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The National Finals That Got It Wrong For Kyiv 2017 Written by on May 19, 2017 | 11 Comments

Continuing our look back at the National Final selections, we discuss which countries made the wrong choice regarding the performers to send to the Kyiv stage for the Eurovision Song Contest 2017. You can ready the countries we think got it right here, but read on for the bad picks.

Spain Should Have Sent Le Klein

Monty Moncrieff (On Europe)

The saga of the Spanish selection has been well-documented, and the ire of many Spanish fans was still evident even by the time Manel Navarro got to Kyiv.

Tie-breaks are nothing new at Eurovision, and always seem to be controversial in the way they are broken (or aren’t, as 1969’s result demonstrated). 1991’s dead-heat between Carola and Amina came before a rule change to reward wider popularity by achieving votes from a larger number of countries, over fewer, but higher, sets of 12s and 10s.

Popularity ought to have prevailed in Spain’s tie-break too: audience members were infuriated when the people’s choice, Mirela, was ousted by the whim of two jurors to one, amid a cry of foul when favouritism (and some suspicious links to the artist) were revealed. Manel Navarro’s last place will be viewed by many as TVE’s just deserts. Whether Mirela’s flimsy ‘Contigo’ would have fared much better is a matter of conjecture: in fact, LeKlein’s ‘Ouch!!’ may have proved their best option. But I’ll be surprised if we don’t see a rule change to support the public choice next year.

Malta Should Have Sent Janice Mangion

This year the Malta Eurovision Song Contest switched to a one hundred percent televote to select the winner. To nobody’s surprise (least of all mine) the bridesmaid became the bride and Claudia Faniello was duly selected.

Given that ‘Kewkba’ from newcomer Janice Mangion managed to achieve second place given those circumstances should tell you something about the strength of song, the first National Final song in Maltese for a ridiculous number of years. In Kyiv all four non-English songs made it to Saturday night. If Malta had chosen a song instead of a personality the island nation could have made it five, and stood up proudly to say ‘We Are Malta’ with a unique sound, instead of the overwrought ballad by numbers.

Albania Should Have Sent Something That Doesn’t Need An Orchestra

Ross Middleton (Piff Paff Blog)

Forgive me with this one because I feel I’m only going to repeat what was said last year. However, since nothing has changed all the criticisms are still valid. Festivali i Këngës is a fine competition in it’s own right but it does not work for the Eurovision Song Contest. Even though the Song Contest ditched the orchestra over two decades ago FiK persist with this more archaic method.

This doesn’t produce poor songs, I actually didn’t mind ‘Botë’ and last year’s ‘Përrallë’ before they were revamped. However, when you take away the orchestra from both they end up rather limp and lacklustre. You have to go back to 2015 to get a qualifier and even then Elhaida Dani only qualified in tenth. If Albania want to keep up with the modern Contest they’ll need to stray from FiKmas.

Lithuania Should Have Sent Aistė Pilvelytė

Ewan Spence

Not only did Lithuania have an experienced National Final singer in Aistė Pilvelytė (ten appearances and one disqualification in 2002), but ‘I’m Like The Wolf’ also came with the talismanic songwriting prowess of Aminata Savadogo.

Lithunaia’s National Final process provides a huge amount of domestic exposure for the performers who make it to the later stage, but this biases the selection towards local heroes with strong support – which cannot be relied on when you step in from of the Song Contest’s international juries and viewers.

Iceland Should Have Sent Da∂i Freyr

Ellie Chalkley

It should have been Da∂i Freyr. His song about the process of introverts attempting to flirt with one another, with hilarious and adorable results, would have been a lovely thing to see in the first Semi Final, even if it’s qualification chances wouldn’t actually have been much higher.

Yes, Svala is incredible, but did her comeback really need the Eurovision Song Contest as an anchor? Also, I feel like there would most likely have been either a Salvador Sobral or NAVIband cover of ‘Is This Love?’ which would have been a nice added bonus.

Germany Should Have Sent For A New Format

Ewan Spence

Five artists… five cover songs, three versions of ‘Wildfire’, then two versions of ‘Wildfire’ and two of ‘Perfect Life’, then perm two from the last four for a final round of two songs, and only then do you have a winning artist and a song for Germany confirmed. Not even Lithuania would consider something so convoluted.

For me, connecting with an artist is also about how well the artist connects with a song. The assault of multiple artists singing multiple versions of a song over a multi-hour show dulled any emotional connections that might have been made.

I don’t think I could answer the question of why it was Levina that won though and why it was ‘Perfect Life’. The only real emotion was Helene Nissen’s inspired lunacy of ‘Folsom Prison Blues’… which might have busted the September 1st deadline.

There has to be a better way to do this.

Israel Should Have Sent Diana Golbi

Wivian Kristiansen (EscXtra):

To me, Israel is possibly the country which more than any got it all wrong this year. Imri’s performance of ‘Halo’ in the National Final should have told everybody all they needed to know; he should stick with dancing.

