Eurovision Review – 1994: When the winner wasn’t really the winner

Posted: 26/12/2011 in Eurovision Song Contest Reviews

What’s the point of hosting the Contest when you’ve got an interval act lined up that will make every song in the actual competition fade away in silent anonimity? Better to have given us the three minute version of Riverdance as one of the participating entries I reckon, would have worked miracles for the Contest.

Unfortunately RTE doesn’t have a crystal ball, but the success of Riverdance is symbolic of the Irish know-how when it comes to organising the Contest – an advantage they’ll need in the years to come… I like the way the 1994 edition is set up: the introduction movie is full of theatrical atmosphere, the giant papier-maché dollheads are quirky and the humongous stage got a modern styling that is completely different to what we saw before. Well done for not copy-pasting the ’93 roadbook. The only thing I do not like (at all!) is the choice in presenters. Cynthia Ní Mhurchu & Gerry Ryan, I don’t know which one I dislike more, both have got their serious face on and seem to think they need to talk as if they’re hosting a local talent show – a bit of natural flair would have done them a world of good. Where’s Viktor Lazlo when you need her?

No Belgium this year so nobody to root for! Nor do we see Italy in the list of participants, dropping out voluntarily – such a shame! But we welcome seven new nations this year and we hope they bring us new and exciting sounds. As with everything in life some manage to deliver and others disappoint hugely. Among my least favourite entries this year are the Romanian chaos and the Europe clones from Slovakia. The Lithuanian leather pants were unjustly disregarded by the juries, even though I have to admit it was a tad on the boring side despite being very well sung. Same goes for the Estonian debut, which verged on being invisible, and the two accountants from Bosnia-Herzegovina – that encouraging applause before they started must be one of the most goosebump generating moments in Eurovision history by the way.

And what about the familar countries? They got stuck in a loop I’m afraid. Both Switzerland (one big panic attack) and Spain (such posing, is he drunk?) gave us male soloists with some dreary rockballad and Greece gave us a lightheaded fluff of a song that was drenched in Mediterranean sounds and did not interest me at all. Iceland failed to interest me as well sadly, even though they ha d a nice enough song I wasn’t too convinced by Sigga this time ’round – and what’s with that heavy black outfit? doesn’t suit (no pun intended) her song at all. France tried something different again and if they’d hired a better singer for their stubborn entry I might have been compelled to allow it in my top ten – but I love the concept I have to say. Only The Netherlands (lovely but they should have brought out those fab backings to fill the stage a bit more), Sweden (a bit of an odd couple but they’re both strong even though she sounds a bit oldish) and Finland (I should kill them with my bare hands for murdering that song the way they did – what were they smoking when they went for THAT concept?!!) nearly managed to slip into my top ten, but there were simply too many great songs fighting them off.

But before we take a look at the top ten, let’s enjoy the brilliance of Riverdance once more – one of the greatest moments in Eurovision history.

Now without further ado, let’s see who DID convince me – here are the points of the Dimivision jury:

1 point: Norway – Duett

Looking like a shampoo and toothpaste ad (thanks Terry) it’s Jan Werner Danielsen & Elisabeth Andreasson, both so gifted vocally they even manage to make something out of the nothing that is Duett.  All credit to their rendition, even though Jan Werner is so pumped he looks like he’s going to headbutt Bettan at a certain point – or does he want to eat her? I absolutely hate the styling though, with his oversized jacket as the front runner, and as mentionned before I’m not overly excited by that very traditional soooooooong. So 1 point it is.

2 points: Portugal – Chamar a música

A tad on the sugary sweet side but boy does Sara Tavares, not related to the disco group I presume, know how to belt it. She sings it with such ease and yet manages to convey so much emotion and musicality it’s simply spine tingling. A pity she’s standing there as if she’s Quasimodo‘s sister.

3 points: Poland – To nie ja

I can see why this got stuck in the heads of the juries – 24th starting position, a fresh sound in the song and a charismatic and emotional performance by the lovely Edyta Gorniak. The only problem I have with this is that it’s getting really hyper towards the end and Edyta tends to lean towards Fire Alert – a bit much really. But lovely.

