1997: I ♥ The Eurovision Song Contest

Aaaaand we’re back in Ireland for 1997 and a fresh-faced Ronan Keating is one of the hosts. Unlike Morten from the previous year, he would wait until the interval to promote his new music. The stage is set, it’s come a long way since I started watching in 1990 – could this be the year I would finally see a UK Eurovision winner? Yes, it finally happened!

The WINNING entry from the United Kingdom was performed by Katrina And The Waves and was called “Love Shine A Light”. I had heard of Katrina And The Waves before from the song “Walking On Sunshine” which is still very much a summer time classic. Katrina herself was American but we won’t let that bother us now as SHE WON! She also reminds me of the evil Queen from Snow White but I don’t care – SHE WON.

The song itself was uplifting, made everybody feel good about themselves and the UK. It was a time when the UK were actually popular for various reasons and this song brought them all together. It was also a runaway winner with no doubt from the start that we were going to win. Well done Katrina And The Waves.

Now, on to all the LOSERS.

Up until the time that The Netherlands came on, this year’s contest was looking pretty bad but thanks to their entry from Mrs Einstein things were looking hopeful. Who were Mrs Einstein? A group of five older ladies who worked together in a home furnishing shop and decided one day to each take a share of one curtain and start singing. Unfortunately, their curtains didn’t match their carpets and they finished next to last. However they still make the best cushions this side of Holland.

This was shaping up to be one of the worst contests I had ever seen. Every singer was dressed in black and singing rubbish songs. Perhaps the UK song wasn’t actually that good and it was just all the others were appalling. Estonia soon brought some life back into the competition when they came on. They had entered Maarja-Liis Ilus again. She was the sweet, little girl with the really nice voice from the previous year. This time she left Oliver Reed at home and done her country proud. This should have definitely finished higher than it did.

The theme for Bosnia this year was “stealing”. They stole the name of a very popular Coronation Street character called Alma, ripped off the underlying tune of another song that I can’t for the life of me think of right now (please HELP)  and robbed an outfit from Katrina And The Wave’s wardrobe. Brilliant song though and should have finished much, much higher.

Portugal continued the theme of young female singers dressed in black singing rubbish songs by entering Ruth Lorenzo’s older sister. Although it was a poor song and finished last it is worth watching simply for the slightly sinister male backing singers. Let’s hope her younger sister has more luck this year.

Sweden decided to enter a boy band in this year but didn’t quite grasp the fact that boy bands have to contain boys and ended up entering Hanson’s uncles.

Hungary were panicing that they hadn’t come up with their entry yet and it was almost time to go on the stage. They had a quick word with Ronan Keating and all he had to say was “Love Me For A Reason” and they were then ready to go on stage.

The Russian entry was called “Primadonna” and well the singer, she was very much Pre-Madonna. I’m quite sure that the lady singing thought she was entering a Jackie Stallone lookalike contest rather than a singing contest.

After an evening of almost every entry being dressed in black Croatia made sure they were going to blind everyone by entering their version of the Spice Girls in glorious Technicolor and rounded off what was quite a dismal evening by singing about what sounded to me about The Boogeyman.

I think this year was a turning point in Eurovision. The end of Eurovision how we knew it, when the UK was popular and there wasn’t so much politics. Maybe that’s why all the women were wearing black dresses – it was the funeral of Eurovision and a new era was upon us.

As we’ve already heard the winner from this year, let’s end with the interval act in Ireland as it’s the last time we’ll be there (yay) and here is the wonderful Boyzone. RIP Stephen Gately.

Until next time – stay out of the black!