Poland

1998

1998 Logo ©  EBU
Basic information
Date: 
9 May 1998
Contest type: 
Grand Final
Venue: 
National Indoor Arena, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Broadcaster: 
BBC
Presenter(s): 
Ulrika Jonsson and Terry Wogan
About the contest: 

Following the limited introduction of public televoting the year before, 1998 saw a big expansion of that system of voting with almost every country adopting this way of awarding its points. Only those countries not technically able to use such a system continued with juries. In case of problems, even the countries using televoting had a jury as a backup. The dangers of televoting became clear when a campaign in Germany in support of Guildo Horn sent Germans abroad so they could vote for him in an effort to boost his placing.

Another landmark event involved the orchestra. Ever since the first contest in 1956, an orchestra had been used to provide a totally live musical experience. This contest would be the last time an orchestra was needed; some countries even used a backing track instead anyway.

Dana International was the subject of much discussion a long time before boarding the plane to Birmingham. He/she became the first transsexual Eurovision singer, a fact which caused much controversy but it seems no publicity is bad publicity.

One of the most remembered events of the show was host Ulrika Jonsson’s apparent faux-pas when she was talking with 1957 winner, Corry Brokken, who was giving the Dutch results. Ulrika was heard to comment that Corry had won the contest a long time ago, the insinuation being that Corry was getting on a bit. In fact, what happened was that Corry herself made that comment but, as the audience were cheering her loudly, Ulrika repeated it knowing that no-one would have heard what Corry said.

Danijela and José Cid (as part of Portuguese group, Alma Lusa) were both making their second appearances in the contest, while Chiara and Edsilia Rombley would be seen again in future years, as would winner, Dana International..

Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Denmark, Russia and Iceland missed out on participation as their average points over the previous five contests was less than all other countries. This allowed room for Belgium, Finland, Israel, Romania and Slovakia to return from a forced absence in 1997. Italy’s withdrawal meant Macedonia could make it’s debut.

Trivia: 
Greek composer, Yiannis Malachias, had some very particular ideas about how he wanted his song to some across on screen. To that end, he made a nuisance of himself to the organisers. So much so, that, after being warned about his conduct, he was stripped of his accreditation, leaving him unable to enter the NIA.
About the songs: 
DanijelaDanijela Croatia - Danijela - Neka Mi Ne Svane (Croatian)

Music/Lyrics: Petar Graso, Remi Kasinoti/Petar Graso, Remi Kasinoti

Conductor: Stjepan Kalogjera

Danijela was the lead singer of Magazin when they represented Croatia three years earlier. Now a solo artist, her tender ballad builds steadily while remaining calm throughout. It will always be a fan favourite. 

 DionysiaDionysia Greece - Dionysia and Thalassa Group - Mia Krifi Evaisthissia (Greek)

Music/Lyrics: Yiannis Malachias/Yiannia Valvis

Conductor: n/a

Greek entries usually sound distinctive because of the unique sound of Greek music. This time, a more cosmopolitan rock sound was tried but, while Dionysia’s performance was genuine, the song just wasn’t strong enough to score heavily. 

 Marie-LineMarie-Line France - Marie-Line - Où Aller (French)

Music/Lyrics: Marie-Line Marolany/Marie-Line Marolany

Conductor:  n/a

African rhythms had brought France some success early in the decade. The formula was tried again in an effort to lift them above some of the lower placings they had experienced since then.

 Mikel HerzogMikel Herzog Spain - Mikel Herzog - ¿Qué Voy A Hacer Sin Ti? (Spanish)

Music/Lyrics: Alberto Estébanez/Mikel Herzog

Conductor: Alberto Estébanez

While this is a song worth listening to, it lacks the punch of other Spanish entries, a bit Spanish ballad by numbers.

 GunvorGunvor Switzerland - Gunvor - Lass Ihn (German)

Music/Lyrics: Gunvor Guggisberg, Egon Egemann/Gunvor Guggisberg

Conductor: n/a

The last song that involved Egon Egemann was very strings based with emphasis on his solo violin. The same formula is applied here to less effect and a worse result. With more countries using televoting instead of juries, it was never going to be the favourite song of enough viewers to get many votes, and ended up with no points at all. 

 Katarína HasprováKatarína Hasprová Slovakia - Katarína Hasprová - Modlitba (Slovakian)

Music/Lyrics: Gabriel Dusík/Anna Wepperyová

Conductor: Vladimir Valovic

Katarina looked very graceful in her long, black evening dress. Her song is just as graceful and is a well constructed ballad which never goes over the top.

 SixteenSixteen Poland - Sixteen - To Takie Proste (Poland)

Music/Lyrics: Jaroslaw Pruszkowski/Olga Pruszkowska

Conductor: Wiesiek Pieregorolka

Just when you think the Polish song is going to limp along from beginning to end, it comes to life for the instrumental. That point comes a bit too late in the song to change the minds of those already turned off by it. 

 Dana InternationalDana International Israel - Dana International - Diva (Hebrew)

Music/Lyrics: Tzvika Pik/Yoav Ginai

Conductor: Tzvika Pik

Did all the publicity help Dana to win? This one was the complete opposite of the sweet innocent Dana who had brought Ireland its first victory in 1970. The styling and the song were loaded with camp, and if leaving a lasting impression became important with the advent of televoting, Diva certainly does that. 

 Guildo HornGuildo Horn Germany - Guildo Horn - Guildo Hat Euch Lieb (German)

Music/Lyrics: Stefan Raab/Stefan Raab

Conductor: Stefan Raab

The stage simply wasn’t big enough for Guildo! His performance took him into the audience and up the scaffolding at the side of the stage. Within the crazyness of the song were hints of jazz and blues, though they easily missed in the fun of it all.

 ChiaraChiara Malta - Chiara - The One That I Love (English)

Music/Lyrics: Jason Paul Cassar/Sunny Aquilina

Conductor: n/a

This is the first of Chiara’s three appearances in the contest and she laid down a marker for what was to follow; a gentle, inoffensive ballad which came closest to giving her a win.

 CharlieCharlie Hungary - Charlie - A Holnap Már Ném Lesz Szomorú (Hungarian)

Music/Lyrics: István Lehr/Horváth

Conductor: Miklós Malek

Perhaps fed up with putting in a lot of effort for little reward, this was to be the last song Hungary entered for seven years. Charlie’s dreary blues number was never going to encourage viewers to reach for a pen to write down the phone number. 

 Vili ResnikVili Resnik Slovenia - Vili Resnik - Naj Bogovi Slisijo (Slovenian)

Music/Lyrics: Matjaz Vlasic/Ursa Vlasic

Conductor: Mojmir Sepe

The tone is set immediately. Tinkling piano gives way to acoustic guitar before Vili’s angst filled voice takes over to tell the story in this wonderful, emotive ballad.

