With the end of Melodifestivalen, the national final season for the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest is over! All internally chosen songs have been published as well, and all 41 songs participating in this year’s Eurovision have been officially submitted to the EBU. But looking back at everything that was happening in all countries’ national selections, we can all agree that hardly any of them lacked – drama and scandals!
Protests and calls for boycott
Politicians, artists, public people of all kinds asked their national broadcasters to boycott this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Why? Because Israel is hosting it, and they don’t want their country to sing in a country that “goes against human rights”. This was happening all over Europe – starting with Iceland, over to Ireland, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Sweden, and all the way to Australia. Apart from this, protesters were gathering in front of national television stations of many countries (including Spain, Hungary, the United Kingdom and more) handing out leaflets and calling for a boycott of the Contest.
On the other hand, some politicians in Israel also protested against the Contest being held on specific days, due to Shabbat. But enough about politics and religion.
Please don’t vote for me!
Various participants of the Spanish talent show “Operación Triunfo” declared in advance that they do want to win the talent show, but don’t really feel like singing in Israel. Ahead of the Eurovision Gala of Operación Triunfo, various singers, including the hot favorite María, stated that they don’t want to encourage people to vote for them at all. The other artist who did the same was Natalia, who was well relieved during the announcement of the results, when she found out that her song she sung together with Miki only came third. The “agony” went on a bit longer for María, who eventually finished in second place.
What’s Eurovision without plagiarism accusations?
Nowadays almost any song, especially the ones that actually stand a chance at winning their national selections, or do well at Eurovision, someone will accuse of plagiarism. Well, this year was no different. Starting with one of the hot favorites to win the Icelandic Final, Fridrik Omar was accused of plagiarism (my lucky guess would be that this was the work of the supporters of Hatari – who ended up winning Söngvakeppni). He was accused that he copied Rihanna’s song “Love On The Brain” in his own “Hvað ef ég get ekki elskað?”. RÚV decided that – he didn’t.
But in all fairness, there was one valid claim this year, where the entry even got disqualified due to this, one step ahead of the Final of the competition – in Hungary! MTVA even engaged the Head of the National Arts and Music Faculty to verify these claims. After a study, the claims were found true, and Petruska got disqualified from the Final of A Dal, as his song “Help Me Out Of Here” was found to be exactly the same as the song “White Sky” by Vampire Weekend. Ironically, he helped himself out of there, and was replaced by Gergő Oláh, less than a week before the Final, who then failed to score a single point from the jury.
Last minute rule changes, three withdrawals, and questionable jury votes
No, I’m not talking about San Marino’s “1 in 360”! Unfortunately, I’m talking about one of my favorite national selections, that is Romania’s Selectia Nationala. The Romanian drama started when Dan Bittman withdrew his song from the selection, as he was unable to attend the semi finals due to other engagements he had abroad. The Romanian broadcaster decided that, instead of putting through the first song that finished “under the qualification line” with the preselection jury, to open a new call for songs where they would give out a wildcard! And whilst everyone expected one wildcard which would fill in Dan’s spot – two were given out. One went to Linda Teodosiu, and the other one to the singer who instantly became the fan favorite – Bella Santiago.
Due to the “fact that TVR was not transparent and fair”, Mihai Traistariu withdrew his bid for representing Romania, as he thought the competition was fixed. Couple of weeks later, and just ahead of the second semi final where she was set to compete, Xandra withdrew as well. Thus the first semi final featured 13 acts, whilst the second one featured 11. Nevertheless, 6 songs from each semi qualified. In the Final – well, there was another last minute change, when the public instead of getting 50% of say, got only 14.3% of say in the results. The jury votes were – well, let’s just say interesting. Whilst five of the six jury members gave 10 points to the fan favorite Bella Santiago, the Danish juror (Emmelie de Forest) didn’t consider her performance worthy of a single point. Other two jury members were Eurovision fans and bloggers from the UK, who had previously published their thoughts and reactions to all the songs in a reaction video. In this video they favoured Laura Bretan‘s song, and claimed it would win Eurovision, and then gave her 10 points in total between them (6 and 4). Whilst the act that got their maximum of 24 points was Ester Peony, who they found “bland and boring”. But hey – people can change their mind that much (I guess), and she won! This was also the first time since 2012 that TVR did not publish the full televoting results. The only one time TVR gave us a view of the televoting results live during the show was about 3 minutes after the voting had started, when Laura was well ahead of anyone else, scoring almost 40% of televoting, whilst Ester hardly had 4% at the time, and was in 8th place. Lucky guess is that Laura, who won the televoting, was close to getting 50% of all votes in the end, whilst the jury winner Ester who remained in eighth place in the end as well, and failed to score a lot of televotes. But hey – we’ll never know! 🙂 Ester is going to Tel Aviv, and we wish her the best of luck!
