The 13th esctoday.com TOP TEN list starts today with the places 10, 9 and 8 being announced. As revealed on Saturday, this week's topic are the TOP TEN surprising winners.
The list features Eurovision Song Contest winning performers or songs that were not consideredf favourites for first place before the contest. As reliable information on pre-contest media reports is only available since the introduction of the preview videos in 1971, only entries of the last 39 years are considered. It is regarded how much an entry was of a favourite at the time it took part, so "retrospective" surprises are not considered. The following criteria were included in the ranking:
- Betting odds
- Media predictions
- Reactions by the audience in the hall and the commentators
- Reactions after the victory
- Commercial success of an entry compared to the success of other songs that year
So here we start…
No. 10 – Bobbsocks with La det swinge (Norway 1985)
After so many last places, Norway was hardly ever considered a top favourite in the early 1980s. Bobbysocks narrowly won the 1985 MGP ahead of Anita Skorgan. The duo consisted of the experienced singers Hann Krogh, who had represented Norway in 1971 and Elisabeth Andreassen, who had represented Sweden as part of the group Chips in 1982. With their song La det swinge, written and composed by Rolf Løvland, they were seen in a comfortable place by the bookmakers but a Norwegian victory was not expected. In fact, many thought that a German vicory was for sure.
On the big night, Bobbysocks delivered a very confident performance and received a very strong reaction from the audience (which probably included some Norwegians). Although Norway got the first 12 points in the voting, other countries were more hesitant and put Germany on top followed by Sweden, Italy and the United Kingdom. Bobbysocks took over the lead shortly before the end and eventually gave Norway their first victory. Host Lill Lindfors put it in a nutshell: "I must say I'm honestly very happy that this happened because Norway has been last on so many times and you really deserve it."
Internationally, the English version of La det swinge was no major hit in most countries, although it did make it to the top of the Norwegian charts and was a top ten hit in the Netherlands. The Norwegian version reached number four in the Swedish charts. Both Hanne Krogh and Elisabeth Andreassen returned to the contest later. Hanne Krogh was a member of the group 4Fun in 1991 but only finished 17th in Rome. Elisabeth Andreassen was more successful finishing sixth in 1994 in a duet with Jan Werner Danielsen and second as a soloist on homeground in 1996. Rolf Løvland would compose another winning song for Norway in 1995 having already written the entries is 1987 and 1994. Furthermore, he was the conductor of the Norwegian entries in 1992 and 1993.
No. 9 – Toto Cutugno with Insieme: 1992 (Italy 1990)
It had been 26 years since Gigliola Cinquetti had won with Non ho l'età when the Italian broadcaster decided to send a singer to Zagreb who said that it can't be too hard to win the contest. Like most Italian representatives, Toto Cutugno was a former San Remo winner and the song he wrote dealt with the then political developments in Europe at that time, as most entries did in 1990. Insieme: 1992 was dedicated to the Maastricht treaty and the wish for a united Europe. As so many entries were about the then current events, the Italian entry was never seen as a top favourite to win the contest – neither by the bookmakers, nor by the media. In fact, the Dutch love song, the UK entry about environmental issues and the Irish song, which could be either seen as a love song or a hidden reference to the Maastricht treaty, were seen as the most likely winners.
When the voting started, Italy was suddenly a clear favourite for winning getting the first 12 of the night and no less than eight points from the first six juries voting. After three low votes (no points from the UK, three from Iceland and nul from Norway), Ireland went on top were they stayed for a long time. When the Irish jury itself was voting, Italy went back to top where they stayed until the very end of the voting, although it was close towards the end. The victory was not expected and UK commentator literally said laughing: "I didn't give that Italian song a prayer…"
Although the victory was not expected, the song was a small hit in Europe reaching no. two on the Swiss single charts, number three in Austria and even number nine France, where Eurovision winners are usually no big sellers. In Germany, the song reached number 13 on the charts and stayed in the top 100 for five months. In 1991, Toto Cutugno returned to the stage this time hosting the contest with 1964 winner Gigliola Cinquetti in Rome.
No. 8 – Paul Harrington & Charlie McGettigan with Rock 'n' roll kids (Ireland 1994)
After winning twice in a row, rumour had it that Irish broadcaster RTÉ was not eager to host the contest a third year in a row. After the national final it looked like they had nothing to worry about: Rock 'n' roll kids, performed by Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan, was not particularly in a style typical for the Eurovision Song Contest these days as it was neither up-tempo Europop nor a dramatic diva ballad. Composer Brendan Graham had already written the Irish entries in 1976 and 1985 finishing tenth and sixth respectively. Most people did not see a high chance for Ireland winning the third year in a row, especially, after they had a got a very early spot in the draw. Due to seven debuting countries in 1994, the favourites were not as a clear as in previous years, but the United Kingdom (as always) and Germany (with one of the few up-tempo songs) were seen as likely contenders for victory while others thought that Malta or Iceland could win it for the first time ever.
At the beginning of the voting, it looked like Hungary would be the clear winners in Dublin getting the first three 12s of the evening. However, many low marks followed and host country Ireland went on top after the United Kingdom had voted. Ireland scored a top three vote from almost all other countries with the only exceptions being Finland (seven), Malta (five), Slovakia (six) and Greece (nul). At the end, Ireland had got record breaking 226 points making Paul Harrington & Charlie McGettigan the first male duo to win the contest. The audience was going crazy, although some RTÉ exctuives behind the stage might have started feeling a little dizzy.
Outside Irealand, where Rock 'n' roll kids reached number two on the charts (behind the interval act music of Riverdance), the song was a commercial flop not even reaching the charts in most countries. Composer Brendan Graham returned to the contest in 1996 once again composing a winning song for Ireland. Paul Harrington returned to the stage in 1998 as a backing singer for Dawn Martin, while Charlie McGettigan was one of the backing performers in the Congratulations show in 2005 along with fellow Irish winner Eimear Quinn and Linda Martin.
Tomorrow, we will introduce no. 7 and 6 on the list.