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Which National Finals Sent The Wrong Songs To Tel Aviv 2019 Written by on May 27, 2019 | 11 Comments

Continuing our look back at this year’s National Final selections, the ESC Insight team discuss which countries made the wrong choice regarding the performers and songs to send to Tel Aviv for the Eurovision Song Contest 2019. You can read the countries we think got it right, here.

Belarus Should Have Sent ‘Potato Aka Бульба’

There are true Eurovision fans who watch the Grand Final religiously every year, there are those who join in with the Semi Finals, others make a point of watching their broadcaster’s National Finals. And then there are those at the other end of the scale who will watch the fixed camera livestream from the Belarussian auditions.

The latter discovered the earworm of the season and we’ve made sure to let everyone know the power of the (mis-heard) ‘Potato Acapulco For some reason BTRC didn’t even let this into the televised rounds. What a missed opportunity!

Australia Should Have Sent ‘2000 And Whatever’

A number of broadcasters would love a ninth place finish at the Eurovision Song Contest, but for Australia it feels like a poor return given the press interest around Kate Miller-Heidke and ‘Zero Gravity’. Put aside the intensely personal lyrics, the real story of Australia 2019 was spectacular gimmick from Strange Fruit that saw Kate and her backing performers wobble around the stage in time to the poperatic chorus.

And perhaps that was the problem. This was the first year that Australia held a National Final. Watching that show, there was a huge emphasis in the VT clips between the performances on what made a ‘good’ Eurovision song. If you tell the Australian public that Eurovision is all about gimmick and spectacle, then the gimmick and spectacle song is going to have an advantage in the public voting.

If the VT focus had been more on diverse musical styles and creating emotion in the viewer (arguably the key to winning in the last few years) then the audience would have been guided elsewhere, and the likely victory would have been Electric Fields’ ‘2000 and Whatever’.

Moldova Should Have Sent ‘Ca Adriano Celentano’

After a number of years of sending utterly memorable and memeable moments to the Eurovision Song Contest, Moldova managed the same again for 2019, but this time for all the wrong reasons – a rather tepid song coupled with an on-stage presentation that everyone recognised as ‘Ukraine 2011’s Sand Lady’. This is not the combination that has brought Moldova success.

Much like Belarus, the real goldmine was the audition phase. Much as I love the absolute madness of ‘Robin Hood’, I’m drawn into the turbo-prog-folk power of Irina Tarasiuc & Lume with their ode to the pillar of Italian music in ‘Ca Adriano Celentano’. It was all here, you just had to follow the plan that had worked so well for you in Lisbon and Kyiv.

Sweden Should Have Sent ‘I Do’

John Lundvik (eventually) took fifth place after the jury votes were re-calculated, but the irony is that ‘strong jury and poor televote’ has been the Swedish story for the last three years. Another year of a male solo singer, another year of relying on impactful staging, another year of the same split result.

Much like Australia, the final result feels lower than the personal target. SVT, it’s time to change the story at Melodifestivalen to change the story at the Song Contest. Looking at the entry list there were a number of choices that could have stood out – Wiktoria, Anna Bergendahl, and the duet of Hanna Ferm and Liamoo – but given the success of the ‘feel happy’ songs at the Contest (‘Say Na Na Na’ and ‘Spirit In The Sky’), I’m going to cheer for a return to Eurovision for Arvingarna.

Denmark Should Have Sent ‘League Of Light’

I’ll be honest, I’m still undecided about this one. Leonora did qualify for the Grand Final (err…) and made the left hand side of table, and I’m the first to admit that it is a real marmite song. But nothing about it says ‘Danish’, and at an emotional level I like my Eurovision songs to say something about where they come from.

Which means I’ve been much more invested in ‘League of Light’  and the return of Greenlandic of Dansk Melodi Grand Prix than ‘Love is Forever’. More honesty and authenticity will always win me over – consider this my personal wild card.

Croatia Should Have Sent ‘Tower Of Babylon’

You can’t escape the feeling that ‘The Dream’ was less about Roko getting to Eurovision than Jacques Houdek returning to the Song Contest. From the weak use of the wings to the poor use of CGI on the Tel Aviv backdrop, Croata deserved more.

