What if… Anouk didn’t represent the Netherlands?

As you all know, not only did the Netherlands qualify for the final for the first time in nine years, they also got ninth place which was the Netherlands’ best placing since the 1999 Contest! And the person who to thank is Anouk and her amazing ‘Birds’! Obviously, she was thought of a godsend in the Netherlands for breaking the spell of not qualifying, but would they have qualified even if she didn’t do Eurovision?

Would the Netherlands have qualified if Anouk hadn't represented them?
Would the Netherlands have qualified if Anouk hadn’t represented them?

Anouk was the Netherlands’ knight in shining armour, who arrived a little (and by little, I mean 4 years) late to save them from their tenth failure to qualify. If you’re wondering how I got 4 years, there’s an easy explanation for that. In 2009, a survey was carried out in the Netherlands by a group of Eurovision fans and journalists and the result was that people wanted Anouk to represent them at Eurovision. Sadly though, every year, she turned down the offer, whether it was because an album was coming out or her schedule was too busy (though she did say that she only didn’t go in because she never had the right song to go to Eurovision). At her first press conference in Malmö as well, Anouk also said that she was waiting for TROS to invite her to do Eurovision, but according to her it “never happened” and instead she “invited herself to do Eurovision”. Luckily, her song made up for her cocky attitude and the Netherlands qualified for the first time since 2004 and in the final, she finished in 9th place, giving the country its best placing since Maralayne came 8th in Jerusalem in 1999. You could say Anouk was a national hero after Eurovision! The music video for ‘Birds’ is below.

So Anouk was the Netherlands’ saviour, but what would have happened had she (as she did every year to the 2013 Contest) decided not to represent the Dutch? Well, the Dutch have mostly chosen their artist and song through their national final Nationaal Songfestival and so, they would have had another reasonable national final where one of the favourites would win and become a fan favourite. More than likely, though, the song would flop and sadly become the latest victim of the so called “Anggun Effect” (though this ‘effect’ has been called the Kate Ryan Effect, as wells as ‘fanwanking’. Look at Joan Franka for example: when she won Nationaal Songfestival in 2012 and beating one of the favourites, Raffaela Paton, with her song “You and Me”, she was considered to be one of the possible winners! Yet, when May came around, she just didn’t get the votes and finished in a dismal 15th place in the semi-final.

Sadly, the Netherlands have had a terrible record at Eurovision, but why didn’t TROS ask Anouk to do Eurovision sooner? Basically, the broadcaster should have listened to the Dutch people sooner than this! But at least their long run of not-qualifying was broken when Anouk FINALLY represented the Netherlands in Sweden this year, so they can’t be too depressed. Despite this, I think the Dutch’s views of the Contest may only become more positive if the country qualifies for the final more often than once every nine years.  Hopefully, we’ll see more of the Netherlands in the future! 🙂

Your views:

How you would feel had Anouk not represented the Netherlands this year?

If Anouk didn't represent the Netherlands, would the have qualified?
If Anouk didn’t represent the Netherlands, would the have qualified?

Samantha Ross from the United States (she’s a reporter for escinsight and runs the blog escinsider):  Well, I wasn’t incredibly familiar with her work beforehand, I only knew her by name…but I’m thrilled that she did, or else I never would have the opportunity to delve deeper into her catalogue of work.

Thom Dutch from the Netherlands:  That would have depended on the artist/song totally. But we would’ve gone with a National Final then and I think we would’ve failed to qualify, yes. After all, the failures it’s unlikely that good artists would try a National Final. This year’s “success” has opened doors for the next years. But no Anouk would probably have resulted in another non-qualification. Which wouldn’t attract other artists in the future years, so I guess she kind of saved Eurovision in The Netherlands.

Richard West-Soley from the United Kingdom: I think Caro Emerald might have been approached – she would have been great. I still think they’d have selected internally, though.

Luke Malam from the United Kingdom: It depends who it would’ve been instead. If they put in an average song, they’d probably not qualify since the first semifinal was quite a strong one.

