Monday, January 12, 2009
Speaking in Tongues
One of the most leftfield AM radio hits of the 1970s - a decade with more than its share of leftfield hits - was Mocedades' "Eres Tu," which went to Number Nine in 1974. "Eres Tu" came out of the Eurovision song contest, the same competition that would later spawn Abba, in 1973. At the time, it was quite controversial, since the song's composer was accused of plagiarizing Yugoslavia's 1966 entry in that contest, "Brez besed." If you've got to steal your musical cues from Yugoslavs, you're hurting in my book.
Mocedades was actually Basque, out of Bilbao, Spain. It means "youth." I don't guess they let Basques compete separately in Eurovision, because "Eres Tu" was Spain's entry that year.
"Eres Tu" finished second at Eurovision, where it lost to Anne-Marie David's "Tu te reconnaîtras," out of Luxembourg; it was Luxembourg's second straight win at Eurovision, although neither song made a dent on the American charts. In fact, near as I can tell, the only Eurovision winner to ever make the Top Forty in the U.S. was Abba's "Waterloo." The very first Eurovision winner, back in 1956, was a song out of Switzerland by Lys Assia called "Refrain," which is about the most Euro title for a song I can think of.
"Eres Tu," though, crashed into the Top Forty in February 1974, on a label called Tara, which may well have been formed just to release that song. The single's label number was 100, and I can find no record of any other songs on Tara. The B-side was an English language version of "Eres Tu" called "Touch the Wind" - which is strange because "eres tu" actually means "you are." But everything about this record was strange.
Do you know how many foreign language songs have gone to Number One in America? It's not that many, and there's a huge trough between 1963 and 1987, which Mocedades was trying to fill. Even Falco, who seemed like an idiot, knew enough to record songs in English. Here's the foreigner five:
"Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare)," which no one has ever called anything but "Volare," by Domenico Modugno, 1958
"Sukiyaki," by Kyu Sakamoto, 1963
"Dominique," by the Singing Nun, 1963
"La Bamba," by Los Lobos, 1987
"Macarena," by Los Del rio, 1996
Here's Mocedades' performance in the 1973 Eurovision song contest. Dig that bowtie on the second guy from the left: