Lugano, 1956. Time and place when all the magic began. Well, not exactly the magic as we know it. And whether it was really magical we’ll never know as there is no visual record of little baby Eurovision Song Contest’s very first cry. Nor is there any proof (at least not any that’s been made public for all to judge) that the eventual winner was in fact the right one. But then again, is there ever a ‘right’ winner?
Writing a review about those first years is quite difficult as pop music hadn’t been born yet and the wide variety in styles we know today would only start to develop at least a decade after someone had the brilliant idea of launching a pan-european music show to showcase local talents. To properly judge the songs in the late 50’s and 60’s is in other words a near mission impossible, especially those from 1956 which only exist in audio form. I’ll be giving you a top ten but will only review my top three those first years until I feel comfortable enough to put together a proper review.
Still, listening to those first songs it’s funny to hear one of thé trademarks of ESC already pop up: the imitating or (re)creating of sounds. No Ding-a-dong or Abanibi yet, but a simple bird whistle (Netherlands) or the banging of church bells (Belgium). Sadly that’s the only remarkable thing to say about an otherwise outdated and uninspiring bunch with the exception perhaps of the song which I have as my personal number one… So here’s my modest top ten:
1 point: Belgium 1
2 points: Italy 2
3 points: Luxembourg 2
4 points: Switzerland 1
5 points: Germany 2
6 points: Belgium 2
7 points: France 2
8 points: Italy 1 – Aprite le finestre
A song I’d brand as sounding typically Italian, something you’d expect from the San Remo school of melodic, fresh and captivating songs. Not exactly Fiumi Di Parole of course, but it sounds like spring and I quite like it.
10 points: Netherlands 2 – Voorgoed voorbij
Perhaps, being from the Dutch speaking part of Belgium, it helps to understand the lyrics or perhaps it’s just local Diva Of Those Early Years miss Brokken’s delivery but this should’ve shown Refrain its heels by a long run. Which would have spared us a series of appearances by Miss Assia in the following decades. Gah!
12 points: Luxembourg 2 – Ne crois pas
Now this I like. Not too long, like many of the other contenders, and with a nice haunting melody that with a contemporary production could stand the test of time. Performed in the proper way this should have brought home the trophee to the country that most probably was responsible for Switzerland’s victory in the first place (Luxembourg placed used two Swiss judges as they barely could afford to participate in the first place). Shame!
The only way is up, right?!