Released today in 1984: Imagination

Magnet MAG258

Magnet MAG258

Today, Eurovision has almost nil impact on the British charts, but in the 1980s it was still a major event in the musical calendar. Here’s an overview of the British contribution to the contest during the decade (and some notes on how the contest contributed to UK record sales too):

1980

British
entrant
Song
title
Placing in
Eurovision
UK chart
peak
Prima Donna Love Enough For Two 3rd #48

Co-Co (formerly Mothers’ Pride) were the runners-up in A Song For Europe in 1976 and won it in 1978: they finished 11th on the big night, the first British act to fail to make the Top 10 at Eurovision. Some members, including Cheryl Baker, returned in 1980 now known as The Main Event and were thought to be shoo-in to represent the UK that year, but lost out to Prima Donna. Quite why it was decided that six people were required to perform Prima Donna’s very average song is anyone’s guess. They very nearly didn’t get to represent the UK at all: they were joint winners with another contestant, Maggie Moone, and a kind of tie-break had to take place. It might have come third on the night of Eurovision but back in the UK everyone had already lost interest – and the single limped to a very lowly position in the charts here. Member Sally-Ann brought her lovely hair back to the competition again two years later and her band mate Lance’s sister, Jay Aston, represented the UK the following year.

Eurovision
winner
Song
title
Winning
country
UK chart
peak
Johnny Logan What’s Another Year? Ireland #1

Housewives’ choice and the undisputed champion of 80s Eurovision. Johnny Logan won the contest at the start of the decade with a song composed by Shay Healy and then won it again in 1987 with a song from his own pen. In between, he wrote the runner-up song in 1984 (Terminal 3 by Linda Martin, who won the contest herself in 1992 with another Logan composition Why Me?). Now nearly 40 years since the release of his first single, although he has regularly released albums throughout this period his chart success has been limited despite his Eurovision legacy. He enjoyed his greatest success at home in Ireland.

1981

British
entrant
Song
title
Placing in
Eurovision
UK chart
peak
Bucks Fizz Making Your Mind Up WINNER #1

Another shocker at A Song For Europe: established act Liquid Gold were the favourites to win, but when Cheryl and Jay had their skirts ripped off during Making Your Mind Up, Bucks Fizz had it in the bag. What’s more they went on to win at Eurovision and have three #1 singles in the UK. Today there are two versions of Bucks Fizz: one fronted by Bobby G, whose service with the group is unbroken since it was formed, and another featuring his Eurovision band mates Jay, Cheryl and Mike Nolan who previously quit the group in 1985, 1993 and 1996 respectively.

1982

British
entrant
Song
title
Placing in
Eurovision
UK chart
peak
Bardo One Step Further 7th #2

Here it is: the best British entry at Eurovision of the 80s, sung by Sally-Ann Triplett and Stephen Fischer, which would probably have won were it not for Bucks Fizz winning the previous year. There was more than one connection with the previous year’s winners: Bardo were managed by Nichola Martin who co-created Bucks Fizz with her husband Andy Hill, who in turn produced One Step Further and co-wrote and produced Making Your Mind Up. Bardo’s song was a huge hit in the UK and they dined out on it for months, despite singing the suspect lyric ‘I could have tooken one step further’ in its closing seconds. Sadly, despite a contract with Epic records, Bardo lasted only two more singles before calling it a day.

Miss Triplett, incidentally, is one of only four singers to represent the UK at Eurovision more than once, having been a member of Prima Donna in 1980. (The others are Ronnie Carroll, Cliff Richard and Cheryl Baker.)

Eurovision
winner
Song
title
Winning
country
UK chart
peak
Nicole A Little Peace Germany #1

Bewildered looking girl singer pretending to strum an acoustic guitar while singing about world peace. The third consecutive (and final) Eurovision winner to go to #1 on the UK chart in the 1980s. Most distressing.

