These are my highly valued opinions of the songs of the 1995 Eurovision Song Contest held in Dublin's Point Theatre on May 13, 1995 and won by Norwegian group Secret Garden with 'Nocturne'. I watched this concert when it was on television, but I didn't record it. If anyone would like to sell me a copy of the video, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and you will have a sale.
1. POLAND - Sama - Justyna Stechkowska ****
This is a strange song. I'm still trying to decide whether the recorders at the opening of the song are deliberately dissonant and too loud or whether the players just can't play for shit. However, the song really kicks into form around the one-and-a-half minute mark with the call and response between the male and female vocalists and Justyna's voice floating wonderfully over the top. Overall, it's a little disjointed, trying to combine soaring vocals and recorders with a rock beat and a heavy bass, but it's worth the listen just for the section just mentioned.
2. IRELAND - Dreamin' - Eddie Friel ****
This song has a real country 'ridin' off into the sunset' feel and is one of my favourite Irish entries. The accordion solo in the middle is delightful and Eddie's raspy vocals carry the song beautifully. Actually, by Eurovision standards, the lyrics to this song are quite brilliant. It's a very gentle song and added great variety to this contest. I wish that that was the priority of Eurovision entries, rather than just winning.
3. GERMANY - Verliebt in Dich - Stone & Stone ***
Och aye! Hootenanny! Germany goes Scottish. The song opens with a rapid vocal over a string drone, followed by a bagpipe solo, followed by Scottish/pop chorus. Thankfully, the song, while maintaining its feel, gets vastly less tacky as it goes on and turns out to be quite a delightful mid-tempo rock tune. So, when listening to this, resist the temptation to double-up laughing at the first minute or so and you should get a pleasant surprise.
4. BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA - Dvadeset Prvi Vijek - Davorin Popovic ***
Due to atrocities of war in Bosnia, no records have arrived in the country since 1974, which is when this song sounds like it came from. Not that it's not a pleasant song, mind you, it's just a little dated. It's what we in Australia call 'easy listening'. Perhaps Davorin Popovic is the Bosnian Englebert Humperdinck. It's the sort of song you can imagine being used in a TV commercial for a new housing estate. Give it a few listens and then do the vacuuming to it.
5. NORWAY - Nocturne - Secret Garden *****
For those of you not familiar with this Eurovision classic, there is one verse sung at either end of this song which envelopes an instrumental depiction of a night pastoral scene using strings, harps and pipes. The decision to use this song at the contest was a brave one and proved that originality and Eurovision could mix after all. It was this song, and not the Irish entries (although the Secret Garden violinist is Irish) that was responsible for the folk sounds of the 1996 and 1997 contests, and for that reason, I would class this song as the most important in Eurovision history.
6. RUSSIA - Kolibelnaja Dlya Volkanu - Phillipe Kirkorow *
This song is a slow power ballad. Do I need to say any more? Play it until you are sick of it and that shouldn't take long. The electric guitar solo is in perfect keeping with the style of the song. It seems that Russia was suffering from the same absence of recent music as Bosnia in 1995. Anyway, if you like slow soaring power ballads, you'll enjoy this. I don't.
7. ICELAND - Núna - Bo Halldórsson *
Gee, we haven't heard a slow power ballad for a while! Perhaps one the reasons Norway won this contest is because two really dull songs played after it. Basically, as with Russia, if you like slow power ballads, you'll like this. (For Brisbane readers, if you listen to 4KQ or 4BH a lot, you'll like this.)
8. AUSTRIA - Die Welt Dreht Sich Verkehrt - Stella Jones ***
Get down and get funky! This song has a bit of a Stevie Wonder influence, and it has to be said that Stella's voice is not entirely suitable for this type of song, although there are some good moments. It's the sort of song that, to work properly, needs a more soulful vocal, and another three minutes of instrumental improvisations. Still, it's a good attempt at something different and deserves a few listens.
9. SPAIN - Vuelve Conmigo - Anabel Conde ***
This is a frustrating song because throughout the song it continually promises to reach some great heights and then it never gets there. This is a mid-tempo pop tune and, if you use your imagination, sounds a bit like a show-style tune. I don't think that this ever really makes it's mind up about what it is exactly, and as a result it sounds disjointed. The verse builds up one type of feel and then the chorus provides another, and Anabel's powerful high notes preceding the choruses and during the chorus repeats lead the listener to believe that something really powerful is coming, and then it doesn't. It's a frustrating song.
10. TURKEY - Sev - Arcu Ece ***
It's another power ballad, but I think this one has a bit more listenability than some of the others. The timpani at the end of the a capella introduction is slightly misleading in that it makes you think for a moment that the song is really going to kick into gear when, in fact, it's just settling in, but the music does build quite nicely in this song, and it doesn't overdose on the power element. Even though it is fairly formulaic, I would still give this song a few listens.
11. CROATIA - Nostagija - Magazin & Lidija **
This song sounds like a really good folk tune that someone decided to turn into a really bad pop tune. The gypsy violin intro and the semi-operatic voices sound promising, and the verses aren't actually too bad, but the chorus sounds like one of those ridiculous attempts to modernise church music by setting hymns to rock beats. The chorus probably works as a gentle folk-tune, but definitely not as a power rock tune in 6/8.
12. FRANCE - Il Me Donne Rendez-Vous - Nathalie Santamaria *
There have been several Eurovisions where the only good song has been the French entry. France obviously decided, in the wake of several quality entries in 1995, to take a year off. This song, which I'll describe as a dance tune to a shuffle beat, just doesn't work at all. The tune of the chorus sounds like a bad kids' song, Nathalie's voice is wrong for this song, and, I hate to tell you this guys, but people stopped believing that those synthesizer sounds sounded realistic in about 1983. Still, it's good to see Casio keyboards getting some sales. Give this one a miss if you like, there are many other quality French entries.
