TV Cream’s perfect Eurovision line-up

Posted in Blog > Pot pourri > TV Cream’s perfect Eurovision line-up | 12 Comments »

TVC's Eurovision pick!
It’s Eurovision Song Contest time again, those few days when Britain, which has offered up a few useful pop acts over the years, tells itself it’s hopeless at music. Being “so b*d it’s g**d” means it’s become an epicentre of common knowledge cliches and assumptions, all of which are false.

Taking breakaway eastern European states out of the voting for the last few years would have made no difference to the winner, Katie Boyle hasn’t been directly involved since 1974, “nul points” is never said because the hosts only tend to read out the scores of the leaders (and even if they did they’d say “no points”, and were they to then read it in French they’d say “zéro point”) and most of those nonsensical entries know exactly what they’re doing. On this last point see under Austria’s Boom Boom Boomerang from 1977, only mentioned now to mock the lyrics and the back-to-front costumes even though both were intended as mockery. We only believe the UK is the sole arbiter of comedic intent because Wogan kept telling us so, when in fact Britain’s reluctance to offer anything other than plain seriousness is usually its downfall, especially that year Scooch were entered because they were “camp”, at which the rest of Europe put its metaphorical hands on its hips and just stared at us slowly shaking their heads as you would at someone who gets the wrong bit of the joke. Oh, and Dustin The Turkey didn’t get past the semi-final stage.

Back in the Creamup days we’ve covered A Song For Europe and the TV and radio coverage, so this time we’re offering TVC’s dream Eurovision line-up – a set of the songs we most like, one per country from the most regular entrants, all from the Cream Era. It may not be entirely representative of an average Eurovision final’s range, largely because of a no big ballads policy, but it’s what Eurovision should be about to us. Find our choices the other side of the reprise of the 1977 winner with gallery talkback from the Beeb’s Stewart Morris. Just as long as the caption roller works everything will be fine.

