Eurovision Review – 1991: What would Ian Malcolm say?

Posted: 15/12/2011 in Eurovision Song Contest Reviews

For those of you who do not know who Ian Malcolm is: shame on you! Have you no culture? He’s only part of one of the best movies EVER (Jurassic Park – you read it right) and he’s a chaotician – does your penny drop yet? Because chaos we get in the ’91 edition of the Contest. Hold on to your butts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

I don’t believe you’re in Kansas, Toto, but I don’t think you’re really in Rome either by the look of things – mentally at least. What the hell was the RAI management smoking when they asked mister Cutugno to host the Contest? Ever heard of auditions? Or even rehearsals?  The 1990 winner (miming his own song at the start of the show, disgrace!) makes a mess of it all and even manages to make his co-presenter Gigliola Cinquetti, not all that qualified herself, come off as half decent. But then again they are both very representative for the attitude the Italian tv has taken towards the Contest and in particular the organisation of this edition: nonchalant is the word. Rumour has it everything was thrown together at the last minute and it shows: the set is a mix of forgotten movie decors, the orchestra is painfully underrehearsed and the introduction movies for each performer were clearly improvised. Freud would deem this the San Remo Complex I suspect.

If you skip all the chaos and the intros however and just play all songs back to back you realise just how fantastic this edition is on a musical level. I only flunked three of the 22 participating entries and I don’t think any other year manages to top that. The Born Again Christians from Germany bored the pants off of me (and I feel the nerdy one looks like a serial killer, gives me the creeps), The Danes didn’t convince me with their light version of the fabulous Dansa I Neon and again at the back of the pack it’s the Irish delegation. Even though Liam Reilly passed on the singing torch to Kim Jackson it’s still very weak and flat and with her at the mic it’s just extremely pageanty. Or is that not a word? Well, it is now then.

The other ones I rather liked I must say. Even Malta, yes! They have been listening carefully since they pulled out somewhere in the mid ’70s and bring a contemporary ballad that suits the early ’90s. And there are ballads aplenty this year, the one better than the other: The Swiss went (such a coincidence) for Italian and kept it very traditional, Iceland gave us a particular structure again but tried to hide it under a carpet of a classical tune, Austria gave us Thomas Forstner again with more than one note referring to The Carpenters (and an even worse outfit than in ’89, a feat on its own – and the same goes for the hair!) and the Italians gave us the slightly demented brother of Al BanoPeppino di Capri is very Italian and sings beautiful (in a bit of a weird way) but the bluesy verses clashed too much with the gondola chorus for me. Cyprus on the other hand packed a fantastic chorus but underperformed on the verses, and I’m sadly not too keen on the Greek Goddess look Elena Patroklou is trying to pull off. The Spanish stallion that is Sergio Dalma on the other hand can ring my bell any time, but he can leave his boring ballad at the door.

The up-tempo songs were a minority in ’91 and not all of them were top ten material. Samantha Janus got to defend the Union Jack and went full on for the Barbie approach which made it more of A Message To Your Hard then anything else – I much prefer her comical acting talent over her singing aspirations. Our own Clouseau fought a brave fight but despite an interesting musical construction the chorus is really far too repetitive.

So who did make the top ten? Here are the points of the Dimivision jury!

1 point: Yugoslavia -Brazil

Well, I really had to, didn’t I? So wrong it’s fab again and it is, like it or not, catchy as hell. Yes, the chorus is flat and Bebi Dol (cue laughing audience) isn’t the most talented singer in Belgrade but this is súch fun! The beehive, the ultra short dress and stockings in such a shouty colour and the silver pumps top it all off – best opening song since 1982. But how old is she really? Cheeky granny!

2 points: Sweden – Fångad av en stormvind

Yes, I know you are gifted vocally and yes I know Jebus saved you but really honey: tone it down a little. All those little cheers are too much for me – you’re pumped, we get it – and keep that chin under control, there are enough drag queens out there to do that for you. But well done on keeping the pace and the tone while having no sound in the hall to support you, my hat off to you. I simply fear that song is not my cup of tea, nor are those dancers and their outfits.

3 points: Luxembourg – Un baiser volé

Three points for only one line. ‘Et pourtant l’amour est le sens de notre vie‘ has got such a nice vibe to it, I was still singing it days after I’d seen the Contest. Too bad I couldn’t remember the rest of it but it’s no wonder – dull’s the word. Sarah Bray, not endowed with the prettiest of faces, does a great job though but I wanted this to be more than I got in the end.

