25 March 2018
Ironic for a title called National Final Injustices, there weren’t really any this year. While we can all point to our favourites missing, the question is whether it was a real injustice, or just our little tantrum. Even then, tantrum-wise, I never needed a hospital visit as a result of breaking bones when smashing the ground like in other years. So it’s really a case of let’s reminisce about the things we miss, and those songs that at least made their national finals all the more interesting.
Slovenia – ManuElla – Glas
First, “my girl” ManuElla from Slovenia, who I can call a friend these days. I say “my girl” because I am biased here. Blue And Red was my favourite song at Stockholm 2016, she has such a unique and warm voice, and I lived and breathed her journey from the moment she won her national final. It was my first live ESC too, and I cried a little the next morning after she failed to qualify for the final. Being fortunate to meet her too, she made that ESC so special. Eurovision also made an imprint on her as she soon moved to Stockholm to progress her music career. Eurovision 2011 Slovenian representative Maya Keuc was already living there too.
Interesting story to ManuElla’s 2018 attempt. In late May, not long after Slovenia failed at ESC 2017, I replied #ManuElla2018 on one of ManuElla’s Facebook posts. It was a bit of cheek, more than actual hope, then late September or so, she “Likes” the post! I asked her she’s really trying again, and she says it’s early days. Come December it’s all confirmed, and Glas was her song. Even trying to check my bias at the door, it was a clear stand-out from the snippets, so I had full expectation that she reaches the final. It’s eight from 16, surely! Alas, no – finished 12th on both jury and televote.
From other people’s comments, the biggest criticism seemed to be she wasn’t active enough on stage – even though it’s not a song meant for dancing or “fireworks”. While the basic presentation might have played a part, I felt the song was good enough by itself to progress. So it’s probably a combination of it not really sticking out, especially among the many other solo female artists, and also the high expectations fans have of recent return winners. It’s a common trend everywhere that such artists need a super special song or they are immediately dismissed. As a side note, Slovenia decided their finalists by taking the top 4 from each of the public and the jury. While I’ve proposed in the past ESC does this as well, the change that Slovenia should make is take the jury top 4 first, then the public’s. That way the public gets the bonus picks in case of common songs. For EMA 2018, the jury got extra picks, meaning another expected finalist, Nika Zorjan, who was the public’s fifth best, missed out.
Norway – Rebecca – Who We Are
Speaking of return winners, Alexander Rybak did manage to win his national final, Melodi Grand Prix. The big difference between him and most others was a 9 year gap since his last participation and victory (and victory at Eurovision) so nostalgia and sentiment kicks in. Unfortunately, his win meant the excellent Rebecca with Who We Are missed out, finishing second. It’s a song written by Kjetil Morland, who participated at ESC 2015 with Debrah Scarlett, performing A Monster Like Me, and would have been a worthy entry for Norway in Lisbon. This year’s Eurovision is severely lacking female ballads!
Definitely check the official video of the song, as it graphically shows the song’s message. Melodi Grand Prix was overall a bit flat this year. That was typified by my favourite from the song preview, Charla K with Stop The Music, while Stella & Alexandra with You Got Me finished top 4 and was the only other act worthy enough to be in Lisbon.
Czechia – Eva Buresova – Fly
Czechia – Debbi – High On Love
After struggling at Eurovision to make an impact (only one final’s appearance during the semi final era), Czechia produced three great songs from their 6 candidates. I’ve struggled to split Fly (finished third) and High On Love (finished second) ever since they were released, and it’s still difficult. While I eventually landed on Fly (nice to reverse that scenario for a change), now I’m not so sure. So why not show both?
Czechia’s third top song was obviously the one chosen, Lie To Me by Mikolas Josef. While I’m not a huge fan of it, I can see it doing much better than the other two, especially if he can present it well live. We don’t know about that from the Czech national final because it was essentially an online one based on these video previews!
Denmark – Carlsen – Standing Up For Love
Call me old-fashioned, I love these catchy, lightweight pop pieces, and I hoped Carlsen could emulate the Netherland’s OG3NE of 2017 with another trio of sisters at Eurovision. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really that great live, so the Danes couldn’t even fit them into their super final top 3. Can’t show the official Dansk Melodi Grand Prix performance because the idiot Danes follow Sweden and block certain countries, including Australia. If the one unofficial below is removed, here’s the official video.
San Marino – Sara de Blue – Out Of The Twilight
Actually, if there was one possible injustice, it’s in San Marino! A strange national final process whereby artists came from around the world, went to a songwriting camp, and the winner was partially decided by crowd-funding. Sara de Blue is from Austria, while the winner, Jessika, is Maltese. Sara de Blue easily had the best song; it was vocals that let her down. She finished second.
Germany – Natia Todua – My Own Way
Natia finished last of six in Germany’s national final, which seemed a bit harsh. While her voice and style might be an acquired taste, My Own Way still stands as a fun, catchy song. I actually had it stuck in my mind for a few days.