Eurovision Song Contest 1997 (Dublin)

42. Eurovision Song Contest

Dublin, Ireland

May 3, 1997

The 42nd Eurovision Song Contest was the 7th to be held in Ireland and the third at the Point Theatre in Dublin. After Ireland’s record-breaking seventh win and fourth victory in 5 years, Eurovision was thus back on the Emerald Island.

Hosts in 1997

The presenters were the popular television presenter Carrie Crowley and “Boyzone” member Ronan Keating.After the controversy about the non-televised pre-selection in 1996, where fan favorites Germany and Denmark among others had not made the final, the EBU changed the rules once more to cut the participating songs to a reasonable limit of 25. Countries with the lowest average scores over the previous four years would be excluded from the 1997 contest, and those with the lowest averages over the previous five years would be excluded from future contests. Every country excluded for one year would automatically be allowed back the next year.

Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Russia returned, while Belgium, Finland and Slovakia had to skip one year. As Israel declined to participate as the final was held on the countries Holocaust Remembrance day, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Céline Dion

could return. The Balkan country would otherwise have been excluded.The 1997 edition introduced another novelty that would change the face of the competition in the coming years: The UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Sweden used televoting that year. The other countries, many for the last time, still used their national juries. The wide array of songs presented in 1997 probably came about as most countries tried to suit both voting methods.In between performances famous former participants such as Benny and Börn of ABBA, Céline Dion, Julio Iglesias, last year’s winner Eimar Quinn and last year’s host Morten Harket talked about their personal Eurovision experience, greeted the participants and wished them good luck.

Cyprus opened the evening. Hara & Andreas Konstantinou presented a catchy, ethnic song. The lyrics of “Mana mou” (Motherland) are an ode to Cyprus itself. The country’s beauty is linked to that of Aphrodite. The mix of traditional and modern instruments, the great orchestration and catchiness of the song appealed to televoters and juries alike: The 5th place is still Cyprus’ best result ever (along with the 5th places of 2004 and 1982)

Turkey sent its representative from Oslo: Şebnem Paker had come 12th the year before. She had attended the Department of Classical Guitar at Istanbul University State Conservatory in the early 90s. Her song “Dinle” (“Listen”) is an upbeat, ethnic song with a very catchy chorus. The audience started to clap along during the first chorus. In the song Paker asks where and with whom her lover is spending time at the moment. The great vocal performance, traditional elements and again catchiness of the song secured Turkey its best result up until then: At the end of the voting Turkey came third behind only the UK and Ireland.

Norway sent Tor Endresen to Dublin, who had finally won the Norwegian selection after several tries. The song “San Francisco” is a moderately up-tempo 60s rock number and an ode to the American city and the era. In the lyrics, Endresen makes many references to slogans (“Make love not war“), people (Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon) and song titles (“California Dreamin’“, “Blowin’ in the Wind“) associated with the 60s. The song is quite catchy but probably seemed too old-fashioned: After Norway’s win in 1995 and second place in Oslo, the country had to suffer a reversal of fortunes: Endresen came last without a single point. The good previous results saved Norway from being excluded from the contest in 1998, however.

Austria sent musical singer Bettina Soriat. She performed her song “One Step” in a light blue, belly free leather jumpsuit and a dark blue satin coat, which probably made her a hot contender for the Barbara Dex award that year. Despite the English title, the song is mostly in German with only a few fragments (“bad loving”) in English. In the song, Soriat criticizes her lover for taking her for granted: “sex with you is as fast as Starship Enterprise”. The bad outfit, pretentious lyrics and rather bland dance song resulted in yet another bad place for Austria: 21st with only 12 points.

Hosts Ireland sent Marc Roberts, a singer-songwriter fronting his own American country cover band. At Eurovision he performed yet another typical ballad for Ireland. His “Mysterious Woman” is about the singer seeing a woman at an airport with a “ticket in her hand” and he says he immediately felt attracted to her. He goes on saying that he does not know where she comes from (“Maybe Paris, Italy or the coast of Araby”) or where she is going, but that she put a “spell” on him. In the end, she boards her plane and he leaves, still wondering about her. The melodic ballad and Roberts’ raunchy voice did its job for Ireland. On home soil he came second, but got a spectacular 70 points less than the eventual winner.

For its 4th Eurovision participation as an independent country, Slovenia sent singer and actress Tanja Ribic. Her entry “Zbudi Se” (“Wake up”) is a typical Balkan ballad that she performed in a beautiful white dress. The song starts rather slow and then gains in intensity. The Irish audience liked the classy performance as well as the international jurors, who rewarded it with a Top 10 place.

