National Final season is upon us! We all know and love the National Final season, where we get to listen to all the songs competing in various countries for the golden ticket to Eurovision, pick our favourites and, eventually, see the winner be selected through televoting and/or a jury vote. However, things are not always this straightforward: In some cases the winner was selected through more complicated processes that usually produced surprising results. Today, we’re gonna be looking at those artists that made it to Eurovision after being included in the National Final as a wild card, when the dream of making it to Eurovision seemed to fade.
- UK 2008
Starting off with the UK, a country that actually sent their wildcard entrant twice in a row to Eurovision. In 2008, the UK opted for one of the more strange formats we have seen in a National Final: It consisted of 3 categories, with 2songs in each, the winner of each category making the super final, along with a wildcard chosen by Terry Wogan, and then 2 acts made the super super (?) final where the winner was chosen. You guessed it right, Andy Abraham was chosen by Terry Wogan and went on to win the whole thing. Unfortunately, he only managed last place in Belgrade, with 14 points.
- UK 2009
In 2009, the UK opted for a completely different, Idol-like format, selecting the three acts that would perform “It’s My Time” in the National Final. Jade Ewen only made the live shows of ‘Your Country Needs You’ after some singerthat made it through withdrew from the show. That singer was actually Rita Ora. Jade fared a lot better than Andy, as she gave the UK their first top 10 place since 2002, and their only one since then.
- Germany 2014
In one of the weirdest formats for a National Final we have ever seen, Elaizamade the German National Final after being selected by public vote of the wildcard round of Unser Song für Dänemark, with “Is It Right”. During theNational Final, the band made the second round, where they performed “Fight Against Myself”. However, “Is It Right” was the song that made the third and final round against the big favourite Unheilig, where the underdog managed to win and make it Copenhagen, where they placed 18th.
- Germany 2015
Similarly to Elaiza, Ann Sophie won the club round of Unser Song fürÖsterreich, with her song “Jump the Gun”. Well, the song only made the first round. There, she qualified for round 2 where she performed “Black Smoke”. Only“Black Smoke” made the final, where it came second to Andreas Kümmert’s “Heartof Stone”. Yes, second. However, after the later gave up the opportunity to perform in Vienna, Ann Sophie was offered the ticket. Unfortunately, her luck seemed to run out at that point as she managed to score a perfect null in Vienna.
- Denmark 2007
Before DQ managed to win the final of Dansk MGP 2007, she had to go through thefirst semi final of the contest. However, DQ was eliminated in the first semifinal. Luckily, after winning the wildcard round with 60% of the vote, she made the final and won the golden ticket to Helsinki. Unfortunately, DQ did not manage to qualify for the final there.
- Bulgaria 2008
Speaking of strange formats, in 2008 Bulgaria’s national final involved twowildcard rounds, which also included new songs that were submitted to thebroadcaster and didn’t have to compete in the heat stage. “DJ, Take Me Away”was not one of those songs, as it was performed in the early stages of thecontest, but it was saved by the broadcaster after being eliminated in that stage and then went on to win the entire thing! However, despite being a fan favourite, it didn’t manage to break Bulgaria’s non-qualification streak.
- Croatia 2011
In 2011, Croatia used a format similar to Germany 2010 for Dora: They startedsearching for two singers that would perform their own versions of threeoriginal songs in the National Final. Daria Kinzer was eliminated twice by the jury but was saved as the televoters’ favourite both times. She managed to make the final against Jacques Houdek, were they both made the superfinal with thesame song, “Lahor”. Daria won the superfinal by far but, despite the multipleimprovements made to the song, she didn’t manage to qualify for the Eurovision final in May.
- Sweden 2013
I am not an expert in Melodifestivalen, but I am pretty sure a wildcard has never won (or even managed to qualify to the final) right? Well, yes. But! In 2013, Robin Stjenberg only managed to make the second chance round of the contest. Then, he qualified for the final, winning that round. However, as no Andra Chansen song had ever won Melodifestivalen before, most people dismissed his chances, despite his song becoming more and more popular in Sweden. In the final, he scored a runaway victory with juries, which placed him above the televote winner Yohio in the end. Robin went to Malmö, where he placed 14th, the latest Swedish non top 10 entry.
- Israel 2018
Last but not least, did you know that this year’s winner nearly didn’t make it to Eurovision? Netta made the final of HaKokhav HaBa L’Eurovizion, being one ofthe early favourites to win. However, she initially didn’t make the superfinal as she lost her duel against
Riki Ben Ari, but was later saved by the judges. Funnily enough, she also wonthe contest because of the jury, as she only came 2nd in the televoting inHaKokhav HaBa. I am pretty sure you all know the story of what happened next!