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Before you say it...Yes I am one of those geeky Eurovision fans! Now don't back off slowly and run away like most, because the Eurovision has a lot more to offer, as I've been telling people for years, than the camp, tongue in cheek show many people in this country perceive it to be!
In 2003 the contest came from Riga following the surprise win of Latvia in the previous year with Marie N's up tempo I Wanna! This CD contains all 26 songs which competed in the final as well as a booklet with pictures of each artists.
As usual the contest has a diverse range of music from across the continent and although 2003 was by no means a vintage year there is still plenty to be had in enjoying this compilation.
First and foremost, this was THE year, the famous year in which Gemini went to the contest thinking they would be contenders and coming home with Nul points. The song Cry baby you may have heard before in those "most embarrassing TV moments" show but like the songs from Spain, Slovenia, Norway, Ukraine etc its one youll listen to once and never again.
The year did contain some classic pop songs including the winner Sertab Enter from Turkey with Everyway that I can which has a summery feel that will bring a smile to the face. Icelands Open Your Heart, the abba esque Swedish entry provides the europop feel whilst Ireland provides the usual ballad.
But the two main songs on this CD come firstly from the controversial TATU if you remember from earlier in the noughites caused huge uproar by being an "openly gay" double act. The song is far far better on record than it was life and is a catchy, still modern sounding track far better than there other output. The other is the Belgian entry which went so close to winning. Sanomi, is an invented language that produces a catchy, eastern European sounding song that will stick in the mind.
All in all 2003 was a decent Eurovision year with such a huge range of music and at least over half the songs you will hear again........if only people would give Eurovision a chance.
Also appears on my Ciao account!
Eurovision is a much maligned event and considered by many to be somewhat of a joke musically.
This may be true some of the time but the 2003 event held in Riga, Latvia was a definite exception and produced some very fine and original music. It might be best remembered for The United Kingdom's entry scoring "nil points" but that fact should just be considered and put aside as trivia because the contest and consequently this album has a lot to offer.
The contest was won by Turkey's Sertab Erener with "Every Way That I Can" which I personally thought was an average song and very much sounded like what could best be described as snake charming music. It may have won because this style was prominent at the time in the mainstream pop music starts.
The real quality on this album comes from "Open Your Heart" - Birgitta Haukdal (Iceland), "tbc" - T.A.T.U (Russia), Never Let You Go - Mando (Greece), "I'm Not Afraid To Move On" - Jostein Hasselgard (Norway), "Zadnych Granic" - Ich Troje (Poland), "Hello From Mars" - F.L.Y (Latvia), and "Eighties Coming Back - Rufus (Estonia)"
The Norwegian and Estonian entries were exceptionally good, the Icelandic one was very good and the Greek entry has one of the best high notes, in the middle of the song, that I have ever heard.
This album is well worth owning.
Full track listings:
1. Open Your Heart - Birgitta Haukdal (Iceland)
2. Weil Der Mensch Zahlt - Alf Poier (Austria)
3. We've Got The World Tonight - Mickey Harte (Ireland)
4. Every Way That I Can - Sertab Erener (Turkey)
5. To Dream Again - Lynn Chircop (Malta)
6. Ne Brini - Mija Martina Brabaric (Bosnia-Herzegovina)
7. Deixa-Me Sonhar - Rita Guerra (Portugal)
8. Vise Nisam Tvoja - Claudia (Croatia)
9. Feeling Alive - Stelios Konstantas (Cyprus)
10. Let's Get Happy - Lou (Germany)
11. tbc - T.A.T.U (Russia)
12. Dime - Beth (Spain)
13. Many Word For Love - Lior Narkis (Israel)
14. One More Night - Esther Hart (The Netherlands)
15. Cry Baby - Jemini (UK)
16. Hasta La Vista - Olexandr Ponomaryov (Ukraine)
17. Never Let You Go - Mando Greece)
18. I'm Not Afraid To Move On - Jostein Hasselgard (Norway)
