Number 4: ESC 1996

Aside from being my birth year, 1996 was important for being the contest to use a fully digital scoreboard, relying on “blue screen” technology. The winner might seem obvious for the decade, but let’s see who else climbed up that CGI scoreboard.

1996

Venue: Oslo Spektrum, Oslo, Norway

Date: 18 May 1996

Hosts: Morten Harket & Ingvild Bryn

Norway’s second Eurovision was famous for having a closed semi-final. From the 29 songs, juries picked 22 to join the host in the final.  One of the seven countries to get the axe was Germany, who had never missed a final until that point. After that, the system was dumped and to avoid irking any other broadcasters, the Big 4, now 5, was formed in 2000.

Song 1: Turkey

“Beşinci mevsim” – Şebnem Paker

What a wonderful Eurovision year I was born into. This song kicks off proceedings in a slightly jazzy, melancholy way. The song is a ballad from the point of view of a dying woman. She had already lost most of her hope and her “last door has closed.” Rather than mourn, she looks upon the “fifth season” as an after life where “roses would open” after they closed too many times in life. Somber, simple, and full of gorgeous imagery, Turkey has established itself as anearly frontrunner.

Along with the stunning lyrics, the composition is equally restrained, focusing on a viola, played by one of the girls onstage along with Şebnem. The deep tones conjured by the strings create a dark air about the song, only to be set off by a cheery trumpet, which breaks into the song when her hope for a bright after life is the lyric. It works together fantastically, and the staging is wonderfully simple, as a whole. Easy movements, classy outfits, and excellent vocals create a fabulous entry. Well done, Turkey.

Live: 8 | Staging: 7 | Lyrics: 9 | Music: 9 | Preference: 18

Total: 10.4 pts.

Song 2: United Kingdom

“Ooh ahh… Just a Little Bit” – Gina G

This song takes the night in a completely different direction, as this is the first dance/house song to grace the Eurovision stage. The beat is okay, but a little too flourishy. What I mean by that is I don’t like the extra instruments that seem to be thrown in randomly. The harp near the chorus is a perfect example. It makes the song campier than necessary and diminishes its appeal to a wide audience. This song’s focus isn’t the lyrics, but this is a decent set. Gina is so crazy about her lover that “every night makes her hate the days” because she’s so ecstatic to be with him. They aren’t great lyrics, but they’re not repulsive, either.

When it came to singing the song, Gina had a few falters, but came across strong, for the most part. The choreography didn’t feel forced and was a nice addition to the presentation. Overall, this finishing eighth in an all-jury era is a testament to the song’s general strength and it was simply ahead of its time. It’s a real guilty pleasure for me.

Live: 6 | Staging: 7 | Lyrics: 5 | Music: 7 | Preference: 15

Total: 8.25 pts.

Song 3: Spain

“Ay, qué deseo!” – Antonio Carbonell

If I were to go eat at a Spanish restaurant, I’d expect to hear something like this on the speakers. The melody, at least, is very breezy, easy-going, and pleasurable to listen to. The subtle Spanish touches give it definition and it never loses that flair. Lyrically, it’s a little clunky and repetitive for my taste. However, the most off-putting thing is how loud Antonio gets. I understand that he’s supposed to be very passionate and flamboyant, but it doesn’t mesh with the composition.

Everyone seems to be getting the idea of simple staging this year, because here is another instance where the focus was successfully placed on the artist. Antonio looked okay, but his backings were better, even if their voices were a little to shrill for me. All in all, it’s a good song.

Live: 7 | Staging: 6 | Lyrics: 4 | Music: 6 | Preference: 10

Total: 6.45 pts.

Song 4: Portugal

“O meu coração não tem cor” – Lúcia Moniz

I have good feelings about this year. Portugal absolutely hit it out of the park with this song. It’s a tribute the different Portuguese-influenced cultures around the world and how the different dances of all of them will fill Lúcia’s heart with color and joie de vivre (that should probably be in Portuguese, but you get the idea). Simple lyrics that tell a happy story without clichés or syrup always win in my book.

Similarly, the melody features traditional sounds of Portugal mixed into a two part song: a jazzy lounge song and a march. The two sections have similar constructions, with some drums tying them together. It’s never dull and always joyful. Similarly, Lúcia has amazing stage presence and fantastic vocals. In fact, all of the traditional costumes look great. A nice touch was having the screen go sepia-toned whenever the titular phrase was sung.

