Eurovision Song Contest 1986 Review

Norway! They won it, they’re hosting it, in Bergen though, not in Oslo, we’ll have to wait for exactly a decade to visit Oslo. We’re getting our last debuting country until communism decides to finally stop existing - Iceland. Yugoslavia and Netherlands return as well, though Greece and Italy depart, which leaves us with 20 countries this year (and we’ll never have fewer than 20 countries from here on out).


After a lot of attempts, Norway finally took the prize, which means they’re hosting it. We open with a very dramatic orchestral opening (that sounds like an opening to a film), followed by a montage of views of Norway to give the commentators time to give an introduction.

We’re hosted by Åse Kleveland, the 1966 Norwegian representative (and the winner in my parallel universe). She starts out the contest by singing, which is something more hosts should do in my opinion. I do generally prefer her hosting style. Unlike Lill last year, who was very “flashy”, Åse is quite reserved, but in a warm, welcoming way. But the introduction is over as soon as it started and we move to our first song (it did take a bit longer than usually, though nowhere near as long as modern intros).


Luxembourg - L’Amour de ma vie

Performed by
Sherisse Laurence

This is the 500th song performed at Eurovision! Just felt like pointing it out.

Luxembourg was the original San Marino, allowing people from countries that don’t participate in Eurovision to still take part. This time, they got an anglophone Canadian with a pretty good pronunciation of French (which makes sense with her being Canadian and all). Overall, it’s a nice, classy romantic ballad. Not very flashy, but quite atmospheric.

Yugoslavia - Željo moja

Performed by
Doris Dragović

Of course, Lumxebourg immediately gets outshined by a much better romantic ballad. I think this has a great instrumental, with a very prominent guitar and a piano. Despite having percussion, the guitar does feel more like a rhythm guitar, which I actually really like, it gives the song a tinge of a Spanish feel. But most of all, it’s very passionate. You can feel Doris’s emotions, she really connects with the song (at least in my impression) and I really connect with her, which means I also connect with the song. I think it’s important to have performers that love the song they’re singing as people can usually feel it when they aren’t enthusiastic about it (or I can, at least. Maybe others can’t).

France - Européennes

Performed by
Cocktail Chic

It’s understandable why it came so low - the performance weirdly lacks any energy. The delivery is quite flat and the instrumental is quite uninteresting. Still, I actually quite like this, it really isn’t anywhere near as bad as people say it is. It’s still a nice, enjoyable 80s pop song.

Norway - Romeo

Performed by
Ketil Stokkan

For obvious reasons, this was the crowd favourite, but it’s also just a very good song. Despite not understanding Norwegian, I once again want to sing along to this. It definitely isn’t the most substantial, but I just love it for no reason at all. It’s catchy, has that 80s pop rock vibe and it has a flashy and memorable stage performance with the first ever drag queen in Eurovision. I actually got this song stuck in my mind at some point and couldn’t remember where it’s from and spent several days searching for it. Basically, it’s one of those songs that I like for no particular reason, I just do.

United Kingdom - Runner in the Night

Performed by

This had a lot of potential to be pretty good, but the song just doesn’t have any progression, it’s very static and fails to challenge me in any way. The lyrics are rather generic as well. The performance is pretty good though, I quite like it.

Iceland - Gleðibankinn

Performed by

Welcome Iceland! I see you’ve decided to bring an 80s pop song and I couldn’t enjoy it more. While it’s far from being the best, I think 16th place for this was unduly harsh (could it be because the juries weren’t used to the Icelandic language yet?). While yes, it’s rather standard and not particularly flashy, I still think it’s a lot of fun and a great introduction to Iceland.

Netherlands - Alles heeft ritme

Performed by
Frizzle Sizzle

This entry definitely lives up to its name - it’s all about rhythm. It also has a very nice funky bassline and a charismatic performance. It really does get me to sway around and bop my head to it and I just love the chill vibes it has. Not everything needs to be upbeat and energetic to be good - and songs like this are the proof. All you need is a strong and consistent performance with a lot of charm and you’re guaranteed to win my heart. I agree with Terry Wogan on this one honestly, it would’ve been a good winner.

