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(I): from I Admit to Izhar

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

I ADMIT (song) Romanian entry, Istanbul 2004: 18th place (18 pts)
Who is this dirty madam not wearing very much on stage?

Why, it's Sanda Ladosi, performer of the 2004 Romanian entry, 'I Admit'.

And isn't Sanda clever? By enforcing a scanty-cladness rule on herself and her backing singers, the audience is forgetting what a steaming pile of cack the actual song is. Well done all concerned.

I DO (song) Maltese entry, Athens 2006: 24th/last place (1 pt)
Tee-hee. 'I Do' rhymes with 'I Poo'.

Many people thought the same thing as they watched Fabrizio Faniello's performance in Athens.

I LOVE THE LITTLE THINGS (song) British entry, Copenhagen 1964: 2nd place (17 pts)
Matt Monro's 1964 UK entry has origins akin to a Whitehall farce.

One day, Tony Neighbours, Crossroads, Sportsnight etc Hatch had just come round to fix Matt Monro's wife's washing machine in his part-time day job as an electrical appliances repair man.

Whilst fiddling with Mrs Monro's twin-tubs, an unforeseen gush of water went all over Tony's overalls, leaving him wringing wet. Mrs Monro very kindly allowed Tony to dry off upstairs (as you do), but whilst she was taking him some dry clothes (he was stripped to the waist in the Monro marital bedroom), she heard a key turn in the lock - Matt was back early from his afternoon shift at the Singing Works!

Quickly, Matt's wife hid Tony in the wardrobe, as the innocence of the situation was, frankly, unbelievable. As Tony hid, Matt came upstairs and informed his wife that he was feeling particularly amorous and required his conjugal rites. Mrs Monro duly obliged, feeling, as she did, guilty about the situation. As the pair romped, Tony heard Mrs. Monro's comments about her husband's manhood. He had nothing better to do for three minutes, so he wrote a song about what she was saying.

I TRENI DI TOZEUR (song) Italian entry, Luxembourg 1984: =5th place (70 pts)
Once upon a time, Italy entered the Eurovision Song Contest, and did quite well in it too.

The year of 1984 is a good example. Whereas George Orwell predicted Big Brother would be watching over us all, it turned out he was just glaring over Alice Battiato's shoulder at the start of the song, but perhaps he just wanted to know why she'd robbed Linda Martin's jump suit from her dressing room.

This is not to knock the innovative entry from the Italians who kept a trio of divas, dressed like the Italian flag, patiently waiting up a flight of steps for most of the song to hit some high notes at the end.

They must have been trying to recreate the wait for the train to Tozeur, because if it's anything like trying to get a train from Hamilton Square to Liverpool on a Sunday evening, it feels like a lifetime..

I WANNA (song) Latvian entry, Tallinn 2002: 1st place (176 pts)
Finland had been trying since 1961, Portugal since 1964, Malta since 1971 and Turkey since 1975, but all four were still waiting in 2002.

How these nations must have enjoyed, then, watching Latvia sweep all before them on the Eurovision stage at only their third attempt. The vehicle to that victory, Marie N's sexually ambiguous I Wanna has already booked its place in Eurovision history as the winner guaranteed to make fans say: "It only won because of the stage performance, grrrr...." Just call it the Making Your Mind Up of the millennium - but with more removal of clothes.

A song which owes just as much to Carmen Miranda and Julie Andrews as it does to Marie herself, it's certainly the first contest winner to mention the human bodily process of sweating in its lyrics. Once TV Riga realised how much it would cost to stage the 2003 Contest, experts suggestd Marie would be asked to re-record the song under the new title of I Shouldn'ta.

ICELAND (nation) First entry: Bergen 1986. 0 1 0
In their early days, the Icelandics held residency in 16th position (1986-88), which included the now infamous paean to people waving their rear ends skywards by Halla Margaret in 1987.

With victory seemingly imminent in 1999, Icelandic TV realised that they had nowhere suitable to host the ESC if it should come Reykjavik-way in 2000. They therefore struck on the superb strategy of employing Paul Oscar and Bjork to build a huge igloo (large enough in which to stage a pan-continental music festival) just outside the town centre.

