originally published October 26, 2012
According to my raven-haired mistress whom I call Ms. Wiki, there have been sixty top-prize winners in the Eurovision Song Contest since its 1956 debut. That’s fifty-seven years of winners, with an ugly four-way tie in 1969. Because today is Day 300 and I foolishly believe that history cares if I do something grand with such a plump, round number, I’ve decided to review each of the Eurovision winners.
If I’ve attached a video link, it’s worth checking out. If I haven’t, the song fails to live up to my standards of weirdness.
1956 – Lys Assia: “Refrain” (Switzerland): Okay. This would have gone over well with the Perry Como set. Pretty voice.
1957 – Corry Brokken: “Net als toen” (Netherlands): Ms. Brokken was gorgeous. The song, like the last one, is string-heavy and forgettable. I hope they aren’t all like this.
1958 – André Claveau: “Dors, mon amour” (France): Oi. Might be a pretty love song, but it’s putting me to sleep. All these songs are putting me to sleep.
1959 – Teddy Scholten: “Een beetje” (Netherlands): Classy. Teddy (a she-Teddy, not a he-Teddy) is singing in front of a windmill backdrop because she’s from the Netherlands. This one has some tempo though. Better than the first three.
1960 – Jacqueline Boyer: “Tom Pillbi” (France): Seriously? This was the best of the bunch? This is the kind of record a grandmother might play for her grandkids when they’d rather be listening to Elvis.
1961 – Jean-Claude Pascal: “Nous les amoureux” (Luxembourg): Luxembourg’s answer to Dean Martin, but with a lot of rolled R’s.
1962 – Isabelle Aubret: “Un premier amour” (France): Still heavy on the strings. But this one is somehow a little bit sexy. Could Eurovision be getting sexy? Well “1962 sexy” maybe.
1963 – Grethe and Jørgen Ingmann: “Dansevise” (Denmark): Alright, this is slightly more hip. We have a guitar player, that’s a huge leap forward. I still can’t imagine anyone under 30 not leaping across the room to turn any of these songs off the radio.
1964 – Gigliola Cinquetti: “Non ho l’età” (Italy): Okay, the year the Beatles broke all over the world, and this is the winning entry? This is music to take sleeping pills by.
1965 – France Gall: “Poupée de cire, poupée de son” (Luxembourg): Points for using ‘poupee’ in the title twice. But France Gall’s voice is making my stomach leap around in a menacing way. I know they judge the song, not the singer, but this lady is flaaaaaat.
1966 – Udo Jürgens: “Merci, Chérie” (Austria): Udo must have been the most successful heartthrob on the Austrian retirement home circuit. So far, there isn’t one song from the first eleven winners that I would ever want to hear again.
1967 – Sandie Shaw: “Puppet On A String” (UK): Is this a joke? With everything going on in music in 1967 – hell, even just in England – this is what they pick? This has to be the most obnoxious song released this year. Maybe I mis-read how these songs are judged. Maybe they award bonus points when the judges throw up in their mouths a little.
1968 – Massiel: “La, la, la” (Spain): Those Spanish folk know how to build a chord structure. Can’t write a chorus to save their lives though. That said, Massiel is hot.
1969 – Salomé: “Vivo cantando” (Spain): There’s no way this song won for any reason other than Salomé’s powder-blue frilly pant-suit.
1969 – Lulu: “Boom Bang-a-Bang” (UK): There must be a reason all the British songs are so horrid. Sorry Lulu, “To Sir With Love” was a gem – this one’s a turd.
1969 – Lenny Kuhr: “De troubadour” (Netherlands): This is my pick out of the four from ‘69, and it’s still not very enjoyable. Gorgeous classical guitar work.
1969 – Frida Boccara: “Un jour, un enfant” (France): French for “One Day, One Child”. I already know I’m going to hate this. As I listen to this piece, I can hear the sounds of a lonely man somewhere in the distance, loading a pistol and turning it on himself so that he never has to hear another Eurovision song again, ever.
1970 – Dana: “All Kinds of Everything” (Ireland): Okay, nobody under 50 is on the judging panel at this point. Wow. I didn’t know they still made music this geriatric in 1970. They may as well be singing about incontinence and how grandkids never call.
1971 – Séverine: “Un banc, un arbre, une rue” (Monaco): My guess – everyone else who had submitted an entry for 1971 died in a horrible blimp accident, leaving only Séverine. Just a guess.
