21
Nov 13

GINA G – “Ooh Aah… Just A Little Bit”

Popular82 comments • 6,915 views

#739, 25th May 1996

gina The passing of an era – this is the last (to date) directly Eurovision-related Number One, 29 years after the first. And honestly, even Gina is an outlier: the Eurovision Song Contest had intersected with mainstream UK pop less and less often since its 70s and early 80s heyday. Glam, bubblegum, AOR balladry and soft rock had been good fits for it – hip-hop and house distinctly less so.

Freed from any hope that it might reflect or divert the currents of modern pop, Eurovision could settle fully into the role in British pop it had half-played for years. It presented a comfortable image of what European pop was: gaudy, kitschy, ironic and out-of-date. Marketers, then waking to the idea of the pink pound as an untapped resource, seized on the show’s popularity with gay audiences (and students) and promoted it to the UK mainstream as an unabashed festival of camp. At the same time, though, the definition of Europe itself was expanding. It seemed post-communist countries wanted to use Eurovision the way Western Europe once had: as a symbol of European belonging and a fillip to national pride. The tension between these two trends made for fascinating contests, and Eurovision in the 00s was the competition at its best – after it had ceased to ‘matter’ in UK chart terms.

The UK made no real contribution to this late flowering: we continued to assume Eurovision meant nothing but cheese, and so cheese was what we delivered. This glossy, hi-tack Gina G song bounced its way to second eighth in Eurovision 1996, and might seem like a prime example. But it’s at least a little better than that suggests.

“Ooh Aah” is the work of Motiv8, producer and remixer Steve Rodway, who’d become known for colourful, energised, wonderfully unsubtle mixes that smooshed up pop songwriting with handbag house euphoria. He liked big keyboard sounds, and melodies splurged onto songs like poster paints. A great Motiv8 mix – like his work on the Pet Shop Boys’ “A Red Letter Day” – would make its original feel pedestrian as his rainbow synth lines burst up through the song. The same joy carried over to lesser known acts – girlband Crush and their superb “Jellyhead”, for instance.

“Ooh Aah” is well off those peaks, but a decent example of Motiv8’s approach. It’s brisk, good-quality bubblegum: a springy keyboard part, a chugging rhythm, and a few fine lines – “Every night makes me hate the days” – laid down with enough conviction to cross the line between corny and effective. The main thing that marks it as a Eurovision entry is the chorus, simple enough to hammer its way into listeners Europe-wide, and begging for a bespoke dance. That chorus could have been the follow-up to “Making Your Mind Up” and it makes “Ooh Aah” a smidgen too cosy. But unlike most British Eurovision attempts from this point, at least it doesn’t feel cynical.

6

Comments

  1. 1
    Tom Ewing (@tomewing) on 21 Nov 2013 #

    Popular and the Eurovision Song Contest part ways http://t.co/sgCbcDpnV6

  2. 2
    The Woose on 21 Nov 2013 #

    And Australian, if I recall correctly…

  3. 3
    Rory on 21 Nov 2013 #

    Yes, she is. A Song for Europe must not be too picky about nationalities… she ended up as the UK’s Eurovision entry within a year of moving here, according to Wikipedia. Maybe she has a British parent.

  4. 4
    lonepilgrim on 21 Nov 2013 #

    I found this refreshingly cheery and free of baggage – I think I’d prefer it if it was even simpler

  5. 5
    thefatgit on 21 Nov 2013 #

    The only thing that lasts in my memory is the chorus. Unfortunately the chorus alone is one big sexual innuendo. I feel I’m doing this song no favours at all, judging it on the strength of the chorus alone. I also feel no desire to revisit the song, so this is it, this is my memory: an Aussie girl singing about bum sex for the Eurovision judges’ esteemed consideration.

  6. 6
    Mark G on 22 Nov 2013 #

    I got interviewed, vox pop style, in the Virg Meg by J.King, the week before this got chosen as the UK representative. A bunch of us got played about four tracks, and we had to choose one, and say what we thought of Eurovision in general. I managed a “Well, I think the Gina G track would probably be the best one for the eurov but I prefer (forgotten)..”. Other people managed to go ” Urr it’s all a bit crap innit?” and when asked which one they liked would go “Um, the second one”. Needless to say, the film was not used.

  7. 7
    Chelovek na lune on 22 Nov 2013 #

    Six is very generous! Watered-down HI-NRG, an extended jingle: vaguely reminscient of Whigfield’s number one, above all in that ‘one’ (well, I, anyway) would not choose to listen to it away from a dancefloor, and in fact would prefer not to be on such a dancefloor in the first place.

    Britain has submitted at least one, maybe two, better Eurovision entrants since this one: although in both cases (Daz Sampson, maybe Scooch), but in both cases they were too obviously gimmicky/consciously ironic to cross over. Although Frances Ruffell’s ‘Lonely Symphony’is surely ‘the one that got away’..while the less (not as awful, merely as mediocre) said about the 1997 European Blair love-in vote winner the better. (Political Eurovision voting benefiting Britain, possibly for the only time)

    Two, and a yawn.

  8. 8
    CarsmileSteve on 22 Nov 2013 #

    Eurovision contestant status is about the songwriter, not performer. Celine Dion, Katrina & the Waves etcetcetc

  9. 9
    ciaran on 22 Nov 2013 #

    Quite a bore this. Even Gina doesnt seem too overjoyed in the verses.As Chevolek above says reminiscent of Whigfield but nowhere near as playful.A Conference league Kylie really.

    3.

    ‘Fresh’ in 1997 was even more boring than this.

    ‘There’s nothing I wont do’ by JX was the standout dance track from this time.Would have preferred to be discussing that than OA…JALB

    This was also the last time Ireland won it aswell.Eimear Quinn’s ‘the voice’ becoming our 4th winner in 5 years.Can barely recall it.If ye havent heard it I can say your not missing much.

    The great “My Lovely Horse” from the eurosong episode of father ted just before this time is more famous than any of the 1992-96 Irish winners now.