 Dawn MartinDawn Martin Ireland - Dawn Martin - Is Always Over Now? (English)

Music/Lyrics: Gerry Morgan/Gerry Morgan

Conductor: Noel Kelehan

While the melody of the Irish song is reasonably memorable, there isn’t really enough in the arrangement to support it. Consequently, Is Always Over Now? struggles to move away from the start line.

 Alma LusaAlma Lusa Portugal - Alma Lusa - Se Eu Te Pudesse Abraçar (Portuguese)

Music/Lyrics: José Cid/José Cid

Conductor: Mike Sergeant

José Cid, who wrote and performed Portugal’s 1980 entry, returned as part of the specially formed Alma Lusa. Together they gave us another very jolly ditty and chirpy performance.

 Malina OlinescuMalina Olinescu Romania - Malina Olinescu - Eu Cred (Romanian)

Music/Lyrics: Adrian Romcescu/Liliana Stefan

Conductor:

The 15th song of the night bowls along efficiently, and while it never sparkles, Eu Cred does enough (just) to keep the listener interested. It isn’t often that a singer is alone on the Eurovision stage, but Malina coped well without support from backing singers.

 ImaaniImaani United Kingdom - Imaani - Where Are You? (English)

Music/Lyrics: Scott English, Simon Stirling/Scott English, Simon Stirling

Conductor: James McMillan

Not for the first time, the United Kingdom entered the most contemporary song of the contest. It’s a pop song that has aged well and bears repeated hearing. It is also worth saying Imaani executed her duties as ‘host singer’ very professionally, dealing well with the demands made on her time.

 Michael HajiyanniMichael Hajiyanni Cyprus - Michael Hajiyanni - Genesis (Greek)

Music/Lyrics: Michael Hajiyanni/Zenon Zindilis

Conductor: Costa Cacoyannis

Bursts of brass create an epic feel to the song, while the Greek language gives it the sound of a prayer to the Gods.  

 Edsilia RombleyEdsilia Rombley The Netherlands - Edsilia Rombley - Hemel En Aarde (Dutch)

Music/Lyrics: Eric van Tijn, Jochem Fluitsma/Eric van Tijn, Jochem Fluitsma

Conductor: Dick Bakker

It had been 23 years since the last Dutch victory. They must have fancied their chances of breaking that run with Edsilia’s modern and catchy song. Her performance was also worthy of the top spot.

 Jill JohnsonJill Johnson Sweden - Jill Johnson - Kärleken Är (Swedish)

Music/Lyrics: Bobby Ljunggren, Hakan Almquist/Ingela ‘Pling’ Forsman

Conductor: Anders Berglund

Jill sang a tender and sensitive ballad in a way that suggested she didn’t have a nervous bone in her body. In doing so, she pitched her performance at exactly the right level for the song.

 Mélanie CohlMélanie Cohl Belgium - Mélanie Cohl - Dis Oui (French)

Music/Lyrics: Philippe Swan/Philippe Swan

Conductor: n/a

The Belgians tried a young singer with the cute factor in the hope of achieving their second win. Her funk tinged pop song was a pre-contest favourite.

 EdeaEdea Finland - Edea - Aava (Finnish)

Music/Lyrics: Alexi Ahoniemi/Alexi Ahoniemi

Conductor: Olli Ahvenlahti

Bravely having a go with something a bit different, Finland entered a song which can best be described as earthy and sounding like something Enya might come up with if she was feeling energetic.

 Lars A. FredriksenLars A. Fredriksen Norway - Lars A. Fredriksen - Alltid Sommer (Norwegian)

Music/Lyrics: David Eriksen, P K Ottestad/Linda Andernach Johannesen

Conductor: Geir Langslet

Despite the amount of percussion, Alltid Sommer still sounds slightly limp and laboured. Lars did his best and was rewarded with a generous place in the final scoreboard.

 Koit ToomeKoit Toome Estonia - Koit Toome - Mere Lapsed (Estonian)

Music/Lyrics: Maria Rahula, Tomi Rahula/Peter Pruuli

Conductor: Heiki Vahar

Koit remained seated at the piano for the whole performance. He probably had difficulty summoning up enough energy as his song is a rather uninspired, lifeless ballad. 

 TüzmenTüzmen Turkey - Tüzmen - Unutamazsin (Turkish)

Music/Lyrics: Erdinc Tunc/Canan Tunc

Conductor: Ümit Eroglu

Think of Turkish music and you think of high tempo, ethnically flavoured tunes. Unutamazsin is a welcome break from that style, and the piano based ballad is proof that the Turks can also do sensitive and emotional. 

 Vlado JanevskiVlado Janevski Macedonia - Vlado Janevski - Ne Zori, Zoro (Macedonian)

Music/Lyrics: Grigor Koprov/Vlado Janevski

Conductor: Alexandar Dzambazov

As well as performing Macedonia’s debut, Vlado co-wrote it as well. Self belief was not lacking in him but in fairness, his Balkan ballad still sounds good many years after. As an added bonus, the English version is good as well, succeeding where many fail in having a sensible lyric.

1997

1997 Logo ©  EBU
Basic information
Date: 
3 May 1997
Contest type: 
Grand Final
Venue: 
Point Theatre, Dublin, Ireland
Broadcaster: 
RTE
Presenter(s): 
Ronan Keating and Carrie Crowley
About the contest: 

Sixteen years after Bucks Fizz made waves by ripping off their skirts (at least, the girls did!) Katrina and her own Waves achieved what could be described as a comprehensive victory finishing 70 points ahead of Ireland in second place. Her total of 227 points was the highest ever scored at the time. She was probably the most familiar face of all the performers in the contest thanks to her hit from several years earlier, Walking on Sunshine.

Yet again, RTE choose the Point Theatre in Dublin as the venue, thus it became the venue to host more contest than any others. 

Of all the artists, Alma Cardzic, Maarja-Liis Ilus and Sebnem Paker had already experienced the Eurovision stage.  Jalisse would try unsuccessfully to represent San Marino in 2008.

Returning from a three year sabbatical was Italy, who was joined back in the fold by Denmark, Germany, Hungary and Russia. Belgium, Finland and Slovakia suffered an enforced absence after being relegated by their low placings the year before.

In a bit of a coup for RTE, Ronan Keating agreed to co-host the contest, although one of the perks of this was that Boyzone were allowed to the publicity of performing the interval act.

The voting system changed for the first time in 22 years. While the points awarded by each country remained as before, 1-8, then 10 and 12, five countries decided to give the responsibility to the public via a phone vote. This system would become more popular with more countries doing it this way until it became the norm for all participating countries. The difference which televoting would make became clear when Iceland’s Paul Oscar received all but two of his 18 points from countries using the televoting system.

