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.

1. Italy
2. Estonia
3. Iceland
4. Macedonia
5. Latvia
6. Georgia
7. Malta
8. Switzerland
9. Netherlands
10. Belarus
11. Lithuania
12. Denmark
13. Cyprus
14. Serbia
15. France

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.


‘He couldn’t even pick a guitar that matched his suit. Men!’

#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.


Paul realises he’s bought so much eyeliner for his stage makeup, he can’t afford the flight back to Reykjavik.

#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!


VIP lacked the all-important fifth member that would have made them Hungary’s top Backstreet Boys impersonators.

#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!


‘The number of fingers I’m holding up is representative of the minimum number of points I hope to get this evening. That’s totally achieveable, right?’

#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,



12 Responses to “Retro Rankings | Dublin 1997”

  1. Ali Nella Houd

    As always, some alignments with, and some divergences from, the EBJ (and the Wolfgang) rankings:

    25: Switzerland
    24: Austria
    23: Norway
    22: Croatia
    21: Spain
    20: Estonia
    19: Hungary – Not a boy band fan, soz!
    18: Ireland – He didn’t do it for me.
    17: Russia
    16: Germany – We share a birthday!
    15: Bos. Herz.
    14: Cyprus
    13: Netherlands
    12: Denmark
    11: Portugal
    10: Malta (!)
    9: Greece
    8: Slovenia
    7: UK
    6: Sweden
    5: Poland
    4: Italy
    3: Turkey
    2: France
    1: Iceland

    Hmm, giving first place to an Icelandic song about suicide? I’d better go and take some Pöllepunk happy pills!



    • Jaz

      Not a boy band fan? That’s it, I’m never speaking to you again!!

      Yeah right. If I refused to speak to everyone who didn’t share my unconditional love for groups of singing, dancing men, I’d only have myself to converse with.

      RE: Ireland, I think Marc’s intense brow and stare was only effective on certain viewers who wished they were the eponymous mysterious woman. That may or may not have been me, as any man who I know is in possession of an Irish accent suddenly becomes irresistible to me. To a point…

      I am glad to see Portugal making something of an impact on your leaderboard. I guess we can agree it deserved at least a point! Celia making it through three minutes under hot lights in that dress alone deserves a set of douze, in my opinion.

      Malta? (!) indeed. But your thinking is more aligned with the actual results than mine. I just don’t get it.

      Your #1, #3 and #4 of course get a big tick of approval from me. It seems like the general consensus so far is that ICELAND WUZ ROBBED!!! We don’t need no happy pills. I’ll just have whatever Paul was having when he hypnotised us all by writhing around on that couch.


  2. wschmidt1206

    Hej Jaz,

    thank you so much for your retro ranking of the class of 1997! Is that already almost 20 years ago? I can’t believe it! I always think that 1998 (my first live experience!) was just yesterday, so 1997 must have been the day before yesterday, right! 🙂

    If you compare the show of 1997 with the shows today, one can see and hear clearly how much the Eurovision has changed over the past 20 years. But one thing is for certain: lame lady ballads have always been a strong part of the programme, then and now! 😉

    So for today just my “short” Top 10 of 1997, starting downstairs:

    10. France: Fanny did not have the strongest song France ever had on Eurovision stage, but IMO it was a good performance and she was lovely to look at.

    9. Spain: Marcos Llunas had quite a good song which was more Spanish than any other entry of Spain in the 90’s. I liked it.

    8. Hungary: VIP were not that typical boyband with that typical song style boybands normally have. This definitely would be a part of my “Eurovision boyband” Top 10 if I had one. My number one in that category would be, of course, … Guess who!!!

    7. Greece: Marianna Zorba singing an ethnic song with a great voice. What do you need more to succeed in the Eurovision? Still a very nice song to listen to!

    6. Estonia: Maarja-Liis Ilus had a great performance that night; I would describe it as elegant, reduced and well performed. And she looked beautiful in that dress which I had given douze points for.

