Dec 22, 2014

691/917 Martin Durinda & Tublatanka: Neverending song (Slovakia 1994)

Ever since the countries from the so called "East-Europe" started to take part in the Eurovision Song Contest from 1993 (with the exception of Yugoslavia, which of course took part already from 1961 on) there is one genre of music that has never done well no matter how good the song actually was. That is the east european rock. One of the first brave countries to try in that vein was Slovakia, which had its song crash and burn in 1994.

I also have dismissed this song for 20 years until the random number generator tossed it at me and I had to listen to it again, maybe for the third or fourth time ever since the actual contest. I don't remember exactly how I reacted to the song then, but now Neverending song by Tublatanka is well crafted, well performed and heavenly arranged poprock song, that in a perfect world would have gathered points from left and right.

But the world is not perfect, and in the Eurovision Song Contest justice rarely prevails. This song with its 19th place in the final results (of total 25 songs) was the first of many east european rockers that would find itself at the bottom of the pile.

My points 4/5.

Nov 1, 2014

905/917 Esther Hart: One more night (Netherlands 2003)

The Dutch Eurovision entries from the 1990's and the early years of the new millenium were a collection of peppy and in principal perfect popsongs that in paper should have provided the country with good final results. The 905th eurosong, the Dutch entry for the 2003 Eurovision song contest is a good example.

At first view the performance works very well on stage. The artists are enthousiastic but also very competent to give a well rehearsed choreography and pitch perfect singing at the same time. The song itself is like a rerun of the 1999 Dutch entry (written by the same songwriter team), which was my favourite song four years earlier. What could go wrong.

The televoters were rather hesitant to share my view. The 13th place among 26 participants must have been a big disappointment to the Dutch team, which apparently had put a lot attention and money to make the entry as perfect as possible.

Now, 11 years later, it is quite easy to see what went wrong. In their pursuit of perfection, Esther Hart and his team had created a rather cold and indifferent entry. Already at second view the flawless choreography starts to irritate, and the wide smile on everyones faces seem rather forced. There is not even the intriguing Dutch language to give warmth and personality to the song. The choice of language saved many Dutch entries from the 1990's from mediocrity.

The song itself is catchy and fun but not an evergreen quality. In all an entertaining but rather disposable Eurosong.

My points 2/5.

Sep 13, 2014

420/917 Yiannis Dimitras: Feggari kalokerino (Greece 1981)

Nowadays when even the simplest love song is cluttered with background dancers, trapeze artists or figure skaters it is nice to be reminded of a song, that didn't need anything else than a singer, piano player and a rose to make an impact. That song was performed as the 420th Eurovision entry ever.

The Eurovision Song Contest of 1981 could almost be called an Eurovision Disco Contest, because almost half of the songs used to some extent the fashionable disco rhythms in their songs with mostly questionable results. Therefore the songs like the Greek entry were refreshing and welcome.

Feggari kalokerino was a marvellous piano driven ballad sung by the composer Yiannis Dimitras in a very convincing yet relaxed way. Without any backing singers he carried the song brilliantly on his shoulders singing with tenderness and personality that really didn't need any superfluous extravaganza to back him. Young female pianist and a simple rose on top of the grand piano was the perfect finishing touch for this Eurovision pearl.

The song received deserved 8th place in the final results and it remained for a long time one of the best results of Greece in the contest. To me it is a warm memory of the 1981 contest.

My points 4/5.

Aug 27, 2014

56/917 Wyn Hoop: Bonne nuit ma chérie (Germany 1960)

Nowadays it some times refreshing to hear a Eurovision song composed to the rhythm of a classic dance waltz or tango. In the early decades of Eurovision this was more commonplace. The 55th eurosong was based on the rhythms of a latin dance bolero.

Wyn Hoop was only 23 years of age when he took part in the Eurovision Song Contest, that took place in London. His entry Bonne nuit ma chérie was a tender lullaby where the singer puts his love to sleep promising he will never forget or leave her.