19. Monts Et Merveilles - Louisa (France)
20. Zadnych Granic - Ich Troje (Poland)
21. Hello From Mars - F.L.Y (Latvia)
22. Sanomi - Urban Trad (Belgium)
23. Eighties Coming Back - Rufus (Estonia)
24. Don't Break My Heart - Nicola (Romania)
25. Give Me Your Love - Fame (Sweden)
26. Nanana - Karmen Stavec (Slovenia)
This review is also posted on www.ciao.co.uk
under my user name bella6789
British national pride is always something that's bruised as easily as a peach. Whilst in the sporting arena, the boot of Jonny Wilkinson gave at least the English something to cheer about in 2003, Britain suffered a musical humiliation when scoring 'nul points' at the Eurovision Song Contest in Riga, Latvia back in the May. The Scouse duo Jemini who sung for the UK blamed the war on the Iraq and tampered monitors for their lack of scoring. You don't need to be Miss Marple to realise that there were two more obvious reasons why the UK was stuck behind the Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Federal Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia... The 'Eurovision Song Contest Riga 2003' is a compilation of the 26 entries that showcased (or embarrassed) themselves in Latvia. Featuring the recorded studio versions rather than the live performances that were sung on the night, it catalogues just why people are attracted and repelled by Eurovision in seemingly equal doses... This year's contest was perhaps anticipated more greatly than in previous years thank to faux-lesbian Russian teenage duo t-A-T-u who had already been number one in practically every country in Europe thanks to 'All The Things She Said'. Scaring the selectors upon being picked to represent their country, they were warned not to inappropriately sauce up the family show or they would be disqualified... their song 'Ne Ver, Ne Bojsia' is one of the highlights of the album with it's dance production and typically chipmunk-esque vocals. t-A-T-u particularly upset the Eurovision fraternity by describing the German contestant Lou as a 'crusty old bag'. Clearly knowing her demographic, Lou's lyrical plea of 'let's be happy and let's be gay' was ultimately in vain, although the cheeky juxtaposition of her in the running order just before the Russians was surely not accidental. Hearing it in polished studio form, it's a li
ttle surprising that the German entry didn't do a little better for itself as it's arguably the most memorable of the 26 of offer. However, on the night both Lou and t-A-T-u were surprisingly upstaged by Sertab Erener, who's 'Every Way That I Can' became the first Turkish winner in Eurovision history. Two and a half minutes of pop perfection, it's Eastern rhythms and bouncy pop tune made her a deserving victor, although recent events in that country make the ESC in Istanbul in 2004 look a little less appetising. Elsewhere, Jemini's recorded efforts sound an iota better than it did live, although it is still one of the UK's weakest entries. Interestingly, the most modern sounding track was put forward by Romania which despite heavy-accented English actually sounds quite credible when heard again. Similarly, the Spanish entry 'Dime Tu' is extremely catchy and would be happily at home in the charts had it been sung in English. On the flip-side, we have Austrian performance artist Alf Poier's rant about the countryside which was arguably the oddest song ever to have been performed at peak-time on BBC and the new-age Belgian entry (in an imaginary language!) which sounds like Enya after one too-many Bacardi Breezers. There is an awful lot of filler here that even the most avid fan would skip - the tiresome ballad (Portugal), the non-ironic 80's throwback (Ukraine) and the Sex-Bomb rip-off (Bosnia). Sweden also toss in another Abba-lite track, whilst Ireland predictably contribute another man-at-the-piano slowie. However, the album is an interesting purchase purely for the diversity on offer and the number of tracks. It may not represent the best music of the continent, but is definitely worth a giggle if only for the fact that it's the only place where you'll find as many lesbians, weirdos, clones and misunderstood soles as Emmerdale Farm...
