Eurovision Review – 1988: The fanciest chessboard ever

Posted: 03/12/2011 in Eurovision Song Contest Reviews

Back to the green island it is, thanks to mister Seán Sherrard, and I can picture worse places to be as the Irish seem to have a knack for organising the Contest – an advantage they’d need more than they’d want in the near future. The stage design is representative for the day and age this edition is held: the ’80s are roaring more loudly than ever!

Not that I mind, mind! I adore that freaky flexible chessboard with the little trompe l’oeuil on the sides that make it seem to go on far beyond the walls of the Royal Dublin Institute. The influence of the ’87 edition is undeniable I say! *insert wink here* The ’80s are manifesting themselves on all kinds of levels and surely fashion is the most prominent one. I don’t think there is anyone in the ’88 field that doesn’t deserve to be shot for their couture choice, not to mention the desastrous hairstyles that are really all over the place. Such fun!
Host Clark Kent – nay Pat Kelly – gave us a bit of a shudder of discomfort though in his introduction while he was covering the topic of Ireland’s 1000th birthday. That friendly sneer to the Vikings was a bit touchy feely, no?

On a musical level I think we’ve had better editions than this one but it certainly isn’t the worst one of the bunch. There are quite a lot of songs that are in no man’s land between exciting and awful – the grey area and that’s exactly how they sound. Portugal, France, Yugoslavia and Germany are really plain dull and fall back into the middle field. The same goes for Luxembourg, represented by our own Lara Fabian. Now, miss Fabian’s throat is almost as golden as that other Fabulous Foghorn in this contest but her song is an underachievement and that outfit makes her come across like a thirteen-in-a-dozen secretary. Thankfully she managed to scrape herself together afterwards and we’ll file this one under the W for Whoopsies.

More whoopsies at the back of the pack. Next to the wooden spoon (see end of article) we had a couple of other monstrosities that should have never seen the light of day. The shouty and characterless Irish song for example, or the Italian snooze. Not to mention the excess in turquoise chiffon topped off with an exploded ginger coiffure we got from the inevitable Kirsten for Denmark – enough already woman, back to your cave with you! How you managed to impress the international juries with your insufferable empty songs and ditto shrill voice is beyond me. Another one to lock in the drawer marked ‘never again’ would be the Greek nonsense about a Clown. What is the fascination with this concept? And must they imitate laughter? And must they do it so badly that it almost sounds as the devil coming for us? Quite fitting, come to think of it. And oh yes, Spain had too luch going again on stage, but what else is new?

An edition of the Contest I’ll not be too keen on watching again as it’s too mediocre, though there are some lovely melodies in my top ten – here are the points of the Dimivision jury:

1 point: Iceland – Þú og þeir (Sókrates)

That trailerpark twin of Jason Donovan is just flabbergasting – at first I disregarded it completely but after 1.5 minute I started seeing this for what it really is: entertainment. Not the kind they had imagined I imagine but this is just so ridiculous I’m tempted enough to award it a single point. Ow, and I’d shave that moustache which has got to be the worst one ever.

2 points: Norway – For vår jord

A bit of a snooze but that’s all due to Karoline Krüger I’m afraid who’s got the personality of a prune. The backings on the other hand save the entire thing for me. A nice atmosphere though, IF you ignore that lame candleholder.

3 points: Belgium – Laissez briller le soleil

A bit of colonial vibe – or whatever influence I’m supposed to hear – that works quite well. Would have been better with a bit of a simplified structure, it never manages to enthral the way it clearly wants. Part of that’s also due to Reynaert who’s not the best choice for this interesting song as he’s vocally not that talented. And of course there’s that vest, thorn in every fashionista’s eye. Still intriguing enough for three points.

4 points: Turkey – Sufi

Again the Turks manage to bring a completely different sound to the Contest, I like the variety they give us. Love the singing violins and the musical tempo of it all. MFÖ is not the most dynamic band however, they look more like a group of sailors on leave who sing in the streets for some extra pocket money than professionals that defend their country’s honour. But I like it.

