Possible Artists: The Netherlands

Well after James’ absolutely fantastic article (that you guys are absolutely loving apparently!), I’ve decided to throw my hat into the ring and bring you the artists we think would be great to represent the Netherlands! In James’ top 10, the Netherlands were destroyed and now it’s my job to make them look good again (whether I succeed or not remains to be seen). So who would be the best artist to represent them? Well, keep reading to find out!

Could Within Temptation be a great artist for the Netherlands?
Could Within Temptation be a great artist for the Netherlands?

After Anouk finally managed to qualify for the Netherlands in Sweden this year (although things could have been a lot different had she not represented the Netherlands), it seems that you need a big name and a great song for them to reach the final. So that’s why our first recommendation to AVRO/TROS would be the group Within Temptation. The group, who released their debut album back in 1997, is a symphonic metal band, which means that their music is a crossover of both classical music and rock. The band have released several albums and have charted all over Europe with their brand of classical rock. In 2011, they released this track which is a favourite of mine.

This song is just a perfect mix of both elements and for me, this song would just be the best thing that could happen if they went to Eurovision. Sadly, because the song was released on the 15th of July, the song wouldn’t pass the September 1st rule and therefore, it would be ineligible to go to Eurovision for the Netherlands in Baku, but to be fair, Joan Franka would have probably been the better choice. Anyway, the best thing about following a musician you like is that you know when singles are released and yesterday (yes I did say yesterday!), the band released a song with Finnish singer Tarja Turunen.

This song, obviously being released yesterday, could represent the Netherlands in Eurovision next year in Copenhagen, if they send the song into TROS or AVRO. The track is definitely a conflict of both genres, but they work with each other to produce this. Also, you can tell that both Tarja and Sharon, the band’s lead singer, have very powerful voices than can apparently go up to operatic tones! If this went to Copenhagen next year, I’d be interested as to how you, the fans, would react, because in the views I’ve collected for this particular article, it seems that the band is splitting opinions! But we’ll know if the band will go when the artist is revealed, so stay tuned!

There are so many artists that could represent the Netherlands and it was hard to get through all of them to find the perfect second recommendation, but we’ve found the best one we could think of and that is the 39-year-old Eurodance singer Loona. The singer, who actually is Dutch (and also has ValMon gums too), has released most of her songs in Spanish (even though two of her songs actually charted in Spain, messed up or what?) and in 2011, she released this song, in which the title, when translated, means “The Shark”.

This track is definitely a summer hit and I’m surprised that this song only charted in Germany at #43. Also, the music video for the song was released on September 7th 2011, so the song just passed the September 1st rule and could have represented the Netherlands in the Eurovision in 2012, but like I said above, Joan Franka was definitely the best choice for the country. If only her vocals were as strong as they were in the studio version! It would be interesting choice if Loona would represent the Netherlands, as it would probably be the first time a Dutch entrant would be singing in Spanish, but it’s all up to the broadcaster to pick the artist.

As well as those two, we’d also recommend the fantastic:

Lisa Lois – “Silhouette”
Caro Emerald – “Stuck”

*crosses fingers in the hope that AVRO/TROS spots this article and somehow decides to select any of the artists we’ve mentioned*

Your views:

What would you think if Within Temptation or Loona represented the Netherlands next year? Or would you pick a different artist?

Do you think Within Temptation or Loona would keep the qualifying going?
Do you think Within Temptation or Loona would keep the qualifying going?

Michael Romano from Australia: They would be great, Netherlands has never sent something like this and it would be something different. But it’s probably unlikely they’d accept, which is sad because they’d do really well!

Haris Karas from Greece: This is my kind of music. WT for the Netherlands and Nightwish for Finland hopefully.

Eirik Finbak from Norway: I  love Within Temptation, been a fan for years. Would love to see them in the Eurovision but somehow I don’t see that happening I’m afraid. Would be amazing!

Gijsbert Groenveld from the Netherlands: No chance whatsoever they will…

So for the fans it seems like it wouldn’t be likely for Within Temptation to say “Let’s do Eurovision!” and represent their country. In a few of the views, I’ve read that they have refused to take part in Eurovision and sadly that could defeat the entire point of this article, but maybe as time goes on, the band will change their minds and do it. Anyway, what do you think of the choices? Who would you like to see represent the Netherlands in the future? Let us know by commenting below!

