Semi-Despatched # 3: If Only She Hadn't Annoyed the Greeks...
Apologies for the poor quality video clip, it seems the good folk at YouTube don't enjoy hosting Silvia either. We're staying with 2006 for this third instalment of Semi-Despatched - and a song which was the first at the Contest to be performed by a fictitious character. It had a lot going for it, the last slot on stage in the draw, a funky stage presentation and lots of pre-Contest controversy. Unfortunately, it was the latter which may have cost Silv her Saturday slot.
The brainchild of Icelandic comedienne ÃÂgÃÂºsta Eva ErlendsdÃÂ³ttir, Silvia Night was already a huge part of her homeland media before winning the ticket to Athens for her Dennis Pennis-style interviews with celebrities which would invariably end with the character insulting or bewildering them with their bizarre behaviour. Kids loved her, their parents weren't so sure she was an ideal influence on their offspring.
Fast forward to May 2006 and rehearsals for the semi-final phase of that year's Contest. ErlendsdÃÂ³ttir remained in character throughout, flinging her trademark insults at the stage crew as she worked her way through trial performance after trial performance and even had a (very obviously planted) journalist thrown out of her first press conference for posing an awkward question.
That would have worked out fine for her if the Contest had been held in Iceland (or elsewhere in Scandinavia, or the UK, or Ireland...). Unfortunately, the Greek hosts were staging Eurovision for the first time in their 30-year history of entering the competition up to that point. And they didn't get the joke.
Local media reports branded Silvia Night (a fictional character) as a disrespectful troublemaker with little regard for the Greek nation and those working hard to make the show come together. That's why she entered the stage to a loud chorus of booing on semi-final night. Unfortunately for that audience, it makes them come across as some rather ridiculous killjoys who haven't cottoned on to a very obvious joke.
WHAT SORT OF SONG IS IT?
To be honest, it's a pop song plain and simple. Building on the character's self-obsessive personality, the song is basically about how wonderful Silvia is and how wise the good folk of Iceland are for sending her as their entrant to Athens (hence the title).
The lyrics also caused some controversy, as the studio version contains the beautifully moving rhyming couplet: 'The votes are in/I'll (BEEP)ing win'. That didn't make it through to the televised show as the EBU really would have had a reason to chuck the song out then as sweariness at Eurovision is seen as an unacceptable snub to the rulebook.
But you do get the impression from some of the more level-headed reports from rehearsals at Athens 2006 that the EBU were secretly delighted by the publicity Silvia created and that it was a welcome grubbying up of the squeaky clean image the Contest has fostered over the decades. It's just a pity the Greek media didn't see it that way.
HOW CLOSE DID IT COME TO GETTING THROUGH?
Silvia was 13th out of the 23 semi-finalists with 62 points. She would have needed at least another 15 to overtake the song in 10th (FYR Macedonia) and make the final. Close-ish - but she hardly missed out by a whisker.
WHY DIDN'T IT MAKE THE FINAL?
The publicity against Silvia wouldn't have furthered her cause in the more conservative nations which enter the competition. Also, the elements of the performance which are laden with double entendre (an onstage shower releases strands of gold foil, for example) and her telephone conversation with the Lord perhaps went over some people's heads or offended those with a strong faith.
More importantly, Lithuania had already impressed the voters enough with their comedy song to progress to the final and maybe there wasn't enough room for two in the final line-up. If it's any consolation to Silvia, Icleand's co-joking nation in Eurovision 2006 did give her seven points. They got the joke in Vilnius, at least.
IN HINDSIGHT, SHOULD THIS HAVE GONE THROUGH?
I would have loved to have seen it - but the anti-Silvia feeling in the Greek press would have escalated even further if she had qualified and could have made for some unpleasant viewing when the proper Contest came along two days later.
It's a great little pastiche of a Eurovision pop song and the divas who occasionally present themselves on the Contest's stage. And at least this Thursday night stumble provided ErlendsdÃÂ³ttir with a rich vein of material for her character for months to come. She's still around in Iceland.
Next time on Semi-Despatched, we move over to 2007 and the closest Andorra ever got to appearing before 125m people on Saturday Night Eurovision.