1983

British
entrant
Song
title
Placing in
Eurovision
UK chart
peak
Sweet Dreams I’m Never Giving Up 6th #21

Effervescent trio of highly competent vocalists who looked as if they were auditioning to be extras on ‘Fame’, the highlight of whose turn was the bit where they pretended to fall off their bar stools. Member Bobby McVay was this year’s returning contestant on A Song For Europe, having performed with Lovin’ Feeling the previous year; he was recently rumoured to be joining Bucks Fizz (Jay, Cheryl, Mike version) on their Paradise Regained 2015 tour. Carrie Gray later married 80s soul crooner David Grant and became a vocal coach.

Eurovision
winner
Song
title
Winning
country
UK ch art
peak
Corinne Hermes Si La Vie Est Cadeau Luxembourg #89

Somewhat overblown ballad belted out by 21 year-old French chanteuse. The title translates as ‘if life is a gift’, but the English-language version of the song she recorded was titled ‘Words Of Love’.

1984

British
entrant
Song
title
Placing in
Eurovision
UK chart
peak
Belle and the Devotions Love Games 7th #11

There was stiff competition at A Song For Europe when the competitors featured two singers who were on the brink of national fame. Sinitta entered with Imagination, originally scheduled to be released as a single by Magnet under the name The Main Event but in the end her real name was used. Hazell Dean meanwhile offered Stay In My Life – later in the year she would find herself in the charts for the first time with another song. She finally made it to Eurovision in 1991 singing backing vocals for that year’s UK entrant, Sam Janus.

Winning act Belle and the Devotions was a vehicle for session singer no one had ever heard of Kit Rolfe, who had served her Eurovision apprenticeship by providing backing vocals for Sweet Dreams the previous year. She was flanked by two dancers who spent much of the song with their backs to the audience dressed in clothes apparently fashioned from fluorescent bin liners. The song itself appeared to be a rip off of an homage to Baby Love by The Supremes.

Eurovision
winner
Song
title
Winning
country
UK chart
peak
Herrey’s Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley Sweden #46

Classic Eurovision: up-tempo tune with gibberish lyric sung by inoffensively bland-looking blond Mormon brothers in white trousers and brightly coloured shirts dancing in sync with each other. Fellow Swede and former Eurovision entrant, the tenor Tommy Körberg (who enjoyed Europe-wide fame later in the same year when he appeared on the studio cast recording of the musical Chess) described Herrey’s as “the dancing deodorants” due to their ridiculously clean image. An English version was later made available (something about ‘dancing in my golden shoes’ – note the brothers’ footwear in performances of the song), resulting in the usual casually xenophobic mutterings in the UK along the lines of ‘it would have been better if they’d just sung it in English in the first place’.

1985

British
entrant
Song
title
Placing in
Eurovision
UK chart
peak
Vikki Love Is 4th #49

The curse of the established act struck again at A Song For Europe when Alvin Stardust was defeated by mumsy-looking Vikki who performed a song she had co-written which sounded not unlike the sort of thing Nana Mouskouri might have put on a B-side.

Eurovision
winner
Song
title
Winning
country
UK chart
peak
Bobbysocks! La Det Swinge Norway #44

Undeniably catchy earworm by experienced female duo. Hanne Krogh released her first album in 1970 and represented Norway at Eurovision as a soloist in 1971; Elisabeth Andreasson’s previous group Chips were present at the 1982 competition. The concept behind Bobbysocks! was to put a contemporary twist on 50s swing music (hence this number, ‘let it swing’); their debut album contained a mixture of original material and cover versions. Their success was rather overshadowed later in the year by their countrymen, A-Ha, whose Take On Me (see yesterday) was a huge international hit.

1986

British
entrant
Song
title
Placing in
Eurovision
UK chart
peak
Ryder Runner In The Night 7th #98

Prior to Ryder, only one ’song for Europe’ had failed to be a hit in the singles chart – Matt Monro’s 1964 Eurovision entry, I Love The Little Things. However, Monro had performed all six of the songs in A Song For Europe that year and in addition to the single, an EP, collecting all the recordings, was available – and this did sell well. Ryder’s tedious rock song barely scraped inside the Top 100. Remarkably, it came 7th on the night, presumably because the other countries felt sorry for us.

