1963 Contest Song Reviews: France, Spain and Sweden

With Alain Barrière’s “Elle était si jolie” (She Was So Pretty), I feel France is starting to move towards a more modern sound (or at least that’s what this recording would have be believe). It’s another story of unrequited love, but Barrière’s rich, expressive voice really carries the song, and while this feels like a stereotypical chanson in many ways, it’s one of the few I’ve truly enjoyed from France. I’m hoping that the orchestra doesn’t mess too much with the simplicity of the version that I’m listening to.

So far I’ve liked Spain’s entries, but José Guardiola with “Algo prodigioso” (Something Marvellous) falls on the wrong side of the fence for me. Aside from a lack of the noticeable Spanish flavour I enjoyed the last couple of years, this is a messy composition which feels like it’s trying to be the kind of song we’ve already seen too often at the contest. Yes, yes, we’ve heard a fawning love song before that seems to focus on vocal exercises at the expense of creating a song that speaks to people.

The moment this song begins I’m reminded of Denmark’s debut back in 1957, with its deep, gentle midnight tones. Unfortunately, this is where the songs part way, as “En gång i Stockholm” (Once Upon a Time in Stockholm) doesn’t offer much in the way of variety either musically or vocally, where Monica Zetterlund’s voice mostly hangs about in a low register as she sings of a couple navigating Stockholm in winter. (And when she sings a little higher and louder, it feels forced.) This isn’t a bad song, but it’s certainly not a competitive one.