Our next top 10 series is one of Eurovision finest. Ralph Siegel has written 22 Eurovision entries for Germany, Luxembourg, San Marino, Switzerland and Montenegro. He could be regarded as the Eurovision Diane Warren or Kara DioGuardi. His father wrote a Eurovision entry in 1957 and following his father’s song writing experience, he followed his footsteps. Togehter with Denmark’s Keld Heick and France’s Hubert Giraud, he is the most dedicated songwriter in the Eurovision Song Contest. So let’s look at the top 10 Ralph Siegel Eurovision songs.
10. Papa Pingouin (Luxembourg 1980)
So in 1980, Siegel penned two Eurovision entries, both with his writing partner Bernd Meinunger and both for Luxembourg and Germany (which is coming later). For the Luxembourgian entry, both Siegel and Meinunger teamed up with Lyricists Jean-Paul Cara and Pierre Delanoë (who had co-composed the winning Eurovision entry ‘Dors Mon Amour’ for France in 1958) to write Papa Pingouin.
To perform the song, Siegel selected the two identical twins, who hailed from France, they were Sophie & Magaly Gilles. Joining them on stage included co-lyricist Jean-Paul Cara as the Penguin. Performing fourth on stage, the twins picked up 56 points finishing ninth out of 19 countries. The song is about the fantasy life of the title character – a bored penguin. The singers describe his desire to fly like a seagull and travel around the world, listing various places he visits in his imagination. This song also caused some controversy, especially regarding the girls pay. In April 1982, the twin-sisters appeared on French prime time TV show Droit de Réponse, and reported publicly that they got only 5000 euros each, when more than one million singles were sold. They also indicated that Ralph Siegel decided not to work anymore with the two girls, and did not want to renegotiate the deal. He alleged that the original contract was valid and nothing could be done against him. Whilst being interviewed in 2003, Jean-Paul Cara, confirmed that the German producer never had the intention to make Sophie & Magaly a successful group. He just needed twin singers for this particular song. Magaly died in 1996 following a long battle with HIV AIDS, Sophie continues to live in the South of France.
9. Let’s Get Happy (Germany 2003)
Our #9 is from 2003. Now 2003 was the only contest that Latvia has played host to, it was also the last contest where only one Eurovision show was needed. It was also the last time that Ralph Siegel composed a song for his native Germany at the Eurovision Song Contest (in 2005, he wrote an entry in the German national final which finished second).
The song itself is fun to listen to, it’s called ‘Let’s Get Happy’ and was performed by Lou, the happy-go-lucky, orange-haired singer. Or someone I could possibly looks like a red hair Sharon Osbourne. Co-written with Siegel regular song writing partner Bernd Meinunger, this song he song is an up-tempo number, with Lou exhorting her listeners to forget their troubles and “get happy and let’s be friends”. Lou and her five backing singers appeared in a colourful assortment of clothing. Lou wore a white jacket and trousers over a black top, along with a belt with a red fastener. Her two male cohorts appeared in suits, one in red and one in black. Her three female backing singers included a woman dressed in a black jacket and thigh-length boots, another dressed in a sleeveless green gown, and finally, a woman dressed in a sleeveless silver catsuit and platform shoes. Lou herself had previously tried out to represent Germany at the 2001 Eurovision Song Contest, where she finished third. This entry itself marked Siegel’s fourteenth Eurovision single.
8. Reise nach Jerusalem – Kudüs’e seyahat (1999)
In 1979, Germany finished fourth at the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel and at the time it was their best placing in the current voting system. That entry was written by Ralph Siegel and Bernd Meinunger and 20 years later, back in Israel they were hoping to reprise success, with a new song and a new group, this song was to be a journey Jerusalem.
This time, both Siegel and Meinunger were to write an entry that would be ‘out of dept’ to German Eurovision lyrics, not just German with English lyrics. But with lyrics in Hebrew and Turkish. To perform this magnificent entry were Cihan Özden, Deniz Filizmen, Yasemin Akkar, Filiz Zeyno, Savaş Uçar and Bülent Ural or just simply Sürpriz. The band itself was formed especially for the Eurovision Song Contest, but when they performed at the national final, they finished second behind Corinna May. But when it was discovered Hör den Kindern einfach zu, was released two years prior to the NF, May was automatically disqualified from taking part in the Contest (never mind her turn would come in 2002) and instead Sürpriz were given the rights to represent Germany. Hoping to finish first, Germany earned a well respected third place. The song itself earned 12 points from Turkey and Israel, something which we can only regard because Germany sang partly in Hebrew and Turkish.
7. Bye, Bye, I Love You (Luxembourg 1974)
Bye, Bye, I Love You was the first Eurovision entry that was penned by Ralph Siegel. Following three failed attempts for Germany, Siegel this time turned to Luxembourg. He had originally submitted Bye, Bye I Love You for Germany that year to be sung by Cindy and Bert, but when the song itself was not selected. Siegel turned to the neighbour of Luxembourg, with new lyrics penned by Michael Kunze.
