Category Archives: Countdowns

Top 10: Best stagings from the 2014 Contest

Hello guys! It’s been a real long time since we last did a countdown, so why not start it up again by providing you with our top 10 countries from this year that had the best staging. So who came on top and who just missed out on winning ESC Views’ esteemed “Best Staging in 2014 Award”? Keep reading to find out!

Was Sanna's intimate staging enough to come on top?
Was Sanna’s intimate staging enough to come on top?

For a song to appeal to the viewer at home at the Eurovision, the song is staged to show the emotions that the song presents and in doing so, enhances the listening experience for the viewer. The songs featured in this countdown managed to envelope us in the song and its emotions and as well as that, this is also judged on how it looked on stage, from a visual – not emotional – point of view. Let’s get started!

#10: Sebalter – “Hunter of Stars” (Switzerland)

We’re kicking off tonight’s top 10 with Sebalter and his performance of ‘Hunter of Stars’. The staging was very much influenced by pyrotechnics, even to the point where the beginning of the song is kicked off with them..and also including the mandatory use of a pyro curtain in the bridge! The background shows multiple little sparks running around in circles and spirals..now, I’m not sure what really inspired that particular backdrop, but with the enthusiasm that Sebalter gives when he does his violin solo walking down the catwalk, it shows how much fun he’s having performing that song. This particular enthusiasm continues when he’s banging that big drum of his and his involvement with the audience also brings the viewer at home into the arena to clap along..he didn’t want to go, neither did we. 😉

#9: Pollapönk – “No Prejudice” (Iceland)

The thing with Iceland’s staging this year is that is was colourful, which could have gone two ways. It might have gotten the viewer to think “Oh, this must be a really fun song!” or it would have gotten the viewer to think “Oh no, too many colours – it’s blinding me!”. In our opinion, it was most definitely the former. With their message of no prejudice (duh..), Pollapönk wanted to create a stage where everyone could have fun and be accepted. How did they do that? Use different shapes on the backdrop and have a 50s dancefloor on the floor. The use of colour was almost most likely a statement about LGBT people (if you haven’t seen our flag, where have you been?!) because we’re SOOO colourful! This definitely emphasised their message of equality and even if those weird backing singers just stood there..doing nothing (*ahem* Ryan Dolan *ahem*), they still got their message of ‘LOVE’ and peace into their staging..literally..how could Gudni (the guy in the yellow suit) stick his arm around that far? Contortionists – ew.

#8: Suzy – “Quero Ser Tua” (Portugal)

Portugal had a good deal of things right with their staging – it embraced the ‘pado’ that it had brought to the table when they picked Suzy and they had also the party effect that came so easily with the song. Customary Suzyshake aside – the staging hadn’t really changed from Festival da Canção, but when it’s a song like “Quero Ser Tua”, it’s always best to keep things as they were in the hopes that it will still manage to win the hearts of those who put you in Eurovision in the first place. The one thing however that I didn’t get was the backdrop..I get that it was in red and green – Portugal’s national colours, but what was IT, if you get what I mean? I do think that that, coupled with Suzy’s kinda-shaky vocals, was her downfall..if it was a fashion contest however, I think that she’d have definitely been in the top 3..guys loved that dress. But sadly, this Contest is about singing. It’s good that you tried Portugal, but it’s just not enough..sorry!

#7: Elaiza – “Is It Right” (Germany)

Unlike Suzy, which was very party-friendly and just all-round fun, Germany’s staging was sophisticated, elegant and classy. Sure, when you hear these three words and a song like “Is It Right”, they normally don’t go together, but come the 10th of May 2014, they most certainly do. Dressed in very casual/smart clothes, the girls sing the song with its lyrics getting shown on the backdrop, while big sploshes of paint are thrown onto the words – a little bit like Belgium 2013, but only more fancy. The staging was very simple and for that song, the simplicity is needed as it’s a song that doesn’t need any pyros or other special effects. Like in our review of their album, “Is It Right” – like the other songs – is a picture and using any pyrotechnics in it would just ruin the aura that it gives off. However, sticking with the one thing that they liked from Unser Song für Dänemark, they had to keep the confetti streamer. And may I just say, Ela’s SASSY finger wave in the “or even no” line, it’s just….I can’t even…the sass-ometer is beeping furiously. Well done Germany on that!