  10. 10
    mintness on 22 Nov 2013 #

    @8 It’s not even that. e.g. Azerbaijan buys a Swedish-written song every year (and the Maltese douze points, but that’s a different matter). Some countries have nationality rules for composers and/or performers in their national selection processes, but it’s very much self-imposed.

    As a Eurovision nerd, this song’s chart success was naturally very pleasing after Love City Groove had broken the ice the previous year, but its most notable feat may have been its chart run to number 1, given the era – a slow bobble around the top ten from not long after the Great British Song Contest (ahem) culminating in a week at the top at the end of Eurovision week itself, rather than the following week when you might have expected the Saturday night exposure to kick in.

  11. 11
    Will on 22 Nov 2013 #

    I disagree with the notion that the UK assumed ‘Eurovision meant nothing but cheese’. Not in the mid 90s any way. After all the UK winner in ’97 was a ponderous ‘let’s take this very seriously’ AOR anthem. If anything Ooh Ah was an abberation. The previous few years had seen us try all sorts of things – earnest balladry, moody soul, Michael Ball, even hip hop (the best forgotten Love City Groove) – without any success.

    I bought this at the time and I still think it’s bloody brilliant. Perhaps not quite as good as the remixes Motiv 8 pulled off for Pulp (or Saint Etienne’s He’s On The Phone for that matter) but a solid 8 none the less.

  12. 12
    mintness on 22 Nov 2013 #

    “Without any success” is part of the problem with the way Britain views Eurovision, of course – we had a heap of 2nd-place finishes in the 88-93 period with pretty mediocre fodder, but when winning is everything, I suppose it makes sense that, in a 40-country era, we’ve now given up even trying.

  13. 13
    Kinitawowi on 22 Nov 2013 #

    British interest in Eurovision ceased when we realised we didn’t have a hope, when the rise of tele- and text-voting over juries exacerbated the already-present politicking. And the beast continues to eat itself; we don’t take it seriously, so they don’t take us seriously, so we send shit like Scooch and Jemini, so they tell us that they’ll take our money to fund the EBU but we’ll barely give you a point in return, etc.

    Juries are making a comeback, slowly. It might help. It might not.

    As for Gina G, well I always liked it. No, it wasn’t exceptional, and yes I’m pretty sure the performance she gave in Oslo that night was in fact dire, but it was an okay-enough dance track and 6 is about right.

    (Also, point of order – Ooh Aah didn’t finish second, it finished eighth. Gina G was the second act to perform that night. Learn to sort your tables by the correct fields next time. :-p)

  14. 14
    Patrick Mexico on 22 Nov 2013 #

    This week I went to a cafe in Bristol for the sole reason it was called “Roll for the Soul” as in “I wanna roll inside your soul” from Corona’s Baby Baby which was this song’s biological dad and perhaps the superior. I’ll add something slightly more constructive when I’ve sweated off the Exhibition cider. (We’ll get to talk more about that act circa May 2027.)

    Good to see Popular back, though! Just when I thought I was out, you pull me back in..

  15. 15
    weej on 22 Nov 2013 #

    I’d really like to see a source to demonstrate that “political” voting really has the effect on Eurovision people think. I suspect there’s an aspect of “Those Eastern Europeans gave 12 points to those other Eastern Europeans!” without realising that “The East” = around half the countries involved, and that Western Europe tends to stick together in the same way.

    This isn’t the first UK entry to work on the assumption that Eurovision = Maximum Cheese, but from this point onwards it’s basically the norm, and we’ve got nothing much to show for it (Katrina being a deviation from this rule.) France, on the other hand, have put some rather good things in over the last decade. They haven’t won either, but at least they tried.

  16. 16
    mintness on 22 Nov 2013 #

    Well, yes. More than a decade ago we had Wogan tutting at Estonia for voting for their “neighbours” in Slovenia. Combine that level of ignorance with a situation where the age-old westerners don’t bother any more because they’re sure everyone instinctively hates them – and let’s ask a Hannover lass called Lena about that – then it’s no wonder the Grand Powers generally end up at the arse-end of the scoreboard with their half-arsed, paranoia-infused-from-the-outset entries.

  17. 17
    23 Daves on 22 Nov 2013 #

    Simon Napier Bell has gone on record (on his Facebook page) as saying that bribery of television stations and juries is widespread in Eurovision, and claims to have witnessed a couple of instances in Eastern Europe of “give us 12 points and we’ll agree this trade deal”. Unfortunately, he doesn’t name names or go into depth.

    As for Gina G – yes, I’m stuck for much to say about this single. It’s frothy and enjoyable, but on the rare occasions I hear it these days (usually during a video compendium of previous UK Eurovision entries) I don’t jump for joy.

    I agree completely with Tom when he says that the 00s era of the Eurovision contest was the best, though. An amazing smorgasbord of pop styles and ideas, with a lot of buried treasure which really deserved to do better in the UK charts. It seems to have become less varied again in the last few years, unfortunately.

  18. 18
    hardtogethits on 22 Nov 2013 #

    #15 I’d love to see that analysis too. Unfortunately, whilst people SAY they want the research they decry even the most robust study once it’s made public. See all that Pop Science stuff about boozy hits post 1981 elsewhere on FT (not on Popular).

    I know of a professor at a University in the North of England who is examining why people say they want data and analyses only then to disregard (or fail to act upon it) when it’s provided. Slightly different from traditional confirmatory basis, this is more about why people display that appetite for evidence in the first place. Obv it has serious implications in some professions – if a Dr says “show me the evidence that x is more effective than y” you might expect that when presented with that evidence the Dr would act upon it.

    Back to the more important matter of Eurovision. It’s difficult to separate political voting from voting for one’s neighbours for other reasons – eg cultural, geographic. There have been years when the most statistically unusual pattern has been the UK and Ireland’s mutual support. But gosh, what a non-story THAT is.

