17 July 2016


Eurovision Song Contest Country Smackdown, Round 3B!
(Revisit Round 1, Round 2, the Interval, and Round 3A)

It takes a whole set of good songs to make a great show, and if there were one obvious winner from the outset, it wouldn't be nearly as much fun to watch. On the other hand, it's usually the case that some songs are clear front-runners--and then the fun becomes predicting how they will rank relative to each other. Sometimes guessing correctly that a song will place fourth can be as satisfying as correctly predicting it will take home the crown!

But had I been among the original audiences of the following Eurovision songs, I would have bet that they'd place significantly higher than they did. Here are two more runners-up that I wish had won instead.

Round 3B
The "L'Amour . . ." Four

Italy . . .

Now, I tend to overrate Italy . . . and it may be that Chi sara con te actually isn't as marvelous as I find it . . . but not only did I think it should have ranked higher than #13 (Were you kidding me, jurors???), I sometimes prefer it to the 1973 winner. And it surprises me a little that there was no push to make it a continent-wide hit. By this point in ESC history, many of its songs were regularly translated into and recorded in other European languages, all the better to appeal to the widest possible audience. I think an English version of Chi sara con te could have gone places, particularly across the Atlantic.

When I examine the impact Italian pop music has had on the world, I have to admit that Eurovision had almost nothing to do with it. Most of the credit goes to Italo-American singers like Perry Como, Vic Damone, Dean Martin, and Al Martino. (And if you're wondering why I haven't mentioned the most famous Italo-American singer, well, it's because he seems to have deliberately avoided the old country's musical traditions in his own oeuvre. Not that it hurt his career any.) What's extra deflating is that among all the Italian standards and contemporary songs repackaged for the US market, there is exactly one from Eurovision. It's as if (as we noticed in Round 3A with the UK) one mark of a good Eurovision song is that it thrives best within Europe's borders.

A final note: there is a significant break between "classic Eurovision" Italy and "contemporary Eurovision" Italy that we don't see with other countries, because Italy did not participate in the ESC from 1998 to 2011. And these days the strategy is not to find each song's "separated-at-birth twin/triplet/uzw" but to rewrite half the Italian lyrics in lingua franca English. And all I can think is: as nice as it is to have bridges, I find I also miss the borders.

. . . Luxembourg

For the longest time, I thought Luxembourg had won Eurovision 1967 with world classic L'amour est bleu. Had I known more about the limited reach of Eurovision classics, I might have realised its universal popularity made this less likely. =P

Now, you'd think that one of the most successful Eurovision participants ever would have made more of an impact on modern European culture. But Luxembourg has traditionally not been very Luxembourgish. As I hinted last week, when we looked at Monaco again, the Grand Duchy has mostly been represented by French songwriters and singers. And then there's this entry, which is sung by a Grecque girl. Yes, there have been some local singers: a whopping seven out of about fifty! Some of whom even sang in their mother tongue! Now the question is whether the five winning songs would have fared just as well with Luxembourgish lyrics instead of French. The relative lack of success selling this language to the rest of Europe (with all three tries finishing at or near the bottom) suggests they wouldn't . . . but I do think L'amour est bleu, performed in Luxembourgish, but with its French version released in the appropriate countries as per usual, would have still acquitted itself well.

So I find it a tad ironic that the Grand Duchy hasn't hasn't participated because its local network wants to concentrate on promoting the Luxembourgish language and culture to its own people. But perhaps this is what it will take for the local music scene to flourish and to give Luxembourg the singers and songwriters it needs to stage a comeback!

Winner: Italy--because they came back to help us realise how much we had missed them

* * * * *

Wild Card 2!

Greece handily beat Russia in their mini face-off during the Interval, and now have a shot at a place in the Final. Well, there had to be a dark horse, didn't there? =P Although Greece debuted in the 1970s, a kind of golden decade for Eurovision, they didn't become a real force in the contest until the 2000s. Ten Top 10 finishes in sixteen years is not shabby. And although I've never really loved it as a Eurovision country, I have liked that Greek entries, be they good or be they utterly awful, tend to sound Greek . . . rather than, you know, Swedish. =P Take Alcohol is Free from 2013, the year I really started caring about the contest. But before you vote, one more twist! If you choose to keep Italy, the Final
we will stick with songs from the first thirty years of Eurovision; and if you choose to replace it with Greece, we'll have songs since 1986.

Remember that voting in this round of the Eurovision Song Contest Country smackdown will let you earn another point for the Philippine Literature Giveaway.

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Itinérante said...

The Greek one made me laugh!! So I think I will choose them ^^

Brandon said...

Tough choice! I'm biased toward Italy, but that was a surprisingly fun selection for Greece, and, as you say, there's something for sounding Greek. I think I still lean Italy, though, so my vote goes for Italy.

Enbrethiliel said...


Itinerante -- They were definitely entertaining! =D

Brandon -- It occurs to me now that a Philosophy professor would be "from Greece" in a way!

cyurkanin said...

Greece! (sorry, been away from computer, trying to catch up on voting now...)

Enbrethiliel said...


No worries! You're right on time! =)