In the third part of our look back at the Eurovision year and what could have been, it’s the turn of Peter Dunwoody to share his views on some of those songs that didn’t quite make it to Copenhagen. The Swedish and Hungarian national finals could be considered the most successful of the season, as they produced the highest-placed entries to come from a national selection, but could they have done anything differently? It’s time to delve into these two selections, along with Portugal and Greece.
Helena Paparizou – Survivor
As if to illustrate the point that you won’t be getting anything left-field, unique or outside of what you’d expect a stereotypical Eurovision fan to love, let’s drop straight in with Sweden’s Melodifestivalen, one of the biggest national selections of the season. The winner, Sanna Nielsen, was not really to my taste and I found the amount of hype surrounding a song as ordinary and “nice” as ‘Undo’ a little frustrating. However, people liked it and this was reflected in the results when it came 3rd, so upon reflection I have to concede that it was probably the right choice for Sweden.
The obvious alternative would be ‘Busy Doin Nothin’ by Ace Wilder, which I’m convinced could have at least equalled Sanna in terms of results (and indeed the Common Linnets in terms of chart success), however from an entirely personal perspective I have to go with something else as my pick. I love it when former winners return – it gives the contest a nice sense of continuity – and I a big Helena Paparizou fan. What I really missed this year was an artist to get really passionately behind, only to weep into my cider when they crash and burn into 19th place. The stiff-upper-lip feel of ‘Survivor’ would have been perfect for this melodramatic journey and therefore it’s my alternative choice for Sweden.
Linda Király – Everything
The final of this year’s A Dal competition was considered to be something of a two-horse race between eventual Eurovision 5th placer András Kallay-Saunders and fellow American-born Hungarian Viktor Király. However, it was another Király sibling who captured my interest in the early stages. Linda attempted an international launch with ‘Can’t Let Go’ back in 2008 and competed in A Dal with her brothers in 2012. This year she had a go on her own with this catchy, brassy Christina meets Joss Stone number.
In the end it crashed out in its heat, and it’s not too hard to see why (click here for the live performance); Linda was not at full power vocally, seemingly struggling at times, and putting this as tactfully as possible, she probably didn’t make the best style choice she could have done for the occasion. Still, in a hypothetical world in which this was presented at its full potential, it would have added some very welcome sass to this year’s contest.
Catarina Pereira – Mea Culpa
Remember the outrage among Eurofans in Portugal and beyond when this lost out to Suzy in Festival da Canção? In hindsight, utterly ridiculous, but at the time, I was outraged alongside them! I so wanted this to get to the Eurovision stage. At a time in the selections when good uptempo pop was in short supply, this schlager bastardisation of Portuguese pop seemed like the perfect solution. In fact I’m fairly sure I was an advocate of bastardising it further by sending the English version.
I thought that this had so much more to offer than ‘Quero Ser Tua’ and would have appealed slightly more to a younger, international audience. This may well have been the case, but in hindsight, I have to say that for the fans at least, the right decision was made. ‘Mea Culpa’ ended up wearing thin rather quickly for me, whilst ‘Quero Ser Tua’ continued to grow, and really what would the contest in Copenhagen have been without the Suzy shake?!
Kostas Martakis – Kanenas Den Me Stamata
As has been the case for a few years now, I thought that the Greek national selection was incredibly weak, and I included ‘Rise Up’ in that estimation. The four songs were fairly diverse, but it was difficult to get excited about any of them, and I was fairly indifferent to any potential result. The one that I would have chosen if I had had to make the call would have been ‘Kanenas de me stamata’ because I like that authentic Greek melody and arrangement, and I remembered being a fan of Kostas when he entered in 2008 (even though I thought he was a bit of a second rate Sakis Rouvas).
In the end, ‘Rise Up’ won, and ultimately I think it was the best choice. It was another one that ended up growing on me a lot by the time of the contest, particularly after seeing how audiences reacted to it, and I think it is one song from the final that desperately underperformed.
Do you agree with Peter’s choices, or are there still songs not being given recognition? Let us know in the comments below. Make sure to stay tuned as we look back once again next week on some songs from the 2014 national final season!