INTRODUCTION The Eurovision Song Contest is a strange phenomenon. For years now, since I was a little girl, it has been a tradition to watch it on TV. However, during the programme, it is part of the experience to criticise the songs, mock the costumes and snigger at the nul pointers. The Eurovision is, of course, naff. But we love it. This year, four of our household decided to write down our scores for each act too, so we could compare notes afterwards and fairly decide who to vote for. I found that by the end of the evening, I was pleasantly surprised by how many of the songs I actually liked. A few days afterwards, I was still going round humming several of them! Then the Reality TV yahoo group I am a member of (R_TV_Ultimate) began discussing the album that was coming out, featuring all of the songs. I had a look on Amazon and discovered it was rather cheap to buy the CD - £9.99 for 26 tracks! So I bought it and it is currently my most played CD – and considering the Eurovision was back in May, that’s not bad going! So, don your short silky skirts, perfect your silly dancing, recall that O-level French you’ve forgotten and step with me into the world that is… the EUROVISION!! A NOTE ABOUT RATINGS Each country’s entry has two ratings out of ten – the live rating is the score I gave them on the night, while watching the programme on TV. The CD rating is my view after listening to the album version more times than can possibly be deemed normal. SO ON WITH THE ACTION… ICELAND Open Your Heart – Birgitte Live = 6/10 CD = 7/10 This is a very catchy little song to begin with. It’s got a pleasant and recognisable intro and the sort of sweet vocals that smack of enchanting broken English. It is by no means a great song, but certainly an enjoyable one to listen to and it sets the standard well. AUSTRIA Weil Der M
ensch Zahlt – Alf Poier Live = 3/10 CD = 7.5/10 On the night of the contest, all of us thought this was the most stupid, out of tune load of rubbish ever. We have since got the joke! Alf Poier is apparently a well-known Austrian comedian and this song is not in the slightest bit serious! It is incredibly catchy and a very ‘up’ song, which would not be out of place in an episode of the Tweenies! An acquired taste, but guess what? Yep, I’ve acquired it! IRELAND We’ve Got The World Tonight – Mickey Harte Live = 5/10 CD = 6.5/10 Hmmm, a Johnny Logan-esque load of nothingness which would have easily won in the ‘80s. These days, it seems rather dull and dated – and it’s not as if Ireland has the excuse of being part of the former USSR or something! To give them some credit, the song is okay, I don’t fast forward it, but it’s nothing special. TURKEY Everyway That I Can – Sertab Erener Live = 8/10 CD = 9.5/10 Ah, here’s something special, the winner! Although it has been compared to Holly Valance’s Kiss Kiss, I much prefer this song to the tart from Neighbours’ poor excuse. Sertab Erener has a lovely voice and this song has great pace, energy and is extremely catchy and memorable. She had some small success with this in the UK singles charts after the Eurovision, but it has been a much bigger hit in other countries and deservedly so. MALTA To Dream Again – Lynn Live = 5/10 CD = 6.5/10 Back to the pleasant but forgettable, the Maltese entry is slower and less original. It fills the old B-side space on the passé records; it is okay to listen to when you can’t bother moving the needle back to the previous track. (Okay, the under-20s have now switched off!) Not a bad track, but then, there aren’t really any awful songs on the whole CD. BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA Could It Be – Mija Martina Barbaric Live = 7/10 CD = 8.5/10 This completely shows up the dullness of the previous song, as it is much more modern, upbeat and rockier (but obviously in a cheesy Eurovision way!). It is a song you just have to bop along to and one of the best tracks on the album. I think many people would like this one, especially if it was removed from the baggage of being a Eurovision song. Often that label alone puts people off and makes them dismiss some damn good songs. PORTUGAL Deixa-Me Sonhar – Rita Guerra Live = 4/10 CD = 6.5/10 Sway along, children. Get those candles, hankies, whatever you’ve got at hand (No, not yer bra, missus!) and hold them aloft, rocking gently from side to side. Yep, another naff Euro ballad, rather Celine Dion-ish this one – well, she was in the Eurovision all those years ago too and it didn’t do her career any harm. Being sung in a language I don’t know, my ears seem convinced that at one point, our Rita is singing about Temple Meads, our local train station! CROATIA Vise Nisam Tvoja – Claudia Beni Live = 8.5/10 CD = 10/10 Yay! My favourite track. I love this one, it is again very catchy, modern and has a great beat. It is one you just can’t help dancing to – although if I played it at a Ciao meet disco, I’d probably be the only one on the dance floor! In my opinion, this one should have won, but at least I have it on CD now and can play it ad nauseum. I love the changes of pace in the song, the arrangement is very clever, but flows wonderfully throughout. Ah, bliss. CYPRUS Feeling Alive – Stelios Constantas Live = 3.5/10 CD = 5/10 Oh dear, it’s Renee and Renato. Well, it’s someone similar. This sounds like something out of the ‘70s. I have forgotten what Stelios actually looked like, but his singing conjures up unflattering image
