Eurovision Song Contest 1980 Review

For the first time in Eurovision history, welcome to a contest that doesn’t have an entry by the previous winner. Israel refused to host due to financial issues, then Eurovision was scheduled during a holiday, which meant they withdrew entirely. Instead, it’s back to The Hague for round two. We have a very special appearance from Morocco this year, as well as a Turkish return. Monaco withdrew for good though, which leaves us with 19 total participants.


And here we are, the first year of the 80s. Let’s see if Eurovision manages to keep up with popular music or if it starts drastically falling behind the times (spoiler, it’s the latter, but I’m going to enjoy it anyway). We’re back in The Hague, with pretty much exactly the same stage as in 1976 since this is a low-budget production because nobody else wanted to host it. As Terry Wogan put it, this is the silver anniversary of Eurovision, its 25th edition, so I’m hoping for something interesting (and I know I’ll get it).

We open with a short montage of the views of The Hague accompanied by some really great orchestral music. We’re even greeted by the same logo as in 1976. Our host for today is Marlous Fluitsma, who spoke Dutch for the most part, and would disappear until the end of the interval act.

Also, this year doesn’t have postcards, but does have something cooler: actual live spokespeople introducing the song in their native language.


Austria - Du bist Musik

Performed by
Blue Danube

Their vocals are very quiet compared to the instrumental, but I wouldn’t have liked this song very much even if the mixing was better. It’s a “list” song - they’re just dropping names of famous composers in the verses.

What saves it is the instrumental - it’s really nice, with a good funky bassline and nice synths, as well as a driving beat that makes sure we keep our attention on the song. It might not be the best song ever, but it’s definitely pretty nice.

Turkey - Pet’r Oil

Performed by
Ajda Pekkan

And here we have it, the first victim of the orchestration (as the 80s and 90s go on, we’ll see more of those). I genuinely enjoy the studio version here, but the live performance lacks the same drive. Of course, that isn’t a complaint about Ajda herself, she does give it her best and elevates it a lot.

Sometimes I wish ESC dropped the mimicking rule earlier and allowed backing tracks without pretending to play your instruments earlier. I wonder how it would’ve looked it then.

Greece - Autostop

Performed by
Anna Vissi and the Epikouri

On the other hand, Greece did send something more appropriate for the orchestra - and the wider European audience. This sounds like any other Eurovision song that could’ve been sent by any other country - except for the language, of course.

It’s also one of those “list” songs, but only in the chorus this time around (and only for a little bit). Of course, the concept of hitchhiking from Beijing to London is pretty ridiculous, but in a charming and fun way, so it doesn’t bother me in the least. Plus it’s very catchy, and Anna Vissi is an excellent performer (though her other two entries are even better imo).

Luxembourg - Papa Pingouin

Performed by
Sophie and Magaly

I used to like this song more before I learned the backstory for it. Ralph Siegel used the girls, gave them a contract that left them with basically no royalties and pretty much set them up for failure. Both of them lived and died in poverty. So yeah, not something inspiring for sure.

But even before this, I didn’t love it that much anyway. While the performance is on point for something like this, it’s just a bit too silly with the man dressed as a penguin on stage flapping his hands about (he’s also one of the lyricists) and the backing singers dressed as penguins as well.

I won’t lie, it’s a coherent performance that comes together well and doesn’t feel forced or cheesy, but it just isn’t for me.

Morocco - Bitakat Hob

Performed by
Samira Bensaïd

And here we have the most unique entry in all of Eurovision. First of all, it’s the only entry that’s fully in Arabic (there are more songs that are only partially in Arabic though). Secondly, this is the only entry by an African country. Most people don’t know this, but North Africa is covered by the European Broadcasting Area, so countries like Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt are eligible to enter Eurovision.

I think this was robbed, this is a total banger. It takes traditional Arabic musical elements and combines them with disco to make the kind of entry that would dominate the 2000s, so you could say it was ahead of its time. I really wonder if Morocco would continue to participate if this got a better result. I know that their non-participation is almost fully for political reasons, but I can’t help but believe that if this song got top 10, they might’ve still taken part together with Israel.

Italy - Non so che darei

Performed by
Alan Sorrenti

This is the definition of average. Nothing here jumps out as bad, but nothing jumps out as good either. It’s just a fine song for the most part. I really don’t like when he switches to his falscetto in the chorus, it grates on my nerves.

