In its first nine participations at Eurovision, Bulgaria only managed to make the grand final one time. So, when it sat out of Eurovision in 2014 and 2015, folks weren’t particularly surprised. But in 2016 the country returned to the contest and fans watched Poli Genova achieve an astonishing fourth place. A year later Kristian Kostov went even higher, coming second. A new era had begun.
Sadly, Bulgaria has now withdrawn from the contest again. So it seems like the perfect time to pause and ask you: What is your favourite entry from Bulgaria from their most recent run at ESC?
Below you can re-watch each of the performances. For Eurovision 2020, which was cancelled because of the pandemic, we’ve included VICTORIA’s music video of her would-be entry. We’re also including excerpts from our Wiwi Jury reviews of each entry, written before the contest each year.
Poll: What was Bulgaria’s best Eurovision entry from 2016 onwards?
2016: Poli Genova — “If Love Was a Crime”
Robyn: I’ve been hoping for a big, bold contemporary pop moment and here it is. This is what the mid 2010s sound like, so bravo to Bulgaria for getting in there with a cool modern pop sound and not trying to formulate a “Eurovision hit”. Combined with the dream position of performing in the second half of the second semi, a song this strong with killer staging should get Bulgaria a much deserved place in the grand final.
William: Ethnic but not off-putting, “If Love Was a Crime” manages to think locally while translating globally. The opening verses build steadily and confidently, leading to a pre-chorus that is all kinds of amazing. The chorus itself could be a tad bigger, but the Bulgarian lyrics make it sufficiently special to carry the song. The lyrics are clever and the nod to the criminalisation of homosexuality is truly daring for a singer from a conservative country. Breezy, catchy and feel-good, this is easily Bulgaria’s best Eurovision entry ever.
2017: Kristian Kostov — “Beautiful Mess”
Sinan: When I heard this for the first time, I was impressed by the voice and the sensitive manner in which Kristian sings this beautiful song. It’s a super modern ballad, but with a dark sound and subtle ethnic touches. My country has a huge chance to finish as high as it did last year and even to take first place — why not? I just hope Kristian will give his best and make Bulgarians proud!
William: Among the most contemporary tracks of the year, “Beautiful Mess” is a thoughtful piece of pop that oozes soul. Rather than following a traditional formula and reaching an easily identifiable peak, this progresses somewhat linearly. It’s more cinematic and atmospheric than the typical Eurovision song, and has a smooth, polished finish yet never leans toward the sterile. Young Kristian has the face of an angel, but the voice of an established (and much older) international pop star — a mix that will serve him very well at Eurovision. Nail the staging and this is guaranteed a top-five placing.
2018: Equinox — “Bones”
Robyn: There’s something magic happening here. Despite a clanger of an opening line (“Love is like a blackhole – everything is dark”) the Equinox quintet completely sells it and deliver a song that is moody and delicious. It sounds like the staging of “Bones” is important to Bulgaria, but regardless of that, the song stands on its own. It wouldn’t be hard to expect another top-five finish for Bulgaria, at a minimum.
Steinunn: This is dark and twisted and captivating and I can‘t get enough of it. It‘s like Equinox wants to put me under their spell and I just want to obey. It all comes down to the staging now. Good staging and this is a top-five contender for sure. Crossing my fingers that the Bulgarian team manages to avoid the mistakes of Switzerland 2006 and Armenia 2015 and just put five soloists on the stage and let them belt out until everyone‘s out of breath. This song is too good for that to happen.
2020: Victoria — “Tears Getting Sober”
William: Bruises, scars, wounds, sugar — they’re not words that typically come in a bunch. But with “Tears Getting Sober”, Victoria brings them together in a package that’s at once sweet and dark, uplifting but laced with melancholy. It’s a twisted and indeed slightly jarring offering — but one you can’t help but dive into again and again. Victoria’s delicate voice — which trembles as much as it roars — has a captivating quality. Eerie, haunting, mysterious — each layer compels another spin. It’s a shame Covid-19 robbed us of Eurovision 2020. This could have been Bulgaria’s year.
Deban: “Tears Getting Sober” tackles mental health issues, but the swelling production is dreamy magic. Production team Symphonix and Victoria have forged a great collaboration here. Qualification in any year with this song would have been certain, but in 2020, it would’ve definitely peaked in the top five. What I love the most about this entry is that I keep finding new reasons to love it more. Bravo!
