The first of the Baltic nations to get my Top 5 treatment is former contest winner Latvia. They were latecomers to Eurovision compared to their neighbours, Estonia and Lithuania, with their first contest only coming in 2000. They wasted no time in making a mark, coming 3rd on their debut, and winning the contest in 2002. So, some choices for a top 5 despite their relative newness.
That said, they underwent a barren patch between 2008 and 2015, not qualifying once in the years between, and coming last in the semi-finals no less than 3 times! But they have returned to form recently. Biggest surprise in this top 5 should become obvious – where is there contest winner?
5. Musiqq “Angel in Disguise” (2011, 17th in semi-final, 25 points)
This position was a toss up between this, Anmary (with “Beautiful Song”) and Latvia’s 2002 contest winner, Marie N with “I Wanna”. But the chronically-underrated Musiqq gets the spot in my top 5 – I liked this one back then, and I still like it now. Plus, pink bow-ties!
4. Brainstorm “My Star” (2000, 3rd place, 136 points)
Latvia’s very first entry into the contest, they achieved a third place straight away with this quirky but fun entry. Brainstorm are no put-together-for-the contest band – they’ve been a group from 1989 until the present day, even playing at Glastonbury as recently as 2013, the first Baltic band ever to do so.
3. Aminata “Love Injected” (2015, 6th place, 186 points)
This classy, different, and unexpectedly successful song finally saw Latvia qualify for the final – and the first time since juries were reintroduced in 2009. Latvia’s best result since 2005, Aminata is a very engaging performer in person – as she proved at the London Eurovision Preview Party both in 2015 and in 2016 (when she returned as a special guest).
2. Pirates of the Sea “Wolves of the Sea” (2008, 12th place, 83 points)
I’m not going to apologise for this being in the top 2! Love it, and pleased it made the final (and did well too). I wonder if it would have made it to the final had it been 50/50 jury and public vote as it is now, but 2008 was the last year of the 100% public vote and these pirates took advantage!
1. Justs “Heartbeat” (2016, 15th place, 132 points)
It was a tough choice for my number 1 – those pirates almost pipped the very gorgeous Justs to the post but I think the combination of song, vocal, performance and eye candy tip this in Justs’ favour. Justs was at the London Eurovision Preview Party – he and I used the bathroom almost at the same time!
So what did you think of my first Baltic top 5? Would you have left Marie N out as well? Let me know in the comments below!