A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tobson's Winners: 1991 - 1995

Seriously, there had been some downhill ever since the early 80's, as commercial success started to evade the contenders. The winners didn't necessarily have any serious impact on the charts around Europe, not to mention that fewer and fewer of the non-winners found success internationally (or domestically).

But in the early 90's, the downhill turned into free falling. The contest failed to attract modern sounds and new styles, and, added the juries' clear inability of finding commercial winners, Eurovision soon turned into a big has-been of an event.

Some countries still wanted to win it and host it, some countries made the sporadic effort to modernise and update their national selections, but the ratings were dropping to all time lows in most countries.

Ireland's win-athon, with four victories in five years, did nothing to improve things. When a country like Ireland failed to chart internationally with their winners, what could countries like Switzerland, Greece or Belgium hope for?

However, the thing that would eventually save the old contest came in through a back door, not being hugely popular at the time. But with the new countries, "the Eastern bloc", came a real breathe of fresh air and a will to keep the ESC alive.

1991 - Greece

Sophia Vossou - Anixi (Greece 1991)

More of a monument than a simple song, this elegant creation with its delicate verses and explosive verses is an evergreen in Greece. On home ground, they can not still quite grasp how it didn't fare better than 13th.

I can only agree. What were the juries thinking? (And did the Greek delegation give the saxophone player the beating he deserved after ruining his solo like that, or did they let him get away?)

Greece really made an effort in the early 90's before realising nothing was to come out of it, that the juries would never go their way, and threw in the towel.

Real winner:
Carola - Fångad av en stormvind (Sweden)

1992 - Greece

Kleopatra - Olou tou kosmou i elpida (Greece 1992)

1992 does in no way offer the strongest line-up ever, but it does offer more quality Greek drama than any other year. In fact, my personal runner-up this year is the very intense delivery Evridiki did for Cyprus.

But the Greek entry is again like a modernised tragedy with a drum beat, Kleopatra is like a Medea with a taste for Bond themes.

Elegant, convincing and, above all, catchy and very modern-sounding compared to most songs in competition. Not unimportant during these years.

Real winner:
Linda Martin - Why Me?

1993 - Norway

Silje Vige - Alle mine tankar (Norway 1993)

A soft little ballad with a bouzouki flavour was not what the contest needed at this time, really.

The best move would have been if one of the two really modern entries could have won. If the Spanish rap-sprinkled pop fest would have sounded as updated as it wanted to. If Dutch Ruth Jacott could have been a bit more easily accessible.

But Silje Vige's soft little plea for love (of the very platonic kind girls only want when their fathers wrote their lyrics) is so pretty that I shiver and go to pieces a bit.

Nothing short of wonderful.

Real winner:
Niamh Kavanagh - In Your Eyes

1994 - Poland

Edyta Górniak - To nie ja! (Poland 1994)

The year when Ireland completed its famous (infamous?) hat-trick and scored its third consecutive win, there were a couple of other winners that would steal the thunder from the Rock'n'roll Kids.

Riverdance, of course. The spectacular interval act that set out to conquer the world in its own right.

But also the countries from the East. Seven of them were let into competition, after a few years of EBU hesitation.

They were all to mark the future of the ESC in many ways, and on this first edition three of them impressed Europe and made top ten. Russia ninth, Hungary fourth and Poland second.

Of course, the Polish Mariah Carey should have won with her powerful chorus and flawless delivery. But Eurovision wasn't ready just yet.

Real winner:
Paul Harrington & Charlie McGettigan - Rock'n'roll Kids (Ireland)

1995 - Poland

Justyna - Sama (Poland 1995)

Poland really gave eurovision their best during the 90's. Few countries sent in entries as headstrong, as obstinate, as original.

Justyna was a real shocker of an entrant, opening the 1995 contest with her odd mixture of a beat, weird strings and high-pitched notes. A Swedish tabloid described it like "a Björk track played in reverse".

Complete with a dark set of lyrics full of doom, depression and Catholic imagery, this was the very opposite of what a eurosong should sound like in the mid-90's.

Poland sent it in anyway, convinced that quality would bring them success in the end. What they got was 15 points and an eighteenth place.

Well done, juries.

Real winner:
Secret Garden - Nocturne (Norway)

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