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Top 10: Fanwank failures at ESC

Continuing with our investigation into the lesser-celebrated highlights of Eurovision, the latest of our “Top 10” articles is centred around those well-known songs labelled as “fanwank” entries. Of these pre-contest favourites, a number of them managed to achieve the success predicted for them – others didn’t *quite* meet with the expectations. (understatement of the century there…) So: of these fanwank failures… which ten have we selected as the most memorable?

A fanwank failure is often known as a victim of the so-called "Kate Ryan effect"... will she triumph in our countdown today?
A fanwank failure is often known as a victim of the so-called “Kate Ryan effect”… will she triumph in our countdown today?

I assume we’re all familiar with the term “fanwank”, right? This is the category into which we classify the songs which amass a considerable fan following in the run-up to the contest. This often manifests itself in woefully overconfident assumptions that [Song X] is going to not only win the contest but beat Alexander Rybak’s overall points record and Loreen’s 12-points record, in fact picking up every single point available to it, and being the single best song in the history of the universe… which, let’s face it, if the song in question is Sammarinese, it’s just never gonna happen.

I exaggerate of course, but I’m sure you all, as ESC fans, have been in that situation before, on both sides of the debate. You will have agreed with the fan opinion on some songs, and completely opposed it with others. In this countdown, I will look purely at those over-hyped numbers which met with disastrous results, with the aim of unearthing the song most worthy of the title of “ultimate fanwank failure” at Eurovision. There have been many. So, without further ado, here are the best ten…

10 – Anonymous – Salvem El Mon (Let’s Save The World) (Andorra 2007)

So, we begin with a song whose failure to qualify came as such a disappointment to many fans that a banner protesting “WHERE IS ANDORRA” was clearly visible in the audience at numerous points in the 2007 final. Andorra, in their six attempts at Eurovision glory, never managed a better result than the twelfth-placed semi result gained by Anonymous in Helsinki, and to many watching that night, this song definitely deserved one of the places in the final. A well-executed, energetic slice of Americanised teen punk pop, many speculated that it would indeed be the principality’s first Saturday night showing – and I would argue that, had the two-semi-final system been implemented in 2007, we would have indeed seen this as one of the qualifiers. Shame. Close but no cigar, unfortunately.

9 – Valentina Monetta – Crisalide (Vola) (San Marino 2013)

Ah, Valmon. Where do I start, ey? As if “Facebook” wasn’t enough, Madame Monetta had to go and do it again in Malmö, didn’t she – only this time, her admirable efforts in Baku had earned her a legion of devotees, who were all convinced that “Crisalide” was strong enough to not only bring San Marino into their first final, but to earn them a place within the top five of the entire thing. I, for one, never understood the hype around this one – it’s a perfectly passable song, yes, not a fantastic live vocal if I’m honest (that first note, OUCH), and maybe overall, just a little bit too old-fashioned. That said, I was expecting it to qualify – not by any means easily, but I did think it had enough of a following to carry it through. Evidently not. Henceforth, this one is an absolute must for the fanwank failure hall of fame.

8 – Glennis Grace – My Impossible Dream (Netherlands 2005)

At number 8, we make our customary journey to The Netherlands, who have sent many an entry which could have qualified for this top 10 – notable examples being the fabulous Edsilia in 2007, and the slightly less fabulous Joan in 2012… However, it’s Glennis Grace who we’ve selected, simply because of how pretentious this whole thing appears, now, in the cold light of day eight years later. I mean, listen to the state of this song. First five seconds, she quotes Martin Luther King in a sickly Disney voice-over tone, and already I hate it. And THEN.. she proceeds to perform the remainder of the song with these RIDICULOUS arm movements – I mean, does she think she is an actual train or something? And could she have picked a worse outfit? The dress itself isn’t that bad, but it just doesn’t suit her at all. Bra, Glennis. Bra. Useful for avoiding unflattering situations such as this on LIVE INTERNATIONAL TV.

*claws away James* , okay, so I have ascertained what was wrong with it, and I would pretty much attribute it’s non-qualification to all of that. But seriously, THIS piece of manufactured cheese, performed in what must be the singular most contrived and awkward way possible was one of the favourites to win? Lol. okay. Here, Glennis, have the #8 spot, and let’s move on shall we?

