• Liv Webster

1980: The Hague


The 25th running of the Eurovision Song Contest was an interesting little year in Eurovision history. It followed Israel's back to back wins in 1978 and 1979 with the entries A-Ba-Ni-Bi and Hallelujah - however, due to financial restraints declined to host for a second time. After Spain (2nd place in 1979) and the UK refused to host The Netherlands took on the task.


The final was hosted on April 19th 1980 and went for just over two and a quarter hours. 19 entries were presented with Turkey making a return, Monaco withdrawing (for another 24 more years before returning in 2004) and the latest winner Israel also withdrew.


More memorably we saw the short lived debut of Morocco at the contest with their entrant Samira Bensaïd singing Bitaqat Hub. It was to be the first and last time we saw them take stage after a poor result of 18th (second last) and a statement issued from the then King of Morocco Hassan II to never return again. What's Eurovision without a bit of spice! Probably the closest we will get to Morocco in Eurovision is Rotterdam's Presenting Partner for 2020 Morocanoil.


The Hague

Located on the western coast of The Netherlands it hosts a population of around one-million residents - the third largest city after Amsterdam and Rotterdam respectively. It is within the province of South Holland and is just one metre above sea level. There are very few Dutch Eurovision contestants from The Hague - the most notable would be the fabulous Anouk who brought The Netherlands out of their non-qualification drought in 2013 with her magical entry Birds.




The Venue - Congresgebouw The contest took place at the Congresgebouw (later named World Forum) which was initially constructed to host the 21st Edition of Eurovision after their 1975 victory with Ding-a-dong. On one of the more conservative budgets they pulled off a splendid evening - complete with art deco tulips as part of the stage design! Very stylish.


The Host The host was the glamorous Marlous Fluitsma. Also well known for playing Helen Helmink in the now longest running Dutch soap opera in history ‘Goede tijden Slechte tijden’. We didn't get the usual dose of English and French till the reading of the points but instead a nice exposure of Dutch for the majority of the hosting.


Introduction duties were shared around the represented nations. There were no postcards - but each entry had a representative present the song and artist on stage in their native language. It was a lot of fun to hear so many languages and to understand only about 5% of the entire show. A liquorice allsorts - Eurovision language edition!



Voting For the first time points were to be read in ascending order from one to twelve to add to the excitement! 1980 was incredibly suspenseful compared to previous years with either Germany or Ireland still being able to win up to the last set of points read by Belgium - which got Johnny over the line.


Fun fact: Marlous Fluitsma received the points on a different phone each time! Perhaps why there were some technical difficulties during the cross over.


Iconic entries The native language rule was still in play in 1980 with just the UK and Ireland allowed to compete in English. Most entries either took a disco or musical theater approach with plenty of upbeat bops!


The home entrant Maggie MacNeal was internally selected and performed a grand and patriotic number Amsterdam. It was Maggie’s second time at the contest having finished 3rd in 1974 with I See a Star. It was recorded in Dutch, English, German and French and has become a classic in The Netherlands over the years.


Overall there was a good pulse carrying the evening. It certainly helped the eventual winner Johnny Logan stand out since the contest was almost devoid of anything below 120 beats per minute - a good ballad-pallet-cleanser was just what the doctor ordered.


  • Euro-vision! (Belgium) This isn't actually that bad. I would go as far to say Telex were ahead of their time! It's lowkey a bop. Name me another entry with scarf flips and handography as crisp as his. Just when you think it's peaked - we get a gold dust shower and Te Deum to end. Amazing.


  • Sámiid ædnan (Norway) This yoiking Sami inspired folk song is a real earworm! I need a mashup of this and Spirit in the Sky - ASAP. I love Sverre Kjelsber's vocals at the start and then the way Mattis Hætta just sort of creeps on stage and starts the party. Memorable and robbed. 16th place pft.


  • Amsterdam (The Netherlands) Amsterdaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaam Amsterdaaaaaaaaaaaaaaam. I will live out my dream of walking around the streets of Amsterdam at night just wailing this at the top of my lungs. Just watch me. One of the hot favourites to win going into the final but still a cracking entry even if it didn't snag the trophy for the home crowd. I love the grand feel of this song - really well performed by Maggie MacNeal.


  • Theater (Germany) Memorable and more than slightly creepy. I am glad I wasn't a small child in 1980. A fabulous performance with lots of stage presence from Katja Ebstein.


  • What's Another Year (Ireland) Absolute winner vibes from the start. That iconic sax opening. The fact the piece takes it's time to really establish itself and the vibe before Johnny has even opened his mouth sets this apart from the other entries on the night. A cut above the rest. Quality. The slow wind up from Johnny for the first verse followed with that explosive chorus is spine tingling. Just when you think this song couldn't give anymore we get another sax solo, some lovely backing vocals and a quiet little Johnno moment followed that sustained falsetto top note. Bravo. Big yes. Legend.



Final Scoreboard: 1. Ireland - Johnny Logan "What's Another Year" - 143 points WINNER 2. Germany - Katja Ebstein "Theater" - 128 3. United Kingdom - Prima Donna "Love Enough for Two" - 106 4. Switzerland - Paola "Cinéma" - 104 5. Netherlands - Maggie MacNeal "Amsterdam" - 93 6. Italy - Alan Sorrenti "Non so che darei" - 87 7. Portugal - José Cid "Um grande, grande amor" - 71 8. Austria - Blue Danube "Du bist Musik" - 64 9. Luxembourg - Sophie & Magaly "Papa pingouin" - 56 10. Sweden - Tomas Ledin "Just nu!" - 47 11. France - Profil "Hé, hé, m'sieurs dames" - 45 12. Spain - Trigo Limpio "Quédate esta noche" - 38 13. Greece - Anna Vissi and the Epikouri "Autostop" - 30 14. Denmark - Bamses Venner "Tænker altid på dig" - 25 15. Turkey - Ajda Pekkan "Pet'r Oil" - 23 16. Norway - Sverre Kjelsberg & Mattis Hætta "Sámiid ædnan" - 15 17. Belgium - Telex "Euro-Vision" - 14 18. Morocco - Samira Bensaïd "Bitaqat Hub" - 7 19. Finland - Vesa-Matti Loiri "Huilumies" - 6 Who was your favourite from 1980?

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