Switzerland sent a song in Italian. “Dentro di me” (“Inside Of Me”) was written and performed by Barbara Berta and is about the good and bad things one has inside oneself. It claims that the bad things also have a meaning and make you stronger. Berta performed the ballad in an unflattering brown ensemble. She was accompanied by a trumpet player and three backing singers. With only 5 points, 2 of them from Italy, she came 22nd.

The Netherlands sent the first “Spice Girls” copy of the evening: Mrs. Einstein. Due to their age they were often credited uncharmingly as “Old Spice”. The up-tempo song bemoans that in the modern world no one has time to care for other people or the little things anymore. The 5 ladies performed the song in similar black and white costumes with Inka ornaments and with an elaborate dance routine, forming circles and swapping positions. The annoying repetitiveness of the song apparently turned off jurors and televoters. Like Switzerland they came 22nd with 5 points.

Italy had not participated since 1993 and apparently RAI had only accidentally applied in 1997. In order not to have to pay a fine, they sent the winner of the San-Remo festival of that year: The duo Jalisse, made up of the charismatic Alessandra Drusian and Fabio Ricci. As the song has to last a maximum of 3 minutes at Eurovision over 1,5 minutes of the San Remo version and thus some important elements of the song had to be cut. The song “Fiumi di parole” (“Rivers Of Words”) is a melodic, dramatic ballad in which the lead singer tells her lover that “rivers of words” have come between them and that she believes that she is losing his respect. Nevertheless, she implies that there is still some hope for the relationship. Rumor has it, that RAI contacted several foreign juries to make sure the song would not win the contest. After this short intermezzo in 1997, Italy stayed away from the contest for 13 more years and only returned in 2011. Jalisse also tried to return to Eurovision in 2008 under San Marino’s flag, but they were not selected.

Spain sent a singer that had experience with music competitions: Marcos Llunas won the OTI Song Festival (A competition similar to Eurovision with Spain and South American countries) for Spain with the song “Eres mi debilidad” in Paraguay in 1995. His Eurovision entry “Sin rancor” (“Without Grudge”) is about the singer and his lover who realize that they have stopped loving each other. They decide to part “without grudge” and to keep the other person in their heart. The song is a typical ballad, starting slowly and increasing in intensity. Llunas performed the song well and with Spanish zeal and achieved a respectable result: With 96 points, Spain came 6th.

Germany sent yet another Siegel/Meinunger composition. “Zeit” (“Time”) was interpreted by Bianca Shomburg, who had won the “European Soundmix Show 1996” with the song “Think Twice” by Céline Dion. In her Eurovision song, that Siegel before the contest called the “most beautiful” he had ever written, Shomburg expresses her regret about “time running through her fingers” and her desire to have more time (probably to save a relationship). One of the favorites before the contest, the song failed to impress and only reached 19th place. Shomburg’s outfit (Black coat and a white renaissance shirt) and the conventional melody were probably to blame.

Poland sent a beautiful folk melody performed by Anna Maria Jopek. The Irish victory of the year before seems to have influenced the Polish entry, as many elements of the song sound quite Irish. “Ale Jestem” (“But I am”) is about accepting the fact, that life is there to be lived. In the song, Jopek sings that she is a number of different things, including “A spark” and “A gasp of wind“. Her classy outfit added to the atmosphere of the song. However, the judges were not too impressed: Poland only came 11th at the end of the voting.

Estonia sent 16-year old Maarja-Liis Ilus to Dublin. She had already represented her home country in Oslo the year before and had achieved a Top 5 result with her duet partner Ivo Linna. Her entry in 1997 was “Keelatud maa” (“Forbidden Land”). The singer’s lover is putting barriers in her way when it comes to their relationship. She compares this to being stuck in a “forbidden land“, but she adds that it won’t be like that forever. The song is a contemporary ballad that the beautiful Maarja performed quite sweetly. It garnered lots of votes and could almost equal her great result of 1996: Estonia came 8th.

Bosnia-Herzegovina sent Alma Čardžić again. She had represented her country in 1994 with her duet partner Dejan. The country was still suffering under the Balkan conflict at the time and the duo was greeted warmly. In 1997, Alma Čardžić represented a country in peace with her mid-tempo song “Goodbye”. Despite the English title, the song is completely in Bosnia apart from the “goodbye o-o-o-o-o”) in the chorus. The singer pleads to her lover not to end their relationship and suggests several things he could do instead of uttering the words “Zbogom ljubavi“ (Goodbye darling). The catchy snapping and guitar intro, reminiscent of Sister Act’s “I will follow him” is repeated during the song and the audience in the Point theatre clapped and snapped along. 22 points, almost all of them from the televoting countries, were enough for 19th place.

