Top 50: Best songs from National Finals [Part 2]

Happy Friday to all our readers, and welcome to the second instalment of our latest countdown: the top 50 best songs left behind in Eurovision national finals! Rory began our list last week, and tonight, I’m continuing with places 40 – 31!

Betty Dittrich is among the artists featured tonight... but where will she place?
Betty Dittrich is among the artists featured tonight… but where will she place?


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, here is the second part of our countdown!

40: Crystallia – “Petalouda Stin Athina” (Greece 2014)

And, as if to illustrate that point, we begin today’s section with a national final entry from this year – but what a song it is! Greece undoubtedly made the wrong decision in leaving Crystallia’s “Petalouda Stin Athina” behind in favour of “Rise Up”, because the former is just so authentic, and instantly recognisable as Greek. Rewind to the 90s, and this is the kind of thing Greece were sending year on year, without fail. Big, dramatic female-led numbers, sitting in the middle ground between ballad and up-tempo, yet managing to convey so much energy and passion that they were instantly captivating, and incredibly catchy. The very same thing can be said for Crystallia’s 2014 entry, and it’s a huge shame we won’t be seeing her next month in Copenhagen. All together now: “Mia voutia sti THALASSSAAAAAAAA!”

39: Sophie DeBattista – “Let The Sunshine In” (Malta 2014)

Sticking with 2014 now at #39, we travel to “sunny Moalta“. How apt, when the song we’re talking about is titled “Let The Sunshine In”, ey? And in many ways, “sunny” is the perfect way to describe this song – on the happy scale, it picks up where Gianluca left off, and adds an extra large dose of Prozac. Seriously. It’s THAT happy. But it’s truly adorable too. My personal #2 from the 2014 Maltese national final (aha, find out which song we eventually liked better in the later editions of this countdown), Sophie’s charming performance was certainly deserving of more recognition than she actually got! Lovely song, and I hope she tries again next year (most of them do, right?)

38: Erica Mou – “Nella Vasca Da Bagno Del Tempo” (Italy 2012)

San Remo time *cheer*!! From the year which gave us the DIVA that is Nina Zilli, this little-remembered gem from Erica Mou stands out to me as one of the strongest musical contributions to a national final… like, ever. She both looks and sounds like a cross between Lucy Rose and Kate Nash for the first part of the song, perched daintily on a stool enunciating the intriguing lyrics in a half-sung, half-spoken kind of way; so quiet and fragile that you can’t help but pay attention to her. And then, boy does this song build. You think you know where it’s going, but then it changes tack at the last minute and keeps you guessing. Seriously, if that first minute or so hasn’t grabbed your attention, please please keep going with it, because it’s a really interesting listen. And that chorus will lodge itself imperceptibly in your brain. So interesting. What more would you expect from a song whose title roughly translates as “In The Bathtub of Time”, ey?

37: Betty Dittrich – “Lalala” (Germany 2013)

Ahhhhh remember Betty Dittrich, ey? (such nostalgia – I say this, we’re only on about last year here!!) To be fair though, the whole ambience of Betty’s national final entry was geared towards the sixties, and it was effective in its aims. It was a pastiche, for all intents and purposes, but it was a bloody good one! There were better songs in “Unser Song Für Malmö”, true, but this one was still a sad loss. Similar to Sophie DeBattista, it’s kinda impossible to listen to “Lalala” and not smile. And sing along. And perform some convoluted improvised interpretive dance around your room. Every time, man, every time.

36: Lisa Miskovsky – “Why Start A Fire” (Sweden 2012)

Sweden’s Melodifestivalen is THE most famous national final, and as a result, even the unsuccessful songs from its archives are pretty well-known among fans. This one, the ninth-place from 2012, however, has been largely forgotten – and what a travesty that is! Just listen to this magical, ethereal slice of scandi-genius! Specifically, the key change for the chorus… first time I heard that, I honestly did not know what to do with myself. Pure eargasm right there. Looking at the wider picture, this entry also had a memorable stage performance, with those cloth-wielding backing dancers illuminated in what I’m gonna term “Rändajad blue” light enhancing the ambience of the song. Lisa at Eurovision would have been brilliant – especially considering she’s actually rather famous in comparison to the general Eurovision fare.

And, for those who have been paying close attention to the videos in this post, Lisa is our fourth consecutive entrant going for the “girl with a guitar” look on stage. Promise you this wasn’t intentional!!

35: Madeline Juno – “Like Lovers Do” (Germany 2014)

Hmm. Hey Madeline. What are you doing here? I can personally think of a lot more deserving national final entries which we had to cut out of our countdown, but I guess that Madeline’s recent effort “Like Lovers Do” is worth a mention on account of its heartfelt lyrics and its effective staging. Pity her vocals came across as a cheap Diana Vickers tribute act, ey? This, ladies and gentlemen, is what happens when somebody like Lena wins Eurovision for Germany. She’s inspired a generation of new baby-voiced German females, of whom Madeline Juno is surely just the first. Still, it’s a lovely song nonetheless.

34: Mariaana Seppern – “My Home Is Europe” (Lithuania 2010)

Here is the moment we’ve all been waiting for: MARIAANA SEPPERN! *round of fittingly enthusiastic applause*. Now, I must warn you that “My Home Is Europe” is the epitome of everything that is right in this world, and if you haven’t seen it yet, I implore you to do so. Go on. We don’t mind waiting.