Trivia: 
Germany’s Bianca Shomburg was heard backstage to warm up in a way that would not have inspired confidence in any of her supporters. She chose to get the vocal chords working by singing her song, but replacing the word Zeit with sh@&#.
About the songs: 
Chara KonstantinouChara Konstantinou 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 1997Sebnem 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 EndresenTor 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 SoriatBettina Soriat Austria - Bettina Soriat - One Step (German)

Music/Lyrics: Marc Berry, Ina Siber/Marc Berry

Conductor: n/a

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 RobertsMarc Roberts

Ireland - Marc Roberts - Mysterious Woman (English)

Music/Lyrics: John Farry/John Farry

Conductor: n/a

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 RibicTanja 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 BertaBarbara 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. EinsteinMrs. 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.

 JalisseJalisse 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 LlunasMarcos 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 ShomburgBianca Shomburg Germany - Bianca Shomburg - Zeit (German)

Music/Lyrics: Ralph Siegel/Bernd Meinunger

Conductor: n/a

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 JopekAnna 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 IlusMaarja-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 CardzicAlma 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 LawsonCélia 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.

 BlondBlond 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 ZorbaMarianna 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 ScerriDebbie 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.

 VIPVIP 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 PugachovaAlla 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 KajKølig 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. 

 FannyFanny 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.

 ENIENI Croatia - ENI - Probudi Me (Croatian)

Music/Lyrics: Davor Tolja/Alida Sarar

Conductor:  n/a

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 WavesKatrina 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 OscarPaul 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.

1996

1996 Logo ©  EBU
Basic information
Date: 
18 May 1996
Venue: 
Specktrum, Oslo, Norway
Broadcaster: 
NRK
Presenter(s): 
Morten Harket and Ingvild Bryn
About the contest: 

Since 1993, a country had to finish outside the bottom seven to qualify for the next contest. The EBU experimented with a new system in 1996. All countries had to submit their songs for a pre-selection round. The songs were listened to (not watched) by juries in each country and 23 made it to Oslo. It was a strange way of selecting the songs and there was bound to be controversy.  Those in the know were tipping Germany’s Blauer Planet sung by Leon to win the whole thing, but shockwaves reverberated through Europe when news broke that Leon did not even get through the pre-selection round. Delhusa Gjon from Hungary can also count himself unlucky not to go to Oslo. The experiment didn’t last long and relegation was brought back to determine the participants for the 1997 contest.

A new touch was added to the usual postcard introduction for each song. A member of the Government of each country appeared at the end of the film to wish the act good luck.

The scoreboard was given an overhaul. The traditional on stage scoreboard visible to all was replaced by a virtual scoreboard seen only on television screens. Even presenter Ingvild had to have a screen in front of her so she knew what was going on while she was calling in the votes.

While the scoreboard was innovative, the result was familiar, with Ireland surprising many (well, everyone really) by winning for the fourth time in five years.

While the scoring system remained the same as it had been for years, with each country awarding points from 1-8, then 10 and 12, it was to be the last year that juries were exclusively used. The following year would see the introduction, at least in part, of televoting.

NRK gave the stage a Norwegian feel with a set that was designed to look like an oil rig. The oil rig idea didn’t stop there. The theme included the members of the orchestra wearing hard hats during the show, an idea that was quickly dropped when the producers realised just how silly that looked in practice.

Constantinos, Sebnem Paker and Maarja-Liis Ilus would all be seen again in other contests. In fact, Sebnem and Maarja-Liis couldn’t wait and entered again the following year. Elisabeth Andreasson and Marianna Efstratiou were old hands by now at the Eurovision game.  Elisabeth was singing her fourth song in the contest. Lúcia Moniz went on to be Colin Firth’s love interest in the film Love Actually.

Trivia: 
Brief though it was, the dress worn by Gina G would have been even shorter had it not been for her Gran. She thought the dress was a little on the short side, and so added a couple of rows herself.
About the songs: 
Sebnem PakerSebnem Paker Turkey - Sebnem Paker - Besinçi Mevsim (Turkish)

Music/Lyrics: Levent Coker/Selma Cuhaci

Conductor: Levent Coker

In her first of two successive contest appearances, Sebnem sang a laid back, smooth Turkish song, ably assisted by a violin and an accordion. 

 Gina GGina G United Kingdom - Gina G - Just A Little Bit (English)

Music/Lyrics: Simon Tauber, Steve Rodway/Simon Tauber, Steve Rodway

Conductor: Ernie Dunstall

Wearing a dress made by her Gran, Australian born Gina injected a bit of life early in the show. Easily the most contemporary song for years, it could be argued that the international success of the song provided a springboard for a more modern look and feel to contests in the future. 

 Antonio CarbonellAntonio Carbonell Spain - Antonio Carbonell - Ay, Qué Deseo! (Spanish)

Music/Lyrics: Ketama/Ketama

Conductor: Eduardo Leiva

For many, this is one of the surprising qualifiers for the 1996 contest. It doesn’t get much more Spanish than this; a strong voice dominating a Flamenco rhythm.  

 Lúcia MonizLúcia Moniz Portugal - Lúcia Moniz - O Meu Coração Não Tem Cor (Portuguese)

Music/Lyrics: Pedro Osório/Jose Fanha

Conductor: Pedro Osório

Portugal’s entry is just as ethnic as the Spanish song which preceded it, but is more digestible. Lucia was never seen without a smile on her face around Oslo, and her performance was suitably chirpy. She would be seen soon afterwards as Colin Firth’s intended in the romantic comedy, Love Actually.

 ConstantinosConstantinos Cyprus - Constantinos - Mono Gia Mas (Greek)

Music/Lyrics: Andreas Georgiallis/Rodoulla Papalambrianou

Conductor: Stavros Lantsias

This is the first of Constantinos’ four (although he’s still trying for more!) appearances. It’s a tender ballad which he sang from the heart.

 Miriam ChristineMiriam Christine Malta - Miriam Christine - In A Woman's Heart (English)

Music/Lyrics: Paul Abela/Alfred Sant

Conductor: Paul Abela

The tune is a happy one, but the lyric - about a relationship gone wrong - isn’t. Her performance was merry and the song is one of the best from the small island.

 Maja BlagdanMaja Blagdan Croatia - Maja Blagdan - Sveta Ljubav (Croatian)

Music/Lyrics: Zrinko Tutic/Zrinko Tutic

Conductor: Alan Bejlinski

Maja brought her experience to bear as she filled the stage on her own for her performance of her big Croatian ballad. Some of the big notes were challenging, but she was up to the task.

 George NußbaumerGeorge Nußbaumer Austria - George Nußbaumer - Weil's Dr Guat Got (Voralbergian)

Music/Lyrics: George Nußbaumer/George Nußbaumer, Michael W Krausz

Conductor: Michael W Krausz

The Austrian song is in the minority Voralbergian language, the only time it has been heard in Eurovision. The song is a very cheerful gospel number that had them clapping in the aisles. 

