Tag Archives: Israel


Written by Shirley Thielen (USA)


I have come to appreciate Eurovision over the last 2 years, primarily because my husband doesn’t shut up about it and so I figured I’d better to watch and see what it’s all about. I’ve come to like it enough that I’ve gone back to watch much of the last 6 years’ shows.


Over that time there are a lot of incredible acts, not to mention quite a few that were awful. But I also saw 9 vote results so inexplicable that they defy explanation:

Nine – Every entry in 2011. Most years we have to choose between several entries that blow us away: Performers, songs, & staging that are amazing. But in 2011 the best was merely “adequate”.  We were left selecting from who rose a bit beyond ok.  How did every country have just “average” acts?

Eight – Ok, we get it that Russia in 2010 was having a giant joke at our expense when they sent Peter Nalich (warning – this video is very painful to watch). But then people actually voted for him? An act that should have been last in the semi and quickly put out of its misery advanced to the final where it again pulled in substantial votes. The only explanation that makes sense was everyone thought they had to vote for Russia regardless of what they did.

Seven – Serbia sent Moje 3 with a beautiful song, 3 amazing singers, and staging that is possibly the worst in the history of Eurovision. The voting results are understandable due to the painfully bad staging. But why?

Six – Cristina Scarlat delivered a beautifully staged power performance, with a sound both compelling and unique. And the result? Last place. Granted, the first semi in 2014 was the most competitive semi in the history of the contest. But she delivered a performance that well deserved to advance on to the final. To give something so good last place is inexplicable. (This also put Romania in a quandary; they had to find someone else to award their 12 points to.)

Five – Kate Ryan (enough said…)

Four – Israel sent brilliant, powerful acts in 2013 & 2014 and what was the result? Last. In the semi! What is going on here? It’s like Israel is completely forgotten. Granted they’re way off on an edge far away from most of Europe, but so is Iceland. And it’s not that they get fewer votes than expected, they get ignored. Especially in 2014 when Austria & Israel clearly outclassed everyone else in their semi performances.

Three – Pastora Soler reached out and drew us into one of the most powerful performances ever in the history of Eurovision. And for a performance that should have been a solid second, what did she get? 10th. Perfect song, an amazing voice, and staging that was perfect; absolutely perfect. The response to such a powerful performance shows that Europe gives Spain no respect.

Two – Cezar delivered a truly astonishing performance in 2103. He showed a vocal range that was incredible with a song and staging that was perfect for him, and brilliant for Eurovision. The question remained:  How would the tele voters react to his performance because it was so different? Well the tele vote loved it. But the jury, that group of musical “professionals” almost universally panned it. The jurors showed themselves incapable of appreciating something outside the norm, no matter how brilliant.

One – Il Volo owned the final. In a field with a number of exceptional acts (Sweden, Russia, & more), they ended the show with a number that outclassed everything. And the tele vote agreed. But once more the jurors trashed it; again showing themselves incapable of appreciating something outside the norm, no matter how brilliant.





One word – HORROR.
0 out of 10

Again, giving my close relationship to Latvia and the delegation, this was easy.
10 out of 10

This country is quite interesting; some years it is difficult dealing with them, some years easy. This year it was easier than normal.
8 out of 10

Iceland has been fairly easy until last year when I was unable to get the promo CD in Copenhagen, and hands up music did post it to a friend in Europe after the contest. This year again it started off difficult but I did manage to get the promo CD in the end.
8 out of 10

Last year was very difficult, but this year it was very easy. Mans personally was very down to earth and I think we had good interaction with the press team of Sweden.
9.5 out of 10

This country ranks probably on top every year, no need to interact with them, they put the promo items into each pigeonhole almost from day one.
10 out of 10

Because I am quite impatient, this was a little difficult for me but in the end it was very easy, they just gave put the promo CD’s towards the end of week two.
9 out of 10

100% change from last year when I was unable to get the promo CD. This year there were tons, for most one of the best as it has something like 9 remixes. I would have preferred rather 9 language versions.
9 out of 10

I got on very well with Monika’s husband and main composer of the song and got the beautiful promo CD quite fast.
9.5 out of 10



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).