ESC 1972: Vicky’s vengeance

The original host for the 1972 contest was meant to be Monaco, however the French riviera state was unable to meet the demands of hosting the event or what I believe had no intention to do so. In cases of emergency the eternal saviour, the BBC, stepped in and took Eurovision to Edinburgh. How very noble of them. Unfortunately they were incapable of finding a presenter who seemed passionate about the job. Moira Shearer is no Katie Boyle. Some say the bendy ballerina brought elegance and class to the show, I’d say she was as stiff as a board.

Like 1995, 1972 proved to be the year of crazy hair. For example The New Seekers’ long manes trailed far beyond the environs of Usher Hall. Apparently the delegations had to save on transportation costs. Long hair came in very handy, because all that needed to be done was pulling on it to get the artists back to their home. Katja Ebstein’s message in “Diese Welt” seemed to finally be heard.

1972 was also extremely heterosexual. One golden rule of Eurovision is to never underestimate the allegedly straight couple. Denmark 2010 or Azerbaijan 2011 are some prominent examples. Back in the early 1970’s the juries didn’t buy into this shameless public display of love declarations: 66,6 % of mixed-gender duets placed in the bottom 5 ergo we’ve got scientific proof for Satan’s liking to meddle in people’s lives.

French hegemony remained undisputed as the winning song was another chanson, the second in a three-year-row. However, the perfect surface already showed cracks: The other francophone entries more or less failed to gain the jury’s attention and soon the Gallics would face yet another Waterloo. “Après toi” was a prime example for pan-European cooperation: a Greek schlager diva representing Luxembourg with a song written and composed by French, German and Greek people. A moment of joy for Marcel Bezençon.

“Regional cultures added colour and interest to the competiton, but as Ireland and Malta found, were not rewarded by judges”, writes Chris West in his fabulous Eurovision history book. It would be the last time we’ve heard Gaelic and Maltese (as the main language) in Eurovision – to date. Malta holds the sad record of finishing last twice in a row after its debut in 1971. Newbies often had a lot to learn about Eurovision. Or is it the other way around?

I also secretly waited for someone to stumble over their corded microphone, but none of my prayers were answered… . Lucifer doesn’t seem to like slapstick.

18. Belgium: Serge & Christine Ghisoland – “À la folie ou pas de tout

A very generic ballad and the performance was pretty cringeworthy. I know they’re married, romantic and all, but the spark just didn’t emanate from the pair. It could’ve been more heartfelt and less stiff, but I guess there was nothing they could do to save this song.

17. Monaco: Anne-Marie Godart & Peter McLane – “Comme on s’aime

Another case of lack of chemistry. Monaco didn’t want to host the event and apparently didn’t want to win again. Irrelevant and forgettable.

16. Italy: Nicola di Bari – “I giorni dell’arcobaleno

Canzoni are like snowflakes…each one’s so unique. The studio version included a line that provoked a little scandal in Italy (“Because when you were sixteen, you already had a lover”) and therefore had to be changed to (“…, you already feel grown up”). The song doesn’t manage to grab my attention and it doesn’t help that Nicola oozed the star appeal of a schoolboy reciting his homework poem.

15. Spain: Jaime Morey – “Amanece

Now I do enjoy it when Spanish speaking people go excessively dramatic, but Jaime Morey is no Anabel Conde and neither does he star in a telenovela. It’s too much warbling and schmaltz and too little pasión and corazón.

14. Malta: Helen & Joseph – “L-imħabba

Malta was still trying to fit in with the Eurovision clique, but this was a very ill-advised attempt trying to sound like the rest of the bunch. I prefer this song to most of their awful 1990’s entries though.

13. Norway: Grethe Kausland & Benny Borg – “Småting

I like the message of the song to enjoy the little things in life although they mention the word ‘snorting’ (Cocaine?) to a worrying extent throughout the lyrics. Wasted potential.

12. Sweden: Family Four – “Härliga sommardag

Starting out from an experiment in a Gothenburg lab in 1964 Family Four were the result of some years of blood, tears and sweat. In times of frustration some heavily salted meatballs were thrown at each other. In 1971 the Swedish scientists were able to harvest the fruit of their hard work: Family Four achieved a respectable sixth place in Dublin, but they were programmed for higher success. They were given one last shot with a much weaker song though. The victory hungry Swedes were not satisfied with the results. Family Four were put back in their boxes never to be seen again. Only Marie Bergman escaped and even sneaked her way to the Eurovision stage again using a bowler hat as camouflage. However, their DNA provided the blueprint for another obscure band called ABBA… .

