It’s always a fun thing to do: when all of the songs for a Eurovision have been selected, and the behind-the-scenes work begins, to go back through the national finals and listen to the songs that just missed out, because there is always some gems there – and a lot of room for imagining what could have been.
I’ve taken the liberty of putting off things I should be doing to compile my own list of the best of the second-best – all of those great songs by artists who almost got the opportunity to get another stamp on their passports. Some are fan favourites that were taken by surprise by underdogs, whilst others defied expectation just by getting as far as they did. It’s all my opinion, of course, but I hope you discover something you hadn’t heard yet that you’ll be happy you now have…
So I present to you, my fellow Eurovisionaries, the good:
ALBANIA/ Alban Skenderaj feat. Miriam Cani/ Ende Ka Shprese
ARMENIA/ Emmy/ Ayo
AUSTRIA/ Trackshittaz and Lukas Plöchl / Oida Taunz
GERMANY/ Lena/ Push Forward
ISRAEL/ Idit Halevi/ It’s My Time
LITHUANIA/ Linas Adomaitis/ Floating To You
POLAND/ Anna Gogola/ Ktoś Taki Jak Ty
PORTUGAL/ Nuno Norte/ São os Barcos de Lisboa
SLOVENIA/ April/ Ladadidej
SWITZERLAND/ Bernarda Brunovic/ Confidence
And, the über good:
DENMARK/ Anne Noa/ Sleepless/ Yes, she’s the Danish Taylor Swift, we get it. But I like this a whole lot more than anything from Swift herself.
IRELAND/ Nikki Kavanagh/ Falling/ Yes, it’s 2011’s version of Drip Drop, we get it…how nice it would have been to have a bit of Niamh back on stage this year! I love ballads if they’re not ridden with clichés, and this was no exception.
LATVIA/ Lauris Reiniks/ Banjo Laura/ I think this will be the quintessential “one that got away” of this year’s national finals. Many fans, myself included, fell in love with Lauris and his banjo upon hearing it for the first time, and whilst I’m also smitten with Latvia’s eventual choice, I can’t deny that this would have gone down an absolute treat in Düsseldorf.
MOLDOVA/ Natalia Barbu/ Let’s Jazz/ This bears more than a passing resemblance to We No Speak Americano – but what’s wrong with that? It’s something very different from the woman who demanded back in 2007 that we never let nobody in and step right on our dreams. It’s a lot more fun.
ROMANIA/ Distinto, Ianna & Anthony Icuagu/ Open Your Eyes/ I love the drama and climactic sound of this song, although I have to admit, I didn’t expect it to reach 2nd place in Romania. It’s almost (I stress, almost) in the league of France, in my educated (cough!) opinion.
SWEDEN/ Danny Saucedo/ In The Club/ As much as I adore Eric Saade, I think this is a better song than Popular, and perhaps should have pipped it into the winning position. Once you get used to the repetition, you won’t be able to stop yourself from dancing/singing along (very inadequately). In the club, the club, uh-oh indeed.
UKRAINE/ Zlata Ognevich/ The Kukushka/ This is a corker, and oh-so-Ukraine-in-Eurovision – contemporary, but a little ethnic, and with just enough quirk to make it stand out. Despite the mess that was their national final, there was some great music in it, and this is a prime example.
So if you’ve got a little spare time – or a lot – why not head over to Youtube and give the above a spin? Or go further and sift through the rest of the national finals? It’s just another way of keeping the Eurovision fever high all year round – and getting May to get here ASAP!