Finnish metal band win 51st Eurovision Song Contest

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Lordi, performing on stage

Lordi, described as "cartoon metalheads" wearing latex monster masks, beat runner-up Russian "heart throb" Dima Bilan to win this year's 51st Eurovision song contest held in Athens, Greece. Bosnia's Hari Mata Hariwas came third.

In a spectacular show, hosted by Maria Menounos and Sakis Rouvas, Lordi amassed 292 points after a public vote - 44 ahead of Russia. Greece's singer Anna Vissi, who was one of the favourites to win, came 9th, followed by Ireland's Brian Kennedy. From the start of the song contest as well as during the televoting, the Greek organisers presented viewers choreographies and dances inspired by Greek culture and music, both ancient and modern. In addition, the world famous Greek singer Nana Moushouri was presented by the hosts and gave the sign for the start of televoting.

Wielding spark-spewing instruments, the "Monster-themed" rock band beat 23 other competitors, scoring 292 points from telephone voters in 38 countries with its song "Hard Rock Hallelujah" in a performance that both shocked and amused viewers.

A spokesperson for Lordi said: "We won the contest, looking like this,” he said. “It just goes to show that Europe is not such a bad place." The Finnish band thanked viewers for voting for their song, which featured the lead singer hoisting a double-headed-axe microphone stand above his head. The win has been dubbed as a "radical departure" from the catchy pop tunes, folk songs and emotional ballads normally associated with Eurovision.

Complete with distorted guitars, a catchy chorus and "mock-demonic imagery," Lordi is reminiscent of 1970s American band Kiss - an inspiration acknowledged by lead singer Mr Lordi. "What this has shown is that there are different styles of music than just pop and rock," Mr Lordi told news media after the surprise victory. "That should be the goal of Eurovision," he said.

Mr. Lordi, whose real name is Tomi Putaansuu, hails from Lapland and says his band's masked personas are just characters. "The guys behind the masks are not interesting - underneath, there's just a boring, normal guy who walks the dogs, goes to the supermarket, watches DVDs and eats candies. You really don't want to see him." he said. But the characters "live on stage and they live in a fantasy world", he said. "This element of mystery is one of the cornerstones of Lordi."

The band has upset many Finns with their outrageous behaviour. "This is a victory for rock music... and also a victory for open-mindedness," Mr Lordi said. "For the millionth time, we’re not Satanists or devil worshippers. This is entertainment. The masks are like our calling card and we’ll never perform without them. It would be like Santa Claus handing a child his gifts at Christmas time and then pulling off his beard…"

The 51st annual Eurovision was broadcast live across Europe, watched by an estimated 100 million viewers. Regarded by many as the "contest good taste forgot," Eurovision is adored by fans of kitsch and camp everywhere.

Lordi join the likes of Abba, Bucks Fizz, Dana and Celine Dion on the elite list of Eurovision winners.

Because of Lordi's first place finish, next year the 52nd Eurovision Song Contest will take place, for the first time, in Helsinki, Finland.

Sources

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