To me everything is in place in this entry. The song is easy going, yet gentle song where the latin rhythms is used tastefully without clashing with the idea of a lullaby. The arrangement is superb and the young singer gives a confident and at the same time very relaxed performance on a stage.

This song continued Germany's good streak in the early years of Eurovision with 4th position in the final results and Wyn Hoop would continue to have a good career in the German showbusiness until the end of the 1970's. After retiring, he has written articles and books about sailing and travelling.

My points 4/5.

Aug 21, 2014

762/917 Celia Lawson: Antes do adeus (Portugal 1997)

Portugal has always been one of the most interesting countries and their entries are eagaerly awaited every year even though the points awarded to the Portuguese entries have seldom correlated with their quality. However, it is obvious that sometimes the bad placing in the score board is justified even for Portugal.

In my opinion, the 1990's was exceptionally strong for Portugal with interesting and appealing entries almost every year. The 1990's awarded Portugal also their so far best result when fresh and fun O meu coração não tem cor sung by Lúcia Moniz climbed to the 6th position in 1996. Two years later my personal favourite, group Alma Lusa got to the respectable (but in my opinion too low) 12th place.

But the song between these two is to me one of the most forgettable Portuguese entries ever. Unfortunately for Portugal the juries (and the televoters who took part in five of the 25 participating countries) were unanimous: No-one was interested and, accordingly, no points at all were given to poor Célia Lawson. It was no confort to her, that the Norwegian singer Tor Endresen suffered the same fate and the last place was shared between Portugal and Norway.

I cannot blame either Ms Lawson or the Juries. She sang well (and was supported by weird backing speaking choir hiding behind dark glasses) and tried to give her all to the song. Juries also did their job well: The song was utterly uninteresting and even though there were even worse songs taking part, I can imagine that at the time of voting not many members of the juries remembered what the song was like.

The blame goes, therefore, to the composer. German born Thilo Krassman was the conductor, who conducted with the smile the portuguese entries in seventies and then again in the nineties. 1997 was the last time that the amiable veteran conducter took part in the Eurovision Song Contest and Antes do adeus was his only composition that took part in the international final. It is sad that he could not end his Eurovision career with a better song and better result.

My points 1/5.

Jul 2, 2014

221/917 Marianne Mendt: Musik (Austria 1971)

Sometimes even a die hard Eurovision fan starts getting doubts. Sometimes the overwhelming "public opinion" gets over you: Eurovision is rubbish, it is just bunch of commercial crap without any meaning, any artistic integrity, musical value and nothing to do with real life, passion or the country it is representing. Fortunately it does not take but to hear a perfect Eurovision song like Austria 1971 to snap out of it and continue to enjoy the contest as it was and is supposed to.

Musik sung by Marianne Mendt is a song that combines all the ingredients that some people claim are missing from the Eurovision Song Contest. The song is full of energy and the singer belts the song out with passion without shouting. The orchestral arrangement is sublime, unfortunately the strings are almost unheard due to bad sound mixing (to hear the song in its full glory listen to the studio version of the song synced to the preview video). To give the song local flavour, Mendt sings the song in the local dialect of her home town Vienna. After listening to the song one has to stop to catch one's breath. And then listen to the song again.

The 1971 Eurovision Song Contest was packed with perfect entries and the Austrian one was the most difficult to digest, at least to the juries. The 16th position among 18 entries is pure madness.

Marianne Mendt has continued her career as an actress and a jazz singer. Listen and watch her recent interpretation of Cole Porter's Love for sale here.

My points 5/5.

Jul 1, 2014

569/917 Live Report: Why do I always get it wrong (United Kingdom 1989)

After its fourth victory in 1981 the United Kingdom seemed to lose (at least for a while) the ambition to present interesting and memorable Eurovision entries. Still, for some reason it had become a habit for the international juries to give the UK high votes no matter how dispensable their song was. While not their worst song of the 1980´s, the 1989 English entry is a good example of that.