  19. 19
    punctum on 22 Nov 2013 #

    By 1996, it had been fourteen years since the last Eurovision-related number one, and not without reason; in 1995 Britain committed an act of extreme bravery by submitting a rap song as its entry, “Love City Groove” by Love City Groove, featuring Q-Tee, the same female rapper who contributed so memorably to Saint Etienne’s “Filthy.” True, it otherwise sounded very akin to a 1983 idea of rap, to the extent of borrowing part of its melody line from Booker Newberry III’s “Love Town,” but in the confines of Eurovision it felt almost like the Sex Pistols. It finished a debilitating tenth behind the equally unlikely winner, the largely instrumental “Nocturne” by Norwegians Secret Garden. “Eurovision isn’t quite ready for rap yet,” mused Wogan sadly.

    Australian Gina G was drafted in for 1996’s contest, and the overwhelming international success of “Ooh Ahh” may have signified a commercial death blow for Eurovision – at least in the Western markets – since it was so obviously a good pop record that it shamed the ageing Eurovision judges, still rooted in a sentimental fifties ideal, who voted it into eighth position behind the winner, Einear Quinn’s highly memorable “The Voice,” the latest in a long string of soulful, passionate and honest Irish underdog entries. It has to be pointed out that Eurovision judges continue to persist in voting for the type of song that people no longer really make.

    It is true that “Ooh Aah” marks an evolutionary step from 1983 rap to 1984 Hi-NRG since it fits in very snugly with the “Male Stripper”s and “Love Reaction”s of that period. But producer Steve Rodway knew which buttons to push, and Gina G how to respond to them; her vocal is excited, frustrated (I love the vibrating emphasis that she puts on the “hate” in the line “Every night makes me hate the days”), confident and utterly sexy (her lowering of the voice to a conspiratorial “just a little bit” in the chorus) and the record is a splendid harbinger for those other girls who are shortly to follow. Ironically, Britain did win the following year with the soulful, passionate and honest “Love Shine A Light” by the expatriate American group Katrina and the Waves (do we note a trend here?), but since it was Katrina (and Kimberley Rew) it deserved its top three success. Thereafter the contest opened up to the former Eastern Bloc states, all of whom have since demonstrated an unflagging commitment to voting for each other; I am unsure how long the contest’s Western bankers will permit this situation to continue, or perhaps they just need to realise that the tide of balance has in its own way turned.

  20. 20
    Cumbrian on 22 Nov 2013 #

    I’m not hearing much similarity to Whigfield here, to be honest. Saturday Night is lumbering for much of its time until the piano comes in, and I don’t particularly find it playful either – that track seems like forced fun to me, what with the cheesy dance moves and all of that. Whereas I find this is more light on its feet on the back of Motiv-8’s work and has more of a rush to it as a result.

    Maybe I am just more disposed to it because (at 15 and with a bit of a thing for redheads), I quite fancied Gina G. I have no shame in looking back fondly on something for those reasons either – if conversations I have had at weddings I have been to are any judge, some of those clunky early Take That hits are looked back on fondly by some of my female contemporaries for similar reasons (subject raised due to the DJ playing them). 6 seems fair.

  21. 21
    Tom on 22 Nov 2013 #

    Unsurprisingly there is a LOT of academic literature on Eurovision voting bias. Here’s the most recent full paper I can find via a quick trawl of Google Scholar.

    http://arxiv.org/pdf/1308.6312v1.pdf

    This has a handy review of pre-existing literature, too, namely:

    – voting patterns exist
    – they seem more organised on cultural affinity rather than political blocs

    The paper is a dense statistical one but its conclusions are interesting: there is some positive bias (countries more likely to vote FOR each other) but no statistically robust evidence of negative bias (countries likely to NOT vote for one another). In other words, from a UK perspective our not being in a particular friendship group may harm our chances, but the “they all hate us” argument is hooey.

  22. 22
    punctum on 22 Nov 2013 #

    Maybe the rest of Eurovision hates Britain because of Iraq, and suchlike?

  23. 23
    Tom on 22 Nov 2013 #

    That’s what the paper suggests isn’t true. I mean, they might very well do, but Eurovision voting isn’t how they show it. It’s probably just that we send shit entries.

  24. 24
    Tom on 22 Nov 2013 #

    Apparently the country which comes nearest to getting significant negative bias is Albania.

  25. 25
    Jon (@octojon) on 22 Nov 2013 #

    ‘Ooh Aah…Just a Little Bit’ is a 10/10 amyl rush RT @tomewing Popular and the Eurovision Song Contest part ways http://t.co/CKRUSwJq4Q

  26. 26
    punctum on 22 Nov 2013 #

    The trouble with UK Eurovision is that the only people interested in it here are Radio 2, and therefore songs and singers are picked who people think will appeal to Radio 2 programmers. Radio 1 considers it beyond naff and won’t touch it with a bargepole. So until that kind of thinking is turned around and Eurovision is forcibly wrested away from R2, we’re going to keep getting tuneless power ballads, or insipid little brioches of songs, from out-of-shape people who were in the charts forty years ago.

  27. 27
    James BC on 22 Nov 2013 #

    Did you play this one to your children, Tom? I’d be interested to know if they liked it.

    I’d give it an 8, in large part for the instrumental bits, although Gina’s performance on the Eurovision show itself was a bit flat – about a 5 or 6.

  28. 28
    Tom on 22 Nov 2013 #

    #26 – no! I shall do when I get back from Leeds.

  29. 29
    AMZ1981 on 22 Nov 2013 #

    A lot of people have skirted around the big question, namely why did this record take off so strongly? No UK Eurovision entry had been a significant hit for years before this got to number one. In the context of the time it wasn’t a major success at Eurovision and the UK’s slump years were still a good five years away.

    I thought this record was rather weak at the time – there was better pop out there, there was better dance out there but not only did this top the charts but it has, to an extent, stood the test of time – commercial radio and 90s nights still feature it.

