I’m not sure why this happens, but it’s been 30-some years since my favorite won Eurovision. (It was probably Hold Me Now, actually, so not quite 30 years, then…) If it had been up to me, the contest would have been hosted in entirely different places every year since 1997. Probably for years and years before that too, but I have to start somewhere…
…and I’ll start with 1997, simply because that’s the first year I can think of right now where I had a clear favorite who didn’t win. And no one who knows me even the slightest will be the least bit surprised to find out that my winner from Dublin in 97 is Páll Óskar (aka Paul Oscar) and his wonderful Minn hinsti dans. The five countries who tried out televoting this year had Iceland in 6th place (I think?), so it’s clear that I wasn’t the only person to love this song. The juries, however, were not equally impressed, causing this diamond of a song to finish way down in 20th place. Totally undeserved!
The next year would then of course have taken us to Iceland for Eurovision, and we would have had Reykjavik 1998. And there wasn’t much of a fight for my first place this year either; Michalis Hatzigiannis with Genesis for Cyprus. It almost managed to sneak in to top 10, finishing a very respectable 11th. But still; 10 places too low compared to what I would have preferred. An amazing voice, and a song that partly has me hollering along and partly just makes me smile.
So, it would have been Nicosia 1999, and for the second year in a row we would have ended up on a small island, even though that is the only thing the two countries have in common. Apart from tourists… And for 1999 I have to admit I have some difficulties picking a winner, simply because I think this is a terribly bad year. But I have to pick a winner, and after a lot of boring work I’m left with two; Slovenia and Bosnia-Hercegovina. And since B-H is my winner a few years later I’ll crown Slovenia’s For a Thousand Years, performed by Darja Švajger my winner this year.
Meaning that the next Eurovision Song Contest would have been Ljubljana 2000!! And yet again, just like the previous year, I have problems picking a winner, but this time because 2000 is (one of) my favorite contest. There are sooooooo many great songs this year; Austria, Russia, Romania, Cyprus, Iceland, UK and Netherlands to mention a few. But in the end it boils down to Latvia and Croatia, and I really wish I didn’t have to choose. But I do, and not matter how great I think Kad zaspu anđeli is, the victory must go to one of my favorite bands and one of my favorite songs in the history of Eurovision; Latvian Brit-poppers BrainStorm and their entry My Star.
As a result we would have ended up in Riga a couple of years earlier than what we actually did, which would have been much more deserved (again; in my opinion). So; Riga 2001. Enter the best song to ever have been performed on the Eurovision stage, so you’ll have to search forever to find a more obvious winner. And who is this obvious winner? Duh; my beloved Mumiy Troll(s), representing Russia with their Lady Alpine Blue. I love this song almost as much as I love Mumiy Troll. And the fact that Lady Alpine Blue isn’t even their best song is frankly slightly overwhelming.
Yet again this brings us to the next country a few years earlier than in “real life”, since Russia winning in 2001 would have brought us to Moscow, or if I could have decided; St.Petersburg 2002 instead of in 2009. It’s a shame I can’t also swap a few entries, since I’m already changing winners and countries…as 2002 rreally isn’t a very good year… But there are a couple of potential winners, and in Wiv’s Eurovision Song Contest 2002, Macedonia would have won. Karolina is a great singer and Od nas zavisi really is a very good song.
My Eurovision Song Contest winner from Skopje 2003 would have been Jostein Hasselgård and his beautiful piano ballad I’m Not Afraid to Move On. This is one of my favorite Norwegian entries ever. And even though Turkey, Croatia, Spain (though not live!) and Poland were in the running for a while to grab my victory this year, we’d be heading north instead of south for 2004. (No Istanbul for a few years…but we’ll get there!)