    5. Ireland: Thank heaven not another Irish winning song that night ;-)! But he came close and he was really good. So I think he deserved a placement in the Top 10, but not first or second place!

    4. Poland: Anna Maria Jopek was one of the brightest moments of Poland in Eurovision history, IMO. After their strong debut of Edyta Górniak in 1993, this one would be my number two of the Polish entries so far. I think she still is a big star in her home country, well deserved.

    3. Italy: your favourite song from 1997 is my number three, and also one of the best entries Italy ever had in the contest, apart from Alice & Franco, Gigliola and of course Marco!

    2. United Kingdom: after the performance of Katrina & the Waves it was so predictable that they would win that night, because they had the whole package: a great song everybody could sing along with, a topic that united Europe, the strong voice of Katrina, the perfect stage performance and of course the English language, meaning understandable for every country. All in all, the ingredients for a winning song in the 90’s! What did Linda Martin have from that package?!?

    And my douze points in 1997 went to:

    1. Iceland: Paul Oscar had THE performance of the night in Eurovision 1997! That one was soo different from all we had seen before on Eurovision stage that it would have been worth at least a few douzes, if you ask me! But unfortunately the conservative jury members in most of the countries had no eyes and ears for him, to explain the very few points he got.
    I agree with you: “a cracking song that’s hard to forget” and my favourite song from 1997.

    Last remark: I also liked Leon much MUCH more than the lame lady ballad from Bianca (and Ralph again!) and I felt so sorry for him! In 1996 he won the German preselection and we were disqualified that year, and in 1997 he came in second, just one small step away from his Eurovision performance. That’s what I would call BAD LUCK, and it was a shame!

    So those were my thoughts on the Eurovision in 1997!
    I hope you have a good NF time with Melodifestivalen comming up for a decision. My prediction: it will be Mans Zelmerlöw representing Sweden this year in Vienna. He had by far the best stage performance of all Melfest entries this year. 😉

    Read you soon and please never stop writing your brilliant EBJ blogs,

    Wolfgang (Your EBJ fan from Germany)


    • Jaz

      1997 was almost definitely the day before yesterday!! I refuse to believe otherwise, and I’m glad that I’m not the only one.

      The lame lady ballads will never die, will they? I tend to enjoy the vintage ones more than the current ones we get, for some reason. Maybe because, well, it WAS the 90s. You do see other outside musical influences coming in each decade though…e.g. Croatia ’97 was very Spice Girls, whereas this year we have quite a few songs with EDM influences and acoustic, folksy stuff too.

      Danke for taking the time to share your top 10! As you’ll know, there’s not much I can argue about here.

      #10 – I do like this. There’s something quite haunting about it that captures attention. Plus it has that French-ness that’s not too overwhelming, but definitely gives it that air of really representing that country…even without it being IN French!

      #8 – I am drawing a mental blank on who your #1 Euro-boyband would be, I’m afraid! Uness…hmm, not sure I want to say in case I’m wrong, but it wouldn’t be a band named after a colour of the rainbow, would it? Apologies in advance if I’m way off the mark.

      #7 – YESYESYES, just love this. Her castanet-thingies (or whatever the Greek equivalent to those is) make it.

      #2 – Even though Love Shine A Light has kind of lost some magic for me over the years, watching the ’97 show back, it’s easy to see why it won. It does have that whole package of excellence going on! As for Linda, well…she was singing in English. That’s about the only department she measures up in when compared to KATW. For those of us who aren’t massive Why Me? fans, anyway.

      #1 – What a travesty, amiright?!? The fact that we’re still listening to this in 2015 says a lot. A couch has never been used so effectively at Eurovision since Paul, and I doubt one will be ever again!

      Poor Leon. Blauer Planet was awesome, and I SO wish it had made it all the way to Oslo. And then he comes back with something equally great, only to lose to an LLB. That is bad luck. It’s a shame he didn’t try a third time. I hear that can be lucky…

      I hope you’re right, and that we’ll be seeing Måns in Vienna. If it comes down to a two-man battle between Eric Saade and MZW, my allegiance definitely lies with the latter. Though it would be satisfying to see the look on Eric’s face if he wasn’t even contending for the victory!! We’ll see how it goes. It should be an exciting final, at the very least.