This is just such a happy song, with its catchy chorus, staccato pace, and charismatic performer. I absolutely love it. 🙂

Live: 9 | Staging: 10 | Lyrics: 10 | Music: 10 | Preference: 20

Total: 11.85 pts.

Song 5: Cyprus

“Momo yia mas” – Constantinos

Even with a Disney ballad, this song still manages to keep up the level of quality we’ve seen so far. I love the fact that, even though “Mono yia mas” could’ve turned into a bombastic cheese-fest, the composer kept it restrained and intimate, creating something more intense in the end. In fact, the orchestration was very sweet, feeling fit for a princess. If she happens to be real, then she’s in for a treat with Constantinos, if the lyrics are any indication of things. The moon will sweep down to the Earth and give the couple some time alone to wish upon falling stars and “live the thrills of joy.” Someone was a fan of Cinderella, I see. Unfortunately, they missed an opportunity for development by repeating the chorus, but the lyrics still stand strong.

The main hiccup was the staging of this entry. A smart tuxedo would’ve been the safe and effective route, but sadly, Constantinos turned up in his grandmother’s old drapes. It was an awful suit, cheapening the whole performance. Thankfully, the vocals were strong enough to compensate for any damage done by the wardrobe. This honey-sweet song hit the ballad formula to a key and utilized a person who brought just enough life into it to make it special. Excellent job, Cyprus.

Live: 9 | Staging: 5 | Lyrics: 7 | Music: 9 | Preference: 14

Total: 8.7 pts.

Song 6: Malta

“In a Woman’s Heart” – Miriam Christine

To start on a positive note, I like the energy here. The whole song has a sort of TLC vibe to it that was huge around this period in time. Miriam gave a good vocal performance but the outfit had a very dated look, with its sunflowers offset by pink. Nothing about it looked too good. The orchestration was strong here, continuing an R&B-esque theme. While it just had to be marred by a key change, it was at least done in an understated way.

Where this entry falls flat on its face is the lyrics. Even though the music suggests that it would be a “girl power” ballad, it’s anything but. Basically, Miriam sings about how needy she let herself get with a man and how hard it was to have him leave. Why should she demean herself and half the population like this? I tried to find some reference that would make this somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but it wasn’t there and this was the only conclusion I came to. It comes close with lines like “here I go again, ignoring my senses,” but it’s just not enough because it’s still implied that she wasn’t strong-willed and let her heart hurt her. This can happen to anyone, but it doesn’t feel right here. It doesn’t help that the lyrics repeat, but that’s not the main issue, for once. This is the first bomb of the night.

Live: 7 | Staging: 5 | Lyrics: 3 | Music: 5 | Preference: 9

Total: 5.7 pts.

Song 7: Croatia

“Sveta ljubav” – Maja Blagdan

This is very similar to Portugal, except with a vocal acrobat at the mike and a sad story in the lyrics. Starting with the former, Maja is a wonderful singer, but I find the screaming a bit unnecessary. It would make more sense in a power rock anthem than a plea for a lover. Talking of that, the story here is that Maja’s lover has gone and “her heart is going crazy.” While a bit tired, the writing here is very poetic, with my favorite line being “The earth carries my voice to the depths of your soul, for that’s my home.” A simple story spiced up. I like that.

Musically, it’s a simpler tune but it carries a sense of grandeur, especially through the chorus. While it would normally be a little too much for me, the whole thing is saved by a small string instrument that sounds like something the Portuguese had onstage.  Staging-wise, it was competent enough, but there wasn’t a lot of cohesion between the performers. Still, I appreciated the simplicity in Maja’s outfit. After Malta’s misstep, Croatia brings us back into line with the rest of the night’s songs.

Live: 9 | Staging: 4 | Lyrics: 7 | Music: 7 | Preference: 11

Total: 7.35 pts.

Song 8: Austria

“Weil’s dr guat got” – George Nussbaumer

Before this gets too complicated, let’s talk about everything but the lyrics of this song. First, love the energy and stage presence. Having people just dance and move because of their happiness is always a sign of a good entry/stage show. Contrast this to George sitting at his piano, and it’s a very interesting performance that’s carried by his strong vocals. Musically, it’s classic gospel music that doesn’t take itself too seriously and comes off as very fresh and light as a result.

