#ThrowbackThursday to 10 years ago: Eurovision 2007
Today we look back to 10 years ago and to the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest, when Finland hosted the competition for the first time ever.
Victor M. Escudero
Posted 12 October, 2017, 14:00
The 52nd Eurovision Song Contest took place in Helsinki, Finland, following Lordi's victory in Athens the previous year. It was the first time the Contest had been held in Finland and was a big moment for the Nordic nation and Host Broadcaster YLE. Let's step back in time and look back at Eurovision 2007!
Shortly after Lordi won the Eurovision Song Contest jokes circulated in the Finnish media that hell had frozen over; the Finns had achieved the impossible and won the Eurovision Song Contest. Before 2006 Finland had never even come close to winning the contest; their best placing was sixth in 1973 with the song Tom Tom Tom performed by Marion Rung. Lordi were given a hero’s welcome when they arrived back in Finland and the spirit of national pride that the victory engendered in Finland was also evident when YLE organised the 2007 competition.
Finland's True Fantasy
Host Broadcaster YLE adopted True Fantasy as the slogan for the 2007 contest. The Finnish design agency Dog Design won a competition to design the visual theme of the contest, which incorporated colourful, kaleidoscopic patterns. The high-tech stage was constructed in the shape of a kantele, a traditional Finnish instrument.
2007 was the first time that the Eurovision Song Contest was produced and broadcast in High Definition. The Grand Final opened with Lordi, the monster rock band that brought that contest to Finland. The hosts were Finnish television personality Jaana Pelkonen and Finnish musician, stage performer and actor Mikko Leppilampi. They were assisted by Krisse Salminen as Green Room host who also reported from the crowds at the Senate Square. Jaana and Mikko were recently voted the most popular Eurovision presenters of the noughties.
Breaking new ground
Star guest to open the voting was Santa Claus, who came from northern Finland for this special occasion. The world-famous band Apocalyptica were the interval act and astonished the whole of Europe with their amazing show.
A record number of 42 countries participated, meaning the Semi-Final had 28 participants, the largest number ever for a Eurovision Song Contest show. From 2008 onwards, two Semi-Finals were introduced. Five countries in the Semi-Final and three countries in the Grand Final were given wildcards to choose their own starting positions. Unsurprisingly all eight countries chose to participate in the second-half of their respective shows, believing this would increase their chances of success.
Hard Rock Eurovision!
Lordi’s victory in the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest with the song Hard Rock Hallelujah opened many doors for rock in the Eurovision Song Contest and that was very evident in the 2007 edition. The first one to try to build on that success was of course Finland. In 2007 they sent another strong song to the contest but with less success. The home entry in Helsinki was performed by Hanna Pakarinen who, despite getting two sets of 12 points. finished in 17th place in the Grand Final with Leave Me Alone.
The Czech Republic sent a hard rock band in 2007, Kabat, which, by placing last in the Semi-Final, has the dubious honour of being the only song placed 28th in the history of the competition. Other rock-flavoured entries that year include: Russia, Montenegro with Stevan Faddy and Ajde Kroci, Croatia’s Dragonfly feat. Dado Topic with the song Vjerujem U Ljubav, Andorra with Anonymous and Salvem El Món (their best placing in Eurovision, 12th in the Semi-Final). Other notable songs include Teapacks from Israel with Push The Button, Austria's entry, Estonia’s Gerli Padar (sister of the 2001 winner Tanel Padar) with Partners In Crime, Moldova with Natalia Barbu’s Fight and Valentine Lost, the entry from Iceland performed by Eiríkur Hauksson. He had already appeared twice in Eurovision in two different groups: ICY in 1986, the debut of his country, and Just 4 Fun which represented Norway in 1991. Sweden sent popular band The Ark, which represented more glam than standard rock in The Worrying Kind. You can read more about rock in Eurovision here.
