Eurovision Song Contest 1976 Review

And it’s back to the Netherlands for us. Austria decided to come back and so did Greece, which caused Turkey to withdraw. Malta withdrew as well and wouldn’t come back until 1991, but Sweden withdrew as well because they couldn’t afford to host if they won again (talk about hubris, huh). This left us with the ever-so-popular 18 countries in the contest.

Preface

Welcome to The Hague. The Netherlands won last year, so it’s their turn to host. We open with a very nice arrangement of Te Deum, and then we’re presented with the logo for this year’s contest, consisting of four crotchets arranged in a circle, which is surrounded by the flags of all participating entry. After this, we’re shown a montage of life in the Netherlands.

Our host for tonight is Corry Brokken, the three time participant and one time winner. This is the first time we’ve been hosted by a former contestant (though certainly not last). And let me tell you, she’s just so charming. She stumbled over her words in French a little (it’s understandable because wow she speaks quickly, same way native French speakers do), which she just laughed off a bit, waved her hand and moved on. As normal, this didn’t take long at all and we move on to our first song of the night.

Songs

United Kingdom - Save Your Kisses for Me

Performed by
Brotherhood of Man
Language
English

Right away, you can tell that this is a winner. It just has those vibes, you know. Strong harmonies, very catchy lyrics and a well-choreographed performance. The clever songwriting helps too, as the twist at the end (that this isn’t just your typical love song, but is actually sung to a child) is actually really novel too and definitely helped it win.

I also think that coming first definitely helped this, since it blew most of the juries away and made them compare everything else to this.

Switzerland - Djambo Djambo

Performed by
Peter, Sue and Marc
Language
English

And here we see the second of four appearances by Peter, Sue and Marc, this time with a song in English. I think it actually works really well. It’s a bit of soft 1970s rock about a clown called Djambo Djambo (hence the title of the song, surprising, I know). It has a nostalgic and bittersweet feeling (even though I really don’t like using the word “bittersweet”). The use of the handheld organ adds a lot to it too.

Generally, it’s just a plainly good entry that’s fun to watch to.

Germany - Sing, Sang, Song

Performed by
Les Humphries Singers
Language
German, English

And here’s a song that absolutely doesn’t work for me. I think it’s way too messy to enjoy. The constant repetiton of the title really gets on my nerves and the rest of the lyrics aren’t much better. While I like the harmonies - the singers clearly fit together well - the song just isn’t good enough for them. I really wish they had something different, because I probably would’ve liked it more.

Israel - Emor Shalom

Performed by
Chocolate, Menta, Mastik
Language
Hebrew

Phew, the previous year was just a small dip in quality and Israel is back to sending absolute bangers again. This is a truly fun song about saying hello (as the title implies). Just like a lot of other Israeli entries, this is upbeat, but in a minor key, which provides some fun contrast to my ears. It’s definitely a very Israeli thing and we’ll hear a lot more upbeat minor key songs from them.

Luxembourg - Chansons pour ceux qui s’aiment

Performed by
Jürgen Marcus
Language
French

This does nothing for me. It just fails to interest me in any way. It feels more appropriate for the late 60s Eurovision, when we just started to embrace more cheereful entries, not mid-70s.

Belgium - Judy et Cie

Performed by
Pierre Rapsat
Language
French

And here we see someone actually playing an instrument live (you can see the wire coming out of his guitar). Big props for not using a backing track to Pierre.

Also wow, I didn’t expect a song about body positivity in 1976. It’s all about Jury, who “prays to Saint Marylin Monroe to be a doll”, “to have a body thin as reed” and “eyes totally empty, but with no wrinkles”. It’s a very heavy topic for a song and the instrumental totally matches it. It’s a pretty sad and melancholic instrumental, very heavy on strings, piano and the guitar that Pierre is playing live. This is one of those entries that just comes together to be perfect in every way, with every element feeling just as necessary as the other and any change would take away from this.

Ireland - When

Performed by
Red Hurley
Language
English

This has very theatrical vibes. It also reminds me of Ireland’s early entries, 6/8 male ballads. In all honesty, they work for me and I’m kinda glad they sent something like that. It has very prominent strings and not a lot of brass, as well as a piano that comes in intermittently to give it a bit of flair.

Netherlands - The Party Is Over Now

Performed by
Sandra Reemer
Language
English

And here’s another entry that hooked me in right away. It has a very melancholic tone, especially in the slow verses, but it manages to maintain it in the more upbeat chorus too. And it makes sense too, it’s a breakup song, something the Netherlands loved to do in those days for some reason. But clearly they were able to produce great entries this way, so I’m not complaining.

Norway - Mata Hari

Performed by
Anne-Karine Strøm
Language
English

I really like the verses here, they’re nice and clear, with nice rhymes (even between words of the same line). Sadly, it all falls apart in the chorus, the orchestration kicks up and her English pronunciation takes a dive and becomes almost impossible to make out. This absolutely killed the song for me (and it also clearly killed it for the juries as well). It’s a shame because it could’ve been really good and the wasted potential here makes me sad.

Also, wtf is that outfit. I know it was the 70s, but couldn’t they have chosen something that wasn’t completely awful for her?

