Cookie Fonster Examines Eurovision 1963: A Narrow Nordic Victory

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< 1962 Review | 1963 Review | 1964 Review >


If you thought the whole point of music concerts was to see the singer in person, Eurovision 1963 would beg to differ. For some reason, the singers performed in one room, while the audience watched the shows on a screen in a different room. This apparently caused rumors that the performances were pre-recorded, even though with the technology of that time, that sounded like more trouble than just broadcasting them live.

For the second time, the United Kingdom substituted for a multi-time Eurovision winner: France, which had just celebrated its third victory and didn’t want to host again. Once again, the contest took place in London, specifically the BBC Television Centre. After the bare bones staging in the last two years, Eurovision 1963 returned to fanciful stage shenanigans. This is clear as soon as the singers are all introduced, where they’re backed by recursive mirrors. Too bad the audience didn’t get to see them in color!

The voting system of 1963 was adjusted from last year. This time, countries sent five to one points for their top five songs, which decreased bias towards the second half.

Oh yeah, I guess I’m watching with Dutch commentary again! I can’t speak Dutch, but it’s close enough to German that I can understand some of it. We’re now 60 years till we’ve caught up with the present, which means my grandparents were roughly as old back then as I am today. (I know their years of birth, and one was slightly older than me, the other three slightly younger.)

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Cookie Fonster Dissects Eurovision 1962: A Jury with the Memory of a Goldfish

Intro Post

< 1961 Review | 1962 Review | 1963 Review >


Hosted in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, this edition of Eurovision was remarkably similar to the last one. It had the same 16 countries, marking the first Eurovision with the exact same country lineup as last year, and the votes were again skewed towards late entries. The biggest difference is that the voting system was simplified. This time, the juries gave three, two, and one points to their top three favorite songs respectively. If I was a Eurovision fan back then, I would’ve been a little peeved at this change, but I would understand that it was probably done to speed up the process of tallying votes.

This contest had three singers return from 1960, one of whom also performed in 1958 and 1956. One singer returned from 1959 but for a different country. It looks like this contest will be a similar experience to 1961, except I’ll be listening to Dutch commentary this time.

One more amusing observation: The French-speaking presenter said early on, “Luxembourg, la cœur de l’Europe, va battre ce soir.” (Luxembourg, the heart of Europe, will beat this evening.) Poland’s national selection since 2022 would object to this designation, since its name claims that they’re the heart of Europe. The only explanation is that Europe had a disastrous heart transplant last year.

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Cookie Fonster Explores Eurovision 1961: Big Guys Join, the Little Guy Wins

Intro Post

< 1960 Review | 1961 Review | 1962 Review >


Eurovision 1961 was hosted in Cannes, France, in the exact same building as 1959. This time, I watched a recording from the Dutch channel NOS with its post-2005 logo, but the commentary was in English. I couldn’t make out every word of the commentary, which makes me feel better about my skills in other languages. This Eurovision was hosted during a massive rainstorm, and the commentator says it’s fitting for the tension each country is facing—exactly the sort of humor that British commentary is famed for. We get a little tour of the building before starting the contest, which would become the norm in modern Eurovision.

Sixteen countries participated in this contest, making it the first one with more songs than 1956’s fourteen. It had all countries from 1960, plus three new ones: Finland, Spain, and Yugoslavia. Spain is the biggest mainstay of these; they’re one of the big guys, always eager to showcase their musical identity. They haven’t tasted victory since the four-way win in 1969, a year after their only solo win, but they’ve come close many times. Finland had terrible luck when the language rule was enforced, and they only won in 2006 with the perfect combo of absurd costumes and banger music. However, they earned second place in 2023 with their own language, which I think is awesome.

Yugoslavia is the only country that has won Eurovision (in 1989) but no longer exists. They’re also the only Slavic country to participate during the Cold War. Though Yugoslavia is no more, its successor states (especially Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia) have a knack for embracing their own culture and sense of humor, unlike some countries in Eurovision. Not all former Yugoslav countries have been as successful—Bosnia and Herzegovina is clogged by financial problems, and Montenegro is best known for their infamous 2012 entry, “Euro Neuro”.

