154. It’s not the number of times Azerbaijan has borrowed a Swedish song to send to Eurovision and done ridiculously well with it; nor is it the amount of occasions on which Valentina Monetta will eventually represent San Marino (at least, we all hope not). It’s actually the number of songs that have competed in the semi-finals since 2004, only to lose out to ten “better” entries. That’s 154 non-qualifiers over ten years, according to my haphazard calculations. Yikes.
Among all those losers could-have-beens are some gems – and sometimes it’s hard to get over the fact that they didn’t make the final. I thought we should take some time to celebrate the awesomeness of what was left behind…whilst simultaneously re-traumatising ourselves by asking ‘WHY, EUROVISION GODS, WHY DIDN’T THEY MAKE IT?’. So here, in reverse to keep you in suspense, are my top ten non-qualifiers, accompanied by some reasons for their non-qualifying. Let me know below which have been your favourites to date, and why you think they failed to make the cut.
Horehronie by Kristina (Slovakia 2010)
Slovakia = not a country with a long and successful contest history. But you should still consider it a big deal when I say that Horehronie is their best-ever entry by my standards. It has everything I love in an ethno-pop song – it’s mystical, catchy, and makes me want to do some weird hypnotic dance whilst covered in foliage.
What went wrong: This was the type of song I expected to qualify, or if not, to be on the cusp. So second-last in its semi came as a surprise to moi. Can we blame the early draw and/or Kristina’s inadequate vocal performance? We can? Great. Done.
Follow My Heart by Ich Troje (Poland 2006)
It didn’t quite live up to Ich Troje’s majestic/heart-warming Keine Grenzen, which did so well at Eurovision 2003, but this song floats my boat for no other reason than IT JUST DOES, OKAY?!? It’s a song you wouldn’t expect to hear anywhere except at the ESC (or in a random national final) and every time I watch it or hear it, I’m all like, *Euroswoon*. Then I think about how narrowly it missed the final and I’m all like, *Eurobreakdown*.
What went wrong: Not a whole lot, when you see how close it was to qualification. Poland were beaten to last-qualifying 10th place by FYR Macedonia, so I’m going to go out on a (scantily clad) limb and say that there wasn’t enough flesh on display.
Complice by Miodio (San Marino 2008)
You (and the entire European continent) say bland, I say bellissimo, because this is an Italian-language ballad with a haunting piano intro and I’m attracted to that sort of thing (in fact, the piano intro doesn’t even have to be haunting). I have no idea what Mr. Miodio is singing about besides the odd word, but that just adds to the mysterious appeal.
What went wrong: Possibly the fact that the only fan of this song was sitting on her couch in a faraway land called Australia at the time, and couldn’t text her little heart out to save it. Not that she (I’m referring to me, guys…in case you didn’t get that) could have made much difference.
Cipela by Marko Kon & Milaan (Serbia 2009)
Oh, Serbia. You never disappoint me song-wise, and I’m always crushed on the rare occasions you don’t qualify…even if it’s your own fault for dressing your representatives in leftover materials from a circus tent-manufacturing factory. That was not the case in Moscow, when your costumes were fine and your song was quirkily awesome. Who else could make a song about a shoe sound this good? Besides Croatia, of course.
What went wrong: The system failed Cipela. Literally. That pesky rule wherein the top nine as per the televote plus one wildcard jury pick would qualify put paid to Marko and Milaan’s (and my) hopes of Serbia making it to the final. It was 13th-placed Croatia that the jury chose to go through.
Igranka by Who See (Montenegro 2013)
I majorly dislike the dubstep breaks that get shoved into every second song to be released these days – seemingly just for the heck of it – but I can get on board with the consistency of 100% dubstep. It took a while, but I LOVE this example now, and it makes me sad that not even something so unique and current could get Montenegro to the final for the first time.
What went wrong: Igranka was probably too left-of-centre (particularly by Eurovision standards) to win over enough televoters who were hearing it/seeing it for the first time. Still, from what I can understand of the highly confusing split results, it seems that the juries were more to blame for holding Montenegro back. Who would’ve guessed.
