The people of East Anglia choose their most memorable songs from Eurovision years gone by
PUBLISHED: 05:00 11 May 2017 | UPDATED: 09:26 11 May 2017
The Eurovision Song Contest’s official theme for 2017 is ‘Celebrate Diversity’ - rather apt as over the years a wide variety of culturally and muscially diverse acts have performed in the annual sequinned spectacular. Martine Silkstone asked friends and colleagues for their most memorable Eurovision moments from years gone by and, with smiles, sentiment and occasionally a sense of shame, each surprisingly suggested a different song.
Verka Serduchka - Dancing Lasha Tumbai
Ukraine’s 2007 entry includes lyrics in four languages: German, English, Russian and Ukrainian. It was performed by Verka Serduchka, the female alter ego of Ukranian stage personality Andriy Danylko, who was accompanied by back up singers and dancers, all dressed in silver and gold clothing. The somewhat surreal Eurovision performance saw the song finish second and go on to become a major chart hit in Ukraine and throughout Europe. However, there followed controversy about the lyrics - Lasha Tumbai - which have no real meaning but sound a lot like ‘Russia goodbye’.
Chosen by Zoe Jones, VT Editor at Mustard TV, who says simply: “Incredible!”
Cezar – It’s my life
This was the Romanian entry in 2013 and it finished 13th out of the 26 countries. Artist Florin Cezar Ouatu is a Romanian opera countertenor, singer and pianist and his performance is regularly listed as one of Eurovision’s weirdest moments.
Chosen by Susie Kelly, commercial feature writer at Archant, who says: “I loved the red spangly cape, abstract modern dance, opera, disco beats and power grabs. I voted for this to win, it was brilliant.”
Johnny Logan – What’s Another year
This was Australian-born Johnny Logan’s first Eurovision Song Contest winner, representing Ireland in 1980 - a second win for the country which also came top in 1970. The song, composed by Irish songwriter, broadcaster and journalist, Shay Healy, also reached number one in the UK Singles Chart. What’s Another Year was selected as one of the greatest Eurovision entries in a TV special marking the 50th anniversary of the contest.
Chosen by Emma Brennan, west Suffolk editor, who says: “I just loved him.”
Bardo - One Step Further
The United Kingdom’s entry in 1982 was performed by the duo Bardo - Sally Ann Triplett and Stephen Fischer. Well-known Eurovision fan, John Peel, once stated in an interview that One Step Further, written by Simon Jefferis, was his favourite Eurovision song of all time. Bardo finished in seventh place with 76 points. The band had two follow-up singles which failed to enter the charts.
Chosen by Liz Nice, Archant group features editor, who says: “It’s on my MP3 player to this day - tell no one, obviously.”
Scooch – Flying the flag
Specifically written for the Eurovision Song Contest, this song was the British entry in 2007 - performed by British bubblegum dance group, Scooch, comprising performers Natalie Powers, Caroline Barnes, David Ducasse and Russ Spencer. The lyrics are based around the experiences of flying - and include innuendos like ‘Would you like something to suck on for landing, sir?’ - and the singers play the pilot and cabin crew. The song received a lot of negative press with The Sunday Times stating: “It wasn’t a disaster - more of a crash landing”. Flying the Flag came joint 22nd with a total of 19 points.
Chosen by Lousia Baldwin, social media assistant, who says it’s “a song for the ages”.
Pasha Parfeny - Lautar
The Moldovan entry in 2012 was performed and written by Pasha Parfeny, formerly known for being the lead singer of the Moldovan band SunStroke Project. It was placed 11th at the 57th Eurovision Song Contest in Baku, Azerbaijan. Parefeny also composed the 2013 Moldovan entry, ‘A Million’, which was performed by his backing singer Aliona Moo and also placed 11th.
Chosen by Susie Kelly, commercial feature writer at Archant, who says: “This was brilliant. The dancers were so bizarre; doll like, tiny girls in corset dresses doing some weird thing with their wrists as he pranced about in a mustard shirt singing memorable lyrics such as ‘how looks my trumpet?’ and ‘this trumpet makes you my girl’. Go figure. Pasha has in fact tried to win Eurovision several times and alas, has failed each time, but he’s quite the regular at the event.”
Lordi - Hard Rock Hallelujah
The Finnish hard rock band won the contest in 2006 with their hellish costumes and groundbreaking performance. It was the first and only Eurovision win for Finland and the band’s score of 292 was a record, though it has since been beaten. Hard Rock Hallelujah reached number one in Finland and also appeared in the UK Top 40. The video for the song - which declares it’s the ‘Arockalypse’ and the ‘Day of Rockoning’ - starts with a school girl listening to music on her headphones and ends with dancing zombie cheerleaders.
