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on 27 April 2004
Yes, it is that time of year again, and this year because of theintroduction of a qualifier round, there are 36 songs to listen to. Butalthough this may seem like a lot (nearly two hours of songs), there iscertainly a lot to listen to!
Let's begin with the good stuff. Germany's entry brings a bit of JamieCullum-esque jazz to the contest, Sweden maintains that Euro-pop stylethey're famous for, and Norway will probably not get nul-points this yearas their song is possibly the most chart-worthy of the bunch. The UKshould also not worry too much about a repeat of last year, as James Foxshould pick up a few votes.
Now the bad stuff. Switzerland's entry is by far the worst of the 36, andit takes a lot of building yourself up to be able to listen 3 minutes ofthis. Austria, Slovenia and Portugal sadly have rather boring songs thatwill not make an impact at the contest. There are quite a few 'OK' songsthis year, but don't let that put you off, there is something foreverybody.
If you watch Eurovision for novelty / light entertainment purposes, thenthere are certainly a few eye openers. If you like your music ethnic, thenSerbia-Montenegro's dark song should win you over and it puts fiddles andpanpipes to good usage. The Ukraine (who I hotly tip to take the title)have a frantic, rhythmic song with a little bit of yodelling in. However,Estonia will either delight or annoy. Five girls singing an odd song withan odd tune, and the translation of the Estonian word "Tii"? Yes, "Road".But it's not nearly as good as the Spanish entry's translation intoEnglish, which produces "To Fill Myself with You". Terry Wogan may have afield day...
So who's going to win? Well, it's a tough one this year. If the people ofEurope go for a ballad, Cyprus will walk it. Greece and Turkey have songsthat will make people pick up the phone, and Ireland could well be up atthe top with a song written by Bryan McFadden. I still think The Ukrainewill win however - it's a good song with a good hook.
There are so many interesting songs this year, it's possibly the mostmixed selection of songs for many years in Eurovision. And although thequality of the songs isn't always brilliant, they will definitely put asmile on your face. Where else will you hear a Belarussian woman yodellingin bad English to a background of panpipes? This CD is gold - buy it!
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on 5 May 2004
Ok so Eurovision has a bad reputation and this album proves that on occasion that reputation is justified. There are four truly awful tracks here: Bosnia, Switzerland, Estonia, Finland. Several that simply wash over you like Austria, Spain, United Kingdom, Monaco and Norway. Yet, some of the tracks stand head and shoulders above the rest and without the "stigma" of Eurovision attached to them would doubtless be worldwide hits - listen to Cyprus, Germany, Israel, Poland, Romania, Russia, Turkey and the Lene Lovich like Ukrainian entry and you will be pleasantly surprised.
Well worth buying - the vast majority of the tracks are listenable and at least eight of them are memorable. How many albums can you say that about?
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on 26 April 2004
For the first time, this year the Eurovision song contest is split overtwo nights - with 14 countries automatically qualified for the Saturdaynight final, and 22 other countries playing on the Wednesday beforehandfor 10 other places in the final. This amazing value double-CD showcasesall 36 songs, and a great collection they are this year too! Stand-outsongs include the entries from Estonia, Belgium and - of course - the UK,who have a lot to make up for this year!
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on 8 June 2011
I'm currently reliving fond Eurovision memories by listening to old ESC albums. Some of them have aged with surprising grace. This album, Istanbul 2004, is so-so. The only real highlights are the winner, Ruslana's "Wild dances" (misspelled "Wild Dance" at the album) and Zeljko Joksimovic's "Lane moje", which I think came second. Still, the other songs are tolerable as background music, for instance when you are writing Amazon reviews!

But yes, many of them are straddling the thin line between competent muzak and unintentional self-parody. This is even more obvious if you watch the live performances on Youtube. For instance, what are we to make of the Nazi-inspired symbols worne by the Austrian boyband? Or the half-nude, dancing disco Tarzan from Bosnia? Or Sakis Rouvas, appealing rather heavily to the "Greek player" stereotype? Or the embarassing pseudo-opera from Malta? Or...? Well, you get the picture.

Even Ruslana's winning song, representing the Ukraine, comes close to the parody category, with her weird blend of Mad Max beyond Thunderdome and Russian Cossacks, not to mention her incredibly bad accent. (Apparently, she was supposed to promote Huzul culture. Nobody got it. Hu...who?) But yes, her victory was an open and shut case.