So. HOW HILARIOUSLY AWFUL IS THAT!? I defy anyone to watch that performance and not laugh. First time round, you’re just like “oh, tuneless lady limping her way through a generic pop number, Hadise flashbacks etc. etc.”… second time round, you start to realise just how hideous it really is. The words are almost impossible to understand, thanks to her accent – and then, bless her, she just cannot sing. She does not possess the ability. (see 0:50ish “we find it in ze WEST!) I don’t know about you but sometimes, you’re just in the mood for a laugh, and watching Mariaana’s performance is guaranteed to trigger just that! The song itself is one of those annoyingly catchy entities whose singsong chorus will end up stuck in your head whether you want it there or not… you better just give up and embrace it to be honest, because once you’ve heard “My Home Is Europe” once, you will find yourself coming back to it again and again. “my femmely home is you, rope, my franz air yuh end yuh”… Brilliant…

33: Maiken (and her pool of seals) – “Siin Või Sealpool Maad” (Estonia 2014)

At number 33, we find the lovely Maiken (and her pool of seals). If you read our previews for this year’s Eesti Laul, you’ll hopefully remember the reasoning behind the suffix to Maiken’s name 😛 If you’re interested by the way, while we’re on the subject, Google Translate says that “Siin Või Sealpool Maad” actually means something like “this or that side of the land”. I prefer to imagine she’s singing about seals to be honest.

I digress. Seals aside, this Estonian language ballad is truly spectacular. It’s quiet and unassuming, and she sings it in such an emotive – almost tortured – way, that even though we have no clue what she’s singing about, we feel an empathy for the character she’s playing. The orchestration of the song accentuates this even further. It’s truly beautiful, and whilst it still wasn’t the best song in this year’s Eesti Laul final (again, see later editions of this list ;), any other year, she should have walked it. Stunning stuff.

32: Anna Vissi – “Who Cares About Love” (Greece 2006)

It’s a real shame that we can’t hear a live version of this performance, as ERT broadcast Anna Vissi’s four prospective entries in playback, on top of the video of her live performance. Still, even with the studio version, “”Who Cares About Love” is such an anthem, and Anna attacks it with characteristic vivacity. That mic stand is put through its paces, I can tell you! She is an extremely confident performer, and she has the voice and charisma to lift this dancepop number out of the realms of the ordinary. I first discovered this track back in 2008, having no idea at the time that it had been a candidate to represent Greece back in Athens. I simply loved it as an epic little song, and I continue to do so to this day!

31: Lena Philipsson – “Dansa I Neon” (Sweden 1987)

This one stands out a bit, doesn’t it! Everything so far has been from the 2000s, and here we have a little foray into Swedish 80s fabulousness – perennial MF entrant Lena Philipsson with her glam-schläger effort “Dansa I Neon”. Now this song in particular came under fire for its apparent plagiarism of a song from the 1986 Turkish national final (seriously.. you couldn’t make this stuff up, could you!) despite the fact that the two songs only share a single line of similar melody. Eesh. Still, this does not detract from the fact that Lena’s 1987 effort is truly fabulous. It’s sparkly, it’s anthemic, it’s synthy, it’s the auditory embodiment of shoulder pads and leg warmers. Okay, maybe not that far. But still… 1987 was the year Sweden sent “Boogaloo” to Eurovision… JUST IMAGINE IF IT HAD BEEN LENA INSTEAD? *le cry*

Riiight, time to call a pit stop for this week! Rory will be counting down numbers 30 – 21 next week, but until then, it’s over to you! What are your thoughts on tonight’s songs?

Your Views:

Which was your favourite NF entry and why?
Which was your favourite NF entry and why?

Nick van Lith from the Netherlands: Being Dutch, most of the old national finals I can remember are in fact Dutch. So I have to mention that the Nationaal Songfestival in 1998 is one of the best things ever. It was full of songs I loved with a passion (Alsof Je Bij Me Bent or Ze Kwamen Over Zee), but there’s one song there that really hit me. That was Frederique Spigt’s ‘Mijn Hart Kan Dat Niet Aan’. It had the most gorgeous lyrics ever. The Latin music behind it and the rawness in everything Frederique is about, yes, one of the best things ever.

Then, to leave the Dutchies and the last millenium, there’s a song in Norway. 2012. Tooji won and it made me so angry! I’m a huge country fan and there we had a country legend. An absolute legend in Bobby Bare. And Norway didn’t pick him. I just didn’t and don’t get it. Things Change was so awesome!!

I can’t leave the last seasons behind either. Melodifestivalen is a source for awesomeness they never sent, so I have to mention In And Out Of Love by Martin Rolinski, Hon Har Inte by Caroline af Ugglas and Survivor by Helena Paparizou. Then to go to Germany: Push Forward by Lena in 2011 and everything Unheilig did, too awesome for words.

Usually we would consult a selection of fans, but Nick – as always – has come up with something so detailed and interesting that we kinda don’t need to! And seriously, right, “Ze Kwamen Over Zee” is a fantastic song – thanks for introducing me to it!!

Of course, we would love to know what you think of the songs in today’s list, as well as which national final entries you would personally choose as your favourites! Feel free to leave us a comment below, we’d be really interested to hear what you think! In the meanwhile, enjoy this one everyone:

4 thoughts on “Top 50: Best songs from National Finals [Part 2]”

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