    Since Eurovision won’t come up again, my two cents. It’s a long time since I’ve bothered to watch it but the problem, from the UK’s point of view, is that twenty years ago it was an honour to enter the contest. Now nobody will risk their reputation with it (we went through a phase of sending second division talent show stars and not even they touch it now). I always used to feel desperately sorry for the young artists (Josh Dubovie being a case in point) who went abroad to give it their all even when saddled with a dreadful song and came back tarred and feathered as a failures. It’s probably better that we’re sending experienced singers now – even if Bonnie Tyler had scored nul points it wouldn’t have stopped Holding Out For A Hero blasting out on a Saturday night – but to me it’s a sign that everybody has given up the ghost.

  30. 30
    JLucas on 22 Nov 2013 #

    Despite only finishing 8th (largely due to a poor live vocal by Gina on the night), this is one of the most significant Eurovision songs ever. When it went on to not just top the UK charts but become a massive worldwide smash – even reaching the top twenty in America – while winner Eimear Quinn made barely a ripple, it was clear that the contest was becoming woefully out of date. As a result, Televoting was trialled in 1997 and fully rolled out in 1998 – resulting in far more populist winners like Dana International and Charlotte Nilsson, both of whom saw UK chart action after winning.

    A few years of Eastern dominance (not by “political” voting insomuch as the fact that they were sending better, more ambitious songs) dented the contest’s popularity in the west, but the rise of downloads seems to have really revitalised the show. Of the last five winners, four were UK hits (Alexander Rybak reached #10 in 2009, Lena reached #22 i 2010, Loreen got all the way to #3 in 2012 and Emmelie DeForest went to #14 this year).

    I find the whole “It’s all political, innit?/Europe hates us” argument painfully boring, but I could rant all day about that…

    This is a great song. It’s pure cheese, but production wise it was very on-trend for 1996, hence its enormous success outside the contest.

  31. 31
    iconoclast on 22 Nov 2013 #

    There’s a half-decent song in there somewhere, but it’s buried under an annoying hyperactive production which sounds like it was dashed off in half an hour and can’t wait to finish. Frothy, lightweight, and ultimately forgettable: FIVE.

  32. 32
    punctum on 22 Nov 2013 #

    #29: one year to be exact – “Love City Groove” peaked at #7.

  33. 33
    JLucas on 22 Nov 2013 #

    I find the frothiness of this song to be a huge part of the charm. It sounds positively giddy with excitement, which of course suits the lyric down to the ground.

    I remember her immediate followup single ‘I Belong To You’ was basically the exact same song with different lyrics (Whigfield also pulled this trick with ‘Another Day’), but her last significant hit ‘Ti Amo’ was a decent little La Isla Bonita pastiche.

  34. 34
    EndlessWindow on 22 Nov 2013 #

    The ongoing dearth of Eurovision in the UK charts is yet another indictment of the fatal mix of arrogance, ignorance and plain laziness with which the contest is handled by the Beeb. The constant string of cheesy no-hopers that comprised the noughties entries may now have been replaced with a brace of older, calmer (but equally hopeless, as proven by Mr. Dorsey) entries, but it still reflects a complete cluelessness in how the competition has changed. Maybe these entries might have stood a chance in the early nineties against the balladzillas of Ireland: right now, then Eurovision has finally caught up with prevailing pop and dance trends, not a chance.

    An interesting discussion could be had in that, in the last few years, the Eastern influx might have helped to rise the bar – there’s certainly been a far greater sense of the contemporary in the mix these last few years. Lena won in 2010 with a Lily Allen pastiche before returning the next year with a bloody great track that came across like Lykke Li doing Love Cats (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqZprvpWlcE), while 2012’s winner Euphoria did the whole David Guetta four-to-the-floor thing that’s so prevalent but with a much, much better song than usual for that sound. Maybe if Britain could get the fear in the way some other Western countries have done and throw the established rulebook out, we might actually get somewhere…

    As for Gina G…it’s a serviceable enough bit of pop fluff. At least it managed to be of its time, and Gina sells the basic innuendo pretty well. Number 8 on the night seems a fair placing, but as a single it’s only 5 points from the EndlessWindow jury.

  35. 35
    iconoclast on 22 Nov 2013 #

    Oh, and speaking of countries being represented at Eurovision by artists from somewhere else, does anyone remember Switzerland’s entry in 2005, which was performed by Vanilla Ninja from Estonia, on the grounds that their producer (who’s part of the writing credit) was a Swiss German?

  36. 36
    James BC on 22 Nov 2013 #

    A ballad could have a chance, still. The UK’s best result in recent years was the Jade Ewen/Lloyd Webber song, which finished a not-too-shabby fifth. Serbia also won with a ballad not too long ago.

    I’m constantly surprised that there is no currently successful artist who wants to have a bash at it. You’d think somebody would be up for the challenge. I wonder if McFly would fancy it.

  37. 37
    JLucas on 22 Nov 2013 #

    There are loads of examples of Eurovision countries being represented by foreigners.

    None of Luxembourg’s five winners were actually performed by Natives. Jean-Claude Pascal, France Gall, Anne-Marie David and Corrine Hermes were all French, while their most famous winner Vicky Leandros (Apres Toi) was Greek. They also fielded Belgian hitmakers Plastic Bertrand in 1987 and Lara Fabian in 1988.

    Canadians also seem particularly popular with the Francophone nations. Notable French-Canadians have included Celine Dion (Switzerland 88), Annie Cotton (Switzerland 93) and Natasha St Pier (France 01).

  38. 38
    Cumbrian on 22 Nov 2013 #

    Didn’t Tony Iommi help pen Armenia’s entry last year too? I don’t think they got out of the qualifying but nevertheless, another country at least partly represented by a foreigner.

  39. 39
    glue_factory on 22 Nov 2013 #

    Re: 5, my mind rarely leaves the gutter, but even I struggle to detect much of a bum-sex theme to the lyrics here.