Chosen by Matt Reason, west Suffolk reporter, who says: “It just has to be Lordi and Hard Rock Hallelujah. The Finnish band smashed it in 2006, first ever hard rock/metal group to win Eurovision. They broke the mould and showed Europe it is not just full of X-Factor style rubbish and Europop. As a guitarist and heavy metal fan, aged 15 at the time, it was awesome. I mean they had fireworks coming from their guitars and the singer had wings. What more can you ask for?”
Dana - All Kinds of Everything
Aged just 18, Dana gave Ireland their first ever win in 1970 with a folk ballad written by Derry Lindsay and Jackie Smith. With lyrics about things which remind the singer of their sweetheart, All Kinds of Everything was a massive hit across the world and reached number one in the Republic of Ireland and the UK charts. In 1997, Dana Rosemary Scallon went into politics, serving as an MEP for five years and twice running, unsuccessfully, for President of Ireland.
Chosen by Rosemary Dixon, Archant library, who says: “The Eurovision Song Contest wafts me back on an air-cushion of nostalgia to 1970 when Dana won with her folksy little number, All Kinds of Everything. As a (slightly younger) compatriot and fellow Rosemary (Dana is in reality Rosemary Scallon), I might just credit this song with triggering my deep and abiding interest in traditional music, snowdrops, daffodils, butterflies and bees!”
Brotherhood of Man - Save All Your Kisses For Me
This song, written by Tony Hiller, Lee Sheriden, and Martin Lee, brought victory for the United Kingdom in 1976. The Eurovision performance - best remembered for the quirky arm and leg choreography - was awarded the maximum twelve points by seven countries, totalling 164. The song features a twist at the end when it becomes clear that the lyrics refer to a little girl. Tony Hiller said in an interview with Songfacts: “The three year old in ‘Save Your Kisses for Me’ was every three year old in the world who had a dad running off to work, and who kissed them goodbye.” The song topped the charts in many countries, including the UK, where it became the biggest-selling song of the year. The band, consisting of Martin Lee, Lee Sheriden, Nicky Stevens and Sandra Stevens, went on to have a string of hits in the 1970s.
Chosen by Stuart Silkstone, Suffolk, who says: “This was the first time I watched the competiton live and I was very taken with Sandra Stevens (I was 8). I also liked the twist in the song that it is about his daughter, not wife/girlfriend. Well, it was sweet at the time. I also remember it for the amazing flares they all wore.”
Can Bonomo – Love Me Back
This nautical-themed love song by Can Bonomo was Turkey’s entry in the 2012 contest and it eventually achieved seventh place with a total of 112 points. Turkey hasn’t competed at Eurovision since with reports varying as to the reason - some saying it was dissatisfaction with the rules of the competition and others claiming that the decision was because of the contest’s homosexual content.
Chosen by Susie Kelly, commercial feature writer at Archant, who says: “Wonderful Jewish influenced beats, a nautical theme and the dancers had capes which they used to construct a ‘human boat’ on stage. Brilliant.”
Katrina and the Waves - Love Shine a Light
1997 saw the UK’s last triumph at the contest as Katrina and the Waves romped to victory with 227 points. The song was composed by the group’s guitarist and regular songwriter, Kimberley Rew, who also wrote the band’s 80s hit, Walking on Sunshine. When interviewed later about her Eurovision appearance, lead singer Katrina Leskanich said: “I ended up wearing this green blouse I’d been wearing all week that I’d bought in the Cambridge market for £3 with a dark velvet jacket my sister had sent me, which was a Donna Karan second and it only had one shoulder pad. So while I was doing the song, I had to remember to lift my left shoulder slightly to even it out with the other.”
Chosen by Terry Hunt, editor-in-chief at Archant Suffolk, who says: “My Eurovision favourite goes back 20 years to the UK’s last win – Katrina and the Waves and Love Shine A Light. A proper pop song, back in the days when proper pop songs were allowed to win – and when the UK had a fair chance!”
BobbySocks - La Det Swinge
Norway had their first Eurovision win in 1985 with the rock ‘n’ roll number, La Det Swing (Let It Swing). It was performed by Bobbysocks and both members of the pop duo - Norwegian Hanne Krogh and Swedish-Norwegian Elisabeth Andreassen - had appeared in the contest before. Eurovision host on the night, Lill Lindfors, congratulated the duo following their victory by saying, “I must say I am honestly very happy that this happened because Norway has been last on so many times that you really deserve it!” The song reached number one in Norway and Belgium and charted across Europe.
Chosen by Paul Geater, political writer at the East Anglian Daily Times, who says: “Scandinavian songs are the best – Lordi’s Rock and Roll Halleluiah and Waterloo - but the greatest was La Det Swinge by BobbySocks which ended the jokes about “Norwege Nul Point” in 1985. Great song. Great dance. Very catchy.”
