We’ve already brought you the country profiles of Baltic Eurovision stalwarts Lithuania and Estonia. So today we finish up the bloc by featuring one of Eurovision’s least successful countries: Latvia (which today confirmed that it will be at Eurovision 2015). The country has had the longest losing streak of any country in the contest as of late: it hasn’t qualified for a grand final since 2008. It has come in last place three times since then, but luckily has not received the not-so-coveted nil points. Yet.

Latvia debuted a bit later than the other former Soviet states, in 2000, and shot straight to the top with 3rd place (the song was Brainstorm’s “My Star”). Two years later, androgynous Latin music lover Marie N won the contest and brought the 2003 edition to Riga. Since then, the country has been in a downward’s spiral, having only a single top 5 placing since then.

Latvia’s Recent History (Since 2008)

2014: Aarzemnieki with “Cake to Bake“, 13th place in the semi-final with 33 points

2013: PeR with “Here We Go“, 17th (last) place in the semi-final with 13 points

2012: Anmary with “Beautiful Song“, 16th place in the semi-final with 17 points

2011: Musiqq with “Angel in Disguise“, 17th place in the semi-final with 25 points

2010: Aisha with “What For?“, 17th (last) place in the semi-final with 11 points

2009: Intars Busulis with “Probka“, 19th (last) place in the semi-final with 7 points

2008: Pirates of the Sea with “Wolves of the Sea”, 12th place with 83 points
http://youtu.be/92NzGn6zmQE

Recent Stats

1. How many sets of “douze points” has Latvia actually received since 2008?

In the grand final, only one from Ireland in 2008. In the semi final, also only one, but from Lithuania in 2008.

2. Who has Latvia awarded their recent “douze points” to?

In the finals – Russia (2008), Norway (2009), Germany (2010), Italy (2011), Sweden (2012), Russia (2013), and the Netherlands (2014) In the semis – Lithuania (2008), Estonia (2009), Estonia (2010), Denmark (2011), Russia (2012), Norway (2013), and the Netherlands (2014)

3. How many Latvian acts have received writing credits for their entry (either music, lyrics, or both)?

3 – Guntis Veilands (of Aarzemnieki), Ralfs Eilands (of PeR), and Marats Ogljeznjevs (of Musiqq)

Best Scoring Entry:

2008: Pirates of the Sea with “Wolves of the Sea”, 12th place with 83 points

Pirates of the Sea was one of those manufactured groups: put together for a single collaboration geared towards Eurovision. Featuring recycled Italian tenor Roberto Meloni (from Latvia’s 2007 manufactured group called Bonaparti.lv), Aleksandra Kurusova, and Jaanis Vaishlja, the group sang a faster paced version of “Yo-Ho (A Pirate’s Life For Me)”. Although quality was certainly not a factor when Latvia chose this song (there’s a reason that they are the namesake of the future cruise ship singer award), it still received top points from Ireland (12) and the United Kingdom (10).
http://youtu.be/zHLqfkU_0xA
Most Memorable Lyrics: “With a hi hi ho and a hi hi hey, we’re hosting the flag to be free; we will steal the show, Jolly Rogers go, we are wolves of the sea”

Worst Scoring Entry:

2009: Intars Busulis with “Probka”, 19th (last) place with 7 points

Latvia tried rock once at Eurovision (see below), and it undeservedly failed. Thinking they could try at the genre again, they selected Intars’ song “Sastreegums” and translated it into the Russian “Probka” (Traffic Jam). However, the composition of the song, which was in 7/4 time, threw a lot of people off, since pop music is more commonly written in 4/4 time. The tempo consistently changed as well, starting with fast verses and slowing down for the chorus. Europe couldn’t handle the messy technique of the song and it placed absolutely last. The only points were from neighbors Lithuania (6 points) and Estonia (1 measly point).

Most Memorable Lyrics: “Vot kak iz okna mne kulak; ‘tak tebya i rastak!'” (I see there’s a fist out of a window; “Damn you!”)

A Step Back in Time:

We’ve talked about this one in our editorial featuring rock music, but we’re going to bring it up again. This is song is the sole appearance of the Latvian language in all of Eurovision. “Dziesma par laimi”, by Fomins and Kleins, placed 17th in 2004’s semi-final in Istanbul. Featuring Rush-style instrumentals and calling back to the good music of the 70’s (rather than this flashback from the year before), Europe just wasn’t feeling it.

Here is what Team Wiwi has to say on Latvia’s recent performances:

Zach: Latvia always have a few gems in their national finals that would get them to the Grand Final (hello Samanta!) and yet they opt for a song that even they know will fail. Aisha is the only recent entrant I found myself taking a liking to, the song was unique and stood out, and for once I found Latvia underrated on the night. PeR is by far their worst entrant recently. Everything looked poised for a Latvian shocker. Samanta Tina’s amazing song in the super final against a joke, and Latvia picks the joke, then rightfully finishes dead last. Poor Latvia!

