The National Final season finished two weeks ago, and now it’s a good time to reflect on what has been an action packed season, and one which I will look back on with great fondness. Here are the top 10 moments from the season, let us know what you think in the comments box below.
1. Germany – Internal Selection of Xavier Naidoo
Well, that went well for Germany, didn’t it? After last year’s shenanigans during Unser Song für Österreich, when the winner Andreas Kümmert withdrew after being announced as the winner, Germany must have been hoping for a drama free selection for 2016.
In late November it was announced that Xavier Naidoo, a German singer with family roots in South Africa and India would represent Germany in Stockholm. There was immediate backlash, with accusations of him holding homophobic and extreme right wing beliefs. Within the week, Thomas Schreiber, entertainment co-ordinator for NDR released a statement saying “Xavier Naidoo is a brilliant singer who is, according to my own opinion, neither racist nor homophobe”, and added that “the ongoing discussion about Naidoo could harm the image of the Eurovision Song Contest. This is why Naidoo will not represent Germany.”
This decision was accepted by Xavier, who stated on his official Facebook page “My passion for music and my commitment to love, freedom, tolerance and coexistence is unbroken”. NDR subsequently arranged a National Final, Unser Lied für Stockholm, which was held on 25th February. The winner, and Germany’s representative in Stockholm is Jamie-Lee Kriewitz with her song “Ghost”.
2. “Kick The Habit” – Belgium
Way back on January 17th, we got one of our first WTF moment of the season with the staging of Amaryllis Uitterlinden’s song “Kick The Habit” No amount of listening to the song beforehand could have prepared us for the 3 minutes that followed.
3. Loreen at Songvakeppni final
From Iceland’s Songvakeppni final, that lovely moment when you are interviewing a past Eurovision winner, then stuff goes down…
4. Let It Go – Riga Beaver
A strange phenomenon has happened in Latvia’s Supernova over the last couple of years. A management company in Latvia created Riga Beaver to become the city’s mascot. When an opportunity arose to compete in Supernova in 2015, the chance was taken, and whilst eliminated in the early cut, the Riga Beaver hung around to entertain the audience during the ad breaks. Add an international internet audience to this mix, and a legend was born.
Riga Beaver surpassed himself this year, culminating in a surreal interpretation of the lead song from Disney’s Frozen. Watch and enjoy
5. Lynda Woodruff
No Eur-o-vision event can now be complete without a word or two from the official spokesperson for the EBU. Thank you SVT (and SDF), from the bottom of our hearts!
6. Klemen Slakonja – EMA
The last in our trio of unlikely heroes, Klemen Slakonja is a Slovenian comedian and actor who hosted the annual Slovene national final EMA, with varying degrees of success amongst its audience. This year however he decided to launch his #TheMockingbirdMan project with the shocking, but very funny song sending up the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. The word got out, the video went viral, and is currently standing at just under 4m views worldwide.
7. Krajowe eliminacje do Eurowizji – Poland’s National Selection
From the point that Poland released their list of Eurovision hopefuls early in February, there was a buzz amongst the community. Edyta Gorniak was returning after a 22 year absence, and after gaining Poland’s best ever result with second on their debut. Then the word went around that Polish pop princess Margaret was also going to participate with her divine slice of RnB, “Cool Me Down”. The stage was set for one of the most eagerly anticipated contests of the year. The bookies had also got involved and Poland shot up to become the favorite to win the entire contest based on those two huge names with impressively short odds of 3/1. March 5th was a kind day to Eurovision fans, with the Eesti Laul final in Estonia kicking off nice and early and allowing a seamless transition into the Polish final.
During the national final, Edyta sung her ballad in a flawless fashion, and sure, Margaret didn’t have the best live vocals of the night, but the quality of the song shone through. There were another 7 singers, but Eurovision fans were poised for the expected result …. which didn’t happen. Step up Michał Szpak, the flamboyant singer with his lovely vocals on the ballad “Color Of Your Life”. There hadn’t been this much outrage amongst the Eurovision internet community since Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley triumphed in 1984 …
Anyway, Margaret’s “people” have since made every video of her live performance mysteriously disappear from the internet, so enjoy it for one last time in studio form, and think of what might have been.
8. Gina pranks Frans – Melodifestivalen
The hot favourite for the Swedish crown this year was 17 year old Frans Jeppsson Wall, with his song “If I Were Sorry”. Frans was best known to the Swedish public for his 2006 hit “Who’s Da Man” which was dedicated to Swedish footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Frans appeared n Heat 4 which took place in Gävle and following the performances, host Gina Dirawi took to the Green Room to have a few words with that nights’ performers. During her chat with Fans, she stated that Zlatan had heard that Frans was appearing and he had decided to record a video supporting him, as Frans had done for Zlatan 10 years previously. As Frans’ eyes eagerly looked at the monitor, Gina then said “No, it’s a joke” and Frans was visibly upset.
As Gina moves on to chat with Linda Bengtzing, you can see Frans talking to Panetoz and shaking his head. He then to turns to camera and mouths “Son of a b**ch!” Not the right impression to be giving at this stage of your career Frans! Frans did go on to be the ultimate winner of Melodifestivalen and will be appearing in Stockholm.
See the video below, it’s been added to by the original poster, but it’s all there 🙂
9. Samanta Tina – Supernova
Samanta Tina is a stalwart of Latvia’s selection process, having appeared four times over the years. In 2016, she had two songs chosen for the Top 20 to go through to the live shows. Her first song “We Live For Love” was knocked out in the first Quarter Final, but she still had “The Love Is Forever” to fall back on in the second Quarter Final.
Now, her first appearance was fairly standard, with Samanta wearing a voluminous green satin dress, but as soon as she arrived on stage for her performance of “The Love Is Forever” the following week, we knew that this would be something different. And it was. It’s difficult to explain, so watch the video below
There’s no doubting Samanta’s talent as a singer, but dressing like Queen Nefertiti and having a male dancer playing out being tasered towards the end is not what we were expecting to see! The jury saved Samantha and she readied herself for the following week’s semi final which was to be a closely fought contest.
Samanta performed “The Love Is Forever” again, this time without strange dancer man, but there appeared to be protracted discussions after the song where Samanta was talking back to the judges and appeared to leave the stage mid interview. The word then came over the internet that Samanta had actually withdrawn from the contest, saying that she wanted Latvia to send the best song to the contest, and that she didn’t think that hers was the best. She then urged the public to vote for Justs or for rock band, Catalepsia, which they did in big numbers. This did not please Markus Riva, another veteran of the selection process, who ended up being eliminated at the semi-final stage.
Justs went on to win the final on February 28th, but only by 1800 votes. He will represent Latvia in Stockholm with his song “Heartbeat” which was written by last year’s winner Aminata who came a creditable 6th in Vienna.
And To finish our retrospective look at the season, we have
10. The Opening to Söngvakeppni 2016
National Finals are loved by Eurovision fans, not just for the drama and the inevitable tears when a fan favorite doesn’t make the cut, they’re also a celebration of Eurovision history. None better this year that Iceland’s Söngvakeppni 50 celebration. See how many of these you remember in 11 mins and 34 seconds of pure joy!
Feel free to comment below on the any of the great moments I’ve missed… It’s been a great year!