Austria. Dawa, “Feel Alive.” Dawa’s style might be described as Tracy Chapman-influenced roots rock. They made the two-act superfinal, but only collected 22% of the public televote; the Makemakes won handily. The group got exposure by doing Wer Singt für Österreich, and it seems they outperformed even their own expectations. Dawa’s visible sense of relief at the end did not sit well with us, especially in the aftermath of Germany’s national final (see below). Still, Dawa has a compelling artistic perspective, and “Feel Alive” is a fantastic song. Had they actually won, we’re sure they would have sucked it up.
Australia. Internal selection, not applicable.
France. Internal selection, not applicable.
Germany. Andreas Kümmert, “Heart of Stone.” Germany’s “what might have been” story is extremely unusual. Not a second place finisher, Germany’s what might have been is Andreas Kümmert, the first place finisher who became an international news story when he said he didn’t want the spot. Andreas had a bluesy style that reminded us of John Popper, both in style and in vocal power. A former Voice winner, he came across as a true talent and a far more seasoned performer than any of the competition. In a two-person superfinal, he collected an impressive 78.7% of the public televote. But upon being named the winner, he declined the chance to represent Germany and gave it to the runner up, Ann Sophie. He explained that he is just a small singer, and that Ann was a more appropriate choice. What it adds up to is a betrayal for the folks that paid to vote for him and for the other competitors who could have had his spot. Other negative stories have since surfaced in the press. He has the raw talent, but many are asking if he’s up for the stress and pressure of the big time.
Italy. Nek, “Fatti avanti amore.” Nek is an established Italian recording artist who has amassed ten Top 10 singles and seven platinum albums over a 20+ year career. Internationally, he’s most well known for the 1997 hit, “Laura non c’è,” which cracked the Top 20 in six European countries. With “Fatti avanti amore,” Nek was stiff competition for Il Volo at the 2015 Sanremo festival. He received 35% of the vote in the big artists category; Il Volo got 39%. Nek also took home the best arrangement award and the Press, Radio, TV & Web award. “Fatti avanti amore” is a compelling Italian pop rock song with a Coldplay-influenced arrangement. It’s the kind of song we expect to hear on Italian radio. However, it’s also an example of the wall-of-sound rock song that has a tendency to disappear in the aggregate cacophony of the Contest. Truth be told, Il Volo has the better chance of standing out. The clip below links to a live television performance after Sanremo.
Spain. Internal selection, not applicable.
United Kingdom. Internal selection, not applicable.