5 points: Netherlands – Shangri-la

My best friend’s still traumatised by this one and he keeps on waiting for the high endnote that will sadly never come. I have no active memory of this as I’m five year younger (and rubbing that in whenever I can) so I’m able to judge this without pain from the past but I agree that a more spectacular ending would have topped it off. This is a nice try, with a bit of a modern sound without shocking too much though the chorus is a bit too old skool for me. I absolutely hate his hair and the shoulder pads, two trends that don’t necessarily need to make a comeback.

6 points: Sweden – Stad i ljus

Poor Tommy Körberg, going through that ordeal and kuddo’s to him for being able to perform and pulling it off rather well. He slips up a couple of times but I forgive him – generosity sometimes becomes me. I’m happy he did it instead of composer Py Bäckman who rehearsed it for him with the orchestra as I feel this really suits a man’s voice. Not too crazy about the trumpet I have to say, I feel those sounds are too dominant and harsh for this hymn.

7 points: Switzerland – Ne partez pas sans moi

This was never my favourite winner of the Contest and even Celine‘s powerhouse voice cannot change my mind: this is the typical Eurovision schlager sound that doesn’t really float my boat. The only reason I’m putting it this high is because of miss Dion’s rendition, blowing away every other contestant. But I àm curious what Anna Wintour would say about *that* outfit.

8 points: United Kingdom – Go

Finally another top three position for the UK and it’s all thanks to Scott Fitzgerald and his warm sound. Although it’s a bit traditional and too much of a copy of Johnny Logan with the sad lyrics and the heartfelt rendition I do like this a lot and the build-up only makes my love grow. Can’t look at him though, with that awful ’70s hairdo and thàt suit.

10 points: Israel – Ben adam

I second sir Wogan’s “Good Grief” after Yardena‘s three minutes of laying the whip on the orchestra by constantly turning up the tempo. Though it is a bit too Sirtaki for me to completely adore it I am in awe of her professionalism and the entire thing is just a joy to watch and listen to.

12 points: Finland – Nauravat silmät muistetaan

Surprise! Now there is an awful lot that’s wrong with this: the clumsy entry by the member on to the stage, the tambourine, the clapping, the moving around, the hair, the outfits… Perhaps even the choice of singer – though I like Kyösti Laihi‘s colour of voice I feel this would have benefitted from a female vocalist. But. That song is so enchanting, with the melodic strings and the pumping beats and that lóvely chorus. This just sweeps me away for a couple of minutes and got stuck in my head for days after hearing it. Got no choice, this is my douze! Not the international hit Eurovision wants, I realise, but this is my bubble and I’ll do as I please.

A surprising win there, while the wooden spoon isn’t very surprising at all. Austria gave us the Lidl version of Toto Cutugno, a kind of social project I’d say judging with the sound on mute. Or turn the sound on, same difference. A low point.

In the all time top ten Finland makes a surprise jump into the top 4 and might even soon threat the top 3. Netherlands are back on top again but I’ve got a feeling their reign won’t last very long anymore – the time for change is neigh! Sweden, Ireland and Israel are right outside, waiting to shake things up. Let’s take a closer look:

1             Netherlands 146 (1970 – 1971)
2             Belgium 145 (1968 – 1983 – 1986)
3             France 137 (1960 – 1977)
4             Finland 125 (1962 – 1979 – 1985 – 1988)
5             Italy 117 (1958 – 1964 – 1978)
6             Germany 116 (1959 – 1975)
7             United Kingdom  115 (1961 – 1965)
8             Portugal 104 (1972)
9             Spain 99 (1973)
10            Luxembourg 91 (1956 – 1967)

Now off to the land of the Matterhorn!

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Comments
  1. Koen says:

    Maybe Gerard Joling will do his high endnote the next time I watch it *fingers crossed*… but I’ll keep my tissues ready…
    and 12 points to Finland? how dare you! I would give The Netherlands and Sweden a lot more points, but than again, I am 5 years older and wiser…

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