#6: Can-linn ft. Kasey Smith – “Heartbeat” (Ireland)

If you’ve seen much of my activity on Facebook, you’ll know that this normally doesn’t impress me. If not, I’ll tell you why – in the National Final, “Heartbeat” was presented to us a pop song. However, in Copenhagen, the song was presented as a Celtic song. This annoyed me a lot, because once again Ireland was trying to predict that Europe wanted something that was oozing with Celtic-ness. Oh how wrong were we. However, in terms of this particular countdown, I’m going to use this for the positive. I do get that the song has Celtic influences in it and for Eurovision, this was probably a good thing. The cage-y bit was probably the best usage of the stage, as it looks very golden and the shape of a heart and it’s clockwork also emphasises the whole ‘Heartbeat’ title of the song. The backdrop in the last chorus also looks very classy. Plus, as a bonus point, Kasey moved around a whole lot more than Ryan did last year, and she looked into the camera a lot more as well, so that would include the viewer a bit more. So on this level, it deserves to be #6 in our countdown. However, the staging in the NF should have been there instead of this.

#5: Conchita Wurst – “Rise Like A Phoenix” (Austria)

No countdown from this year would be complete without the winner, Conchita. From the very first moment we saw the staging of the song in the first rehearsal, all the Eurovision websites were showering the country for its staging and you can’t deny, it was indeed a very simple presentation of the winning song – most notably the fiery wings that the camerawork gives her – although I never knew that a phoenix’s wings could grow over the course of three minutes! Using the cage-y bit to rain gold *IL PLEUT DE L’OR* aswell, she managed to captivate the hearts of everyone in Europe with just keeping it simple – is anyone spotting a trend? Dry ice included, she managed to get everybody on board, but she’s not our #1 tonight, because we feel that there are better stagings from other countries…Es tut mir leid, Conchita!

#4: Sanna Nielsen – “Undo” (Sweden)

From one huge fan favourite who kept it simple to another. Sanna had kept it exactly the same as she had it in MelFest, which was possibly the best thing that she could have done. Why? Because those who watched MelFest fell in love with Sanna this year because of all the emotion she had put into her performance in her semi-final there. Plus, with the fact that she managed to FINALLY managed to get to Eurovision after seven tries, there was no way she was going to change anything – and fair play to her. There was a bit of – as we say in Ireland – a cock and bull story that Wiwibloggs reported that she had stolen her staging from Lena in 2011, but it’s obvious that they did not – seriously guys, there is no similarity. Using those huge lights, Sanna (seemingly) is alone on stage giving her heart to the viewer. This automatically makes her performance noteworthy and she deserves this place in our countdown..who didn’t fall in love with her?

#3: Donatan and Cleo – “My Slowianie – We Are Slavic” (Poland)

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOBS!!!

Hahaha nah nah, I’ll take this seriously. It’s no secret that the female anatomy was Poland’s ace in the sleeve this year and they most certainly used it in their show. From churning butter to washing clothes to just dancing, Cleo and Co. really did know how to show off their assets. And remember when I said that the sass-ometer was beeping for Ela’s finger wave in Germany, well it’s broken now thanks to those girls because they are all so sassay!!!! The girls used the entire stage in the performance and that involved the entire arena and made the audience a part of the presentation as well. They were also the only competing country that used the water that surrounded the stage..I wonder why? 😉 The background showed all the boob-y bits from the music as well as all the traditional Slavic patterns etc which only egg on the point that they were trying to make. Definitely enjoyed this staging…I wonder if that woman actually made any butter while she was “churning”! Well done Poland!

#2: Ruth Lorenzo – “Dancing In the Rain” (Spain)

Narrowly missing out on the #1 spot is everyone’s favourite Murcian, Ruth Lorenzo. With ‘Dancing In the Rain’, Spain had to try to harness the feelings in the song and this was done by making it actually rain on the stage (although I do think it was only CGI). Ruth slowly gets more wet as the song goes on, but she manages to still deliver 110% on the night. The staging was kept pure and simple and this is was needed as the song is indeed a pure and simple one. The bright white background in the last half of the song does remind me of Malerna Ernman’s staging in Moscow five years previously, but with Ruth she manages to envelope the viewer a lot more than Malerna did. The one thing I’d fault with the performance was Ruth’s dress..I do love it, but it’s not the best dress she could have worn because it shows her surprisingly large hips..but other than that – flawless staging!

And ESC Views’ Award for the Best Staging goes to…..

