Eurovision Song Contest 1988 Review

Well well well, we’re off to Dublin yet again (we should get used to this city, we’ll be visiting it many times in the coming years). This time around, we’re joined by just 21 countries as the Cypriot entry was disqualified for being released prior to the deadline (and there’s a funny anecdote to go with it, which I’ll talk about when we get to the Israeli entry).


It’s Dublin, again. We’re even in the same venue as we were in 1981 (the RDS Simmonscourt Pavilion), though with a much darker and moodier staging. As was normal, we opened with a (pretty short) compilation of Irish landscapes. Afterwards, Johnny Logan reprised his winning song (which is a great tradition and should’ve stuck around for longer, I think it always adds something great to the show).

We have two hosts tonight: Pat Kenny and Michelle Rocca. They opened the show by greeting us in Irish, then in French and only then in English, as they did both times they hosted before. They give a bit of background on Dublin, mke a little joke about Norwegians and we launch directly into… no, not the songs, but rather another pre-filmed insert. Then we go back to the presenters, they talk just a little more and only then do we go to the songs.


Iceland - Sókrates

Performed by

This is so dull. It has a very annoying structure where it slows down after every section, which just fills me with dread because I keep expecting a key change after wards (and get one ost of the time). They also start “la la la"ing while clapping at the end, which is just ugh, no. All round, this is just a super dull pop song with no real redeeming qualities that also decides to namedrop a bunch of people because IcElAnDiC iS aN eXoTiC lAnGuAgE. Bah! Next!

Sweden - Stad i ljus

Performed by
Tommy Körberg

This is actually a rather pleasant ballad. It’s well-arranged and well-sung (especially considering that Tommy was ill that day), the lyrics are pretty interesting as well, but on the whole, it’s just a good ballad, not much more.

Finland - Nauravat silmät muistetaan

Performed by

This may be rather mediocre and static, but it’s also fairly pleasant. The music is pretty nice and the Finnish language fits the song well. Unfortunately, it never goes beyond “fairly pleasant”. It just has a very dull structure that kinda puts me to sleep. So it’s understandable why this only managed to get 3 points, it must’ve completely slipped out of the juries’ minds by the time the voting started.

United Kingdom - Go

Performed by
Scott Fitzgerald

The UK is finally taking Eurovision seriously again. Of course, “seriously” means “sending ballads” in this case, but this is actually a very good ballad. Scott has a bit of a rasp in his voice that fits this song really well, since it’s all about heartbreak and old love. I prefer the verses over the chorus, but the chorus is still pretty good and memorable.

Turkey - Sufi (Hey Ya Hey)

Performed by

This is alright. It isn’t as good as their 1985 entry, but it’s alright. It’s pretty funky and charming, though quite messy and repetitive at the same time. At least it’s fairly memorable, that’s a positive.

Spain - La chica que yo quiero (Made in Spain)

Performed by
La Década

I actually kinda like this. It may not be great, but it’s pretty fun to listen too, it has a nice groove and the performers have chemistry on stage. Unfortunately, it’s also very repetitive and not a song I find myself returning to very often.

Netherlands - Shangri-La

Performed by
Gerard Joling

While I strongly dislike the operatic opening (and other small operatic parts), I actally quite like the rest of the song. It has a strong, pumping beat, a memorable instrumentation and a good vocal performance (but the operatic parts were unnecessary). Still, apparently this was his normal style, so I won’t even complain about it that much. It still lacks something though, I wish it was just a bit better.

Israel - Ben Adam

Performed by
Yardena Arazi

Yes! Thanks you, Israel! This is exactly what I wanted - a song with actual direction. Like in most previous year, this is a fun, memorable Israli dance banger. Ok, correction, the final part of this is a fun, memorable Israeli dance banger, the beginning and the middle are fairly slow, though still pretty danceable. While I probably would’ve preferred the song if it was fast-paced all throughout, I think it’s still a total banger anyway.

Also, the anecdote: Yardena consulted with her astrologist before the contest and he told her that the song performed 9th will win. At that time, it was Israel because Cyprus was drawn to perform second. In the end, Cyprus got disqualified and everyone got shifted back one position. So who won? Switzerland, the next song after this one, which was performed 9th.

