Eurovision Song Contest 1968 Review

Welcome to London. Again. For the third time. But now we’re here because the UK actually won! We’re joined by the same countries as before and hosted by Katie Boyle.

Preface

This is in colour! We’re finally getting colour broadcasts! We’ll be able to see all of the delightfully cooky costumes everyone is wearing in their true glory! How exciting!

We’re greeted by an orchestra playing Te Deum, as customary, followed by an instrumental rendition of Puppet on a String. We’re then quickly greeted by Katie Boyle, back for hosting duties once again. As usual, the instroduction is very qucick and we mve to the songs.

Songs

Portugal - Verão

Performed by
Carlos Mendes
Language
Portuguese

And we open with a nice upbeat pop tune with a lot of brass and energy. Eurovision has really been rushing to catch up with modernity in the past few years and, in my opinion, this is where it’s done that.

The song itself isn’t particularly spectacular, but still, it was really enjoyable and, once again, worked really well as an opener.

Netherlands - Morgen

Performed by
Ronnie Tober
Language
Dutch

Being performed second is always a curse, but it’s even worse when a song that doesn’t really stand out is performed from that position. It’s hard to say anything positive about it. On the other hand, it’s hard to say anything negative either. It’s just a song that exists and isn’t anything spectacular. Ronnie’s vocals aren’t really good in the first half, you can barely hear them.

Belgium - Quand tu reviendras

Performed by
Claude Lombard
Language
French

Belgium is going for something very old-fashioned, but manages to pull it off well. It sounds like something you’d hear in a tavern in an RPG (well, the instrumental does). It’s definitely very atmospheric. And the atmopsheric feeling is also helped a lot by Claude’s singing, which feels very light and airy.

Austria - Tausend Fenster

Performed by
Karel Gott
Language
German

And here’s more dramatic songs from Austria, something they’ve (often) succeeded at in these days. This has a very moody piece about loneliness (not a topic I would’ve expected to be covered those days, but we’ll see another song with a heavy topic soon).

I’m not surprised to learn that the music for this was composed by Udo Jürgens, it does have a very Udo feel to it.

Luxembourg - Nous vivrons d’amour

Performed by
Chris Baldo and Sophie Garel
Language
French

They look so hilariously uncomfortable on stage (especially Sophie). It’s like someone held them at gunpoint and forced them to sing. They’re so flat and uninteresting, with as much charisma as a wet sock. They just look like they wish for this all to be over (especially Sophie, who has a very forced smile. Chris gets into it by the end a little bit).

The song itself is bad. It is, it’s really realy bad. It’s unbelievably chiché, uninspired, uninteresting and unoriginal. The lyrics are extremely boring, Sophie never gets a solo, Chris doesn’t stay on time, there’s an unnecessary key change before the final chorus. It’s just bad however you look at it.

Switzerland - Guardando il sole

Performed by
Gianni Mascolo
Language
Italian

I enjoyed this. It’s a pretty formulaic Eurovision-y Italian ballad, but it works pretty well. Gianni has a nice powerful voice, the instrumentation is alright. It all works pretty well together.

Monaco - À chacun sa chanson

Performed by
Line and Willy
Language
French

God I loved this so much. It’s a love duet done absolutely right. Line and Willy are absolutely perfect together and just ooze charm and charisma. Their voices complement each other perfectly. And it sound so late-60s-early-70s French, again, reminding me of Joe Dassin, his songs often had a similar instrumentation. The guitar parts work especially great (I love me some guitar), but the glockenspiel is also doing some heavy lifting.

It’s also great lyrically. They’re very sweet and I know that can be off-putting to someone, but I do like them a lot. They don’t feel cliché (unlike the other romantic duet this year). Also unlike that other song, Line and Willy get to sing solo. In fact, they alternate between singing solo and harmonising quite frequently, which makes for a great listening experience.

Sweden - Det börjar verka kärlek, banne mej

Performed by
Claes-Göran Hederström
Language
Swedish

And here’s Sweden sending a lovely jazzy song. It manages to be both smooth and upbeat. I’m tired of saying this, but it tells a pretty elaborate story, as was normal for Nordic entries back then. This time, the story is about aman who falls in love and doesn’t understand if it’s real. It worked really well for me and even the key changes felt natural.

Finland - Kun kello käy

Performed by
Kristina Hautala
Language
Finnish

It’s hard for me to say a lot about this because it completely failed to stick in my mind, even after three listens. I remember thinking that it sounded very Finnish and was quite pleasant, but not much more.

France - La Source

Performed by
Isabelle Aubret
Language
French

Isabelle is back from 1962 with a very different song. This time, it’s a song about sexual assault. This is the entry I meant in my review of the Austrian entry. Or at least it is according to some online posts, so maybe it isn’t actually true, but I’m inclined to believe that it is. It’s hard to explain the lyrics otherwise, they only make sense if they’re allegorical. I think this is further supported by the orchestration, which is very airy and etherial, trying to leave a fairytale-like impression (and we all know most fairytales are actually moral stories/allegories).

