||Cyprus - Chara and Andreas Konstantinou - Mana Mou (Greek)
Music/Lyrics: Constantina Constantinou/Constantina Constantinou
Conductor: Stavros Lantsias
The contest got off to a cracking start! Siblings Chara and Andreas had an up-tempo number with an infectious rhythm driving the whole song. They and the backing singers clearly enjoyed themselves.
| Sebnem Paker 1997
||Turkey - Sebnem Paker and Group Etnic - Dinle (Turkish)
Music/Lyrics: Levent Coker/Mehtap Alnitenmiz
Conductor: Levent Coker
To avoid relegation from the contest, Turkey had to score 113 points, more than it had ever scored before. It was a wonderful moment when that was achieved with this unmistakably ethnic piece of uplifting pop.
| Tor Endresen
||Norway - Tor Endresen - San Francisco (Norwegian)
Music/Lyrics: Tor Endresen, Arne Myksvoll/Tor Endresen, Arne Myksvoll
Conductor: Geir Langslet
Poor old Tor! He entered the Norwegian selection many times and when he finally won and went to the contest, he scored nothing. Although his guitar based mid-tempo MOR song deserved at least a few, this type of song was starting to sound a bit dated.
| Bettina Soriat
||Austria - Bettina Soriat - One Step (German)
Music/Lyrics: Marc Berry, Ina Siber/Marc Berry
Bettina featured in George Nußbaumer’s backing group in 1996. Her song is jazz/funk influenced and while it is mainly in German, it features several words in English.
| Marc Roberts
Ireland - Marc Roberts - Mysterious Woman (English)
Music/Lyrics: John Farry/John Farry
The history books could have easily shown yet another victory for Ireland. Mysterious Woman is a well constructed and very engaging ballad which Marc delivered very well.
| Tanja Ribic
||Slovenia - Tanja Ribic - Zbudi Se (Slovenian)
Music/Lyrics: Saso Lobic/Zoran Predin
Conductor: Mojmir Sepe
Slovenia was one of the relative newcomers to the contest and this was arguably its best up to then. It’s a classy ballad during which Tanja stands fairly still and waves her arms slowly in the air in a manner that could have looked silly, but actually succeeded in fitting in with the mood of the song.
| Barbara Berta
||Switzerland - Barbara Berta - Dentro Di Me (Italian)
Music/Lyrics: Barbara Berta/Barbara Berta
Conductor: Petro Damiani
If the Swiss thought that his song was going to be a contender, they were always heading for disappointment. While not horrible to listen to, it is too easily forgotten, not a good sign when some of the scores would be decided by members of the public!
| Mrs. Einstein
||The Netherlands - Mrs. Einstein - Niemand Heeft Nog Tijd (Dutch)
Music/Lyrics: Ed Hooijmans/Ed Hooijmans
Conductor: Dick Bakker
The experience of Mrs. Einstein shone through as they gave a very relaxed and professional performance of their up-tempo, old fashioned foot tapper.
||Italy - Jalisse - Fuimi di Parole (Italian)
Music/Lyrics: Fabio Ricci/Alessandra Drusian, Carmen di Domenico
Conductor: Lucio Fabbri
After a gap of four years, Italy returned for one year only. Almost as if Italian broadcaster RAI wanted to show Europe what it was missing, they sent a shortened version of the Sanremo winner and finished a creditable fourth. What a shame Italy hasn’t been seen in the contest since.
| Marcos Llunas
||Spain - Marcos Llunas - Sin Rencor (Spanish)
Music/Lyrics: Marcos Llunas/Marcos Llunas
Conductor: Toni Xucla
Spain does sincerity in music very well. Marcos sang like he meant it to lift an already high quality, very Spanish ballad.
| Bianca Shomburg
||Germany - Bianca Shomburg - Zeit (German)
Music/Lyrics: Ralph Siegel/Bernd Meinunger
Another Siegel and Meinunger song and all the usual trademarks of their ballads are there. Bianca herself didn’t look too convinced of its merits.
| Anna Maria Jopek
||Poland - Anna Maria Jopek - Ale Jestem (Polish)
Music/Lyrics: Tomasz Lewandowski/Magda Czapinska
Conductor: Krzesimir Debski
With only three previous entries in the contest, Poland was already proving itself to be a strong competitor. Ale Jestem in no way lets the side down. It’s full of life, moves freely along and importantly, is very memorable.
