The 2015 Eurovision That Almost Was: Semifinal One

It’s time for our annual look at the songs that could have contended for the Eurovision Song Contest title. If last year’s retrospective filled us with longing for what might have been, this year’s review gives us the impression that by and large most countries got it right.

Moldova. Valeria Pașa, “I Can Change All My Life.” It’s an unusual year when the jury winner isn’t the actual winner in Moldova. But Valeria’s conventional pageant ballad had very little support from the public, finishing a distant seventh. In contrast, Eduard Romanyuta finished second with the jury and first with the public.

Armenia. Internal selection, not applicable.

Belgium. Internal selection, not applicable.

Netherlands. Internal selection, not applicable.

Finland. Satin Circus, “Crossroads.” Satin Circus’s teenage summer anthem was our choice to come out of the Finnish national selection, and it did well with the juries. Unfortunately, the jury’s opinion only counts for one-tenth of the total at UMK. The public overwhelmingly favored Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät. PKN took 37.4% of the total score. Satin Circus trailed behind with 26.3% and no one else came anywhere close.

Greece. Thomai Apergi & Legend, “Jazz & Sirtaki.” As the United Kingdom has repeatedly told us, that so-called electro-swing sound is a thing right now. Greece also had a 1920s-inspired song on offer, but with the requisite bouzouki in the arrangement and the typical Greek accelerando at the end. The combination worked as well as one might imagine it could – by which we mean not at all. The juries placed this cluttered mess third, and the public placed it second. Maria Elena, who was the choice of both jury and public, didn’t face any serious competition this year.

Estonia. Daniel Levi, “Burning Lights.” We feel like the only people in the Eurovision fan community who were not in love with Elina and Stig this year. Daniel Levi was our choice for Estonia. ‘Burning Lights” was a 1990s stadium anthem with a touch of glam rock, sung by a teenager with the Disney seal of approval. PeR will brag they did crowdsurfing at Eurovision first, but did they do it with a selfie stick? Not that it mattered much, as Elina and Stig blew Daniel away. In the superfinal, Elina and Stig garnered 79% of the vote, versus 13% for Levi and 8% for third placer Elisa Kolk.

Macedonia. Tamara Todevska, “Brod što tone.” Daniel Kajakoski secured his ticket to Vienna by placing first among the Macedonian public and second with the international juries. However, we agreed with the international juries, who favored Tamara Todevska’s moonlight-and-piano torch song. Sadly, she only ranked third in the televote. Macedonia, you blew it.

Serbia. Danica Krstić, “Suze za kraj.” Danica Krstić found her way to the Serbian final via an audition and a talent show. In the Serbian national final, she was pitted against two established recording artists. One of these was Bojana Stamenov, who eventually was the consensus winner of public and jury. Of the three Vladimir Graić songs on offer in Serbia, “Suze za kraj” was the most conventional, a big ballad not unlike other Graić ballads we’ve grown accustomed to hearing from him at Eurovision. Krstić sang it well, but was a tough lift for her to deliver something new.

Hungary. Ádám Szabó, “Give Me Your Love.” Hungary didn’t release the full results from their final after they announced that Boggie won. However, Ádám Szabó was the frontrunner going into the televote, having secured more jury points than Boggie. As mentioned in Our Favorite Songs, Adam had a big voice, and a chorus with a strong hook, “Give me your love, love, love.” Too bad about those dead eyes during his performance.

Belarus. Anastasia Malashkevich, “Don’t save my name.” In Belarus, the jury carries more weight than the public, so it’s not much of a surprise that jury winner Uzari & Maimuna got the chance to fly Belarus’ flag in Vienna. Anastasia Malashkevich finished second based on a strong placing by the jury; she only finished seventh with the public. This is Anastasia’s second attempt to represent Belarus, and if she’s going to get anywhere in the Eurovision game, she should ditch the dowdy wardrobe that ages her by 25 years. The lyrics to “Don’t save my name” were displayed on the background screen in case you wanted to confirm they were written using Google Translate.

Russia. Internal selection, not applicable.

Denmark. Anne Gadegaard, “Suitcase.” We started writing the “Might Have Been” posts in 2011 and in almost every year, we have preferred Denmark’s second place finisher. We had a blip last year when we preferred “Cliché Love Song” to its competition, but this year we’re back on form. “Suitcase” was the public’s (and our) choice at the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, but Anne Gadegaard missed out because of the jury’s strong preference for Anti-Social Media. “Suitcase” is sunny and twee, but it had a more contemporary feel than “The Way You Are.”

Albania. Bojken Lako Band, “Të ndjej.” Bojken Lako has had a long music career in Albania, so perhaps name recognition is what contributed to the strong jury scores he received at Festivali i Këngës. But his performance could only be described as… strange. Though billed as a band, Lako appeared on stage solo, with hooded eyes and a lot of lip licking. To be honest, he looked strung out. The song wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t immediately accessible, and it ended with him singing a set of low notes followed by wailing. Elhaida Dani captured top marks from the jury with “Diell,” which later had to be replaced with “I’m alive.” Either way, we can’t say the Albanian juries will be filled with regret over their choice.

Romania. Luminița Anghel, “A Million Stars.” Luminița Anghel previously represented Romania at Eurovision in 2005, so she was expected to be in the mix going into this year’s Romanian final. The bare-chested guys in leather added some visual pizzazz to an otherwise bland ballad. We’re finally over the Titanic soundtrack, right? Right? Anghel finished third with the jury and second with the public, and that was enough to place her second overall. Despite going from the difficult first position in a field of 12 competitors, Voltaj was the consensus choice of the jury and the public.

Georgia. Niutone, “Run Away.” So I think we can all agree that jazz fusion is a fine choice for Eurovision. Anyone care to disagree? Anyone? Oh yeah, riiiiiight. Niutone’s Nutsi Sanchez is a more dynamic frontwoman than Mariko was with The Shin last year, but musically “Run Away” was even more difficult to digest than “Three Minutes to Earth.” Niutone carried 32% of the televote to place second with the public, however, the jury placed “Run Away” third. Nina Sublatti carried the day with both the jury and the public with a far more accessible song.