EUROVISION: The Novelty Factor!

Germany's Guildo Horn provided novelty in 1998 coming 7th with 86 points.
Germany’s Guildo Horn provided novelty in 1998 coming 7th with 86 points.

Semi final one is done and dusted, and semi final two is just around the corner however what is really missing from this year’s contest is a real proper novelty act. You know the type, the one that everyone finds a lot of fun and runs that tightrope of being either high on the scoreboard or bombing out into oblivion. In commemoration of such acts here is quick look at five of nutleyone’s favourite novelty acts from recent years….

2003: Weil der Mensch Zählt – Alf Poier (Austria)

Well since this year’s contest is in Vienna let’s start by giving some time to this rather bizarre act that Austria sent 12 years ago. It did well enough to reach 6th place with 101 points but it’s totally bonkers with the English translation of lyrics ‘Little hares have short noses, And little cats have soft paws’ – this is novelty to the extreme. Of course no one knew any of this unless they knew the Styrian dialect of German which the song was written in. The melody is catchy – I think I even voted for this – it’s truly novelty to the extreme!

2008: Irelande Douze Points – Dustin the Turkey (Ireland)

From the successful novelty we move to a total turkey – in more ways than one. Terry Wogan once said you can never discount Ireland from Eurovision, the country having won the contest 4 times in 5 years between 1992 and 1996 – however this song was everything you don’t want from a novelty act. Bemoaning lack of recent Irish success and some out of tune women singing ‘Irelande douze points’ it comes as no surprise this never qualified from its semi final in 2008 scoring just 22 points and 15th place with Estonia only getting the joke (duly awarding 7 points). In actual fact I think the funniest thing was Dustin’s interview on BBC Three afterwards when he said he was ‘going to cut off his giblets’ and rebrand as ‘Dustin International’….

2006: Congratulations – Silvia Night (Iceland)

Sticking with the fictional theme, another unsuccessful and slightly more controversial figure arrived  in Eurovision in 2006 under the guise of Silvia Night. Let’s be honest, this wasn’t just a controversial, novelty song. This was a controversial, novelty act who took acting ‘in character’ too far across the whole week of Eurovision by making controversial statements about the other entrants, getting a journalist thrown out of her press conference (though that was staged) and generally being rude and foul about everyone. To top it all the lyrics of her song included a phone call to God where she claimed to be his favourite person. Is it any wonder she got booed?! 13th place and 62 points in her semi final meant a failure to qualify for the final – phew!

1998: Guildo hat euch lieb – Guildo Horn (Germany)

A more successful attempt at novelty can be found at the NEC Birmingham during the 1998 contest. Germany’s Guildo Horn amused plenty as he rang cow bells, stroked Katie Boyle’s face (and a bald man’s head) and climbed all over the stage (yes, literally!) during his performance. This is possibly one of my favourite novelty acts of all time – his antics being received in good humour. In some ways it’s a great shame this was sandwiched between two favourites –  Israel (Dana International) and Malta (Chiara). Guildo finished in a well earnt 7th place with 86 points.

2007: Dancing Lasha Tumbai – Verka Seduchka (Ukraine)

The final novelty act in this mini-run down has to go to this extremely funny, second placed entry from 2007. This has everything a novelty act could want – made up words, silver and gold outfits and a totally bonkers performance from a Ukrainian drag queen. It’s quite comforting to see that this was a novelty act that everyone got on board with – this entry actually received votes from more countries than the eventual winner (Serbia’s Molitva). In fact it was only Albania that didn’t give the song any votes at all. With European chart success and some great sing-a-long lyrics like ‘Sieben Sieben, ai lju-lju, Sieben Sieben, eins, zwei’ this is the benchmark of novelty!

This year’s Eurovision Song Contest continues with the second semi final tomorrow evening with the UK broadcast on BBC Three from 8pm (BST).