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Cookie Fonster Discusses Eurovision 1960: New Decade, Same Old-Timey Spirit

Intro Post

< 1959 Review | 1960 Review | 1961 Review >

So far, I’ve published a Eurovision review every other day, but the next one might break the pattern. This is because I’ve started having more to say about every song, and the number of songs has increased. And because I’m soon to start a piano teaching side job at a music store.


If a country wins Eurovision multiple times in short succession, they often get hesitant to host it again. This happened with Eurovision 1960: the Netherlands declined hosting again due to expense, so the good old dependable BBC filled in, hosting in London, England. In all but one case, the UK swooped in to host an unwilling or unable country. In fact, of the nine times the UK has hosted Eurovision, five were in place of a different winner.

Luxembourg rejoined this Eurovision, and Norway joined for the first time, making a total of 13 countries. To this day, Norway is a Eurovision mainstay that has only missed two Eurovisions, and they have a respectable three victories. However, Luxembourg was a bigger Eurovision powerhouse in the 60’s to 80’s, with an impressive five wins. The winner of this contest repeated history: just like two years ago, France won a year after the Netherlands. By then, a lot of fans must have wished other countries could get a chance. They’d get their wish soon enough.

This was the first Eurovision where jury members got to hear songs in advance, specifically in the rehearsals. I presume it made them more set on winners once it was voting time.

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Cookie Fonster Critiques Eurovision 1959: A Step Up in Stage Design

Intro Post

< 1958 Review | 1959 Review | 1960 Review >


Eurovision 1959 was hosted in Cannes, France, at the time the southernmost host city. I find it weird that France has only hosted three Eurovisions, the next in 1961 and the last in 1978. France has won Eurovision five times, but one was a four-way tie where the Netherlands hosted next year, and one was after they had hosted last year and three years ago, so the UK hosted next time instead. The UK has filled in as a host country five times, the Netherlands once, but never France. That feels odd for a big-name country, doesn’t it?

In the last contest of the 1950’s, eleven countries competed for the throne. The United Kingdom returned, beginning its ongoing streak of perfect attendance, while Luxembourg skipped. Monaco, another country that usually didn’t send its own residents, was the only newcomer. At the time, my oldest grandparent was 20 years old, and I believe he got married that year. They’re still married today.

The stage of 1959 had revolving doors to show backdrops representing each country, which is a step up in flashiness, or should I say Eurovisioniness, from previous years. These backdrops were used to introduce every contestant and their country, like a predecessor to the flag parades we know today, and every singer performed in front of their backdrop. It was also the only contest where the top three winners all performed at the end.

One more fun fact: 8 out of 11 songs this year are in Germanic languages, and three are in German—more than any other language. Even though I can speak French too, German is a cooler language and more personal to me. Ich hoffe ganz arg, dass die nächste Eurovision wieder Musik auf Deutsch hat.

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Cookie Fonster Analyzes Eurovision 1958: The First “Wait, That Was Eurovision?”

Intro Post

< 1957 Review | 1958 Review | 1959 Review >


The third Eurovision Song Contest set a number of firsts. For one, it’s the first Eurovision hosted in the country that won last time (Hilversum, Netherlands). This tradition would be followed about 75% of the time from 1958 to 1980, continuously from 1981 to 2022, and broken again in 2023. It’s the first Eurovision to feature Sweden, one of the contest’s power players. Since the UK skipped out that year, Sweden’s presence kept the number of countries at ten, and the number of songs in English at zero. It was the first Eurovision where the song length rule was enforced, specifically 3:30 minutes. And finally, it’s the first Eurovision to produce a song more famous than the contest itself—a song that makes people narrow their eyes and say “wait… that was from Eurovision?!

When reading about Eurovision 1958, I constantly encounter Italy’s iconic entry, but I want to give every song from this contest a chance. Does this Eurovision have some gems hidden in Italy’s shadow? We’ll find out together.

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Cookie Fonster Judges Eurovision 1957: Say Hi to Three New Guys

Intro Post

< 1956 Review | 1957 Review | 1958 Review >


Hosted in Frankfurt, Germany, the second Eurovision Song Contest had a few differences from the first. Each country sent only one song, duets were now allowed, the video footage was successfully preserved, and three new countries joined: Austria, Denmark, and the United Kingdom. The first two had stretches of absence due to poor results, but the UK has had perfect attendance since 1959—for better and for worse.

