The National Finals That Got It Right For Kyiv 2017 Written by on May 18, 2017 | 3 Comments

Along with some friends of the parish, Ewan Spence looks over the National Final results to ask which broadcasters made the right choice regarding who to send to Kyiv and the 62nd Eurovision Song Contest.

Italy Was Right To Send Francesco Gabbani

Ewan Spence:

I could make an argument that the Sanremo winner was not the right choice for Italy, but I’m struggling. Thanks to Gabbani’s victory he was given first refusal, and he eagerly accepted it (as almost the entire press contingent on the Italian Riviera expected him to do). The alternative would most likely have been Ermal Metal’s ‘Vietato Moire, a twisted and complicated slice of music which does incredibly well in Italian music circles but may have struggled at Eurovision when compared to the likes of ‘Origo’ and ‘Skeletons

Italy sent us its biggest hit of the year, the biggest YouTube video in Eurovision’s history, and the song that many believed would capture the mood. It just wasn’t the right place or the right time for Gabbani and Gerald.

The United Kingdom Was Right To Send Lucie Jones

Ross Middleton (Pif Paf Blog):

If I’m entirely honest before the night of You Decide I actually wanted Olivia Garcia’s ‘Freedom Hearts‘ to win.

The first listen to ‘Never Give on You’ on Radio 2 felt like something of a let down. It was only hearing and seeing Lucie performing it live that convinced me she was indeed the right choice to represent the United Kingdom. The song may have went through a revamp ahead of the trip to Kyiv but there’s no doubting the quality of Lucie herself.

She was the model participant, not putting a foot wrong in rehearsals, interviews or the shows themselves. Choosing such an experienced singer rather than someone a little more green proved to be very canny. For the first time in a long time I felt we Brits had an entry to be proud of. Hopefully the BBC can continue this growth in quality of both the music offered for the National Final and the Song Contest itself.

Moldova Was Right To Send The Sunstroke Project

Ellie Chalkley:

What does well in the Eurovision Song Contest is a single artistic statement, executed well, with all elements of the performance supporting that statement.

In selecting Sunstroke Project and ‘Hey Mamma!’, the Moldovan message was pretty clear – we’re going to have a party and you are all invited. By the time it got to the Eurovision stage, it was as epic as the sax guy himself. Selecting a returning artist is always a risk, but Moldova got it right in a wonderful way.

Belarus Was Right To Send Navi

Lisa-Jayne Lewis:

Having not qualified for a couple of years, and having made very little impact on the Eurovision Song Contest since its sixth place in 2007, Belarus have yet to find their Eurovision groove.

NAVI had attempted to represent Belarus last year with the Song ‘Heta ziamla’, they placed fourth and although Ivan  went on to take the Belarusian ticket to Stockholm, NAVI remained popular with the TV network and the public; it was no surprise to see them back in the running in 2017. Although only placing mid-table in the National Final televote, NAVI were number one with the jury and after adding the points together saw them win the ticket to Kyiv.

I have to confess I only caught the end of the show, I was away from home and I’d been watching the Georgian national final, by the time I’d got back to the hotel the show was about to announce the winner, having gone back and seen the other choices, NAVI was absolutely the right choice for the Song Contest. Their qualification and subsequent very respectable 17th place finish confirms this.

Personally this was my favourite song of the Contest, I now own a Belarusian flag! I am planning to go to Minsk next year for the show and would very much love to see Arciom and Ksienija back at Eurovision in the future.

Norway Was Right To Send Jowst

Wivian Kristiansen (EscXtra):

In what was arguably a weak year of songs in NRK’s Melodi Grand Prix, the Norwegian voters did the only right thing by sending Jowst and Aleksander with ‘Grab the Moment.’

It has a very 2017 feel to it, and most importantly its the kind of music that a lot of the successful Norwegian music producers are making these days. Norway’s return to the Grand Final (after missing out with Agnete’s ‘Icebreaker’ last year) and the Top Ten place it achieved shows that this was indeed a wise choice.

Hungary Was Right To Send Joci Papai

Monty Moncrieff (On Europe):

Hungary’s A Dal has built a strong brand since it was introduced in 2012, spreading their selection over heats, semi-finals and a final, and showcasing 30 Hungarian acts. It’s not quite got Melodifestivalen’s longevity, but it similarly provides a major TV platform for local artists.The broadcaster has also invited international fan participation through its in-act voting app. The song quality still can be found wanting at times, but the format has delivered qualification every year, and two solid top 10 results.

