Monday, May 22, 2006

Tamo Gdje Je Stala Njena Štikla...: The Weekday After

High heels, an 'Afrika, paprika' striptease, and excerpts of linđo and kolo dancing were clearly no match in the spectacle stakes for Lordi, whose monster outfits and Hard rock hallelujah brought Finland their first victory at Eurovision. While Hari Mata Hari achieved third place for Bosnia-Herzegovina with Lejla (and applause from the audience after each of his longest notes), Severina finished only 13th with 56 points - two places down from her composer Boris Novković's effort last year, and no better than Ivan Mikulić's placing in 2004.

More revealingly, the breakdown of her score shows the high points coming exclusively from the ex-Yugoslav successor states: 12 from Bosnia-Herzegovina, and 10 each from Slovenia, Macedonia, and Serbia-Montenegro. German and Turkish viewers accounted for another 6 between them, while the only indication of any wider appeal came from Monaco, whose jury awarded Severina an unexpected quatre. (Anything to do with the fact that the Monégasque representative was herself called Séverine?)

There's every chance that the media attention attracted by Lordi's stage presentation - itself indebted to the US band GWAR? - brought one-off viewers to the event who might not have considered voting for any other song; at the same time, take away the costumes and the rock guitars, and what you're left with - according to the Swedish schlager composer Thomas G:son - still resembles the schlager pattern of far more inoffensive Eurovision entries, ensuring its acceptability for a more 'traditional' Eurovision audience.

Dragan Antulov's commentary in Index points to the strength of 'the northern and post-Soviet voting blocs', with first place going to Finland and second to the Russian entrant Dima Bilan. With the debut of Armenia, a post-Soviet factor did seem that more apparent in this year's event (would an independent Montenegro redress the balance?); more significantly for Severina's chances, Andre's song and staging, likewise based on various 'ethnic elements', is likely to have competed directly, and more successfully, with Štikla.

It won't be much consolation to Seve and her team, who were expecting to win the thing last week, but the Norwegian application of the same 'essentialised folklore' principle, Christine Gulbrandsen's Alvedansen (The elves' dance) finished directly below Štikla, even though this too had been tipped as a pre-contest favourite. If Armenia's Andre called to mind Toše Proeski, Christine's performance was - even visually - definitely reminiscent of Tonči Huljić's Dora work with Andrea Šušnjara. (How about a Scandinavian candidate to be the next lead singer of Magazin?)

A final thought: if Štikla really was as close to turbofolk as the domestic consensus on the song seemed to think, surely it should have been much better received in the wider Balkans?

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