Five Eurovision entries for Swiss National Day
Article by Aussievision contributor Laura Smith
Today is August 1, which means it’s Swiss National Day, celebrating the founding of the Swiss Confederacy. Although this day was first celebrated in 1891, being celebrated annually since 1899, it has only been an official national holiday since 1994.
Switzerland is considered to be the birthplace of the Eurovision Song Contest, then known as the Grand Prix Eurovision de la Chanson Européenne (now try saying that 10 times really fast), as they had the honour of hosting the first edition of Eurovision in Lugano in 1956. Since then, they have participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 60 times, only missing out in 1995, 1999, 2001 and 2003. But which of their many, many entries was their most iconic?
5. Cool Vibes - Vanilla Ninja (2005)
If at first you don’t succeed...borrow some Estonians. That’s what Switzerland did in 2005 after finishing dead last in the semi final with the dreaded nul points in 2004. Despite initial backlash from both the Swiss and Estonian public, with the Swiss not liking the fact that the group weren’t Swiss, and the Estonians wanting them to represent Estonia instead of a country they were barely associated with at the time, Cool Vibes managed to win over European hearts and place 8th in the final of the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest. From the opening strings to the final strums of the electric guitar, this moody rock belter still holds up well today, despite rock music’s decline in popularity in recent years.
4. She Got Me - Luca Hänni (2019)
Switzerland’s most recent offering has been one of their catchiest and freshest yet. After a string of non-qualifications, one rowdy rowdy artist in particular helped them find their feet with this modern pop banger. This energetic Swiss entry was not just any old song about an unnamed hot woman at the club. It was a fan favourite since it was first revealed, and it’s easy to see why. The infectious dance-pop beats had Eurovision fans up and dirty dancing, with Lüca’s slick moves propelling him to 4th place in the final at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest. I challenge anyone to not gyrate their hips when the beat drops! Out of their 60 participations, this song is only the second Swiss entry to have reached number 1 on the official Swiss Single Chart...but which song was the first?
3. Swiss Lady - Pepe Lienhard Band (1977)
This song. This song was the first Swiss Eurovision entry to reach number 1 on the official Swiss Single Chart. It is clear that the songwriter was very ‘horny’ when it came to writing the lyrics to this song...but get your mind out of the gutter, it’s about an alphorn being the titular ‘Swiss Lady’ to a young Swiss mountain man! Featuring the alphorn in question (played at the start to get the audience’s attention, Love Love Peace Peace-style), as well as piccolo solos, the German language, and yodelling, this song is not only an instrument-lover’s dream, but it also showcases Swiss culture in a way that many of Switzerland’s recent entries have been lacking. Coming 6th out of 18 songs in the 1977 contest, Swiss Lady is a fun, free-spirited bop that is still every bit as enjoyable 42 years later!
2. Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi - Céline Dion (1988)
If at first you don’t succeed...borrow a Canadian. But Céline Dion is no ordinary Canadian! This entry is 80s-tastic, showcasing Céline Dion’s powerhouse vocals to win the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest, beating second-placer Scott Fitzgerald of the United Kingdom by a single point! The unbelievably close victory helped catapult the then-twenty-year-old singer to international superstardom, making her a household name not just in Europe, or in her home country of Canada, but around the world. This song alone is definitive proof that Eurovision doesn’t kill careers - far from it! Céline Dion is now one of the best-selling recording artists of all time, with sales of over 200 million records worldwide.
I know what you’re thinking: how can Céline Dion of all people only be number two on this list?! Read on to find out which song takes out the honour of being Switzerland’s most iconic entry in our list!
1. Refrain - Lys Assia (1956)
How could we give the number one spot to anything else apart from the very first winner of the Eurovision Song Contest? This win was not without controversy, however, as in 1956, the system allowed for the jurors to vote for songs from their own country. Additionally, the Swiss jury was also allowed to vote on behalf of Luxembourg, who were unable to send jurors to Lugano for the contest (voting had to be conducted in person). To this day, the full results of the 1956 Eurovision Song Contest have never been published.
Despite the contentious nature of her win, Lys Assia’s Refrain is a classic song that stands the test of time — in some ways, quite literally, as it was the only song in the television recording of the 1956 contest to have survived. It continues to be one of the most iconic Eurovision entries today, and it is hard to imagine where the contest today would be without it. Assia went on to represent Switzerland at Eurovision in 1957 and 1958, reaching the podium once more with her latter song, Giorgio, which came second. She is still one of the most beloved figures of Eurovision, having performed live at the 50th anniversary of Eurovision in 2005, and also having attended as a guest of honour at the 2012 contest. Coupled with her Swiss national final entries for the 2012 and 2013 contests, it is more than evident that Lys Assia remained a lifelong fan of the Eurovision Song Contest until her passing in 2018.
May she rest in peace.