Let’s take another break from the hustle and bustle of the national finals with another list! Today it’s all about the songs that managed to grab the last of the most coveted positions in a Eurovision final: places one, two and three. I’ve compiled a few ‘best-of winners’ lists in my blogging time, and as my last top 10 focused on the silver medalists of the contest (if you didn’t read it, firstly, what are you, crazy? And secondly, why not read it now: www.eurovisionbyjaz.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/an-ebj-top-10-the-best-of-the-runners-up/) it’s only logical that I should now turn my attention to the runner-ups to the runner-ups. Finishing third is nothing to be sneezed at – unless you suffer from hayfever that is triggered by impressive results in competitions – and here are my all-time favourites.
Lejla by Hari Mata Hari (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2006)
You might remember my #1 runner-up being Zeljko Joksimović’s Lane Moje, which is also one of my all-time favourite Eurovision songs. It’s no coincidence that my most-loved bronze medalist was also composed by ZJ, and again is up there with the best of the best, by which I mean my best. Everything about Lejla was perfect – the costumes, the choreography, the visuals, the vocals…if Bosnia had only thought to stuff someone into a piano they might have come second. Still, it’s the song that matters, and as the co-creator Zeljko made it magic. With another top 10 placing to his name since Athens, his ESC pedigree makes me I can’t wait to see desperate to hear what he’s come up with as Serbia’s 2012 representative.
Reise Nach Jerusalem by Sürpriz (Germany 1999)
So I absentmindedly typed ‘Turkey’ next to the name of this song. So what? Germany weren’t the first and they won’t be the last country to put forward a song that owes more to the culture and sound of somewhere else – Norway being a recent and prime example. Besides, it was the German songwriting superstars Siegel & Meinunger who decided that a Turkish delight might find favour in Jerusalem. What a wise decision that turned out to be!
Se På Mej by Jan Johansen (Sweden 1995)
Sweden is one of my favourite ESC countries, and in the 1990s they were one of Europe’s too, for the most part. Jan, his open-necked shirt and plea for us all to look at him (where else would we be looking?) brought the country another commendable result. I love this song because it defies many expectations of Swedish music and showmanship (although I have no issues with the stereotypical Swedish stuff) – it’s subtle, it’s not cheesy schlager, and there were no feathers, sequins or glitter eyeshadow to be seen anywhere in the performance. Sometimes simple trumps flamboyant.
My Star by Brainstorm (Latvia 2000
Who’d have guessed that a group of Latvian hippies (I base that assumption purely on costume) in need of a dance lesson or two would charm their way into third place, especially considering they marked Latvia’s first Eurovision appearance? My Star is a gem in so many ways, and every time I hear it I find myself thinking ‘Yes, Renars, as a matter of fact I would like to be your runaway bride’. Ah, the power of a song.
Die For You by Antique (Greece 2001)
This song is the Greek formula in a glossy, glittery nutshell. Up-tempo ethno-pop just like it has consistently earned the country a spot in the top 10, including the 2005 victory of Helena Paparizou, one half of Antique. I have to admit I’m a bigger fan of Helena’s Eurovision debut than her second successful attempt, and because I am not that way inclined you can’t blame that on her catsuit.
Always by AySel & Arash (Azerbaijan 2009)
Ethno-pop strikes again! I never get sick of listening to this one, although I prefer to just listen and not watch, because watching means having to hear AySel’s less than reliable live vocal. I especially love the Middle Eastern influence of Arash – when that instrumental bit kicks in, it’s dance time no matter where I happen to be (note to self: never listen to Always when there are other people present).
The One That I Love by Chiara (Malta 1998)
Apart from a particularly hideous, wallpaper-green suity dressy type outfit that would have made Elizabeth Taylor look as attractive as Jabba the Hut, Chiara’s first trip to Eurovision can be hailed a triumph (as can her second. Her third, not so much). Her sweet love ballad was made all the more lovely by her über fabulous voice – take note, AySel – and some strategic candle placement. In fact, I think I can even forgive the costume; it was the 1990s, after all.
Popular by Eric Saade (Sweden 2011)
Less than a year ago, Eric literally smashed his way into third place, surprising many and making others wonder if, had she smashed her guitar over the head of one of her backing singers the year before, Anna Bergendahl would have done better. Popular whipped the audience into a frenzy in a way not even Jedward could manage, as the scoreboard will forever be testament to. My own love for the song is proof of my prioritising of catchiness over meaningful, multiple-word lyrics.
Let Me Try by Luminita Anghel & Sistem (Romania 2005)
If Eurovision were a fast food drive-thru, it’s unlikely the cashier would ask ‘Would you like some angle grinding with that?’. But when Romania decided a bit of industrial work would liven up their performance in Kyiv (the sparks literally flew) the decision made for an extra-memorable stage show that made an already great song even better. Luminita handled the big notes with ease and even found the time to get in a little drumming of her own. You’ve got to love a frontperson who gets involved.
Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu by Domenico Modugno (Italy 1958)
‘Voooooooolare, whoah-oh…’ Like I could leave this off the list; it’d be like leaving ABBA out of a ranking of winning songs. There’s a reason it remains one of the ESC’s most famous and enduring entries. Fun fact: the chorus was recently used in an Aussie advert for pasta sauce. I love the thought of Eurovision infiltrating the homes of people who find it unworthy of attention via mushy tomatoes.
DVD extras, blog style…here are the ones that just missed out:
Gente Di Mare by Umberto Tozzi & Raf (Italy 1987), Kaan by Duo Datz (Israel 1991), Wir Geben ‘Ne Party by MeKaDo (Germany 1994), Dinle by Şebnem Paker & Group Etnic (Turkey 1997), Song #1 by Serebro (Russia 2007)
What are your favourite third-placers?