Dmitri Stassos is a dedicated composer, with many pan-European projects in the pipeline. For the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, he has written the Spanish entry La Noche Es Para Mí, together with fellow Swedes Jason Gill and Irini Michas. The entry is performed by the Spanish star Soraya, while the lyrics are written by Felipe Pedroso from Spain. Simultaneously, Dimitri Stassos and Irini Michas have Greek roots, which makes for a musical mixture of cultures.
But the Swedish composers haven't had much knowledge of what happens with the song. To the present day, this is the summit of Dimitri Stassos' career as a songwriter – but for the contest, his fate lies in the hands of Soraya's Spanish team. Dimitri met the artist in person only one week before she went to Moscow. For himself, he only went to Moscow in time for the first dress rehearsal of the Final, two days before the big night.
“I don't know about the stage show,” Dimitri says. “And I read on the Internet that they were making this new version of the song, that is only to be used in Moscow and never released commercially. Some Spanish fan told me on Facebook. This is nerve wrecking for me – after all, it's going to be my name exposed as the songwriter. But I'm sure they know what they are doing.”
The new version of La Noche Es Para Mí presented in Moscow has transpired to be similar to the commercial release of the song. The main difference is a very noticeable change of rhythm and production in the intro.
Just as parts of the composing team, the song has a history in Greece. It was originally written for the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest selection in the Eastern Mediterranean country for the artist Chrispa. At that point, the lyrics were in English.
“I was in Greece with a few colleagues and met the record companies, and three of the companies gave us the task to write songs for a number of artists,” Dimitri says.
For the national selection, however, Chrispa chose to compete with the song A Chance For Love. She didn't qualify for the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest, and instead Kalomira achieved a third place in the Final with her Secret Combination.
“After that, my record label managed to place the song with Soraya instead, after some initial search for Greek artists,” Dimitri says. “The song was released in October, so I thought that it was gone from the contest. But it wasn't. And that's so great, since it was originally specifically written for this competition.”
False rumor of Paparizou
A rumour has been widely circulated that La Nocke Es Para Mí originally was associated with Elena Paparizou, the 2005 winner of the Eurovision Song Contest. A Greek version of the song leaked out to the Internet, with Paparizou as the proposed singer.
“I was rather put off by that,” Dimitri says. “Soraya was really sad and thought that she would be disqualified. The background is that we recorded a version in Greek when we searched for Greek artists. But the singer in that version is the songwriter Irini Michas. I don't know if Elena Paparizou has ever heard the song. But we've actually got a request from Greece that Soraya should record a Greek version of the song.”
The song was also at one point intended for the artist Rosa, representing Spain in 2002, for the 2008 Spanish national selection. But Rosa withdrew a short time before the contest. When the song instead had been placed with Soraya for her album, the production was retouched by Soraya's Spanish producers, to lessen the Eurovision Song Contest sound. For the contest, the producers aimed at turning it back into a contest friendly shape again.
Efficiency and quality
Reviewers are sometimes known to downgrade successful popular music like the one often seen in the Eurovision Song Contest. But Stassos feel that the quality of the music is not lessened when it is written for the contest.
“Absolutely not,” he says. “It's harder to write for this format, since you need to keep the songs to less than three minutes. Efficiency is the key word. But the music is absolutely not bad.”
For Stassos, the participation in the Eurovision Song Contest is opening many doors. He has already been contacted by a number of songwriters and others interested in working with him. Now, he wants to try even harder for the contest in 2010.
A neutral song
Soraya herself soon had a good feeling when initially hearing La Noche Es Para Mí. The multi-cultural influences makes her want to call it a neutral song.
“The Swedish composers, with their Greek roots, bring some ingredients from their own countries that makes the song richer,” she says to Eurovision.tv. “The Mediterranean violins are the main Greek feature, I think. The Spanish part of the composers brings the Spanish guitar and the language, and the Swedish part brings the up-tempo. I call it a neutral song, because you can identify with it wherever you are. The eastern countries can also feel identified with it, because there are instruments in it which are often used in different eastern songs.”
Soraya has a positive outlook on her participation in the contest.
“I've been calm, comfortable and not nervous at all,” she says. “Everyone are talking about that it is such a great adventure. Some singers from Spain that I've talked to has said that this is such a great opportunity, like D'Nash , Rosa  and some others. I take this as one big promotion.”
Bad to be pre-qualified
Soraya is representing her country alone on stage with an intense dance act.
“There is a pressure of course, since a big percentage of the Spanish people voted for me to be their representative. But at the same time, I'm a singer, so I'm just doing what I'm used to.”
What's the attitude to the Eurovision Song Contest in Spain?
“The Eurovision Song Contest hasn't been very strong in Spain during the latest years. I'm trying to bring back the hope for my country, since we haven't won for 41 years. But we try to be positive – if we go to a contest, we have the chance, just as everyone else.”
Is it a good or bad thing to be pre-qualified the Final?
“It's bad. For the country it can be positive. But for me as an artist, having an interest in my career, it would be better to go to the Semi-Final. Then my song would have been played more times – if I would have gone through to the final. And I have to believe that I would have done that.”
“Spain is waking up”
While some artists doesn't want to stress an importance of the competition in interviews, Soraya has no problems talking about that she is competing for her country. But she will rather say that she is representing herself.
“We cannot forget that this is a competition,” she says. “But I don't compete with the others – I rather compete with myself. I have the adrenaline when I get up on stage. Obviously I'm going to be nervous on the night, but I prefer not to think of that beforehand.”
Tonight will reveal where the tide is turning for the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest. During the last years, the most successful entries has come from the countries far removed from Spain in culture and distance. But Soraya thinks that the differences in success between the countries may be due to the lack of interest in Spain.
“We sent a humoristic guy as the artist last years, and this was because we lost the hope. My main commitment to my country is to bring back the hope and faith for this contest, because I'm a very great fan of it. And I think that Spain is just now waking up.”