Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Tobson takes on 1995
In all fairness, I had a feeling already back then that this edition would perhaps not come to stand out as one of the strongest ever, but I still made a fair effort to really like the songs and the final in itself.
There was good reason to try to stay in good spirits. Despite the anniversary, interest was low from many broadcasters and you could almost sense the risk that somebody would get vocal and openly suggest that the contest would be scrapped altogether.
What talked against anything like that happening was the fact that the UK had made a close-to-heroic effort to breathe new life into their national final and seemed determined to keep the show on the road. Sweden's entry had become the biggest hit back home for several years and the new broadcasters seemed very keen to keep participating.
In the next two years the wind was about to turn and more countries would start making more visible efforts again. But what about the songs of 1995? This is how I rank them twenty years on.
23. Belgium - Frédéric Etherlinck / La voix est libre
A cool voice and a cool presence are completely wasted on a song that best can be described as a completely washed-out Patrick Bruel-reject.
22. Portugal - Tó Cruz / Baunilha e chocolate
This could have been a good entry with a bit of an effort - there is a good hook that shows up now and then and the gospel approach is welcome - but it just never takes off. It builds up and builds up but never reaches any climax and then suddenly ends.
21. Hungary - Csaba Szigeti / Új név a régi ház falán
Just like Portugal, this one is almost good but fails big time in its construction. When the chorus finally arrives after a long dull verse - it takes far too long - nobody cares anymore and already started hoping for the next song.
20. Iceland - Bo Halldórsson / Núna
What all the songs at the bottom of my list have in common is a concentrate of the big problem with the Eurovision Song Contest in the mid-90's: had anyone just bothered to add some temper and a little bit of endeavour it could all have been so much better. This one is slick but lacks any passion to make it come alive.
19. Ireland - Eddie Friel / Dreaming
Nice but far too old-fashioned and also lacking in visible conviction: the performer and his backing singers all sing like they did it in their sleep without adding any personality to the song.
18. Germany - Stone & Stone / Verliebt in dich
A fresh attempt at more modern music, completely wrecked by an inexplicably shaky performance. These people apparently had contacts within the music business, why insist on singing it yourself (when you can't)?
17. Bosnia-Herzegovina - Davorin Popovic / Dvadeset i prvi vijek
A pleasant little jazz ditty, performed by a seasoned performer who got his Eurovision trip as a gift from the local tv company. A nicer touch would have been setting him up with a stronger entry - now he agreed with most that the selected entry wouldn't stand much of a chance anywhere.
16. Russia - Philipp Kirkorov / Kolibelnaya dlya vulkana
Packed with the action and drama and conviction most of the earlier songs in the list lacked. Had all of this been paired with a slightly more user-friendly entry it could have carried way further than this.
15. Malta - Mike Spiteri / Keep Me In Mind
It means well, this song. It wants to be an emotional rocker but isn't much more than a standard ballad that also comes to a very abrupt end. Good voice but not too engaging.
14. Israel - Liora / Amen
Felt much better back then, but turned out to be nothing but one last shout from the once so successful Israeli formula of the 80's. Today it is still nice but falls in the deep shadow of greater songs like "Hi", "Olé Olé" and "Hallelujah".
13. United Kingdom - Love City Groove / Love City Groove
I would love to rank this one higher and give an extra point for the effort - but this first true rap entry in the history of the contest didn't age particularly well. Time not only sank its teeth into this one but totally ground it down to nothing of what is once was. And the orchestra does nothing to help.
12. Austria - Stella Jones / Die Welt dreht sich verkehrt
In a year as full of half-hearted ballads as 1995 was, a song like Austria's is sure to liven things up a great deal. Bouncy and fun even if not quite as sensational as the people on stage would like us to think it is.
11. France - Nathalie Santamaria / Il me donne rendez-vous
One of my top favourites back then is given a very energetic performance but would have needed more colour to break through. Why is everyone dressed in black? Later on in life I also realised that the song is little more than a re-write of early Patricia Kaas hits - most notably "Mon mec à moi" - by the same writing team.
10. Norway - Secret Garden / Nocturne
A beautiful instrumental tune with strings and whistles and a key fiddle was really right in time during these days of an expanding market for new age-music. Original enough to convince the juries, but I would have enjoyed its victory more had there been a chorus.
9. Slovenia - Darja Švajger / Prisluhni mi
Classy and well sung - very much like Darja's second entry reminiscent of a number of good Bond themes - but ultimately relying a bit too heavily on its impressive vocal performance.
8. Sweden - Jan Johansen / Se på mig
A fine pop ballad in a suggestive arrangement that I would possibly have liked that little bit more now hadn't it been a huge summer hit played everywhere until you felt no greater need to listen to it any time soon again.
7. Greece - Elina Konstantoupoulou / Pia prosefchi
Clean-cut and elegant, haunting and convincing, beautifully performed.
6. Croatia - Magazin & Lidija / Nostalgija
There hadn't been an awful lot of opera singers at Eurovision for a few years when this mix of opera and schlager hit my ears. A pretty large dose of kitsch, but all of that is forgotten every time they reach the adorable chorus.
5. Turkey - Arze Ece / Sev!
It's a bit of a complicated ride, this one. At least people tell me so, that they find it hard to find any kind of handle here. I just love Arzu Ece, so it all falls into place. And the song is cute too.
4. Cyprus - Alex Panayi / Sti fotia
The closest you would get to real pyrotechnics before those came into use: every inch of this performance is vibrating and pulsating. In a year deeply lacking in dynamics it is a mystery that this one didn't to better.
3. Denmark - Aud Wilken / Fra Mols til Skagen
An impopular choice on home ground that made little impact on the Danish charts back then. An almost hypnotic entry, sensually whispered between the banjo and xylophone parts. Phenomenal.
2. Spain - Anabel Conde / Vuelve conmigo
A real power ballad, cleverly constructed and building into a big finish that almost reaches the strength of a tropical storm. Too bad that Anabel's career never lived up to the promise of this song, but it still is one to cherish.
1. Poland - Justyna / Sama
The masterpiece of the year opened the contest and scared the juries stiff. Described by somebody as "a Björk record played in reverse", complete with deep lyrics and notes almost impossible to hit. Took some time to break into but by quite some margin the song that means the most to me out of all the songs on offer in 1995.
Justyna - Sama (Poland 1995)