04 July 2016

Eurovision 1976: And The UK's 12 Points Go to...Switzerland!

Peter, Sue and Marc / Eurovision 1976 / Switzerland
Switzerland's Peter, Sue and Marc

"And our twelve points go to..."

Peter Sue and Marc / Djambo Djambo / Switzerland Eurovision 1976
In 1976, the Eurovision Song Contest moved to The Hague in The Netherlands following Teach-In's victory with Ding A Dong the previous year.

The same scoring system that was introduced in 1975 continued. Each jury awarded (the now familiar) twelve points to their favourite song, followed by ten and eight points etc to their next favourites.

Of course, 1976 was a special year for the United Kingdom, when the nation secured a second victory via The Brotherhood of Man's memorable ditty, Save Your Kisses For Me.

But what of the UK's twelve points? What was the country's decision?

The consensus among many of the nations which hadn't given their top mark to the UK was that France's Catherine Ferry should be 1976's winner. However, the British jury had other ideas. They liked Un, deux, trois but much preferred Switzerland's entry proffered by Peter, Sue and Marc called Djambo Djambo.

The trio from Bern was no stranger to the Eurovision Song Contest having already participated in 1971 with Les illusions de nos vingt ans which placed twelfth in a field of eighteen. This time however, with the help of the United Kingdom's twelve points, Switzerland managed to climb the scoreboard to finish in fourth place with 91 points.

Djambo Djambo was typical of continental European Eurovision output of the era. While ABBA had tried to inject a modicum of modernity into the Contest, Peter, Sue and Marc - who appeared to be Switzerland's sub par answer to Peter, Paul and Mary - kept it firmly in the middle of the road. A folky pop number - its staging was a little reminiscent of Mouth and MacNeal's I See A Star from 1974 - it told the story of an ageing clown named Djambo Djambo, recalling his glory days of performing in the circus.

With lines like..."And sometimes you can see him on the side-walk with little boys and girls around his feets," it had its obvious problems, but it otherwise succeeded in being a jaunty sing-along offering with an obligatory key change - something that seemed to appeal to British Eurovision sensibilities.

Peter, Sue and Marc continued their bid to win Eurovision in succeeding years, but sadly to no avail. They returned in both 1979 and 1981 having also entered national finals between 1973 and 1975, as well as in 1978. A solo effort by Marc Dietrich in 1987 could only secure the runners-up spot in the Swiss finals, the last time any of the vocal group attempted to secure a spot in the main Final.

The UK's Eurovision Top 3 in 1976

Switzerland: Peter, Sue and Marc: Djambo Djambo - 12 points
Ireland: Red Hurley: When - 10 points
France: Catherine Ferry: Un, deux, trois - 8 points

13 May 2016

Eurovision 2016: Review: Sweden: Frans: If I Were Sorry

Frans Jeppsson Wall / Sweden / 2016 Eurovision Song Contest
Frans: Another Swedish winner?

And finally, for this year at least, our attention turns to host nation Sweden and their entry If I Were Sorry, a song which is co-written and performed by 17-year-old Frans.

Coming from someone so young, it's not surprising that the track is probably the most contemporary in the competition. An almost spoken narrative dominates the song and this in itself is conspicuous by an accent which sounds like a mixture of Eastenders combined with ABBA.

However, unlike Sweden's winner from last year, If I Were Sorry is a much more understated affair, backed by hip-hop dance rhythms in a style which unifies Ed Sheeran's pop/folk with Justin Bieber's electronic R&B. As such, it reflects all that is current about pop radio.

It has already sold well across some parts of Europe - unusually for a Eurovision song it has entered the UK Top 200 before a single vote has even been given. Whether this pre-Contest success will be enough to send Sweden to the top of the scoreboard for a second year in a row is questionable. The song is distinctive enough for it to score well, but whether the average Eurovision audience is ready to vote for it en masse is debatable.

With the news that no other Nordic country has made it through to the Final, it can expect some high points from its Scandinavian neighbours, no doubt helping it to settle somewhere within the Top 10.

What do you think?

Image by Albin Olsson (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

11 May 2016

Eurovision 2016: Spotlight on Lithuania; Serbia; Bulgaria

Donny Montell / Lithuania / 2016 Eurovision Song Contest

Lithuania: Donny Montell with I've Been Waiting For This Night

Making a welcome return to the Eurovision stage is Lithuanian singer Donny Montell who first appeared at the Contest in 2012, blindfolded and singing Love is Blind.

On that occasion, he finished in 14th place performing an updated disco-style dancefloor track and now, four years later, I've Been Waiting For This Night seems to be his natural musical progression. In fact, the song is probably more contemporary 'Eurovision' than most featured in the competition. \

It ticks many of the required boxes: it's a somewhat overwrought clubland-style anthem building to a big chorus, but proves to be more animated than his last effort. It's snappy and should have enough popular appeal to make it through to the Final.

It's possibly a little too  generic to make significant headway on the scoreboard, but equalling his 2012 ranking shouldn't prove too much of a problem.

Appearance: Semi-Final 2, performing 9th.

Serbia: Sanja Vučić ZAA with Goodbye (Shelter)

Sanja Vučić ZAA / Serbia / 2016 Eurovision Song Contest

Serbia is bidding to regain the Eurovision title using the talents of local singer Sanja Vučić - vocalist with the domestic band ZAA - performing the entry Goodbye (Shelter).

She brings something of an Amy Winehouse vibe to the competition, if her official video is anything to go by. She possesses a melodramatic performance style which gives this bluesy ballad a heightened sense of potency and intensity.

Hopefully, her team will take advantage of this and stage her presentation appropriately. Goodbye (Shelter) is blessed with a captivating melody and a classy hook, the abundance of which may take some by surprise.

If there's any justice, this should qualify and quickly climb the left-hand side of the Final's scoreboard.

Appearance: Semi-Final 2, performing 6th.

Bulgaria: Poli Genova with If Love Was A Crime

Poli Genova / Bulgaria / 2016 Eurovision Song Contest

It's not only Donny Montell who is making a reappearance this year as 2011 veteran Poli Genova returns to the fray (as does her country, Bulgaria).

The Bulgarians record at Eurovision has been rocky (to say the least) since their début in 2005. With only one appearance in the Final, courtesy of Elitsa and Stoyan in 2007, Poli looks set to change her country's fortunes with the very catchy If Love Was A Crime.

Not surprisingly, the song is already established as one of the favourites for the title - and rightly so. It's a catchy, lively pop number with a memorable chorus and some contemporary effects, making it one of the most radio-friendly entries in the competition.

Expect to eventually see this in the Top 3 of its semi-final - something it could quite easily repeat in the Final.

Appearance: Semi-Final 2, performing 12th.

What are your thoughts about these entries?

All images by Albin Olsson (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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