1964 Contest Song Reviews: Germany, Monaco, Portugal and Italy

When Germany’s entry “Man gewöhnt sich so schnell an das Schöne” (How Quickly We Get Used To Nice Things) began, I settled in for a slow, uninteresting ballad. To the credit of the songwriter, the pace picked up very suddenly, with singer Nora Nova sounding at ease and almost philosophical as her character reflects on a relationship which ended too quickly. The only thing that holds this song back for me is that the musical arrangement feels outdated and more could have been done with a smaller approach.

Off to Monaco, where Romuald Figuier’s “Où sont-elles passées” (Where Have They Gone?) starts as a ballad and ends in the same vein, without much of interest in between. His voice is pleasant, but you’d think that’s a prerequisite for this contest anyway. Where have songs like this one gone? They’ve mostly stayed in the past, where they belong.

With Sweden strangely absent from the first contest held in Scandinavia, Portugal comes in to make its debut, with António Calvário performing “Oração” (Prayer). Normally I try not to be too hard on first attempt at the song contest, but with lyrics which literally are a prayer to his God, perhaps Calvário thinks the Pope is on the jury panel? I listen to songs a few times before passing judgement, but halfway through my second listen I’d heard enough — and I’m not impressed.

I haven’t had much luck with Italy’s entries since Domenico Modugno moved on, but Gigliola Cinquetti with “Non ho l’età” (I’m Not Old Enough) is almost everything you’d hope for in a Eurovision winner. A voice that moves from delicate to forceful and back again without much effort, backed by just enough music at each stage of the song. The only downside to this song (and unfortunately it’s a fairly substantial one) is that the lyrics are distasteful. Getting a teenager to sing about being too young to love an older suitor, with the promise that one day she’ll be old enough and then all her love will be for him sounds particularly predatory in a modern context, even if it seemed to pass muster back in the day.