Portugal sent Célia Lawson with a slow (lounge) ballad, which recounted the events that had lead to the end of a relationship. She says that the blue of the sky ceased to be as blue as it was and reproaches her lover for no longer holding things dearly that were once important for them. The song’s title is reminiscent of the 1974 Portuguese Eurovision entry “E depois do adeus” by Paulo de Carvalho, which was played on radio to mark the begin of the Carnation Revolution. Lawson performed well and convincingly, the song ended last without a single point, though. The problem was arguably her “choir”. The four men with Men in Black costumes and sunglasses mumbled strange things in between Lawson’s singing and gave the performance a rather humorous touch. For the first time since 1983 two songs (Norway and Portugal) had finished with 0 points.

The first boyband of the evening came from Sweden: Blond was a three member group that performed a typical Swedish schlager. In “Bara hon älskar mig (“If only she loves me“) they sing of a girl they like and whose love they desire. The three could have been mistaken for brothers if it hadn’t been for the different choice of hair dressers they apparently made (Happily neither of them decided to die their hair, as otherwise the band name would’ve been obsolete…). The song was neither very catchy nor current and the usually very successful Swedes only came 14th.

Greece sent a mid tempo ethnic song. Marianna Zorba performed her “Horepse” (“Dance”) accompanied by traditional Greek instruments. The song is about the power of dance to rejuvenate people. Zorba got engaged to the lyricist of the song before the contest and they married shortly after. The visual highlight of the performance were four little cymbals, Zorba had attached to her fingers. The melodic song and coherent performance came 12th.

Malta sent Debbie Scerri to Dublin, who with her turcoise-purple gown won the “Barbara Dex Award” for the worst outfit of that year. Her song “Let Me Fly” is a ballad with Mediterranean elements in which Scerri is reminded of a former lover when she hears a song and asks to “fly” to be able to reunite with her lover. Apart from the UK’s and Ireland’s entry this was the only song performed entirely in English, which probably helped its chances. This and the catchy chorus brought Malta 66 points, which was enough for 9th place.

The second boy band of the evening, this time more conventional, came from Hungary. The band “V.I.P” consisted of 4 more or less handsome members, who performed sitting on stools in equal outfits: Black leather pants, white shirts and black jackets. Their song “Miért kell, hogy elmenj?” is a typical boy band ballad and reminiscent of Backstreet Boys’ songs of the time. The boys ask a woman why she wants to leave a relationship and promise her that things will be different if she stays. With lots of snapping along, drooling and smiling into the camera, they came 12th.

After Philipp Kirkorov in 1995, Russia sent another superstar to the contest. Alla Pugacheva had received countless prizes and recognitions such as being named “People’s artist of the USSR” in 1991, during her long career. She allegedly sold 150 million copies of her CDs in the former Soviet Union and is thus the most popular singer in that part of the world. In Dublin, she performed a self-penned dramatic ballad, in which she sings about a “Prima donna”, who tries to overcome struggles (the singer also has experienced) and adds that the “Prima donna” has an injured soul but is still able to sing well. (autobiographical much?). Pugacheva lived up to her iconic status and gave a performance worthy of a diva. In high heels and with lots of drama, she filled the Point theatre with her great voice. In the last seconds of the songs she laughs and screams “Bravo…Primadonna”. Despite the great performance she only came 15th.

Denmark apparently tried to impress the televoters by sending a representative of a popular music style of the time: rap. Kølig Kaj performed in Leopard pants and was accompanied by what could only be his secretary, who sang the chorus while sitting at a desk with a telephone, nail polish and magazines. The song is about the singer’s difficulty to speak to his object of affection. The entry could have served as a commercial for the Danish Telecom as one hears telephone rings and dialing throughout the entry. The lyrics accordingly stay ambiguous as to whether Kaj’s object of affection is a real person or an automated telephone voice. At the end of the voting Denmark had received 25 points (mostly form Scandinavia) and reached 16th place.

A big contrast to Denmark was 17-year-old Fanny who represented France. Her age is surprising as her participation had been announced as a “comeback”. At the age of 12 she had participated in a French television show. Her entry “Sentiments songes” (“Liar Feelings”) talks about the fear of embracing love, which the singer blames on our fear of our true feelings. Fanny performed in a black dress and her facial expressions made her seem much older than her age. The typical French ballad pleased the judges: France came 7th.

The second, this time much younger, Spice Girls copy of the evening came from Croatia. The group E.N.I performed in very…well..colorful costumes (track suits). In their up-tempo song “Probudi Me” (“Awake Me”) they sing about the best way to be woken, which they believe to be “love” instead of “coffee”. The girls sounded off-key at times and the song was not catchy enough to make up for the horrible outfits. After 2 Top 10 placings, Croatia fell deep: to 17th place with 24 points.

