Saturday 12 May 2007.
One minute into the proceedings and I was fed up already. Shut up Wogan! Jeez, he’s even talking over last year’s winners Lordi. Hard! Rock! Hallelujah! Shut! Up! Wogan!
The presenters Jana and Mikko looked nice and over the night were less annoying than some from recent years. Mikko was a rather good looking young man too.
To the songs!
Bosnia: dull tuneless non-song, her frock was more interesting. The most exciting bit was when a guy came on to play a bouzouki. Yes.
Spain: D’Nash looked very good indeed in their all-white outfits and managed to give a fairly good performance of their energetic number.
Belarus: Stage act saw his backing dancers literally climbing the walls. Koldun was still ropey in places and a bit in-your-face but I still thought this was a contender.
Ireland - Eh? She was flat and all over the place. A folky shambles and Ireland should now reconsider how it chooses its entries from now on.
Finland - one that I hadn’t rated initially but went up in my estimations on the night. Evanescence clone, contemporary rock entry which she sang well.
Macedonia: Shortest dress of the night which would manage to divert voters’ attention from the forgettable song. Another ‘toilet break’ song - there were many of these tonight.
Slovenia: She looked scary, she sang scary, boy was she scary.
Hungary: Least-styled singer of the evening - just a simple bluesy number which was one of the more unusual ones this year. She did well on this.
Lithuania: Most boring song this year and lacking in melody, however it was nicely staged with the girl at the front and the rest of the band in silhouette.
Greece: At last something a bit more lively. It wasn’t all that great, but was lively all the same. Shades of Ricky Martin with the "Maria" reference, and wasn’t the last song tonight to mention "Shake It Up".
Georgia: Debut country who did well to get out of the semis. Her red satin frock was better than the song, which sounded like Bjork singing over Madonna’s "Ray of Light". Interesting sword dancing going on though.
Sweden: By now the most rewarding three minutes of the evening. Yes I’m biased. Ola looked lovely as always and sang well enough, whirled on a wheel and took his shirt off. Some said it was an arrogant performance - I just thought it was great.
To a commercial break at which we once more got to meet Krisse, the annoying curly-haired blonde plucked from the audience to live her dream as a presenter. The truth is that she was a plant of course, and is a well-known comedian in her native Finland. A very tedious and unnecessary addition to the evening.
France: Very likeable piece of Franglais nonsense. The band had been camped-up a bit with outfits by JP Gaultier. Also worth a mention was the bald bloke with the cat around his neck. Good fun and very different from the usual French entries.
Latvia: I hated this on Thursday night but such was the low standard tonight that I was actually beginning to appreciate this, even if they were still terribly styled. Surprisingly good - and surprising that they didn’t pick up more votes.
Russia: Very modern and great fun. I predicted this as a possible winner and it ended up doing very well indeed. It’s only a matter of time till Russia wins this thing, as they seem to be sending some very good and contemporary entries. And they’ve got lots of friends/neighbours to give them lots of points.
Germany: He was very good indeed, a charming singer of swing dressed all in white. Interesting staging again with his name in lights at the back of the stage. He also switched to English for the final chorus.
Serbia: I had this as one of the possible winners and we now know where it ended up. IMHO one of the worst Eurovision winners of recent years, it will not be remembered. On the plus side (if there is one) it proved that a glamorous performer, elaborate dance routines and an uptempo song in the English language were no longer required to win.
Ukraine: Winner and runner-up back to back in the running order! Verka! Verka! Verka! 12 points from me!! Great fun from start to finish, and the one entry tonight which was really what Eurovision was once about - entertainment.
Royaume-Uni: Ooh tacky. Innuendo-laden rubbish and of course no-one but Scooch themselves seemed to get the joke. However, the UK ended in a now very familiar place - near the bottom of the table. Not even Tony Blair’s well-timed resignation announcement was enough to save this one.
Romania: Another joke entry which was sung in as many languages as you could fit into three minutes. A very cunning move to grab votes, and at least it was light-hearted.
Bulgaria: Worst ‘song’ tonight. Even more horrific than I remember it from the semi-final. As I said before, it’s not a drumming contest. Puzzled at why this did so well. Geographical reasons?
Turkey: Second entry to "shake it up". Sadly he was dressed in the same awful outfit from the semi-final. Not the worst though, and always guaranteed votes. Remember the days when Turkey was always near the bottom of the table? Now they can always be found near the top.
Armenia: Big meaningful ballad minimally staged in front of a tree with paper flying from it. Why was he covered in blood at the end of it? Maybe that should have happened to a few more contestants. Did very well in the voting, can only think it was the combination of a good draw, neighbours and expat voting?
Moldova: Another Evanescence/Within Temptation style song which was a surprise qualifier from the semi.
So it was all over bar the voting. Which used to be the best part of the evening...but now it’s killing the contest. I’ve been watching Eurovision for more years than I would like to admit, but the fun and unpredictability has gone out of the thing, when you can yell out who’s giving 12 points to who before they have even announced it.
Despite Helsinki 2007 being a well-organised contest with good staging and presenters who for once didn’t get on your nerves, all that will be overshadowed and remembered as the "year of the East" when none of the western European countries made it out of the semi final, and the ones which did make the final were dispatched one by one to having to qualify for next year’s semi.
It’s no use saying that the west needs to send better songs. Each country could send the best songs sung by their biggest stars and they’d still end up near the bottom of the heap. But enough of us disgruntled fans moaning about things having to change/ditch televoting/bring in East and West semis/go back to juries etc etc.
In the end it’s down to the broadcasters themselves to put pressure on the European Broadcasting Union to change the contest, which is spiralling into decline and will get worse as long as the neighbour/diaspora voting scandal continues.
And before you say anything, I’m not a bad loser (Scooch may have represented the United Kingdom but they sure didn’t represent me) but it’s time for a change, otherwise it will be time to switch off for good.