Malta! The little island that could. Could but hasn’t. The little island that SHOULD. Yes, this tiny Mediterranean island is the definition of the Eurovision giant-slayer, and I feel that it’s only a matter of time before it finally wins. Indeed it’s the most successful Eurovision nation never to win the contest. Perhaps not something you want to brag about, but they certainly attack the contest with an enthusiasm you’d struggle to find outside Scandinavia.
The semi-finals haven’t been the kind to Malta, but they have still managed to qualify for four of the eight grand finals where it was necessary. Since the native language rule was dispensed with in 1999, their advantage of being one of the few countries with English as a native language vanished too, but that hasn’t stopped them notching up two 2nd place finishes since.
Despite the lean times, last year Gianluca returned Malta to the top 10 for the first time since 2005, and Malta even won the Junior Eurovision, so maybe they will be energised enough to go all the way this year. An impressive 210 entries were submitted and narrowed down to 20, including a eye-popping number of former representatives at ESC and JESC as writers and performers.
These 20 competed in a semi-final to choose the top 14 finalists, while a rather skewed mix of an international jury and a televote (5:1 for the jury) decided the Maltese representative to Copenhagen. There’s a sense they were ignoring the public a bit with that setup. The public’s winner only came 8th after being trashed by the jury votes! I guess it’s time to see if I agree with them or not.
Time to continue our upward climb through the songs presented at Tallinn’s first Eurovision Song Contest. The first nine might not have been all-time classics but maybe 2002 won’t be a dead loss after all.
Although I would say, the standard of songs in 2002 was such that LATVIA won. I mean come on! You remember Latvia, right?
Less than 5 months to go before the Eurovision Song Contest takes place in Copenhagen, Denmark. By this point in the year preparations are usually well under way from the national delegations, and indeed the first national final is being held on Saturday. Makes it a bit more exciting to think the first song is nearly here, but there’s still a long way to go.
We haven’t even got the final list of countries yet, and while the application deadline last month threw up a few surprises, there are still changes afoot. The final roster isn’t due until January, but for now it looks like we say a sad farewell to Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria & Cyprus, all for financial reasons. However we are welcoming back Poland and Portugal so it’s not all bad news. Bosnia & Herzegovina was coming back too but today it seems they’ve not secured funding and have pulled out. Also in the balance is Greece, keen to stay in but are currently without an EBU broadcaster. It seems the EBU are also keen to keep as many countries in, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see a few more unexpected appearances in January.
We’ve got theme art too! DR unveiled the “#JoinUs” slogan earlier this year, but now we have a diamond logo. I wasn’t convinced by Malmö’s butterfly idea but that turned out to be fabulous, I can only imagine how versatile the diamond could me in motion, so I’m all for it.
Cast your mind back to 2002. I’m struggling because this is to reach into my Eurovision Dark Ages. Just like the other Dark Ages, little is knows about this period, only a few scant details of where major battles/contests took place, and limited information of the people on top at the time.
I am reasonably sure I watched Marie N claim a first ever victory for Latvia in Tallinn’s 2002 contest, but that’s about it. I can’t remember if I liked the song, but that’s something for another day. It’s incredible to think Latvia ever won the contest judging by their recent form, but yes, this is a thing that happened, and over the last few months – actually quite a lot of months, Malmö 2013 took a lot of my energy – I’ve been listening to the songs, and watched the whole contest on Youtube. Now it’s time for me to countdown my picks of the show. This was the last year before the semi-final system came in, so there are only 26 songs to get through, including the Big Four (UK, France, Germany & Spain), the host Latvia, the 19 other top scorers from 2002, 6 countries relegated in 2001 to miss the following year’s contest, and finally debuting Ukraine.
So far, so good – 2002’s Marie N (real name Marija Naumova) co-hosted with Renārs Kaupers, frontman of Brainstorm, who took Latvia to 3rd place in 2000’s Copenhagen contest. They did a reasonable job to keep the show together, but nobody could have expected how insanely close the results were going to come out…
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I really need to wrap this up, don’t I? I mean come on, it’s like 6 weeks after the show…
So here we are in the top 20, and already a really solid selection of hot trax from Europe’s biggest music festival. There will be crazy costumes, props, big ballads and a near decade long payoff, but who will be left in my top 10? You’re excited right? Yes.
You can skip back to #39-31, #30-21 or ahead to #10-6 and the top 5, as well as the Malmö 2013 hub for everything I’ve ever written about this year’s contest.