A classic theme for an editorial right after Eurovision: taking a look at the countries that should’ve picked something else for the Eurovision Song Contest 2012. OGAE has its annual Second Chance Contest where the best national final loser gets chosen, but which are, in my eyes, the ones that should have gone to Eurovision this year?
We kick off our journey though Europe in Slovenia. Eva Boto definitely was the right choice here, as the Prusnik twins really didn’t have competitive songs. I know Konichiwa was quite unusual to us fans, though loved by many, but I don’t think it would’ve done well at all in Baku.
Verjamem was a really great ballad, but it just wasn’t working for a sixteen year old like Eva Boto, therefore I’d say a different song for Eva Boto would’ve worked better. The one I want to talk about here is A Si Sanjal Me: a powerful pop song that really suited Eva perfectly. The writers of this song knew what they were doing and they know Eurovision: Matjaž Vlašič and Urša Vlašič were also responsible for last year’s Slovenian entry, No One.
Looking at Eva singing this in EMA, she looks really comfortable on stage. The performance was almost tuned to perfection. Another important factor was the fact that Eva’s Verjamem was another so-called ‘Balkan ballad’. In that semifinal in Baku (semifinal two that was), we had Nije Ljubav Stvar, Crno I Belo, Nebo and Korake Ti Znam, all sung by bigger names in the region than Eva was. Even though fans saw Slovenia’s entry as one of the strongest of those, it didn’t convince Europe and finished only seventeeth in the semifinal. A Si Sanjal Me would’ve been a pop song from the Balkans in a semifinal full of ballads and I think that could’ve made the difference for Slovenia to qualify.
Denmark is a country where I could sum up a lot of national final entries that would’ve done better than Soluna Samay’s Should’ve Known Better. First of all, we need to look at why Soluna’s song finished so low in the final.
Personally I think that was because the song just didn’t go anywhere. It was nice, but that was all you could say about it: nothing spectacular.
So then the question is: which songs in the national final were spectacular enough for Eurovision? There a few you could mention here, but as a lot of fans have already discussed Take Our Hearts by Jesper Nohrstedt, I’m going with a less obvious choice: Best Thing I Got by Aya.
Best Thing I Got was written by the same people who wrote Satellite for Lena two years ago, but no, Best Thing I Got would never be a possibility for the Eurovision victory. However, the song is full of power and fun and that is a positive point in this song. It’s one of those songs you either love or hate, mostly because of Aya’s rather special voice, but that’s what normally does well in Eurovision: the really mainstream songs don’t usually do brilliantly in Eurovision, so I think Aya would definitely have done better than bottom five in the final.
And here we go with the first really unusual choice. When Ivi Adamou was announced as the Cypriot entrant for Eurovision, I hoped she would bring us a ballad in the Greek language as that is what she is really good at (looking at songs such as Sose Me). The three songs however all turned out to be in English and two of them were up tempo (being Call The Police and La La Love). It was obvious La La Love was going to win that national final and it immediately developed itself to a fan favourite. In Baku it qualified for the final, which is really good for Cyprus, but I think they could have done better than sixteenth. But how?
Ivi released a Greek version of the only ballad in the national final, You Don’t Belong Here, and that song really should have been the one for Baku if you ask me. It’s called Fotia Vrohi (Φωτιά βροχή) and somehow Ivi seems to be able to put a lot more emotion in this song than in the English version. It’s very classy and modern at the same time, so Fotia Vrohi should have been their entry for Baku.
This one is just painful to put here. Never Forget was such a beautiful piece of music by two brilliant singers, but it only came 20th and that gives us reason to look back on Söngvakeppni Sjónvarpsins 2012. What went wrong with this song, the song everyone thought was gonna do well and even came second in the OGAE voting before the contest?
I think the song needed mystery around it and that was exactly what Mundu Eftir Mér had and Never Forget missed. The Icelandic version was much better, so I’d say that the language change should never have happened for Iceland.
However, there were two other entries this year that made me doubt the fact that Mundu Eftir Mér was actually the best choice.
