Monday, March 23, 2015
Tobson takes on 1975
Sveriges Radio were very careful not to pour too much glamour into the event, as they knew that would anger some pretty vocal parts of the audience, and forty years later that lack of extra effort shows. How long did it possibly take to design that stage set, for instance?
Nevertheless, for me as a child it was a magical year, one I longed to know more about and perhaps even see one day. (This was way before any video copies of older contests were available.)
Song-wise it's not a bad year at all, actually. And since I am that kind of nerd who likes to rank and put things (and songs) in order, I decided to share my ranking of every song of the 1975 ESC.
19. Ireland - The Swarbriggs / That's What Friends Are For
Not bad as in really bad, but too ingratiating and annoyingly sweet somehow. All the lyrics do is stating the obvious for three minutes without ever giving us any reasonable chorus.
18. Norway - Ellen Nikolaysen / Touch My Life
Beautifully sung, but also a perfect example of when verse and chorus won't gel and your entry fails to go anywhere. The most interesting thing in this entry is Ellen's dress, creating the illusion of her having deep craters in her body.
17. United Kingdom - The Shadows / Let Me Be The One
Not a bad song in its own right - I used to like this one quite a bit back in the day - but I can't stand the lazy performance. Close to somnambulant UK performers who don't give a toss and yet get showered in points are not my cup of tea.
16. Malta - Renato / Singing This Song
The reversed case from the UK: a very energetic and zealous performance of a pretty weak song. I prefer it that way around but before it's over I turn all grumpy Finn on everyone and wonder what on earth they are all so happy about.
15. Portugal - Duarte Mendes / Madrugada
The Portuguese were so pleased with their revolution, they decided to write a song about it. In fact, they would keep writing songs about it for a few years. This is nice and melodic and likeable, but never left much of an impression on me (while great friends of mine claim this is Portugal's best entry of all time.)
14. Spain - Sergio & Estíbaliz / Tú volverás
Every time this one starts, I like it but then it feels like it goes on for five or six minutes. They stand there and sing and sing and sing without anything much happening. Pleasant but forgettable and clearly the weakest song Juan Carlos Calderón ever wrote for the ESC.
13. Israel - Shlomo Artzi / At va' ani
Another one I'd like to like more than I do. Shlomo has an intriguing presence, shy but intense, and he sings with passion and conviction, but the song feels like a promising demo version in need of development but never quite finished.
12. Sweden - Lars Berghagen / Jennie Jennie
I like this one a great deal, really, but some songs should stay in their own language even if you're allowed to perform in English. The clumsy, direct translation takes every single emotion of the original and stomps on them with its trendy platform shoes.
11. Finland - Pihasoittajat / Old Man Fiddle
I like also this one more than you'd suspect from it's place in the ranking. I enjoy the true musicianship, the violin and the commitment of bringing less commercial music into this contest, otherwise hugged by greedy record companies. But this is also a tv show - your audience can actually see you - and the zero effort for presentation takes this one down a notch or two.
10. Switzerland - Simone Drexel / Mikado
Catchy, nice, pleasant. An impressing effort by a 17-year old songwriter, I must say. Maybe it didn't age terrifically well, but the chorus always gets me to sing along.
9. Yugoslavia - Pepel in Kri / Dan ljubezni
The last song in Slovenian to be heard at Eurovision before the country re-appeared as an independent state has grown into a real evergreen on home ground. Understandable with it's excellent singalong qualities, but I'm always missing a final je-ne-sais-quoi in this package.
8. Monaco - Sophie / Une chanson c'est une lettre
I'm so easy, as Juliana Pasha would say. Wave a dramatic ballad in French at me and I will surrender at once. Too bad that the chorus doesn't quite live up to the promise of the explosively emotional verses, but Sophie handles both of them with ease.
7. Luxembourg - Geraldine / Toi
If this was the Eurovision Overblown Accent Contest, Geraldine would win by a mile over other strong contenders like Ireen Sheer or even Baccara, but I just love her for it. Her song is also a weird mishmash that starts out as ballad before putting on its best boots and start marching off to Tipperary. Strange and confusing but most loveable all the same.
6. Turkey - Semiha Yankı / Seninle bir dakika
Turkey's debut was an emotional and heartfelt ballad that only the Monegasque jury bothered to award any points at all to. Semiha is really giving it her all and this is an altogether lovely song that would have deserved so much more. However, I like the preview version better. The new arrangement for the final makes the whole thing feel heavier and more overblown than it needs to be.
5. Germany - Joy Fleming / Ein Lied kann eine Brücke sein
Rainer Pietsch kick-starts the orchestra and Joy Fleming erupts like a tropical storm and the ESC never knew what hit it. One of the most soulful efforts of all time and one you're unlikely to forget. Had they toned down the volume just a bit, maybe there would have been more points. But then again, it would be less memorable.
4. Belgium - Ann Christy / Gelukkig zijn
Another stunning song that was totally overlooked by the juries. I loved this one from the word go, with it's lovely instrumental opening, through the soft verse and the big chorus. Ann Christy was also a magnificent performer and even if she was unhappy about the change of language midway through the song, it doesn't bother me much. A classic.
3. Netherlands - Teach-In / Ding-A-Dong
It takes skill and craftsmanship to write and short and snappy little song about nothing and still make it feel meaningful. The original lyrics actually mean something but unlike Sweden's Lars Berghagen, the Dutch threw it all overboard when translating the song into English. It means very little but sounds fantastic and is delivered in a most convincing way.
2. France - Nicole Rieu / Et bonjour à toi, l'artiste
See what I wrote about Monaco and guess what a song like this will push me into. This isn't even particularly dramatic, more understated and minimalist, perfectly performed by a very sensitive singer. One of the best French non-winners of all time.
1. Italy - Wess & Dori Ghezzi / Era
I heard this one on the radio when I was perhaps eleven or twelve and was almost literally knocked over and nothing has changed since. One of the most intriguing ESC entries I know, direct and enigmatic at the same time, too much and yet tasteful. My winner.
Wess & Dori Ghezzi - Era (Italy 1975)