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.
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!
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.
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.
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 .
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?
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!