The Eurovision Song Contest 2004 isn't for everyone. If you want *really* good pop, disco or rock, look elsewhere. But if you want to know what everyone in Europe (and Australia) is talking about around mid-May every year, this is a good place as any to start.

Four stars. But don't tell me I didn't warn you... ;-)
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on 22 September 2008
With 36 countries the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest was the biggest to date. There were a number of firsts in this, the 49th annual pop jamboree; the introduction of a qualifying semi-final, an official post-show DVD, the first time the contest had come from Turkey and the arrival of four debut nations (Albania, Belarus, Serbia/Montenegro and Andorra). This edition of the show was free of the voting controversies and 'joke' entries that undermined the contest towards the end of the decade. The winner, Ruslana, the leather-clad and whip-wielding Xena Warrior Princess from Ukraine, was both memorable and enjoyed pan-European success, charting in 16 countries (including 10 weeks at number 1 in Belgium). As was becoming common place, half a dozen of the performers were participants in local versions of reality/Pop Idol-type casting shows. The entries from Germany, Belgium, Greece, Croatia, Ireland and Sweden all topped the charts in their own countries. None of the 36 songs are stinkers (even the UK's James Fox, finishing 16th, was nothing to be ashamed of), with the best being the driving ska punk of Turkey (finished fourth), the tongue in cheek Schlager Europop of Sweden (sixth), the Balkan folk of Serbia/Montenegro (second) and the Streisand-esque 16 year old from Cyprus (fifth). 2004 marked the start of the domination of Eurovision by the new states of the East; the top five all came from the Eastern end of the Continent and second place went to Serbia/Montenegro on their first ever attempt, while Ukraine took the prize on only its second try. This was to be the shape of things to come.
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on 6 May 2004
Forget pop idol and all the manufactured bands this is the cream on the cake. Loads of my friends say that Eurovision is a complete waste of time and the music is terrible but i say STUFF THEM. This Cd is brillant. I got last years and i nearly know all the songs off by heart even those of a different language and with having the new Cd for two days i already am picking words up and tapping my feet. This year will be amazing and i want to congratulate europe for all the artists and their great songs. This Cd is culture pop and has 36 songs from different cultures and backgrounds (even thats got to say something). The price is unbelievable, the Cd lacks nothing and the music is just angels to my ears. Get it and the Dvd which is out on 7th June (so worth it)now you wont miss that other Cd you wanted to get because this will top it.
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on 4 November 2005
For anyone who watched the Eurovision in Istanbul and even half-enjoyed it, this CD is well worth buying. On the two nights there are too many songs to remember - but on CD we can really get the feel for the songs we want to hear again, rather than only remembering the winner!
There are seven or eight really good entries here which I had forgotten:
Ukraine the winner of course!
Sweden which was the favourite to win
Romania which only finished 18th(?)
Albania, Cyprus, France
Malta - cheesy Eurovision at it's best
Buy it - even if there are some really bad entries (Can't even remember them they blend into each other so much) there are great songs as well!!!
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on 24 May 2004
This CD is a brilliant trip through Europe. From Ramon in Spain to David D'or in Israel and Ukrainian Ruslana's contest winning entry "Wild Dances". After watching the contest I got hooked on Eurovision and was talking about it all week! My favourite songs are Albania's "Image of You" by Anjeza Shahini and Malta's "On Again...Off Again". However there are a few songs which can be classed as Eurotrash (Turkey and Bosnia are 2 of about 5 or 6 entries that I would rather forget!!!) There are lots of very good songs however and I would reccomend this very highly to music lovers!!! (I mean... this CD has every different genre imaginable from Ballads to Latin to Ska!!!)
MAGNIFIQUE!!!!
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on 13 April 2011
I ordered this CD because seven years later, I was still hooked on "On Again Off Again" by Julie and Ludwig (and the You Tube versions I could find had poor sound quality). On receiving it I was pleasantly surprised to find lots of other good songs on it as well. (The British one wasn't one of them but then you can't have everything!)
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on 28 April 2004
Great album, containing all songs to this year's Eurovision Song Contest.Great value for money, and a must to all colectors. Every kind of music ispresent from ethnic to latino, ballads, tango, jazz, you name it!!!!
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