Gina G - Ooh Aah (Just A Little Bit)
This upbeat number, written by Simon Tauber and Steve Rodway, was the UK’s Eurovision entry in 1996 and it finished in eighth position. It is the last UK entry to top the charts. Singer Gina G was born in Australia and worked as a DJ and singer before moving to the UK. Her famous Eurovision dress was originally custom made for Cher but she left it hanging in the offices at Warner Bros Records and Gina G discovered it just a few days before the contest - it was then shortened for the performance. Gina G again entered the selection stage for Eurovision in 2005 but was unsuccessful.
Chosen by Ellis Barker, visual editor at the East Anglian Daily Times, who says: “Oh without contest my favourite Eurovision song has to be Gina G’s Ooh Aah (Just A Little Bit). So many memories dancing around as a youngster to this!”
Conchita Wurst - Rise like a phoenix
Conchita Wurst - Austrian pop singer and drag queen portrayed by Thomas Neuwirth - won the Eurovision Song Contest in style in 2014 with this Bond-esque composition from Ali Zuckowski. Wurst – a female character noted for her beard – represented Austria and became an international star and gay icon after the performance where she stood in a spotlight, in a tight gold dress, surrounded by dry ice. Her entry was not without controversy though and petitions emerged in Russia and Belarus calling for her performance to be edited out of their national broadcasts; the Russian petition claimed that Eurovision had become “a hotbed of sodomy”.
Chosen by Susie Kelly, commercial feature writer at Archant, who says: “An incredible song, a beautiful voice. Bond-like in its drama and passion, Conchita was so emotional when she won and her presence was about so much more than her song – as is often the way with Eurovision. Her battle to even be there was enough with some participants unhappy that she had been allowed to perform. She represented a powerful minority and went on to help present the show the following year. A true voice for the people and a cult following, people were knitting beards in admiration and support.”
Sandie Shaw - Puppet on a String
In 1967, Puppet on a String became the first British entry to win the Eurovision Song Contest. It was sung by one of the most successful British female artists of the 1960s, though Sandie Shaw never liked the song and is reported to have said: “I was instinctively repelled by its sexist drivel and cuckoo-clock tune.” Behind the scenes, BBC executives wanted her axed as she was involved in a scandal that saw her named as ‘the other woman’ in a well-known couple’s divorce. Despite all the controversy, Shaw gave a flawless - and barefoot - performance and won with 47 points. The song was a number one hit, staying at the top of the UK charts for a total of three weeks.
Chosen by Liz Nice, Archant group features editor, who says: “I have a particular fondness for Sandie Shaw’s Puppet on a String: partly because WE WON with that song and also because it was a favourite of my mother’s and I always thought Mum looked a bit Sandie Shaw-esque in her heyday.”
Bucks Fizz - Making Your Mind Up
This was the winner of the 1981 Eurovision Song Contest and a UK Number-one for three weeks. Written by songwriter Andy Hill and John Danter, it was the newly-formed band’s debut single and launched a successful career for Bucks Fizz: Bobby G, Cheryl Baker, Mike Nolan and Jay Aston. The song is loved by many Eurovision fans but it is the performance that is best remembered as it featured the startling moment when the two male members of the group whipped off the skirts of the two female members only to reveal shorter skirts underneath - a move generally thought to have sealed their victory.
Chosen by Liz Nice, Archant group features editor, who says: “I loved Bucks Fizz’s Making Your Mind Up because WE WON with that as well.”
Cliff Richard - Power to all our Friends
This song came third for Britain in 1973 and was Cliff Richard’s second appearance in the contest (he was placed second in 1968 with Congratulations). Power To All Our Friends was written by Guy Fletcher, who had already penned several hits for Cliff Richard and The Hollies, and it reached number four in the UK Singles Chart.
Chosen by Mark Cordell, CEO of Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District, who says: “Whilst at primary school I created a short play about a pop group called the Ants (Adam never did pay me any royalties when he stole this name a few years later!) and the song we performed was Power to all our Friends by Cliff Richard, so whenever I think of the Eurovision Song Contest it’s this tune that springs to mind!”
Johnny Logan - Hold Me Now
This 1987 entry gave Johnny Logan his second win for Ireland and his first win as a songwriter (he then went on to write the winning entry in 1992 too). Hold Me Now became a European hit and reached number two in the UK charts, outselling his previous winner, What’s Another Year. It was also named third most popular Eurovision song in a 50th anniversary TV special. Johnny Logan remains the only singer to have won the competition twice and, with the win in 1992, is the most successful artist in Eurovision history. Johnny Logan is a stage name - his real name is Sean O’Hagan.
