A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Friday, April 15, 2011

The five best winners ever... according to Tobson

For the people who know me, it will come as no surprise that I am hopelessly down with old, bombastic and dramatic eurosongs in French. And when I compile my all-time top five of winners, that the French dominate completely.

The most surprising and unpredictable thing about my list is that it includes six songs, not five. Silly, I know. But these six songs are so clearly above the rest of the winners in my list, it would be blasphemous not to include them all.

Sixth place:

Corinne Hermès - Si la vie est cadeau (Luxembourg 1983)

Wonderfully breezy, airy big ballad - the last winner representing this genre - in a great vocal delivery by Corinne Hermès. It wasn't a huge commercial success at the time and is a bit forgotten among winners these days. Which is ridiculous. Fantastic stuff!

Fifth place:

Séverine - Un banc, un arbre, une rue (Monaco 1971)

This is such a fantastic evergreen - a mega hit at the time, translated into most languages. In Finland, for instance, I'm sure more people think of this as a Finnish song rather than an ESC winner because the domestic version was so popular. Classic but not dated.

Fourth place:

Marie Myriam - L'oiseau et l'enfant (France 1977)

This could be a bit old-fashioned in the sense that it keeps growing on me and the older we both get, the more I love it. In my eyes, it keep unfolding and growing intro something bigger, better and more beautiful every time. Also this one made it big in various versions around the continent, and maybe nothing can be better praise than people thinking your song is their own.

Third place:

France Gall - Poupée de cire, poupée de son (Luxembourg 1965)

It is beyond me how a song written in 1965 can still sound so modern and up-to-date as this one. Shockingly modern at its time and the first song with a pop sound ever to win the ESC. Do not think we are not grateful! France herself has had a bit of a problem accepting this older part of her career, but I hope she also recognises what a fantastic song this is. The ever-growing number of cover versions of it just underlines how indestructible this masterpiece is. If you want to see the performance from Naples (impossible to imbed for some reason) it can be found here .

Second place:

Vicky Leandros - Après toi (Luxembourg 1972)

When the sun sets in Euroland, it is never to rise again. When the heart is broken, no glue can put the pieces back together. The emotion of this song is strong enough to knock down an elephant, and the performance by Vicky is almost frighteningly spot on. Surprisingly, and disappointingly, it works very badly in its English and German versions, where some silly lyricist made happy, cheerful lyrics for it. How do you ever come up with such a bad idea, when it is so clearly a song about heartbreak?

Number one:

Anne-Marie David - Tu te reconnaîtras (Luxembourg 1973)

What can I say? Every time I hear it, I am surprised at just how good it is. The powerful intro, the fantastic verse, the explosive chorus... And then the marvel of the piano bridge between the chorus back to the verse. I am totally blown away. Both by the song and by Anne-Marie. The best winner ever in my book, and very likely to stay at that number one spot for a long time to come.

Out of these six, all but one is produced in France ("Après toi" is a German production), and all of them won before I became an active follower of Eurovision.

Maybe I am a bit hard on the newer songs - there are many brilliant winners after 1983 as well - but they don't have the same magic and shine about them.

What are your favourite winners? Let me know by leaving a comment!


  1. I will come up with my top 5 (or six) winners later. However I cannot go without commenting the 1973 contest. This recording from 1973 brings out the problem of that contest from almost 40 years ago, of which the winner is particularly affected.

    Every time I watch the 1973 contest I am disappointed by the sound mix of the contest. A big orchestra is there, but you cannot hear a half of it. Only thing one hears are the percussion, the piano and the horns. Strings, that are so essential to many Eurovision ballads (not the least this one) cannot be heard at all, although they are there. This is the case of all the songs in 1973.

    For this reason I seldom watch the 1973 contest, the songs sound so harsh and "angry" because some luxembourg sound mixer forgot to turn up half of the knobs.

  2. As usual, I think you sum it up very well. Allthough I'm not a complete francophile when it comes to Eurovision I admit when it comes to winning, they do it flawlessly. I'll try to come up with a top 5, which is tricky since I never thought much about it. But I'll give it a shot here and now:

    1. "Si la vie est cadeau"
    Wonderful composition - the song has not one dull moment and yet it's not trying to be original or weird or anything. Corinne performs it excellently and (speaking of orchestras) my compliments to the wonderful orchestra of Dieter Reith! The best eurovision orchestra ever imo.

    2. "Tu te reconnaîtras"
    First heard it (and loved it) on nighttime radio in the 80s and while I have changed my mind about a lot of things since then this one still works for me, anytime. Allthough the sound mix in Luxembourg makes me furious too!

    3. "Pouppée de cire, pouppée de son"
    First saw and heard this in the Jacob Dahlin tv-show in 1989 and I was immediately caught. Not only by the song but also of France Gall's performance which starts out a bit out of tune, in a most wonderful way.