7 – Cascada – Glorious (Germany 2013)

Now, Cascada. The most recent fanwank failure of this countdown. So, we all remember that pretty much as soon as the names for the German national final were announced, Cascada were considered the frontrunners for victory; and once they did indeed win the ticket to Malmö, they assumed a similar position in the odds for Eurovision itself. We have run a couple of articles speculating on possible explanations for Germany’s eventual 21st place (have a read here and here), but whatever the case, the group fell woefully short of their pre-contest hype. It will certainly go down in history as one of the most surprising failures of this kind, but for this top 10, we managed to unearth even more controversial and memorable flops…

6 – Stella Mwangi – Haba Haba (Norway 2011)

“Haba Haba” was a divisive song. Marmite. Love it or hate it. In the run-up to the Düsseldorf contest however, there were enough of us in the “love it” camp to promote this song to the position of expected qualifier. And then… SEVENTEENTH!? IN THE SEMI? Okay, so it wasn’t a *technically* good song by any means, a pretty weak composition, with very little variation or innovation. But it was energetic, fairly well performed, enthusiastic… It wasn’t a winner (but then, neither was “Running Scared”…) but it deserved more than it eventually got. There were numerous purported technical difficulties during the first few songs of semi 1 that year, perhaps they played a part in this song’s early extinguishing? I don’t know. It was still a very unexpected flop. The dire result hasn’t stopped it acquiring more and more Eurovision notoriety though – not long after the contest, our very own Rory covered the song for a school talent show – well worth a watch 😛 [disclaimer from Rory – “I am aware that I can’t dance.. and this was a long time ago!!”]

5 – Charlotte Perrelli – Hero (Sweden 2008)

The second of our recent top 10s to feature this, the 2008 incarnation of Ms. Perrelli, it cannot be denied that the song “Hero” was pretty much tailor-made to cater for the generic tastes of a typical Eurovision fan – and in that respect it fulfilled its purpose entirely. Sweden topped the majority of fan polls in the run-up to Belgrade, and most expected it to be among the challengers for the title on the Saturday night. Indeed, it appeared to sail through the semi-final, which almost made its eventual 18th place seem like even more of a shock. Her face when feigning enthusiasm for the Maltese 12 points just sums it up really. In fact, when you think about it, “Hero” acquired Sweden’s worst result in Eurovision history – none of their other entries have ever finished lower than 12th place in the semi-final. Ouch.

4 – Marlain Angelidou – Tha’ne Erotas (Cyprus 1999)

Think back to 1999, if you can. There were three songs hotly tipped for victory in the run-up to Jerusalem. Two of these songs occupied the top two positions on the night. One of them slumped to twenty-second place. Out of twenty-three. No need to guess which of them is at number 4 in our countdown, then? Of course, it’s the absolute DIVA that is Marlain.. now, whilst “Tha’ne Erotas” hasn’t really aged very well, it cannot be denied that it was very much of its time, and that it stood out as a beacon of energy and modernity among a number of less relevant musical offerings. So what went wrong? Was it her abrasive personality, her lacklustre stage performance, or THAT hairdo? I honestly don’t know. Selma’s costuming was equally bizarre, and she scored silver, so I really don’t know what counted against this hotly-tipped Cypriot entry. I quite like it to be honest.

3 – Rosa – Europe’s Living A Celebration (Spain 2002)

Now, I know what you’ll be thinking. Rosa? Failures? No way. She came seventh!! But that’s just it. She only came seventh. She wasn’t supposed to come seventh. She was supposed to win. Ask any Eurovision fan to predict the winner before Talinn, and they would have said Spain. TVE were reportedly setting out preliminary plans for hosting the 2003 contest off the back of this entry; it was assumed that all she had to do was go out there, stand on the stage, sing the song, and they’d have it in the bag. The eventual result, whilst still respectable, stunned observers and fans of the song… how could this be possible? To add insult to injury, just take a look at the six songs which beat it. Malta, France and Estonia aside, they were all pretty rubbish. Madrid 2003 off the cards then.