Austria!AUSTRIA: Mess – Sonntag (1982)
Perhaps Eurovision’s least possessingly named band were a perky boy-girl duo of the type we’ll see again later in this selection, and indeed in this year. Upbeat isn’t the half of it with the naggingly familiar refrain which sees our pair engage in a full leg-kicking routine. The female half wore a pink puffball skirt, as would soon become standard for such jaunty singers.
Belgium!BELGIUM: Telex – Euro-Vision (1980)
Country attempts self-effacing irony in its selection; Eurovision world look upon their work quizzically and give it a pointed post-performance pause and total of fourteen points. The trio do have external form – they’d appeared on Top Of The Pops a year earlier with a robotic slo-mo deconstruction of Rock Around The Clock literally a month before the Flying Lizards’ slo-mo rock’n’roll deconstructivism became a hit instead, and they’d later work with Sparks and remix the Pet Shop Boys and Depeche Mode. As for this evening the introductory photos of the band with a fisherman kind of set the scene, the very deliberate anti-performance polishing it off. “Are you sure Telex took part in the Eurovision? Can you prove it?” asks the FAQ of their website. You have to say they’ve got a point.
Cyprus!CYPRUS: Alexia – Aspro Mavro (1987)
Surprisingly few attempts to take on the Fairlight and wipe-clean Motown aping of the mid-80s but here’s a fine example, big note into the last chorus and truck driver’s key change present and correct through a singer who appears from her makeup and earrings to be auditioning for an uncast role in Bread. Apparently it’s about “a girl remembering a man she saw on a train but only being able to bring the memory back by playing on the piano”, however that works. And for those wondering, Chain Reaction was first released two years earlier.
Denmark!DENMARK: Brixx – Video Video (1982)
Very culturally on-message – he’s got both Humphrey Bogart *and* Wimbledon on his tape! Imagine the possibilities when he discovered Long Play. Something as set in the worlds of LE and schlager as Eurovision was going to find new wave difficult but this wouldn’t shame New Musik, though you get the impression the singer in his Richard Keys-like bright yellow jacket is lacking the space to really let loose. Confused by his purple skinny tie, the judges awarded it five points, only finishing in front of…
Finland!FINLAND: Kojo – Nuku Pommiin (1982)
Nul No points! Which is a shame, as despite wanting to be the early Sting Kojo also seems to be working that new wave demographic, albeit through a BA Robertson prism. One could also point to it sharing an anti-nukes message with the winner, Nicole’s A Little Peace, though you’d have to ignore the later released English translation revealing the lyrics to include “if someone throws some nuclear poo here on our Europe, what will you say when we get all the filth on our faces?” If nothing else congratulations in order to Kojo for getting Elvis Costello to play keyboards and massive bass drum.
France!FRANCE: Profil – Hé, hé M’sieurs dames (1980)
Self-explanatory title, barely comprehensible song by five singers sporting rainbow flashes as if they’re some kind of lightweight, non-threatening superhero team (The Fey-vengers?). Likeably light and vaguely sunshine harmonic, like something that would have classed up a 3-2-1 performance spot or PS It’s Paul Squires. All of which – and we shouldn’t really have to explain this – are a very good thing indeed.
West Germany!(WEST) GERMANY: Dschinghis Khan – Dschinghis Khan (1979)
Let us pay tribute to Ralph Siegel, writer of 21 Eurovision entrants between 1974 and 2013 ranging from A Little Peace to the magnificently uncoordinated Les Humphries Singers. More than that let us pay tribute to his masterwork, the band named after and here singing in tribute to Genghis Khan (in Israel!), featuring three of the scariest looking men you’ll ever see, including one Louis Potgieter and his beard in what can only be described as the Bobby Farrell role. Dschinghis Khan actually parlayed this into a five year career encompassing an Australian number one single and the actively remarkable Rocking Son Of Dschinghis Khan, which features perhaps pop’s greatest ever opening rhyme.
Greece!GREECE: Anna Vissi and The Epikouri – Autostop (1980)
Vissi would go on to perform at the 2004 Olympic opening ceremony and release the best selling Greece album of the 00s, none of which is obvious from her first attempt at international reach. No matter how many times they repeat it there’s no rhythm to that title and maybe in hijacking the comedy trombone sound it does sound a little too much like a comedic idea of a Eurovision entry but we like how it signposts the jauntiness of the chorus with prominent xylophone and how the Epikouri are clearly working twice as hard as Vissi.
Iceland!ICELAND: ICY – Gleðibankinn (1986)
The country’s first ever Eurovision entry, the band name an ABBA-like acronym rather than too knowing. Possesses about three choruses, a middle eight where a chorus should be and a first verse that sounds like the greatest synth sound Hue & Cry never found. Wardrobe: Bobby Davro as showbiz ringmaster. Translation of that title: ‘The Bank of Fun’ – which sounds like a great, lost Madness hit.
Israel!ISRAEL: HaBatlanim – Shir Habatlanim (1987)
Or as Tel obligingly translates the title, ‘Lazy Bums’. It kind of progresses from there, sadly losing something in fuller English translation. The one on the right went on to host the country’s version of Dancing With The Stars. Together they are a “joyful association of two actors,” apparently. Begins with the one of the left humming something that sounds reminiscent of ‘Happy Birthday’.
Italy!ITALY: Mia Martini – Libera (1977)
Ms Martini was one of Italy’s biggest selling artists at the time, so presumably didn’t just shout the chorus all the time. This is here as a fine example of how the live orchestra tried to get the hang of the early days of pop-disco around this time, producing dramatic flourishes and some vigorous rhythm work towards the end. Curiously she seems to have insisted on jeans all round for the backing singers.
Luxembourg!LUXEMBOURG: Baccara – Parlez-Vous Français? (1978)
The Grand Duchy haven’t been involved in Eurovision since 1994, maybe because they ran out of other countries’ singers they could temporarily claim as their own, including Nana Mouskouri, Plastic Bertrand, France Gall (with a Serge Gainsbourg song), Vicky Leandros and the colour-coded Spanish boogieing/lady-apologising duo with a song written by their usual composers. Here they have a little chat about pulling in France.
Monaco!MONACO: Laurent Vaguener – Notre Vie C’est La Musique (1979)
The principality’s last entry until 2004 was another attempt at evoking the joy of disco through low-rent TV orchestras, our man moving his head around far too much as he lists the types of music he likes (“Crazy or romantic”, anybody? How about “Fantastic or nostalgic”? No?). Someone needs to sort that bass synth sound out.
Netherlands!NETHERLANDS: Teach-In – Ding-A-Dong (1975)
A traditional target for ‘nonsense lyrics lol’ critiques but it’s no Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley where the stupid bit is put in for the sake of it, that’s what we say. Partially written by Danny Mirror of I Remember Elvis Presley infamy, surely that’s a deliberate Stevie Wonder reference in the first line. Also notable, the pre-phone voting method through which Dutch TV chose their candidate. We wouldn’t like to think of the tiebreaker had the result been much closer.
Norway!NORWAY: Sverre Kjelsberg & Mattis Hætta – Sámiid Ædnan (1980)
Not sure what to think of this idea from 1980 of getting someone from the country’s broadcaster (we sent Noel) to pitch for each song in advance. Sámiid Ædnan was intended as political, a tribute to the freedom movement among the Sami people of northern Norway and referring to a hunger strike by Sami activists in front of the Norwegian parliament building. Their representative makes for quite the mood shift after the dramatic build of Kjelsberg’s part.
Portugal!PORTUGAL: Carlos Paiao – Playback (1981)
Despite its live instrumentation rules Eurovision isn’t strictly the best audience to air your anti-miming treatise to but full marks to Dave Gorman’s stunt double for trying, and for those ‘robot backing dancers’ interludes. Like someone heard the postmodern nature of new wave but got it crucially wrong.
Ireland!REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Sheeba - Horoscopes (1981)
How to follow Johnny Logan’s 1980 winner? With a cabaret female vocal group in glittery shower curtains singing about how rubbish following the stars is prior to ending up as the chorus vocalists on Name That Tune. “Believe in the truth and not celestial lies” is an ear catching lyric, though surely the truth has already happened and horoscopes refer by nature to the future?
Spain!SPAIN: Salome – Vivo Cantando (1969)
One of the year’s four joint winners, introducing both over-fringing and on the spot shimmying to the art of Eurovision performance. We admire the way it considers being a lovelorn ballad and then gets over itself.
Sweden!SWEDEN: Tomas Ledin – Just Nu! (1980)
The celebrated Melodifestivalen’s offering, by a protege of Abba’s who had had a solo spot when they played Wembley Arena, almost lets itself down with its self-consciously hard rock guitar sound, rescued by it generally sounding like arena rock in an airless vacuum. Watch before the second verse for the moment Ledin realises the cord has fallen out of the back of the mike, which he subsequently makes up for with some assured lounging.
Switzerland!SWITZERLAND: Peter, Sue & Marc and Pfuri, Gorps & Kniri – Trödler und Co (1979)
It’s worth their crediting all those names as a wholesome vocal trio do battle with some men and their junkyard contraptions, like Peter, Paul & Mary with Roger Ruskin Spear.
Turkey!TURKEY: Burak Aydos - Esmer Yarim (1993)
Songs that can’t decide what they really are seem to get a good hearing on this list. Here, Aydos and colleagues have heard Primal Scream’s Movin’ On Up and are doing it wrongly, on purpose, on a tight budget, after listening to nothing but early new romantic singles for a month. The saxophonist particularly makes the most of his time in the spotlight.
United Kingdom!UNITED KINGDOM: Bardo - One Step Further (1982)
Tel and Ray Moore building their parts there. To pick out one shining example amid the myriad ways the UK have got it slightly wrong we return to Harrogate and Jan Leeming’s headband once more. This was John Peel’s favourite Eurovision entry ever apparently, and Neil Tennant sang their praises in ver Hits. Sally-Ann Triplett off Crackerjack and Stephen Fischer, who’d been offered a place in Bucks Fizz but was contracted to Godspell at the time, shared a manager and producer with ver Fizz and were pre-show favourites but made a right hash of the live vocal and finished seventh. At least the tight choreography was on point with the orchestra adding some attractingly frantic percussion.
Yugoslavia!YUGOSLAVIA: Tajci – Hajde Da Ludujemo (1990)
Representing the participant diaspora, because there are research limits. Like Bardo, Tajci went in to bat for the hosts only to finish seventh. Europe, you just weren’t ready for the Croatian Wendy James.