They began work in early May of '99, but once Sweden unfairly claimed victory in Jerusalem they gave up: Paul went back to sit on his big sofa in his front room and stroke his thighs whilst Bjork just sort of stood there and shrieked, really. Shhhh....

ICH TROJE (group) Polish entry, Riga 2003: 7th place (90 pts)
Still think Blue Cafe would have walked the whole thing, but would their lead singer have had the cheek to ask Lou if he could borrow her hair whilst singing for his country?

Ich Troje's entry translates as No Borders, thus explaining the tragic lack of large-scale bookshops in Warsaw. Indeed, the English lyrics clearly state how distressed all members of the band were in Riga. It was just a matter of weeks before Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was released and they had no way of reserving a copy for just one zloty.

This really is the tip of the iceberg. Ich Troje's latest album contains such offerings as Where Have All the Starbucks Gone? and No McDonalds In our Town (doo-dah, doo-dah).

IF I COULD CHOOSE (song) Irish entry, Vienna 1967: 2nd place (22 pts)
If Sean Dunphy really could choose, he'd have chosen to receive 26 more votes than he did, as that would have placed him one point ahead of Sandie Shaw.

The 1967 second-placer is a bit of a surprise as, although Puppet On a String was a fairly obvious winner, you wouldn't expect this to finish so far ahead of the likes of L'amour Est Bleu and Boum-Badaboum as it's bit dull, to be blatantly honest.

Mind you, Sean didn't look too bothered to be losing as he watched the scoreboard on the green room monitors, he didn't have Udo Jurgens crawling right up his backside, which is what Sandie had to compete with over in the winner's enclosure.
Note: Please be assured that when Sean sings about 'The Hills of Clare', he really is referring to a geographical landmark, and not something far ruder.

IF MY WORLD STOPPED TURNING (song) Irish entry, Istanbul 2004: 23rd place (7 pts)
Imagine The Supremes performing 'Stop! In the Name of Love' after doing 72 hours' hard labour down a coal mine without a break. That's how much zip Chris Doran put into his 'Stop' gesture during the performance of Ireland's 2004 entry.

'If My World Stopped Turning' was written by former Westlife podger Brian McFadden. It was inspired after his the wife Kerry Katona started performing one of her Atomic Kitten hits during a day trip to the North Pole with the kids. Her dreadful voice actually caused the world to cease its rotation for several minutes.

IK HEB ZORGEN (song) Belgian entry, Vienna 1967: 7th place (8 pts)
False endings are inadvisable at Eurovision (See ZBUDI SE - if you're feeling masochistic), and one of the earliest was brought to the Pan-Euro screens by Louis Neefs as the Belgian entry to Eurovision '67.

The pleasant, if repetitive, ditty was ambling along nicely when it came to an abrupt stop. The camera had almost finished panning awya from him when suddenly Mr Neefs begins singing all over again, the orchestra goes along with him, while the camera operator struggled to make it look like he knew what had been going on all along.

Louis didn't come anywhere near winning and, just for the record, Ik Heb Zorgen translates as I Got Troubles. How true.

IL FAUT DU TEMPS (song) French entry, Tallinn 2002: 5th place (104 pts)
Amid the floss and fluff of the 2002 Eurovision, the French did their usual trick and just sent a *song* as their contribution to the event.

Translated as "It Takes Time", Il Faut Du Temps was a fine display of how to simply stand on a stage in a flattering dress and belt out a song without needing to remove any items of clothing or blow glitter in anyone's face.

The fact that singers employing the aforementioned ruses finished higher than Sandrine Francoise does blow that particular theory out the water, but she deserved to finish fifth.

As soon as the Estonians had packed their scoreboard away, the French were already plotting their successful return in 2003. In Riga, the hopes of the French nation could have rested upon a singer whose entry will combine all the elements of France's five previous winning songs. All we know so far is that the title will translate into English as Sleep my Greatest Child Tom For An Hour, And Something About a Bird and Another Child.

Catchy - but they could easily send something about the moon and the stars instead.