2 – Kate Ryan – Je T’Adore (Belgium 2006)

Pretty much the ultimate in fanwank failures here, and I’m sure we all know the story. Kate Ryan, already an acclaimed dance music superstar in Belgium and a number of other neighbouring countries, came to Athens with a fabulously camp, upbeat and catchy slice of dancepop, true to her typical artistic style. The fans lapped it up in droves, and it was assumed that she was a challenger for the overall title… and then, of course, she failed to qualify didn’t she. Ever since, she has inadvertently become as undetachably associated with the contest as good old Barbara Dex… the “Kate Ryan effect” is now largely used to refer to the subject of this very article: the fanwank failures – in particular the non-qualifiers. So, whilst nothing will change the travesty of 2006, we can at least remind ourselves of the injustice each year… we will never forget you Kate.

1 – Kati Wolf – What About My Dreams? (Hungary 2011)

Unforgettable though Ms. Ryan is however, there is a more recent example which we think resonates even more within the minds of fans. Good old Kati Wolf, Hungary’s 2011 representative in Düsseldorf. If anyone remembers, we were in the first week of March, and Hungary hadn’t given us a scrap of detail about their selection for ESC. No NF date, no internal announcement, nothing. It was as if they’d forgotten they’d even signed up for the contest! And then.. out of NOWHERE, we got the preview video of this unbelievably catchy, 80s-throwback disco number, harnessed by Kati Wolf’s Dion-esque vocals, and a killer hook which got us all hooked at once. And so it began, poll after poll predicting – if not always victory – consistent success for this entry. The only foreseen hurdle was.. well “but it’s Hungary”… Of course, we had no way of predicting that the performance would turn out awkward and ropey, we had no idea that she would attempt to dress herself in what looked like an origami swan napkin, we had no idea that her voice would be that… underwhelming. Perhaps the 22nd place is justified, when you consider all those flaws. But, just for one moment, return to that song, and how amazing we all thought it was back then. Return to that feeling you got when you first heard the bridge, and you just knew that it would lead to something generic, predictable, but utterly brilliant. And THAT is why we’ve awarded her the top spot.

Of course, that very opinionated summary is just my thoughts on the subject… what about you?

Your Views:

Which song is your most memorable fanwank failure??
Which song is your most memorable fanwank failure??

Daniel Cobbett from the United Kingdom: Crisalide and tha’ne erotas 🙂

Nadine Glöck from Germany: I’d say Hungary 2011 too. And Kate Ryan of course. Iceland 2012 and Montenegro 2013 too.

Bessa Halimi from Albania: I would say Iceland 2012 or Norway 2012.

Rene van Kosak from Germany: France 2011, Norway 2012, Germany 2013

Jose Mora from Mexico: Comme ci comme ca – Evridiki, Hero – Charlotte Perrelli

So, amongst our views tonight, there is agreement with the inclusion of a number of entries, including those we ranked at #1, #2, #4, #7 and #9. Concurrently, however, we have a number of other suggestions coming up, for example Tooji from Norway in 2012, and Greta Salome & Jonsi who represented Iceland in the same year. The title of “fanwank failure” was always going to end up including a majority of recent entries into the contest, as the shock surrounding them is still relatively fresh in our minds – and in this mindset, we are pretty much guaranteed to welcome new entrants into this hall of shame with every contest to come!

Top 10: Best ex-USSR songs in ESC history

Today, we’re going to do things a little bit differently in this top 10. We’re going to decide which song is the best song that has ever come out of the countries from the former Soviet Union. The choices were so hard, but we think we’ve made the best countdown as we could when it came to this. Which song is the best from the former Soviet countries? Well keep reading to find out!

Which song will take the title of the Best Ex-USSR Song?
Which song will take the title of the Best Ex-USSR Song?

So just to give you an insight into how this top ten will work: there are ten countries from the Soviet Union that are participating in Eurovision. Of those ten, we’ve picked the best song from each country and that song song will compete against the other 9 songs from the other countries and we’ll count down the top 10 songs in order of how simply fabulous they were. In a way, it’s a super-top 10: we’ve picked the best song from all the former countries and then, we’re picking song from all those winning songs! Here we go!

