PLAYLISTING | Celebrating Eurovision’s big six-zero with 60 of my musical highlights from every decade
Hello there. Long time, no see, if you consider a week-and-a-half a long time. Shockingly, that’s how much time has passed since my last post. Gasp!
Rest assured that I am a) still alive, and b) still unbelievably excited that the 60th Eurovision Song Contest is taking place next month. My excuse for the slackness = I’m at a hectic stage of life at the moment. Unfortunately, the week-and-a-half gap preceding this post has in no way prepared you for the bombardment of content I’ve got planned for the lead-up to Vienna. I’m warning you now to brace yourselves for those glitter bombs!
Another thing I should warn you about is this: the post you’re (hopefully) about to read is somewhat lengthy. Before you proceed, you might want to get comfortable and make sure you have food and water within reaching distance.
Á la my previous national final-themed post, I’ve prepared another playlist – only this one is super-sized. Inspired by Eurovision’s Greatest Hits show (which I finally got a chance to watch the other day, and surprisingly, Herreys were my highlight) I’ve been wanting to pave the road to contest 60 with celebratory posts. Time is racing by like Dana International en route to a John Paul Gaultier sale, however. So, instead of the six top 10 posts I’d planned to put together for you (feat. my favourite Eurovision entries from each decade) I’ve had to lump them all together in one ginormous list.
Once I’d gotten this underway, I realised I didn’t want to be strict about it. I just wanted this post to be a compilation of musical highlights from the past sixty years of ESC epic-ness. Yes, it mostly consists of my favourite songs; but instead of being a ranked top 60, it’s now a random collection of the music that made me fall in love with the contest, and that makes me fall even harder every time I play it.
It was actually über-difficult for me to choose just sixty songs to feature, which is further proof of how musically momentous the contest has been to date. Please don’t check to see if there are sixty, as I may have “accidentally” let a few extras slip in (I always was terrible at maths).
I’ll stop waffling now and introduce, in no particular order – except chronological – 60+ musical highlights from contests past. Enjoy, and share some of your own favourites (or your thoughts on mine) in the comments below!
- Nel Blu Di Pinto Di Blu by Domenico Modugno (Italy 1958)
- Dansevise by Grethe & Jørgen Ingmann (Denmark 1963)
En Gång I Stockholm by Monica Zetterlund (Sweden 1963) – I’ll admit, I kind of overlooked this entry for a long time. Many of the songs from Eurovision’s early years tend to blend into each other when I recap them, and so I don’t find many of them very memorable (or do I? I can’t remember. And that’s the problem). But when En Gång I Stockholm was resurrected during Melodifestivalen this year, and Monica Zetterlund became Monica Zetterlund feat. Sanna Nielsen…well, I swooned. I’ve included the spellbinding “duet” below, but you can check out Monica’s solo performance here.
- Non Ho L’Éta by Gigliola Cinquetti (Italy 1964)
- Tu Te Reconnaîtras by Anne-Marie David (Luxembourg 1973)
- Eres Tú by Mocedades (Spain 1973)
- Waterloo by ABBA (Sweden 1974)
Era by Wess & Dori Ghezzi (Italy 1975) – Italy can do no wrong in my eyes, a.k.a. to my ears when music’s involved. They are perpetually classy, and in this case, livened up a contest that was still attempting to break free of traditional, ballad-heavy restraints. This song is down-tempo too, but it was super current at the time, and remains catchy, funky and all sorts of bellissimo to this day. It’s one of the more timeless vintage tracks I’ve listed – make a few minor adjustments and give it to Wess & Dori 2.0, and I reckon it could fit in as nicely in Vienna ’15 as it did in Stockholm ’75.
- Save Your Kisses For Me by Brotherhood of Man (UK 1976)
- L’Oiseau Et L’Enfant by Marie Myriam (France 1977)
- Rock Bottom by Lynsey de Paul & Mike Moran (UK 1977)
- Dschinghis Khan by Dschinghis Khan (Germany 1979)
Hallelujah by Milk & Honey with Gali Atari (Israel 1979) – Who doesn’t have an appreciation of some kind for this entry? It’s the ultimate sing-along Eurovision song – in a world without Waterloo, at least – as the participants of the 1999 contest are well aware (if you recall, they formed a temporary supergroup at the end of the night, singing Hallelujah in a touching tribute to the victims of the Balkan war). It conveys a message without taking a cheesy approach, and starts small only to step up in key and crescendo until it reaches a satisfying, triumphant conclusion. Thanks to the combination of the song itself, and a simple but effective staging strategy, Israel took the top prize, and Hallelujah became one of Eurovision’s most recognisable winners. Hallelujah!