 Cathy LeanderCathy Leander Switzerland - Cathy Leander - Mon Coeur L'aime (French)

Music/Lyrics: Regis Mounir/Regis Mounir

Conductor: Rui Reis

Switzerland’s song is an under-rated ballad that deserved a higher placing. Kathy’s voice reflected the nature of the lyric as she yearns for someone she can’t have.

 Marianna EfstratiouMarianna Efstratiou Greece - Marianna Efstratiou - Emis Forame To Himona Anixiatika (Greek)

Music/Lyrics: Costas Bigalis/Iro Trigoni

Conductor: Michalis Rozakis

Percussion instruments provide an interesting intro and gave a sense of anticipation of what may follow. What does follow is an upbeat, flowing tune which Marianne performs very well. 

 Ivo Linna and Maarja-Liis IlusIvo Linna and Maarja-Liis Ilus

Estonia - Ivo Linna and Maarja-Liis Ilus - Kaelakee Hääl (Estonian)

Music/Lyrics: Prit Pajusaar/Kaari Sillamaa

Conductor: Tarmo Leinatamm

At first glance, a young Maarja-Liis and a not so young Ivo might seem an odd combination for a duet. However, it is suitable given the lyrics; a young girl uncertain in the world and the voice of experience giving advice.

 Elisabeth Andreasson 1996Elisabeth Andreasson 1996 Norway - Elisabeth Andreasson - I Evighet (Norwegian)

Music/Lyrics: Torhild Nigar/Torhild Higar

Conductor: Frode Thingnaes

Rumoured to be one of the songs rejected by NRK for the 1991 national final that never was, I Evighet is a lilting, flute inspired ballad. With Elisabeth at the microphone, it was always going to be up there at the end

 Dan Ar BrazDan Ar Braz France - Dan Ar Braz et l'Héritage des Celtes - Diwanit Bugale (Breton)

Music/Lyrics: Dan Ar Braz/Dan Ar Braz

Conductor: Fiachra Trench

Although his song is in Breton, Dan employed the services of two British ladies for the main vocals. Diwanit Bugale is a gentle lullaby that was never going to win, but wasn’t destined to finish last either. 

 ReginaRegina Slovenia - Regina - Dan Najlepših Sanj (Slovenian)

Music/Lyrics: Aleksander Kogoj/Aleksander Kogoj

Conductor: Jozé Privsek

Regina’s dress was made by an old lady she met in a rural Slovenian village who offered it to her to wear in Oslo. The clarinet dominates the instrumental parts. 

 Maxine and Franklin BrownMaxine and Franklin Brown The Netherlands - Maxine and Franklin Brown - De Eerste Keer (Dutch)

Music/Lyrics: Piet Souer/Peter van Asten

Conductor: Dick Bakker

There is an abundance of na-na-na's at the beginning, but don’t let that put you off! After that, the song develops into a likeable, mid-tempo song that stays in the memory.  Little Maxine may well have needed physiotherapy for her neck, such was the height difference in height between herself and Franklin.

 Lisa del BoLisa del Bo Belgium - Lisa del Bo - Liefde Is Een Kaartspel (Flemish)

Music/Lyrics: John Terra/Daniel Dittmar

Conductor: Bob Porter

As with their Dutch neighbours before them, there are na-na-na’s aplenty at the start. Despite the dodgy opening, the overall effect of the song is pure, unashamed, unadulterated feel good fun! 

 Eimear QuinnEimear Quinn Ireland - Eimear Quinn - The Voice (English)

Music/Lyrics: Brendan Graham/Brendan Graham

Conductor: Noel Kelehan

What a shock! No-one predicted yet another Irish win. It was written by the man who had written Ireland’s 1994 winner. It’s a very Irish folk song. When asked who or what ‘The Voice’ belonged to, Brendan said it was up to the listener to decide. Had the current televoting system been in place, Eimear would have been nowhere near the top of the scoreboard. Definitely a case of the luck of the Irish!

 JasmineJasmine Finland - Jasmine - Niin Kaunis On Taivas (Finnish)

Music/Lyrics: Timo Niemi/Timo Niemi

Conductor: Olli Ahvenlahti

Jasmine’s stylists had given her a formal look, which was inappropriate and looked odd! A casual approach for her gentle folk song would have been more in line with Jasmine’s youth and bubbly personality, and would have distracted less from a very pleasant tune.  

 Anna MjöllAnna Mjöll Iceland - Anna Mjöll - Sjúbídú (Icelandic)

Music/Lyrics:  Anna Mjöll Olafsdottir, Olafur Gaukur/Anna Mjöll Olafsdottir, Olafur Gaukur

Conductor: Olafur Gaukur

Jazz loving Anna Mjöll sung a tribute to the genre and its most famous exponents. It’s very laid back and relaxing. 

 Kasia KowalskaKasia Kowalska Poland - Kasia Kowalska - Chce Znac Swój Grzech (Polish)

Music/Lyrics: Robert Amirian/Kasia Kowalska

Conductor: Wiesiek Pieregorolka

There is drama by the bucket load in Kasia’s song and performance. Strong piano and short bursts of strings are to the fore in the arrangement.

 Amila GlamocakAmila Glamocak Bosnia and Herzegovina - Amila Glamocak - Za Na u Ljubav (Bosnian)

Music/Lyrics: Adrian Bajramoviv, Sinan Alimanovic/Adrian Bajramoviv, Sinan Alimanovic

Conductor: Sinan Alimanovic

After Poland came another song full of passion, if not too much excitement. Za Nasu Ljubav never quite takes off.

 Marcel PalonderMarcel Palonder Slovakia - Marcel Palonder - Kým Nás Má (Slovakian)

Music/Lyrics: Juraj Burian/Juraj Burian

Conductor: Juraj Burian

Like the Bosnian song before it, the Slovakian song struggles to get going and it is difficult to stop one’s mind wandering to other things before the end. 

 One More TimeOne More Time Sweden - One More Time - Den Vilda (Swedish)

Music/Lyrics: Peter Grönvall/Nanne Grönvall

Conductor: Anders Berglund

This was one of the favourites going into the contest. In fact, it was revealed afterwards that it had won the pre-selection round. It’s a haunting piece of music, not unlike the type of song that has brought Enya big hits.

 

 

So, those are the songs that made it, but what about the ones that didn't? Did they get what they deserved or were any of them denied a rightful place in Oslo?

Dorthe Andersen & Martin LoftDorthe Andersen & Martin Loft Denmark - Dorthe Andersen & Martin Loft - Kun Med Dig (Danish)

Music/Lyrics: Jascha Richter/Keld Heick

As the songs were heard in alphabetical order, the Danish song would have been the sixth to fall on the ears of the listening juries. There was not a chance that it would stand out enough to qualify. it’s a ballad that fails to get off the ground and fails to hold ones attention for long enough.

