Eurovision 2011: The Best of the Rest (Part 6)
The Netherlands: When the 3Js revealed the quintet of songs that would be vying for the ticket to Düsseldorf, in my mind there was no question that “Je Vecht Nooit Alleen/Never Alone” would take the title. (The Dutch audience seemed to feel the same way; the song won with over 63% of the public televote!) If there had to be a substitution, however, my vote would have gone to the upbeat “De Stroom (The Stream)”, which was a more than worthy runner-up:
“De Stroom” is no slouch in itself; while “Je Vecht Nooit Alleen” topped the Dutch charts, “De Stroom” charted at a respectable #12 when it was released as a single in June, six months after the National Song Selection.
Norway: Melodi Grand Prix 2011 was a pretty big affair, with 21 songs split up into three semifinals. As we all know, Stella Mwangi’s bouncy “Haba Haba” eventually took the crown, only to shockingly crash and burn out of the Semifinals. (Subpar performance or technical errors? You be the judge!) Everyone seemed to have their favorites: fans of traditional Nordic sounds pulled for Helene Bølske’s beautiful “Vardlokk“, the sentimental among us loved Babel Fish’s “Depend on Me“, and fans of sweet pop sent their votes to Hanne Sørvaag’s “Like a Melody“. As for me, my heart is divided in two. The not-so-little part of me that loves danceable pop-rock fell in love with The BlackSheeps’ “Dance Tonight”…:
…while the other half of me still sings along to The Lucky Bullets and their rockabilly throwback “Fire Below”:
A tough decision, I know. What were your favorites?
Poland: Much like the Dutch National Final, once the Polish candidates were revealed, there was definitely a runaway favorite. Magdalena Tul’s “Jestem” might have come in last place during its Eurovision Semifinal, but it won its National Final with 44% of the public televote (which is pretty impressive, considering it beat nine other songs to grab the title). With 22% of the public vote, runner-up Anna Gogola served up the fun, quirky “Ktoś taki jak ty (Someone Like You)”:
And if you’re looking for something with a little bit more of an edge, there was 8th-place finisher Roan with “Maybe”:
Portugal: Homens da Luta’s unforgettable 70’s-era protest song “A Luta é Alegria” stormed to victory in this year’s Festival da Cancão on a wave of public support, getting 12 points from the national televote while the juries only gave them 6. Inversely, runner-up Nuno Norte got the full 12 from the juries, but fell short when the public televote only gave him 5 points, missing out on the tie by the slimmest of margins. (Granted, in the case of a tie, the public vote normally determines the winner, so Homens da Luta still would have gone!) Nuno, the winner of the first season of the Portuguese edition of “Idol”, performed “São os barcos de Lisboa (They’re the Boats of Lisbon)”, a modernized fado:
Grabbing this year’s Portuguese bronze medal (and quite a few hearts) was Rui Andrade’s dramatic ballad “Em Nome do Amor (In the Name of Love)”, which got only five points from the jury, but ten from the televote:
(An interesting point of trivia: if Nuno or Rui had won the ticket to Düsseldorf, they would have been the first male soloists to carry the Portuguese flag since Rui Bandeira in 1999!)
In our next chapter, we’ll look at also-rans from Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, and Spain!