Actually the melody of Why do I always get it wrong is quite good and the soloist of Live Report Ray Caruana was one of the better singers of the 1989 Eurovision Song Contest. The jury seemed to agree and awarded the UK their 12th silver medal in this contest.

Still something is wrong with this package. The artists lack completely any enthousiasm whatsoever and even the singer seems to want out of the stage as soon as possible. The arrangement of the song is another lost opportunity. With tasteful use of the orchestra the song could have risen over the mediocrity to something special. Now the well built melody is buried under the 1980's most unimaginative synthesizer pling plong sound. Really a lost opportunity here.

The UK audience lost interest in this song very quickly. In the UK's singles chart the song rose no higher than at #73. Not many people kept the song in their memory after that.

My points 3/5.

Jun 26, 2014

5/917 Mathé Altéry: Le temps perdu (France 1956)

As mentioned in my earlier article, during the last twenty years lots of new countries have introduced themselves in the Eurovision Song Contest presenting their first entry ever to the European ears. It is easy to forget that even the most established countries in this occasion also had their first song sung at some point in the mists of history. Even France.

France took part in the Eurovision Song Contest of course from the very beginning. The first French entry was the fifth song ever to be sung in this television series that next year celebrates its 60th episode. The honor was given to Mathé Altéry, a soprano that sung both chanson and classical music. Her entry leaned more to the classical side of her talent, a short ballad sung with the prominent accompaniment of piano, oboe and some nice strings.

The good arrangement of the song managed hardly to hide the fact that the composition had not much to talk about. It is not terrible but nothing really to remember it by. The operatic vocals by Altéry alienates the song further from its audience. Apparently no studio recording of this song was ever made and I can understand why.

But what did it matter, no final results (except for the winner) have ever been released from the 1956 contest, so both French entries (as all seven participating countries had two songs in the contest) shared the second place in the final results. I doubt that if the results had been revealed, this song would not have been in the upper half of the list.

My points 2/5.

523/917 Halla Margrét: Haegt og hljott (Iceland 1987)

During the last 20 years we've had new countries flooding to the Eurovision Song Contest, but in the 1980's it was a completely different story. During that decade only two new countries debuted in the Eurovision Song Contest, Cyprus and Iceland. It took a while for Iceland to establish themselves in the Eurovision family, but from the beginning they took part with ambition and, most importantly, with good artists and songs.

Iceland's second Eurovision entry ever was a tender ballad sung delicately by 23 years old Halla Margrét. I considered this song as a nice but forgettable piece of music, but since 1987 it has grown on me and I believe that the juries (or the televoting audience) would have treated the song better 10 or 20 years later.

In 1987, when the eurovision songs did not circulate in the Internet for months before the contest, the song was not given the chance to grow and it was awarded the 16th place in the final results (among the record busting total of 22 songs).

The song was more or less forgotten after the contest held in Brussels, but I remember having a surprising encounter with it 7 or 8 years later. While visiting London I heard the loudspeakers of a fast food restaurant blasting out the english version of this particular Eurovision entry. How a UK restaurant ended up playing an english version of an almost ten years old Icelandic eurovision entry remains a mystery to me. Maybe there was a eurovision geek working in the restaurant that day.

According to some information found in the Internet Halla Margrét moved from popular music to classical music and had an operatic career. Could someone confirm is the soprano in this video singing Puccini actually the same Halla Margrét that represented Iceland in the Eurovision Song Contest 22 years earlier?

My points 3/5.

May 22, 2014

173/917 Lado Leskovar: Vse roze sveta (Yugoslavia 1967)

Yugoslavia took part 27 times in the Eurovision Song Contest from 1961 on until its disintegration in the early 1990's. The later yugoslav entries are well known and appreciated among Eurovision community, but the country's first decade in Eurovision is almost completely ignored. This is unfortunate, because during those years Yugoslavia hardly ever presented a second rate entries to the contest. The 173th Eurosong is one of the forgotten pearls.

