Today we’re heading off to Moscow, the capital of Russia, where the 54th edition of Eurovision was held. The contest had a number of record breaking moments, and some changes to the format, including the reintroduction of the national juries after years of only televoting. A total of 42 nations took to the stage, including Slovakia who returned after a break, however we said goodbye briefly to San Marino and Georgia. The hosts of the show were Natalia Vodianova and Andrey Malahov for the semi-finals, and Alsou Abramova and Ivan Urgant for the final. This was the first time Eurovision had four hosts.
The staging for 2009 seemed to be taken up a notch, which makes it hard for me to choose. What helped eliminate some acts from the category was the fact that the stage was so big, and as a result some of the nations didn’t utilise the stage, or didn’t have the most flattering camera angles. Bosnia and Herzegovina stands out for me as the best staging, as they had such a simple staging but it was polished and fit the song the best. The costumes were great, and the theme of colours was taken to the backing screens as well, and overall the performance was all very smooth.
Credit definitely needs to go to Estonia here, who absolutely slays in the costume realm of Eurovision 2009. The lead singer Sandra Nurmsalu is wearing a floor length dress in the most beautiful colour of deep blue, and to make things better, it’s metallic. Each member on stage seems to have a varied version, but with the same metallic blue, and it’s absolutely stunning. As much as I’m not a fan of the actual cut of the dress, or the backing singers jumpsuits, the colour and finish of the costumes is enough to still keep it the winner in the Best Costume category.
There’s a fairly good reason why Hungary won the Barbara Dex award, i.e. the humorous award given to the worst dressed act each year. For a relatively good looking man, Hungary butchered his good looks with turquoise skinny jeans and a skin tight singlet type shirt, featuring turquoise once again but this time with little slivers of pink and navy blue. The backing singers each have their bright colours, but even they look better than the lead, Zoli Ádok. Poor form Hungary, poor form.
Best Live Vocals
Although Norway dominated in the voting, I truly believe that the best vocals came from the 2nd placed Iceland, who was represented by Yohanna and the song Is It True. The song is magical, and from the initial note, Yohanna has this tone which captures you in and holds you for the entire three minutes. Each note is executed well, and her voice grows as the song develops, and that key change was done flawlessly. In the last 30 seconds, she has some big notes, which again, are hit perfectly.
If you follow me here on Eurovision Union, or through our Twitter, it will come as no surprise that the Most Underrated in my eyes is absolutely Latvia. Intars Busulis is one of the most colourful performers of the year, and his performance for me is one of the most memorable. His energy on stage is matched by no one, and his song will always be one of my favourites of all time.
The other song that many seem to forget about is Slovakia. Let’ tmou is the name of the song, performed by the duo of Kamil Mikulčík and Nela Pocisková, who have an absolutely incredible ballad, which was executed well, with a really nice staging. Where did it go wrong? There were one or two bum notes, but overall a really strong performance, and ironically this came only one place higher than Latvia in the second semi-final with only a one point difference. So devastating.
For 2009, the country that offers the most interesting, unique and well considered performance is Armenia. Inga and Anush are the dynamic sister duo, who played with a mix of modern and tradition to create the song Jan Jan and with their booming voices, they are vocally very interesting to listen to, not to mention the chorus, which is ridiculously catchy. The song aside, which I’m sure you can tell I genuinely love, even to this day, the stage performance was very suited to the type of song that Jan Jan was, and like the song, it mixes a very traditional feel with the outfits, backed by the intricate designs on the backing screens, and later in the song, the green lasers, which was an awesome visual effect. Overall it’s a hit.
Ukraine gathered every resource the country owned and threw it into the 2009 entry, performed by Svetlana Loboda. The song, which is random as it is, is made more random by the staging of this performance. We have three ‘hell wheels’ as they were called, which should normally be enough for a regular crazy Eurovision performance, but that’s not enough for Ukraine. We now have topless knights dancing around Svetlana, who is working the ladder on the hell wheel. We have the smoke machine going as well, we have backing singers on stilts, and we have a drum set which Svetlana features two large Ukrainian flags. AND if that wasn’t enough, we have fire. Enough? I should hope so. Anything more and it would be even more of an assault to the eyes and ears.
Most Cringe worthy Moment
There’s a record number of cringe worthy moments from 2009, and we’re starting with the UK, where poor Jade Ewen gets an unfortunate knock to the microphone from one of the violinists – smells like sabotage to me! Well maybe not sabotage, but more just unfortunate placement by Jade, who inconveniently stands in the way of the violinist who of course has his eyes closed. A recipe for disaster!
Next up in our cringe moments is Bulgaria, who features a very ambitious backing singer, who at one point decides that Krassimir shouldn’t be the star of the show, but her huge hair should be the star. The song in general is a three minute cringe, but she really pushes this into dangerously cringey territory. Right before the end of the song, she steals the spotlight one more time for good measure, for one final cringe.
Our last cringe moment isn’t necessarily a moment, but moments plural. The hosts of the semi-finals, Natalia and Andrey are possibly the two least compatible people on stage, and every moment with them is a moment I’d rather forget. Since starting this journey on the 12 days of Eurovision, I haven’t yet come across such bad hosting, although 2006 had its moments, it’s nothing compared to the monstrosity that 2009 is, so thank the heavens up above that they changed hosting team for the final!
Belarus continues the bad hair trend, with Petr Elfimov not learning from the mistakes of his former counterparts and sticks with the mullet. Matched with a terrible outfit, the hair takes away from the fact that this is a pretty catchy song. When it hits the shoulders, it flicks out, and from the side, it looks like there’s an undercut to make it look like a mullet Mohawk combination, but who knows, there’s just so much of that blonde hair that it’s hard to know what’s real and what’s not real anymore… get this man a hairdresser!
Honourable mention to the Turkish voting spokesperson, who is channelling her inner Belarus spokesperson 2005 with that hairstyle.
Bonus Category: Best Prop that Resembles an Item of Stationery
Well, I mean, there’s one clear winner in the stationery department and that’s Greece, who for some reason just decided, hey, you know what would look great on the Eurovision stage? A giant stapler! At first is a simple lightbox, where Sakis and his backing performers spend a fair bit of time on. It then becomes some sort of magic device where the crew lock themselves into boots of sorts, which allows them to lean forward without falling over. Then, the real magic happens. While Sakis in on top of the stapler, it begins to rise, revealing the Greek flag between the two stapler arms. A Greek Stapler, how inventive!
Fun Facts about Eurovision 2009
Georgia was set to participate in Eurovision 2009, and had selected Stefane & 3G with the song ‘We Don’t Wanna Put In.’ This was controversial as the title of the song sounded as if it was referencing Russian Prime Ministed Vladimir Putin, saying, ‘we don’t want Putin.’ The song breaks the rules of Eurovision, and as such, the EBU gave them the ultimatum to change the lyrics of the song or be disqualified. As such, Georgia withdrew from the contest.
Popular artist Rita Ora had participated in the UK national final, however did not win, and therefore didn’t get to perform at Eurovision – however she went on for a successful career
There was drama between Armenia and Azerbaijan, after representatives from Azerbaijan claimed that the Armenian postcard featured a depiction of a statue in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, a region which is still fought over by both parties. Armenia’s rebuttal was to feature Sirusho as the voting spokesperson, who had a picture of the monument on the back of her clipboard. Where Eurovision is, politics is bound to follow in some way or another!
Quick-fire Top 5:
In no particular order,
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Top 3 Guilty Pleasure Songs
Make sure to tell us below who your favourites are, and who in your opinion would win these categories for 2009!