As the Eurovision entrants return home, the home crowds weigh in

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Monday, May 18, 2009

The Eurovision Song Contest 2009 is now over, but the newspapers of Europe are still alive with stories and comments, both positive and negative.

Most of the Eurovision entrants have returned home from their sojourn in Moscow, Russia, and the newspapers across Europe have varied opinions. Most national newspapers congratulated their entrants on a job well done, while others trash-talked other entrants, and still others called for their countries to pull out of the Contest.

Here are some interviews, articles and opinions that made it to the front pages of newspapers and to their sanctioned blogs.

Flag of Norway.svg Norway

Norway's mass media was filled with stories revolving around the winner, Alexander Rybak, but a secondary story that received press coverage was outcry against NRK's Eurovision commentator, Synnøve Svabø, who was criticized for talking incessantly during the event, making leering comments regarding the contents inside the male entrants' tight pants, and making a joke about stuffing sweatsocks in her own bra. When asked for a statement by Aftenposten, Svabø said, "I guess people think I should have put the socks in my throat." NRK did not comment on Svabø's commentating or whether she will be returning next year.

Flag of Sweden.svg Sweden

Sweden's newspaper Aftonbladet wrote that the "Swede of the evening" was not Sweden's entrant Malena Ernman, but Malmö-raised Arash Labaf, one of the two singers placing third for Azerbaijan. Markus Larsson wrote, "21st place? Well, this is our second-worst result ever...Malena Ernman fell so far and deep that she almost ended up in Finland. That is to say, almost last." When asked if she was disappointed, Ernman responded, "No, but I am sorry if the Swedes are disappointed." She went on to quip, "Europe is simply not ready for my high notes."

Flag of Finland.svg Finland

Finland, despite placing last, wrote upbeat stories; Helsingin Sanomat published an interview with Waldo and Karoliina from the Finnish act, Waldo's People, who announced how happy they were to have participated and will be going right back to work with performances and recordings as soon as they return to Finland.

Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom

Most British newspapers in past years published lengthy screeds regarding their bad luck in the Contest and whether they should send an entrant at all. This year all that talk subsided, and newspapers published articles congratulating Jade Ewen on her fifth place ranking. Sir Terry Wogan, former Eurovision commentator for the BBC, said to the Daily Express about this year's voting overhaul, "I think my protest about the voting was totally vindicated by the changes that were made to the scoring this year. It made a real difference. It was the change that Eurovision needed." One of the headlines in Monday's Daily Mail reads: "She did us proud." Andrew Lloyd Webber, who worked with Ewen, said, "Jade performed brilliantly. After years of disappointing results, the UK can finally hold its head high."

Flag of Spain.svg Spain

Spain's newspaper El Mundo published an article entitled "Soraya's fiasco," outlining Soraya Arnelas's failure to receive points from 37 of the 41 other voting nations, with the writer remarking, "After a whole year trying to forget [Rodolfo Chikilicuatre, Spain's "joke entrant" from 2008], Soraya jumped on-stage with strength...Spain's experiment ended with longing [for] Rodolfo Chikilicuatre." When asked about her performance and the result, Arnelas said, "I'll hang on to the experiences I had, the great friends that I made and I'm happy because now I'm known in Europe."

Flag of France.svg France

French newspapers and blogs were muted compared to other countries, but the overall feeling was still very supportive of Patricia Kaas, who placed eighth. In an interview with Le Figaro, Kaas said, "Eighth place, that's not so bad. It was a great moment for France, we held our head high." France Soir noted, "[Kaas's] emotion does not seem to have found a place with competitors that have relied on heavy artillery choreography worthy of those like Shakira, and glamorous outfits, to ensure a place on the podium."

Flag of Germany.svg Germany

German newspapers published lengthy stories analyzing why Germany was in the bottom quartile for the third straight year. Die Welt wrote, "The Germans have become accustomed to it: winning the Eurovision Song Contest just does not work [for us]. [Compared] to the total failure of last place with No Angels last year, [this] result is almost a sensational success." Bild commented, "For years we have had little success. Germany's placement, despite all efforts, will not be better. Why are we still participating in the Eurovision Song Contest?"

Flag of Ireland.svg Ireland

Ireland, who failed to make it to the final, led the cry to pull out of Eurovision. In the Irish Independent, Ian O'Doherty wrote, "Ireland managed something quite rare and rather gratifying last week -- we actually managed to produce a Eurovision song that didn't make you want to rip off your own eyelids so you could stuff them in your ears to stop the horrible sounds...[Sinéad] Mulvey's elimination is proof of one thing: we need to pull out of this pile of rubbish as soon as possible."

Flag of the Netherlands.svg The Netherlands

The Netherlands, another nation that did not make it past the semi-final round, has been very apathetic toward the Contest in recent years, and this year was no different. De Telegraaf conducted an opinion poll of Dutch television viewers, and 90% of them believed the Netherlands should not enter the Contest anymore. Despite the stated apathy, 2.5 million Dutch viewers watched De Toppers compete in the second semi-final, an improvement of 800,000 from last year's semi-final, where Dutch entrant Hind also failed to advance. De Toppers singer Gordon, in an interview with De Telegraaf, said that the Netherlands should continue to compete: "One time, we will succeed."

Who said what about whom?

Count Heidi Stephens of The Guardian out of the party celebrating Alexander Rybak's victory. Stephens wrote, "Could someone...poke him in the eye with his violin bow, please? Fairytale my ass."

Apart from judging themselves, the newspapers throughout Europe were eager to throw sarcastic quips and insults at the other songs. Here are some of the highlights from different countries.

  • Flag of Spain.svg David Gistau of Spain's El Mundo newspaper said of Swede Malena Ernman, "Her song evoked [thoughts of] the victims' cries in 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre'." Gistau went on to criticize Russia's entrant for her choice in wardrobe, remarking, "...she was not given time to change before going on-stage and was dressed in a shower curtain."
  • Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Heidi Stephens of the UK's Guardian newspaper, while doing a "live blog" of the event, remarked of Norway, "He's like a little Dickensian schoolboy with a violin and bonkers eyebrows, and it's all very theatrical, with backing dancers in braces doing gymnastics. It's like a stage school performance of Fiddler on the Roof. Could someone please poke him in the eye with his violin bow, please? Fairytale my ass." The comment, especially the final sentence, was repeated in Norway's national newspapers the next day. Popular British radio and TV host Jonathan Ross, in The Daily Mirror, commented on Maltese entrant Chiara, "Malta reminded me of Arnie Schwarzenegger when he is made into a woman in Total Recall."
  • Flag of Denmark.svg Erik Jensen of the Danish newspaper Politiken deemed Germany's entry "Miss Kiss Kiss Bang" "a corny version of 'Aristocats' in Porno Land." After watching Romania's entry "The Balkan Girls," Jensen quipped, "I wonder how many silicone breasts can be on stage without the balloons bouncing off one another?"
  • Flag of Germany.svg The German newspaper Express commented on Albania's entry "Carry Me In Your Dreams" with this description: "The singer looked like a Barbie from the '80s, long blonde hair and a pink dress with frills....what the mint-colored Spiderman covered with sequins [did] behind her, nobody could explain." Ralf Dorschel in the newspaper Hamburger Morgenpost described Malena Ernman from Sweden as "the queen of the night on speed, a nightmare."


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