The producers and presenters of the 1991 contest have come in for a lot of criticism over the years for the way the contest was presented. The complaints have been directed at Toto for speaking to the singers before or after their performance, the apparent lack of organisation and Toto and Gigliola’s lack of English. It is for these reasons that RAI can actually be very proud of its production. Every year, there are presenters who flirt with each other, make jokes they don’t understand and waffle on about how music brings everyone together. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the viewer could be forgiven for not knowing which country the contest is being broadcast from. What was seen in Rome was a very Italian show; presenters and singers converse, there is an element of adlibbing and Toto and Gigliola spoke English with an Italian rather than American accent. The presentation should have a flavour of the host country. Other broadcasters take note.
RAI decided to host the contest in the Teatro Ariston, the annual venue for the Sanremo festival. All was going well until the first Gulf war broke out. Due to the very urban location of the Teatro Ariston, it was decided for security reasons to move the contest to the Cinecitta film studios in Rome.
The Netherlands was the only country from the previous contest to withdraw due to the date clashing with the national remembrance commemorations. Malta returned after a 15 year absence so 22 countries took part.
Thomas Forstner, Stefán, Hanne Krogh (as part of Just 4 Fun) and Carola had taken part in previous contests and their returns saw varying degrees of success.
The scoring system was very familiar by now. Juries awarded points from 1-8, then 10 and finally 12.
Stefán and Eyfi
Paul Giordimaina and Georgina
Could It Be
Canzone Per Te
Venedig Im Regen
Un Baiser Volé
Fångad Av En Stormvind
C'est Le Dernier Qui A Parlé Qui A Raison
Izel Çeliköz, Rayhan Soykarçi and Can Ugurluér
Could It Be That I'm In Love
Lige Der Hvor Hjertet Slår
Just 4 Fun
Dieser Traum Darf Niemals Sterben
Geef Het Op
A Message To Your Heart
Peppino di Capri
Comme E' Ddoce 'o Mare
Yugoslavia - Baby Doll - Brazil (Serbo-Croat)
Music/Lyrics: Zoran Vracevic/Zoran Vracevic
Conductor: Slobodan Markovic
Getting things going with some eccentricity was the weird and wacky Baby Doll. She was certainly entertaining and the song, if you can look behind the image, is actually very good.
Iceland - Stefán and Eyfi - Nina (Icelandic)
Music/Lyrics: Eyjóolfur Kristjánsson/Eyjóolfur Kristjánsson
Conductor: Jorn Olafsson
Eyfi was adorned with a bandana to hide his receding hairline. It’s less quirky than Stefán’s song from the 1988 contest, but the regular ballad is an improvement and considerably easier on the ear.
Malta - Paul Giordimaina and Georgina - Could It Be (English)
Music/Lyrics: Paul Abela/Raymond Mahoney
Conductor: Paul Abela
This proved to be a very successful return for Malta. The arrangement was fuller than the preview video and this gave the ballad more substance.
Greece - Sofia Vossou - I Anixi (Greek)
Music/Lyrics: Andreas Mikroutsikos/Andreas Mikroutsikos
Conductor: Haris Andreasdis
Pre-contest, the Greek song was seen as a possible winner. All dreams were shattered by the sax solo, which failed to hit almost any note properly. Sofia pretended not to notice, but the juries definitely did. A real shame as the song deserves to be remembered more fondly.
Switzerland - Sandra Simò - Canzone Per Te (Italian)
Music/Lyrics: Renato Mascetti/Renato Mascetti
Conductor: Flaviano Cuffari
The Swiss chose a song in Italian to represent them in Rome. It’s a ballad that builds well and surprised a few when finishing fifth.
Austria - Thomas Forstner - Venedig Im Regen (German)
Music/Lyrics: Robby Musenbichler, Hunbert Moser/Wolfgang Eltner
Conductor: Richard Österreicher
Things got off to a sartorially bad start when Thomas appeared on stage in a purple suit! As with his 1989 song, it tries to be an epic, unlike Nur Ein Lied, it doesn’t quite do it.
Luxembourg - Sarah Bray - Un Baiser Volé (French)
Music/Lyrics: Patrick Hippert/Mick Wersant, Linda Lecomte
Conductor: Francis Goya
After the saxophonist had ruined any chance of winning the contest, it was the turn of the guitarist to play his part. In fairness, one of the strings broke, which wasn’t his fault. Sarah remained unfazed and delivered her ballad well
Sweden - Carola - Fångad Av En Stormvind (Swedish)
Music/Lyrics: Stefan Berg/Stefan Berg
Conductor: Anders Berglund
Carola was the bookies favourite and she didn’t disappoint. She used her experience to good effect and had as much bounce as her winning song. Like it or hate it, it stays in your head.
France - Amina - C'est Le Dernier Qui A Parlé Qui A Raison (French)
Music/Lyrics: Wasis Diop/Amina Annabi
Conductor: Jérome Pillement
Having been influenced by African rhythms the year before, the French chose an Arabic flavoured song. The result was the same, second place, although it took the tie-break rule to separate Amina from Carola. While it might be more musically credible than the Swedish song, it’s not nearly as nice to listen to and that is what counts. Unlucky not to win? No, lucky to be second.