The first one is the other Gréta Salóme song in the national final: Aldrei Sleppir Mér by Gréta Salóme, Heiða and Guðrún Árný. Or perhaps we should say Heiða and Guðrún Árný. As soon as this qualified for the final, Gréta decided to focuss on one entry only, being Mundu Eftir Mér. And that’s where it went wrong for this one: it was great for three singers, but for two, no, it didn’t work and that’s when this lost the national final. It still is a beautiful song, a haunting ballaf, and therefore deserves to be mentioned in this editorial. The video you can see below is from the semifinal, so with Gréta Salóme.
The other Icelandic song I want to talk about is Regína Ósk’s Hjartað Brennur. True fun, three minutes of smiling, three minutes of being happy is guaranteed when listening to this.
Regína is a very experienced performer and a Eurovision veteran I would say: she went to Copenhagen in 2001 as a backing vocal and did the same in Riga, 2003 and Kiev, 2005 for the Icelandic entry. In 2008 she stepped into the spotlights together with Friðrik Ómar and represented Iceland with This Is My Life. She knows how to carry a Eurovision performance and Hjartað Brennur definitely was a possible fifth Eurovision appearance for Regína. Just like with Danish Aya, this song is exceptional for Eurovision and could have done really well.
I doubted quite a while: should I talk about Hungary in this editorial? After all, they made the final and that’s more than quite a few fans expected from them.
The first ever Hungarian national final with two semifinals gave us Compact Disco and their song Sound Of Our Hearts, but was that really the best the Hungarians had to offer? I don’t think so, even though Compact Disco really was one of the stronger entries.
The Hungarians had a powerful poprock-ish song by Tóth Gabi. Gabi delivered a steady and spectacular performance in her semifinal and the juries did like her song Nem Kell Végszó. Unfortunately for Gabi, the juries seemed to prefer three other songs, which lead to the fact that Gabi had to make it to the final through the televoting joker. Luckily for her, she did win that spot in the final. In the final, it sadly went wrong for Gabi when she decided to perform the English version, Don’t Save Me, which apparently wasn’t as loved by the Hungarians as Nem Kell Végszó and that left her chanceless for the ticket to Baku.
However, I still think the full Hungarian version could have impressed both juries and televoters in Baku and it could have scored a top fifteen in the final.
A shocking country to see in this list, definitely. But why are they here? For three reasons actually, of which the first is the language change. Nina Zilli herself has said that L’Amore È Femmina should have stayed in Italian and she’s absolutely right. Italian is a beautiful language for music, so why change it. You can’t fix something that’s not broken, Italy!
But ok, that’s only one of the reasons I put Italy here. The second is that fact that L’Amore È Femmina actually went to Eurovision. The Italians chose Per Sempre at first and then changed it to L’Amore È Femmina and that was a terrible mistake. The soulful ballad that is Per Sempre could have been a serious challenge for Loreen’s victory. Nina Zilli is a brilliant performer and looking at her Sanremo and Eurovision performances, that brilliance showed itself more in Sanremo with Per Sempre than in Baku with L’Amore È Femmina if you ask me.
So, two out of three reasons have now been mentioned, but what’s the third reason? The third reason is called Dolcenera.
In Sanremo 2012, also Dolcenera participated. As most of you will know, Nina didn’t actually win Sanremo, she was just chosen by a special committee for Eurovision. I think Dolcenera could have been a really good choice as well. Actually it is hard to make a choice between Nina Zilli and Dolcenera, so I’m just going to put this as a ‘good alternative’.
Her song was called Ci Vediamo A Casa and was a gem of a song. It had power, it had emotion, it had a good melody. One day I hope to see Dolcenera in Eurovision.
The first national final of the season brought us Sinplus with their Unbreakable. A decent song, but the Swiss should have known that this was not going to do well in Baku. Why do I say that? Simply because Sinplus had already tried their luck in the preselection of the French Swiss broadcaster RTS and didn’t make it to the final for them. After that they went to RSI, the Italian Swiss broadcaster and made it to the final for them.
Now, the topic of this editorial: which song should’ve gone to Baku to carry the Swiss flag? I have two possibilities here.
The first one is the reasonable choice: IVO and his Peace And Freedom, a song with the cliche theme of world peace, but a good poprock ballad and this could’ve done really well. Not a lot more to say about it, except for the fact that the styling of this song was the only big minus in it.