IL ME DONNE RENDEZ VOUS (song) French entry, Dublin 1995: 4th place (94 pts)
If French telly ever wanted to make their own version of Absolutely Fabulous, they have a tailor-made theme tune in the shape of Nathalie Santamaria's 1995 entry.

Combining funky organ breaks with a surprisingly non-francais uptempo tune, Il Me Donne Rendezvous finished fourth, just ahead of a Danish song about a train journey and a Croatian one about, well, nostalgia.

This marked France's last Top Five showing of the 20th Century, and Nathalie found the experience difficult to shake off. She now wanders the streets of Paris with her dizzy and eccentrically dressed PA trying her utmost to flog her exclusive range of T-shirts bearing the slogans 'Secret Garden are Rubbish', 'Anabel Conde Never Shaves Her Legs' and 'Jan Johansen Has Got a Girl's Name', but in French, obviously.

She hasn't sold one yet, sweetie.

I'M NEVER GIVING UP (song) British entry, Munich 1983: 6th place (79 pts)
With an intro courtesy of a digital alarm clock, this was the UK's third remarkably-similar-formula entry in a row in 1983. Sweet Dreams, who performed the song, should be congratulated for an early utilisation of the bar stool, copied by many other acts in the years to come, although these were rather too keen to slide off them in unison. It deserved better than sixth, but the battle was already lost, and it would be fourteen years before Katrina won the war.

ILANIT (performer) Israeli entry, Luxembourg 1973: 4th place (97 pts) ; London 1977: 11th place (49 pts)

It's Ilanit, innit? So said the Israeli public in both 1973 and 1977 when their peers enquired who exactly was singing for their nation at that year's Eurovision.

Ilanit, of course, has the honour of being Israel's debut Eurovision performer with the 4th-placing Ey Sham; which literally translates as "having glass eyes."

In 1977 she sang a song with an incredibly long title which escapes me at the moment, but in both Luxembourg and London she did have lovely long blonde hair and a nice line in colourful, ethnic frocks.

So that's Ilanit then. Anyone want to know about Imaani?.

IMMANI (performer) British entry, Birmingham 1998: 2nd place (166 pts)
Taking a song originally intended to advertise the services of Dyna-Rod ('You could unblock these drains...Where are you now?') Imaani was a surprise candidate for the host country's nomination in 1998, and an even more surprising final choice.

She did not let her countryfolk down in Brum however, although she was very nearly put off going out on stage when somebody substituted her favourite shampoo for a big bag of thimbles just before her pre-performance shower. Rumours abound as to the culprit, but my money's on Marie Line.

IN A WOMAN'S HEART (song) Maltese entry, Oslo 1996: =10th place (68 pts)
It is odd to assume that the gathered juries watching events unfurl at Oslo '96 would be in the least bit turned on by a song about ventricles, capillaries and lot of pumping blood, but Miriam Christine Borg seemed to think it would do the trick for Malta.

She was wrong of course, as the juries that year were more interested in the specific output of the vocal folds, but she did spend a week in St Tropez in the summer of '96 posing for the boxtop photograph of the feminist version of 'Operation' on the back of her entry.

In this edition of the classic board game, radical wimmin use non-phallically shaped tweezers to remove all the necessary components of a stylised human heart. Once only an empty plastic husk remains, they derive great pleasure from inserting it into the chest of a live human male.

IN THE DISCO (song) Bosnia-Herzegovinan entry, Istanbul 2004: 9th place (91 pts)
Hmm, I wonder which type of disco Deen goes to?

Whichever it is, they certainly don't serve pies.

Written by 2002 Croatian entrant, Vesna Pisarovic, there are definite shades of the Donna Summer back catalogue in this dancefloor-friendly ditty, so the Bozzers had to find a way of stopping the '70s diva from listening to the song while it was being broadcast across the world and then contacting her lawyers.

The solution was simple. A member of the Sarajevo branch of the Donna Summer fan club was tortured with repeated listens to 'Nanana' until he confessed that the popular singer had a morbid fear of haemorrhoids. Deen promptly had the largest one he could find turned into a mirrorball, beneath which he proudly formed 'In the Disco'. Ms Summer is still quivering behind the couch.