- Cinéma by Paola (Switzerland 1980)
- Making Your Mind Up by Bucks Fizz (UK 1981)
- Ein Bisschen Frieden by Nicole (Germany 1982)
- Hi by Ofra Haza (Israel 1983)
Främling by Carola (Sweden 1983) – Carola took to the ESC stage for the first time as a big-haired teenager in unflattering white pants (not that you can blame her for that…blame the 1980s). What worked in her favour on this first attempt was what would also work in her favour in 1991 and 2006: a cracking song, and THAT VOICE. There’s a reason the woman’s a superstar in Sweden (and in the estimation of many non-Swedish Eurovision fans like myself) and her star quality was oozing out of her pores as she charmed her way through the infectious Främling. Although I’d rank her winning song (also present on this playlist) a teensy bit higher, I do really, really love this. And I hate to repeat myself, but…THAT VOICE!
- Džuli by Daniel (Yugoslavia 1983)
- La Det Swinge by Bobbysocks (Norway 1985)
- Gente Di Mare by Umberto Tozzi & Raf (Italy 1987)
- Ja Sam Za Ples by Novi Fosili (Yugoslavia 1987)
Nur Ein Lied by Thomas Forstner (Austria 1989) – Before he became an infamous nul-pointer (undeservedly, in my opinion) Thomas Forstner had a rather fruitful trip to Eurovision, arriving with the superbly-80s ballad that is Nur Ein Lied and leaving with 5th place under his shiny lavender belt. For a song that has a title translating to ‘only a song’, this is a damn good one, and I’d argue it’s not only a song, seeing as it’s also one of my all-time favourites. I mean, it’s still a song, obviously, but…you know what I mean. I like everything about it, despite the fact that it’s not the prettiest example of German as a musical language, and that it works better as a studio song than as a live one.
- Pað Sem Enginn Sér by Daniel (Iceland 1989)
- Why Do I Always Get It Wrong? by Live Report (UK 1989)
- Rock Me by Riva (Yugoslavia 1989)
- Insieme: 1992 by Toto Cutugno (Italy 1990)
Bandido by Azúcar Moreno (Spain 1990) – Here’s an awesome entry that was overshadowed by technical difficulties. Amusing to watch as the ‘Spanish Backing Track Fiasco of 1990’ is – twenty-five years and many replays later – I can’t help wondering if the main reason anyone remembers Bandido is because of what happened when Azúcar Moreno tried to perform it. Take the incident out of the equation and you’re still left with a tempestuous, fabulously-ethnic performance of an energetic, up-tempo earworm. That alone should have cleared the way for Spain to reach an excellent position on the scoreboard, but with the added memorability factor of the monumental stuff-up, the duo secured their country’s best result since 1984. On reflection, they’re probably glad things didn’t run so smoothly.
- Hajde Da Ludujemo by Tajči (Yugoslavia 1990)
- Fångad Av En Stormvind by Carola (Sweden 1991)
- Kan by Duo Datz (Israel 1991)
Olou Tou Kosmou I Elpida by Cleopatra (Greece 1992) – Any song that sounds like it was lifted from a Disney soundtrack is a winner with me. These sorts of songs aren’t often winners of Eurovision, so I don’t think that’s the most crowded carriage on this train of thought. But if you liked Zlata’s Gravity¸ chances are you will/already do like this banger from Greece. Cleopatra is a great live vocalist (I’m not referring to the Egyptian queen when I say that, although I’m sure she would’ve slayed at karaoke back in the day, presumably taking on Walk Like An Egyptian). She elevates the chorus of an already majestic song to even more majestic heights. I also love the way Greek sounds with this style of music.
- Sva Bol Svijeta by Fazla (Bosnia & Herzegovina 1993)
- Better The Devil You Know by Sonia (UK 1993)
- Wir Geben ‘Ne Party by MeKaDo (Germany 1994)
To Nie Ja! by Edyta Górniak (Poland 1994) – I’m all for Ireland’s third-win-on-the-trot of ’94, but it could easily be argued that Poland should have been on top instead with their debut entry. Edyta, dressed in what looked like a nightgown (but she totally rocked it anyway), sang the absolute heck out of this quality ballad, putting more emotion into her performance than most Academy Award winners do into their statuette-winning portrayals. This song was built to show off a top-notch voice, and she had the goods. As much as I love it, I wouldn’t say it SHOULD have won – I prefer never to say that, instead opting for ‘I would have LIKED *insert song here* to have won’. But should you ask me if I think To Nie Ja! would have made a worthy winner, I will reply with a big ‘hell yeah!’. In case you were wondering.
- Nocturne by Secret Garden (Norway 1995)
- Se På Mig by Jan Johansen (Sweden 1995)
- O Meu Coração Não Tem Cor by Lucia Moniz (Portugal 1996)
- Minn Hinsti Dans by Paul Oscar (Iceland 1997)
Fiumi Di Parole by Jalisse (Italy 1997) – Surprise, surprise, it’s Italy again! What can I say? They’re one of my most-loved Eurovision countries, after all. And this stunner from Year Dublin is up there with my favourites of the forty they’ve competed with so far. I won’t ramble on about it too much, as I forced such gushing upon you recently in my Retro Ranking of 1997. I will say that it gives me extreme feels, and that I think it’s another timeless track that wouldn’t seem out of place competing in Eurovision next month (!), with a few 2015 tweaks. Italy pulls off ageless entries very well.
