The Eurovision 10-Song Challenge: A Quick Monday Tag!
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!
15 Responses to “The Eurovision 10-Song Challenge: A Quick Monday Tag!”
PS: Of course, let’s not forget the Zeljko-penned classic (if we want to have any chance of staying in the EBJ good books, that is!):
– Nuna-ney, nuna nuna nuna nuna nuna-ney … (Serbia 2008)
One does not simply ‘forget’ a Zeljko-penned classic! Fortunately you seem to be aware that that’s my motto.
Ah, such great lists from all your (as-yet-unexpired) subscribers!
So, anyway, you’re not a fan of Lenny’s ’69 effort, J? Fine, but can I just say something in my (her) defence? Some people are suckers for a trumpet riff. As for me, for some reason, I am a total sucker for a “Lai la-la, lai la-la” chorus.
Or, for that matter, any melodic string of dipthong vocables that go (for example):
– Lai, lai-lai-lai lai (Poland 2005)
– Lai-lai-la lai, lai-lai-la lai (Croatia 2008)
– Nai-na, nai-na, na-na-na nai-na (Macedonia 2007)
Believe it or not, I’m even a fan of the (less dipthong-impregnated):
Hey-loh-la-lo-li-lo-li-loh-lo-li-loh-a! (Norway 1980)
À chacun son goût. Or, to put it less Francophonically: Go figure!
… and here are my 10 favourite songs for the Eurovision juke-box, which I could always listen to without getting bored:
10. ABBA – Waterloo (Sweden 1974)
My very first winning song ever! As a 5-year-old kid I was dancing to it in front of the TV (at least if I can trust my parents :-)).
9. Olta Boka – Zemren E Larne Peng (Albania 2008)
I just love that song so much! It’s my favourite song from Albania and the class 2008. Olta is so beautiful in those 3 minutes in mystic shades!
8. Doris Dragovic – Marija Magdalena (Croatia 1999)
The perfect performance and the most beautiful dress I have ever seen on Eurovision stage!
7. Edyta Gorniak – To Nie Ja! (Poland 1994)
THE Voice of Poland knocked me off my feet! I was so impressed by her vocal abilities that my mouth stood wide open and my eyes starring on the screen! 😉
6. Amina – Le dernier qui a parlé qui a raison (France 1991)
This unusual piece of art was also very impressive to watch. But mainly I love this song because of the lyrics! This is extraordinary!
5. Sandrine Francois – Il faut du temps (France 2002)
A perfect Eurovision entry must have 3 things: a perfect song that represents its country in a good way, a perfect voice that gives you the feeling of the song, and a perfect surrounding (stage setting) that fits to the song and creates the right atmosphere. Sandrine had it all!
4. Paul Oscar – Minh Hinsti Dans (Iceland 1997)
His performance was different to everything we have seen before in the contest, and so was his stage setting! Another song that I really love much!
3. Helena Paparizou – My number one (Greece 2005)
“My number one” of the winning songs! Helena did an outstanding performance with ethnic Greek elements that was so great, it only could win!
2. Zeljko Joksimovic – Lane Moje (Serbia & Montenegro 2004)
Talking of ethnic elements this is the perfect Balkan ballad so far! The combination of Balkan instruments, a haunting beat and a beautiful melody sung perfectly by Zeljko was just stunning and led to A performance you’ll never forget once you’ve seen it. Pure beauty!
1. Chiara – The one that I love (Malta – 1998)
I know, this one is schmaltzy, but I love it so much, because it was my perfect Eurovision moment and my first live experience way back in Birmingham in 1998. I will never forget this evening and this song that always reminds me of it!
Au revoir and until next time,
Well, there’s not a lot I can fault with your list, aside from wishing that #2 was #1 as it is my most-loved entry everrrrr, as you know!! But I understand your connection with Chiara Version 1.0. A little schmaltzy, yes (as many Maltese entries, or at least MESC entries, often are…) but a nice ballad. And with a voice like that, she could make anything sound good – so long as she’s not choking on dry ice a la Moscow.
