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Second place for Niceland in Eurovisonland!

I’m going to hold myself back from applying the cheesy title “It is two!” or some variation thereof to the post, although I truly have to restrain myself  – because as many of you will already know, Niceland took second place in the Eurovision Song Contest last night with the song “Is it True“. And yes, it is THE best possible result because, well, it means we’re ALMOST at the top but we won’t have to spend gazillions of crowns to host the thing next year, thereby digging ourselves even deeper into the debt hole.

My sister Ásdís and her hubby Stefán [takkfyrirsíðast!] already had a party planned last night to celebrate their seventh wedding anniversary and when it transpired that Eurovision was on the same evening, it quickly morphed into a Eurovision party. Wery wery convenient for EPI and myself because AAH was holding a party of her own at our place [a belated birthday celebration] so we had to make ourselves scarce.

The actual airing of the songs was the usual camp-fest accompanied by the armchair critiques of those in attendance – the operating word being ‘critiques’, although there were also surges of enthusiasm for the occasional song [Norway, Moldova, Portugal spring to mind]. About halfway through the scoring it became clear that Norway would win by a wide margin. For a while Iceland and Turkey battled it out for second place, then Azerbaijan replaced Turkey as our main rival for the spot. The last country to vote – Norway – gave Azerbaijan ten points, which placed them above Iceland, and for a few brief seconds it looked as though they’d take second place. Those lovely Norwegians, however, ended the evening by giving us “douze points”, meaning the order was once again reversed and Niceland landed in second place – to nationwide jubilation.

It was actually quite amazing to see how Jóhanna [who goes by the name of Yohanna abroad, bleh] rose to the test. The truth is that before she got on that stage last Thursday [for the preliminaries – which, incidentally, Iceland was the winner of, having received the highest number of votes that night] most of us knew her as a rather dull performer, fairly lacking in charisma. Yes, it’s true! [Just check out the video to the song.] Last Thursday in the preliminaries was the first time many of us had witnessed the sort of radiant, self-assured stage presence that she quite obviously possesses. Even in interviews she seems fairly muted and lacking in charisma. So it was a very pleasant surprise.

The Norwegian song that won was totally charming. It got my vote. It was this little ditty with the word “fairytale” in the title, sung by this young guy who seems like an absolute sweetheart and who clearly won over most of Europe, irrespective of borders or cultures. As someone remarked last night, this should put to rest all allegations of vote-swapping and behind-the-scenes wrangling. Although this year a decision was made to have a jury give points alongside the televoting [50-50, I believe] in response to the nepotism that has prevailed in the past. I think that made for a much more fair result. EPI remarked that the two top songs bore witness to the current state of the world – both were light, charming and sincere, suggestive of innocence and simpler times, which is probably what the world [or Europe, at least] hankers after right now.

Just one more tid-bit before I go: much was made of the fact that Germany had Dita von Teese doing a little burlesque act in the background during their song [has that girl had ribs removed?? her waist is minuscule] and predictably many of us were curious to know just what she’d get up to. However, when Germany’s song was performed the camera seems to totally avoid old Dita, panning away from her at every available opportunity, and having a close-up on the singer and two dancers. All of us were, like, WTF! – don’t they realize this is Germany’s big trump card?? – Later that evening I read that there had been all this controversy about old Dita’s act over at Eurovision headquarters – apparently she’d been flashing a bit too much flesh for the comfort of the conservatives in the crowd. Good old Germans – they’re so blasé about nudity. Clearly much of the rest of Europe is slightly more hung up.

AND NOW I MUST GO AND TAKE ADVANTAGE
Of this stunning weather!! It’s beautiful outside, hardly a cloud in the sky. The kind of weather one has to take full advantage of because these days are so rare here in Iceland. Right now a sweltering 16°C [61F]. Sunrise at 4.06 am, sunset at 10.44.

PS – I damn well hope Jóhanna gets the Order of the Falcon when she comes home, just like the handball team after they took silver at the Olympics. Although once I found out a couple of days ago that Sigurður Einarsson, former CEO of freaking Kaupthing bank [who ran the thing into the ground] got the Order of the Falcon from the prezident I’ve totally lost all respect for that stupid medal.