INES (performer) Estonian entry, Stockholm 2000: 4th place (98 pts)
The most annoyed performer in Stockholm 2000. As soon as she walked out on stage in her olive green ensemble, she realised that most of her backing group had copied her colour scheme. Oh, what's a girl to do when she's forced to blend in? Certainly not win, that's for sure. And I had a whole pound on her at the bookies.

INTERVAL ACT (supposed tension reliever)

Up until 1994, the bit between the songs and the voting was usually jazz band accompaniment (or a very boring film about Yorkshire, or men dressed as Wombles scaring young children) to 300 million boiling kettles across the continent.

Then, an extremely modest, self-effacing resident of Chicago deigned to don a girl's blouse, put ants in his shoes and tell the world (via the medium of darnce) that he really is the most important, attractive, talented, god-like creature to have ever set foot on this planet (who's he kidding?)

However, Riverdance was/is undeniably powerful, if only it hadn't been so hyped to death afterwards. The only interval act to have rivalled it in scale so far is that of Birmingham '98.

Size isn't everything of course. It was all going so well up to the bagpipes, but how often do you see Maori warriors on the streets of the UK? Rumour has it that at least three members of that Welsh male choir had their jaws locked in an 'o' position for a week after the big night.

INVINCIBLE (song) Swedish entry, Athens 2006: 5th place (170 pts)
God's best mate, Carola, is a greedy old cow.

Not content with scoring the biggest selling single in Swedish history ('Framling' how???), and winning Eurovision in the most 'tearing-the-stuffing-out-the-green-room-sofa-with-nerves' way possible, she wants to be the first woman to win the Contest twice.

I'm sure 'greed' is listed as being somehow sinful in the Bible, but anyway...

Carola won the 2006 Melodifestivalen with 'Invincible', and then progressed from the 2006 semi-final to the Contest proper in Athens. The song is typical Swedish fare, except for some backing people waving a few silver flags about and, if you look closely, her best mate helping her out by making her speak in tongues towards the big finale. At least, that's what it looks like. (See also CAROLA).

IRA (performer) Maltese entry, Tallinn 2002: 2nd place (164 pts)
If the Maltese degelation had kept the original Wall of Sound national final version of Ira's punchy little number, Latvia's television executives wouldn't have sparks flying off their abacuses at the time of writing.

However, the fact that Seventh Wonder finally gave Miss Losco the chance to represent her country on the Eurovision stage does have an ironic ring to it, as it must have been the seventh time the girl had tried to do it.

Another reason Ira may have missed those elusive victory-clinching 13 points is the rather bland lyrics she was given to sing - even Renato wouldn't have rhymed 'fact' with 'tact'. With that in mind, Whoops, Dragovic has put its thinking cap on, acted dramatically flappy whenever anyone tried to disturb it during the thinking process, and come up with an alternative chorus. Hope you like it:

I'm not weak, I'm not strong
I just wanna move along.
By the time you get back
I've already packed my bags.
Don't be sensible, take me to, some kind of wonder.
You've got to stop this girl from going under.

Admittedly, you'd have to change the title of the song, but we'd still let her pull the glitter from her knickers.

Luxembourg's entire population)
Luxembourgeois entry, Gothenburg 1985: 13th place (37 pts)
The 1985 Luxemborgeois entry with Children, Kinder, Enfants. I'm sorry, but there really isn't enough webspace left to write anything else.

IRELAND (nation) First entry: Naples 1965. 7 4 1
The Manchester United of Eurovision. After being quite unremarkable in ESC terms for twenty-odd years, they are suddenly spoke of as the only team that matters, leaving those more deserving of the crown feeling mildly peeved. It is unknown whether the majority of those who televote for Eire on Eurovision night are Cockneys, who have never even tasted Guinness or bought a Corrs album, but it's probably true. They wear their latest Man U Away Strip (cost: 37,000) when voting however, and have been known on occasion to ask the recorded voice confirming the vote at the end of the line if it knows where Old Trafford is.

