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 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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Weezer (Teal Album): Album Review

Today Weezer surprise dropped this album:

Seemingly playing off the popularity of their cover of “Africa” by Toto, this album opens with that cover and consists entirely of the band covering various popular songs, mostly 70’s and 80’s hits. And I have mixed feelings on this album.

For the longest time, I was familiar with many of Weezer’s songs but wasn’t aware of the band as a whole. My parents had to tell me many times that “Island in the Sun” was by Weezer and not Cake until it was drilled into my head. I got kind of but not really super into Weezer in early to mid 2018, where I realized many of their songs I already knew but didn’t know they made. Shortly after that point, I realized the band has their own very distinct personality, with their songs covering naive childish topics in this overdramatic, sincere way. I tend to catch on to bands’ personalities because Cake, my favorite band, has a very distinct “we don’t care, we’ll do what we want” personality.

I was there for the release of Weezer’s cover of Africa, which is notable mainly for the story behind it: some teenage girl really wanted them to cover that song, and they actually did it. The end result is a little odd, but different enough from the original and good enough to be a worthy piece of music, even considering that Africa is already a song that everyone loves. Weezer covering other hits has a lot of potential, and when their cover of Africa came out I’m sure it felt to many like scratching the surface; what if Weezer brought their personality into other popular hits? The way they did it and their choice of songs is a little weird to me.

The most prominent genre of music is 80’s pop, which makes sense considering how they clearly wanted to make similar covers to Africa. Those covers are done in a roughly similar style to their cover of Africa, and I’m not a big fan of how they seemingly decided to go the route of “hey, let’s do more covers similar to our cover that has a really funny story behind it”. 

Most of the other covers on the album are of older rock music, again done roughly like the Africa cover for the most part; if not in that style, usually done as typical rock music. The covers themselves are decent for what they’re worth and are very faithful to the original songs, which is a good thing because I’d almost worry they would have destroyed the appeal of those songs and made them more generic, but also a bad thing because these covers don’t have much of their character in them. None of the covers really stand out to me, except for one: the album closer, a cover of Ben E. King’s Stand by Me.

Stand by Me is by far my favorite song on the album. It replicates the mostly acoustic original song but with many more guitars and rock elements, and works in Weezer’s character masterfully, ultimately leading to a much different song from the original. This cover represents what the whole album could have been like. 

I wish this album was more like the final song instead of “Weezer Africa but it’s a whole album”. It’s not a bad album, just a somewhat underwhelming “this is exactly what I expected” experience for the most part. I’d recommend this whole album if you really liked their cover of Africa, but if you like Weezer in general, Stand by Me is easily the one most worth listening to.