Netherlands Were Right To Choose Duncan Laurence
It won. Simple.
But looking beyond that, the internal selection of Duncan Laurence and the move away from Americana into something that feels ‘of the moment’ was a great move. Having spoken to Laurence, it looks like the initial push to submit ‘Arcade’ came from his Voice mentor Ilse DeLange, who was sure it would do well at the Eurovision Song Contest even though Laurence was sure it was a song better suited to Spotify.
‘Arcade’ has topped the Spotify charts as well as the Eurovision scoreboard.
Iceland Was Right To Choose Hatari
With no qualification to the Grand Final since Pollaponk in 2014, RUV came into the season needing to break a run of four non-qualifications. Although Söngvakeppnin featured a number of familiar names and songs that were built from the same mould as ’Unbroken’ and ‘Our Choice’, there was an alternative that could break the dead-lock.
Step forward Hatari.
In addition to the light they were able to shine on the darker areas of both Israel’s hosting and the limits of the ‘non-political’ Song Contest rule; Klemens, Matthias, and Einar created a passionate international fan-base and brought an under-represented genre to the Contest.
You can be sure that Hatari’s impact on the Contest will be remembered across the community in the same way as Iceland will remember its return to the Top Ten.
Norway Was Right To Choose KEiiNO
Because sometimes you just need three minutes of happiness.
Last year’s MGP was a wonderful TV show, but in Eurovision terms Norway was essentially coronating Alexander Rybak. But a bit further down the playbill you found Tom Hugo singing ‘I Like I Like I Like’ and Alexandra Rotan duetting with Stella Mwangi (Norway 2011) on ‘You Got Me’. Looking back, those appearances felt like a try-out for the main event – and it was noticeable that Stella and Alexandra too to the 2018 preview circuit ‘You Got Me’ as a warm up act for the various concerts.
They both knew how the circus worked. All it needed was a song that matched their infectious energy… at which point our musical Aragorn of the North comes into focus. Fred-René Buljo brings his mix of Sami and rap to the pop and schlager of Tom and Alexandra.
Schlagerjoik is born (please let it live long enough for at least one album) and Norway go on to (a) beat Sweden (err… maybe not) and (b) top the televote with Spirit In The Sky.
Albania Was Right To Choose Jonida Maliqi
Given that Festivali i Këngës chooses a song for Albania (the ticket to Eurovision is a bonus, not a mission), the decisions isn’t necessarily about choosing Jonida Maliqi, it’s about the decision to not fiddle with the song (beyond the three-minute rule and sorting out a backing track) and trust Maliqi to bring all of her talent and power to the stage in the Tel Aviv Expo.
Authenticity is a word that gets thrown around a lot when discussing Eurovision performance, but this is a classic example of just that. In hindsight it was always qualifying.
Malta Was Right To Choose Michaela Pace
Much like Iceland, Malta’s PBS has been on a run of poor results, with Ira Losco’s ‘Walk On Water’ the only highlight in the last few years. The National Final system under MESC continued to sport the same faces with younger singers building up skills and experiences, but when you can call the winner of MESC by working out ‘who’s turn it is’ when the entry list is released, then something needs to change.
That change was The X-Factor. The long-running franchise debuted on PBS during the 2018/19 season, with the winner getting the Eurovision ticket. The rules of X-Factor also pushed out many familiar faces from MESC, clearing the way for Michaela Pace to break the cycle with a youthful sound and a ‘Post-Margaret’ Eurovision banger in Chameleon.
As for a training ground for future singers, having Destiny Chukunyere (the winner of Junior Eurovision 2015 with ‘Not My Soul’) on backing vocals in Tel Aviv points to a prosperous future.
Spain Was Right To Choose Miki
Of all the contestants at Operación Triunfo’s Eurovision Gala, Miki was the one who looked hungry for the win. There may well have been a buzz around María’s ‘Muérdeme’, but on the night when the scores were being kept, María looked like she wanted to be anywhere else and Miki wanted to be in Tel Aviv.
Let’s put aside the staging choices made by TVE for May (a giant-sized Ikea Billy bookcase knocked over by a Wickerman?) and remember how effortless Miki became one of the party songs of the season.
Portugal Was Right To Choose Conan Osiris
While Conan Osiris did not qualify for Saturday night’s Grand Final, I still think that RTP’s Festival da Canção made the correct decision. ‘Telemóveis’ is a challenging song, mixing art and statement through three minutes of music. It’s not as accessible as a slice of schlager, it takes time to understand the nature of Osiris’ composition and that, along with the stylistic choreography on stage, made qualification a difficult task.
But I would rather see challenging songs at Eurovision than a raft of formulaic three minutes with little to differentiate them.
Those are some of our choices for the National Finals that got it right. Who else caught your eye as being in the right place at the right time? As for the National Finals that got it wrong. that’s coming soon, keep your powder dry for that debate!