12 Responses to “TV Cream’s perfect Eurovision line-up”

  1. George White says:

    Sheeba or as “mam refers to them, Marion the circus ringmistress, Maxi and the other one dressed in Star Trek floozy outfits”.

  2. George White says:

    Are you fans of Dustin the Turkey? I once chatted to him when I was 11 on his show via phone, trying to tell him that the reason they couldn’t see a pirate television broadcasting duck named Martin on the tv behind them was whenever they turned their head away from him, he appeared on the telly, but when they looked at it, he was gone .

  3. ATV says:

    Sheeba had a member called Maxi, who before this represented Ireland on her tod in 1973 singing “Do I Dream?”

    She was also the member of another trio named.. Maxi, Dick and Twink.

    Not to be confused with gay porn, oh no.

  4. George White says:

    Although Sheeha IMO are dressed more like Ming the Merciless’ handmaidens, eg Suzanne Danielle and after the clothesswap Dale.

  5. Liam says:

    I’m guessing choosing Jahn Tiegen for Norway would have been too predictable?
    Likewise Fredi and Friends for Finland?

  6. George White says:

    Is one of Anna Vissi’s backing singers Nadim Sawalha? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OirTchp4aX4

  7. borgduck says:

    I’ve been glued to a couple of these half the afternoon! I’m literally embarrassed. Cast your eyes & ears away! The Sirens!

  8. Martin says:

    The one I remember most is Gitte Haenning: who sang the 1973 (I think) entry for Germany, ‘Junger Tag (English: Hello Today)’
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-0YZAQxfkw

  9. Redhairkid says:

    I absolutely LOVE Tomas Ledin! My celebrity crush for the past 34 years.

  10. George White says:

    Twink, Maxi’s partner is an annoying Irish comedienne/singer/presenter, who has become known for being drunk on the Late Late Show. She was in Taffin, but maybe I shouldn’t be living here.

  11. Hellwyck says:

    Lordi, anyone?

Leave a Reply

Current ye@r *