Denmark - Tænker altid på dig

Performed by
Bamses Venner

I’ll be honest, this is very charming. It’s a bit too country-ish for my taste, but Bamses pulls it off well. I also think it fits the Danish language well, it flows really well. The transitions between the verses and the chorus are smooth, Bamses actually sounds very confident. It’s just an very well-executed and well-made entry. It’s a bit hard to specify what exactly makes me like this, I just do.

Sweden - Just nu

Performed by
Tomas Ledin

Leave it to Sweden to send easily the most modern song of the night. It’s so full of energy and drive, it’s impossible to hate. Tomas is one of the best performers in this contest (and a very handsome one as well, not that this influences my opinions). He’s very confident in his performance, enough that the fault in his microphone (which got unplugged in the middle of his performance) didn’t bother him at all. He just plugged it back in and carried on.

The drive that Thomas has definitely matches the rest of the song. It has a pumping and energetic bassline and a great beat. The other members on stage also give a great performance and enchance the entry a lot.

While his vocal performance could’ve been a bit more powerful, it could also be a mixing issue (or him not plugging the microphone back in correctly) and doesn’t really bother me as much as it usually does.

Switzerland - Cinéma

Performed by

Paola is back from 1969 with something pretty different this time around. Her 1969 song was an upbeat banger (that I probably underrated and should’ve put higher), but this is more of a theatrical song (which fits with the theme of the song). But it’s still great if I’m being honest, especially after the first verse.

Clearly, the juries loved it since it came 4th and I love it too. Also, big props to Paola for singing in French after singing in German 11 years ago, especially since her native language is Italian. Isn’t that just the most Swiss thing ever?

Finland - Huilumies

Performed by
Vesa-Matti Loiri

This is a resounding meh from me. He’s a fine performer and the flute gimmick is decent too, but the song just doesn’t grip me at all. It feels like something that’s in just to pad the runtime. He’s a fine performer and all, but I just don’t think this was a good choice for Eurovision at all.

Norway - Sámiid ædnan

Performed by
Sverre Kjelsberg and Mattis Hætta

And here we have it, one more entry that some people might decry as “too political” or whatever. I think it’s great because it’s raising awareness of an issue through the most universal medium of all - music.

It starts out with Åse Kleveland (my 1966 winner) introducing the song. The we get just one of the performers for the first half of the song - Sverre - playing a pretty simple tune on the guitar, but the brassy instrumentation kicks in during the chorus. Then something interesting happens - the lights go out and we get the second vocalist - Mattis (dressed in a traditional Sami outfit). He doesn’t sing with words, he joiks (and Sverre joins him in joiking too). From this point on, there are very few words and the song mostly becomes joiking.

I think it’s a very powerful entry (you might even say it’s stronger than gunpowder). As far as I remember, this is the first time someone used Eurovision as a platform to directly promote a cause, which I honestly support. Why shouldn’t the biggest musical stage in the world be used to promote worthy causes?

Germany - Theater

Performed by
Katja Ebstein

Katja has returned for her third attempt and did better than on her previous attempts - she got second place this time! I can definitely see why this appealed so much to everyone - it’s a rousing performance with a fun gimmick - mimes. This really is the year of gimmicks (and part of the reason why I called this one of the weirdest years in my previous review).

This does something very important - it has an insanely catchy hook. In general, the lyrics are composed in a way that makes them simple for non-German speakers to follow (I don’t understand a lick of German and can somewhat sing along to this).

And yeah, the mimes make it even more memorable (though I know some people are put off by them, which I completely understand). So good job to Germany, they’re definitely in the middle of their golden era.

United Kingdom - Love Enough for Two

Performed by
Prima Donna

I swear I don’t have an anti-UK bias, I just think that most of their entries have aged very poorly, and this one is no exception. It’s three diabetes-inducing love duets in, admittedly, well-coordinated clothing.

This is the definition of “does nothing for me”. It’s very simplistic and uninteresting, with barely any interesting things about it. There’s definitely no place in my heart for this song. And of course it has a very blatant key change, because eurgh.

Portugal - Um grande, grande amor

Performed by
José Cid
Portuguese (plus some phrases in other languages)

Love this, love this, love this, love this. This starts out a bit like a piano ballad, but quickly becomes upbeat and bombastic in just the best way possible. José performs it amazingly (could it be because he wrote the lyrics and composed the music, so he has a more personal connection to this).

It just waltzes through keys, it shifts between major and minor seemingly every second and ascends through they keys at will. But none of them feel out of place to me, which makes it a joy to listen to. And clearly everyone else found it rousing as well since it remains tied for Portugal’s third best result together with 1972 (both got 7th place and only 1996 - 6th - and 2017 - winner - placed better).

