Happy Friday to all our readers, and welcome to Part 4 of 5 in our countdown of the top fifty best songs left behind in the Eurovision national finals over the years! Having covered places 50-41, 40-31 and 30-21 in the last three weeks, tonight I’m venturing into our top twenty, to unveil some of our favourite national final rejects yet! Up for the trip?
For this list, we’ve selected our fifty favourite national final entries which did not manage to win the ticket to Eurovision. As both of us have only been following NFs in great detail for the last few years, we apologise that most of the songs in the countdown are fairly recent, and there are legions of pre-2000 gems which we haven’t included, simply because we have no idea they exist! This is hopefully where you come in, for we’d love to be introduced to those awesome songs we’re missing, and as always, we’re on a quest to discover whether your views are synonymous with our own! To that end, we would LOVE to know which national final entries are your personal favourites and why. There are, after all, so very many to choose from, and we only have space in our list for 50 *sad face*
Without further ado then, let’s get going with part four!
20: Viktor Király – Running Out Of Time (Hungary 2014)
Well, hello there Mr Király, fancy seeing you here… After strutting away with the award for the Best Dressed Performer in our NF Awards last month, we find everyone’s favourite slice of Hungarian eye candy at #20 tonight, with his supremely catchy 60s throwback “Running Out Of Time” from this year’s A Dal. Aside from the fact that the bloke is STUPIDLY beautiful, and he had a suit which made him look even more… um.. nice… what we actually have here is one hell of a good song. It dives straight into the hook, and just oozes cool in a way that nothing at Eurovision has managed since “Caroban”. His live vocal was more on the enthusiastic side rather than the tuneful, but his onstage charisma saved it from being a hot mess – instead, the overall effect was a pretty professional and infectious presentation of a truly brilliant song. Such a choon. In any other year, this would have walked the domestic competition in Hungary, no doubt about it.
19: Grete Paia – Päästke Noored Hinged (Estonia 2011)
Some of the songs in this countdown are included simply because we like them. However, in the case of the 2013 Estonian runner-up Grete Paia, not only do we love the song, it’s also a complete travesty that it didn’t win the ticket to Eurovision! This epic, emotive, modern masterpiece was beaten by the fluffy yet forgettable Birgit Õigemeel. And we all know how *well* that worked in Malmö, right? Yeah, I hope ERR are still kicking themselves over the fact this one was left at home. Just seventeen years of age at the time of her performance, Grete’s self-penned number took Eesti Laul by storm with its social commentary and its unexpected energy. It’s a song which doesn’t stay in one comfortable zone for very long; preferring to move around the sonic spectrum and demonstrate everything that Grete can do. The result was just spectacular!
18: ULI RUD – Tsvetok (Ukraine 2014)
*This is a song which Rory loves and I really don’t like, so I’ll leave it to him to explain why it’s at our #18!*
If you read our NF awards, dear Yulia Rudneva – ULI RUD – was nominated in two categories – Best Dressed and Most Underrated. This song is definitely one of my absolute favourites of the 2014 season and it definitely is a follow-on from her previous single ‘Budapest‘, which would have been way better for Eurovision, but it’s her choice – what could we do? ‘Tsvetok’ was definitely best off – like in the studio version – in Russian, as in English, people wouldn’t have had any idea of what she was singing about – bathing in her pool..you all know what I mean. Anyway, focusing on the positives, ULI really does have an astonishing vocal range, and that’s seen when she sings the ‘YEAH!!!!!!!!!’ midway through the song, going from a really low note to the highest note in the highest octave in her range. The song’s staging also plays on different effects, but if it did go to Eurovision, I think it would be so interesting to see what Europe would think of it because it would be one of the most ‘different’ songs of the entire competition, given that it’s almost bordering on ‘alternative electronica’ – if that’s an actual thing! And okay, that dress DOES look like someone’s got a huge bit of leather and just cut in random places, but the song should make up for that. But after all of this, she ended up in last place. Last place. LAST.FUCKING. PLACE. Very disappointed, Ukraine. You could have at least given her more than two points…eesh.
17: Tatyana Vorzheva – Vse Resheno (Ukraine 2011)
Ukraine eventually sent Mika Newton and her infamous sand artist to Düsseldorf, but she came from what has to be one of the most controversial national finals in recent years (more on that later). Suffice to say that there were at three clearly superior songs in said national final, all of which have made our top 20, and one of which is at #17: Tatyana Vorzheva’s “Vse Resheno”. *insert mandatory comment about her looking like Angelina Jolie here*. Looks aside, there’s a funny story to this one. Having battled through heats and semi-finals, Tatyana reached the national final with this energetic ethno-pop number, which sounds incredibly catchy in the studio regardless of the fact that she couldn’t sing it live to save her life. NF starts, all’s going well, Tatyana’s up fifteenth, comes on and performs her song… only to be DISQUALIFIED after all the performances because she had too many people on stage during her presentation! How on earth do you make that mistake? I mean, did she just not get the memo, or? I smell corruption, not gonna lie.
16: Anna Vissi – Kleo (Greece 1989)
Taking a little vertiginous step back into the 1980s now at #16, allow me to introduce you to/remind you of this fabulous song from the Greek national final in 1989! We all know and love Anna Vissi, don’t we, but how many of our lovely readers are familiar enough with her back catalogue to remember this little gem “Kleo”? Finishing behind eventual representative Mariana Efstratiou and – interestingly – Mando (who would go on to sing for Greece in 2003), the leading lady of Greek music had to settle for a bronze medal with this dramatic and empowering record, which to my ears at least, pretty much epitomises contemporary music of the era. It has stood the test of time though, without a doubt, as it remains just as catchy in 2014 as it must have done twenty five years ago! I love so many Greek and Cypriot entries from the 80s and 90s, and hearing another one of them from a national final is an absolute treat.