4 points: Turkey – Iki dakika

A rather strange choice from the Turks, going for the ’50s vibe in such a hyperkinetic version it’s almost a parody. İzel Çeliköz, Reyhan Karaca & Can Uğurluer (not the catchiest of names) do a great job though and keep it up well until the end, not an easy feat with that tempo. Innocent fun. But that five o’clock shadow of that unibrow is kinda frightning I must say.

5 points: Greece – I anixi

Such. A. Shame. I don’t think there’s not a fan in the world that doesn’t twitch during that poor, POOR excuse for a saxophone solo. Better to put the old sod out of his misery right there. Though I have to say the rest of the orchestra is incapable as well to do the fantastic studio version any justice. But we’re here to judge the live rendition sadly! Sofia Vossou starts off with a bunch of nerves in the quiet part but pulls herself together as from the first chorus and she looks stunning in that gorgeous outfit. If they had managed to pull it all together this would’ve been a firm contender for my Douze. Pity.

6 points: Norway – Mrs. Thompson

I’m not too keen on the freestyling-in-a-frame à la Sweden ’89 and the way these four enter the stage is a bit too forced but – here we go again – those harmonies are to die for and make me forgive the clumsy presentation. The male vocals are fantastic and Viking Eiríkur Hauksson blows his accountantlike friend out of the water while the ladies keep the entire thing going rather nicely. Just4Fun is a bit of a forced name as well but incidentally translates what I think about it.

7 points: Finland – Hullu yö

Wel, I like their ’83 and ’87 entries and this comes from the same school, even though it’s got other composers, so of course I like it. Perhaps the mood was too dark to set the scoreboard on fire, or perhaps the chorus was – much like Sata Salamaa – a tad too flat but this is a nice pop song and reminds me a bit of the Roxette hits from the same era. Kaija fits the picture perfectly and manages to evade the screechy backing well. A missed opportunity for the juries, this.

8 points: Israel – Kan

There they go again! Kibbutz all over the place and in this ballad heavy year it offers a fresh alternative, a welcome variation if you please. Duo Datz deliver a very professional performance and are vocally on par with Carola for me. Apparently composed by a dude named Chitman – well you don’t write shit, man! Another top performance from the Israelites!

10 points: Portugal – Lusitana paixão

Dulce Pontes only has to whisper her first Fado and I’m sold. This is three minutes of pure enjoyment for me, even though this traditional ballad is a bit on the safe side, as I adore the colour of her voice. She gives it her all and it shows on a couple of cracking moments but it doesn’t ruin the magic for me, and neither does that weird two-split dress. Or those gloves. Or the mole. At least her eyebrows are perfectly plucked. Snap out of it, Dimi! Simply beautiful.

12 points: France – Le dernier qui a parlé

I’ve grown so used to this one I sometimes almost forget how extatic I was when I heard and saw this as an eleven year old chap. A whole new world opened itself up to me and I feel it’s the combination of all the elements that makes this the class act that it is: the gorgeous Amina, her golden throat producing those very non-European but so fascinating sounds, the simple act with the sjawl and the bare feet and the atmospheric composition that unifies the traditional Eurovision sounds with the ‘whiff of the Sookh’ (dixit sir Wogan). The only rightful winner for me and a lost opportunity for Eurovision and its future. There, I’m glad to finally have that in writing.

Protugal anf Finland both do an excellent deal again and France managed to pass Belgium and the non-participating Netherlands to first place! Luxembourg’s still squeezing out everything it can while Israel is right outside waiting to take its place -it’s the all time top ten:

1             France 159 (1960 – 1977 – 1991)
2             Belgium 157 (1968 – 1983 – 1986-1990)
3             Netherlands 151 (1970 – 1971)
4             Finland 145 (1962 – 1979 – 1985 – 1988 – 1989)
5             Italy 125 (1958 – 1964 – 1978)
6             Portugal 124 (1972)
7             Germany 116 (1959 – 1975)
8             United Kingdom  115 (1961 – 1965)
9             Spain 110 (1973)
10            Luxembourg 103 (1956 – 1967)

Bye bye Italian chaos, hello Scandinavian reliability!

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