Netherlands - Amsterdam

Performed by
Maggie MacNeal

Fun fact: to my knowledge, this is only one of two Dutch-language songs where the singer rolls their R’s (the other one is Belgium 1996, so we’ll talk about it once we get there).

I honestly love this song, it’s whimsical and mysterious in the best way. To use a word I don’t really like, it’s atmospheric. It makes sense that this was one of the favourites to win and I’m glad it scored well. I also love the electric guitar before the key change. It’s hard to find faults here if I’m being honest. It’s just made really well.

France - Hé, hé m’sieurs dames

Performed by

This was definitely mixed poorly, you can barely hear their voices over the music. Nevertheless, I think it’s actually really good. I’m glad France sent a fun upbeat pop song after their stretch of ballads (even though two of those three ballads are my winners, I just like diversity).

It’s just fun and upbeat, without trying to have a deeper message or anything, which is also the kind of songs I like in Eurovision. Sometimes you just want to have some fun.

Ireland - What’s Another Year

Performed by
Johnny Logan

I swear I don’t have an anti-Irish bias, I just find most of their entries boring and uninspired and this one’s no different. It’s well-composed and well-made and stands out from the rest of the entries by being very normal (which is why I think the winner this year will also be like this - something that can appeal to a lot of regular people).

Also, Johnny Logan forgets the lyrics at some point, though he gets saved by the backing singers. Also, he’s very handsome.

Spain - Quédate esta noche

Performed by
Trigo Limpio

I actually kinda enjoyed this a bit. It migth not be very substantial or elaborate, but its simplicity works out to its favour. I’m honestly struggling to say a lot about this, it’s just a decent song with no flourishes or anything. Just know that I think it was alright.

Belgium - Euro-Vision

Performed by

And here we have the second of three songs with no orchestral accompaniment back when it was mandatory to at least mimic the instruments being played. And also the first undisputable “joke” entry. Now, I really like electro pop and Telex is actually a very credible band with a lot of bangers, but this song was intended to come off simplistic and banal, which they succeeded at. Now, being uninteresting on purpose still means you’re uninteresting, but at least it isn’t bad. I definitely prefer most of their other songs.


  1. Sweden - Just nu
  2. Netherlands - Amsterdam
  3. Portugal - Um grande, grande amor
  4. Norway - Sámiid ædnan
  5. Switzerland - Cinéma
  6. Germany - Theater
  7. Morocco - Bitakat Hob
  8. Denmark - Tænker altid på dig
  9. Greece - Autostop
  10. Austria - Du bist Musik
  11. Turkey - Pet’r Oil
  12. France - Hé, hé m’sieurs dames
  13. Belgium - Euro-Vision
  14. Ireland - What’s Another Year
  15. Spain - Quédate esta noche
  16. Luxembourg - Papa Pingouin
  17. Finland - Huilumies
  18. Italy - Non so che darei
  19. United Kingdom - Love Enough for Two


  • Austria - 1 (1965)
  • Belgium - 1 (1961)
  • Denmark - 1 (1963)
  • France - 4 (1969, 1976, 1977, 1979)
  • Germany - 3 (1957, 1972, 1978)
  • 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 - 2 (1962, 1980)
  • Turkey - 1 (1975)
  • United Kingdom - 1 (1960)
  • Yugoslavia - 1 (1974)

Congratulations on your second win, Sweden. This is already more than you’ve had by this point in real life.


And here we have another piece of modernity, green room interviews. Hans van Willigenburg, the green room host (as we’d call him these days) interviewed the participants. I wish we got more green room interviews in those days. It’s really interesting to get more insight into the performers. All of this was happening whle the interval act - a rather extravagantcabaret act from the Dutch Antilles - was performing. Somehow, it made for a very fun contrast though.

And the voting was quite fun too. First of all, they finally began awarding the points in ascending order, which definitely makes for a better voting sequence. Ireland had a slow start, but their score picked up in the middle. The Netherlands, on the other hand, started out strongly, but started to slip away just as Ireland began picking up steam. Germany teetered between first and third place all throughout with no real pattern. Like Terry Wogan said many times, it was a very open year with no obvious winner until the end.

Overall, this was a lovely year with a lot of great songs, most of them with their own unique gimmick. Therefore it doesn’t surprise me that the most straighforward and normal entry won the show since there was nothing that could put someone off in it. It’s a valid strategy and also why I think France could take it this year.

I’ll see you all in Dublin, which is a place we’ll visit very often over the next two decades.