A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Thursday, August 4, 2011

A tribute to Nella

One of my favourite eurovision personalities are no longer with us as Nella Martinetti lost her battle after years of illness.

Bella Nella never got to represent Switzerland as a singer, but wrote the lyrics for four Swiss entries (three of which made top five).

Peter, Sue & Marc - Io senza te (Switzerland 1981)

Mariella Farré - Io così no ci sto (Switzerland 1983)

Daniela Simons - Pas pour moi (Switzerland 1986)

Céline Dion - Ne partez pas sans moi (Switzerland 1988)

A very nice set of songs on placings, ending in Switzerland's last victory to date. Now that must have been enough for any songwriter to gain lasting respect and appreciation, one would think.

But no, sadly not. Not when you are a rounded and robust little woman with a faiblesse for German schlager and volksmusik, which was what Nella performed herself.

She even won the Grand Prix der Volksmusik in 1986 with the bouncy little number Bella Musica and she mainly sung catchy little numbers like this one:

Nella Martinetti - Forte fortissimo

Universally, for some reason, female performers doing lightweight music seem bound to attract ridicule. Nella was no exception. Her outgoing personality paired with an unfortunate ability to tell the press a bit more than they needed to know about her private life turned her from award-winning singer and composer into a laughing stock.

In recent years she stated in interviews that she knew all of Switzerland was laughing at her, adding that she has cried more than laughed during her life.

The question I ask myself is why the world of showbiz has to be like this. Male singers can go on performing, doing their same act far longer than is appropriate without losing their fans. Female singers get laughed at.

I can't help feeling that the world could have been a whole lot nicer to Nella. As for her music, love it or loathe it, but as a performer it is obvious that she just wanted to amuse her audience.

I wish they would have had the wit to laugh with her, not at her.

Nella Martinetti - Bella Musica


  1. Lovely Nella sang in german and wrote songs in both french and italian. Peter Sue & Marc used all the three main languages and so did Lys Assia. Paola del Medico used german and french, and Mariella Farré sang her Eurovision entries in italian and german. I cannot remember others, but there might be others.

    It seems that it is much easier to the Swiss to cross over the language barrier than, say, the Belgians, who are either Walloon (french) or Flemish (dutch), never both (Stella was the Eurovision exception). You are more familiar with the European schlager scene, do you agree?


  2. Also Tonia (1966) was Flemish but sang in French, and Urban Trad had members from both northern and southern Belgium.

    But yes, it seems much harder to break the language barrier in Belgium than, say, Switzerland, Former Yugoslavia or Finland.

    My theory is that Belgium is the only country using a clear language division in the ESC, while the national finals of other multilingual countries have always been open. Peter Sue & Marc could try their luck in any language they wanted (or where they felt their song would have better possibilities of getting chosen).

  3. I have lived briefly in Belgium in the mid 1990:s. The language barrier was, and I guess still is, so huge, that you can feel it even if you cross the language border by train.

    Even at Brussels international airport (situated in Zaventhem, outside the officially bilingual capital area) the official information signs at the train station are strictly in dutch.

    The Brussels itself seems to be the only place in that small country where it does not matter which language you use.

    I haven't been much to Switzerland, but I gather the language is not such a big deal there. Even in Eurovision they've had more songs in french or italian than in german, even if the latter is much widely spoken. They seem to have realised, subconsciously perhaps, that songs in french or italian go home better with the European audience.

    For Belgium the language is a political question, which separates more than unifies. Sadly.