Report from the 2006 Termite Convention
Okay! Everybody book your tickets for Helsinki 2007!!!
Hey! I've been to Helsinki! It rawks!
Okay, so they speak a lingo which ain't Indo-European. They speak a Finno-Ugrik lingo, just like Estonia, Hungary, Turkey and maybe Korea!
In Jim Jarmusch's "Night On Earth," the whole 30 minute part in Helsinki, you can only understand two words: "Okay" and "Taxi." (The movie's all about taxi rides all over the planet. My favorite taxi ride was in Roma.)
Don't hold that against them! They rule the Cell Phone Universe! They invented Internet Relay Chat!
Meanwhile ... Vleeptron is wondering if the government of Lebanon allowed the Beirut station to broadcast the Eurovision Song Contest this year. Maybe things have loosened up in Beirut since the Syrians pulled out. How much damage can ten minutes of watching an Israeli sitting on a grand piano singing gospel-soul do to the Arab world, huh? (When Israel's Eurovision chanteusse did her thing a few years ago, Jordan blacked her out and showed a silent screen of flowers.)
Switzerland's six4one was the first act of the show ... patwithyournewlaptop ... what's the Termite Gossip about six4one? Are they really Swiss, or another last-minute Baltic syntho-import?
And ... uhhh ... how did DE end up with a group called Texas Lightning?
Anyway, here's what The Eurovision Folks have to say about The Big Night:
* * * * * * *
The Grand Final 2006
Congratulations to the winner!
Lordi [from Finland / Suomi]
Congratulations to the winner!
Lordi [from Finland / Suomi]
And so the big night has arrived.
Time to sit back and enjoy the show.
Hosting the event for the first time, Greece puts on an opening ceremony that leaves us in no doubt as to where we are. Dramatic and spectacular, the performance is full of the geography, history and imagery of Greece and is based around the themes of sea and sunshine. A lone mermaid (read the lyrics below), surrounded by waves, dolphins and ships, sings as a huge sun descends from the far end of the arena.
Then, in one of the most dramatic entrances in Eurovision history, hosts Maria and Sakis swoop down from the heavens before landing on stage and introducing a star even bigger than the sun: Helena Paparizou, last year’s winner. She gives a red-hot rendition of ‘My Number One’, the song that brought the contest to Athens, and her adoring public goes wild.
Now desperate for their Eurovision fix, the crowd give another huge cheer as the first act of the Final is introduced. It is six4one, representing Switzerland. With the eyes of the world on them, they show no signs of nerves and give a highly accomplished performance. They’ve each chosen their own costumes, to show that they are six individuals, and their voices all sound unique and distinctive as they take it in turns to sing a line. But it’s when they all sing together during the chorus that the song really takes off. They end the song with their arms aloft, and are given a rousing reception.
Next, it’s Moldova, represented by Arsenium and Natalia. They start the song silhouetted behind a yacht sail before emerging to sing their funky, summery song, ‘Loca’. As they sing, a dreadlocked rapper says, ‘yeah, uh’ and Arsenium stands alongside him, bopping away like Justin Timberlake. Natalia, meanwhile, goes through two costume changes, losing her skirt to reveal a tiny bikini before bursting through the sail in a wedding dress. It’s a very polished performance.
Israel’s Eddie Butler sits on a grand piano at the beginning of his gospel-soul number ‘Together We Are One’. Dressed in a white suit, he sings effortlessly as his female backing singers -- also dressed in white -- look towards him, apparently hanging on his every word. As the song builds, his singers leave their microphone stands and the piano to join him at the front of the stage. Vocally, this is a brilliant performance.
Speaking of incredible vocals, the next act is Cosmos from Latvia and vocals are all they have. Their song is sung a capella but their voices are so versatile you’d swear there was a full band with them. But there are only six of them. Actually there is a seventh member because, as the performance goes on, the group assemble a dancing robot -- no, really -- that moonwalks in time with their song. It’s a performance that has everyone smiling.
Norway is next -- dressed all in white, would you believe -- with a song that is influenced by Norwegian folklore. Singing about pixies and magical woodland, Christine Guldbrandsen performs with a wonderfully feminine voice and is ably supported by two girls playing traditional Norwegian Hardanger fiddles. The song ends with a suitably dramatic flourish that provokes wild cheers from the Scandinavians in the arena.
