EBJ’s Top 10…could-haves and should-haves of the 2015 national final season
First things first: I have an apology to issue. That apology is to this blog, for missing its sixth birthday last week. Oops.
I’m a terrible mother blogger, I know. But in the wake of my recent 400th post celebrations (and with life’s general chaos all around me) I thought all my milestones had been and gone for the year. My bad. Regardless, EBJ is now six years old (!!!) and my belated birthday gift is this hastily-constructed graphic.
I’d like to say merci to anyone reading this right now, and to anyone who’s ever taken the time to read something I’ve posted throughout the past six years. I’m very appreciative of you. I mean, I was kind of hoping I’d have my own talk show and clothing line by now, but I guess I can live with just having (one or two) regular readers.
Still, if I get to the ten-year mark, and Drew Barrymore hasn’t been cast as me in a movie detailing my life and times, there’ll be hell to pay.
Moving on now (mercifully) to le subject of today’s post: the ones that got away. It’s tradition for us all to moan about the national final entries that didn’t make it to Eurovision before the show, and even more afterwards as we wonder what could have been. I’ve already listed all my favourites from the 2014/15 season here, so now it’s after-party time!
I think we can agree that some countries, like Sweden, inarguably put their best foot (and most tight-fitting trousers) forward this year. Others, like Switzerland, just weren’t meant to make the final of ESC no. 60., and nothing in their NFs could have changed that.
Then there are the countries that may or may not have made the best decisions on who should represent them, if they wanted to achieve their best possible Eurovision result. Keeping those countries in mind, I’m about to count down my top ten could-haves (i.e. the songs that would have provided similar results but made nice alternative choices) and should-haves (i.e. the songs that would have climbed higher on the scoreboard for sure) in relation to the outcomes of the 2015 contest. Remember, this is a subjective topic, and all opinions are purely my own. I encourage you to disagree with them in the comments (in a respectful manner, of course).
3, 2, 1, GO!
#10 | Supernova by Janet
COULD have been sent by Belarus
If I had to single out one song from the Belarusian final that might have squeezed through to the Eurovision equivalent – or at least equaled Time’s not-too-terrible 12th place – it’d be Supernova. Written by Swedes Ylva and Linda Persson (if purchasing songs from Sweden is good enough for Azerbaijan, Georgia and Russia, it’s good enough for Belarus) this track is an interesting hybrid of ballad and electronica, with decent build and a strong chorus that sticks. If it were paired with a backdrop similar to Polina Gagarina’s, Janet in a floaty dress, intensive use of the wind machine, and perhaps some kind of cool last-minute reveal á la Moldova 2013 (although that wouldn’t be required to top Uzari & Maimuna’s nothingness), Supernova would have been…well, super, on the ESC stage. Unfortunately, it finished second-last in Belarus. Trés cray.
PS – The video above features the studio version, since the only video of the NF performance on YouTube is of rubbish quality. But do check it out if you think you can withstand the static sound and pixilated picture. Janet’s vocals aren’t the strongest, but the staging is pretty epic.
#9 | Jazz & Sirtaki by Thomai Apergi & Legend
SHOULD have been sent by Greece
As we all know, Greece did send a glamorous woman in a gown with a belter of a ballad to Vienna. Too bad for them that such entries were a dime a dozen there – and done better by the likes of Russia and Latvia. I know Greece would have qualified even if Maria Elena had actually farted tears and fears into the microphone for three minutes, but I can’t help thinking they should have sent their NF runner-up Jazz & Sirtaki instead of One Last Breath. It’s the kind of thing we expect from Greece: it’s ethnic, catchy, fun, and instantly identifiable as being Greek, and I don’t see those as negatives. Not only would it have upped the energy and the amount of ethno-pop in the 2015 lineup, it would also have had a good chance of getting Greece back onto the left side of the scoreboard, if only just.
#8 | Burning Lights by Daniel Levi
COULD have been sent by Estonia
Okay, Team GTY…you can put that pitchfork down. I’m not here to claim that Stig and Elina, who won Eesti Laul 2015 by a massive margin and finished a respectable 7th in Vienna, shouldn’t have represented Estonia. I’m just saying that the more joyful Burning Lights is an alternative that I wouldn’t have minded seeing/hearing at Eurovision. It’s a tasty slice of contemporary, anthemic pop-rock, with great lyrics in which nobody smiles to the dog (definitely a bonus). And, like Softengine’s Something Better did in Copenhagen, it would have stood out from the crowd as a rockier song in a field full of – yep, you guessed it – ballads.