And then the second one. A feeling of nostalgia really brings me to put this here. It’s Lys Assia and her C’Était Ma Vie would’ve been an amazing choice for Baku. The song is really not the most modern one, but she is the first ever Eurovision winner, trying 56 years after her 1956 victory again for Eurovision when she’s 87 years old. She would probably not qualifiy for the final, but the feeling of nostalgia really make this a missed opportunity for the Swiss people.
Of course, many talked about the Norwegian national final this year, mostly saying that if someone had to beat Tooji this year, it should have been folkrock band Plumbo. Just like I did with Denmark, I’m going to take a different one than the one that people talked about so much. Actually for Norway, I am going to discuss two options.
First up a real Eurovision song, something that really is typical for the contest we all love: Reidun Sæther and her song High On Love. This song’s strength is its weakness: being mainstream Eurovision. It’s a good schlager that wouldn’t have been a misfit in the Swedish Melodifestivalen. Reidun’s voice is extremely strong, so I think this could possibly have scored better than Tooji’s Stay.
The second option would be Norway taking away Engelbert Humperdinck’s record of being the oldest male singer in Eurovision: Petter Øien and Bobby Bare brought the country song Things Change to Melodi Grand Prix. Bare, an American country legend with a career that started over fifty years ago (in 1958 to be precise), turned 77 in April.
For a week, there was the idea that this song might actually had a chance to go to Baku: in the semifinal, they beat top favourite Tooji and won the semifinal. When Tooji then had to open the final, there genuinely was the believe this might win Melodi Grand Prix.
But why do I think this could do well in Eurovision? Simply because I think we need to see new genres in Eurovision. When Finland introduced rock music, it started to do well. Greece brought us rap last year and that came seventh, so let’s give country music a chance in Eurovision.
The last country I’m going to discuss in this editorial is Austria. Austria had a decent national final this year and ended up with Trackshittaz and their Woki Mit Deim Popo. It came last in its semifinal, so it’s obvious that this one will be discussed. And once again, I’m not going with the general choice (in this case that would have been Conchita Wurst), but I’m going with two other possibilities.
First up is jazz group !Deladap and their song Don’t Turn Around. Another genre that should get a chance in Eurovision and that’s why I put it in the list. Their first entry, Crazy Swing got disqualified and that one was even better, but still, this song would probably not have been last in Baku.
As I said, two possibilities for Austria, so the second one is James Cottriall and his song Stand Up. If you talk about picking the safe choice, then this is it. A decent pop song once again about finding your own power and stand up for it. James is a good vocalist. The song is nothing exceptional, but as I said, it would have been the safe choice for the Austrian broadcaster.
Of course, I can mention quite a few more that should have been here, but I also want to compliment a few countries even though they didn’t qualify for the final.
Portugal chose Filipa Sousa to represent them in Baku with her Vida Minha and that was no doubt the strongest song in their national final. Ok, it did not qualify, but if this didn’t, no song would have qualified for the Baku final from the Portuguese national final.
Also Finland needs to be mentioned. Some people call this a boring song and it is indeed not the most exciting piece of music, but seeing that only five percent of the Finnish population has Swedish as their mother tongue and Pernilla’s När Jag Blundar still managed to win the national final shows that it had the nation’s support.
Belgium was also right in picking Would You? for Iris. It finished only seventeenth in the first semifinal in Eurovision, but I don’t think the other song, Safety Net would’ve done much better. Iris, only seventeen years old, did what she could in Baku and she delivered the song the best she could.
And the last one to mention here is The Netherlands. The song itself was fine, it was the stage performance and the voice that made this song fail in Baku. Besides that, the other songs in the national final probably wouldn’t have done a lot better, only We Can Overcome by Pearl Jozefzoon might have done slightly better.
We’ve discussed quite a few entries now and it is of course all speculation. No one can know what would have scored and what wouldn’t have scored in Baku, but these entries really deserved to be talked about for me.
If you have any other songs you want to mention, just comment! And if you want another big selection of choices, Ewan Spence has is own selection of “Should haves” over on ESCInsight.