When Ruslana won the contest in Istanbul in 2004, no-one foresaw the political upheaval that would change the face of Ukraine so dramatically. Only a few months before the contest was due to take place, the people of Ukraine took part in what became known as the ‘Orange Revolution’ which saw dramatic changes in the landscape of Ukrainian politics. For a time, there was doubt that the contest could even take place in the country at all. However, the newly installed leaders were determined not to allow the opportunity to show the new Ukraine to the world evaporate. Every effort was made to make it easy for the EBU to sanction Ukraine’s hosting of the contest, even temporarily suspending visa requirements to enter the country.
The 2005 contest was a very special one; it was the 50th anniversary of the Eurovision Song Contest. It had come a long way in those 50 years. For instance, the first contest saw only seven countries travel to Switzerland, 2005 saw 39 delegations make their way to Kiev. The milestone was marked with a special televised show hosted by Denmark in October of the same year.
Greece won the contest after 31 years of trying. Throughout the 70’s 80’s and 90’s it had been one of the ‘also ran’s’, rarely competing for top spot. However, in the dawn of the new millennium, when the balance of power in the contest started to shift towards the newer and previously less successful countries, Greece had started to edge ever nearer the elusive win.
While Greece was competing in the contest for the 31st time, 2005 saw first time entries from Bulgaria and Moldova. Lebanon registered to participate and even got as far as selecting a song, Aline Lahoud with Quand Tout S'enfuit. However, when it became apparent that the Lebanese broadcaster had no intention of showing the Israeli entry, in line with the country’s constitution, it had no choice but to withdraw and not take part.
Song writing partners David Brandes and John O’Flynn were kept busy in the build up to the contest. Not only did they write the Swiss song, they also had a hand in the German song. In fact, David Brandes was the major contributor to Vanilla Ninja’s debut album. The album is full of good songs, and German singer Gracia must have cursed him for giving her such a dud when he had so many better songs available.
Elena Paparizou, Chiara, Selma and Constantinos were all familiar faces to Eurovision fans, while Feminnem were making the first of two appearances, which were for different countries. Zdob si Zdub also made the first of two visits to the contest, each for Moldova. Serbia and Montenegro’s No Name would have returned to the contest in 2006 had in-fighting between the two soon to be separate nations meant a withdrawal from that contest.
The voting system was the very well established system of awarding points from 1 - 8, then 10 and 12. All 39 countries voted in the semi-final and the final.
Laura and the Lovers
Little By Little
Zdob si Zdub
Boonika Bate Toba
Walter & Kazha
The War Is Not Over
Tout De Moi
Love Me Tonight
My Impossible Dream
If I Had Your Love
Le Grand Soir
Let's Get Loud
In My Dreams
Luminita Anghel & Sistem
Let Me Try
Make My Day
Marian van de Wal
La Mirada Interior
Boris Novkovic feat. Lado Members
Vukovi Umiru Sami
Donna and Joseph McCaul
Talking To You
Ivan & Delfin
|Austria - Global.Kryner - Y Así (English)
Music/Lyrics: Christof Spörk, Edi Köhldorfer/Christof Spörk
Yes it’s different, but the oompah band style is messy and the brief yodel adds nothing positive.
|Lithuania - Laura and the Lovers - Little By Little (English)
Music/Lyrics: Bobby Ljungr, Billy Butt/Bobby Ljungr, Billy Butt
The presentation was a little amateurish and Laura wasn’t the best of singers, but despite finishing last, her song was strong enough to deserve a place in the final. It’s a bit rock for children and perhaps that was the problem.
|Portugal - 2B - Amar (Portuguese/English)
Music/Lyrics: Jose de Ponte, Alexandre Honrado, Ernesto Leite/Jose de Ponte, Alexandre Honrado, Ernesto Leite
2B were a male/female duo. The chanted verse leads to a big chorus. The chances of qualifying were reduced by the manic yet static choreography.
|Moldova - Zdob si Zdub - Boonika Bate Toba (Moldovan)
Music/Lyrics: Zdob si Zdub/Zdob si Zdub
Moldova’s debut featured Granny gently rocking to and fro in her chair. Suddenly, tired of taking it all in, up she gets and starts banging her drum, as the translated title demands. All this is set to a rock soundtrack.
|Latvia - Walter & Kazha - The War Is Not Over (English)
Music/Lyrics: Mărtins Freimanis/Mărtins Freimanis
Simplicity was the order of the day for Latvia. Walter & Kazha sat on stools strumming their guitars before (predictably) dispensing with the instruments to stand. It was all their soft rock ballad needed.
|Monaco - Lise Darly - Tout De Moi (French)
Music/Lyrics: Phil Bosco/Phil Bosco
Even employing the services of the Paris Symphony Orchestra couldn’t lift Lise into the final. Her majestic ballad clearly went straight over the heads of most viewers.
|Israel - Shiri Maymon - Hasheket Shenish'ar (Hebrew/English)
Music/Lyrics: Pini Aronbayev/Pini Aronbayev, Eyal Shachar
It doesn’t get much better than this! While there had been many epic, anthemic ballads from Israel before, Hasheket Shenish'ar has extra passion, emotion and soul about it that lifts it above the rest.
|Belarus - Angelica Agurbash - Love Me Tonight (English)
Music/Lyrics: Nikos Terzis/Nektarios Tyrakis
Although Angelica won the Belarusian final with a different song, Boys and Girls, she was allowed to choose another song in order to make her feel happier about her chances. The song she settled for is a slightly camp disco anthem.
|The Netherlands - Glennis Grace - My Impossible Dream (English)
Music/Lyrics: Robert D Fisher/Bruce Smith
The Martin Luther-King style ‘I have a dream’ at the beginning sets the tone very early. Whitney Houston would perhaps have used My Impossible Dream to fill an album, but there isn’t enough punch that epic ballads must have.
