Eurovision: The Cold War Thaws To Norwegian Temperatures

noah | May 18, 2009 8:53 am
Norway–represented by the Belarusian-born, violin-wielding Alexander Rybak–ran away with the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday night, with the song “Fairytale” receiving a record 387 points from the collected panel of European nations. The folky, joyous “Fairytale” sounded to these ears like it benefited greatly from voting by the contest’s participating Eastern European nations, which have been accused of acting like an Eastern Bloc of sorts, causing a massive number of votes to swing one song’s way in years past. Did Norway figure out the secret to charming the East? I asked UK pop expert Tom Ewing for his take.

Basically I think the fiddles and fresh-facedness helped Norway win, definitely, but the reason it won by a huge landslide (and the reason the UK did OK for once) is that the system changed this year to accomodate juries of music biz pros as well as phone votes – after over a decade in which the voting had been purely public. Nobody really knew what the music biz pros would or wouldn’t like, and I’m guessing Norway called it exactly right: simple theme, pan-European musical elements, reassuringly traditional songcraft. It’s the kind of song that would have walked any ’80s or ’90s Eurovision but has been muscled out since the public vote came in by much more spectacular or modern-sounding or novelty acts.

Ah, “musical experts.” Could that be why the UK’s entry–“It’s My Time,” co-written by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Diane Warren, and sung by Jade Ewen, a West End refugee who would not have looked out of place in The X Factor‘s winners circle–placed so high, allowing the country to crow that it has staged a comeback of sorts after some truly miserable years?

All I know is, that song is a lock for next year’s American Idol finale. And finally, let’s look at the last-place song, the Finland entry, from an outfit called Waldo’s People:
It’s like… if “Barbie Girl” met “Policy Of Truth”? Eurovision 2009 [Official site] EUROVISION 2009 WINNER -NORWAY ALEXANDER RYBAK FAIRYTALE -HQ STEREO [YouTube] Jade Ewen – It’s My Time [YouTube] Waldo’s People – Lose Control [YouTube] Eurovision: One Year Later [Freaky Trigger]