It seems that the fans agree that, had the national final been used, the Netherlands wouldn’t have qualified. But what do you think about the (ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE) thought of Anouk not representing the country this year? Let us know by commenting! 😀

Possible Artists: Finland

So: in our possible artists series last week, when Rory looked at Italy and I covered Russia, our suggestions seemed to be met with general agreement, alongside further tips for singers the fans would like to see in 2014. Today, I’m going to be doing the same for Finland: who would I recommend to follow in Krista Siegfrids’ diamond-encrusted footsteps?

Kristiina Wheeler: a good choice for Finland?
Kristiina Wheeler: a good choice for Finland?

If it was up to me, the top choice for Finland in 2014 would be Kristiina Wheeler. Now, if you’re looking at the above photo and thinking “hold on, haven’t I seen her somewhere before?”… that’s because you have! This lady is the same one who announced the Finnish votes – complete with regional accent – in 2013. Yes, her of “the land of ding-dong” fame. Whilst her penchant for accidental innuendo may not be the first characteristic you’d look for in an ESC singer, her eccentric musical style most certainly is! Take a look at this; her single from the beginning of the year “Muukalainen” (“Stranger”)

It’s a song that’s difficult to classify – on the one hand, yeah, it’s middle-of-the-road pop. But digging deeper, it’s a multi-faceted piece of music which is expertly structured to maintain interest and build exhilaration. The quiet acoustic-led intro hints at a more subdued song, but once the energetic beat kicks in, a more up-tempo mood is established. For me though, alongside the ethereal piano and string motifs, it’s Kristiina’s vocals that really drive this song, and her delivery of the melody that lift it out of the realms of the ordinary.

Of course, were this exact song to be considered as a Eurovision entry, its major stumbling block would be the language. No song sung in Finnish has ever placed higher than 6th (Marion Rung in 1973) and in recent years, the Finns have mostly opted for other languages in their quest for success. However – as she made perfectly clear during her stint as a votes announcer – Kristiina is more than capable of communicating in fluent English, owing to the fact that her father is from Hertfordshire and she was brought up there until the age of six! There’s the language sorted then.

It’s not just her more alternative side I’m drawn to though. Here’s her 2011 single “Ihanaa” (Love)

Now, to my untrained ear, this sounds like she’s incorporated the more radio-friendly elements of Finnish rock, increased the tempo, added some synths and come up with another pop gem, albeit very different from “Muukalainen”. It could be argued that this is from the “Marry Me” school of Eurovision songwriting, but at the same time, I believe the Finnish language and Kristiina’s vocal interpretation allow the catchiness of this song to shine through.

And yes, I know I’ve now probably got a crowd of die-hard Finnish rock fans lined up to tell me how that is not even the slightest bit rocky, but I have just one word for you: Terasbetoni. It won’t work. 🙂

So, if you gave me the power to select Finland’s entrant for 2014, that’s who it would be. However, she’s not the only one…

Most ESC fans will recall Diandra’s bronze-medal performance in UMK 2013, with the -lesbihonest – downright dreary “Colliding Into You”. I can’t quite express my disappointment when I first heard that song, as I was already aware of the above stonker of a tune “Outta My Head”. I mean, that is camp schlager dance-pop heaven right there. Pretty much tailor-made for the Eurovision stage. And whilst the rational side of me accepts that the time has come and gone where songs like this would be in with a realistic shout at a victory, the contest needs at least five or six every year, just to maintain the fabulousness we all know and love about the show! And if Diandra would consider another attempt at UMK, with a song anywhere near as good as “Outta My Head”, then I’ll be a happy fanboy. 😀

If you have the time, have a listen to some of these other Finnish artists who we would both recommend for Eurovision:

Jenni Vartiainen – “Junat Ja Naiset”
Studio Killers – “Funky At Heart”
Linda Vink – “Vink Vink”

Your Views:

What do you think of my Finnish suggestions?
What do you think of my Finnish suggestions?

Lisa Kussler from Germany: It’s a great song, of course I think Kristiina would be good for Eurovision

Gianni Romanus from Iceland: She would be a great choice 🙂

Svana Lístí Agnarsdóttir from Iceland: She reminds me of Getter Jaani, as its that kind of pop. I’d prefer her singing in English though. Finnish doesn’t work for me

Haris Karas from Greece: NIGHTWISH for Finland. Then everyone else.

