Time surely passes by quickly and suddenly you’re looking at a different kind of Europe where there are no borders! The borders within the EBU reach even further and with the evolution of the (let’s call it the) free world the number of members is on the rise. As we say goodbye to the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia we welcome a LOT of new countries who are just itching to showcase themselves in the biggest pan-European tv-show – and who will hopefully bring a new flavour to the Contest…
…because it’s necessary. I have to say I’m getting fed up a bit with all those Big Ballads by Big Divas with Big voices. I know, bad queen! But really, is that all there is? I like some diversity and I’m happy to welcome the new additions to our beloved Contest, even though it will lead to more difficult situations when it coms to participation and/or qualification.
I don’t know what the new delegations from Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina & Slovenia must have thought when they got of the train in Millstreet though – what on earth was RTE thinking when they made it so difficult for themselves in deciding to move the Contest from Dublin to the middle of nowhere? It really does kinda show on tv that this edition is being held in a horse stable, nay “equestrian centre”. The stage doesn’t really work for me, with that unfinished look and the fickle design. I do however LOVE the lighting that manages to distract from the flaws in the stage set-up although it is extremely bright on occasions – a contrast with what we’ll be getting in the next couple of years. Host Fionnuala Sweeney does a good job and oozes a kind of James Bond class, as if she’s Xenia Onatopp’s good twin. The orchestra again does a great job, but with a class act as Noel Kelehan leading it you’d expect nothing less now.
Musically we’re seeing/hearing a lot of diversity so I’m quite pleased, even though Linda Martin left her marks and we’re getting a lot of female soloists – thank God they’re not all packing the same style of song. I like the way some countries try to put their own swing on the concept, but in this field you’d have to make it exceptional to be noticed. The girls and ladies of Belgium (what IS with that styling! And that boring song!), Portugal (too sugary sweet), Iceland (awful dress and she’s nowhere without her backings), Finland (that accordeon bothers me), UK (too studied and I hate that jumpsuit) and Spain (don’t like the parlando bits and the act is too much yet again) did not cut it for me but gave it a nice try. Their male colleagues from Denmark (nice troubadour feeling but I HATE that whistling), Malta (hello Joe Cocker!) and Cyprus (title on repeat in a thin chorus) were less impressive for me and the groups from Turkey (Blues Brothers go Istanbul), Luxembourg (a bit of Roxette in an awful packaging – what’s with that vest??) and Israel (they do indeed resemble refugees from a Christmas cake!) were quite peculiar.
And what about those newcomers, I hear you wondering? I feel they were the right choice in the Eastern European selection, although I wouldn’t have minded having Estonia there instead of Bosnia-Herzegovina. I feel B-H’s song was perhaps too drenched in war-melancholy, not only in its atmosphere (which is of course highly understandable) but even more in the performance which was shaky at best. It’s almost as if they weren’t meant to be there, a bit out of place really – and I mean that in the most sympathizing way possible. Croatia on the other hand managed to put a bit of a positive spin on the entire Balkan situation by giving us a lullaby about peace which was sadly let down by the shaky harmonies. And the swaying of the camera between the six members of PUT made me seasick. Which only leaves Slovenia, but more about them later on…
…because it’s time for the top ten – here are the points of the Dimivision jury:
1 point: Austria – Maria Magdalena
Treating us to a much better song than his 1992 attempt is Tony Wegas, up tempo definitely becomes him. A bit reminiscent of the ’80s perhaps but I like it even though it does become a tad boring towards the end – I suspect it’s because he harmonies are not quite up to scratch. I feel the earring and the size & colour of the vest are a big NONO but I fear that’s the first half of the ’90s for ya!
2 points: Norway – Alle mine tankar
Silje Vige is absolutely adorable in her wee purple dress with her wee little ballad in which she manages to control her nerves very well. Almost the yin to Sandra Kim‘s yang. But. The one who thought that both the accordeon and the lute were the ideal instruments to emphasise must be punished, they’re both far too present in this lovely lullaby and distract all the way through. Pity.
3 points: Switzerland – Moi tout simplement
It takes no expert to see where Annie Cotton got her inspiration and it’s not like she’s hiding it – miss Dion is never far away. Although this time round I actually like the outfit, so they’ve learned from their mistakes. But miss Cotton does have a strange posture on stage, not very lady like if you ask me. The way she stands, feet firmly parted and shoulders down as if she was a farmer taking a break from harvesting potatoes. Not innovative enough to cut it for me.
