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Switzerland at Eurovision

May 26, 2012, 3 Comments

Another bad year for the Swiss at Eurovision, failing to reach the final for the fifth time in six years. In fact, it’s been one disappointment after another since the year 2000: six failed semi-finals, two relegations, one last place, three near-the-bottoms and only one respectable finish (8th in 2005). Europe doesn’t like the Swiss, it seems, or at least Swiss music. It was once so different.

In 1956 Switzerland hosted the first Eurovision Song Contest in Lugano, and won thanks to Refrain from Lys Assia. The next few years saw Switzerland twice as runner-up and never out of the Top Ten. Then came 1964. The infamous nul points claimed its first Swiss victim  (Anita Traviersi with I Miei Pensieri), and then its second three years later (Géraldine with Quel Coeur Vas-tu Briser?). It took the Swiss over two decades to recover.

But to win again, Switzerland had to import a Canadian. The poodle hair and puffy skirt didn’t stop that amazing voice’s march to victory with Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi in 1988 (but only by one point over the British). Yes, the Swiss are responsible for giving the world Céline Dion. And the world has never forgiven them. Since that win in Dublin, it’s been 24 years of hurt, another nul points (1998 from Gunvor, Lass Ihn) and the recent final failures.

Perhaps Switzerland’s trouble is that it has no voting bloc to back it in the public voting. It’s neither Baltic nor Balkan, east nor west, and not part of one language or political group. That’s the problem with being a neutral, multilingual country. No friends, no allies, no votes. Unless you have a catchy song, which is how the Germans managed to win in 2010; if they can get votes across Europe, then anyone can.

Maybe the Swiss should go all out on the kitschy folklore front (look at the Russian grannies this year). Back in 1977, the Pepe Lienhard Band threw in piccolos, yodelling and an alphorn – and came sixth with Swiss Lady, one of the best Eurovision from Switzerland. So to soothe the Swiss musical soul, here’s a reminder of how things could be.

3 Comments on "Switzerland at Eurovision"

  1. Tim Footman Saturday May 26th, 2012 at 06:33 PM · Reply

    Oh God, the way the creepy piccolo player winks at 2:49. I thought that sort of thing was outlawed by the Geneva Convention?

  2. Pavillion Ze5521 Battery Sunday May 27th, 2012 at 12:01 AM · Reply

    Eurovision And the Russian grannies are making a rush from the back of the field. Beware flying zimmers and twanging surgical stockings.

  3. Fergus Miller Sunday May 27th, 2012 at 08:57 AM · Reply

    It’s all about politics, I think it’s embarrassing for the UK to pay to be in it and do so badly. As for the Swiss vote giving Albania so many points – We must have so many Albanians living in Switzerland & it’s one thing they can vote for and not have to be Swiss to vote!!!!!!!

    Oh I do love Graham Norton, he is much better that Terry Wogan with the commentary!

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