Eurovision Song Contest 1993 Review

We’re staying in Ireland for the foreseeable future, but in Millstreet this time. Since the EBU received applications from 14 new countries, they’ve implemented a one-off elimination round (held in Ljubljana, not Millstreet). So let’s see if the qualifiers were right and then review the rest of the year.

Preface

Since this is the first year to include a semi-final, I’ll be experimenting with a new post format. Since I want to review all songs of a given year in a single post, I won’t be breaking anything up into multiple posts. From now on, the years with semi-finals will follow the following structure: first, the non-qualifiers from each semi-final in their running order (whilst skipping the qualifiers), followed by all of the finalists in their final running order. Now, without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Kvalifikacija za Millstreet

I have to say, it’s really nice to finally hear Slavic commentary in ESC (I’m watching this with the Slovene commentary). The commentator spends a lot of time explaining how the qualification round will work, that the phone lines were unreliable, so the spokespeople travelled here in person, that the top 3 countries will perform 21st, 18th and 16th in the main show respectively, that some of the countries dropped out and so on. While this is going on, I’ll briefly mention that there were going to be 14 participants (the 7 participants that dropped out were Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Czechia, Bulgaria, Latvia and Lithuania). While there aren’t any specific reports on why, it’s widely speculated that they all dropped out because they thought it was unfair that only 3 countries will qualify.

Songs

Estonia - Muretut meelt ja südametuld

Performed by
Janika Sillamaa
Language
Estonian

Alright, here it is, the first NQ in Eurovision history. What do I think about it? Well, I actually kinda like it. I could take or leave the verses, but the chorus is rather cute and catchy. It feels like a beta version of Estonia’s 1996 entry. And it kinda makes sense why this didn’t qualify, it feel quite bare coming after two dramatic entries (and also Estonia being the sole Baltic country in the semifinal).

Hungary - Árva reggel

Performed by
Andrea Szulák
Language
Hungarian

This isn’t really particularly interesting, but it also isn’t that bad. Andrea has a nice voice, that’s about all I can say about it, but otherwise, being sung in Hungarian is the only interesting thing about it (and we’re going to get a way better song in Hungarian soon anyway).

Romania - Nu pleca

Performed by
Dida Drăgan
Language
Romanian

From one fan unfavourite to the other and I actually want to say that I kinda like this. It’s a very dramatic rock ballad (makes sense, Dida is a rock musician after all) and she makes some very dramatic gestures all throughout. I also have to note the lovely guitar solo in the middle. While not a contender for a qualification, I think that this tends to be overlooked.

Slovakia - Amnestia na neveru

Performed by
Elán
Language
Slovak

I’m so sad this didn’t qualify for Millstreet because it’s an absolutely amazing song. A couple months ago, I just looped it the whole day and never got tired of it. But then, I really like this sort of mellow, reserved rock and I’m glad it isn’t too flashy. That’s not to say that it lacks progression, because it’s got plenty of that, since it starts out very bare, but builds up a lot, especially during the guitar solo part.

Conclusion

Honestly, I’ve always felt like every country brought something good to the table and I honestly wouldn’t have minded relegation being introduced a year early to give them all a chance (well, I generally hate relegation and think it’s a stupid system, but I’ll rant about it in 1994).

The interval act was great, every participant performed a song that was better than their actual entry (especially the Hungarian representative, it probably would’ve been one of my favourites of the year). The reason why the interval act was so long is that the EBU expected 14 participants and booked the TV slots accordingly, but ended up having just 7, which is why it was decided to make everyone to perform a second song.

The voting was pretty exciting too, everyone got at least a single set of 12p and the Slovak jury, who were the last ones to perform and, therefore, vote, did some anti-tactical voting and gave out the points in the only way that could’ve prevented them from qualifying. Still, at least the spokesperson voted fairly and didn’t change his scores at the last possible minute.

I can’t help but feel like this round was quite unfair though. Only 3 songs qualifying out of 7 is already a bit iffy for me, I can’t imagine just 3 songs qualifying out of 14 entries.

In any case, let us proceed to the Final.