Firefly by Christina Metaxa (Cyprus 2009)
Cyprus has been unfairly overlooked more than once in recent times, IMO. I don’t expect anyone to agree with me, but I think 2009 was one of those times. Firefly is still one of my favourites from Year Moscow, just for being so pretty, and starting off very simply before building up to something with more depth. I was a fan of the stage presentation too.
What went wrong: It isn’t the most dynamic of songs. Some would probably call it vanilla. Plus, it’s a tricky song to sing (I imagine…I’ve definitely never attempted my own version in the shower) and unfortunately, some of those high notes got the better of Christina.
San Aggelos S’agapisa by Christos Mylordos (Cyprus 2011)
Well fancy that, it’s Cyprus again! And again, I think they brought it to Düsseldorf and got sent packing in spite of that. The staging of this was like, Azerbaijan-level good, and I think the song worked really well in the live arena setting. Speaking of the actual song, I love the ethnicity of it, the way the Greek sounds, and even the drastic mood swing from piano ballad to rock-with-screaming-lady.
What went wrong: It just wasn’t popular enough, I guess. Cyprus has never qualified with a song in Greek, having done so in English on both sides of 2011, so there must be something too inaccessible about their more traditional choices. That’s a little bit sad.
Lako Je Sve by Feminnem (Croatia 2010)
2010 was a year of casualties, but the loss of Feminnem was particularly painful because it was so unexpected. With this uh-mayzing ballad, I had visions of Zagreb 2011, or at least a top 10 finish. Qualification was never an issue in my mind. Three years and one DNQ later, I’m still shocked, but I listen to Lako Je Sve all the time and wonder what could have been.
What went wrong: There was polish lacking in the performance, which didn’t suit the sophistication of the song. The vocals weren’t quite right at times, the ‘bare’ look the girls were sporting lacked effort, and there was the small matter of that tacky red love-heart at the end. A dodgy performance can ruin a great song, as Blue can attest to.
Stop by Omar Naber (Slovenia 2005)
This didn’t grab my attention at all the first time I saw the Kiev contest. I was still a relative ESC virgin and there were a s#%!load of songs to contend with, so I guess it slipped under the radar. For like, five years. It was the studio version that eventually made me fall in love with it, and appreciate it for being a testosterone-filled ballad with no cheese.
What went wrong: I’m not blaming this, per se, but Omar’s choice of costume was more appropriate for a Friday night at the pub, with the lads, watching some kind of ball sport, than for performing on live TV with millions of people across the planet watching on. I also suspect the screaming lady (not the same one who graced the stage with Christos Mylordos) put some people off/gave them nightmares.
This Is My Life by Anna Bergendahl (Sweden 2010)
Hello there, one of my favourite Eurovision songs of all time! How you doin’? Not so good because you got left behind in your semi final? Fair enough. This song has always sounded like a winner to me, and it did beat some brilliant stuff (from the likes of Timoteij, Darin and Eric Saade) to win Melodifestivalen, so I feel as if it should have coasted into the final.
What went wrong: The crowd in the Telenor Arena was not amused when Sweden didn’t come out of any of the magic envelopes. It was another near miss, which makes me wonder about Anna’s nervous-sounding vocal. But then, wondering is a bit pointless when it was so close. Maybe nothing went wrong in this case. Things just went better for ten of the others.
Honourable Mentions: La Mirada Interior by Marian van de Wal (Andorra 2005); Era Stupendo by Paolo Meneguzzi (Switzerland 2008); Vrag Naj Vzame by Rebeka Dremelj (Slovenia 2008); Angel Si Ti by Miro (Bulgaria 2010); Love Unlimited by Sofi Marinova (Bulgaria 2012); Mižerja by Klapa s Mora (Croatia 2013).
I’ve shown you mine…now show me yours? Which entries of ’04 to ’13 brought a tear to your eye when they DNQ?