“Readers haven’t lost interest in paper and ink.”

Readers haven’t lost interest in paper and ink. Instead, they’ve been pushed away by newspapers that take every opportunity to drive them online and continue to downgrade their formats and paper quality.

From an article in Monocle (issue 78, volume 08, November 2014) by editor in chief Tyler Brûlé, in which he writes a manifesto of sorts on how to improve printed media, which is far from dead.

Eurovision Song Contest 1991

Here are my choices for best songs at the 1991 Eurovision Song Contest. Unlike many of the contests I’m now reviewing, I had actually seen this contest online a few years ago and was already familiar with several of the songs.

My Rank Country Title, Artist Eurovision Final Ranking
1 France “C’est le dernier qui a parlé qui a raison”, Amina 2
2 Italy “Comme è ddoce ‘o mare”, Peppino di Capri 7
3 Greece “I Anixi”, Sophia Vossou 13
4 Israel “Kan”, Duo Datz 3
5 Malta “Could It Be”, Georgina & Paul Giordimaina 6
6 Sweden “Fångad av en stormvind”, Carola 1
7 Finland “Hullu yö”, Kaija Kärkinen 20
8 Yugoslavia “Brazil”, Baby Doll 21
9 Turkey “İki Dakika”, İzel Çeliköz, Reyhan Karaca, and Can Uğurluer 12
10 Norway “Mrs. Thompson”, Just 4 Fun 17

While Greece did award 12 points to Cyprus, Cyprus awarded 12 points to Spain (but gave Greece 10). Did Greece do so poorly in the contest due to that horrendous sax solo? The saxophonist really blew it, but that’s not the fault of either the songwriter or the singer (who gave a very powerful performance), and Greece should’ve at least placed in the top ten. Choosing between France and Italy for my top position was tough–I really enjoyed both songs, but ultimately gave it to France because it was a little different than what one typically hears at Eurovision.

Here’s the video version of my choices for 1991!

Eurovision Song Contest 1990

Here are my choices for best songs at the 1990 Eurovision Song Contest. I’d heard the Italian entry before but not the other songs.

My Rank Country Title, Artist Eurovision Final Ranking
1 France “White and Black Blues”, Joëlle Ursull 2
2 Turkey “Gözlerinin Hapsindeyim”, Kayahan feat. Demet Sağıroğlu 17
3 Norway “Brandenburger Tor”, Ketil Stokkan 21 (tie)
4 Netherlands “Ik wil alles met je delen”, Maywood 15
5 Denmark “Hallo Hallo”, Lonnie Devantier 8
6 Belgium “Macédomienne”, Philippe Lafontaine 12
7 Cyprus “Milas Poli”, Haris Anastasiou 14
8 Spain “Bandido”, Azúcar Moreno 5
9 Portugal “Há sempre alguém”, Nucha 20
10 Yugoslavia “Hajde da ludujemo”, Tajči 7

Cyprus and Greece did not give each other 12 points. Cyprus gave 12 to the winning entry, and Greece gave 12 to Switzerland.

This was also one of the rare occasions when the winning song at Eurovision did not make my top 10 (other years include 1984 and 1987). It’s not that I didn’t like “Insieme: 1992″ (performed by Toto Cutugno), it just didn’t grab me in any significant way.

Eurovision Song Contest 1975

Here are my choices for best songs at the 1975 Eurovision Song Contest.  I’d heard the Dutch entry before but not the other songs.

My Rank Country Title, Artist Eurovision Final Ranking
1 Turkey “Seninle Bir Dakika”, Semiha Yankı 19
2 Germany “Ein Lied kann eine Brücke sein”, Joy Fleming 17
3 Italy “Era”, Wess and Dori Ghezzi 3
4 Finland “Old Man Fiddle”, Pihasoittajat 7
5 Monaco “Une chanson c’est une lettre”, Sophie 14
6 Netherlands “Ding-a-dong”, Teach-In 1
7 United Kingdom “Let Me Be The One”, The Shadows 2
8 Norway “Touch My Life (With Summer)”, Ellen Nikolaysen 18
9 Switzerland “Mikado”, Simone Drexel 6
10 Luxembourg “Toi”, Geraldine 5

Turkey made its debut in 1975 but finished in last place! Ironically, I thought Turkey had the best song by far that year. I also thought the German entry was outstanding, but it finished in 17th place out of 19 entries. What was with the judges that year?

The scoreboard was particularly smart looking–minimal yet striking, and easy to read.  It looked like something you’d see in a really cool airport.

Eurovision Song Contest 1979

Here are my choices for best songs at the 1979 Eurovision Song Contest; this was the third contest I actually saw live on television when my family lived in England.

My Rank Country Title, Artist Eurovision Final Ranking
1 France “Je suis l’enfant soleil”, Anne-Marie David 3
2 Spain “Su canción”, Betty Missiego 2
3 Israel “Hallelujah”, Gali Atari and Milk and Honey 1
4 Germany “Dschinghis Khan”, Dschinghis Khan 4
5 Greece “Sokrati”, Elpida 8
6 Finland “Katson sineen taivaan”, Katri Helena 14
7 Austria “Heute in Jerusalem”, Christina Simon 18
8 Netherlands “Colorado”, Xandra 12
9 Sweden “Satellit”, Ted Gärdestad 17
10 Luxembourg “J’ai déjà vu ça dans tes yeux”, Jeane Manson 13

It’s interesting what the passing of 35 years does to one’s opinion and taste in music. In 1979, my favorite was probably the Boney M.-esque German entry, while I really detested the Israeli entry because it sounded too “goody-goody”, like something from a sappy variety show or revue. Today I appreciate “Hallelujah” much more and placed it third in my list.

