... 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 2
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.
28. You don’t always have to end first to become famous.
Even though Luxemburg’s Corrine Hermes won the 1983 Contest in Munich, Germany, with the song “Si la vie est cadeau”, apparently the true winner of the contest came a close second in the Contest itself. Israel’s Ofra Haza went on to gain European fame with the song “Chai”.
29. Once gone…
As I’ve stated before; titles that are too negative, are bound to end up in last place. Here’s for Austria’s Anita, who didn’t get that the first time, and ended last place in 1984 in Luxemburg with the song “Einfach weg”.
30. Remember; you can always do better than Belgium.
Apart from the occasional shite song stealing their spot, it almost seems like Belgium has had a right to that last place from the moment the Contest started. The 1985 Contest in Gothenburg, Sweden was no different. Belgium ended last with the song “Laat me nu gaan” (let me go now) … sounds like someone was still slow catching on.
31. Spread the message of love and life! … and let a 13 year old do it for you.
Against all odds, Belgium had finally caught on. Or the Virgin Mary had caused for a miracle. I don’t know how it happened, and why, but it happened; Belgium WON! … Yeah, I couldn’t believe it at first either. Thirteen year old Sandra Kim won the Contest hands down with her song “J’aime la vie”, which is – still – impossible to erase from the brain (believe me; I’ve tried…) Was it the bow tie? Was it the obnoxious colourful 80’s style clothing? Was it the just as obnoxious 80’s style haircut? Or the fact that an adorable 13 year old girl was singing the song? Nonetheless, the next Contest was to be held in Brussels, Belgium this time, for the first time ever. And guess who won…
32. Send Johnny Logan… again.
If he’d done it once, he could do it again! Johnny Logan was sent to represent Ireland for a second time, singing “Hold me now”, and needless to say; he won! That’s why we all love him… :) Ahem.
33. Send Céline Dion.
Yes, you heard right; Céline Dion. Famous French-Canadian singer, strong voice, big lungs from the sound if it… Her. She speaks French, comes from a British Commonwealth State, and ends up singing for Switzerland, with the song “Ne partez pas sans moi”. … Yeah, you never hear from those Eurovision Song contest winners after they’ve won, do you?
34. Look like Kylie.
Yugoslavia’s Riva won the Contest, after 34 years, in 1989, back where it started out; in Switzerland. The lead singer, who marks a striking resemblance to Kylie Minogue and very conveniently around the same time Kylie was enjoying world fame, brought the Contest to her home land of Yugoslavia (which is now Croatia).
35. Use political events to gain victory.
November 1989 – the fall of the Berlin wall and the opening up of Eastern Europe. So what does Italian singer Toto Cutugno do for the Eurosong Contest in 1990? He writes a song about the unity of Europe, called “Insieme: 1992”. It worked, because he won the Contest and brought it to Italy.
36. Make sure you’re not from Austria.
While in 1991, in Rome, Italy, Belgium ended sixteenth of twenty-two, Austria again ended last with… nil points. Who’d have thought Belgium would have to battle over last place honours?
37. Have Johnny Logan write you a song.
If you can’t get Johnny Logan to sing, opt for the next best thing; have him write you a song. This led Ireland to their 4th victory since they first joined in 1965 and the 3rd credited to Johnny Logan; with the song “Why me?” sung by Linda Martin in the 1992 Contest in Stockholm, Sweden, bringing the Contest Back to Ireland!
38. Send a celebrity from the movie soundtrack “the Commitments”
As everyone – or no one present – knows, the Commitments is a movie about music, adapted from a novel by Roddy Doyle (brilliant author!); so what place better to find an artist that will win you the Eurovision Song Competition… again? Yep, the movie’s complementary soundtrack! Niamh Kavanagh, whose voice featured in the soundtrack, won the 1993 Eurovision Song Competition in Cork, Ireland and thus kept the Competition local.
39. Have Michael Flatley make his debut during the interval, with “Riverdance”. That will convince the juries.
Needless to say that for a third time in a row, Ireland won the Contest. Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan must have convinced the juries in Dublin with their “Rock ‘n’ Roll Kids”. Or was it “Riverdance” that did it?
40. … Or at least pretend to be Irish.
When you’re up against a powerful adversary; a country that won 6 Eurovision Song Contests of which 3 in a row, what do you do? Right, you sound like them. This is what Norway’s Secret Garden did in the Point Theatre in Dublin in 1995, with the song “Nocturne.” They even took it a step further, and used Irish violinist Fionnula Sherry. They must have really wanted to win.
41. Enlighten a mystery for those schizophrenics all over Europe, and tell them where their voices come from…
Yes, she said it herself; it’s Eimear Quinn! Norway’s victory was short-lived obviously, as Eimear used the weapons they used the year before against them and managed to drag the Competition back to Dublin with her song “the Voice”. Some schizophrenics must be very delighted now they know who that voice in their heads was…
42. Name yourself and your band after a hurricane that 8 years later devastates half of the United States, then spread the message of love.
The Point Theatre, Dublin, 1997. The UK won with a staggering 227 points, after having sent Katrina and the Waves with “Love shine a light”. Now hurricanes usually include Waves and a lot of water; anyone remember hurricane Katrina in 2005?
43. Send a Transsexual.
It worked for Israel… I’m sure no one can forget “Diva”. Now, wasn’t there a rule in the Eurovision Song Books against transsexuals? Either way, UK 1998, Dana International dragged the Contest back to Israel, and this was the first time the visuals came into play in the Contest.