s of sweaty fat blokes in bad clothes, who are trying far too hard to be alluring. The vocals are average, the lyrics are repetitive and cliched. So not great. Quite tempting to fast forward this one at times. GERMANY Let’s Get Happy – Lou Live = 6/10 CD = 8/10 A rather dated sound, admittedly, but it’s probably the catchiest song of the competition. My kids are still singing the chorus of this one on an almost daily basis – although the fact that it contains the immortal line “Let’s get happy and let’s be gay” might have something to do with it! Another very happy, up, boppy song that is easy to jig along to. RUSSIA Ne Ver, Ne Bojsia – t.A.T.u Live = 6.5/10 CD = 9.5/10 Another of my favourites and this definitely had a big role in deciding to buy the t.A.T.u album. Having studied Russian at Uni., I love the sound of the language and Lena and Julia’s distinctive voices really highlight the strengths of this song. I found their live performance on the day a bit disappointing after all the hype, but this is an excellent track on the CD and one I listen to regularly. SPAIN Dime – Beth Live = 6.5/10 CD = 6.5/10 This song might well be better than it appears, but following on from the t.A.T.u track, the Spanish entry just appears old fashioned and completely outclassed. It has quite a strong guitar base and is pleasant enough, just nothing special. If it had been placed elsewhere on the album (this CD follows the actual order of the contest), it might have seemed better. ISRAEL Words For Love – Lior Narkis Live = 4.5/10 CD = 6/10 In some ways, this song is excellent – fast paced, something a bit different and lots of really catchy bits and nice instrumental parts. Unfortunately, the guy singing sounds like he has a frog in his throat and is spitting out hard consonants! This i
s rather off-putting, especially where he appears to swear with several ‘shchshch’ sounds beforehand. Still, not bad if you can get past that. THE NETHERLANDS One More Night – Esther Hart Live = 6.5/10 CD = 6.5/10 Catchy enough and easy on the ear, Esther Hart has a nice enough voice and sings well in English too. The lyrics are rather cliched, but so many songs are. If you can ignore that, the song is pleasant enough and worth a listen, but nothing great. I do like the way all these songs finish on a definite beat though – good old Eurovision, imposing a 3-minute(ish) time constraint, no fade outs here. UNITED KINGDOM Cry Baby – Jemini Live = 4/10 CD = 7/10 Can I just say MuHaHaHaHa! Oh, how we laughed! Now, I do not automatically want ‘our’ entry to win these things, but if they deserve it, fair enough. Seeing just how awful Jemini were on the night (especially HER!), I was delighted to see them receive nul points. Over the years, it has become a standing joke about which ‘naff’ European country will fail to gain any points at all and this year, ‘we’ were the naff ones. Luckily, the song is much better recorded, so we don’t have to endure the first part being offensively off key, as it was on the night. UKRAINE Hasta La Vista – Olexandr Ponomaryov Live = 4/10 CD = 5/10 Eek! It’s Renee and Renato again. Nip back to my comments on Cyprus and repeat. This song though has probably the worst lyrics of the whole competition. I mean is this the new theme tune for the Terminator or what?! The funny thing is that it’s almost two songs merged into one – a slow, deeply emotional, heartfelt ballad then bits of a very ‘70s feeling EuroPop experience. Oh well, it’s worth a laugh. GREECE Never Let You Go – Mando Live = 4/10 CD = 5/10 High-pitched wa
