1994 EUROVISION SONG CONTEST - DUBLIN
This page contains Daniel Viles' official opinions on the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest held in the Point Theatre in Dublin and won by Ireland for the third consecutive time. The highlight of the staging was a giant swirl starting at the stage rear and billowing out towards the front of the stage. A number of performers made good use of this feature.
1. SWEDEN - Stjärnorna - Marie Bergman & Roger Pontare **
Someone please tell me what makes Eurovision entrants think that if they enter a power ballad, people are going to prefer to any of the other songs exactly like it. I mean, what is the logic? Are there power ballad connoisseurs out there who discuss the variations between each rendition? Roger's warbling voice sounds exactly as it does six years later in Stockholm, but Marie's voice is actually quite pleasant. She deserved a better song - and partner.
2. FINLAND - Bye Bye Baby – CatCat ***
This is a late 70s disco style tune with a dark atmosphere that owes quite a bit to "Ra Ra Rasputin". I can imagine this song being quite divisive. Some people will enjoy the strange mood and the driving rhythm, while others will quite unashamedly lampoon it as a classic piece of archaic Eurovision dribble. Worth a listen just to see what side of the fence you sit on.
3. IRELAND - Rock 'n' Roll Kids – Paul Harrington & Charlie McGettigan ***
Hmm, a slow piano country ballad about rock n roll? The lyrical references are kitsch and the nostalgia is very mushy indeed, so don't listen to this song for the lyrics unless you're a 4KQ listener. Do, however, enjoy the laid-back vocals and the tastefully simple arrangement that genuinely do give the song its nostalgic feel. It would have been oh too easy to bring on the big arrangement and turn this into a mega-ballad. Full credit to the arranger for resisting this evil temptation.
4. CYPRUS - Ime Anthropos Ke Ego – Evridiki **
What do you get when you mix a power ballad with a thousand wog stereotypes? THIS SONG! If Celine Dion was Cyprian, this is how she'd sound. The folk instrumentation makes it bearable, but there are so many better uses of balalaikas to be found. Give this a miss.
5. ICELAND - Nćtur – Sigga *
Mid-tempo loud ballad alert! If it isn't bad enough that this song is completely unoriginal, the singer seems completely unaware that there are sections where she possibly should be singing a little bit softer - the bits where the music goes soft, for example. Give this a wide berth.
6. UNITED KINGDOM - We Will be Free (Lonely Symphony) - Frances Rufelle **
Given that I don't understand the lyrics of the other songs in this contest, it would be unfair of me to single this song out for inane lyricism. This is a funk piece with gospel backing vocalists and a string quartet inserted into the middle section. To complete this musical equivalent of a road accident, Frances' vocals are pleasant enough but sound a little strained in the high sections. I'm all for stylistic fusion in music, but I'm not convinced that this works.
7. CROATIA - Nek'ti Bude Ljubov Sva - Tony Cetinski *
Three comments not heard at the 1994 Eurovision: "Gee, I'm so glad Croatia are in Eurovision so that they can sing a power ballad"; "What a wonderful trumpet solo!" "I just love it when guys end songs on an out-of-tune falsetto note".
8. PORTUGAL – Chamar a Música – Sara *
Oh, for fuck's sake, enough already! I'm used to an abundance of slow power ballads in Eurovision, but five of the first eight? Mercy baby, mercy!
9. SWITZERLAND - Sto Pregando – Duilio **
Make that six of the first nine. The song is called 'Sto Pregando', just in case hearing the title thirty times in the song isn't enough for you.
10. ESTONIA - Nagu Merelaine - Silvi Vrait *
Seven of the first ten! Don't be fooled by the rock guitar introduction. This is as bad as it gets. Silvi's voice is a joke (unless you enjoy women who sound like they really should give up the smokes professing undying love to you in a Baltic language) and the music is as unsurprising as anything else in this contest.
11. ROMANIA - Dincolo de Nori - Dan Bittman **
It was a song of two halves. The song starts with an Elton-style piano solo. Is it a ballad? Is it something original for a change? The vocals aren't good but there is just enough hope there to keep you listening to the song. Then, about halfway through, the song takes a one second pause...and re-invents itself as...a power ballad. I give up. I fucking give up!
12. MALTA - More than Love - Chris Scicluna & Moira Stafrace *
And now, a power ballad - Maltese style! I think this song actually tries to piss you off. Just when you think you just might be able to bear another three minutes of this, Moira starts on the vocal gymnastics. This leaves enough room in the melody line for a good dose of 'overharmonisatia'. And lastly, as a special treat, the accompaniment adds tubular bells. You read right, tubular fucking bells! And we're only halfway! Aaaaaaggggghhhhhhh!!!!
13. NETHERLANDS - Waar is de Zon? - Willeke Alberti *
The power ballad connoisseurs are having a real night out tonight!
