Another great step tonight on the road back to normality, dear friends – the Eurovision Song Contest, which was cancelled last year just like everything else, is back on our TV screens. It’s an event that’s frowned upon by some people as ‘purely commercial’ and ‘just mainstream music’; but let’s not forget that it also is an event that unites people and their cultures across Europe and beyond, it celebrates diversity and equality, and it gives joy to millions of fans every year – and never more so than this year.
I freely confess that I grew up watching the Song Contest with my parents most every year back in Germany; later on I watched it in Greece with my own daughter, and now I’m going to watch it here in the UK with my darling husband – which shows how much it unites both countries and generations. It’s a beautiful celebration of music and culture, and it’s produced some really immortal songs over the decades ever since it was first held in 1956 – at a time when international live broadcasting was still in its infancy, so let’s not underestimate the role it played in both uniting countries and advancing new TV technologies!
And we’ve all got our favourites, of course; I’ve put my Top Ten Eurovision songs together here for you, dear friends – tell me whether you agree with my list…
10) Domenico Modugno: Volare
Here’s one of the early classics that came out of Eurovision, even though in 1958 it only finished third (though most people say it should have won): Domenico Modugno’s playful love song ‘Volare’, written by himself, which would go on to be interpreted by stars like Dean Martin, Al Martino and the Gipsy Kings.
9) Sean Dunphy: If I Could Choose
And another song that didn’t win – simply because it had the bad fortune to run in 1967, the year Sandy Shaw’s ‘Puppet on a String’ won hands down. Sean Dunphy, the famous Irish folk singer of traditional ballads and rebel songs, enchants us here performing a lovely, heart-warming love ballad with his silkily beautiful baritone voice.
8) Dana: All Kinds of Everything
Now this song actually did win – Ireland’s first Eurovision triumph in 1970, with many more to follow. 18-year old Dana with her angelic voice sings to us about her love in the most enchanting and innocent way; a timeless classic!
7) Sandy Shaw: Puppet on a String
This is the song that took Europe by storm in 1967 – Sandy brought in a fresh, innovative wind, not only with her captivating tune and her quirky personality, but also by performing… barefooted!
6) Bucks Fizz: Making Your Mind Up
Another win for the UK in 1981, and perhaps the best British song ever to be performed at the Eurovision. The rhythm is fantastic, the tune is absolutely catchy – and just look at that little trick with the girls’ skirts! It’s been copied many a time since in Song Contest performances and elsewhere…
5) Milan Stankovic: Ovo je Balkan
This is a song that probably not too many people will remember, since it only came 13th in 2010; still, I think it’s one of the best contributions ever from any Balkan country. A cheerful, self-confident take on today’s Serbia, not without a bit of self-irony though – ovo je Balkan, this is the Balkans!
4) Sertab Erener: Every Way That I Can
Turkey’s biggest Eurovision hit to date, a great triumph in 2003 – an enchanting Oriental sound that conquered the whole of Europe! Sertab went on to become a great star both in Turkey and Greece, further uniting the two countries that had been at daggers drawn for centuries; which goes to show again that music has got such great power to unite people.
3) Helena Paparizou: You Are the One
And here’s Sertab’s Greek counterpart, Helena (Elena) Paparizou – Greece’s greatest music moment in Europe in 2005, just a year after the great football triumph winning the European Championship… A passionate love song featuring a radiant performer in a great choreography!
2) ABBA: Waterloo
There couldn’t be a Eurovision Top Ten without this, could there? The song that, in 1974, changed both the Eurovision Song Contest and pop music, and that catapulted ABBA to the very stars of modern music heaven. Let’s not deny it, this song IS immortal!
1) Lordi: Hard Rock Hallelujah
My personal number one, though, is an unlikely song that almost didn’t get to be performed at the Eurovision at all because the Finnish officials didn’t think it was adequate to represent the country; the fans themselves had to step in and get Lordi to Athens in 2006. Even when they reached the final, nobody thought they had a chance in… hell – but for once, all the experts were proved wrong, and not least due to the fact that people all over Europe voted for the ‘little Monsters’ via phone and internet. A people’s favourite – a hilarious performance with really outlandish costumes, and by the way also just a VERY good heavy metal song!
I’d love to hear your own opinions, dear friends; which are your all-time Eurovision favourites? And enjoy yourselves tonight watching another great European music night!