It’s a regular fixture on the Eurovision off-season calendar — the OGAE Second Chance Contest. Various OGAE fan clubs around Europe (and the rest of the world) decide their top favourite of the national final acts who didn’t win the ticket to Eurovision. Voting has closed, but before the fan network announces the final results, we’ve decided to do a ranking of our own.
The Wiwi Jury — our in-house panel of music unprofessionals — has assembled after its summer hiatus and listened to all 14 contenders. We’ve ranked our top ten songs in Eurovision fashion and combined our scores to determine our absolute favourites. What entry emerged on top? Read on to find out!
OGAE Second Chance 2021 — Wiwi Jury
14. Denmark: Chief 1 og Thomas Buttenschøn – “Højt over skyerne” (6 points)
Robyn: “Højt over skyerne” is delightful and uplifting and the performers bring energy and personality to the performance. They were one of the stand-out acts of DMGP and, yeah, they would have been ok if they’d made it to Rotterdam. But the song is intense and doesn’t really hold up to repeat listenings. The listening experience is like having a really rich piece of chocolate cake. One or two forkfuls are delicious, but you wouldn’t necessarily enjoy the whole piece.
13. Spain: Blas Cantó – “Memoria” (12 points)
Patrick: Recent news reporting a new way of selecting the Spanish entrant sounds like the right way ahead. Let’s face it, the national selection for Blas was sadly a foreshadowing for what was yet to come. While I enjoyed “Voy a quedarme” in Rotterdam, I always prefered “Memoria”. It left more of an impact. It reminds me of those Spanish songs that always chart during the summer and make you feel happy and long for a Tequila Sunrise. Sure, I would have tweaked the song if it had won but the original is already a good effort. I’m not sure if “Memoria” would have necessarily done better, but I do believe the dreaded 0 points would have at least be avoided.
11. Russia: Therr Maitz – “Future Is Bright” (13 points)
🥉 — Lauren
Lauren: Russia’s national selection this season, let’s face it, was a mess. Of course, it ended up yielding a very good winner that got a top ten placement in Rotterdam. But everything else was off. It was announced almost last minute, it seemed only half-real while it was on, and they constantly cut to random news footage during the broadcast, which was… surreal. But when everything is said and done, that selection had three good songs, and Therr Maitz’s “Future Is Bright” is a great track to look back at. It’s introverted, minimalistic, but still powerful and explosive. To me, it always felt like a successor of “Midnight Gold” from Eurovision 2016. At Eurovision, it may have fallen flat, but in OGAE Second Chance the sky is the limit.
= Portugal: NEEV – “Dancing In The Stars” (13 points)
Oliver: Festival da Canção is always tough to call. Few predicted The Black Mamba would win the Portuguese national final, and even fewer predicted “Love Is On My Side” would go on to achieve the Eurovision success it did — only during rehearsals did they really pick up steam. The second alternate NEEV on the other hand had a great package right from the start. The national final performance of “Dancing In The Stars” is a tearjerker. It’s heartfelt, sincere and enchanting in its simplicity, with a sorrowful message that resonates beyond borders. With a few touch-ups to the stage lighting, one can’t help but wonder what magic NEEV might have stirred up inside the Rotterdam Ahoy had he won the Portuguese Eurovision ticket. Nevertheless, this continues to be a great song in its own right and NEEV can be proud of the success he has achieved as an FdC fan favourite.
10. Israel: Eden Alene – “Ue La La” (18 points)
Pablo: Before “Set Me Free” was the high-note record breaker we came to know it as in Rotterdam, the Israeli selection was somewhat… chaotic. After a lot of demos and suppositions, we ended up with three not-as-polished candidates for Eden. Despite the reservations, “Ue La La” stuck out the most. Full of swagger and an eclectic mix of Hebrew, English and French, it was an unusual way to go. But it had the potential to be very in tune with what’s hot on the current scene. Reminiscent of Megan Thee Stallon or Doja Cat, if they worked the magic they did on “Set Me Free” with this track, Israel could have really done a bigger number on the Eurovision stage. But even at this first draft stage, it is a fairly addictive track.
9. Finland: Ilta – “Kelle mä soitan” (21 points)
🥈 — Patrick
Patrick: UMK has been one of my favourite national selections since the beginning. And when I listened to Ilta and her song the first time I was instantly enchanted. The mixture of her sweet yet strong voice together with her incredible presence helped her to stand out. The song itself presented a pure class act with lyrics as beautiful as they can get. Of course, looking at the end result for Blind Channel, they surely did everything right, but to see such a beautiful ballad in Finnish at the latest Eurovision would have surely made an impact in between all the dance songs.
6. Croatia: BERNARDA – “Colors” (32 points)
🥉 — Padraig and Patrick
Padraig: “Colors” attained legendary status long before it graced the Dora stage. For several years, it had been “that song” which had come so close to representing a handful of high profile countries at Eurovision. In the end, Croatia got the honours of presenting it to the public. Was it worth the wait? Most definitely! “Colors” is an infectiously, inspiring pop anthem brought to us by the Symphonix hit factory – it was never going to be not good. Bernarda’s own story as a blind singer added further depth to a song that could have been a throwaway number in the hands of someone else.