1972 – Vicky Leandros: “Après toi” (Luxembourg): I think the hives that are beginning to emerge all over my flesh are telling me I should stop this little experiment.
1973 – Anne-Marie David: “Tu te reconnaitras” (Luxembourg): Maybe I just don’t know what a good song is in this genre (which I’ll call Old People Music, Even Back Then). I don’t see how this could have won anything.
1974 – ABBA: “Waterloo” (Sweden): I never believed I’d get 18 years into this competition and actually find ABBA to have the best song so far. But they do. Compared to what I’ve listened to so far, this is a masterpiece.
1975 – Teach-In: “Ding-a-dong” (Netherlands): Please. Please watch the video to this song. Skip to the song itself and watch until you see the shot of the guitar player who looks like he defected from some Styx cover band to play on this track. Savor the way the song’s title is tossed into the verse lyrics for no logical reason. Wow.
1976 – Brotherhood Of Man: “Save Your Kisses For Me” (UK): This is classic 1970’s country-adult-contemporary-schlock, with possibly the worst choreography in the history of ever.
1977 – Marie Myriam: “L’oiseau et l’enfant” (France): This is a throwback to 60’s-era Eurovision. Not a compliment.
1978 – Izhar Cohen & the Alphabeta: “A-Ba-Ni-Bi” (Israel): First of all, well done on the Jew-fro, Izhar. These guys can swing. I can think of about 50 songs from 1978 that I’d rather listen to, but I think this one might rank above ABBA.
1979 – Gari Atari & Milk and Honey: “Hallelujah” (Israel): This sounds like the theme song to a 1979 Israeli sitcom.
1980 – Johnny Logan: “What’s Another Year” (Ireland): I suppose this is one of the few winners that sounds contemporary for the period. Not what I’d have been listening to in 1980, but it’s better than string-soaked pablum.
1981 – Bucks Fizz: “Making Your Mind Up” (UK): If ever there was a reason to just wipe out humanity and start fresh, this would be it. Clearly, as a species, we have failed. These four singers should be carved on the Mount Rushmore of audio-torture.
1982 – Nicole: “Ein Bißchen Frieden” (Germany): I hate the Eurovision Song Contest now. I’m going to need some kind of therapy after all this.
1983 – Corinne Hermes: “Si la vie est cadeau” (Luxembourg): The song doesn’t start until about 2 minutes into the video, but when it does, you’ll be overwhelmed by the power of her breathy voice, viciously committed hairspray and assertive shoulder pads. Not so much by the music.
1984 – Herreys: “Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley” (Sweden): Sweden once again tries the modern pop angle, except this time they do away with people who can sing or dance and send out three haircuts devoid of talent. This video adequately sums up the hell I’ve been putting my wife through as she sits beside me and tolerates my research.
1985 – Bobbysocks!: “La det swinge” (Norway): This one doesn’t make me want to employ my power drill on my ear drums. That is the highest praise I’m willing to pay it.
1986 – Sandra Kim: “J’aime la vie” (Belgium): Woah – we leap out of adult contemporary into pure 80’s Madonna-esque synth-pop. That is, if Madonna had sung about loving life, and sung it in a really crappy song.
1987 – Johnny Logan: “Hold Me Now: (Ireland): Johnny is the contest’s only repeat winner. He’s got himself a haircut, but hasn’t slipped out of ultra-ballad mode. Yecch.
1988 – Celine Dion: “Ne partez pas sans moi” (Switzerland): Yep, that’s Celine. Canada can’t participate, so Switzerland nabbed her for their song. I wonder – why didn’t anybody ask McCartney to write a tune for this contest? Even “Silly Love Songs” would have beaten any of those crappy winners from the 70s.
1989 – Riva: “Rock Me” (Yugoslavia): If you’ve always wanted to see someone sing in Serbian whilst a keytar-playing dude beside her dances in perfectly horrid choreography (and who hasn’t?), this one is for you.
1990 – Toto Cutugno: “Insieme: 1992” (Italy): Maybe I’ve been desensitized by Buck Fizz and Teach-In, but this isn’t utterly horrific.
1991 – Carola: “Fångad av en stormvind” (Sweden): For 1991, this one sounds tremendously 1984-ish. The choreography is something from an era that never has and never will exist, though. Yeah, this one is just weird.
1992 – Linda Martin: “Why Me” (Ireland): The first of Ireland’s big three wins in a row. First up, a crappy ballad. If a girl sang this to me, I’d head straight to Restraining Order City.