Finland obviously has a lot to offer in terms of ESC, and the two artists I mentioned, though a tiny representation of the Finnish music scene, seem to have been met with general agreement. I genuinely think that – especially with their previous connections to the contest – we should keep an eye on both Kristiina and Diandra in terms of the potential competitors in UMK 2014. If not… well there’s always Nightwish? *quickly googles*…

What if… ‘O Mie’ was kept in English?

In the latest of the ‘what if?’ series, we will journey to Moldova, where I’ll debate whether ‘O Mie’ would have done better in it’s original language of English. Of course, Aliona performed the song amazingly either way, but would it have taken the country into the top 10 had it stuck to the English version?

Would "A Million" have outperformed "O Mie"?
Would “A Million” have outperformed “O Mie”?

Aliona (not to be confused with Alyona Lanskya, her rival from Belarus) entered the Moldovan national final as one of the dark horses and of course, she had experience in competitions like this, as she was one of the backing singers for Pasha Parfeny when he represented Moldova in Azerbaijan. Parfeny returned the favour and played the piano for the singer while she wowed the crowd with the song, then known as ‘A Million’ and easily won the contest. The song was a strong contender for the title because it had everything: a stunning singer with a fire dress, a spectacular key change, and the performance was just fantastic. Moldova meant business and they knew it, and a plus for them was that they were the last country to select the artist, so they could check out the competition and pick the greatest artist they had; Aliona. It looked like the fans liked the song and thought  it would do well and, well, it did! For those who have never heard the English version, here it is!

However, a mere two days after the song was selected to represent Moldova, TRM released a statement saying that the song would be changed into the Romanian language, and so the song would be renamed ‘O Mie’. The Romanian version sounded more ethnic than the English version, and there possibly was an over-usage of the suffix ‘-oi’ in the song, but it sounded just as good, if not, better than the English version of the song. The song’s official music video was released on Parfeny’s Youtube channel just before the Contest in Sweden and has over 200,000 views!  Back to the competition and as we all know, Moldova qualified for the final from the semi-final and was drawn into the first half of the final, which basically spells it out that you’re not going to win, a topic partly covered in James’ article about Germany being drawn in the first half (that article is just under this one, but do finish this one first!). This prophecy was fulfilled, but Aliona did finish in a very respectable 11th place, equaling Pasha’s final result one year before.

So the Romanian version of the song did fairly well, but what about the English version? Well, before the whole change of language, fans were happy with the English version of the song. Sadly though, once ‘O Mie’ was being used instead of ‘A Million’, fans forgot about the song and were more interested by ‘O Mie’. There’s some disadvantages to having the song in Romanian, as many of the English speaking countries wouldn’t understand what the lyrics are about. Had the song been in English, these countries (i.e. the UK and Ireland) would have given the song some points, though Ireland did give Moldova three points in the final. Even if those countries couldn’t understand the lyrics, Aliona performed both version spectacularly well.

Either way, I feel that both songs would do very well with their final results, but I think that the English version may have finished a little lower than its Romanian counterpart, due to the fact that most of the Eastern European songs finished on the right hand side of the scoreboard (with the exception of Azerbaijan, Russia and Ukraine).

Your views:

What would be your opinion if ‘O Mie’ was kept in English and not performed in Romanian?

Could the English version have done better than the Romanian version?
Could the English version have done better than the Romanian version?

Seth Wezendonk from the Netherlands: I liked the Romanian version more, but personally I didn’t care that much, the song was still amazing!

Haris Karas from Greece: English at least made it interesting.

Daniel Cortizas Vázquez from Spain:  I didn’t like the Romanian version, the English one had better rhymes and it was built better.

Eirik Finbak: I liked the Romanian version best.

The fans’ views are more leaned towards the English version, but the Romanian version of the song was also very well received by the fans as well. Aliona performed both songs very well, plus the performance of the song and the dress may have also contributed to its success. In summary, the song was amazing to fans, who thought both versions were brilliant and that’s probably one of the main factors to its reasonable success.

What do you make of the opinions and which version of the song do you prefer? Feel free to drop us a comment below!