After Denmark won in 2000 with “Fly on the Wings of Love” by the Olsen Brothers, we got to experience our second Danish Eurovision the year after. The 90s were a difficult decade for Europe: Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union had collapsed, and Bosnia & Herzegovina was in a war that saw many lives lost. On the other hand, many European countries began to adopt the Euro as their new currency. In a time of turmoil and upheaval, the constant mainstay was that Eurovision allowed people to forget about their troubles and entertain themselves with music and the ESC experience. This takes us to the Parken Stadium, located in Copenhagen, for Eurovision 2001.
Greece were the favourites to win the competition with “(I Would) Die For You” by Antique, comprising Nikos Panagiotidis and Helena Paparizou. Other favourites included Sweden, France, Slovenia and Denmark. Helena Paparizou won for Greece in 2005 but that is a different story for another time! Back in Denmark, Estonia’s “Everybody” was considered a huge outsider which had a zero-to-little chance of winning the coveted Eurovision title. The lead vocals were sung by Tanel Padar and Dave Benton (only the second male duo to enter Eurovision at the time). The backing vocals were sung by 2XL, an Estonian hip-hop group.
Now let’s briefly leave Denmark and go to Estonia, a Baltic state with Tallinn as its capital city. Tanel Padar first rose to fame in 1999, winning “Kaks Takti Ette”, a competition for young Estonian singers. He already experienced Eurovision as a backing singer in 2000 for Ines, his then-girlfriend. Dave Benton was born in Aruba and moved to the United States. He became a backing singer for Tom Jones and later met his Estonian wife on a cruise ship, moving to Estonia with her. Fate, as well as the Estonian music scene, brought him and Padar together.
Back to Denmark now and “Everybody” was 20th in the running order. Tanel Padar and Dave Benton were enjoying themselves, showing no nerves at all. 2XL were making most of the choreography and they were having fun themselves. Only three votes were allowed per household and broadcasters were given the choice to rely on 100% televoting or use the 50% jury and 50% televoting system. Only Bosnia & Herzegovina, Turkey and Russia used a jury only as televoting was not possible for them. On the other hand, Croatia, Greece and Malta used the 50% jury and 50% televoting system. As the night progressed, voting became a hot race between Estonia and Denmark. In the end, Estonia won with 198 points. Denmark came 2nd with “Never Ever Let You Go” by Rollo and King, gaining 177 points. And finally, Greece came 3rd with “(I Would) Die For You”, also gaining 147 points.
I feel like you are all wondering why I am spending time talking about “Everybody”. Well at the time, Estonia winning was a huge shock. Think Leicester City winning the Premier League back in 2016 or Azerbaijan winning Eurovision in 2011. People were also unhappy that a popular song such as “(I Would) Die For You” was ‘robbed’, considering it the worthy winner. At one point “Everybody” was number 4 in a list of “The Worst Eurovision Winners Ever”. Some even felt that “Everybody” was a symbol of the decline of music quality at the Eurovision Song Contest.
However, is it really that much of a surprise that it won? “Everybody” was inspired by hit songs such as “Horny” by Mousse T and “Sex Bomb” by Tom Jones (as I mentioned earlier, Dave Benton was one of his backing singers, a crazy coincidence). “Sex Bomb” also came out internationally in 1999, which was the same year Tanel Padar rose to fame. “Everybody” was a dance-pop track, a genre that was very popular in early 2000s Europe. It fits into the same category as “Come On Down” by Crystal Waters. Other examples include “One More Time” by Daft Punk and “I’m Blue (Da Ba Dee)” by Eiffel 65. What I am trying to say was that “Everybody” was a song that was perfect for its time!
“Everybody” saw Estonia become the first ex-Soviet state to win Eurovision. Dave Benton also became the first Black winner of the Eurovision Song Contest. At the same time, Benton also became the oldest person to win Eurovision (at the time), aged 50 and 101 days.
You’ve probably guessed I am a big fan of “Everybody”. You may think I am undermining the rest of the Eurovision 2001 songs (“Die For You” is my second favourite!) Having our music tastes is what makes us unique. But I believe “Everybody” deserves a lot more respect. Not only towards the song but also Estonia making history with the song that reflects its time period. I hope you now see “Everybody” in another light. However, if you do like the song, then “come on Everybody lets sing along!” Thank you for reading!