It was forty years ago today, those Swedes taught the band to play
April 6, 2014 12:36 PM   Subscribe

April 6, 1974 -- Final night of the Eurovision Song Contest [1h50m, auf Deutsch (but music is the universal language)] If you don't want the full, stuffy context, you can watch the winning performance. (You already know who won... ) And watch them perform again after they were named winners.

Much deeper cultural context can be learned by watching The Joy Of ABBA (2013 BBC Special) [1h].
posted by hippybear (22 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
OMG, Anna's boots!

I will never not love ABBA.
posted by MissySedai at 1:12 PM on April 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

And every Eurovision winner ever since knew that ABBA's formula was the one to copy.

(The scruss siblings used to belt this one out all the time. Being four, I rather made up in volume what I lacked in accuracy …)
posted by scruss at 1:15 PM on April 6, 2014

That's... that's, like, a legitimate performance of a catchy song that makes sense, without too many gimmicks (Napoleon conductor and spiky guitar notwithstanding). I mean, hell, on the spectrum of ABBA outfits, this look says, "Thanks for coming out to see us at open mic night."

This is all to say that this video is perhaps the least Eurovisiony Eurovision video I have ever seen. I'm actually kind of stunned.
posted by Madamina at 1:22 PM on April 6, 2014 [4 favorites]

Hunh. For some reason I'd always sung the nonsensical lyrics "the mystery boat of the show" and it turns out that it's actually the much more reasonable "the history book on the shelf".
posted by Slothrup at 1:45 PM on April 6, 2014

As a North American I think it is inevitable that I will never fully understand the appeal of the Eurovision Song Contest, but as scruss wrote above, I now feel like I have context regarding the performance that so many contestants have tried to emulate over the years.. unless there's an even earlier ur-Eurovision (UR-ovision?) performance that they all hark back to?
posted by Nerd of the North at 1:47 PM on April 6, 2014

I'm a long-time ABBA fan, and aware of their Eurovision song win, but after watching that clip I have to ask - were the vocals pre-recorded? I don't know the rules of Eurovision, must the acts perform live or not. It just seemed like there were more instruments and vocals than were actually on the stage.
posted by Oriole Adams at 2:13 PM on April 6, 2014

Eurovision has a live vocals only rule.

ABBA's win came in one of the early years of pre-recorded backing tracks. Before that, the host country would provide an orchestra (this went on until 1998) and the individual acts would bring their own conductor, as ABBA did with their Napoleon.

(The orchestras were sometimes outstanding, like at the Albert Hall in 1968.)
posted by grounded at 2:40 PM on April 6, 2014

If you had been in Stockholm today, you could have knitted an Agneta beanie and attended a guitar building master class by the luthier who built that guitar (and who is currently producing a number of replicas, iiuc, so if you want your own, contact the museum asap).

(the luthier seems to be more into cars these days, and not much into hyperlinking, so you have to scroll down a bit to get to his instruments & speakers.)
posted by effbot at 3:01 PM on April 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Even Albini has them as "not crap"
posted by Ironmouth at 3:03 PM on April 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

As a North American I think it is inevitable that I will never fully understand the appeal of the Eurovision Song Contest

It's like WWE but with singing. People enjoy it in very much the same way. Also as USians you miss the intra-national competitions which is where the intrigue, inside jokes, frustration (and good music) really live.
posted by fshgrl at 3:44 PM on April 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

Another USian with a Eurovision question- I'd always heard that Riverdance was meant to be just sort of intermission entertainment at the 1992 Eurovision while the judges were tallying scores, but everyone loved it better than any of the actual entries and it became a thing. Is that true?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:53 PM on April 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Knock Knock
posted by ovvl at 4:18 PM on April 6, 2014

What's also great about this is how Swedish they sound. I was only every aware of them as big pop stars, and their vocal sounds seemed very international-English. Their accents are really strong, here, though.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 4:21 PM on April 6, 2014 [4 favorites]

Yes, I noticed that too: their accents are quite strong in this performance. Fantastic clip and post - thanks!
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 4:34 PM on April 6, 2014

Yeah, Riverdance originated as an interval act in 1994.

But imho nothing beats the one from Stockholm 2000: send director and editing wizard Johan Söderberg (of "Read My Lips" fame) travelling all over Europe with a click track and a camera, add some street dance and weird costumes at the end, and you get "Once Upon a Time Europe Was Covered With Ice".

(You may want to punch Terry Wogan after that clip, but having idiot commentators talk over the performances is a fundamental part of the Eurovision experience.)
posted by effbot at 5:18 PM on April 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Listening to Terry Wogan get progressively drunker and nastier is one of the best parts of Eurovision! He turns from a genial BBC host into a judgy Irish grandmother and it's glorious.

Riverdance was kind of a revelation at the time. So classy! The dancing itself was pretty eh to Irish people: seen it, but the singing and music were so cool.
posted by fshgrl at 9:46 PM on April 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Terry Wogan is a national treasure, he was the only reason I ever bothered to watch Eurovision. And though a bit off-topic (well Finland is near Sweden), no thread about Eurovision is complete without the glorious 2006 winner.
posted by epo at 1:38 AM on April 7, 2014

Of course everyone forgets they tried to enter Eurovision in 1973 with 'Ring Ring'. Credited as Benny A, Anni-Frid L, Bjorn U and Agnetha F, they didn't even win the Swedish qualifier (audio and slideshow YouTube link, video is apparently lost to time).
posted by ewan at 3:10 AM on April 7, 2014

As for 'Abba before Abba' at Eurovision Song Contest (ESC), I'd argue that Abba are one of the few 'pivot' songs in ESC that made everyone change how hey approach the Contest (fyi Poupée de cire, poupée de son; Waterloo; Oooh Ah Just A Little Bit; Every Way That I Can; the jury is out on Euphoria, but it's probably going to be in this list.)

Anyway, pre Abba you *might* consider The New Seekers' Beg Steal or Borrow. There are a few others with hints in the mix (Boom Bang a Bang, Un Banc Un Arbe Une Rue, and at push Vivo Cantando), but I'd say a lot of production houses were working on the new sound of the seventies, and Abba got it polished first.
posted by ewan at 3:20 AM on April 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Terry Wogan is a national treasure, he was the only reason I ever bothered to watch Eurovision.

We watch Eurovison on a direct download from the EBU Eurovision site. No narration, which is a HUGE pity.

We've occasionally heard Terry Wogan on some of the old clips on You Tube, and I understand Graham Norton is a complete hoot.

I would LOVE to bring the Eurovision Song Contest to the US, with Kathy Griffin and RuPaul as commenters. I! It writes itself, doesn't it?

BTW, Eurovision party at my house--May 10!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:23 AM on April 7, 2014

It's like WWE but with singing.

BWAHAHA! Love it.

I'm maybe having a viewing party this year, I just have to test out the best way to get the video from the computer to the TV. Best option seems to be tune in on website and Chromecast to the TV. But I've never watched via BBC with the commentators, that could be fun.
posted by dnash at 12:50 PM on April 7, 2014

I think Graham Norton is the host for the BBC coverage.

I've only ever watched the coverage, and have had a blast every time. I'm pretty sure there will be 1) a MeFi thread about the ESC when the time approaches, and 2) either liveblogging there or in MeFi Chat. I had so much fun the years I watched with fellow MeFites, I nearly hate that I am now employed and cannot do that anymore.
posted by hippybear at 5:22 PM on April 7, 2014

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