I don’t want my votes to split!
… was what Monika Marija thought ahead of the Lithuanian final, as she qualified for it with two songs. Her song “Light On” was the clear winner of the first semi final of Eurovizijos Atranka, whilst her other song “Criminal” only placed third in the second semi, but still qualified for the Final. Convinced that her chances are higher if she only competes with one song, and determined to win, Monika Marija withdrew “Criminal” from the Final, giving the 8th spot to one lucky loser – Alen Chicco. And she paid a fine for withdrawing her entry.
Unlike the replacement in Hungary, Alen scored a relatively decent result in the Final as he came fifth with his song “Your Cure”. On the other hand, Monika Marija – after withdrawing her song “Criminal” and paying the fine, only finished second. As we all know, Jurijus won both the televoting and the jury votes, and he is packing his bags for Tel Aviv.
We jumped the gun… Sorry!
It’s clearly not the biggest scandal to hit Melodifestivalen, and it’s not even close to the time when Anna Book got disqualified on the week of her show. After the very first semi final of Melodifestivalen, one of the rules of the competition was broken for about two hours. Wiktoria qualified for the Final from Semi Final 1 with “Not With Me”, and that would mean that her song should not be available on any online platform up until the end of Semi Final 4. However, her team made a mistake, and released the song on Spotify, for just about two hours. Her record label claimed that they don’t know how it happened, and that when they realized the mistake they took the song off of Spotify, and apologized. SVT concluded that this was done “unintentionally” thus Wiktoria remained in the competition, but for about half a day, the fandom was shook by the fact that she may get disqualified. In the end she finished in 7th place, which is her worst result in the three participations in Melodifestivalen.
“Crimea is Ukraine? Ukraine, of course!”
The special award for politicizing the national selection, as well as the entire brand of the Contest, goes to Ukraine this year! As it is known world-wide, Russia annexed Crimea, a region in Ukraine over five years ago, and ever since then there’s a state of war in Ukraine, where Russia are seen as the “Aggressor nation”. One would think that participants of Ukraine’s Vidbir went there to sing, and compete to represent their country in Eurovision. Well, you’re wrong – some of them were asked to choose between Eurovision and their parents, to cancel their contracts and upcoming performances, and to be
marionettes… sorry, ambassadors of UA:PBC, Ukraine’s national broadcaster.
First the twin sister duo Anna Maria were questioned about their parents, who live and work in Crimea, and were sort of made to choose between going to Eurovision and representing their country, or keep liking their parents, when according to the jury their parents “made the wrong choice”. Then Maruv, who tours around Russia as well, was asked an “uncomfortable question” whether Crimea is part of Ukraine. The rules of the competition didn’t state anywhere that the artist who wishes to represent Ukraine can’t have had concerts in Russia. The reason I’m mentioning this now is because these questions were asked by none other than Eurovision 2016 winner Jamala, who actually performed in Sochi in 2014, after Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
No! No! No! No! Goodbye!
As the contract UA:PBC wanted Maruv – the winner of Vidbir to sign, got amended, with an added clause that she needs to cancel all of her upcoming concerts in Russia, and that she can only talk to press when people from UA:PBC allow it to her – she refused to sign it. Second placed Freedom Jazz and third placed Kazka were the next two acts to get contacted by UA:PBC after the show, but both acts refused to sign the contract. Fourth placed Brunettes Shoot Blondes didn’t even wait for the call from the television, but announced on their Facebook page that they wouldn’t accept this offer either. After drawing so much attention both in Ukraine and abroad for politicizing the Contest, UA:PBC withdrew, and unfortunately, we won’t be seeing them in Tel Aviv.
EWC – Eurovision Wrestling Contest
It actually seems that the drama may go on for a little bit longer as well, as Hatari – the band representing Iceland at this year’s Eurovision have not only stated that they are ready to do a political statement in this year’s Contest which would be against the rules, but they also challenged the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu to a Nordic folk wrestling match, on the day after the Eurovision Final. To all of those going to Eurovision this year in Tel Aviv, and are staying there the day after the Final as well – should Netanyahu accept this challenge of course, you’ll be in for a treat 🙂
Apart from these, various other “drama moments” must have happened elsewhere in Europe, which would only confirm that this was indeed one of the more dramatic national final seasons. How did you see all of this? Any other drama moments you can remember? Let us know in the comments below, or on our social media pages.