Tag Archives: Dana International


Morten Thomassen from Norway decided to write about some of his memories of Eurovision and the Norwegian Eurovision selection. ESC Covers again will publish it after google translating it from Norwegian to English. Continue reading MEMORIES ARE MADE OF THIS – EUROVISION 1998


Roy van der Merwe of Eurovision South Africa and the ESC Covers website attended several Eurovision song contests in person at the host cities. He is writing down his memories of those Eurovisions he attended with accreditation. Continue reading EUROVISION MEMORIES – BIRMINGHAM – 1998


John Jago  is a Eurovision fan from the United States of America. He is the second last person to tell us of his Discotheque memory. We are doing this because the group THE ROOP from Lithuania picked a song called Discotheque for the 2021 Eurovision song contest. We allowed people to also pick a non Eurovision song, if such a song brings back special memories.



When people ask me to pick the most awful of all my Eurovisions, it is easy to answer. It is this one by a long shot. Even before arriving at Eurovision, the biggest horror was the fact that Germany sent Guildo Horn as their entry – one of my biggest hates to date (and for all those who like German schlager music). In all honesty I have to say that the 1998 German selection was not that special. A penfriend sent me the compilation CD and although there were 3 Ralph Siegel songs in the selection namely “Kids” by Sharon, “Can-can” by Ballhouse and “Carneval” by Kopenick – none of these songs really stood out. I remember listening to the songs with Lana who worked with me and she went crazy over the “Gel song” by Fokker.

The trip also started with a horror drama. A week prior to my departure, I got off my bus from work and the bus driver closed the door before I was completely off and my arm was caught in the door and it broke the glass of my watch. The bus company said they would pay for the repairs, but I had to get two quotes. Naturally they accepted the cheapest one and I handed in my watch, saying I wanted it back before departing for Eurovision. The day before my departure, the watch was ready and I went to fetch it. Suddenly a guy stormed into the shop with a gun, demanding money. He grabbed a female as hostage. She was looking at a tray of expensive golden rings. The shock of being grabbed as a hostage was too much for her and she collapsed. The robber thought someone had shot at him but hit the female, grabbed some of the rings and ran out. The rest of us in the shop finally got our speech back and realized what a close escape we have had. So I did not have a good start to my journey.

1998 also brought the biggest crisis for me surrounding accreditation. The BBC did not think it was special for me to come all the way from South Africa for Eurovision when tons of South Africans are living in London and surroundings areas. If Greece had not come to my rescue and offered me accreditation (knowing that I do shows for the Greek radio station in Johannesburg), I would have had an even more miserable Eurovision. I was so upset that I left the Thursday before the final and flew to the Netherlands where I watched it on TV and televoted for Estonia. It was the first and last time I had ever televoted.

My hotel in Birmingham was also not that special. It was near the venue and affordable but it was small and I was the only Eurovision journalist staying there. But most of all, for some strange reason there was no curtains in front of the windows. And my room looked out right on a lamppost in the street. Since I am totally unable to sleep when it is light, I had to use my bedspread every night in front of the window to make the room dark.

At Eurovision Guildo Horn had so many followers – they were all around – tons of them came by boat to Birmingham to support their singer. His press conference was packed.

1998 also had DANA INTERNATIONAL for Israel and a lot of hype, as it was the first sex change singer to be at Eurovision. The press predicted the winner would come from either Guildo or Dana.

This was also when I met up with Chiara from Malta who was still very young and I was able to see how she grew and matured in later years when I met her again in 2005 and 2009.

The year also saw the first introduction of televoting on a limited scale – I am not sure but I think 6 countries voted by phone instead of the normal juries.

The Finnish party in the aquarium in Birmingham was one small highlight – this must have cost a fortune! But it probably was one of the most exotic locations for a party. Pity their entry “Aava” was not really my cup-a-tea, reminded me too much of the Norwegian Eurovision winner of 1995.

Because I did not stay until the end, I left Birmingham without obtaining all the entries on CD – I missed 3 – Germany, Israel and France. Luckily I was able to get them all later through other people.

Interesting is that someone made a Grand Prix compilation of the entries – all 25 and live from the performance.