The Yugoslav entry for the 1967 contest held in Vienna was sung by 25 year old Slovenian singer and actor Lado Leskovar. This entry is one of those Yugoslav ballads that didn't make that much of an impact way back then, but which now sound appealing and poignant and bare similarities to the 21st centuries balkan ballads, that are so much appreciated today.

The melody, its structure and the performance of the singer remind me very much of the Yugoslav entry 1965 (which I gave 5 points couple of posts ago in this blog). The song starts with a simple instrumentation which is accompanied from the very start by the convincing vocals. Like Ceznja the song opens it's full bloom after the first verse. And, again, like Ceznja, the most magnificent part of the song is its instrumental break before the end. In this case the powerful yet thoughtful trumpet solo is the crown of this wonderful entry.

What is different in this song is the mood and lyrics. Whereas the 1965 entry is nostalgic song of longing and loving, the mood in Vze roze sveta is somber and in some places even sinister. This is apparent in both the string arrangement, the vocal interpretation and lyrics, which is like a Slovene version of Where have all the flowers gone. The song starts with a gunshot salute saying farewell to a hero to be buried. The protagonists wonders why the trumpet sound reminds him always of the soldiers that are buried under all the flowers in the field.

Unfortunately the audience, and more importantly the juries, did not understand the lyrics of this song for peace, and the spoken passage recited during the instrumental break sounds slightly out of place, even though it contributes to the sad overall feeling of the song.

Like the entry from 1965, I love the overall quality of this song and the gloomy mood it creates. The song gathered seven votes that resulted a respectable 8th place in the final results (out of 17 songs).

For a long time the only good recording available of the song was the live recording of the contest held in Vienna. I was, however, extremely happy when just couple of days ago I stumbled upon a crystal clear recording of the song included in a compilation album available in Spotify. Share and enjoy!

My points 4/5.

May 17, 2014

817/917 Times three: Believe in peace (Malta 1999)

I've already told about my troubled relationship with the Maltese Eurovision Song Contest entries. I have wondered where this trouble comes from. I've never been to Malta and I don't know anyone from Malta so I cannot find any other reason for this than that I just don't like their entries (well most of them). The 817th eurosong, which the Random Number Generator unfortunately has drawn me is one of the worst.

There are many things in the Maltese entry in 1999 that makes me search for forward button. The song Believe in peace (what an immaculate and imaginative title!) itself is dull and repetitive and offers no development or climax. The sparse, almost non existent arrangement sounds like no-one has cared to make any substantial effort on it. The three singers are left alone to make an impact with no real song or good backing to help them.

And the impact that Times three makes is hardly convincing. The glittering girls look lost on stage and their nervous smiles reveal that they themselves know that the song is not much to sing but still too difficult for them to keep in tune. Quite a horrendeous experience for the artists surely and the audience for certain.

Still for some reason the song managed to gather 32 points and on 15th position beat many, in my opinion, better songs in the final results. But I doubt that many people remember the song. I at least try hard to forget it again after writing this article.

My points 1/5.

May 15, 2014

311/917 Peter, Sue & Marc: Djambo Djambo (Switzerland 1976)

As I wrote in my article about the 422. eurosong, the Swiss trio Peter, Sue & Marc are one of five artists to have taken part in the Eurovision Song Contest for four times. To their credit, they hold the so far unbeaten record of singing their four entries in four different languages.

In 1976 Peter Reber, Marc Dietrich and American born Sue Schnell chose english as their singing language, even though their entry Djambo Djambo has also been recorded and released in german.

The song is about an old circus clown who reminices his past and pays barrel organ in the park for the kids and birds surrounding him. The melody and the syrupy text is written by Reber, who also penned the other three of groups Eurovision entries.