 LeonLeon Germany - Leon - Blauer Planet (German)

Music/Lyrics: Hanne Haller/Hanne Haller

The failure of Germany to qualify left NRK with less money to spend, as Germany is one of the biggest financial contributors to the EBU. Its omission is one of the biggest mysteries in the history of the contest. There is lots of energy and pace which combine with a very contemporary sound to create a song that many fans can still sing many years later.

 Delhusa GjonDelhusa Gjon Hungary - Delhusa Gjon - Fortuna (Hungarian)

Music/Lyrics: Delhusa Gjon/Delhusa Gjon

A real travelogue from the Hungarians! Almost every capital city in Europe gets a mention and why not? It worked for the Irish in 1990 so why not now? Unfortunately, it didn’t! Even so, it would have been worthy of a place in the final line up. Delhusa’s at times big ballad is strong enough not to need a live performance to enhance it, although it does sound better in Hungarian than English. He can feel aggrieved at not qualifying, far worse songs made it through.

 Galit BellGalit Bell Israel - Galit Bell - Shalom Olam (Hebrew)

Music/Lyrics: Doron VitenBerg/Eyal Madani

The mistake the Israelis made was to submit the live version of the audio for the pre-selection. Galit sounded as if she was stretching her voice too much and the up-tempo song sounds messy. Maybe the studio version would have impressed more.

 Kaliopi GrilKaliopi Gril Macedonia - Kaliopi Gril - Samo Ti (Macedonian)

Music/Lyrics: Kaliopi Gril/Kaliopi Gril

Here is one that would have benefited from a live performance. It would have given Kaliopi the chance to put across the emotion her voice portrays. From the audio, she could come across to some as simply screeching aimlessly. That is unfair as there is clearly emotion behind the vocal. 

 No Image availableNo Image available Romania - Monica Anghel & Sincron - Ruga Pentru Pacea Lumii (Romanian)

Music/Lyrics:

It is possible to feel sorry for the Romanians being forced to stay at home. Theirs is a strong ballad which Monica would have given full justice to given the opportunity to perform it live. 

 Andrej KosinskijAndrej Kosinskij Russia - Andrej Kosinskij - Ja, Eto Ja (Russian)

Music/Lyrics: Andrej Kosinskij/Nikolaj Denisov

Andrej sounds very like Mick Hucknall and the song is not a million miles away from something you would find on a Simply Red album. It is jazzy in feel and no-one can be surprised that he didn’t need to book a flight to Norway.

 

1995

Basic information
Date: 
13 May 1995
Contest type: 
Grand Final
Venue: 
Point Theatre, Dublin, Ireland
Broadcaster: 
RTE
Presenter(s): 
Mary Kennedy
About the contest: 

Charged with hosting the contest for a third consecutive year, RTE returned to the Point Theatre on the banks of the River Liffy. They clearly didn’t spend much of the budget on lighting, the set was one of the darkest ever not seen in a contest. Not only had no broadcaster had to organise the contest three years in a row before, no venue had staged the contest for two consecutive years either.

Cynics suggested that Ireland’s entry, Dreamin' by Eddie Friel, was chosen because it wouldn’t have a chance of winning. While Ireland didn’t make it four in a row, there was a very clear link between Irish music and the winning Norwegian song. The group, Secret Garden, had been brought together by Nocturne’s composer, Rolf Lövland. Among the group was Fionnuala Sherry, an Irish lady who had been a member of the RTE Concert Orchestra the year before. Nocturne was an unmistakably Irish song. It was one of the most controversial winners in the history of the contest. Some argued it wasn’t a song at all. There are two lines at the beginning of the song and two lines at the end, with a total of 25 words. The rest of the three minutes is instrumental.

A wide range of music was represented; opera, jazz, commercial pop, ballads, folk and, for the first time, rap.

Riverdance, the interval act from the 1994 contest, had been expanded into a full length show and was sweeping the world. Because of this, there was much interest in what RTE would serve up while the scores were being counted. What was produced was something completely different from Riverdance. A monastic chant called Lumen provided good entertainment and stood up in its own right.

Unusually, there were no performers among the acts who had been in the contest before. The nearest to that was Norway’s Secret Garden.  Rolf Lövland had written the 1985 winning song. La Det Swinge. Alexandros Panayi and Darja Svajger would reappear in future contests.

The scoring system remained as the very familiar 1-8, 10, 12 point system. A rule change meant that no songs would be automatically relegated from the 1996 contest, signalling only a temporary end to this form of deciding who would be in and out of the next contest.

About the songs: 
JustynaJustyna Poland - Justyna - Sama (Polish)

Music/Lyrics: Wojciech Waglewski, Mateusz Pospieszaalski/Wojciech Waglewski

Conductor: Noel Kelehan

Poland came close to winning on its debut the previous year with an epic ballad. This time, Justyna’s song is more in the style of a Polish folk/gypsy song. Her choreography consisted almost exclusively of lots of hand waving.

 Eddie FrielEddie Friel Ireland - Eddie Friel - Dreamin' (English)

Music/Lyrics: Richard Abbott, Barry Woods/Richard Abbott, Barry Woods

Conductor: Noel Kelehan

Under normal circumstances, this uninspiring folk ballad would not have been considered as a possible winner. However, on the back of three wins in a row for Ireland, no-one would have bet against it! Sighs of relief all round then when it became clear it was not going to be four in a row.

 Stone and StoneStone and Stone Germany - Stone and Stone - Verliebt In Dich (German)

Music/Lyrics: Cheyenne Stone/Cheyenne Stone

Conductor: Hermann Weindorf

Pretentions of greatness were misplaced as Cheyenne and her husband presented their slightly funk influenced song in a way that suggested they thought it was going to finish higher than was ever likely.

 Davor PopovicDavor Popovic Bosnia - Davor Popovic - Dvadeset I Prvi Vijek (Bosnian)

Music/Lyrics: Zlatan Fazlic, Sinan Alimanovic/Zlatan Fazlic

Conductor: Sinan Alimanovic

There was a lot of international sympathy for Bosnia at the time which possibly translated into votes for some of the new country’s other entries. However, this is a rather non-descript song which passes by unnoticed. It was never likely to feature highly on the scoreboard. Davor hardly opened his eyes the whole time he was singing performance.

 Secret GardenSecret Garden Norway - Secret Garden - Nocturne (Norwegian)

Music/Lyrics: Rolf Lövland/Petter Skavlan

Conductor: Geir Langslet

Ireland may not have won the contest, but there was more than a hint of Irish about the song that did claim the prize. The group even borrowed a former member of the RTE concert orchestra to perform the main part of the song, the violin solo.

 Philipp KirkorovPhilipp Kirkorov Russia - Philipp Kirkorov - Kolybelnaya Dlya Vulkana (Russian)

Music/Lyrics: Ilya Reznyk/Igor Bershadsky

Conductor: Michael Finberg

The big man with the big voice and a sense of melodrama was the perfect performer for a song like this. There is no understatement here!

