Eurovision Reloaded: Riga 2003 – My #10 – #6

Home stretch now as we reach my top 10 songs from 2003’s Eurovision Song Contest, hosted in Latvia. While some of the songs haven’t aged especially well, the upper echelon will happily find a place on my iPod after this writeup is done.

Eurovision 2003 Latvia Riga logo

All in all, I think the results for the contest – as close as they were – turned out pretty reasonably, I don’t think there were many songs that did well that I didn’t like to some extent. In fact, my top 10 shares 7 songs with the actual top 10, as I’m sure avid fans of this blog(!) might have pieced together already. But which outsiders made the top rung?

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latvia

Latvia Latvia

F.L.Y. – Hello From Mars

24th place

Latvia eh? Hindsight somehow makes it even more improbable to think they ever won Eurovision. Their latter-day entries have largely been horrendous, and more often than not end up as my least favourites of any given year. Of course there are exceptions, and in fact the host nation’s entry for 2003 worked rather nicely for me.

Typically though, they came within a whisker of joining the UK on nul points, getting a last-minute bailout from neighbours Estonia on the last set of scores, which went down very well with the audience. (Apols for getting Estonia & Latvia’s fortunes mixed up in the last post). Sure, “Hello from Mars” is pretty naff but how good-spirited it is. My better judgement makes me think this should be a stinker that got what it deserved, but I really enjoy every nonsensical minute of it. Certainly they’ve done worse. A LOT WORSE.

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norway

Norway Norway

Jostein Hasselgård – I’m Not Afraid To Move On

4th place

I sort of thought this would end up washed up at the bottom of the scoreboard, but 4th place was an exceptional finish, especially given the three-way pile-up for the victory. It’s a pretty unextraordinary old ballad, with a (sort of) fresh-faced blonde Scandinavian sitting at a piano.

For me it was a grower, I quite like the rough tone to the voice. Growers don’t usually get such benefit of the doubt in their limited exposure at Eurovision, but it seemed to chime well with the public at least. Before you know it, it’s grown into a rather gorgeous crescendo – nothing like finishing off on a high is there?

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iceland

Iceland Iceland

Birgitta Haukdal – Open Your Heart

9th place

Opening the show is always a tough gig, but Birgitta kicked off what would be a decidedly optimistic-sounding setlist with plenty of energy. I sort of thought this would get lost too, but that chorus is simple enough to be an instant hit, giving remote island nation Iceland another solid finish.

There’s plenty of weight and optimism in the verses choruses, but that middle-eight is the real showstopper. Really energising and wonderful with that vocal backing too. Key change too! Fantastic! Even a dozen or more listens later, I still get a little surprised at how much I enjoy this one.

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netherlands

Netherlands Netherlands

Esther Hart – One More Night

13th place

Remember when the Netherlands made it to Eurovision finals? Well enjoy it while you can! Fortunately Esther made the most of her platform and delivered a powerful pop performance, full of sunshine. This was a happy bunch of songs, wasn’t it?

While the simplicity of Birgitta’s tune paid off for Iceland, Esther just wins out with sheer power, tempo & energy. That chorus is really catchy, and a key-change seals the deal in the end. Really fantastic, I love this one.

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cyprus

Cyprus Cyprus

Stelios Konstantas – Feeling Alive

20th place

Talking of keeping it simple, Cyprus outmanoeuvred Greece’s ballad (at least in my mind) with one of the most well-rehearsed Euro archetypes: Mediterranean dance-pop. I mean it could be No Mercy singing it really, and it’s not exactly going to win any awards for creativity on that front, but there’s no doubt that this sort of song is one of the bedrocks of 21st century Eurovision.

But goodness, it might be a cheap thrill, but a lot of the best songs are. He at least sings Sakis off the stage and doesn’t resort to stripping (more’s the pity). It’s easy to level criticism at it for being a pretty basic song, but no moreso than some of the blonde bombshells I’ve just listed. I don’t care, I loved the song before I saw the guy, get over it.

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Right, top 5 coming soon! You can work out who they are, but what order?

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6 Comments

Filed under Eurovision, Music, Reviews

6 responses to “Eurovision Reloaded: Riga 2003 – My #10 – #6

  1. Mike

    OK, that was interesting, and not what I had guessed…can’t wait to see the top 5.

    Considering how long ago this occurred, I’m surprised by how many of these songs I remember (well). I thought that “Every way that I can” was just an OK song, especially considering the strength of the competition, and it was lucky to squeak through.

    So you’re only half a tease, and I amend the record. Credit where credit is due! I’m from the US. EV is pretty much unknown here, but I do have a couple of friends who are really into it. I saw it once on vacation in Europe, and have been hooked ever since. A bit of a guilty pleasure, but my God, do I love it when May rolls around!

    What part of the UK do you live in?

    Mike

    • Yeah I must have watched the contest at the time (I definitely remember t.A.T.u., Lou and Gemini at least) but I’m quite unfamiliar this far back. It’s been an education anyway!

      Ooh the US? Whereabouts? I’m nosey about you 😀 …
      I dream about the US doing their own kind of Eurovision, with each state. I mean those sort of pageant type things are popular there right?

      I come from Milton Keynes, it’s not really famous, it’s about 50 miles north of London I think.

  2. Mike

    Oh, I’ve been through Milton Keynes on the train a few times, going between London and Birmingham, but sadly, have never stopped. I’ll send an e-mail to the address on your blog…

    A US version of EV could be entertaining, but I suspect we’re too culturally homogeneous for it to be very interesting. We’d probably have 25 Beyonces, and 25 Justin Timberlakes! The cultural differences are what really make EV interesting. With the ‘rise’ of the Eastern European countries, the contest has gotten a lot better; some really great songs and acts have come from the region.

    So far, no big disagreements (for the most part) with your rankings of the 2003 songs, however, I reserve the right to be overly judgemental if I don’t like your take on the top 5!

    Mike

    • I guess there would be some element of that in a US Eurovision, but certainly there are plenty of distinctions to be made. I mean I don’t think an Alaskan entry and an Alabaman entry would be quite the same! I guess it depends how desperate their tourist boards were to host the contest!

      Gonna wrap up the top 5 tomorrow – already got the 2002 songs downloaded to start on afterwards, not sure how far back I’ll go!! Maybe I’ll write up 2010 next (OMG love it)!

  3. Mike

    OK, you raise a good point! There is definitely a little more diversity than I implied. For example in some parts of the US, country music is very popular, and would doubtlessly feature in this contest. So: 15 Justin Timberlakes, 20 Beyonces and 10 Tayor Swifts and 5 Brad Paisleys.

    I was going to say that 50 (states) would be a BIG contest, but EV is able to pull this over with over 40 participants, sometimes. Plus, who DOESN’T want bragging rights? So maybe this idea could fly after all, but I still think the decks are a little stacked against it!

    • Yeah I’m sure it probably would have happened already, and it’s not like everyone has to compete. I like the idea of some of the tiny states beating New York or California though!

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