Chosen by Martine Silkstone, editorial writer for Archant, who says: “This was definitely the year that Eurovision really had an impact on me. Watching as a 14-year-old girl, Johnny Logan was such a dreamboat and the song seemed the height of romance. Even listening to it now makes me a little weak at the knees. A true teenage, girly moment.”
Jessica Garlick - Come Back
Welsh pop singer Jessica Garlick represented the United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest 2002, finishing in joint third place - the country’s best result of the 21st century so far. Previously she had appeared on a range of talent shows including the ITV show Pop Idol when she was among the last ten contestants in 2001. Come Back was written by Birmingham airline pilot Martyn Baylay who had previously made several unsuccessful attempts to submit a song for the contest. Despite being well received on the night, it only made number 13 in the UK charts.
ABBA - Waterloo
This winning entry for Sweden, in the 1974 contest, began ABBA’s journey to worldwide fame. The catchy song is the tale of a woman who is surrendering to love, just as Napoleon had to surrender at the Battle of Waterloo. It charmed the judges and may have been given an extra boost by the orchestra conductor who dressed as Napolean. The single became a number one hit in several countries (though strangely not Sweden) and is one of the best-selling singles of all time. Waterloo was also voted the greatest ever winning song at an event in 2005 to mark the 50th anniversary of the contest.
Chosen by Stuart Silkstone, Suffolk, who says: “My memories of ABBA were after the competition itself, hearing it on the radio and being one of the first songs I ever liked (I was 6).”
Lynsey de Paul and Mike Moran - Rock Bottom
This was the British entry in 1977 and it came second with 121 points, making the 11th consecutive time that a British entry was placed in the top four. The song - which says that people should work to solve problems and not be pessimistic about tragedies - was performed, written and produced by de Paul and Moran and went on to become a top 20 hit in many European countries. The 1977 contest was held at Wembley Conference Centre in London but had to be postponed for five weeks because of a strike by BBC cameramen and technicians.
Chosen by Carole Baker, Suffolk yoga instructor, who says: “When I was 14 I was quite into playing the piano and, despite not wanting to practice the difficult music my teacher gave me, I managed to play the introduction to this and was quite chuffed! Nowadays piano practice has been overtaken by yoga practice and I still don’t like practicing the difficult poses but understand that ‘life begins at the end of our comfort zone’.”
Donatan and Cleo - My Slowianie
After a two year absence, Poland returned to the competition in 2014 with this...ahem...controversial entry which translates to ‘We are Slavic’. On stage, Cleo actually appeared without Donatan and was instead joined by three female backing dancers/vocalists and two additional models - all dressed in traditional Polish costumes. During the performance, the two provocatively dressed models were featured suggestively churning butter and washing laundry. Speaking to the Metro after the contest, Suffolk soprano Laura Wright said the saucy performance took away from what the contest is about: “I’d say it was soft porn. It was two boobs too far for me.”
Chosen by Liam Buxton, Norfolk, who says: “I have no idea what the song actually sounded like.”
Izhar Cohen and Alphabeta - A-Ba-Ni-Bi
This winning song from 1978 was performed for Israel by Izhar Cohen and Alphabeta, and their victory meant that the following year the competiton would be held outside of geographical Europe for the first time. The title of the song uses a children’s language game where each syllable of the word is repeated with a leading ‘b’. Thus, the Hebrew ‘a-ni o-hev o-tach’ (I love you) becomes ‘a-ba-ni-bi o-bo-he-be-v o-bo-ta-ba-ch’. At the close of voting, the song had received 157 points, placing it first in a field of 20. When it was obvious that Israel would win, Jordanian TV stopped the live broadcast claiming it had technical difficulties and later announced that Belgium had won.
Chosen by Liz Nice, Archant group features editor, who says: “The best Eurovision song of all has to be Israel’s 1978 entry A-Ba-Ni-Bi. I can still picture my brother and me, sitting in our brown, 1970s living room, looking at each other in disbelief as it came on. We couldn’t believe that this was actually a song and that people were actually singing it. And thus, we had finally understood what Eurovision is all about; It’s not about the good songs. It’s not about style and class. It’s about cheese and bad clothes and the songs that, try as you might, you can never get out of your head.”
Severine - Un Banc, Un Arbre, Une Rue
This was the winning song in 1971, performed in French by Séverine representing Monaco. The title translates as ‘A Bench, A Tree, A Street’ and the lyrics focus on the loss of childhood innocence and people following their dreams. It was later recorded in other languages but while the French version made number nine in the UK Singles Chart, the English version failed to make a mark.
Chosen by David La Motte, Archant Norwich