I also love your #4, #5, #7 and #9. Olta was a bit underrated IMO. I love the mysteriousness of that song. And her outfit was cool too!
2006 was the year I started watching ESC so, fair warning, that explains my smaller sample size. Without further ado and in no particular order….
Alvedansen – Norway 2006
Besides being lovely, flowing, and making me wish I was Scandanavian even more so, it was what struck me with how global/international the contest is, for whatever reason. Sure, the Norwegian language was part of it, but the song lulled me into a spirit of welcoming to ESC that I will not forget.
Mojot Svet – FYRM 2007
I just love it and Karolina’s performance was beautiful.
Dancing Lasha Tumbai – Ukraine 2007
One of the few ESC songs I use consistently for my running playlist. Ukraine is annual anticipation for me because it could be anything. They remind me of a wild late-comer to the party that doesn’t care what people think about anything. Sometimes I wonder if this is due to the fall of communism in the past 25 years–like somebody just unlocked a door to a giant candy and costume factory where they get all sugared and dressed up then say “yeah, that’ll work!”.
Randajad – Estonia 2008
Violins? A purring Estonian voice? Creative staging and camera work? Check, check, check. I love the strings set to an electronic-vibe and what is not to like about Sandra? A slice of heaven all around.
Quedate Conmigo – Spain 2012
Normally not impressed by any of the big five countries, but this left me stunned at the beauty of the performance. One for the ages.
Zaleilah – Romania 2012
Like Randajad, a slice of heaven albeit with the big drum beat and poppy flair.
This Is My Life – Sweden 2010
Appropriate for that time period in my life as I struck out on a new adventure and career. Under-rated with slightly hippy presentation, something about it just worked for me.
Shady Lady – Ukraine 2008
I want to switch places with Ani Lorak for that performance in my girliest of girlie-girl moments. And I like her stage name being “Karolina” spelled backwards.
Miss Kiss Kiss Bang – Germany 2009
The first, and only, ESC song I’ve heard in the USA to date. (Gina G on the radio in the mid-90s with “Oh Ahh” – I had no idea it was in ESC until years later)
It was during a line dancing class at the gym and I stood there stupefied at what I was actually hearing at first. Then I wanted to scream and jump on the instructor for finding this song, but figured that would be slightly uncomfortable for him. It made me happy for weeks. Not necessarily a better dancer though. And it’s another great song for the running playlist.
I Feed You My Love – Norway 2013
The electro-pop sound I’ve waited to hear all of my adult life (Ace of Base was a big influence on this child, ahem). Dark yet hopeful and it couldn’t have been pulled off better by the scintillating Miss Berger. I was speechless. She’s the only ESC artist I’ve gone so far as to chase down her other work. I’ll tell you it’s brilliant bliss and contain the rest of my gushing. This was also another appropriate speaking-to-me song at that point in my life.
I did it!
Hey, we share Athens as our first ESC!! High five *smack*.
Nice list. I love Alvedansen, Randajad (perfection…and I’m not just referring to Sandra), Quedate Conmigo (I waited years for Spain to send a song like this!), Zaleilah (irresistible. MUST DANCE) and This Is My Life, which I’m stil convinced was ROBBED. One of my all-time faves, that is.
I still get a kisk out of Miss Kiss Kiss Bang. I find it hard to believe you didn’t immediately become a world champ line dancer after it popped up in your class. I personally have choreographed an amazing tap dance routine in my head that I go through (also in my head) whenever I listen to the song. Did Alex and Oscar overkill the performance with the distracting Dita? And/or Oscar’s super-shiny pants? I was convinced this was going to be a success for Germany at the time.
I totally agree with your thoughts on IFYML. That is a song I’d play/act I’d show to your average Euro-hater to prove that the ESC is not a dated, camp kitsch-fest. Everything was on point – I especially loved the contrast between the industrial, badass sound of the song and Margaret’s all-white, blonde Scandi snow queen look. She is AMAYYYZING. And to think she’s a natural brunette!
As a late starter, I don’t have the same experience with many earlier songs.
I also have pretty unreasonable expectations. Even so, 10 is not many, is it?
