We grew such love for the Eurovision class of 2020, and even more so when the contest was unfortunately cancelled this year. Even though Eurovision was cancelled, we had another entertaining National Final season, where we saw a number of fan favourites miss out on the top spot. As the title suggests, we have five spots up for grabs for all the competing national final songs of 2020, and boy, is it going to be tough to pick just five! Because it is so challenging, there will be some honourable mentions at the end of the post, but here are the five songs we really loved this Eurovision season!
5. Pinguini Tattici Nucleari – Ringo Starr
Since their return to Eurovision in 2011, Italy has proven to be a tough competitor, consistently sending class acts to Eurovision. This originates from their own song festival, Sanremo, which more often than not, is used to select their Eurovision entrant. For the most part, the quality of the music in Sanremo is second to none, and incredibly consistent over the years. Although we tend to see a lot of ballads in Sanremo, Pinguini Tattici Nucleari certainly didn’t show up to the Ariston Stage with a ballad. Ringo Starr is probably the biggest earworm of the National Final season this year. This is such an energising, refreshing number that would have absolutely done wonders for Italy at Eurovision (although Diodato also cannot be faulted). Competing against a lot of big names in the Sanremo final, the lesser known band held their own and really charmed the voters, and that would have carried across to Eurovision, had they won. Instead, they came third, which is still a great achievement. Definitely the surprise package of this year!
4. Le Vibrazioni – Dov’è
Again, Italy just knows good music, and Le Vibrazioni turned up with one of the best songs of the year. The rock group aren’t new to the Italian music scene, and have participated in Sanremo before, finishing mid table. This year, the group was destined for more. Dov’è is such a stunning song that really commands your attention.The vocals are perfection, as is the melody of this song. Just every aspect of this song really moved me, and many others, as the group finished in 4th place in Sanremo. Had this gone to Eurovision, I would have anticipated another Top 10 result. In fact, there are quite a few songs that could have gone to Eurovision from Sanremo that would have achieved Top 10, but this song is just so special.
3. Elvana Gjata – Me Tana
We haven’t yet seen Albania win Eurovision, but I would certainly argue that they would have achieved their best result yet had the nation sent Elvana Gjata to Eurovision. Again, Arilena Ara proved to be tough competition, and I love her entry as well, but there was bigger potential with Me Tana. This song is the perfect mix of traditional and modern. The opening of the song is dramatic and really captures your attention. The beat kicks in, and your foot automatically starts tapping. This would have had a similar effect as Fuego or She Got Me, as it has that same energy level, but what was more appealing about this track is that it really mixed musical styles well. With the right staging, this could have been, dare I say it, the winner of Eurovision 2020? High energy, well performed, and catchy. It ticks all the boxes.
2. Rancore – Eden
And we’re back to Sanremo! As a fan of the rap genre, I was delighted to see a number of rap artists featured in the line-up this year. Prior to the song festival, I was on team Anastasio (and still am), but it was Rancore who really delivered. Not familiar with his previous music, I didn’t know what to expect, but what we got was a really moving lyrical piece that was matched by none other on the Sanremo stage. Although he finished in 10th place overall, he won the Sergio Bardotti prize for Best Lyrics in the competition, and even if you didn’t understand a word of the performance, the way he carried emotion through his performance was incredibly captivating. It comes across as a strong determination to get his message across, creating a really intense performance. Would it have fit in at Eurovision? It was even perhaps too far out from the norm at Sanremo, hence the 10th place finish, and rap is still fairly rare at Eurovision. Despite that, I actually think this would have made a big impact. The song has emotion, and Rancore really commits, but it’s still very melodic in the beat. A definite highlight of this year’s national final season for me.
1. Jimmy P – Abensonhado
There is not one song I have listened to more this year than Abensonhado. I was impressed by a few songs from the Portuguese final this year, but nothing impressed me as much as this track from Jimmy P. Again, another rap song, so it won’t be a hit for everyone, but what I loved with this song is again, how the emotion comes through. Even though i’ve listened to this song countless times, I only recently looked at translated lyrics, and the emotion written in the lyrics is the emotion I feel coming through the performance and delivery. This song has such a storytelling vibe about it, and it’s that factor that I really gravitate towards. At the Portuguese final, I did find the staging to be underwhelming, and had hoped that the emotion that comes through the studio version could come through stronger in the live performance, but as a whole, this track really captured my heart. It might be a bold claim, but had this gone to Eurovision, this had a strong possibility to be my all time favourite Eurovision song.
