Following on from last year’s Top 100 Series looking at the songs which performed best during the final, ESC Insight’s Steven Newby now turns his eyes (and spreadsheets) to the Semi Finals.
Putting on a show for more since 1993.
With just a handful of weeks left yet again until this year’s edition of Europe’s Favourite TV Show, it’s time to become all nostalgic all over again and look at some of yesteryear’s classic gold. Some we’d rather forget, but never-the-less they are enshrined into Euro-history to be forever the forgotten ‘also-rans’.
Yes I am talking about the Semi Finals. Those obscure shows (in some countries at least, ahem, BBC) that no-one outside of the Eurovision stead-fast fan-base really pay much attention to; tucked away on a Tuesday and Thursday night, relegated to a sideline channel than no-one really watches.
The semi finals are an interesting phenomenon. Brought in by the EBU as an answer to an ever-increasing number of countries that wanted to enter the Contest, the initial thought was to have ten countries fight for their spots in the 24-strong chorus of songs also comprising the best ten from the previous year. And the ‘Big 4’.
What about the ‘Big 4’?
It’s been well documented now that this is a result of the amount of money the UK, France, Spain and Germany plough into the whole shebang, they could never be relegated to performing in the murky swamps of the weekday shows. It would be far too embarrassing for France, say, to lose out and miss appearing on the big Saturday night show and drag a potential 10-15 million viewers down with it. But that is precisely what happened in 1996 when Germany, the only country to take part (or try to take part) in every single contest since 1956. ‘Enough is enough’ were the cries of the EBU and that was never to be allowed to happen again.
It took many more years though for the current format of two Semi Finals feeding-in songs into the pre-set number of participating countries on the Saturday night. With the branding change for the 2004 Turkish contest came the first proper Semi Final. It was held on a Wednesday night (not the current Tuesday and Thursday) but the principle was the same.
2005, 2006 and 2007 came afterwards with just one semi final but moved to the preceding Thursday, it wasn’t until Belgrade in 2008 that the 2-Semi format was rushed through to save face over the 28-song Semi Final in Helsinki the previous year, which was actually a bigger show in terms of number of participants than the final – that was just silly. So it changed. And quite rightly.
Every year since we have seen a Tuesday and a Thursday semi final, with a number of songs – on average 18 to 20 – chose 10 songs to progress to join the ‘Big 4’ – now ‘Big 5’ with the inclusion of Italy. Interesting how Italy joined this élite club – I am sure it was part of their negotiation back to the fold – but for now I am personally happy Italy is back so bugger the controversy for the moment.
What about those two awkward years?
But what about 1993 and 1996? Well they were (untelevised) semi finals too, of sorts, so I have included them in the list at the correct placing, but excluded them from them in the top 100 countdown you’ll see unfold over the next 4 weeks. They were really labelled as ‘qualifying rounds’, the first was a selection of seven songs from mainly the former Yugoslavia that wanted to take part in the Millstreet episode. In 1996 they changed that – rather than having a handful of songs qualify they made every single one, save Norway the host, have to earn its rightful place. This is where Germany came a cropper, it was a jury process that eliminated their ‘worst’ candidates and the (rather actually very good) Elan’s Planet of Blue failed to make the grade. This is Germany’s only no-show in the final as I said before, it was never to be allowed to happen again.
Time for the maths!
So we have an interesting 4 weeks ahead of us with this chart, you’ll member the Top 100 Finals Songs from last year – well this is the same idea but with the songs that never made it to the Grand Final. Like last year, I have taken the total number of points they earned and divided that by the total they could have achieved if every country had given them maximum points. 2004-2012 is easy to calculate, 1993 and 1996 are a little trickier. I have included those two years in the tally below but not numbered them as the scoring system distorts too dramatically – but certainly from 2004 everyone else is on a level playing field for conformity.
Yawn, yawn, I’ve babbled on about the history of the semis for too long now… so here we go…
The Top 100 Semi Final Songs: #100-#76
- 100 – The Highest Heights by Lovebugs (Switzerland, 2009)
Obviously there are songs outside the Top 100, so The Lovebugs are not the ‘worst’ performers (not by a long shot), but they have the dubious honour of propping up the table
- 98 – O julissi na jalini by Ishtar (Belgium, 2008)
- 98 – Would You by Iris (Belgium, 2012)
- 96 – Partners in Crime by Gerli Padar (Estonia, 2007)
- 96 – ‘Ajde kroci by Stevan Faddy (Montenegro, 2007)
- 95 – What Happened to Your Love by Linas & Simona (Lithuania, 2004)
- 94 – Let’s Get Loud by Suntribe (Estonia, 2005)
- … – Planet of Blue by Leon (Germany, 1996)
And here’s the German non-qualifier that caused all the wild rumpus leading to the Big 4. So if you don’t like the format we have today, here’s the song to blame.
- 93 – Beautiful Song by Anmary (Latvia, 2012)
- … – Fortuna by Gjon Delhusa (Hungary, 1996)
- 92 Jestem by Magdalena Tul (Poland, 2011)
- 91 On Top of the World by Edsilia Rombley (Netherlands, 2007)
- 90 Let Me Cry by Mariana Popova (Bulgaria, 2006)
- 89 Vampires Are Alive by DJ BoBo (Switzerland, 2007)
- 88 Euro Neuro by Rambo Amadeus (Montenegro, 2012)
- 87 Angel si ti by Miro (Bulgaria, 2010)
- 86 Drama Queen by DQ (Denmark, 2007)
Here’s rather a fun clump of songs, all equal in 82nd place:
- 82= Casanova by Gisela (Andorra, 2008)
- 82= Irelande Douze Pointe by Dustin the Turkey (Ireland, 2008)
- 82= A luta é alegria by Homens da Luta (Portugal, 2011)
- 82= Don’t Close Your Eyes by Max Jason Mai (Slovakia, 2012)
(Given the paucity of rock this year, Max Jason Mai gets the video clip – Ewan)
- 81 – Zauvijek volim te by Stefan Filipovic (Montenegro, 2008)
- 80 – Ven A Bailar Conmigo by Guri Schanke (Norway, 2007)
- 79 – Foi magia by Sofia Vitória (Portugal, 2004)
- 78 – Angel in Disguise by Musiqq (Latvia, 2011)
- 77 – Hear My Plea by Frederik Ndoci (Albania, 2007)
- 76 – Horehronie by Kristina Pelakova (Slovakia, 2010)
And we’ll finish up this week’s look at the Semi Final songs with Kristina.
Bet you’d forgotten about most of those, huh? And ‘m sure there are some you are ready to forget again! Well don’t worry, that’s it for this week’s first chunk of semi delight.
Next week, numbers 75 down to 51 (and a few others for good measure). But for now, why not listen to every track from this week’s list on our YouTube Playlist of the Top 100 Semi Final Songs?