Or I could be looking way too deeply into this and it’s just a big mismatch between the tone of the lyrics and the tone of the instrumental, who knows.

Italy - Marianne

Performed by
Sergio Endrigo
Language
Italian

I really felt this song. It’s very intimate, thanks to its fairly dialled back instrumentation, mostly relying on guitars and the piano (though we do get a nice instrumental break, which still feels fairly reserved compared to what we usually get during an orchestral break). The true-ness of this song really touched me and made me enjoy every second of listening to it.

United Kingdom - Congratulations

Performed by
Cliff Richard
Language
English

I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan. There’s nothing technically wrong with this, but I just don’t get anything from this. It’s a deeply uninteresting song, despite it’s rock influences (not large though, we wouldn’t get a proper rock song until 1972).

Anyway, I understand why it appealed to so many people back in the day and it probably would’ve been a deserved winner overall, but it’s just pas pour moi.

Norway - Stress

Performed by
Odd Børre
Language
Norwegian

AHere’s a song about… catching a bus? I’m just kidding, it’s about general stressfullnes of life, referencing sleeping pills and the stressfulness of love.

It really works for me. The really hectic and intense atmosphere it creates with its instrumentation really fits the song. Odd (heh, funny name) completely owns the song as well and his body language also adds a lot to it.

Ireland - Chance of a Lifetime

Performed by
Pat McGeegan
Language
English

I think this is a big downgrade from the previous Irish entry. It’s still smooth and classy, but nowhere near as interesting, neither lyrically nor instrumentally. Still, it contrasts nicely with the previous and following entries.

Spain - La La La

Performed by
Massiel
Language
Spanish

Yeah, I really understand why this won. I don’t think any hypothetical intervention from Franco was needed. It strikes just the right balance between instrospective in the verses and upbeat in the chorus (though I’m not sure if repeating “la la la” counts as a chorus, it’s more of a refrain).

There’s also a controversy surrounding this song because it was going to be performed in Catalan by Joan Manuel Serrat, but Franco wanted it to be performed in Spanish instead. Out of curiosity, I’ve listened to his version and I have to say, I prefer it. It’s a lot more moody and doesn’t rely on the “la la la” hook as much. But I’m not sure it would’ve won, specifically because of the moodiness.

Germany - Ein Hoch der Liebe

Performed by
Wencke Myhre
Language
German

I always enjoy some upbeat entries from Germany, but this one is especially great. Wencke enjoys every second of being on stage and her infectious enthusiasm is felt even 56 years later. She performs a lot of “choreographed movements” (no dancing allowed yet) and got me to perform some movements as well.

It also has a very effective hook repeated in several other languages (namely, French, English and Spanish).

It’s just a great song all around, it’s impossible to dislike it.

Yugoslavia - Jedan dan

Performed by
Lući Kapurso and Hamo Hajdarhodžić
Language
Croatian

I don’t think anyone will be surprised that I like this. It’s extremely memorable, but not just because of the Middle Ages-style outfits (though they certainly help). No, the song is just so cheereful and upbeat, with a great grandiose rhythm and a medieval feel to it that makes it extremelt compelling to me. My only wish would be for the flute to be more prominent, but it’s a fairly minor complaint overall.

Results

  1. Monaco - À chacun sa chanson
  2. Norway - Stress
  3. Italy - Marianne
  4. Germany - Ein Hoch der Liebe
  5. Yugoslavia - Jedan dan
  6. Austria - Tausend Fenster
  7. Sweden - Det börjar verka kärlek, banne mej
  8. France - La Source
  9. Spain - La La La
  10. Portugal - Verão
  11. Ireland - Chance of a Lifetime
  12. Belgium - Quand tu reviendras
  13. Switzerland - Guardando il sole
  14. United Kingdom - Congratulations
  15. Finland - Kun kello käy
  16. Netherlands - Morgen
  17. Luxembourg - Nous vivrons d’amour

Winners

  • Austria - 1 (1965)
  • Belgium - 1 (1961)
  • Denmark - 1 (1963)
  • Germany - 1 (1957)
  • Italy - 1 (1958)
  • Luxembourg - 2 (1956, 1964)
  • Monaco - 1 (1968)
  • Netherlands - 1 (1959)
  • Norway - 1 (1966)
  • Portugal - 1 (1967)
  • Sweden - 1 (1962)
  • United Kingdom - 1 (1960)

Honestly, I would’ve liked to have several winners this year, but I’ve promised myself I wouldn’t do that and will pick one concrete winner each year.

Conclusion

I loved this year. I absolutely loved it. It had a nice mixture of upbeat songs and ballads, the running order draw was very balanced. There was literally just one song I disliked and I still found it pretty funny (for unintended reasons I suppose). I would’ve gladly had any of my top 6 as a winner.

Before voting, we were greeted by some sights of London. The voting sequence itself was extremely gripping, with the UK and Spain being neck-and-neck all throughout. It all came down to Yugoslavia, who didn’t award any points to either of them and made Spain win by a margin of a single point.

And we’ll see each other in Madrid, where one of our numbers (Austria) will leave us forever for two years. First as a protest against Franco and then as a protest against the tie.