Eurovision 2005 semi final Results
The 50th Eurovision Song Contest is underway. The Semi Final saw 25 contestants attempt to distill months of hard work and years of ambition into just one three-minute performance. And what a show they put on.
In a packed Sports Palace, Kyiv was treated to an array of diverse musical styles – big ballads, 70s disco, acoustic soft rock, drum ‘n’ bass, techno, glam rock and traditional ethnic songs – all presented on an awe-inspiring stage which transformed itself into a different setting for each song.
After hosts Maria Efrosnina (Masha) and Pavlo Shylko (DJ Pasha) had introduced an opening that incorporated traditional Ukrainian dance, tango, street dancing and a military male voice choir, it was time for the real deal – the songs.
Austria’s Global.Kryner kicked us off with some of the most energetic clarinet and trumpet playing ever to grace a Eurovision stage. The crowd were soon tapping their toes to the Austro-Cuban sound (yes, really!) that the band have pioneered and the yodeling at the end raised an almighty cheer. A great start.
Next, it was the turn of ‘Little by Little’ by Laura and The Lovers from Lithuania (try saying that after a few drinks!). Laura wore a daring white dress which contrasted nicely with the black wardrobe favoured by the rest of the band. They raised the tempo further with an energetic rock song that features a thumping bass line more reminiscent of techno than rock. The choreographed moves of the band were pure Eurovision.
2B from Portugal brought some red-hot Latin flair to the Semi Final. Their performance featured plenty of acrobatics, sexy dance moves and impassioned fist-pumping and they belted out ‘Amar’ at full volume. Speculation as to what Luciana would be wearing had been intense all week and the audience wasn’t to be disappointed – an outrageous, fluffy, feathered hair style was certainly worth the wait.
‘Boonika Bate Doba’ (‘Grandma Beats The Drum’) by Moldova’s ZDOB [shi] ZDUB contains the line, “She’s a drum machine, you know what I mean.” But there was little evidence of this as the Grandma in question sat quietly on a rocking chair at the back of the stage. That was until the final minute of the song when Grandma Boonika got to her feet and played her doba along to the deafening drum ‘n’ bass. Naturally, the crowd erupted. Totally original.
Walters & Kazha from Latvia began their performance perched on two stools, looking and sounding similar to their heroes, the acoustic soft rock band Extreme. When the other instruments kicked in for a rousing finale, the boys – in a knowing reference to Westlife – stood up and sang at the front of the stage, performing sign language to make for a kind of deliberate, meaningful dance.
Lise Darly from Monaco sang ‘All Of Me’,
Tout de moi. And she certainly did give her all. With hypnotic cloud formations drifting across the screens around the stage, Lise looked magnificent in a pink, red and white dress. The song is an ideal vehicle for Lise to showcase her voice. She hit and held every note perfectly.
The vagaries of the Semi Final draw have meant that the two most similar songs – both big ballads sung by elegant, blonde, female singers in gorgeous dresses – are next to each other. And so, after Monaco, came Israel’s Shiri Maimon with ‘Hasheket Shenishar’. Her voice is no less powerful than Lise’s and her dress no less beautiful. She even added one of two Céline Dion-like flourishes towards the end of the song. Europe had to decide which one to prefer.
From high emotion to high camp as Belarus’ singer Angelica Agurbash took to the stage in a royal gown and tiara. This soon gave way to a glamourous sequined number as the high-energy dance anthem kicked in. The song ‘Love Me Tonight’ combines Euro dance music with the 70s disco stylings of Boney M, the Village People and Gloria Gaynor. Towards the end, Angelica’s dancers whipped off her dress to reveal a skin-coloured sequined cat suit. Staggering.
The former Miss USSR and Mrs Russia was replaced on stage by the no less beautiful Glennis Grace from the Netherlands – in yet another stunning dress. Glennis sings about “making it on her own” so it was fitting that she had no band, backing singers or dancers on stage with her. Comparisons with Whitney Houston will no doubt be made, although whether Whitney could summon the energy these days to match Glennis’ powerful performance is another matter.
Iceland’s Selma Björnsdóttir wore a kind of hooded cowl that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Kylie’s ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ video. Her song fitted between an Arabic-influenced pop track, a stomping disco track and a ballad. It really worked though and her dancers complemented her performance beautifully.
Belgium’s Nuno looked super-confident when he took to the stage, waving at fans and winking. Once the music started though, he immersed himself in the song, even clenching his fist with emotion at times. As for his vocal performance, he showed no ill effects from the cold that has plagued him all week. A small man with a big voice.
The show then lurched from one end of the musical spectrum to the next, as Estonia’s Suntribe came bounding on stage, each stationing themselves behind their own turntable. Their raucous song ‘Let’s Get Loud’ mixes traces of ‘Wild Thing’ by The Troggs with a touch of ‘Rhythm of the Night’ by Gloria Estefan, but it had a style all of its own. When have you ever seen a girl band scratch records and sing at the same time?