Switzerland - Ne partez pas sans moi

Performed by
Céline Dion

Yeah, it’s pretty obvious why this song won. The song has strong verses and a strong chorus (and a good pre-chorus if you want to count it separately). The verses are mellow and a bit downtempo, though they still have an interesting progression (even though they’re a bit too ballady for my taste), but the pre-chorus switches it up a bit and gives us a great lead into a very rousing and explosive chorus. The lyrics are a bit simplistic, clearly written with non-native speakers in mind, though there was still a lot of effort put into them and they don’t come off as too oversimplified.

The place where it falls apart for me is the bridge. Céline Dion, in true Céline Dion fashion, belts it out at the top of her lungs and I really don’t like overperformed songs. But I get it, this is her style, so it’s hard to complain about it.

Ireland - Take Him Home

Performed by
Jump the Gun

Congratulations to Ireland for managing to be both forgettable and messy. This song doesn’t know what it wants to be: a ballad, a rock song or maybe something else entirely. And it shows. Oh my god, it shows. There’s no cohesion here, nothing that brings it together. It feels like the song wanted to be about 6 minutes long, but had to be cut to fit Eurovision.

Germany - Lied für einen Freund

Performed by
Maxi and Chris Garden

This is quite plain, though, as you all know I like pianos and this song uses them really well. Maxi and Chris start out with some pretty muffled singing in the first verse, though it gets much clearer in the chorus, which also has a much more interesting melody than the verses. It also has some nice brief piano breaks during singing, which actually improves it.

Austria - Lisa Mona Lisa

Performed by

This starts out with a terribly-sung spoken word-ish verse, then we get a terribly-sung intermission by a woman, whose singing skills aren’t any better than Wilfried’s, then it’s back to Wilfried for more poorly performed verses and then they duet. And then it all alternates and… oh who am I kidding, I don’t want to dig too deep into this, I wouldn’t survive listening to this for a second time. It’s bad. In fact, it’s just absolutely awful in nearly every way. The 0 points were completely deserved here.

Denmark - Ka’ du se hva’ jeg sa'

Performed by
Hot Eyes

This is exactly like the previous two songs by Hot Eyes, except it also features unnecessarily extravagant staging (though no children this time around, hallelujah). The song isn’t anything special, just more sugary romantic pop in swing rhythm. It’s really hard to come up with something here. Kirsten also has a truly hideous haircut that would make any hair stylist scream in horror.

Greece - Clown

Performed by
Afroditi Fryda

This is super messy. They’ve made just about every wrong choice for the staging here and the refrain of “clown, clown, I am the clown” gets on my nerves, especially combined with the annoying laughter after it, but you know what? I still found it a tiny bit funny. Don’t get me wrong, it also annoyed me a lot, but it wasn’t irredeemably awful.

Norway - For vår jord

Performed by
Karoline Krüger

This has a lovely, subdued compisition, it’s very pleasant to listen to this. Karoline has a very nice, soft voice, though she also lacks the power, especially in the chorus, where the backing singers overpower her. It’s honestly a shame, because I think I would’ve liked this more if she was a stronger singer.

Belgium - Laissez briller le soleil

Performed by

I really hate the beat here, it completely overpowers everything else here and distracts me from the singing. Speaking of which, it’s both too quiet and too waily, they managed to hit two of my pet peeves at once. It generally feels very unfinished, like a rough draft of a song instead of a finished product. It’s a huge shame since it easily could’ve been something I actually love, it has a lot of elements I enjoy, but it never puts them together properly.

Luxembourg - Croire

Performed by
Lara Fabian

Yes, now this is the kind of ballad I find very enjoyable. It has a lot of variety in it and a very rich instrumentation that keeps adding more and more layers. At first, it starts out very simple, with a prominent piano and a subtle beat, as well as pretty subdued vocals, but then we get a heavier, more prominent beat, brass and stronger vocals. We even get a small instrumental break with an electric guitar! It’s honestly one of the few songs here that have a clear sense of structure and progression. It doesn’t just meander around or stay in one place, thank god. And while the lyrics might be a bit simple, I think they suit the music really well, so I won’t complain about that.

