Five Things We Missed from Luxembourg While They Were Away

T’was the night before the 2023 Eurovision Grand Final, and everybody was swelling for who would win the contest. All of a sudden, the EBU gave a major announcement, one which was unexpected, to say the least. For the first time in 30 years, Luxembourg would enter the Eurovision Song Contest in 2024!

Luxembourg was one of the seven original countries from the 1956 contest, along with the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Germany, and Italy. With five wins between then and 1993, they’re tied with France, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands for the third most wins in the contest. Along the way, they’ve also scored multiple top ten placings.

Yet by the time of their last appearance in 1993, they were a shell of their former selves in the contest. After the 1988 contest, they sold their French-language broadcaster, which led to lower results. After they withdrew, they were offered many times to return, but declined for reasons like fearing non-qualification, lack of interest, or the TV broadcaster focusing more on news programming.

Now they’re back in the mix, Luxembourg plans to start out with a national final next year with considerable interest. But what are some things that Luxembourg aced at back in the day?

  1. Getting famous artists to represent them:

Eurovision is known for having relatively unknown international singers to compete on their stage, in the hopes of breaking through in the limelight. What Luxembourg managed to so, however, was take established artists from foreign countries and have them compete for the country.

The most famous case is with France Gall, who won Eurovision 1965 with the song “Poupée de cire, poupée de son”. It marked a shift towards uptempo songs and mainstream pop in the contest, which would continue today. However, Luxembourg managed to get such singers like Nana Mouskouri, Vicky Leandros, and Lara Fabian to their stage, with varied successes.

2. They were able to experiment with different entries:

Other than “Poupée de cire, Poupée de son”, most of Luxembourg’s more famous entries are French ballads of one form or another. This doesn’t mean that they can’t experiment with their entries, of which they managed to do!

For example, their 1964 entry, “Dès que le printemps revient“, leans into 1960 trends with the acoustic guitars and the use of brass. Nostalgic and relaxing, it came joint fourth with France’s entry that year, and also became a hit in Belgium and France.

A less successful experiment, but no less memorable, is their 1977 entry, “Frère Jacques”. Despite taking the name of a famous lullaby, the lyrics talk about anything but, with Anne-Marie B flirting with the character. Combined with the disco influences, it’s definitely an experience.

3. The Luxembourgish language:

Most of Luxembourg’s entries were in French, though sometimes, Luxembourg would pull out their native tongue from time to time. A West Germanic language with similarities to Dutch, French, and German, Luxembourgish is the main language of the country, though is still highly vulnerable.

Luxembourg first used their language in their 1960 entry, So laang we’s du do bast, which came in last with only one point. They would also sprinkle their language in their last two entries before withdrawing, both with similarly low results.

However, in recent years, using one’s language has become more popular in the contest. “Zitti e Buoni” and “Stefania” won while using their native languages, whereas “Voilà”, “Cha Cha Cha”, and “In Corpore Sano” have become fan-favorites while incorporating different styles. And with Luxembourgish gaining a renaissance thanks to social media and messaging, what’s to say a Luxembourgish-language song couldn’t succeed in the contest today?

4. Their ability to host in style:

Despite their size, Luxembourg managed to host Eurovision four times in their history–they were unwilling ot host in 1974 due to resources and having to recuperate after winning twice in a row–each with surprises throughout.

For example the 1966 contest not only featured a famous blooper when the host was about to announce the United Kingdom’s jury votes, only to accidentally greet the spokseperson with “Good night London–no, good evening London!”. The contest also featured the first use of portable microphones, showing off in some of the more energetic performances.

The most recent contest Luxembourg hosted was in 1984, with nineteen-year-old Désirée Nosbusch taking the reigns alone. Despite this, she did a good job with guiding the show with poise and charm, and the stage has its own quirks!

5. Because they managed to punch above their weight:

Micro-nations at Eurovision usually have poor fortunes when it comes to performance. While Monaco has won once in 1971, their three appearances in the 2000s ended in non-qualifications. Andorra is the only Eurovision country to never see a grand final. And while San Marino shows itself off well, they still struggle to get good results, even with big names.

Luxembourg has showed in the past that they can make a splash on the big European stage, and garnered a number of hits along the way. With them coming back, it could give hope to San Marino, and possibly offer an open hand to Monaco and Andorra, both who have withdrawn due to their bad results.

And with their eclectic ways and their previous successes, Luxembourg stands out amongst Eurovision countries, and those same quirks are welcomed in a more modernized contest.

Published by Elda Mengisto

Frequent writer, aspiring scholar, occasional fencer. I'm a lover of all things beautiful and light.

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