Just before we get into my previews countdown for Eurovision 2019, and at the request of my lovely friend Graham, I’ve pulled together some of the more underappreciated songs of Eurovision – songs that perhaps deserved to come higher than they did. I’ve tried to restrict them to songs that finished outside the top placings (as finishing Top 5 isn’t exactly an underachievement) and they’re done in chronological order – some golden oldies in there!
Portugal 1973 – Fernando Tordo “Tourada” (10th place of 17 in final)
1973 was a golden year at Eurovision, with a whole host of quality entries that have become Eurovision classics. So it’s perhaps not surprising that this is overlooked but I think it’s one of Portugal’s better entries, and it was a premonition of the fall of the Salazar dictatorship the following year (the bullfight in the song was a metaphor for the autocratic regime in Portugal at the time.
Germany 1975 – Joy Fleming “Ein Lied kann eine Brücke sein” (17th place of 19 in final)
Readers of my site may already know that Joy’s joyous and enthusiastic performance is one of my favourite German songs of all time and really was underappreciated at the time. I suspect that may have been influenced by the fact that it was during the brief time in the mid 1970s when the language rule was lifted and many countries sang in English (but Germany did not this year). The song has been much better appreciated by fans over they years and it’s now considered a Eurovision classic. Sadly Joy died in 2017 but I am pleased to say that when we did a rewatch of the 1975 Contest, we awarded this a much higher position.
Finland 1977 – Monica Aspelund “Lapponia” (10th place of 18 in final)
My favourite Finnish entry of all time, this did achieve a top 10 result which was (and still is) one of Finland’s better results, but I do think it deserved to be even higher.
Luxembourg 1978 – Baccara “Parlez-vous français?” (7th place of 20 in final)
I realise I might be stretching the “underappreciated” tag here with a relatively high finish but I think this classic by the Spanish duo get a bit forgotten about and also overshadowed by their debut worldwide hit “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie”.
Russia 1997 – Alla Pugacheva “Primadonna” (15th place of 24 in final)
A step back in time to when Russia didn’t send very polished English language international pop to the contest and it’s the earthy Russian-ness of this that so appeals. Alla had been a famous artist in the Soviet Union and while I am unsure quite what she made of Eurovision, you can see she puts her all into the performance. She still retains iconic status in former Soviet countries to this day.
Greece 1997 – Marianna Zorba “Horepse” (12th place of 24 in final)
Quite a wide choice of Greek songs available that I enjoy but generally have also done well at the contest. This one did pretty well too it has to be said, but did fall outside the top 10. I love the ethnic/folk sound of this song and folk instruments (when they could still be played live!) The singer herself sports a pair of finger cymbals (also known as zills).
Turkey 2005 – Gülseren “Rimi Rimi Ley” (13th place of 24 in final)
One of Turkey’s not so successful songs in what was a period of good placings for them, I think this is overlooked for being maybe too ethnic/folk in a period without juries.
Germany 2007 – Roger Cicero “Frauen regier’n die Welt” (19th place of 24 in final)
So another German entry and I’m afraid like Joy Fleming, Roger Cicero also passed away in recent years at the age of just 45 in 2016. This is a much underrated song – a jazz singer and song and in German didn’t find favour with the (at the time) 100% televote but I don’t think it did this justice.
France 2009 – Patricia Kaas “Et s’il fallait le faire” (8th place of 25 in final)
So in 2009 we saw the return of the juries, and the 50/50 split in jury and televote. France and the UK also put in proper efforts this year and were rewarded with a top 10 finishes. However, looking at the breakdown, it’s clear the juries favoured them over the televote – on televote alone, Patricia Kaas, who has sold over 17 million records worldwide, would have finished just 17th. Hence this deserves a place in the underappreciated list (and was specifically requested by Graham!)
Ukraine 2009 – Svetlana Loboda “Be My Valentine (Anti-Crisis Girl)” (12th place of 25 in final)
Ukraine can be relied upon for putting in both party bangers as well as some extravagant (bonkers) staging and their 2009 entry combined both of those. Apparently Svetlana remortgaged her home to pay for the staging (and maybe those dancers too!) and feels like she really deserved top 10 for her efforts.
Bulgaria 2011 – Poli Genova “Na Inat” (12th place of 19 in semi-final, did not qualify)
Poli is a darling of the Eurofandom and got the result she deserved in 2016 with 4th place in the final. Yet she really should have been in the final several years earlier, narrowly missing out on a place in it, which I think she should have had.
Spain 2012 – Pastora Soler “Quédate conmigo” (10th place of 26 in final)
No surprise I’ve put this one in here – a tour de force power ballad and performance, it was once again the televote that let a quality song down – 5th with juries but just 18th in the public vote.
San Marino – Valentina Monetta “Crisalide (Vola)” (11th place of 17 in semi-final, did not qualify)
Maybe a little indulgent this one, but this was hugely popular among the fandom and was so close to qualifying (something Valentina would finally do in 2014 on her third attempt). Definitely underappreciated!
Czech Republic 2015 – Marta Jandová & Václav Noid Bárta “Hope Never Dies” (13th place of 17 in semi-final, did not qualify)
This lovely pair brought the Czechs so close to qualifying for the first time (something they would finally do the following year) but I think this really deserved to make it to the final (and would have done on televote alone). They were unassuming stars at the London Eurovision Party that year and I think have a place on this (long!) list.
I am sure there are many more examples I could have put here – do let me know if you have any more suggestions!