Let’s go back to Eurovision 1958 - the final contest without any songs in English.
The UK withdrew for the first and only time, but Sweden joined, which means the number of participants stayed the same. For the first time, the winner of the previous year’s - the Netherlands - contest hosted this year’s contest in their country.
The length rule was introduced, sparing us from ever having to watch a performance that goes for over 5 minutes long.
The weird part of this contest is that the host doesn’t introduce the show in any way, we open with the orchestra and go straight to the first song. She also doesn’t introduce the songs, leaving this to the commentators.
We get some (very basic) special effects. The song introductions have the title and the performer’s name overlaid on top of the stage. It might seem very basic in 2023, but it seems like something state-of-the-art for 1958.
What is there to say about this song? It might be the most famous song of the contest across the world. It’s one of the few non-English songs that charted in the US, one of the few Eurovision entries to chart in the US, one of two entries to have been nominated for a Grammy, the only entry to have won a Grammy (two Grammies in fact). It sold over 18 million copies worldwide.
It also came third in the actual contest, which proves that the juries have been out of touch with the public since the very start.
It’s an incredible song, not just for its time, but in general. Domenico Modugno gives it his all, his performance is expressive, dynamic, but not over-the-top. The lyrics are rather surreal, which works to the song’s advantage. The song compares love (yes, it’s about love, no surprises here, it’s Eurovision after all) to flying in the blue sky.
The instrumental alternates between slow minor key verses and epic major key chorus. Nevertheless, it avoids having an uninteresting chorus, like so many songs that follow the minor verses/major chorus structure do. In fact, the chorus is the better part here (in my opinion).
You can probably tell that I really loved this song. I’ve written four whole paragraphs, when most other songs have short one-or-two-sentence reviews. But great songs deserve great reviews.
This song seems to want to repeat her success in 1957. It has a slow part, a spoken part, an instrumental part and all that. It suits Corry’s talent well. The end is its best part (I don’t mean this in a bad way), it builds up to an epic crescendo and end.
The lyrics are much less interesting. She sings about how happy she is (I’d be happy too after winning Eurovision) and how she wants to share her happiness with the world. You can definitely see the Eurovision tropes that are so common these days being established in each of the early contests.
As a result, it just doesn’t do much for me. It’s rather indistinct when compared against its competitors.
This is a lullaby-like French chanson. Clearly, France stuck to one formula early on and it paid off. It’s quite mellow and, for lack of a better word, classy. It’s a rather dreamy song, though I wouldn’t call it slow.
Nevertheless, it failed to impress me very much. André is a good performer and his voice suits the song well. It’s just not the kind of songs I enjoy.
I’m of two minds about this song. On one hand, it’s rather average. It’s a slow French chanson about love with an instrumental that uses a lot of strings.
On the other hand, the lyrics are quite well-written (finally, my mediocre knowledge of French is paying off). I especially loved the part where they (I assume this means her and her lover) don’t live in prose. Instead, they transpose it to poetry.
It also sounds very old-fashioned, definitely like something made pre-WW2. While that worked against Corry Brokken in 1956 in my rankings, this time, I find it rather charming.
The song starts with a little gimmick. The singer sings “la la la” and the orchestra responds with soaring strings. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something about this song fits Swedish really well. It makes the song sound much cuter than it would in any other language, in my opinion. I always enjoy when songs are written and composed in a way that fits their language well.
The composititon is rather slow and mellow, a bit waltzy, but not boring.
I also like her dress, you can see that Sweden wanted to show that they’re representing their own culture. They definitely approached picking the song and the representative quite seriously (this is the only time Sweden picked their representative internally, with Melodifestivalen starting next year, in 1959).
Before starting to sing, she tears a leaf out of a diary, which should explain what the title of the song means to anyone who couldn’t understand. Seems like the performers were starting to experiment with using props in their performances (we’ll see a song that uses props much more extensively later on).
A post-breakup song. The singer tells her lover that she forgave him (tore a leaf out of her diary) and asks him to do the same. In general, I agree with the message. You should try to work out the kinks in your relationship before deciding to end it. After all, nobody is perfect and communication is something that’s sadly underused by most people.
She performs it well, you can feel the emotion in her voice. I also like that it’s got a cheery instrumental, because, on the whole, a break up isn’t the end of world.
This is quite an interesting song. It’s quite a bit more sexual than any other entry before it. It refers to the woman’s “skills”, calls her a “cat” and a “toy”. Diggiloo Thrush claims that it’s about a prostitute, and I’m inclined to believe it.
It’s much happier than Fud Leclerc’s previous entry, though I don’t find it as interesting musically. I can imagine it causing a huge outrage storm in 1958 if media cared about Eurovision as much as they do today.
Overall, it’s a mixed bag. Being interesting saves it from a low score though.
Isn’t music great, asks Margot Hielsher. The answer is yes, it is great, and this song is a good example of why it’s great. On the surface, it’s rather simple, with an uncomplicated instrumental and fairly normal lyrics. These two components combine to produce something that’s much greater than the sum of its parts though. Every time she sings about something musical (“quiet music”, “minor key”, “man at a piano”), the orchestra demonstrates it by going quiet, switching to a minor key, the pianist playing his piano and so on. The orchestra and Margot are in perfect sync, with lyrics leading the instruments instead of vice versa.
This is, without a doubt, the most elaborate performance of any year so far. You can tell the sheer joy Margot feels during her performance, dressed in her “Miss Jukebox” dress.
It’s a fairly good song about love. It helps that it isn’t about some specific pair of people, but rather the whole world. Everybody needs love, and this love doesn’t have to be romantic (even though the song is specifically about romantic love). You can love your parents, your friends, your coworkers and, in general, you can simply love people.
The song simply resonated with me, which is why I enjoyed it.
This is a very funny entry. In the years where most entries were quite serious, having a lighthearted entry like this is very important.
It tells a story of a German woman who’s fallen in love with an Italian man, Giorgio. The song seems to want to portray her as only knowing rudimentary Italian, mostly words related to food and drink (“risotto”, “polenta”, “espresso”, “vino”) and some romantic words (“cara”, “amore”). The words sung in Italian are presumably said by Giorgio.
The instrumental is very lively, moving at a very brisk pace, which fits well with a chaotic song like this. It’s made even better by the fact that this came second, just three points behind France.
|1||Italy||Nel blu, dipinto di blu||100||1|
|8||Germany||Für zwei Groschen Musik||95||2|
|6||Denmark||Jeg rev et blad ud af min dagbog||81||4|
|9||Austria||Die ganze Welt braucht Liebe||70||6|
|7||Belgium||Ma petite chatte||69||7|
|4||Luxembourg||Un grand amour||63||8|
|3||France||Dors, mon amour||50||9|
|2||Netherlands||Heel de wereld||45||10|
Average score: 73.800
Median score: 74.0
I loved this year. The quality of every entry was much higher than in the two previous years. There wasn’t a single song I didn’t enjoy. I failed to connect with some, but I could still enjoy them anyway.
The interval act was a piece of orchestral music, which I enjoyed. It was a good addition to the contest.
The voting sequence was quite interesting. After the first set of points, Sweden was in the lead, though France quickly overtook them after the second set. For a bit, it seemed like Italy would end second, but then Switzerland made a jump from fourth to second.
Now, I also want to say that I don’t think France had a bad song or that their win was underserved. In fact, I don’t think that there’s ever been an undeserved winner. Nor do I think that chart success means that the song should’ve won instead. This time, I just simply agree with the music-buying public worldwide more than the tastes of the juries this year.