1993 EUROVISION SONG CONTEST MILLSTREET
Welcome to the only place in the world where you can access the highly sought after opinions of Daniel Viles on the songs performed in the 1993 Eurovision Song Contest. The 1993 Eurovision was held in Green Glens Arena in Millstreet, Ireland on May 15 and won by Niamh Kavanagh for the host country. Due to apathy towards the ESC in Australia, I missed seeing this contest on television. From memory, I was busy that week trying to get Sarah Young to go out with me. I eventually succeeded; poor girl!
1. Italy Enrico Ruggeri Sole d'Europa ***
You know how sometimes in children's pantomimes, the bad guy sings a song about how he wouldn't be bad if somebody loved him? This sounds like that song. In real terms, you could probably call this song a power waltz. Enrico's voice would be well used in show music. There is a lovely sad quality to his voice that brings the listener in. The rock guitar solo is extremely misplaced but if you can ignore that, this is lovely.
2. Turkey Burak Aydos Esmer Yarim ****
Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll has reached Turkey! This song has everything good from 1950s America a doo-wop intro, a wailing harmonica and a vocal performance that's not bad for a Turk trying to be a black American. There's also a 1980s alto sax solo thrown in for good measure. This song owes a lot to Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, but who ever said that was a bad thing?
3. Germany Mόnchener Freiheit Viel Zu Veit ***
As far as cheesy rock ballads go, this song is not bad. I could imagine Whiteheart or Bad English making an absolute meal of this song by playing the chorus at full throttle, but, to their credit, Mόnchener Freiheit are a lot more sensitive than that. Of course there's a little crescendo to launch the chorus, but they obviously know how not to destroy a sensitive song. The orchestral accompaniment adds to the fairly simple texture of this song, which is well worth listening to, despite the clichιs evident within.
4. Switzerland Annie Cotton Moi, Tout Simplement **
It had to come sooner or later the first power ballad of the contest! This is a very boring composition, however, if you have some spare time, listen to this for Annie's genuinely strong voice which valiantly, but vainly, strives to save this wretched waste of manuscript.
5. Denmark Tommy Seebach Under Stjernerne pε Himlen ***
Lots of people will like this song. I find it a bit simple, but then I'm not writing this review for me, am I! The song is basically a simple folk melody set to a light reggae beat. The seventies backing vocal style grates my ears a little, but the whistling solo in the middle of the song is faultless. Think of it as The Fureys meets Bob Marley meets Roger Whittaker.
6. Greece Keti Garbi Ellada, Chora Tou Fotos *****
Greek Eurovision entries invariably sound very... well... Greek! Nothing wrong with that; I love Greek music. This song is fairly easily categorised as Greek rock. To explain this genre, think of a regular rock band; now add bongos, bouzoukis and balalaikas. Got it? Good! Keti's voice is more than able to carry this sort of song, but the beauty of this song is the atmosphere it creates. If, like me, you adore songs with a genuinely dark, brooding feel to them, you should love this.
7. Belgium Barbara Iemand Als Jij ***
This song sounds like it's going to be a power ballad but it turns out a lot better than I thought it would. Part of the reason for this is that the composition holds itself back and just allows itself to be a beautifully simple song. But the real star here is Barbara. Her voice is just so cosy and warm with that adorable Piaf-style vibrato which, unlike a Callas-style vibrato, enhances the sound of not just the voice, but everything around it as well. A standout vocal performance.
8. Malta William Mangion This Time ***
Before there were power ballads, there was power soul! In this song, William does his best Joe Cocker impersonation, the backing girls do the ooh's in the right places, the horns pump it out in the choruses, the only other things it needs is a Hammond Organ. If you like The Temptations' later work, this is cut from the same cloth. A genuine soul number.
9. Iceland Inga ήα Veistu Svariπ **
You can tell that you are watching a good Eurovision when even the ballads don't sound too bad. If you listen to the performance of this song from Millstreet, the audio has some problems at the start. By the end of the song, there are no doubts that Inga can sing. There is nothing particularly spectacular about this song, but that's half the beauty. This song never reaches any great heights, but it's only making a half-hearted attempt to do so. Worth a listen just to make your mind up.
10. Austria Tony Wegas Maria Magdalena **
The best way to describe this song is this: imagine Tom Jones singing a Pointer Sisters song. Yes, I nearly threw up when I thought of that description too, but I'd imagine that there's a fair few middle aged women out there who probably think that Tom Jones singing a Pointer Sisters song is a good night out, so, this song is for them. Oh, and I'm going to take a really wild guess that Tony Wegas is not his real name!
11. Portugal Anabela A Cidade Atι Ser Dia **
This song which is probably two parts show tune and one part power ballad which would normally incur my eternal wrath, but, once again, they have actually managed to find a talented vocalist to perform it. Anabela's voice is delightful, although this may again be me showing my preference for that Piaf-style vibrato I was talking about. Not a very good composition but it doesn't make too many ghastly sounds either. Check it out for Anabela.
12. France Patrick Fiori Mama Corsica **
Variety is not a word often associated with Eurovision, but this certainly is different. To describe it in layman's terms, this is a drinking song. That's right a drinking song! Sure, there are a few high passages in the chorus, but one can easily imagine a group of inebriated Frenchmen with their arms around each other's shoulders in good old-fashioned bonhomie, swaying left and right singing all about "Mama Corsica". Have a listen; lots of fun.