13. HUNGARY - Ůj Név a Régi Ház Falán - Csaba Szigetj **
This song starts off as a dirge (which is not a bad thing in itself) and then becomes a power ballad. It's a unique combination but it still doesn't work. Basically, the song is just uncreative. It contains no emotion whatsoever and sounds as though it was just created by sitting at a keyboard and churning something out. Csaba's voice doesn't seem quite able to handle the vocal range either. This song isn't horrible, it's just dull.
14. BELGIUM - La Voix est Libre - Frédéric Etherlinck *
Well, why not have another power ballad? Actually, this song reminds me of one often sung at Christmas called "When a Child is Born". I'm sure this song has a wonderful personal message for all of our hearts, but it's still dull. The thing about the Eurovision draw is that if you are performing an unoriginal song, you have to get in early before everyone is sick of the style. If you listen to these songs in order, you will groan when you hear this song's intro before rapidly falling asleep.
15. UNITED KINGDOM - Love City Groove - Love City Groove ***
This is a rap song set to a mid-tempo funk beat, rather like a slow version of Jamiroquai or Galliano. On that basis, this is a rather revolutionary move from the UK here to submit this kind of song to Eurovision, and without being a rap connoisseur, it seems to have a fair degree of street cred about it, (that is, we're not talking about Vanilla Ice-wannabes here). If you don't listen to any kind of rap at all, skip this song, but for those of you who like it, or can listen to it if the music is half-decent, give this a listen, it's really not too bad, particularly in the light of the last four songs.
16. PORTUGAL - Baunilha e Chocolate - Tó Cruz ****
God bless the Hammond organ. The music here has a bit of a Marvin Gaye feel to it, and even though Tó doesn't sound a bit like Marvin, it still works with the song fairly well. Without having read the lyrics, there’s a nostalgic feel here, like the sort of song that a couple who have been married for fifteen years would kick back to and say "Honey, they're playing our song". It's a very relaxing song, another one for the 4KQ listeners. (Daniel would like to point out that he does not listen to 4KQ at all!)
17. CYPRUS - Sti Fotia - Alex Panayi *****
Listen to this song! It has a wonderful dark feel in the verses, which Alex's voice does not quite pull off, but he makes up for that in the chorus where the song becomes a lively, dramatic statement with a wonderful Mediterranean atmosphere. Amazingly, this feel is achieved without the aid of any specifically folk instruments; rather, it is achieved through a superb orchestral and vocal arrangement which lifts the song at just the right moments. The composer can take a bow. Bravo!
This is a gentle ballad, which contrasts nicely with the several power ballads that have gone before it, although it does try a bit too hard to turn on the power towards the end of the song. It has the sort of feel as though it was written as the love theme for a Hollywood movie. Jan's voice is appropriate without being anything special. Nothing to get excited about, but it's a pleasant enough song.
19. DENMARK - Fra Mols til Skagen - Aud Wilken *****
This feel of this song is reminiscent of an evening on a Caribbean island, which for a Dane is pretty impressive! It's the sort of song that you could slow-dance to barefoot with your lady on the balcony of a beach house. Aud's voice is dreamy and strong at just the right moments; it's probably the most impressive vocal performance of the 1995 contest. I could listen to this song for a very long time indeed.
20. SLOVENIA - Prisluhni Mi - Darja Svajger ***
Oh, just for a change, let's have a power ballad! (Fuckin' hell, what's the deal here?) It must be said that this is one of the better power ballads of the contest featuring a confident vocal performance from Darja and a strong orchestral arrangement. The song builds quite nicely and achieves the feel it set out to create, which is probably the point of a song like this. Not an original idea but performed quite nicely.
21. ISRAEL - Amen - Liora **
O.K., get your fucking candles out and sway them in time to this one. If this song was in English, you couldn't have a schmaltzy Carols by Candlelight Christmas concert in Australia without it. This song is what's commonly called a 'peace anthem'. Listen to the first minute of this song and you'll know what sort of song I'm talking about. This wins the schmaltz award for Eurovision '95 hands down. Listen to this song once every five years, any more will make you sick.
22. MALTA - Keep me in Mind - Mike Spiteri ***
This song is best described in the words of those two great music critics, Beavis and Butthead, who said, "Sometimes kick-ass bands have to sing wussy songs to get the chicks." That's what this sounds like, a hard-rock singer singing a wussy song. To Australian ears, it's very reminiscent of Noiseworks, to American ears, think Whiteheart (I'd be grateful if someone could help me out with a European analogy). I'm trying to get through this review without saying 'power ballad', but it's probably not quite in that category. No, it's definitely in the "macho singer sings wussy song to get the chicks" category.
23. GREECE - Pia Prossefchi - Elina Konstantopoulou ****
Another song with an unashamedly Mediterranean feel, and Elina's voice is superb, if slightly stereotypical of Greek female voices. The bouzouki's are in evidence here once again, and the more I think about it, the more I think that this is a fairly unoriginal Greek song. Who cares? I love it! Greek Eurovision entries invariably sound very Greek, and I think that there's a lot to be encouraged about that sort of thinking. Anyway, not a lot to set the world on fire here, but if you like Greek songs, listen to this until your heart is content.
In summary, the standouts for me were the entries from Norway, Cyprus and Denmark (I don't care about the order), with Poland, Ireland, Germany, United Kingdom, Portugal and Greece on the rung below that. To make up the top ten, I would probably pick Turkey or Slovenia. This was a very good Eurovision with quite a lot of good songs. The dominant musical form was, of course, the power ballad, which Ireland had won with in 1992 and 1993. The flop of the night for me was the French entry, but perhaps that is because I had come to expect so much from French entries.
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