In other words; Oslo 2004, instead of 2010. Which would have meant one of my favorite years happening in my city. I, of course, think that would have been a lovely thing to happen. And this is another year where it’s downright painful having to eliminate some of the contestants. Serbia & Montenegro, Turkey, Spain, France, Germany, UK and Island (more because of the voice than the song tbh) would all have been very well deserved winners to me, but still there is NO DOUBT what so ever, when it comes to my first place. I believe Toše Proeski might have had the best voice we have ever heard from a Eurovision stage, and Life, with it’s amazingly cool rythms, it’s in my top 5 ever, so we would have ended up heading to Macedonia for the second time in three years.
In other words; Skopje 2005. A mere two years since we were last there. Again I have a couple of possible winners and one clear winner. The callengers were Denmark and Ukraine, but my winner is without a doubt Serbia&Montenegro. Back in 2005 I had them in 5th place (approximately), but it has grown and grown and grown on me in the years since, and it’s like I like it better every time I listen to it. It’s one of those songs I love listening to *really loud*, and I also love singing along to it! Zauvijek Moja has over the years managed to sneak into my top 10, and i think it’s safe to say it will remain there a good while.
Despite the fact that the guys in No Name are from Montenegro, and my Eurovision Song Contest ought to have been hosted in Podgorica, it’s fairly likely that Belgrade wouls still have been chosen as host city, since it was the capitol of Serbia&Montenegro. In other words; Belgrade 2006, instead og 2008. And there is no doubt whatsoever about my winner in 2006; Germany grabs the trophy! I’m normally not much of a country fan, but there is something about No No Never that I just cannot resist. I also liked Lejla and Hard Rock Hallelujah a lot, but they weren’t even close to my winner. Off to Germany for the next contest!
Yet another country we would have visited earlier that we actually did; Düsseldorf i 2007, not 2011. I might have chosen a different city, but we’ll just stick with Ddorf, since it was a lot better than I thought it would be. 2007 for me is one of those either/or years; some of the most horrible entries ever (including THE most horrendous one), alongside some of the best. And even though I had a several serious contenders this year, with Goergia and Moldova as the main challengers, none could beat Hungary’s Magdi Rúzsa and her unbelievably beautiful Unsubstantial Blues.
Budapest 2008! There is no doubt in my mind that’s what it should have been! And in the 2008 contest I also have a nice little handful of potential winners, but as (almost) always there is one that stands out from the bunch. The potential “handful” were Turkey, Russia, Azerbaijan and San Marino, but they didn’t stand a chance against France, who was represented by the one and only Sébastien Tellier and his divine Divine. Unfortunately I have to admit that the live performance wasn’t in any way divine; the backing vocalists started out completely off key and things didn’t get back on track until after the first chorus. The song and the singer are however top class, so there was never any doubt as to who would grab the top spot!
Paris 2009, then, instead of Moscow. And even though I think Fairytale is a great song and there’s no doubt Norway was the most “complete” act, Alexander is not my winner. One of my favorite ever Eurovision entries participated this year, and I hand the trophy to the gentlemen of Regina from Bosnia&Herzegovina. Bistra Voda is such an amazingly beautiful song, and I still don’t, and never will, understand how it didn’t finish higher than 9th place.
And there is no question about who would have secured the win on stage in Sarajevo 2010 either; maNga!! We Could Be the Same is a complete rock song, and Ferman’s voice fits the song perfectly! (And his eyes are perfect too. For the song I mean… Actually, they’re just perfect. Period.)
Finally we would have ended up in Turkey, and we could have enjoyed Istanbul 2011. Yet again Georgia was in my final, and yet again they lost the duel. This time it was the returning Italians who robbed them of the victory. No one could beat Raphael Gualazzi to the top position. His Madness of Love/Follia d’Amore is a class tune no matter the context. And I doubt that anyone were as happy as me about the return of Italy *and* the juries! The fact that Italy takes Eurovision seriously and keep sending class acts brings me such joy! And there is no doubt for me that they should have won already in their first year back.
