31 March 2019
It’s been a strange Eurovision national final season. Where once it was long and comfortably absorbed, the trend is for later and later national finals and song releases, to the point 2019 was ridiculous compressed and frenetic. Ignoring Albania’s traditional fixed festival in late December, it wasn’t so long ago that January would see many countries, including Denmark, Norway and Finland, start theirs, while others would follow into February. Typically we’d all be waiting for only one or two songs by the deadline in March, whereas this year it was an avalanche. Let’s hope there’s some sanity next year with a better spread of releases and national finals because any advantage of releasing late to provide separation or distinction is now clearly lost. This year nearly half the entries are solo men.
As for injustices, there weren’t that many. While we might personally have had other preferences, nearly all, if not all, were well deserved winners. The case of jury over exerted their influence to deny the people’s choice, this year that happened only in Romania, and that was due to the voting criteria than anything wrong.
Norway – D’Sound – Mr Unicorn
Mr Unicorn by D’Sound were my clear favourites of the national final season to miss a spot at Eurovision. In the defence of the winner from Melodi Grand Prix, KEiiNO with Spirit In The Sky, they dominated the public vote and were deserved winners. I liked them too, as I did Adrian Jørgensen in second place, and Ingrid Berg Mehus, who just happened to be the subject matter of Alexander Rybak’s Fairytale! After dominating the jury vote, D’Sound ultimate finished third. It’s one of the few songs that got me hooked from the start, thanks to the stylish song, presentation and dance moves, and it will go into my Top 10 Best Ever National Final Losers in sixth spot. My review of NMGP.
Romania – Laura Breton – Dear Father
Laura’s loss definitely was the biggest controversy of the national final season, notably because the public had such little say. Breton, who’s American born and a dual national, was the overwhelming public vote winner compared to the eventual winner, Ester Peony, in lowly eighth. Peony won the jury with Breton in third. In any 50/50 system you’d see Breton should beat Peony easily. Except, it was an 86/14 system, or the jury had 6/7 of the say, leaving Breton in second overall.
To exacerbate the injustice, two of the jury were from Wiwibloggs and both had praised Breton’s song in their own preview video as possibly the best of all countries to that point. Then an old video surfaced of Breton in support of traditional marriage (no doubt due to her christian upbringing), and the sense was the Wiwi boys changed their mind, and they ultimately voted her only fifth and sixth best of the 10 finalists. While Peony upped her game with great staging, was Breton’s so weak it would turn you off the song? Clearly not. It wasn’t any WTF Macedonia and Lost And Found in 2018, for example. Personally, the song didn’t really get going until the end, and didn’t make enough of use of Breton’s soprano voice. I’d have put Ester Peony with On A Sunday on top, and would happily sit on the Romanian international jury one day.
Ukraine – Tsesho – Hate
The other big injustice is Ukraine withdrawing from this year’s Eurovision after MARUV won Vidbir 2019 with Siren Song and organisers demanded she sign an unworkable contract. When she refused, and the acts finishing second and third did likewise, the attempts to humiliate MARUV backfired so Ukraine abandoned altogether. Perhaps Ukraine should have tried spreading Hate from the start and selected Tsesho. Personally this was the best song of Vidbir and they couldn’t even make the six-song final, finishing a close fourth in their semi. Had they went to Eurovision, they could have had a hate-off with Iceland. How nice would that have been!
Denmark – Julia & Nina – League Of Light
Partially sang in Greenlandic (belongs to the Eskimo family of languages), this was the favourite to win Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, only to finish second to Leonora with Love Is Forever, much to the girls’ disappointment. Personally it was much a repeat of last year’s Danish entry by Rasmussen, and you can’t really send the same song twice. My review of DMGP.
Lithuania – Monika Marija – Light On
This was such a lovely song, and sadly got caught up in a controversy in which Monika qualified two songs – the other being Criminal – for the final. She asked viewers not to vote for Criminal in its semi final, as Light On was her primary song. They did anyway, where it finished third. She immediately withdrew it and hoped fans would all swing to Light On – which won its semi final – in the final. Alas, she was second on both jury and televote, leaving Jurijus with Run With The Lions to win, which is a nice song anyway. It’s just that in the year of solo males, Monika would have been a nice break in the pattern.
Sweden – Rebecka Karlsson – Who I Am
This year was a strong Melodifestivalen, and this is one song I really would loved to have seen in the grand final. Sadly Rebecka lost to 3 white males, Arvingarna, in the second chance round. From the semi finals, Pagan Fury with Stormbringer disappointingly finished last. I thought Sweden loved diversity?
Australia – Sheppard – On My Way
It would be remiss not to mention my home country had their first national final with Australia Decides, and brought a good show for their first attempt. While there’s no dispute Kate Miller-Heidke with Zero Gravity was the worthy winner, Sheppard surprised me the most with an energetic, albeit slightly messy, presentation of their epic On My Way, complete with their epic family gene pool. I’ve never before seen a more beautiful girl with green hair or one holding a pink guitar. Best of all, it was great to watch a national final at a reasonable hour, not 4am like for Europe.