Whereas the groups entries from 1971, 1979 and 1981 feel earnest and entertaining, Djambo Djambo is irritatingly saccharine partly due to the lyrics and theatrical vocals of Schnell. I find the german version (to which I unfortunately could not find link to) slightly more tolerable, But the 311th Eurosong is not the one I want to remember Peter, Sue & Marc for. In addition to their four Eurovision participations the group took part four times in the Swiss and German Eurovision selections without success. Maybe one of these songs would have been better entries than this.

My points 2/5.

p.s. The other three artists that have took part in the contest for four times are Lys Assia (Switzerland, two songs in 1956, 1957 and 1958), Fud Leclerc (Belgium 1956, 1958, 1960 and 1962), Anita Skorgan (Norway 1977, 1979, 1982 and 1983) and Elisabeth Andreassen (Sweden 1982, Norway 1985, 1994 and 1996). Thanks Tobias for reminding me.

May 2, 2014

856/917 Gary O'Shaughnessy: Without your love (Ireland 2001)

During its Eurovision history (47 times since 1966) Ireland has been represented by a ballad sung by male singer or singers no less than 19 times (to compare the same number for Finland is five). Staggering 62% of Irish eurovision entries have been ballads. Many of these songs have resulted well and three of those did win the contest altogether. The 856th Eurosong is not one of those.

When the random number generator drew me the Irish entry of 2001, I had hard time remembering which of the many Irish ballads it was. This was one indication that the song was not one of my favourites that year.

After reminding me of the song this proved to be true. The song Without your love was a rather forgettable ballad that didn't stand a chance in the 2001 contest. Gary O'Shaughnessy gives his all, but in his over exited and/or nervous state he struggles to keep his voice in tune. All in all there is nothing much he can do with this unremarkable collection of love song clichés.

And the televoting juries very much agreed. It received only six points and for the first time Ireland was not allowed to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest 2002.

My points 1/5.

Apr 25, 2014

113/917 Rachel: Le chant de Mallory (France 1964)

As I've told couple of times earlier, André Popp is one of my favourite songwriters ever to take part in the Eurovision Song Contest. And his entry in 1964, the 113th song ever to take part in the contest was one of his great entries.

Chant de Mallory is a very traditional French love song that there was abundance of during the first decade of the Eurovision Song Contest. Somehow the song written by the same team (Popp and the lyricist Pierre Cour) as the 1961 winner Tom Pillibi and the 1967 evergreen L'amour est bleu manages to rise above the others.

I find the song touching and the arrangement makes it go forward even when the melody repeats the same verse. The song's success (4th in the final results) is partly due to the faultless and sincere delivery of the singer Rachel (no video recording of the 1964 contest exists, but she can be seen singing the song here). I think that this song is an example of a conventional French eurovision ballad at its best.

Chant de Mallory became the biggest hit of Rachel's career. She did record some other singles during the 1960's but apparently her singing career did not carry her to the 1970's. Pity.

My points 4/5.

Apr 24, 2014

239/917 Mary Roos: Nur die Liebe lässt uns leben (Germany 1972)

Germany has sent to the Eurovision stage an impressive legion of their most popular and famous singers. One of them was Rosemarie Schwab, better known with her stage name Mary Roos.

I got to know Mary Roos in 1984, when she represented Germany in the Eurovision Song Contest with song Aufrecht Geh'n. I was impressed with her voice which was vulnerable and strong at the same time. It was many years later that I heard and saw hers first Eurovision entry, which took part 12 years earlier.

When watching for the first time a bad quality VHS copy of the 1972 contest held in Edinburgh Scotland I was puzzled by her performance. Here was 23 years old singer singing un upbeat happy song with the same vulnerable strong voice I had heard singing a heartbraking ballad of separation in 1984. Somehow I felt her voice did not mach the song Nur die Liebe lässt uns leben.

During the years I've grown to appreciate her performance in 1972 as much as her appearence 12 years later. The song is good and she is clearly having good time on stage. The relaxed feeling, smile, the sparkle in her eyes (contrary to her 1984 performance) and of course her confident singing make the song work and the third position in the final results was well deserved.

