Eurovision Song Contest

This section contains reviews of the Eurovision Song Contest over the past six decades. On this page we look at 1983-1989; the other pages in this section cover 1956-1966, 1967-1975, 1976-1982, 1990-1996, 1997-2001, 2002-2005, 2006-2009, 2010-2013, 2014-2017 and 2018.


1983

Host country: Germany
Won by: Luxembourg - Si la Vie est Cadeau by Corinne Hermes
UK entry: I'm Never Giving Up by Sweet Dreams
Full results: eurovision.tv

Eurovision 1983 was a long, drawn-out affair. The show began with all the performers gathering, one by one, on stage, which was more like a shelf, with a backdrop that was described by Terry Wogan as looking like the largest electric heater in the world. Then Marlene Charell presented the show in German as well as the usual English and French. But not only that, she also did the flower arrangements that introduced each song, and even took part in the interval ballet.

The UK's entry, Sweet Dreams, featured Carrie Grant, who some twenty years later would be involved with the BBC's Fame Academy. Their song title, 'I'm Never Giving Up' could perhaps have been describing Norway's famous 'nul pointer' Jahn Teigen, who entered for the third time this year - and scored 53.

There were still two 'nul pointers' this year though - Remedios Amaya sounded like she was in pain, rather than Spain, while even worse was Turkey's Cetin Alp and Short Wave, who sung the appalling 'Opera'. Faring much better was Israel's Ofra Haza, known in the UK for her 1988 hit 'Im Nin'Alu'. Germany entered Hoffmann and Hoffmann, who looked rather like a German Simon and Garfunkel. Only Belgium attempted to enter anything approaching contemporary pop, with Pas de deux, who looked and sounded like they had escaped from the Belgian version of the Human League.

The scoring was some of the disparate ever seen at Eurovision - seemingly no one could agree which songs were least worst this year. It was a laborious process, and the show massively overran. In the end, Corinne Hermes scored a fifth and final victory for Luxembourg, narrowly beating Ofra Haza and Sweden's Carola - though the latter would come back for what would prove to be more successful attempt eight years later.


1984

Host country: Luxembourg
Won by: Sweden - Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley by Herreys
UK entry: Love Games by Belle and the Devotions
Full results: eurovision.tv

The timing of the 1984 Eurovision must have seemed unusually late at the time. Most of the contests up until the end of the 70s had been held in March or April; it had then spent the first few years of the 1980s drifting through April. However from this year onwards, the contest would always take place in May (apart from 1988 and 1994 when it was on 30th April).

The contest returned to Luxembourg, with Eurovision's youngest ever presenter, 19 year-old Desiree Nosbusch.

The UK entry, the Motown-tinged 'Love Games' by Belle and the Devotions, was booed by the audience - not due to musical quality, but rather as a result of a spate of hooliganism in the host nation from English football fans. However musical quality must indeed have been in short supply when the winner turned out to be what was Terry Wogan described as the worst Eurovision song ever - 'Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley', sung by three Swedish lads in golden boots, The Herreys.


1985

Host country: Sweden
Won by: Norway - La Det Swing by Bobbysocks
UK entry: Love Is by Vikki
Full results: eurovision.tv

Keeping it Scandinavian in 1985, the show hosted in Sweden was won by Norway. Having scored 'nul points' twice in four attempts between 1978 and 1981, Norway went to the other end of the scoreboard for the first time, thanks to the duo Bobbysocks. It was far from a convincing win, however; the second placed song performed by Germany's Wind, had led the pack during much of the voting, only being overtaken in the final few stages.

Israel's Izhar Cohen and Alphabeta came back for another go in 1985 after winning in 1978, but this time only finished fifth. Going one better was the UK entry, 'Love Is' by Aeone Victoria Watson, at that time going under the simpler name Vikki.

Two consecutive entries were based around the same theme - Austria's songer Gary Lux singing 'Kinder Dieser Welt' was followed by the Luxembourgois representatives Margo, Franck Olivier, Diane Solomon, Ireen Sheer, Chris and Malcolm Roberts - clearly unable to come up with a group name - who sang about 'Children Kinder Enfants'. Additionally, the Danish act, Hot Eyes, were joined on stage by one of the singer's nine year-old daughter.

Host Lill Lindfors displayed Sweden's knockabout style of comedy when she ripped her skirt on part of the set to the shock of all those watching. However it was all quite intentional - she proceeded to fold down the top section of her dress to reveal a floor-length gown. Pre-arranged comic moments such as this had been in short supply up to now, in a contest that had traditionally been presented in quite a serious, earnest way. How things have changed...


1986

Host country: Norway
Won by: Belgium - J'aime la Vie by Sandra Kim
UK entry: Runner in the Night by Ryder
Full results: eurovision.tv

Eurovision 1986 was hosted by Ase Kleveland, a Norwegian singer who had represented the nation twenty years earlier. She began the show breaking into song herself, concluding with the memorable lyric sung to the tune of 'Te Deum' - "Soon we will know who'll be the best, in the Eurovision Song Contest!"

