After the brilliant 1976 edition the organisation of the Contest fell back into the capable hands of Auntie Beeb, who’d treat us without a shadow of a doubt to a wonderful show. That was at least the intention, but a couple of external and internal factors shattered that fluffy dream. Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!
With the lovely Yugoslavia withdrawing (pity!) and a never fulfilled participation intention from Tunisia (!!) we were down to 18 countries to appear at the Wembley Conference Center, quite an impressive location compared to previous destinations. The stage design was impressive as well, emphasising the round structure of the building and including a rotating platform to guarantee visual flexibility. The Brits couldn’t go full out on making an ineradicable impression however. First off there was the strike of the technical crew over at the BBC due to which the Contest had to be postponed, and when the time had finally arrived to go through with it some countries were not at all happy with the postcards the BBC had been preparing as the introduction for the various entries. We ended up having to look at a semi interested audience in between songs, très dynamic. But Murphy wasn’t harassing Auntie Beeb on an organisational level only…
Because half of the songs in the field are, and I consider my words carefully, absolute crap. On top of that we got some performers who were not at all on top of their game, if ever they were. I’m not even discussing the bleek Mary Poppins crew from Switzerland, but take Luxembourg: references to a well known children’s rhyme by a girl who never was, is and will be a singer and is completely outshone by her backing singers. Or Schmetterlinge – probably the ugliest translation for ‘butterflies’ on the planet – from Austria with the insanely ridiculous Boom Boom Boomerang, embodying everything which could be wrongly interpreted as very Eurovision but in fact is extremely far from it. We could discuss if the Austrian puppet theater is worse than the mouldy Spanish schlager (did Micky knit that sweater himself I wonder), the bland and instantly forgettable Norwegian hymn, the worst tribute ever (The Beatles would die in agony I bet, Sweden) or the well sung but outdated Dutch attempt (‘mal’ in Dutch means crazy which is an understatement in regards to that shower curtain of a dress), but we won’t. I’ll just finish my ranting by wondering (once again) why the UK managed to get to second place with an uneventful song that’s really really badly sung. Simply incomprehensible.
A disappointment all in all, and not an easy task to construct a top ten – but what has to be done has to be done 😉 Voici les points du jury Dimivision:
1 point: Greece – Mathema Solfège
Two songs for the price of one (again…) and they don’t really match sadly. I like the moody and almost poetic verses (although the translation doesn’t reveal the expected beauty) but I don’t feel the simplistic and haunty chorus. It’s a competent performance, just not my cup of tea. I do love that colour however!
2 points: Monaco – Une petite Française
I burst into laughing at the first shot with an overload of vaseline on the lens for some troubled effect. They must have bought in bulk and gave some to Michèle Torr to use for her smile. Again a battle of chorus vs verse here and I feel Michèle is going over the top in the verses that end up being too shouty. I feel the soft melancholy in the chorus works much better but is too simple, as are the lyrics. Not impressed, but not disgusted either.
3 points: Ireland – It’s nice to be in love again
I quivered with fear when I saw the name of The Swarbriggs again but at least they had the sense of involving two women this time, which they honour with the name Plus Two… Strange tactics if you ask me, as those two save the entire entry with their vocal abilities. The solo parts and close-ups almost make me want to press the fast forward button, but I quite fancy the parts where they go into harmony. Not the most modern entry however, in sound and in performance.
4 points: Italy – Libera
I nearly fell out of my seat when I saw this, having previously been familiar with Mia Martini only through her 1992 performance. What on earth happened to her? She looks great here and I can hardly believe it’s the same person with only 15 years in between! That said I detect a couple of things being wrong with this entry, and it’s actually all down to the combination of things: Martini sings superbly but her sound does not match the motown style of the song and neither does the poetic Italian language. I don’t think either does the other justice and this could have/should have turned out very differently to me.
