Let’s take a moment and look back and Eurovision past for the nostalgia that everyone seems to love so much these days. This entry is about Eurovision Song Contest 2000, the 45th Eurovision ever which took place in Malmö, Sweden on May 13, 2000.
Why start here?
First, a little primer to this project. I have been thinking about doing a 20 year retrospective on Eurovision since the 2020 Eurovision was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic over a year ago and I wanted to finish all 20 Eurovisions before the pandemic was over or 2021 Eurovision happened. Obviously it took a while for this project to come together and because these are very intensive but the pandemic is not over and while Eurovision 2021 will happen in about a month, it will be a kind of unique (and hopefully one of a kind) beast so I’m giving myself until 2022 to finish this up.
While 2000 may seem like a natural point to start looking back from because it’s the first year of the 21st century I actually debated if 2004 wasn’t a better starting point as I’ve always considered that year to be the modern starting point personally which I will talk about more when we get to that year and I could have also easily picked 1999 when the language rule was abolished but let’s just say this is a nice cut off and leave at that, plus 20 Eurovisions is a round number and my internal fusspot likes that.
Also I apologize for the quality of the images they’re ripped off YouTube from what is probably someones old VHS. Video quality will improve as the years go by and when it does my screencaps will also include gifs but I made a few tests ones with the footage we do have of this contest and decided I’d save myself the headache from producing 120×120 gifs that look just about as good as the internet did in 2000. You can watch through all the entries yourself on this playlist.
Last year’s winner was X but I suppose we exist in a time before its really common for the winner to be around because I don’t remember her in the show. Our hosts Kattis Ahlström and Anders Lundin are the right mix of sweet and awkward that sells the show just fine. This show had a series of behind the scenes / set up shots which I always like even though the stage is particularly static with a series of odd angular pillars and background shapes. The only that that changes really in between acts is that there is a logo which swirls and has the colors of the preforming countries flag. The logo however…is one of my least favorite of all time:
Honestly it looks very cheap and like it was designed in about 10 seconds. I’m not actually sure what sort of feelings of ideas I’m supposed to get from it. I actually also feel this way about the postcards that appear between songs which have skits, all taking place around Sweden. These postcards touch of words or things that vaguely relate to the country but they are certainly not the best and some of them feel, if I’m being generous, culturally insensitive.
A few notable things about this Eurovision is that there was a CD for sale for the first time which the hosts mercilessly try to up-sell you throughout the entire voting process. Also this was the first Eurovision to be “broadcast” on the internet where they claimed to have over 6 million people watching. If you remember most internet in 2000 this feels both dubious and frustrating for anyone who must have tried to access it.
It wouldn’t be Eurovision if there weren’t problems. Mainly the controversy during ESC 2000 was that during the Israeli performance the band waved a Syrian flag and the male dancers had a small kiss during the song. This is interesting because “forbidden flag waving” is apparently a time honored tradition at Eurovision and men kissing each other during the songs is a non-entity now so what is and isn’t controversial remains interesting to me.
The other big problem was that Denmark used a vocoder during their performance to modulate their vocals. The EBU allowed this since the rules only explicitly don’t allow non-live vocals so it was decided that augmented vocals were fine. This has also evolved over time and we’ve seen plenty of different voice modifiers, vocoders, loopers, and so on. I would say its still examined on a case by case basis but it’s apparently led to at least two winners (Denmark 2000 and Israel 2018).
On with the Show
1) Israel – PingPong – “Sameach”
This is just a travesty and the singing, dancing and costumes are all probably intentionally bad and they’re so 2000 it hurts. This band specifically came to Eurovision to stir up shit, waved Syrian flags and do gay things so I can’t be that mad but also it’s genuinely painful to have lived through this song.
2) Netherlands – Linda Wagenmakers – “No Goodbyes”
I love this song it has good diva energy. Her voice and everything really reminds me of Vanessa Williams. There’s a great costume change in the middle with people popping out of her dress and it’s a soft ballad that turns into a full on dance number by the end. No complaints for no goodbyes.
3) UK – Nicki French – “Don’t Play that Song Again”
This has bizzare 80s energy and the oddest dances. Her voice is great but the song is so dated and sounds like someone trying to recreate ABBA but they only vaguely remember the chorus of “Fernando”. She’s also gotta be pushing 60 and she’s wearing Britney Spears outfits and her song sounds like a mashup between the 70s and 80s and just…nothing is working here for me.
GOOD Estonia – Cowboy hat. She seems oddly nervous (because she’s 19) The song is fine if not a little pat. Basically completely stattic. She gets into it towards the end.
BAD France – Someone showed up in her bathrobe and for a larger women she is basically not dressed in any way flattering. She has about a pound of purple eyeshadow on. The song is perfectly fine and one of the background dancers is into it 200% more than anyone else. There are no peaks or valleys in this song and her voice is honestly weirdly strained sounding, rough and almost sick.
BAD Romania – This man is doing his best U2 impression or???? This sounds like acustric version of Nickleback. There is a pan pipe. I haven’t heard a single lyric because his voice is very droning. Pan pipe lady is going ALL OUT. Guitar solo. There are three guitars on stage and violins in the track with no violinist on stage. Losing entry. YIKES.