During the first few years of Eurovision, one of the biggest points of excitement must have been finding out which countries would join next. Indeed, at least one country joined every year from 1957 to 1961. This era is long over; since 2008, almost every country under the most generous definition of “European” has participated at least once. The only ones that haven’t are disputed regions, microstates, dependent territories, and Kazakhstan.

One more odd fact about Eurovision 1957 is that people didn’t need to wait a year after the last one; only about nine months, since it was held on March 3. However, the contest’s date would gradually shift until it was in May once more.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Eurovision 1956: Humble Beginnings Shrouded in Mystery

< Intro Post | 1956 Review | 1957 Review >

Note: I wrote this post after finishing my review of the season 6 finale of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. That will come out Friday morning!


The first ever Eurovision Song Contest, then known as the Grand Prix of the Eurovision Song Competition (French: Grand Prix Eurovision de la Chanson Européenne), was held exactly 67 years before the day I am writing these words—on May 24, 1956. It boggles my mind how long Eurovision has existed. The contest is 44 years older than me, and it was first held when my grandparents were teenagers. Two grandparents who lived in Germany and might have known of the contest; two grandparents who lived in the United States and probably had no way to know it existed.

There are innumerable ways the Eurovision of then differed from the Eurovision of today. Imagine if you could tell a European in 1956 that people all over the world can watch the contest using telephones, or that the contest has so many countries that it now spans five days, or that Australia is now a competitor. But what I find most striking is how much of the first contest is lost to the sands of time. We don’t know any rankings besides the winner, we don’t know who most of the commentators are, we don’t know if some contestants are still alive*… but most importantly, we don’t even have video footage of the contest, except the winning song’s reprise. I wonder if anyone in 1956 was a huge enough Eurovision nerd to keep track of all information on the contest they could, then preserved the papers they wrote it on when the Internet age began? If anyone like that is alive today, their claims would be hard to prove.

Putting aside the incredible evolution of technology, here are some basic facts about Eurovision 1956. It was broadcast on radio and TV, though most people consumed it via radio. It was hosted near the center of the seven participating countries in Lugano, Switzerland, and in an excellent example of early installment weirdness, each country sent two songs. It’s one of two Eurovision Song Contests with no songs in English; half the songs were in French, and the others were in German, Dutch, and Italian.

Now what are we waiting for? Eurovision 1956 review, let’s begin! I’ll list the songs in order of broadcast.

* French Wikipedia claims Mony Marc is dead, while Spanish Wikipedia claims she’s alive. Perhaps because little is known about her, she has no English Wikipedia article.

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My quick thoughts on Eurovision 2023

I just got done watching my first Eurovision Song Contest live! The finals just happened, and Sweden won as I expected but didn’t hope. My favorite this year was Finland. As promised, I will now discuss what it was like watching it.

It was super fun!!! As cheesy as a lot of the show was, it was also oddly charming and served as a great way to root for countries and banter about music. I watched the contest through the Swedish broadcast, which is one of the few that makes the stream publicly viewable worldwide. I will definitely continue watching it in the future; maybe next time, I’ll try using a VPN to catch the German or French broadcast, which would be a cool opportunity to sharpen my skills in their languages. I discussed the contest live on a Discord server focused on… sigh… Homestuck. Yes, everything in my life comes back to Homestuck, whether I like it or not, but that’s beside the point.

I won’t review every song in this post; that’ll be after I have reviewed every contest from 1956 to 2022, probably at least a year from now. I suspect that by then, I’ll write sprawling, overly detailed paragraphs about every song. For now, enjoy some quick and loose thoughts about the highlights!

Semifinal 1 (non-qualifiers)

  • Latvia deserved better and should have qualified. However, I mentally prepared myself for the likelihood that their gorgeous indie rock song in unusual time signatures wouldn’t, because it’s pretty niche. Why do they have so much bad luck lately? They haven’t qualified once since 2016.
  • Otherwise, all the songs from semifinal 1 that didn’t qualify are ones that I expected not to qualify, though I did enjoy Malta’s a lot. The qualification I least expected was Switzerland, who had a tacky ballad about war that felt rather impersonal.

