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(O): from O Meu Coracao Nao Tem Cor to Out On My Own

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

O MEU CORACAO NAO TEM COR (song) Portuguese entry, Oslo 1996: 6th place (92 pts)
The best showing ever for the Portuganese, as Jade from Big Brother would have you believe, even Gina G and her barely concealed clock springs couldn't stop Lucia Moniz storming all the way to 6th position in 1996 with probably the most un-Portuganese song Portugal has ever entered.

Saying that, it isn't too dissimilar from Alma Lusa's song two years later, but you know what we mean.

In a mammoth poll conducted by American fan Darrell Frye in 2001 between every single ESC song from De Vogels Van Holland to Never Ever Let You Go, this was the one which came out on top over more than 800 rivals.

And I still think it sounds like a song off Victoria Wood.

OD NAS ZAVISI (song) Macedonian entry, Tallinn 2002: 19th place (25 pts)
With only a coal scuttle bodice and a large potato snack suspended from the ceiling between her and the Tallinn audience, Karolina Goceva brought one of the classier entries to ESC 2002 on behalf of the good folk of FYROM.

The song bombed, as classy songs tend to (see On AURA LE CIEL) but the voting procedure did reveal one alarming thing.

When Romania allotted its douze to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia it soon became clear that if this nation ever wins the contest, the voting segment is going to take about two hours and the presenters are going to need gas and air afterwards.

ODD (bod) Norwegian entry, London 1968: =12th place (2 pts)
What a very rude man. Obviously ruffled by the presence of a rival Scandinavian playboy (see CLAES-GORAN) at the Albert Hall, Odd Borre decided to go for shock tactics at the 1968 ESC.

However, one mustn't forget that the tamest music festival in the world isn't really the place to storm on stage in a big huff, keep looking at your watch as if you're fed up and repeatedly shout 'bra' at the audience.

Well, really... No wonder he only got two votes.

OFRA (singer) Israeli entry, Munich 1983: RUNNER UP (136 pts)
Golden boots were still a year away from providing winner's luck, but the late Ofra Haza still took her pair to runners-updom in 1983 for Israel.

Teetering on the narrowest ESC stage ever with her bevvy of bopping bahmitzvah baeauties, Ofra certainly got the crowd's vote with Hi, translated from the Hebrew Hi-Dee-Hye, an anthem performed in holday kibbhutzes throughout the Holy Land (and usually with cucumbers, but we won't go into that).

Beyond the music world, Ofra used to host her own Israeli talk show, called simply Ofra, where she would patronisingly 'give out love' to the watching millions. Topics up for discussion on her programme have included: 'Help! I've Done National Service, But I Still Haven't Represented My Country at Eurovision' and 'What Can I Do with a Spare Male Body Appendage?'

OLD MAN FIDDLE (song) Finnish entry, Stockholm 1975: 7th place (74 pts)
'So let your heart run free/with ragtime revelry'.

I'm not going to attempt the spelling of this group's name, but it's a bit like 'Pissedjehosophat', and they looked like a load of physics teachers who'd got lost on their way to a conference on global inertia.

That said, it is not for us to condemn one of Finland's best showings ever (7th-wahey!) with a song that has a lot of charm. It is certainly safer to listen to this tune on record though, as judging by the look of 'Pissedjehosophat', they may very well try to recreate an infamous scene from Deliverance with some audience members during their gigs. People who sure do have a pretty mouth are advised to stay away.

OLIVIA (singer) British entry, Brighton 1974: =4th place (14 pts)
It is not for the compilers of this encyclopaedia to speculate just how exactly Sir Cliff persuaded the lovely Miss Neutron-Bomb to represent the UK at the 1974 ESC, but we do know that it wasn't with the promise of extra bible stories at bedtime.

Once she did get to Brighton, she did a Double-Sandie, a) by singing a song with the same title as a past hit for Ms Shaw (Long Live Love), and b) not wearing any shoes under her scarily frilly dress. Well, actually, b) was just a guess - but you can't see her feet anyway.

The only thing she didn't do which Sandie did was to win the contest, but ESC history would certainly have been a drabber place if she had done.

OLSEN BROTHERS (brothers) Danish entry, Stockholm 2000: WINNER (195 pts)
The Olsen Brothers used to work in the aviary of Copenhagen Zoo.

Their main duty was to check the feathers of every bird for any nasty predators. Their songwriting prowess couldn't be suppressed however, and they would often compose the odd ditty as they went about their work.

One day, in the summer of 1999, Bearded Olsen was checking through the Birds of Peace section. He examined the feathers of their prize specimen (who had very kindly clung onto a microphone and modelled for the logo of the 1974 ESC, but that's another story) and as he did so, he let out a shriek of horror.