4 points: Sweden – Eloise
A bit of cheating there, with the two backings in black on the side even though they play a big vocal role in this very effective entry. It keeps on going nicely, with a decent build-up and some great vocals – but who sings what? It bothers me, nearly as much as their ghastly outfits and the mysterious shaling by the second Swede from the left. But lead singer Casper Janebrink, he múst be related to Chesney Hawkes, plays his part very well and is for the most part solely responsible for their four points.
5 points: Ireland – In your eyes
I know Barbara Dex deserved that award but it might as well have been called the Niamh Kavanagh award – what on earth was she thinking? The top half is quite ok, but I simply do not get that unflattering skirt and those…are they some kind of slippers on her feet? In short, she looks like a grandma. Doesn’t sound like one though, even if she can come across a bit shouty now and again. But at least she was still able to sing That High Section. But really, I’ve had it with this kind of entry.
6 points: Germany – Viel zu weit
Now, I realise this is not the best or most exciting song of the bunch but I can’t help being in love with those omnipresent strings! The way they take over the song is hypnotising to me, and it’s a shame that Münchener Freiheit‘s singer Stefan Zauner has got the charisma of a fig. White as the dominant colour is a bit wrong as well, we’re not at a peace rally now. A bit out of place perhaps but I can’t help but like this.
7 points: Italy – Sole d’Europa
Only now can I appreciate this for what it is. The melodic structure that is so contrary to the ‘standard’ Eurovision build-up makes it intruiging, though not instantly accessible. Enrico Ruggeri is an interesting choice with his raw voice and I’m not sure if those leather pants were really necessary – but again, we’re in the early ’90s so I guess it must have been quite normal. I love the way it all builds up and even the electric guitar finds its place, as if Queen was a source of inspiration. I really like this now.
8 points: Slovenia – Tih deževen dan
I shall not discuss 1X Band‘s attire as this would take too long, suffice it to say it’s shouty and fugly with singer Cole Moretti‘s vest as the sad highlight. The clothes do however contribute to a happy atmosphere, which works well with the singing strings all the way through the song. I like the use of the acoustic guitar as well and the entire sound is quirky and fun, much unlike the other two Balkan entries we got this year. All the swaying and arm movements were a bit uncalled for though, but I’ll go along with it. This makes me smile.
10 points: Greece – Ellatha, hora tu fotos
Away with all those Barbie bimbo’s with their plastic smiles, make way for a rrreal woman with fire and passion. Keti Garbi plays the Diva card in a very different way and pulls out all the stops in this ode to here home country. The daring dress, the hypnotizing look in her eyes (that álways stare right into the camera) and the tsifteteli moves – she definitely knows what she’s doing. The song could’ve done with a bit less of the traditional Greek sounds perhaps, but as the concept basically demands it there’s no contesting. Magnificent.
12 points: Netherlands – Vrede
As far as peace anthems go this one shows the others it’s heels in an unseen way. Modern, catchy, intruiging in both build-up and message – the Dutch really whipe the floor with the competition. Such a pity the end sequence feels unnatural, as if it belongs to another song. Lighting and camera work could have been better as well, the way this comes across almost feels like sabotage by RTE. I realise I sound like a paranoid fan, but something’s iffy about this. Ruth Jacott does a great job however with spot on vocals and a stage presence to kill for, and even though her outfit may come across a bit harsh (witchy even) it does underline the message in a strong way. And Fat Backing rules. Another missed opportunity for the direction of the Contest…
The wooden spoon in 1993 goes to the sugarsweet gondola song from France, oldfashioned like hell and beyond annoying.
This means a significant change in the all time top ten, where the Netherlands manage to reclaim the throne. The rest does not change that much (or at all) but with the last performance by Luxembourg we can soon expect to welcome new countries as Israel, Ireland, Sweden and Norway are waiting right outside to (re)enter:
1 Netherlands 170 (1970 – 1971 – 1993)
2 France 159 (1960 – 1977 – 1991)
3 Belgium 157 (1968 – 1983 – 1986-1990)
4 Finland 145 (1962 – 1979 – 1985 – 1988 – 1989)
5 Italy 144 (1958 – 1964 – 1978 – 1992)
6 Portugal 124 (1972)
7 Germany 122 (1959 – 1975)
8 United Kingdom 115 (1961 – 1965)
9 Spain 110 (1973)
10 Luxembourg 107 (1956 – 1967)
Back to Dublin now, thank God!