4 points: Ireland – Rock ‘n roll kids

Such an atypical song for Eurovision, and certainly an atypical winner. A lovely feeling of melancholy in the lyrics and the sober acoustic presentation was the right choice – although they do remind me (too much) of singing vicars from a Born Again Christians community (childhood trauma alert!) which can make it come across a bit preachy. But Paul Harrington & Charlie McGettigan certainly strike the right note in this beautiful lullaby.

5 points: Croatia – Nek’ ti bude ljubav sva

Let’s get the obvious things out of the way: that vest and those earrings should’ve been left backstage and the backings could’ve done with a better styling as well. But who cares when all five of them (Tony Cetinski included) can sing that well? I love the atmosphere in this ballad, it’s a whole new style compared with what we’re used to and they all manage to lift it up with that vocal rendition. Gives me chills every time I hear them. The trumpet near the end is a surprising choice but works out in their favor. Sva!

6 points: Hungary – Kinek mondjam el vétkeimet?

We’re not done with those beautiful Eastern European influences because Hungary gives us another tactic – the fragile lullaby sung by the fragile childwoman that is Friderika with her fragile voice. And it’s the fragility of it all that makes this so heartbreakingly beautiful. So simple, so pure – no grand gestures or Diva-esque shouting but straight forward emotions from the heart. Makes me all weak in the knees! A shame I simply cannot look at that outfit – is that home made? Has Barbara Dex taught you nothing?

7 points: Germany – Wir geben ‘ne Party

I know I know, but this is so wrong it’s fabulous again. I wish I could say otherwise, but this makes me sway my arms along with their outrageous choreography every single time. Ich hab genau so’n Hip-Hop Feeling wie du and all those other lines – what on earth were Siegel & Meinunger, the pirates of the German schlager scene, thinking? It’s a very random group of people, weird to see, but the harmonies by the Me, the Ka and the Do (I feel a Julie Andrews impression coming up) work. It’s schlagerchaos but in a shiny jacket and I love it. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go wash myself.

8 points: Cyprus – Ime anthropos ki ego

Yay, Evridiki is back and this class act can sell any song really. Thankfully for her she gets to work with a dramatic piece, perhaps a bit too drenched in traditional sounds but with her strong interpretation it comes across very powerful. Not too keen on the bridge there, musically nor visually, but it’s a minor stain on an otherwise flawless performance. Without microphonestandard bumping this time ’round, clever girl.

10 points: United Kingdom -We will be free

Arguably the most modern song in the field and I like the half dark vibe, even though it’s supposed to be a light hearted song. Frances Ruffelle sings correctly – though a bit sharp at times when it comes to the high notes – and comes across very well. The backing are perhaps a bit too present but it works after those silent low bits where miss Ruffelle has to make it on her own. The only problem I have with this is the fact that I can clearly hear it’s a shortened version, the way they try to glue it together about halfway the song is a bit clumsy. But I much prefer this over the countless runners-up the UK has had over the years.

12 points: Russia – Vječnij stranjik

Now that’s a debut for you. A pity Youddiph had to tolerate miss Poland coming right after her because with another starting position I feel this would have done far better. But the world isn’t built on “what if’s” now… I love everything about this: the vocal performance sounds exhausting but is spot on, the musical build-up is very effective and the tricks with the dress make for the best act ever in my humble opinion – especially with the effect of the shadow in the spotlight. Well done Russia, if only you’d give us something like this every year.

The wooden spoon and at the same time my first ZERO points since 1956 goes to the out of tune and charmless duo from Malta, packing a very beige song and ruining it into dust. Click at own risk.

Very little changes in the all time top ten, even though Portugal, Germany and UK finally managed to get some points again after quite a dry spell:

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             Germany 129 (1959 – 1975)
7             Portugal 126 (1972)
8             United Kingdom  125 (1961 – 1965)
9             Spain 110 (1973)
10            Luxembourg 107 (1956 – 1967)

Now, off to Dublin – again!

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