Now it’s time to talk about the lyrics. Let me be clear here; I’m a Deist. Basically, I believe in a “creating force” that set the universe in motion. Nothing more, nothing less. So, when confronted with these lyrics that not only have an obvious religious tinge to them, but references to the Holy Spirit being “something special” that you “radiate” throughout the day, my reaction is to dismiss them. But, without letting my beliefs get in the way of my evaluation of the song, I can say that this song works very well as a hymn. If Austria had Southern Baptists, which they might, I’d imagine that a tune like this would fill their chapels. And as a hymn, it has interesting lyrics that are a little cliché, but they get the job done.

Live: 8 | Staging: 7 | Lyrics: 6 | Music: 5 | Preference: 10

Total: 6.9 pts.

Song 9: Switzerland

“Mon coeur l’aime” – Kathy Leander

This isn’t a terribly original song, but Kathy made the best of it with a fantastic vocal performance. Her simple white dress was very Swiss in nature and was a perfect display of efficiency in staging. At this point, I expected things to get a bit formulaic, but I was in for a little surprise.

Kathy sings of a woman who’s still in love with her jilted ex after dumping him based on his looks. While the lyrics are somewhat melodramatic, especially for my taste, they’re effective and tell an interesting story, akin to “Beauty and the Beast.” (Did Disney have a hand in ESC 1996? I’m beginning to think they did. 😉 ) The music has a very elegant feel to it, especially with the lighter instruments (woodwinds and a harp) in the middle. It’s charming, sort of like everything else about this entry. A strong, classically inspired entry.

Live: 8 | Staging: 6 | Lyrics: 6 | Music: 7 | Preference: 12

Total: 7.65 pts.

Song 10: Greece

“Emis forame to himona anixiatika” – Mariana Efstratiou

Movie credits music! I’m so sorry, but the score of this song is so properly epic, it would be at home closing out some sort of adventure-y film. It’s utterly fantastic. Something else fantastic is the lyrics, which are so wonderfully simple yet vivid. In particular, the opening line of “I will live in my summers as if they were beloved films (coincidence?)” is superb. The overarching theme of the song seems to be that Mariana’s love interest has passed on, but they still share a connection while she leads the happy life that he would’ve wanted, hence the titular “spring clothes in winter time.” While it would be appropriate to mourn, she knows that he’ll “paint the day that is coming” (another stunning line) and make everything okay. Love this even with the hint of religion!

On stage, things are a bit less profound, as Marina took the stage in a smart white pantsuit with what seemed like nothing under the blazer. If they were trying to use sex appeal to sell the song, they really didn’t need to and it looked absolutely ridiculous. At least she sounded great, along with the subtle tinges of Greek flavor at the beginning. Aside from the staging snafu, Grecce graced us with a marvelous song.

Live: 8 | Staging: 5 | Lyrics: 10 | Music: 10 | Preference: 19

Total: 10.65 pts.

Song 11: Estonia

“Kaelakee hääl” – Marrja-Liis Ilus & Ivo Linna

Thank you so much Estonia. We really needed the huge dose of average you just dropped on us. Silly, sickly-sweet lyrics, cheesy orchestration, cheap visual effects, and a pair of singers who just didn’t work well together. It’s schlager-lite; we have everything but the über-catchy chorus and the key change. Aside from that, there’s nothing different. Lyrically, the duo is singing about an amber necklace that sings the voice of Ivo to Marrja-Liis when she leaves him. And if they ever split for good, the necklace will lose its color, prompting that horrible gray/sepia effect used on-screen. Musically, it just sounded as generic as could be. There was nothing interesting in terms of traditional Estonian music or just daring songwriting. What a disappointment.

Even though we’ve talked about it, we need to mention the color effect. While it was already tacky, somebody apparently forgot to inform Ivo of its use, because he kept bouncing around and moving back into the colored screen. It made the already nasty effect just look humorously ridiculous. Aside from that, the outfits were also terrible. Marrja-Liis might’ve passed in a frumpy pantsuit but the RGB-tester suit sported by Ivo just looked like Kreisraadio 12 years too early. The one bright-ish spot of this entry was the vocal performance, which wasn’t even that amazing, since Marrja-Liis was far better than Ivo. Add to that, the fact that their voices just didn’t mesh like they should’ve and you’ve got this year’s first “average” vocal. Estonia was trying so hard to win and nearly ended up doing so. I can confidently say that they won’t even come close on my list.