ISABELLE (singer)
French entry, Luxembourg 1962: WINNER (26 pts) ; London 1968: 3rd place (20 pts)

Isabelle really necessary on the Eurovision stage?

The French certainly thought so in 1962 (because she won for them) and perhaps less so in 1968 (where she only came third for them).

Isabelle Aubret is certainly one of the classier ladies to have participated at Eurovision, with her hair, mouth, legs and that. She still has all three today, and lives in a big chateau where she plays tennis with Cliff Richard twice a month and keeps Jacqueline Boyer locked in the cellar with only rats and Anne-Marie David for company.

ISIS (dental phenomenon) Polish entry, Belgrade 2008: 24th place (14 pts)
Gee, Isis, is that all of Poland's dental health budget you've got on display in those gums?

It's no wonder she's got those veneers in. For Life is such a syrupy sweet ballad it only takes one listen for your teeth to start to rot.

As she did so badly in Belgrade, Isis decided not to mope, and has re-recorded her Euroflop as For The Good Life, the anthem of Poland's self sufficiency movement.

Richard Briers and Penelope Keith are on backing vocals and, at the appropriate moment towards the end of the song, Felicity Kendal appears and shakes her sexy little bottom to give the ditty a much needed lift before Isis appears astride Geraldine the goat for a final verse teeth-off. It really is smashing fun.

ISRAEL (nation) First entry: Luxembourg 1973. 3 2 1
Situated in the heart of Europe, the Holy Land of Israel holds delights for many a visitor. Marvel at the musical talents of anyone who's been in National Service. Savour the national cuisine (Milk, Honey and Chocolate). Perform a folk dance which somehow involves putting your hands on your hips and crouching halfway towards the floor with one knee, then getting back up again, spinning a bit, and starting all over again. Sing a song which has a simplistic, anthemic chorus, and if you're a boy, don't forget to emasculate yourself. Yes, that's Israel. Flights available now.

IT HURTS (song) Swedish entry, Istanbul 2004: 6th place (170 pts)
A marvel in kitten heels, Lena Philipsson seemed a dead cert to scoop the 2004 trophy with Bjornabennyish 'It Hurts'.

She didn't win, but there is an explanation. Her microphone stand had got caught up with the cable which controlled the Eurovision satellite, so every time she started arsing about with it, the transmission went haywire and the signal was beamed only to homes in Italy and Luxembourg, where the populous was out of doors, doing something far more constructive instead.

IT'S JUST A GAME (song) Norwegian entry, Luxembourg 1973: 7th place (89 pts)
There's one Scandinavian country which is renowned for the act of wife-swapping (usually in an outdoor sauna), but few know of the more sedate Norwegian ritual of mic-swapping, displayed to the world in all mother of tongues by the Bendik Singers at Luxembourg '73.

The title of the song indicates just how clean-living the Bendiks were, with absolutely no intentions of swapping microphones whilst in a compromising situation. Their purity is also indicated by the follow-up single to It's Just A Game, entitled Take that Raw Herring and Spank Me With It.

ITALY (nation) First entry: Lugano 1956. 2 1 4
They've taken their balls home, and thrown all their toys out the cot just because they haven't won since 1990 (even though their last win before that was 1964) and so the ESC can now largely be considered an Italy-free zone.

That isn't to say Italy didn't offer its fair share of delights over the years. Who can forget Iva Zanicchi, Gianni Morandi and Massimo Ranieri? Well... I'm sure their immediate family were proud of them, anyway.

You never know, Toto may reappear with Insieme:2020 in 2018.

IZHAR (singer) Israeli entry, Paris 1978: WINNER (157 pts) ; Gothenburg 1985: 5th place (93 pts)

"It is NOT I Wannabe A Polar Bear..." snarled the leader of Israel's first victorious music-makers in 1978 on Channel 4 in early 2000. Izhar is now accomplished in both 'being able to act as though he's just heard that joke for the first time', and, of course, afro-taming.

He disbanded the Alphabeta after they lost ESC '85 with Ole! Ole! and now has a new group called the Gammadelta. They have spent the last few years trying to secure the rights to Elpida's Socrates (see GREECE).

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