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(B): from Baccara to Butch

KEY: Winner Runner-up Third-place Top 5 Debut Entry Host Entry Last Place Nul Points

BACCARA (duo) Luxembourg entry, Paris 1978: 7th place (73 pts)
In a 2000 interview on Channel 4, one half of Baccara said of their '78 entry Parlez Vous Francais, "We were Spanish, signed to an American record label which was based in Germany, singing in French and representing Luxembourg. So, yes, it was a bit of a mix-up."

Not much more we need to add to that, is there?

BAILA EL CHIKI CHIKI (song) Spanish entry, Belgrade 2008: 17th place (55 pts)
This one's a bit diki diki.

Having conquered the Spanish MySpace users to win his homeland's national final, Rodolfo Chikilicuatre had to almost double the original running time of his entry, which came in at less than two minutes.

It's a testament to his skills as a song writer that he managed to do this at the same time as having reconstructive facial surgery to resemble his childhood idol Rolf Harris and having all of his hair wrapped around an ice cream cone.

We still don't actually know what this song is supposed to be about.

BANA BANA (song) Turkish entry, Lausanne 1989: 21st place (5 pts)
There are more than a few larger ladies who have suffered jelly legs after trying to do their aerobics routine to the frenetic 1989 Turkish entry.

Some would have you believe that the battle for most excitable conductor ever at the ESC is between Rainer Dietsch for Germany in 1975 and the bloke who got the orchestra geared up for Pan, but Whoops reckons that the latter has it in the bag by a country mile.

Not many people will be aware that the inspiration for this song comes from the 1988 Ankara Women's Institute Summer Fete.

The organiser, bedecked in twinset and pearls, kept pointing to strategic parts of the hall and screaming "Banner, Banner!" at any other WI members who came from a slightly-less-posh postal district than she did. Little did she know that a songwriter was listening to her every word...

BARDO (duo) British entry, Harrogate 1982: 7th place (76 pts)
Prima Donna got to go to the glamorous Netherlands, so Sally Ann Triplett thought she was up for another freebie to an exotic corner of the continent when she got that bloke in the dungarees to win Song for Europe ‘82 with her.

However, they forgot about the UK winning the year before, and so were a bit miffed to find themselves in the posh part of Yorkshire instead.

They therefore spent Eurovision week getting tanked up on real ale and pork scratchings, and were so far gone on the big night, they tried to make love to the Harrogate stage during the open bars of the song.

It appealed to those horny Austrians anyway.
Note: There is no such word as ’tooken’.

BEATHOVEN (group) Icelandic entry, Dublin 1988: 16th place (20 pts)
It must have been bad enough for the Icelandics to be the first ones up in 1988, especially after Pat Kenny wowed a continent with his first shite intro of the night (there were roughly 20 more to follow), but they then had to face the ignonimity of Sokrates being largely ignored by the juries.

The song has infamy in fan circles for just rhyming famous names together: John Wayne/Michael Caine etc, but now Whoops, Dragovic can reveal the infamous 'missing verse' which had to be scrubbed for timing reasons:

I like Tom Hanks, he's like Shabba Ranks
And I love Olga Korbet, taller than Ronnie Corbett
God bless Elvis Presley, and javelin thrower Jan Zlesny,
Or Bill Shakespeare, Edward Lear, Alice Beer.

La, la, la etc.

BELARUS (nation) First entry: Istanbul 2004. 0 0 0
Just as Al Bano and Dr Alban wanted to start their own country (see ALBANIA), so did Bella Emberg and Russ Abbott.

Abbott and Emberg had it all planned out. They based the flag on the curtains in Bella's downstairs loo and named the capital after Russ's favourite Beano character, Minnie the Minsk. Their next task was to get Belarus through to the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest, but by 2006, their first three efforts had failed.

In the months before Dmitry Koldun revrsed their fortunes, Bella tried to cheer herself up by lending her surname to a type of lettuce, while Russ took to poking Angelica Agurbash with a pencil.

BELGIUM (nation) First entry: Lugano 1956. 1 2 0
Chocolate, Poirot, TinTin and Jean-Claude Van Damme. See, it's not that hard to name famous things from Belgium.