Turkey - Halley

Performed by
Klips ve Onlar

This is more of the same from Turkey, but I just don’t love it as much as a lot of their previous entries. Sure, the performance is good, the melody is memorable and the harmonies are nice, but as an overall thing, it just leaves me unimpressed.

Spain - Valentino

Performed by

I know that it’s quite a fan favourite, but I’ve never found it particularly impressive. I mean, it’s alright, certainly a pretty good song, but I just don’t love it as much as I do. There’s something in the performance that makes me fail to connect with the whole thing.

Switzerland - Pas pour moi

Performed by
Daniela Simons

Åse said that Switzerland is one of only three countries that have participated in every contest so far. The other countries are Belgium and Germany and each country would get their participation streak broken by the relegation system in the 90s.

Anyway, this song is amazing. It’s exactly what I like in Eurovision entries: dramatic, inspiring, real and it has a piano (for which I have a weak spot). I love how it starts out with the chorus melody as an intro, setting up the mood for the song. The minor verses are a bit more tense and give you a sense of build-up and drama, singing about all of the things she doesn’t want from love (basically, no superficial gestures or affairs). The pre-chorus makes the feelings way more intense and leads up to the verse really well and also changes the theme into what she does want from love. The change to the major key in the chorus is very satisfying as a result since it doesn’t come out of nowhere. It also continues the theme of the pre-chorus, i.e. what she does want from love. The overall feel also shifts to a more dreamy and optimistic tone.

I also enjoy the lyrical themes. You can always tell apart a song that was written in French that’s aimed at non-French speakers from a song that’s firmly aimed at francophones, and this is a great example of the latter. It uses lovely turns of phrases that really paint the picture. I can’t point to any specific lines because it’s all great in general, but I highly recommend reading the lyrics (and the translation if you don’t speak French).

But most of all, Daniela is a great charismatic performer. All she needs is to sit in front of a piano, there’s no need for her to dance or anything. She can captivate you just with her voice.

Israel - Yavo Yom

Performed by
Moti Giladi and Sarai Tzuriel

Here we have another song that really deserved better. Coming right after the Swiss entry would’ve been a disadvantage for anyone, but the slightly unfocused and unenergetic performance killed it completely. Still, as a song, it’s really quite pleasant with that characteristic Israeli sound with some nice harmonies. And I have to saym the two backing dancers do add a nice flare to the song, I always enjoy listening to this in the studio.

Ireland - You Can Count On Me

Performed by
Luv Bug

Honestly, I don’t know. The song is pretty bad and the music is very bland, but the performance is kinda charming and fun. There isn’t much to like here, but it isn’t the worst song Ireland has sent. It obviously only scored so well because it was in English.

Belgium - J’aime la vie

Performed by
Sandra Kim

I don’t think my opinion on this song will be very controversial, I like the song, but I don’t like Sandra’s performance. It’s kinda obvious that her vocals aren’t mature enough and she doesn’t have enough stamina. She sounds a bit out of breath for most of the performance and doesn’t always enunciate the words very well (as an example, she pronounces “la vie” as “le vie”. I don’t think that’s because she didn’t know the difference, just that saying “le” is easier than saying “la”).

But I do like the song itself. Despite being quite silly and insubstantial, it’s still well-written and optimistic. It’s also accompanied by a very bright instrumental that’s very firmly grounded in 80s music. Also, despite being so cheereful, the verses in this song are in a minor key, which makes sense, since she sings about having doubts about her life, but the verses are much more optimistic.

Overall, I’m glad Belgium finally got a win, even if the song isn’t the best.

Germany - Über die Brücke geh’n

Performed by
Ingrid Peters

Terry Wogan thought this song had a great chorus, but I disagree. I think the verses are much more interesting, at least to me. The chorus is kinda just there, which the biggest sin a song can commit in my eyes as the chorus is supposed to be the memorable part.

Cyprus - Tora zo

Performed by

This is very enjoyable. It has a very strong 80s sound, lovely percussion and a strong vocal performance from Elpida (not surprising, considering that she had a very strong vocal performance in 1979 as well). But I just can’t say I’m particularly impressed by this. It’s alright, but not much more and I can see why it got lost in the voting. Still, it should’ve done better.

