Lordi is a heavy metal band from Finland. The concept for Lordi was devised in 1992, however, the band was not formed until 1996 by Tomi Putaansuu (known as 'Mr. Lordi') of Helsinki, Finland. Members of Lordi are noted for their elaborate monster-like costumes depicted during live shows and in music videos. Lordi are also known as "The Finnish Monsters" and "The Monsters of Finland."
Lordi won the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest with a record 292 points, giving Finland its first ever victory. Lordi featured on the 2006 MTV Europe Music Awards in Copenhagen when Mr. Lordi presented the award for rock, and they were also the closing act playing their single Hard Rock Hallelujah. They also performed on Britain's Making Your Mind Up for the Eurovision Song Contest. Lordi performed on the main stage at Ozzfest 2007 and later that year toured with Type O Negative and Twin Method until Halloween night.
In the beginning of the 1990s, Putaansuu played in a small band from Rovaniemi. He left the band when the other members didn't agree with the introduction of theatrical elements and KISS-style rock. Putaansuu started producing demos under the name Lordi in 1991 and continued to do so for a few years. In 1995 he made a song "Inferno" and a music video for it as a school project. The video has not been released because Putaansuu is in the video without a mask.
After "Inferno", Putaansuu had a dream. In the dream he was at a concert and there was a skeleton on stage playing. When he woke up, he knew that Lordi should be a Heavy metal band full of monsters. The monster in the dream would eventually become the bassist Kalma.
The rest of the band members met each other for the first time in 1995 in Stockholm, where they had gone to see KISS perform. From the very beginning, they wanted their band to perform with spectacular pyrotechnics, and wearing "monster style" masks. Lordi almost got a record deal in 1999 but shortly after the contract the company collapsed and lost all their money. Finally, the BMG Finland recording company accepted them and in 2002 their first single Would You Love A Monsterman? became a smash hit and not long after that, their first album, Get Heavy, sold 66,000 copies in Finland.
The monster masks and costumes the band use are made of foam latex. Mr. Lordi's mask was first cast and then glued together piece by piece. The other masks are solid helmets. It takes the other monsters about 20 minutes to put the masks on but it takes about 2 or 3 hours with Mr. Lordi. Mr. Lordi mentioned that their suits still have some original pieces from 1996. He has also said that the suits cost them "a few hundred euros". The band members do each others' makeup.
The monster costumes are such an integral part of Lordi's publicity image that they refuse to be photographed or even interviewed without them, even if in some cases it leads to their own discomfort. Lordi has done interviews without their masks but the interviews are always filmed from the back so that you can't see their faces. During interviews, Lordi speaks English to the cameras, not their native Finnish. In a brief segment on the BBC reporting about the band attending the Eurovision Song Contest 2006, they were shown lounging beside the pool in full sunlight, while wearing their costumes. During the segment, Lordi remarked that the costumes and the heat did not mix.
Lordi have stated that their costumes have been inspired by KISS and Horror Genre. Mr. Lordi himself has said that without KISS, Lordi probably wouldn't exist. The costumes have also drawn comparisons to the thrash metal group GWAR, who wear similar foam latex monster outfits, even though their musical styles are quite different. Mr. Lordi has claimed in interviews that he had never heard of GWAR when he first formed Lordi. In a recent interview Oderus Urungus of GWAR called Lordi "a kiddie version of GWAR" but felt that Lordi didn't rip off GWAR, as both bands owed their image to earlier musicians such as KISS. He seems to have a tongue-in-cheek rivalry with Mr. Lordi, as he has stated his desire to "remove Mr. Lordi's mask and expose him as a silly human".
Mr. Lordi's mask was auctioned for more than 6000 euros. It was bought by a Finnish businessman, Vesa Keskinen in an auction organised by YLE.