#1: The Common Linnets – “Calm After the Storm” (The Netherlands)

I think everyone is in agreement here that the Netherlands are the clear winners of this countdown. We all thought that before the Contest, Ilse and Waylon were in possible trouble of even qualifying but as soon as we saw their staging it was most definitely sealed as a qualifier. The staging is so dark and haunting and you can tell that the song is about being divided or broken-hearted, as you can easily tell with the roadmarks separating the two, then leading to a “cracked” floor. Everything gives off the impression that they’re fighting each other in a relationship kind of way. The amount of spinning that we were subjected to is also a reason why they get our #1, as we can see the emotions that they show each other as they stand and sing, facing each other singing into that CUSTOM MADE microphone…stand. Nonetheless, including that amazing guitar solo in the middle and the aura the staging they created, the Netherlands are the winners of our “Best Staging Award”! Congratulations! Which is yours?

Your views:

Which country had the best staging, for you?
Which country had the best staging, for you?

Nick van Lith from the Netherlands: The only song that was lifted from a potential non-qualifier to a potential winner thanks to a staging that was incredible for the song was The Netherlands. It was intimate, camera work was excellent and the background was amazing. Important note: the way JB Meijers’ guitar solo was shown was a pure highlight for me.

Nikolay Kosev from Hungary: Poland of course. Reason : Boobs.  No, seriously, they were the only ones who used the water.

Thom from the Netherlands: Austria, The Netherlands and Sweden. All very effective.

Verena Lorsche from Germany: Elaiza…because the stage was simple…and Sergej, for the same reason.

Well most people are thinking that our #1 would also be their #1, but we also have several other choices such as Poland, Germany and even Montenegro! So what’s your favourite staging? Did you think the Netherlands had the best staging or did you think another country should have won this award? Feel free to tell us what you think by commenting below!

Advertisements

Top 10: Best postcards from the 2014 Contest

Hello there guys! Rory here, providing you with the first countdown since the 2014 Contest! Of course, there will be a bit of a focus on the 2014 for a while as we all battle our own cases of PED (depending on how severe the depression is – and if you don’t know what PED is…shame on you!), but we will kick off the fight by providing our countdown on the ten best postcards from this year’s Contest! So which postcards did we think were the best? Scroll down to have a look!

Which postcard was the best?
Which artist created the best postcard?

For those of you who are all new to Eurovision and have absolutely no idea what ‘postcards’ are, here’s a bit of clarity! Postcards are those little clips that the producers show while the crew are setting up for the next performance. Generally, the postcards show us some nice shots of the host country, but recently the postcards have been focusing on the artists themselves and what they do. This year, they were given the task of creating their flag in the most imaginative way possible that shows off who they are and luckily, we only had 37 clips to pick from, but it was still a really hard decision. However, we feel like we picked the ten best flags that the artists have created and if you want to see the entire playlist, have a look here! Now, I feel like it’s time to show you the countdown! You ready? 😀

10 – Softengine’s postcard (Finland)

Kicking off the top 10 is Finland..and my my, is that Topi Latukka giving us his ‘What the actual fuck?!’ face in the thumbnail? The postcard was filmed on one of the world’s largest icebreakers and involves the boys cutting ice and shaping it into the Finnish flag. It’s nice to see the guys working together and managing to spray Topi with ice (although I’m almost certain it didn’t look like ice – it wasn’t solid enough!), but can someone please tell me where you can buy blue-coloured ice? Like, seriously – there’s no way that ice can be blue..who brought the dye, guys? There’s no shame in admitting it! Getting back to the point, for me – this postcard shows how the band can take the climate and shape it so that it fits into Finland’s flag. Well done, boys! You have kicked this countdown off by setting the bar high!

9 – Conchita Wurst’s postcard (Austria)

Eventual winner Conchita was the first artist of the 37 to create their postcard and it seems that fashion really does just run in her blood! Conchita uses several red and white dresses to recreate the Austrian flag…now, I will admit, I am a little fan of this postcard, but I think there’s too much unnecessary “Oh, I think this piece of string should go here, otherwise it’s not ‘feng shui’ with this entire dress at the end of the rack”..if you get what I mean. I’m not hating on her, but there’s too much fake planning in the video, but it was interesting to see her almost break the rack lift just by touching it! If we apply the Dane’s objective of creating the flag but showing off their personality, this is a perfect example of what they wanted as she is creating the flag using the things she loves – clothes. Much happy with that!