If Kyiv had got loud, Norway’s Wig Wam were determined to make it get even louder. Many of the artists in this year’s contest describe their music as ‘rock’ but Wig Wam’s music and performance is ‘ROCK’. With their Van Halen harmonies and lead singer Glam’s outrageously tight spandex costume, Wig Wam are bound to divide opinion, but the Sport Arena was in no doubt – they’d been rocked.
Romania’s Luminita has a huge voice – but then she needs one if she wants to be heard over the manic percussion of Sistem, although she even took part in the drumming herself at one point. The safety concerns that had affected their earlier rehearsals had clearly been resolved and the stage was a blur of arms, drumsticks, dustbin lids and sparks. It was an exhilarating performance.
Hungary’s performance of Nox has been frequently mentioned in the same breath as Riverdance, and there is a certain likeness. But the performance looks and sounds so authentically Hungarian that you soon forget about Michael Flatley and start to enjoy this fusion between traditional and modern musical styles. After the deafening blasts from Norway and Romania, this was a nice change of tone.
Finland’s representative Geir Rönning looked very relaxed in jeans and a white jacket and, despite the serious meaning behind his song, delighted to be on stage. As one of the older performers in the contest, he benefits from having a wonderfully matured voice. The song has something of ‘Hello’ by Lionel Ritchie about it but also includes passionate, gospel-like backing vocals. A really uplifting performance.
FYR Macedonia’s Martin bounded onto the stage with the familiar smile that has won the heart of every teenage girl in the Balkans. Dressed in a pink jacket, he gave a brilliant 20-second drum solo mid-way through the song, before throwing the sticks to the floor and continuing with the catchy, upbeat song. He was flanked by three glamourous backing dancers whose energetic choreography meant that their daring dresses struggled to contain them at times!
But that was nothing: Marian’s stage performance featured two dancers who were topless! But before any of Europe’s broadcasters call their lawyers, we should point out that both dancers were male… Besides, most of the attention was on Marian and her beautiful backing vocalists. The four women from Andorra harmonised as perfectly as ever, in a song that builds towards a dramatic finale. A stirring performance.
Switzerland’s Vanilla Ninja took to the stage to chants of, “Ninja! Ninja!” Their song began with Lenna singing alone to a backing of string instruments, not unlike Evanescence, before breaking into a rockier section as their instruments explode into life – literally! At one point, Piret and Triinu slid on their knees in a pose that was classic rock. The crowd gave the band a great reception.
Not many acts start their performance with a bagpipe solo, but that’s what makes Croatia’s Boris Novković’s song so recognisably Croatian. Boris sang the song with plenty of emotion – and at one point the percussionist broke off from his drumming to clap his feet together while standing on his hands – not easy. A heartfelt performance from a seasoned performer.
Bulgaria’s Kaffe stood out from the other contestants with their American-sounding mid-tempo funk song – Stevie Wonder’s influence was particularly evident in the jazzy keyboard riffs. The band performed in front of projections of rain drops, as their chorus contains the line, “I can still remember Lorraine in the rain.” At the end of the song, the stage really came into its own. The moving platform on which the backing singer was stood rose up just as he was hitting his high note.
Ireland were up next and, while Donna and the girls wore black and gold dresses and trousers, Joe went for a more casual look of jeans and trainers with a jacket. It was an up-tempo pop song and Joe and Donna harmonised beautifully. This time, Riverdance really was called to mind as their backing dancers gave a display of traditional Irish folk dance that was neatly mixed with the latest moves.
Omar Kareem from Slovenia stood on a stage awash with blue and sang a song that built and built to a rousing finale. Accompanied by a classical singer who stood on a gradually descending platform, he finished by putting his arm around her. The girls in the audience were swooning.
Denmark’s Jakob Sveistrup performed the neat trick of singing and smiling at the same time. Dressed in a black suit set off by a pink shirt and pink trainers, he looked extremely comfortable on stage and gave a performance he can be proud of. ‘Talking To You’ is a catchy pop song which called to mind both the Backstreet Boys and Craig David.
Poland’s Ivan & Delfin is another act which fully embraced its ethnicity. Their song is a very traditional Polish folk song with an extremely memorable, upbeat chorus and Ivan and his dancers wore beautiful white and red silk costumes. The dancers’ dresses turned their gypsy dancing into an even more colourful spectacle. A very strong end to a thrilling Semi Final.
As the delighted artists mingled in the Green Room, Masha and DJ Pasha rang Ukrainian chime bars to signal the start of the ten-minute televoting window. Ukraine took this opportunity to put on a spectacle for the global television audience – a feast of traditional ethnic dancing, booming hip-hop and a blur of acrobatics.
All that remained then was for the results to be announced. And here, in the order that they were declared, are the ten countries that have qualified for the Final:
Commiserations to those that didn’t qualify and, to the ones that did, good luck! See you in the Final!