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  • Jussi May 17, 2009, 1:53 pm

    And once again, we (Finland) took the well-deserved last place. It wouldn’t be Eurovision if that didn’t occur 😛

  • Paul H May 17, 2009, 2:06 pm

    Watched the whole thing streaming live over the internet.
    Kept twitter going alongside as someone I know was covering the event for The Stage in Edinburgh.
    It was great to watch the show and see people who were watching thousands of miles away reacting to the acts in real time.
    It was pretty much universally agreed by the people I know that Iceland had the best song and deserved to win.
    However, as you say, it is probably best to have come in second at this point in light of the economic situation.
    Anyway, we had a blast watching it all live, rooting for Iceland.
    Congratulations to Iceland for gaining second place with a first place song. Kudos!

  • paspo May 17, 2009, 3:15 pm

    Stupid old Scandinavian mafia…

  • mary May 17, 2009, 3:49 pm

    Lovely! I wish I’d seen it but missed it. So glad you got 2nd, better than winning!

  • 9uy May 17, 2009, 3:57 pm

    The Russian version of the Eurovision was great. I’m not a big fan of this contest buy I liked the production, although I would skip the cosmonaut greetings from the rusty space station. The overall was fun.

    Yohanna’s “Is it true” was the best gig, Iceland should have won.

  • Ljósmynd DE May 17, 2009, 6:37 pm

    Congratulations on the best of all possible results for Iceland! I missed the actual performance and jumped in at the voting ceremony but fortunately there is youtube to catch up on the show.

    In the last years the voting had been made along ethnic boundaries in the first place. So, I found it truly remarkable, how consistently Norway – and Iceland as well – received high points from many countries. Apart from the different voting scheme with televoting plus jury, in the case of Norway the fact that the performer was born in Minsk might have appealed to the Eastern European audience.

    I have to admit that I am not very patriotic here and usually don’t care at all about how Germany is coming off in this contest – ok, they don’t need to end up last. But they don’t have to qualify in the semi-finals, which is somehow reflected in their performance.

    And at last – I was somehow appalled by the intolerance and the actions of the Russian police against some gay and lesbian protesters on the same day they were boasting about this bombastic show. Iceland and Norway would qualify as far better hosting countries in this respect.

  • Annie May 17, 2009, 11:11 pm

    Congrats. I was so happy to see you/us come second. It was close though hey! Best result poss.

    Also, I liked Graham Norton’s catty remark when Iceland popped up to announce their votes: “Here’s Iceland… the entire nation had to chip in to pay for the satellite link.”

  • Carl May 18, 2009, 6:34 pm

    Break-ins increase 70%! Bankers stealing the country blind Niceland may have to be replaced with viceland!

  • Lee, UK May 19, 2009, 10:27 am

    Eurovision 2009 cost 30m euros to host, which works out around a fifth of a euro per Russian citizen. If “Is it true?” had won, a similar cost for Eurovision 2010 would work out around 100 euros per Icelandic citizen. Olympics 2012 will cost around 12bn euros, which works out around 250 euros per British citizen, so I’m hoping for a tax refund if it doesn’t inspire me to join a gym.

  • alda May 19, 2009, 12:02 pm

    Thanks, everyone!! 🙂

  • JoeInVegas May 19, 2009, 8:44 pm

    Second place! That somehow is better without the cost

  • Gudmundur May 20, 2009, 11:18 am

    Nice being second, and I agree, Yohanna surprized me with her performance (although I don’t much like the song, she elevated it quite a lot with her performance). I didn’t care too much for the winner, the only songs I can say I liked were the Estonian one, and the Moldovan entry had a charming “Bregovic” feel to it. And Greece and Ukraine were definately the camp classics of the evening (why the greek singer was strutting his stuff on top of what looked like a huge stapler colored like the greek flag is anybody’s guess).

  • alda May 20, 2009, 11:37 am

    Guðmundur – that stapler act was hilarious. As was the guy’s dancing shirt. And the dancing bodice of the Swedish contestant. 🙂

  • Gwrhyr May 21, 2009, 10:45 pm

    I saw Germany’s entry as the U.S.’s covert entry, so it was pretty disappointing when the camera avoided Dita completely, until they shouted her name so they had to close up on her for at least one millisecond.
    The Estonian song was awesome, and when you read what the lyrics mean it just makes it even more awesome.
    I must say I don’t really like the style of Iceland’s entry but Yohanna made it bearable.

  • Jessie May 22, 2009, 2:47 am

    I am late to this post, but just wanted to say congratulations. I thought Yohanna’s performance was the best! 🙂