On this Throwback… Saturday?! we’re going to the south of Europe. Our destination today is Greece. I’ll have the honour of focussing on one of my favourite Greek entries… “Alcohol Is Free”!
Results like their landscape: Up and down
Greece have had some varying results in the Eurovision Song Contest. Their first years weren’t all that successful. From 1974 to 1998, the Greeks scored only two top five placings: “Mathima Solfege” in 1977 and “Olou Tou Kosmou I Elpida” in 1992 both finished in fifth. The rest, often underservedly, failed to do much. Let us all remember the crime that was the saxophone solo in “I Anixi” in 1991. It would have been a worthy winner.
Once the EBU dropped the language rule, the Greeks were on fire. Led by the legend that is Helena Paparizou in 2001 and 2005, they even brought the contest to Athens. They turned themselves into a proper powerhouse, until it all went down the drain when ERT closed, NERIT opened, NERIT closed and, oh yeah, ERT opened again…
NERIT was responsible for the 2014 and 2015 entries for Greece. Both of those lacked any sort of Greek character – something Greece had always made sure to implement up until then. Even when ERT returned, the results didn’t. Argo failed to make it in 2016 and despite her being their biggest star, Demy really couldn’t make much of an impression either…
When things were good
I am known for loving the Greek entries (2018 is no exception, what a song), but I like Greece best when we can unmistakenly identify their entries as Greek. Before 2018, the last time I could do that with a good song, was 2013. It was three minutes of absolute fun on stage. Adding the old traditionalist that is Agathon Iakovidis was a move so genius, only a mad man like Ilias Kozas could come up with it.
Greece has been going through some dark times economically, we all know it. This song refers to all those issues in a subtle manner, by taking slight stabs to those pulling their hairs at the moment. With lines such as “It seems our course is wrong” and “Who moved my home away”, Koza Mostra showed Europe how they really feel. And they all did that with the biggest show of charm, fun, madness and Greekness you could get.
This is when Greece used to be fun. Lighthearted fun, despite handling a rough theme. The Greeks knew what to do when this took part in their national final. Thankfully Europe managed to handle this as well, by giving “Alcohol Is Free” a very deserved sixth place in Malmo.
Yiamas everybody, let’s have a drink!
What the others thought
2013 would probably be the last year I truly enjoyed an entry from Greece. I had always loved Greece at Eurovision when they didn’t take themselves too seriously, with this being second to OPA in my most memorable Greek performances. Great fun while staying true to Greek culture. I was lucky enough to see Koza Mostra at my first London Eurovision Party in 2013 which was a blast in the tiny venue. I’m hoping one year we’ll see Greece bringing some fun again to Eurovision.
It’s one of few songs in 2013 with many vital ingredients – the enticing opening, the ska-pop energy and traditional rhythms, but oh so let down by a lame chorus. I think it’s meant to be catchy, but it comes across as nagging, not to mention illogical. What could have been!
This was my favourite in 2013. No, no that is NOT the rum talking, I’ve barely gotten through this one bottle. I just have a soft spot for songs that don’t just “do eurovision”, but instead go for something different and crazy and do it right. And THIS, this does crazy right. “Alcohol Is Free” gets ska, punk and Greek folk music and throws them all into a mixer, with grandpa Asterix looking things over with the tiniest instrument known to man. Then they go on to perform it on stage with as much energy and charm as possible and I love every single last minute of it. I’ll probably be horribly disappointed once I visit Greece and find out the actual pricing of alcohol, but until then I’m going to be lifting my glass high up in the air and drinking in honor of these these guys for giving me one of my favourite Eurovision entries ever.
Brilliant song, kind of describes me when I do get free alcohol. That is it makes me go all over the place. This is a great late-party song, gets you pumped up. Well deserved 6th place.