Eurovision Song Contest 1961 Rankings

We’re once again back in Cannes, still hosted by Jacqueline Joubert. The stage got a bit of a downgrade in my opinion, we don’t get the fun revolving carousels this time. We’re joined by three new countries, giving us 16 participants this year.


For the first time in ESC history, we’re returning to a city that has already hosted Eurovision before. More than that, we’re back in the same building, with the show hosted by the same host.

Even though we lost the carousels that bring the performers onto the stage, we still get some fairly theatrical decorations, so I wouldn’t say it’s a downgrade. And at least the static decorations can be more elaborate than static photo prints.

We finally get Yugoslavia this year! They’re one of my favourite countries, so get yourselves ready for a dose of good old bias. Also, Spain! And Finland! The competition is really spreading all over Western, Southern and Northern Europe. We won’t see any Eastern countries for a while though.


Spain - Estando contigo

Being with you
Performed by
Conchita Bautista

Spain opens with an extremely Spanish song and it’s exactly the kind of things I want Spain to send.

Despite being one of those “minor verses, major chorus” songs, it manages to make it work well without the chorus being completely uninteresting. She sings very passionately and just makes it work.

Overall, a great debut entry.

Score: 88

Monaco - Allons, allons les enfants

Let’s go, let’s go, children
Performed by
Colette Deréal

The most fitting description for this entry is probably “theatrical”. It wouldn’t feel out of place in an early 50s musical. It’s upbeat and energetic, singing about how great life is.

My only issue is that the song isn’t very varied. The second half just starts to blend together and loses me as a result. It probably could’ve used an instrumental break to stay a little bit more engaging.

Score: 54

Austria - Sehnsucht

Performed by
Jimmy Makulis

It’s a fairly average entry by the 1960s Eurovision standards. The instrumental is heavy on strings, the singing has a soft and somewhat spoken quality to it. It’s extraordinarily unremarkable.

Score: 10

Finland - Valoa ikkunassa

Light in the window
Performed by
Laila Kinnunen

Unlike Spain, Finland’s debut isn’t particularly standout. It’s in a minor key, which gives it a more sombre and mellow feeling, plus it’s sung in Finnish, which, as the only Uralic language in the contest until either 1993 or 1994 (depending on if you count Estonia’s non-qualified entry), sounds quite different from Indo-European languages that have been taking part in the contest so far.

Score: 62

Yugoslavia - Neke davne zvezde

Some distant stars
Performed by
Ljiljana Petrović

Lyrically, this might not be very interesting, just another ballad about love. But I absolutely adore the instrumental. It opens with a powerful, majestic start, but becomes quieter to put the singing first. Nevertheless, it never becomes too quiet, always being audible, following Ljiljana’s vocals. Speak of which, the vocals are powerful and rich too, definitely enhancing my enjoyment of a rather middling song.

Score: 67

Netherlands - Wat een dag

What a day
Performed by
Greetje Kauffeld

The beginning of this song makes you think it’s going to be another ballad, but it subverts your expectations and actually becomes an energetic theatrical song.

It’s much better at being theatrical than Monaco’s entry because it doesn’t get repetitive, since it only repeats the title, which is short and snappy. There’s also an instrumental break at the point where the song threatens to become repetitive after all.

Score: 76

Sweden - April, april

Performed by

I expected that the song would be about love, using April as a metaphor, or someone named April (though I’m not sure that was a popular name in Sweden at the time), but no. It’s literally about April, the month. It’s rather goofy and upbeat, though, again, not particularly memorable.

Score: 42

Germany - Einmal sehen wir uns wieder

We’ll see each other once again
Performed by
Lale Andersen
German and French

Her singing has an almost spoken quality to it, which at least makes it stand out from other performances so far. It makes her sound sad and powerless, like she just can’t keep on going anymore.

In a year like this, a song that has a very style is like a breath of fresh air.

Score: 85

France - Printemps, avril carillonne

Springtime, April rings
Performed by
Jean-Paul Mauric

I enjoyed this. This is a song that uses the French language to its fullest potential. It’s very bouncy, and not just when Jean-Paul sings “bing et bong”.

And yes, this is the second song about the month of April in the same contest. Really weird how these conincidences happen, and even weirder is the fact that they’re only separated by one entry.

My only criticism is that Jean-Paul sounds a bit off-key at the end. Sometimes I don’t notice singers being off-key if they manage to fix it quickly enough, but this time I did and it dampened my enjoyment a bit.

Score: 73

Switzerland - Nous aurons demain

Tomorrow we’ll have
Performed by
Franca di Rienzo

On the other hand, this is rather unremarkable. I can’t say that anything is wrong with it, but it just feels rather formulaic. Her voice is good, the instrumental is fitting, but it just leaves me cold.