|Iceland - Selma - If I Had Your Love (English)
Music/Lyrics: Thorvaldur Bjarni Thorvaldsson, Vignir SnærVigfússon/Thorvaldur Bjarni Thorvaldsson, Vignir SnærVigfússon
On the strength of her 1999 success, many expected Selma to qualify for the final. Past glories mean nothing to a voting public who probably didn’t remember her, and this pop song just wasn’t strong enough.
|Belgium - Nuno Resende - Le Grand Soir (French)
Music/Lyrics: Alec Mansion, Frédéric Zeitoun/Alec Mansion, Frédéric Zeitoun
Belgium chose Portuguese Nuno to represent them with a rather sub-standard, French style ballad. It’s all right at the beginning but starts dragging towards the end.
|Estonia - Suntribe - Let's Get Loud (English)
Music/Lyrics: Sven Löhmus/Sven Löhmus
The unusual sight of five ladies behind turntables greeted viewers when the camera focused on the Estonians. There are sections of their pop/rock song that suited these props, but they look out of place for most of the song.
|Norway - Wig Wam - In My Dreams (English)
Music/Lyrics: Trond ‘Teeny’ Holter/Trond ‘Teeny’ Holter
From the opening refrain of ‘come on, come on, come on’, Norway’s experienced rockers hook everyone close enough to hear - and that would have been a very large radius! Hard enough for fans of proper rock, but also accessible for everyone else, the contest needed a song like this.
|Romania - Luminita Anghel & Sistem - Let Me Try (English)
Music/Lyrics: Christian Faur/Christian Faur
The presentation, particularly the use of props such as metal barrels as drums, was very irritating at times and distracted from the song. That was a pity, as Let Me Try is a strong, up-tempo song in its own right. Having won the semi-final, it could have won the final without all the mucking around.
|Hungary - NOX - Forogj Világ (Hungarian)
Music/Lyrics: Harmath Szabolcs, Villa Attila/Harmath Szabolcs, Villa Attila
NOX brought Hungary back to the contest after a seven year absence - and what a return! It is vibrant, full of style and energy and very, very infectious. The choreography did its job of selling the song without taking over.
Finland - Geir Rönning - Why? (English)
Music/Lyrics: Mika Toivanen/Mika Toivanen
Geir’s heartfelt ballad wonders why there is so much bad in the world instead of complete harmony. He sings with immense feeling, but it was never going to reach the final.
|Macedonia - Martin Vucic - Make My Day (English)
Music/Lyrics: Dragan Vučic/Ognen Hedelkovski
For many, this was a surprise finalist. The Balkan pop song was considered too lightweight and weak in comparison to its competitors. It took more than neighbourly voting to help it qualify, and worse songs than his found themselves needed on the day of the final.
|Andorra - Marian van de Wal - La Mirada Interior (Catalan)
Music/Lyrics: Rafa Tanit/Daniel Aragay, Rafa Fernández
Beneath the strong rhythm is a well constructed song that perhaps needed a bit more grit to win enough votes from the public. The costumes of the backing dancers had the look of ‘been worn in the jungle for some time’ about them.
|Switzerland - Vanilla Ninja - Cool Vibes (English)
Music/Lyrics: David Brandes/John O’Flynn
After scoring no points in the semi-final the year before, Switzerland came back with a potential winner! Estonian girl rock band, Vanilla Ninja, sounded good and looked the part in a contest where rock was a more common genre than ever before. Cool Vibes explodes into life, grips the listener tightly and never lets go until it’s good and ready. Great stuff!
|Croatia - Boris Novkovic feat. Lado Members - Vukovi Umiru Sami (Croatian)
Music/Lyrics: Franjo Valentic/Boris Novkovic
After many attempts as a singer or writer, Boris finally won the chance to represent his country. His ballad is reflective and is given a haunting touch with the effective use of the flute.
|Bulgaria - Kaffe - Lorraine (English)
Music/Lyrics: Vesselin Ivanov/ Vesselin Ivanov, Ovin Pavlov
It was always going to be difficult for Kaffe to reach the final. Their smooth jazz number is musically credible and sophisticated, but not instant enough to fare well in a competition of this nature. When the 2005 contest is listened to in years to come, Lorrraine will have aged better than many.
|Ireland - Donna and Joseph McCaul - Love? (English)
Music/Lyrics: Karl Broderick/Karl Broderick
Donna and Joe are siblings. Donna was clearly the more accomplished performer, but boy was Joe determined to enjoy himself! He bounded around the stage like a spring lamb enjoying the sunshine. The duo’s song is chirpy and enjoyable, while the presentation throws in a bit of sexy Irish dancing to remind viewers of Ireland’s glory days.
|Slovenia - Omar Naber - Stop (English)
Music/Lyrics: Omar Naber/Urse Vlasič
Stop starts in quiet, reflective fashion, builds a bit with the introduction of an electronic drum (never a good move) before building into a rock song.
|Denmark - Jakob Sveistrup - Talking To You (English)
Music/Lyrics: Jacob Launbjerg, Andreas Morck Jacob Launbjerg, Andreas Morck
There is the merest hint of reggae about the Danish song. The performance was designed to give the backing singers plenty to think about.
|Poland - Ivan & Delfin - Czarna Dziewczyna (Polish/Ukrainian)
Music/Lyrics: Lukasz Lazer/Ivan Komarenko, Pawel Radziszewski
Ivan and Delfin travelled to Kiev with a gipsy folk song, complete with accordion. It would have had its fans, but is too niche to have enough of them to make a difference. In fact, it was a bit surprising that they got as close as they did to qualifying for the final.