Nice to see some love for “Firefly” and “När Jag Blundar”
In chronological order —
1995 – Sama – Justyna Steczkowska – Poland. Nothing is straightforward. Beautiful yet tense and uneasy.
2000 – Musical Journey Through Europe – Interval Act. (Hey, it counts!) I’m a sucker for strings. Add the sights and sounds of humanity coalescing into a symphony on-screen and you can’t help but feel immersed in a global hug.
2007 – My Story (Visionary Dream) – Sopho Khalvashi – Georgia. Live was too hectic, but get the studio version and no explanation will be needed.
2008 – Day After Day – Elnur and Samir – Azerbaijan. Daring. And the studio version keeps the best features to good effect.
2009 – Probka – Intars Busulis — Latvia. The combination of styles/moods appeals to me.
2010 – Sweet People – Aloysha – Ukraine. Plaintive and powerful. That’s all it takes.
2012 – Suus – Rona Nishliu – Albania. Obviously.
2012 – Echo – Anggun – France. Musically sophisticated, fun, and funky at the same time.
2013 – Birds – Anouk – Netherlands. Again, no surprise there.
2014 – Start a Fire – Dilara Kazimova – Azerbaijan. Another that needs the studio mix to bring out the subtleties.
I’m shocked by what I had to leave out. I’ve even got two AZ and no BH, contrary to my usual preferences.
And besides those I know, how many more have I not even given a fair chance yet?
Y’know, part of the original appeal of ESC for me was to get a SMALL (sort-of-random but special) sample of the musical universe to give some quality time. So much for that plan 😉
I actually prefer watching Georgia ’07 to listening to it! I loved the whole visual of that performance – the choreography, the graphics, Sopho’s dress…and she sounded great too. The song alone isn’t an absolute favourite of mine, but it was an admirable debut. I prefer the Georgia that finds a smidgen of unique-ness to weave into their entries (as they always do in JESC) to the Georgia that’s either completely batcrap crazy or takes cues from Azerbaijan and buys a Swedish ballad from the supermarket. I wonder which Georgia we’ll see/hear in Vienna?
Day After Day is one of Azerbaijan’s best efforts, IMO! OTT to the best degree, and again, more authentic since Thomas g:son had nothing to do with it.
Ukraine gave us a real moment in Oslo. Probably the most powerful performance of the year. I remember hearing the song for the first time (after it was eventually chosen following a drama-fest) and thinking ‘Oh dear…’, which has happened more than once with a Ukrainian song. Then they rock up at the contest having revamped everything and we all kick ourselves for having yet again underestimated their ability to metamorphose. Ugh, this is making me even sadder that they’re out of ESC 2015.
Suus = obviously. You don’t need another word to convince me!
SO much for that plan, indeed. Sometimes the sheer volume of unheard music is intimidating. And just when you feel like you’re (somewhat) on top of things…national final season starts again! I wouldn’t really want it any other way.
Instead of doing art history homework for uni (I’M FINALLY THERE, BTW! :D), I’ll comment on this article, Jaz. 🙂
10. Norway 1996: “I evighet” – Elisabeth Andreassen
The sap over here loves a not-too-sappy love song like this that is about love as a whole.
9. Denmark 2010: “In a Moment Like This” – Chanée & n’evergreen
(I know you hate this xD) How could I neglect my first schlager?
8. Poland 1997: “Ale jestem” – Anna Maria Jopek
Possibly one of the most uplifting songs I’ve ever heard.
7. Finland 2014: “Something Better” – Softengine
My first love from my first true season as a part of the Eurofamily.
6. Finland 2012: “Nar jäg blundar” – Pernilla Karlsson
See Norway 1996, but about moms.
5. Cyprus 2010: “Life Looks Better in Spring” – Jon Lilygreen & the Islanders
I just really really love it.
4. Iceland 2011: “Aftur heim/Coming Home” – Sigurjón Brink/Sjónni’s Friends
And now, my first love from my first ESC.
3. Germany 2010: “Satellite” – Lena
And now, my first ESC song!