    4. "Diva"
    Not that I listen to it on my own a lot. But whenever it's played in a club it just sweaps the floor with everything else. The slow part towards the end is incredibly dull to say the least. I'll just pretend it's not there.

    5. "L'oiseau et l'enfant"
    I completely agree. It grows on you. Didn't think much of it when I first heard it but, unlike most, it constantly grows, it never fails. (And again a really good orchestra)

    Two honourary mentions:

    6. "Un premier amour"
    This is one of the first songs in the history of eurovision that I like. The 50s and early 60s are quite terrible musically but this one is an exception. Cool and smart.

    7. "Un banc, un arbre, une rue"
    Sums up the things one likes about French eurovision entries in a very good way.

    There you have it. Those are pretty much the only winners I considered.

  3. I agree with your choices, great songs each and every one of them and couple of them are in my top 10 list of best winners. My top 5 is, however, different. At the moment, that is, as my preferences change from day to day.

    5. Teach-in: Ding a dong
    Most people seem to put this on their 5 worst winners list, but to me this a best example of a catchy pop song in Eurovision. Skillfully crafted and well performed "ditty" works perfectly in Eurovision even though the lyrics are pure nonsense. I prefer listening to the dutch version of the song and pretend that the song has something worth while to say.

    4. Olsen brothers: Fly on the wings of love
    This one worked perfectly on the Stockholm stage which was helped by the beautiful background design that SVT provided for the song. Nice and positive. The Eurovision version is OK, but also in this case I prefer the original language version, which one hears not too often.

    3. Frida Boccara: Un jour un enfant
    Half of the points goes to the magnificent singer, who could raise any song to new heights. And this song does not need much raising, perfect piece with great lyrics.

    2. Jean-Claude Pascal: Nous les amoureux
    Another entry that combines perfect ingredients. Jean-Claude Pascal (who, I gather, never had the big carreer he should have) has a charming appearance that matches the charming voice and the Jacques Datin's song is taylor made for him. There are two recordings around that both have the same instrumental track, but different vocal track. Unfortunately the one you most often come across is the re-recording of the vocals (I assume it was done in 1981 when he appeared in Eurovision for the second time). The original and much rarer version is superior in every way.

    1. Isabelle Aubret: Un premier amour
    In contrast to the pompous arrangement of the 1961 winner, this song has much more laid back feeling. The subtle arrangement (I refer to the recorded version, which I prefer to the live version) gives room to Isabelle Aubrets soulful and sensual voice. The song is a major highlight of the rather dull 1962 contest, and in fact of the whole Eurovision history. This is my favourite winner, and my favourite of all the almost 1200 entries ever sung in the Eurovision.

    I doubt my list will change after this years contest. If you ever decided to blog about the bottom 5 of the winners, I'd love to give you my list.


  4. I know, I promised I'd comment at a more regular basis (http://tobsonineuroland.blogspot.gr/2011/04/songs-only-i-like-austria-1981.html#comment-form) but did not manage. Still, however, I am still here, and, hopefully, this time I'll keep to my promise.
    This is my list of my favourite esc winners-it really looks like I don't quite fancy what the juries or tele voters have awarded first place to!

    5. IRL 1993-In your eyes. I hadn't even considered it a worthy contender, as the preview left me untouched. And then I watched the show. Not an amazing song (same goes for Spain 1995), but WHAT A LIVE PERFORMANCE!
    4. BEL 1986-J' aime la vie. Only 14 at the time (not her, me!) I loved it when I saw the news on TV next day, as it was not broadcast on Greek telly live- due to the contest's coincidental date with the Orthodox Holy Saturday. Easter Sunday night it was on TV as a festive Easter show and I was carried away. Despite loving songs that year (Germany, Iceland and Switzerland) the charm of its young performer and the strings of the musical bridge still award this "little girl's song" a perfect 10! (plus, my trying to imitate Sandra Kim on the mirror while singing this song for days after, must have been something like a sexual awakening of the gay man I would later become :)
    3. LUXEMBURG 1983-Si la vie est cadeau. You have already commented on that, so I'll just agree!
    2. IRELAND 1980-What's another year. This has also to do with the performance. It took me years to digest why this has won in 1980 (back in the day I loved entries like Spain, Portugal, Austria, but looking back I can see why: the song was a true hit composition, lifted up by a stellar performance (one can almost feel the despair in his voice and see it in his eyes!)
    1. FRANCE 1977 - If someone still (at 42) enjoys a song after having become acquainted with it at the tender age of 5 (it was continuously being played as an instrumental break on Greek tv for years back then), then this must mean something for the merits of the particular song. When this took the form of Marie Myriam years later, while watching the video, it was love at fist sight! A worthy composition performed in perfection by a worthy winner!