17 May 2006

[KOER Synthetica Radio Transcripts]

Lordi, Lordi, Lordi. The latest from the Suomi people - and it's going to Eurovision. Cue the fake reporter:

When it comes to the Eurovision Song Contest, Finland is better known for its failures than for its successes. There is no doubt, however, that this year’s Finnish Eurovision entry will go down as one of the most engaging moments in the history of the competition. Win or lose––more probably win––the song Hard Rock Hallelujah and its performer Lordi will certainly be the one thing every viewer around the continent will remember from the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest Final, to be held on May 20 in Athens.

Hard Rock Hallelujah sounds nothing like most Eurovision entries. As the title promises, the song is melodic hard rock, a genre seldom associated with Eurovision. Lordi––the name applies both to the group and its lead singer––looks even less like an ordinary Eurovision contestant: more like a heavily made up monster hard rock band along the lines of KISS or Twisted Sister, or a group of characters from a gory 1980s splatter movie.

And yet it looks and sounds like a winning combination. Hard Rock Hallelujah is not only the most rocking Eurovision entry since ABBA’s Waterloo back in 1974, it also has one of the catchiest tunes. And Lordi surely puts on the best show since Björn Ulvaeus rocked his star-shaped guitar 32 years ago: not only does the band put rock back into the Eurovision, it also puts fun back into rock.

And this from the high-priced KOER correspondent in New York or Paris or wherever:

The lead singer, Lordi — a former film student who goes by his real name, Tomi Putaansuu, when not wielding a blood-spurting electric chain saw — is philosophical about the uproar.

The affair, Mr. Putaansuu says, has exposed the insecurity of a young country whose peculiar language is spoken by only six million people worldwide and whose sense of identity has been dented by being part of the Swedish kingdom and the Russian empire until gaining independence in 1917. Most Finns, he adds, would rather be known for Santa Claus than heavily made-up monster mutants.

"In Finland, we have no Eiffel Tower, few real famous artists, it is freezing cold and we suffer from low self-esteem," said Mr. Putaansuu, who, as Lordi, has horns protruding from his forehead and sports long black fingernails.

As he stuck out his tongue menacingly, his red demon eyes glaring, Lordi was surrounded by Kita, an alien-man-beast predator who plays flame-spitting drums inside a cage; Awa, a blood-splattered ghost who howls backup vocals; Ox, a zombie bull who plays bass; and Amen, a mummy in a rubber loincloth who plays guitar.

Dragging on a cigarette, Mr. Putaansuu added, "Finns nearly choked on their cereal when they realized we were the face Finland would be showing to the world."...

While other boys in Lapland were playing hockey, Mr. Putaansuu played with his Barbie doll and began experimenting with makeup. In film school he became obsessed with horror films and the heavy metal bands Kiss and Twisted Sister. Like his fellow metal heads, Mr. Putaansuu hoped that transgression would sell big. But he says it took 10 years to get a record deal because Finnish labels were so turned off by the band's appearance.

Under their masks, the band members are quintessential Finns. Awa, the ghost, is a soft-spoken blond who wears glasses and studied classical music. Even Mr. Putaansuu, who wears a black leather jacket when not sporting serpent lapels, says his music is closer to gospel than Satan. After all, one of the band's hit songs is "The Devil Is a Loser."

"Even if we lose the contest, we have already won," Mr. Putaansuu said. "Many Finns would rather have sent someone boring and acceptable than to be represented by freaks like us."

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