The success stories

As the Rio 2016 Olympics dominate headlines, athletes who didn’t quite make it to the Games are feeling the sting of coming close but not quite close enough. But take heart! As these three Eurovision 2016 artists show, losing at home one year can set the stage for a future win or selection at home — and then success on the international stage.

Jamala (Ukraine 2011)

Jamala made her first attempt to represent Ukraine in 2011 with the song “Smile”. With her Retro-Pop number and bluesy vocal, she quickly became a crowd favourite. As uplifting and endearing as Jamala is, the refrain sounds like nails down a chalkboard to me. But hey: The song came from her début album, so in that sense her artistry had yet to blossom. The stylistic transformation couldn’t have been any greater between this and the stunning “1944”, sung in 2016.

Musically the latter feels a lot closer to her heart than the Retro-American soundbite above. Could she have topped Mika Newton’s fourth place at Eurovision that year? She bided her time and the rest is history.

Sergey Lazarev (Russia 2008)

Similar to Jamala, Sergey’s first shot at representing his country was early in his career. In a David versus Goliath standoff, he went up against famed heartthrob Dima Bilan, who sought to avenge finishing as runner-up at Eurovision 2006. Sergey’s vocals weren’t the best — they were disguised heavily by the prerecorded vocal — and the production even for 2008 sounds several years past its sell-by date.

It still proved to be a launch pad. In subsequent years he bolstered his profile in Russia and sold millions of records in the process. Beloved by millions, his popularity and showmanship led Russia’s state broadcaster to internally select him for Eurovision 2016. Not only did he have a bigger budget behind him, but also the right people. His so-called “dream team” included composer Filip Kirkorov, songwriter Dimitris Kontopoulos and choreographer Fokas Evangelinos, who helped Sergey climb all the way to third place in Stockholm. Time and money well spent!

Zoe (Austria 2015)

Quel chance indeed. Unlike Jamala or Sergey, who experienced seismic improvements in quality, Zoe’s 2015 effort “Quel Filou” holds up to her 2016 entry “Loin d’ici”. It’s very French, quite traditional and in terms of image there’s a distinct 1920’s backstreets of Paris vibe going on. The camera work is effective with plenty of close cuts and Zoe herself shows oodles of charm, arguably making her a more justified winner than the Makemakes.

How would it have slotted into the highly competitive 2015 lineup? And crucially would it have trumped her 13th place finish in 2016?

Minus One, Agnete and Lidia Isac all made it to the contest after more than one attempt, albeit to a lesser degree of success than the above examples. Feel free to offer your opinions on the entries that got away. Could they have succeeded on the Eurovision stage or is it best that they didn’t get the call up?

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MoreMusicLessGlamourPlease
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MoreMusicLessGlamourPlease

Zoe was better last year…this yearwas a bit of a sugar overdose! Sexies singer this year though. hot girl 😉 Something for us straight male fans! (yep, Wiwiblogs should pay more attention to the fact there are many of us too!)

The Erised
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The Erised

Gabriela Yordanova (Bulgaria JESC 2015)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dB84fkPidLs

TJ
Guest
TJ

What about Conchita?

Leaf
Guest
Leaf

Loreen “My Heart is refusing me” back in 2011.

Sergey’s song from 2006 is nowhere near as good as “Never Let You Go”…. It’s just not and even “Believe” wasn’t as good as “Never Let You Go”.

Polegend Godgarina
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Polegend Godgarina

Jamala’s song was fantastic but very polarizing, I wonder how well it would’ve done at the Eurovision. She’s super original.

Zebb
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Zebb

@Ruud I might agree with your opinion about his ’16 song, as 2008-2010 were clearly years when some commercial electronic dance tracks were made exactly in same keys. It’s worth to notice some Deadmau5 production followed by Adam K and few Wolfgang Gartner releases. In same moment I can’t clearly argue about his 2008 song in context of that year material as there probably were not vividly working trends about using very current sound…

Riva
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Riva

Surprisingly, I liked this Lazarev’s attempt. I agree that it’s weaker in comparison to Bilan that year though it still could fit ESC with note that it would be probably topped by Pop stormers like Armenia or Greece.

Ruud
Guest

Well… Sergey’s song sounds the same as You Are the Only One, so that shouldn’t have gone to Eurovision anyway. Dateedddddd

Mark
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Mark

I fully understand why none of them won on their first attempts.

Callum Nowacki
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Callum Nowacki

But, ESC FAN, she also represented Malta in 2002.

This post is about second attempts in a NF and winning on your second attempt.

Ira’s participation this year would’ve marked a fourth participation in MESC.

ESC FAN
Guest
ESC FAN

You forgot about Ira Losco. She participated in MESC 2000 and 2001 🙂

oooops
Guest
oooops

I think Mika Newton deserved to win her national final, while Sergey Lazarev was 1000× better than Dima Bilan according to me. ZOE and the MakeMakes are at the same level according to me, but at least ZOE couldn’t get a worse result than the MakeMakes