1993 – Niamh Kavanagh: “In Your Eyes” (Ireland): Next up, another crappy ballad. I like Niamh’s voice though, even if I’m a little suspicious of her silent ‘h’.
1994 – Paul Harrington & Charlie McGettigan: “Rock ‘n Roll Kids” (Ireland): I thought with this title we’d get something a little more upbeat out of Ireland. But this song is a lap-steel solo away from 90’s era pop-country.
1995 – Secret Garden: “Nocturne” (Norway): Okay, we all remember Enya was big in the 90s. And while this track is a little less new-age and a tetch more Celtic, it’s still awful. It’s mostly instrumental, and all dreary.
1996 – Eimear Quinn: “The Voice” (Ireland): The Irish certainly loved their so-serious ballads in the 90s. Maybe that explains Bono.
1997 – Katrina & The Waves: “Love Shine A Light” (UK): Gotta love Katrina. She sticks with the positive tunes. I can’t imagine anyone skipping over “Walking On Sunshine” to get to this track on her Greatest Hits album though.
1998 – Dana International: “Diva” (Israel): So far the only way I’d add any of these songs to my iPod is in a playlist titled “Murderous Rampage Soundtrack”.
1999 – Charlotte Nilsson: “Take Me To Your Heaven” (Sweden): Why does every song out of Sweden sound like an ABBA song? At least the music does – Charlotte’s voice is far less saccharine, as is her sexier outfit.
2000 – Olsen Brothers: “Fly On The Wings Of Love” (Denmark): And the award for worst song title in Eurovision history goes to… yeah, the song isn’t great either.
2001 – Tanel Padar, Dave Benton & 2XL: “Everybody” (Estonia): Estonia was all about retro-disco in ‘01 I guess, and the Eurovision viewers dug it. Wow, this one makes me want to boogie right off a cliff.
2002 – Marie N: “I Wanna” (Latvia): Again with the disco. Did Saturday Night Fever not debut in the Balkan countries until the new millennium? Was this a Soviet conspiracy?
2003 – Sertab Erener: “Everyway That I Can” (Turkey): I’m giving this one a thumbs-up. Slightly ethnic, but with a pop groove. I don’t like it enough to own it, but compared to the previous entries… wait, I just got to the bridge. It sucks. Sorry.
2004 – Ruslana: “Wild Dances” (Ukraine): At least since the introduction of populist televoting the Eurovision folks started skewing to a younger crowd. Right around the time I completely lost touch with youth music.
2005 – Helena Paparizou: “My Number One” (Greece): And again, it seems that sex sells. Really good songs evidently don’t. I only hope the next track is something other than dance-pop (he said, knowing it would be).
2006 – Lordi: “Hard Rock Hallelujah” (Denmark): Wow. If GWAR opened up a branch band on the planet Klingon, it might just be Lordi. A wild leap to the other end of the musical spectrum, this heavy metal strangeness actually includes the lyric “It’s the rock-opalypse”. You’ve got to see this one.
2007 – Marija Šerifovic: “Molitva” (Serbia): If ever there was an ad telling me not to watch this show, they could use this song. I’m sure it’s lovely, and some folks would rush out and buy this album, but it is so far removed from anything I’d consider enjoyable, it makes my poor battered eardrums ache with longing for this article to be done.
2008 – Dima Bilan: “Believe” (Russia): I guess if you’re going to use the most bland song title you can think of, and if you’re going to get all Enrique Iglesias with your performance style, you may as well sing the entire song on your knees with a look of pseudo-desperation.
2009 – Alexander Rybak: “Fairytale” (Norway): This is a total flashback to the late 60’s winners. At least this guy can play the violin. And his backup dancers can do pushups, apparently.
2010 – Lena: “Satellite” (Germany): Apart from her voice, which might take some time to grow on me, this is actually a catchy, maybe even a good song. Or perhaps I’ve just completely lost my musical perspective.
2011 – Ell/Nikki: “Running Scared” (Azerbaijan): If it came down to a choice between this and the song by Roy Orbison with the same name, I’d pick Roy’s song eleven times out of ten.
2012 – Loreen: “Euphoria” (Sweden): The star of this year’s winner is the wind machine. At least it doesn’t sound like an ABBA track.
This has been a wild ride. Maybe for Day 400 I’ll figure out something that won’t feel like such a punishment for having hit a landmark.