And now, the flip side… The countries that left the perfect three minutes back in the Eurovision National Finals. And before you ask, I’ve already answered the Margaret question. Go and read ‘The National Finals That Got It Right‘.
Norway Should Have Sent ‘Laika’
Agnete’s health after Melodi Grand Prix has been in the news, and I have a huge amount of respect for what she put herself through. But many dreamed of a different story for Norway.
If there’s one band that could rival Winny Puuh for ‘publicity achieved by not going to the Eurovision Song Contest’ it’s Norway’s Hungry Hearts. Their collaboration with Lisa Dillan at Melodi Grand Prix was arresting, powerful, and the chances of the energy being recaptured on the Swedish stage were tiny. They were miles down the final rankings in the National Final, but no matter. They’ll be back.
Let’s be honest though, it would have struggled to qualify out of the semi-finals, and while it would have been a footnote in the ‘Ukraine vs Russia’ headlines, it would have been unlikely to trouble the top of the table.
Altogether… “the streets of Moscow, with my girlfriend!”
Finland Should Have Sent ‘On It Goes’, Or ‘No Fear’, Or ‘Good Enough’
Seriously, YLE have turned a corner with UMK and the range of songs in its National Finals over the last three years is impressive. Every year there are a number of songs that would do well at Eurovision and one of them will get the ticket. Except this year. What happened to allow a piece of lightweight dated disco-fluff to Stockholm? The crazy ‘jury’ system that gives ten percent of the final vote to ‘Refuse Collectors’ or ‘Traffic Wardens’, that’s what. It’s time for a genuine jury to be used.
Everyone at ESC Insight has suggested one of the Finnish songs for this feature. Saara Aalto, Mikael Saari, Barbe-Q-Barbies, the list goes on. But I’m calling it for Annica Milan and Kimmo Blom. ‘Good Enough‘ was the bombastic duet missing from this year’s show, the mirror-based staging deserves its own episode of ‘Every Song A Story‘, and the official music video is everything the modern music scene demands.
Switzerland Should Have Tried Something Else
Seriously Switzerland, your designed your entire National Final system to find the most inoffensive song possible. In striving to upset nobody you manage to remove everything that could make a song work on the Eurovision stage. Just… rip it all up and start again.
Estonia Should Have Sent ‘Seis’
A haunting melody, striking visuals, and a performance that stays in your mind long after the three minutes, ‘Seis‘ would have been one of the most challenging songs not just at Eurovision 2016, but in the Song Contest’s long history. The double-punch of this against 1944 would have been a huge statement for the Contest to make.Risky, artistic, beautiful, and left behind in the National Final.
I can’t help thinking that having Stig Rasta’s name attached to Juri Pootsman’s entry helped it play better with the public.
Albania Should Have Sent ‘Infinit’
Much like Switzerland, Albania has a structural issue with its selection show. Festivali I Kenges is set up to find the best Albanian song of the year. Performers are limited to static staging, song lengths go well over three minutes, and of course there’s a full orchestra. As Ben Robertson found out when he went backstage at FiK, it’s the wrong environment to select a Eurovision song.
Given the choices that could have been made, Enxhi Nasufi’s ‘Infinit‘ was already in a ‘Eurovision-ish’ format and would have stayed closer to the artistic vision than any other FiK song. It’s not much of an alternative, but there you go.
Denmark Should Have Sent ‘Never Alone’
A strong local fanbase gave Lighthouse X enough votes to get through a superfinal of three performers. The vote for ‘big female ballad instead of a tired Depeche Mode tribute band’ was split between Simone’s ‘Heart Shaped Hole‘ and Anja Nissen’s ‘Never Alone‘. Both would have had tough competition in the female singer department at Stockholm, but the back-story behind Nissen’s entry (an Australian performer, the return of Emellie de Forest, and a ‘by the book’ use of pyro that screamed ‘ready to win’) feels like it could have captured the media in the aftermath of a victory at MGP… just as ‘Only Teardrops‘ managed.
Still, it’s not like DR have seen that episode of Father Ted where Irish Eurosong chiefs throw the National Final because they can’t afford to host another Eurosong.
Oh… what’s Danish for ‘dodged a bullet there, DR’?
UK Should Have Sent ‘Shine A Little Light’
Much like Norway and Denmark, the United Kingdom’s ‘You Decide‘ saw the winning performance come from the act with a substantial fan-based already in place. Although appearing separately on ‘The Voice’, Joe and Jake had an audience that was primed to do one thing… vote for them. Which they did, and off they went with the ‘honestly we’re not a couple’ duet to the Song Contest.
In hindsight, without jury input into the final result, Joe and Jake’s victory was odds-on. The love from the ‘panel of experts’ may well have tipped the balance in a 50/50 voting system towards Bianca’s ‘Shine A Little Light‘. Whether the BBC would have stepped up to the challenge of staging a power ballad is something we’ll never know.
Iceland Should Have Sent ‘I Promised You Then’
Where were the duets? Seriously, it was Joe and Jake and that was it. At which point I turn back to Iceland’s Söngvakeppnin and one of my songs of the year. Erna Hrönn & Hjörtur Traustason ballad ‘I Promised You Then‘ is one of the few songs from this year that I have never skipped over. It’s arresting, it’s emotional, and it hurts.
I know I can wax lyrical about native language songs, but while ‘Hugur minn er‘ sounds nice, this is a track that needs the lyrical kick to start you crying. Iceland was blinded by the star power of Greta Salome and the visual trickery of ‘Hear Them Calling‘, when what they really should have done was sent the piece of pure emotion.
Sweden Should Have Sent ‘Love Love Peace Peace’
Frans did better than Robin Stjernberg on home soil, but for all the hype ‘If I Were Sorry‘ feels like a failure to deliver. It’s a week later after the Contest and there’s only one lyric still hooked into the Eurovision conscious. “…and a burning fake piano.”
The real winners from this year’s Song Contest were Fredrik Kempe, Edward af Sillen, and Daniel Rehn. Sweden had the best song all along. They just forgot to enter it…
You can read our thoughts on the Eurovision National Finals that got it right, or head to the comments to argue with us about those we think were wrong!