Semifinal 2 (non-qualifiers)

  • Greece’s performance was unintentionally funny. It was a 16-year-old boy singing melodramatic English lyrics about how depressing his life supposedly is, but contradictory to the text, he danced like a goofy teenager at a party. It was pretty adorable.
  • I knew from the start San Marino wouldn’t qualify because their lyrics are bizarre animal metaphors for sex. Shame, because I genuinely like their rock song.
  • For this semifinal, I had predicted which songs wouldn’t qualify. I got five out of six right; I predicted Cyprus wouldn’t qualify, but they qualified and Iceland didn’t. Not bad, I’d say!


  • Austria was a big fan favorite, singing about the unrecognition and low payment that songwriters face with exactly the right balance between comedy and bitterness. And yet, they scored around the middle in finals.
  • Portugal’s song was a lot of fun! It feels so extremely Portuguese to the core, with a characteristic Hispanic sound plus lyrics clearly in a Portuguese cadence. Mimicat is a great performer who never broke character once in the song—impressive because once she thanked the audience, she was audibly overflowing with nervousness. How did she keep her composure through the performance?
  • In contrast, Poland’s song is obnoxious generic radio pop music with a grating voice, my least favorite of the contest. I don’t know how the fuck it made it into the contest, but I had prepared myself for its qualification. Shows the value of pessimism!
  • I had prepared myself for Sweden being the winner, again so that I wouldn’t be too disappointed if it happened, which it did. That’s why I’m not that pissed off about it like so many fans are. “Tattoo” is an alright, marketable EDM song, and Loreen will go down in history as the first woman to win the contest twice…
  • … but I think Finland, the runner-up, will go down in history even more. They sent a masterful rap song reminiscent of Gangnam Style, and it was entirely in Finnish!!! Keep in mind that the winner of a Eurovision contest won’t always become its most iconic song. Think of the gorgeous classic “Eres tú” from 1973, the legendary “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” from 2007, “Run Away” from 2010 which became an Internet meme, and “Snap” from 2022, a super-popular radio song. I think Käärijä’s “Cha Cha Cha” will remain a beloved Eurovision classic for years if not decades to come. I hope this makes people who wanted Finland to win feel better—I wanted them to win too.
  • Czechia’s song was awesome too! I love how multilingual it is, and the chorus in Ukrainian is my favorite part.
  • When Belgium qualified to the finals, I screamed “YES!” louder than I have in years. Their song is so catchy, uplifting, and fun to sing along to with a great 90’s vibe, and I was worried it wouldn’t perform well since I saw people call it “dated”. It was a pleasant surprise to see it reach the top half in finals!
  • Norway’s representative, Alessandra, was really funny and cute. She made some goofy gestures pointing at herself in the interludes between songs, as if to say “vote for me! I know I’m your favorite anyway.” Her song was cool too.
  • OK, now here’s what I am pissed off about. HOW DID GERMANY GET LAST PLACE AGAIN WHEN THEY ACTUALLY SENT A GOOD SONG THIS TIME????? They deserved so much better! I know Germany has had a rough track record for the past decade or so, but this year they sent a total hard rock banger! And it got last place in the finals anyway for some stupid reason! Regardless of the bad results, this song makes me proud to be (half) German. Lord of the Lost, ihr wart wunderbar.
  • Israel’s song would have been my favorite when I was a teenager. I find it extremely cheesy, but undeniably fun, and that dance break made my jaw drop both times.
  • In Eurovision, Slovenia seems like the kind of country that doesn’t care about winning, but does care about having fun and showcasing their culture. This year, they sent a charismatic rock band of five guys in their 20s who like to party. Among the boys, they win the cuteness prize. Their song was entirely in Slovenian, intending to adapt it into a language of entertainment that everyone can understand, and it worked so perfectly! It’s a blast to listen to and always puts a smile on my face. I wish Germany in Eurovision was more like Slovenia.
  • Holy mother fuck, Croatia’s song was unhinged in the most wonderful way. Their song is shameless political satire in their own language, by a bunch of middle-aged guys who take pride in the outlandish and controversial. Also, the 3D animated ŠČ! on the backing screen absolutely KILLS me.

