ESC 1979: My opinion (Part I)


It’s been a while since I wrote something about the Eurovision Song Contest, a programme I’m a fan of since 1999. And since we’re approaching the first rehearsals of ESC 2012, it’s my pleasure to comment one of the most memorable editions ever of ESC: the ESC 1979

The IBA’s EBU testcard + the landscape opening with music assisted and orchestrated by the musical director of that year, Izhak Graziani, pave the way for a nice start. Daniel Pe’er (by then, a famous presenter and newsreader) and Yardena Arazi (by then, she had represented her country together with Lea Lupatin and Ruti Holzman as members of the trio Chocolate Menta Mastik in 1976 with the catchy “Emor shalom” and was starting to also be a presenter) were the hosts of the evening

By the running order, here are my comments of the first 10 songs:

01: Portugal – Manuela Bravo – Sobe, sobe, balão sobe

Before winning the Portuguese NF 1979, she already had some single releases on her rooster (which includes a 1975 one sung by a singer who would become totally famous later in that decade to nowadays, Jorge Palma), but wasn’t yet a known singer. It’s with this song (that was initally offered to brazilian born singer, Mara Abrantes, that refused the invitation) that everything comes true: not only she won the NF, but the song also became one of the biggest hits of the year in Portugal and to this day, it’s still a evergreen: many people know this song by heart. When it came to ESC 1979, the performance was totally there – so confident and so shinny with a magistral vocal performance by the singer. The song itself is musically beautiful with a set of unforgettable lyrics. It deserved more than a 9th place, but the top-10 placing was indeed deserving

02: Italy – Matia Bazar – Raggio di luna

Also experienced artists by then, they had won a Sanremo Festival edition the previous year with “…E dirsi ciao”. The song itself is a nice quirky ballad about the comparation of a relationship with a moonbeam. A forgotten fact for this song is that goes down in history as the first song without a conductor during live performance, therefore it’s the only the band performing. The performance itself could have been better, but in no way it’s one of the worst ESC performances ever: there were several others before and there’ll be others to come

03: Denmark – Tommy Seebach – Disco Tango

After a disapointing comeback, we have a blending disco track about a working-class woman during the day who seeks glory on the disco floor in the night (a bit like Tony Manero (John Travolta) in “Saturday Night Fever”, altough John Travolta‘s reference is more about “Grease”, the movie adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same whose timeline is the late-50’s, the “rock’n’roll” era (“Slår John Travolta i en rock ‘n’ roll”). It really ticks my buttons: from its catchy musicality to its intensifiying lyrics and the sublime performance, simple but effective. All in all: my #1 of 1979, my#1 of the ESC 1970’s editions and my #1 of All-Time ESC

04: Ireland – Cathal Dunne – Happy man

After trying a few years without much sucess (for example, 1976 with “Danny”), Cathal Dunne finally makes it to ESC with a nice ballad with a considerate and confident performance. Though, I’d prefer Johnny Logan‘s power catchy disco ballad NF entry, “Angie”: it would have been a better contender for the victory or close to it – saying this because “Happy man” was quite overrated in a certain way

05: Finland – Katri Helena – Katson sinnen taivaan

Another singer who had tried (and almost went if it wasn’t for who have won the NF back in 1969, 1972 and 1978) to ESC before, she finally goes with what’s her best effort ever – a catchy ballad about a woman who compares her lover as the “brightest star” and pleads it to lead her home with a powerful performance given by the singer and the backing singers. Totally underrated by the juries, since this is a song that goes from the heart

06: Monaco – Laurent Vaguener – Notre vie c’est la musique

Of real name Jean Baudlot (who has written songs before at that time for several famous singers like Joe Dassin (“À toi”), he was by then a experienced performer, especially when he was a member of the 70’s pop/rock band Pop Concerto Orchestra. Together with Jean Albertini, Paul de Senneville and Didier Barbelivien, he made a good disco track exalting music. Eventhough he made the best he can, it got lost in the competition and the result was not the best way to end Monaco‘s participation

07: Greece – Elpida – Socrates

Another experienced singer: she begun her profissional carrer in 1970 and had participated in some contests before hand (such as the World Popular Yamaha Song Festival in Tokyo, 1974 and the Festival de Viña del Mar in Chile1975). Her victory in the first ever Greek ESC NF that year meant that she got the right to represent her own country and what a participation, by defending a dramatic “greek tragedy”-like entry about the life and death of the philosopher Socrates, refering him as a “superstar”. Powerful melody and powerful performance in every sense – a totally deserved top-10. From the songs of the Greek ESC NF 1979, also a reference for a song that finished in 5th out of 6 songs: “Athina, mana mou” sung by former ESC participant at the time, Bessy Argiraki

08: Switzerland – Peter, Sue & Marc + Pfuri, Gorps & Kniri – Trödler und Co

After participating in 1971 with the folk ballad inspired “Les illusions de nos vingt ans” and in 1976 with the catchy pop entry, “Djambo, Djambo”, they came back with their funniest entry yet and this time they were paired by three other performers whose instruments were quite unusual to use. As usual, the main singing trio’s performance was confident and well detailed, while the second referred trio was quite funny to watch. A reference about the Swiss ESC NF 1979: Rita Pavone, born in that country – but totally famous in the italian language market back in the 60’s with several hit songs, which includes the totally famous european-wide “Cuore” – did participate in it with the ballad “Dieci cuori”, finishing in a 4th place out of 7 songs

09: Germany – Dschinghis Khan – Dschinghis Khan

Especially formed by Ralph Siegel (who co-wrote the song with Brend Meinunger) to compete in the German ESC NF 1979, the group won it despite a certain tough competition (I’d recommend you to hear Paola‘s “Vogel der Nacht” (3rd), Roberto Blanco‘s “Samba si, arbeit no” (4th), Orlando Riva Sound‘s “Lady, lady, lady” (5th), amongst others) and thus went forward to Jerusalem. With a self-titled song about the mongol warrior, Genghis Khan, and a memorable performance with a very attached choreography, this became a seminal entry in ESC history and a great one in my opinion

10: Israel – Gali Atari & Milk & Honey – Hallelujah

For starters, I’ll mention that Gali Atari, before finally making her way to ESC as a member of the group Milk & Honey (english translation of Chaval U’dvash and a group especially created for ESC at the start), was already a professional singer by that time and she even competed twice representing her country in the World Popular Yamaha Song Festival of Tokyo, as well as she tried to go to ESC in 1978 with the catchy “Valentino (Nesich ha’halomot)”, singing it together with Zvi Bums and Udi Spielman (it reached a 3rd out of 12 songs). The song, about peace, became a evergreen on its country and has also become a seminal ESC entry for its unusual performance and for its song style. Curious story about the song: it’s said that this song was initially offered to Hakol over Habibi (a group that would only get their shot at ESC in 1981), but its lead singer, Shlomit Aharon, had a light prop accident in a concert (well, she was electrocutted) and wouldn’t make it to a future live performance for a while (a demo of the song was recorded by them and only surfaced recently). In 1978, they were also initially invited to sing “A-ba-ni-bi”. On that occasion, they refused

This ends the first part of my opinion about ESC 1979. Soon, the 2nd part will be posted. But here’s the video of the ESC 1979 opening in two parts:

Thank you,

LAboy 456
(Rui Craveiro)


Posted on 1 de May de 2012, in Eurovision Song Contest. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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