- Hemel En Aarde by Edsilia Rombley (Netherlands 1998)
- Karleken Är by Jill Johnson (Sweden 1998)
- Where Are You? by Imaani (UK 1998)
- Putnici by Dino & Beatrice (Bosnia & Herzegovina 1999)
Reise Nach Jerusalem by Sürpriz (Germany 1999) – Sürpriz by name and, I’m guessing, sürprized by nature, this group weren’t originally meant to represent Germany in 1999 (think of them as the Ann Sophie of the 90s). That honour went to Corinna May, whose preachy ballad was later discovered to have been released by someone else two years earlier. Corinna would have her time in the spotlight in 2002 (with an equally terrible song) but Sürpriz grabbed their own unexpected shot with both hands, taking the ethno-pop masterpiece Reise Nach Jerusalem to…well, Jerusalem. The song was penned by the dynamic duo of Ralph Siegel and Bernd Meinunger, and it’s one of their finest works – in four languages, no less (not that the likes of Todomondo and Sofi Marinova would be impressed by that).
- My Star by Brainstorm (Latvia 2000)
- Tell Me Who You Are by Malene Mortensen (Denmark 2002)
- Od Nas Zavisi by Karolina (FYR Macedonia 2002)
Sanomi by Urban Trad (Belgium 2003) – The first time Belgium sent three minutes of a made-up language to Eurovision, they nailed it. I don’t think this song would be the same in any other tongue, existing or yet-to-exist. It’s memorable not just due to the imaginary factor, which you tend to forget about anyway once the melody draws you in, but also thanks to the mystical vibes of the music. And let’s not forget the nifty hand choreography of the verses/choruses (who can tell which part is which? It’s all part of the mysterious appeal). I don’t know about you, but whenever I listen to Sanomi, I feel compelled to do those hand movements. I also feel compelled to fist-pump the fact that Belgium beat Russia, because there’s no way t.A.T.u’s shrieking rendition of Ne Ver, Ne Bojsia deserved to come second. Third is a stat I’ve learnt to live with.
- Monts Et Merveilles by Louisa (France 2003)
- Keine Grenzen – Zadnych Granich by Ich Troje (Poland 2003)
- Everyway That I Can by Sertab Erener (Turkey 2003)
- Lane Moje by Željko Joksimović & Ad-hoc Orchestra (Serbia & Montenegro 2004)
- Lejla by Hari Mata Hari (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2006)
The Fire In Your Eyes by Boaz (Israel 2008) – When they found out Dana International had composed and co-written this entry, the first reaction of many fans was horror. How dare she pen a ballad! But, while those people were lamenting the loss of a viva la diva, I was wondering how I’d break the news that I preferred this to Dana’s own winning song. While some find The Fire In Your Eyes boring, I find it breathtaking. It’s everything I want in a ballad: atmospheric and intriguing; not too repetitive and not at all lame; and the proud owner of a big, bold chorus. It’s basically Israel’s version of a Željko-brand Balkan ballad. It was my #1 song at the time, and probably still is my favourite entry from the Class of 2008. Oh, and Boaz’s vocals? Sublime (what could be seen beneath that silver waistcoat wasn’t bad either).
- Bistra Voda by Regina (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2009)
- Rändajad by Urban Symphony (Estonia 2009)
- Ovo Je Balkan by Milan Stanković (Serbia 2010)
- This Is My Life by Anna Bergendahl (Sweden 2010)
Love In Rewind by Dino Merlin (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2011) – I’ve never been sure what it is that’s so damn charming about this song. It was Dino Merlin’s third to represent Bosnia & Herzegovina (a virtual high-five to the first person to find the other two on this list) and it’s a foot-tapper, I know that much. It’s also a very interesting song, which is more than I can say about the eventual winner of 2011 (I hate to go on and on about Running Scared, but I still can’t comprehend its victory). Love In Rewind isn’t the kind of song I’m used to hearing outside of Eurovision, which is part of its charm. I’m not 100% certain what it’s all about even now – I mean, what’s with all the multiplication, Dino? – but it’s so cute, lyrically quirky and musically lovely that I can’t resist it.
- Kuula by Ott Lepland (Estonia 2012)
- Euphoria by Loreen (Sweden 2012)
- Kedvesem by ByeAlex (Hungary 2013)
- L’Essenziale by Marco Mengoni (Italy 2013)
- O Mie by Aliona Moon (Moldova 2013
Undo by Sanna Nielsen (Sweden 2014) – As if I could’ve made a list of defining musical moments and left Sanna off it! Puh-lease. The woman was a Scandinavian goddess to me when she was still on Melodifestivalen attempt #4. So, eight years later, when she FINALLY managed to win and secure herself a spot on the Copenhagen set-list, I was the happiest Sannanator (?) on the planet. I’m pretty convinced I’d love Undo no matter who was singing it, but Miss Nielsen’s flawless vocals do contribute to my continuing obsession. Everything about the Sweden 2014 package gives me goosebumps (the piano tinkling to open? Check. The money note before the second chorus? Check. The fury when I noticed that someone left the stage door open during her semi performance? Check…). That’s when I know I’m onto a winner. Not necessarily an ESC winner, but a song that will stay with me and constantly remind me how freaking much I love the contest.
