Chris: The 2007 Eurovision Song Contest is a difficult beast to tackle. Helsinki hosted Finland’s first-ever ESC after Lordi’s victory in Athens, with the country well and truly stepping up to the plate as best it could. This edition welcomed the largest ever field of competing countries, a then-record breaking 42. And whilst it may have been the “biggest” ESC of all time, it’s not remembered as one of the best.
Instead fans have criticised everything about it, from format to quality. A flawed qualification system meant that the sole semi final was actually bigger in terms of competing countries than the final. Not only that, but only 10 songs could qualify out of the 28 competing in said semi final: fourteen countries automatically qualified based on the Big Four and 2006’s results. Many fans saw their favourites eliminated early on and controversy built up when not a single Western European country qualified from the semi final. The quality of the field in general has been questioned: after Lordi’s victory, countries seemed to flock to sending acts with a rock, shock or simply “camp” factor. Those who didn’t seemed to send interchangeable ballads. Very few songs stood out, which at the time led to a highly unpredictable final where nobody seemed to know who would win. Retrospectively, the top two seem to have been the “obvious” winners, yet both remain subject to debate over their worthiness.
Marija Serifovic’s victory was, to date, the last time that the winning song has been performed in a language other than English: but was a Serbian ballad a “worthy winner”? Should it have been Verka Serduchka…or would “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” have turned the contest into a laughing stock, void of legitimacy, as many have claimed since? So, gentlemen, I turn it over to you, first on the question of the actual result: did you see these two acts as the best of the bunch?
Sopon: While they were certainly memorable acts, I wouldn’t say those two were the absolute best of the entire contest. Serebro had, in my opinion, one of the best songs. Finland’s Hanna is also very high in my ranking for that year. Such a shame she was so under-ranked. And Bulgaria certainly deserves a mention for one of the better acts. Although Elitsa has no talent singing live, the studio versions of their songs make them interesting while not being over-the-top camp, and that deserves a mention.
Was “Molitva” a worthy winner? I can believe so. Although in quality, there were some other songs that were better, “Molitva” brought in elements of both the old (pre-1999) and new (1999-present) Eurovision. A more low-key number relying more on vocals won, and it was in the country’s native language as well, reflecting vintage Eurovision. But the stage presentation presented subtle gimmicks, like the pantsuit-wearing women and the faux-lesbian “choreography”, and this shows what is, although present in the old Eurovision, more prominent in the new Eurovision.
Angus: For me, Eurovision 2007 was just a horrendous year all around. Unlike 2005 and 2006 it doesn’t feel like there’s progress toward the contest of the 00s here. It gets bogged down in the gimmicks and embarrassing comedy that has left the contest’s reputation in tatters. That being said I agree with Sam that Finland should have done much better than it did. I also count the Spanish and Belarusian songs as pretty enjoyable and more serious entries among a really jokey pack.
As for ‘Molitva’ it’s the kind of thing that the juries would go nuts for today but it doesn’t do much for me. It’s just a fairly middle of the road ballad and, contrary to the staging thing, it’s a pretty melodramatic affair. Verka winning would definitely have been worse though and would have shattered what little credibility the contest was still clinging on to in the mid-10s. Serbia probably deserved the win but that’s only because there was such a lack of competition on the night.
Sami: First of all, I must say I’m very proud of Finland when it comes to hosting the contest. The show was great, the hosts were very good and I liked the interval acts too. The contest itself wasn’t that high-quality, as there’s only a few songs I still listen to.
I think I’m the only one who thinks Molitva is one of the worst winners ever. I find it quite boring, even though I usually love Balkan ballads. Sure, Marija is a charismatic performer, but I’m not the biggest fan of her voice. Verka, on the other hand, is one of my favourites, but I’m glad it didn’t win. The song is great and Verka is a great character, but her win would have had a bad effect on the contest.
My favourite finished in the top 5 – Turkey. After sending a total mess in 2006, they came back with a great and danceable track, performed by one of the best artists from Turkey. I think Belarus had its best chance to win to date and I would have been happy to see “Work Your Magic” win.
Chris: It seems, when it comes to “Molitva” at least, that we’re a good representation of the fan community’s feelings! Personally, at the time I was all about Verka and hated “Molitva” as a winner. In retrospect, I’ve come to view it as a sublime winner and it certainly would place it in my top list of winning songs.
But that isn’t to say it was my favourite, and for that I’d have to join Sopon and Angus in praising Finland. “Leave Me Alone” is a great song — far better than “Hard Rock Hallelujah”, for example – and Hanna’s performance was very strong indeed. Perhaps the fact it was a rock song following a rock winner, or simply the fact that Finland were hosting, explain why she did so poorly in relation to much obviously weaker songs that finished ahead of her. I’m also a sucker for both “Work Your Magic” and Sweden’s “The Worrying Kind” – another song quite brilliantly performed by Ola Salo and the rest of The Ark, that also under performed (especially considering it broke all the Melodifestivalen records at the time in terms of votes cast).
Part Two will be coming later in the week. Let us know your thoughts on the Marija vs. Verka debate in the comments box below. You can also sound off on other songs in line for being the best winner from 2007!