This year one song stood out for me from the start, and I was thrilled when Joci Papai was eventually selected as the entrant. ‘Origo brought a welcome ethnic beat to the show, and was brilliantly staged. Drawing on the artist’s own life experiences it played the Celebrate Diversity theme musically and lyrically, telling the plight of lovers forbidden to be together (a theme explored through a different lens as early as 1961’s winning ‘Nous Les Amoureux‘). Being such a personal song made it feel authentic, and Joci Papai brought integrity to his Eurovision performance, which was a welcome break from some of the more contrived and oh-so-polished displays on show.

Cyprus Was Right To Send Hovig

John Egan:

Arguably Cyprus is still living on the results of the 2015 National Final, which has guided Cyprus’ recent internal selections. Whilst this year has seen several well executed ones broadcaster choices (Austria, Greece, and Bulgaria, among others), kudos to CYBC for its selection and development of both Hovig and ‘Gravity’. I must admit when I saw the words Cyprus and G:son together again my blood ran cold. Another IKEA entry? “Wait until you hear it…wait until you see it” I told myself. Thankfully.

Hovig is a good singer, but this is not just a song contest. ‘Gravity’ is a good song, but there were different versions on offer. Rather than relying on a quick sight read and blasting forward, the Cypriots developed two concepts, workshopped them, considered what would work well as a television production and produced it. Comprehensively. By the time they rocked up in Kyiv they had the total package ready: they needed only to nail it down in terms of camera work. Just as in 2016, their qualification for the Grand Final was largely (60%) based on public support. And it didn’t cost a €1,000,000.

Good singer. Good song. A bespoke production that maximises what both have on offer. Win.

Portugal Was Right To Send Salvador Sobral

Ewan Spence:

Let’s start with the easiest call of all. When you win the Eurovision Song Contest it’s going to be a given that the broadcaster made the right call. The armour of victory is not needed for Portugal’s RTV, because no matter what result the song delivered, Amar Pelos Dois’ was beautiful, haunting, and a rare moment of beauty. The Portugese made sure to recognise that (at least in its National Final), and sure enough the rest of Europe followed.

That’s it for National Finals (and the odd internal selection) which got it right, at least from the Insight family. Who did we miss, who do you agree with, and where did we get it wrong? Let us know in the comments. As for the National Finals that got it wrong. that’s coming tomorrow, keep your powder dry for that debate!

About The Author: Ewan Spence

British Academy (BAFTA) nominated broadcaster and writer Ewan Spence is the voice behind The Unofficial Eurovision Song Contest Podcast and one of the driving forces behind ESC Insight. Having had an online presence since 1994, he is a noted commentator around the intersection of the media, internet, technology, mobility and how it affects us all. Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, his work has appeared on the BBC, The Stage, STV, and The Times. You can follow Ewan on Twitter (@ewan) and Facebook (facebook.com/ewanspence).

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3 responses to “The National Finals That Got It Right For Kyiv 2017”

  1. Martin says:

    Even though I despise “yap” to my core, Romania were right to send “Yodel It!”…damn them! First Dracula and now this… 😉

    And Artsvik was the right singer from Depi Evratesil, although she would have got a higher placing with a power ballad of the type she was knocking out the park during the Armenian selection process…

  2. Amaproth says:

    Not convinced you are right about the UK. I agree that Lucie was fabulous throughout and hope that the UK will continue to send experienced performers that can consistently deliver live. However the song just wasn’t great and ultimately it is a song contest – the song has to stand up on its own. Credit to the Beeb for doing a great job with the song once selected (revamp & staging) and I do appreciate that there wasn’t much to choose from but the same effort on “I wish I loved you more” might have shown a greater dividend.

  3. Erik says:

    Mostly agree on all. The only one I do not agree with is Hovig from Cyprus. Not a singer, not a dancer, not an charismatic entertainer…. Yet he got (overrated) too many points. Maybe because Armenian and Greek diaspora favoured him/Cyprus?

    I think Belgium and Netherlands turned out to be right choices in the end, though on beforehand I was not a fan of both. Finland still was right IMHO but got overwhelmed by Portugal. Would have loved to see my favourite Italian singer Fiorella Mannoia on the Eurovision stage, though she would not have had such a huge (precontest) success as the dancing naked ape.

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