I know what you’re thinking – ‘I wonder what would happen if I ate a piece of decorative fruit?’ And also, ‘so Jaz is doing a list of top national finalists. Yay/ugh.’ Well, I am afraid/delighted to announce that no, I’m not. Today’s list is about songs that were selected to go to Eurovision, either through an NF or internally…and then, for various reasons, got tossed in the trash. I feel bad when this happens to a decent song, but I feel worse when an artist gets dumped as well, so I thought I’d give both types some glory by sifting through the metaphorical bin (I’d do a real bin for Eurovision’s sake) and pulling out my personal favourites. I hope you enjoy it.
#1. Born in Byelorussia by Anastasia Vinnikova (Belarus 2011)
Replaced by I Love Belarus by Anastasia Vinnikova
National finals or internal selections in Belarus are never the be-all and end-all when it comes to what will actually represent them at Eurovision. It’s something we all make jokes about every year, but there was nothing funny about the disqualification of their original entry for Düsseldorf. I say that because this original song was epic, and if it hadn’t been performed in public too early for the EBU’s liking, would have made a fantastic entry in the 2011 contest. Instead, we had to be satisfied with a second-rate, rocked-up version written in about five minutes out of desperation. I Love Belarus may have been a guilty pleasure, but Born In Byelorussia was just plain pleasurable.
#2. Per Sempre by Nina Zilli (Italy 2012)
Replaced by L’Amore é Femmina by Nina Zilli
It was a simple change of mind that saw L’Amore é Femmina go to Baku in place of Nina’s Sanremo entry Per Sempre (Italy aren’t continual rule-breakers like some other countries we all know) which was probably for the best. It’s a much more accessible, instant song, and did make it into the top 10. But I fell a bit in love with the classy ballad that was initially chosen, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to mime-throttle someone when it was replaced.
#3. Moja Ljubavi by No Name (Serbia & Montenegro 2006)
Replaced by nothing
Having done pretty well for themselves in Kiev, No Name decided to have another crack at the ESC a year later. They managed to win their local final, but they got to Athens. What they got was a bunch of plastic bottles thrown at them as they attempted to reprise this winning song, in front of a very unhappy audience (who thankfully had not been drinking out of glass that evening). This was a very controversial exit from Eurovision, and one that left a big Serbia and Montenegro-shaped hole in the lineup. As a massive fan of No Name in 2005, I would have waved a flag for this slice of ethno-pop.
#4. How We Party by Mark Zentai (Hungary 2009)
Replaced by Magányos Csónak by Kátya Tompos…and then Dance With Me by Zoli Ádok
If you’re ever planning on entering Eurovision, and some random dude offers you a song to do it with, you may want to make sure it was never a theme for Swedish Big Brother before you accept…something Mr. Zentai evidently did not do. Still, I don’t blame him for thinking he was on to a good thing, because this is one catchy number. I’ve listened to it a heck of a lot more than I’ve listened to the eventual Hungarian entry. The highest accolade that could receive would be the award for out-camping Bosnia 2004.
#5. Magányos Csónak by Kátya Tompos (Hungary 2009)
Replaced by Dance With Me by Zoli Ádok
Then there was Kátya, the second choice to represent Hungary in Moscow and probably the strongest of the three. It’s just a shame she decided to withdraw to focus on other pursuits (she crazy). Who knew a ballad about a lonely boat could be so moving? Sure, when I first heard this thinking it was going to Eurovision, I thought it was boring. But first impressions never last. Hey, that gives us hope for finding some excitement in Cyprus this year!
#6. Starac I More by Hari Mata Hari (Bosnia and Herzegovina 1999)
Replaced by Putnici by Dino and Béatrice
I don’t mind the fact that HMH were disqualified all those years ago, since a) I majorly rated the replacement; b) they got their turn seven years later; and b) they did it with one of my favourite entries of all time, which may never have happened if they’d gone in 1999. But I do have a soft spot for this dramatic Balkan ballad, mainly because it is a dramatic Balkan ballad and I can rarely go past one of those.
#7. Quand Tout S’Enfuit by Aline Lahoud (Lebanon 2005)
Replaced by nothing
This song is not unlike the Belgian entry that year, Le Grand Soir. It’s just a more up-tempo, generally better version performed by a woman instead of a rather frightening man with an excess of both teeth and facial hair. There were a lot of similar ballads in the ’05 semi, so this would have struggled to get out. Maybe it’s fortunate then that the Lebanese broadcaster voiced plans to show ads during Israel’s performance – plans which swiftly destroyed Lebanon’s chances of debuting.
#8. An Den Agapissis, Den Tha Agapissi by Dimosthenis Stringlis (Greece 1997)
Replaced by Horepse by Marianna Zorba
To be honest, I’m not sure what the story is behind this failed entry. All I know is that it tickles my fancy, which makes it so much more annoying that it could have been a disregard for or obliviousness to the rules that kept it firmly on Greek soil. Then again, it could have been the fact that nobody could be bothered writing or pronouncing such a lengthy combination of song title and artist name. Doing it just this once was hard enough.
#9. Boys and Girls by Angelica Agurbash (Belarus 2005)
Replaced by Love Me Tonight by Angelica Agurbash
I’m thinking Angelica must be hearing impaired, because it was she who decided that this song wasn’t quite right for Eurovision, and that the hideousness that is Love Me Tonight would be more appropriate. And where did that decision get you, Ange? Nowhere, that’s where. Yes, there are flaws in Boys and Girls, namely her very heavy accent and the soppy lyrics. But at least it didn’t epitomise all that is cheap and tacky.
#10. Far Away by 3+2
Replaced by Butterflies by 3+2
I’m glad we got the Butterflies from Belarus in Oslo, don’t get me wrong. Without them, I would never have had the ambition to manufacture myself an evening gown that transforms into a giant insect at the touch of a button (an ambition yet to be fulfilled). But I did quite like the song first picked for 3+2, the most inventively named band in the universe. It also has a very cool video clip.
Honourable Mention – Csak Neked! by Erika Zoltán (Hungary 1998)
Replaced by A Holnap Már Nem Lesz Szomoru by Charlie
This one’s another mystery. According to the Eurovision Bible (The Official History by John Kennedy O’Connor) this was selected for the ’98 contest and then canned. But according to other sources, the sound of the song and the redonkulous MV, it was released way, way before 1998. Maybe it was disqualified from participating when someone discovered it was from the 80s? If so, did Hungary really think they could get away with that? I don’t know, but I do know it’s retro-tastic and a lot of fun.
Which of these ‘should-have-been’ songs is your favourite? Are there any others that deserve a mention?