Eurovision Review – 1974: Viva la revolución!

Posted: 13/10/2011 in Eurovision Song Contest Reviews

Quite the statement, especially with thàt logo, but not to worry: I’m keeping it peaceful (enough). I’m rather talking about the revolutionary changes we’re witnessing in Eurovision – all for the better as of yet, so all lights are green! Not a statement I’d use for every contestant to grace the stage in Brighton though, and certainly NOT for the juries on duty that night!

After watching and judging the contest I went to check the actual result and to my surprise my top 17 is almost the opposite! Am I not sufficiantly getting into the spirit of the ’70s or were the judges deaf (and blind)? As usual? They just can’t seem to get enough of childish rhymes, bombastic refrains and a thousand lala’s, can they? Makes me itchy.

Take the likes of the UK for instance. Yohanna‘s mother, nay Sandie, nay Xanadu, nay Olivia Newton-John ‘treats’ us to the umpth hoempapa schlager and by the time she gets to her “Glory Hallelujah” I’m about ready to throw my plate of carefully sorted M&M’s at the tv. Legend has it she wasn’t too thrilled about it either. Why not withdraw then so you won’t get associated with this piece of manure? Awful. UK tied for fourth place with two other atrocities from Luxembourg and Monaco. Irene Sheer has the worst French accent ever and turns a funny song into something ridiculous, while Romuald gives us a snore that wouldn’t even get the senior folks aboard the Love Boat excited. The title (The one who stays and the one who leaves) alone was enough to shoot it.
Surprised to see the Netherlands do as well as they did: I have them in my top 3 as well, but in reverse order. It’s just another circus tune and the caveman really does not lift my mood. The organ at the start either. Though the organ sounded better than one of the Spanish backing singers, who shouts an okay song into ruins. Like nails on a blackboard. And Greece’s first attempt was a rather uneventful one, with a charmless singer in a charmless outfit with the blandest backing singers EVER.

That needed to get out of my system! Now it seems like I did not care for 1974 at all, but it’s quite the opposite really. I loved the impressive staging of it all (are you reading this, Luxembourg? Thank God you didn’t host twice in a row!), again wonderful work by the BBC, and the lovely Katie Boyle just makes me melt. Luckily she kept her hands in a tactical place, otherwise half of straight Europe would have shared my sentiment. Though she does slightly resemble our Queen Fabiola. I have my reservations about the Wombles, but we got a clown in 1973 and from there the only way is definitely up. A shame to see France drop out after Pompidou’s death by the way, might have been a nice counterweight for all those terrible songs in French.

So let’s see who survived the scrutiny! Here are the points of the Dimivision jury:

1 point: Belgium – Fleur de liberté

Our own Jacques Hustin had appearantly only just recovered from the flu and it shows. He’s almost as pale as his song and both could have done with a bit more spice. Not too fond of the grand gestures, makes it all a bit desperate. Love the backings in the chorus (well, I had to say something positive now).

2 points: Germany – Die Sommermelodie

Like many of its competitors (Switzerland, Monaco ao.) the German song suffers from a clash between interesting verses and an utterly flat and boring chorus. I suspect Bert of not being entirely sober, but I wouldn’t be either with that suit and that song. Top ten by default really.

3 points: Ireland – Cross your heart

The local Micha Marah in a bit of a sleasy dress and quite the camp state. I don’t really believe the rumours of Tina Reynolds not being able to remember the lyrics as it’s really simplistic and full of cliché, topped off with a bunch of lala’s. I love her outgoing performance, full of gusto and it surprises me how much this sounds like the UK entry and yet manages to be alive and catchy. But too childish nonetheless.

4 points: Israel – Natati la khalai

Time for the good stuff then, finally, and first up are the Kibbutz-fresh boys from Poogy. Poogy?! Poogy. OK. John Lennon‘s brother and his companions have got a hypnotizing song instore for us which sounds très Israel yet modestly modern and above all lovely melodic. Too bad it’s not the Eurolisten Contest, is it?

5 points: Norway – The first day of love

Yay, the Bendik Singers are back! Ow wait, they’re only supporting? Anna Karine leaves her three companions behind to take the spotlight alone and does so splendidly, but it’s a bit like Agnetha asking the other A and the double B to take a step back in her favour. That said I do like the flow of the verses and the power of the chorus. Musically, because the lyrics are a bit too flower power for me. An odd composition, but at least it’s intriguing.

6 points: Portugal – E depois do adeus

I’m in love! Not with Paulo de Cavalho but with his voice: so smooth and rich, it delicious! I find it a staggering fact that this song actually was the starting point of a real revolution (see what I did there?) in Portugal, though a closer look at the lyrics make it less of a surprise. I’m in love with the musical build-up as well, but let down again by the uncomfortable ending – the symptoms of a song that originally lasted longer and was cut down to the obligatory 3 minutes. But awesome anyhow.

7 points: Italy – Si(iiiiiiii)

My my, didn’t we grow up well? Despite the obvious nerves Gigliola Cinquetti comes across rather slick and classy. I adore the way she sings in the atmospheric bits, but not too crazy about the parlando bits where the nerves take over. I like the orchestration but the build-up prevents it from being what it could have been: genius. All in all very…Italian I’d say.

8 points: Yugoslavia – Genercija 42

After a first fragile verse this develops into something unexpected and very interesting. Korni, is it a parodi?, keeps going strong and gives us a song that’s drenched in the nation’s history but is at the same time musically relevant. Love the spacey effects and the low bits. And the latter does NOT mean certain things that were meant to remain hidden in those outfits… Dramatic and lovely.

10 points: Finland – Keep me warm

I should slap Carita‘s face to the Shire and back again. You’ve got a lovely song with a great build-up, a warm atmosphere and a swift disco feel in the chorus and then you go and sit at a piano? Sense it does not make. But she sings superbly and this does indeed keep me warm, with a touch of Carpenters. There are worse references I’d say.

12 points: Sweden – Waterloo

Now we’ve all seen and heard this a gazillion times BUT I have to say after seeing all contests chronologically this really is revolutionary. It’s a tight package, thought through from first to last note and served as hot as it’s supposed to be. Some fragile notes there in the middle bit but they do a splendid job, especially Monchichi Bjorn at the backings. Sure they have a bunch of songs that outshine this one, but I’m trying to ignore them as they don’t exist yet in this simulated timeline and judge this on its own merits. Which makes it a logical douze.

Only one serious contender for the wooden spoon really: United Kingdom of course!

This gives us the following evolution in my all time top 10, where all countries now have at least one victory in the bag:

1             Netherlands 104 (1970 – 1971)
2             United Kingdom  83 (1961 – 1965)
3             Italy 80 (1958 – 1964)
4             France 79 (1960)
5             Belgium 77 (1968)
6             Sweden 74 (1974)
7             Luxembourg 71 (1956 – 1967)
8             Finland 66 (1962)
9             Spain 62 (1973)
10           Germany 58 (1959)

Now it’s about time for som REAL douze points, non?

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