... in 55 steps. A lighthearted view on 55 years of the infamous Eurovision Song contest.
|How to win the Eurovision Song Contest in 55 steps: Part 1
Anyone who is European, can’t have missed the drama that is the Eurovision song contest. Every year, musicians from countries all over Europe come together to battle for that dearly wanted first place – or battle to keep their rights to last place. From what used to be a musical contest, it grew into a battleground for bands to spread the message of love, peace, or simply show how little they love their fellow European countries. Every year, casualty wards are filled with victims that have violins, flutes, guitars, and little flags protruding every part of their bodies. And then there is that question of plagiarism, a word made great by this very contest.
For those who want to win the Eurovision Song contest, I’ve compiled this list so that winning this merciless battle of the bands will become so much easier.
1. Make sure you enter the contest while it is being held in your own country.
In 1956, in the very first Eurovision Song Contest held in Switzerland, Swiss Lys Assia won in Lugano singing “Refrain”
2. If the contest is not held in your home country; make sure it is held in a neighbouring country.
The second contest, in 1957, was held in Frankfurt, Germany. The Netherlands won that year; with Corry Brokken singing “Net als toen” (Just like then)
3. Sing in a language that the people in the host country do not understand and do not have as a second language.
Taking that advice, France’s André Claveau went to the Eurosong Contest 1958, held, of course, in Hilversum, the Netherlands, singing the song “Dors, mon amour.” Now we all know how good Dutch people are at understanding the French language...
4. Get back at last year’s winners, by pulling the same trick on them.
With Belgium between the two of them, in 1959 the Netherlands won again, Teddy Scholten singing in her native language “Een beetje”. Cannes of course, had no idea what she was singing about.
5. Sing a song about a person whose name is similar to that of a currently popular and well-loved personality in the hosting country. Emm... Correction:
With the Contest held in London, England in 1960, France set out to send Jaqueline Boyer to sing the song “Tom Pillibi”, which sounds like the then well known spy Kim Philby. Only afterwards it turned out that he had been a double agent all this time...
6. When out to win, borrow an artist from the hosting country.
Set in Cannes, France, the 1961 Eurovision Song Contest was won by Luxemburg for the first time, with the song “Nous les amoureux”. The singer, Jean-Claude Pascal, of course was born in Paris, France.
7. Make sure you have the same roots as your predecessor.
The 1962 Contest was of course held in Luxemburg. French singer Isabelle Aubret won, singing the song “Un premier amour”. Again, a French native won the contest.
8. Thank the stars that you are not part of the Scandinavian peninsula.
In 1963, the Contest was held -again- in London, England. Denmark won that year, after sending Grethe and Jørgen Ingmann with the song “Dansevise”. Norway, Sweden and Finland, however, all three ended last place with nil points for the first time. And it would take another 44 years until the last one of them broke the curse. The Netherlands were the fourth country to end last with nil points, but for the second time in a row.
9. Make sure there are no anarchists from your home country present in the Contest.
1964. After winning the last Contest, Denmark was now hosting the Eurosong Contest in Copenhagen. Italy won, sending Gigliola Cinquetti with the song “Non ho l’età”. That year, an activist trespassed the stage, waving a banner that said “Boycott Franco and Salazar”. Spain and Portugal then ended respectively second last and last that year.
10. “Im boca al lupo”. (In the wolf’s mouth.)
… and f*** that wolf; is probably what the Irish thought when they first entered the contest while it was held in enemy territory Naples, Italy in 1965, making a first time appearance with the song “I’m walking the streets in the rain” sung by Butch Moore. They finished 4th out of 18 contestants. Not bad for a first timer, wha’? That year, Luxemburg won with France Gall’s “Poupée de cire, poupée de son”
11. Make sure your country did not host the Contest last year.
Ironically enough, while Luxemburg won the last year’s Contest and is now hosting the 1966 Contest in Villa Louvigny, Luxemburg; Italy, being last year’s hosts, ended up last of 18 songs and with nil points. The winner was neighbouring country Austria, who sent in Udo Jürgens again, this time with the song “Merci Chérie”. In the mean time, Ireland was working its way up to Second place.
12. Do NOT let a boy’s choir do the interval act when the Contest is being held in your country.
… It will make people vote for a different country, only for the sake of not having to sit through that torture again. In 1967, the Contest was held in Vienna, last year’s winning country Austria. The interval act was world famous Wiener Sängerknapen… And then people wonder why Austria only came second last.
13. A universal language (or a non existing one) works!
Everyone knows the words to “La la la”, the winning song from Spain’s Massiel in the 1968 Contest held in -again- the UK! They’re simple; la, la, la.