So who would be the best? It certainly wouldn't be Cyprus, as even the singer Elpida thought their entry was so dreadful she was on the verge of refusing the perform it. It wouldn't be the UK either, who fielded one of our most forgettable entries ever, 'Runner in the Night' by the band Ryder, which finished seventh. To make sure no one forgot their entry, Sweden brought in a muscle man, a man in a bowler hat, a French maid and a guitarist with no top on, who spent the performance cavorting behind the singers.

Iceland made their debut appearance this year with the appropriately-named Icy, who, along with everyone else, performed on a stage whose design had a decidedly icy feel to it. Iceland finished sixteenth, and have still yet to win the contest.

When it came to see who was the best in the Eurovision Song Contest, it turned out that it was Sandra Kim, bringing victory for the only time to Belgium. Before the contest she had claimed to be 15 years old, but it later transpired she was in fact only 13. Despite this, no rules had been broken - at this time, there was no lower age limit for performers. As performers must now be 16 or over, Sandra's record as the contest's younger ever winner can never been beaten.


1987

Host country: Belgium
Won by: Ireland - Hold Me Now by Johnny Logan
UK entry: Only the Light by Rikki
Full results: eurovision.tv

Viewers across Europe may have been slightly confused when Eurovision 1987's presenter, announced as Viktor Lazlo, turned out to be a woman. The Belgian singer Sonia Dronier had adopted her stage name in honour of a character from the film Casablanca.

This year's set design contained a laser light, which gave the contest a more modern feel, even if the music didn't. The UK's mid-80s slump continued, with entrant Rikki Peebles finishing in 13th place, which doesn't sound too bad by today's standards, but in 1987 it was our worst placing so far.

If anyone noticed a familiar Wind blowing around the Eurovision stage this year, it's because the German band who came second in 1985 were back for another go - and came second again. Viewers may also have recognised Luxembourg's entry, Plastic Bertrand, from his 1978 hit single 'Ca Plane Pour Moi'. However, recognition counted for very little in this case, as Mr Bertrand scored a mere four points, beating only nul pointers Turkey.

But 1987's victor (not Viktor) would also turn out to be a familiar face - that of Johnny Logan, who had triumphed seven years later. He was back for another go, and once again demolished the competition with a song he had written himself, 'Hold Me Now'. Logan remains the only individual to have won the contest more than once as a performer - indeed, he would soon be back again to write another winning entry.


1988

Host country: Ireland
Won by: Switzerland - Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi by Celine Dion
UK entry: Go by Scott Fitzgerald
Full results: eurovision.tv

Eurovision 1988 is best remembered for one of the most nail-biting finishes in the contest's history. A then-unknown Celine Dion, representing Switzerland, led throughout the early and middle stages of the voting, before being overtaken by the UK's entrant, who, for the first time since 1975, had been selected by a public vote. Scottish singer Scott Fitzgerald, real name William McPhail, had enjoyed some chart success a decade earlier with 'If I Had Words', a duet sung with Yvonne Keeley. In 1988, it looked like he was about to finally bring Eurovision victory back to the UK with his ballad 'Go', written by Julie Forsyth, whose father Bruce could be seen in the audience looking tense.

The voting entered its final round with a script written by Agatha Christie according to presenter Pat Kenny! The UK stood at 136 points, with Switzerland just five points behind, as the Yugoslavian spokeswoman came on to announce her country's votes. They put the cat amongst the pigeons when they awarded six points to Switzerland, meaning the UK needed any of the remaining points to win. The audience erupted when Yugoslavia awarded its top points to France and nothing at all to the UK, leaving Scott Fitzgerald pipped at the post by just one point.

The victorious Celine Dion would of course go on to enjoy a massively successful recording career, but the most commercially successful song to come out of the 1988 contest wasn't even one of the competing entries. The interval act was a music video of Irish group Hothouse Flowers, filmed in countries all over Europe. The song, 'Don't Go', went on to become a chart hit across the world, including the UK where it reached number 11.


1989

Host country: Switzerland
Won by: Yugoslavia - Rock Me by Riva
UK entry: Why Do I Always Get It Wrong? by Live Report
Full results: eurovision.tv

Celine Dion's victory brought the Eurovision Song Contest to Lausanne in Switzerland, with Celine taking the opportunity to plug her new single at the start of the show. Musically, 1989 wasn't a vintage year, with the most memorable moment coming during the interval act. Based around the legend of William Tell, the climax involved the not coincidentally-named Guy Tell setting off an elaborate sequence of crossbows, culminating in one which was meant to splice an apple upon his own head. Well, it missed.

But anyway, back to the music, and controversially, France's entry, Natalie Paque, was, at a few days under 12 years old, the contest's youngest ever solo entrant - and one half of the Israeli duo Gili and Galit, Galit Burg, was only a little older. Following complaints from several delegations, it was decided that, from the following year, all competitors would have to be at least 16 years of age in the year they compete. A Junior version of the contest would be launched over a decade later.

The title of the UK entry, 'Why Do I Always Get It Wrong?', by the band Live Report, would prove to be a prophetic one. We once again finished in second place, with 130 points, just six adrift of the winner. One of the least popular winners of all time, the distinctly forgettable 'Rock Me' by Riva brought victory to Yugoslavia just three years before it ceased stopped participating as a single unit.


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Text copyright © Robert Williams, images copyright © the respective broadcasters