10 – Belarus – Dima Koldun – Work Your Magic (2007)

So to start off, we’ll go to Belarus. The country has a bit of a track record when it comes to qualifying for the final, doing so every three years after Dima (here singing in front of two women who are clearly stuck to those sliding doors… at times) first qualified in Helsinki six years ago. Belarus is possibly weakest country from the ex-Soviets and it’s obviously shown in it’s qualifying record, as you can see. Even though Alyona Lanskaya and Petr Elfimov were just as good or even better than him, Dima was, and still is, the best placing Belorussian act in its Eurovision history, finishing in 6th place in Finland. Compared to its counterparts, however, the country just doesn’t send songs that are strong enough to do well, although Dima would be the only major exception.

9 – Latvia  – Formins & Kleins – Dziesma Par Laimi (2004)

Latvia has given the world such singers/groups as Marie N, Anmary and Brainstorm, but for us, the best song they ever sent was that of Formins & Kleins. It’s fair to say that the duo were a bit berserk on stage, but it suits the song and title itself is ‘A Song about Happiness’. It’s also fair to say that they didn’t do very well in the semi-final (hence they didn’t qualify), but for us, the pair gave us Latvia’s best ever song in its time of taking part in the Contest. Recently, Latvia hasn’t been sending many songs that have qualified for the final, as the last time they qualified for the final in 2008, and that would be the main factor as to why they’re so low on the countdown. But if they send something like ‘Dziesma Par Laimi’, maybe we could be seeing them climb up the top 10. Keep trying Latvia!

8 – Lithuania – InCulto – Eastern European Funk (2010)

Ah Lithuania, you’re just like Latvia… except you haven’t won Eurovision yet! Lithuania has also sent some pretty good songs (a la ‘Love or Leave’, ‘We Are the Winners’ and ‘Strazdas’), but nothing could beat InCulto. The six-man-group brought some craziness to the stage in Oslo in 2010 and, let’s be honest, the song was pretty catchy, even if the song was a little bit controversial in the lyrics. As well as that, the visual side of their performance was also quite fun (I mean, they took off their trousers to reveal shiny boxer shorts and playing cushion instruments! Need I say anymore?!) if I say so myself. Lithuania sadly didn’t qualify in 2010, but in recent years, it has been the best song the country has sent (OOOOOHHH!!), so we can’t complain!

7 – Azerbaijan – Safura – Drip Drop (2010)

This is almost bound to be controversial, as Azerbaijan is one of the most successful countries at Eurovision at this present moment, but as you’ll see, just because they send a great song doesn’t mean it’s the best one. Safura is probably the best out of all the Azerjibbani Azerbaijani performers, as nowadays, people still sing that song, even though she sang it three years ago (I speak from experience!). It’s also the actual performance that Azerbaijan gives that catches our eyes (e.g. Sabina and her dress, Farid and his ‘man-in-the-box’), but when it comes to the rest of its Soviet partners, the country falls flat on that certain ‘wow, this is the best thing that I’ve heard’ factor. Well done to the country though for staying in the top 10 for every year since they débuted in Belgrade five years ago.

6 – Ukraine – Gaitana – Be My Guest (2012)

Okay, Ukraine was the hardest country to make a decision on when it came to the best song they sent and there were a few conflicts between both of us, but we finally agreed that ‘Be My Guest’ is the best song the country sent (although Zlata, Svetlana Loboda, Ani Lorak and Ruslana were all candidates too) and woah, doesn’t she deliver on both the vocals and the visuals! You can definitely tell that she brought some colour to the Contest in Baku last year, and for me she definitely deserved a better place than 15th! And may I also add that those backing dancers of hers aren’t that bad either. Ukraine is really one of the strongest ex-Soviet countries, but as you will later see, there are other countries that sent better songs than Gaitana, but she can be our guest and settle at #6.

5 – Armenia – Sirusho – Qele Qele (2008)

Sirusho has probably the most overrated song in the entire history of Eurovision, and to be honest, who can blame her? The song was absolutely perfect for the 2008 Contest and it also showed that that particular year wasn’t just full of joke songs. Nearly every year since she’s done Eurovision, fans have been demanding that she should do Eurovision again and if she sent a song like ‘Qele Qele’, maybe that song would be replacing this one on a future top 10! ‘Qele Qele’ could have easily been our #1, but as you will later see, we’ve decided to go for more underrated entries. Armenia is also one of the strong countries out of the USSR, but in recent times, the country’s positions have started to flop. Come on Armenia, find your mojo!

