This year heralds the 61st anniversary of the Eurovision Song Contest. For over 60 years now we have had our musical sensibilities tested by a bizarre collection of song lyrics. A close examination of these head scratching couplets have left this listener perplexed. I wonder has anyone actually listened to what is being sung at the annual European-wide, musical extravaganza.
Beginning on home soil, Ireland (a seven-time winner) took its first dip in the Eurovision waters in 1965 with a song about, you guessed it, the weather. Butch Moore sang , ‘Walking the Streets in the Rain’: “ My tears are mixed through the raindrops, cause I’m walking the streets in the rain.” The wheel has come full circle weatherwise with Nicky Byrne singing ‘Sunlight ‘ for Ireland in this year’s contest. Although dermatologists would frown at Nicky’s invocation to: “ live forever in the sunlight.”
Moving swiftly away from weather and on to cheese. Eamon Toal was Ireland’s entry at the millennium edition of the show in 2000. Eamon’s song, ‘Millenium of Love’ pleaded with us to: “celebrate the new millennium of love, where our footprints leave a harvest for the children.”
Liam Reilly sang his heart out for Ireland in 1990 finishing a credible second. Liam in his song, ‘Somewhere in Europe’ seemed to have lost his better half. He takes us on a tour (in three minutes) of all the places she could be, which included; Paris, Amsterdam, the Black Forest in Germany, the Adriatic, London Trafalgar Square (quite specific that one) and finally drinking in old Seville.
Linda Martin (1984) knew exactly where to find her lover — ‘Terminal Three’ — and the flight was on time. She implores her lover to: “Fly to me on the wings of all you meant to me.” Having just written that down I still don’t know what it means.
Back in 1981, Sheeba sang Horoscopes, pleading with us to: “Don’t let the planets take control of our lives. Believe in the truth and not celestial lies.” As if we needed telling.
Stepping away from Ireland and into Europe and beyond. We Irish are mere amateurs when it comes to strange and weird Eurovision lyrics. For me the strangest has to be Sweden’s 1973 entry sung by Nova. I’ll give it to you straight. It went like this: “ oh...Your breasts are like swallows a-nestling.” You just read that and it’s 100% real.
Moving southwards to Austria a group named Trackshittaz (correct spelling) sang the following in Eurovision 2012: “your bum has feelings, your bum is part of you, don’t put it on chairs, your bum has an opinion, yeah.”
After that I need to sit down.
Songwriting, as an art form involves the use of sophisticated musical arrangements, elaborate metaphors and patterns or combinations of sound. Many of the great songwriters wrote about their personal life experiences with sensitivity and style. Let’s compare Austria’s ‘Bum Song’ with say The Cure’s, ‘Just like Heaven’ which included the lines: “And moving lips to breathe her name. I opened up my eyes. And found myself alone, alone, alone, above a raging sea. That stole the only girl I loved, and drowned her deep inside of me.”
Sixty years of Digg-Loo, Diggi-Ley, Ding-A-Dong, La-la-la, Boom-Bang-A-Bang, With a high-high-ho and a high-high-hey (Latvia’s pirate song in 2008, don’t ask) and the classic: Clap your hands, celebrate, have a good time, pump, pump. This short compendium of Eurovision gems is enough to claim auditory assault on a European scale.
Our only refuge for our sanity is to enjoy the show for what it is: a bit of nonsense. My thoughts go back to Austria’s entry for 1977 and I smile, the great musical classic ‘Boom Boom Boomerang’ with the memorable lyrics: “ Boom Boom boomerang up in the sky, kangaroo, boogaloo, go out and buy, Ding dong, sing the song, hear the guitar cry, Kojak, hijack, don’t ask why.”
Maybe that’s the secret of surviving Eurovision week, not to ask why? Speaking of survival, Finland’s 1982 entry offers a unique perspective on the nuclear threat: “If someone soon throws some nuclear poo here on our europe, what will you say when we get all the filth on our faces.”
I’m sure, university professors are working on those lyrics as we speak.
The Eurovision has thrown up some odd lyrics over its sixty years and maybe its one big elaborate metaphor for the European experiment. Leaving the final words (my all time favourite) to Montengro’s 2012 entry ‘Rambo Amadeus’, with the haunting lyrics: “ I only got one rule, always stay cool like a swimming pool.” You’ve got to love it.