Final

We open with a pre-filmed insert about Ireland, as we’ve done in the past 5 billion contests. The difference is that it’s actually really good, even Terry Wogan decided to stop being snarky for a bit and get all wistful and poetic. I have to say, I definitely prefer this Terry Wogan over the annoying guy who hates everything from Eastern Europe.

We get introduced to Fionnuala Sweeney, our host, coming out of what looks like a spaceship (in Terry’s words, not mine), who gives the obligatory intro in Irish we’ve got every time Ireland has hosted, a quick introduction in French and English, praises Millstreet a bit (that’s very nice honestly, I’m glad this tiny town got such a huge shoutout in the biggest musical contest in the world).

It’s also interesting to hear Terry Wogan mentioning relegation as I’m pretty sure I’ve read somewhere that it was only decided pretty late before the 1994 season commenced.

I also have to praise the stage, it feels very modern. The contest has definitely taken a huge step into modernity this year and has massively improved the quality of songs on offer (but I’m getting ahead of myself).

Songs

Italy - Sole d’Europa

Performed by
Enrico Ruggeri
Language
Italian

This is actually absolutely brilliant and I’ll remain baffled by its results forever. 12th? Seriously? The juries must’ve all tuned into the contest a little late and missed this.

This has a lot to offer musically, it feels like a mix between a piano and a rock ballad (both genres I’m slightly biased towards). Just as my favourite entries usually do, it starts out simple, mostly with a piano, but adds in a guitar and some kickass percussion at some point and even manages to have a guitar solo (though it’s quite short, which is understandable in a contest with a 3-minute limit on the length of a song).

I also highly recommend listening to the extended version which contains a verse in German and a verse in French at the end, that really enhances the song even more and is a great example of how a bi- (or, in this case, tri-)lingual song can work well.

Turkey - Esmer Yarim

Performed by
Burak Aydos, Öztürk Baybora and Serter
Language
Turkish

I love you, Turkey (please come back). This might be very messy, but it’s also extremely fun and enjoyable and I wish it scored a bit better (but with a performance like that, it has always been destined to score awfully). I also don’t like the abrupt ending.

Germany - Viel zu weit

Performed by
Münchener Freiheit
Language
German

This is such an improvement on the previous bunch of German entries by the virtue of not the same exact Siegel peace ballad. It still isn’t anything outstanding, but man, I actually found myself enjoying this a decent amount.

Switzerland - Moi, tout simplement

Performed by
Annie Cotton
Language
French

I know, I know, French language bias, but, here’s the thing: it’s actually really good. Ok, maybe my tastes are too close to the 90s Eurovision juries (a friend of mine joked about it because I put Malta in second in 1992). However, I stand by it: this completely deserved the bronze. The song has a very lovely sense of progression. Though her arm movements do annoy me a little.

Denmark - Under stjernerne på himlen

Performed by
Seebach Band
Language
Danish

I really don’t have anything to add to Cookie Fonster’s review of this song. However, I do think that the song is a bit forgettable overall (even if it’s rather nice anyway). It probably should’ve been revamped a bit.

That said, I don’t think that 22nd is a fair placement for it. I would’ve expected it to come midtable if I were watching it at the time.

Greece - Ellada, hora tou fotos

Performed by
Katerina Garbi
Language
Greek

This is truly lovely with all of the Greek instrumentation goodness, though I can’t help but feel like it’s a bit repetitive. I wish there was a bridge or something thrown here to change it up a bit. But I’m still so happy Greece went back to sounding like this after having a bit of a weak and unGreek decade during the 80s.

Belgium - Iemand als jij

Performed by
Barbara
Language
Dutch

Honestly, I have a bit of a soft spot for this. It might nit be anything special musically, but she performs it with a lot of conviction, which makes it impossible to hate. Maybe I just feel bad for Barbara? She didn’t even have the worst outfit in 1993 and yet she was apparently deserving of having a whole award named for it.

I actually find the modern version Barbara has recorded in 2023 to be pretty good, so give it a listen. She has a much more mature voice (duh, it’s been 30 years since Millstreet for her) and the instrumentation is more introspective.