Milano 2012 (one must be allowed to dream, right? Even though sources in RAI more than hints that Turin will host the contest when Itlay wins…) would *finally* give us a Zeljko Joksimovic victory! Lane Moje was right behind Tose in 2004, and Lejla was also close to victory but their opposition was just too strong for them to win in their years. Nije ljubav stvar, on the other hand, is so incredibly beautiful that it beats great songs like the ones from Italy, Iceland, Germany and Estonia hands down, though they all had *really* good songs this year.
Beograd 2013 would also have had a pretty solid top 5 for me, but again; Italy would have won it! Marco Mengoni is a wonderful artist (who sang David Bowie to me the first time we met…a surefire way to garantee my everlasting support…) and L’essenziale is a wonderful song. It was closely followed by the Netherlands, France, Norway and Azerbaijan, but none of them ever really came close to beating Marco.
So we’d be heading to Italy again, and this year I’ll (very graciously) let RAI decide, and then it would be Turin 2014! And this is one of those years where I have two songs I like almost equally much; Armenia and Montenegro. I started out loving Armenia and liking Montenegro a lot, but during the rehearsal weeks Montenegro kept creeping closer and closer. Aram managed to stay in the lead, and thereby securing the victory, but only just… Not Alone is a lovely, melancholy pop ballad that grows and grows until it explodes into a hot and hopeful dubstep. And the result; Aram brought Eurovision to Armenia…in my dreams…
And in Jerevan 2015 I would yet again face a duel between two almost equally strong songs, this time Norway and Latvia. Norway had never before, in my 40-some years of following the contest, been my favorite, but A Monster Like Me is such a beautiful, powerful, wonderful, lovely, emotional (and on and on and on…) song, so there is no way I couldn’t love it. But of course, it couldn’t be *that* simple. There had to be an almost equally good song, that for me would have been a contender in any year; Aminata’s Love Injected. But Norway was too strong (seriously; the song made me cry during every single rehearsal…), and we’d finally be heading to Oslo, six years later than in real life.
So; Oslo 2016. For the second time in three years Armenia was my favorite going into the contest. Iveta is an amazingly good singer and performer, and her Love Wave is such a cool song. I just love the way it combines the contemporary sound with traditional elements. But just like in 2014, there was a song that kept creeping closer and closer and *almost* managed to sneak past Armenia just before the final. Almost, but not quite. *After* the contest, however, I have to admit that the song I listen to the most is *not* Love Wave, but Poland’s Color of Your Life, performed by the wonderfully amazing Michal Szpak.
Which means we will…eh…ought to…be heading to Kracow for Eurovision SongContest 2017. (Where Iceland will win, so that we can finally celebrate Eurovision in Reykjavik!!)
Dublin 1997; Páll Óskar – Minn hinsti dans
Reykjavik 1998; Michalis Hatzigiannis – Genesis
Nicosia 1999; Darja Švajger – For a Thousand Years
Ljubljana 2000; Brainstorm – My Star
Riga 2001; Mumiy Troll – Lady Alpine Blue
St.Petersburg 2002; Karolina – Od nas zavisi
Skopje 2003; Jostein Hasselgård – I’m Not Afraid To Move On
Oslo 2004; Toše Proeski – Life
Skopje 2005; No Name – Zauvijek moja
Beograd 2006; Texas Lightning – No No Never
Düsseldorf 2007; Magdi Rúzsa – Unsubstantial Blues
Budapest 2008; Sebastien Tellier – Divine
Paris 2009; Regina – Bistra Voda
Sarajevo 2010; maNga – We Could Be the Same
Istanbul 2011; Raphael Gualazzi – Madness of Love
Milano 2012; Zeljko Joksimovic – Nije Ljubav Stvar
Beograd 2013; Marco Mengoni – L’essenziale
Milano 2014; Aram mp3 – Not ALone
Jerevan 2015; Mørland&Debra Scarlett – A Monster Like Me
Oslo 2016; Michal Szpak – Color of Your Life
Så dette er min seiersrekke og ønske-arrangørbyer i Eurovision Song Contest, helt fra 1997 og frem til i dag. Hvordan ser din ut?
A previous version of this article (in Norwegian) was published on escNorge.net in 2014.