A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
There is always some matter to discuss or just a song I want to share
Very welcome - I hope you'll like it here!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Tobson takes on 1979

Being a eurovision host could be demanding back in the day. Israeli television had not yet switched to colour - and was reluctant to do so for political reasons - but were now required to produce a state-of-the-art tv event in full colour.

Which they did quite splendidly. The stage set was minimalist yet very impressive and the postcards between the songs - where actors carried out mime performances to evoke something typical about the upcoming country - were seen as very ingenious.

The big question mark for me is of course how the Turkish entry would have scored had TRT not decided to pull out of the competition at a late date. My guess is it would have stayed in the lower regions of the result, but you can never be too sure about anything.

The general standard of songs is high, which makes this ranking hard. Many songs I like will still end up lower than expected in this list, often marred by substandard performances.

19. Monaco - Laurent Vaguener / Notre vie c'est la musique
A very easy last place to spot. If this was the best thing Monaco could find, I'm not surprised to see them drop out of the contest for the following 25 years. A really weak rocker paired with an out-of-breath performance from a singer that can't sing. Vaguener later said the entire entry was a disaster and I can only nod my head and agree. One of the worst ever.
Grade: 0/5

18. United Kingdom - Black Lace / Mary-Ann
AllMusic called Black Lace the band with the least street credibility in the world and I won't argue with that description. Five years before inflicting "Agadoo" on the world, they did their worst to look and sound like Smokie, in particular like their hit single "Oh Carol". Not much by any standard.
Grade: 1/5

17. Ireland - Cathal Dunne / Happy Man
Very much your typical Irish entry - a soft and harmless male ballad. Pleasant. Won't disturb you. Doesn't hurt. But doesn't contribute a whole lot to the world either.
Grade: 1/5

16. Switzerland - Peter, Sue & Marc with Pfuri, Gorps & Kniri / Trödler und co
Possibly the longest group name in the history of the contest. This is a cheerful and upbeat little song with a silly but likeable performance. Nice but not enough to stand a chance in this lineup.
Grade: 2/5

15. Luxembourg - Jeane Manson / J'ai déjà vu ça dans tes yeux
An almost perfect attempt at a glamorous, expensive and luxurious soul ballad - the only problem is that it never fully takes off. Later it transpired the song had been released on record already back in 1967 with different lyrics and would most probably have been disqualified had it won.
Grade: 2/5

14. Israel - Milk & Honey / Hallelujah
The ultimate proof that some songs just won't stand the test of time. Very happy, very likeable. But I never feel the need to listen to this one. Alongside "Ein bisschen Frieden" one of the winners I care the least for while still acknowledging them to be good songs.
Grade: 2/5

13. Denmark - Tommy Seebach / Disco Tango
A good song suffering from an almost painfully miscalculated performance. A dance song with nobody dancing, with the possible exception of Debbie Cameron doing her thing among the backing singers. Could have been fantastic with a different staging.
Grade: 2/5

12. Belgium - Micha Marah / Hey Nanah
A very bouncy song that the performer herself famously hated and tried her best to avoid singing. I disagree both with her and the juries placing this one last - it always gets me in a good mood and has me singing along in bad Dutch.
Grade: 3/5

11. Netherlands - Xandra / Colorado
When there was no free choice of language, titles like this one were pretty common and people sang about anything that sounded "international" and "understandable". This is another song that is close to perfect in its studio version only to fall apart in a slightly chaotic live performance.
Grade: 3/5

10. Austria - Christina Simon / Heute in Jerusalem
ORF used to have a thing about selecting entries that would stand out and bring something musically different to the contest. I never paid off but some of those entries are really classy and lovely little songs. This one was too slow and too pretentious and was never anything but shark feed but if you take your time to fully listen it is quite a gem.
Grade: 3/5

9. Greece - Elpida / Socrates
A good song but I can't really put my finger on where it goes wrong in the live version. The orchestral arrangement feels clumsy and the singers seem to have problems to keep up with the rhythm.
Grade: 3/5

8. Italy - Matia Bazar / Raggio di luna
Quirky and personable, performed by an established act, and yet totally overlooked by the jury for no apparent reason. Maybe too low-key to stand out from the rest, but had the jury set out to reward original entries this one should have done a lot better.
Grade: 3/5

7. Norway - Anita Skorgan / Oliver
The studio version has a very polished, contemporary sound that the orchestra completely fails to reproduce and the backing singers may seem louder than what is called for, but this is still a good song - and who wouldn't love Anita Skorgan?
Grade: 3/5

6. Portugal - Manuela Bravo / Sobe, sobe, balão sobe
As a composition, this is pretty odd in its construction with it's long verse and then an ever-repeating chorus. But what does it matter when Manuela sells it this well? Catchy and energetic as well as a really good opener.
Grade: 3/5

5. Sweden - Ted Gärdestad / Satellit
Like several others I have mentioned, the Swedish entry would have needed a more solid stage performance and what is a very powerful studio version is reduced to something considerably smaller live. But why this one flunked so mercilessly in the voting, I'll never fully understand. Catchy and altogether pretty adorable.
Grade: 3/5

4. Finland - Katri Helena / Katson sineen taivaan
Finland's finest Katri Helena brought along dramatic strings, a suggestive verse and gave a really convincing vocal performance.
Grade: 4/5

3. Spain - Betty Missiego / Sú canción
So perhaps I'm just a sentimental fool. In theory, I find this too polite, too calculated, too sugary sweet and then there is the old trick with the kids doing the backing vocals. And yet it gets me every time. Most convincing and very easy to find yourself humming along to.
Grade: 4/5

2. Germany - Dschinghis Khan / Dschinghis Khan
This is the one time when Ralph Siegel really worked his magic and got every piece to fall into place. A crazily effective hook, perfect visuals, perfect staging and a song most people will have ringing in their heads for a long time after hearing it. A real classic.
Grade: 4/5

1. France - Anne-Marie David / Je suis l'enfant soleil
Again my favourite is the dramatic French ballad. It has a haunting melody, it tells a dramatic story and it has Anne-Marie David. What is there not to love? How could this not be my number one? Not the strongest big ballad of all time but my personal winner of 1979.
Grade: 4/5

Anne-Marie David - Je suis l'enfant soleil (France 1979)

1 comment:

  1. Cannot say much else than the 1979 is in the top five Eurovision years for me. It might be for nostalgic reasons, this is one of the first ones I remember watching, but that is not all. A string of wonderful entries and one of the years that in my opinion used well the orchestra. Several songs sound to me better live than they do on record.

    Pleas, continue make these year reviews. I love them.