Continuing on from the first part of this countdown, fabulously written by James, it’s my turn to carry the baton of the countdown and in this part of the top, we’ll find out which of the 165 possible songs have made the top, finishing in place 30-21, but which of the songs are they? Well you guys will just have to keep reading to find out!
In recent years, the majority of Eurovision entries have had one major obstacle to circumnavigate in order to bring their countries the contest glory they so desire. This obstacle is of course the semi-final elimination process. Many favourites do manage to traverse these muddy waters, and reach the solace of the grand final on the other side. However, there have been just as many injustices along the way, whereby absolutely amazing songs have been unceremoniously abandoned on the Tuesday or Thursday nights and largely forgotten about. Well no longer! We have collected and resurrected the best of these semi-final casualties, and assembled them for your nostalgic enjoyment (you can thank us later, it’s alright).
This top 40 will be brought to you in four stages – two articles this weekend, and the other two next weekend, so that we reveal our top 10 in time to get started on our national final coverage the weekend after that! In addition, for the first time since we started featuring multi-stage countdowns, James and I will both be contributing two articles each, rather than having just one narrative voice guiding you guys through the entire list. We have ranked the entries together too, so what we have prepared really is reflective of our combined opinion.
While we’re here, I may as well stress that point – this ranking represents our opinion, and as such it may be a little controversial or unexpected. Please take this into account before passing a condemnatory eye over some of our more ambiguous choices! Right, let’s see who’s managed to make this part of the countdown!
30 – Aurela Gaçe – “Feel the Passion” (Albania 2011)
I think it’s fair to say that Aurela Gaçe split fans’ opinions when she won Festival i Këngës and was selected to represent Albania in Düsseldorf, so if she was to do well with the first-time listeners, she would have to pull out all the stops. We both love Aurela, but it was a very much a hit and miss performance for me, so I both can and can’t see why it qualified. First of all, what dafuq was she wearing?! I know she was singing about being an eagle, but she may be trying too hard to fly.. and that dress/jumpsuit did make her look like she was sweating buckets! Secondly, Albania, being the country with the biggest love of pyrotechnics, included them in the performance.. maybe a little too much? Those flames are hot dear (I should know, I was in the arena when Anastasiya Vinnikova sang ‘I Love Belarus’ in the second semi-final; I wasn’t anywhere near the stage and yet, I could feel them)! Other than those points, it was a really strong performance and her vocals were one of the best on the night and is it just me or did I see Bledar Sejko (Albania 2013) on stage there doing his trademark headbang? I think so!
29 – Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankulov – “Samo Shampioni” (Bulgaria 2013)
Oh ‘Samo Shampioni’ – the “Marmite song” of 2013; you either loved it or you hated it. I, for one, really did like the song, so I’m probably going against the grain of a good few Eurovision fans out there, but we can all agree that the reason that Bulgaria didn’t get into the final was because of the juries (although if Bulgaria sent ‘Kismet’, I think everybody wouldn’t have liked it). Of course, other factors may have contributed to the duo only just missing out on qualification; the backing singers who clearly looked like they couldn’t give a shit about what they were doing, the mask the guy (named Vesni – rather nice, if I say so myself) put on and that note Elitsa sang/shouted when she fell to the floor – maybe she severely hurt herself when she fell, making that note seem more of a scream – just to name some of the most prominent ones, but Bulgaria came sixth in the televoting, so the public loved ‘Samo Shampioni’! It was because of the jury that Bulgaria were denied that crucial qualification.. they placed Elitsa & Stoyan last.. LAST?! You had so many other choices!! Then again, the juries very seldom like a song of that degree of “folkiness”, so to be honest, I’m not that surprised..still didn’t deserve last place though!
28 – Angelica Agurbash – “Love Me Tonight” (Belarus 2005)
There’s no denying that Belarus gave it all in 2005 after ‘My Galileo’, featured in the first part of the countdown as one of James’ many guilty pleasures, failed to qualify on their début attempt and only just managed to muster ten points. But Angelica.. well, where do I begin on it? First of all, they spent way too much money on that performance – €5,000,000. Seriously, Belarus?! All that money spent and then the song falls flat on its face. Plus, the song was changed before the Contest (I can see Belarus started young – change the song and/or singer before the Contest) – this song, ‘Boys and Girls’ – was supposed to go to Kyiv. It actually is a really nice ballad, but combined with Angelica’s shaky vocals (and that’s putting it lightly!), the song wouldn’t have done better than ‘Love Me Tonight’. Oh well, Angelica, get those vocals in order next time!
27 – Marian van de Wal – “La Mirada Interior” (Andorra 2005)
Another one to fall victim of the 2005 Contest, Marian van de Wal had a really good song in Kyiv, although the performance was a bit dodgy.Anabel Conde (she represented Spain in 1995 and came second – what a way to celebrate the tenth anniversary of getting the placing!) was recruited as one of Marian’s backing singers, so the purpose of that, I think, was supposed to take fans down memory lane and it did.. once again, I think. The song was a fairly decent ethnic track and even though the performance was a little “eeh…”, it was the song we were to focus on.. that’s pretty hard, as some of Marian’s facial expressions were off-putting. Also, may I add, was this the first appearance of ValMon gums at Eurovision? I mean, the gum to teeth ratio is incredibly unbalanced. Were the juries re-introduced in 2005, we think that she would have definitely qualified for the final.. but 23rd place, people?! The song was great!!