= Albania: Era Rusi – “Zjarri im” (32 points)
🥈 — Pablo and Renske
Renske: Eurovision is home to many tracks celebrating the power of women and “Zjarri im” perfectly fits that trend. Although “Karma” was slightly stronger in the selection, Era Rusi definitely brought the fire to the stage of Festivali di Këngës, which was held at the Sheshi Italia, an open-air venue, in the midst of December. Perhaps at Eurovision, it would have gotten lost in the bombastic extravaganza that so many countries delivered. Nonetheless, the song remains the same catchy energizer that it was in the winter, and the melody of the chorus is still stuck in the minds of many fans.
= France: Pony X – “Amour fou” (32 points)
🥈 — Robyn
🥉 — Oliver
Robyn: Let’s fondly remember the moment in the French national final when the jurors — including Jean Paul Gaultier — started giving their points and “Amour fou” was picking up 12s. It didn’t last, of course, and “Voilà” rightly took the win, but the infectious dance-pop of “Amour fou” was strong competition. The song has such a wild spirit that picks up on goofy 1960s dance trends, reimagined for the TikTok era. France made the right decision not to send “Amour fou” to Rotterdam, but the song remains one of the most enjoyable and danceable tunes of the 2021 national final season.
5. Sweden: Eric Saade – “Every Minute” (33 points)
🥉 — Pablo
Pablo: “Every Minute” surprised me over the summer. While it was an acceptable track with a well-produced show in Melodifestivalen, there was something that wasn’t entirely clicking with Eric’s performance. But the truth of the matter is, the song stands extremely well on its own. A more subdued production, leaning on a sexy groove and a beatbox-like base track, it’s a big deviation from the big productions Eric brought in the past. Overall, it would have also been a solid Swedish entry. “Every Minute”, regardless of its pretty noteworthy show, really is a track to enjoy on its own.
4. Estonia: Jüri Pootsmann – “Magus melanhoolia” (36 points)
🥉 — Robyn
Lauren: When we first saw Jüri Pootsmann on the list of participants for Eesti Laul 2021, it’s safe to say none of us were expecting this sort of track. Jüri’s 2016 song “Play” was very indie, very Malcolm Lincoln, and very far from the sharp, loud synths of “Magus melanhoolia”. But that contrast just went to show that Jüri has versatility as an artist, and when the jüry votes came in, it really seemed like he had a shot at taking gold. And he still does! Just not at Eesti Laul, at OGAE Second Chance.
3. Lithuania: Gebrasy – “Where’d You Wanna Go?” (44 points)
🥇 — Lauren and Renske
Renske: Only some national finals have a stand-out winner, but even fewer have a solid runner-up. Gebrasy’s “Where’d You Wanna Go?” was that rare solid runner-up, receiving the second position behind The Roop on all sections of the Lithuanian scoreboard. The simple singer-songwriter track was a breath of fresh air in the heats preceding the final, somewhat reminiscent of Frans’ “If I Were Sorry” in the jam-packed Melodifestivalen 2016. “Where’d You Wanna Go?” stood out in so many respects, including radio-friendliness and vocal performance, which promises that there is more to come from Lithuania after The Roop.
2. Norway: KEiiNO – “Monument” (48 points)
🥇 — Patrick
🥈 — Oliver and Padraig
Padraig: KEiiNO arrived into Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix with a monumental weight on their shoulders. Not only did they have to at least match the expectations set by “Spirit In The Sky”, they also had to overcome TIX — Norway’s biggest domestic artist at the moment. Sadly, they failed on the latter. However, Alexandra, Fred and Tom certainly came very close to equaling their 2017 entry in terms of quality and appeal. “Monument” is a soaring triumph, that captures the magic of “Spirit In The Sky” while throwing in some special flourishes especially for the juries. The fan love for this was real, and “Monument” will definitely live long in the canon of potential Eurovision songs that never were.
1. Italy: Irama – “La genesi del tuo colore” (66 points)
🥇 — Oliver, Pablo, Padraig and Robyn
🥈 — Lauren
🥉 — Renske
Oliver: In a post-Måneskin world, it’s hard to imagine any other Sanremo act topping everybody’s new favourite four-piece rock band. But with a song that still hits as hard as it did upon release, Irama might have come close. “La genesi del tuo colore” was a contender for the top five at Eurovision, and now it’s easily a huge contender to take home the OGAE Second Chance trophy. Every ingredient is stellar. The production is clean, the lyrics mysterious, the instrumentation eclectic. And on stage, this would surely dazzle audiences and jurors alike. It’s a shame Irama never got to showcase this song live in its full glory — RAI broadcast rehearsal footage at Sanremo after a COVID scare forced the superstar to self-isolate. Even then, he earned a respectable placement. An Irama return to Sanremo, if only to prove he can go all the way, would be very welcome indeed.
Wiwi Jury Scoreboard
Voting in the official contest might be closed. But there’s still some time to choose your favourites in our OGAE Second Chance 2021 reader poll.
What do you think of our rankings? Who are your favourites? Let us know below.