In seconds, we’re transported from Northern Europe to sunny Spain to hear Las Ketchup deliver a slice of sunshine with ‘Bloody Mary’. Dressed all in red -- just like ketchup itself -- they start their performance slumped on office chairs as two dancers frolic around them. But as the song kicks in, the girls swivel round and the fun begins. They perform with a smile and the interwoven choreography -- there’s one routine for the girls and another for the two dancers -- is great fun.
Staying in the sun, it’s the turn of Malta and Fabrizio Faniello. Malta has never won the contest, despite several near-misses, but with this song it’s in with a real chance. ‘I Do’ is a high-energy dance track that Fabrizio sings beautifully, while four highly energetic dancers strut their stuff behind him. Sparks shoot into the air on the obligatory key change, prompting a chorus of whoops and cheers from the audience.
Yes, they’re fronted by an Australian singer and, yes, they’re singing an American-influenced country song (while surrounded by luminous cacti), but Germany’s Texas Lightning have a song that is so catchy, it is 100% Eurovision. Sounding a little like Tammy Wynette and sporting pink cowboy boots, lead singer Jane Comerford sings sweetly and approaches the front of the stage to be nearer to the audience. She swings her dress coquettishly and sings with a twinkle in her eye. This is a real crowd favourite and large sections of the arena are singing along before they’ve even heard the whole song.
Denmark has gone for an American theme too. ‘Twist of Love’ calls to mind the 1950s rock and roll of ‘Grease’ or ‘Happy Days’, so much so that you wouldn’t be surprised if the Fonz walked on for the final chorus. Sidsel’s voice is amazingly mature for her age and she sings with a passionate growl during the chorus. At the instrumental break she shouts, ‘Hit it, Johnny!’ and a guy slides onto the stage with an electric guitar before discarding it and performing an incredible break dance. Like the song, this is rock and roll with a modern twist.
And now, it’s time for the first of tonight’s Semi-Final qualifiers. It’s Dima from Russia, who performs with a newfound confidence after his success of Thursday night. Singing with all his heart, Dima really belts out this moving pop ballad and is clearly exhausted at the end. He is rewarded by screams of excitement by the girls in the crowd (and some of the boys too!).
Another song that made it through the Semi-Final is ‘Ninanajna’ by Elena Risteska from FYR Macedonia. It’s a tune that makes you want to dance -- and the huge group of her supporters in the arena do just that. In the song, Elena name checks Beyonce and Shakira but surely even they can’t gyrate her hips like Elena can. A great performance.
Then it’s time for one of the pre-contest favourites: Mihai Traistariu from Romania. His voice can reach over five octaves and he does his best to prove it with his Eurodance floor-filler ‘Tornero’. While he wears a dark suit (and red trainers), his backing dancers are dressed in fashionable street wear, which is just as well given how frenetically they dance. At the end of the song, it’s hard to know whose head is spinning most: the crowd, who have been thrilled by this thumping song, or the dancer, who finishes by spinning around on his head.
Eurovision isn’t all about smiles and partying -- there’s room for the odd moment of melancholy too and ‘Layla’ by Hari Mata Hari of Bosnia & Herzegovina certainly provides that. It’s a moving song that has a movie-like sound to it, atmospheric and dramatic. It’s the perfect vehicle for Hari’s amazing voice and is builds gently to a powerful finale in which his backing musicians became a choir.
Buoyed by their success in qualifying for the Final, Lithuanian band LT United now sing ‘We Are The Winners’ as if they really mean it. And why shouldn’t they? Their aggressive, tub-thumping song really ignites the crowd and, when their spasmodic dance interlude begins, the arena erupts into cheers. ‘We are the winners of Eurovision’? Time will tell --
Another contestant not short of confidence is Daz Sampson of the United Kingdom who describes himself as "the people’s champion." But there’s no sign of him at the start of the song, which is being sung by five girls in cute school uniform, sitting at desks in a classroom. It’s only after the chorus that Daz appears from behind a blackboard, dressed in a bright yellow jacket and rapping about the gulf between teachers and teenagers. A very catchy tune!
Suddenly, the cheers in the arena become a deafening roar. Guess who’s next? Of course: it’s Anna Vissi of Greece. Making full use of both a smoke machine and a wind machine, Anna puts her heart and soul into the performance of ‘Everything’, a classic Eurovision ballad full of drama and melodrama. Towards the end, she falls to her knees and sings at the top of her lungs. The audience goes absolutely crazy.