 Bó HalldórssonBó Halldórsson Iceland - Bó Halldórsson - Núna (Icelandic)

Music/Lyrics: Bó Halldórsson, Ed Welch/Jon Örn Marinosson

Conductor: Frank McNamara

There is a feeling that Bo’s beautiful ballad never quite takes off to achieve its full potential. Even so, it is still a very worthy entry and there is more than enough in the song to enjoy.

 Stella JonesStella Jones Austria - Stella Jones - Die Welt Dreht Sich Verkehrt (German)

Music/Lyrics: Michael W Krausz/ Michael Krausz

Conductor: Michael Keinzl

The Austrian entry is a jazz/funk number which is slightly messy, but welcome in a contest containing a lot of ballads. Perhaps expecting not to be involved at the end of the show, Stella appeared to be wearing pyjamas.

 Anabel CondeAnabel Conde Spain - Anabel Conde - Vuelve Conmigo (Spanish)

Music/Lyrics: Jose Maria Puron/Jose Maria Puron

Conductor: Eduardo Leyva

Spain should send a song like this every year! Anabel may have been small in stature, but her voice filled the auditorium. Her song is a smouldering fire of emotion. The Spanish delegation were delighted with the result and celebrated wildly afterwards.  

 Arzu EceArzu Ece Turkey - Arzu Ece - Sev (Turkish)

Music/Lyrics: Melih Kibar/Zeynep Talu Kursuncu

Conductor: Melih Kibar

The 1995 contest was bursting with ballads. Even the usually cheery Turks slowed down the tempo. The beginning of the song is better than bearable, but by the end, it sounds a bit laboured. 

 Magazin and LidijaMagazin and Lidija Croatia - Magazin and Lidija - Nostalgija (Croatian)

Music/Lyrics: Tonci Huljic/Vjekoslava Huljic

Conductor: Stipica Kalogjera

Soprano Lidija lent an operatic feel to Croatia’s entry, which also had a classical edge. It was classy, but possibly a bit too high brow to have a wide enough appeal.

 Nathalie SantamariaNathalie Santamaria

France - Nathalie Santamaria - Il Me Donne Rendez-vous (French)

Music/Lyrics: Francois Bernheim/Didier Barbelivien

Conductor: Michel Bernholc

Unusually, the French song is easily the most commercial of the contest. The employment of a very pretty singer certainly wasn’t going to hinder the chances of success, it very nearly worked.

 

 Czaba SzigetiCzaba Szigeti Hungary - Czaba Szigeti - Ùj Nèv Egy Règi Hàz Fàlan (Hungarian)

Music/Lyrics: Ferenc Balazs/Attila Horváth

Conductor: Miklós Malek

Hungarian isn’t the most attractive of languages, especially when sung in a croaky voice. This combination makes the song easy to underrate. Czaba’s tender, piano based ballad would have benefited from the free language rule that exists today.   

 Frédéric EtherlinckFrédéric Etherlinck Belgium - Frédéric Etherlinck - La Voix Est Libre (French)

Music/Lyrics: Pierre Theunis/Pierre Theunis

Conductor: Alec Mansion

Boasting several verses (or several choruses, depending on your point of view), Belgium’s song builds with each one, but lands just the wrong side of the border between dull and interesting. 

 Love City GrooveLove City Groove United Kingdom - Love City Groove - Love City Groove (English)

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Rudden, Catsiana Mais/Stephen Rudden, Catsiana Mais

Conductor: Mike Dixon

A musical first for the Eurovision Song Contest, rap music. It was a brave, but always doomed to fail, attempt. Rap music has limited appeal and a lot of jurors would not have been familiar with that genre anyway. 

 Tó CruzTó Cruz Portugal - Tó Cruz - Baunilha E Chocolate (Portuguese)

Music/Lyrics: Antonio Vitorino de Almelda/Rosa Lobato de Faria

Conductor: Thilo Krassman

Portugal’s contribution is a slow paced soul number appealing for racial harmony. Tó gave it his all, but looked a bit awkward as he swayed from side to side.

 Alexandros PanayiAlexandros Panayi Cyprus - Alexandros Panayi - Sti Fotia (Greek)

Music/Lyrics: Alexandros Panayi/Alexandros Panayi

Conductor: George Theophanous

Every contest needs an over the top piece of drama, and this year, it was provided by Cyprus. That said, Alex gave one of the best performances of the night. There are brief but impactful interjections from the backing singers and lots of sudden changes in intensity. 

 Jan JohansenJan Johansen Sweden - Jan Johansen - Se På Mej (Swedish)

Music/Lyrics: Hakan Almquist, Bobby Ljunggren/Ingela ‘Pling’ Forsman

Conductor: Anders Berglund

Every Swedish song seems to be in the shadow of Abba. Se På Mej is a world away from Waterloo, it is a slow, quiet number that never threatens to boil over. 

 Aud WilkenAud Wilken Denmark - Aud Wilken - Fra Mols Til Skagen (Danish)

Music/Lyrics: Lise Cabble, Mette Mathisen/Lise Cabble

Conductor: Frede Ewert

The Banjo made a rare and welcome appearance in the contest. That is the only interesting aspect about what is otherwise quite a dull effort! It lumbers along lifelessly. 

 Darja SvajgerDarja Svajger Slovenia - Darja Svajger - Prisluhni Mi (Slovenian)

Music/Lyrics: Primoz Peterca, Saso Fajon/Primoz Peterca

Conductor: Jozé Privsek

Prisluhni Mi is a graceful ballad of the type that has often been done well in contests past. It’s a bit ballad-by-numbers, but bears up well under multiple listens. 

 LioraLiora Israel - Liora - Amen (Hebrew)

Music/Lyrics: Moshe Datz/Hamutal Ben-Zeev

Conductor: Gadi Goldman

Perhaps determined to avoid relegation, Israel sent this uplifting anthem. Like all good anthems, it builds and builds to the big finish. Liora was rightly disappointed with 8th.

 Mike SpiteriMike Spiteri Malta - Mike Spiteri - Keep Me In Mind (English)

Music/Lyrics: Alfred Sant/Ray Agius

Conductor: Ray Agius

Soul is a genre not often heard in the contest. Malta’s effort wasn’t a disaster by any stretch of the imagination, and Mike’s gravelly voice suits the song well.

 Elina ConstantopoulouElina Constantopoulou Greece - Elina Constantopoulou - Pia Prossefchi (Greek)

Music/Lyrics: Nikos Terzis/Antonis Pappas

Conductor: Haris Andreadis

Elements of classical Greek culture are all over Pia Prossefchi. As a result, it is possibly one for aficionados only, but well worth a listen. 