| Maarja-Liis Ilus
||Estonia - Maarja-Liis Ilus - Keelatud Maa (Estonian)
Music/Lyrics: Harmo Kallaste/Kaari Sillamaa
Conductor: Tarmo Leinatamm
Maarja-Liis was making her second consecutive appearance in the contest, having been in Oslo the year before, when she performed a duet. As then, this song is a ballad that is pleasant, if not gripping.
| Alma Cardzic
||Bosnia and Herzegovina - Alma Cardzic - Goodbye (Bosnian)
Music/Lyrics: Milic Vukasinovic, Sinan Alimanovic/Milic Vukasinovic
Conductor: Sinan Alimanovic
This was also the second appearance in the contest for Alma. Despite the title, this is a cheerier effort with an often repeated refrain.
| Célia Lawson
||Portugal - Célia Lawson - Antes Do Adeus (Portuguese)
Music/Lyrics: Thilo Krassman/Rosa Lobato de Faria
Conductor: Thilo Krassman
With the Blues Brothers cousins muttering in the background, Celia was never likely to be the first Portuguese singer to win the contest. The song is too bland and doesn’t go anywhere.
||Sweden - Blond - Bara Hon Älskar Mig (Swedish)
Music/Lyrics: Stephan Berg/Stephan Berg
Conductor: Curt-Eric Holmquist
Having tried (with some success) slow ballads for the previous three years, Sweden sent the type of song it is loved for; unashamedly upbeat and extrovert, Bara Hon Älskar Mig will certainly get the party started.
| Marianna Zorba
||Greece - Marianna Zorba - Horepse (Greek)
Music/Lyrics: Emmanouil Manousselis/Emmanouil Manousselis
Conductor: Anacreon Papageorgiou
Horepse was a late replacement as the Greek entry, and it shows. While it is not a bad song, it does sound under prepared.
| Debbie Scerri
||Malta - Debbie Scerri - Let Me Fly (English)
Music/Lyrics: Ray Agius/Ray Agius
Conductor: Ray Agius
This is one of Malta’s better efforts. Debbie’s song flows effortlessly along and ups the ‘oomph’ just at the right time. The percussion section is put to good use.
||Hungary - VIP - Miert Kell, Hogy Elmenj? (Hungarian)
Music/Lyrics: Viktor Rakonczai/Krisztina Bokor Fekete
Conductor: Peter Wolf
Boy bands were fashionable at the time. VIP and their song are an example of the worst of this ‘genre’, bland, irritating and empty. It sounds like it has lasted more than the regulation three minutes long before the three minutes are up!
| Alla Pugachova
||Russia - Alla Pugachova - Primadonna (Russian)
Music/Lyrics: Alla Pugachova/Alla Pugachova
Conductor: Rutgar Gunnarsson
Alla, the wife of 1994 Russian singer, Philipp Kirkorov, was given the opportunity for a suitably over the top performance for her big, show style song, and it is safe to say that she took full advantage!
| Kølig Kaj
||Denmark - Kølig Kaj - Stemmen I Mit Liv (Danish)
Music/Lyrics: Lars Pedersen/Thomas Lægard
Conductor: Jan Glæsel
Kølig’s ode to the lady working on the telephone exchange is only the second rap song the contest has heard. His manic performance detracted slightly from what is quite a likeable entry.
||France - Fanny - Sentiments Songes (French)
Music/Lyrics: Jean-Paul Dréau/Jean-Paul Dréau
Conductor: Régis Dupré
For someone so young, her performance was very relaxed. Her song is also very laid back and relaxed, perhaps a bit too laid back to have enough impact on the scoreboard.
||Croatia - ENI - Probudi Me (Croatian)
Music/Lyrics: Davor Tolja/Alida Sarar
Four piece girl group ENI were very colourful and energetic as they performed their modern pop song. Although the look and sound were modern, it comes across as a bit amateurish.
| Katrina and The Waves
||United Kingdom - Katrina and The Waves - Love Shine A Light (English)
Music/Lyrics: Kimberley Rew/Kimberley Rew
Conductor: Don Airey
Katrina and friends scored what was at the time the highest number of points ever! Having won a low key national final, they headed to Dublin as one of the favourites. Love Shine A Light is a big anthem and was given a big performance by American Katrina. Both the televoters and juries loved it!
| Paul Oscar
||Iceland - Paul Oscar - Minn Hinsti Dans (Icelandic)
Music/Lyrics: Paul Oscar, Trausti Haraldsson/Paul Oscar
Conductor: Szymon Kuran
Without doubt, the most contemporary song of the contest, Paul gave us a high-tech trance song. His blonde, leggy dancers guaranteed the sexiest performance of the night.