26 – Luiz Ejilli – “Zjarr e ftohtë” (Albania 2006)
One of our favourites of the 2006 Contest, we were quite surprised that Albania failed to qualify from the semi-final back in Athens. There were loads of things that worked well with the performance, even though the music video is so badly edited, it’s actually hilarious to watch! *realises that I’ve gotten sidetracked and gets back to the point* The song is actually really catchy and the ethnicity of it also makes the song really memorable. When it came to the performance, it was the exact same! Well, his vocals weren’t exactly the best at the start of the song and those dancing, bagpipe-playing old men were pretty interesting on stage; maybe the outfits they wore were a big factor? The backing singers were just as good as Luiz as well, so it really was a great performance. It’s sad, because it was one of my all-time favourites from Albania.. Very disappointed, Europe. VERY disappointed!
25 – Kamil & Nela – “Let’ tmou” (Slovakia 2009)
One of my own guilty pleasures now..as well as James’. We both adore ‘Let’ Tmou’ and it disgusted us when Slovakia, after deciding to return to the Contest after 11 years with a really good song, came in 18th place with only 8 points – they were one point ahead of Latvia. I mean, what was wrong with it? Nela hit all her high notes (from 2:34 – 2:42 in the video – just.. wow. She gave me goosebumps!) and Kamil.. well he turned up; even if he was a little late! This is what I don’t get about Europe – a country sends a really good song and then people don’t vote for it. Well, we both love them and if we were in charge, they’d definitely be in the final! Dayum Europe, you’re off the ball!
24 – Rebeka Dremelj – “Vrag naj vzame” (Slovenia 2008)
Rebeka Dremelj.. one of the most robbed songs in the 2008 Contest (OOH, CONTROVERSIAL!!), ‘Vrag naj vzame’ was a fantastic song and it was performed on stage great too. First of all, the backing singers have the Nina Badrić sleeve of undefined length were pretty nice to see. Then.. well what could I say about the backing dancers? They looked incredibly appealing, as male Slovenian backing dancers do *ahem* the backing dancers for Hannah Mancini *ahem* and when it came to Rebeka herself, that first outfit she was wearing is a definite “NO BABY, NO!” moment, but thank God she shed it! For the most part, the vocals were incredibly well sang and the only point I’d point out something wrong was when she.. actually, there was nothing wrong with it at all! Too bad it was only six points away from qualification.. silly juries!
23 – Christina Metaxa – “Firefly” (Cyprus 2009)
Cyprus was the first country I watched Eurovision in outside of my home country and we went in 2009, so presto, Christina Metaxa is on our top! Only joking, but when Cyprus failed to qualify, there was almost an outrage in Ayia Napa, because everyone loved Christina – and both James and I are one of those people. “Firefly” was a really sweet, contemporary song and it was surprising that she didn’t qualify because it was such a sweet song (although as James has discussed before, modern songs don’t do that particularly well anymore). Christina’s vocals were on the spot and her backing singers didn’t overshadow her. Even her
enlarged Fox’s Mints light-up boxes didn’t take away the message of the song. Cyprus always sends a great song and 2009 was no exception, but it should have qualified.. Seriously Europe, I don’t know what problems go through your head at the time you decide which songs go through or not, but you seriously have to sort them out!!
22 – Anna Bergendahl – “This Is My Life” (Sweden 2010)
Guilty pleasure time again! This song is more favoured by me than James, but it still puzzles me to this day how Anna Bergendahl didn’t get through to the final; all those LED sticks that were waved in the air during both the final of Melodifestivalen and indeed, the actual Contest itself showed that the amount of people who really loved the song were in their thousands.. So why didn’t it qualify then? Well, Anna’s voice was incredibly shaky on the night and I think that may have contributed to it, but she had carried her vocals quite strongly through the majority of the song, only letting them flop about in the last few seconds of the performance. Another problem was that in a particularly strong semi-final, it may have been forgotten as it was pretty “momentum-less”. Even if she was only five points from qualifying, she wouldn’t have done well in the final, but it still is a really good ballad and I wish that she had improved her vocals.. I really wish she did.
21 – Kate Ryan – “Je t’adore” (Belgium 2006)
The über-Mother of non-qualifiers, Kate Ryan is the reason why us Eurovision fans give the fanwank flop it’s more colloquial name – the “Kate Ryan Effect”, so it’s only right to put her in the countdown! The song itself is typical Eurovision-style; a catchy tune, memorable lyrics, great performance on stage – it’s like it was destined to do well or even win the Contest… well, that was, until Belgium didn’t qualify, sending shockwaves across the continent. How come she didn’t get the votes? Well, as much as we all love those schlager-esque songs such as those back in the seventies, there comes a point where one final straw will break the camel’s back, and I think Kate Ryan was that piece of straw. Her performance was fine (bar the missing letters during different parts of the song and that accidental camera shot of someone’s foot in the green room), but I think it was the song itself is why it didn’t do well. At least, she’ll be forever remembered as the Queen of fanwanks (well, not in our eyes!)
So, on that note, places 30-21 have been filled! But who’s your favourite non-qualifier?
Andreea Gheorge from Romania: Poli Genova- Na Inat and Magdalena Tul-Jestem. They really deserved the Final!
Costas Pom from Germany: Poland 2006, Cyprus 2007, Sweden 2010, Poland 2011, Bulgaria 2011.
Nadine Glöck from Germany: Poland 2006, Belarus 2004 and 2011, All dutch songs from 2005 on, Iceland 2007 and Cyprus 2007 too!
Michael Romano from Australia: Bulgaria 2011, Andorra 2005, Iceland 2005, Montenegro 2013.
So it seems that all the fans have different songs they love which didn’t managed to reach the final, but which of the 165 songs are your favourites? Feel free to let us know what you think by commenting below!
And what do you think of our top 40, now we’ve reached the halfway stage? Have we forgotten someone yet? Well let us know that as well by commenting below too! Remember to check back next Friday to see which songs are in places 20-11!