Retro Rankings | Dublin 1997
Guten tag, guys and gals. It’s time for the mid-week EBJ post that has absolutely nothing to do with any of the NF action that took place over the weekend! Woohoo!
FYI: I’m not going to dissect the weekend’s results now because I’ll be delivering a mini-verdict in my review-and-prediction post this Saturday, just late enough so that nobody cares – a.k.a. in usual Jaz style. And while we’re at Justification Station, this post is also NF-less because, to be honest, I’m not at all bothered by Ireland’s upcoming song selection.
Friday is when the Emerald Isle will take their pick from an assortment of derivative, bland crap (honesty is the best policy) bar one or two songs that could possibly be filed under ‘Tolerable’, and I can’t muster up any enthusiasm for this event.
What I can do is present you with an updated ranking of the Class of 2015 so far – now minus Albania, after Elhaida Dani revealed Diell won’t be the something-something she belts out in the Wiener Stadthalle. Feel free to share your current top 15 avec moi.
Now, from one ranking to another! Unless you’re afflicted with a disease that renders you inable to comprehend blog post titles, you’d know that’s what’s on the agenda today. Specifically, I’m heading back in ESC history to 1997.
I recently had a vintage Eurovision marathon which consisted of the ’97, ’98 and ’99 shows, and it reminded me how amazing a decade the 1990s were for the contest. It also reminded me that sitting in one place for nine hours straight does one’s rear end no favours, but that’s another story. During these latter-90s years, the gems flowed thick and fast, though not without the odd piece of junk filtering in alongside them (it wouldn’t be right if we had nothing at all to bitch about).
Right here and now, I’m going to rank Dublin 1997, from gems to junk, for what will hopefully be your reading pleasure. If you need a refresher of this edition – hosted by Carrie Crowley and a ridiculously young Ronan Keating – check out the handy recap, then get ready to comment your own likes and dislikes, re: the most recent year Ireland were reigning champions preparing to pass the torch.
#1 | Italy (Fiumi Di Parole by Jalisse) – No matter who’s singing for them, what their song’s like or how much of their gold underpants they’re flashing, Italy is all class (NOT all ass, which would have been the case if Emma Marrone hadn’t packed the gold undies in her suitcase). That has never been more evident than when duo Jalisse took to the Dublin stage in their coordinating suits, for three beautiful and effortless minutes. Fiumi Di Parole is one of my all-time Eurovision favourites, and was the contest’s last taste of Italy prior to a thirteen-year hiatus.
#2 | Turkey (Dinle by Sebnem Paker & Grup Etnic) – I say this about pretty much any ethno-pop song that crosses my path, but this really is ethno-pop at its finest! It’s irresistible from the second it starts to that mournful moment when Sebnem’s hips stop shaking. It’s almost like a more down-tempo, less OTT version of Düm Tek Tek, with the added advantage of competent vocals (sorry Hadise, but Moscow’s entire dog population was howling the whole time you were rasping away on that massive stage).
#3 | Iceland (Minn Hinsti Dans by Paul Oscar) – One man. One couch. Many suggestive strokes of a leather-clad thigh. A recipe for ESC success those ingredients apparently do not maketh, but they do maketh a fan out of me. The staging of this trance track, one that harked back to the early 90s in the best way possible, was almost on a Euphoria level of intimacy and individuality, though I will admit there is something disturbing about the package of it…Paul’s a man with a penetrating stare that transcends TV cameras, that’s for sure. But apart from turning Eurovision into a fright night, he repped Iceland with integrity, and a rather cracking song that’s hard to forget.
#4 | Ireland (Mysterious Woman by Marc Roberts) – Something a little more forgettable is Ireland’s man-ballad, sent during a period when Ireland was oft to be found sending forgettable man-ballads that would later become indistinguishable from each other. Most of those get a thumbs down from me (when I can remember what they sound like) but there’s something about this one that makes me understand why it slayed on home ground – only failing to out-score Love Shine A Light. It’s easy listening, with a nice chorus and a tale to tell. I would like to know if the mysterious woman in question has ever come forward though. Who knows…maybe these days she goes by the name of Mrs Roberts.
