NB. This version was published in December 2017 and has been replaced by an updated Top 5 from Bulgaria.
Staying (roughly) in the Balkans, this top 5 comes just before I’m due to see one my favourite Eurovision performers of recent years at Eurofest at the RVT – the wonderful Poli Genova – so it’s a perfect time to look at my top 5 from her country, Bulgaria. With just 11 entries in the contest, and only 3 appearances in the grand final you might think it tricky to find a top 5, but not so – those three grand final appearances have all achieved top 5 results and they’ve only narrowly missed out on the final a couple of times with some other strong songs. The effort they are putting in recently is paying off – and they have the best social media of any country’s official Eurovision account. We may be in Sofia for the contest before too long…
5. Sofi Marinova “Love Unlimited” (2012, 11th place in semi-final, 45 points)
Missing out on a place in the grand final in Baku by a tie-break rule (Sofi scored the same points as 10th place in the semi-final), this remains popular among Eurofans and it’s not hard to see why – upbeat, dance-y and distinctly Bulgarian. Still such a shame this didn’t make the final but it’s not forgotten…
4. Elitsa & Stoyan “Water” (2007, 5th place, 157 points)
Bulgaria reached the grand final for their first time with this unique mix of folk and techno influenced sounds (and enthusiastic drumming). Very different from the other entries that year, Bulgaria stormed into the top 5 – but weren’t to return to the final for another 9 years. Elitsa and Stoyan tried again in 2013 with another folk/electropop song but missed out on a second final, finishing 12th in their semi-final.
3. Poli Genova “Na Inat” (2011, 12th place in semi-final, 48 points)
It’s the amazing Poli! My first experience of Poli was at my very first London Eurovision Preview Party. Before I saw her, I hadn’t known the song, or about her, but her live performance really impressed me – singing all in Bulgarian to a non-Bulgarian audience, her connection and enthusiasm was so strong (plus catchy chorus) really got the crowd into it and with her. I was so disappointed when she narrowly missed out on qualifying – she deserved to be in the final – but another chance was still to come…
2. Kristian Kostov “Beautiful Mess” (2017, 2nd place, 615 points)
A mightily impressive effort from Bulgaria saw them take the runners up position, in just their third appearance in the final. The production is slick and classy, the song layered and subtle, and beautifully performed by the youthful Kristian Kostov – the first Eurovisison contestant to be have been born in the 21st century. The quality and effort behind this entry suggests Bulgaria’s time must surely come before too long.
1. Poli Genova “If Love Was a Crime” (2016, 4th place, 307 points)
Some Eurovision contestants disappear without trace after their moment of fame (or infamy), especially if they failed to make it out of the semis. Not so with Poli – she went on from her 2011 appearance to host the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2015 and heralded both her and Bulgaria’s return to the main contest in 2016 (they sat out 2014 and 2015). It was some comeback – my favourite song of Eurovision 2016, it also found favour with juries and public voters, bringing Bulgaria a grand final return and a top 5 place once more. Coupled with the fact Poli is such a lovely person and pro-LBGT message of her song and nothing else could be my Bulgaria no 1.
Are you a fellow fan of Bulgaria? What was your favourite song – or are you a fellow Poli fan like me?