Well, if you’re still here and conscious, that means you’ve made it through my 60+ musical highlights, which could so easily have been 100+ highlights (be grateful it wasn’t). These are just a selection of the entries that have had an impact on me during my years as a rabid fan and frequent trips back in Euro-time.
Now, it’s only fair I shut up and give you the chance to compile your own lists (not necessarily as long as mine) that you better then share below, or else *shakes fist in your direction semi-threateningly*. Before another forty songs become part of ESC history, hit me up with your highlights from 1956-2014.
NEXT TIME: How you doin’, Vienna Verdicts? That’s what I’m calling my Eurovision reviews this year, by the way. My all-new EBJ Jury will be praising and bitching to their hearts’ content over the following four weeks, and it all kicks off in a few days’ time. Two Australians and an Irishman will be reviewing Russia, Austria, France, Ireland and Serbia…so anything could happen!
5 Responses to “PLAYLISTING | Celebrating Eurovision’s big six-zero with 60 of my musical highlights from every decade”
I know, I am already late, but I can’t resist replying to this one ;-)!
I LOVE this blog! Not just because it’s epically long, but mostly because of your awesome selection of Eurovision songs from the past 60 years, that refers to your EXCELLENT taste in music. I must say that this is my favorite blog, let’s say from this year! 🙂
I like almost every song you wrote about, namely “Bandido”, “Främling”, “Fiumi di parole”, “Nur ein Lied”, “Sanomi”, “Olou Tou Kosmou” and “Love in rewind”; those are all great Eurovision songs I don’t want to miss on your “EBJ’s Greatest Eurovision Hits” compilation. 😉
And, of course, I love “To nie ja” and “Hallelujah” so much that I don’t have words to describe it, you already know that! Purely beautiful!
Finally, I have to mention the incredible Sanna Nielsen who also was an awesome presenter at Melodifestivalen this year. Her virtual duet with Monica Zetterlund truly was a magic moment here. And I loved the “greatest hits” medley she did with Robin, especially Robin doing the “Dschinghis Khan”, that was big fun :-))), wasn’t it?!
But now, as you have already mentioned so many very good entries from the past in this blog, let me just add THE 10 (plus) Eurovision songs (not mentioned) I’d like to have on the “Greatest Eurovision Hits” collection from a very German perspective. So let’s get started:
10. My favorite “last place” in the final: Fabrizio Faniello – I do (Malta, 2006)
I know that his stage and vocal performance in Athens was not the best he could do, but I really like the studio version of this song, even more than “Another summer night”. I think he really deserved more than just 1 point on the scoreboard, at least Spain and Switzerland were much worse that year, IMO! So “I do” still like this song and Fabrizio, too! He’s such a nice person, I can tell, until I met him in Düsseldorf in 2011 at a Eurovision party where he performed “No surrender”, his song from the national Maltese final that year.
I feel like I should also mention Ryan Dolan in this category! He did a great job in Malmö; I couldn’t see anything bad about his performance, his vocals or his song. I thought it was the best Irish entry in years, and I really felt ashamed to see him last in the final. I really like him as an artist!
What is your fav ‘last place’ in a final?
9. My favorite German entry by German songwriter duo Ralph Siegel/Bernd Meinunger: Lena Valaitis –Johnny Blue (Germany, 1981)
I absolutely love this song by German “Lena 1”! I think it’s the best composition by those two German songwriters who could easily go into the “Eurovision book of records” for their plenty of entries they flooded the song contest with. And in the late 70’s/early 80’s they really had a RUN, ending up 4th with Dschinghis Khan, then 2nd with Katja, again 2nd with Lena and finally winning the Eurovision with Nicole. What I love about “Johnny Blue” is that it is not the usual “happy sound” with poor lyrics they normally sent to Eurovision, but a great epic song with a sad but hopeful story about a little blind boy that finally made a career and is not left behind. I also loved Lena’s dress more than the short skirts from Bucks Fizz ;-)!
From Ralph & Bernd I also liked “Wir geben ’ne Party” by Mekado, “Lass’ die Sonne in dein Herz” by Wind and yes: “Peter Pan” by Paola (and the Trixies) (from the German national final of 1982)!
