ESC 1960: Overview and Song Rankings

Following the precedent set by France, the United Kingdom’s first time hosting the contest began with a few shots of the Thames in central London at night before entering the venue. The rotating platforms of Cannes were not repeated, but this was arguably the first year where there was a contestant’s parade as host Katie Boyle introduced each one in performing order. One significant and welcome change this year was that all contributors to the winning song were recognised with their own trophy, not just one given to the composer as was the case in earlier years. Another change worth noting was a wall of commentator’s boxes to the left of the camera where all the nations had their own representative to call the contest. Otherwise, the stage and decor set up were mostly like they were in previous years.

Opening the contest, I had high hopes for the United Kingdom as it was an entry I generally enjoyed in recorded form. However, singer Bryan Johnson whistled several times throughout instrumental breaks; it was unnecessary and the song dropped a few places in my list as a result.

I was never a fan of Denmark‘s rather reactionary song, and I braced myself for the worst when I saw Katy Bødtger come in with a parasol, but I’ll give her this much — at least her use of the prop felt fairly natural and gave the viewer something extra to keep an eye on.

The Austrian entry was one I accused of being a safe pick, but I was impressed: Harry Winter delivered the song well and brought out the gentle dreaminess of the lyrics.

The biggest surprise for me was Monaco: François Deguelt’s performance was explosive; he really felt the song and made sure the viewer did as well. This became one of my favourites of the evening after I thought it would be a mid-table prospect going in.

Another surprise was the entry from Switzerland — the recorded version I listened to clearly was a radio edit which toned down Anita Traversi’s empassioned, forceful performance. The music was engaging throughout, with a wonderful moment at the end where the orchestra and vocals collide.

As evidence that many Eurovision performers weren’t used to television in those days, Rudi Carrell for The Netherlands gave one of the more awkward performances in the history of the the contest. He didn’t seem convinced of the movements he made to accompany some of his lyrics, and may have been better served standing still with the occasional gesture to punctuate a few key words.

My biggest disappointment of the evening was Germany — I came in thinking this might end up being my favourite, but Wyn Hoop was unable to convey the mystery of the song. His wooden performance made it sound much sappier than it was on paper.

This wasn’t a particularly strong year in my opinion, but France was a worthy winner: Jacqueline Boyer performed the song with just the right amount of charm and cheek.

The voting was exciting again, and it was good to hear the crowd getting into it. The Swedish votes ultimately decided the outcome: with the UK unable to give itself points, France stayed ahead and that was it. Teddy Scholten returned to present Boyer with her trophy before the winner’s encore, which I think was also the start of what is now a tradition. One thing I found a bit weird was the frequent use of curtain drops after each performance, culminating in leaving Boyer awkwardly on her own holding the trophy as the show closed.

My ranking:

1) France – “Tom Pillibi” by Jacqueline Boyer

2) Monaco – “Ce soir-là” by François Deguelt

3) Austria – “Du hast mich so fasziniert” by Harry Winter

4) Netherlands – “Wat een geluk” by Rudi Carrell

5) United Kingdom – “Looking High, High, High” by Bryan Johnson

6) Switzerland – “Cielo e terra” by Anita Traversi

7) Sweden – “Alla andra får varann” by Siw Malmkvist

8) Germany – “Bonne nuit ma chérie” by Wyn Hoop

9) Belgium – “Mon amour pour toi” by Fud Leclerc

10) Norway – “Voi Voi” by Nora Brockstedt

11) Luxembourg – “So laang we’s du do bast” by Camillo Felgen

12) Denmark – “Det var en yndig tid” by Katy Bødtger

13) Italy – “Romantica” by Renato Rascel