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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 May, 2003, 23:59 GMT 00:59 UK
Joy and humiliation at Eurovision
by Martin Richardson
BBC News Online

The Eurovision Song Contest is heading for Turkey next year after the triumph of Sertab Erener with Every Way That I Can at the Skonto Hall in Riga.

Turkey's Sertab Erener
Turkey's winner, Sertab Erener, was a popular choice
The decision followed the final round of voting from the Slovenian jury, who awarded their maximum 12 points to the Russian entry sung by Tatu, but 10 points for Turkey was enough to tip the balance in their favour.

At the other end of the scale Jemini's Cry Baby became a victim of the dreaded 'nul points', a victim of, as the BBC's commentator Terry Wogan bluntly put it, "the post-Iraqi backlash".

Turkey proved a popular winner, and indeed deserved as it as they, unlike almost every other entry, brought some of their own culture to their song.

Let-down

Who knows how the Latvian crowd would have reacted had Tatu scooped the title?

The locals had tired of the faux-lesbian couple's diva-esque antics throughout a week of rehearsals, and their performance proved a let-down as the much-rumoured outrageous behaviour failed to extend beyond the holding of hands.

Alf Poier
Alf Poier was a mystifyingly popular act

In fact Tatu were beaten into third in the closest Eurovision race for years by Belgium with Sanomi, which, despite being sung in an imaginary language, found particular favour among Europe's millions of telephone voters.

Another shock success was Austria's Alf Poier with Man is the Measure of All Things.

This was described by the artist as "a hymn for individualism and against collectivism", but boiled down to a load of nonsense about the African dromedary, among other animals.

Elsewhere there were few shocks in a contest becoming as predictable as the Europop lyrics spouted by the vast majority of entrants.

The hosts performed their limited links with all the acting ability of a Victorian dresser.

As usual, the judges overplayed their role with incomprehensible messages in pidgin English.

Also as usual, Cyprus voted for Greece and Greece for Cyprus, while Wogan wise-cracked from the safety of his commentary position.

Kitsch

There was even a message of support from Sir Elton John in Vienna at the start of the show as the kitsch level was ramped up to the maximum.

Jemini
Jemini had a humiliating time at the contest
The majority of the acts were of a sub-S Club level of cheesy pop - some prime examples were host Latvia's Hello from Mars and Slovenia's Nanana complete with singers wearing neon pink boob tubes and silver moon boots.

Ukraine's debut entry Hasta la Vista, which naturally received maximum points from neighbours Russia, had the most memorable stage act as a contortionist went through her repertoire behind singer Olexandr Ponomaryov.

Other noteworthy performances came from the Israeli dancing girls who performed a two-stage strip, and Poland's passionate peace anthem No Borders which tipped to do well but finished seventh.

But it is hard to be critical of a spectacle which year on year delivers to its legion of fans, exactly what they want.

'Bucket of frogs'

And next year fans will be treated to two nights of Eurovision delirium as the competition is split into a qualifying competition and the grand final.

When the UK will appear is uncertain. Despite the humiliation of receiving no points for the first time in the competition's history, the UK is one of the big four who contribute too much money to the Eurovision Song Contest to be relegated.

But don't bet on Liverpudlian two-piece Jemini returning for more.

Chris and Gemma's rendition of Cry Baby was by no means the worst performance of the night, but as the esteemed Mr Wogan says, the European voting public is "as mad as a bucket of frogs".




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