My points 4/5.

Apr 4, 2014

480/917 Maria Guinot: Silêncio e tanta gente (Portugal 1984)

Right until 2013 the order of songs in the Eurovision final was chosen by a draw, although it was not always that obvious. There were numerous occasions when right songs have been drawn to exactly right position in the starting list as if it was decided in advance. That was often the case with the last song sung every year. The 480th Eurosong is one of those that you could not think of been performed anywhere else than the last position of the magical Eurovision evening.

Silêncio e tanta gente by Maria Guinot was not only the perfect closer of the 1984 contest, but the only song that I could think of finishing the contest after the astounding Italian entry Il treni di Tozeur. Together these two songs made one of the most memorable and moving endings ever in the history of Eurovision Song Contest.

At 38 years Maria Guinot was not old, but still much more experienced singer (and songwriter) as most of her collegues taking part in the 1984 song contest. Her entry was also far from the perky pop ditties that represented most of the countries that year. Also unlike many of the young performers that year she performed her song with charisma and had no trouble singing in tune and bringing real emotion to the song. At that time it she was one of the rare female singers who had composed her own song.

And what a song it is. Well built, emotional ballad that starts calmly but ends with such a passion that the inexperienced singers from the UK, Luxembourg and Norway (to name just a few) could only have dreamed of.

Although the last song in the running order was arguably at the best position to impress the juries, the song was not appreciated as it should have. Uncharacteristically, the best position in the 1984 running order was number one, where Herreys with their golden shoes scored the winning amount of points. Maria Guinot had to settle for 11 position among 19 entries. Unfair and undeserved faith, if you ask me, for this wonderful song and amazing artist.

My points 5/5

Mar 14, 2014

792/917 Mélanie Cohl: Dis oui (Belgium 1998)

The 792th eurosong brought on stage a french singing girl with a baby face and voice of a teenager. For some reason it always reminds me of some entries sung in french of the 1960's.

I am not quite sure what in Dis oui makes me think of the entries from 30 years ago. It sounds quite contemporary for 1998 and the singer, 16 year old Mélanie Cohl is dressed very unlike the young vedettes of the 1960's. Still her young face, innocent performance and the song itself remind me of for example the Monegasque entry from 1965, the Swiss entries from both 1966 and 1967 and the Luxembourg entry from 1971, which all were sung by a newcomer artists (in French) aged just under or slightly over 20 years of age.

The young age of Mélanie Cohl (her real name being Mélanie Picron) is present in her performance on Birmingham stage in both good and bad. Her performance certainly is fresh and to some extent she seems to enjoy being on stage. On the other hand her inexperience is both shown and heard which, to me, is a little uneasy to watch.

I liked the 1998 Belgian entry very much 16 years ago, but it hasn't aged that well over the years. Despite of her 6th place in the final results, the representation in Eurovision didn't grant young mademoiselle Picron a steady career in the francophone, or even Belgian showbusiness. She made one album, sang on couple of Disney movies but then concentrated on other matters in life. According to some sources she took her chance at the French version of "The Voice" as late as in 2013, but without success.

My points 3/5.

Feb 24, 2014

356/917 Harmony: 'tis OK (Netherlands 1978)

For the second time in this blog the random number generator picked a song that I had already reviewed, and so I chose the next song myself. Eurosong 356 does not change the world, but behind the smiles and fun show you find a very good song that makes the sun shine.

Eurovision Song Contest 1978 was the first one I watched from start to finish as a seven year old schoolboy. I also tried to record the contest on tape, but because of empty batteries the cassette recorder managed to tape only the first ten seconds of each song before slowing down. I would have to wait another couple of years before I got a copy of a tape with full versions of the song. It took over ten years before I saw the video recording of the contest for the first time.

