The Eurovision That Almost Was: Semifinal One

It’s time for our annual posts that take a look at the Eurovision that could have been by reviewing the second place finishers at the National Finals. (You can find the previous Eurovision That Almost Was posts on our 2011 and 2012 pages.) They’re fun to write, especially because songs that stood out to us before the National Finals aren’t necessarily the ones that get the majority of votes with their countries’ voters. Fortunately, Estonia’s three-way tie for second gives us another chance to talk about Winny Puhh.

1. Austria. Yela, “Feels Like Home.” Natalia Kelly emerged as the clear winner in Österreich rockt den Song Contest thanks to overwhelming public support, but Yela edged out Natalia in the jury vote. Complete with a thrift-store sofa, this twee little number was precious beyond compare, like if Lauren Hill covered Anna Rossinelli. In all, we think the public got this one right.

  1. Estonia. Grete Paia, “Päästke noored hinged.” Second place was a 3-way tie between Grete Paia, Winny Puhh, and Kõrsikud, but Paia won the tiebreak based on public televote and went head-to-head against Birgit Õigemeel in the Superfinal. This power-pop song, co-written by Paia and Sven “Rockefeller Street” and “Rändajad” Lõhmus, featured Paia on the piano and strong backing harmonies. In the Top 2 Superfinal, Grete Paia received 49% of the televote, edged out by Birgit Õigemeel by only 1,319 votes.

  1. Slovenia. Internal selection, not applicable.

  2. Croatia. Internal selection, not applicable.

  3. Denmark. Mohamed Ali, “Unbreakable.” For the 3rd year in a row, we have preferred Denmark’s runner-up to who they actually sent.  “Unbreakable” was a contemporary, radio-friendly song a la Taio Cruz, and Mohamed Ali was a cutey, not unlike Eric Saade in charisma and dance ability (and unfortunately, ability to deliver live vocals). In the Top 3 Superfinal, Mohamed Ali received as many votes from the judges panel as Emmelie DeForest, but she secured the trip to Malmö with a significantly larger share of Danish public support.

  4. Russia. Internal selection, not applicable.

  5. Ukraine. Dasha Medova, “Don’t Want to Be Alone.” The Ukrainian selection is a cutthroat affair of 20 songs, done straight through with no Superfinal. Zlata Ognevich and “Gravity” was the choice of both the jury and the public. Dasha Medova finished 2nd with the jury and 3rd with the public. Medova has some power, but “Don’t Want to be Alone” lacked the necessary hook for a viable ballad, and let’s face it, it was Zlata’s turn.

  6. The Netherlands. Internal selection, not applicable.

  7. Montenegro. Internal selection, not applicable.

  8. Lithuania. Girmantė Vaitkutė, “Time to Shine.” In the Lithuanian national selection, the public and jury equally weigh in to select the Top 3, and then the jury selects the winner. Andrius Pojavis was the jury darling throughout, finishing 1st with the jury in the round robin and in the Top 3 Superfinal. However, the Lithuanian public gave their 12 points to Adele-meets-Estonia Gerai Gerai and Miss Sheep with “War in the Wardrobe.” These two songs received the same number of points to secure their spots in the Superfinal. In the 100% jury Superfinal, though, Girmantė Vaitkutė ultimately took 2nd place, and Gerai Gerai and Miss Sheep had to settle for bronze. Girmantė Vaitkutė offers a Chiara-inspired diva turn with a soprano vocal and a sweeping melody. She’s goes a little crazy on some of the runs but could have easily scaled it back. Ironically, though the Lithuanian jury favored Pojavis, Vaitkutė would have likely done better with the international juries at Eurovision.

  9. Belarus. Nuteki, “Save Me.” In the Belarussian selection, alternative rock group Nuteki managed a 2nd place finish with the public but only 4th place with the jury. This year both public and jury agreed that Alyona Lanskaya had the better song. Of course, the other Belarussian entry that might have been was the song Alyona Lanskaya actually entered at Eurofest: “Rhythm of Love.” You know, the song on which the public and jury had an opportunity to vote.

  10. Moldova. Boris Covali, “Runaways.” The Moldovan national selection is another cutthroat affair: 14 songs up and down. Though the decision is 50% public and 50% jury, the public votes first and the jury submits their votes second, which in essence offers the jury a veto over the public’s choice. If such a veto existed this year, however, it was quite subtle. The public voted overwhelmingly for two entries: 2nd place finisher Boris Covali and winner Aliona Moon. Despite a significant disadvantage in the draw (Covali went 2nd, Moon went last) Covali won the public vote with his 80s-inspired tribute to escapism, but he managed only 3rd place with the jury. When Aliona Moon received 12 points from the jury, her trip to Malmö was secure.

  11. Ireland. Aimée Fitzpatrick, “Crashing Down.” Once the votes started to come in, it was clear the Irish national selection was a 2-horse race between Ryan Dolan and Aimée Fitzpatrick. Dolan had the radio-friendly pop song and last year’s delegation head supporting him, while Fitzpatrick had the advantage of an emotional ballad with strong lyrics. Fitzpatrick was narrowly the preferred choice of the regional juries, but Dolan secured the win from the public televote.

http://youtu.be/vqOgtf_VVFM

  1. Cyprus. Internal selection, not applicable.

  2. Belgium. Roberto Bellarosa, “Reste toi” and “Be Heroes.” Singer Roberto Bellarosa was an internal selection by Belgian broadcaster RTBF. To decide the song, the public and jury voted on 3 songs performed by Bellarosa on a radio show. We know that “Love Kills” was the winner, but RTBF has not released the results of the voting. We aren’t missing much.

  3. Serbia. Dušan Svilar, “Spas.” Beosong, the Serbian selection show, is determined by 100% public televote. Moje 3 was the convincing winner with 42% of the televote, but Donny Osmond-lookalike Dušan Svilar was the convincing 2nd place finisher with 33% of the public vote. His ethnic-tinged power ballad may have been a better choice for Serbia, but given our disdain of “Ljubav je svuda,” a chorus of cats in heat would have been a better choice for Serbia.