#7 | Rush by Christabelle
SHOULD have been sent by Malta
After hearing this song for the first time, I started to believe that fate had forced Christabelle to trip up in her previous MESC attempt purely so she could make a victorious comeback with a much better song. Ultimately, she made a comeback that resulted in second place, which is something – but in my opinion, Malta made a mistake opting to leave Rush behind. Amber’s Warrior didn’t know what it was as a song, and the revamp only emphasised that. There was a sense of cohesiveness missing from the overall package put forward. Rush, on the other hand, was straight-up fresh-and-fun pop that would have been difficult to stage badly. We’ll never know for certain, but I swear to Chiara…if Warrior only just missed out on qualifying, then Rush would have made the cut for sure.
#6 | Wechselt Die Beleuchtung by Laing
COULD have been sent by Germany
Eurovision 2015 was all about (well, somewhat about) the wonderfully weird. Entries like Rhythm Inside and Love Injected – which aren’t commonplace in the contest just yet – proved incredibly popular, and I for one fell head-over-heels for them. I’d be saying the same about this number from Laing, had they represented Germany instead of Ann Sophie (via Andreas Kümmert). I’m a Black Smoke fan, but I think Germany could have sent Wechselt instead and not regretted it – mainly because something so intriguing wouldn’t have finished last with the dreaded nul points (in my mind, anyway). This song is so cool, and its staging at Unser Song Für Österreich was even cooler. Trust Germany to make a costume reveal edgy, not cheesy.
#5 | Human Beings by Karin Park
COULD have been sent by Norway
In case you didn’t know already, Mørland and Debrah Scarlett were the pinnacle of MGP ’15 pour moi, and there’s no way I would have wanted anything but A Monster Like Me to go to Eurovision. But in a parallel universe in which they didn’t enter the NF, it’s the amazing Karin Park I’d have been crossing my fingers for. The woman behind I Feed You My Love decided to enter as an artist this year, with the equally cutting-edge and atmospheric Human Beings. She gave a performance that sent shivers down my spine (that bit over the wind grate with the billowing kimono was a defining moment in my life). Hypnotic is the key word here, aurally and visually-speaking, and that’s always a helpful adjective to be labeled with when you’re trying to secure people’s votes. Not that it worked too well in Norway…Karin didn’t even make the top four. I’m still mystified.
#4 | Ne Engedj El by Kati Wolf
SHOULD have been sent by Hungary
It’s never fun when your least favourite song in an NF ends up winning it, and that’s what happened to me with A Dal this year (and UMK, and DMGP). In time, Wars For Nothing did grow on me. However, it’s still too sleepy for my liking, and I can’t connect with it emotionally. That’s not a problem I have with Ne Engedj El, performed by the fabulous Kati Wolf sans 2011’s massive hair and shiny satin disco dress. Yes, it’s a lady ballad, but it has more life to it than Boggie’s (then again, so does Knez’s face, which is really saying something) and I personally feel the feels when I listen to it (which is about ten times a day). It’s a beautifully constructed song with a pretty melody, and Kati did it justice in the NF with a performance that was both fragile and powerful. I really, really wish Hungary had given her the second shot she was after with this.
#3 | Manjana by Babou
SHOULD have been sent by Denmark
Denmark and I rarely see eye to eye, meaning they hardly ever pick my favourite DMGP entry to represent them (2014 excluded, as I scubidubidapdapdididid love that). A few months ago, I was desperate for Anne Gadegaard’s Suitcase to go to Vienna on behalf of last year’s hosts, but in hindsight, I’ve changed my tune (so to speak), at least with regards to which DMGP song would have served Denmark best. For me, it’s Babou’s infectious Manjana. This song is a three-minute tropical party – kind of like a more urban version of Allez Ola Olé. Sure, it’s a tad generic, but so is The Way You Are, and generic dance > generic retro rock. Plus, a) it would have been great to hear Danish at Eurovision for the first time since 1997; and b) we desperately needed more floorfillers in the 2015 field, and Manjana would have been different enough to those we did have (from Israel and Serbia, for instance) to hold its own.