One of my fondest memories of this great contest was the Dutch entry. Harmony was a perky and colourful group (apparently assembled with the contest in mind) with Rosina Louwaars as their talented soloist. Despite of their faultless performance, the song only got 37 points and 13th place in the lineup of 20 countries.

This song always gets a smile on my face. In a good "ding a dong"-fashion the melody is catchy and has a great orchestral arrangement (with ever smiling Harry van Hoof conducting). The Dutch language is cream of the cake making a nice but ordinary pop ditty a little more pecial.

My points 5/5

520/917 Kate Guldbrandsen: Mitt liv (Norway 1987)

After their first ever Eurovision victory in 1985 Norway had a good run of success until the 1980's. Quality entries and handful of good results as well. Their 1987 entry, the 520th song ever sung on a Eurovision stage was particularly anticipated since it was composed by the composer of the 1985 winning song with lyrics by another half of Bobbysocks.

An unthinkable thing happened to a dedicated Eurovision fan in 1987. I forgot to watch the first preview show on television and didn't remember it until first three songs were already presented. Even more incredible happened a year later when I missed the first episode the same way.

So I saw and heard the Norwegian entry of 1987 for the first time during the actual Eurovision final evening, when Kate Gulbrandsen opened the show with Mitt liv. Expectations were high for the song because it was written by none other than Rolf Løvland and Hanne Krogh, who had given Norway its first Eurovision victory two years earlier. Kate Guldbrandsen gave a professional but also quite cold performance and received an OK 9th place on the scoreboard.

I had also waited for this song with anticipation but didn't really get what I was waiting for. And today, 27 years later the song still gives absolutely nothing to me. Professional, yes. Well performed, yes. International, yes. But moving, no. Warm, no. Personal, no. Kate Guldbrandsen fails to reach out to me and Rolf Løvland had better songs to come both inside and outside Eurovision circles.

My points 2/5

Jan 26, 2014

139/917 Vice Vukov: Ceznja (Yugoslavia 1965)

In the 21st century a balkan ballad has become a genre that collects easily points from all over Europe. During the first half of the Eurovision history the story was quite different. In the 1960's Jugoslavia provided the contest with great lovesongs from year to year, but they never fought over the highest positions in the final scoreboard and were soon forgotten. The 139th Eurovision entry is one of my biggest favourites ever in the Eurovision Song Contest, but I have hardly ever heard anyone else even remembering the song.

Croatian singer Vice Vukov had represented Yugoslavia already in 1963 with almost equally haunting ballad Brodovi (to which I promise to award high points as well should that song be drawn by the random number generator) reaching the 11th position (among 16 participants) in the final results. In 1965 the result was practically identical, as Ceznja received two points and came 12th (among 18 participants).

When I first heard the song from a bad quality tape, I was enchanted by the appealing melody which starts silently and opens into full bloom with no real distinction between the verse and the refrain. Vukov has bright and strong but also unpretentious voice which matches the melody and the arrangement to the full. My favourite part, however, is the instrumental break during the last third of the song with dreamy string and horn arrangement. After listening to the song I am mesmerized and want to listen to the song again.

It seems that after many years of winning ballads the Eurovision juries did prefer perky young female stars instead of serious male singer, so the song or the singer didn't get the recognition it deserved. Vice Vukov continued his career in Yugoslavia until he was forced to go exile for four years because of his political views. After returning to his home country he was blacklisted until the change of political climate in the end of 1980's when he became popular again. When Croatia became an independent democracy he served as a member of Croatian parlament for couple of years.

For a long time Ceznja could only be heard from the live recording of the 1965 Eurovision Song Contest and bad quality copy of the recorded version. Luckily by the change of the millenium a compilation cd by Vice Vukov came up with a pristine original recording available of this magnificent song. The live version from 1965 Eurovision Song Contest is worth full five points, but the recorded version (available at least on YouTube) is even better.

My points 5/5

328/917 The Swarbriggs Plus Two: It's nice to be in love again (Ireland 1977)

If you are looking for a quintessential Eurovision pop song of the mid 1970's, the 328th Eurosong is a good candidate.

