Relive the Moment – Eurovision 2009
The 54th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest was held in Moscow, Russia, after the country’s very first win the previous year by Dima Bilan with “Believe”, and fourteen years after their first participation in the Contest.
Following criticisms of the voting system and the concern regarding neighbour and diaspora voting, the voting format was changed again and for the first time, the votes for the Grand Final were composed of 50% a professional jury and 50% televoting.
Forty two countries participated, resulting in two semi-finals, a rule that was introduced the previous year. The first semi-final took place on 12 May, the second semi-final on 14 May and the Grand Final on 16 May 2009.
Let’s take a look at some of the most memorable entries from this year.
Alexander Rybak – Fairytale – Winner
Alexander Rybak was born in Minsk in Belarus to a musical family. His father was a classical violinist and his mother was a music journalist and piano teacher. The family immigrated to Norway in the early 1990s. Rybak displayed prodigious musical talent from an early age, learning how to play piano and violin and becoming a student at a leading music conservatoire, the Barratt Due Institute of Music, in Oslo at age ten. When he won Eurovision, he was taking a temporary break from studying for a BA in Music.
“Fairytale” was written by Rybak and inspired by Norwegian folk music.
Of course, Rybak made a return to the contest nine years later with “That’s how you write a song” and two years before that he performed in the interval act of the contest in 2016, so still very much a part of the Eurovision family.
Kejsi Tola – Carry Me In Your Dreams – 17th place
Kejsi Tola entered several talent shows as a youngster, and studied music at the Jordan Misja Artistic Lyceum. She later gained a Master’s Degree in Soprano singing at the Academy of Arts in Tirana. Kejsi attempted to enter the contest again the following year, going forward in the Albanian semi final although unfortunately she didn’t get to represent a second time.
Aysel & Arash – Always – 3rd place
Aysel Teymurzadeh was born in Baku in 1989. She started singing and playing piano as a youngster. She is married to Murad Adigozalov, Director of the Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Society, which includes the Azerbaijan State Symphony Orchestra, Azerbaijan State Chamber Orchestra, the Azerbaijan State Folk Song and Dance Ensemble and the Azerbaijan State Orchestra of Folk Instruments.
Arash Labaf is an Iranian born singer and producer. Born in Tehran, Iran, he and his family immigrated to Sweden when he was ten years old, and where he still resides. He is signed to Warner Music Sweden, and has had a number of successes in Sweden, Iran and eastern Europe. He co-wrote this Eurovision entry, which has a distinct eastern European ethnic feel to it.
Jade Ewan – It’s My Time – 5th Place
When the UK puts in the effort, this is what happens - a good quality song sung by an excellent singer. Jade Ewan did the country proud with this stunning performance and earning 5th place. The song was composed by musical theatre impressario, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Diane Warren, one of the most successful song writers of the modern era.
Niels Brinck – Believe -13th place
Niels is a Danish singer-songwriter. An interesting factoid about this entry – Dutch singer, Jeroen van der Boom, part of the trio The Toppers who represented the Netherlands in the same Contest, has recorded a splendid Dutch version of this.
Alex Sings Oscar Swings – Miss Kiss Kiss Bang – 20th place
Eurovision is a showcase for all genres of music, but Swing hasn’t played a big part unfortunately, until this entertaining ditty. Alex Christensen is a composer, producer and DJ, who co-wrote this entry, and Oscar Loya is an American singer who has performed on Broadway, but now lives in Munich. Dita Von Teese also featured as a special guest in their Grand Final performance!
Sakis Rouvis – This Is Our Night – 7th place
This is Sakis’s third appearance at Eurovision, as an entrant in 2004 in Istanbul and then as co-host in 2006 when Athens hosted the Contest. Sakis received no formal musical training and taught himself to play guitar. He learned the basics of music theory during the recording of his first album in 1991. He started playing in local clubs and hotels in his native Corfu, before moving to Athens where his career took off after coming to the attention of music executives.
Yohanna – Is It True? – 2nd place
Yohanna was born in Copenhagen, Denmark to Icelandic parents. Her family returned to Iive in Iceland when she was 2 years old. This is Iceland’s best Eurovision result, equal to Selma in 1999, who also came in second place. Hera Bjork, Iceland’s entry for 2010, was one of Yohanna’s backing singers and also served as a vocal coach. Yohanna returned to compete in Iceland’s National Eurovision Finals in 2011 and 2013.
The Toppers – Shine – failed to qualify
The Toppers are a very popular trio in the Netherlands, comprising René Froger, Jeroen van der Boom, and Gordon Heuckeroth, all of whom have had major success as solo artists. Since 2005, The Toppers have performed sold out annual concerts at Amsterdam Arena. The line up has changed over the years – from 2005-2008, the trio comprised of René, Gordon and former 1988 Eurovision entry, Gerard Joling. Gerard left the group and was replaced by Jeroen, but rejoined in 2011, where The Toppers became a quartet. Gordon left for good in 2011, and the Toppers continued with Gerard, René and Jeroen until they became a quartet once again, with the addition of popular singer, Jan Smit, who provides the commentary for the Eurovision Final for Dutch tv.