I’m still alive! Sorry to those of you who thought I was greeting you from beyond the grave, a.k.a. Euroheaven, where you can wear a rhinestone-encrusted jumpsuit and dance to that awesome remix of Qele Qele for all of eternity. It’s been a month since I’ve posted anything (GASP) because life and stuff, and unfortunately I’m still attempting to get mah shiz together. Therefore I’m not up to one of my normal Eurovisiony ramblings that takes you three hours to get through. But I had to make an appearance to prove my continuing and undying love for European song contests, so when the opportunity for a short but sweet posting fell into my lap – or rather, appeared in my Facebook feed – I thought I’d take it. Think of this as a snack between more substantial meals; meals that taste like Eurovision. I’m not 100% sure what that would taste like, but I bet it would be delicious.
ANYWAY…you may have seen this tag floating around your Facebook last week:
‘List 10 Eurovision songs in random order that have stayed with you/impacted your life. Doesn’t have to be highbrow or anything fancy. List what resonates with you and nominate friends.’
I was tagged by Rory from ESC Views, so merci to him, as this was an interesting exercise! Since all of my ESC-obsessed friends beat me to the tag, and as the rest may swiftly unfriend me if I forced anything contest-related on them, I thought I’d take up the challenge here. So here, in chronological order, are the 10 songs I’ve chosen as having stayed with me, and why.
Það Sem Enginn Sér by Daniel (Iceland 1989)
I first listened to this entry after reading about it in Tim Moore’s awesome Nul Points (read it and you will never look at Jemini the same way again) and expected to think it was rubbish, considering the book is about all the ESC competitors unfortunate enough to have scored zero. But I fell in love. Sure, Daniel’s outfit is dodgy even by 80s standards, but there’s something about his manner, and of course, the song itself, that has definitely stuck with me since that first listen.
Olou Tou Kosmou I Elpida by Cleopatra (Greece 1992)
Anything that sounds like a reject from either The Lion King or Tarzan soundtracks does something strange to my insides – I get all warm and fuzzy, and feel all-powerful for a few minutes. That’s the majesty of jungle-esque music. I feel that way listening to Zlata’s Gravity, Moldova’s JESC entry for 2013, Sandra Nurmsalu’s Kui Tuuled Pöörduvad (which should have won Eesti Laul this year and I will never get over the fact that it didn’t) aaaaand this number from Greece.
Nocturne by Secret Garden (Norway 1995)
I have few words…just like Secret Garden. The least lyrical of all Eurovision winners possesses a mystical, haunting beauty that absolutely resonates with me. Coming across this in the early days of my Eurovision fandom, I believe it to be one of the songs that taught me how versatile the contest is; that, despite what the haters harp on about, you can’t pigeonhole ESC entries. Not everything is nonsensical and glitter-encrusted – although I like both of those things too.
Fiumi Di Parole by Jalisse (Italy 1997)
I love this song so much that it was the sole cause of the glass-shattering shriek I let out when I found out Italy were coming back to Eurovision in 2011. Jalisse were the country’s last entrants prior to Düsseldorf, and what a note to take a hiatus on! Like most Italian entries, this has an air of elegance and class that time cannot take away. It gives me so many feels.
My Star by Brainstorm (Latvia 2000)
I hate to say this, but this adorable little tune has probably stayed with me because most of the Latvian entries since have been abysmal (and yes, I’d put I Wanna in that category). Perhaps they tried too hard to replicate the amazing result that this debut brought them? Hashtag curious. Atrocities aside, My Star is so charming, and really stood out from the trashy Europop sent by the likes of Iceland and the UK in 2000. Even though I have no idea what Renars is on about for the most part, I’ve always loved it.
Monts Et Merveilles by Louisa (France 2003)
If anybody knows how to say ‘underrated’ in French, please let me know so I can brandish it about every chance I get in reference to this chanson. I know mid-tempo ballads like this are often labeled as boring, more often than people like me profess love for them…but here I am, doing some of that love professin’, because there’s just something beautiful about this one. It’s got that class that Italy has on lock, although Louisa’s hair incident dented that a bit.
Lane Moje by Željko Joksimović & Ad-Hoc Orchestra (Serbia & Montenegro 2004)
This is my numero uno of all time, so obviously it’s made an impact on me. It’s funny how you can’t always put into words what exactly it is that makes something special for you. It’s not the lyrical content or some association with a particular time in my life that made this one of my picks. I just remember being captured by it, and having to comb the hairs on the back of my neck down after they stood to attention around about the point of the violin solo.
Kuula by Ott Lepland (Estonia 2012)
Ott ‘My Future Husband’ Lepland reminded me how much I love Estonian as a musical language, with his slow-burn ballad from back in Baku. Fittingly given that Kuula = listen, I can’t help but stop and listen when it shuffles on (which has caused some near-death experiences when I’ve happened to be on the treadmill at the time). This is a song that deserves to have attention paid to it IMO.
Kedvesem by ByeAlex (Hungary 2013)
Kedvesem? More like KedveGEM. That may have been a rubbish play on words, but darn it, it’s the truth. This song is a little gem, and the man behind it remains one of my favourite Eurovision discoveries ever. Bless you, ByeAlex. The original mix minus Zoohacker is the pared-back, more emotive version that I can connect with, whereas the Zoohacker remix has the punch that elevates the song to a more infectious level. Both have stayed with me.
L’Essenziale by Marco Mengoni (Italy 2013)
Warning: I’m about to get all deep and meaningful. In this day and age where everybody’s obsessed with selfies and calling their significant others ‘bae’ (VOMIT) and “throwing shade” at the Kardashians, it’s nice to be reminded to get back to the basics of being – what’s essential. That’s essentially (pardon the pun) the message of Marco’s entry, and it gets me every time. Who knows if the guy actually practices what he preaches, but either way, it’s good advice for us all to “take distance from the excesses and from the bad habits” and return to what’s important – be that a person, place, or particularly good lemon meringue pie (an essential in my life for sure).
EBJ extras: Why Do I Always Get It Wrong by Live Report (UK 1989); Keine Grenzen by Ich Troje (Poland 2003); Firefly by Christina Metaxa (Cyprus 2009); This Is My Life by Anna Bergendahl (Sweden 2010); När Jag Blundar by Pernilla (Finland 2012); Silent Storm by Carl Espen (Norway 2014).
Okay, so this wasn’t as short a post as I’d thought. But you know what I’m like, and if you weren’t prepared to spend a considerable portion of your day making sense of the above gushing then you only have yourself to blame.
Whether you’ve done it on Facebook or not, I tag anyone reading this to comment me with the 10 ESC entries that have most impacted you, or stayed with you for reasons you can’t always explain. As Nike would say, just do it!