13. Sweden Arvingarna Eloise
This may be the most blatant case of plagiarism in the history of the Eurovision. If you remember "Eleanor, gee I think you're swell", then you've heard this song. Calling the song "Eloise" probably didn't help disguise it too much, but Arvingarna should go to court over this one. Le Suede: no pwa!
14. Ireland Niamh Kavanagh In Your Eyes *
Excluding Sweden's stolen song, this was the first genuine dud of the evening, so, of course, it won the fucking thing, didn't it! This is an out-and-out power ballad, no two ways about it. Niamh's voice is strong and tuneful but I'll never know whether or not there is any sensitivity there because of the terrible song. No wonder the '94 contest was so terrible. This contest had several creative entries, but when countries see themselves get beaten by trash like this, why bother?
15. Luxembourg Modern Times Donne-moi Une Chance de te Dire *
The second genuine dud of the night. The jury is out as to whether this power ballad is worse than Ireland's effort. There is one little rhythmic variation in the bridges to the choruses but otherwise, this is quite bland. Oh who cares which one is worse? Don't listen to either!
16. Slovenia 1 X Band Tih Dezeven Dan ***
Phew! I was beginning to think that the 4KQ set were being left out of this contest, but they got their token easy listening song. This contest already has a drinking song; this is more of a driving song, meaning that it's the sort of song that easy listening stations put on the radio when people are driving to and from work. Of course, if you listen to a drinking song, then a driving song, you're a bloody idiot!
17. Finland Katri-Helena Tule Luo *
This woman has been watching Shirley Bassey way too closely. The song and the performance positively reek of the Welsh Witch, so if you happen to like bland songs sung far too loudly and not particularly tunefully, then this is for you. The fact that there are mandolins in this song is an insult to mandolins everywhere.
18. Bosnia-HerzEGOVINA Fazla Sva Bol Svijeta ***
Sva Bol Svijeta has a lot going for it. This is a darkly coloured mid-tempo rock song with verses featuring Fazla's brooding vocals, most reminiscent of Bryan Ferry, and a chorus with a distinctly Mediterranean feel in the vocal harmonies if not the instrumentation. The stage performance was a little amateurish, but that really is secondary. Good music can survive rotten theatrics.
19. UNITED KINGDOM Sonia Better the Devil You Know **
"Nothing you can do could make me be untrue to My Guy, doo de doo..." Don't worry, there's no Swedish style plagiarism here, but this song definitely nods in that direction, that is, this is a Motown shuffle. Sonia's shouts her way through the song as white people singing black styles often do. Not a horrible song but there's too many clichιs for my liking.
20. Netherlands Ruth Jacott Vrede ***
This may be the closest I will ever come to getting excited about a Dutch Eurovision entry. If you can imagine a Dusty Springfield song put to a light funk beat, you'll get pretty close to where this song is coming from. Nothing wrong with Ruth's voice, either. There are some lovely chord movements around the chorus that give this song a lift at some vital moments. About halfway through listening to this song, you may fear a rap solo coming on. Fear not, my friend.
21. Croatia Put Don't Ever Cry **
Not so much a pop song as a national anthem. This tune would actually be an improvement on many of the songs currently parading as national anthems. So, why is it in the Eurovision? Well, it was Croatia's first time! Put is a vocal quintet (three women, two men) whose vocal style is wonderful. This song bores me a little but I'd love to hear them sing Christmas carols or hymns.
22. Spain Eva Santamaria Hombres ***
And this may be the closest I will ever come to getting excited about a Spanish Eurovision entry. This is a funk song, which, under normal circumstances, would be performed with electronic instruments and a club vocalist. Instead, this is performed with a full orchestra and a show vocalist. It's not supposed to work but somehow it becomes some sort of funk/cabaret hybrid that is very punchy indeed. Give this a real listen.
23. Cyprus Zoumboulakis & Van Beke Mi Stamatas *
The third dud of the evening and this may be the ultimate dud. This is a power ballad with a hint of Motown suggested by the 6/8 rhythm, but the vocal performance is quite poor. When there is nothing exciting about the composition, it's all up to the singer to make it happen. It didn't happen.
24. Israel Lahakat Shiru Shiru *
Another false alarm. THIS is the dud of the evening. If you watch Sunday morning tele-evangelists, they often have boring choirs singing boring songs about how great life is. I'd like to think that this is the Jewish parody of that style. It's not so much a power ballad as, oh... what's the phrase... a shit song!
25. Norway Silje Vige Alle Mine Tankar ***
Remind me, Norway is at the top of Europe, isn't it? Then you have to admire the guts to perform a song featuring Spanish guitar, Italian accordion and a closing section that sounds like the opening to a Balkan wedding dance. Silje's almost child-like voice hovers over it all to create an extraordinary and totally unexpected combination of sounds that makes quite an enigmatic end to the contest.
This was a surprisingly good contest. The Irish win promised a disastrous 1994 contest, and so it came to be. Israel provided the night's worst entry, but the standout entry for me was from Greece, closely followed by Turkey. There are then a string of songs that were very pleasant without blowing me away: Italy; Germany; Denmark; Belgium; Malta; Slovenia; Bosnia-Herzegovina; Netherlands; Spain, and; Norway. I'm still deciding whom I'd leave out of my top ten. This was one of the more even Eurovisions and while I still rank it behind '95, '96 and '97, 1993 was a truly wonderful contest.
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