National Final Season Wrap-Up: The Best of the Rest

Rehearsals for the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest kick off tomorrow, but we want to take one last look at the national final season before we start obsessively checking Daniel Gould’s Twitter feed for rehearsal updates.

For this post, we  highlight a handful of our favorite songs that went underappreciated during the national final season. These are not songs represented in Malmo, and frequently, they’re not even the runners-up of some particularly close national final. The songs we list below suited our musical tastes, showed us something we hadn’t seen before, or were otherwise utterly brilliant. In short, they made us happy, which at the most fundamental level is why we follow Eurovision. And we do this blog so we don’t forget.

Switzerland: Los Angeles the Voices, “Wild White Horses – Co-written by Gordon Heuckeroth of De Toppers fame, who left the venerable Dutch band to form Los Angeles the Voices, this song languished along with the hundreds of submissions in the Swiss contest. But its gloriousness cannot, will not, must not be contained.

Estonia: Flank, “Missing Light – Holy cow, this song is terrific: a synth-driven, hard-rocking power-pop anthem. It’s really too bad singer Tõnn Tobreluts couldn’t quite hit the notes during Flank’s performance at Eesti Laul, but even so, we really feel like Estonia missed out by omitting this from the final.

Lithuania: Gerai Gerai and Miss Sheep, “War in the Wardrobe – A post-punk song with early-electronica-inspired keyboards, “War in the Wardrobe” had a more Estonian vibe than most Estonian entries this year. We are still shaking our heads over Lithuania picking “Something” instead.

Hungary: Kállay Saunders András, “I Love My Baby – This delightful Motown doo-wop number was the favorite of the Hungarian jury. From the vocals to the a cappella breakdown to the staging, it fills us with joy.

Sweden: Martin Rolinski, “In and Out of Love – This is a conventional Thomas G:son dance song, but it had an innovative presentation with dancers in a box splashing paint on the boxes. Sadly, it went down in the Andra Chanson round.

Estonia: Winny Puhh, “Meiecundimees üks Korsakov läks eile Lätti – When the histories are written, Estonia’s Winny Puhh will go down as one of the most madcap entries to ever grace any Eurovision-related stage. In the semi-final they did the entire performance in weird costumes that looked like team mascots from the NCAA S&M tournament. Then in the national final, the drummers rotated at a 90 degree angle to the stage, the backing guitarists hung upside down from the ceiling, and everyone had unsettling wolfman facial hair. The “song,” if you can call it that, is more like rhythmic screaming with musical accompaniment. It may not be much of a song, but it is damned memorable.

Two sides of Winny Puhh

RomaniaNarcis Iustin Ianău, “Seven – To look at Ianău unprepared for what’s to follow, you would except some type of Swedish-pop inspired Bieber type.  And then “Seven” begins, and what you’re presented with is Generation Y’s answer to Jimmy Somerville. He shows exquisite control of his instrument. Admittedly, he’s singing in barely recognizable English, but we didn’t care because we love him. Everyone else in Romania not so much: “Seven” received nil points from the jury and finished in eighth place.

Latvia: PeR, Sad Trumpet – Eurovision fans tuning in for the second Semi-final will see PeR in an upbeat number, but we also enjoyed their other entry in Eurodziema, an overly melodramatic piece that has Ralfs Eilands on vocal, Edmunds Rasmanis on rhythmic hand rubbing and beatboxing and, inexplicably, no one on trumpet. Such a sad trumpet.

Those were our favorites.  What were yours?