Right, bring it on! In 1986 I was just 5, going on 6 when the mere 7 years older Sandra Kim assured herself of the status of Immortal by bringing home the trophee for our tiny country, the first time since Eurovision began 30 years before. The last of the Original Seven to take the crown! Such a shame there’s not much honour in winning in such a terribly weak year…
In the meantime we’re still waiting for that second victory, and the first one I’d get to live consciously ànd remember afterwards, which is almost taking as long as the first one. Only the Fins and the Portuguese know that pain. And Malta perhaps, but who cares?
Thanks to Bobbysocks we find ourself in Bergen to relive the ’86 contest and the North has been an obvious inspiration: the stage feels like the lare of a James Bond villain, tucked away in the vast emptiness of the Polar Circle, with all that fake ice surrounding it. It might have been a nice idea at the time, but after two, three performances the novelty wears off and you’re left staring at some pompous papier-maché construction. A better idea was leaving the presentation in the capable of Åse Kleveland, who went from snappy teenager to classy broad in just twenty years time. Adore her. Oh, and I like the clever play of words-letters in the logo. Cheeky Norwegians!
Musically I’m beginning to see a pattern in the ’80s Contests – if you get one brilliant year there’s bound to be a boring one following it and after the shiny ’85 it was to be expected that ’86 would be rather crap – and it sadly was. The first half of the show kept my hopes up as it wasn’t brilliant but not terrible either, but past the halfway mark things just went Titanic. Amongst the worst ones I count the wannabe Kate Bush from Austria, the chaotic farmer’s daughter dressed in her grandma’s clothes from Cyprus, the Kikki Danielsson clone from Denmark, the not all that healthy looking chap from the UK and the boring bridge loving blonde from Germany.
Honourable mentions go to Spain, Norway and Ireland for treating us to some fashion statements that would make Tim Gunn go weak in the knees. Those Spanish pants are about ten sizes too big, as is that clashing vest. The Norwegian Louis Quattorze pastiche was uncalled for and that raspberry suit was the icing on the cake. But THE disaster of the evening is most definitely June Cunningham of Love Bug with BIG hair and a BIG coat in a BIG colour with a BIG bow and BIG shoulders. And a wee little song with a hint of Elvis. A visual disaster.
Lots more fines to write by the fashion police in my top ten, which contains songs I didn’t think/hope would make it while watching it – these are the somewhat reluctant points of the Dimivision jury:
1 point: Yugoslavia – Željo moja
Dracula’s bride hasn’t got the best taste in dresses. Her song is thankfully not as ghastly, on the contrary even: the dress screams for attention while the song is too bland for it’s own good, despite the promises made in that first rather interesting verse. I can hardly believe it’s the same Doris we’ll see 23 years later!
2 points: Iceland – Gleðibankinn
Humidity’s rising… A spot of Weather Girls at the start and we get treated to a nice disco feel. Too bad it’s mixed with another song, one with a very weird structure that does not match the first one at all. And then suddenly we go back to the disco feeling. I’m not getting this completely. On top of that it’s a bit weird seeing Eiríkur Hauksson shaking his Viking derrière as if he’s in the middle of the street in Rio De Janeiro and those outfits, gloves and shiny silver and all, are a disaster. Still two points, could’ve been worse for a debut!
3 points: Portugal – Não sejas mau pra mim
Well, it’s clear to see where Celine Dion got her inspiration. Without that worthy-for-a-clown outfit this would have come across a whole lot different (and better). It sounds like early days Kylie but from the block (as much block as Eurovision would allow) and without that saxophone solo this could have been almost ok. But it lacks power all the way through.
4 points: Netherlands – Alles heeft een ritme
Four girls doing the washing by the river suddenly burst out into beautiful harmonies – was that the concept? Who ever came up with those outfits (bare feet included) was in a particular mood. I like the way the Frizzle Sizzle girls try to light up the place but with that song they can add all the spice they want and still be greeted with some yawning. That is one woolly song and the entire thing just comes across a bit clumsy. But I do like those harmonies.
5 points: Switzerland – Pas pour moi
Moody verses, we might be on to something here! Oh nevermind, they went for a chorus that’s been written in under five minutes and is as flat as Trinny Woodall’s chest. Daniela Simons isn’t the world’s greatest singer but manages to limit the damage although those high notes could have been cleaner. A bit too Eurovision by numbers and in any normal year firmly outside my top ten.
6 points: Israel -Yavo yom
Wouldn’t you just slap them? Without the usual Kibbutz sauce this could have been very modern, the music is very intriguing! But with this already cliché rendition it’s too beige to cut it. Moti Giladi is blown off the stage by the marvellous Sarai Tzuriel who looks too much like a milkmaid for her own good. Could have been great, now…not so much.
7 points: Luxembourg – L’amour de ma vie
Sherisse, the kind of name you associate with lower class families, Laurence pulls an Irene Sheer and can’t hide her Frenglish accent in this traditional ballad that’s done well enough to make me actually like it. She looks like she just walked off the Dallas set but that black dress must be one of the best choices of the night, even with that awful ’80s cut. Not the best singer, not the best song but a pleasant 3 minutes anyway.
8 points: Turkey – Halley
Dressed by C&A. Topped off by the indispensable collection of fake gold of course. This is a special and moody song, intriguing… until that bloody electric guitar solo kicks in. My number one pet peeve does not suit this song, and neither does that chaotic bridge. But the rest of it is so completely different from the rest of the field, including the somewhat sharp high notes, that I quite like this. But it’s a weird experience to say the least…
10 points: France – Européennes
I know you’ll think I’ve gone mad but I adore this. It’s just so clumsy and catchy at the same time! As if a random group of housewives got together to form a group for a hobby and suddenly find themselves and their bungly choreography in the midst of Eurovision. Loving the harmonies again and once that chorus nests into my ears it can hang around in my head for days at a time – quite annoying really! C&A have outdone themselves with those hideous rain cloaks in ditto colours, but I’ll be forgiving just this once. I can’t help it, I like this!
12 points: Belgium – J’aime la vie
Of course. Call it loyalty. Or call it a happy song, which it is. Or call her marvellous, which she is. Sandra Kim‘s doing a terrific job here, and even women twice or tripple her age would have to pull everything together to get to that level. Very professional. Except for LE vie of course, tsk. Still, I want to pinch her cheek. It’s not Mozart but it’s a nice poppy song that doesn’t even get ruined by the inaudible synths that gives the studio version a bit more oomph and it’s a well deserved winner. Sue me.
The wooden spoon goes to the orchestrated chaos that is Sweden which is simply impossible to listen to.
In the all time top ten both France & Belgium catch up with the Netherlands. They still have more tens than France however so they keep the top spot – but for how long?
1 Netherlands 137 (1970 – 1971)
2 France 137 (1960 – 1977)
3 Belgium 136 (1968 – 1983 – 1986)
4 Italy 116 (1958 – 1964 – 1978)
5 Germany 114 (1959 – 1975)
6 United Kingdom 107 (1961 – 1965)
7 Finland 106 (1962 – 1979 – 1985)
8 Spain 99 (1973)
9 Portugal 94 (1972)
10 Luxembourg 91 (1956 – 1967)
Now off to Brussels, huzzah!