A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Tobson's winners: 1966 - 1970

During this period, the ESC gets what could be described as its greatest innovation of all time as the contest was broadcast in colour from 1968 and on.

A politically turbulent period of time in Europe and elsewhere, especially the mythical year of 1968, and pop culture began to take over also at Grand Prix Eurovision de la Chanson.

By now, the contest was a commercial hitmaker and big labels wanted to send their most interesting names into competition, in hopes of breaking the international market.

On the continent, the German market was by far the most important one to crack in terms of record sales and it was about as common to record German versions of eurosongs as making the English versions.

1966 - Luxembourg

Michèle Torr - Ce soir je t'attendais (Luxembourg 1966)

France Gall sent shivers through old Europe and her fresh faced appearance inspired no less than six countries to send more modern and upbeat entries, performed by young women, to see if the success could be repeated.

It couldn't - the young ladies most probably stole points off each other and a convincing victory was given to a male solo singer instead.

The best one of these six was, in my opinion, the best song on the night, competing for host nation Luxembourg, performed by Michèle Torr who was about to recieve star status in her native France a few years later.

For me, this is an irresistible piece of French pop: inspired, lightweight but not silly and, above all, very well performed. Strangely enough, it was heavily ignored by most juries with the exception of Sweden, giving it top marks.

Real winner:
Udo Jürgens - Merci chérie (Austria)

1967 - France

Noëlle Cordier - Il doit faire beau là-bas (France 1967)

It would be absolutely impossible to rank all songs that ever took part in the ESC, but if I could, this one is very likely to be in the top ten.

A power ballad of a rare sort, complimented by a surprisingly raw lyric, not at all sticking to the usual voice of the modest heartbroken woman we often hear in song lyrics.

This woman is sweet at first, then scornful ("When you left it was to get happy / if it worked, then good for you") and then falls out into a bitter chorus about how much she hates all the people around her. "I hate them because they never talk to me about you."

A powerful, original and beautiful entry, but the juries wanted a happy pop tune instead. Not a bad choice, either.

Real winner:
Sandie Shaw - Puppet On A String (United Kingdom)

1968 - France

Isabelle Aubret - La source (France 1968)

For the second year in succession, the French entered a good song with somewhat controversial and, this time, slightly disturbing lyrics, inspired by "The Virgin Spring" by Ingmar Bergman.

Isabelle Aubret was good already when she won in 1962, but now she is sensational, telling the story of the innocent girl who gets raped and killed by three men in the forest. Yes, all of this is there in the lyrics. So much for family viewing.

One would think that a classical piece like this would be perfectly suited for the grand orchestra, but the musicians let this song down as well.

Maybe that is why it was beaten by two pop songs instead? Or maybe the mood of this song wasn't quite the party starter people needed in these troubled times?

Real winner:
Massiel - La la la (Spain)

1969 - Spain

Salomé - Vivo cantando (Spain 1969)

To be honest, I'm not sure about this one. Or, I'm sure I absolutely adore song, singer, performance and outfit. But I'm not sure it is my outright favourite.

1969 is a very strong and even year where several songs claim the title as my favourite: Italy, Ireland, Belgium, Portugal, Switzerland, France...

But the massive madness in Salomé's way of attacking this entire number casts makes this a winner. At least it is the best out of the four songs sharing the trophy this year.

Real winners:
Salomé - Vivo cantando (Spain)
Lulu - Boom Bang A Bang (UK)
Lenny Kuhr - De troubadour (Netherlands)
Frida Boccara - Un jour, un enfant (France)

1970 - Germany

Katja Ebstein - Wunder gibt es immer wieder (Germany 1970)

Watch out, modern times are coming. In more ways than one.

Television-wise, Dutch television (selected to host after a draw between the four winners of 1969) invented the postcards, partially to make up for the low number of participants. Only 12 countries took part after Sweden, Norway, Finland and Portugal dropped out after the split winner fiasco in Madrid.

But the German entry also signalled that new musical influences would, again, find their way into the ESC. Hippie-esque, with a touch of flower power, this song had a groove never before heard in the ESC.

Or it should have had, since this is yet another song the orchestra is unable to do justice. Also Katja is yet to compose that stage magic she would develop later in her career.

But in its recorded form, this song is stunning and a brilliant example of the creativity in the German market at this time.

Real winner:
Dana - All Kinds Of Everything (Ireland)

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