The day of rockoning has arrived: Finnish monster-rock group Lordi won the 51st annual Eurovision Song Contest yesterday (20 May 2006), beating out contestants from thirty-six other European countries and striking down the prophets of false.
If you’ve been living in North America (or under a rock in Europe) for the past fifty years, you may not be familiar with the Eurovision Song Contest. If you are tempted to ask whether it is at all similar to American Idol, you should probably stop watching American Idol. In fact, do that anyway.
Eurovision Song Contest
Unlike the Olympics (and, unfortunately, like American Idol), Eurovision winners are ultimately decided by the audience. Viewers in thirty-eight countries (the entrant from Serbia/Montenegro dropped out of the contest but the country was still allowed to vote) had only a ten-minute window to submit their votes via telephone or SMS (cellular text-messaging). When the votes were tallied, Lordi had a total of 292 points, 44 more than first runner-up Dima, who hailed from Russia.
Whether you’ve heard of the contest or not, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with some of Eurovision’s past contestants:
- Julio Iglesias represented Spain in 1970. He finished 8th with his song, “Gwendolyne.”
- ABBA won the contest in 1974 with their song, “Waterloo.” That same year, Olivia Newton-John took 4th place with her song, “Long Live Love.”
- Despite being born in Canada, Céline Dion represented Switzerland in 1988 and won Eurovision singing “Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi”.
- American expatriates Katrina Leskanich and Vince de la Cruz form half of 1997 Eurovision-winning group Katrina & the Waves.
Finland’s first entry in Eurovision Song Contest was Laila Kinnunen in 1961. Her song, “Valoa Ikkunassa” placed 10th that year but until yesterday, Finland had yet to take home the grand prize.
Apart from being the first Finnish group to win Eurovision, Lordi holds the distinction of being a distinctly “non-Eurovision” winner.
Lordi will not rest long on their laurels, however. The group resumes their Bringing the Balls Back to Finland tour on 17 June. Alas, the tour doesn’t stop anywhere near Willoughby, Ohio.