44. Sing in English.
Finally, that obnoxious rule of having to sing in either one of your national languages had been dropped. More than half the entries were now in English, which of course meant competition for Ireland and the UK. Or was it? Ironically enough, being as the show was held in Jerusalem, Israel in 1999, the song “Take me to your Heaven” helped Charlotte Nilsson drag the Contest back to Sweden.
45. If two old men with guitars do the trick, so can three...
Stockholm, Sweden, the year 2000. Both were nearly over 50, when they won the Eurovision Song Contest, using only their instruments and their voices. The Olsen Brothers won the Contest though, against all odds, with their song “Fly on the wings of love”. Well, if they can do it, why not send the Wolfe Tones in next year? Oh yeah, rule #9.
46. Send in an old fella, a rock singer and a rapping boyband.
I’m glad I missed that Contest. I can’t imagine how they could have won the contest at all. But still they did; Estonian motley crew Tanel Padar, Dave Benton and 2-XL won the 2001 contest with their song “Everybody”, which also happens to be the title of another boyband’s song. Plagiarism, anyone?
47. Get through the Semi’s.
Might be pure logic, but if you’re not through the semi’s, you can forget about winning the Competition. Ask Kate Ryan.
48. Remember Jemini… and don’t let the UK forget! *grin*
UK nil points! We won’t let them forget; … and they won’t forget either. It didn’t do Portugal good using a similar name, Gemini, in 1978 either, so what made the UK think they could do it? And to top it off; it was shite – even worse than the entry for Ireland two years later! (And they didn’t even get through the semi’s – not surprised here). So; UK nil points; Belgium second place… what’s wrong with this picture? What happened in 2003’s Eurovision Song Contest? Though Turkish Sertab Erener won with “Everyway that I can” and dragged the Contest to Turkey.
49. Don’t have Bryan McFadden write you a song.
He’s an ex-Westlife member, you don’t hear from him anymore… and his song got Ireland last place in 2004! Need I say more? The only points the song got was 7 from the UK… but at least it didn’t end last with nil points… eh, Jemini?
50. Get a catchy song, sexy moves and sexy dancers.
This must be the rule of utmost importance if you want to enter the Eurovision Song Competition. How else did you think Elena Paparizou won? Oh well, important thing is, she won and dragged the Contest over to lovely Greece to host the Eurovision Song Contest in 2006!
51. When they say it’s okay to be original in the visual acts, take it seriously. VERY seriously.
Must have been the pinnacle of visual acts when in 2006, Finnish Lordi took the Greek stage, dressed top to bottom in… Monsters! That’s right, runaways from Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings, Star Trek and the Da Vinci Code! … no, wait, that’s only Tom Hanks, sorry. They won the Contest hands down with 292 points – the standing record – with their hard rock song “Hard Rock Halleluja!” ... and dragging the Contest with them (probably hanging from that bleeding axe) over to Finland in 2007! *Applaud* Another victory for hard rock!
52. Send in a rock song.
It's the thing to do. At least, after Lordi's fenomenal win, everyone thought it was how they could win the contest. In fact, it was Serbian ballad Moltiva, sung by Marija Šerifović, that took first prize. And, as it usually happens with Eurovision Song contestants, it would take a very long time before anyone catches on to the fleetness of fads...
53. If all else fails, send a turkey.
I know I’ve been partial to the Irish wins in this contest up to now, but this entry surely deserves a step all to itself. In the light of Lordi’s magnificent win two years before – and because at this point, it doesn’t matter who wins anymore – Ireland sent local television puppet act Dustin the Turkey with the song (and I use this term freely) “Irlande douze pointe”. Sadly enough, not many other countries shared the turkey’s sense of humour, and it didn’t manage to get past the semi finals. Although notably, it still beat Belgium’s entry by two places, and Belgium remained third last. In the end, after two semi finals and a final, Russia won with “Believe” by Dima Bilan.
54. Perform a song so annoying, that people can only remember that one and have to vote it by default.
After Dustin the Turkey’s tragic downfall last year, and Belgium’s failure to even get itself through the semi finals for the third year in a row, it seems as though Eastern European countries finally have the monopoly on the Eurovision Song contest. Or do they? This year saw the voting change yet again, this time back to partial televoting and partial jury voting. There were 42 entries, almost as many as there are countries in Europe, and after two semi finals and a grand final both jury and public loudly disagreed with me when Alexander Rybak won with his song “Fairytale”, a masterpiece that would turn many an artist to musical suicide. Which brings us to...
55. Why the hell else do we endure X-factor?!
... If not for this illustrious contest to give us a suitable contender for the Eurovision Song contest? Having abolished looking for a contender through “quarter” finals to decide which obscure character can represent them in the coming Eurovision Song contest, Belgium has instead decided to choose an established musician themselves to defend themselves in the semi finals. So next year, they send and even more obscure Tom Dice to Norway, whose only established act is to win the Belgian version of X-factor. ... What? He didn’t even win it?! This is ridiculous, I’m out of here! Really, Belgium just wants to get a last-place record, don’t they?
----- © Alicia 2007-2009
Author's note: this was first written in 2007, but since a few more yearly contests have come and passed, I felt compelled to add those too. Also, don't forget to take this very lightly. It is mostly a stab at the contest and not at the countries competing in it. I hope you enjoyed it.