In a time-honoured tradition of Nordic cooperation, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden have joined forces to produce a three one-hour long shows featuring this year's Eurovision Song Contest previews. With SVT acting as host, this is in fact an extended version of the preview programmes produced over the last couple of years by SVT.
Green, yellow or red light
The main difference is that this year, the usual panel of experts consists of one representative from each Nordic country. In addition to their more or less well founded comments, each panel member gives each song a green, yellow or red light, symbolising success, middle-of-the-road and failure.
The two first programmes were dedicated to the 22 participants in the semifinal. Favourites here were Finland and Greece, who received top marks from all five panel members. The Finnish representative was pleased by a substantial amount of praise for Takes 2 to tango. However, the Swedish panel member confessed she didn't like the song at all, but she thought it would go on to the final and do well enough for Finland to qualify directly for the final in 2005. Finland, on the other hand, felt embarrassed by the Greek presentation (“It's as if he's dancing naked!”), but nevertheless gave it the green light.
Runners-up were Cyprus, Denmark and the Ukraine, who received four green lights and one yellow light each. The Finnish representative, who by then was on the safe side as his country was already voted for, stirred up quite a controversy by giving Denmark “only” a yellow light. As for the Ukraine, it was praised especially by Norway's panel member for successfully mixing pop and folk music elements. As for Denmark, he pointed out that this country usually did well with uptempo, happy-go-lucky songs.
Other favourites to qualify for the final were Andorra, Israel and Serbia & Montenegro. There was some discussion around whether Israel would suffer the effects of political voting, since the country was currently “not the best pupil in the class”, as the Finnish representative put it. The reactions were mixed for FYR Macedonia and Slovenia who collected two reds and three greens each. This meant that they just managed to enter the panel's list of songs that would qualify for the final. Much worse news for Croatia, Portugal and Switzerland, who were axed by all panel members.
Is this music?
The many hilarious comments from the panel made the programmes highly entertaining, although some of them might sound insulting to people involved: “Is this music?, was the question from Iceland about the Portuguese entry. “When did the inhabitants of Monaco become concerned about the state of our planet?”, the Norwegian representative wondered. “A very Lithuanian and very poor latino song”, the Danish voice said to Lithuania. However, as a result of all this talking, and much to the irritation of the Eurovision Song Contest fans, the producers decided to show only about half of each video.
The last of the three shows will focus on the songs that are directly qualified for the final and is scheduled for airing later on this week.