czech republic lake malawi first rehearsal eurovision 2019

There’s one golden rule to Eurovision: Never ever write off an act. Songs get revamped, performers pull charisma out of nowhere, and staging can turn the drabbest of songs into a major talking point. This year we once again had our fair share of very pleasant surprises.

France’s Bilal Hassani arrived in Tel Aviv with a stage show that tugged on heartstrings. Belarus’ ZENA served some killer vocals and a lot of urban swagger as she nabbed an unexpected berth in the final. And Switzerland’s Luca Hänni went from disappointing preview performances to a fantastic grand final show that saw his country grab fourth place. But in the end, one act surpassed all expectations like no other. With 818 votes out of the total 2,981, Czech Republic’s Lake Malawi narrowly wins Most Improved.

After the success of the Czech Republic last year, we were anxious to see if it was just a fluke. While there were a few noteworthy acts in the national final this year, Lake Malawi wasn’t widely considered to be among them. It had its fans — including us — but the understated indie sound and divisive lyrics (and the English accent) led to a bit of negativity among the Twitteratti. And certainly the Czech weren’t considered a Top 10 lock like they were last year. Even a grand final berth was debatable.

We love to see the Czech do well and this year they didn’t disappoint. They gave the song a bit of a revamp (personally, I loved the English accent) and let the band stay true to their happy chappy alternative spirit. Framed by, well, frames, they turned the stage into a massive Instagram Story without being cheesy. The juries lapped up the song and show, ranking it first in the semifinal and eighth in the grand final. Overall, they gained a respectable 11th place. Not quite the heights of Mikolas Josef, but something to be very proud of.

Most Improved: 2019

  1.  Lake Malawi: 818 votes (27.44%)
  2. Bilal Hassani: 779 votes (26.13%)
  3. Luca Hanni: 634 votes (21.27%)
  4. ZENA: 609 votes (20.43%)
  5. Leonora: 141 votes (4.73%)

Total votes: 2,981 votes

Vision Music Awards 2019: The nominees

This award is just one of a dozen awards we have launched as part of the Vision Music Awards 2019 (VMAs).

Our 13 categories — from best dressed to most wronged at ESC — identify the contestants who left the biggest impression on Eurovision fans, regardless of whether they won the contest or not.

You can watch the nominations video and read more about the awards here.

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Veta
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Veta

Oh boy… “even the grand final was debatable”?? Really? Lol, I predicted this finishing top 15 from the start bcs it was clear like sky for me. Ok, not actually from the very start, but from the first stage performance (on Vydbir), for sure. There was absolutely no surprise in their result.
This award should’ve been won by Bilal Hassani, he really improved his vocals since winning DE.

Denis
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Denis

Funnily enough I think the opposite. The song was good in it’s studio version. A fun light indie -pop song. It just didn’t transform well on stage, it lacked something.

Rob
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Rob

Agree with Lake Malawi!

UW FRIGO
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UW FRIGO

Zena was superior

sangfreudx
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sangfreudx

Every year needs a little indie pop! It’s a breezy genre that’s always going to struggle on the Eurovision stage – it just doesn’t feed the drama fire like a ballad or a dance explosion. But this was so fun and playful – one of my favorites from pre-contest and all the way through.

Stevan
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Stevan

Zena was one of the biggest improvements for me, but I would’ve given this award to Kate. Her vocals were flawless even in the national final, but the staging needed a lot of change, which did happen at ESC and I was left speechless.

Briekimchi
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Briekimchi

A million times Georgia for me. Made a jump of about 20 places in my personal ranking from before to after the contest.

Jo.
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Jo.

they were fine before the contest, most improved is probably Zena

Daniel
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Daniel

Bilal shouldve won, Czech was a huge down grade for me

Trash KAN
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Trash KAN

It could have been given to KMH or Bilal. But Lake Malawi? lol

Roelof Meesters
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Roelof Meesters

I gotta give it to ZENA, she gave it her everything and took Belarus to the final (which is rarer than you think)

pepe
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pepe

Didn’t she need the disqualification of the jurors of her own country for that qualification?

Mr. Vanilla Bean
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Mr. Vanilla Bean

Given that the jury pushed her into the final over Poland, I’d say it’s a pretty miserable trade.

KESC
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KESC

I would include Kate Miller Heidke as well. Not that she was bad in the national final, but many people didn’t really like the song or couldn’t connect with it, but then, after the rehearsals, she totally owned a lot of people’s hearts and thus improved her chances. Referring to Zena, I can just say that she was very underrated. I mean 24th placeI? Was it that bad? Initially, I did not really like “Like It” that much, but her stage presence was EVERYTHING, considering she was only 16 years old. Now, it’s one of those performances where I enjoy… Read more »

Preuss
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Preuss

Apparently, Kate is a contender for every reward this year because she was that Amazing

HarpyDarper
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HarpyDarper

Really pleasantly surprised by this when I saw it, very slick and charming. I especially like how they incorporated the band’s logo, very effective

Mr. Vanilla Bean
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Mr. Vanilla Bean

Definitely the only logical choice here, I don’t like any of there others nominated in terms of vision. I liked Denmark’s song but never cared for its performance and Switzerland was too red for me. Or too SJB not giving her best, maybe. The other two I wish to forget. I totally see why CZ failed in the televote though. It’s not a song that tugs on emotions and compels people to vote. It’s something you tolerate in the background or get used to and then kind of like when you follow Eurovision.

Sabrina
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Sabrina

Well deserved. Great stage presence by Albert and very clever staging. Honorable mention to Zena, who improved absurdly from the national final to Eurovision.

Polegend Godgarina
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Polegend Godgarina

i agrih on this, i found the song annoying before the contest but i loved it live

Joe
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Joe

This song deserved so much better than it got, at least from the televote.

pepe
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pepe