All you Eurovisionaries may or may not be aware of the weekly podcasts from ESC Insight, and their accompanying website, one that takes an in-depth look at the contest through feature articles, reviews and more (www.escinsight.com). If you haven’t visited iTunes to subscribe to the podcasts, put it at the top of your priority list, because they are great! They began by judging the 2010 entries, but have expanded to keep us all up to date with the latest Düsseldorf developments, gossip, national finals and everything else that is Eurovision-related. At the moment, the podcasts are mainly devoted to the subject of winners, in what they call the Ultimate Jukebox Jury, in which four winners (and occasionally a well-reputed wildcard) are pitted against each other on the long road to determining THE greatest Eurovision song EVER! Hurrah!
I’ve been enjoying these UJJ’s immensely, so much so that they got me wondering: which winner would I deem the best of them all? We all have those songs which we like better than others, and those that didn’t really make an impact on us. It was difficult for me to pick my absolute favourite, so I’ve spent a bit of time compiling a list of my top ten winners ever instead (which involved a great amount of last-minute switching) which I have scored in the good old-fashioned ESC way. There is a numero uno song that I’m not sure many people will agree with, but remember these are my opinions. If you have one, which I’m sure you do, share your top ten with me here or on Facebook (just search for Eurovision By Jaz =D). So, I present to you Part 1 of Jaz’s Terrific Ten:
#10. 1974/ Waterloo/ ABBA
I can’t see many a top ten Eurovision winner list existing without Waterloo, the quintessential ESC song, on it! There may be cries of outrage at my only deigning to place it at number ten, but it’s my prerogative (I say, sticking my tongue out).
The song is irresistibly catchy and was well-sung and performed by the then relatively unknown Swedish supergroup. Its mark on Eurovision has never faded – think of how many entries (and not just those from Sweden) have emulated this one since then and up to now. More than a decade ago, Charlotte Nilsson’s 1999 victory was with a song that reeks of Waterloo. Even in 2010, Sieneke’s Smurf song for the Netherlands filled the Telenor Arena with a very similar sound. Waterloo is a classic winner, and I don’t think any amount of attempted replication by Scandinavia and beyond will ever measure up. One point goes to ABBA in my countdown.
#9. 2007/ Molitva/ Marija Šerifovic
2007 was a year when, unlike 2009, few could have predicted the outcome of Eurovision. The majority of press and fan attention was focused on a fabulous tin-foil encased, Maybelline guinea pig named Verka Seduchka and whether or not his/her song was indeed bidding goodbye to Russia. And yet it was a drastically different song and performer who took out the top prize that May in Helsinki.
Molitva is my idea of a stellar ballad, one that I didn’t find clichéd, despite the fact that in essence it was ridden with them (flute interlude, loveheart gimmick, backup singers rallying behind emoting soloist…). It is anthemic, it is powerful, and it was belted out by a faultless vocalist in a dapper suit. In comparison to Verka, the whole thing was very understated and serious, but they were both great songs. In the end though, I think Serbia was the right winner. Two points.
#8. 2000/ Fly On the Wings of Love/ Olsen Brothers
This is another song (featuring pan flutes) that almost came out of nowhere to win. I must mention that I do prefer Alsou’s Solo over FOTWOL and wish a little bit that it had won instead…but having said that, there is something about the Olsen brothers’ humble song that I just love. They may have been middle-aged back then – I can only assume they’re in nursing homes now – but hey, they employed the use of a vocoder years before Kanye West decided it was worthy of his genius (though not before Cher. Darn you Cher…) and I liked it! The chorus is great to sing along to in the car/shower/middle of dinner etc which is always a point-scorer for ESC songs, and the rest is simple and repetitive but catchy enough to catch your attention. Or mine, at least. Three points for the Danish duo.
#7. 2006/ Hard Rock Hallelujah/ Lordi
Ask someone to name a Eurovision winner from the last five years and it’s highly likely you’ll receive one of two responses: a) A vacant look and a ‘Euro-what what?’; or b) ‘The monsters from Finland!’ or something to that effect. Yes, 2006 brought us one of the most unforgettable winners in Lordi, and a song that somehow managed to appeal to even the hardcore pop fans like moi. Hard Rock Hallelujah stood miles out from the rest of the entries despite what I believe was a strong year. I’m betting that after 40+ years of failure to win, very few Finns thought that a heavy rock song performed by Lord of the Rings extras who had forgotten to remove their costumes would be the one to clinch it.
Once again there is just something about the song, even when you remove the visual, that is special. For me, it’s the one where I take my hair out, put my hands in the air like I just don’t care, and do some neck-injuring head banging…generally alone. In my lounge room (mosh pit for one, anyone?). It just goes from level to level, getting better as it goes along. And it sure packs a hell pf a punch in three minutes. A monstrous four points to you, Lordi.
#6. 1963/ Dansevise/ Grethe & Jørgen Ingmann
Denmark’s first winner and a very unusual song make 6th position on my list. James Bond movies come to mind when I hear it – there’s an air of mystery and intrigue in the sound. After seven years of relatively similar winners (no discredit to them), this broke the mould simply because it wasn’t quite a ballad and it wasn’t quite a happy-clappy tune either. It’s very surreal. Yeah, I can definitely see 007 romancing a woman (shirtless) or deep-sea diving (shirtless) to this. Or even having a fitful dream. Still shirtless.
There are not many Eurovision songs pre-1980 that I love, perhaps due to my age, my taste or coincidence. But Dansevise gets me every time. Five points.
So there you have it – points 1-5 have been allocated and my justifications made. But which five songs have scored the big points with me? You’ll have to wait and see! Drop by again soon if you want to know ‘my number one’*.
* It isn’t My Number One, FYI.