We always have to start somewhere in this annual countdown, and my personal wooden spoon this year goes to the contest’s smallest competitor, the microstate of San Marino. The tiny republic often holds a soft spot in my heart when it comes to their Eurovision entries, but unhappily I can’t rank them highly this year. A combination of the music genre (not my favourite) and a mediocre song means that “Like an Animal” by the Piqued Jacks ends up in my last place.
San Marino held, for the second year in a row, what was essentially a televised internal selection – Una voce per San Marino. A large number of entries was shortlisted to about 100 who competed in a week of televised semi-finals, before a grand final of 26 entries. The winner, the Italian alternative rock band Piqued Jacks, was chosen by the jury. The band have been around since 2006, but it took till 2015 before releasing their first album. Since then, they’ve released two more albums, and have worked with both American and British producers.
“Like an Animal” isn’t an awful song by any means, but it just fails to get me interested in any way. It’s a middle of the road alternative rock song, which as readers of this site will know, is not exactly my cup of tea when it comes to musical genres. I think the dodgy English lyrics (“I can smell you like an animal” and “I’ll chase you on the dancefloor”) don’t help and if it had been in Italian, it might have made this a bit more intriguing and less cringeworthy. The overall effect is more of a rock band playing a regional festival rather than a song that would be present at Eurovision.
San Marino face an uphill battle to qualify even in their better years and with the move to televote only in the semi-finals makes it that bit harder. The band seem very engaging and are having a great time at the pre-parties and clearly enjoy performing to a live crowd, but this won’t garner them anywhere near enough televote. They are in the more open semi-final but I can’t see this qualifying – they aren’t going to have the amazing staging Achille Lauro had last year, and even he didn’t make it to the final.
For all the above though, I am always happy for San Marino to be at the contest – they bring a certain underdog chippyness, even if that doesn’t often get them to the grand final. Piqued Jacks had some nastiness thrown their way during and after one of the early pre-parties, to the extent the Sammarinese broadcaster made a public statement calling for respect, even if people didn’t like the song. I wholeheartedly agree with them – I’m looking forward to seeing the band play live, and will be cheering and supporting them on regardless of being my #37 or my #1.
San Marino in the Eurovision Song Contest
First entered: 2008
Appearances (excluding this year): 12
Best result: 19th in 2019
Last year’s result: 14th in semi-final (did not qualify)