ily vocals that sound like she’s on the verge of tears. Sorry, girl, it just doesn’t work. Forgettable, dull, nothing special to distinguish it at all and the compulsory cliched lyrics – “I would lie for you, I would die for you, I would lay my life on the line…” - Oh purleeeese! Next… NORWAY I’m Not Afraid To Move On – Jostein Hasselgard Live = 1/10 CD = 8.5/10 Strangely, I hated this while watching the contest on TV. It had been touted as a possible winner, but I found Jostein completely out of tune and generally awful. However, the CD version is beautiful! It’s a slow song with Jostein both singing and playing the piano. It is an unusual track with lots of notes, which don’t go where you expect them to. (In other words, he sings flats and sharps, I believe!) Anyway, it’s lovely. FRANCE Monts Et Merveilles – Louisa Live = 4/10 CD = 5.5/10 Another Celine clone, this is a nice enough song and sung in clear tones with very pretty French lyrics. Again, this could be described as a traditional Eurovision entry, which can imply it is rather dated. Certainly, this song displays nothing new or original, but it’s okay in a dull kind of way. The second half of the album seems much more patchy and average than the first half. POLAND Keine Grenzen – Zadnych Granic – Ich Troje Live = 2.5/10 CD = 5.5/10 A strange one, this. The male singer has a real hard rock voice with plenty of Rod Stewart croakiness about it, while the female singer has a very pretty, soft and gentle voice. I know it worked with Meatloaf in the past, but this one doesn’t. A bit different from the usual ballads, but nothing better than average, I’m afraid. LATVIA Hello From Mars – F.L.Y. Live = 4.5/10 CD = 6.5/10 This is really naff and another weird combination of voices, but
somehow this works better than the Polish entry. The lyrics are appalling, but it’s the kind of song I can see kids enjoying. “This is gonna be, the day that we can meet, we haven’t come so down to Earth, to say hello from Mars!” Ooh, classy stuff indeed! <cough> It also contains another line which scores top points on the Cliché-o-meter – “Life is a mystery, like a perfect harmony”. Still laughing. BELGIUM Sanomi – Urban Trad Live = 7.5/10 CD = 9.5/10 Ah, some class. This is beautiful, slightly folky or possibly an Enya influence here. This is apparently sang in a made-up language to signify the way that music transcends global boundaries – or something. It works anyway. I can happily sing along with this one. There are lots of unusual instruments on this track and it is haunting, memorable and one of the best songs here. ESTONIA Eighties Coming Back – Ruffus Live = 7/10 CD = 7.5/10 The shortest song in the whole contest, this is also one of the more original and was one of our favourites on the night. It has quite an indie feel to it and Ruffus has the image needed to front any of those kinds of bands. The live version was pretty much identical to the recorded one too, so the scores are fairly consistent. Enjoyable. ROMANIA Don’t Break My Heart – Nicola Live = 5.5/10 CD = 7/10 Another modern sounding track, this has a very fast beat to it with slightly slower vocals. Her slight twang of broken English works well here and I think this could have been a big hit on the dance floors, as it seems a bit DJ Sammy-esque. You certainly wouldn’t listen to it and think “Oh yes, Eurovision. Romania!” SWEDEN Give Me Your Love – Fame Live = 5/10 CD = 6/10 It’s been a long day and a long CD and this isn’t helping me stay awake. A return to ‘80s s
tandard Eurovision, I’m afraid. This is okay, but certainly no Abba. Hey, it can’t even compare favourably to the classic Diggi Loo Diggi Ley by The Herreys. (Or is it only me that remembers them?) Average. Forgettable. Moving on… SLOVENIA Nanana – Karmen Stavec Live = 6/10 CD = 6.5/10 Not a great way to end the album really. This is another of the average songs and it makes for quite a weak ending to what is actually a better album than these kinds of tracks would suggest. Still, it’s nice to see another song with lots of ‘Na’s in the title. Haven’t seen one of those since Bananarama ;-) OVERALL VERDICT An enjoyable album and well worth the money. If you watched the Eurovision Song Contest this year and enjoyed more than a couple of the songs, you will find this a good buy. After all, CD singles cost £3-4, so if you only enjoyed three songs enough to want to buy them, paying under £10 for the album is a bargain!
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Open Your Heart - Birgitta Haukdal (Iceland)
2 Weil Der Mensch Zahlt - Alf Poier (Austria)
3 Weve Got The World Tonight - Mickey Harte (Ireland)
4 Every Way That I Can - Sertab Erener (Turkey)
5 To Dream Again - Lynn Chircop (Malta)
6 Ne Brini - Mija Martina Brabaric (Bosnia-Herzegovina)
7 Deixa-Me Sonhar - Rita Guerra (Portugal)
8 Vise Nisam Tvoja - Claudia (Croatia)
9 Feeling Alive - Stelios Konstantas (Cyprus)
10 Lets Get Happy - Lou (Germany)
11 tbc - T.A.T.U (Russia)
12 Dime - Beth (Spain)
13 Many Word For Love - Lior Narkis (Israel)
14 One More Night - Esther Hart (The Netherlands)
15 Cry Baby - Jemini (UK)
16 Hasta La Vista - Olexandr Ponomaryov (Ukraine)
17 Never Let You Go - Mando Greece)
18 Im Not Afraid To Move On - Jostein Hasselgard (Norway)
19 Monts Et Merveilles - Louisa (France)
20 Zadnych Granic - Ich Troje (Poland)
21 Hello From Mars - F.L.Y (Latvia)
22 Sanomi - Urban Trad (Belgium)
23 Eighties Coming Back - Rufus (Estonia)
24 Don't Break My Heart - Nicola (Romania)
25 Give Me Your Love - Fame (Sweden)
26 Nanana - Karmen Stavec (Slovenia)