Musically the highlights were
Estonia – Mere Lapsed – Koit Toome
Sweden – Karleken ar – Jill Johnson
Macedonia – Ne zori zoro – Vlado Janevski
Slovakia – Modlitba – Katarina Hasporva
Romania – Eu cred – Malina Olinescu

And of course the biggest horror
Germany – Guildo hat euch lieb – Guildo Horn
But other dislikes were
France – Ou aller – Marie Line
United Kingdom – Where are you – Imaani



Hello again Rest of the World!

Thank you so much for all your diligence, hard work and sacrifice in getting through round two of our search for the favourite Eurovision song for our brilliant fan club. The results have been tallied.  The top twelve songs have been selected… by YOU!
Now… We ask for you to provide a typical Eurovision scorecard to the twelve songs… That is allocate 12, 10 and then 8-1 points in order of your most favourite (12 points), down.  This means two songs will indeed receive nil points from each voter.  C’est la vie!
The finalists are as follows:
ABBA – Waterloo
Bucks Fizz – Making Your Mind Up
Gina G – Ooh Aah… Just A Little Bit
Dana International – Diva
Lena – Satellite
Loreen – Euphoria
Emmelie de Forest – Only Teardrops
Conchita Wurst – Rise Like A Phoenix
Sanna Nielsen – Undo
Il Volo – Grande Amore
Loic Nottet – Rhythm Inside
Morland & Debrah Scarlett – A Monster Like Me
The timeframe to get these votes through – until midnight 10 January CET.
As previously, please send your votes to escvotes@gmail.com .
Should you wish to discuss this further, please feel free to comment below… If anyone wishes to complain, please send an email directly to our customer service division transvision.vamp@bidc.com (this is not monitored).
Have fun!!!
Rest of the World…. Start voting….



Here are my 60 highlights from Eurovision as we approach the 60th edition of the show

01 = 1968 – United Kingdom – Congratulations – Cliff Richard

(It is my first memory of a Eurovision song. Such a catchy song and it should have won)

02 = 1970 – Ireland – All kinds of everything – Dana

(As a child we sang this song a lot in school)

03 = 1971 – Sweden – Vita vidder – The family four

(I only discovered this song in 1998 but cannot get it out of my head)

04 = 1972 – Luxembourg – Apres toi – Vicky Leandros

(She toured South Africa and I went to a show and she sang the song in English as Come what may and it became a number 1 hit)

05 = 1973 – Spain – Eres tu – Mocedades

(Probably the first Spanish song I have ever heard, and still a classic)

06 = 1974 – Sweden – Waterloo – Abba

(The group has been known in SA prior to them winning Eurovision and had 3 number 1 hits before this, but this will always be a historic moment)

07 = 1974 – Netherlands – I see a star – Mouth & Macneal

(Just love this duo and such a pity it had to be in the same year as Abba)

08 = 1976 – Switzerland – Djambo djambo – Peter Sue & Marc

(My first introduction to this group who went on to become my most loved group of all time and their song BIRDS OF PARADISE is my most loved song of all time)

09 = 1976 – United Kingdom – Save your kisses for me – Brotherhood of man

(Loved the group and actually they won Eurovision with a song that is only my 10th most loved song by them)

10 = 1977 – Netherlands – De mallemolen –Heddy Lester

(Such a pity I never heard of her before or after this song)

11 = 1978 – United Kingdom – The bad old days – Co co

(Just loved this and nearly had a heartattack when the news reported after Eurovision NO GO FOR CO CO)

12 = 1979 – Germany – Dschinghis khan – Dschinghis khan

(This will always be special. My first introduction to Ralph Siegel and also one of the members HERMAN LOUIS POTGIETER is South African and used to go to the same high school as me, although he was out of school by the time I got to high school)

13 = 1979 – Spain – Su cancion – Betty Missiego

(Did not hear this until many years later – the original. I however got for Christmas that year as vinyl single from Finland with the Finnish cover and I was thrilled, it was my first introduction to Eurovision covers by other artists in other languages outside of the handful South African covers)

14 = 1980 – United Kingdom –Love enough for two – Prima Donna

(Video recorders came to South Africa and I got one and my penfriend in London sent me the 1980 Eurovision on video for Christmas and of course it was the first time I saw the show, and my favourite was this song from the UK)

