A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Norway is better than Finland (but not by far)

If, in Finland, you would compare Euroviisut to Melodifestivalen in Sweden, people would stop you in the middle of it. You are mad, they would say. It is beyond comparison. Sweden is so good at showbiz. Finland could never ever in a zillion years produce anything likeworthy. Even the producers and bosses claim so. That we are unable.

OK, fine. But let's compare with Norway, then.

Norway's Grand Prix is clearly ahead of Euroviisut. It goes on tour, attracts big names, creates hit singles and generates good ESC placings most years. It has a bigger budget and is clearly more ambitious as a tv show.

But let's lend it a critical eye, then. So far, no entry in GP 2011 has been fantastic. The songs that are so good that I have to hear them once more before going to bed in order to able to sleep at all - those are absent.

The songs are OK, mainly of a typical radio pop variety. Bubblegum pop or likeable ballads, something for every generation, most often without that definitive hook or that smashing unforgettable chorus. Just like in Euroviisut. Our songs are OK too. What Norway does right is that they put on a show: add backing singers, some dancers and a choreography made for television and the entry will look better than it really is. And that is how you make entertaining television.

Visually, Norweigan finals benefit from much tighter and better camera work. That comes with the arena - a hall gives you new opportunities and creates possibilities to alter the angles and the movement. The extra space makes it possible. If you sit year in and year out in the same old studio covered with dust, nobody will hatch a new idea anytime soon.

You would be surprised how much camera work will add to a TV show. Look at the stage sets in Norway - they all look the same. Year after year, they are basically alike. In Finland, the sets change a lot more to no avail, since the camera work is equally tired every year and nobody notices. A lot of effort wasted in a place where it makes no difference.

Above all, what have happened in Norway (and Sweden and Denmark) is that a tight team has taken over. A team that believes that things can be made better. A team that believes that ambitions will help you making things better. A team that believes that you need to do thinga as well as you possibly can.

If you believe in your product and your programme, that will attract big names and good songs. Norway (and Denmark) have both managed to lift their national finals from being uninspired studio productions with no sparkle into being grand events loved by the audience.

Tell me again why Finland wouldn't be able to achieve the same thing with a little bit of an effort?

1 comment:

  1. I have wondered that even though the sets change in Finland, the show has ever since 2007 looked the same every year. Every year I listen to the studio versions of the songs and think that what a good bunch of songs we have here. But when the songs are put on the stage, everything falls apart.

    In Sweden it is, imo, other way around. The songs are not any better than here in Finland, but they just look and sound good on the Melodifestivalen stage.

    It is not a question that finns cannot put a good show. I remember that for example the 1998 national final was excellent productionwise and songwise, even thought it was done in a studio. And the international final of 2007 clearly show, that if we want, we can also make good television.

    But I guess it is a question of money. YLE is always blamed of wasting money. They don't dare to do Euroviisut as they do it in Sweden or even in Norway.