Yay! It's not a power ballad! In fact, it's really quite good. This song is a strange mix of late seventies disco music and wartime showgirl music. Needless to say, the vocals sound like a trio of wartime showgirls trying their hand at disco music. You'll have to make your own mind up about whether it works or not. Personally, I think that this is great fun. Chances are that if you enjoyed "Doop", you may well enjoy this. Oh, and enjoy the contributions from 'Mr Bass Man'.
15. SLOVAKIA - Nekonecna Piesen - Martin Durinda & Tublatanka **
The seventies pop scene featured a number of singers who sounded like they had just failed a Broadway audition. Martin Durinda was apparently one of them. This is a very dated up-tempo pop tune performed by a rather untalented singer. About the only thing going for it is that it isn't a power ballad.
16. LITHUANIA - Lopsine Mylimai - Ovidijus Vyshniauskas *
This is a power ballad (and I'm having a déjŕ vu) sung by a throaty male blues singer. I would have thought that "Up Where We Belong" would have been enough evidence for people to realise that blues voices and power ballads don't mix. Perhaps most people have realised this but years of Soviet oppression have robbed the Lithuanians of this vital piece of information. Once again, unless you love power ballads, don't waste your megabytes.
17. NORWAY - Duett - Elisabeth Andreasson & Jan Werner Danielsen ****
Now, here's a real surprise (no sarcasm this time). I am a firm believer that any musical genre done properly will sound good. This song is proof that even a power ballad can sound magnificent. How this one differs from the rest tonight is that: 1. the singers have the vocal strength to carry the song (this was easily the standout vocal performance of the contest), 2. the composition has a melody line that you actually want to listen to; and; 3. every note in the composition serves to build the power in the song. There are no unnecessary embellishments, no musical gimmickry, just a superbly constructed song that is a real treat to listen to.
18. BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA – Alma & Dejan – Ostani Kraj Mene
review to follow when my WinAmp player starts working again!
19. GREECE - Diri-diri - Costas Bigalis *****
It took me a little while to like this, which is strange because I am a real folk music junkie. The balalaika intro is a little misleading as to the direction of the song, but once the song proper kicks in, this is genuine Greek summer fun. Costas' lilting vocals float effortlessly over the string and percussion-driven arrangement and the vocal harmonies in the choruses actually work, a first for Eurovision! It's not particularly original but if you like Greek music, you may well love this.
20. AUSTRIA - Für den Frieden der Welt - Petra Frey *
Yet another power ballad, this time with a Jean-Michel Jarre influence. The tune is boring and I'm going to take a really wild guess and say that the title translates as "For the Freedom of the World". If that's the case, then the lyrics are dumb as well.
21. SPAIN - Ella no es Ella - Alejandro Abad *
Some Spanish men simply need to be told that they not actually as sexy as they think they are. Alejandro evidently desperately wants to be a tough and sexy throaty singer and he just comes across as someone who is trying way too hard. The fact that he's singing another power ballad doesn't exactly endear him to anyone either.
22. HUNGARY - Kinek Mondjam el Vétkeimet - Fredirika Bayer ***
One of Eurovision's most prominent features is to hear great songs butchered by awful singers. I doubt, however, that there have been many worse cases of butchery to answer for than Fredirika's pre-meditated murder of this delightful composition. This mellow 'lie back under the stars'-type tune features some exquisite acoustic guitar work and a delightfully airy oboe descant that lifts the piece at key moments. In fact, the orchestration of the song generally is first class, only to be ruined by a completely insensitive vocalist. Che disastro!
23. RUSSIA – Vetschni Strannik – Youddith ***
Yet another mix of genres that leaves me wondering exactly what happened. The verses feature some more fine acoustic guitar work which underpins a gently rolling melody, then, for some reason, the choruses burst into a rather loud, crass Broadway show tune. Why, oh why? What composer wakes up and says, "You know, I've got a really good little tune but it could do with just a bit of Bernstein right about here." It promised so much...
24. POLAND – To Nie Ja! – Edyta Górniak *
I bet you can't guess what the style of this song is! Oh... apparently, you can. Lots of people go nuts over this song. Sickos!
25. FRANCE - Je Suis un Vrai Garçon - Nina Morato *****
This is far and away the most original composition of the night, an honour that France seem to be getting quite used to. This rock, almost art-rock, song teases the listener by keeping the rhythm of the song in check while building the texture with guitars and strings to create a sweeping soundscape that Led Zeppelin would be proud of. The result is a tense, gripping song, which, aided by a charismatic vocal performance from Nina, is strong enough to carry the listener along with it. Easily the pick of the night.
That was pathetic! Absolutely pathetic! No less that fifteen power ballads polluted Dublin's stage during this contest and only one (Norway) was of any quality at all. The picks of the night were France and Greece, followed by Norway and Germany, then probably Ireland. After that, Finland, Hungary and Russia are the only songs that I would recommend that you listen to AT ALL, which makes it difficult to complete a top ten. So, I'm not going to! The 'dud of the night' award ends as a four-way tie between Malta, Iceland, Slovakia and Lithuania. Things can only get better from here.
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