5 points: Finland – Lapponia
Gotta love those Fins. Again we get something lovely silly with instrumentation that’s a bit out-of-the-box and a structure that’s unlike anything else in the field. Same could be said about Monica Aspelund really, who’s naturally high and is incredibly charming despite the odd choice here and there – the clapping for instance is just not ok and the high pitched note makes her sound like a kettle boiling water. But at least it stands out and has got the charm so many of its competitors lack.
6 points: Belgium – A million in one, two, three
I think it’s funny that the two exceptions to the reinstalled language rules resemble each other so much, all drenched in the disco sound that ruled the music scene in the 70’s. This one’s the weaker attempt with a choreography that’s a bit clumsy (although they claim to be anything but) and solo vocals by Bianca Maessen who’s clearly the weakest link in the Maessen clan. The male role in Dream Express is a bit unclear for me as well. But I like the fluffy atmosphere and at least it offers one clear concept. I do wonder what the close up of the female lower front side is about…
7 points: Portugal – Portugal no coração
I had to get used to this in the first minute, until I understood where they were going. This sort of ode to the homeland can quickly slide into Cheesy but I think this is really lovely and a lot of is it due to the incredible performance Os Amigos gives us. Set off by the warm sounds of Paulo de Carvalho the rest of the bunch does equally well and they pull offan amazing job. I especially like the one in red, and I don’t think this is an easy song to sing. A bit of Mocedades on speed for me, which I only mean as a great compliment. Lovely.
8 points: Israel – Ahava hi shir leshnayim
Ah, Barbra’s back for a second serving! Ilanit was very impressive in 1973 and hasn’t lost any of her feathers. No the most evident song in the bunch though, and certainly not the easiest title to remember. Not the best piece of self-marketing there. A modern interpretation of the French chansons that ruled the Contest for a while but without a vibe that grabs you instantly and so understandably not picked up by the juries but I love it.
10 points: Germany – Telegram
Belgium’s direct competition and certainly the better one, though not flawless. I HATE the beeps throughout the song that have to underline the song’s message and are extremely redundant and annoying. Otherwise this really embodies Eurovision for me: a brisk fluffy song that’s well sung and has a nifty yet not excessive choreography to support it. I’ll leave the fashion discussion out of the picture, I’ll just call the whole very Vegas and I adore it.
12 points: France – L’oiseau et l’enfant
So after a couple of sideways we get another French chanson taking the trophee and it’s nothing short of logical. Not only did Marie Myriam do an impeccable job in singing and selling the song but the French took the concept of the French chanson to another level with beatiful harmonies and beatiful melancholy without falling into the trap of going for a chorus that belongs at a fair. The fact that Myriam had to perform her charming song as 18th after a very diverse bunch did not do her damage either. Well deserved victory.
The wooden spoon for the last place goes to the Disney troop of Switzerland. My only comment while watching this was a simple “NO!!” and I stand by my thoughts.
Not a year I’ll rewatch any time soon I’m afraid.
Looking at the all time top ten then, where France is the second country crossing the 100 points barrier and the UK is sliding down the ladder rapidly:
1 Netherlands 110 (1970 – 1971)
2 France 101 (1960 – 1977)
3 Belgium 95 (1968)
4 Italy 92 (1958 – 1964)
5 United Kingdom 86 (1961 – 1965)
6 Germany 85 (1959 – 1975)
7 Sweden 74 (1974)
8 Spain 72 (1973)
9 Finland 72 (1962)
10 Luxembourg 71 (1956 – 1967)
I think we need a new flavour really.
One thought on “Eurovision Review – 1977: The butterflies, the vaseline and the kettle”
Fantastic review , but i still love this year for it’s magical orchestra, the humble presenter, the audience instead of postcards…that strike caused some magical flaws..I am the 1979 esc photographer and video creator of the winners : Milk and Honey as well as composer: Kobi Oshrat. do you have Facebook page so we can share some info? thanks. Amir Gat