Eurovision 2004 in Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul 2004 added a flair of the east to the Contest but there was a lot more to Eurovision 2004 than the purely Turkish delights on offer. The official heart logo was introduced for the first time and it was accompanied by the slogan “Under The Same Sky” which symoblised Turkey’s integration in Europe. A semi-final was also introduced which saw 22 countries compete for 10-remaining slots in the Grand Final. The other 14 were filled by the Big 4 and the 10 top-scoring countries from the previous contest. For the sixth time in the contest’s history and the second time overall no acts returned to the Contest.
Xena the Warrior Princess Ruslana thrust her way – quite literally – on to stage in Istanbul and overwhelmed the competition with her domineering choreography. Like Sertab, the year before she also overcame an unfortunately early draw and with ‘Wild Dances’ delivered victory for Ukraine in only their second appearance at the contest. Considering the about of head-shaking she and her tribal-gear-clad backing dancers did it’s a miracle she doesn’t sound out of breath at all.
Beaten narrowly into second place, Zeljko Joksimovic & Ad Hoc Orchestra landed Serbia & Montenegro silver on their first contest. 263 points was an impressive score for a freshman country and it’s perhaps the beautiful flute-underscoring that helped Serbia to top spot. The performance isn’t as visually stimulating as Ruslana though and the fact the chorus is a little difficult to grasp probably didn’t help the song on the night.
Sakis somehow managed not to look like an awkward Dad despite his age and combination of “young, hip,” clothing. “Shake It” built upon the ethnic-disco Antique had debuted in 2001 and Sakis gave some real welly in the performance. Unfortunately his vocal left a little to be desired but the catchiness and feel-good factor of ‘Shake It’ is undeniable. Also the amount of product in his hair is quite staggering…
The host nation snuck in to the Top 5 with ‘For Real’ by rock group Athena. Though the wisdom of the song is perhaps unclear, the catchiness of the number and the highly memorable outfits made this a visually stimulating number that exemplified the visual importance Turkey gave Sertab’s performance in 2003.
Nicosia isn’t known for its appearances in the Top 5 so Cyprus’s appearance here deserves commendation. ‘Stronger Every Minute’ is a beautifully subdued but emotive ballad and tapped into the flair displayed by the French efforts in 2001 and 2002. Stripping away the visual elements displayed by 3 out of the other Top 5 acts, Lisa tapped into a refreshing minimalism on stage.