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“Lordi, Santa Claus, you… one ugly nation you have”. This is a text message I got from my Crystal Palace team mate after Finnish band Lordi, who dresses like something evil escaped from Lord of the Rings, won Eurovision Song Contest last Saturday.
When Finland sent a heavy metal band looking like monsters to the most followed European pop contest, half the nation was embarrassed, the other half thought it was a good joke. Nobody ever thought it had a chance. Not that we had much to loose, though, we had tried for years sending our most popular blond and blue eyed Dido -type musicians always returning with smock “Finlande, zero poeng”. If that, since half the times we didn’t even qualify, singing in language that sounds like a Walt Disney character didn’t normally give us even any consolation points from Andorra’s jury. At least now with scary, bloody demons with thundering show and frightening voice we had something our existence would be remembered for in this competition. We could be “those crazy Finns” again.
When first results started showing the trend that other nations had fallen for our controversial contestant, the small nation mainly familiar with disappointments and not showing emotions went suddenly nuts. The rainy nightless night were out of nowhere filled with people dancing heavy metal in mental disbelief of joy. Let’s face it, the song Hard Rock Hallelujah was ok but not the best ever piece in European Song Contests history as the point total 292 suggests but any small nation would never let that spoil the party of unexpected success. By the time Lordi convincingly finished as unchallenged winner it was also clear that the competition had reached as far as it could in its traditional brand. Most likely ten years ago they wouldn’t have let Lordi even sing at all, but now it made sense it had to happen.
Lordi epitomises the modern world. Pop isn’t that pop anymore, mainstream is boring. In the era where a woman waist size M25 can win Pop Idol competition and transvestite is voted a winner of Big Brother reality show, it was also a need for change in the European Song Contest because it was not pop at all anymore. For years we have heard the same songs over and over again and only tuned in to watch which country has the hottest girl announcing the crucial points for most likely Ireland to win with a song and singer that would be soon forgotten. Now there was something different, something controversial. Heavy music doesn’t milk the audience, you either like it or don’t, so Lordi hasn’t sold its soul by performing in pop competition, but it showed that the world is ready to brake some barriers and that we need more choice. Protest, controversial and ugly are pop now. There were hints of this already in the past. Not just Bjork but also Meatloaf made a great career out of looking weird and singing songs that never ended. They were musically talented as is Lordi at its own genre. What he did was mixing up the genres and the music world was ready for it.
The band itself is a brilliant act. They are not Satanists or weirdoes, the lead singer is a normal shy married man from Polar Circle who spends his days walking his little dog. They are very cautious about their image and privacy and insist on never showing their faces anywhere. Not because there would be something scarier than the outfit behind the mask, but because they want to be just musicians not celebrities. They want their music and message to get across, nothing else, especially their faces. They even insisted that they only accept to meet the president if they can keep their masks on. For Mr Lordi it is more important to be able to walk with his dog to local supermarket.
Our only ever victory in European Song Contest could be its most important one ever. Maybe next year all nations will send Bjorks and Meatloafs. Most likely, it will just us crazy Finns again, though. We know we have to have Lordi, Sweating Contests or Wife carrying World Championships to be news worthy. Small nations have to be different, even controversial to be seen. Thank God for once being a crazy Finn is pop!
I replied to my mate “This could be good for me also because now our football national team may follow the way of Lordi and start to play ugly. Because then freaks like me had a great chance to play!”