Going Back In History: Helsinki 2007 (Semifinal)

For every ESC fan, there are a few contests that have a special value. Mine, or better, one of mine, is the 2007 edition – it’s the first one I have a CD of, it’s the second one I saw in full length and the one that I generally claim to have made me a fan, even though I was familiar with the contest before. Back in 07, I was a ten-year-old kid. Time to see how my opinion changed!

I have never seen anything of 2007 since it actually took place, but I am more than familiar with the songs from the studio version, which is why this will probably be interesting for me. Generally, 2007 is seen of one of the years with a better semi than final, and I do kinda agree with that – why, you will see. Today I will only review the 18 songs that stayed in the semi – the rest will follow soon. I am watching this, and there won’t be embedded videos next to the songs – I’ll save that work for SOTW!

Before the fun begins, we get shown a weirdly oriental-looking intro and logo, followed by something that looks like a crossing between an Olympic opening ceremony and a bad copy of a Nightwish cover art, turning into a folcloristic Työlki Ellää-esque athmosphere. Ahh, the beautiful times when the winner wasn’t playing at a weekday semi-final show… or probably not, because that opening act already annoys me a bit after not even three minutes.

Finally it’s over, and they get joined by just slightly less annoying and just slightly too enthusiastic hosts – only two so far, thankfully – and the guy is much more forgettable than his outfit, while the girl is just completely forgettable. However, their intro moderation is pretty perfect – explaining the rules without any useless unfunny jokes and off we are. I enjoy hosts making a bit of a show out of a final night, but in the semis, off to the songs is the way to go in my opinion. And we go off to…

01 BULGARIA

… which we’ll leave out, as it eventually qualified. We can still look at the postcard, and apparently it’s one of the years nobody bothered to show the artists, or anything related to the country coming up. Instead, we get to see a strong Finn muscle-powering a chair lift, which is probably a bad idea. These things usually stop for (safety) reasons. But who knows, maybe the designer just thought he’s hot.

02. ISRAEL: Teapacks – Push The Button

After a pointless ski jumping postcard, we get to see one of my favourite Israeli entries. It tajes some courage to send six weirdly clothed people wandering around on stage singing a song that’s technically a rock song, but touches every possible genre on the way there, and all that in three languages. And once again, I wonder how this passed the “no politics” rule of EBU. Unfortunately it doesn’t really sound as good as on the CD – and it looks horribly messy. No wonder this didn’t go through from number 2.

03 CYPRUS: Evridiki – Comme ci, Comme ça

Once again, the postcard leaves me confused, which is why I’ll shut up about them from now on. Another confusing thing here are the staging choices – why did they put the guitar player of a third-class Nu Metal band on stage for an electronical song of the “typical Eurovision” variety that died out in the late 00’s? Why did they style the keyboarder in the same way? Why did they choose a band setup for THAT song? Why does Evridiki’s arm look like someone tried to force her into something? What’s the idea behind that odd microphone “stand”? It’s things like this that cost a pretty sure qualifier like that (we’re still in 100% tele era, don’t forget that) final qualification by almost 30 points… Now we’ll leave out qualified Belarus and head straight to

05 ICELAND: Eirikur Hauksson – Valentine Lost

No more fake rock staging – we’re getting a proper hardrock ballad here. But come on, THREE guitars? That’s overdoing it, especially because it can’t make them look less lost on that stage – a fate the Icelanders shared with Cyprus and many more. This doesn’t really speak for either the staging persons or the stage… I still think Valentine Lost should have qualified, and I still love to sing along loudly, but I can see why it didn’t, and Eirikur not always hitting every note doesn’t help as well^. Another one gets skipped now – debutant Georgia – and we head to the next NQ, which is

07 MONTENEGRO: Stevan Faddy – Ajde Kroci

Another debutant! Sort of at least. Like many, Montenegro let themselves be inspired by Lordi and went down the rocky road with Stevan Faddy, probably related to Milan Stankovic (but with much better music) from Serbia. Stevan loses the comparison to Eirikur Hauksson, even though it’s one on a high level, but at least he fills the stage better and cut back to two guitars. I’m always someone to love a good rock anthem, and if I knew what there would be coming from Montenegro I’d have loved it even more.