8 – Basim’s postcard (Denmark)

The host country always has to put on a show for the rest of Europe and this year, Denmark really did put on a show with their postcard by providing us with a bit of an optical illusion! They do this by unloading some furniture off a truck and then painting it..they also paint a huge bit behind the furniture, but to be honest I’m completely unsure why..they eventually managed to take a picture of the result, and this picture actually is one of the best pictures that was taken (while Albania *sorry!!!* takes the spot for the worst pictures taken, because it doesn’t even look like it was real..). I’m not sure how this whole setting is a showing of Basim’s personality, but it looks nice, so why not add it to the top anyway? And besides, who doesn’t like optical illusions?

7 – Elaiza’s postcard (Germany)

Normally, Germany aren’t one of those countries that normally show much of themselves in their postcards..take Cascada for example last year (yes, that was low but you have to admit – Cascada as a band are rarely seen! It’s like Donatan on stage this year – he’s never on it!). This year however, Germany have taken a step forward and have decided to show us that they can make rock candy…or taffy, we actually don’t know! Once again, Ela is taking the leading, not really sharing the limelight with Yvonne and Natalie, but altogether it ends up the same. For me, the postcard shows off that the girls are almost very childish, but at the same time very mature – mature enough to cut the rock candy or taffy..so they kinda cancel each other out. It’s just a little wasteful with the piece of candy they cut…after making such a huge amount, why would you decide to use such a small piece of the candy? No matter what, though, the flag looked really delicious and I would love to eat it up…ELAIZA?! GET MAKING MORE ROCK CANDY!!

6 – Mariya Yaremchuk’s postcard (Ukraine)

What’s interesting with Mariya Yaremchuk’s postcard is that she has actually managed to use the Ukrainian train system to her advantage – a trait that not many people have! Her postcard, which involves her using a train and some Post-Its, uses over 600 of the sticky-notes and was definitely one of the most clever postcards this year (although someone believes it was Italy – more on that later on..). I don’t know what part of Mariya this clip conveys, but one thing’s for sure, she loves to take the train! Now, I don’t know about you but I am incredibly envious of her hair, and when she has a beanie on, that just makes her look…hot! Wow..never thought I’d say that! Anyway, I’m straying..the postcard is definitely a slick and intelligent way of making the Ukrainian flag..I’m just very happy that Mariya didn’t get run over by the train! There’s just a couple of things I don’t get… number one is why has she got 600 Post-Its in her pocket? And number two is that she signs the last Post-It with her name…so when she takes the photo, where is the ‘Mariya Note’, as it shall henceforth be known? Just some food for thought..

5 – Tijana Dapcevic’s postcard (FYR Macedonia)

Well…you’d never imagine about this, but this postcard is actually one of the best postcards of the entire lot…although it is incredibly ironic that FYR Macedonia’s only at #5. Tijana’s postcard consists of her using cymatics. Cymatics is the visualisation of a sound through its vibrations – a certain topic that my good old friend Björk has touched on in a special documentary she was in. These vibrations produce amazing patterns, with a low-frequency/not giving off a simple pattern, while a high frequency/note emits a very complicated pattern. Now that you know this, Tijana is using the vibrations of the notes she’s playing on her cello to make her national flag. The postcard is incredibly clever and the look of complete exacerbation on her face when the bits of sand go all over the place is just adorable. However, I myself have been looking at cymatics and there is absolutely no way to get the Macedonian flag by playing the cello…SOMEONE’S BEEN CHEATING!!! Anyway, this was definitely one of the best postcards to watch, as I am a huge fan of this sort of thing..it just went downhill from the end of the postcard though, with the release of Lord Voldemort…should we go to the next country?

4 – Mei Finegold’s postcard (Israel)

Israel. 😥 Oh, Mei…how I missed you in the final..not only was your performance amazing, your postcard was stunning! Mei set her Israeli flag in the middle of the Dead Sea (which, if you can remember your science lessons, is the most dense body of water in the world), which means that not only would she be able to walk on all the salt in the lake, if she fell in, she’d only float – how nice! The backdrop of the Dead Sea provides the perfect setting for the white of the flag…although it’s rather annoying that she hadn’t made the Star of David already before she went out onto the lake..must have taken her ages! Anyway, the flag is a rather clever one and it shows how Mei is into nature, but more than happy to mix it with modern things and therefore, make her country’s flag. When she’s driving those two poles into the salt..don’t you just hate it when you’re trying to get some poles into the ground a huge bit of salt’s in your way? That’s probably what she’s thinking..oh and just one more thing – there’s way too much string on that flag! But once again, it really is a great flag..and it shows Mei as one who loves her country so much, she’ll make a flag on water just to prove it..much love to Mei! x

