Congratulations – The Line-up

Posted: 20/6/2005 in:

As Eurovision fanatics will already know, a special show celebrating the 50th anniversary of the song contest is set to take place in Copenhagen on 22st October. The show – called Congratulations after the Cliff Richard entry - will offer viewers the chance to vote for the best Eurovision song of all time, based on a list of 14 classics which will be performed on the night. And earlier this week Danish broadcast DR officially confirmed the list of songs – which is as follows:

1956-1965
1958 Nel Blu Di Pinto Di Blu (Volare) - Domenico Modugno (Italy)
1965 Poupée De Cire Poupée De Son - France Gall (Luxembourg)

1966-1975
1968 Congratulations – Cliff Richard (UK)
1973 Eres tu - Mocedades (Spain)
1974 Waterloo – Abba (Sweden)

1976-1985
1976 Save Your Kisses For Me – Brotherhood of Man (UK)
1980 What’s Another Year – Johnny Logan (Ireland)
1982 Ein Bisschen Frieden – Nicole (Germany)

1986-1995
1987 Hold Me Now – Johnny Logan (Ireland)
1988 Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi – Celine Dion (Switzerland)

1996-2005
1998 Diva – Dana International (Israel)
2000 Fly On The Wings Of Love – Olsen Brothers (Denmark)
2003 Every Way That I Can – Sertab (Turkey)
2005 My Number One – Helena Paparizou (Greece)

Team Eurovision’s Verdict On The Line-Up
While there are certainly some classics here (Waterloo, Save Your Kisses For Me etc. etc.) we can’t help thinking this list doesn’t go far enough. Having just 14 songs on the list simply doesn’t do justice to 50 years’ worth of contest history, as far as we’re concerned – for example, why only one song from the 90s?

Granted, we know that wasn’t exactly a golden age as far as Eurovision is concerned but it is significant for being the decade in which Ireland won four times – and given that’s a yet-to-be-repeated achievement, why isn’t one of those winning songs in there (instead of having both Johnny Logan songs, perhaps)? If you’re going to have all those 21st Century winners in there it at least makes sense to have a few more from the 90s. Strange, too, how none of the recent East European winners have gotten a look-in – Estonia, Latvia and Ukraine are nowhere to be seen. Surely it would have been nice to include at least one of those in the line-up, just to demonstrate the changing face of the contest in recent years?

Also notable by its absence is Katrina and The Waves’ Love Shine A Light – and yes, we know the UK is already well represented here but let’s not forget that not only did that song win, it scored more points than any other song in the history of Eurovision at the time (until the advent of the semi-final saw a whole lot more countries voting and subsequently a whole lot more points at stake). Seems like quite an achievement to us – at any rate, one that deserves a spot on the show. And why no entry from France? Again, we know they haven’t won for a while but they are still one of the Big Four countries (the others all seem to be represented here), and they have a good track record in the contest.

Ultimately, it’s a shame that only 14 songs are included here – perhaps if organisers had opted to feature just a few more (brought the total up to 20 for example) perhaps a few of those mentioned above could have got a look in. With some good performances and archive clips it should still be a good show, but it would’ve been great to see some other classics and recent winners return to the Eurovision spotlight.

Austria pulls out!

Posted: 19/6/2005 in:

The Eurovision website ESC Today is reporting that Austria, one of the song contest’s longest-serving participants, has pulled out of Eurovision 2006.

According to the site, the decision was taken after this year’s participants, Global Kryner, failed to make the final with their yodelling epic Y’asi (finishing a dismal 21st in the semi-final). Reinhard Scolik, the programme director of Austrian TV network ORD told ESC Today that the event had become “an absurd competition in which the Austrian music scene has become totally irrelevant”. As yet, there’s no word on whether they’ll be back in 2007 or whether they’ll follow in the footsteps of Italy and abandon Eurovision totally.

Austria first entered the contest in 1957 but haven’t won since 1966, when Udo Jurgens’ Mercie Cherie swept to victory. Their recent track record has been hit and miss, although Alf Poier’s wacky performance saw them back in the top ten in 2003.

Which is why Team Eurovision is a tad confused by their decision. True, they haven’t done brilliantly in recent years but there are plenty of countries who’ve done a lot worse, and some who’ve been taking part almost as long as Austria (Portugal and Finland for example), who’ve never won at all. Yet they seem quite happy to keep on having a go. Could this be a possible case of sour grapes on the part of the Austrians?

However, presenting the other side of the argument (which we like to do here), it could be that they’re making a stand for all those other long-term entrants who aren’t getting much of a look-in any more on account of the newcomers who keep on winning. If that’s the case, it wouldn’t surprise us at all if one or two more countries followed suit – and perhaps it might force the organisers to have a rethink of the voting system, and establish whether it really is biased in favour of Eastern Europe as so many have suggested.

But was this year’s voting really so political? After all the winning country, Greece, could hardly be regarded as Eastern European – and what’s more, they’d been taking part for 31 years before they finally scored their victory, so it was hardly a case of a newcomer breezing in and stealing top honours from someone more deserving. OK, so they did get their customary 12 points from Cyprus but they won by such a large margin that it would’ve made no difference even if they hadn’t scored them. And what of second-placed Malta, another long-term participant who has no neighbours to award them ‘friendly’ votes?

In other words, it is still possible for long-term participants to triumph over Eurovision’s young upstarts, given the right song and a good performance. So maybe instead of crying foul and flouncing off in a huff Austria needs to take a look at what it was that made them successful in the past, or what it is that makes other countries successful now – and try and emulate that pattern instead.

Either way, they will be missed. Let’s hope their departure is short-lived.

Big Brother’s Eurovision?

Posted: 16/6/2005 in:

In the down time between the end of one Eurovision season and the start of another, Team Eurovision knew it had to find something else to get excited about – and what better than the new series of Big Brother? The show’s been on for a few weeks now, but it took us all of five seconds to decide that dress-wearing dancer Kemal Shahin was our favourite housemate – because right from the start, he confessed to being a Eurovision fanatic. (he’s also a correspondent for the very fine ESC Today website.

But it doesn’t stop there – Kemal’s confessed that he’d love to represent the UK in a future contest, and one bookmaker, Sky Bet , has even gone so far to offer odds on it happening. In fact, if you fancy a flutter on Kemal taking to the stage in Athens next year you’ll get odds of 50-1 – which is very tempting to Team Eurovision, since we’re still smarting from not having won a penny betting on this year’s contest. As to whether the flamboyant reality star genuinely stands a chance of representing the UK, we say why not? After all, he couldn’t do any worse than Javine – could he?