Greece - Panaghia mou, panaghia mou

Performed by
Mariza Koch
Language
Greek

And here we have another subtly political entry, this time about Cyrpus. Though I’m sot sure you can describe lyrics like “It is burnt by napalm, oh oh my Mother” as subtle. Still, I think it’s a very good entry, even if you disregard the political subtext. Mariza is a charmismatic performer with a powerful voice and avoids sliding into opera too much, which helps me enjoy it more since I usually dislike operatic Eurovision entries.

Finland - Pump-Pump

Performed by
Fredi and the Friends
Language
English

This is very off-putting to me because it’s just so messy. It’s already a very middling 70s pop song with garish outfits and mediocre vocals, but the lack of any kind of coherence really kills it.

Spain - Sobran las palabras

Performed by
Braulio
Language
Spanish

And here’s a very good power ballad. The singer is confident and has the right voice for this sort of song. It’s rich and powerful and fun to listen to. My only note is that those backing singers have really annoying voices and bring it down for me a lot.

Italy - We’ll Live It All Again

Performed by
Romina and Al Bano
Language
English, Italian

Dear Italy, what is this? How did you fall so hard to send this? I don’t like this at all, it didn’t come together at all. The only good part was when Al Bano forgot his lyrics and just mumbled in the microphone. It’s even more sad because we know that Romina and Al Bano are good performers capable of having good songs. The frequent language changes are the primary reason for why I don’t like this, they just make this feel like two separate songs stitched together.

Austria - My Little World

Performed by
Waterloo and Robinson
Language
English

This is fine. Not too outstanding, but the verses are pretty fun and the chorus is decent as well. The whispering before each verse does annoy me a lot and the song is pretty repetitive in general. But at least it has a clear focus of what it wants to be, so it doesn’t feel messy.

Portugal - Uma flor de verde pinho

Performed by
Carlos do Carmo
Language
Portuguese

And here we have a song that sounds extremely Portuguese (of course, it’s a fado song). But it also sounds quite contemporary, which is good. Carlos has a very powerful voice and devlivers it all very well. It was definitely a very enjoyable watch and it makes me sad that this is one of many Portuguese entries that went unappreciated by most juries (except for France, who gave it 12 points).

Monaco - Toi, la musique et moi

Performed by
Mary Christy
Language
French

Wow, here we have an upbeat entry from France. I really got into it, it’s infectious and upbeat and just makes me want to get up and dance. I always thought that the abrupt end isn’t very appropriate for it, but it’s still great otherwise.

France - Un, deux, trois

Performed by
Catherine Ferry
Language
French

But if we’re talking about upbeat French entries, then this one clearly takes the cake. It has a great bouncy instrumental that makes you want to dance and clap along (speaking of, I did clap along with the backing singers and there’s nothing you can do about that). It has great vocal harmonies that please my ears. It also has pretty interesting lyrics and an infectious hook that’s been stuck in my mind for years. It’s a perfectly crafted earworm and I love listening to it.

Yugoslavia - Ne mogu skriti svoju bol

Performed by
Ambasadori
Language
Bosnian

In a lot of ways, this is the mirror opposite of the Israeli entry this year. While that one was upbeat, but in a minor key, this one is quite melancholic, but set in a major key. It’s a great performance overall, with great vocals, an amazing beat and a generally interesting instrumental. It doesn’t surprise me that it scored poorly though, Slavic languages are usually very disliked at Eurovision.

Results

  1. France - Un, deux, trois
  2. Belgium - Judy et Cie
  3. United Kingdom - Save Your Kisses for Me
  4. Monaco - Toi, la musique et moi
  5. Netherlands - The Party Is Over Now
  6. Israel - Emor Shalom
  7. Switzerland - Djambo Djambo
  8. Ireland - When
  9. Portugal - Uma flor de verde pinho
  10. Greece - Panaghia mou, panaghia mou
  11. Yugoslavia - Ne mogu skriti svoju bol
  12. Spain - Sobran las palabras
  13. Austria - My Little World
  14. Norway - Mata Hari
  15. Luxembourg - Chansons pour ceux qui s’aiment
  16. Finland - Pump-Pump
  17. Italy - We’ll Live It All Again
  18. Germany - Sing, Sang, Song

Winners

  • Austria - 1 (1965)
  • Belgium - 1 (1961)
  • Denmark - 1 (1963)
  • France - 2 (1969, 1976)
  • Germany - 2 (1957, 1972)
  • Italy - 1 (1958)
  • Luxembourg - 3 (1956, 1964, 1973)
  • Monaco - 2 (1968, 1970)
  • Netherlands - 1 (1959)
  • Norway - 1 (1966)
  • Portugal - 1 (1967)
  • Spain - 1 (1971)
  • Sweden - 1 (1962)
  • Turkey - 1 (1975)
  • United Kingdom - 1 (1960)
  • Yugoslavia - 1 (1974)

Conclusion

And here we go, another great year done. It’s really interesting how much easier it is to watch these years than some of the older ones. I’ve never gone back to the earliest years and now I remember why.

The voting was quite thrilling as there was a close race between the UK and France all this time. I like it when this happens. Close voting sequences are enjoyable and I wish we had more close races in modern contests.

But I’ll see you all for 1977, which will return to the UK again.