Malta - This Time

Performed by
William Mangion
Language
English

I probably would find it way more enjoyable if the audio mixing wasn’t so bad here. The instrumental overpowers him a lot, especially in the chorus. Otherwise, it’s pretty good - if a bit overperformed. I definitely like it less than Malta’s previous two entries.

Iceland - Þá veistu svarið

Performed by
Inga
Language
Icelandic

Terry Wogan said that she was the newest star to rise in the field of Icelandic rock music and oh how I wish this was a rock song. It starts out as a very dreamy ballad, but gets slightly more interesting later on when the sax kicks in. It still isn’t something I’d return to.

Austria - Maria Magdalena

Performed by
Tony Wegas
Language
German

Tony Wegas is back from 1992! This time, he has a good song, completely unlike what I’ve come to expect of German-language entries over the course of the 80s. It’s fun, it’s upbeat and makes me feel good. Why couldn’t more entries from Austria and Germany have been like this and less like what they’ve been?

Portugal - A cidade até ser dia

Performed by
Anabela
Language
Portuguese

I don’t know, every element here is fine: the instrumental is nice, the vocals are strong, but it just doesn’t really click with me. But it still isn’t bad at all.

France - Mama Corsica

Performed by
Patrick Fiori
Language
French, Corsican

I think this is the best French song out of their ethnic era. Ok, well, it isn’t as ethnic as the previous three because it actually sounds very French (idk, it’s probably the swing rhythm, but I just can’t shake off the feeling that I’ve heard this melody outside of Eurovision before).

But yeah, the song just feels very warm and inviting. It’s also quite wordy, which I usually don’t enjoy, but works here really well. My only wish would’ve been to have more lines in Corsican.

Sweden - Eloise

Performed by
Arvingarna
Language
Swedish

This one does everything just right. I love the harmonies here, the members of the band really know how to work together (which isn’t surprising considering they’re still together and even took part in Melodifestivalen 2019 and 2021). That’s to be expected of a boyband, of course, they need to be able to complement each other well.

I also like the way the verses and the chorus come together. The change from the slightly mysterious verses into the upbeat chorus doesn’t annoy me at all, which is a huge achievement.

Ireland - In Your Eyes

Performed by
Niamh Kavanagh
Language
English

I’ve said it about several winners before and I’ll say it for this one as well: this one has a lot of winner energy to it. The juries at the time loved big, epic voices, so here’s one of the biggest, most epic voices. She does oversing it a bit in some parts, but I actually don’t mind that for some reason.

The composition is also really good - just refer back to Cookie Fonster’s review for the nitty-gritty details on why exactly because my only encounter with music was half a year of piano lessons back when I was 6 years old. All I have to add is that listening to this really feels stimulating for some reason. It’s probably all of the progression since the verses, the chorus and the bridge all feel different, yet harmonious.

Luxembourg - Donne-moi une chance

Performed by
Modern Times
Language
French, Luxembourgish

Let’s give this a chance, shall we? Sorry.

It’s so good that this is no longer the last Luxembourgish entry because it feels really empty and uninteresting. It’s decent enough, there’s nothing offensively bad, I suppose, but this needed several more revisions to elevate it.

Slovenia - Tih deževen dan

Performed by
1X Band
Language
Slovene

This song checks nearly every checkbox for a song that I like. I love the atmosphere it creates, it feels both sad and happy at the same. The verses are pretty melancholic, but the verses are pretty hopeful and optimistic. I also love how the pre-chorus brilliantly bridges the verses and the chorus. The same can be said about guitar parts after the chorus, they kinda bring the feel down to melancholy. In general, this has some brilliant instrumental-only parts (like the trumpets right near the end).

I also want to specifically praise the outro. This! This is how you do an outro. It isn’t very long, but it does a great job at wrapping up the song in a very satisfying way.