2. Hungary 2013: “Kedvesem” – ByeAlex
This song marked the beginning of the end of the worst period of my life. Even though this happened maybe five months after the Malmö contest, it just stuck there and helped me change my life.
Surprisingly, number 1 isn’t an ESC song, it’s an NF song. This one, actually.
And the reason this is my number 1 ESC(-related) song of all-time is because, like Hungary 2013, it too marked a change in my life. But instead of it being the period where stuff stopped being totally shitty, this represents the renaissance of Nick; for the first time in my entire life, I loved myself enough to say, “Oh hey, I like this song [replace for any other thing that I liked and never said I liked] and I don’t give a fuck what other people think about that.” This is the mark of when I was finally able to leave all the shitty stuff behind me, and it has really and honestly changed my life as a result. 😀
In other news, I came out of the Eurocloset on Facebook! 🙂 It’s weird, but no one’s asked me about it and I’m not totally comfortable to talk about Eurovision IRL yet.
Sorry for the delay on this reply, but WOOOOHOOOOOOOOOO NICK MADE IT TO UNI!!! I hope it’s a case of so far, so good. Welcome to the world of procrastinating assignments by any means necessary (you may have done that in school too but this is on a tertiary level!!). Enjoy it while it lasts, ’cause it goes quick. I’m done in a couple of weeks and I am horrified at the prospect…
Re: #9, I’m just flattered you remembered how I want that song to jump off a cliff. Yeuch. But I respect your right to feel differently! You never forget your first.
I’m a fan of your #8, #7, #4 aaaand #2. Still on the Softengine bandwagon after a less positive start. But I also LOVE your #6, #5 and #2. LLBIS cmae on shuffle the other day and it had been a while, and I fell in love with it all over again. I’m still a little sad it didn’t do better in the final, but just getting to the final was a big deal for Cyprus at that point!
These ‘stayer’ lists are proof that the power of music is mahusive. Take your connection with your #1, for instance. I like to think that there’s a song for everyone that they can go back to when life sucks and be reminded of better times, and better times to come. Sorry for the cheese.
Congrats on your emergence from the Eurocloset!! Now there’s more room for amazing glitter-encrusted outfits in there (and the Moje 3 costumes which have been shoved right at the back behind everything else). 😀
Thanks, J. Love all your choices. Here’s my quick grapeshot attempt:
10. S’il fallait le faire, France 2009 – Edgily haunts the darker parts of the soul.
9. What’s another year?, Ireland 1980 – Lyrically, very (too?) close to the bone.
8. Alle mine tankar, Norway 1993 – Has there ever been a more vulnerable performance?
7. Molitva, Serbia 2007 – A prayer, but one senses it’s in vain, so it’s really about abiding grief.
6. Tu te reconnaitras, Luxembourg 1973 – Such a life/self-affirming anthem, and what delivery!
5. Da da dum, Finland 2011 – Oh, Peter … where your footsteps lead we do not know, but we now all know what to sing along the way.
4. Birds, The Netherlands 2013 – Despite the overt subject matter, the song resonates with inner strength.
3. De Troubadour, The Netherlands, 1969 – Fitting tribute to all singers of songs, who – like everyone – end up as — mud.
2. Ein Lied kann eine Bruecke sein, Germany 1975 – A scarily full throttle effort, and without a seatbelt.
1. Net als toen, The Netherlands 1957 – The eyes have it.
Merci for your contribution – and your justifications, which have the succinctness I was hoping to achieve with mine (but clearly failed miserably…being the natural-born rambler that I am).
10. Not the biggest fan of this, but I appreciate its French-ness, and I can see how it’s stayed with you.
6. A classic champ that for me, has the same impact in French and English, which is a rarity.
3. Apologies in advance for my DEAR GOD NO!!! One of my least favourite winners. But as we are talking about songs that have impacted in whatever way, I SUPPOSE I can let that slide…
2. Joy got a lot of the credit she deserved outside of the scoreboard.
You have pretty good taste, I must admit…not that the songs that stay are necessarily a reflection of your preferences. My favourites would be S & M 04 and Norway 2013.