Looks-like-Norm-from-Cheers Olsen hurried over and asked what was wrong. Bearded Olsen pointed into the plumage, "Flies..." he exclaimed, "in the wings of dove..."

Inspiration suddenly struck, and the rest, as they say, is history.

ON AGAIN...OFF AGAIN... (song) Maltese entry, Istanbul 2004: 12th place (50 pts)
Let us suppress a girlish giggle as the intro to this entry (well, Julie does at the start of the song).

It is a brave wannabe pop star who plumps for the name 'Ludwig' *and* decides to wear leather pants on stage as well, so we'll give the lad that, anyway.

This rather soppy number was inspired by the time the formidable Grace Borg who split her time between running the group which shortlisted Malta's potential Eurovision entries and declaring war on the crew of the Starship Enterprise.

Anyway, a rather thick work experience person in Grace's office had put the Christma stree lights which blinked into the box for the one which stayed on permanently. The following yuletide, as Grace and her assistant were testing the Christmas lights, Grace reassured her assistant that the lights were working. Then they weren't. Then they were. Then they weren't. Then they were. Then they weren't...

ONE (group) Cypriot entry, Tallinn 2002: 6th place (85 pts)
The maximum time allowed for a Eurovision song is three minutes, a stop on the clock which most countries come off the mike at.

If handled correctly, that three minutes can feel like thirty seconds, but just sometimes it feels like the same three minutes it takes for your passport photos to pop out the slot on the booth. Gimme, performed by ONE, is definitely in the latter category.

The five guys (plus one girly backing singer) who opened the show in 2002 had clearly mastered the art of bending time, as with every repetition of the chorus (and this is ONE repetitious song), it really seems a whole five minutes had elapsed since they stomped onto stage.

ONE can only assume there were a number of elementary physicists watching the contest then, as their wizardry of extending the moment was rewarded with a very respectable sixth place.

Very scary man on lead vocal, too.

ONE GOOD REASON (song) Dutch entry, Jerusalem 1999: =8th place (71 pts)
You may be forgiven for thinking that the title to Marlayne's 1999 entry for the Netherlands was always One Good Reason. However, this is not the case - the song was originally a terrace anthem written to boost the morale of Nottingham Forest FC and its players. Going under the title One Good Season, its working lyrics were: 'Give us one good season/and we will give you two/in a brand new stadium/with brass taps in the loo'

Unfortunately, such is the funny old game of football, the songwriters took their song to the ESC instead. Nottingham Forest steadfastly refuse to have a good season.

ONE MORE NIGHT (song) Dutch entry, Riga 2003: 13th place (45 pts)
How bizarre that this entry should follow One Good Reason.

It's written by the same composers to represent the same country and isn't too unlike its predecessor musically either. Sounding more like Marlayne would if she spent two weeks in the congregation of the Crystal Cathedral, One More Night is a far better song than its '99 counterpart, but anything with a funky organ riff pleases the present author.

The only thing letting it down was the presentation. Marlayne had people with one foot stuck to the floor, but Esther Hart got the fat bird off Hollyoaks in fishnet stockings and a Breton cap. Never mind.
Note: When Esther Hart met the 2003 Irish entrant in the Skonto Hall, it was moi-der.

ON AURA LE CIEL (song) French entry, Stockholm 2000: 23rd place (5 pts)
Whilst most people fussed and fretted about wannabe cowgirls and Dutch ladies in ravaged bacofoil, the French did what they so usually do and just sent a *song* to Eurovision 2000.

It's a tragically ignored song at that, sung by someone who knows what they're doing and wouldn't be caught dead ripping off a gold lame blouse during a piece of German rap.

Sofia Mestari finished very near the bottom, thus defining Eurovision voting in a nutshell.

ONE MORE TIME (group) Swedish entry, Oslo 1996: 3rd place (100 pts)
Their loneliness is killing them, they must confess they thought they'd win.

When they left Oslo with hopes declined, give them a smile.

Hit them baby, One More Time.

OPEN YOUR HEART (little gem) Icelandic entry, Riga 2003: =8th place (81 pts)
It was extremely brave of the Icelandics to return to the Eurovision stage after an enforced two-year absence with a song about major surgery, but they were justly regarded.

Competent singer/surgeon Birgitta Haukdal did not shirk in her duty either, agreeing to perform first onstage in Riga so she could tend to the medical needs of her fellow competitors as the contest progressed.

However, there is only so much one person can do, meaning Mickey's sore eye, Jemini's nerves and the entire Dutch backing troupe's dress sense could not be cured before the end of transmission.