The lyrics are also really well-written. I feel like this was designed specifically with a Slavic language in mind because the English version loses a lot of its charm. It’s really great at painting the picture of what it’s about: a quiet rainy day (coincidentally, that’s what the title translates to - very unexpected, I know). I can’t shake off a feeling that it’s all just a metaphor for life: the verses reflect the singer’s feeling towards real life and the chorus is about his “dream world”, his safe place. And the bridge is about him starting to float away into that dream world.

Ok, this is way too positive, so here’s a bit of negativity: that outfit is hideous and the Barbara Dex award should’ve been called the 1X Band Award instead.

Finland - Tule luo

Performed by
Katri Helena
Language
Finnish

This feels very Finnish somehow (maybe it’s the little bit of accordion thrown in). It’s very confidently performed and composed, but it just doesn’t feel like it reaches its full potential. And the bells being mixed too loudly annoys me a bit.

Bosnia and Herzegovina - Sva bol svijeta

Performed by
Fazla
Language
Bosnian

I think that this is a landmark entry. This shows that Eurovision was no longer for just fluffy feel-good entry and songs about real life events also had a place in it. Its the kind of entry you just simply feel deep in your soul.

Compared to Slovenia’s entry, this feels way more pessimistic and desperate - for a good reason. By this point, Slovenia was a stable(-ish) country, their 10-day independence war has been long past them. On the other hand, Bosnia was right in the middle of a war, with the band having to run under gunfire across the airport just to make it to Eurovison. That’s the kind of dedication that sparks absolute respect in me.

The lyrics are exquisitely written - not that I’d ever expect anything less from Dino Merlin, whom we’ll encounter in person a bit later. They’re just the right amount of desperate, yet hopeful. Just like with the Slovenian entry, this was designed around a Slavic language and the English version loses most of its impact. They’re written from a perspective of a Bosnian soldier writing a letter to his lover, who truly believes in what he’s fighting for, who knows that he can win even if the rest of the world has turned away from Bosnia. This is also why Muhamed turns away from the audience as well - he’s mocking the West.

I’m honestly not sure the EBU would’ve allowed this to participate these days, it might’ve been deemed “too political”.

United Kingdom - Better the Devil You Know

Performed by
Sonia
Language
English

Oh my god, the UK sending a pop song I actually really like? Absolutely impossible, and yet it’s true. It’s energetic, catchy, upbeat and fun. And, of course, Sonia is insanely charismatic and enchanting. I do wish she had a bit of a different outfit, that skin-tight purple suit doesn’t look that good.

Netherlands - Vrede

Performed by
Ruth Jacott
Language
Dutch

This is actually really really interesting. It feels extremely 90s to me, which is a positive since Eurovision wasn’t the most contemporary contest. Ruth is an outstanding performer as well, giving an impeccable performance, but I just feel like something is missing here. The whole performance doesn’t fully come together for me and I don’t know which part is to blame.

Croatia - Don’t Ever Cry

Performed by
Put
Language
Croatian, English

Compared to the Bosnian entry, I can’t say I’ve ever been particularly fond of this. Even before learning that there was a semifinal this year, I didn’t think it was that great of an entry. While I do get a little emotional listening to it, I also don’t like the funeral-like atmosphere it has. But it clearly meant a lot to the singers and they’ve performed it with utmost conviction.

I also wonder why they were allowed to have so much English in this song. They’ve also made the same exception for another song this year and I just can’t for the love of me understand why.

Spain - Hombres

Performed by
Eva Santamaría
Language
Spanish

This is very chaotic and I love it. It’s extremely wordy, which sometimes makes me feel out of breath just from listening to this, but it also feels extremely Spanish too. It’s a shame that Eva couldn’t quite keep up with the demanding choreography though.

Cyprus - Mi stamatas

Performed by
Zymboulakis and Van Beke
Language
Greek

I don’t think I like this: it’s very plain. The most interesting this about it is a slightly botches saxophone solo, which is becoming a true tradition for hellenophone countries. And of course it has a key change for the final chorus.

Israel - Shiru

Performed by
Lehakat Shiru
Language
Hebrew, English

This is the hilarious kind of bad song, mostly because of the faces the piano player makes. Otherwise, it isn’t particularly good, there’s something boring about it, which I’m really sad about since Israel has almost always sent total bangers before this and you could always count on them to send something fun.

