Throwback to Helsinki – Eurovision 2007

Winning the Eurovision Song Contest is the main aim of most, if not all, participating countries every year. For some countries the aim was reached within a short time since their first participation while others had to wait some longer time. Yet, even after 65 years some countries are still waiting for the contest to be hosted on their soil. In the case of Finland it took them not less than 46 years to host the contest. The contest in Helsinki was the seventh contest in a row to be hosted in a city which never hosted the contest before. The Finnish victory in 2006 marked the first and only victory of the Nordic country to date. The victory of the band Lordi with their entry “Hard Rock Hallelujah” is also the only victory of a hard rock band in the contest to our days.

The contest in Helsinki was held on two different dates as it had a Semi-Final in addition to the Grand Final. The Semi-Final of that year is till today the longest ever Semi-Final as it had a running order of 28 countries. This was mainly caused by the return of both Hungary and Austria as well as the debut of four new countries. Georgia and the Czech Republic would both participate for the first time, and it was the first time Serbia and Montenegro would participate as two independent countries having formerly participated as one country. Monaco withdrew from the Contest, but nevertheless, the contest in Helsinki was the one with the most of participating countries at the time – 42.

The Finnish broadcaster YLE chose the then TV hostess Jaana Pelkonen and musician, actor and TV host Mikko Leppilampi as the hosts of the show. The venue chosen for the contest was Hartwall Areena which had the capacity to welcome between 12,000 to 15,000 spectators. The main design concept was all about Finnish elements. The stage design had the shape of a traditional Finnish instrument called kantele. The slogan of the Contest was “True Fantasy” which was used in order to emphasize some of the polarities associated with the country.

The 2007 Eurovision saw the return of various artists: Cypriot diva Evridiki came back to the contest for the 4th time after participation as a backing vocalist for Alexia in 1987 and twice as a lead singer in both 1992 and 1994, Elrikur Hauksson carried the Icelandic flag after his participation in 1986 as a part of ICY and later in 1991 where he represented Norway as a part of the group “Just 4 Fun”. The FYR Macedonia chose to send their 2002 representative Karolina Goceva for a second time, whilst Edsilia Rombley would come back after 9 years to the contest to represent The Netherlands once again.

The Semi-Final was held on the night of the 10th of May, and it lasted 2 hours and 40 minutes. This due to a running order of 28 countries participating in that Semi-Final. A method of two Semi-Finals was introduced from 2008 to our days in order to prevent such running orders among other reasons. An ensemble of Finnish dancers dancing to accordion music written by Johanna Juhola was the opening act.

The results of that Semi-Final were a matter of shock for some. Returning artists Evridiki, Edsilia Rombley and Elrikur Haukssin all failed to qualify to the Grand Final. Other remarkable acts failing to qualify were the Swiss act Dj Bobo who although got the third position in the OGAE polls only got to the 20th position in the live show. The Czech Republic would get to the 28th and last place with only 1 point in their debut. This is to our days the worst ranking a country got in a Semi-Final. The country would rank last once again in 2009 with 0 points. In addition, none of the Scandinavian countries would qualify from this round. Croatia, Malta and Norway would fail to qualify for the first time since the introduction of the Semi-Final format in 2004.

On the other hand, Serbia would win that Semi-Final with an impressive 298 points. Bulgaria, Belarus and Slovenia would all qualify from the semi final for the first time.

Watch the Semi-Final here:

The Grand Final took place on Saturday the 12th of May. It had a running order of 25 countries competing countries which included the top 11 of 2006, the Big 4 (Spain, France, Germany and United Kingdom) as well as the top 10 countries from the Semi-Final. Bosnia and Herzegovina opened the show and Moldova was chosen to close the show. The host country, Finland would perform as song number 5. In exception of Estonia and Poland, all former USSR countries performed on that final. Former Yugoslav countries were all present as well in exception of Croatia and Montenegro.

The show was opened by last year’s winners – Lordi, whilst Santa Claus started the voting by ringing his bell. The world-wide known symphonic metal band Apocalyptica was the interval act in the Grand Final.

The voting process was similar to the one from 2006. First 7 points were shown on the screen as the spokesperson started awarding the country’s points. Only top 3 scores were announced one by one. In exception of Albania and Andorra who used 100% of juries voting, all participating countries used 100% televoting to assemble their top 10 countries. At the end of the voting process, Serbia won the contest with 268 points out of which 9 scores of 12 points. Ukraine would come in second position with 235 points followed by Russia in third position with 207 points. This was the first time since 1998 that a song sung in the native language of the country won the contest and the second time since 1956 a country won the contest on its first participation. It was also the first time that Ireland finished in last place with Dervish and their song “They Can’t Stop The Spring” scoring 5 points in total, all coming from the Albanian jury.

Many of that year’s spokesperson were former Eurovision singers. Finnish spokesperson Laura Voutilainen represented her country in 2002. Having represented her country in 1984 and 1992 where she was also crowned as that year’s winner, Linda Martin was in charge of the Irish votes. The Estonian votes were given by Laura Poldvere who represented her country in 2005 and would come back in 2017 along with Koit Toome. Jānis Šipkevics of Cosmos (Latvia’s entry from 2006) gave away his country’s votes. Another 2006 representative who was given the role of spokesperson in 2007 was Elena Risteska from FYR Macedonia.

On the other hand, some spokesperson would come back to the contest as singers. Sirusho served as the Armenian spokesperson, and went on represent her country in the following edition in 2008. The Danish votes were given by Susanne Georgi who later came back to the contest two years later representing Andorra. In an odd act, Edsilia Rombley who represented The Netherlands that same year would also give away the votes joined by Dutch comedian Paul de Leeuw.

Watch the Grand Final here:

Both shows were done by YLE’s crew – the Executive Director of both the Semi Final and the Grand Final was Heikki Seppälä, with Timo Suomi beint the Multicamera Director. This was also the first year that the Eurovision Song Contest was produced and broadcast in HD.

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