8. My favorite Eurovision song in German language: Udo Jürgens – Merci chérie (Austria, 1966)
Yes, you read that right! My favorite entry in German language is an Austrian one. And I think that Udo Jürgens is the greatest songwriter Austria and Germany together ever had. It’s a shame that he often was reduced to his famous Schlager songs, because he did soo much more. He was such a great chansonnier, songwriter and piano player, who always had to tell something in his songs. I think “Merci chérie” is an epic song with its words so beautifully chosen that it is still my favorite entry in German language.
I still feel so sad about his sudden death last December so shortly after his 80th birthday and just before Christmas. And seeing Helene Fischer singing the very last “Merci chérie” for him, knowing he already died a few days before, gave me goosebumps and made me shiver:
I hope there will be a “Merci chérie” in Vienna maybe by Conchita or Christina Stürmer to celebrate this great artist. A “MUST BE”, IMO!
7. My favorite Eurovision song by a duet: Alice & Franco Battiato – I treni di Tozeur (Italy, 1984):
I can never get enough of the songs by Alice, as she is not less than my 4th favorite female artist of all-time. I really love all of her great work of art, but her Eurovision entry with Franco belongs to my favorite songs from her. The words that describe this journey going through Tunesia by train to Tozeur in the south must be an awesome experience. And finally seeing that desert oasis while listening to this song would be a dream to me! I think this one was so outstanding as a song that it should have won the Eurovision! I like it so much more than the winning song by the Herreys.
And I think you already know my all-time favorite song by Alice which is an epic one, too: “La troveraaaaaaaaiii… alla fine della strada”!
6. My favorite Eurovision entry in its original language: Doris Dragovic – Maria Magdalena (Croatia, 1999):
Man, that was an awesome performance by Doris! And it all fitted so perfectly: THE song worked well even in Jerusalem, her vocals were perfect, and THAT DRESS was so beautiful that it is my favorite dress ever on Eurovision stage. But it‘s also my favorite song from the Eurovision of 1999, and one that I don’t want to miss on that “Greatest Hits” collection ;). No need to mention that my fav in its original language is “Lane moje”, but since you already mentioned it, I picked this one.
“Maria Magdalena” is also a very good example working so well in its original language, while absolutely failing in English, IMO! I think the Ex-Yougoslavian countries should stick to their own languages, their entries always have much more authenticity in their original language, at least with me!
5. My favorite German Eurovision entry ever at the ESC: Texas Lightning – No, no never (Germany, 2006):
Four German guys and an Aussie with a country pop song, could that work? Yes, it could, at least in Germany! They managed to win the German national final as “nobodys” against two big German stars, Thomas Anders and Eurovision winner Vicky Leandros, which was not expected. Well, but at the Eurovision they finally ended up 14th which was a shock to me, as I think it is the best German entry ever we’ve sent to Eurovision. I’m glad it’s still a favorite Eurovision song with a lot of Germans even if Europe did not like it that much. Sorry, but no way to miss this German entry on that (triple) “greatest hits” CD! 😉
4. My favorite (non-lame) lady ballad of all-time: Niamh Kavanagh – In your eyes (Ireland, 1993):
This song is just beautiful and by far the best entry Ireland ever had in the contest, IMO! And I was so relieved and glad that she finally overtook Sonia on the scoreboard. I think this song and the staging can be compared to “L’oiseau et l’enfant” by Marie Myriam. They both are equally wonderful songs that I love really much. Another “MUST BE” on that “greatest hits” collection! 😉
In this category I also need to mention my “guilty pleasure” ballad of all-time:
I know that most of the Eurovision fans hate this one, but I can’t help but love it instantly. Even if there’s not a single person on this planet who likes it, that makes me even loving it more. Okay, we forget about THAT dress, but the song is one of my favorite Dutch entries ever in Eurovision history.
3. My favorite stage performance at Eurovision: Olta Boka – Zemren E Larne Peng (Albania, 2008):
Feels like I have watched this about a few hundred times (until now), because I love the mysterious atmosphere in this stage performance. And this song is one of my all-time favs and the best one from the class of 2008, IMO! I like everything about this entry: it’s original, Olta’s dress is so cool, and the song’s pure beauty in my ears! I like that it begins as mysteriously as its sudden end. That always makes me playing it again … and again! It already got my most played Eurovision no. 1 in my iTunes right now. And it should stay there, that’s why I need it on the “greatest hits” compilation, okay! 😀
2. My favorite Eurovision winning song ever: Helena Paparizou – My number one (Greece, 2005):
No Eurovision compilation without my favorite winning song! I am a fan of Helena Paparizou for years, and in 2005 I was so happy to see her winning with my fav song from that year. The performance was outstanding (including her great dancers, of course), and her vocal performance, even with all that dancing, was brilliant, too. No other winning performance won me over soo much than this one, that’s why it’s “My number one” winning song!
Oh, we could put “I would die for you” by Antique on the “greatest hits”, too, if you like ;)!