Also, I’m really baffled by the inclusion of English. It seems completely unnecessary to me.

Norway - Alle mine tankar

Performed by
Silje Vige
Language
Norwegian

And here we have the last entry blowing pretty much everything else completely out of the water. It’s very understated and reserved, but I’m glad that it is - if it were any more bombastic, it would’ve lost most of its charm. The instrumentation is very reserved and the bouzouki is excellent here (no wonder Greece gave this 12p). Honestly, it kinda feels a little bit Irish to me (in a good way).

But yeah, this is exactly my kind of song: melancholic, atmospheric and fragile. It’s one of those songs where everything just comes together. And I’m so glad this doesn’t have any key changes, I can’t even describe how happy I am about it.

Conclusion

Something I’ve neglected to mention until now are the postcards, which were really nice this year, with every participant doing something Ireland is known for.

I have to say, Linda Martin’s performance of Why Me? was even better than in Malmö the year before. After that,we got a performance of a new song by Johnny Logan accompanied by a children’s choir (can you tell that I’m trying to be brief because this has already taken a long time).

Good voting sequence this year, the race for the win was extremely close, with the deciding vote coming from Malta (who voted last due to technical faults). And I have to say, the votes from Bosnia and Herzegovina coming in is a really wholesome moment, with the audience loudly cheering for them after every score being announced.

In general, the audience was really lively this year, cheering and clapping along to the songs. This really shows that Eurovision has stopped being something stuffy and formal and has broken into mainstream. And a decent chunk of the audience was international, evident by the flags of a lot of the participating nations.

Results

  1. Slovenia - Tih deževen dan
  2. Slovakia - Amnestia na neveru
  3. Italy - Sole d’Europa
  4. Bosnia and Herzegovina - Sva bol svijeta
  5. Norway - Alle mine tankar
  6. Ireland - In Your Eyes
  7. United Kingdom - Better the Devil You Know
  8. Sweden - Eloise
  9. France - Mama Corsica
  10. Switzerland - Moi, tout simplement
  11. Denmark - Under stjernerne på himlen
  12. Austria - Maria Magdalena
  13. Netherlands - Vrede
  14. Greece - Ellada, hora tou fotos
  15. Malta - This Time
  16. Finland - Tule luo
  17. Estonia - Muretut meelt ja südametuld
  18. Spain - Hombres
  19. Germany - Viel zu weit
  20. Belgium - Iemand als jij
  21. Croatia - Don’t Ever Cry
  22. Portugal - A cidade até ser dia
  23. Romania - Nu pleca
  24. Turkey - Esmer Yarim
  25. Hungary - Árva reggel
  26. Iceland - Þá veistu svarið
  27. Israel - Shiru
  28. Luxembourg - Donne-moi une chance
  29. Cyprus - Mi stamatas

As you can see, I was thoroughly impressed by most debuting countries.

Winners

  • Austria - 1 (1965)
  • Belgium - 1 (1961)
  • Cyprus - 1 (1992)
  • Denmark - 2 (1963, 1989)
  • Finland - 2 (1974, 1985)
  • France - 4 (1969, 1976, 1977, 1979)
  • Germany - 3 (1957, 1972, 1978)
  • Israel - 1 (1988)
  • Italy - 3 (1958, 1983, 1990)
  • Luxembourg - 3 (1956, 1964, 1973)
  • Malta - 1 (1991)
  • Monaco - 2 (1968, 1970)
  • Netherlands - 1 (1959)
  • Norway - 1 (1966)
  • Portugal - 2 (1967, 1984)
  • Slovenia - 1 (1993)
  • Spain - 2 (1971, 1982)
  • Sweden - 2 (1962, 1980)
  • Switzerland - 2 (1981, 1986)
  • Turkey - 1 (1975)
  • United Kingdom - 1 (1960)
  • Yugoslavia - 1 (1987)

And thus begins my phase of being shamelessly biased towards the newcomers.