  40. 40
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 22 Nov 2013 #

    Tony Iommi is an honorary citizen of all nations and indeed worlds

  41. 41
    EndlessWindow on 22 Nov 2013 #

    Has to be said though, Armenia really got something that Iommi left down the back of the sofa twenty years ago on that one…

  42. 42
    Mark G on 22 Nov 2013 #

    Regarding the whole “lost credibility” of the entries, was it only that time when Jonathan King took over and had “Love City Groove” as a ‘brave’ venture? OK, it only got to sixth position, but wouldn’t that be an acceptable level of success thesedays?

    There was a rumour (JK reckoned he started it, someone ask Noel..) that Oasis were going to enter, probably with “All bunny bunny the bunny” but.

  43. 43
    Kinitawowi on 22 Nov 2013 #

    #19: I maintain that we’ll never get anywhere with Eurovision until Saint Etienne are involved in some way with every entry we send.

  44. 44
    James BC on 22 Nov 2013 #

    Also the first occurrence of “Ooh aah” in a number 1 hit since the Wurzels in 1976.

  45. 45
    mapman132 on 22 Nov 2013 #

    Being an American, it’s safe to say I don’t “get” Eurovision. Of course, it doesn’t help that I’ve never actually watched one all the way through, although I’ve seen Youtube clips of individual performances, and know a little about the history, such as the breakout win of ABBA, etc. There’s a lot I don’t understand such the apparently barely existent nationality rules, but the biggest thing I don’t get is why a country like the UK, with its rich history of pop music, doesn’t enter better songs that could pretty much dominate the competition every year. Is Eurovision considered beneath the major established pop acts? I’m assuming that’s why the UK doesn’t do this…

    As for Gina G, it’s already been remarked that this was an actual US hit (#12 the record), VERY rare for a Eurovision song. The only other one that comes to immediate mind for me is “Waterloo” (#6). I personally thought, and still think, “Ooh Aah” was fairly underwhelming for this unusual distinction. 4/10 I guess.

  46. 46
    Patrick Mexico on 22 Nov 2013 #

    For the UK, Eurovision is a no-mans-land. Bandit country.

    It’s because we’re a nation terrified of losing our natural resources; one of which is irony, and something stony-faced by an effortlessly cool indie band would also be treasonous to Britain by making us lack a sense of humour (on the international stage no less!) There’s also a lineage running through everything including the kitchen sink – war, football, cookery, cars, where the British are inclined to use earthy, dry wit to make those sharp-suited, black-and-white chain-smoking Continental upstarts look far less sophisticated than they think they are.

    However, there’s no reason why someone like Morrissey or Jarvis Cocker couldn’t enter for the UK, respectively “writing for Coronation Street” and their love of 70s disco kitsch, they’ve got the indie/”alternative nation” chops but their eclectic tastes in pop culture dilute any real snobbish tendencies.

    As for this one, I can’t listen to it and not feel some naive optimism, and it’s got as many great tailgating hooks as the Eurodance we’ve discussed at length recently (i.e. Dreamer, Mr Vain, Corona’s string of near-misses (vive la revolution!)) Notwithstanding the nationality controversy, It’s also truer to the spirit of Eurovision to have a glittery, over-the-top diva doing her bit rather than some gloomy AOR chump.

    However, unlike those records’ Continental/South American effortlessness, this feels like the studios deliberately overcooked it to within an inch of its life; as few nationalities but the British would intend to, maybe consciously making a “cheesy” record. And I find that kind of thing extremely cynical and unpleasant.

    4.

  47. 47
    Alan Connor on 22 Nov 2013 #

    Not what I expected. But then I’m a wee bit obsessed with Motiv-8’s appeal across boundaries that then still seemed to matter and kind of think of him as a 90s Zelig. Perhaps I listen to He’s On The Phone too often. I mean, I definitely listen to it too often, but perhaps that’s why I try to pursue that line. Also I was kinda wishing for a nineish.

  48. 48
    Nixon on 23 Nov 2013 #

    Ooh, I can’t resist a bit of the old UK Eurovision post mortem analysis.

    Plausible things I have seen cited for thebrecent underwhelming performance of British entries, other than “political voting” which is a canard:

    The wrong people picking the songs. There’s a significant argument to say that any British audience vote is a waste of time because that’s the one demographic guaranteed not to be able to vote on the night (of which more in a second) and there persists a trend of Eurovision as campy fun which makes no sense at all. Scooch are the epitome of this but there are other offenders too. Gina G hitting #1 may have muddied the waters further – people seem to think this did better on the night than it actually did, the sound of Eurovision as cheesy pop rather than slick production values.

    The songs themselves being shit. By and large it’s hard to really argue that one. I did an honest to God spit take seeing someone upthread cite Daz Sampson as a high point. These songs wouldn’t (and didn’t) cut the mustard as chart hits, and yet they’re pumped out as if they’ll get a free pass from the punters and the voters alike, since it’s Eurovision. Kind of like the FA Cup final single.

    The marketing is insular and mental. Jade Ewen picked up votes from cointries she’d been to pushing her song, Blue had toured extensively overseas and represented a clever move. But most of the recent UK acts seem to think British daytime and light entertainment shows are the best way to win hearts and minds in Kyiv or Rijeka before the night. Engelbert’s plodding entry was accompanied by a quote from some gonk saying it was the kind of song that you really came to appreciate after a few listens. Spot the flaw in that reasoning.

    Terrible performances at the show itself. If you’re not going to properly try and be the outright silliest, your presentation had better be very well mounted and you as performer need to be on your best game, especially if you’ve done naff all laying of ground work, especially if nobody has seen you in the semi final and everyone is now hearing the song for the first time. But surely it’s not too much to ask that you not save your worst, most leaden, most off key performance for when it counts?

