Nov 08

JOHNNY LOGAN – “What’s Another Year?”

FT + Popular45 comments • 5,090 views

#458, 17th May 1980

You can see why he won it even before you hear him sing: his side-saddle lounging on the Eurovision stage signalled a more intimate, warmer performance than the Contest had been used to, particularly after the ABBA insurgence. Ballads had always been big; upbeat songs had got even bigger – Logan’s mournful poking at crushed hopes was a smart, competitive move.

But in the real world? Mush. “What’s Another Year?” is an adequate soft-pop song, a few years out of date, given a greasy reading. The single version – with that sax intro so bright and unavoidable – sounds bigger, slicker and hollower than Logan’s Eurovision performance: even less of the song’s bitterness comes over, and little enough was allowed through anyhow. Logan isn’t asking listeners to pity him, or sympathise, and certainly not to simmer and rage alongside him. He knows his market better than that: he’s asking us to mother him, and clearly thousands were happy to oblige.



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  1. 31
    Peggybird on 29 Jun 2009 #

    Very helpful and positive forum, I have already learned a lot from just reading?


  2. 32
    jextpermeme on 7 Jul 2009 #

    http://extjs.com/forum/member.php?u=79374 guitar lessons

  3. 33
    punctum on 23 Oct 2009 #

    It’d been a while since we’d had cause to visit Eurovision, and from this song’s intro of lugubrious but slick sub-Sanborn soprano saxophone and lush chords – you have to correct yourself that you haven’t put on the first Christopher Cross album by mistake – the scenery appeared to have changed beyond recognition over four years, not to mention the decade which had elapsed since Ireland had last won the contest. But somebody had obviously decided that Eurovision needed to “grow up,” thus the triumph of this very efficient but rather hollow AoR ballad.

    Logan sings with very careful attention to pronunciation and pitch, so much so that at times he sounds uncannily like a slightly slowed-down Anne Murray, and although the song is expensively produced and orchestrated with what sound like protoype Fairlights, and is yet another one of those songs bearing tokens of grief and loss with which I could, until you know when, all too readily identify (“Reaching out for you/But you aren’t near,” “What’s another year/For someone who’s lost everything that he owns?”, “I’ve been praying such a long time/It’s the only way to hide the fear”), the overall effect is so bland and syrupy (though Logan does his best to imbue the song with at least a cursory element of emotion) that you eventually shrug your shoulders, can’t connect through the keep-out layers of smoothness.

    Logan won Eurovision again, as a writer and performer, in 1987 with “Hold Me Now” (a number two hit in the UK) which if nothing else did bring this tale of lost love to a retrieved, happy ending, and went on to write Linda Martin’s 1991 winner “Why Me?” – he was at the centre of Ireland’s near domination of the contest throughout this period, and you can’t damn him for having made a decent living out of it. But, despite its superficial air of contemporary, “What’s Another Year?” is finally a song which could have been a smash for Tom or Engelbert in any year.

  4. 34
    Brooksie on 14 Feb 2010 #

    Punctum’s on a roll! Been liking your analysis of the hits so far!

  5. 35
    Paulito on 11 Apr 2010 #

    Punctum @33: “Hold Me Now” doesn’t have a happy ending! It’s a break-up song, and hence more like a sad prequel to “What’s Another Year” than the comforting resolution you suggest.

  6. 36
    richard thompson on 4 Jan 2011 #

    Way back then I thought McCartneys coming up was going to be number one as it was in the US, it was the live version that DLT played and there were still talks of a Beatle reunion.

  7. 37
    mintness on 11 Oct 2011 #

    The Eurovision fans, of which there are many and mostly (but not all) gay, refer to this as “What’s another queer”

    No we don’t.

  8. 38
    Ken Shinn on 30 Jul 2012 #

    A long while back, but –


    “No Doubt About It” goes further than just odd lights in the sky. A later verse has Errol rhetorically asking “What were these creatures that now stood in front of me?” He neglects to describe them further – little green/grey chaps with three heads? Towering beings of angelic beauty and demeanour? Gerry Anderson-style scarlet-spacesuited bodysnatchers? – but they’re definitely there. No doubt, indeed, about it.

  9. 39
    PurpleKylie on 29 Aug 2014 #

    I much much muuuuuuch prefer the live performance of this song in the actual contest to the studio version, the saxophones in the studio version make me cringe so bad where in the live version there’s not so much cheesy sax, thank goodness. It’s big and soppy and that’s why I’ve got a soft spot for it.

  10. 40
    Larry on 24 Nov 2014 #

    I can’t believe no commenters above have mentioned this (too obvious?) but the lyrics of this song are clearly a meta-reference to Eurovision itself. (This was painfully obvious to me in 1980).

  11. 41
    glue_factory on 24 Nov 2014 #

    Re:40, was there enough cynicism around Eurovision, already, in 1980 to justify such a weary title?

  12. 42
    mark g on 24 Nov 2014 #

    Not really, he hadn’t done it before so I doubt he did it on purpose.

  13. 43
    redhairkid on 15 Feb 2015 #

    The Swedish entry should have won (and I’m Irish myself!). I had (and still have) a massive crush on Tomas Ledin! I also genuinely love his music.

  14. 44
    Adam on 22 Mar 2015 #

    Is this the first example of freeze-dried 80s? A 2 from me, knocked down from 3 thanks to the gratingly sharp sax.

  15. 45
    Gareth Parker on 5 May 2021 #

    Nothing special, adequate stuff from Johnny Logan in my view. I would go with 4/10.

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