Score: 23

Belgium - September, gouden roos

September, golden rose
Performed by
Bob Benny

Hello, Bob Benny, I see you’ve decided to try your fortunes again. Well, I’m actually kinda glad you did, I think this song is really good actually. I’m not sure why I like this one more than any other so far, but I just do. It’s dynamic and interesting, Bob is expressive and captivating, the instrumental isn’t overbearing or overly loud, accompanying, but never overpowering, the vocals. It feels like having a nice cup of coffee when you’re falling asleep.

The lyrics are rather interesting too. It uses autumn as a metaphor for love ending (“Still the summer will sing” / “A deeply moving song” / “That will softly fade away” / “Only sadness will remain for us”), unlike the two other songs about seasons.

Based on what I’ve said previously, you might think that I just hate songs about love, which couldn’t be further from the truth. I don’t like overly sappy songs (though that also varies depending on other qualities), and this song, thankfully, doesn’t feel sappy.

In general, I just think that this song has a nice flow. The second part feels different from the first, and the stretched and belted note before the final chorus help the song to retain its energy.

I’m really surprised this came last. It definitely didn’t deserve that.

Score: 95

Norway - Sommer i Palma

Summer in Palma
Performed by
Nora Brockstedt
Norwegian and a bit of French

And we’re back to fairly indistinct ballads. This, once again, leaves me completely cold. Nothing may be wrong on a technical level, but I’m absolutely tired of this sort of ballads.

Score: 19

Denmark - Angelique

Performed by
Dario Campeotto

Please refer to previous review.

Score: 12

Luxembourg - Nous, les amoureux

We, the lovers
Performed by
Jean-Claude Pascal

It’s incredibly obvious why this won. It immediately stands out right from the start. Jean-Claude is a masterful performer. He is expressive and dynamic where necessary, getting louder and quiet just in the right parts. The orchestra is pretty quiet in the verses, allowing him to showcase his vocals, but gets louder in the chorus to keep things varied and interesting.

And yes, this is about gay relationships and how Europe was almost unanimously against them just a couple generations ago. Hell, some people who have been convicted for homosexuality are still alive.

The song very cleverly dances around explicitly stating the gender of the lover being sung about by never using any gendered pronouns at all. It’s always “we, the lovers”. Usually, this leads to very awkward lyrics, but not this time. They flow very naturally and don’t feel stilted or weird.

All in all, this would’ve been a very deserved winner in a lot of early years, but it’s especially deserved in a year like this.

Score: 93

United Kingdom - Are you sure

Performed by
The Allisons

This is continuing the trend of the UK sending songs that sound exactly how I imagine songs from this era sound. The boys have nice strong harmonies, a catchy hook. They’re also the only duet this year, although that’s to be expected as most countries wouldn’t start sending duets or even full bands until the 70s.

While this song is high above a lot of entries this year, I just don’t think it’s as good as Sing little birdie or Looking high, high, high.

Score: 85

Italy - Al di là

Performed by
Betty Curtis

While I may not be the biggest fan of opera (but more on that in a couple decades), I’ve enjoyed this. Yes, it’s dramatic, but at least it’s interesting and different.

Also, despite the random running order, I think it works really well as the show closer.

Score: 75


R/O Country Song Score Place
11 Belgium September, gouden roos 95 1
14 Luxembourg Nous, les amoureux 93 2
1 Spain Estando contigo 88 3
15 United Kingdom Are you sure 85 4
8 Germany Einmal sehen wir uns wieder 83 5
6 Netherlands Wat een dag 76 6
16 Italy Al di là 75 7
9 France Printemps, avril carillonne 73 8
5 Yugoslavia Neke davne zvezde 67 9
4 Finland Valoa ikkunassa 62 10
2 Monaco Allons, allons les enfants 54 11
7 Sweden April, april 42 12
10 Switzerland Nous aurons demain 23 13
12 Norway Sommer i Palma 19 14
13 Denmark Angelique 12 15
3 Austria Sehnsucht 10 16

Average score: 59.812

Median score: 70.0

Winners so far

  • Luxembourg - 1 (1956)
  • Germany - 1 (1957)
  • Italy - 1 (1958)
  • Netherlands - 1 (1959)
  • United Kingdom - 1 (1960)
  • Belgium - 1 (1961)

I’m as surprised as everyone else to be making Belgium my winner this year. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone talk about this song and I’ve never seen it in anyone’s top 5.


The random draw order has put the good entries late in the show. I sometimes complain about the running order that’s tailored to the songs in the show since it can feel a bit unfair that the producers are deciding something that has a genuine impact on the voting, but man does it make for a better show.

I didn’t expect Belgium to be my winner, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone saying that it’s their winner, yet it managed to touch me. This is why I’m glad I’m doing these reviews, I would’ve never discovered a song like this otherwise.