In 2000, Belgium were desperate to reclaim the Eurovision crown. Somebody noted that in 1986, a singer who was secretly 13 had won for the country from the 13th position in the draw. Therefore, history had to be recreated. Belgium were drawn 10th, so they had to send ONE of the following to Stockholm whilst looking as though they were still adhering to the 16+ age rule. Either:

One 10 year old singer standing on concealed stilts

Two 5 year old singers. One standing on the other's shoulders and concealed by a large coat.

Four 2-and-a-half year old singers sort-of-harmlessly-sellotaped-together under a trouser suit.

In the end, they sent Nathalie Source (who's got 10 GCSEs) instead. History didn't repeat itself.

BELIEVE (song) Russian entry, Belgrade 2008: WINNER (272 pts)
Vima La Dima, Vima... well, not much else really.

The first bloke on his own to win the Contest in 18 years, Dima Bilan proved that gimmickry really can detract from an incredibly dull song by using a champion ice skater and someone playing a really old violin to distract the televoters from the rather pants number he went on to win with.

Pre-Contest, Dima was described as being something of a diva.

This was vehemently disproved by one journalist, who got Dima to deny such claims after he signed seven disclaimers, got past 17 security guards, climbed over seven stacks of Egyptian cotton sheets, 30 crates of imported Tibetan spring water, 16 cases of premium caviar, 10 boxes of white Chunky Kit Kats and given every one of Bilan's 75 entourage members a personalised gift.

The journalist then waited waited for Dima to have his massage, head rub and pedicure, sat behind a frosted glass screen, addressed Dima as 'King Dima, Lord of Russia, Europe, the Whole Wide World and the Universe' at all times and promised not to make eye contact at any point during the asking of his one question.

BELIEVE ME (song) Russian entry, Istanbul 2004: 11th place (67 pts)
This beautifully performed ballad by the constantly smiling Julia Savicheva was, of course, the Russian entrant to the 2004 Contest in Istanbul.

Just as Lou had used the colour scheme of her backing singers' outfits to promote a potential German Olympic bid in Riga the year before, Julia painted her darncers in a multitude of tones to show her support for the-then Moscow 2012 bid.

Miss Smith clearly enjoyed every moment of being on stage, as is evident in her crystal-clear vocals and enthusiastic grin. A playback of the performance is now used by Russian doctors to both cheer up the clinically depressed, and show interior designers the dangers of standing too close to freshly painted things. It has saved many lives.

BELLE & THE DEVOTIONS (group) British entry, Luxembourg 1984: 7th place (63 pts)
In 1997, the lead singer of the UK entry wore a green blouse which cost just 4 from Camden Market. Ha! That's nothing. Thirteen years earlier, the wardrobe supervisor for the British delegation managed to spend less than that (at the same market) and fit out the entire group.

Despite a desperate attempt to recreate the allure of removable skirts by Cheryl & Co, Belle & Co should have realised that removing your coat in public isn't quite as saucy a feat.

Then again, neither's wearing luminous PVC skirts which are too small for you whilst you're singing a song about 'Spin the Bottle'.
Note: This is more 'Noddy goes to Toytown' than 'The UK goes to Motown'.

BEM BOM (song) Portuguese entry, Harrogate 1982: 13th place (32 pts)
Quite why one should 'bem-bom' at regular hourly intervals from 1am onwards is beyond me, but Doce were quite keen to encourage Europe to do so as the Portuguese entrants of 1982.

Faced with the prospect of Jan Leeming lurking in the background at the start of their performance, and struggling to stay in a line on the minutest ESC stage ever, Doce's nerves shone through noticeably. The jury from Luxembourg thought it was great however, awarding the song seven points. That shouldn't be too surprising - for as we all know, bem-bom is Luxembourgeois for 'Hey! Let's get someone from France to sing it!'

BETTER THE DEVIL YOU KNOW (song) British entry, Millstreet 1993: 2nd place (164 pts)
Hoping and praying that the rest of Europe were indifferent to Kylie Minogue’s career, the UK’s most pantomime-friendly entrant ever took the brave move of unleashing a song about the worshipping of the dark side for Millstreet in 1993.

When played backwards, the CD single clearly instructs the listener to send Niamh Kavanagh headless jelly babies through the post in a voice that sounds a bit like Orson Welles’s.

Sonia herself decided upon this song’s title after the originally touted Worse Than The Angel You've Never Met proved too difficult to fit to the tune.