15 = 1981 – Yugoslavia – Leila – Seid Memich Vajta

(This will always be the most special for me. Unlike 1980 which I got on video over Christmas, this I got 2 weeks after it happened on video and I loved almost every song, but this was special, my first introduction to anybody from Yugoslavia – for us all the countries behind the Iron curtain were mysteries. I still love this song to bits today)

16 = 1981 – Switzerland – Io senza te – Peter Sue & Marc

(Them again and this was their 4th entry in a 4th language – great song)

17 = 1981 – United Kingdom – Making your mind up – Bucks fizz

(Who will ever forget the two girls loosing their dresses? That moment caused me to predict the winner)

18 = 1981 – Netherlands – Het is een wonder – Linda Williams

(I got a cover of the song in the Czech language and was bowled over and ever since that day I dreamt about the Czech republic joining Eurovision – at that time Slovakia was still part of them)

19 = 1981 – Norway – Aldri I livet – Finn Kalvik

(I was so shocked that it ended last and with zero points, especially after I heard the Abba females sang back up vocals on the recorded version)

20 = 1982 – Spain – El – Lucia

(I remember before getting the video about this, many of my penfriends in the Nordic countries sent me newspaper clipping of the Lucia singing and one of the backing singers/dancers had her dress way up revealing she was wearing no underwear)

21 = 1982 – Germany – Ein bisschen frieden – Nicole

(For me, this will always be the most special moment – I was introduced to Nicole and became a member of her fanclub before she won. After her victory, and when the 1983 Eurovision was in Munich, I was invited to come over to attend the final there as Nicole and Ralph’s guest and so my first trip abroad and my first Eurovision. It was because I was the only non German speaking person belonging to her fanclub prior to her winning)

22 = 1983 – Italy – Per Lucia – Riccardo Fogli

(My favourite for that year, but many songs were because obviously seeing it live made it all so special)

23 = 1983 – Yugoslavia – Dzuli – Danijel

(I actually only started liking the song once I was home and watched the video. It was also my father’s favourite song of that year and he died before the next Eurovision, so he never again saw any of the future Eurovision songs)

24 = 1983 – Sweden – Framling – Carola Haggkvist

(I never could decide which of her or Danijel’s song I like best but both had such great songs)

25 = 1984 – Sweden – Diggi loo, diggi ley – The Herrey’s

(Just loved this and so happy Sweden won again and singing in Swedish. I finally met Richard in 2007 in Helsinki)

26 = 1984 – Yugosolavia – Ciao amore – Vlado & Isolda

(I have always loved male/female duo’s the most and this was one of the best songs, my favourite that year)

27 = 1984 – Italy – I treni di tozeur – Alice & Battiato

(And my second favourite was another male/female duo)

28 = 1985 – Denmark – Sku’ du sporg fra no’en – Hot eyes

(And another male/female duo and although I like all 3 their entries, plus 2 or 3 more of their selection songs that did not make it, this is my favourite. I did not see them in Copenhagen last year)

29 = 1987 – Sweden – Fyra bugg och en coca cola – Lotta Engberg

(I was horrified when they had to change the title because of coca cola, but the song is still one of my most loved Swedish entries)

30 = 1988 – Germany – Lied fur einen freund – Chris Garden & Maxi

(Well, this is my most loved Euro song of all time. I hated Celine Dion at least for 5 years after she won and not this mother and daughter duo)

31 = 1989 – Portugal – Conquistador – Da Vinci

(I seldom like Portuguese songs but this was just fantastic and I was hoping for their first win. My secretary at work at the time was Portuguese and she and I went to the Portuguese radio station in Johannesburg to do a broadcast together of the Eurovision)

32 = 1989 – Switzerland – Viver senza tei – Furbaz

(I just love this and it was the first time I heard a song in this language)

33 = 1990 – Germany – Frei zu leben – Chris Kempers & Daniel Kovac

(Another male/female duo and a great song after the fall of the iron curtain)

34 = 1991 – Iceland – Nina – Stefan & Eyfi

(Loved this and pitched it to Bles Bridges, the top male singer and his wife wrote Afrikaans lyrics to it and it sold 120 000 copies – until recently the biggest selling euro cover)

