As the dust settles on the 2022 contest and Eurovision fans stare down the barrel of a long off-season, here at ESCXTRA, we wanted to spend the summer highlighting our moments of appreciation for Eurovision 2022. Up first, we celebrate the countries who returned to the Grand Final this year.
Armenia: First Grand Final appearance since 2017
Between 2017 and their eventual withdrawal in 2021, we had witnessed a decline in what used to be a Eurovision powerhouse. It’s always hard to see a country withdraw, but having Armenia withdraw due to the political crisis resulting from the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was particularly devastating. Armenia’s entries over the years have been pivotal in making me the Eurovision fan I am today, so I was eager to see them return.
Thankfully, the story took a turn for the better thereafter. Having triumphantly won Junior Eurovision 2021, I hope Rosa’s qualification will see Armenia return to their former glory in the coming years.
Poland: First Grand Final appearance since 2017
Poland has been struggling for a while now (with notable exceptions being 2014 and 2016), so Ochman felt like a 180-degree shift before the national final even happened. Having both “Paranoia” and “River” in contention suggested a brighter future may lie ahead for a country that has often produced entries far below the standard of their music industry.
Even though 12th place may have been lower than expected for some, it was a solid left-hand finish for a country that hasn’t been in the top 10 since 2016. I hope to see some of their talented former Junior Eurovision representatives return for the adult contest in the coming years and bring their trajectory in line with their JESC results.
Romania: First Grand Final appearance since 2017
Naturally, this one is a little bittersweet due to the ongoing uncertainty as to Romania’s future at the contest. Regardless, I figured it would be worth celebrating their qualification regardless, considering the string of poor results and national final controversies it followed. WRS overcoming the [literal] odds and making it to the final – and placing top 5 in the televote in the semi-final no less – is a glimmer of light in a rough few years for Romania at Eurovision.
I sincerely hope that rather than withdraw, TVR can address the criticisms of their selection format and use “Llámame” as a step in the right direction.
Estonia: First Grand Final appearance since 2019
Estonia have generally been a very inconsistent country at the contest. Over the past two decades or so, they have gotten top 10 results (2009, 2012, 2015, 2018) and failed to qualify altogether (2014, 2016, 2017, 2021).
With Uku Suviste winning the previous two editions of Eesti Laul, Stefan brought a new energy to Estonia’s participation, even reaching the top 10 of the televote of the Grand Final. I hope to see Eesti Laul revert back to the feel of its more ‘indie’ editions (see: 2013) and let their freak flag fly at the contest.
Australia: First Grand Final appearance since 2019
Having broken their qualification streak last year (with a live-on-tape performance, no less), it was great to see Australia back swinging in 2022. Back after a brief hiatus, Australia Decides produced one of my favourite stagings of the national final season in the form of Jaguar Jonze’s “Little Fires”.
Sheldon Riley was both incredibly talented and an excellent representative for Eurovision and his home nation, whose right to participate in the contest is often questioned.
Czech Republic: First Grand Final appearance since 2019
The Czech Republic is another country that has had a very…checkered (Czechuered?) history with the contest, and a notoriously low level of public interest in Eurovision. For this reason, I was delighted to see We Are Domi’s hard work pay off in the form of a qualification. They even managed to rank third in the televote in semi-final two – their second highest finish in a semi-final televote after “Lie To Me” in 2018.
On a personal note, I stuck my neck out by celebrating ESCZ before the contest even happened, so I feel somewhat vindicated. Regardless if they opt to give us a ‘proper’ national final next year, I just hope to see a similarly high quality field of entries at the next edition of ESCZ.
Stay tuned for the next instalment of our Moments of Appreciation series next week! Be sure to stay updated by following @ESCXTRA on Twitter, @escxtra on Instagram, @escxtra on TikTok and liking our Facebook page for the latest updates! Also, be sure to follow us on Spotify for the latest music from your favourite ESC and JESC acts.