15: Pamela – Take Me (Malta 2014)
“Coming Home” has, admittedly, grown on me since the CD arrived and I’ve had chance to listen to it properly… however, I still maintain that it shouldn’t have won MESC this year. Not when it was up against “Take Me”, a truly stunning ballad performed admirably by Pamela, in front of one of the most beautiful backdrops of the entire national final season. Its lyrics speak of staying strong in the face of a deteriorating relationship; each verse deals with a different stage of the break up and it somehow still manages to finish with an endearing message of positivity. However, the star of the show here is that “la-da-ee-daaai” motif which comes in during the middle-8 and lodges itself in your head immediately! Stunningly beautiful, with spine-tingling register changes aplenty! When a ballad manages to be well-constructed, emotive AND catchy, you know you’re onto something truly special: which begs the question WHY MALTA WHY? 😥
14: Sarah Dawn Finer – Moving On (Sweden 2009)
Another stunning national final ballad at number 14, and it comes courtesy of Sarah Dawn Finer, the lady behind Lynda Woodruff, and the creator of “Azerjibban”, a word which I will use for always and eternity in lieu of the correct term. Comedy genius aside, though, Sarah has an unmistakable voice which can be both soft and unassuming (see “The Winner Takes It All“) or big, brassy and emotional, as she demonstrated back in 2009 whilst performing the beautiful “Moving On” in Melodifestivalen. The vocals were incredible, the composition of the song was flawless, and the key change between each verse and chorus is just MAGICAL. Oh, and Bonnie Tyler clearly thought she was special with the whole ‘raised platform’ act in Malmö, but BITCH PLS, Sarah did it first!! You may already be aware that I’m not the biggest Melfestophile (new word there, call me Lynda) but I would state without reserve that Sarah’s 2009 entry is my favourite song from Melodifestivalen EVER. Having combined both of our opinions, however, “Moving On” has ended up at #14, which is still very respectable, of course!
13: Anastasia Prikhodko – Action (Ukraine 2011)
Here at ESC Views, we are big fans of Anastasia Prikhodko, as you could have probably guessed from the amount of times we’ve featured her in our countdowns!! Still, here she is again, at tonight’s #13 with another entry from Ukraine’s 2011 national final: the fabulous “Action”. And this song – I’m not sure if there’s any other word for it – it’s hella sexy isn’t it. Just the bass and the growly vocals and the nonstop production and the way it invades your brain and gets itself stuck in your head, despite the apparent lack of a real hook. You’ll have one listen and either want to immediately play it again, or walk away and be humming it in your head for WEEKS. It’s a really relevant and chart-friendly sound – somewhat ahead of its time, actually, I’d say with hindsight. Plonk this into the 2014 line up and it would be a frontrunner… maybe even THE frontrunner? It may not be *your thing*, I can see it being quite a divisive track, but the two of us reckon it’s rather awesome, hence why you find it so close to our top 10!
12: Loreen – My Heart Is Refusing Me (Sweden 2011)
Ahhh Loreen. Her of “Euphoria” fame, of course. Don’t slaughter me here, but much as I do like “Euphoria”, it is ridonkulously overrated. It’s not my favourite Loreen song. And in actual fact, it’s not even my favourite Loreen Melfest entry. That honour goes to “My Heart Is Refusing Me”, which, before its many rehashes and re-releases, began life as an underrated entry in Melodifestivalen 2011, being knocked out in Andra Chansen. I love the original arrangement of the track, because it’s a whole lot more unique and interesting than the commercial trance sounds of its many successors. The trademark eerie performance style was well and truly established even back then, and I’m honestly surprised at how Sweden went from discarding this brilliant track in Andra Chansen one year, to catapulting the same singer to victory the next, albeit with a more generic song. Still, I’m grateful to “Euphoria” for everything it did to improve the image of the contest in general, and for leading to the brilliant album “Heal”, I just wish Loreen had maybe been given that chance a year earlier with this song.
11: Finn Martin – Change (Germany 2013)
You may be surprised to find this song so high on our countdown, as a lot of people will probably have forgotten it even exists. *sigh*. Ladies and gentlemen, our number 11 spot proudly goes to Finn Martin’s FANTASTIC pop song “Change” from Unser Song Für Malmö, the German national selection in 2013. To say this one is underrated is a complete understatement. It’s a clappy singalong number with a pertinent social message buried beneath a supremely catchy tune. My entire family likes this song, and none of them are into Eurovision at all. Just proves what a relevant and contemporary sound Finn managed to create, ey? I would have loved to see him in last year’s contest with this song, because it’s exactly the sort of thing the contest needs in my opinion – it’s very modern but it’s also very credible – no desperately shoehorned dubstep in sight (aha, I’m looking at you Aram)
If you like “Change”, I really recommend checking out his album too (also titled “Change”) for there are some brilliant tracks in the same sonic vein as his NF entry, which showcase his songwriting skills and his unique voice. I’m a big fan and I hope he has the chance to release more of his music in the future!
So, we have reached the end of today’s section! Places 50 – 11 have been covered and next week Rory will be bringing you our top 10!
….. aaand here’s the part where we’d usually feature the “Your Views” section. Except the response to this one hasn’t been as involved as usual and we don’t actually have any views to share 😦 It’s completely understandable of course, as we’re so close to the actual contest in Copenhagen and everyone’s so busy focusing on the actual songs from 2014! However, if you’d like to join our discussion of the best national final entries throughout the years, we would absolutely love to hear from you! Which of the songs featured today are your favourites? And which national final entries are you hoping to see in next week’s top 10? Feel free to leave your thoughts in a comment below!!