The participating countries of the Eurovision Song Contest come and go — but their legacy at the contest always lives on. So, as we get ready for another year that’s hopefully full of returns to the song contest, we thought we’d pause to shout out why we love some of the countries that have said au revoir to the world’s biggest musical spectacle.
To get things started, Wiwiblogger Izhar Levy reminded us why we loved Turkey so much at Eurovision. But there’s a smaller country that we love just as much and it’s Andorra. The tiny landlocked nation, which rests high in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain, brought some very memorable acts to the stage during its six years in the contest.
It debuted in 2004 with Marta Roure’s “Jugarem a estimar-nos”, which finished 18th in the newly-introduced semi-final. That set the tone for a rather unsuccessful run of appearances: Andorra never managed to reach the grand final. It finished last in 2006. And its best finish was an unfortunate 12th place in the semi-final in 2007. But the nation did have its fans. They received most of their points from Spain and Portugal.
Eurovision 2004 Andorra — Marta Roure with “Jugarem a estimar-nos”
Unfortunately we won’t be seeing the nation at ESC anytime soon, as RTVA has no plans to return to the contest. Regardless of their decision, we still hope to see them back someday. As we wait and hope, let’s take a look at 10 reasons why we (still) love Andorra and want them back at Eurovision.
1. They were advocates for the Catalan language
Andorra’s debut added some linguistic diversity to the competition: they showcased the lovely Catalan language. Despite not making the final, Marta Roure started a tradition that they would stick with in the years ahead. Eurovision is all about bringing together different cultures from all over Europe and beyond. And Andorra contributed to the mix as the only country that had ever performed in the language — something they did every single year. If Andorra ever were to return, surely they’d use the contest to showcase their linguistic and cultural influences once more.
2. Their acts came from diverse backgrounds
According to the World Bank, Andorra has a population of around 77,000. That’s roughly the size of Gladbeck in Germany, Calais in France…or Pouytenga in Burkina Faso. Naturally that means Andorra had some difficulties finding singers for Eurovision. Even so it still managed to present a diverse field of contestants — from Andorran stars (Marta) to Danish singers (Susanne Georgi), and a businesswoman (Marian van de Wal) and actress (Gisela) to boot.
3. Their stage presence was next level
Do what you can with what you have. Andorra exudes the principle, proving that small budgets don’t have to negatively impact your stage show. In fact, they brought some remarkable performances to the Eurovision stage despite not having the budget of an Azerbaijan. Just take a look at Jennifer — her 2006 performance of “Sense Tu” was thrilling and captivating bringing never-before-seen choreography to Eurovision! Ukraine’s MARUV would surely approve of those downward dog flourishes.
4. They gave us “Casanova”
Unfortunately Andorra never advanced to the grand final. But if any of their stars deserved it, it has to be Gisela. Her entry “Casanova” has all the elements of a Eurovision classic. A memorable hook, a distinct look, a questionable excess of backing dancers — this was on point. Gisela, the winner of the Barbara Dex Award for worst dressed, slipped into a metallic breastplate with metal head embellishments (and some 11 years before Conan Osiris). Tacky? Perhaps. But most definitely eye-catching and a choice that gave the song that extra notch of memorability. A guilty pleasure to many, “Casanova” is proof that Andorra knows how to produce a well-thought out Eurovision track. Gisela, our hearts go to YOU!
5. Their songs became popular — and not only among Eurovision fans
Despite their lacklustre results, several of Andorra’s entries became popular after the contest. In 2008, Gisela’s “Casanova” finished 16th in its semi-final, but that didn’t stop it from reaching number two on the Spanish charts. Ultimately, it became a huge hit in the country. Moreover, Susanne Georgi’s “La teva decisió” (Get a Life) also managed to chart on the Spanish physical singles chart, peaking at number ten. These are accomplishments that most Eurovision artists still struggle to achieve.
6. Their outfits always stood out
…in both positive and negative ways! While Gisela’s “Casanova” look screamed “peacock that got stuck in a fan”, Susanne Georgi gave the classic white dress a fresh update in 2009. While the punk rock group Anonymous chose to dress up in rather casual clothes (maybe they were headed to the mall afterwards?), Jennifer gave Andorra a proper introduction to the versatile black dress. She could move from funeral to stage, from day to night, with ease. Her backing dancers in white burlesque numbers provided the perfect colour contrast.
7. They knew when to switch it up
Andorra went into the 2009 contest with three consecutive non-qualifications. While Susanne Georgi didn’t turn the tide, she did put on a performance that stepped things up from previous years. Her stage show burst with colour through the ever-changing LED in Moscow, and she and her group of gurl power backing vocalists wore all white to stand out. Her red mane gave her a pop of fire, turning her into the Andorran Baby Spice. Musically she also mixed it up: the chorus was sung in the English language to build bridges with the rest of Europe. Following performances that some considered overdressed and/or irritating, Miss Georgi delivered a classic Eurovision performance — the wind machine was there too!
8. It could motivate other small countries
Countries like Andorra and San Marino automatically have a disadvantage when it comes to the stage show. Unlike wealthier countries like Sweden and larger countries like Russia, their acts face limited resources and often limited support from TV bigwigs. But what stands out about Andorra is the ambition and the enthusiasm all of their acts brought to the table. Despite its limits — financial and in terms of its population — Andorra’s acts all took the show seriously. Since Andorra withdrew, Portugal has won the contest, San Marino has enjoyed its best-ever result and Bulgaria briefly shined near the top of the Euro-kingdom. Perhaps an Andorran success story would woo back other nations who have said goodbye to the song contest.
9. Spain could use an ally
Let’s face it — Spain’s recent results are far from what fans have expected from the Iberian nation. From successful stars like Edurne to OT acts riding major waves of hype, nothing has worked for Spain in recent years. And while it can be irritating to see certain countries exchange points with one another, that’s what could help Spain climb the scoreboard. Throughout their short participation span, Andorra gave 60 points to Spain in the grand final while awarding 64 points to Portugal in both semi and grand finals.
10. Andorra is simply a great addition to the competition
While many countries have played it safe over the years, Andorra has never been afraid to bring different and diverse acts to the stage. Their spirit of combining local influences with the sound of Spanish music is something we’d love to see on the Eurovision stage again. Plus they are a fab reminder of just how diverse Europe really is — from the Rhine Valley to the Emerald Isle via the mountains of Andorra!
What do you think of Andorra at Eurovision? What were your favourite entries? Let us know in the comments below.