3 – Molly’s postcard (United Kingdom)

Well look here! Since when did Molly become one of those people who just walks around all the cars and buses are at her command? There was a large calling for Eurovision fans in the UK to help with the Eurovision postcard and my God, didn’t they show up?! Did you know our good friend Nikita Volkov (the great guy who got us some amazing interviews with people at the London Preview Party – watch his latest one here!) was actually in the postcard? We’re not sure where IN the postcard he actually is, but we’re just happy to see that he made it on..why, do you ask, are there Eurovision fans? Well they were all given a poncho and told to spread it out to create the blue in the Union Jack..this may be stereotypically British, as they have the London Routemasters and the Royal Mail vans etc, but these are all just to show her patriotism..and the fans were more than happy to let Molly boss them around – some fans who even at the postcard shooting got ‘#PowerToThePoncho’ trending in the UK..just shows how many fans there is in the UK! It is great, though to see that Molly can just come up with sorta thing on her own (even though I’m sure the people at the BBC came up with the jist of it)..GO ON MOLLY!!

2 – Donatan and Cleo’s postcard (Poland)

And so we come to Poland..Donatan and Cleo missed out on the #1 spot by *this* much, but our #1 is also a very deserving winner. This postcard is probably the only postcard I’ve continuously watched since the Contest ended. Why, do you ask? Well, this postcard is – in my opinion – one of the only ones that actually made the flag themselves..as Donatan is a music producer, he’s more than able to get the sound waves to match that of the Polish flag..and Cleo can give that high not with no problems whatsoever. I recently posted up on my Facebook that if I myself was a singer going to the Contest (which would be so unlikely that Conchita shaving the beard would be more likely than me going to Eurovision) and this was the theme were given for the postcards, I would do this. The postcard shows off both people’s jobs and the sheer fact that they made the flag through the power of the human voice alone is just astonishing..okay, it took her three goes, but she got there in the end! Oh how I would have loved to have been in that postcard with Cleo…c’est la vie, I suppose.

So, without any more hesitation, after 9 fabulous postcards, ESC Views’ award for the Best Postcard goes TO…………..

1 – Sebalter’s Postcard (Switzerland)

Where can I even begin with Sebalter? The postcard is cute, he’s cute…it’s just a huge clip of cuteness – just like the video for ‘Hunter Of Stars’ which includes spaghetti – the cutest food known to man! The postcard is made by Sebastiano knocking over 15,000 dominoes. Both James and I LOVE this postcard, as…well, who doesn’t love Sebalter? The postcard is incredibly clever, but when he accidentally knocks over that line of dominoes, the look of pure frustration is just the best face anyone could have pulled! Of course, he didn’t actually didn’t create the entire flag himself, he had to have help by two teenage domino topplers. However, it didn’t take him those two guys to topple it! And may I just point out, he isn’t wearing shoes (those who know me will know that makes me very happy!).. can anyone answer why? That would be helpful! But at the end, he manages to create his flag in the most imaginative way possible. Congratulations Sebalter! You really know to make the best flag!

Your views:

Which postcard from this year was your favourite?
Which postcard from this year was your favourite?

Santigo Sosa from Denmark: Israel, because it’s such a pretty flag and the landscape is beautiful!

Ömer Serkan Gökçek from Turkey: My favorite postcards are Switzerland, F.Y.R.Macedonia and Ireland’s. Those postcards are funny and amazing,

Andy Hendrickx from Belgium: Denmark – I like it a lot!

Svana Lístí Agnarsdóttir from Iceland: I really loved Poland this year – Cleo’s voice can definitely make a great flag!

Declan Faulkner from Ireland: Italian one was by far the cleverest!

Well it seems that the fans really do have a wide range of favourites, from Israel in the south to Denmark in the north and everywhere in between! So which postcard for you was the best this year? Do you think that the artists were creative enough in their postcards? And what do you think will be the theme next year? Feel free to tell us what you think by commenting below!

Top 50: Best songs from National Finals [Part 5 – THE TOP 10!]

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!

Where will Curly end up as the top 50 comes to an end?
Where will Curly end up as the top 50 comes to an end?

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.

… Almost.

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?

Your views:

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

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!