The best thing about the selection season being over (well, the only thing, really…sob!) is that we get to bask in the wonderfulness of the music that didn’t make the final cut. Every year brings with it a truckload of great songs from all over Europe that will eventually be added to NF-themed playlists of people all over the world.
Of course, the end of the season ain’t all fun and games and compiling playlists when you should be doing more important things. There are also those hours spent mourning the fact that certain preselection entries came so close to securing that ticket to Eurovision, only to be pipped by something clearly inferior. But hey, that’s a first world problem that we ESC fans just have to deal with.
2013 brought us a lot of excellent stuff that almost made it. In case you couldn’t keep up with it all, or just want a reminder of what’s what on the wonderfulness front, I present to you my guide to the best of those near misses – the songs that placed either 2nd or 3rd in their NFs, whether deservedly (because they were just as good or not quite as good as the winners) or not (because they were OBVIOUSLY BETTER). And just for good measure, I’ve thrown in some random favourites. I hope you find something here to go crazy for.
The ones that got away
First and foremost, here are the almosts that I feel would have been better choices to send to Malmö. I suspect there’ll be regret from a few countries, when their chosen ones crash and burn…
Reste Toi by Roberto Bellarosa (Belgium, unplaced) – Don’t get me wrong; I am a Love Kills fan (there’s about three of us worldwide). But this bouncy, French-language number suited Roberto more than Love Kills, mainly because his grasp of singing in English leaves a lot to be desired. Belgium’s chances of qualifying would have increased a little too, I think, had this been picked.
Dzupai, Libe Boso by Elitsa & Stoyan (Bulgaria, 3rd) – Of the three songs included in the Bulgarian selection, this is the one I know I’m not supposed to like. But I do, darn it. Bulgaria are going to be pushed to qualify as usual, so it wouldn’t have made much difference which song they picked. But when it’s between this and Samo Shampioni (excluding the superior Kismet which was never going to happen thanks to those “copyright issues”) I vote this.
Päästke Noored Hinged by Grete Paia (Estonia, 2nd) – This may well be the most painful loss of the whole season for me. I think Estonia went down the safe path with Birgit and her nice, well performed but wholly unmemorable ballad that has no chance of measuring up to Ott and Kuula. The Estonia that chose Malcolm Lincoln would have gone for Grete’s dynamic electro-pop, and would have improved their chances by doing so.
Angel by Alex Leon feat. Giorgina (Greece, 2nd) – Alcohol Is Free wasn’t a terrible winner from Greece by any means. It’s fun, catchy and much less contrived than Aphrodisiac, but the fact of the matter is that I personally prefer Angel. This is a complex song with a lot going on in the three minutes, and that’s what I like about it. The key words? Sophisticated and current.PS – don’t expect to like it if you didn’t like Cyprus’ wailing banshee of 2011.
Ég Syng! by Unnur Eggertsdóttir (Iceland, 2nd) – Again, what we’re actually getting here is a decent track. But Unnur’s song (and Unnur herself) is so adorable, and so entertaining. It’s got this irresistibly happy vibe to it that reminds me of Regina Osk’s entry in the Icelandic final last year, which was also relegated in favour of something more serious. I want to see fun Iceland again.
Emilia by Electric Fence (Romania, 2nd) – I’m thoroughly weirded out by Romania this year, so even though you could say Electric Fence are weird too, I wish they’d gotten their Eurovision chance in 2013. I hate to keep using the word ‘fun’, but how much fun is this song? Too much, that’s how much. It’s a quirky circus and a half.
The ones I would have enjoyed at Eurovision
Now for the songs I’m not exactly weeping into my keyboard over losing, but that I would have been excited to see grace the stage in Sweden. Maybe some of these artists will get their turn in the near future.
Kush Ta Dha Këtë Emër? by Hersi Matmuja (Albania, 3rd) – An unusual ballad, well sung like everything is from Albania. Try to ignore Hersi’s dreadful Wendy-from-Peter-Pan nightgown.
Nackert by LaBrassBanda (Germany, 2nd) – I didn’t expect this to do as well as it did in Unser Song Für Malmö, but that’s no surprise considering my shocking prediction skills. Douze points for the trumpets!
Crashing Down by Aimée Fitzpatrick (Ireland, 2nd) – This ballad and Only Love Survives were easily the best of the otherwise tragic Irish finalists. It would have made a lovely alternative choice for them. Aimée’s inexperience gave her an appealing vulnerability that really worked for the song.