Live: 5 | Staging: 4 | Lyrics: 4 | Music: 4 | Preference: 7

Total: 4.65 pts.

Song 12: Norway (hosts)

“I evighet” – Elisabeth Andreassen

There’s something special about this song, more specifically, its lyrics. While they already make up something poetic, their versatility in application is extraordinary. The message is that love will endure through thick and thin forever. The same song could be heard at a wedding, a funeral, and, just maybe, when a baby bird finally leaves the nest for the first time. As if that last metaphor didn’t hide my feelings well enough, let me just say that I sensed a very personal connection with these lyrics immediately after reading the translation. They’re so powerful and beautiful; I’m shocked I didn’t lose it after watching the performance twice.

Anyway, moving onto the music, it’s equally stunning, just tripped up by some random, “Chariots of Fire”-esque synths at the beginning. However, the weepy flute is just so perfectly utilized here, I’m willing to forget that infraction. Staging-wise, it was nearly perfect, except for that annoying ripple effect that popped up around Elisabeth a few times. While a black gown wouldn’t have been my first choice for a song like this, it worked and the staging, overall, was a success. Vocally, she was flawless, but I just didn’t fall head over heels in love with her voice. Unfortunate, because I truly thought this could’ve been my first 12-pointer. Still, Norway has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of with this masterpiece. It’s truly amazing.

Live: 9 | Staging: 9 | Lyrics: 10 | Music: 10 | Preference: 20

Total: 11.7 pts.

Song 13: France

“Diwanit Bugale” – Dan ar Braz & l’Héritage des Celtes

The language choice here is vastly appreciated, since the Celtic languages are so underappreciated at Eurovision (two songs out of 1,400?). It makes sense after reading the lyrics, because this song is an ode to the dying language of Breton and how Dan Ar Braz is calling on children to keep it alive and “give him courage.” It’s a very sweet sentiment had to be crafted with care, as someone less prudent could’ve given the song an unwanted nationalistic edge. On the musical side, it’s actually very generic until about halfway through, when a penny whistle and traditional Celtic instrument kick in. They’re incredibly helpful in setting the mood for the song and they add so much character. It’s very nice.

All three singers did a very good job on stage, even if Dan was quieter than the ladies. Their outfits were pleasantly average, but it only added to the folksy feel of the song. All things considered, it’s a very worthy French entry.

Live: 8 | Staging: 8 | Lyrics: 9 | Music: 8 | Preference: 12

Total: 8.55 pts.

Song 14: Slovenia

“Dan najlepših sanj” – Regina

Remember how the Greek entry was amazing movie credit music? Well, Slovenia tried a similar approach, except they ended up with cheesy video game credit music. Is there a synth-base accentuated by a wind instrument? Check. Oddly cheery chorus? Check? Obligatory key change? Why of course! Yep, the people over at Nintendo surely passed on this track as the closing to a Zelda game. That’s the only explanation behind Regina’s god-awful green dress.

In all honesty, this song has some pretty cheesy lyrics about Regina finding herself in a fantasy land “where love is real.” They’re not bad but they certainly aren’t original. It’s the same story with the aforementioned score. Vocally, Regina is fine, but there’s nothing standout about her. And in addition to that dress, the unnecessary “shimmer” effect around the edges of the screen was useless and annoying. Just because NRK provided it doesn’t mean you have to use it, people! Sheesh. Well, this certainly put a slight damper on things.

Live: 7 | Staging: 3 | Lyrics: 5 | Music: 4 | Preference: 9

Total: 5.55 pts.

Song 15: The Netherlands

“De eerste keer” – Maxine & Franklin

This song is the third in a line of Dutch entries that have just made me smile, so props to them for sending some happy stuff. The story is that Maxine called Franklin after having gone separate ways. After some time speaking to one another, they realize “it was like the first time” and they need to be together again. It’s an interesting take on what could’ve been a very dry story. I like that. Accompanying that is the delightfully cheesy 90s synth/string composition that functions perfectly in this setting.

Vocally, both Maxine and Franklin were strong, if a bit anonymous. However, their smart outfits and charming theatrics were plenty to make up for that. It’s simply another sweet, joyful, Dutch pop song. What’s not to like?

Live: 7 | Staging: 7 | Lyrics: 6 | Music: 7 | Preference: 13

Total: 7.95 pts.

