Back to the Point it is for the third consecutive Contest held on the greenest of Europe’s islands, and the 1994 edition would soon prove to be enormous of influence on the following years. Not only did Riverdance announce a whole new era, the fresh sounds from the Eastern side of the continent inspired ànd confused the household nations. And it shows.
RTE itself was inspired by Riverdance as well and dipped the Contest in a Celtic atmosphere with a moody introduction movie and quite a dark set that’s far more simplistic than it was the year before. Although the S for Showbizz wasn’t that far away with those giant stairs that only served to give host Mary Kennedy the entrance she deserved, after which it was – quite impressively – lifted up never to be seen again. A rather odd investment if you ask me. The rest of the flow is pretty much consistent with what we’ve seen before so in contrast to the differences between ’93 & ’94 RTE clearly decided to keep the basics which is a good thing: never change a winning team is the cliché, and we all know those exist for a reason. Thank God they had the sense to at least change the presenters.
Eurovision celebrates its 40th anniversary and the only glimpse of that Historic Moment is a 5 minute (if it takes even that long) montage of the past winners. I think it’s funny this occured in ’95 when the Contest has been shaken up the year before by the coming of so many new nations with new influences – yet still those pesky judges stay stubborn and keep going for songs that prove to be irrelevant in the contemporary music scene. But it has to be said that the crop in ’95 did not leave them any choice. The new countries that got to return had a hard time maintaining the level they started off with: Bosnia-Herzegovina only sent half a song and got the wrong performer to sing it, Hungary couldn’t decide on a specific style so they combined two in one song and had trouble as well finding a suitable performer, Russia actually managed to find an okay song that turned out to be rather empty live while it was strangled live by a Dramatic (pun alert!) Primadonna and Croatia took the safe road by hiring an opera diva to spice up a rather traditional ballad – though I must say that end note and the class act that is Danijela nearly got them in the top ten.
The ‘old’ countries got a bit overwhelmed by all those expressions of national identity the year before it seems. Those who didn’t are those who went for own sounds in (recent) history, but the others messed up big time. Germany for example tried to pull a Riverdance and gave us an off key chanting witch, Iceland’s Ricky Gervais didn’t manage to liven up his beige excuse for a ballad, Turkey lost the plot and settled for a generic Linda Martin impression, Belgium turned to World Peace as a topic (yawn!), Portugal drew the gospel card, Israel wanted to emphasize its religious background even more (au secours!) and Malta was… well, Malta actually. Austria was one of those that didn’t care and just had fun on stage, this time with a hint of Candy Dulfer – too bad the chorus needed more spice to set the Point on fire.
I do not care for the bottom half of the field at all and some of the songs that made my top ten wouldn’t have made it in ’93 or ’94. Wake me up before you go-go! Here are the points of the Dimivision jury:
1 point: Denmark – Fra Mols til Skagen
Another one of those “we’re trying to adapt” attempts and it’s only partially successful. I’m not too keen on the percussion being so dominant in the sound mix but the flow is different enough to keep me interested and Aud Wilken does a decent job. Just wish she’d have burnt that hippie dress and just chosen something/anything else. She looks like she’s taking a break from braiding baskets. Tsk.
2 points: Poland – Sama
Not very much like Edyta Gorniak, is it? No need, Justyna does a fine job on her own. This is so deconstructed it’s very un-Eurovision, which makes it all the more intriguing. I would have liked a better orchestration though, it all sounds rather empty musically and that makes that out of tune flute stand out even more than it needs to. Don’t get the hand gestures either. But it keeps me on my toes and that’s always a good sign.
3 points: Sweden – Se på mig
If only we’d have gotten a better orchestration here as well. It sounds so hollow musically at times, and the panting of the backings annoys the pants off of me. But it’s a nice ballad and Jan Johansen does a decent job. It could’ve done with a bit more spice, that’s all.
