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🇱🇺 Blast from the past: Luxembourg 1980

photo credits: Nationaal Archief, Den Haag, Netherlands

We know a lot about Eurovision and we want to share this knowledge with you! Therefore we’d like to bring you a blast from the past. Today: two cute ladies, but unfortunately also a sad story.

Luxembourg in the Eurovision Song Contest

Luxembourg has triumphed in the contest on five distinct occasions. However, the twist is that not a single winner was of Luxembourgish descent. The champions Jean-Claude Pascal (1961), France Gall (1965), Anne-Marie David (1973), and Corinne Hermes (1983) originated from France. Meanwhile, Vicky Leandros (1972), a Greek by birth, has made Germany her longtime residence.

National final

In 1980, Luxembourg selected their song internally. It is not exactly known how. However, there is a video in which we can see something that looks like an audition. Ralph Siegel and Bernd Meinunger composed a song. For the French lyrics of it, they teamed up with Jean-Paul Cara and Pierre Delanoë. The twins Sophie and Magaly were chosen to sing the entry. 

Sophie and Magaly

Sophie and Magaly, French twin sisters, formed a musical duo. They were born in Neuilly-sur-Seine at 24 august 1962. They gained significant attention when they represented Luxembourg in the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest with “Papa Pingouin”, securing the ninth position. Despite this placement, the track witnessed tremendous commercial acclaim in France, selling over a million copies. Their subsequent release, “Arlequin”, didn’t fare well, leading their German producer Ralph Siegel from Ariola to part ways with them. Another producer, Charles Talar, stepped in, but the duo’s later tracks, “Toi” and “Les nanas de Zorro”, failed to capture the audience, resulting in their disbandment.

When Sophie and Magaly, still minors at the time, entered into a contract with Ralph Siegel, their parents lacked insight into the standard practices of the showbiz world. The agreement they made with Siegel ensured only a minimal percentage of the sales would go to the sisters.

In April 1982, during a prime-time slot on TF1’s “Droit de réponse”, Magaly opened up about their earnings. She revealed that they each had been paid a mere 5,000 francs (equivalent to 762 € before adjusting for inflation), despite their record sales surpassing a million 45 rpm units. Further, she shared that Siegel had chosen to discontinue his professional relationship with them and was unwilling to revisit the terms of the contract, maintaining that it was already fair and binding.

Years later, in 2005, French songwriter Jean-Paul Cara corroborated that Siegel’s intention was never to propel Sophie and Magaly to stardom. He had enlisted them specifically for that one song.

Tragically, in the late ’80s, Magaly was diagnosed with HIV, culminating in her passing from AIDS on 2 april 1996. Sophie, grappling with severe depression, resided in southern France until her death on 27 February 2019.

Papa Pingouin

As said, the song was written and composed by Ralph Siegel and Bernd Meinunger along with Pierre Delanoë and Jean-Paul Cara.

The song delves into the whimsical daydreams of the main character, a restless penguin who envisions himself soaring like a seagull and journeying globally, recounting several imagined destinations.

By the song’s conclusion, the penguin discerns that existence “on the ice floe” isn’t as dismal as he perceived. Symbolizing his relinquished wanderlust, he “sets his suitcase ablaze.” The song reached the 9th place in the Eurovision Song Contest in Den Haag. Additionally, Sophie & Magaly produced a German rendition of the track titled “Papa Pinguin.”

A 2006 animated rendition by the penguin Pigloo propelled the song back into the limelight in France, topping the SNEP Singles Chart for a trio of weeks. With its 27-week chart presence, it ranked as the fifth most popular single in France for that year. Additionally, the tune made its mark on the Swiss Singles Chart, securing the 24th spot. Its German counterpart, “Papa Pinguin”, gained traction in German-speaking regions, climbing to fourth place in Austria and securing the sixth position in both Germany and Switzerland.


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