We finally approach the top 10 and a shift in how many I cover in one post (and video). We’re down to just 2 per post/video until we reach the top 5, so this pair straddle my top 10 – and a fine start to the very top of my scoreboard they are too.
#11 BULGARIA: Victoria “Tears Getting Sober”
Bulgaria are one of those countries that really are aiming for a Eurovision win with a couple of very strong entries in recent years. They took 2019 off for financial reasons but came back very strongly with this dreamy sounding song from young singer-songwriter Victoria.
Victoria was a former X-Factor Bulgaria contestant in 2015 but has been starting to make her mark on the Bulgarian music scene. She was the co-composer and co-writer of this 2020 contest song – along with Borislav Milanov – who, as am sure you know has been responsible for several successful Eurovision entries.
The song itself has a real dreamy quality to it, but with a very definite progression which builds up to quite a stirring crescendo. It’s both reflective but positive and I understand the theme is around mental health issues, and working to overcome them – particularly relevant in these times. The music
video is quite simple but very slick – all the hallmarks we’d expect from Symphonix, the record label behind this – and also behind several (successful) Bulgarian and Austrian Eurovision songs
Romania and Bulgaria certainly brought quality to this (cancelled) contest – and at the moment of cancellation Bulgaria was top of the betting odds. Betting odds that far out aren’t always great predictors but I do think Bulgaria was on course for a high result and it’s not impossible that this
could have navigated that route of doing very well with both juries and televote and achieved a medal position.
There were some doubts whether Bulgaria would be participating in 2021, but I am pleased to say they will be – and it will be Victoria who will be representing them.
#10 LATVIA: Samanta Tina “Still Breathing”
First up in my top 10 is a country which, to be fair, hasn’t really seen a great deal of success in recent years barring a couple of exceptions so it’s great to able to include Latvia in my top 10 for 2020. Samanta Tina should be, if not already, a Latvian national treasure, not least for some of the
crazy performances she put in from her own living room during lockdown. I’m not sure her neighbours would necessarily agree given she was in high heels on a wooden floor and stomping around vigorously – plus her voice is big…
Initially this hadn’t been my pick for the Latvian national final but I quickly learned to appreciate it and it certainly does stand out. There is a very distinct visual style to it – and Samanta, who is mad as a box of frogs, commits to the performance totally and really sells this as an overall package. The title of the song and the spray carrying backing singers feel almost prophetic for what was to come…
Samanta cowrote this with Aminata – who represented Latvia in 2015, and was also writer of their 2016 song, their two successful recent entries. I have a feeling this could have done well – certainly would have likely been Latvia’s best result since 2016.
A word on Samanta, who I have nothing but a lot of love and affection for – this was her 7th attempt to go to Eurovision with 4 times before for Latvia, and twice for Lithuania. So the cancellation felt like a particularly cruel blow for her, given that the Baltic countries tend to follow their Nordic neighbours in terms of national finals , and the expectation was the best she could hope for was guaranteed entry to next year’s national final. But there is a happy ending! Latvia’s broadcaster announced to her (live on air) that she would be their entry for 2021 and she was pretty emotional about it so you can see what this contest means to the artists. I’m hoping the collaboration with Aminata will be there for next year.