Editorials & Opinion

The Ultimate National Final?

Amid the blur of winter’s national final super Saturdays, the shows can start to blur into one. Switching from nation to nation to cherry-pick the best bits, if only we could combine the best of the bunch to create the Ultimate National Final…
Best Staging – Sweden
There’s no better debate to draw fire, fury and fanaticism among Eurofans than to discuss the pros and cons of Melodifestivalen’s evolution, but even the most ardent Scandiphobe cannot deny that Sweden puts on a professional, well organised, technically sound and excellently staged show that gives its performers a fair stab at showing exactly what their song can do.

Best line-up of top acts – Estonia
Estonia’s national final editions often feature familiar faces, but since Eurolaul took a cunning rebrand and revamp, emerging as Eesti Laul in 2009, it has been no trouble for ERR to gather a line-up of many of this nation’s top pop acts. The same applies to Estonian pop songwriters. This year, Estonian pop queen Kerli makes an appearance on the writing credits for one of the entrants, Cartoon ft Kristal’s “Immortality”.

Picking the right winner…somehow – Ukraine
The selection processes may be various and dubious, and the national final performances will rarely bare much resemblance to the style of presentation on the Eurovision stage, but the Ukrainians always muster that special something and somehow, by hook and by crook, pick the right winner. No matter how dire it may be at first, eventually it is proven that Ukraine knows best.

Best jury – Ireland
A few honourable mentions to give here. The Ruslana-led Ukrainian panel of 2016 that were determined to criticise every act and interrogate their professional and political intentions. Festivali I Këngës jurors who practically nodded off when called upon to give their scores. But there can only be one winner. Whether a voting jury or a pundit panel, what you really want from them is a blazing row. And you cannot beat the Irish for that. Gobshite!

Best #Skandal – Belarus
If an annual competition, it would a rare year that Belarus were not nominated for this honour. No result is guaranteed. Presidential intervention and vote-rigging allegations are common-place. Whether she be a pawn or a player, Alyona Lanskaya has certainly been caught up in it all.
Lanskaya warbled and wailed her way to victory in 2012 with the ballad “All my life”, only for cries of vote-rigging and corruption to be hurled at her. Consequently, President Aleksandr Lukashenko, that beacon of fair play, declared that the result was null and void, disqualifying Alena.

Not put off by a presidential sacking off, Alyona/Alena reappeared in 2013.  at the national final performing “Rhythm of love”, again claiming victory. But you know things are never quite so straightforward in Belarus. “Rhythm of love” was ditched in favour of “Solayoh” before reaching the Eurovision stage.

Best #Fiasko – Moldova
Half of the appeal of watching a national final is that element of risk. It’s a live broadcast, it may involve some performers less used to the TV environment, it involves a contentious competition, it’s being organised by a broadcaster that don’t quite get organisation. It’s promising.
TRM conducted a two-part selection in 2006 that ended in a three-way tie. The youngest juror was charged, as per the broadcaster’s rules, with the responsibility of giving a verdict. That juror abstained, and so no result was given.
A second national final was scheduled, but two of the tiebreakees called the #fiasko and refused to turn out again. Serj Cusencoff stubbornly showed out again, but thankfully managed not to win, the nod going to newcomers Arsenium ft Natalia Gordienko.

Best evolution – Hungary
From hotchpotch finals, abstentions, internal selections and withdrawals, hot on Wolf Kati’s heels came A Dal (‘The Song’), in a bid to revive Hungarian fortunes. As well as showing the Hungarian public have a canny knack of picking something a little different, it has also proven very successful Saturday night TV with strong ratings and drawing in some good names to compete.

Best theme tune – Albania
No contest here. This little ditty could have won most editions of Festivali I Këngës in recent history, key change and all.



  1. I think Albania has a better staging than Sweden! So much glamour and kitsch in Sweden….a very overrated NF.country: Alabnia has more \”classy\”. maybe a bit old-fashioned though. But they have an orchestra…adds a lot to the show . nice to see lots of real instruments in action. And the fact that they ditch the 3 minute rule give the songs a more natural developement…..More room for musical details etc, better structured songs, not the usual ESC-pattern.
    I think also Estonia is best…most daring / alterive songs. Many modern entries, good diversity etc.

  2. I hate Linda Martin getting any exposure for her outrageous outburst, she humiliated herself & Ireland that night.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button