Well, while all us Eurovision fans are preparing for the best time of the year (and that’s beating birthdays, Christmas, Hanukkah etc), we here at ESC Views are all set for revealing the top 10 of our mahoosive top 50! After covering from 50-41, 40-31, 30-21 and 20-11, we’re ready to tell us you what is the best song from a National Final! So which song out of the hundreds has managed to come out on top? Keep reading to find out!
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, so *sorrrrryyyyy* if we missed your favourite!
And without further delay, let’s see what’s the best song from a National Final!
10 – Regina Osk – “Hjartað Brennur” (Iceland 2012)
*like how James didn’t really like ‘Tsvetok’, I’m not a fan of this, so I shall hand you over to James for this one!*
Kicking off our top 10, we have this criminally underrated entry from Iceland’s 2012 national final: “Hjartað Brennur” by the fabulous Regina Osk (who most of you will recognise as one half of Euroband from 2008) Now, Rory’s not majorly keen on this song, but it is one of my personal NF highlights of all time; because it’s so dayum groovy! Regina just oozes sass and class here, leisurely strutting her way through the captivating melody line with enviable style. It’s one of the rare occasions where the Icelandic language really adds to the musicality of a song, for even though it’s at times impossible to sing along, it makes for a really interesting listening experience! If we’d had the privilege of seeing this on the Baku stage, I fear they would have slaughtered it with an English translation, so for that reason alone, it’s perhaps a good thing that it didn’t win Songvakeppni… but from every other possible point of view, THIS ONE SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE WINNER!!!
9 – Buranovskiye Babushki – “Dlinnaja-Dlinnaja Beresta I Kak Sdelat’ Iz Nee Aishon” (Russia 2010)
2010 was the first time we had come across our favourite grannies from Udmurtia and even though ‘Party for Everybody’ is a really cute song, ESPECIALLY with their rotating oven, ‘Dlinnaja..’ as it shall be now be known, is just one of the cutest things I have ever seen. The song just oozes happiness and the spirit of joy is visible just from the first few seconds of the song. As well as that, can I just say how ADORABLE Natalya Puchagova is in that little instrumental bit when she’s dancing? She’s soooooo cute, so no wonder she made it onto our cute girls countdown! Oh and while we’re on the topic of that dancing bit, I have a feeling that the two grannies may have copied Giorgi Shiolashvili from Bzikebi – IF KNEELING AND CLAPPING IS A GEORGIAN CHILD’S THING, LET THE GEORGIAN CHILD DO IT! Anyway…I think this was definitely the song that should have gone to Oslo in 2010, but ‘Party for Everybody’ was written to appeal to everyone, so as much as the song is instantly catchy and happy, it probably was best for them to get picked in 2012..but ‘Dlinnaja..’ shall forever remain close to our hearts!
8 – Louise Dubiel – “Rejs Dig Op” (Denmark 2013)
Okay, tell me now – who doesn’t love a bit of Danish from time to time? Last year, that honour fell to the lovely Louise Dubiel with her anthemic tune ‘Rejs Dig Op’. This song was incredibly underrated in the NF last year and I feel like Louise deserves more credit than she’s given – she’s managed to give a stunning performance with her amazing Imelda May-esque quiff and then she gets knocked out, not even making it into the final three…how could they? Were they not watching the same show we were? To us, Louise did a fantastic job on stage – of course, the actual stage was rather small for the song to get performed on, but she makes a decent job on trying to convey the message of self-belief (well, to be honest, that’s what it looks like – feel free to correct me if I’m wrong!). Oh, and as well as that, may I add – HOT DRUMMER BOYS ALERT!! Who doesn’t love a bit of drum? Anyway, the song really is a big favourite of ours and if it was us who could decide, we’d have sent ‘Rejs Dig Op’ to Malmö..obviously, we’d probably be heading to another country if that was the case, but hey – we still love it!