4 – Estonia – Urban Symphony – Rändajad (2009)

Normally, Estonia sends a slow ballad in Estonian or a fast English pop song, but in 2009, the two were blended together and the result was ‘Rändajad’, a beautiful ballad that infuses Indian influences, modern pop beats and of course; the violins!  The performance was very structured, as in they didn’t really move anywhere, but if they did, I doubt it would really mattered, because the song was just so good. Sandra’s singing was also very powerful and it made you feel like you knew what she was on about too. Urban Symphony was the first act that reached the final on behalf of Estonia since 2003, and what a song to go into the final with! In the end, they finished in 6th place, Estonia’s best placing in recent times (and again repeated by Ott Lepland in 2012, the best looking Estonian man ever). Come on Estonia, stop sending things like Winny Puhh and start sending this!!!

3 – Moldova – Nelly Ciobanu – Hora din Moldova (2009)

AAAAAHHHH HEI HEI! HAI LA HORA, HAI LA HORA DIN MOLDOVA! Nelly Ciobanu is literally the best Moldovan singer in the entire world, not just in the Eurovision world. James and I absolutely love her and the energy she gave on the stage. The first 45 seconds or so are definitely devoted to an accurate goat impression and then we get to the actual ethnic-ness of the song and then we throw in a few dancers and a man shaking a stick and you end up with the best ethnic song in the Contest in 2009. In summary, she really was the most adorable thing on TV that night (although the postcard for Moldova was just.. woah). Moldova is actually pretty good at Eurovision, only failing to qualify for the final once and in recent times, they’ve been finishing on the left hand side of the scoreboard. Keep it up Moldova!

2 – Russia – Anastasiya Prikhodko – Mamo (2009)

Just pipped to the post at #2 is our favourite Ukrainian singer to represent Russia; Anastasiya! Even though the song, and the singer, wasn’t very Russian, it definitely was the best song that they’ve sent to the Contest in a long time. The performance was stripped down to its basics and the cameras were firmly positioned on Anastasiya (who did look like she was just coming out of the shower) and her Esma-like dressed backing singers, but that was the best thing that they could do and the crowd absolutely loved her! Europe obviously got the message she was trying to get across as well, and she finished in 11th place. Of course, Russia’s sent other great songs like ‘Party for Everybody’, ‘Solo’ and ‘Ne ver’, ne boisia’ (LOL!), but it’s pretty obvious ‘Mamo’ is our favourite from Rossiya.

So you’ve seen the best songs from nine out of ten countries from the Soviet Union, but can you tell which country is missing? Well scroll down and you’ll see!

1 – Georgia – Sopho Khalvashi – Visionary Dream (2007)

Georgia, although being a little insane in its selections (Stephane & 3G, I’m looking at you here), has been one of the most interesting countries that has ever taken part in Eurovision. But when we first met them when they débuted six years ago in Helsinki, they sent this ethnic bombshell. There’s only one word to describe this song; fantabulous! For me, the best song from the former USSR has to have a good mix of both ethnic elements and modern pop and ‘Visionary Dream’ definitely provides on that front, and including very patriotic lyrics show that Sopho really does love her country’s history and she’s apparently going to “share it” with the world! Georgia isn’t the best country when it comes to placings, but today they are getting 1st place and ‘Visionary Dream’ is the ‘Best ex-USSR Song in Eurovision history’! Congratulations Sopho!

Your views:

What would you say is the best song to ever come out of the countries from the former Soviet Union?

Is your top 10 accurate to the one we've compiled?
Is your top 10 accurate to the one we’ve compiled?

Claus Michael Fasting from Norway: Armenia 2008!

Jack Cuffe from the United Kingdom:  I would say Azerbaijan 2009. A fantastic song but I also love Georgia 2007.

Svetlana Andriyenko from Ukraine: I am most proud of Ruslana, she is the star of Ukraine and her song brought Eurovision to Kiev. I also like Angelica Agurbash and Anastasiya Prikhodko.

Michael Romano from Australia: Russia 2000, it was one of the most contemporary songs that year and still sounds great 13 years later!

Nadine Glöck from Germany: Latvia 2003, Estonia 1996, 2000 & 2009.

So it seems that the fans have loads of ideas for the top 10, ranging from 1996 all the way up to 2009! But what we’d like to know is what you think! What do you think of the top 10? Who would you add to/take away from the list? Feel free to let us know by commenting below!