Singing for Luxembourg that year was Ireen Sheer, an Essex born singer with a German background. Sung in French, with a few words in English, Bye, Bye, I Love You is a mid-tempo ballad in which Sheer sings about ending a relationship with a man she appears to have met on a holiday. She sings that “I didn’t really speak French” and that “you can’t say a word in English”, but despite the language barrier, the two were able to enjoy a happy relationship for some time. Her lover, however, was not entirely faithful – thus, regardless of her feelings, she ends the relationship. Sheer recorded the song in three languages, French, English and German – all with the title Bye Bye I Love You. The song itself did well on the night, it came joint fourth with the UK and Monaco. The winner that year was the soon to be ABBA. Sheer returned to the contest in 1978, representing Germany where she finished seventh and in 1985 she returned to work with Siegel on his new entry ‘Children, Kinder, Enfant’ with five other international star for Luxembourg, the song itself finished thirteenth.
6. Lass die Sonne in dein Herz (Germany 1987)
In 1985 Ralph Siegel had co-written the Luxembourgian entry, which finished thirteenth. The same year his rival Hanne Haller had formed the group Wind. Wind themselves were chosen to represent Germany at the contest, with the song Für alle, which was written by Haller came second in the contest.
Fast forward two years later, Siegel and Bernd Meinunger had been able to snatch Wind from Haller, but with a few changes. Andi Lebbing and Christiane von Kutzsenbach joined Petra Scheeser, Sami Kalifa and Ala Heiler, who were part of the original lineup in 1985. And this time changing the song from Ballard style to more reggae style. On March 26 1987, Wind won the rights to represent Germany winning with 4445 votes, winning 75 point ahead of Maxi & Chris Garden (whose entry had also been written by Siegel and Meinunger). The song itself is stylistically and is an exhortation to “let the sunshine into your heart” as a means of avoiding sad thoughts. Wind also recorded the song in English with that title; “Let the Sunshine in Your Heart”. On the night of May 9 1987, Wind performed sixteenth out of twenty two entries. At the end of the contest Wind received 141 points and finished second at the contest (behind Ireland who won), out of the two second places Wind received, this was the better scoring one, it picked up 36 points more than Für alle did in 1985, In 1992 Wind returned to the contest hoping to reprise success with another Siegel/Meinunger song which failed to get into the top 10.
5. Theatre (Germany 1980)
Katja Ebstein had previously represented Germany at the 1970 and 1971 Contest, finishing third respectively. Nine years later, she re-entered the national contest hoping to re-represent Germany at the Eurovision Song Contest. The same year Ralph Siegel submitted two entries, one for Luxembourg and the other for Germany, which Ebstein would sing at the contest.
During the national final, Ebstein won with 4828 votes, with a majority of 194 point ahead of Costa Cordalis (whose entry was also written by Siegel). This meant Ebstein would go onto represent Germany for a third time at the Eurovision Song Contest. This Siegel and Meinuger collaboration, with Ebstein singing about the manner in which clowns have to mask their true feelings when performing on stage – a situation which is said to be true of all performers. The four backing singers were dressed as clowns and Ralph Siegel played the piano on stage wearing gloves with small clowns on the fingers. during the voting Germany picked up 128 points, finishing second in the contest. The winner of course were Ireland and Ebstein lost by just 15 points. However it has been noted that she is the only Eurovision singer to appear in the top three on three separate occasions
4. Frei zu leben (Germany 1990)
1990 was the only contest that Yugoslavia played host to, plus it was also the final contest that West Germany were present in (the following year they would participate as just Germany). Once again the representative sang another song that was composed by Ralph himself.
Siegel co-composed the entry with another Eurovision regaul Michael Kunze (who had co-composed the 1977 and 1984 German entries). To perform the song, German television viewers selected Chris Kempers
and Daniel Kovac. Siegel chose Chris after he spotted her on TV in 1989 imitating popular singer Jennifer Rush, whilst Daniel met Siegel after a mutual contact. Now the 1990 Contest took place right after the collapse of the Berlin wall and many of the 1990 entries were about Freedom and peace (Austria, Germany and Norway’s entries were all centred around the collapse of the wall). The song is a love duet, with the singers telling each other that when they are together they are free to be themselves and connect with the rest of the world around them. Kempers and Kovac also recorded the song in English and French, entitled “Wings of Freedom” and “Laissez vivre” respectively. A Serbo-Croatian version was also recorded as “Sretni Dani”, Daniel Kovac being from Yugoslavia. During the voting, the song finished 9 out of 22 entries with 60 points.
3. Dschinghis Khan (Germany 1979)
1979 was the first contest that was hosted outside Europe. It came to the magnificent city of Jerusalem. This was also the first year that Ralph Siegel and Bernd Meinunger collaborated on and I have to be honest it was a fantastic German entry and it was the only year that the top three dedicated Eurovision songwriters were present at the same contest. Ralph Siegel (Germany), Keld Heick (Denmark) and Hubert Giraud (France).