In one of the most suspenseful Eurovision votings, Spain was leading by a single point over Israel, with only the Spanish jury left to cast its votes.  Countries may not cast votes for themselves, and Spain awarded Israel 10 points and thus the victory.  My understanding is that juries vote “blind”, meaning they cannot see the scoreboard and fix the votes to their advantage.  But there is some debate as to how true this is.  In 1970’s contest, with Ireland already having enough points to be the winner, when the Irish jury called in to cast its votes, the spokesperson said, “Hello Amsterdam, this is a very cheerful Dublin calling.”  It seemed the Irish jury knew Ireland had won.  Rumor has it in 1979, Spain didn’t want to be saddled with the cost of staging Eurovision in 1980, so it awarded enough votes to Israel to give it the victory.  But surely if Spain wasn’t interested in hosting, they could’ve just sent a crappy song or withdrawn from the contest entirely.

My guess is: juries do indeed vote blind, but once the votes are cast, the numbers go to some party (perhaps the “scrutineer”) who ensures the votes do not change once the tallying beginsthus, the juries probably do watch the tallying. It’s just coincidence that Spain performed (and thus voted) last; in a different order, the tallying might not have been so suspenseful. The rumor that Spain didn’t want to host the next consest was probably just that: a rumor.

Eurovision Song Contest 1969

Here are my choices for best songs at the 1969 Eurovision Song Contest, which I watched with @Dixenborg and @Eurovisually; I’d heard the four winners before but not the other songs.

My Rank Country Title, Artist Eurovision Final Ranking
1 France “Un jour, un enfant”, Frida Boccara 1 (tie)
2 Switzerland “Bonjour, bonjour”, Paola Del Medico 5
3 Netherlands “De troubadour”, Lenny Kuhr 1 (tie)
4 Italy “Due grosse lacrime bianche”, Iva Zanicchi 13 (tie)
5 Sweden “Judy, min vän”, Tommy Körberg 9 (tie)
6 Germany “Primaballerina”, Siw Malmkvist 9 (tie)
7 Norway “Oj, oj, oj, så glad jeg skal bli”, Kirsti Sparboe 16
8 United Kingdom “Boom Bang-a-Bang”, Lulu 1 (tie)
9 Portugal “Desfolhada portuguesa”, Claudio Villa 15
10 Spain “Vivo cantando”, Salomé 1 (tie)

1969 is the year there was a four-way tie for first place, but no rules for a tie-breaker. The interval act in Eurovision (during which time votes are cast) is usually a musical number, but this year the host country (Spain) showed a short film of Spanish scenery called “La España differente” (The Different Spain). Curiously, not one human being appeared during the film, and the accompanying music by Luis de Pablo was very abstract and dissonant. I liked the film—it reminded me a little of the “Star Gate” sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey—but I had to wonder how a surreal, eerie film like this—which seemed aimed more at the 1960s counterculture—sat with the average Eurovision viewer.

Eurovision Song Contest 1967

My plan for watching every Eurovision Song Contest was to start at 1980 (because I had seen 1977-1979 while living in England), work my way forward to 2010 (because I began watching Eurovision again in 2011), go back and review 1977-1979, then work my way backwards to the first contest in 1956. However, yesterday I watched 1967 online with Twitterers @Dixenborg and @Eurovisually, the latter of whom is on a similar mission to mine.

My top ten choices are below, but here are a few impressions I had watching such an old contest. Obviously, it was nothing like ESC today!

1. Breakneck speed production: no postcards here. A song is sung, the singer leaves the stage, the next singer comes on, and the next song begins. Repeat until finished.
2. Nice to have the orchestra “back”. The last year a live orchestra was at Eurovision was 1998; since then, the performers have used pre-recorded backing tracks.
3. Nice also to hear the various languages again, with only United Kingdom and Ireland singing in English. 1998 was also the last year there was a rule requiring songs to be sung in their respective countries’ native language(s).
4. Voting was much different; each country had a jury of ten members, and each member cast a single vote for his or her favorite song. Thus, the maximum points any country could award another was ten points, but it was also possible for a country to award a single point to ten countries.

Here are my choices for the 1967 Eurovision Song Contest; I’d only heard the entries from Luxembourg and the United Kingdom before watching the entire contest online.

My Rank Country Title, Artist Eurovision Final Ranking
1 Monaco “Boum-Badaboum”, Minouche Barelli 5
2 Luxembourg “L’amour est bleu”, Vicky Leandros 4
3 Norway “Dukkemann”, Kirsti Sparboe 14 (tie)
4 United Kingdom “Puppet on a String”, Sandie Shaw 1
5 Portugal “O vento mudou”, Eduardo Nascimento 12 (tie)
6 Belgium “Ik heb zorgen”, Louis Neefs 7
7 France Il doit faire beau là-bas””, Noëlle Cordier 3
8 Finland “Varjoon – suojaan”, Fredi 12 (tie)
9 Italy “Non andare più lontano”, Claudio Villa 11
10 Spain “Hablemos del amor”, Raphael 6

What struck me about my top choice was, right from the start, it made me think of Siouxsie Sioux, of whom I am a big fan. Between the explosive orchestration, Minouche Barelli’s somewhat strident singing, and composer Serge Gainsbourg’s lyrics about wanting time to experience the world and to find love before being blown up(!!), if Siouxsie had covered “Boum Badaboum” on her Mantaray album, I wouldn’t have found the song out of place–I probably would’ve thought it her original composition.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 200 other followers