BETTINA (performer) Austrian entry, Dublin 1997: 21st place (12 pts)
Austria’s most hyperactive woman was a natural choice for Dublin duties in 1997, even if it meant just getting her out the country for a few days.

Bettina’s performance was actually slowed down by the cameras on the big night, leaving the audience at The Point to witness nothing but a blur (and the fat backing singer’s thigh).

Bettina is now employed as Austria’s only human windmill: her flailing arms can often be seen silhouetted against the Innesbruck skyline, although she has been known to frighten passing Japanese skiers.

BETTY (performer) Spanish entry, Jerusalem 1979: 2nd place (119 pts)
Spain's runner-up songstress in 1979 sure knows how to swig from a champagne bottle in the face of defeat. Not only that, the maternal-looking Ms Missiego very kindly took Deuce onstage with her, telling them, "One day, this could all be yours..." Deuce weren't impressed.

An impressive placing then for Su Cancion, a song that's a bit 'nice', but what still remains baffling is why, despite the intense Middle Eastern heat, that stripe of scalp exposed by her severe centre-parting didn't turn a ferocious shade of scarlet. Ooh, Betty...

BITAKAT HOB (song) Moroccan entry, The Hague 1980: 18th place (7 pts)
The Moroccans were cautious for their first ESC entry.

Their TV company were not prepared to stump up the necessary money to send Samira Bensaid to The Hague, so various Rabat businesses - a brewery, a pet shop, and a kitchen appliances supplier stepped in with sponsorship.

This was on the proviso that the song's title mentioned all of these business interests, thus inviting the tourist dirham. Thus, a song extolling the virtues of bitter, cats and hobs was squeezed between the 1980 Luxembourgeosie and Italian entries. The song did appallingly, and Morocco never entered again.

Perhaps this was a good thing; a breeder of female sheep, a mink stole supplier and a cough medicine maker were keen to sponsor the '81 Moroccan entry under the same conditions, thus saving Europe the embarrassment of having to appreciate a song called Ewe Fur Cough.

BLACK LACE (group) British entry, Jerusalem 1979: 7th place (73 pts)
The Beeb were desperate. The Corporation was on strike and they couldn't rely on the good British public to pick a probable ESC runner-up in Song for Europe '79.

Fortunately, the Director-General had shares in a local pub (The Dog and Licence Payer, in the heart of Shepherd's Bush green) and had had his attention drawn to the Smokie tribute group who played there in exchange for a few pints and a box of tabs every Wednesday night.

He popped in one night with five return tickets to Jerusalem in his breast pocket and handed them to the grateful minstrels. When Black Lace (for that was the group) asked him what they should sing for the UK at the ESC, the reply came, "Oh, any old rubbish." Black Lace took him very literally.

BLOND (group) Swedish entry, Dublin 1997: 14th place (36 pts)
Must have been something left in that test-tube then (See ARVINGARNA).

BLUE CAFE (group) Polish entry, Istanbul 2004: 17th place (27 pts)
Countless British tourists have mistakenly bought this group's album, believing it to contain a Bernard Manning stand-up routine from a Warsaw tearoom.

It's not of course. This band were cruelly denied a place in Riga with the soo-poib You May Be in Love but got their chance in Istanbul with Love Song. You can't help but think their first go would have scored a little better, but at least Macy Gray knew where her stolen singing voice had ended up once the programme was transmitted.

BOAZ (tiny man) Israeli entry, Belgrade 2008: 9th place (124 pts)
Israel's smallest man, Boaz Mauda is just 2ft 6ins in his stocking feet, but has overcompensated on the biceps to make up for it.

Taking a song written by Dana International, which seems to be called The Fire In Your Eyes, this was the surprise (small) package of Belgrade 2008.
Many critics have asked how Boaz managed to hit such high notes throughout his song, but what people don't know is that the song's composer was up in the producer's gallery during the Israeli performance, giving a no-holds barred description of a medical procedure she once underwent whenever Boaz needed to notch up an extra octave or five.

BOBBIE (singer) Austrian entry, Jerusalem 1999: 10th place (65 pts)
The girl who will only date blokes who have mirrors for pupils knew that she would one day become a vocalist and represent her country at international level, as her entire family are the Austrian equivalent of the Mister Men.