#2 | Crossroads by Satin Circus
SHOULD have been sent by Finland
FYI, I don’t want to take anything way from PKN; nor do I feel that they didn’t deserve their UMK victory. This list is about the national finalists I would have preferred to see/hear at Eurovision, and/or those that would likely have given their countries a better result. In the case of Crossroads, it’s both: a song I really wanted to represent Finland, and one that I believe would have gotten them into the final. Satin Circus may have qualified based on their less divisive, more mainstream musical style, which isn’t necessarily a positive thing (Finland made an awesome decision to send punk to a contest unaccustomed to the genre, even though it backfired) but I feel like there was a Crossroads-shaped hole in the Viennese lineup of down-tempo, melancholy pop and preachy ballads. It’s such a fun sing-along song, and, like Tonight Again, it’s perfectly suited to being performed at Europe’s biggest party (‘Tonight we can be young’ = so apt). Basically, I missed it in a big way, and I’m hoping that the boys bring their brand of youthful pop-rock back to UMK, ASAP!
And now, my most painful missed opportunity of the year…
#1 | Fjaðrir by SUNDAY
SHOULD have been sent by Iceland
It’s not just the Danish who disappoint me: Iceland does the same on a regular basis by leaving something quirky and brilliant behind at Söngvakeppnin in favour of something boring vanilla. Exhibit A? The 180-second-long chorus that is Unbroken triumphing over the bizarre yet beautiful creation that is Fjaðrir (or Feathers, but I’m specifically talking about the Icelandic version here) by SUNDAY. I know, I know…SUNDAY didn’t even come second to María, so it’s not technically a case of ‘if only!’. But Fjaðrir is so amazing, with its Margaret Berger-esque visuals and mesmerising industrial-pop sound, that I’m going to say ‘if only!’ anyway. There are no shrill choruses to be found here – in fact, the choruses are more low-key than the verses, which is part of what makes the song so interesting. And, as usual, the use of Icelandic adds an extra something special. I’m in love.
Put your thinking caps on, ‘cause it’s time to tell me: which national finalists do you think could have – or SHOULD have – been given tickets to Eurovision 2015? A.k.a. which countries got it right and which countries got it oh-so-wrong?
8 Responses to “EBJ’s Top 10…could-haves and should-haves of the 2015 national final season”
PS As for Sweden, they should have sent Magnus Carlsson and Tommy Krångh. (:0P
NONONONONOOOOO!!! But as Sverige is playing host again next year, I suggest SVT employs Tommy to interpret each 2016 entry live from a (Lena-approved) satellite stage. THAT I would – and hopefully will – pay to see.
Happy Birthday, EBJ!!! Wow, you’re now a tenth the age of Eurovision itself, if you’re bad at maths (like most people, apparently).
And what a top list of also-ran selections, Jazelm!
As you know, I’m not (yet) a total NF addict, but here’s my non-addict point of view:
Belarus – I too would have stuck with U&M. But I just wish they’d done a bit more to enliven things on stage. It didn’t catch our imaginations, and in the end it just didn’t gel. Next year, try a bit more gel-arus, Belarus.
Greece – TA&L would certainly have given the place something to bop to, although early on it has a whiff of the ‘I-Wanna’s to it (which I am slightly allergic to). We all love a bit of acceleration at the end, though, don’t we? And, IF ONLY someone would design a pantsuit for Hillary with that amount of ‘flare’, she’d be a shoo in to ‘wear the pants’ in the White House (again) in ’16 (technically ’17, I s’pose).
Estonia – Loved the Lena lookalike on playing bass for Daniel (wish they’d shown a bit more of her), ‘but, in the end …’ – GTY rules in my book.
Malta – Hmm, not sure if Christabelle would have gotten through the semi. It’s a bit ‘boom-boom-chucka-chucka’ (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Maybe the staging and backing vocals (which Azerbaijan severely fluffed in ’11) would have been decisive.
Germany – Lovin’ the Laing thaing. She would’ve stolen a swag of votes from Loïc, so definitely not a nul-pointer. But yes, Andreas could (should) have been a game changer for the FRG/BRD … and for the ESC! ‘Seufzer!’ Ahh, let’s move on …
Norway – I have a feeling Frøken Park will be back, which is definitely a good thing. Otherwise, En Godt Stekt Pizza should really have been one of the items on the menu at M&DS’s food-fight dinner party. Apparently they make good frisbees.
Hungary – BOGGIE, BOGGIE, BOGGIE!!! Kati would have sunk like a DNQ stone in the wailstrom, notwithstanding her mellifluous Magyar mother tongue.