Turkey - Izel Çeliköz, Rayhan Soykarçi and Can Ugurluér - Iki Dakika (Turkish)
Music/Lyrics: Sevket Ugurluer/Aysel Gurel
Conductor: Turan Yukseler
This song moves along at an almost frantic speed, but if you can keep up, it’s good for a toe-tap. The trio gave it their all and were constantly smiling.
Ireland - Kim Jackson - Could It Be That I'm In Love (English)
Music/Lyrics: Liam Reilly/Liam Reilly
Conductor: Noel Kelehan
Kim had been one of Liam’s backing singers in Zagreb the year before. She wasn’t quite up to the task of of giving his ballad the necessary boost it needed and the result was underwhelming.
Portugal - Dulce - Lusitana Paixão (Portuguese)
Music/Lyrics: Fred Micaelo, Jorge Quintela/Fred Micaelo, Jorge Quintela
Conductor: Fernando Correia-Martins
Finally Portugal got close to achieving a deserved high position on the scoreboard. Dulce oozed class, as did her song. It’s not as melancholy as the traditional Fado style it is about, but it is could only be Portuguese.
Denmark - Anders Frandsen - Lige Der Hvor Hjertet Slår (Danish)
Music/Lyrics: Michael Elo/Michael Elo
Conductor: Henrik Krogsgaard
Denmark’s song is an understated ballad. If you want to knock it, you should first listen to the song that it beat into second place in the Danish final, and be grateful it exists.
Norway - Just 4 Fun - Mrs. Thompson (Norwegian)
Music/Lyrics: P.G. Roness, Dag Kolsrud/P.G. Roness, Kaare Skevik
Conductor: Pete Knutsen
Without knowing what NRK (the Norwegian broadcaster) had rejected, it seems they made a good choice of song. Mrs Thompson is catchy yet musically credible, with an easy to remember refrain.
Israel - Duo Datz - Kan (Hebrew)
Music/Lyrics: Uzi Chitman/Uzi Chitman
Conductor: Kobi Oshrat
Husband and wife duo Orna and Moshe Datz had more chemistry than a high street full of pharmacies. The song is a wonderful Israeli sing-along and very memorable. It was always going to be in contention.
Finland - Kaija - Hullu Yö (Finnish)
Music/Lyrics: Ile Kallio/Jukka Välimaa
Conductor: Olli Ahvenlahti
Once again, the Finns can count themselves unlucky to score so few points. Hullu Yö is a rock song with a restrained power which Kaija delivered with the required level of feeling.
Germany - Atlantis 2000 - Dieser Traum Darf Niemals Sterben (German)
Music/Lyrics: Alfons Weindorf/Helmut Frey
Conductor: Hermann Weindorf
Yet again, the Germans had an anthemic song urging peace and love to everyone. Following the fall of the Berlin wall, the group even included an East German woman for good measure.
Belgium - Clouseau - Geef Het Op (Flemish)
Music/Lyrics: Kris Wauters, Koen Wauters, Bob Savenburg, Jan Leyers/Kris Wauters, Koen Wauters, Bob Savenburg, Jan Leyers
Conductor: Roland Verlooven
Clouseau were the biggest name in Belgian music at the time they tried to expand their success to the rest of Europe with an uplifting, brassy pop song which deserved better. The performance was very professional.
Spain - Sergio Dalma - Bailar Pegados (Spanish)
Music/Lyrics: Julio Seijas/Luis Escolar
Conductor: Eduardo Leiva
Host Toto Cotugno nicknamed Sergio ‘little Toto’. Bailar Pegados was one of the favourites going into the contest and rightly so. It’s a classic Spanish ballad which, if given an additional chorus, could have done better. At two minutes 32 seconds, it ends rather unexpectedly and quickly.
United Kingdom - Samantha Janus - A Message To Your Heart (English)
Music/Lyrics: Paul Curtis/Paul Curtis
Conductor: Ronnie Hazlehurst
The United Kingdom delegation arrived in Rome with hopes high. However, the rock element of the song seemed to have been left behind in London. This, combined with inappropriate outfits (including the backing singers) and Samantha’s nerves on the night combined to scupper any hope of winning. Samantha’s engagement to her Italian boyfriend during the week (an engagement that was soon broken off) may have proved a distraction. A great, great shame as the studio version of the song demonstrates how good it really sounds and it would have been a worthy winner.
Cyprus - Elena Patroclou - SOS (Greek)
Music/Lyrics: Kypros Charalambous/Andrteas Christou
Conductor: Alexandro Kirou-Zografou
This song is weaker than a shandy without the lager. Songwriters ego overcame common sense and Kypros appeared on stage with his bass guitar when there was absolutely no need for him to be there. The presentation needed only Elena and no-one else to be on the stage.
Italy - Peppino di Capri - Comme E' Ddoce 'o Mare (Italian)
Music/Lyrics: Marcello Marrocchi/Giampiero Artegiani
Conductor: Bruno Canfora
This song was originally intended for the Sanremo festival, but RAI instead nicked it to represent Italy in the Eurovision. It’s in Peppino’s native Neapolitan dialect, which adds a greater flavour to the Neapolitan style of the song.