2007 in focus
Monaco withdrew from the competition after the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest but Austria and Hungary returned after one year of absence. In the case of Austria it was a lonely return because after the poor result achieved by Eric Papilaya and his song Get A Life - Get Alive, the anthem for that year’s Life Ball, they withdrew from the competition until 2011. Hungary on the other hand got one of its best results in their Eurovision history; after placing second in the Semi-Final Magdi Rúzsa finished ninth in the Grand Final.
Both Serbia and Montenegro participated as independent countries in 2007. After being part of Yugoslavia from 1961 and 1989, contributing with several entries, and then with Serbia & Montenegro in 2004 and 2005, they took to the Eurovision stage but with very different results. Montenegro didn’t qualify from the Semi-Final while Serbia won the Eurovision Song Contest with its first attempt as an independent nation. The winning song, Molitva, performed by Marija Šerifović, is one of the few non-English language songs to have won the Eurovision Song Contest since the language rules were relaxed in 1999. Check out some of Serbia's other entries in Eurovision.
The debuts of the Czech Republic and Georgia also produced different outcomes, the former remaining in the Semi-Final and the latter qualified for the Grand Final. Georgia was represented by Sopho, who reached 12th place with Visionary Dream, a mix of pop song with heavily mixed with ethnic elements and a strong performance including spinning dancers styled as soldiers.
Verka makes an entrance
Ukraine sent Verka Serduchka, a drag act, who performed the song Dancing Lasha Tumbai, which finished second. Verka has gone on to become an iconic figure in recent Eurovision history. She made quite a furore in Helsinki with her costumes and statements, shaking up the press centre on a daily-basis.
Third place went to Russia, who fought for its place at the top at the beginning of the contest with girlband Serebro and their Song #1.
Belarus, which first participated in the Eurovision Song Contest in Istanbul in 2004, and have returned every year since their debut, achieved their best result to date in 2007. Dmitry Koldun has been by far the most successful entrant that Belarus has sent to Eurovision, his dynamic number Work Your Magic was a roaring success in Helsinki in 2007, resulting in a 6th place finish in the Grand Final.
The UK was represented by Scooch with their song Flying The Flag (For You), dressed as flight attendants. Prior to their selection there were rumours that the Spice Girls may even enter Eurovision. Bandmember Mel C gave an interview where she mentioned she’d love to go to Eurovision: "I'd like to go, it looks like good fun." Neither Mel C or the Spice Girls have appeared at Eurovision yet.
Almost 9 million votes were cast all over Europe, either by telephone or SMS but it wasn't all celebration as the 2007 contest saw the loudest protests yet heard at the event against perceived unfairness in the voting system.
East V West?
The outcome of the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest caused commotion in Western Europe, where audience and media criticised the credibility of the results. The Semi-Final, where no single country from west of the Danube qualified, was criticised in particular. The results were even brought up in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Others defended the Eurovision Song Contest. The Swedish paper Expressen wrote about feeling "shame" over the reactions in many Western European countries, and claimed that "the Eurovision Song Contest had never been better" and calling the Serbian winner a "worthy, historic winner."
The EBU and some commentators in western European countries refuted the criticism, insisting the voting reflected the strength of the songs and performances. The EBU claimed that the results of the Helsinki contest would have remained largely the same (and with the same winner), even if only Western European votes had been counted. The cumulative amount of viewers was 106 million.
Many happy returns
The artists returning this year were Evridiki from Cyprus, who had already placed 11th in the contest twice, in 1992 and 1994, Eirikur from Iceland, Karolina who had represented FYR Macedonia in 2002 and Edsilia Rombley who tried to match the success of her 1998 entry (4th place) but didn’t qualify from the Semi-Final.
The big winners of the Eurovision Song Contest, Ireland, came last for the first time in the Grand Final this year with Dervish and They Can’t Stop The Spring. The night belonged to Serbia however and the contest travelled to Belgrade in 2008 for the first time.