Lorena Bućan finished second in the return of Dora with ‘Tower of Babylon’. This strong, female-focused number with lots of staging potential would have given the semi final running order a bit more drive and direction, which could well have been enough to get to Saturday night.

Ukraine Should Have Sent ‘Siren Song’

It’s going to be the great ‘what if’ for the ages. Did Ukraine have a potential winner here? Would it have depressed the votes going towards Sergey Lazarev? Just how mental would the back half of Semi Final 1 been with ‘Siren Song’ in the mix? We’ll never know…

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 “Which National Finals Sent The Wrong Songs To Tel Aviv 2019”

  1. Martin Palmer says:

    Australia – every Aussie I spoke to in the lead up to Eurovision and in Tel Aviv went with Kate rather than Electric Fields, due to her voice, the staging AND also the professionalism of her performance in Gold Coast. All the Australians who saw Electric Fields in the venue would have been happy for them to win but felt that their performance was messy and not a good view on tv – something that could have been improved on perhaps but there was overwhelming support for Kate for Australia itself and they are more than happy to be back in the top ten. I have now got to the stage that if the public of a nation are happy with what they sent and get a top ten, who are we from the outside? You say that EF should have gone to Tel Aviv – where do you think they might have finished? If you believe top ten, fair enough, but I’m not sure that what we saw in the Gold Coast would have matched the Marcel Bezençon artistic award winning “Zero Gravity”. She also won SF1 so she did end up slightly lower than expected – it is not as if she finished as low as Jessica. And yes, I will declare my connection with Australia this year as Press! I will also declare that Kate Miller-Heidke was my favourite from first listen of her song months ago…

    Denmark – I would have loved to have heard Greenlandic at the Contest but I now believe that Leonora WAS the right choice for Denmark. The entry annoyed me like anything but everything came together for her in the Final, even a believable connection with the camera.

    Belarus – “Potato Acapulco” would have been amazing but I suspect that getting to the Final with ZENA and allowing her career to take yet another step up was enough for all within the Belarusian delegation. Unfortunately I think your suggestion would have been seen as a joke entry by many commentators and would have given more ammunition to the critics after Eurovision – I’m not sure it would have qualified, although it would have been a massive fan favourite!

    Sweden – I loved Arvingarna. Superb routine, great vocals, a brilliant way to end MF this year. There was only going to be one winner there though and it was surprising that John got such a low televote. When Sweden crack that next, we will be returning there the following year.

    Moldova and Croatia – no brainers really, like most of the Eastern European nations this year. I would add Romania to your list – I loved “On A Sunday” but either Laura Bretan or Bella Santiago would have got Romania to the Final, Laura getting at least a top ten.

    Always good to see your suggestions and at least you are prepared to put your head above the parapet!

  2. Meh says:

    For me:
    Romania should have send Army of Love
    UK should have send Sweet Lies
    Finland should have send Release Me (although I did like Look Away)
    Spain should have send Muerdame
    Germany should have send Wear Your Love

  3. Paule says:

    The biggest mistakes for me:

    France should have sent Tous Les Deux
    Germany should have sent Surprise
    Finland should have sent Superman
    Sweden should have sent Hello

  4. Jon Smith says:

    UK should have sent ANYTHING else.

  5. Eurojock says:

    Romania should have sent Army of Love.
    Hungary should have sent Roses.

  6. Nicola says:

    As an Australian, I believe the ‘Zero Gravity’ was the best choice. Yes, Electric Fields would have also been a good choice, but would they have had the same placing in terms of the final result and bookies? ‘Zero Gravity was just a better package. Though, we will never know the final staging of ‘2000 and Whatever’.
    In terms of the other countries:
    Romania should’ve sent ‘Army of Love’
    Sweden should’ve sent ‘ Not with Me’ or I do me’
    Hungary should’ve sent ‘Roses’ or ‘Incomplete’
    Lithuania should’ve sent ‘Light on’
    Germany should’ve sent ‘Wear your love’
    Latvia should’ve sent ‘Cherry Absinthe’
    Croatia shouldn’t have sent ‘The Dream’, but I wouldn’t know what to replace it with.
    There were no good options in Montenegro, but ‘Heaven’ was the least best option.
    And finally, Ukraine should’ve sent MARUV

  7. Jake says:

    Shocked you didn’t cover Germany’s awful choice of Sisters which I will never understand but wonder for as much as pundits trashed the spinning lazy Susan it was memorable staging.