Denmark – I wonder if the Danes would have switched ‘Manjana’ into English (like the Swedes always do … even when ‘det gör ont’)? The backing dancers’ horizontal-themed outfits would certainly have been the best of that ilk since Aivaras’s (Lithuania ‘02). I was OK with ASM’s efforts – but Suitcase may have gotten through to the final, and possibly landed on the left hand side, depending on how they did her staging. (Lots of close ups?!)
Finland – I see why one would want Crossroads to have gone through, but it feels derivative to me. When the chorus kicks in, I keep expecting Kurt Calleja to appear doing his swivel-shoe shuffle. In the end, the je-ne-savant-quoi that PKN added was just priceless.
Iceland – Sunday comes across here as Laing’s less-adventurous Icelandic cousin. But yes, she would definitely have been better than poor María, given the mix of songs she would have been up against.
Otherwise, um … well, Russia should have sent Peter Nalitch again, of course.
The Netherlands should have sent Anouk herself again (of course), and just let her stand there and smile, and maybe hum a bit. (Melt …)
And, to appease those grumpy, sour-haggis Caledonians, the UK should have sent Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas doing the backing music to a reel performed by Kylie in a kilt. Och aye.
Merci for the congratulations and jubilations!
A non-NF addict perspective is always appreciated, though I’m still hoping your status will have changed by the end of the next selection season.
Totally with you on Belarus. Some songs thrive on a simplistic stage presentation, but Time ain’t one of them. I demand a giant hourglass whenever one is relevant.
Well, now that you’ve compared Jazz & Sirtaki to I Wanna, I’m no longer so sorry it didn’t represent Greece. The only things I like about Latvia’s winner are the multiple costume changes (which are 90% why they won anyway…and people are crapping on about Sweden 2015 winning on staging alone. It’s happened plenty of times, guys!).
Oh, to imagine En Godt Stekt Pizza at Eurovision! It would have been up there with Australia and Israel and Serbia as a contender for floorfiller of the year. Except it’s the only one you need cowboy boots and a flannelette shirt for.
Given Denmark’s Swede-esque history of switching from Dansk to English, you’re probably right – Danish-language Manjana wouldn’t have made it to Austria. But I wouldn’t have minded. In my hypothetical NF season, it would have won and stayed exactly as it was. Then again, Suitcase’s narrow loss still haunts me, and I agree that Anne would have made the final at the very least.
You paint quite the picture for an alternative UK entry, I must say. Is there a BBC suggestion box you could put that in?
Happy 6th! Isn’t that age one of the most chaotic birthdays anyway? No sense in feeling guilty as long as there is ice cream and/or a bouncy house/trampoline/whatever kids use these days around.
Straight to the point now, the worst two offenders on this list are Iceland and Hungary. I’ve lamented the selection of Boggie enough to date. Kati would have brought a serviceable ballad and bonus for keeping it in Hungarian. Iceland doesn’t give me the same hair-raising chill “I Feed You My Love” did, but it’s still an incredible ultra cool breeze. It’s unfathomable that Sunday did not stop/freeze Maria in her gold footprints back in Reykjavik.
Malta had “Rush” and we ended up with a bland Warrior at ESC?! You should be blushing Malta.
As noted in a previous post, Denmark had a strong field with plenty of fine options. I’ll remain standing by Anna and her Suitcase.
As far as the other “shoulds” of Greece and Finland I’ll still take the entries they sent to ESC 2015. None of the Greek finalists (or Maria Elena) grabbed my attention enough and Finland, well, there is always an outlier.
I want to like Belarus and “Time” better, but something holds me back and it is named Uzari. Maimuna was fantastic on stage, I wouldn’t change a thing. Uzari comes across a bit OTT/cocky and I wondered if he was a boy-bander (sorry Jaz) in a previous life trying to make it on his own (Google check-he is not). “Supernova” sounds like it would have fared similarly so I’ll call Belarus a toss-up and move along.
Laing is the entry that made me pinkie promise myself to watch USFO next year. The Germans sure do have a way with lighting between Laing and Ann Sophie.
Well I don’t love GTY enough to defend it with a pitchfork. Perhaps a spork instead? What I do love is Stig and Elina’s chemistry enough to make them my “couple of ESC” , disfunctional relationship or not.
There is no argument with Norway sending “A Monster Like Me” either. I would still like to see the final voting results and just how close Karin was to the top four. And as of right now *drum roll*, more than halfway through 2015, “Human Beings” is my favorite song of the year. It might not have placed as high as 8th at ESC and that is okay in my completely legitimate, no controversy voting system!