But if you thought that rocked, you ain’t seen nothing yet. It’s the turn of Lordi, the monstrous hard rockers from Finland. The eponymous lead singer Mr. Lordi has miniature skulls on his kneecaps whose eyes light up red, his microphone is attached to the handle of a battleaxe and he has devil horns protruding from his head. It’s not exactly Abba. Despite their frightening appearance, there’s something really likeable about the group and the crowd really warm to them -- and are warmed by them! There’s so much fire on stage, the temperature in the arena rises several degrees.
Unlike Lordi, Tina Karol from Ukraine performs with a big smile on her face and soon the audience is smiling too. ‘Show Me Your Love’ is a great dance tune and Tina and her dancers put their all into it. In a thrilling performance, Tina showcases her fantastic voice and combines Ukrainian dancing with skipping, air punching and tambourine shaking. A woman of many talents.
From the most up-tempo song in the show to one of the gentlest. With a voice like honey, France’s Virginie Pouchain sings a gorgeous ballad that is full of class and sophistication. Dressed in -- you’ve guessed it -- an elegant white dress, Virginie is accompanied by a cello and an acoustic guitar. It’s such a simple song and you can almost hear a pin drop in the arena as the crowd sits back and listens to a mesmerising performance.
Croatia is next and Severnia obviously has a great time performing ‘Moja tikla’ -- it’s a real party record. She starts off surrounded by four members of a Croatian male voice choir but, within seconds, she has taken centre stage, leading them in traditional Croatian dancing. She’s wearing a frilly red dress with a daring split up the front. This being Eurovision, the bottom of her dress is soon ripped off and Severina is hoisted aloft by her dancers. It’s crazy but a lot of fun.
After that all action performance, it’s the turn of Ireland’s Brian Kennedy, who prefers to keep it simple and let his song do the talking. ‘Every Song Is A Cry For Love’ is a superb Irish ballad that builds gradually, allowing Brian to stretch his voice to the limit. With a simple backing of arpeggio guitar and a soothing organ, this is a warm and fuzzy moment, to be sure.
Carola from Sweden is another of the favourites to win the big prize. She’s certainly popular among the crowd and ‘Invincible’ -- which is similar in tone to ‘The Winner Takes It All’ by Abba -- gets a very positive reaction. Using the same wind machine as Greece’s Anna Vissi, Carola turns it to gale force so that her blue gown and gold flags ripple and shimmer in the light. Classic Eurovision.
Next, Turkey. On hearing that she had made it through to the Final, Sibel Tüzün seemed more surprised than her fellow qualifiers. Tonight, she seems ecstatic to be on stage and her smile is even bigger than usual. ‘Superstar’ is a nugget of disco heaven that starts with a pounding heartbeat by way of percussion. Sibel wears a glittering silver star in her hair, matching those that her dancers are wearing on their belt buckles but then the glitter-ball disco vibe gives way to an authentic Turkish sound, to which Sibel shakes her hips flirtatiously.
It feels like a long time ago that debutants Armenia performed first in the Semi-Final. And now here is Andre performing last in the Final in what he describes as a "dream come true." He and his dancers begin with their heads bowed, kneeling over a mysterious box of light. By the time their performance has finished, this box has been cart-wheeled over, clambered on and danced around. A fantastic climax to the show.
So now we’ve heard all 24 songs, it’s time for Europe to decide. Nana Mouskouri, the Greek diva who represented Luxembourg in 1963, announces the start of the televoting.
The design of this year’s Eurovision award was inspired by ancient Greek culture, a central theme in the overall design of the show. The silver trophy is in the shape of an ancient column with a treble clef symbol at the top.
Serkos Jewelers created and designed the award. "It was our goal to create an award that combined elegance and the beauty of music, expressing timeless Greek ideals," stated Serkos Tzanikian of Serkos Jewelers.
And now, after a nail-biting wait, it’s time for the result. Check out all points here on the homepage of eurovision.tv.
The Mermaid Song
[intro to Eurovision 2006 extravaganza in Athenai]
Praise the Land of blinding Light
Where Music was first sung by the Sun!
Praise the ancient Seas that echoed
While tracing Poetry on the sand!
The unaccomplished Song of Life
Had thus begun its tune --
Rhapsodies about Wars and Love
Prayers and Odes
And Anthems and Hymns
Fractions and Parts of a mystic Song
Where they belong:
The Song of Life!
The Song of Life
In this Land is born!
-- Nymphs Naiads and Nereids!
-- Tritons and Oceanids!
-- Carry on the sacred Song
In every tongue and tradition
As song of Victory
In times of darkness
Praise the Man who raised his voice
And filled the atmosphere with his chant!
Praise the resonating Winds
And Light that conquests Darkness of Night!