1.My favorite “whole package” of all-time: Ruslana – Wild dances (Ukraine, 2004):
This is my way to say: Ukraine – I miss you at Eurovision this year … especially this year! Even if I wasn’t always satisfied with the songs they sent to the ESC, but their staging mostly was a great pleasure to look at. The Ukrainian artists always know how to stage even a mediocre song to a memorable and awesome performance.
I still remember that sand artist from Düsseldorf 2011 which was so beautiful that I was really disappointed when the three minutes were over. And I also should name Tina Karol, Ani Lorak (or Karolina) and, of course, Zlata Ognevich, just to name a few.
But the performance that hit my eyes most was the winning performance of Ruslana in 2004. We know that there were better songs in the 2004 show, but this performance has set really high standards, in Eurovision terms! It was the only time in Eurovision history (I can remember) where I directly said after that performance: “Okay, we can stop the show here because we have already seen the winning performance”. And I also like about Ruslana that she was on top of the orange revolution in the Ukraine, that really was impressing to me, too!
So, that’s it for today! Thank you so much again for this epic and great Eurovision birthday post! Can I have one more, please ;-)!
I hope that at least a few of my 10 (plus) songs manage to make it on your “EBJ Greatest Eurovision Hits” collection?! If not, what can I do to get them there :D?
I am already curious about which ones could make it there and which ones not!
Have a nice week and until next time (with embarrassing stuff out of that ‘blue box’)!
Hey there, Jaz.
Well, what a gob-smackingly brilliant post. If this is how delightful ‘oversized’ can be, well put me into a Hirsoux/Stamenov toasted sandwich with extra mayo, please!
I found myself nodding nostalgically (and often wistfully) at all of your choices, other than those few I did not instantly recognise, all of which I will now go off and systematically reacquaint myself with. I look forward to giving my two bob’s worth on some of my 1956-2014 highlights that missed your list, in due course … though may pre-empt that a bit by posing the eternal question: “COOL VIBES, WHY DID YOU KILL ME???” (Thanks, Amybbuzz, for putting that classic in the mix!)
… BUT anyhoo, being a Virgoan, I try to do things in their proper order, and given I am now VERY overdue with my Top 20 for ESC 2015, without further ado, here they are (as always, subject to potential future fluctuations):
20 – Greece – Maria Elena Kyriakou – One Last Breath – Although wailstrom-affected in the rankings, it is saved from a lower-half fate by having a more ‘classic’ sound, and by MEK’s smokin’ husky voice – and it probably also helps (on a subliminal level) that she actually sings “one LUST breath” (whatever that may be).
19 – Italy – Volo – Grande Amore – Admirable in its vigour and craftsmanship, but a bit exhausting and self important … And, as mentioned, I’m not a fan of fisticuffs!
18 – Belarus – Uzari & Maimuna – Time – Maimuna fiddles while Uzari burns. It kinda works!
17 – Ireland – Molly Sterling – Playing With Numbers – Proud winner of the inaugural Tina award (see various Ali/Wolfgang comments in the preceding EBJ post). A sweet-tragic song about the pitfalls of trying to use the rhythm method (‘playing with numbers’). In this case, Molly ends up with an unplanned daughter (she ‘made a girl’), whose father (Molly’s lover) had also miscalculated MS’s age and (after MS ‘played the victim’) was consequently convicted, and is now doing time (the ‘mess’ in his ‘vision’). Such a soap operetta, but still in a major key. Anyway, with a waltzable 6:8 time signature, and some engaging dynamics in Molly’s voice, it saves itself from being sucked into the wailstrom (in my book at least, if not that of Tina’s un-get-outside-able dog).
16 – Hungary – Boggie – Wars For Nothing – Brave to go for a super-slow-paced number in Peter-Paul-and-Mary style at the ESC. But it does grow on you (me).
15 – Azerbaijan – Elnur Huseynov – Hour Of The Wolf – Intriguing. It has gradually crept up in my rankings, without my really knowing why. Why will he lose his mind if tomorrow comes? Is he turning into a werewolf, or a demi-god? And who are those two women in his apartment? Are they nymphs? There’s something Wagnerian about it all, which adds a certain … Götterdämmerung-icality. Looking forward to seeing what they do with the staging … another “Day After Day”?
14 – Sweden – Måns Zelmerlöw – Heroes – A worthy frontrunner because of its finesse and energy. But there have already been so many hero songs, including in the ESC, and neither the song nor Måns manages to persuade me that they are delivering something new and meaningful here (especially given the strong echo in the chorus of Rhythm of the Night — from 1993!). And if ‘we’ (i.e. everyone) are the heroes, doesn’t that downgrade the meaning of the word ‘hero’, like when a school says that ‘every child is extraordinary’?
13 – United Kingdom – Electro Velvet – Still In Love With You – Reminiscent of many other (often successful) 1920’s-revival songs, e.g. Sailor’s ‘Girls, girls, girls’, circa Waterloo-era (the song, not the battle). Also, in contrast to many of this year’s entries (Moldova, Italy, Malta, Georgia, Estonia) has a firm anti-violence message: ‘Don’t get in a fist fight!’ (Are you listening, Volo boys?)
