Thanks to the illustre mr. Tom Pillibi the Contest returned to the glamour soaked Cannes, again hosted by the charming Jacqueline Joubert. A promising prospect as the first edition in the French metropole was the one that stood out those first years, and with the new family members Spain, Yugoslavia and Finland things promised to shift up a gear. Finally.
A promise is a promise and both Spain and Finland made a very good first impression. Spain got to open the show with the vibrant Conchita Bautista who immediately spiced things up. About bloody time too! Finland on the other hand went for a slightly more traditional sound with a swoony vibe, slick! Only Yugoslavia missed the mark with an uneventful bore of a song that even the charming Ljiljana Petrovic could not save.
Some of the other countries got stuck in the same old recipes from the years before and sent either very boring ballads (Austria, Denmark, Belgium with the insufferable Bob Benny) or cuddly childish songs (Monaco, France). Sweden gave us the fabulous Lill-Babs, who tried to win over the dark hearts of the European juries with a smile, wink and whistle and failed miserably. Quite the opposite of the German entrant who sounded like an old woman and probably had the same kind of target audience for her old school ballad.
Winner Jean-Claude Pascal pulled a Celine and represented the tiny Luxembourg instead of home country France with the quirky ‘Nous les amoureux‘. Did I hear the word imbéciles there? Edgy! Combined with an upbeat performance like that you get a long way obviously. Not the best one of the evening but I can see why it won.
All in all a year of contrasts, with the balance tilting the right way. It’s good to see and hear some diversity and quite a bit of relevance to the music scene back then. So let’s take a look at my top ten:
1 point: Italy
2 points: Switzerland
3 points: Netherlands
4 points: Sweden
5 points: Monaco
6 points: Luxembourg
7 points: Finland
8 points: Norway – Sommer i Palma
Not a very accessible song I’d say, with a dark atmosphere glooming beyond the Eurovision glitter. A touch of drama, topped of with a pair of dimilicious long gloves. Not the most catchy song of the bunch, but intriguing enough!
10 points: Spain – Estando contigo
The southern belle will appear to be one of my less favourite countries in the long run, but this debut is one to salute. With the right amount of seasoning this sets the mood for a fab night and is really a couple of years ahead of the trends. Lovely.
12 points: United Kingdom – Are you sure?
Usually I see the fact that the UK had such an advantage singing in English as a negative point as it made them lazy in choosing the right songs, but in 1961 the Brits were spot on with this happy little ditty. Simple but effective, and as a sucker for vocal harmonies I had no choice but to put this first. Another plus: it’s incredibly short and thus does not ask too much of my impatience. Well done!
1 Netherlands 41
2 Italy 35
3 United Kingdom 33
4 France 30
5 Luxembourg 30
6 Germany 27
7 Denmark 26
8 Switzerland 26
9 Sweden 24
10 Monaco 18
Curious to see what 1962 will bring!