They say they have 6 million viewers on the internet!
GOOD Malta – What a VOICE! She’s dressed age appropriate and it feels very tropical and fun. This feel very Bette Midler and I am not even mad about it. Too flat to be truly interesting or good. Crowd really loved it
WEIRD Norway – Oh no. They look like B*Witched. They’re in their mid20s and they look like they’re cosplaying as teenagers. This song feels candyshop 60s but also they’re not evenly talented. Not awful but like, not good either
GOOD Russia – Background dancers are doing so much. This is very 2000 Britney but the lyrics are not great and the singing is not the best. Probably exceptionally contemporary. Not particularly anything though.
BAD Belgium – Desperately wanting to recreate Celine. Overwhelming French and bizzarely gives me a church feeling. Honestly just boring and sad.
WEIRD Cyprus – At least someone came with drama. Loving the clown-esque costume. Greek and Italian is a sort of weird combo and the feeling is as mixed as the languages.
Iceland – Everyone has that awful Rachel. This is just cute but a little too cute. Very “that thing you do” but it’s got a real ear worm quality
moving around the monoliths on stage is uhhh…
It’s been 45 years and they’re already dunking on how weird ESC is. Crowd goes wild for Waterloo and literally no other winning song, barely even for the last years winning song “Diva”
A lamp from Denmark feel like an intro for this song
Denmark – I don’t get why people like this but its fine if you’re old
WEIRD Germany – Cowboy everything. This is unexplainable and it’s also kind of a joke. I don’t know how to explain a tv guy making a Germany dialect up and then making a possible semi obscene song to it for a made up “super sack” German star. Next.
BAD Switzerland – She started this song whispering and it didn’t really better from there. Boring, oddly off-beat and sometimes off-key. It feels like the words don’t match the tempo which uhh…what. I suppose this can be in Italian but I’m not convinced she speaks Italian and isn’t just doing this phonetically
WEIRD Croatia – Oh, the Balkan ballad. When will you return from the war? Hair flip. He looks like a Balkan Fabio and I’m here for it. We also have a dramatic stage show with uhhhh let’s say a lady crawling around in a black sheet and slowly revealing herself. Surprisingly good and tender but also weird
WEIRD Sweden – Is this a appripration? It’s supposed to be a loving send up to native and indigenous cultures and the wiki helpfully tells me that the background dancers are a “Cree Indian, Thule Eskimo and a Norwegian Sami” but don’t list who they are so its unclear if they’re from those tribes or they’re just supposed to be dressed like them? The song is very Disney but Pontare’s extremely deep voice gives it a lot of gravatas but since he isn’t connected with the Sami or other indigeous tribes it gives me some bad vibes that he’s decided to dress as a Sami and sing on their behalf basically.
BAD FYR Macedona – I guess girl bands were in because of Spice Girls. This hyper repetivite song is not helped by the fact that none of these girls can sing and they certaintly can’t harmonize. It feels like a crime to put these poor girls in front of 100 million people to embrass themselves.
Finland – Snooze. Every Eurovision needs a pee break. This is well timed for one.
WEIRD Latvia – This is a weird energy. Looks like ??? Seems both high and drunk. Moves like Jager. Not bad but like this mans limbs all have a different mood.
GOOD Turkey – Classic Turkey ballad. A little too pat but solid. I’m enjoy it. Dress is great. Background dancers are doing enough but thankfully not too much.
BORING Ireland – Oh god Ireland why are you doing this to me? I know you don’t want to win but holy crap. This is “we are the world” but he’s got an Irish accent. Remember when men used to wear gold watches? I can’t even be mad he’s doing a great job at something I hate.
BORING / BAD Austria – A little Motown-style bop but three “rounder women” and like this is disrepectul. None of these womens voice work together and this song it just middle of the road to be completely ignorable. I couldn’t remember the extremely wordy chorus 2 minutes later. BAD SIGN
After all the points are tallied up it’s Denmark as our 2000 champion. I personally don’t see the appeal of this song and it doesn’t match up with what is on the radio Top 40 in most of the countries but since Eurovision at this point was still kind of seen as an old people show (or a show that your parents made you watch) I suppose this is perfectly fine.
This isn’t the most flashy Eurovision but it gets the job done. Honestly the worst part of this entire affair was that all of the points from 1 up to 12 are called out for each country and then, as if we were not tortured enough, they are repeated in French prolonging the misery. Since I believe that’s the norm for several years to come I’m already dreading it. There’s very little here that is particularly memorable in a good way and I can’t tell if that’s my personal lack of nostalgia or just that musical tastes and time have moved so far away from 2000. Either way it’s very apparent that while you can see some of the facets of 2000 music culture seeping in to the contest it does feel extremely out of touch in a much broader sense than today’s contest where some songs feel out of date but the majority sound radio contemporary at least. I think that Estonia, which is a quite contemporary piece was the favorite but the winner was Denmark which sounds like a 1993 Brian Adams song won instead is a big indicator of the “temperature” of the contest.
See you next time in 2001 in Denmark!