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Many thanks for the (blog) birthday wishes! I’m going to take your mention of ice cream as an indication that I should compensate for missing such an important date by consuming an entire tub of cookies and cream flavour on my lonesome.
‘I’ve lamented the selection of Boggie enough to date. Kati would have brought a serviceable ballad and bonus for keeping it in Hungarian. Iceland doesn’t give me the same hair-raising chill “I Feed You My Love” did, but it’s still an incredible ultra cool breeze. It’s unfathomable that Sunday did not stop/freeze Maria in her gold footprints back in Reykjavik.’ THIS. This is why I will continue to be on good terms with you 😉 Seriously, it’s nice to have some agreement. I mean, I know Kati’s song wouldn’t have won or anything, but I adore it. Her presence on this list is more of a selfish ‘this is what I wanted’ kind of thing rather than a ‘this is what would have been best for Hungary’ kind of thing.
Cocky as Uzari (may) be, the man has a fantastic voice. He can become the lead singer of a boy band and come back to the ESC any time he likes as far as I’m concerned! I’m still convinced that if Belarus had modeled their stage show after the Time video (which I knew early on they weren’t going to based on my interview with them) they would have squeezed into the final. There’s nothing a gigantic hourglass isn’t capable of.
#TEAMHUMANBEINGS (in a world where AMLM never existed). Fingers crossed K.Park gives MGP another go in the near future – either as songwriter or singer and songwriter.
Okay, going from your top to bottom…
Belarus – no-one deserved to go this year, Uzari and Maimuna were the best of a bad bunch
Greece – Maria-Elena was the ONLY choice as everyone else sucked live
Estonia – Daniel was the best apart from Stig and Elina but he had no chance of going
Malta – with a big dose of hindsight, Christabelle would have been a better choice than Amber and was my third fav but Franklin Calleja was my fav from Malta. Amber deserved the win in Malta though
Germany – Andreas lost Germany this year’s Eurovision, I’m convinced it could have won. Nobody else was close in the German NF
I didn’t watch the Norway or Hungarian NFs but I think they both did okay this year with their choices
Denmark – they should have sent Anne Gadegaard but she was poor live, my fav and the best act on the night was Julie Bjerre but it was a bit more suited to JESC
I didn’t watch Finland but they were always going to send PKN
Iceland – Everyone loves Sunday but for me live, this was a ‘snoozefest’, no build up, no climax, all trying to be The KLF but failing dismally. For me, Iceland should have sent Friðrik Dór with ‘Once Again’, a superbly sung love song that would have at least got Iceland into the Final.
Here’s my selection of entries that would have done better than what was sent…
Macedonia – should have sent Tamara Todevska, probably would have got to the Final
Ireland – Erika Selin would have got Ireland to the Final purely on the ‘Swedish Connection’
UK – me? No, maybe not… 🙂
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Well, I would agree with you on Belarus to an extent. I’m never that impressed by their national final contenders as a whole, but I feel like they usually pull a Switzerland by managing to find the diamond in the rough (‘diamond’ may be a stretch). For me, there were one or two others (Janet included) whom I would have liked to see/hear in Vienna.
Sorry, but I don’t see what you see in Andreas! I’ll concede that Heart of Stone wouldn’t have scored nul points – unless Mr. Kümmert had donned a tight black jumpsuit and practically mooned the entire front row in the Stadthalle – but I don’t think it would have been a challenger for the win. Left side of the scoreboard at a push, IMO. Not that we’ll ever know what could have been…
I loved Julie Bjerre in DMGP too, and she was good live. Fun, fresh, catchy pop with a 80s-and-90s hybrid vibe would have fit in nicely at Eurovision this year. I am grateful we didn’t get a dreary ballad from the Danes in the end. Or, even worse, the In A Moment Like This rip-off *shudder*.
Yep, Friðrik would have outdone María in the vocal stakes for sure, and most likely results-wise. Not my favourite of the Icelandic final obviously, but I won’t be too harsh as I know you’re very fond of it!
Re: your picks for songs that would have done better…
Macedonia – I have a strange affection for Autumn Leaves, and despite the stuffed-up staging and the producers trying to turn it into an R & B track and failing miserably, I’m glad it went to Vienna. But Tamara would have been a decent choice (will she ever make it to Eurovision on her own?). But another ballad in the mix? Unnecessary.
Ireland – I have to agree. And Timoteij making it to the contest, albeit in the form of Erika’s backing singers, would have made my life.
UK – Hey, you would have been worth a shot in hindsight! Get on to the BBC ASAP.