#5 | Denmark (Stemmen I Mit Liv by Kølig Kaj) – Marc may have been spellbound by a woman at an airport, but Kølig wasn’t so conventional. He was in love with a telephone directory operator – or at least with her voice. This entry is so damn catchy, I don’t even care that it’s super repetitive and kind of tacky. It certainly tops the insipid duet Denmark followed it up with in 1999.
#6 | Poland (Ale Jestem by Anna Maria Jopek)
#7 | Cyprus (Mana Mou by Hara & Andreas Constantinou)
#8 | Greece (Horepse by Marianna Zorba)
#9 | Hungary (Miert Kell Hogy Elmenj? by VIP) – All you need to know to understand the method behind this madness is that VIP = a boy band. No matter how bland or copycat a Eurovision song is, if a boy band is performing it, I will LOVE it. This one in particular is “nice” in the sense that it’s missing oomph, which I will readily admit. But Hungarian, one of my most beloved musical languages, saves the day; so much so that I may even have enjoyed this if an act other than a group of guys was peddling it. Gasp!
#10 | United Kingdom (Love Shine A Light by Katrina & the Waves)
#11 | Estonia (Keelatud Maa by Maarja-Liis Ilus)
#12 | Croatia (Probudi Me by ENI)
#13 | Netherlands (Niemand Heeft Nog Tijd by Mrs Einstein) – Nearly halfway through the field, and I’m still in six or seven-point territory. This song is naff as heck, and more dated than Lys Assia’s great-great-grandmother…but I think it’s kind of adorable. The energy level, tempo-wise and in the performance from these well-choreographed ladies is at peak point from go to whoa, and you have to admire the commitment in that. All the while picturing the breathless heap they must have collapsed into the second they got offstage, of course.
#14 | France (Sentiments Songes by Fanny)
#15 | Spain (Sin Rencor by Marcos Llunas)
#16 | Portugal (Antes Do Adeus by Celia Lawson) – Of the two nul-pointers 1997 left us with, Portugal’s deserved the humiliating fate the least. Can we all agree on that? No? FINE THEN! BE LIKE THAT! Anyway…creepy sunglass-wearing backing singers aside, there is nothing wrong with this package. In fact, there’s a whole lot that’s right. Girl can sing, and girl sang this ballad commendably well considering she was sucked into a leather dress that would have required a team of muscle men to peel off. Perhaps it’s not the most attention-grabbing number, but ZERO points? For shame, Europe!
#17 | Sweden (Bara Hon Älskar Mig by Blond)
#18 | Russia (Primadonna by Alla Pugachova)
#19 | Austria (One Step by Bettina Soriat)
#20 | Germany (Zeit by Bianca Shomburg) – My main gripe with this is that it isn’t THIS camptastic number. That’s why whenever I’m watching Bianca screech ‘Zeeeeeeit’ over and over again, I’m muttering ‘it should’ve been Leon’ bitterly to myself. Zeit is okay, but if you’re feeling a little on edge when you hear it, it has the potential to send you round the twist. It’s also quite anonymous in this field of many ballads.
#21 | Slovenia (Zbudi Se by Tanja Ribič)
#22 | Norway (San Francisco by Tor Endresen)
#23 | Bosnia & Herzegovina (Goodbye by Alma Ćardžić)
#24 | Switzerland (Dentro Di Me by Barbara Berta)
#25 | Malta (Let Me Fly by Debbie Scerri) – I’m more than happy to let Debbie fly, as long as it means she’s flying somewhere where I can’t hear her harping her way through this dirge. This is one of a variety of ESC successes (it made it to 9th place) that I just don’t get. It’s lame, it’s dated, the chorus is painfully high-pitched, and her outfit is hideous. Just NO.
That’s me done. Now you go! Whether you’re speechless at my ranking Malta last, or you think Iceland’s Minn Hinsti was a total misfire, I want to know. Though I must warn you, if you disagree with me I will feel compelled to fashion a voodoo doll in your likeness, and I won’t hesitate to dress it up in an outfit just as unfortunate as Debbie Scerri’s.
Until next time,