Who I voted for, if you’re curious

This was the first time people outside of participating countries got to vote, and as an American, I seized the opportunity. Each person got a maximum of 20 votes to spread across contestants, costing a euro per vote. I only used all 20 votes in the finals.

  • Semifinal 1: Latvia 2 votes, Portugal 1 vote, Czechia 1 vote, Finland 1 vote (I felt Latvia needed a little boost.)
  • Semifinal 2: Belgium 3 votes, Slovenia 3 votes, Australia 1 vote (Oh yeah, Australia sent a surprising banger too. I think they’ll stay in Eurovision for the foreseeable future.)
  • Finals: Germany 5 votes, Slovenia 5 votes, Finland 5 votes, Belgium 5 votes (You can sense my increasing investment in this contest from the increasing number of votes I sent each time.)

Concluding thoughts

Well, not so much concluding thoughts as introductory thoughts, since this is the beginning of my journey through Eurovision history.

Every year of Eurovision, there is something, or rather many different things, that fans are going to get salty about, and I’m not immune to that. While I had prepared myself for Sweden winning, an outcome I didn’t want, I did NOT prepare myself for Germany getting last in the finals. Still, I’m going to handle this salt like a mature adult would. *ahem*

I got so mad, was gonna cuss the jury out outside my house for everyone to see.

Wanted to trash their cars, tell the Eurovision fans how cruel they were to Germany…

Instead, I wrote a blog.

OK, in all seriousness, it was tons of fun to follow Eurovision for the first time, and I think I’ll have to accept it as my latest obsession. After all, I have over 60 blog posts about the contest to write! Surely this can’t be bad… right? …


We’ll see, OK? We’ll see.

Introducing my Eurovision blog post series!

After having finished a huge blog post series analyzing Homestuck, and soon to finish season 6 in a blog post series reviewing My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, I’m going to start my third large-scale blog post series: reviews of every song in the Eurovision Song Contest, year by year. Basically, it’s an annual contest where a variety of mostly European countries each send a song to perform live, hosted in whichever country won last year—2023 is an exception due to the war in Ukraine. The contest is filled with controversy and drama, but it has an enthusiastic fandom that embraces all the absurdity.

But why would I, an American who barely even heard of Eurovision until last year, do such a thing?

Because I think it’ll be fun. Every Eurovision fan outside of Europe, kind-of-maybe-European countries, Israel, and Australia has a different story for how they got into it, and I got interested through music mashups. After a certain YouTube channel released a lot of mashups on the day of Eurovision finals last year, I went on tons of Wikipedia and later YouTube spirals about the contest because I have heard so many crazy things about it. It turns out this song contest, dating back to 1956, is an absolute rabbit hole! It has everything from spectacularly creative bangers to the dullest pop music of the time period. Everything from serious, heartfelt ballads to indescribably goofy dance songs that you’ll only hear in Eurovision. I also find it super interesting how the languages used have evolved over time and per country, so the contest perks up my inner language nerd.

In addition, despite living in the United States all my life, the contest has a mainstay country that I can call mine: Germany. It’s where my mother was born and raised, I can speak their language well, and I even own a German passport. In the contest, Germany has had an extremely mixed track record and only two victories, but they’ve loyally participated since the beginning. (Also, why haven’t they sung in German since 2007?! It’s the most spoken native language in Europe behind Russian, for crying out loud.)

After we find out the winner of the 2023 contest next week—my top picks are Finland, Slovenia, and Germany, but my honest prediction is Sweden—I’ll get right to it and review each song in the 1956 contest! I won’t have a consistent schedule, but the posts should come quickly at first. Knowing how my prior post series have gone, it’s safe to say my Eurovision posts will start off short and simple but gradually get overwhelmingly detailed, and I’ll eventually wish my early posts were more thorough and resist the urge to remake them. I also predict that my Eurovision post series will go through lots of pauses and take a year at least. Once I’m caught up with the present, I’m not sure if I want to review every contest annually from here on out. We’ll see what happens!

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