Song 16: Belgium

“Liefde is een kaartspel” – Lisa del Bo

Here’s one of those songs that makes love into something and creates an ever-interesting metaphor with it. While these might be successful a few times, this just comes off as odd and forced. It sounds like Lisa is trying to get revenge on a lover who wronged her. This can be a good song, but comparing it to a card game was never going to work. The music is on par with the Dutch song before it, but it’s a little too much for my taste.

On stage, Lisa was wearing something that looked like one of Petra Mede’s outfits from this year. It was very strange but somehow effective. Her live performance was also good. However, I absolutely could not stand that awful, gimmicky, spinning “card within a card” effect that popped up unnecessarily during the chorus. Aside from that, it was decent 90s pop that didn’t hurt anyone.

Live: 7 | Staging: 5 | Lyrics: 5 | Music: 5 | Preference: 9

Total: 6 pts. (How perfectly average.)

Song 17: Ireland

“The Voice” – Eimear Quinn

This contest’s standout songs earned their status in the first few bars of the song. Not this one. It takes time to build. Eimear’s fragile voice takes time to grow firm and resolute with the music. Once we reach that point, the incredible essence of this song comes to light. The meaning of “The Voice” isn’t hidden underneath too much metaphor; she says that it’s about “history” in the second stanza. Nevertheless, the poem touches on different events of Irish history, from the Potato Famine to war with the English, and simpler but still vivid topics like cold, harsh Irish winters and a strong connection to the island that many around the world call their homeland.

To connect back to the performance, the lyrics focus on hardship and tumult when Eimear is in her fragile state. However, as time passes, both in history and onstage, it grows, until she sings strong of a future where peace is brought and “ her wounds, they will heal.” That overarching statement of optimism was just so elegantly and intelligently crafted. Love it. Perfect vocals and a gorgeous gown just help everything out. It’s only that blur effect at the beginning sinks this song from perfection. Still, this is a brilliant song, performance, and message.

Live: 10 | Staging: 9 | Lyrics: 10 | Music: 10 | Preference: 18

Total: 11.25 pts.

Song 18: Finland

“Niin kaunis on taivas” – Jasmine

If the music of this entry is any indication, Finland wanted to remind everyone that it’s in Northeastern Europe, as this song has quite a hint of Russian flavor… at the beginning. That traditional instrument sounds amazing, but as things progress, it gets lost amongst drums and the orchestra, which is a real shame; it gave the song so much character and saved it from anonymity. And that was necessary, because the lyrics were awfully close to falling victim to that same fate.

The story is that Jasmine is so in love with somebody that they’ve elevated to the level of the stars and their love continues to grow, fed by their contact. It’s certainly a generic enough idea, but the interesting sounds of the Finnish language save it from total averageness. Visually, it wasn’t great, featuring another one of those loathed effects stealing screen space, this time in the form of a filmstrip. Jasmine’s yellow dress wasn’t the smartest of choices and neither was her overly permed hair. It wasn’t a flattering look. At least her vocals were strong, because nothing else about this entry was.

Live: 7 | Staging: 4 | Lyrics: 6 | Music: 5 | Preference: 7

Total: 5.4 pts.

Song 19: Iceland

“Sjúbídú” – Anna Mjöll

Here’s another gimmicky entry. At least this one pays homage to a famous and rich music style from the history of the United States. As an ode to the popularity of swing and jazz music, this isn’t too bad of a song, lyric-wise. Even if the bridge is a bit generic (“Sung with the feeling in our heart”), the rest, which is very repetitive, is pretty enjoyable. However, the music is just a little too slow for my taste. Technically, the instruments used are perfect, but the construction of the song just doesn’t gel with me.

The strong point of this entry was the staging. Anna wore a perfect gown to pay tribute to the time period and the black and white effect was used very well. Despite the pretty angles, the vocals here were the weakest so far. It’s quite unfortunate, but then again, it really didn’t bring too much down, now did it?

Live: 4 | Staging: 7 | Lyrics: 6 | Music: 5 | Preference: 10

Total: 6.3 pts.

Song 20: Poland

“Chcę znać swój grzech” – Kaisa Kowalska

My goodness, here’s another standout song. And just like Ireland, this song isn’t so obvious. It starts out somewhat sedate before being pierced with the sad tones of a wind instrument; an oboe, perhaps? From then, Kaisa delivers more intensity with her performance as the emotion builds in the lyrics, which should probably be explained. Unlike the countless stories of jilted lovers, Kaisa has rejected someone herself and is going crazy about how it happened. “Fear rules her life” as she pleads with this person to tell her what she did. It starts out plainly, but the emotion from the chorus grows as Kaisa’s vocals ramp up, before she almost goes insane at the end. It’s dark, mysterious, and absolutely amazing.