35 = 1993 – Denmark – Under stjernerne pa himlen – Tommy Seebach band

(Disco tango was the first ever Danish song I have heard and I fell in love with Tommy’s strange voice and this song is his best and also my top Danish song ever)

36 = 1993 – France – Mama Corsica – Patrick Fiori

(People who know me well, know that France is my most disliked country of Europe and I never thought I would ever like a French entry but this is just fantastic, and I also like the look of Patrick. I have now 5 or so CD’s of him but unfortunately he was never able to come up even closely with anything similar to Mama Corsica. I also have it by him in German and maybe because it is so close to German schlager, that is why I love it so much)

37 = 1993 – Finland – Tule luo – Katri Helena

(Having the largest collection of Finnish music in South Africa, I have many songs by her, but this is just the best. Such a pity there is no English version)

38 = 1993 – Bosnia & Herzegovina – Sva bol svijeta – Fazla

(The first time I saw a blond Muslim and I cried with them over the war and this song, especially the video showing the devastation in Sarajevo will always be burnt in my memory)

39 = 1993 – Spain – Hombres – Eva Santamaria

(I saw the preview video of this before the contest and loved it, for some reason I thought this song is so catchy)

40 = 1995 – Sweden – Se pa mej – Jan Johansen

(My first Eurovision with accreditation and meeting someone like Jan and various others and they treat me like I am the superstar, was just wonderful. This song also started for me the covering process in all earnest as I got it covered with the help of BMG and the song went gold. It was also my first CD single personally signed to me by Jan and it is still a treasure)

41 = 1995 – Croatia – Nostagija – Magazin & Lidija

(This song just bowled me over. During the final I sat crying listening to it and remember all the highlights of Eurovision up to this date. Last year finally I succeeded in getting it covered in Afrikaans)

42 = 1996 – Belgium – Liefde is een kaartspel – Lisa de Bo

(I just could not get enough of this song and having a promo single with the song in 4 languages just reminded me again why I got drawn to Eurovision in the first place)

43 = 1997 – United Kingdom – Love shine a light – Katrina and the waves

(100% the kind of song I like and the bonus was a South African, Myriam Stockley as one of the backing singers. A Finnish cover of this song is even better than the original)

44 = 1998 – Israel – Diva – Dana International

(Although Birmingham rates as the worst Eurovision I ever attended, it was a great surprise that someone like Dana could win the contest, showing that it is truly an international contest)

45 = 1999 – Sweden – Take me to your heaven – Charlotte Nillson

(Until 2010 when I became part of the SECHUK jury panel, I never used to listen to the songs ahead of the contest. 1999 was different. A friend made an audio cassette for me and said there is a song by Sweden that is the closest to the ABBA sound he has heard and I just must listen to it prior to the contest and I did. I loved it from the first note. When I arrived at the airport in Israel, just ahead of me in the queue was Charlotte and I said to her while we waited to go through customs, you will win and she was surprised. That year was the televoting only and people did not know as yet how the voters would react, but I said for someone hearing it the first time, this is so catchy and after the contest she came to me and said you were right. 1999 also proved to be the second last year that I could predict the winner (last time was Latvia 2002)

46 = 2000 – Denmark – Fly on the wings of love – Olsen brothers

(Who will ever forget the flickering lights in the audience during this? I knew the brothers for many years and fort hem to finally come to Eurovision and win, showed that dreamed could come true)

47 = 2000 – Ireland – Millennium of love – Eamonn Toal

(Ireland had won far too many times for my liking and having Eurovision so many times in Ireland, it became boring but this song was so great, I wanted it to win. Eamonn has one of the best male voices ever to me but unfortunately I was in a huge minority who liked this)

