The 2020 Eurovision That Almost Was That Almost Was: Semifinal Two

We’ve been thinking about alternate timelines a lot lately. Not sure why.

Anyway, we’re going to take a break from imagining a world where all humans are treated equally and motor-mouthed narcissists who lack compassion or even a basic understanding of decency are not running countries and put our daydreaming skills to use on Semifinal Two of the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest. Here’s what would have happened if we not only had a Eurovision this year, but also had a completely different set of national final winners. We’d mention the Big Three who were slated to vote in this semi, but they all had internal selections. Plus ça change.

Greece: Internal selection. Not applicable.

Estonia: Jaagup Tuisk – “Beautiful Lie”

Is it a coincidence that “Beautiful Lie” sounded so much like “Arcade,” or was Jaagup deliberately emulating the reigning champion? Either way, it’s never a good idea to resemble the previous winner of Eurovision.

Austria: Internal selection. Not applicable.

Moldova: Pasha Parfeny – “My Wine”

Pasha represented Moldova in 2012 with “Lautar.” “My Wine” takes the “Lautar” formula and makes it, well, more Moldovan. We were kind of disappointed the stage performance didn’t live up to the jubilant official video. The limit of six people on stage really dampened the party atmosphere. But, let’s be honest: even a relatively subdued wine cellar romp was better than the song that won Finala națională 2020.

San Marino: “Obsessed” – 2nd place song

San Marino had a flash national final this year, in which Senhit posted two songs on her website and asked fans to pick which one should be her Eurovision entry. “Obsessed” is a decent song that seems to show what Robyn would have sounded like if she debuted in the ‘80s. It’s technically a better song than “Freaky!”, but Senhit brought so much more personality to “Freaky!” that we knew that “Obsessed” was going to be left behind before the votes were even tallied.

Czech Republic: Elis Mraz & Čis T – “Wanna Be Like”

Elis Mraz reminds us of a young Jennifer “Stifler’s Mom” Coolidge, which makes “Wanna Be Like” even more charming than it already is. Side note: her quarantine anthem “Don’t Touch Me” is hilarious.

Serbia: Naiva – “Baš, baš”

We love this so much. “Baš, baš” has got a mod, bouncy ‘60s vibe, but in a more sultry way than Serbia’s classic Eurovision romp “Caroban.” Naiva makes it soar with her rich, smoky voice, and gives the cute staging a little bit of an edge.

Poland: Albert Černý – “Lucy”

Albert Černý is the singer for Lake Malawi, which represented Czech Republic in 2019 with “Friend of a Friend.” He threw his hat into the ring for Poland’s Szansa Na Sukces Eurowizja 2020 with a Lake Malawi  single (that has an awesome official video, by the way). The producers evidently had to tweak the show’s rules on the fly so that he could participate, and we suppose we should be put off by the carpetbagging. But “Lucy” is such a great song that we were really disappointed Poland went with “Empires” instead.

Iceland: Dimma – “Almyrkvi”

Jen recuses herself of any discussion about metal songs at Eurovision (with the exceptions of Lordi and Keep of Kalessin). So it’s up to me to discuss Dimma. “Almyrkvi” sounds like two different songs that were similar enough to be fused together. The ending brings it all together effectively, but just as Dimma were getting into the groove, their three minutes were up. I can’t help but feel that “Almyrkvi” would have benefitted from being twice as long so it could have developed into a more cohesive whole.

Switzerland: Internal selection. Not applicable.

Denmark: Sander Sanchez – “Screens”

Sanders has a cool vocal tone and a dynamic range. “Screens” shows it off, but the song never really kicks into any gear. The chorus blends into the verses without any impact. It’s too bad, because Sander has so much star quality. We hope we get to see more from him in the future.

Albania: Elvana Gjata: – “Me Tana”

Oooh, that intro to “Me Tana” just gives us the chills. Then Elvana opens it up into an absolute banger. The song lacked some of the shading and levels that made “Shaj” so compelling, and the outfits for the female back-up were horrible to the point of distraction. But when Elvana and her crew break out into the dance that closes her song, we have no doubt she would have slayed in Rotterdam.

Finland: Erika Vikman – “Cicciolina”

Iceland showed the rest of Europe in 2019 that it’s better to be bold with your Eurovision choice if you want success at the Song Contest. And Erika Vikman’s “Cicciolina” is a very bold choice. The song turns the story of porn star-turned-politician Ilona Staller into an anthem for sexual liberation. Erika was the narrow winner of the public vote, so maybe the Finnish audience thought they had the next Hatari on their hands. However, the international jury spiked her, with only wiwibloggs’ William Lee Adams and Spain’s 2011 Eurovision representative Lucía Pérez giving her top marks. Too bad, because Erika seemed like the perfect person to go to Eurovision.

Armenia: ERNA – “Life Faces”

“Life Faces” is sparse, jazzy pop song that would have been better served if ERNA had performed it with a full band at a jazz festival than by herself on an empty stage. The bubbles were a nice touch, though.

Portugal: Bárbara Tinoco – “Passe-Partout”

We find “Passe-Partou” insufferably cutesy. We may be in the minority on that. Still, Bárbara is an adorable, yet subtly commanding performer. As always, it’s better to stand out when you’re competing against 17 other numbers, and regardless of our personal opinion, “Passe-Partout” would have done just that.

Georgia: Barbara Samkharadze – 2nd place singer

We kind of regret not following Pop Idol Georgia more closely because our impression from watching clips of both Barbara Samkharadze and Tornike Kipiani that it was an absolute belt fest. Barbara can blast “Jesus Christ Superstar” and smolder with “You Don’t Own Me” and charm with “ჯადოსნური კვერცხი” (“The Magic Egg”) and we are just enchanted. The X Factor winner edged the Georgia’s Got Talent winner in the end, but Georgia would have been in steady hands with either of them.

Bulgaria: Internal selection. Not applicable.

Latvia: Katrīna Dimanta – “Heart Beats”

Sometimes, we selfishly don’t want a song to win a national final because we want it all to ourselves. Take, for example, the delightful “Heart Beats.” Katrīna is casually charismatic, and can growl out big notes like a true diva. “Heart Beats” is everything we wanted “Passe-Partout” to be, with a bit of grit and a lot of attitude. Sorry, Europe, but we’re keeping this one.

France: Internal selection. Not applicable.

Spain: Internal selection. Not applicable.

United Kingdom: Internal selection. Not applicable.