And, of course, Lara gives a very soulful and intimate performance, one that’s sure to charm most people watching. She doesn’t try to show off or flex her skills, she just sings to her best ability (and she, of course, has a lot of ability). That’s exactly how I like it.

Italy - Ti scrivo

Performed by
Luca Barbarossa

And here we have a pretty nice rock song from Italy. It’s very restrained and kinda lacks progression for me to truly love it, but I still think it’s one of the more memorable songs this year. It also ends just when I start getting into it and does it in the worst possible way - by fading out. It’s like someone took a 5-minute song and cut it right at the 3-minute point.

France - Chanteur de charme

Performed by
Gérard Lenorman

It’s a weird pop/chanson mash, but honestly, it kinda works for me. At least, I know that this is one of the few entries I actually remember from the year. Gérard has a nice, strong voice that actually suits the song very well and he definitely doesn’t lack stage presence. It reminds me of another ESC entry (specifically, Hungary’s 1996 entry, which didn’t manage to qualify), though only vaguely, I’m not accusing anyone of plagiarism.

Portugal - Voltarei

Performed by

Ok, here we go, this is quite a bit better than her previous entry from 1986. It still isn’t amazing, I’m not a fan of the waily parts or the backing singers, but the slow parts manage to make up for it. But it still just lacks progression or variation, it just switches between the same parts over and over again and just bores me by the end. Though at least it doesn’t feel drawn out, I’m always surprised by how quickly it goes by.

Yugoslavia - Mangup

Performed by
Srebrna Krila

Hell yeah, you can always count on Yugoslavia to send something fun! It’s a genre we’ve become pretty familiar with, upbeat pop rock and honestly, thank god they’re sticking to it for now, I’m enjoying it a lot. You can see they’re trying their best to win, but they haven’t perfected the formula just yet. But still, this is a pleasure to watch, even if the vocal performance is a bit too shouty for my liking.


  1. Israel - Ben Adam
  2. Luxembourg - Croire
  3. United Kingdom - Go
  4. Yugoslavia - Mangup
  5. Switzerland - Ne partez pas sans moi
  6. Netherlands - Shangri-La
  7. Norway - For vår jord
  8. Spain - La chica que yo quiero (Made in Spain)
  9. Sweden - Stad i ljus
  10. France - Chanteur de charme
  11. Germany - Lied für einen Freund
  12. Italy - Ti scrivo
  13. Denmark - Ka’ du se hva’ jeg sa'
  14. Turkey - Sufi (Hey Ya Hey)
  15. Finland - Nauravat silmät muistetaan
  16. Portugal - Voltarei
  17. Belgium - Laissez briller le soleil
  18. Iceland - Sókrates
  19. Ireland - Take Him Home
  20. Greece - Clown
  21. Austria - Lisa Mona Lisa


  • Austria - 1 (1965)
  • Belgium - 1 (1961)
  • Denmark - 1 (1963)
  • Finland - 2 (1974, 1985)
  • France - 4 (1969, 1976, 1977, 1979)
  • Germany - 3 (1957, 1972, 1978)
  • Israel - 1 (1988)
  • 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)
  • Yugoslavia - 1 (1987)

And Israel becomes the 19th country to win in my rankings, hooray.


Sadly, this is another middling year in a string of middling years. But this one was even more middling than the others before it. And it’s a shame too, because I really liked the staging and the presentation. Ireland, as always, pushed the technology ahead, this time by using a computer-generated scoreboard (though without automatic sorting, which is a bit of a shame, but also entirely understandable). It’s a shame that the song quality has continued to decline though.

At least the voting this year has always been and will forever remain iconic. I’ve always liked watching the race between Switzerland and the UK. The last set of votes from Yugoslavia being the deciding one just brings me joy, since it’s usually obvious who’s going to win well in advance, so you just sit there thinking “god, just finish this up please”.

Anyway, we’ll be off to Switzerland next year, so I’ll see you there.