real winner:
Lena - Satellite (Germany)


  1. I must agree with you about the 2007 favourite. I hated the Georgian song when I listened it in the internet before the actual contest. But in Helsinki I changed my mind completely, and the Georgian song is still the brightest highlight of the 2007 contest.

    To make the good song even better, Mikki Kunttu and his lightning team provided the Georgian song the best visual background of the last five years. The overall experience on the Helsinki Arena stage is something that hasn't been equalled since, and I wonder if it ever will.


  2. I have to agree with you on 2008, Laka put on perhaps the most memorable performance of the night, and remains still my personal winner of '08.

    I like the fact that Pokušaj is artistic, quirky and fun, but not in the slightest pretentious. Dima Bilan, however, I agree was very undeserving by 2008 - to be completely honest, his win was disappointing.


  3. First, I'm sorry if my comment insult you.
    About the juries, you know, they're brought to 'neutralize' the result. If you see on televoting result from 2009-2011, most of the top 10 are still from the Eastern European countries as like 2007 and 2008.
    OK, sometimes the juries make me feel annoyed too like how they underrated Finland 2010, Norway 2011 and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and how they overrated Sweden 2011.
    Anyway, I thought the 50/50 voting is far better than the 100% televoting that overrate Eastern European countries or the 100% juries who overrate average-ballads and underrated dance and folk songs. No voting system can satisfied everyone actually :)

  4. Oh, I'm not offended at all, I'm with you on this one. I just feel that the juries don't do their job properly.

    I get a feeling that several of the countries whose televote really would need balancing out has juries who just run along with the friendly voting at every given occasion.

    And as for Eastern Europe... With the risk of repeating myself, there is no uniform "east" that only votes for one another. The reality is far more complicated than that.

    When a country makes an effort, it often leads to success, regardless what corner of the continent that country is situated in.

    Armenia makes a bigger effort than Belgium, therefore gets better scores.

  5. I was happy to read your reviews of these entries. I agree with you in 2006 when LORDI won. Would they have won without the monster outfits? No.

    Me and my daughter loved at that time "innocent" young boy Dima Bilan. His entry Never let you go is a masterpiece. And the show was guite cultural and ethnic.

    Just the opposite of his winning song Believe, I did not like the song, the gestures and the too much of everything show.

    I'm also glad you mention two of my alltime favourites: Sopho and Bistra Voda. With Sopho I was ecstatic about the performance: could this be happening in the ESC? High quality composition, excellent singer and ethnic show.

    With Bistra voda I can't describe my feelings, I start to cry. You put the words just in right order ; I respect your talent to describe your feelings. I often feel the same way without words.

    1. That's one of the loveliest compliments I ever had. Thank you so much. I'm just so happy whenever anyone enjoys my words.