    Agreed on Denmark especially after last year’s performance with Rasmussen and Norways performance this year. The nordics do well when something feels very Nordic.

    Also I think you (like many pundits) were blinded by Bilal and the “strength” of the message that to a casual viewer felt overly calculated. Tous Les Deaux would’ve scored with the juries and might’ve pulled a Salvador and won the whole damn thing–emotional, well-sung, evocotive and sooooo French.

  8. Harriet Krohn says:

    I didn’t follow national selections, so when I listened to the songs you suggested as better alternatives, I kept shaking my head. 😀 No, most of those would not have been better options in my book. In the case of Moldova or Croatia, I suppose most anything else would have been better, but the others … not so much. Especially in the cases of the songs that actually did well – only one song can win, and finishing top ten or left side is a great success. We shouldn’t talk these songs/performances/results down.

    Now, for the real mistakes – Germany and France are the ones that come to mind for me, for the obviousl reason that I watched those selections. In my own selection (Germany), I was rooting for Aly Ryan at the time, but more so because I liked the song and I would have loved Germany to send something slightly modern for once, but looking back she did not come off as very likeable and the presentation was far from perfect – it probably was the right decision not to send “Wear your Love”. People tend to forget that Makeda placed 2nd, who would not have been a much better choice, but “Surprise” is the one I would have loved to represent us. It might not have done much better that “Sister”, but at least I could have supported lily among clouds wholeheartedly. The song was interesting and different, something to be proud of. Alas, German televoters (and international jurors?!?!?!) didn’t see the potential. Admittedly, neither did I at the time. (I still think “Wear your Love” would have been better that “Sister”, just not as good as “Surprise”.)

    And France got caught up in the whole Bilal story, so much so that they forgot that the song wasn’t all that good. It did better than I thought it might, but they did have better options. I’m still listening to “Allez leur dire”, which is wonderfully French in its way, but “Tous les deux” might have been the best choice for Eurovision. I don’t think it could have done a Sobral, but it was a moving song that caught me on the evening of Destination Europe much more than “Roi” did.

  9. Shai says:

    Russia got it wrong when sending Sergey(and the whole “dream team”) – 3rd place can’t be considered as a failure but it is when you send an artist with the aim is to win, This was suppose to be the big revenge to previous failure to win, with the same team.- They failed, again.

  10. Edouard says:

    MONTENEGRO should’ve sent ‘Nepogrjesivo’ – an upbeat balkan track that could’ve gotten them to the final from a weak semi.

    FINLAND should’ve sent ‘Superman’ – a better, more catchy song that what they ended up going for which might have saved them last place.

    BELARUS should’ve sent ‘Champion’ – what an amazing song we missed out on, everything about it was just there from the catchy chorus, soulful voice and potential for great staging, with a bit of work it could’ve given Belarus their best position in years – dare I say Top 10. Of course I do love ‘Potato’ as well though ;).

    SERBIA shouldv’e sent ‘7’ – maybe more of a personal feel, but I really liked this and think it could’ve done just as well as Nevena and could maybe have reached a more Western audience as well.

    GEORGIA should’ve sent ‘Me Mjera’ – this one went completely unnoticed in the NF, but I honestly think that with a revamp it would’ve been a solid effort, with a memorable and more modern chorus that what Georgia has gotten us used to. Could’ve been borderline qualifier.

    AUSTRALIA should’ve sent ‘Set Me Free’ – unpopular opinion but neither ‘Zero Gravity’ (an awful song which relied solely on the staging) or ‘2000 and Whatever’ (a good song but the live performance was just disjointed and didn’t work) were the best choice. Leea Nanos had a modern, effective track and a great, unique voice. The performance was a bit simple at the NF, but the song was amazing and could really have been a great ESC song for Australia, on par with their earlier attempts (2015-2016).