Austria - Die Zeit ist einsam

Performed by
Timna Brauer

I thought it was quite lovely. Timna has a great voice and a strong stage presence, I found myself captivated by the performance. It’s very atmospheric, which is a big positive for me, it really feels like a song that could’ve been performed in 90s Eurovision. My only issue is that it has a good sense of buildup, but it never ends up amounting to anything, the song just ends before it has explored all of its ideas. It really could’ve used something extra to make it really great.

Sweden - E’ de’ det här du kallar kärlek

Performed by
Lasse Holm and Monica Törnell

I’m sorry, I don’t really like this. It’s fine and all, but I’ve never been impressed by this. I’m sure they’re all lovely people, but the song just isn’t it. Sorry Sweden, you broke your excellency streak for me. And I can see and appreciate the passion behind the entry, but that won’t ever save the song for me.

Denmark - Du er fuld af løgn

Performed by
Lise Haavik

At least we can rely on Denmark to give us that characteristic Nordic schlager sound. I think this is great, it’s upbeat and fun, has two backing dancers and feels like the Swedish entry from the previous year. It’s a bit more sugary than Bra Vibrationer, but in an enjoyable way. It just kinda lacks a catchy hook in my opinion, there isn’t a word or a phrase you can repeat in your brain once the song is over.

Finland - Never the End

Performed by

The even year curse strikes again. This is supposed to be a heart-tugging emotional ballad, but I fail to connect with it at all. It just doesn’t charm me at all and the performer doesn’t seem to enjoy singing it either.

The best part about it was Åse reminding everyone that the performance order was decided by a random draw.

Portugal - Não sejas mau para mim

Performed by

The vocal performance leaves a lot to be desired, she’s very shouty, but I still get some cool vibes from her. It’s a decent 80s pop song overall, though hardly one of the best ones. I also like the sax solo a lot, it’s the best part of the song for me.


  1. Switzerland - Pas pour moi
  2. Norway - Romeo
  3. Yugoslavia - Željo moja
  4. Denmark - Du er fuld af løgn
  5. Netherlands - Alles heeft ritme
  6. Iceland - Gleðibankinn
  7. Israel - Yavo Yom
  8. Belgium - J’aime la vie
  9. Turkey - Halley
  10. Austria - Die Zeit ist einsam
  11. Sweden - E’ de’ det här du kallar kärlek
  12. France - Européennes
  13. Spain - Valentino
  14. Luxembourg - L’Amour de ma vie
  15. Germany - Über die Brücke geh’n
  16. Cyprus - Tora zo
  17. United Kingdom - Runner in the Night
  18. Ireland - You Can Count On Me
  19. Portugal - Não sejas mau para mim
  20. Finland - Never the End


  • Austria - 1 (1965)
  • Belgium - 1 (1961)
  • Denmark - 1 (1963)
  • Finland - 2 (1974, 1985)
  • France - 4 (1969, 1976, 1977, 1979)
  • Germany - 3 (1957, 1972, 1978)
  • Italy - 2 (1958, 1983)
  • Luxembourg - 3 (1956, 1964, 1973)
  • Monaco - 2 (1968, 1970)
  • Netherlands - 1 (1959)
  • Norway - 2 (1966, 1982)
  • Portugal - 2 (1967, 1984)
  • Spain - 1 (1971)
  • Sweden - 2 (1962, 1980)
  • Switzerland - 2 (1981, 1986)
  • Turkey - 1 (1975)
  • United Kingdom - 1 (1960)


This was a rather mediocre year. I did generally enjoy the songs, but there were plenty of songs that failed to leave an impression on me. Once again, Åse was wasted on hosting a year like this. At least the interval act was really cool - a compilation of traditional folk songs. The voting was a bit of a landlslide for Belgium, they started out by scoring well and never scored low marks from anyone but Germany. It was quite obvious that they were going to win from the start.

I’ll see you all in Brussels for 1987, the only time Belgium has hosted so far.