Eurovision 2011: The Best of the Rest (Part 1)

Like many Eurovision fans and fanatics (myself included), the period between the end of May and the beginning of December is often a melancholy bit of time while we wait for news on the next year’s edition and constantly re-hash the events of the past.  For me, this is the perfect time to look back on the songs that didn’t quite make it to Düsseldorf this year; some of these also-rans are just as entertaining or endearing as the tunes that made the journey to the main event.  Out of the forty-three nations that sent songs to Germany this year, thirty-four of them had national selections (and the rest, like France, Belarus, Turkey, et cetera, were internal selections made behind closed doors).  Needless to say, there’s a lot of ground to cover!  So, starting alphabetically…

Albania: For me, the Albanian Preselection (or Festivali i Këngës) is one of the more underrated events of the Eurovision year.  It occurs early in the ESC cycle (generally falling around Boxing Day), and it tends to involve both young, fresh faces as well as veteran performers.  This year’s FiK winner was Aurela Gaçe’s “Kënga Ime”, which eventually became the epic, aquiline “Feel the Passion“.  However, in second place this year was the lovely duet “Ende ka shpresë (There is Still Hope)”, written and performed by Alban Skenderaj and Miriam Cani.  

I don’t know if this song would have been translated into English (as so many other Albanian entries have been over the past few years), but if it had, it could have possibly given Azerbaijan’s Ell and Nikki a run for their money.  
(And, for the record, another personal favorite of mine was Kamela Islamaj’s “Jetova per te dy (I Lived for Us)”, which came in 10th place in the FiK.  While it might not have gone over as well in the ESC as “Ende ka shpresë”, I absolutely love Kamela’s soulful, bluesy, voice.)

 Armenia: The Armenians had decided internally that they’d be sending Emmy, the runner-up from last year’s National Selection.  Giving the public the choice of four songs, they ended up sending “Boom Boom“, which hovered near the bottom of my own personal list this year.  The three other options were the uptempo “Hi“, the melancholy “Goodbye“, and, my personal favorite, runner-up “Ayo”:

I just hope that Armenia, if they participate in the ESC next year, decide to go for a broader, multi-artist National Selection…

Austria: This was the first year since 2007 that ORF decided to send a song to Eurovision, and Nadine Beiler’s “The Secret is Love” was a fantastic return to form.  With her asymmetrical hair, Swarovski-encrusted dress, and consummate professionalism, Nadine was a true joy to watch.  She was the epitome of class, sweetness, and style. 

The runner up in the Austrian National Selection, however, might have been the polar opposite of Nadine, but that doesn’t mean I love it any less!  Behold, the wonder and glory of…Trackshittaz!

“Oida Taunz!” would have been either an absolute smash in the Esprit Arena or it would have fallen flat on its face.  But wouldn’t it have been absolutely amazing to have seen this performed next to Lithuania’s “C’est Ma Vie” or France’s “Sognu”? 

Azerbaijan and Belarus both used internal selections to pick their songs, so we move straight on to… 

Belgium: Acapella group Witloof Bay nearly made it into the final with “With Love Baby”, but my favorite entry from their national final was, by far, Alexandre Deschamps’ “Elle Merveille (She Wonders)”:

The tune is sweet, the lyrics thought-provoking, and considering the fact that the only French we heard in 2011 was from Lithuania, this would have been a refreshing change.  I could easily imagine myself listening to this while sitting out on a patio on a sunny spring afternoon, lazily sipping cafe au lait.  Can’t say that about Trackshittaz, that’s for sure…

Skipping Bosnia and Herzegovina, we move on to… 

Bulgaria: Nothing could have topped Poli Genova’s “Na Inat (Defiance)” in my eyes.  She was sweet, spunky, and had a fantastic voice!  For me, there was no question that “Na Inat” was the best of the Bulgarian National Final, but if someone twisted my arm and made me pick a second choice, I’d probably have to pick Lazar Kislov’s slinky, sexy “Zamestitel (Substitute)”.

Barring that, you can’t deny the off-the-wall insanity of Milena Slavova’s “Fire in My Hair“, which came in second place this year.  Fire dancers AND sumo wrestlers?  Will wonders never cease?

More to come…

Posted on August 24, '11, in 2011, Albania, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Special Comment. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I really like the Belgium one but the others don't appeal to me much. Certainly not 'trackshittaz', when I heard that, for the first time in my life, i thought there really was no hope for humanity… lol

  2. Hi, Jack! What were some of your favorites? I kind of just picked an assortment of the ones that struck me (either good or bad). Hopefully, as I continue on with this series, we'll find things we both like. 🙂

  3. Hi Samantha! I actually agree with all the entries here – and you're right Poli Genova was robbed!!! Looking forward to the rest of your choices from the national finals 🙂

  4. I didn't really get to see the pre-selections for any of these countries actually, so I wouldn't know which are my favorites. As we go through the list, there are sure to be some I like. I'm just very picky with music. 😛

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