11. France: Betty Mars – “Comé-comédie

It really doesn’t get more French than this, now does it? The audible influence here is evident: Edith Piaf. Betty deserved a better song and dress. After Eurovision she did vocals for actress Brigitte Ariel in the 1974 biopic Piaf (though it only dealt with Edith’s pre-war life) and sang most songs on the soundtrack. In 1975 in the wake of Emmanuelle she gave a bland performance in the very creatively titled Emilienne playing the title role, a frigid housewife embracing her lesbian desires. By the 1980’s her career hasn’t really gone as planned as things would quiet down. In January 1989 she jumped from her apartment’s window. Betty fell into a coma dying three weeks later after the doctors switched off her life-support system.

Yugoslavia, 1 point: Tereza Kesovija – “Muzika i ti

One of the strongest vocalists of this year. She sounded and looked like North Macedonia’s scream queen Kaliopi. Like Betty she deserved a better song, one that doesn’t get too repetitive. It’s beyond me how this was Yugoslavia’s only top 10 placing in the 1970’s – they had much stronger songs in my opinion. By the way Tereza, now 82, has just released a new song (“Ima Te”), accompanied by a music video. Diva that she is she’s seen driving along the Istrian coast in a Mercedes convertible emitting Grace Kelly vibes. Fun fact: The Princess of Monaco was a big fan of hers and chose Tereza to represent the tiny monarchy in 1966.

Seconds before erupting: Volcano Tereza

Switzerland, 2 points: Veronique Müller – “C’est la chanson de mon amour

A little Melanie Safka here, a little Joni Mitchell there. Veronique looked like she’d be the Milestones’ missing member. If only her song was more interesting. It’s got a nice melody to it, but like many of her compatriots her song suffers from the Swiss Eurovision syndrome: Pleasant and enjoyable, but not a cherished evergreen.

Serving polyester fiesta realness: Veronique Müller

Finland, 3 points: Päivi Paunu & Kim Floor – “Muistathan

OK, I admit at first I thought Kim was the gal, Päivi the fella (and what a fella!). During my little research I went down the rabbit hole of the World Wide Web (probably too deep) and discovered this. Take him in for a second and just spiritually enjoy what he looked like:

Ken is for pansies. The Kim Floor paper doll…now that is something!

In the first half “Muistathan” reminded me of Finland’s 1969 entry and not just because of the male/female duet constellation. Speaking of which it does stand out against the other duets of Edinburgh 1972 although it gets a bit weary towards the end. The Russian folk influence is undeniable. A “lay lay” here and “hey hey” there does the job. Päivi and Kim were not too fond of their song and thought their chances of success would be small. So they did what any sane person would do: Using their good looks and John Travolta’s wardrobe to get noticed leaving Travolta trapped in the closet. The BBC told them not to look too sexy on stage. Tss! Party poopers!

Luxembourg, 4 points: Vicky Leandros – “Après toi

We have a saying in Poland that goes: “If you don’t know what the deal is, then the deal is money.” No wonder Luxembourg refuses to return to the contest. Hiring the likes of Nana Mouskouri, France Gall or Baccara has brought the country to the brink of bankruptcy. But not with Vicky Leandros. After being continuously poked with a pencil since September 1967 she finally agreed to do it all over again. But she wanted more: Her first Eurovision entry “L’amour est bleu” became an international hit, but almost every other recording artist in the world decided to have their name on it, leaving Vicky as an unfairly treated also-ran. This was her time of vengeance. Once La Leandros set foot on Usher Hall’s stage she gained the ability to mesmerize almost everyone. With an attitude that screamed “daddy’s little rich girl can have it all”, verve and vigor she just had to win. Personally I consider “L’amour est bleu” the better song, however this song marked the birth of Greek divas being a valuable addition to the contest.

Cue the Kill Bill sirens

The Netherlands, 5 points: Sandra & Andres – “Als het om de liefde gaat

With Sandra Reemer it’s guaranteed jolly good fun! Sandra’s appearances in the contest are wonderful time capsules of its respective year: Disguised as a giant disco bat in 1976 or neon advertising space in 1979 she always knew how to go with current fashion trends. Poster-paint lime green appeared to be the colour of the season. A perfect bouncer at the end of this year. Andres was still shaking with excitement even after their performance hence the Dutch delegation handed him his medically prescribed cannabis to calm down. So attentive!

Soylent Green is Dutch people!

Portugal, 6 points: Carlos Mendes – “A festa da vida

Say goodbye to silky smooth baby face Carlos and say hello to gorgeous scruffy Jesus of Nazareth/70’s porn actor Carlos. Not only did he mature physically, but his song was way more sophisticated than 1968’s “Verão”. He seemed to drop the bog-standard construction of a song and went witht two choruses instead building a constant crescendo. The frantic intensity and rising intonation in Carlos’ performance adds to the overall impression. I think he’s cool and deserved better than 7th place.

