1964 Contest Song Reviews: Yugoslavia, Switzerland, Belgium and Spain

Yugoslavia’s entry started with such promise — the orchestra comes in like a tide before Sabahudin Kurt’s vocals take “Život je sklopio krug” (Life Has Come Full Circle) in a less exciting direction. I’m not convinced the composers knew where they were going with this song: it speeds up, slows down, appears to want to be a slow and a mid-tempo ballad at the same time. What we end up with is a messy arrangement, with moments that make no sense alongside genuinely lovely moments. I find this a very difficult track to pin down.

Anita Traversi returns for Switzerland, this time singing “I miei pensieri” (My Thoughts). I remember being fairly impressed by Traversi’s passion in her 1960 performance, but regrettably there is little of that to be found in this ordinary ballad, which is so dreamy it forgets to set an interesting tone and make its presence felt. Don’t get me wrong, Traversi’s voice is enchanting and everything is executed fairly well, but that’s not enough if the song itself doesn’t stand out.

Onwards from the Fud Leclerc era of French Belgium’s entries to Robert Cogoi with “Près de ma rivière” (Nearby My River). Immediately there’s a different tone, with less focus on the orchestra, although the ballad format remains. There is a fair bit of structure to this, with a watery piano melody repeating in the background to provide a stable base for when Cogoi drops back from the more vocally dramatic parts of the song. It holds together well and is probably one of Belgium’s stronger entries in the contest to date.

Spain’s entries have been a bit and hit and miss for me, but I’m pleased to say this one is in the former category. After a couple of listens I was struck at how well Los TNT build their song “Caracola” (Conch) towards a thundering end which would have been a great closing song to the line-up. Their lead singer’s soaring vocals make the peaks and troughs of the song particularly memorable.