OPERA (tragedy) Turkish entry, Munich 1983: =19th (0 pts)
How the hell did they think this had a chance? Worst of all, what were the other songs like in the 1983 Turkish final?

Cetin Alp looked like a Turkish Leslie Crowther, backed by four people who couldn't pass the spear-carrying exams for RADA. A dream combination, I'm sure you'll agree.

That this song scored nothing at all was perhaps a bit harsh, but perhaps it is a bit overambitious to try and fit all the elements of a piece of musical theatre lasting several hours into a ditty with a maximum length of three minutes - especially when the chorus never gets repeated.

Still, it was a braver effort than the aborted Greek entry Marathon, were one unfortunate man tried to cover 26.5 miles in three minutes whilst both jogging on the spot and singing. He collapsed trying.

ORO (song) Serbian entry, Belgrade 2008: 6th place (160 pts)
Oro may, or may not, be a song about those American chocolate biscuits with the cream in the middle.

Selected from a national final which lasted 15 hours, the song was performed by Jelena Tomasevic and written by that year's Contest co-host, Zjelko Joksimovic.

What people don't know is that, as well as his songwriting day job, Zjelko is one of Serbia's most celebrated archaeologists. He was digging around the ruins of a Middle Ages settlement in the days before the deadline to submit a song to the Serbian national final, when he discovered a manuscript with the tune and lyrics of Oro already written, next to what looked like an empty jar of chocolate and cream biscuits.

He stuck the ancient tune in a Jiffy bag and sent it straight to Serbian Telly. You know the rest.

ORTAL (singer) French entry, Kiev 2005: 23rd place (11 pts)
Last acts on stage used to have a tendency to do well at the Song Contest, but that hasn't been strictly true since around 1990.

Cementing this theory was Ortal, the winner of a French TV competition to restore the nation's pride after almost 30 years without a Eurovision win.

Ortal couldn't believe it when she was handed the ticket to Kiev. She had popped along to the TV studios to join the rest of her clan for the French version of 'Family Fortunes'. A man in a suit passed her in the corridor, looked her up and down, said: "You'll do. Learn this by May," before pushing a CD into her hands and a return ticket fot the Ukraine.

It was the most thorough French selection for years. And Ortal won a juicer on 'Family Fortunes' too. Bless.

OS AMIGOS (group) Portuguese entry, London 1977: 14th place (19 pts)
Entries which mention their country of origin in the title. Hmm... what 's the point?

Well, if you're trying to make a point, then there is a definite point to it, but is Eurovision the place to do it? By the time Os Amigos got on to the stage at Wembley '77, the only thing occupying the viewers' mind was that the event had finally been broadcast after a BBC strike very nearly put the kybosh on it.

That said, Portugal No Coracao isn't too offensive, but how on earth can you play a guitar which is that small?

OU ALLER? (group) French entry, Birmingham 1998: 24th place (3 pts)
Presumably not inspired by someone looking for a wig shop, the France '98 entry was one of those rare occasions when ESC viewers got a glimpse (albeit extremely watered down) of what the cool kids really like.

It says a lot for the ESC viewer then, that the song scored a criminally poor 3 points, finishing third from last, and sent French telly back to ballad mode. Marie Line would have torn her hair out in despair, if only she'd had any.

Still, I bet Marie Myriam liked it.

OUI, OUI, OUI, OUI (song) French entry, Cannes 1959: 3rd place (15 pts)
"Oui, oui, oui, oui," sang Jean Philippe as both the opening and host entrant of the 1959 Eurovision Song Contest.

This wasn't a positive announcement to the crowd though.

Jean was desperately trying to tell hostess Jacqueline Joubert the nerves had got to him, he had urinated all over the stage, and could she make it over sharpish to the stage with a bucket of disinfectant and a scrubbing brush before that platform revolved again and Birthe Wilke came on for Denmark.

OUT ON MY OWN (song) Dutch entry, Copenhagen 2001: =18th place (16 pts)
As part of a cost-cutting measure, Dutch TV only took responsibility for the cost of running the national selection in 2001.

Once Michelle had won with Out On My Own, it was down to her and her alone to get to Copenhagen and make her country proud of her.

She nobly took the task in hand, vowing to run all the way to Denmark in time to be there on the big night.
She only just managed it, arriving at five to eight in the evening on May 12. As the first act on, the Dutch songstress had no time to relax, and the run had worn her footwear completely away - forcing her to perform barefoot, and she was so ker-knackered she had to sing the song sitting down. Poor dear, and let's hope that Dutch telly's ensuing relegation taught them a lesson.
Note: The title 'Out On My Own' was inspired by the first time Michelle's parents let her nip down the offy for a big bar of Dairy Milk and 'Never Ending Story' on video when she was just nine years old.

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