Last year we ran a series of articles detailing the “10 reasons” that we love every country at Eurovision. This year we’ve decided to focus on the countries that are no longer participating. Their departures gave us sad face, but the thought of their return — no matter how unlikely — makes us smile big. Next we turn our attention to Monaco. The world’s second smallest country was a staple of the contest in the early early days, but has since faded into non-participation. They returned briefly in 2004, but failed to reach a final and left — seemingly for good — in 2007. However, their mark on Eurovision history can’t be disputed. So let’s look at 10 reasons why we loved Monaco at the Eurovision Song Contest.
1. The original microstate
While Andorra and San Marino certainly have impacted the contest in recent times, Monaco was the trailblazer for microstates. They first participated way back in 1959 with Jacques Pills singing “Mon ami Pierrot”. Jacques was the father of Jacqueline Boyer, the winner of the contest the following year, and was briefly married to Edith Piaf. Unfortunately, he got the polar opposite result of his daughter, finishing last in the contest. Monaco is one of eight countries to finish last on debut, but that didn’t stop them coming back for more.
2. They were something of a powerhouse
It’s hard to believe nowadays that a microstate could be a powerhouse in the contest, but Monaco were certainly that. Their second year of participation was much more successful, with a solid third placing with Francois Deguelt and “Ce soir-la”. Two years after that, they went one better, finishing second out of sixteen countries, again with Francois Deguelt and “Dis rien”. Francois Deguelt stands alongside the likes of Cliff Richard, Chiara and Zeljko Joksimovic as singers who have finished both second and third. Monaco regularly made Top 10 results throughout their history, and finished in the Top 4 five times throughout the 1970s. We’d love to see San Marino get that kind of success!
3. La langue francais
The early days of Eurovision were certainly a Francofest. And Monaco, alongside France and Luxembourg, loved to bring the chansons. All of Monaco’s conductors were French, and all of their singers except for two were born in France. Even the two that weren’t (Croatian Tereza Kezovija and Italian Mary Christy) sang proudly in French for Monaco. Mary Christy’s song “Toi, la musique et moi” came third in 1976 and remains a fan favourite. Monaco’s Eurovision history is a great place to find some great French music.
4. They proved a microstate could win
Monaco’s successful Eurovision history wouldn’t be complete without a win. And that they did in 1971. Severine sang “Un banc, un arbre, une rue”, a fantastic French chanson about the loss of childhood. The song is notable in Eurovision history in that the composers and singer had no relation at all to the country they represented. Yves Dessca is one of only five songwriters to have won the contest twice, having also written the following year’s winning entry “Apres toi” for Luxembourg. 1971 was the first of the three years of the contest where the winner was determined by a peculiar voting system, involving two jury members of each country ranking each song out of five. Both Spanish jurors were unimpressed with the song, rating it 1/5, but six other countries gave it the maximum ten points to secure its victory.
5. Bringing youth to the contest
Monaco also holds the interesting title as being the first country to be represented by a child singer. In 1969, twelve-year-old Jean Jacques sang “Maman, Maman” and gave Monaco a respectable sixth place. Of course, there have been more child singers at Eurovision, including one winner (13-year-old Sandra Kim for Belgium). But with the developing contest being more and more competitive and unsuitable for kids, the age limit of sixteen was eventually introduced.
6. Not forgetting about us
Despite success in the contest, Monaco said farewell in 1980. The reasons are still unknown, but the contest was definitely changing from what it was in the 60s and 70s. After over twenty years of no participation, it looked sadly unlikely that they would ever return. But in 2004, return they did. 16-year-old Maryon was selected to represent Monaco with “Notre planete”, a song with a nice environmental message. Sadly, the long-awaited comeback wasn’t a success. They only received ten points and didn’t make it beyond the semifinal. But it was still great to welcome Monaco back into the Eurovision family. And I really like the song.
7. Bringing in the Pacific flavour
Which country brought the Tahitian language to the Eurovision stage? Monaco of course! Severine Ferrer was internally selected to represent Monaco in 2006, perhaps chosen for her name. She sang the spectacular and unique “La Coco Dance” in Athens. The song is undeniably catchy and memorable, but also failed to get through to the final. It’s not massively surprising. Still, it got eight points from France, and remains a decent guilty pleasure.
8. Microstates are beloved by Eurovision fans
After three years of less than stellar results, Monaco withdrew again in 2007. It’s thought that they, like many Western European countries, felt that the contest has become more about the show and the politics than the music. Even these days, there’s a general belief that smaller countries can’t do well at the contest. While definitely no microstate has come close to repeating Monaco’s early success, that hasn’t stopped us loving them. San Marino’s Valentina Monetta is a sweetheart of the contest. Andorra’s Marta Roure and Gisela are also fan favourites. And if only the televote was counted, Serhat would’ve bagged a Top 10 result for San Marino. There is love and life out there for microstates, and Monaco would definitely get a lot of that.
9. A contest hosted in Monaco would be amazing
Sadly a lack of budgeting and planning meant that their 1971 victory didn’t lead to the 1972 contest being hosted in Monaco. We got to see to date the only Scottish hosted contest, but it wasn’t quite the same. Times had moved on by then, and while the idea of a microstate hosting the contest still seems unlikely, it’s still a Eurovision fan’s dream. Monaco is an incredibly rich country and an amazing tourist hotspot. It has everything from casinos to museums to Formula One. And it’s hard to believe that money could be an obstacle for the country to put on a spectacular show. The only way we’re going to know for sure about whether this dream is realistic is if Monaco repeats what they did in 1971. So: Monaco, we love you, and we’d love to see you back on stage!
Let’s conclude this list with a song that’s probably played in more Eurovision montages than I could possibly remember. Serge Gainsborough’s foray into Eurovision is mainly remembered with “Poupee de cire, poupee de son”, but that wasn’t his only participation. In 1967, Minouche Barelli sang “Boum Badaboum”, written by Serge himself, and came 5th. The song was catchy as all hell and deserved to do well, but it was actually a bit of a statement on the contest itself. There was a belief that with so many languages competing against each other, one of the only ways to stand out and be understood was to send a song that had nonsense lyrics that everyone could understand. Serge made fun of this, and the song “Boum Badaboum” is actually about the desire to live a full life before being killed in a bomb attack. Truly in a league of its own. Monaco, how we miss you and your amazing history.
What was your favourite moment from Monaco in Eurovision? Do you want to see them return? What do you hope they’ll bring to the contest? Let us know below!