14. “You never walk alone.” – but seventh place isn’t too bad either…
The 1969 Contest in Madrid, Spain saw 4 winners; no less! Spain, with Salomé singing “Vivo Cantado”; France, with Frida Boccara singing “Un jour, un enfant”; UK, with Lulu singing “Boom-bang-a-bang” and the Netherlands, with Lenny Kuhr singing “De Troubadour”. Eventually, the Netherlands hosted the next year’s Contest. Ireland ended seventh, doing worse than the year before, but guess who won the following year…
15. Religion matters!
In 1970 the Contest was held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Five years after first entering the Contest, Ireland finally won; beating the UK to a first place. Dana, with her song “All kinds of everything” won, greatly thanks to poor little Belgium – a country even more Catholic than Ireland itself… And you thought that wasn’t possible.
16. Maltese only works for dogs.
Okay, you’re Maltese and you want to join the Eurovision Song Contest, and you don’t have the patience to wait until they change the rules so that you’re allowed to sing in the language of your choice. Or maybe you were proud of your language. Read the above.
17. Beg, steal or borrow.
Also the name of the UK’s 1972 entry in Edinburgh, it might be good advice all around if you want to win the contest. It got the UK to second place, imagine what it can do for you! The year after, you could steal another language too, as the rule on using your country’s first language was abolished in the 1973 Contest. Yay!
18. Imagine you could always do better than Nicole and Hugo.
Their first entry for Belgium in the Contest, they sang “Baby Baby” in Luxemburg in 1973. They, of course, ended last place. You can’t go any lower than that, now!
19. Remember Waterloo.
1974, the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton, UK. The first we ever heard of ABBA – but sadly enough not the last.
20. Make friends in Europe, instead of enemies.
You’ll have more chance of getting higher scores, as in 1975 the scoring system changed into what we currently know best of Eurovision Song Contest; the Televoting! Taking full advantage of the newest scoring system, whole countries could now express their love for a neighbouring country – but if you do that, make sure you didn’t occupy that country in the past… UK gave Ireland 6 points, they in turn gave the UK only 3. The Netherlands gave Belgium 5 points – and the song wasn’t even that good! – who in turn gave the Netherlands only 3 points back… And the Netherlands still won! … Germany must have rated accordingly to which country suffered most from their occupation. As Machiavelli once said, keep your friends close, but your enemies even closer… - they might make you win the Eurovision Song Contest!
21. Make sure your country HAS a broadcasting network!
In 1976, Liechtenstein attempted to enter the Contest for the second time. Maybe it’s something in the translation; maybe they didn’t understand the EBU quite well the last time. Or maybe they’re just thick. EBU doesn’t ask much of you. Hardly anything at all, even. Just… make sure you have a broadcasting network you can broadcast the Contest on, okay? *sigh*
22. Make sure the contest is held in the UK.
This is just pure logic; most wins have occurred when the Contest was held in the UK – then again, every year’s Contest has a winner, and overall most of the Contests had been held in the UK. But just to be on the safe side…
23. Put a spell on the public.
It might be far fetched, but cursing the audience might lead you to victory. Maybe it’s a saying in Hebrew, or a Cabbalistic curse… whatever it is, it worked like a charm; “A-Ba-Ni-Bi” won the Eurovision Song Competition for Israel in 1978 in Paris, France, and Israel even won on the home front the following year!
24. When feeling religious already; add another tablespoon of Hallelujahs – but do not overdo it!
Held in Jerusalem, the 1979 was won by – again – Israel; with Gali Atari and Milk and Honey singing “Hallelujah!” However, Austria’s contestant Christine Simon ended 18th with the song “Heute in Jerusalem”, together with Belgium’s Micha Marah (why am I not surprised to find her there?)
25. Send Johnny Logan.
“What’s another year?” Probably not what Johnny Logan had expected after this win in the 1980 Contest in The Hague, the Netherlands. Ironically, exactly 10 years after Ireland’s first victory – which was also in the Netherlands. Another year of hosting the Eurovision Song Competition. Almost sounds like a sentence. 1980 was also the first and only year Morocco had ever joined the Eurovision Song Contest. With the Televoting up and running for years now, I don’t have the faintest why they never won...
26. Do not write a song called “Never in my life”
Which is what Norwegian singer/songwriter Finn Kalvik did for the 1981 Eurovision Song Competition in Dublin, Éire. Singing the song in his native language, in which it was named “Aldri I livet”, the message still got across through Europe. Norway, nil points, last place! Well, he won’t have to worry about ever winning that Contest in his life now.
27. Love and peace, or else…
How can the European population not vote for a little bit of peace? Especially when the message came from a multi-lingual German citizen. Dressed in all white, to get the message across even better, German Nicole sang “Ein bisschen Frieden” in 1982, in Harrogate, UK, and won, 61 points ahead of the competition. Then she went on to sing the song in English, French and Dutch. Doesn’t it strike anyone as odd that 43 years prior to that, the same country went on to take over Europe by “blitzkrieg”?
Part 2 of 2