We’re slightly crawling towards the modern age and it’s reflected in this flowery powery version of the Contest. Although the opening organ version of the traditional Te Deum almost had us fooled, resembling the wedding scene from The Sound Of Music. Thank Goddess it wasn’t an omen.
With a stage bigger than your average handkerchief, leaving room for backing singers and some spontaneous movements, this finally starts to look like an influential international event rather than a local talent show.
Only sixteen countries took to effort to show up (little did they know a staggering 25% of them would win…) but quality luckily triumphed over quantity this time.
That did not fly for all participants of course, let’s keep it real now. The two that bothered me most were quite comparable as they are both women with an, get ready for my pet peeve, annoying childish song. The Norwegian Kirsti Sparboe had unsuccesfully tried the same formula before and radically went for a clown-like version this time in both appearance and sound. Awful. British Luluwent further down the path the Brits had chosen two years before and suffered the same fate as Cliff and Sandie: being a competent performer and getting stuck with a fluff of a song. I like the orchestration of it, but that’s about the only plus I can come up with. And while others may find the ‘olé’ at the end endearing I think it’s stupid and artificial. To quote the brilliant Little Britain (…): I don’t like it. Just in case you didn’t catch that.
An honorable mention goes to two songs that fall just outside my top ten. I fancied Germany’s Primaballerina despite its outdated sound because I liked the tongue-in-cheeck flavour Siw Malmkvist brought to it, and Luxembourgs Cathérine made me laugh only because they got the title to rhyme with ‘tartines’ which is just too silly to pass. Romuald did mix up ‘vous’ and ‘tu/toi’ which is a total no-no in my book.
That said, let’s get on with the top ten of this rather fantastic year shall we? These are the points of the Dimivision jury! Only one winner in this list, mind!
1 point: Switzerland – Bonjour, Bonjour
At one point I expect Paola to burst into Can’t take my eyes off you at the end of her verse but no such luck. Her happy little song could have been more powerful with a more competent performer, I feel she’s really too sweet to make an impact. I know the juries thought otherwise, but when were they ever right. Right?
2 points: Spain – Vivo cantando
First off, I don’t think the combination of the demure start and the passionate follow-through is a good one. That said I like both of them, and Salomé definitely can perform. Towards the end of the song it’s all too much chaos for me, and I’m not convinced by the colour of her voice, but I can see why she charmed so many jurors. Unlike Lulu.
3 points: Sweden – Judy, min vän
A young Tommy Körberg does a great job with this Beatles style song, I particularly love the bridges between chorus and verse. The orchestra gives it a nice boost as well, and it’s only because I think it’s a tad too demure it’s my number 8. Boyfriend’s favourite (read: the only one he actually deemed worthy to listen to again).
4 points: Netherlands – De Troubadour
Now, growing up this was one of my favourites amongst those early day winners. But something doesn’t float my boat in this live version. I keep thinking she skipped a part and used too many laila’s! Those laila’s disturb me for another reason: it’s ok to have one winner going for an obvious solution to the language problem, but enough is enough. Yet I still love the storytelling and the way her voice just takes you on a journey. Weird experience this.
5 points: Italy – Due grosse lacrime bianche
Just call my name, and I’ll be there! Mariah, are you there? Someone got their inspiration from this moving ballad, and with good reason. Iva Zanicchi does a fantastic job vocally but looks a bit uncomfortable which really doesn’t do the overall package any good. But fabulous nonetheless.
6 points: Monaco – Maman, maman
In a complete reverse of tactics versus competitors we get a child that sounds surprisingly grown up and trained! Thank God his song gives him something to work with and has got a nice flow to it. Love the old fashioned – nay, vintage – sound of the accordeon that sets the pace. I’m even willing to forgive him that fragile end note. Imagine!
7 points: Portugal – Desfolhada Portuguesa
The Drama, The Drama! As only the Portuguese know how to! A new flavour to the Eurovision cuisine and one I certainly can appreciate. I just feel it’s a tad too staged, I would love to believe Simone a tiny bit more. Can’t put my finger on it. But slightly tending towards brilliant, obviously.
8 points: Belgium – Jennifer Jennings
Now, being a real classic over here in Belgium, I obviously know this by heart – spastic gesture included. Heritage aside I genuinly think this is great, despite the bad balance between the loud orchestra and his vocals being too low in the sound mix. Louis Neefs did a splendid job in 1967 but really shines in this one and I could only wish for a voice like his. Again Belgium in my top three, I’m such a patriot!
10 points: France – Un jour, un enfant
I know I know, bad Dimi. But let’s be honest, the studio version is just miles better. The orchestration here is too bombastic and might be serving it’s purpose but I simply can’t forget the near perfect studio version. I’d have liked a slightly more understated performance as well, though Frida does a great job. So hard to please, I know…
12 points: Ireland – The wages of love
The prance at the beginning was enough for me to know I’d love this and I wasn’t wrong: sheer genius. I love the slightly faulty backings and I adore her bouncy cheerfulness. Muriel Day may appear to be an airhead but she’s really just giving her all, feeling the music in every fibre of her being which makes her look just silly from time to time. Which makes it all the more enjoyable of course. The chorus is not as strong as I’d like, but with a performance this fabulous that’s a detail soon forgotten. This basically screams Dimi.
The wooden spoon for the last place goes to the screamer with the funny backings from Yugoslavia.
Let’s see how this affects the overall top ten, shall we!
1 Netherlands 78
2 United Kingdom 69 (1961 – 1965)
3 France 65 (1960)
4 Italy 61 (1958 – 1964)
5 Belgium 60 (1968)
6 Luxembourg 56 (1956 – 1967)
7 Finland 54 (1962)
8 Sweden 48
9 Germany 47 (1959)
10 Spain 42
Bye bye Denmark, I don’t think we’ll see you in the top ten again! Now bring on the new decade, 1969 has given me brand new courage!