Representing Germany at the 1979 Contest, were the pop dance band consisting of four males and two females called Dschinghis Khan and their song (written by Siegel and Meinunger) was self-titled and owes a considerable debt to disco music, specifically of the Boney M tradition. As the name suggests, it is in praise of the titular Mongol warrior, with verses extolling his military (“And about his enemies he only laughed/Because nobody could resist his strength”) and sexual (“And each woman, that he liked/He took into his tent/They said, a woman who did not love him/Did not exist anywhere in the world/He fathered seven children in one night”) prowess. Indeed, the entirety of his band are the subjects of this paean, being described as exceptional drinkers with a devil-may-care attitude to life (“And the devil gets us early enough”). Performing between Switzerland and Israel at the contest, Germany finished in fourth place with 86 points, receiving four sets of 12 points from Denmark, France, Monaco and Spain. The single itself went onto commercial success in Germany and other territorial countries and remained as a group after Eurovision, Siegel and Meinunger wrote their follow up single “Moskau” which topped the Austrian charts.
2. Johnny Blue (Germany 1980)
Now our #2 can defiantly be regarded as the fans favourite Ralph Siegel entry aswell as one of the best German Eurovision entries in the contest. In 2006 it was voted the ninth best Eurovision entry. It was the third consecutive entry composed by Siegel and Meinunger aswell as the third consecutive top 5 placing for Germany.
Singing the entry was a Lithuanian girl, Lena Valaitis, who was a regular competitor to national song contests and in 1981 she met Ralph Siegel and Bernd Meinunger and they asked if she’d be interested in singing the entry they had composed for the 1981 National final called ‘Johnny Blue’, which Lena agreed to sing. She won the national final on February 28 1981 by a landslide and in the run up to the contest, this was the clear favourite to win the contest and give Germany their first victory. The song is a ballad about the titular “Johnny Blue” a blind boy who is shunned by other children because of his disability. He receives a guitar and soon learns how to play it, writing popular songs encouraging others to overcome their problems – and thus attaining the fame and popularity that was always his right. Valaitis also recorded the song in English under the same title; “Johnny Blue”. With powerful lyrics and and a fantastic performance and performing early on, some of the international commentators felt it would win, then came the voting, France took an early lead, but Germany were able to overpower them, but the UK swarmed into a victory. However Germany took a lead again after Greece gave them the 5 points, but lost the lead when Switzerland didn’t award them any points and giving the UK an eight point lead. With the final jury in place Sweden had to award either and eight, ten or twelve to Germany and not award the UK any points. Sweden awarded eight to the UK, which meant they won and 12 to Germany, giving them a second consecutive second place. Following the contest Lena was in good spirits while talking to the press following the contest and largely unconcerned about losing.
1. Ein bißchen Frieden (Germany 1982)
The #1 Ralph Siegel Eurovision song, is the winner of the 1982 Eurovision Song Contest. Before 1982, five of the seven founding countries had won at least one contest, with Belgium and Germany waiting for a Eurovision victory. Germany had finished in the top 10 consecutively since 1977 and since 1979 had finished in the top 5, with both their 1980 and 1981 entries coming close to winning the contest. Also since 1979 the entries had been penned by Ralph Siegel and Bernd Meinunger and in 1982 they were about to submit another entry in the National song contest.
Enter Nicole Hohloch, a 17 year old high school student with a love of music, who in 1981 was signed onto Jupiter Records, the label that Siegel worked for. After her debut single “Flieg nicht so hoch, mein kleiner Freund” was a No. 2 hit in Germany, Siegel invited her to the national selection to select Germany’s entry at the Eurovision Song Contest, to sing his and Meinunger newly written entry Ein bißchen Frieden. Like the previous year where the winner of ‘Ein Lied fur’ won with a landslide this entry once again won with a 798 point landslide, in the run up to the contest many of the bookies in the UK had placed Germany to win the contest. The performance was unlike most other Eurovision entrants in that Nicole performed while seated on a stool, playing a white acoustic guitar and accompanied by a backing group which included a harpist. The gentle ballad describes a wish for world peace, with the lyrics sung in first person, and also describes the beauty of the natural world. Performing last on stage, Ein bißchen Frieden started off in the lead, thank to Portugal. When it was Luxembourg’s turn to vote, Israel took the lead, then to Norway where Germany were back in the lead but joined with the UK. It wasn’t until after the UK voted, that Germany took a lead that didn’t stop, playing the voting in 76 where the neighbouring country awarded the winner the lowest set of scores, this was reprised when Austria gave Germany just 1 point. Following Spain’s results it was satisfied that Germany could not be beaten. Germany ended the results giving the runners up the 12 points and finishing on a majority 161 points. After winning the contest, Nicole performed the reprise in four different languages: German, English, French and Dutch and released recordings in five additional languages across Europe: Danish, Italian, Russian, and a German-English-Dutch combination and a German-English-Italian combination. It topped the charts in many countries, selling more than three million copies, and the English version was the last Eurovision winner to top the charts in the United Kingdom. The English version also holds the honour of becoming the 500th British Number One. Following the succession, Siegel took a break from the 83 Contest and Germany once achieve another top 5 placing at the 83 Contest. Nicole continued her music career and in 1988 returned to the contest to co-commentate for ARD television viewers at the Contest in Dublin.
And that completes are Ralph Siegel top Eurovision songs.