Every year at Eurovision electronic synthesizers, backing vocalists, and roars of applause accompany the competing acts. During the voting results there is another sound: that of jaws dropping when certain acts unexpectedly soar. This year’s pleasant surprises included Valentina Monetta making the final, the Tolmachevy Sisters overcoming skeptics to reach the Top 10, and Conchita Wurst winning over Europe. But, if our readers are any indication, the biggest surprise was the Common Linnets’ journey from pre-contest zeroes to grand finale heroes as they finished as runners-up. After counting 3,030 votes we are pleased to announce that The Common Linnets have won the 2014 Raphael Gualazzi Award for Biggest Surprise.

When the Common Linnets revealed their song “Calm After the Storm”, it didn’t go down so well—a reality Ilse DeLange latered admitted. Viewers who watched the duo’s first acoustic performance thought that it was just a bit too calm, and the bookies had the Netherlands down as borderline qualifiers at best. But during their first rehearsal in Copenhagen the group unveiled some very intimate and very effective staging, blowing away the press corps as they slowly worked their way up the odds table. When second place came, Ilse threw back the champagne and all of the Netherlands let out a cheer. Global sales followed, and they even won the coveted Gina G Award for Most Likely to Succeed Commercially.

The Common Linnets threw us another surprise after Eurovision when it emerged the group would continue, but without Waylon. Fortunately he’s already released a killer new single, proving he doesn’t need Ilse to keep his Eurovision momentum going.

The Raphael Gualazzi Award for Biggest Surprise

1. The Common Linnets: 1,165 votes, 38.45%

2. Valentina Monetta: 686 votes, 22.64%

3. Conchita Wurst: 477 votes, 15.74%

4. Sebalter: 340 votes, 11.22%

5. Softengine: 181 votes, 5.97%

5. Tolmachevy Sisters: 181 votes, 5.97%

This award honours Italy’s 2011 Eurovision contestant Raphael Gualazzi. Three years ago we nearly wet our pants in Düsseldorf as we watched nation after nation award their points to the scruffy jazz singer. In the days leading up to the Eurovision final the bookies had him down at 150:1 to win—that put him down in 22nd place on their oddstable. But much to our surprise, he wowed the jury and televoters en route to a second place finish.

This award is just one of a dozen awards that make up the second annual Valentina Monetta Awards. Our 12 categories—from best dressed to most most wronged at ESC—identify the contestants who left the biggest impression on Eurovision fans, regardless of whether they won the contest or not. The nine categories decided by the public are now closed. But in the coming days the jury will reveal the winners of three jury prizes decided by members of Team Wiwi who were on the ground in Copenhagen.

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Tziki
Tziki
6 years ago

Being from the Netherlands myself, I was one of the people who immediately liked the song and I still don’t really understand why so many people hated it at first or thought it was too boring.
Luckily, the Common Linnets proved the critics wrong.
I did agree with the criticism of Waylon’s hat and still do. He looked liked an Amish.

Teka
Teka
6 years ago

For me, “Rise Like a Phoenix” was the best live performance, but “Calm After the Storm” was the best song. I think the one-two placements were perfect.

francesca
francesca
6 years ago

@Calvin
Me too!! I don’t like both songs… but everyone does and sometimes I think there’s something wrong with me :((

Calvin
Calvin
6 years ago

I…didn’t like “Calm After the Storm.” Or “Birds.” *cowers under table to hide*

Leon
Leon
6 years ago

Italy 211 was a horror. I still think that EBU cut a deal with Italy and “gave” them the second place. I know…I’m crazy, but you never know.

joey
joey
6 years ago

I just love Netherlands 2014. A total turn around from their crappy bird poop song of last year!!!!