1994

Basic information
Date: 
30 March 1994
Venue: 
Point Theatre, Dublin, Ireland
Broadcaster: 
RTE
Presenter(s): 
Cynthia Ni Mhurchu and Gerry Ryan
About the contest: 

After the excursion to Millstreet the year before, RTE hosted the 1994 contest in the more purpose built surroundings of The Point Theatre, Dublin. The contest hadn’t seen so many debuts since it started in 1956. Seven countries entered for the first time, some more successfully than others! This gave the show a fresh feel which was slightly spoilt when the hosts won for the 3rd time in a row. It was a win that not many predicted, but all things Irish were popular in Europe at the time.

A worldwide phenomenon was launched in 1994 and it had nothing to do with the competing songs or singers. The interval act had been treated up to that point as a time filler, with sometimes only a film highlighting the delights of the host country filling the eight minutes the juries had to add up their scores. RTE changed the rules and set the bar very high for others to reach. The producers commissioned Bill Whelan to compose a piece of Irish music to feature traditional Irish dancing. What emerged was Riverdance, a routine that became a whole show that would sweep the world and turn principle dancers, Jean Butler and Michael Flatley into stars. Those lucky enough to be in the theatre to witness it live for the first time were swept to their feet for a standing ovation that seemed to last forever.

Returning to the contest for a second time was Evridiki. Elisabeth Andreasson and Sigga were competing for a third time. Roger Pontare and Alma would be seen in future shows, and Moira and Chris had both been backing singers the year before.

The relegation system was in operation again for the seven countries finishing at the bottom of the scoreboard. The scoring system remained unchanged from the 1-8, 10 and 12 points method.

Trivia: 
Sigga did not perform Nætur in the Icelandic final. It had been performed by her partner from Heart 2 Heart (Iceland 1992), Sissa. However, the songwriters threatened to withdraw the song altogether if Sigga didn’t go to Dublin, so Sissa was paid a large sum of money to stay at home.
About the songs: 
Marie Bergman and Roger PontareMarie Bergman and Roger Pontare Sweden - Marie Bergman and Roger Pontare - Stjärnorna (Swedish) 4
Music/Lyrics: Peter Bertilsson/Mikael Littvold

Conductor: Anders Berglund

Getting things started were the odd couple! Marie and Roger had completely different images. What counts is the performance and their voices worked well together for this big (almost) ballad.

 Cat CatCat Cat Finland - Cat Cat - Bye Bye Baby (Finnish)

Music/Lyrics: Karl Salli, Nake Lentonen/Karl Salli, Nake Lentonen

Conductor: Olli Ahvenlahti

Finland sent a fresh and contemporary dance number to Dublin. The image given to the two sisters of Cat Cat didn’t quite work and relying on the orchestra took away the punch that dance tracks need.

 Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettiganPaul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan Ireland - Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan - Rock 'n' Roll Kids (English)

Music/Lyrics: Brendan Graham/Brendan Graham

Conductor: Noel Kelehan

Surely Ireland couldn’t win for an unprecedented third time in a row? Not with two middle aged gentlemen singing an Irish folk song? It was too introspective to have broad appeal, wasn’t it? Yes, yes and no! Ireland made history and showed all those newcomers how it’s done.

 Evridiki 1994Evridiki 1994 Cyprus - Evridiki - Ime Anthropos Ke Ego (Greek)

Music/Lyrics: George Theophanous/George Theophanous

Conductor: George Theophanous

Two years after she finished 11th with a song written by her husband, they teamed up again, and finished 11th again. The Greek styles of the two songs aren’t worlds apart. There’s more of an ‘oomph’ this time and plenty of emoting by Evridiki. 

 SiggaSigga Iceland - Sigga - Nætur (Icelandic)

Music/Lyrics: Fridrik Karlsson/Stefán Hilmarsson

Conductor: Frank McNamara

Under the circumstances, the pressure was on Sigga to give a good performance and deliver a result, and she succeeded with the first part. While pleasant enough to listen to, Nætur seems to drift along and doesn’t seem to go anywhere. 

 Frances RuffelleFrances Ruffelle United Kingdom - Frances Ruffelle - We Will Be Free (Lonely Symphony) (English)

Music/Lyrics: George de Angelis, Mark Dean/George de Angelis, Mark Dean

Conductor: Michael Reed

Following in the more famous footsteps of Michael Ball and Sonia, West End star Francis accepted the BBC’s invitation to represent her country. The result was a very different song than the United Kingdom had sent before. It wasn’t the musical number that many may have expected; it is more in the style of the new age/gothic genres. Someone had the idea of including a crown of ‘thorns’ in Francis’ clothes.

 Tony CetinskiTony Cetinski Croatia - Tony Cetinski - Nek'ti Bude Ljubav Sva (Croatian)

Music/Lyrics: Zeljen Klasterka/Zeljko Krznaric

Conductor: Zdravko Sljivac

Having failed to win the Dora (Croatia’s selection show for the contest) the previous year with arguably a much better song, Tony tried again with a ballad that is very sincere and traditionally Croatian in sound. 

 Sara TavaresSara Tavares Portugal - Sara Tavares - Chamar A Música (Portuguese)

Music/Lyrics: Joao Carlos Oliveira/Rosa Lobato de Faria

Conductor: Thilo Krassman

At first glance, the Portuguese song is a sad affair, but the lyrics are actually positive. Sara, one of the youngest singers in the contest, carried it well.

 DuilioDuilio Switzerland - Duilio - Sto Pregando (Italian)

Music/Lyrics: Giuseppe Scaramella/Giuseppe Scaramella

Conductor: Valeriano Chiaravalle

Duilio’s ballad builds steadily chorus by chorus. The only verse is right at the beginning.

 Silvi VraitSilvi Vrait Estonia - Silvi Vrait - Nagu Merelaine (Estonia)

Music/Lyrics: Ivar Must/Leelo Tungal

Conductor: Urmas Lattikas

Estonia’s debut is more likely to appeal to appeal to older listeners than younger ones. Nagu Merelaine is easy to listen to and doesn’t fit into any particular genre.

 Dan BittmanDan Bittman Romania - Dan Bittman - Dincolo De Nori (Romanian)

Music/Lyrics: Antonio Furtuna, Dan Bittman/Antonio Furtuna, Dan Bittman

Conductor: Noel Kelehan

The piano is the dominant instrument throughout Dan’s ballad. It works well, providing the song with an easy flowing feeling and a sound to make the listener maintain interest to the end. 

 Moira Stafrace and Christopher SciclunaMoira Stafrace and Christopher Scicluna Malta - Moira Stafrace and Christopher Scicluna - More Than Love (English)

Music/Lyrics: Christopher Scicluna/Christopher Scicluna, Moira Stafrace

Conductor: Anthony Chircop

The tune is ok, but the lyrics are, at times, awful; ‘to tell you the truth, I’ll never change my youth’, and ‘not easy to say, there’s a will, there’s a way’, being a couple of examples. Chris should have taken the deeper notes as Moira couldn’t get down that far. Apart from that, it’s reasonable, and the theme of striving to succeed could be inspirational for some. 

