There are a lot of reasons why a song can resonate with someone. Sometimes it captures a mood. Sometimes it expresses something you feel in ways you never thought of saying. And sometimes it evokes a sense memory that takes you back to a place you want to be reminded of.
And so it is with me and “Nobody But You,” Cesár Sampson’s 2018 Eurovision Song Contest entry for Austria. It is a really good song, but more importantly for me, it takes me back to Vienna in April 2018.
In the years before the pandemic, I was lucky enough to travel for work. My office has a satellite office in Vienna, so I often found myself in Austria’s capital. I had grown found of the country because my father-in-law is from Innsbruck, so regular trips there only fueled my fascination.
April 2018 was the last time I travelled for work for a variety of reasons, including but not exclusively COVID-19. When I was in Vienna that week, I heard “Nobody But You” a lot. It was in heavy rotation on the radio, so I was guaranteed to hear it whenever I went out to eat or sat down for a beer.
I have no doubt that the steady airplay in Vienna had imprinted on me when, the night before the 2018 Grand Final, I had a dream that “Nobody But You” had won Eurovision. I woke up, laughed, then dismissed it as a farfetched dream. So you can imagine my surprise when “Nobody But You” racked up jury points. Wait… is this really going to happen?
It didn’t, but I’m glad the juries gave “Nobody But You” their top marks. I think it’s a joyous, buoyant song. It has a bright, uplifting orchestration, with lots of soaring vocals and crisp harmonies. It’s a really well constructed pop song, grand in scope but intimate in execution.
If I’m being honest, I don’t really care for the lyrics. They are of a “you can’t leave me” ilk that make me feel a little bit squirmy. I don’t think they really fit the mood set by the song’s arrangement.
Cesár’s talent lies in how he uses his vocal as an instrument to make his song soar. Even I think if the lyrics are a bit off, he sells them in a way that makes them powerful. Between that and his magnetic charisma, he was able to make an indelible impression at Eurovision.
“Nobody But You” finished third behind “Toy” and “Fuego.” I figure diehard Eurovision fans would have rioted if Cesár had pipped Netta or Elena for the title, so third was probably the perfect spot for him to finish. While the other two songs were perfect packages, “Nobody But You” is the song from 2018 I listen to the most. Especially because it takes me back to my favorite city whenever I hear it.