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  But surely if Spain wasn’t interested in hosting, they could’ve just sent a crappy song or withdrawn from the contest entirely.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.

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