The music is so understated, it almost gets lost, but the piano and low strings help to intensify the feelings. And the aforementioned oboe (?) just ices the rich cake of this song. Kaisa’s blood-red dress and somewhat unkempt hair are perfect, just like the random tints of blue on the screen when the titular phrase is sung. As a relative newbie, I cannot believe that this is the same country that sent “Jestem” to my first contest. This is such a gorgeous song.

Live: 9 | Staging: 10 | Lyrics: 10 | Music: 10 | Preference: 19

Total:  11.55 pts.

Song 21: Bosnia & Herzegovina

“Za našu ljubav” – Amila Glamočak

This isn’t the greatest song in this contest, but Amila sure tried to make it sound that way. Her vocals were spot on and had that special something that so many other singers have been missing. The way she sings her slightly contrived lyrics with such conviction is just stupendous and I love it. As for the stage show, it wasn’t the strongest, but there were no gimmicks and everyone looked relatively put-together.

Like I said, the lyrics aren’t the most unique creation, but they’re far better than they could’ve been. Basically, Amila can’t be without her love and she’ll give or do anything “for their love.” We’ve heard it a million times before, but at least this song makes the story interesting, with lines like “to have you wake me up in the morning with your warm lips.” Musically, it’s a nicer tune, with touches of xylophone added to an otherwise generic track. Following Poland was going to be difficult for anyone, but Amila did that job well.

Live: 10 | Staging: 6 | Lyrics: 6 | Music: 6 | Preference: 12

Total: 7.8 pts.

Song 22: Slovakia

“Kým nás máš” – Marcel Palonder

*Yawn* Sorry, what did I miss? This song is so flat. I was hoping for something, even an unnecessary key change, but it never came. Aside from that, it wasn’t even a unique track, just something very run of the mill for 90s ballads. The lyrics, however, are somewhat interesting, as they create another hymn. For the chorally declined out there who didn’t like Austria’s more upbeat number, this would be a wonderful song to have translated onto the organ and sung at your conservative mass. I’ve already explained my personal inhibitions with religious lyrics, but these are decent and sometimes interesting, such as the line “Perhaps I shall purify me and I shall burn the shade in my soul.” However, that can’t change my mind nor the annoying repetition of the chorus.

The least boring thing about this entry, aside from those ghastly “explosion” screen transitions, was Marcel’s vocal performance, which was ruddy, rich, and beautifully complimented by the backings. However, his terrible green raincoat was complimented by no one, I’m sure, as was the lack of movement by anyone or anything onstage. This song needed to stay in a church somewhere in Bratislava, because that’s where it would’ve been most appreciated.

Live: 8 | Staging: 3 | Lyrics: 5 | Music: 4 | Preference: 7

Total: 5.1 pts.

Song 23: Sweden

“Den vilda” – One More Time

To cap off a now-classic Eurovision, Sweden sent a wonderfully subtle ballad. Lyrically, it’s a fairytale love story between a villager and a “wild one,” detailing how they stole away from a gossiping town in winter and ended up “strong like the stream in springtime.” Charming yet mature, the lyrics make create a very interesting story that transcends its mold, as certain love is still chastised today, yet it survives *coughRussiaAzerbaijanMiddleAmericacough*. The simple and evocative score does wonders for keeping things alive while stil adding some ethnic touches that accentuate the idea of a “wild one.”

Visually, however, things took a turn for the worse, as the screen was littered with nasty effects and the duo were dressed in drab pantsuits. In relation to the song, this was probably the biggest wardrobe flub of the night. However, crystal clear vocals from both Maria and Nanne helped to heal the pain from the “waterfall” effect. What a perfectly beautiful way to end a remarkable year. Tack, Sverige.

Live: 9 | Staging: 4 | Lyrics: 10 | Music: 10 | Preference: 17

Total: 10.05 pts.

1996 Placements

Average score: 8.074 pts.