Instead they should have selected Diana Golbi. If they had picked her and let her perform some serious rock, or perhaps a rock ballad, I think she would have taken Israel to the final. What she did with both ‘Euphoria’ and ‘Purple Rain’ in that Final (and also ‘My Immortal’” in the quarter final), has me convinced she would have been a far better choice than Imri.

Estonia Should Have Sent Kerli

John Egan

Actually I need a little bit more space to talk about Estonia. Come back tomorrow for a full article looking at Eesti Laul…

We’ve already looked at the National Finals that got it right – read that article here. As for the big mistakes of the year, do you agree? Let us know in the comments!

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 (

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11 responses to “The National Finals That Got It Wrong For Kyiv 2017”

  1. Katy says:

    Still not over BQL not going for us. The juries in our NF basically threw a potential top 10/15 result and a song, which is now the biggest hit in here….

  2. Robyn says:

    Malta is a tricky one. For years, the national final only selected the singer, not the song. That was usually the same song the act performed at MESC, but it could also be substantially revamped or even changed entirely, as we saw last year.

    So even though the rules were changed for this year (MESC decides both the singer and the song, surely done for budget reasons), were Maltese viewers still locked into thinking they were primarily selecting the singer? It could have been a case of “I love Claudia, she deserves to go to Eurovision. Her song isn’t so great, but surely they’ll revamp it or change it, right?”

    Let’s hope viewers have learned a lesson for 2018!

  3. Erik says:

    LOL I actually only agree on Malta, Iceland and Germany. Malta could have opted for Richard Edwards, Ukraine for Tayanna, Lithuania for Paula, Slovenia maybe better off with BQL, Sweden with Jon Henrik Fjällgren feat. Aninia,

  4. Luke says:

    LeKlein, whilst having a better song than Manuel, would have been totally roasted for those absolutely obscene English lyrics…

    @Robyn – Viewers were well aware that the song that won in Malta would be going to Eurovision – the CEO of their broadcaster was constantly repeating the same line in the media on the run up to the festival.

  5. Chance says:

    Kerli had literally the only song in Eesti Laul worse than Verona. It’s was sonic garbage.

  6. James says:

    Why take out the orchestra from FiK? Perhaps modernizing it is the way to go, or maybe duplicate the format of one songfest from another side of the world, have entries be played on radio and music TV channels for a number of weeks leading to the song festival proper and then see the competing acts perform with a live orchestra, or perhaps a live band.

  7. Edmund says:

    I’m so glad they didn’t send Kerli. I was not a fan of all the exoticism in the staging and the song was nothing special.

  8. James Triggs says:

    I think Finland made the right choice until Portugal made theirs.

    Agree on Lithuania and Malta. Not sure about Israel. Without having a specific song to compare with and given that Israel came third in their semifinal, I don’t know if there was a better alternate choice. At Eurovision, often the right singer is let down by the wrong song, or a right song made wrong by better songs picked by other nations.

    Either Mirela or LeKlein would have done better than Do It For Your Lover Did. (Mirela I think would have ended up like Greece with Demy’s entry, so I agree that LeKlein would have given Spain the best result out of the potential selections. Spain’s selection was the biggest mistake of any of the national finals, because it undermined the integrity of national final itself and may well have done some permanent damage to Manuel’s career by association.

    I agree with Katy. Slovenia made a big mistake in sending Omar Naber with On My Way.
    BQL with Heart of Gold would have done a lot better. In my opinion, this was the biggest mistake in terms of the gap between the result of what was sent and what could have been.

    I think if somehow Loreen’s Statements had made it to Eurovision, I think it had a chance to do better than what Sweden ended up doing. Although I also preferred a number of entries over the actual winner, Jon Henrik Fjällgren feat. Aninia is the other one that I think could have bettered Sweden’s actual result.

    Also, then we would have had a potential yodel-off/duet involving Jon Henrik and Illinca. That would have been a delight.

    Da∂i Freyr would have been more entertaining than Iceland and I suspect that if they’d got the staging right, it could have been a borderline qualifier. I think it would have taken a fair amount of points that in the actual contest went to Moldova and who knows, maybe it could have been enough to sneak over Greece.

    Also, it would be cool if we’d had ‘Is this Love?’ immediately followed by ‘This Is Love’ in the running order, or vice versa.

  9. Joni says:

    Sweden should have sent Loreen. Not neccessarily because it would have given them a better result, but because it would have been the most artistically daring and bold Eurovision entry from Sweden (and perhaps anyone) that I can remember. With Loreen missing the MF final, I fear that unless SVT drastically change the app vote for next year, MF will become even more mainstream and generic with even fewer edgy and interesting acts competing.

  10. dimitris esc says:

    I agree on everything except maybe Israel.IMRI did reach the final.I don’t know if Diana Golbi would have fared better.What if she would turn out to be another Mei Finegold?
    On the other hand,i believe the Slovenian juries did a colossal mistake by sending Omar Naber and not BQL.
    I also think Poland should have opted for the televoting winner Carmell.It would definitely stand out more than Kasia’s ballad.
    Ukraine was wrong to send O.Torvald and not Tayanna(or my favorite Illaria).

  11. Mark says:

    Each and every National Final should be decided by myself.

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