08 SWITZERLAND: DJ BoBo – Vampires are alive

BoBo’s career was already half over in 2007, and thats probably why Switzerland’s most famous 90’s relic agreed to go to Helsinki. Now, everyone in Switzerland knows BoBo can’t actually sing, including himself, and the only reason to go to his concerts are the huge shows – BoBo was originally a dancer after all. That’s what makes his selection so surprising, and as expected, the attempt to recreate a BoBo show on Eurovision stages ended up looking like a parody of one, given the inability to use a pirate ship or an army of dancers, and he ended up with wrong notes on a song easy enough for me. Easily the most understandable Swiss post-06-NQ.

10 THE NETHERLANDS: Edsilia Rombley – On Top Of The World

After qualifying Moldova, there was Dutch Edsilia Rombley with a song written by the brother of Trijntayayayay and a dance routine comparable to her sister-in-law’s veil – irritating and unnecessary. It’s not that there’s something really wrong with the Dutch effort, it just doesn’t really work, and while there are cool parts in it, there’s not really a reason to vote for it. After all, that could, again, be said about Walk Along as well. Or about most Dutch entries around those times.

11 ALBANIA: Aida & Frederik Ndoci – Hear My Plea

Something’s bothering me here. Maybe the looks they exchange, or her weird mystery dance, or the backings – not enough hidden to be hidden and not visible enough to be playing a role. I’m not a big fan of this kind of song either, but something gives Hear My Plea a rather creepy vibe along with it. Quite a shame, because when I am in the mood for it, and if I try, I find myself actually liking this song! On CD, that is.

12 DENMARK: DQ – Drama Queen

Denmark often gets criticized for middle-of-the-road pop songs, but if THAT’s what they do if they try something else, I wish they stayed with those. The dance, the costume, the costume change, there’s so much wrong with this. The song is too, after all. I have seen people using Denmark’s NQ as proof for an Eastern mafia in 07, but seriously, every single one in the 45 points this song got was one too much. I have no words… the worst is that I am actually incontrollably humming it now.

13 CROATIA: Dragonfly feat. Dado Topic – Vjerujem u Ljubav

We have talked about this one before, here and, following that, on the ESCNation messageboard, and it looks like I am the only one associating it with summer. But honestly, now it’s still way too hot (over 30° I guess) but I have a fan, the sun goes down and this is playing. Awesome, isn’t it? I probably would like it even more if Dado Topic was singing it alone, but it’s less about voice and this song in particular than about its laid back, overly cool rockish beat. One of the Easterners that’d have derserved Q but failed, just like Montenegro.

14 POLAND: The Jet Set – Time To Party

Well, I can’t say “great” but yes, I like that one quite a lot. Nothing too spectacular, but we’re on a high level here… oh wait, the song, not Sasha Strunin? The fact Poland assumed this could get them any success is almost insulting – unless the saying that the East is always ten years behind is true, in which case they’d be forgiven for thinking it’s still 1997. Oh, and the “bring your own chair” move is probably the least working performance trick I ever saw. They came 14th in the semi with 75 points, but after all, it was still 100% tele and Sasha’s dress was REALLY short.

16 CZECH REPUBLIC: Kabat – Mala Dama

We’ll skip the winning “debutant” and go straight to an actual debutant – the Czech Republic, who quadrupled its point total in 2015 by scoring 33 points. If we called Vjerujem u Ljubav a slowed down, laid back rock song, this is a slowed down (but less laid back) metal song. I personally love the raw sound and the non-styling this song had got, but let’s be honest, a song like Mala Dama, sung in Czech which sounds harsh to me, and I’m a native German speaker, was never going to score big. Still, one point is a bit harsh.