7 – Jamala – “Smile” (Ukraine 2011)
*I am absolutely clueless what to say about this, and because James absolutely adores this song, I’ll let him again do the honours…*
Aaaand here we have the closure to our little mystery from Part Four: three entries from Ukraine 2011 were promised, and here, ladies and gentlemen, is the third. The fabulously eccentric “Smile” by Jamala. If you’d asked me to compile my favourite national final entries ever before 2014, this one would most likely have come out on top. I remember first hearing this on the ESCInsight podcast around January 2011, and although my first reaction was “What. The. Absolute. Fuck. Is. This!?”, it took just a second listen to win me over. Yes, this is full-on insanity… but it’s a cute, charming and supremely catchy type of insanity! This would have walked the contest in Düsseldorf, in my estimation. It was a wide open field which was missing something exactly like this. Televoters would lap it up in droves; and as for the juries – you cannot deny the vocal capacity of a woman who manages to span four octaves, impersonate Ruslana, yodel and hold a hell of a lot of long notes all in three minutes! I defy anyone to not walk away singing “Smiiii-iii-iii-iii-iiile” after watching the above video – however quietly or ashamedly you choose to do so!
6 – Olga un Ligo – “Saule Riet” (Latvia 2014)
If you read our review of the Latvian national final, you’ll know that James’ love for “Saule Riet” is almost too strong for words.
It may just be a personal thing, but for him, this song has just about everything going for it. The traditional instruments, the interesting Baltic intonation, the strong and enthusiastic vocals, the crazy ass dance breakdown, the hypnotic and euphoric “HEEY” at the end… and then you see it live, and it becomes even more charming when you realise Olga is probably only 30-odd, but already looks about 52, yet still manages to throw herself around that stage in tandem with the boundless energy of her dance troupe… Wow. Just wow. We both love listening to the song in its studio version, but what really gets me is how it was LEAGUES ahead of everything else in that national final, and it SHOULD have been performing in Semi-Final 1 next Tuesday. In its place we will be hearing that cake song. Yah. Travesty.
5 – Anton Ewald – “Begging” (Sweden 2013)
Oh Anton Ewald – Sweden’s Topi Latukka (those who know us well will know that we’re fans of Topi – personally, I’m a fan of his toupee-looking hair, just so you know..). Anton just about made it to the final of MelFest, seeming as he made it through the Andra Chansen (along with eventual winner, Robin Stjernberg), but what would we have done without him – we needed him the final, otherwise we would have only had Ravaillacz for eye candy…*shivers*. ‘Begging’ has definitely been the best song out of both his MelFest songs, because as much as ‘Natural’ was a good song, nothing of his compares to ‘Begging’. The song is very modern and is instantly radio-friendly and could easily be played in nightclubs. I absolutely love the performance of ‘Begging’ for many reasons – I am instantly in love with the background colours of the stage, because turquoise is my favourite colour EVER; the huge of dry ice actually makes the performance more memorable; and finally – but for sure, most importantly – Anton’s self-choreographed dancing. Now I don’t know if you spot this, but count the amount of times Anton puts his hand on his crotch – I’ve managed to count at least seven times.. and the choreography is slightly camp, but not too camp, so that makes the song more easy on the eye..even though Anton alone would have deal with that! 😉 *insert innuendo here* Well done though to Anton – you never cease to please us!
4 – Curly – “Your Recovery“ (Moldova 2014)
Oh wow, like ‘Saule Riet’ above, both James and I are absolutely manic for Curly..although it’s fair to say I have it on repeat a lot..I mean, at least five times a day as, as I’m still fuming over the fact they picked Cristina over her, and I made that point clear in the NF review of Moldova. Dark and sensual, with a tinge of depression, ‘Your Recovery’ is probably one of the deepest songs of the year, with its lyrics talking about how Curly (real name’s Inga btw!) is going to ‘cure’ us from the madness..whatever that madness is! The performance in O Melodi Pentru Europa wasn’t exactly the best vocal performance of the night with Curly possibly going off-key in the last chorus, so I’ll give you that. However, the staging of the song was so minimalistic that it should add an extra bit of tension..Words cannot properly describe the way I love both her and her song, and may I point out that in the studio version, she had the best English singing accent out of the entire lot! Oh, and can I just say that that backdrop, although making her look like a robot with an afro, may have been incongruous with the whole song, but the song makes up for that with the aforementioned minimalistic staging..nonetheless, I’m still angry at Moldova for not picking her – SHE DESERVED IT! Right, I should get off this now…breathe Rory, breathe!