4 years go by really fast: The sexually matured Carlos Mendes

Ireland, 7 points: Sandie Jones – “Ceol an ghrá

15th place? I can’t believe it. The juries obviously had wax in their ears! Yes, the song might have been a bit outdated and poor Sandie didn’t know what to do with her hands in the end yet I’ve got a soft spot for the song that got carried by her charismatic stage presence. It’s just a small detail, but I love how it modulates down in the final chorus – an almost forgotten art today and I haven’t heard the device quite as much as in 1990’s power ballads.

There’s also a dark side to this blissful love song: Sandie had received death threats in the lead-up to the contest due to the song’s language. During a time when the Troubles in Northern Ireland dominated international media discourse on the Emerald Isle “Ceol an ghrá” provided a statement for cultural identity. Luckily Sandie showed amazing composure and there was no blood or brain splatter splashed on Usher Hall’s walls. It was very generous of her to let Ireen Sheer have her dress for the 1974 contest. What a lovely girl!

They can’t stop the spring and sure can’t stop Sandie!

United Kingdom, 8 points: The New Seekers – “Beg, Steal or Borrow

Ooh, those dirty thieving limeys! Catchpenny capitalists who disguised themselves as faux hippies and encouraged people to drink phosphorous lemonade in their biggest hit single. I love it! No longer coke addicts they now enjoyed the fun and frolics of criminal behaviour. Songs like “Beg, Steal or Borrow” are a part of the sound image of my childhood (I am heavily influenced by my parents’ music collection, ranging from disco to folk pop/rock). This entry ended the UK’s string of humptata songs that tried to redo Sandie Shaw’s success. It’s just a simple melody, but designed to haunt your memory. It makes me wiggle and sing along to it.

We no want no coke. No heroin. No hasch-hasch. No amphetamine!: The New Addiction Seekers

Germany, 10 points: Mary Roos – “Nur die Liebe lässt uns leben

Katja Ebstein is verboten! What a bummer! It would’ve been a fun battle between the social democratic divas (Vicky once ran for “We change our name every ten seconds” PASOK, Katja is a longtime supporter of the identity crisis stricken SPD). The Germans were fed up with the ginger gorgeousness who seemed to be jinxed with third places. All nice, but they were craving for more. Mary Roos shall put things straight. Knowing she was Germany’s second choice. It was none other than Vicky Leandros who asked broadcaster ARD to represent Germany with the German version of “Après toi”, “Dann kamst du”. She was turned down and Mary won the ticket to Edinburgh. In the end she managed to continue Katja’s streak of bronze ranks and what’s worse lost out to her strongest competitor. These days Mary is often seen walking the streets of Hamburg sticking pins in her Vicky voodoo doll.

“Nur die Liebe lässt uns leben” is a vibrant ode to love. Bongos give it a nice touch. The song was Mary’s final top 20 hit on the German charts and she endured chart obscurity till 1999 when one last schlager made a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance. But I am not one to measure success based on sales. In a career that spans six decades she gained a loyal following. Mary gave her farewell tour in 2019 and performed on the cabaret shows “Nutten, Koks und frische Erdbeeren” (“Hookers, Coke and Fresh Strawberries”) and “I Caught Udo Jürgens Shagging My Auntie”. I didn’t make up the former, the latter is a big fat lie.

Marvellous Mary of Scotland: 70 years of age – 60 years on stage. I take a bow!

Austria, 12 points: Milestones – “Falter im Wind

Hippies in extremely figure-hugging outfits. A breath of fresh air among the usual endless stream of slushy Austrian entries. It’s one of the most non-Eurovision Eurovision songs zigzagging from polyphonic passages and syncopation in the chorus to transverse flute solos and bongos. One of Austria’s finest moments in its contest history. The Milestones were singing a song about butterflies seeking shelter from wind in the band’s hair growing an enormous population that now can be visited in Vienna’s Tiergarten Schönbrunn. Singer and flutist Beatrix Neundlinger and pianist Christian Kolonovits (as conductor) returned in 1977 as part of…what else…Schmetterlinge (“butterflies”).

Hippie-ki-yay, motherfuckers: A milestone for Austria

That’s it! Stick a fork in it. I’m done! No more schmaltzy duets! Thanks for joining me on another review!

2 thoughts on “ESC 1972: Vicky’s vengeance

  1. Thanks to ESC Revisiting I re-discovered the Finnish entry! It is so addictive 🙂
    I find Kim so sexy as well 😉
    Btw, those paper dolls!!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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