The year was 1974, the place Brighton, England, the event, the 19th Eurovision song contest.
It would be five years before my miraculous birth so I wasn’t even a twinkle in my parent’s eyes but they must have had some insight because they bought several of the Eurovision singles on record for that year and when I was but a wee boy of eight I discovered them. I always credit the 1993 Eurovision as been the year that started my love affair yet in truth it was 1974 and specifically records containing three of that years entrants; Tina Reynolds, Olivia Newton John and Abba.
In 1973 Luxemburg won the Eurovision with a song called ‘Tu te reconnaitrais’ by Anne-Marie David however they declined to host it due to the cost and the BBC graciously stepped in hence the Dome in Brighton.
It would be a year of conspiracy theories and controversies and it would also be the year Greece made their debut with ‘Marinella’.
Returning artists included:
Romuald for Monaco again in 1964 and also for Luxemburg in 1969.
Bendick Singers for Norway the previous year of 1973.
Gigliola Cinquetti for Italy in 1964 for which she won.
17 countries would perform and Ireland would place a respectable 7th with Tina Reynolds song ‘Cross your heart’. I love this song from childhood and its flip side on the record was a track called ‘What would I be’. Lyrics included on that went…’What would I be if I weren’t me, maybe a cloud, maybe a tree and if I were a tree you’d be the gentle rain that falls on me. And if that tree should fade and die, you’d be the ground on which I’d lie….’ Honestly I couldn’t make this up.
France did not perform that year despite having a song and singer chosen. ‘La vie a vingt-cinq ans’ by Dani was pulled when the same week of the Eurovision the French president Georges Pompidou passed away.
Italy would place 2nd but one wonders if that was more to do with the conspiracy theories that surrounded it. The song entitled ‘Si’ which of course means ‘Yes’ was banned from Italian TV because at the same time the Italian referendum on Divorce was going on and they felt the song might influence peoples votes through subliminal messages. No wonder the Italians left the Eurovision we all know them to be passionate but we can add a little crazy into the mix. They must have been pulling their hair out when Dustin was singing about his Douze points, now I wonder why that didn’t work, hhmm!!!!
England would place 4th however singer Olivia Newton John would claim that (and I agree entirely) had she sung her favourite of the choices given her ‘Angel Eyes’ she may have done better. The song ‘Long live love’ was chosen by the British people (its funny how they never learn to leave it in professional’s hands rather then the public, get a clue Britain). Olivia would go on to star in one of the most beloved musicals of all time ‘Grease’ in 1978.
The biggest controversy (probably ever in Eurovision history) which came to light after its performance surrounded Portugals entry by Paulo de Carvalho ‘E depois do adeus’. The song was used as a signal to launch the Carnation Revolution. The song alerted the rebel soldiers to begin the coup and fight to reclaim democracy in Portugal from an authoritarian dictatorship. Thousands of ordinary Portuguese fled to the streets to join with the military insurgents. The result was the end of the secret police, the Estado Novo (new state) and the unpopular colonial war. A new constitution ended up been drafted, political prisoners were freed, censorship was prohibited, free speech was declared and overseas colonies were given their independence and all on the wake of a song at Eurovision.
Of course the year’s winner was Sweden with Abba and ‘Waterloo’. The song went on to become voted the best song of the Eurovision song contest when it celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2005. The group Abba were launched on an unsuspecting world and Abbamania followed. They became as popular as the Beatles and their influence was widespread. To this day their songs are covered by other artists and collectively were turned into a world smash musical, ‘Mamma Mia’.
Its songs began my love of Eurovision and it was a year that launched a revolution, Olivia Newton John and Abba. That is why 1974 is historically one of the best, if not thee best.
In a brand new section to ESC Ireland we get to discuss individual Eurovision years. Please if leaving responses only respond to matters pertaining to the given year. From singers to costumes, interval acts to backing singers, whatever you wish to talk about a selected year this is the place to do it. For these reasons it separates itself from the already in place ‘History’ category.
I’ve chosen 1993 because it was the first year I watched and loved the Eurovision and to date it remains for me one of the most emotional years.
The 38th Eurovision was presented by Fionnula Sweeney who would go on to become an anchor woman for the American news network CNN.
The interval act would be a dismal collaboration between previous Irish winners Linda Martin and Johnny Logan. Linda barely sang a verse of her winning song while her rapid eye movement left me dizzy. Johnny sang with a choir of children a sickening sweet song in which I’m sure every facial twitch mimicked what he’d performed earlier in front of his mirror. There is polished and excessively groomed and Johnny falls into the latter which I always felt alienated him from his audience.
1993 featured three returning artists, Tony Vegas for Austria, Tommy Seebach for Denmark and Katri Helena for Finland. Both Tommy and Katri had performed in the 1979 Eurovision with Tommy also featuring in 1981. Tony Vegas was returning from the previous year, 1992. Doesn’t he remind you of Tom Jones? I can so see him singing ‘Sexbomb’.
25 countries would compete including Italy who would withdraw from the competition afterwards to make only one further appearance in 1997. 1993 would also see the last appearance by Luxemburg who had been in the competition since it began in 1956.
This was also the first year a pre-qualifier was needed as more countries wanted to enter. However in this early stage it only applied to countries that hadn’t entered the Eurovision before or had since become new Republics in their own right. Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, Estonia and Romania entered into a competition with only three winning places available. These went to Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Despite a war going on in Bosnia & Herzegovina they manage to deliver their results albeit through a very dodgy connection to the rapturous applause of the audience.
Headlining the year was a battle of the red heads as Niamh Kavanagh and Sonia fought it out for the final victory. It seemed like Ireland would win as Sonia was 11 points behind but when the final voting country ‘Malta’ reached its penultimate 10 points neither England or Ireland had received a vote which now meant England if they got the 12 points could win by a mere single point. Of course we know that didn’t happen and Ireland claimed its fifth victory but at the time it was a nail biting final. The cheer that erupted when Niamh won always sends a shiver down my spine.
My top five of 1993 went as follows
1- Annie Cotton (Moi, tout simplement)-Switzerland
2- Anabela (A Cidade ate ser dia)-Portugal
3- Inga (Pa veistu savario)-Iceland
4- Niamh Kavanagh (In your eyes)-Ireland
5- Put (Don’t ever cry)-Croatia
A very nice Youtube video by Lotus2003 shows the breakdown and songs involved.
For many who saw the Eurovision in 1993 it remains closest to their hearts, afterwards in the years to follow the influx of eastern European countries and political block voting turned many away from the magic that once was. But for now relive the excitement of the final vote and witness the excitement that is sadly lacking from the present day Eurovision. Must also point out in case someone notices while Norway were last to vote on the board, Malta due to technical difficulties couldn’t give their votes and so were placed last.
Please feel free to leave your comments and observations regarding 1993.