12 – F.Y.R. Macedonia – Daniel Kajmakoski – Autumn Leaves – Competence and inoffensiveness has (bizarrely) landed Daniel in my top 12. Go figure. Perhaps I like the fact that his song is in sync with Melbourne’s current season.
11 – Romania – Voltaj – De La Capat/ All Over Again – I would have preferred the whole song to have stayed in Romanian – What a gorgeous singing language! But it still works for me. And once, when listening to it in a more sentimental moment, I believe I even experienced a certain lack of dryness in the eyes. Just pollen probably (even though, as mentioned, it’s actually autumn here).
10 – Serbia – Bojana Stamenov – Beauty Never Lies – Sorry to hear this has rubbed you up the wrong way so badly, Jaz. I’ve listened to the Serbian version a number of times, and I too prefer it to the English one — BUT I find enough of my buttons still get pushed, including by the song’s message and eventual danceability, to keep this in my top 25%. (And I’d better be a fan of BS if I’m going to be ‘sharing’ a toasted sandwich with her.)
9 – Poland – Monika Kuszyńska – In The Name Of Love – Uncomplicated. Gracefully paced. Unpretentious. Minimalist. Melodic. Effective. Seems that’s really all you need to get into the top ten in Ali-land this year!
8 – Slovenia – Maraaya – Here For You – The Makemakes could learn a thing or two from Maraaya about doing a ‘dedicated-to-you’ type song.
7 – Denmark – Anti Social Media -The Way You Are – Why are the Danes apparently so unloved this year? I was hooked on this as soon as I heard it, and it hasn’t really slipped much since then. (Interesting backstory: It was originally about a doctor who falls in love with a patient with a sore throat — hence ‘It’s the way you “Ahhhhh”‘)
6 – Israel – Nadav Gudej – Golden Boy – Finally, a fitting male match for Aqua’s “Barbie Girl”. (How much fantastic plastic do they have in Tel Aviv?) If only broken-hearted mamma’s boy Nadav could have linked up with broken-hearted mother’s boy Axel (Belgium 2014) and taken him out dancing, instead of Axel’s just moping round the house with Mum. I think the allegedly risqué lyrics are actually quite innocent, in a goofy ESC way. And we have here the first reference in a song to the ESC rules (“sorry, gotta go, 3 minutes!”) since … 2006 (Lithuania – “so, you gotta VOTE …”, etc.)?
5 – Lithuania – Monika Linkytė and Vaidas Baumila – This Time – Has the sort of naïve, bubbly effervescence that helped Denmark’s Rollo & King get very close to winning in 2001. But (just like Søren and Signe in ’01) Monika and Vaidas really need kissing lessons from Birthe and Gustav (Denmark 1957). Nevertheless, I vote for leaving the kiss IN!
4 – Australia – Guy Sebastian -Tonight Again – I think the Stadthalle will go off to this, especially the “ohhh-ohhh-ohhh-oh-oh-ohhh” in the chorus. This was sitting in my bronze position for a long time until very recently being pipped by …
3 – Montenegro – Knez – Adio – I can’t believe I’ve ranked a ŽJ song higher than you did, Jaz-simoviƈa! This started much lower, but if a song induces involuntary hip-swivelling in me, I find it will generally — eventually — get into my top three.
2 – Estonia – Elina Born & Stig Rästa – Goodbye To Yesterday – Hypnotic. I accidentally had it on a loop when I was working late one night, and didn’t notice I’d quite happily listened to it about 10 times in a row. And please don’t tell anyone, but I’ve actually got a bit of a teensy-weensy man crush on Stig, even though from some angles he looks a bit like a young Don Knotts (aka ‘Mr Chicken’).
1 – Norway – Mørland & Debrah Scarlett – A Monster Like Me – Unsettlingly haunting. Arguably, the most devastatingly divine song ever in the history of the ESC. And I know that if I were hosting a white-tie dinner, and the male guests turned up in black tie, I’d have no choice but to arrange for everyone’s drinks to be spiked, and to then ‘fess up to my partner about my childhood ‘friendly encounter’ with a mountain goat. So I totally know where Mørland is coming from with this one. Yes, I’m being a bit flippant (for a change), but I’m really savouring all the subtle layers to the lyrics, the harmonies, and the overall performance (as well as the official video, despite the mess they create). Let’s hope they can nail it in May!
Obviously my own Top 40 is very a different thing to my Predicted Top 40. I fully expect Russia (my no. 40) to be in the top 7 at the end of the final on the 23rd, whilst Denmark (my no. 7) probably won’t even get there. Et cetera.
BTW, just further to my earlier vent about the lyrics of ‘A Million Voices’, I certainly am not in the camp of those who might want Polina and her song’s writers/composers to be tarred at the contest with the same brush as those steering the less palatable components of Russia’s domestic and foreign policy. In other words, please, people: no booing in the Stadthalle!
