Editorials & Opinion

Xtra’s Pick of the 90s

Iceland 1997: Paul Oscar – Minn Hinsti Dans (20th place)

Páll Óskar Hjálmtysson is one of Iceland’s most treasured artists, among people of all ages and from all walks of life. In the Euroverse he is better known as Paul Oscar, and he is perhaps remembered more for his performance than his song.
This was one of the first proper performances to be seen on the Eurovision stage, and most people agree that it was way ahead of its time. In 1997, there is no way Europe, especially the juries of Europe, were ready for nearly naked women, dressed in black latex and leather, writhing around on a couch with an openly and, according to many, obviously gay man. This was also quite apparent when the voting was over, and he finished 20th, having recieved no more than 18 points. Today, the situation is completely different, and most people wouldn’t have thought this at all risqué.
For me Páll Óskar’s performance is a turning point when it comes to stage shows in Eurovision. Sure, there had been attempts at putting together a “three minute show” earlier, but none had gone all in the way Palli did. His performance opened the door to more elaborate shows and more daring performances, and also more diverse artists and stage personas. In my opinion we ought to, at least partly, thank him, and his ground breaking act, for at least two, perhaps as many as four, later winners. I am of course speaking of Dana International, Sertab, Ruslana and Conchita.
To me, “Minn hinsti dans” (My Last Dance) is, shared with “Draumur um Nínu”, the best Icelandic Eurovision entry. This comes as quite a surprise to people who know me, since I thoroughly detest what I call “canned drums”. But Palli is one of very few singers who can get away with it. And especially in this song.

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