    Finally though, what is a success anyway? The American comment above about British pop music dominating the world and there being a commensurate expectation that thw UK should therefore trounce a recently independent post-Communist state with no pop tradition to speak of, that’s a severely skewed viewpoint. Not dissimilar to how the England based tabloids seem to believe England should win every World Cup because the country “invented the game”, failing to recognise everything wrong with that view. There are twice as many countries and vastly higher budgets involved in Eurovision now, the days of pointing and laughing at the funny Greek attempt to ape northwestern European pop tropes, or the funny Finns in traditional dress wondering why their traditional folk song isn’t crossing borders like Sandie Shaw, are long over. Anglophone pop music and its American influences are so long established in continental Europe that the UK has lost its role as paternal interpreter and missionary; we’re just one of 40 now, with no more divine right to a top ten placing than anyone else, and not taking it seriously has exactly the same effect as in football: you get left behind very fast.

    Gina G had a follow up single advertised by her being naked and covered in chocolate, which played merry hell with my teenage hormones. Otherwise I’d forgotten all about this. 6 seems about right.

  49. 49
    swanstep on 23 Nov 2013 #

    Heh, some of the comments above made me wonder what sex Doris Day might be going on about in Ooh! Bang! Jiggily! Jang!.

    Anyhow, to my surprise I think I can stretch to a 7 for ‘Ooh Aah’ – it’s an efficient delivery system for a sugar rush and nothing more, but that’s all Kylie, most of J-pop, et al. manage most of the time, and at the right time and place that can be perfect. The verses here are properly perky, the chorus not quite as good (agree with Tom on that), but I appreciate the middle eight. Pretty slick professional job by Motiv-8 I suppose. (I want to add “Aqua will make bank on this stuff soon enough adding in lots of ‘personality’.” but that may reflect my relatively limited acquaintance with happy ’90s dance esp. from around this time – couldn’t have cared less about anything up-beat in 1996/1997!)

  50. 50
    AMZ1981 on 23 Nov 2013 #

    #32 fair enough, I’d overlooked that Love City Groove got that high although if memory serves it wandered around the bottom half of the top twenty before peaking in Eurovision week and dropping down soon after.

    I remember that in the early nineties the UK organisers would choose their singer who would then sing a selection of songs for viewers to choose the entrant. In 1995 the format changed two eight different artists performing songs of different genres (I remember the token rock song came last, the token rap number by Love City Groove won by a landslide – among the also rans were Deuce who managed to equal Love City Groove’s chart peak with their song and Samantha Fox). Perhaps this new approach re-awakened interest in the contest chartwise, however although I recall 1995 strangely vividly by 1996 my interest was elsewhere – I’m assuming a similar format was used.

  51. 51
    Izzy on 23 Nov 2013 #

    I remember now. There was also a token indie number, Then There’s A Knock On The Door by a trefoil-sporting ensemble called FFF, of which the presenter boasted that it been written by actual classic songwriters. Sadly I can’t remember who – I want to say Godley & Creme but surely not?

  52. 52
    23 Daves on 24 Nov 2013 #

    #51 – Eric Gouldman and Eric Stewart according to YouTube. I have to admit I’d forgotten all about this one (though on re-listening, it’s easy to understand how…)

    http://youtu.be/lQs-CycxoUU

  53. 53
    Jimmy the Swede on 24 Nov 2013 #

    #37 – Apropos foreigners cuckooing in Eurovision nests, perhaps the most infamous example of this was when a very lovely Israeli girl representied Switzerland in the 1963 contest in London. In what has since become the “Eurovision Scandal”, there was a discrepancy in procedure when Katie Boyle called up Oslo for the Norweigan vote. The man out there went off script when delivering his set of votes and Katie interjected and asked him to repeat. The guy in Oslo then fell silent before returning to ask Katie if she could call him back. Miss Boyle carried on calling the rest of Europe and then returned to Oslo to speak to chappie again, only to hear that the Norweigan vote had mysteriously altered. The beneficiary was fellow Scandies Denmark who ended up topping the poll at the expense of the Swiss who would have won if not for the Norweigans’ apparent volte-face. And who was the “very lovely Israeli girl”? It was none other than Esther “Cinderella” Ofarim.

    Just as an afterthought, the Danish song which won was actually extremely good, I thought.

    # 43 – You’re spot-on, of course, Kinitawowi, and we’ve been bullying poor old Lineman about getting St Etts to try for it for ages. Perhaps one day the bugger will get his finger out!

  54. 54
    anto on 24 Nov 2013 #

    I largely agree with the review on this one. Spirited bubblegum which felt contempory at least – going to number 1 was two fingers up to the judges.
    On the subject of political voting I have my suspicions that Katrina & The Waves’ 1997 win was tactical – a kind of please-don’t-pull-out gesture after 3 reasonably good UK entries (Frances Rufelle, Love City Groove, Gina G) had failed to win. This might explain why it felt like such an anti-climax – the phrase you never hear ‘Remember that glorious night when Katrina won it for us’. Actually, it was virtually forgotten about by August.

  55. 55
    thefatgit on 24 Nov 2013 #

    #52, I can buy into an AU where every member of 10cc was called Eric.

  56. 56
    punctum on 25 Nov 2013 #

    #54: tbf that line is still regularly wheeled out on Radio 2, round about Eurovision time. Katrina Out Of Katrina And The Waves even got a DJing stint on R2 out of it.

  57. 57
    Mark G on 25 Nov 2013 #

    If it was all “political voting, the end”, then it would be the same winner every year.

    What about the fact that an eastern european country would vote for another eastern european country, as they both like that sort of music?

  58. 58
    punctum on 25 Nov 2013 #

    That is not a fact but a possibility.

  59. 59
    James BC on 25 Nov 2013 #

    I think a lot of it is to do with people living across borders. There must be a lot of Czechs living in Poland, Latvians living in Lithuania and so on (or people whose parents had those identities), and these people take the chance to ring up and vote for their own entrant. Not politics but human geography.

  60. 60
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 25 Nov 2013 #

    Also neighbouring countries often share language types, can tune into one another’s radio and TV broadcasts, naturally form informal trade blocs — cf the legendary pre-war French onion seller on a bicycle in Kent etc — and so on. So the fact that there’s some cultural overlap between adjoining nations is pretty unremarkable.