Eurovision
winner
Song
title
Winning
country
UK chart
peak
Sandra Kim J’aime La Vie Belgium Did not chart

At 13, the youngest ever Eurovision winner of all time, and likely to remain so as a rule was introduced in the 1990s stating that contestants must be 16 or over. I believe the technical term to describe her performance is ‘bubbly’.

1987

British
entrant
Song
title
Placing in
Eurovision
UK chart
peak
Rikki Only The Light 13th #96

Rikki was Scottish singer-songwriter Richard Peebles who sang this, his own composition, accompanied by three rather excitable backing dancers who performed a ridiculously animated routine behind him stealing what little glory there was to be had. It was the UK’s worst showing at Eurovision of the twentieth century, with only two others falling short of a Top 10 placing: 1978’s previously mentioned offering from Co-Co, and Say It Again from Precious (#12 in 1999). (In the twenty-first century, of course, Britain has very rarely made anywhere near the Top 10, making these achievements seem reasonable after all.)

(Smash Hits-related Eurovision trivia: Only The Light followed Luxembourg on the night, which was being represented by Plastic Bertrand: the Belgian singer who had graced the cover of the pilot issue of back in September 1978.)

Eurovision
winner
Song
title
Winning
country
UK chart
peak
Johnny Logan Hold Me Now Ireland #2

Logan is the only act in the competition’s history to win Eurovision twice.

1988

British
entrant
Song
title
Placing in
Eurovision
UK chart
peak
Scott
Fitzgerald
Go 2nd #52

Instantly forgettable ditty from Scottish vocalist who had been making records for over fifteen years before his appearance at Eurovision.

Eurovision
winner
Song
title
Winning
country
UK chart
peak
Celine Dion Ne Partez
Pas Sans Moi
Switzerland Single not
released in UK

A Canadian singing in French for Switzerland. Just a few short years later, Celine Dion would be everywhere, but very few people saw the potential of her powerhouse vocal on the night of her Eurovision win. Admittedly, this performance was before she had a stylist. An image change and a worldwide deal with Epic in the 1990s saw her become one of the most successful female artists of the decade, with numerous #1 albums and a huge hit with the love theme from the 1997 move ‘Titanic’. Back in 1988, though, despite the success of her song Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi (“don’t leave without me”), in the UK it was decided there was no market for it and it wasn’t issued as a single – the first time that had happened to a Eurovision winner since the 1950s.

1989

British
entrant
Song
title
Placing in
Eurovision
UK chart
peak
Live Report Why Do I Always
Get It Wrong?
2nd #73

A salutary lesson to countries in who to give your douze points to. Despite a very strong vocal from veteran performer Ray Caruana, Live Report came second, perhaps scuppered by the UK itself being one of four countries to award the maximum 12 points to eventual winners Yugoslavia. Live Report lost out by just a few points and Caruana expressed his dissatisfaction at losing to what was in his opinion an inferior song. It was the twelfth time the UK had been the runner-up at Eurovision and the second time in a row it had happened in the 1980s.

Eurovision
winner
Song
title
Winning
country
UK chart
peak
Riva Rock Me Yugoslavia Single not
released in UK

Short-lived group who continued to perform for a couple of years after their win and then split.

NEW SINGLES on sale from Apr. 6
1984
The MAIN EVENT (Sinitta) Imagination (Magnet MAG258)
1987
BANGLES Following (CBS BANGS2)
The CURE (Robert Smith) Why Can’t I Be You (Fiction FICS25)
FIVE STAR The Slightest Touch (Tent PB41265)
Paul KING I Know (CBS PKING1)
SWING OUT SISTER Twilight World (Mercury SWING4)
TOYAH Echo Beach (EG EGO31)

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One thought on “Released today in 1984: Imagination

  1. Pingback: Released today in 1980: Mirror In The Bathroom | If You Were There

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