ESC 1965: Contest Review

You could say that each time Italy hosts, we have a homecoming of sorts. After all, it was the Sanremo Music Festival, established in 1951, that was a template for Eurovision. This then, is the first homecoming, to the city of Naples. Interestingly, it is also the first year that some countries behind the so-called Iron Curtain could also tune in (specifically: Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Soviet Russia itself).

My study of how orchestras can enhance or ruin a song continues, with the brashness of the entry from the Netherlands enhanced by the wall of sound provided. However, the subtlety of the German song was overwhelmed (as were the vocals). It would have come more into its own had the fairly sparse instrumentation in the recording I found been replicated on stage.

The Italians ran a tight ship, although it was a bit unsettling watching the singers walk up to the microphone after the host moved away and pretty much start singing immediately — I guess when you don’t have elaborate staging to set up, there’s no point in keeping the audience waiting any longer.

Conchita Bautista just couldn’t resist dancing again! It was good to see her back, even if her song didn’t beat her 1961 entry for Spain. To show how much I’m attuned to the modern Eurovision: it was a shock to see Udo Jürgens actuallly playing the piano live rather than miming. I mean, I assume he played it live?

Italy the first one to bring out backing vocalists, and I think the only one as well — can’t remember. The song certainly sounded better live compared to the studio version I found. Lastly, I didn’t realise the Finnish singer would be sporting a neckbeard!

The interval act was very brief: Italian opera singer Mario Del Monaco sang two songs and really went for it, and certainly blew everyone else off stage with his voice. I enjoyed it more than than most of the acts.

The voting continued to be a semi-mess, this time with its weird representation of the tally: bars growing from left to right rather than just the numbers. This certainly didn’t help anyone watching, including the commentators. However, it was nice to see France Gall so delighted as she sung the winner’s reprise.

Not sure whether it’s just because it has been a while since my last viewing, but it felt like this ran fairly smoothly and I didn’t feel the urge to skip, even the songs I wasn’t keen on (and there were a fair few). A decent year overall. Onwards to 1966!


1) Luxembourg — “Poupée de cire, poupée de son” by France Gall
2) Austria — “Sag ihr, ich lass sie grüßen” by Udo Jürgens
3) Ireland — “Walking the Streets in the Rain” by Butch Moore
4) France — “N’avoue jamais” by Guy Mardel
5) Belgium — “Als het weer lente is” by Lize Marke
6) United Kingdom — “I Belong” by Kathy Kirby
7) Spain — “¡Qué bueno, qué bueno!” by Conchita Bautista
8) Netherlands — “‘t Is genoeg” by Conny Vandenbos
9) Norway — “Karusell” by Kirsti Sparboe
10) Monaco — “Va dire à l’amour” by Marjorie Noël
11) Italy — “Se piangi, se ridi” by Bobby Solo
12) Finland — “Aurinko laskee länteen” by Viktor Klimenko
13) Portugal — “Sol de inverno” by Simone de Oliveira
14) Germany — “Paradies, wo bist du?” by Ulla Wiesner
15) Denmark — “For din skyld” by Birgit Brüel
16) Sweden — “Absent Friend” by Ingvar Wixell
17) Yugoslavia — “Čežnja” by Vice Vukov
18) Switzerland — “Non, à jamais sans toi” by Yovanna