Tommy and Jimmy Swarbrigg had represented Ireland already in 1975 coming 9th in the overall results. Two years later the Swarbriggs were joined by Nicola Kerr and Alma Carroll and equipped with slightly better song they received only 17 points less than Marie Myriam and ended up at in the third position.

Thirty seven years later the whole package with banal choreography looks very old-fashioned and even comic, but in the latter half of the 1970's the good result was quite expected. The song It's nice to be in love again (written by the brothers themselves) was catchy, pleasent, and well sung (with some nice harmonies) and it was a perfect opener to the contest. No wonder the juries were pleased.

Nowadays I prefer listening to the song to actually seeing the performance. The 1970's was in my memories the golden era of Eurovision with catchy and melodic songs being in the majority. It's nice to be in love again is one of them, not one of my biggest favourites, but an ok song from Ireland.

My points 3/5

Jan 15, 2014

714/917 Csaba Szigeti: Új név a régi ház falán (Hungary 1995)

Hungary is one of those new Eurovision countries (well, they started their Eurovision career 20 years ago, so the word "new" may sound exaggerated) who'd never really got their act together. They started extremely well with fourth place in their first year 1994. After that, however, in spite of some great entries they have never really reached the same heights.

After the smash start by Friderika and her Kinek Mondjam El Vetkeimet expectations were high on the second Hungarian entry in 1995. Instead of a tender ballad sung by a beautiful girl we got a dark man hidden behind the dark glasses singing somber ballad with a title that no-one outside Hungary attempted to pronounce.

Therefore it was no surprise that the song received mere three points and came to next to last in the final scoreboard. Most people, including me, forgot this song and started to wait for another Hungarian success entry, which so far hasn't come.

When random number generator draw me this song I of course had to listen to it again. I had a vague memory of the song being better than it's result and I was right. The song is a fabulous piano ballad starting from nowhere and rising to the great hights with a gorgeous orchestral arrangement that makes the live version way better than the recorded one. Csaba Szigeti does a great job interpreting the song and using every nuances from whisper to shout to making every word count.

My only complaint to the song is that the three minute maximum length (dictated by the Eurovision rules) cuts the song short just when I was waiting for something new to happen. I would have wished the song to settle down a bit and finish with the same whisper like quality it started with.

My points 4/5.

Jan 1, 2014

79/917 François Deguelt: Ce soir-là (Monaco 1960)

There are quite a few songwriters who have taken part in the Eurovision Song Contest several times during several decades. But there are only few composers who have done it with constant quality from the first song to the last. The composer of the Eurosong 79 is one of them, and one of my favourite Eurovision songwriters ever.

Hubert Giraud was already established songwriter before his participation to Eurovision Song Contest having written songs for films ( Sous le ciel de Paris made famous by Edith Piaf) and for the other major french artistst (Yves Montand and Dalida to name a few). Later his catalogue would include such a world hit as Mamy blue.

His Eurovision career started with a bang when his entry Dors mon amour won the contest in 1958 for France. He would participate in the international finals four years in a row when his songs represented France also in 1959 and Monaco in 1960 and 1961. Later his entries would be sung for France (1967 and 1979) and Luxembourg (1971). Each of his entries will get either 4 or 5 points from me should I stumble upon them in this blog later.

In 1960 the song Ce soir-là (with lyrics by Pierre Dorsey) was sung by 28 year old french singer François Deguelt. In the era of big French ballads, it was difficult to stand out of the rest, but this song (with a rhythm loosely based on Rumba) manages to do that. The song goes forward and is arranged perfectly. Although François Deguelt is not a very shining stage personality, he sings well and uses wisely the nyances of the song, from the quiet start to the loud ending. In 1960 this song got well deserved third place in the final results.

This song is not the best Hubert Giraud has done, but definately worth the promised four points.

My points 4/5.