Hall of Fame entrants: 5

My Favorite Song: TIE Portugal (1st)/Norway (2nd)

Technically Best Song: TIE Portugal (1st)/Poland (3rd)/Ireland (4th)

My Least Favorite Song: TIE Finland(21st)/Slovakia(22nd)/Estonia(Last)

Technically Worst Song: Estonia (Last)

Oh my goodness, this was an amazing year. I think that 1996 might hold the title of “Favorite Year Ever” for quite a long while. However, I look forward to challenging it with 54 more years of Eurovision. However, you might be wondering where the countries left in the semi-final are. Well, they’ll get a special post in a day or two. My schedule’s a little hectic and I wanted to get this up as quickly as possible. I think that’s how I’ll do it for all the semi-finals to come. Just look for “Number X.a” a few days after the main post. So, after that, we’ll move way back to 1961. Let’s hope the quality we found here can be matched. Till then. 🙂

Peace,

-Nick

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Posted in Eurovision History
21 comments on “Number 4: ESC 1996
  1. marcpanozzo says:

    The contest of my birth year (1995) was also exceptional, and it includes my favourite Eurovision song of all time 😀 (I will keep it a secret for now, unless you already know in which case – awkward…)

    Anyway, on to my ranking of the 1996 contest…

    12/12: Ireland (1st)
    10/12: Poland (2nd), Portugal (3rd), Sweden (4th), Turkey (5th)
    9/12: Croatia (6th), Norway (7th)
    8/12: Slovakia (8th), France (9th)
    7/12: Cyprus (10th)
    6/12: Iceland (11th), Finland (12th), Greece (13th)
    5/12: United Kingdom (14th), Switzerland (15th), Austria (16th), Malta (17th), Belgium (18th)
    4/12: Slovenia (19th)
    3/12: Bosnia & Herzegovina (20th), Spain (21st), Estonia (22nd), Netherlands (23rd)
    2/12:
    1/12:
    0/12:

    Whilst I really like all of the songs within the upper band of my rankings, most of them had a few very minor flaws that prevented them from being “perfect” in my eyes (and yes, I am aware how pernickety I am sounding right now :p). As an entire package “The Voice” was virtually faultless. The song itself is masterful in its creation of a mood, and I like how it successfully melds aspects of new age with the foundational Celtic elements without sounding tacky. The staging was perfectly done, and I actually thought the camera effects complimented the performance (the other acts weren’t quite so lucky in that regard). Eimear’s vocals (whilst technically imperfect) had a pleasantly “untrained” quality which gave the song a more “real” feel, where “I Evighet” for example (which had a stronger singer) sounded a tad clinical. “Chcę znać swój grzech…” (possibly the least western keyboard friendly song title ever) was a close second in my rankings. It reminds me in many ways of Albania 2012, with its similarly despairing tone and dramatic delivery. The orchestration is very strong and suitably plaintive and Kasia gave a great performance. My only (slight) issue with this is that the vocals were occasionally shrill. My third placed song, “O meu coração não tem cor” was the only song to leave a smile on my face after the three minutes. Portugal seem to have a real knack for producing genuinely charming and loveable folk ditties like this one (2009 immediately springs to mind). Apart from Lucia’s stage presence, the interesting shifts in tempo and orchestration were enough to keep this one fresh and interesting throughout the three minutes.

    The tragedy about Estonia 1996 (which you may have picked up if you’ve been following the continuing dialogue between me and Eulenspiegel ;)) is that they had a very strong NF that year and the best song in the line-up ended up losing to the worst on count-back :(.

    http://muzofon.com/search/1996%20Estonia%20Kadri%20Hunt

    Had she been sent instead Estonia would have scored an easy 10/12 in my rankings.

    • Nick P. says:

      I do know and, given how we have similar tastes (most of the time), I’ve kept myself in the dark about it. 1995 is actually right in the middle of the running order (24th contest), so it’ll be a while until we get to it.

      Don’t feel bad about being persnickety, I was too. Why do you think I haven’t given out any 12s yet? Anyway, Ireland was very competent and the effects were well done, compared to others. I just wasn’t as moved by it, so it suffered in Preference. Norway was a perfect 20 in that category, but I just didn’t like Elisabeth’s operatic-tone. Had it been simpler, it might’ve stolen the victory from Portugal, because it was otherwise stunning.

      Poland and the untypeable song did invoke some Rona-esque feelings over here. I’m now really interested in how I’ll look upon “Suus” when I get to 2012, which ended up being the last contest, aside from 2013! And Portugal’s sun must inspire their entries. I can’t think of any other reason why they’d be so organically happy.