Her sister is called Bobbie Mortgage Advisor, her father answers to Bobby Drainage Inspector, whilst her great-aunt-thrice-removed revels in the handle of Bobbie Quick-One-Two-Behind-Wimpy-for-a-Tenner. Mmm, just like The Waltons...
Note: Bobbie's vocal talents derive from the Italian side of the family, namely her uncle: Bobby Solo.

BOBBYSOCKS (group) Norwegian entry, Gothenburg 1985: 1st place (123 pts)
After accidentally falling into a vat of radioactive pinky-purple sequins during a guided tour of Norway’s premier Theatrical Costume Works, ‘Elisabeth Andreasssssson’ and ‘Hannah Krog’ acquired the mysterious power of being able to dance in high heels.

This power was utilised to the full by a kind-hearted songwriter called Rolf who became their mentor on the condition that they never reveal their true identities (Angela Rippon and Kathy from EastEnders, but we didn‘t tell you that) and ‘Bobbysocks‘ were born.

With Rolf’s composition (originally written to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of Norwegians Against Vasectomy) the pair also realised that when they set foot on Swedish soil they gained hypnotic powers, which they used on most of the watching juries during their performance in the Scandinavium.

Sadly, their powers soon faded and Hannah Krogh now sells mobile phones door-to-door in Barnsley.

BOOGALOO (song) Swedish entry, Brussels 1987: 12th place (50 pts)
If this was an anally retentive ESC site - and I hope by now you realise it's anything but - this song should really be listed under 'F' as that's what it originally began with - and it had 'Coca Cola' in the title.

Lotta Engberg's Swedish entry for 1987 could have been seen as blatant advertising, therefore the big EBU suits intercepted and had the summer-hit-sounding song chagned to the far less offensive Boogaloo instead.

The contest performance came and went. All was going well, and Israel even gave it 12 points, until a marital aid company from Amsterdam faxed SVT halfway through the voting to thank them for promoting their top-selling vibrator in such a cheery manner on continental-wide TV.

The contents of the fax was leaked to Swedish newspaper Expressen. On her return to conservative Stockholm, Lotta Engberg was thrown into prison for 1,000 years, charged with being unwittingly saucy. She escaped though, but don't tell anyone.

BOOM BOOM BOOMERANG (song) Austrian entry, London 1977: 17th place (11 pts)
A fan writes:

'Yeah, like, of course... those BBC fascists would have you believe that Boom Boom Boomerang, Austria's entry in the 1977 Eurovision Song Contest, is just a pile of fairyfloss fluff with ridiculous costumes and a contrived dance routine. God, I mean, everyone knows it is in fact an extremely witty and satirical expose of the calculating efforts by the continental music industry to extort cash from an unwitting public via success in a musical festival whose competition elements are highly questionable in terms of credibility.'

Whoops, Dragovic writes:

Boom Boom Boomerang, Austria's entry in the 1977 Eurovision Song Contest, is just a pile of fairyfloss fluff with ridiculous costumes and a contrived dance routine.'

BORIS (singer) Croatian entry, Kiev 2005: 11th place (115 pts)
There are two things to ponder about the Croatian entry of 2005.

(a) If you want the voters to pay attention to you, don't get a baldy man to stand on his hands six feet to your right and get him to clap his bare feet together.

(b) If you are entering the Contest the year AFTER it has been in Istanbul, it's a bit late to end your song with the jingle from the Fry's Turkish Delight advert.

BOSNIA HERZEGOVINA (nation) First entry: Millstreet 1993. 0 0 1
Often neglected by televoters, as there isn’t enough room for the phone number alongside the name of the country on the caption during the reprise, Bosnia-Herzegovina has a thriving industry in unfinished, inside-out knitwear, popular with those who do the most peculiar dances on the Sarajevo club scene.

It is customary when leaving a Bosni-Herzegovian’s company to jerk one’s head from side to side in a staccato motion and say ‘Diddle-uh-duh-uh. Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh!’ or they are liable to get offended.

The Authorities did consider shortening the name of the nation to ‘Bosnia-H’ in early 2000, but realised that people would think this referred to a member of an Eastern European Steps copy-group, so carried on regardless.

BOUM BADABOUM (song) Monaco entry, Vienna 1967: 5th place (10 pts)
Minouche Barelli beamed down to the Weiner Hofburg in April 1967 in a concerted attempt to convince the British delegation in Vienna that Doctor Who needed a new Monacan assistant who could provide (via her stage outfit) her own Bacofoil mini-dress and (via the song), her own sound effects. The BBC weren't overly impressed with this impromptu audition, and passed her up on the offer.