    ICELAND should’ve sent ‘Sunday Boy’ – more of an ‘alternative’ here because I just despise Hatari for everything they are, both musically and beyond, even though it’s clear that they were Iceland’s best shot at a good placing. So disregarding them, I think this would’ve been Iceland’s only other chance at making the final – the vintage style and typically Nordic voice could’ve come together quite nicely on stage, especially for jury/casual viewers, and sneaked through from the weaker semi.

    ESTONIA should’ve sent ‘Miks Sa Teed Nii’ – slight dilemma though because her live performance was weak (but hey, so was Victor’s…). This sort of typical breezy Estonian pop would’ve been a great, more original choice, rather than trying to be ‘Sweden bis’. This had so much potential to do well, and with some work on the performance get to the left-hand side of the scoreboard.

    PORTUGAL should’ve sent ‘E O Que E’ – to be completely honest I don’t think any of their NF songs would’ve qualified, but I think this might’ve been their best shot. The singer has a Salvador Sobral kind of charisma, but a more accessible, catchy song with a strong build. The performance is warm rather than pretentious – which is also the key difference between Salvador and Conan. With good camera angles and a bit of luck, this could’ve just qualified I think.

    UKRAINE should’ve sent ‘Houston’ – because Maruv was never going to happen (unpopular opinion but it was an awful song too tbh), it was obvious right from the start with the drama surrounding her. This had it all, a great, original but accessible entry, the gimmick which would’ve drawn audience and media attention, a charismatic and talented indie band – the story was there, ready to be written. Final – and decent position – guaranteed. A shame the Ukrainians couldn’t be a bit lucid and make the reasonable choice before it was too late.

    MOLDOVA should’ve sent ‘Ca Adriano Celentano’ – for all the reasons stated above, because this is what Moldova can do and does well. Supposedly the song was pushed aside because it gave a bad image of Moldova as a country whose only produce is wine, pff… I wonder if the fact Anna was visiting a winery during her postcard was an intentional reference to this or just a nice coincidence 😉

    LATVIA should’ve sent ‘Fire’ (Double Faced Eels) – because a good bit of memorable electro-rock never hurts, could’ve given them a chance, however small, to actually compete for a finalist spot. Who knows if Latvia will ever manage to return to the Final?

    LITHUANIA should’ve sent ‘I’ll Be Alright’ – how the hell this absolute killer track passed everyone by surpasses me. Beautiful, modern and memorable ballad performed by a singer with a stunning voice/enunciation. This was Top-10 potential, much more than the overrated and generic ‘Light On’ which would’ve probably made the final, but stayed bottom 5.

    NORWAY should’ve sent ‘En Livredd Mann’ – probably would’ve scored around the same as Keiino, but honestly if Duncan could win, I’m seriously wondering why this couldn’t have done the same. Same level (if not more) of authenticity, it’s beautiful, real, and Mørland sings it wonderfully, he’s a true artist and I really hope to see him return soon.

    FRANCE should’ve sent ‘Allez Leur Dire’ – just a glance at the international jury votes in the NF is enough to see why. This is typically what the rest of Europe want to hear from France, and I can imagine a real televote and jury craze around this could’ve taken place – it’s just too catchy and brilliant, both song and staging-wise, not to have been a surprise Top 10 entry. Bilal was just déjà-vu, this was fresh, real and fun, perfect for ESC.

    UNITED KINGDOM should’ve sent ‘Freaks’ (Jordan Clarke version) – tbh anything would’ve been better than what they did send, but this song had the anthemic/stadium song kind of feel which would’ve lifted the Eurovision arena, plus Jordan had all the charisma and stage presence Michael was lacking. Wouldn’t have done amazingly well, but could at least have gotten the UK out of the Bottom 5.

    I’ll post the others later, gtg now. 🙂

  11. Two words: Monika Marija, Lithuania. OK three words. But you know what I mean. LRT sometimes seems it’s better to knock any young and confident artist back a few pegs, even if that means choosing a weaker entry. Ask Evelina or Donny.

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