Bonjour, and welcome to part two of my ten favourite winning songs – a countdown of awesomeness. I hope you enjoyed part one, and are now dying to know who could possibly out-score ABBA according to me. Well, if that’s the case, I won’t keep you waiting any longer than necessary!
Read on, and don’t forget to share your thoughts here or on Facebook (search for Eurovision By Jaz)!
#5. 1995/ Nocturne/ Secret Garden
If someone who is not a Eurovision fan (i.e. everyone I know D=) heard Nocturne I should imagine they’d think it was a joke. ‘Surely that couldn’t be a Eurovision song, let alone a WINNER??? !’. Pull the other one!’ et cetera. It is certainly leagues away from being a ‘traditional’ entry, being 99% schlager free and all. Traditional in this case of course equates to ‘stereotypical’. The performance in Dublin was for me one of those rare ones where, despite the absence of Olympic figure skaters, discarded bits of costume and the frenzied choreography of dancers desperate to get in the shot, you can’t tear your eyes away because of the sheer power of the music. Nocturne is hauntingly beautiful, and didn’t need a gimmick, or any more than the twenty-four or so lyrics in total it featured to grab attention. I bet the Irish broadcaster couldn’t have been more thrilled when it won because it mean they didn’t have to foot a fourth consecutive bill (a feeling of happiness that, as we all know, lasted only another year).
Fun fact: Well, it’s more of something I happened to notice than a fact, and it isn’t a whole load of fun, but…doesn’t the initial piece of instrumental violin remind you so much of the music used in the sad parts of Shrek? No? Well forget it then.
#4. 1993/ In Your Eyes/ Niamh Kavanagh
Sorry Johnny Logan, but in my opinion, the wonderful Niamh Kavanagh (who I must admit I had been calling ‘Nee-arm’ until 2010) and her song In Your Eyes was Ireland at their most ballad-tastic! Although anything had to be a better winner than Why Me?, one of my most despised victors. Not that I cared at the time, being two years old. Anyway, no matter what it’s up against, I will always adore the power and passion of the pre-Eimear Voice of Ireland and the song that rendered her 2010 comeback entry immediately inferior, in my eyes (pun intended).
The strange thing is that Ireland sends In Your Eyes to Eurovision almost every year, and has done as far as I can recall: the big ballad about love or feeding the children, performed by a smartly dressed soloist (male or female or unknown) – perhaps with a few candles littered about the stage for ambience. And even more strangely, they seem to alternate between bombing (2001) and doing amazingly well (1980, 1987, 19…blah blah blah). But I love In Your Eyes more than any of the others, save for Brian Kennedy’s four years ago. It builds spectacularly with Niamh handling the big notes with ease, as well as looking quite fetchingly 90s in her maxi-skirt and embellished jacket combo. Which was appropriate since it was the 90s. Bravo. Seven points.
#3. 2010/ Satellite/ Lena
The reigning title-holder of ESC gets the bronze medal in my countdown. Satellite is many things, but what I love most about it is that it’s proof any country can win Eurovision if they just enter the right song; and that those who aren’t in a geographical clique (I’m talking to you, UK) can no longer use their lack of friendly neighbours as a scapegoat for their poor contest results. In that, I think it even prompted the return of countries like Austria and perhaps even Italy to the 2011 contest, by making them rethink their Eurovision mindset. But why do I love the song itself so much? Well, for starters, it’s right up my alley genre-wise – catchy, up-tempo, fun pop music reminiscent of the best of Kate Nash and Lily Allen, only sans expletives and featuring more references to undies and toenails. Plus it’s simple and repetitive, but not overly so – although it is simple and repetitive enough to have prompted hundreds of dodgy Youtube cover versions. Eek.
Lena’s quirky voice adds to the appeal and individuality of the song, to such an extent that it loses something major when you remove her from the equation (singing loudly in your own voice over the top of her does the trick). It’s another entry that doesn’t need flashy gimmicks to be great. Eight points from Jaz to Germany, with liebe.
#2. 2004/ Wild Dances/ Ruslana
If ever there was a Eurovision winner that had it all, 2004’s Wild Dances was it. The song fabulously executed that fusion of ethnic and contemporary pop sounds that countries like Greece and Turkey do brilliantly in their sleep, and was written and sung by a woman who wasn’t afraid to a) Be constantly likened to Xena, Warrior Princess, and b) Get down and bust some serious moves with her muscly, long-haired and leather-clad posse of dancers. In a way, we should’ve all been booking our tickets to Kyiv the moment we heard that Ruslana and co had managed to break the LED floor of the Abdi Ipekci Arena during rehearsals with their enthusiastic dancing and whip-cracking – anyone who is THAT dedicated to amping up the level of performance would be a force to be reckoned with. And for that, Wild Dances gets ten points.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, the moment you have all been waiting for – the winning Eurovision song that Jaz gives douze points to is:
One that I love because (apart from the fact it won the contest in my birth year) it’s uplifting and infectious, a real high-quality pop song. Despite its strength and the faultless vocals delivered by a seasoned performer, it very nearly missed out on first prize (perhaps because the visual combination of costume and stage made the singer look like the love child of Peter Pan and Julius Caesar). But in the end it was declared the winner, making it the third win for that country – although they have won once more since then. I can’t stop myself from getting up and shaking my thing to this prime cut of Europop whenever it crops up on my iPod or somewhere in my CD collection.
So what is it? See for yourself:
There it is, my terrific ten done and dusted! I’m thinking this will be the first of a few countdowns – after all Eurovision provides us with endless subjects for close examination. There’ll be plenty more coming your way too as Düsseldorf edges ever closer, so stay tuned folks!
18 weeks approx. and counting.