48 = 2002 – Latvia – I wanna – Marie N

(Again it is no secret that Latvia is my favourite European country and it started in 2002. Going to Tallinn, Estonia, they had no embassy in South Africa and I had to travel to a European capitol first and stay a few days to get a visa. I went to the Netherlands, who did not have an Estonian embassy either, but the Latvian embassy there said they would issue me with a Baltic visa, which should be valid in Estonia. I was very happy with this. In Tallinn the Latvian delegation was very nice but I did not really like their entry, I wanna, however the moment I saw the rehearsal and the dress chances, I said it will win. They could not believe me and so on the Wednesday took my passport and wrote in it, SEE YOU IN RIGA 2003. Well, it happened and I went to Riga. Once again, a visa issue, with no Baltic embassy in South Africa. Flying with AUSTRIAN AIRLINEAS required me a Schengen visa from Austria who sat no less than 6 weeks with my passport and handed it back the day before I had to depart. By that time, the Latvian government said I could come into the country visa free since I had it the previous year and when I arrived on the Sunday, a whole bunch of 5 government officials met me at the airport and escorted me into the country like a true VIP. I will always treasure this and for that reason this song is so special)

49 = 2003 – Latvia – Hello from Mars – FLY

(What a great song and such a pity it did so badly on home soil)

50 = 2003 – Poland – Keine grenzen – Ich troje

(Such a great song and in several languages in one song- this is what makes Eurovision so special)

51 = 2003 – Sweden – Give me your love – Fame

(2003 had so many great songs, and this was fantastic, another truly ABBA sound. I will always remember the song is listed in the official programme book as GIVE ME YOUR HEART and I truly gave my heart to Latvia)

52 = 2004 – Iceland – Heaven – Jonsi

(This year saw the start of Eurovision being two weeks and with a semi final and again tons of great songs. I was sitting in the press centre when I first heard it and went crazy, an Icelandic TV crew noticed it and came to interview me and asked me why I liked this song so much. I was also one of the few non Nordic people who attended a special Nordic party at one of the big hotels where all 5 the Nordic singers were)

53 = 2004 – Croatia – You are the only one – Ivan Miklulic

(Had Ivan been living in South Africa, he would have been a superstar with CD sales going platinum all the time, he has the kind of voice that works here. He was such a down to earth person and one of the nicest people to interview)

54 = 2005 – Belarus – Love me tonight – Angelica Agurbash

(How can I ever forget this? She had a birthday during Eurovision and gave one of the biggest and probably most expensive parties ever in the history of Eurovision and I came home with tons of gifts)

55 = 2006 – Ireland – Every song is a cry for love – Brian Kennedy

(Another great person to interview and such a shame to think he missed out on the success of YOU RAISE ME UP, which he recorded before Josh Groban)

56 = 2008 – Latvia – Wolves of the sea – Pirates of the sea

(Yes, Latvia again, my top song in since the semi finals started. I heard the first note during the first rehearsal and new it is great. Many people looked at me in horror that I could openly admit loving this. Now I have CD’s of the SMURFS singing this in Norwegian, Swedish and Danish. And Willem Botha covered it in Afrikaans that resulted in him beign a backing singer for Belarus in 2013)

57 = 2010 – Denmark – In a moment like this – Chanee & N’evergreen

(Cannot understand that Sweden threw this song away, but happy Denmark picked it up. It became the biggest euro cover in South Africa selling 6 times platinum)

58 = 2010 – Netherlands – Ik ben verliefd (Sha la lie) – Sieneke

(True magic, this is so catchy and although tons of people pretend they hate it, I heard many secretly sha la lie when they thought nobody was noticing. Sieneke was just so nice and wonderful, and who will ever forget the car she arrived with at the press centre in Oslo? And her vocal coach being Marianne Weber, one of my favourite female singers – at last I saw her at Eurovision although not as a singer)

59 = 2010 – Norway – My heart is yours – Didrik Solli-Tangen

(He gets my vote as the most attractive male ever at Eurovision and it was so hard for him to compete on home soil, but the song is brilliant and will always be remembered by me)

60 = 2014 – Austria – Rise like a phoenix – Conchita Wurst

(I have to end off my highlights with this, as a song it does not even make my personal top 100 but the song represents Eurovision on so many levels – most important that a country cannot cry about bad results and then withdrew. You have to be there year after year and maybe next time you could win, like Austria has proven. Then you could triumph even with all the odds against you, like Conchita has shown. Lastly for a dear friend in Austria who thought never in his lifetime would Eurovision come to Austria and it did, back to the heart of Europe. Sadly, this also represents one of the low lights with the death of Udo Jurgens before he could witness the hosting of 2015 in Vienna).