My honourable mentions go to Cicciolina by Erika Vikman (Finland), Raw Stuff by Didirri (Australia), I Am King, I Am Queen by Jack Vidgen (Australia), Roots by Eden Alene (Israel), Cherry Red and Storm by Roxen (Romania), Diz só by Kady (Portugal) and Rebellion by Blasted Mechanism (Portugal).
Well, then there’s Italy. I could have done a complete Top 5 just on Italy… Some of my favourites who just missed the Top 5 include Me Ne Frego by Achille Lauro, Rosso di Rabbia by Anastasio, Gigante by Piero Pelù and Carioca by Raphael Gualazzi.
We also asked our friend Dennis from ESCDaily to tell us about his Top 5 national final songs from this year, and here they are!
Before I start with my top-5 I must give a shout-out to some songs that did not make the cut. It’s hard to surpass Erika Vikman and ‘Cicciolina’, the Finnish song that made the headlines in this NF-season. Also, in a weak Melodifestivalen year I still picked up a new guilty pleasure by Anis don Demina with ‘Vem är som oss’. Also still on my playlist is the Australia Decides song ‘Rabbit Hole’ by Jaguar Jonze, though the live performance was not as good as it could have been.
5. Yan Yarosh – Fire
It’s not often that Belarus comes up with good entries at Eurovision. They usually send their best stuff to Junior, based on their results. It is hard for me to understand how it was possible that VAL was favoured over this song by Yan Yarosh, who won the jury vote of the national final in Belarus but was overlooked in the televote. There are some issues with this entry though, the pronunciation of Yan makes it hard to understand the song. And when you look up the lyrics, they are not particularly profound. Still, this was the best song in Belarus of the year by a landslide for me. Lovely staged and filmed, with good vocals and intimate performance.
4. Elis Mraz ft. Čis T – Wanna Be Like
This could have been a potential disaster at Eurovision. This type of contemporary songs is hard to stage and it has a high swing and miss risk. Since the Czech Republic did not have a televised final, it is hard for me to judge if Elis and Čis T would have managed to pull it off. Look, this song is not going to get any awards and it is not unique at all. But it’s a good summer vibe song. It remains on the playlist for 2020.
3. Monika Marija – If I Leave
Monika has been trying to represent Lithuania for a couple of years now and has provided us with a lot of good songs in recent years, of which ‘Light On’ in 2019 remains my personal favourite. But also this year, ‘If I Leave’ was a quality song with great vocals. It lost to The Roop, which makes sense. But if Monika doesn’t leave her desire to go to Eurovision, she will get there in the end, I’m sure.
2. Pinguini Tattici Nucleari – Ringo Starr
What a blast of great fun in a strong year of Sanremo. The guys from this group just went head-first in their performance and their genuine fun just came across to me. Very good. The lyrics of the song are also very funny, about a guy living a mediocre life, whilst it seems like the rest of the world isn’t. “In a world of John and Paul, I am Ringo Starr”. I think Italy would have had a fantastic result at Eurovision with this song, as they also would have had with Diodato.
1. Didirri – Raw Stuff
Easy pickings. One of the best high-quality songs of this year was in the Australia Decides show. The closing song by Didirri blew away all the rest of the competition. Sorry Montaigne, didn’t mean to break you, but the fact that ‘Raw Stuff’ was overseen is beyond me. I know Australia likes the gimmick-aspect of Eurovision. But they are in the contest so long now, they should know that this kind of artsmanship also works very well. I would have loved to see Australia send something in a serious genre like this, with a ‘Time in a bottle’-feeling. The way the performance was staged, with a moody backdrop and lots of close-up spins around the piano, just adds to the general feeling of this great song. The best of the 2020 NF-bunch by a mile for me.
Did any of your favourites make either of our lists? Chat with us on social media about your Top 5 national final entries of 2020!