      I promise I won’t stop writing until nobody’s reading (and maybe not even then!). 😀


      • wschmidt1206

        Hello again,

        a very good attempt and you came quite close to it, but unfortunately it is not “Blue”, although I like “I can” and blue is my favourite colour of the rainbow ;)!

        My 12 points for best (no, perfect!) performance by a boyband at the Eurovision of all time go to:

        A certain boyband with “No name” waving the flags for Serbia & Montenegro in 2005; “Zauvijek moja” is the only song performed by a boyband ever at the Eurovision that gave me goosebumps. So this is my number one by far! That was easy, wasn’t it!
        And I know you like this one at least a little bit, too, don’t you?! 😉 (heavy irony)

        @ Ali: Despite all the divergences we share at least our favourite song of 1997 and have about half of our Top 10 in common, which is something of a lot!
        So you share a birthday with Bianca; you’re the only person I know on this planet that shares anything with Bianca ;-)! I think on Eurovision stage she was the “superlative” of awful and her song was so cheesy and old-fashioned that it could easily have been a last place.
        Your short form for Bosnia Herzegovina sounds quite funny to me; in German “Bos Herz” means “bad heart” which does not give a good description of the people in that country. Normally they are friendly, kind and have a “good heart”! 🙂

        Until next time,



        • Jaz

          Damn!! And I do love that one, so I feel like I should have guessed. My only criticism of No Name’s performances would be the costumes…they were waaaay too casual. But ’05 was kind of the year of street clothes. Macedonia, Slovenia, Finland from memory = all pretty casual! Not a sequin in sight.


  3. AmyBBuzz

    It appears that you’re at least one step ahead of me Jaz, believe it or not. I’ve had the idea lately to go back and watch all the MF finals I missed in recent years-sure I caught a few acts on youtube-but I haven’t watched the entire proper final in awhile. Words cannot convey how scarred I was in 2005 when Nanne’s exemplary Hall Om Mig was slighted for Martin Stenmarck’s lacking Las Vegas.

    That leaked into grandiose thoughts of catching up on the other 50 or so years of ESC I have yet to see. If I watch one per weekend that could be done in less than year. Especially with the first few having what, about eight songs or so? The first ten, maybe twenty years, could be achievable by mid-May. That is assuming I squeeze in the finals of A Dal, UMK, Norway’s MPG, and Denmark’s MPG first. Yes, three of them on delay (Norway will be watched live, naturally) so I’ll already know the outcome, but whatev.

    Back to the plot, the nineties sound delicious. The snow and temperature is falling, yet again, so it’s the perfect time to find the comfiest seat and EUROPE START VOTING NOW, er, I mean watching.

    Auf Wiedersehen!


    • Jaz

      Sounds like a plan! Although when it comes to Melfest, there is definitely potential for further scarring being brought on by some of the results in recent times – even from songs being left behind in semis. I know I’m still hurting from one or two last year (and Molly PH this year…DAMN THAT APP AND SWEDEN IN GENERAL!).

      But anyway, I say get watching! What better time to relive or witness for the first occasion 59 years of Eurovisual history than in the leadup to the 60th show? I may follow your lead on those earlier, shorter editions. But perhaps a marathon at some point is a good idea in order to prep our rear ends for the epic 27-song Viennese final we’re in store for come May??


      • AmyBBuzz

        That was my first year of MF so I am seasoned enough now to cope with the disappointment. Just. I’ll have a stress relief ball or something handy to smash when The Ark wins… this rate (of snowfall and never above freezing temperatures) the Eurovisual marathon doesn’t sound out of the realm of possibility. Who knows! MF can certainly wait to disappoint me post-Vienna.


        • Jaz

          Perhaps if you watch Melfest ’07 in those freezing circumstances, the heat of intense anger and smash-induced perspiration will warm you up? That could be the silver lining in that Ark triumph!



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