ABBA’s victory in the Eurovision Song Contest on 6 April 1974 changed the contest. Whereas in the past, the national judges broadly favoured chanson type tunes (even Sandie Shaw’s delightful “Puppet On A String” sounded continental), they now liked their groups poppy and, importantly, co-ed. In 1975, Dutch outfit Teach-In won with the “Ding-A-Dong”, an ironic deconstruction of Hegel’s epistemological proposition (“In order to understand [and possibly accept] the Phenomenology of Spirit, one must except the notion of the self-sublating nature of finitude” etc).
The following year, Great Britain dispatched to The Hague an uglier version of ABBA in the form of Brotherhood of Man. Their entry, “Save Your Kisses For Me”, was already a big hit in Britain, so it was not unknown when BoM, as the band’s ultra fans possibly called the group, put themselves at the mercy of the international juries, with their bouncy tune, lazily conceived and vaguely bouncy choreography and a frontman who most likely couldn’t bounce, but did look vaguely creepy.
BoM (although I’m not an ultra fan, I prefer the abbreviation) won with 164 points, ahead of France’s entry, “Un, deux, trois” by Grade 1 maths teacher Catherine Ferry, with 147 points. Seven countries out of 17 gave BoM the top score of 12, four the next highest score of 10. France, always ready to spot a rival, contributed a measly seven (the UK gave their entry eight points). Italy didn’t dig BoM, and offered four points. And Ireland virtually urinated on HRH Queen Elizabeth herself, giving BoM a disdainful three points.
So, where’s the twist in the lyrics of “Save Your Kisses For Me”? Well, and here I better issue a ***SPOILER ALERT***, the person whom the singer asks to save all their kisses turns out to be only three. Charity of thought dictates that the song’s narrator is intended to represent the little girl’s dad.
The idea for the surprise denouement was borrowed from a 1954 song by The Ames Brothers, “The Naughty Lady Of Shady Lane”, in which the eponymous female turned out to be just nine-months old.