  61. 61
    punctum on 25 Nov 2013 #

    Eurovision paradox:
    a) throw out public vote and confine voting to specially selected panel of specially selected experts who know exactly what’s hot and not hot in pop;
    b) if they do that, absence of revenue from ‘phone calls etc. means no contest.

  62. 62
    wichitalineman on 25 Nov 2013 #

    The bulk of the work on Ooh Ahh was by a future Popular regular Brian Higgins, then a mere engineer for Motiv-8’s Steve Rodway but essentially the bloke who did all the work. Which makes this single the end of one era and the beginning of another.

    I never thought of Love City Groove being old-fashioned for sounding like Booker Newberry’s Love Town – the mellow late seventies soul thing was a nineties staple (Wu Tang Clan, Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince, Warren G etc), so the move into early 80s territory seemed a natural step. Q-Tee wrote Love City Groove as well, which was a Eurovision entry when she was still a teenager.

  63. 63
    Ed on 26 Nov 2013 #

    Nixon @48 “The American comment above about British pop music dominating the world and there being a commensurate expectation that thw UK should therefore trounce a recently independent post-Communist state with no pop tradition to speak of, that’s a severely skewed viewpoint. Not dissimilar to how the England based tabloids seem to believe England should win every World Cup because the country “invented the game”, failing to recognise everything wrong with that view.”

    Yes!

    I am only a fair-weather Eurovision fan, but the impression I get is that the shows are more entertaining than ever, because of the wider range of ideas and tastes that get an airing. It’s like a Pop European Cup, on TV.

    I don’t think anyone could point to a Golden Age of Eurovision when the winners were so much better than they are today, because the UK and a few other NW Euopean countries dominated.

  64. 64
    Kylie on 26 Nov 2013 #

    Sigh… the last Eurovision #1. The closest any ESC entry has gotten to achieving it since were our 1997 winner, and Norway and Sweden’s winners in 2009 and 2012.

    My 8 year-old self remembers this at the time, but as my family had emigrated to the UK from NZ in Oct that year, I had no idea what Eurovision was and it was a number of years before I discovered it was an ESC entry.

    I run a Eurovision-related site and you don’t know how much it frustrates me that my own country has such a shitty attitude to Eurovision. Europe doesn’t hate us (many of our music acts are very successful in mainland Europe, but try tell that to the xenophobes churning out that excuse every year), they just hate our crappy and badly-performed entries.

    If only we could look at Sweden for example, their national selection is the biggest show in the country and most of the songs taking part reach the Swedish charts. If only we had that here, I mean it’s not as if we haven’t got one of the biggest music industries in the world to stop us from making it happen. Come on BBC!

  65. 65
    punctum on 26 Nov 2013 #

    See what I said above (entry #26). The BBC are the main obstacle to Eurovision being taken seriously in this country. Actually one could substitute the word “Eurovision” with the words “pop music over the last sixty years” and it would still be true.

  66. 66
    Billy Hicks on 26 Nov 2013 #

    This is where I come in to Eurovision, the earliest contest I remember thanks to this song getting huge play on various Children’s BBC programmes and Newsround coverage. I remember thinking it was basically a given we were going to win and being somewhat underwhelmed when we didn’t. The contest itself I remember watching a substantial amount of but it wasn’t until 2002 when I started really following it.

    As said, the contest now is perhaps in much better shape than it was during most of the noughties when it seemed an endless stream of let-the-Eastern-Europeans-win, the songs since 2009 have been for the most part pretty brilliant and rewarded with excellent UK top 10 places in the case of Alexander Rybak and Loreen. It’s a shame that whoever is in charge of choosing the entrants simply doesn’t care. If the BBC want to win Eurovision, they’ll make an effort. Right now it’s clearly not on their agenda.

    Also, for possible curiosity, here are the UK ratings for every contest since as far as I’ve been able to go back in 1998. Note the early noughties slump only to recover a little when Jessica Garlick represented us in 2002, the abysmal 2010 rating (Josh Dubovie+glorious heatwave of a day) followed by the huge 2011 rating (Blue+Jedward) and not doing too badly in recent times. Seems like seven million is the average Eurovision audience in the last decade.

    1998: 9.68 million
    1999: 8.91 million
    2000: 6.54 million
    2001: 6.98 million
    2002: 7.81 million
    2003: 7.94 million
    2004: 8.38 million
    2005: 7.97 million
    2006: 8.33 million
    2007: 8.77 million
    2008: 7.15 million
    2009: 7.91 million
    2010: 5.59 million
    2011: 9.68 million
    2012: 7.59 million
    2013: 7.83 million

  67. 67
    iconoclast on 26 Nov 2013 #

    @65: ‘The BBC are the main obstacle to Eurovision being taken seriously in this country. Actually one could substitute the word “Eurovision” with the words “pop music over the last sixty years” and it would still be true.’

    Interesting remark; could you elaborate a bit on what would your vision of the ideal be, with Eurovision/pop music taken seriously? As in, what would you like to see different?

  68. 68
    Billy Smart on 27 Nov 2013 #

    #66 And here are the Eurovision ratings up to 1991 (1964, 1966, 1987 and 1988 all failed to reach the top 20 programmes for their weeks, so I don’t have the figures):

    1963: 13.2 million
    1965: 12.32m
    1967: 19.58m
    1968: 20.9m
    1969: 17.6m
    1970: 20.24m
    1971: 18.7m
    1972: 20.02m
    1973: 21.56m
    1974: 18.04m
    1975: 17.6m
    1976: 18.92m
    1977: 20.02m
    1978: 15.1m
    1979: 15.4m
    1980: 14.1m
    1981: 15.3m
    1982: 14.5m
    1983: 12.5m
    1984: 9.8m
    1985: 13.9m
    1986: 9.8m
    1989: 9.5m
    1990: 10.2m
    1991: 10.2m

  69. 69
    Billy Hicks on 27 Nov 2013 #

    Amazing, thanks! A fair few discrepancies with what Offthetelly wrote in 2000, it agrees with the late 60s/early 70s being its peak but quotes a rather astonishing 23.2 million for Bucks Fizz’s win in 1981. But then the ratings system as we know it today didn’t properly begin until August ’81, so that’s probably where the confusion lies.

