From Switzerland’s Expert Check preselection kicking off in early December through to Sweden’s Melodifestivalen grand final in mid March, the 2016 national final season has given us over three months of songs, tension, entertainment and so much drama. We’re taking a look back at the most dramatic moments of the 2016 national final season, starting with the first 11 moments. Grab your popcorn!
1. Germany: NDR drops Xaiver Naidoo
It all happened so fast. In November, Xavier Naidoo was announced as Germany’s singer for Stockholm, with a national final planned to select his song. But two days later it was all off. The initial announcement hadn’t gone down well with the German public, with accusations that the process was undemocratic, and criticism of Naidoo’s controversial political beliefs. Broadcaster NDF announced that Xaiver was out and a standard national final took his place.
2. Switzerland: Stephanie Palazzo disqualified
Only days after qualifying for the final from Switzerland’s Expert Check round, Stephanie Palazzo was disqualified after it was discovered that her song “Perché mi guardi cosi” had been released with French lyrics in 2013. She was replaced with the band Kaceo, who were to bring their own drama.
3. Hungary: Reggae band Misztrál disqualified
A Dal fans were gearing up to hear some Hungarian reggae from the band Misztrál. But just two weeks after the national final line-up had been confirmed, the broadcaster announced that the reggae band and their song “Reggeli reggae” had been disqualified as the song had been released prior to the 1 September 2015 deadline. Their place in A Dal was given to Viki Singh and her song “Katonák”.
4. Denmark: Songs leaked three weeks early
Having the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix songs leaked early is becoming an annual tradition for Denmark. This year the songs went out three weeks early on Spotify, forcing broadcaster DR to very rapidly activate its DMGP launch plan.
5. Austria: Suspicious wildcard voting
As part of Wer singt für Österreich?, broadcaster ORF held a wildcard competition, with the winner determined by Facebook likes. It was all going well, but fans noticed that in the final hours of the voting period, some candidates suddenly received thousands of likes. The broadcaster investigated and excluded “obviously rigged” votes. The winner was AzRah, who got there the old-fashioned way – by having a large and loyal fanbase.
6. Belgium: Kate Ryan throws shade on Laura
After public favourite Laura Tesoro won Eurosong with her number “What’s the Pressure”, tweets of praise came from former Belgium Eurovision stars, such as Sandra Kim and Axel Hirsoux. But one former Belgian representative wasn’t so kind. Kate Ryan was just being honest when she tweeted “Laura is not mature and sexy enough for this song. I’m sorry but my voice went out to Tom.”
7. Norway: Freddy Kalas self-plagiarises
When the songs for Melodi Grand Prix were announced, fans noticed a strange similarity between Freddy Kalas’ song “Happy Rush” and the 2011 song “Cannabus”. But it wasn’t a straightforward case of plagiarism – Freddy was the author of both songs. MGP bosses allowed him to rewrite his entry, which became “Feel Da Rush”.
8. Denmark: “Never Alone” previously performed by Emmelie de Forest
Danish-Australian singer Anja Nissen was making waves with her song “Never Alone”, when it was pointed out that it had previously been performed live by the song’s co-writer Emmelie de Forest in 2014. Broadcaster DR sought advice from the EBU and it was determined that the song hadn’t reached a large enough audience to be considered a previous release. Which doesn’t say much for Emmelie’s ability to draw a crowd…
9. Romania: M I H A I’s “Paradiso” video disaster
Romania’s 2006 representative M I H A I (the artist formerly known as Mihai Traistariu) was hoping to return to Eurovision a decade later with his song “Paradisio”. But his self-funded music video was getting attention for all the wrong reasons. The cheesy sci-fi adventure had Romanian fans noting its poor production, bad editing, and involuntarily funny storyline. M I H A I pulled the €15,000 video, promising to return with a better video.
10. Switzerland: Kaceo forced to rewrite sweary lyrics
With Kaceo brought in to replace the disqualified Stephanie Palazzo, Switzerland might have thought they were avoiding controversy. Not so. The band’s song “Disque d’or” had a problem with bad language. Ten unsuitable words in both English and French had to be removed from the song, including French slang for bitch, whore and blowjob, sexual phrases, as well as the English f*ck. The band released a “platinum edition” with cleaner lyrics.
11. Moldova: Katherine & Litesound withdraw from O melodie pentru Europa
Belarusian band Litesound were looking to make a Eurovision comeback when they teamed up with Moldovan singer Katherine with the song “Imagine”. But with a place secured in the semi-finals, they suddenly withdrew, citing “personal reasons”.