Some years the Song Contest is good, others just ok. But a few times a decade it really comes through on all fronts and rises to the LEGENDARY level.
In 2006 I ordered TV Espana on satellite because it was the only international channel that was cheap and easily available without installing a custom dish that carried the semifinal and final shows of Eurovision Song Contest. Back then I had high-speed (haha to that claim!) DSL from AT&T, but the internet feed was still not too reliable and was prone to breakups and buffering. So armed with a strong television feed (with Spanish announcer) and the weaker internet stream from eurovision.tv, I watched and was totally mesmerized!
The plotlines the various entries added to the mix were worthy of a screenplay. The prime battle appeared to be the war of the Eurovision comeback divas between host country Greece’s Anna Vissi and Sweden’s former ESC winner Carola, who both had strong songs with clear winner potential. Meanwhile Romania was hot off a third place showing in 2005, and presented a modern international dance club stomper that threatened to climb the podium. The mighty former Yugoslav republics had a top winner candidate in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s “Lejla”, written by Balkan heartthrob Zeljko Joksimovic (who had just been a Eurovision runnerup in 2004).
Another “young gun” came out of nowhere and into the top rank of contenders. Dima Bilan was a well-known pop star in Russia, but had not yet broken out into international stardom. His goofy mulleted quiff attracted attention, and his number was definitely a Eurovision classic “too much is never enough” moment (especially when a ballerina rises out of the onstage grand piano). Dima stormed into second place and then came back in 2008 to win the whole contest!
Then into this heavyweight championship mix strode one of the oddest and most beloved entries seen on the ESC stage in many years. Finland’s monster metal band Lordi were an UTTER dark horse going into the contest. They charmed the crowd in Athens by never being seen out of their monster costumes and makeup the entire competition week, and by the final night people were just starting to ask, “Is Europe ready for THIS as the song of the year!?” When the scores were counted and Lordi achieved a crushing victory, that question was answered!