      I remember those conversations, so it wouldn’t be too farfetched to say that Estonia 1996 found itself in a Serbia 2013 situation? I just returned home so I’ll listen soon and give you feedback.

    • seeing you give 12 to Ireland means a lot to me 🙂

  2. togravus says:

    Yes, Norway, Poland and Portugal all made it into your Hall of Fame. Btw, have you realised that we have the same winner in 3 of the 4 contests you have watched so far? 🙂

    On the Austrian lyrics: The German (Vorarlberger) lyrics have absolutely no religious connotations. They are a very worldly expression of the joy of being alive. “Du strahlst was Besonderes aus” (translated as: you radiate sth special) f. e. is a very common phrase similar to the French “je ne sais quoi”. I have just read the English translation on Diggiloo Thrush, which you probably used, and see where you come from. Georg himself stayed at the piano because he is blind.

    Finally, I agree with Marc. Kadri Hunt representing Estonia would have made 1996 even more perfect than it already is.

    • Nick P. says:

      We do? That’s a bit of a surprise, although I thought Monaco 1963 was your winner while mine was Denmark? At least we agree on both Portuguese songs. 🙂

      Oh! Well, that’s an awkward moment… No, that actually makes a lot more sense (both about the lyrics and Georg) and I might give it another point for lyrics, but that’s about it. Still, thanks for that input.

      Like I said, I’ll listen to it and render an opinion when I write the review for the semi-final, probably. I hope it lives up to the hype you’ve given it. 🙂

      • togravus says:

        I keep switching first place between Denmark and Monaco every other day. I would probably be well advised to make it a shared first place … But perhaps I will finally make up my mind … 🙂 … once I reach the 60s sometime in the near future.

  3. togravus says:

    I have a suggestion why Norway 1996 is such a fantastic ESC entry. The song is like a good friend comforting you, whichever situation in life you might have to face.

    1996 songs in my pantheon: Portugal, Poland, Austria, Sweden, Norway and Croatia. 🙂

    I still think about including songs that have a score of 9.00 to 9.49 too which would bring France, Turkey and Greece there too. I think that I’ll have to rewatch 1996 anyway because I tend to unfairly downgrade songs in this particular year due to the fantastic competition they were up against. I am pretty sure that all those songs would be in my pantheon if they had participated in a crappy year like most of the 80s or 2004-2006.

    And since everyone I agree with a lot seems to love Ireland 1996, I should probably give ‘The Voice’ another chance too. Perhaps, I will eventually come round to seeing (hearing) why it is a special song. At the moment IRE 96 stands at 8.00 on my list … which isn’t a bad score at all. Nevertheless I feel like the odd one out …

    • Eulenspiegel says:

      You’re not the odd one, togravus. How about me, the only one on ET who loves “Kaelakee hääl”? 😛

      My Top 10 this extraordinary year would be:
      1. Ireland
      2. Norway
      3. Sweden
      3. Portugal
      5. Croatia
      6. Turkey
      7. Poland
      8. Estonia
      9. Austria
      10. France

      Also nice, Nick, that you chose this year after 2003. Belgium and Spain, who topped my list for that year are in the two last places in 1996.

      • Nick P. says:

        Wow! Well, there always has to be one like us, I guess. 😉

        Don’t thank me, thank random.org, who randomized the first four years for me. Regarldess, this really helped Ireland, the UK, and Greece, who had terrible averages. Portugal also returned to it’s high form after a brief stint into “above-average” in 2003.

        • Eulenspiegel says:

          The worst thing with 1996 are the visual effects imo, who just didn’t work with the songs. With the exception of Croatia.

          Maybe my rankings would get some changes if I judged composition, lyrics, staging, singing and such stuff individually. Unlike you, I don’t think that the lyrics of “I evighet” are that fantastic. I find them quite typical actually for that kind of song. But I’m always ready to ignore such minor stuff when the whole package is so much better. “Here I go again, ignoring my senses”. 🙂

      • togravus says:

        See, you have Ireland first too … I am an oddball. 😦 (I would love to do a crying emoticon but I don’t know how to do it … old age kicking in methinks … 😉 …)

      • the actual top 3, and so many people with France in the top 10 feels good! I’ve said it many times, but Eimear said “Diwanit bugale” should have won and she reprised the song in her album “Gatehrings” 😉

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