 Willeke AlbertiWilleke Alberti The Netherlands - Willeke Alberti - Waar Is De Zon (Dutch)

Music/Lyrics: Edwin Schimscheimer/Coot van Doesburgh

Conductor: Harry van Hoof

Willeke was the choice Dutch broadcaster, NOS, to go to Dublin. The public selected a good, musical style big ballad for her to sing. 

 MeKaDoMeKaDo Germany - MeKaDo - Wir Geben 'ne Party (German)

Music/Lyrics: Ralph Siegel/Bernd Meinunger

Conductor: Norbert Daum

Mekado were three ladies put together by prolific contest writers, Siegel and Meinunger. Justifiably one of the favourites, their song is a contemporary, up-tempo tune which stays long in the memory. The performance was very professional.

 Martin DurindaMartin Durinda Slovakia - Martin Durinda and Tublatanka - Nekovecná Piesen (Slovak)

Music/Lyrics: Martin Durinda/Martin Sarvas

Conductor: Vladimir Valovic

Old fashioned (in a good way) rock band Martin Durinda and Tublatanka got Slovakia’s so far occasional participation off to a good start. As you might expect, it’s a rock song, although the strings take away some of the impact. 

 Ovidijus VyshniauskasOvidijus Vyshniauskas Lithuania - Ovidijus Vyshniauskas - Lopsine Mylimai (Lithuanian)

Music/Lyrics: Ovidijus Vyshniauskas/Gintaras Zdebskis

Conductor: Tomas Leiburas

Lithuania’s history in the contest started very inauspiciously with a failure to score even a single point. Ovidijus did deserve a few. Perhaps the shaven head with the leather trousers pt a few people off.

 Elisabeth Andreasson and Jan Werner DanielsenElisabeth Andreasson and Jan Werner Danielsen Norway - Elisabeth Andreasson and Jan Werner Danielsen - Duett (Norwegian)

Music/Lyrics: Rolf Lövland/Hans Olav Mörk

Conductor: Pete Knutsen

Experienced Elisabeth teamed up with the youthful Jan for this ballad that remains popular with the fans. Big ballads need big voices to pull them off and these two coped easily. Jan’s immense talent is a big loss to music after his tragically early death.  

 Alma and DejanAlma and Dejan Bosnia - Alma and Dejan - Ostani Kraj Mene (Bosnian)

Music/Lyrics: Edo Mulahalilovic/Adi Mulahalilovic

Conductor: Siman Alimanovic

The audience applauded Alma and Dejan so loudly for so long at the beginning of the song that Dejan missed his cue because he couldn’t hear the orchestra. He maintained concentration enough to come in at the right place. Sentimentality aside, this is a very solid ballad. 

 Costas BigalisCostas Bigalis Greece - Costas Bigalis and the Sea Lovers - To Trehantiri (Diri Diri) (Greek)

Music/Lyrics: Costas Bigalis Costas Bigalis

Conductor: Noel Kelehan

Costas and his band looked like a recession hit Showaddywaddy in their colourful jackets. It’s definitely Greek, but doesn’t represent Greek music well, being a bit too juvenile. 

 Petra FreyPetra Frey Austria - Petra Frey - Für Den Frieden Der Welt (German)

Music/Lyrics: Alfons Weindorf/Karl Brunner, Johann Brunner

Conductor: Richard Österreicher

Petra was one of the younger singers in the contest, and it showed during her sometimes nervy performance. The song is an understated anthem.

 Alejandro AbadAlejandro Abad Spain - Alejandro Abad - Ella No Es Ella (Spanish)

Music/Lyrics: Alejandro Abad/Alejandro Abad

Conductor: Jose LLobel

The scene is reflective and melancholy for the verse. When the chorus arrives, the song almost explodes into life and develops a rock feel.

 Friderika BayerFriderika Bayer Hungary - Friderika Bayer - Kinek Mondjam El Vétkeimet (Hungarian)

Music/Lyrics: Silvester Jenei/Silvester Jenei

Conductor: Peter Wolf

Another country losing its Eurovision virginity. Frederika only needed to stand absolutely still to perform her folk song. It received the first maximum of the night, and deserved to do well.  

 YouddiphYouddiph Russia - Youddiph - Vechni Stranik (Russian)

Music/Lyrics: Lev Zemlinski/Youddiph

Conductor: Lev Zemlinski

Russia’s first song starts gently but builds into the epitome of dramatic! Her cleverly designed dress allowed the choreography to increase the dramatic atmosphere as it waved and curled around her. A majestic debut indeed!  

 Edyta GórniakEdyta Górniak Poland - Edyta Górniak - To Nie Ja! (Polish)

Music/Lyrics: Stanislaw Syrewicz/Jacek Cygan

Conductor: Noel Kelehan

Only the seemingly unstoppable Irish prevented a debut win for Poland. Petite Edyta was the little lady with the big voice with a fine ballad that has aged very well. 

 Nina MoratoNina Morato France - Nina Morato - Je Suis Un Vrai Garçon (French)

Music/Lyrics: Bruno Maman/Nina Morato

Conductor: Alain Goraguer

The eccentric Nina looked and sounded like Barbara Streisand performing a number from ‘Cabaret’. It’s one of those you love or hate with not much room for views in-between. 

The Semi-Final Results

Tom Dice © EuroVisionary.com

Shortly after Lena had been declared the winner of the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest, the EBU released the results of the two semi-finals.

We're Off!! - The First Ten Songs Qualify For the Final

semi 1 screen shot.jpg

After months of preparation and two weeks of rehearsals, tonight things got serious. The first semi-final was beamed live around Europe. Viewers around Europe were welcomed by hosts, Nadia Hasnaoui, Erik Solbakken and Haddy Jatou N'Jie, who explained the voting system.

The 1st Semi-Final: A Prediction

2010 Logo ©  EBU

EuroVisionary has boarded a time-machine, travelled to the end of the 1st semi-final, and can now reveal who will be happy at the end of tomorrows show, and who will be considering going home early.

Diary day 5: Icelandic party, singing with the Polish, Denmark and Norway stands together and Shalali-Lotte!

Hera Björk at Icelandic party ©  Charlotte Jensen, EuroVisionary

I was impressed by the Icelandic reception. Once again they know how to throw a Eurovision party. I wasn't impressed by the fact that my friends have now started to sing shalalie constantly whenever I am around. They even went as far as to call me Shalalie-lotte. No, it doesn't suit me!

Day 5 - Press Conferences

Olia Tira © eurovision.tv

Thursday saw the beginning of the second round of rehearsals and press conferences. The first eleven countries competing in the first semi-final took to the stage for their last solo rehearsal. The next time will be the run through of the semi-final itself.

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