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!

6 thoughts on “Top 10: Fanwank failures at ESC”

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