4 points: Ireland – Dreamin’
Let’s settle this debate once and for all: it really is clearly plagiarism. Moonlight (by Julie Felix – it’s on iTunes, lazy bums) sounds exactly the same, only far more acoustic than the Irish entry. However, since it wasn’t disqualified and there are so many boring entries it manages to steal 4 points from me and it’s all due to the beautiful instrumentation and Eddie Friel‘s warm voice. Listening to this makes me feel all cozy and relaxed, a feat which is heavily underrated. Unjust on some level yes, but life’s not always fair now is it!
5 points: France – Il me donne rendez-vous
I do permit it, mam’zelle, but with that sense of style I fear your wannabe partner will lose all interest, miss Santamaria. That powersuit is really not done and tones the effect of this pleasant little song and the confidence in the performance down -such a shame. And those synths were really unnecessary as well. Other than that, I’ve heard worse tonight…
6 points: Cyprus – Sti fotia
Time for the good stuff then, kicking off with Alex Panayi aka The Man Who’s Desperately In Need Of A Stylist. And A Hairdresser. There’s too much going on on stage, yes, but all the chaos doesn’t manage to distract the attention of the lovely dramatic atmosphere – although I can imagine it does for some. A great build-up, very nicely song and all in all a very entertaining three minutes.
7 points: Slovenia – Prisluhni mi
Oh Darja, if James Bond frequented Ljubljana often I’m sure he would snatch you up and ask you to take care of the soundtrack for his next movie. If Rita Coolidge can, so can you. This is the one that gets closest to Poland 1994, without being too obvious as it has a bit more decoration going on – both in the song and in Darja’s outfit. A more ‘classic’ effort than their debut in ’93 but so far I’m impressed by the tiny Balkan country!
8 points: Spain – Vuelve conmigo
The power and ease with which Anabel Conde performs is countered by her absolute lack of charisma, which is on the level of a wet mop. She stands there like she’s trying to sell fish on the market and I just wanna slap her little face until she doesn’t know which ear to close when trying to reach a high note. Vocally she’s spot on of course and she makes up for her lazy attitude by firing it up towards the end, and she can kiss her lucky stars the orchestra does such a splendid job on her dramatic effort.
10 points: Greece – Pia prosefhi
Ah, the Greeks! Brilliant in ’93 and then nowhere in ’94 – now back with a vengeance! Drama all over the place, but with poise and focus. The parlando intro does its job well and sets the moody tone for this particular entry. Elina Konstantopoulou, not blessed with the most beautiful of hands, is very strong vocally and conveys the Drama really well. I love the vibe here and it’s a brilliant ending to a very mediocre Contest. Now thàt’s how it’s done!
12 points: Norway – Nocturne
Well there’s just no discussion is there. The Norwegians completely got the picture and turned folk magic into Eurovision power – not coincidentally with the help of Irish friends. It’s a very well balanced concept and I ADORE the musical vibe here, I get swept away completely. A pity singer Gunnhild Tvinnereim only gets to sing a couple of lines though, she sounds great. I find it rather odd that Rolf Løvland composed La det swinge as well as it’s so different, which goes to show that diversity IS in fact the key word. My hat off to him. Magical and a well deserved winner – it is a SONG contest you know, not (strictly) a singing contest.
As for the wooden spoon: easy! In Belgium we have this festival each year that’s called ‘Rock For Specials’, a get together for people who are physically and mentally not entirely on par with the majority of society. I bet that’s the angle for UK‘s entry in 1995 – Eurovision for and by Specials. Can’t see any other reason why they’d be so daft to pick thàt.
No drastic changes in the top ten, though France comes closer to the number one again in absence of our northern neighbours and Ireland replaces the no longer participating Luxembourg – they have the same amount of points but Ireland’s one douze ahead:
1 Netherlands 170 (1970 – 1971 – 1993)
2 France 164 (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 118 (1973)
10 Ireland 107 (1969 – 1980 – 1984)