Toda La Noche by Meital De Razon & Asi Tal (Israel, 3rd) – After last year’s fail, it would have been excellent to see Israel come back with a bang. This would have been that bang, with more of those trumpets that I apparently love so much.
War In The Wardrobe by Gerai Gerai and Miss Sheep (Lithuania, 3rd) – Lithuania always manage to qualify when I least expect it. I wonder if that would have happened had they chosen this, some would say, un-Eurovision-like slice of electronica?
Betrayed by Davinia Pace (Malta, 3rd) – You may call her Pace…Davinia Pace. Because this Bond, James Bond-inspired number is full of drama, unlike Tomorrow. Here’s hoping the next blockbuster in the Bond franchise is named after it.
Bombo by Adelén (Norway, 2nd) – This has arguably been the biggest success of the whole selection season, and I completely understand why. 16-year-old Adelén needs some time to develop her vocal, but with a song this infectious I can cut her some slack.
Tell The World I’m Here by Ulrik Munther (Sweden, 3rd) – I’ll admit, it’s Ulrik I want to see at Eurovision more than any song. It just wasn’t meant to be this year, with the line of thinking being that he tried too hard to best his 3rd place in Melodifestivalen 2012.
The rest of the best
Get Out of My Way by Satsura (Belarus, 3rd) – This is fierce, y’all. Like, bordering on aggressive. But coming from a shirtless muscle man like Satsura, I find that perfectly acceptable. I’d get out of his way anytime.
Unbreakable by Mohamed (Denmark, 2nd)
Stay Awake by Simone (Denmark, 3rd)
We Should Be Through by Mikael Saari (Finland, 2nd)
Colliding Into You by Diandra (Finland, 3rd)
Úgy Fáj by Gigi Radics (Hungary, 2nd) – I wouldn’t willingly trade ByeAlex’s Kedvesem for anything, but if I was forced, this up-tempo ballad performed brilliantly by Gigi would take its place.
I Need A Hero by Samanta Tina (Latvia, 2nd)
I Am Who I Am by Marta Ritova (Latvia, 3rd)
Time To Shine by Girmantė Vaitkutė (Lithuania, 2nd)
Needing You by Kevin Borg (Malta, 2nd)
Runaways by Boris Covali (Moldova, 2nd)
I Love You Te Quiero by Sirkus Eliassen (Norway, 3rd)
Spas by Dušan Svilar (Serbia, 2nd) – This is the type of big, Balkan ballad more like what we’re used to hearing from Serbia (as opposed to Ljubav Je Svuda).
Dame Tu Voz by ESDM (Spain, 3rd)
Heartbreak Hotel by YOHIO (Sweden, 2nd)
Forever & A Day by Jesse Ritch (Switzerland, 3rd)
Some less successful favourites from the season
Give Me A Sign by Elija (Austria, 4th)
Secret by Uzari (Belarus, 8th)
Human by Brinck (Denmark, unplaced)
Jeg Har Hele Tiden Vidst Det by Frederikke (Denmark, unplaced)
Enough by Elina Born (Estonia, 8th)
The Righteous Ones by Ben Ivory (Germany, 7th)
Lalala by Betty Dittrich (Germany, 8th)
One by Niko (Latvia, 6th)
Fantasy by Danica Muscat (Malta, unplaced in semi)
Det Vakje Mi Tid by Martin Blomvik (Norway, unplaced in semi)
Dumb by Amanda Fondell (Sweden, 7th in semi)
Point Of No Return by Melissa (Switzerland, 4th)
Overwhelmed? Let me help…
To summarise the blah blah blah above, here are my top 10 picks of the entire NF season. If you haven’t already and you’re keen to listen to a bunch, these are the ones I’d recommend.
#1 Päästke Noored Hinged by Grete Paia
#2 Úgy Fáj by Gigi Radics
#3 Ég Syng! by Unnur Eggertsdóttir
#4 Bombo by Adelén
#5 The Righteous Ones by Ben Ivory
#6 Toda La Noche by Meital De Razon & Asi Tal
#7 Emilia by Electric Fence
#8 Human by Brinck
#9 Secret by Uzari
#10 Betrayed by Davinia Pace
I didn’t follow every single NF in detail (who does?) but I hope what I managed to cover and highlight today was comprehensive enough to live up to the word ‘guide’. Now comes the part where I ask you a bunch of questions that may or may not be irritating depending on your mood…a.k.a. the end.
So, what did you think of my favourite national finalists? Which ones (included here or not) will be going onto your iPod ASAP?