It was pointed out to me in the pub last week that this record is actually the best of Ireland’s Eurovision winners, a claim with horrible implications that may sadly be correct. It also shows off two of the Song Contest’s typical idiosyncrasies. Firstly, a tendency to reward attempts at universal messages, expressed as simply as possible (and in this case as tweely as possible). This tendency has actually been almost wiped out since the Contest’s marketers started emphasising the kitsch aspects and actually courting their gay audience – the shift from Dana to Dana International. Or it may be that the European public’s taste for nursery-rhyme pop has collapsed: no bad thing if so.
The second oddness about the Song Contest is that the strength or even competence of a singer’s voice is rarely an issue. This sets it against the 00s wave of TV talent shows, which tend to focus on singing but apply a very narrow definition of what a ‘good’ voice is (one totally unrelated to my pragmatic definition: ‘suits the song’). In Eurovision a technically weak voice can win easily given a performance with character and a strong song, and this allows for some endearing and exciting victories. Dana isn’t one of them: her strained warble (“a snowflake or twooooo”) may suit the extreme limpness of her song but it’s painful to hear.