Editorial: My First Eurovision – 1991

You never forget your first time (Or so they say) No, I’m talking about Eurovision! I think all of us who know and love the Eurovision Song Constest have a special place in our hearts for the first one we ever encountered. In this little series I’m going to talk to some Eurovision fans about their first contest, what they loved about it, what made them come back and why they still love it today – I thought I’d start with my own Eurovision journey…

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This year will by my 26th Eurovision Song Contest. I first ‘met’ Eurovision in 1991 when I was 13. I don’t remember how I first heard about it, but I remember hearing Samantha Janus’ song ‘A Message to Your Heart’ being played on the radio (back in the days when they did play ESC songs on the radio!) and slowly hearing that it was our entry for some kind of music competition.

I think it was my friend at school, a guy called Tom, who first explained to me what Eurovision was, he was already a convert to the world of Eurovision. So I dutifully tuned in, and if I’m being honest I didn’t really understand what was going on! I knew the UK’s song a bit from hearing it on the radio, but hadn’t a clue about anyone or anything else!

I remember being impressed with the Swedish song, but of course I wanted the UK to win, but I wanted Sweden to come 2nd, I was fascinated by all things Swedish at the time as my Dad was working for a Swedish company and would regularly travel to Stockholm and Malmo. I had a Swedish penpal and was attempting to learn some Swedish (that fell by the wayside a long time ago and I can’t speak a word of it now!)

When it transpired that the UK wasn’t going to win, I quickly began to cheer on Carola and was utterly thrilled when she won. I remember grabbing my tape recorder, which I kept by the telly so as I could record top of the pops (some of you reading this will not remember crouching by the TV with your tape recorder next to the speaker and pressing play & record at the same time!) and I taped Carola’s winning performance, I must have listened to it all summer long!


By the time 1992 came around I was ‘in love’ and I couldn’t wait for the evening to come round. Tom and I had been talking at school about almost nothing else for weeks, and of course it was in the days when the first time any of us heard the songs was at the competition. The show opened and we saw the amazing set with the Viking ship with smoke coming out of it as the stage backdrop, oh yes I was impressed! I sat with my tape recorder recording the countries I loved (basically UK, Ireland, Sweden and Austria!) again I must have listened to those recordings all summer long. I was thrilled for the Irish entry Linda Martin, but of course none of us knew then that this was going to kick off the Irish domination of the contest in the 1990’s. (On a side note I’d never heard of Johnny Logan, don’t judge me!)

I also fell in love with the young Swede who entered that year, Christer Bjorkman, and I will confess to slightly loosing my senses at last years London Eurovision Party when Christer performed it just a few feet away from me, I may or may not have had a tear in my eye, as I was remembering back to the 14 year old me listening to my scratchy recording from the TV on my walkman whilst walking to school!

What I loved was the sense of being European that the contest gave me. I was always a fairly world-aware child but the idea that something else that I loved, music, could open a continent I had never even really thought about before, was just magic in my teenage brain. In the age before the internet it was just brilliant, the postcards gave a glimpse into countries I’d never heard of, people who seemed so exotic, music styles I’d never heard before – I couldn’t help but become a huge fan of the show.

Today I still love it. It’s changed so much in that time, as has Europe, nowadays I know virtually all the songs weeks before Eurovision and am so privileged to be a member of the Eurovision Ireland team. You may be surprised to know that my first ever time actually going to Eurovision will be this year in Stockholm, I have always watched it on the TV, never in person so where 1991 will always be special to me, so will 2016.

There is so much more I could write about ways in which this music competition has influenced me and the course of my life but if there were three people I could meet in person and say ‘Thank you’ to they would be Fazla (Bosnia 1993), Conchita Wurst (Austria 2014) and Garrett Mullhall (Editor in Chief, Eurovision Ireland) – actually Garrett I can do that with!


Next week I’ll be talking to more Eurovision fans about their first time and their love for the competition…

Which was your first Eurovision? What did you first love about the contest? Share with us in the comments section below, or on Facebook.

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Author: Lisa-Jayne Lewis
Source: Eurovision Ireland



11 replies »

  1. I was exactly the same age – 13 – when I watched my first Eurovision in 2002, although I had strong memories of Gina G being everywhere six years earlier. Equally I was fascinated by it and never even heard of host country Estonia or winners Latvia! The following year, with then-megastars TATu and *that* nul points result for the UK got me truly hooked, especially as my fave entry of Turkey won at the very last minute.

    In a couple of weeks I’ll be watching it live in Stockholm – the first time I’ve been there in person and already can’t wait!

  2. 1973 was my first Eurovision, I was around 9 years old, and until 1979 it was always in black and white(my “original” broadcaster started showing programs in colour when they needed to host the contest in 1979).

    A word of advise to all young fans out there.Take an effort an listen to old contest songs. You may find some gems out there. Once upon a time, Sweden wasn’t the only dominant player.Other countries were doing quite well. The contest hasn’t begun yesterday and has a rich history which deserved to be discovered.

  3. 1990 was my first Eurovision and I wouldn’t have known about the contest had my mum not been flocking channels. Spain were having to restart, my mum was voicing what this tv program was in the background and I put a tape in the video recorder and pressed record. I remember watching ‘Bandido’ finish their song and thinking “I don’t know what this music competition is all about but I love it already and need to find out more!”. All the songs were sung and it came to the interval act and that’s when all hell broke loose in the living room. My sister, mum, step-dad and I started arguing about which country we wanted to win. My sister wanted Cyprus to win and I think, cause I got a row for saying something bad, I called her an idiot for liking that song. I wanted Denmark, Mum wanted her native France to win and my step-dad wanted Ireland. None of us were correct obviously. My mum said “well there’s always next year” I got her to explain more and when she explained it was an annual competition I had never wanted time to go so fast so I could watch the next one. That video recording which I took of 1990 was watch nearly every weekend. I recorded the songs on tape and listened to them on my Walkman in the car or on my ghetto blaster in my room. I have watched ESC religiously ever since and, thanks to YouTube, watched all the previous contests. Eurovision came into my life unexpectedly and thanks to ESC I developed an interest in languages (I wanted to know what they were singing about) and can now speak 10 languages. The Eurovision has changed a lot since 1990 and this’ll be my 27th contest but I’m sure I’ll be watching for another 27 years and looking back on 1990 with a great fondness. After all, people do say “you always remember your first time”.

  4. My first was 1992 as an eager 11 year old. I clearly remember wearing a green T-shirt with an enraged Donald Duck jumping up and down on it with the words “Why Me?!?” emblazoned over his head. I’ve never forgotten that and I’ve loved Eurovision ever since.

  5. Lisa, what a great article, I’m loving what EI are doing with these articles in the build up to the contest. I was 14 in 1991 and it was the first contest I recorded on video and watched it 100’s of times. Your article brings back so many great memories. My first contest to watch was 1982 but by 1991 I was obsessive! I remember that Saturday in 1991 was a really sunny day in Ireland, sitting in my garden and getting butterflies at the thought that the show was that night. At the time I was pretty convinced that UK or Cyprus(?!?) would win however all these years later, I feel like it really should’ve been France! Share more memories like this article please, and Thanks!

  6. How young you all are ! My first one was 1970 and I never missed one since !
    In 1969 I wanted to watch already, but my parents wouldn’t let me, as I was too young to stay up so late.
    How angry I was when I learned the next day that I missed all the drama with the 4 winners !!
    Of course in 1970 one didn’t have a walkman, but I do remember recording from TV with a cassetterecorder (allthough I didn’t do that for Eurovision as I liked it all and wouldn’t have known beforehand wich ones to record) !!

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