Being able to vote in the Eurovision Song Contest is a new experience for Australians. But no doubt many local fans have, like me, watched the competition for years with pen and paper in hand, scoring the entrants anyway.
For the record, I use a system of 40 points for song, 40 points for performance and 20 points for that certain je ne sais quoi – a skirt being ripped off to reveal a shorter skirt, a fire-eating juggler, a grandmother banging a drum, puppets…
Over the years, there have been many occasions where my pick for winner has left the auditorium with nothing more than memories – and some lilting folk tune has taken out the competition instead. And that’s just all those times in the ’90s when Ireland won. Here are some of the acts who, based on my complex voting system, should have won, but didn’t…
Country represented: United Kingdom
Song: “Ooh Aah… Just A Little Bit”
What won instead: “The Voice” by Eimear Quinn (Ireland)
Why she should’ve won: Because “Ooh Aah…” is the best Eurovision song ever. With its pulsating beat courtesy of in-demand producer (and co-writer) Steve Rodway (aka Motiv8), it was the most current sounding Eurovision entry in years. The song was even a hit in America, dammit. Did its suggestive lyrics and Australian-born Gina’s ultra-short spangly dress work against it? Given the night was won by another dreary entry from Ireland, perhaps so.
Country represented: Italy
Song: “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu”
What won instead: “Dors, Mon Amour” by André Claveau (France)
Why he should’ve won: It’s “Volare”! Before Dean Martin, Gipsy Kings and everyone from Connie Francis to David Bowie recorded it, the much covered Italian song competed at Eurovision. Yes, the French entry was smooth and seductive, but I’ll say it again – it’s “Volare”!
Country represented: Belgium
Song: “Je T’Adore”
What won instead: “Hard Rock Hallelujah” by Lordi (Finland)
Why she should’ve won: Following the introduction of semi-finals in 2004, many countries had one more hoop to jump through before reaching the final. In 2006, Belgium’s Kate Ryan had the catchiest tune of the year but somehow got left behind at the semis stage. Of course, even if she’d made the final, she still would’ve had to contend with a bunch of Finnish monster mask-wearing heavy metal dudes, whose triumph was a novelty win if ever there was one.
Country represented: Greece
Song: “Die For You”
What won instead: “Everybody” by Tanel Padar, Dave Benton and 2XL (Estonia)
Why she should’ve won: Actually pretty much any other song could’ve won instead of the bad karaoke that is “Everybody” and that would’ve been just fine. But “Die For You”, which kind of sounded like a Greek “I Will Survive” complete with swirling strings, would certainly have been a deserving winner. It even had a key change!
Country represented: United Kingdom
What won instead: “La, La, La” by Massiel (Spain)
Why he should’ve won: “La, La, La” is not a terrible song, but its chorus consists entirely of the word “la”. Now, come on, that’s just lazy. Meanwhile, pop’s Peter Pan, who was a decade into his career at this point, deserved better with the more lyrically complex “Congratulations”. Was a tall poppy backlash at play?
Paula Selling and OVI
Country represented: Romania
Song: “Playing With Fire”
What won instead: “Satellite” by Lena (Germany)
Why they should’ve won: Germany’s answer to Lily Allen had the Eurovision party I attended divided. Some loved “Satellite”; others (including me) found the hyper-enunciated ditty annoying. Meanwhile, what was not to love about Romania’s duelling pianists (and their dual piano)? If that wasn’t je ne sais quoi enough, there was the surprise opera bit towards the end. Honourable mention should also go to Hera Björk, whose song was actually called “Je Ne Sais Quoi”, and SunStroke Project & Olia Tira with “Run Away”, which boasted the best use of a sax since Guru Josh – both also better than Lena.
Country represented: Finland
Song: “Addicted To You”
What won instead: “I Wanna” by Marie N (Latvia)
Why she should’ve won: Because while mid-song wardrobe changes are great, you still need a decent song performed well - and the “Mambo No.5”-esque “I Wanna” fell literally flat. Surpassing Marie N in style and substance was the Lisa Stansfield-like Laura and her pop/disco gem.
Country represented: Israel
What won instead: “Si La Vie Est Cadeau” by Corinne Hermès (Luxembourg)
Why she should’ve won: To be fair, there was a pretty strong field in 1983 and any of the top three (which also included "Främling" by Carola Häggkvist) would’ve been a worthy winner. Still, it’s hard to go past this buoyant number by emerging Israeli superstar Ofra Haza.
Country represented: Australia
Song: “Sound Of Silence”
What won instead: “1944” by Jamala (Ukraine)
Why she should’ve won: Did you hear her performance? Dami gave a flawless rendition of her Sia-esque ballad, which – all bias aside – was the best song of the night. Even the international professional juries agreed. Of course, “Sound Of Silence” didn’t have the political and emotional weight the Ukraine entry had, but it’s not like you can hum “1944”, now is it?
The Eurovision Song Contest will be broadcast over SBS’s Eurovision weekend - Friday 12 May, Saturday 13 May, and Grand Final Sunday 14 May at 7.30pm on SBS with LIVE early morning broadcasts begin Wednesday 10 May at 5am on SBS.