Robyn: This little Baltic state hasn’t had the best luck in recent years. The songs they’ve sent certainly aren’t awful and always have their share of fans, but there’s just something about Latvia that has seen them avoid the grand final for the past six years. There is hope – Aarzemnieki were only eight points off qualifying in Copenhagen with the adorable “Cake to Bake” and there’s a sense that they could easily do so much better. While a repeat of their 2002 victory might be too much to ask for, if Latvia makes the grand final in 2015, there’ll be celebrations in more places than just Riga.

Deban: With 7 non-qualifying entries and counting, Latvia would struggle to build a credible image on Europe’s Music Stage. Although Latvia has managed to send in a variety of entries since their debut in 2000, they’ve largely been laced with gimmicks. None of the songs sent in the last 10 years would’ve have had a good shot at winning. A tad ironic considering that the Latvian national selection is one of the toughest pre-selection gigs.

Daphne Dee: Latvia! For some reason I look forward to the Latvian entrant every year, just because you know you are going to be amused (in a good way!). Latvia has some beautiful voices (Anmary, Valters & Kaža, Musiqq, Cosmos), and there is no shortage of musicians either, but what Latvia really lacks is a good set of songwriters. The cheesiness of the song lyrics amazes me really at times. “Beautiful song is on the radio, is in the TV-shows and so on and on”? Really?! You have the singers, you have the instrumentalists. Now, go and write something, Latvia! You can do it! In addition to that: comedy/cabaret and music seem to go hand in hand in Latvia. Unfortunately, Europe was only able to open her mind to this kind of musical pleasure in 2002.

Who was your favorite? Your least favorite? Staasti mums zem! (Tell us in the comments!) You can read our other country profiles by clicking here

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Alex
Guest
Alex

@AndreaIT: Yes, the staging in 2012 was very unremarkable. I think bad or minimalist staging is part of why Latvia did so badly from 2010 to 2012. 2013, on the other hand, had excellent staging, but almost no sung parts in the song.

QwaarJet
Guest
QwaarJet

Latvia really don’t do Eurovision very well. Aisha was the best out of that list though. Wolves Of The Sea wasn’t bad either. The rest are terrible.

AndreaIT
Guest
AndreaIT

Well also 2008 was pretty enjoyable 🙂

AndreaIT
Guest
AndreaIT

I liked Beautiful song…Anmary has a very good voice but she and the vocalists were walking randomly on the stage…Still best latvian entry imo

Branko
Guest
Branko

I blame 2007 and especially 2008 for Latvia’s bad luck at Eurovision! Seems like Europe still punishes them or sending such “songs” to ESC!

Alex
Guest
Alex

Latvia is just rather underappreciated in ESC these days. Cake to Bake was a clever song with an interesting message, but alas. The national final this year had my favorite song from any national selection: “Revelation,” and placed first in the jury’s final vote. If only the televoters had allowed Ralfs to go again. I blame Probka for the bad luck since 2009. What a disaster. I like the song a little more than I did back then, but what on earth were they thinking? Going back in time, the Pirates are one of the reasons I got into ESC… Read more »

ESCaddict
Guest
ESCaddict

Latvia should have won ESC2013. PeR’s “Here We Go” was the best song in Malmo.

Tha
Guest
Tha

I don’t get Latvia. They always had good songs in National Finals, but most of time choose the worst.
I hope to see Latvia in Grand Final soon.
Btw, “Angel In Disguise” is a really good song and should be in the Grand Final that year.

D
Guest
D

I’ve liked very few Latvian songs but I always have sympathy for them and love their national selection. It’s really a shame how they completely waste great songs each year and pretty much send a joke entry. In 2014, “Stay” and “You Are the Reason” could’ve both done really well in ESC. “The War Is Not Over” is the only song they’ve sent that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and it’s my winner for 2005. With better staging, I think “Beautiful Song” might’ve been able to qualify considering the studio version doesn’t sound bad at all, just a little annoying.

Steve
Guest

I loved wolves of the sea but cake to bake was my favourite this year!

SpirK
Guest
SpirK

From 2008-2014, my rankings for Latvia: 32nd, 33rd, 19th, 22nd, 9th, 34th, 13th. I really enjoy ”Beautiful song” and ”Cake to Bake”. The rest are just ok. These 2 were final deserved for me!

William Lee Adams
Admin

@John Lucas: I LOVED Olga & Ligo this year. It was was so Folk Avicii!

Steve
Guest

I had forgotten about “Wolves Of The Sea”. I remember my neighbours turn the TV up so loud when that came on and I could hear them dancing around their living room.

I also have to say I loved “Cake To Bake”

Gilho Ahn
Guest
Gilho Ahn

In 2004 and 2005 Latvia had great songs!! I also fondly remember the 2006 entry with no background music at all!! Too bad that a country I held in high regard (I started watching ESC in 2004) fell out of favour that hard :/

John Lucas
Guest

They threw away a potential top ten with Saule Riet by Olga & Ligo this year. Delightfully barmy, but in a way I can imagine would have picked up votes.

http://youtu.be/_LDn42ooOJA

Zack
Guest
Zack

“A tad ironic considering that the Latvian national selection is one of the toughest pre-selection gigs.”

Spot on, Deban!