17 PORTUGAL: Sabrina – Dança Conmigo (vem ser feliz)

Now if this song swapped points and places with the Czechs, I wouldn’t be too unhappy. Dança Conmigo is one of the cheapest pieces of latinesque pop I ever heard, and it probably got rejected by some beach hotel animators because it was too cheap and cliché. On top of all that, Sabrina even looks like she usually sings in the lobby of a beach hotel since her very mediocre career ended ten years ago with one song that came 7th in the Portuguese charts. Seriously, how did that end up almost qualifying??

19 NORWAY: Guri Schanke – Ven a bailar conmigo

With skipping qualified Macedonia and the second break, we arrive right at the other song title containing “conmigo”, and weirdly, it’s from Norway. Now I know we’ve been spoiled lately, and this was a common thing in the 00’s, but seriously, this song isn’t more than an excuse for Guri and her dancers to show off their moves, is it? Even for the standards of its time, it’s insanely obvious, but at least this one got what it deserves: a big, fat NQ.

20 MALTA: Olivia Lewis – Vertigo

Welcome to Dramaland – not my favourite destination! In the mix of the CD or my collection, this is so weirdly outstanding from my usual taste that it’s pretty interesting. But seeing it destroys that effect. The staging is somewhere between messy, confusing and simply laughable. Olivia’s walk at the end of the song is probably the most unmotivated move of the contest. And the song is not really that good either.

21 ANDORRA: Anonymous – Salvem el mon

Turning up at Eurovision as Anonymous (on the list of the worst bandnames ever this is just between Klirrfaktor and Polarkreis 18…) singing a Save The World song with the “fuck this and have some fun here” attitude they show was just the amount of teenage rebellion required to make me love them a few years ago. Nowadays, I still like that song, but I started to prefer Nick Gain. Also, I’d like to slap the singer for wearing a shirt and a tie for playing a (pop-)punk-ish song. Still should have qualified!

23 ESTONIA: Gerli Padar – Partners in Crime

We skipped Hungary and went on to Estonia, a country that didn’t take the introduction of semifinals well. The Estonians started to recover a bit later, but in 2007 they were still waiting for their first qualification from a semifinal, and to do so, they sent an entry so stereotypical of the late 00’s that it’s almost a parody. Pop song not worth the effort to remember it? Check. Huge wind machines? Check. Ridiculous dance routines? Check. Short skirts? Nop… Check (look at the backings). I’m glad it didn’t qualify, but I still fail a bit to see why.

24 BELGIUM: The KMG’s – Love Power

There was a time I really liked this song and thought it should have done much better. Unfortunately, it never reaches the quality it should, and stays a bit too much on Sabrina levels, plus they’re about 30 years too late with that song, but I think it’s a pity those songs don’t really make it to Eurovision anymore. At least it was daring and different! For now, I will save my health and jump through Slovenia and Turkey to the last non-qualifier…

25 AUSTRIA: Eric Papilaya – Get a Life – Get Alive

(E)Ric Papilaya… the first and by far least successful of the Starmania 3-trio, and I’ll give you a bonus point if you can name the other two without looking it up. If Eric really deserves to be so much less successful than his ex-concurrents, it’s only because they have a pretty high level, as Get a Life – Get Alive (I still don’t understand the title…) is a cool song and better than most of what followed or preceded it from Austria. But probably getting the prototype of Cezar’s destroyed hatch on stage isn’t too good. And change into something that can be worn outside Las Vegas too, please. Still, he’s part of something that must be a record!

We’re done now, Mr. Finnish host has changed into something less glittery (I assume Eric stole all his silver), the Finnish countdown is done and.. wait, seats in all the arena? Did I see that right? Anyway, let’s get done with the folk dancing as well and talk to Mr. Svante Stockselius (how strange it feels not to hear Jon Ola Sand here…) and reveal the qualifiers, or, in that case, my votes on the NQ’s.

MY NQ VOTES

12 CZECH REPUBLIC
10 ICELAND
08 MONTENEGRO
07 ISRAEL
06 ANDORRA
05 CROATIA
04 CYPRUS
03 AUSTRIA
02 BELGIUM
01 MALTA

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