    Quite a major drop between ’77 and ’78 that never seems to recover, but then ’78 was a rare miss for the UK at the time, failing to make the top 10 at the contest with Coco. Similarly Vikki Watson had one of the best scores of the 80s in 1985 and ratings jump up for that year. 1991’s isn’t too far off from 1998 so guessing it hovered around 10 million for much of the 90s.

  70. 70
    Billy Smart on 27 Nov 2013 #

    There are two different sets of ratings before August 1981 – JICTAR and the BBC Audience Research Department and there are usually significant discrepencies between the two. Offthetelly are probably using the BBC figures.

    1977 is perhaps exceptionally high because the contest came from Wembley and was therefore a) a BBC production rather than a feed from an overseas broadcaster and b) Seeing whether Lyndsey de Paul and Mike Moran could successfully defend the crown won for Britain by the Brotherhood of Man in ’76 was a narrative that maybe caught the public imagination more than usually.

  71. 71
    hardtogethits on 27 Nov 2013 #

    #66 From the figures given, the yearly average across the decade would round to 8 million. This applies whether the definition of “last decade” is 2000-9, or 2004-13, and whether “average” is calculated as the mean or median.

  72. 72
    James BC on 27 Nov 2013 #

    7 or 8 million is pretty good these days, isn’t it? Especially considering that the UK isn’t guaranteed a top ten place any more.

    I wonder whether the UK’s bye to the final might work against them. Countries that have been through the semi are being heard by the voters for a second time and thus more familiar, whereas our entry is going in cold. A bit like France complaining that they were at a disadvantage in the 2002 World Cup because they hadn’t had to qualify.

  73. 73
    Cumbrian on 27 Nov 2013 #

    Re:72 Working in TV research, I can tell you most channels would give their arm for a programme that was more or less guaranteed 7m viewers watching it. There are not many programmes that pull in that amount of viewing.

    I realise that this is not the exact issue at hand – but the show itself is undeniably popular in the UK. Even though the raw numbers may have come down somewhat due to the changing TV landscape, it’s a successful TV show in the UK by quite a few measures.

  74. 74
    Cumbrian on 27 Nov 2013 #

    Apologies for boring numbers post that follows.

    As an addendum to my above post @73, I just did a quick run on the software for the ratings I have here. As pointed out at #71, the average audience rounds to 8m (for the last 12 finals, the average audience is 7.904m – for comparison, X Factor’s Live and Results shows are currently averaging 8.5m this year, Strictly averages around 10.4m). We’re comparing a one off with a series and there are other issues but still, by this measure at least, Eurovision is a big TV programme in the UK.

    It is also somewhat more balanced than these shows – something like 56% of the adult audience is female (more gender balanced than you might expect – X Factor’s main show and live results current gender balance is 62% female and Strictly’s main and live results shows are also 62% female) and 48% of the audience is ABC1 Adults (X Factor is 46%, Strictly is 58%).

    Given the size of the audience and its relatively broad profile, you’d think the UK/BBC might be more invested in ensuring a good song/performance is chosen for the night.

  75. 75
    glue_factory on 27 Nov 2013 #

    …or not, given that they seem to be able to get those varied, 8 million without bothering too hard.

  76. 76
    Cumbrian on 27 Nov 2013 #

    Well, quite.

  77. 77
    Ben Cook on 27 Nov 2013 #

    This should have won in 1996. The performance was a bit ropey (though as much to do with sound engineering and staging as her actual vocal if you ask me) and going second on the night didn’t help, but I think it was the old-fashioned juries that killed it, not politics. It was a big hit in Euroland after the show.

    Disagree completely with people saying Katrina’s win was political. Anyone saying that didn’t see the other 20 odd songs. It was far and away the best song of the night, very well performed and actually one of the best winning ESC songs ever if you ask me.

    In modern day Eurovision I don’t think political/diaspora voting is preventing the UK from doing well. Just two years ago we came 5th in the televote with Blue (11th overall due to a miserable jury score). Though we came 3rd in the jury vote with Jade Ewen, so there’s nothing stopping us getting a good result in both. We just need to send a good song. Forget how famous the artist is, we just need a good song, well performed with memorable staging. If Germany can win it, we can too.

  78. 78
    Cumbrian on 12 May 2014 #

    Given we talked about Eurovision viewing figures on this thread, just a quick note to say that 2014 in the UK managed 8.9m viewers – so up substantially on recent averages and in the ballpark of X Factor’s recent figures. As I noted previously on this thread, TV execs for any channel would give their arm for numbers of this size for any programme – especially one that is reasonably cheap for the BBC (when the UK doesn’t have to host the contest).

  79. 79
    Erithian on 10 Jan 2016 #

    Seeing this again, the intro is sprightly enough – the old SAW trick of getting the hook in early – but nothing of any great merit builds from it. Hi NRG performance of course, but it also reminds me of the other meaning of the initials NRG – No Ruddy Good. I YouTubed this alongside Love City Groove and had my recollection confirmed that the latter was of much greater interest – featuring, as Punctum noted at #19, Q-Tee, who also features on one of my St Etts favourites “Calico”. About the most interesting thing about “Ooh Aah…” is wondering whether Eric Cantona had any influence on the songwriters.

  80. 80
    Kinitawowi on 31 Jan 2016 #

    …and as the Floral Dance never made the top spot, Eurovision seems to be the best place to mark the passing of Sir Michael Terence Wogan. Fuck 2016 and fuck cancer.

  81. 81
    Phil on 31 Jan 2016 #

    Never mind, it’s February tomorrow. February will be fine. We’ll look back on January 2016 and grimace.

    Here’s hoping.

  82. 82
    weej on 1 Feb 2016 #

    Year of the Goat ends in less than a week. It’s all the Year of the Goat’s fault.

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