3 – Desislava – “Love Is Alive” (Bulgaria 2012)
*As I’m still fuming from my little rant on Curly, I shall leave you in the hands of James, as I am not as much of a fan of it as he is – whoops!*
Hey. Me again; ESC Views’ resident chalga fanatic… and ooh, what do we have here? Desislava? Nooo, surely not… not THE Desislava? THE Desislava, of “Zabranen” fame? Wow. You know when one of your musical idols somehow ends up in a Eurovision national final, and you get so excited and overwhelmed that you just don’t quite know what to do with yourself? Yep, that’s what I felt like when I saw Desislava’s name among the participants of Bulgaria’s national final in 2012. Okay, so as chalga stars go, she’s not one of my absolute faves, but they’re all so similar they’re pretty much interchangeable. Things got even better when I heard her song too – it basically took everything that’s great about chalga, Westernised it and added English lyrics. Hey presto; CHOON right there. I loved, and still love “Love Is Alive”, with its dramatic drums, ethnic wails, inspiring lyrics and chanty pop chorus. She went out there flying the flag for a genre that I adore, and had she went on to represent her country in Baku, she would have opened the door for future interest from the chalga scene. Alas, the one minor hurdle was the fact that in a live show, she couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. That proved to be her undoing, thus paving the way for the equally epic but not quite as iconic Sofi Marinova to take the title. Still a good result, but I always wonder what would have happened if our Dess could actually sing…
2 – Jasmin Michaela – “Kertakäyttösydän” (Finland 2014)
Well..before I even get started on why this song is on the top, can I just say..how long and complicated is that name? Why would you call a song ‘Kertakäyttösydän’? Such a weird name…apparently, it means ‘Throwaway Heart’ in Finnish (with the help of Google Translate – ha! In your face Teo!) – such a catchy title indeed. Right, let’s get onto the song now. ‘Kertakäyttösydän’ is definitely a song that’s been created with the intention of mixing pop with tribal music and a hint of Diana Vickers..in my opinion, I think the result is very pleasant! I think the dancers at the back may be a little irrelevant, seeming as Jasmin could have just as easily ‘shake what her momma gave her’ – if I was to quote Cleo – and that would have been that, but oh well, can’t change the past! After a huge fan backing from across Europe (but apparently, not in Finland), however, Jasmin got knocked out in the semi-finals along with Dennis Fagerström (who was also just as great!) – I DEMAND A RECALL OF THE VOTES! It’s a sassy song that comes across as being sorta happy, but not at the same time..nevertheless, she sings is very well and it AT LEAST deserved a place in the final. Very disappointed, Finland..VERY dissapointed..
So, after 49 amazing songs, ESC Views’ best song in a National Final…..IS…..*much tension*…
1 – Sandra Nurmsalu – “Kui Tuuled Pöörduvad” (Estonia 2014)
Sandra Nurmsalu has THE best song in an NF this year, and possibly ever – hence, she has been proudly placed at our #1. As you are such an enveloped reader with our NF preview articles, when Estonia’s NF came about, it’s fair to say that James and I had loved it from the first listen..now, I don’t know who had come up with the staging, but the stage doesn’t work for the song – it should be on a huge stage like the one in Copenhagen! Sandra really does sing that song amazingly well [sorry Tanja, but it just had to be said!] and those instruments used on stage definitely look like they could be sold at a music shop – like seriously, those gigantic maracas..even they would beat TEO’s maracas. Teo. The one who’s actually going to be shaking maracas on stage in Denmark..now don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that Estonia picked Tanja because she was one of my favourites too, but why would Estonia leave such a gem of a song in the NF? To be honest, I guess we’ll never know..but if we were to vote, there’s no doubt that Sandra would get our 12 points! Congratulations Sandra, you’ve won ESC Views’ award for ‘Best Song from a National Final’! A metaphorical trophy will be sent to you soon!
Right, well now you know what’s the best song from a National Final, but what’s yours?
Yusuf Arshad from the United Kingdom: A lot of people will say Más (Run) by Brequette from the Spanish selection, but I equally like ‘Dancing in The Rain’.
Ljupco Necovski from Macedonia: ‘Blame it on the Disco’ by Alcazar! THIS!
Frederik Ulriksson from Sweden: I have many favourites from National Finals, but if I had to pick a couple, it would be ‘Via Lattea’ from Belarus this year, and ‘Busy Doin’ Nothin’ from my homeland Sweden!
Jake Zimmerman from the United States: For me, it’s ‘Als ik je morgen ergens tegenkom’ – Netherlands 2006!
So, as expected, all the fans have different opinions on which song is the best, so expect a lot of different responses! So what’s your favourite song that never made it to the actual Contest? Did it manage to make the top 50? And more importantly, what did you think of the top? Would you have added or taken away some of the songs that featured? Feel free to tell us what you think by commenting below!