Unmasked by the media
Despite the band's strict approach in relation to their costumes, and due to their newfound success, multiple newspapers began publishing photos of the band members without makeup. On March 15, 2006, the Finnish tabloid Ilta-Sanomat published a photograph of Putaansuu (Mr. Lordi) in civilian clothing, with his face partially showing. Lordi has called this an insult toward them, and an attempt to destroy the "monster image" they have worked for ten years to create. On May 22, 2006, the Daily Mail published what was believed to be an old picture of the band without their makeup or masks. It was later revealed that the band in the photo was actually Children of Bodom, a different band altogether. This was acknowledged on Children of Bodom's official website. The photograph did feature Erna Siikavirta, who went on to join Lordi as Enary, the band's keyboard player. However, Enary left Lordi in 2005, well before their victory at Eurovision, replaced by Awa. On the same day, Bild-Zeitung, a German tabloid, published what they claimed was a photograph of Putaansuu without his mask in its section "Bild Uncovered" with the German headline "He is the Grand Prix Monster: All of Germany discusses the Ugliest Winners of all Time". Later many other European tabloids and newspapers have published the same or similar photographs.
On 24 May 2006, the Finnish tabloid magazine 7 Päivää (7 Days) published an old picture of Lordi's face on the front page, and two days later another tabloid, Katso! (Look!), published unmasked pictures of the other four band members. Both magazines were heavily criticised by their readers for publishing these pictures, which led to swift apologies from both magazines and promises not to publish unmasked pictures of Lordi anymore.
On 26 May 2006, video footage was shown on television in Lithuania. It featured four men and one woman, dressed in black, sitting by the table at the airport in Athens. After a few seconds, Heikki Paasonen (the Eurovision Finnish commentator) in a black Lordi shirt came and stood in front of the camera, covering the view.
Lordi's costume is currently in the historical costumes section in Turku Castle.
Eurovision Song Contest 2006
Lordi represented Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest 2006 finals in Athens with the song "Hard Rock Hallelujah" after getting through the semi-finals. The band won by a significant margin, scoring 292 points, 44 points over second placed Dima Bilan, representing Russia with the song "Never Let You Go".
Having been voted for by all countries except Albania, Armenia and Monaco, Lordi scored the highest number of points for any entry in any Eurovision Song Contest to date. They received 12 points from eight countries: Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Iceland, Norway, Poland, Sweden and the UK. Coincidentally, Lordi also scored 292 points in the semi-final held two days earlier. They were also the first Eurovision entrant to win in both the Semi-Final and Final stages. Lordi were congratulated on their victory by both Finnish President Tarja Halonen and Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen. They opened the 2007 Eurovision contest.
The choice of Lordi to represent Finland spawned some controversy in both Finland and Greece.
In Finland the choice was criticised by some and a group of religious leaders went as far as calling President Halonen to veto their entry. In Greece, a number of organisations were trying to stop Lordi from competing. The Greek restaurant and bar owners' union President, Mrs. Niki Constantinou made a public plea directed to the people of Finland and Greece not to allow Lordi to perform in the contest, claiming the group is Satanic. Three other organisations in Greece initiated legal action against Lordi.
Mr. Lordi himself responded to the accusations and strictly denied Satanism. He said a Satanist group would not write songs such as "Hard Rock Hallelujah" or "Devil Is A Loser".
Despite, or maybe because of, the controversy, Greece ended up awarding Lordi 12 points, the highest possible, in the contest final.
Concert in Helsinki Lordi at the Market Square
To celebrate their victory in the Eurovision Song Contest, Lordi held a public, free, open-air concert in the Market Square in Helsinki, Finland, on 26 May 2006. At the concert, President of Finland Tarja Halonen made an official appearance to give Lordi a bronze key flag award for exemplary Finnish work. The concert was reported to have been attended by over 90,000 people from all over Finland and even other countries, some even on their first ever trip to Helsinki. The concert was the biggest public event to that day in Helsinki. On this occasion, the world record for most people ever to sing karaoke was (successfully) attempted by approximately 80,000 people, singing Hard Rock Hallelujah. The previous record was held by 50,000 Irish rugby fans.