Minouche resented her rejection, and spent most of the post-contest party trying to exterminate Sandie Shaw. Ms Shaw was not to be beaten though, she had read in The Ancient Law of Gallifrey that Monacans find foot odour lethal, so simply refused to re-apply her shoes. Minouche skulked away, muttering that Sandie may have won this battle, but victory in the war would be hers. Today, she is Severine's home-help.

BRAINSTORM (group) Latvian entry, Stockholm 2000: 3rd place (136 pts)
In 1956, Latvian Television started saving loose change in a jam jar to pay for their nation’s ESC debut. Forty-four years later, they had almost enough santimes to send a delegation to Stockholm, but there still had to be some budget restraints.

Therefore, the lead singer had to forego having his whole skeleton in place for the performance, his bones ending somewhere around the pelvic area. Another Brainstormer wore a Man U strip which was at least ten minutes old, and Ian Brown very kindly lent them a song title to avoid them shelling out for a new one.

For 2001, that slummy jar should yield the necessary fundage to send a pair of singing hamster screen-savers to Copenhagen. Oh, hang on, someone’s already tried that...

BRAZIL (song) Yugoslav entry, Rome 1991: 21st place (1 pt)
If it wasn't for the Dutch entrant of 1994, Baby Doll, at the age of 103, would have been the oldest ever ESC entrant by far (see WILLEKE).

The opening entry of Rome '91 was certainly uptempo, and was a tribute to the World Cup winning team of 1970, whom Baby, then 82, had invited round to her house for tea, cakes, and advice on how to beat wingless wonders prior to their departure for Mexico.

She had intended to namecheck the whole squad in the opening verse, but time had not been kind to her memory, prompting her to simply sing: "Nah, nah-nah-nah-na naaaaaaah-na..." whilst she looked out for the Italian floor manager waving the cue card listing Pele and Co in alphabetical order.

To this day, her efforts in helping Brazil to dizzy heights in the FIFA rankings have yet to be recognised.

BRIAN (singer) Irish entry, Athens 2006: 10th place (93 pts)
He is strong, he is tuFFFF and his best was good e-NUFFFF to get Ireland directly through to the 2007 final with Every Song Is a Cry For Love.

However, surely the most entertaining part about this performance wasn't Brian earnestly sinking to his knees, but the tiny little backing singer man in the middle. There's well turned-out, and there's, well, him. We have checked. He wasn't an old Thunderbirds puppet.

BUCKS FIZZ (group) British entry, Dublin 1981: 1st place (136 pts)
Christmas 1980.

Two aspiring songwriters (Hill/Danter) are on a double date with some lovely blonde ladies. During hilarious antics in attempt to impress female companions with Hill's botty vapour and cigarette lighter, Danter is accidentally set aflame.

In room free of fire-blankets, only items capable of extinguishing blaze belong to curvaceous females. Hill has scant moments to reach a decision/start making his mind...up and whips skirts from waists of ladies to smother the blaze surrounding his co-writer.

The fire is successfully extinguished. Hill looks at Danter. Danter looks at Hill. A two-and-a-half year cultural phenomenomenom-e-non is born.
Note: Eye witness accounts confirm that BBC attempted to set group members G and Nolan alight on stage during instrumental break at rehearsals in Dublin. Objections from studio safety officers led to this being dropped from final performance.

BULGARIA (nation) First entry: Kiev 2005. 0 0 0
As soon as Bulgaria does something interesting at Eurovision, Whoops Dragovic will get right back to you. Promise.

BUTCH (singer) Irish entry, Naples 1965: 6th place (11 pts)
You could argue that standing in a tuxedo as Ireland's debutante Eurovision entrant and singing about secretly crying when there are raindrops on your face was anything but butch, but that would be cynical (ahem...).

Yes, Butch Moore got everything started for Eire in Naples in 1965 with I'm Walking The Streets in the Rain and finished sixth. At least, it looks like he finished sixth, the '65 scoreboard is very difficult to read.

The late Butch is a household name in Ireland. He is best remembered in the rest of Europe, under his maiden name of Cassidy, for the docu-soap he made with Patti Boulaye's Sundance Kid in the formative years of American cowboy history. I liked the bit where he jumped off the cliff best.

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