From one Virgo to another, I would like to thank you for doing things in the proper order! And as a paid-up member of Team Norway 2015 WOOHOO, I would like to thank you for your (unexpected, I must admit) numero uno.
As much as I would love to see Azerbaijan recreate ‘Day After Day’ in slo-mo to “compliment” Elnur Vol. II, I’m sure they’ll go for something more understated. Subtlety will be key. I’m thinking an ostentatious wolf suit borrowed from a Viennese theatre production of Little Red Riding Hood, in conjunction with Ukraine’s hamster wheel and hamster man from Copenhagen (because why not?).
Whatever your reason for having Macedonia so close to your top 10, I’m pleased to see it there! The revamp and language change has divided us fans, but I think the differences between the Skopje Fest-winning ‘Lisja Esenski’ and the Eurovision-going ‘Autumn Leaves’ are the reason we’re not all sick to death of an entry that was chosen super-early in the season.
It’s okay…Romania makes my eyes a little moist too, on occasion. I agree that Romanian is a lovely musical language, and I think the bilingual version has an awkward switch moment, but things could have been a lot worse. I’m still in love (with you, Voltaj, as Electro Velvet would say).
Funnily enough, I have a bit of a crush on Stig myself. I have no idea why. The man only smiles once every six months (let’s hope he’s saved one up for Eurovision purposes). I think it’s the unkempt, floppy hair and the fact that he plays the guitar. It’s the simple things.
Yes, I am beyond thrilled to discover that someone else rates Norway as highly as I do – higher, in fact, but only by a Conchita beard-whisker. We are in agreement on the haunting beauty and general deep-and-meaningful wonderfulness. And yet, based on the divided reactions, I’m still on tenterhooks over Norway’s qualification chances. And then, if they do make the final, what next? Unlike Sweden (if there was a podium for the gold, silver and bronze positions, Måns wouldn’t have to bother marking his territory upon it…the deal’s done as far as I’m concerned) Norway could end the night on the left or the right side of the scoreboard, depending on so many factors. And only time (plus my intent to vote for Mørland & Debrah like there’s no tomorrow) will divulge their fate. Hashtag oh the pain.
There’s no way I can keep up with the last 60 years so if a hectic stage of life still means you can tap this list out, kudos to you Jaz! My brief list covers the past ten years. I do have a special place in my heart for a number of songs in that time frame that were mentioned: Rändajad Estonia-2009, Ovo Je Balkan Serbia 2010, This Is My Life Sweden-2010, O Mie Moldova-2013, and the remarkable Miss Nielsen of course.
2012 Spain Quedate Conmigo by Pastora Soler
Nothing made my jaw drop like Pastora’s performance. I can say until the end of time that I’m not a ballad person–until this song comes on. I’ll give people the stink eye if they dare to make any noise when this is playing in my ear. This is what “beautiful” means to describe a song.
2012 Romania Zaleilah by Mandinga
A wonderful blend of Latin, Romanian bagpipes, and dance that always makes me happy. Isn’t that what ESC is all about?
2013 Norway I Feed You My Love by Margaret Berger
I can’t get away without mentioning it. While Pastora made my jaw drop, Margaret Berger made me fall out of my seat, literally. I had not heard someone do darkish electro-synth pop to my liking in ages and was shocked to see it on the ESC stage. Sensational, spine-tingling, and the cause of goosebumps! Add to that that I didn’t watch ESC 2013 until January of 2014 (I usually watched on delay by maybe a month or two but an overwhelming life stage pushed it back even farther that year) it was more cause for kicking myself to never miss the contest by such a delay again. An added bonus was chasing down her 2007 album, Pretty Scary Silver Fairy, and being absolutely taken by it. Karin Park gave Norway a great song that year, but I’ll take Margaret’s own compositions any day.
2005 Switzerland Cool Vibes by Vanilla Ninja
It’s one of my ring tones and that is reason enough to include. A thirty second instrumental badass clip that makes people stare at my ringing phone in shock and awe. An Aussie friend introduced me to them, and consequently ESC, after their performance.
I can get on board with most of your fondest memories, except perhaps Cool Vibes…that on always jarred with me a bit. I think it’s slightly (not totally) overrated, though I’m glad Switzerland managed to do so well with it. Albeit with an Estonian band.
LOVE Quedate Conmigo, Zaleilah (nothing makes me want to move more than this, so let’s just say I play it rather frequently during workouts) and IFYML. Great picks!
I hope you didn’t injure yourself falling out of your chair over Margaret, by the way. I might have to check out that early album of hers. I’ve had mixed feelings about her post-ESC releases – I think Scream is excellent, Human Race not so much. But she is super cool for the most part.
High five for everyone with an ESC/ESC-related ringtone!! My current one is Ben Ivory’s The Righteous Ones, from the German NF two years ago. Considering swapping it out for Moustache sometime soon.