Iceland sent one of the most visual performances to Dublin. Paul Oscar performed his David Bowie and techno influenced song “Minn hinsti dans” (“My Final Dance”) in between sparsely dressed ladies sitting on a white sofa. The British commentator introduced the entry as the “moment PVC fans have been waiting for” (The ladie’s outfits and Paul’s pants were in PVC). He moved like a robot most of the performance and at one point, Paul moved his hands slowly and simultaneously from his knees towards his crotch. This (arguably) first openly gay performance at Eurovision is now a fan favorite and had a lasting impression. On the night it only came 20th,,with almost all of the votes coming from the televoting countries.

The runaway winners of the evening were “Kathrina & The Waves” for the United Kingdom. In 1985 the band had had a worldwide hit with “Walking on Sunshine”. The lead singer Katrina Leskanich was actually from America, however, most of the other band members were British. The song “Love Shine A Light” is a mid-tempo rock ballad about the power of love to “light up the magic” and to “shine in every corner of our hearts”. The melodic and catchy song became a hit in several European countries, a feat winners of previous year’s had not accomplished.

The interval act was the boy band Boyzone with host Ronan Keating. They performed a contemporary song (written by Keating especially for the night). The UK dominated the voting from the very beginning, receiving 5 sets of 10 points and a then record-breaking 10 sets of 12 points. It received points from every country in the contest, achieved the highest score ever (a record later broken by Lordi and Alexander Rybak) and kept runner-up Ireland at bay (70 points between the two). For the first time two people announced the votes of a country: Frédéric Ferrer and 1977 Eurovision winner Marie Myriam each took turns at giving results from France.

Here you can watch the entire contest:

Here is the final result:

Place Country Artist Song Points
1 United Kingdom Kathrina & The Waves Love Shine a light 227
2 Ireland Marc Roberts Mysterious woman 157
3 Turkey Sebnem Paker Dinle 121
4 Italy Jalisse Fiumi di parole 114
5 Cyprus Hara & Andreas Mana mou 98
6 Spain Marcos Llunas Sin Rencor 96
7 France Fanny Sentiments Songes 95
8 Estonia Maarja-Liis Ilus Keelatud maa 82
9 Malta Debbie Scerri Let me fly 66
10 Slovenia Tanja Ribic Zbudi se 60
11 Poland Ana Maria Jopek Ale Jestem 54
12 Greece Marianna Zorba Horepse 39
13 Hungary VIP Miért kell hogy elmenj? 39
14 Sweden Blond Bara hon älskar mig 36
15 Russia Alla Pugacheva Primadonna 33
16 Denmark Kølig Kaj Stemmen i mit liv 25
17 Croatia E.N.I Probudi me 24
18 Germany Bianca Shomburg Zeit 22
18 Bosnia-Herzegovina Alma Cardzic Goodbye 22
20 Iceland Paul Oscar Minn hinsti dans 18
21 Austria Bettina Soriat One step 12
22 Switzerland Barbara Bertà Dentro di me 5
23 Netherlands Mrs. Einstein Neimand heeft nog Tijd 5
24 Norway Tor Endresen San Francisco 0
24 Portugal Celia Lawson Anted do Adeus 0

Inspirations = wikipedia, Klaus Berg – ESC Geschichte(n)

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5 thoughts on “Eurovision Song Contest 1997 (Dublin)

  1. My personal ranking:

    1. Turkey 18
    2. United Kingdom 16
    3. Poland 16
    4. Italy 14
    5. Estonia 14
    6. Ireland 13
    7. Greece 13
    8. Cyprus 12
    9. Iceland 11
    10. Slovenia 11
    11. Malta 11
    12. Switzerland 10
    13. Spain 10
    14. Norway 9
    15. Russia 8
    16. Bosnia-Herzegovina 8
    17. France 7
    18. Croatia 7
    19. Sweden 7
    20. Hungary 7
    21. Denmark 7
    22. Germany 6
    23. Netherlands 5
    24. Portugal 5
    25. Austria 3

  2. I remember being embarrased about the Danish entry of that year. It’s possibly our worst ever though “Drama Queen” come close to it.

    Apart from that there are some good entries from 1997: Poland, Estonia, Italy and (underrated imo): Germany. I still have some difficulties in appreciating “Love Shine a Light”. It’s clearly not a bad song, but it feels like an anticlimax towards the freshness of “Walking on Sunshine”.

  3. This year really pushed the extremes for me. Poland gave me my first 12 pointer but Denmark tied with Cyprus 2003 for worst ever. My top five is:
    1) Poland: 12
    2) United Kingdom: 11.85
    3) Slovenia: 11.7
    4) Russia: 10.95
    5) Turkey: 10.35
    Contrary to the rest of the fan base, I absolutely detest Iceland’s entry. The song itself is painfully average but it’s hidden behind that tasteless performance that really had nothing to do with anything. It got the first 0 for Preference and finished with 3.15 points.

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