Eurovision Review – 1979: Hallelujah, hosannah, amen

Posted: 01/11/2011 in Eurovision Song Contest Reviews

And a couple of Ave Maria’s perhaps? We’re in the center of the religious world – well, a firm percentage of it anyway – and by Zeus will we have known it. That introduction movie is just a bit too much if you ask me, and we haven’t even heard the winner yet – boy did they fit the theme. But other than that, let’s see what Jerusalem had in store for us!

Thank heavens they didn’t go for a stage design full of crosses or other obvious symbols. Instead we get what appears to be a giant eye – I suspect it is nót Sauron’s – which is flexible in set-up so every country has a slightly different back-drop. The design in 1970 still counts as a standard then! Not too keen on the idea of an eye itself but I suppose I have to ignore my contemporary impulses and take into account we’re still talking about the seventies…

After the boring 1977 edition and the middle of the road 1978 contest I’m happy to report I’m content with the quality 1979 has to offer. That, of course, is not valid for every song participating – it wouldn’t be Eurovision if it would now! Italy for example, my winners in 1978, gave us Matia Bazar. They’d have a huge hit in 1985 with the wonderful Ti Sento (click to view) but in Jerusalem they were exactly what Bazar means in Dutch: rubbish. So out of tune, it must be one of the worst vocal performances in history. And the song itself is no diamond in the rough either. But it wasn’t the only turd in the bunch: Switzerland gave us a carnevalesque Alps tune to which Sue‘s voice was wasted, I don’t care how inventive their instruments might have been. And there were other mismatches when it comes to song and performer: Monaco sent a wannabe Johnny Halliday with absolutely no talent at all while the song itself could have been saved by a competent diva. The Netherlands on the other hand gave the capable Xandra (aka Sandra Reemer) a snooze about Colorado. She in her turn made a questionable fashion statement with an outfit that screams ’80s a couple of years too soon which did not match her tune at all. I’ll round up my negative paragraph with Ireland (a hairy bore), Greece (a shouty nun) and Austria (the bird’s nest with an empty chorus).

But enough negativism – the glass is half full, no? Here are the points of the Dimivision jury:

1 point: Norway – Oliver

Mommy, I’m scared of the eyebrows-lady! Anita Skorgan is back again, I can’t really grasp the fact why she got the job so often. Her voice is a bit thin and so is her spectre. Didn’t Norway have other candidates to represent them? The song itself is ok I guess,a bit on the sweet side but all in all this works enough for me to grant them a single point.

2 points: Spain – Su canción

Let’s get the obvious out of the way, shall we? The children ruin it. Without them this would have been a perfect standard ESC song, lifted to another level by the class act that is Betty Missiego but who ever came up with the whole concept should be locked into a cellar with nothing but this on repeat. Ow, and I love her dress.

3 points: Belgium – Hey Nana

Background story: in the north of Belgium Micha Marah is known for being a juror on The Soundmix Show at the beginning of the ’90s after her singing career – I’ve never known her to be really relevant in our music scene in my life. This contest must have been one of her highlights and I was surprised to see and hear how competent she really is. This is a confident performance, which together with the prancing violins saves the entire thing for me as I’m not terribly convinced by the weak chorus and the nana’s. The fact that she wasn’t either (apparently she hated the song) and still manages to come across so well makes me re-evaluate my opinion about her, which is not easy!

4 points: United Kingdom – Mary Ann

Boy did I have to sit out the first verse before I started to appreciate this for what it is and I blame the grating voice of Alan Barton, Black Lace‘s lead singer. I like the country feel, even if it sounds very Smokie, and it’s just a nice pop song really. And the high pitched harmony is fabulous.

5 points: Portugal – Sobe, sobe, balão sobe

You can feel the ’80s making a swift approach in this happy little song, especially in the chorus. I don’t think Manuela Bravo is particularly great in the verses but the sway of it all convinces me. I disagree with the choice of wardrobe for the backing singers where I feel the red dress doesn’t match the colour scheme. Too far fetched? Nah.

6 points: Germany – Dschingis Khan

Zut alors, this is the second time I’m giving points to a Siegel song – somebody stop me! But really, this is just genius. And daring, a battle song about a warrior. By Germans. In Jerusalem. The set-up is very clever however and the group keeps up the high tempo until the end which makes it very powerful. The dancer could have been a very bad idea but it works out brilliantly due to his well balanced madness. A winner in any other year, too bad for them they’re in such good company…

7 points: France – Je suis l’enfant soleil

Back for more of the sweet taste of victory is Anne-Marie David, for whom I have a little pointer: power does not equal shouting. But she’s clearly matured and gives a dramatic rendition, almost drenched in tears with that slight sob in her voice. I like the combination of the lyrics and the quite heavy intrumentation and this just gives me goosebumps.

8 points: Israel – Hallelujah

Must put my religious trauma aside with this song which is really just about joy to the world and world peace and so on. Your standard Eurovision message basically. The way the music is layered and builds up towards the end is marvellous and gives you a warm fuzzy glow inside, there’s just no escape. Gali Atari has the voice of an angel and she overpowers her three male companions without effort. Not too keen on the male solo there, but that’s only a tiny black spot on an almost flawless delivery.

10 points: Denmark – Disco Tango

I see a red door and I want it painted black… Anyone else get a Rolling Stones vibe with those first couple of bars? I just love this, it sounds so full of hidden melodies you just don’t know where to start. Too bad it comes across so static, while both disco ànd tango are so lively! A missed opportunity, they should have gone with the energy of Debbie Cameron in the back and just create a party on stage. I mean, the way the other female backing hits the tambourine sums it up really. But without a shadow of a doubt Tommy Seebach‘s best attempt.

12 points: Finland – Katson sineen taivaan

A bit colder than I would have liked her to be but what a class act Katri Helena is anyway! A quintessential Eurovision tune for me with a fantastic build-up, very well sung and with a different spin on clichés. Adoring the woeful strings throughout and the end note is nothing short of brilliant. I suspect Finnish is too much of an unattractive, nay harsh to listen to, language to really have convinced the juries but this should have walked with it.

Not the last Finnish victory in my book, I can tell you that!

The wooden spoon for the last place is for the bewildering Ted Gärdestad from Sweden – bless his heart. That was just not good. At all.

Right, let’s take a look at the all time top 10 then, where Belgium is surprisingly the fourth country to cross the 100 points barrier and Finland has opened the door to their golden age…

1             Netherlands 117 (1970 – 1971)
2             France 108 (1960 – 1977)
3             Italy 104 (1958 – 1964 – 1978)
4             Belgium 100 (1968)
5             Germany 97 (1959 – 1975)
6             United Kingdom  90 (1961 – 1965)
7             Finland 84 (1962 – 1979)
8             Spain 84 (1973)
9             Luxembourg 76 (1956 – 1967)
10            Sweden 74 (1974)

I’m sooo ready for the ’80s – starting with my birth year!

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