2021: Victoria — “Growing Up Is Getting Old”
William: Like any good storyteller, VICTORIA doesn’t rush her exposition. She takes her time with “Growing Up Is Getting Old” — literally opening with the heavy sound of a ticking clock. The song slowly and carefully warms up, layering nostalgia and tenderness over strings and piano. As Victoria comes to terms with the relentlessness of time, expressed through that delicate and distinct voice, her trickle of emotion becomes a flood, delivering one of the biggest musical pay-offs of the year. This song may be a slow burn, but it definitely ignites, giving us an “it” moment worthy of the win. “I’ve never understood how so much can fit in little me,” VICTORIA sings. In these three minutes, she proves that she contains multitudes.
Sebastian: With pervading ticks of a clock throughout, “Growing Up Is Getting Old” is a beautifully reflective masterpiece and a stunning moment in time in what will be a very full list of songs in the competition. In a year where no doubt many songs are influenced by the new Covid-19 world, “Growing Up Is Getting Old” is an exasperated but realistic take on what many other countries’ artists are trying to turn into a song-and-dance. VICTORIA is not in the mood to celebrate, and I’m here for it. I also applaud the clever play on words when the words ‘growing’ and ‘getting’ are interchanged throughout the song.
2022 Intelligent Music Project “Intention”
Angus: Were we talking about Eurovision 1992 then Bulgaria might be in a better spot, but unfortunately “Intention” finds itself entirely out of place thirty years later. In stark contrast to its lyrics, “Intention” is firmly in the safety zone: A predictable, by numbers rock effort and one that sounds extremely dated. With rock entries you want to be electrified and this unfortunately is more of a short circuit.
Antranig: There’s nothing better than a great rock song at Eurovision but there’s nothing worse than a bad one. If the “Intention” was to stay in the semi-final, Bulgaria have hit the nail on the head. This song feels as though it was written in someone’s garage in about 12 minutes after a Sunday afternoon barbecue. It feels like it remains in third gear for three minutes and never picks up any momentum. I appreciate Bulgaria trying something different, but it’s a no from me.
So who did you vote for? Let us know in the comments box down below. And be sure to comment on our Insta post too!
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When will the results be announced?
‘Bones’ is one of my fav ESC songs of all time!
I loved Bulgaria so much these last few years. Victoria, Poli, Kristoff… Those three have become some of my favorite artists ever. Their Eurovision songs were great (with also fantastic staging) but their other songs could compete as well and achieve a great score. So it leaves me a bit sad to think that Bulgaria might not come back. Here’s my personnal top 1: Tears Getting Sober 2: Beautiful Mess 3: If Love Was A Crime 4: Growing Up Is Getting Old 5: Bones 6: Intention (I actually kinda like this song to be honest. Not great, but not awful… Read more »
bulgaria was such a powerhouse these last few years. beautiful mess is my favorite song but victoria has become one of my favorite artists. her entire EP was fantastic
2016 was another year in which politics ruined the chances of a good song to win.
2016 was a great year, great songs, great performances and out of all of them, “If Love Was a Crime” could’ve been the deserving winner and possibly Bulgaria’s best entry ever.
Even though “Intention” was a bad song…it was not the worst, there are like 10 songs worse than Bulgaria’s and the staging was pretty dope actually.
Bulgaria usually knows how to stage well. Hopefully they’ll come back soon.
It’s still a crime that Poli Genova didn’t win.
A very strong live performance and the song is pure pop perfection.
Once again, Ukraine preventing a good song from winning.
so tired of reading these stupid discriminating comments. people who can´t endure that their favorites do not win, because they don´t get enough votes.
Ok their absolute best was in 2007 and a real shame they didn’t win it.
From this list I would say Growing up is getting old and If love was a crime.
“Beautiful Mess” happens to be one of my favourite songs to mess around with on the piano, so that would be my choice. I like them all though. There isn’t a bad song here. Even “Intention” came across well live.
Wear dark clothes, buy a song and just get someone to sing it. That’s how I see these plastic creations, not liking any of them. I want something authentic like the 2007 song was.
I like all of them (2016-2021). I really will miss Bulgaria! My favourite songs are ”Tears getting sober” & ”Growing up is getting old”. I love VICTORIA!
All were good except 2022…
1st – Beautiful Mess and Growing Up Is Getting Old (Tie)
2nd – Bones
3rd – Tears Are Getting Sober
4th – If Love Was A Crime
N/A – Intentions because it’s a bad song (for me at least)
It’s easily 2017 for me.I think it would’ve been the Eurovision winner in ANY other year of the 2010’s and 2020’s that didn’t have him running into Salvador’s all-time great song (maybe 2012 as well but hey…).
Having said that, all of Bulgaria’s entries have been pretty decent since they returned until the last two years. Victoria picked a weak song as her entry in 2021 when she had a couple that were *almost* 2020-standard and IMP….were a thing.
But yeah, Kristian Kostov’s entry had everything. The best of Bulgaria at Eurovision.
The only reason it came that highly in 2017 was because it drew all the Russian votes and the songs were generally weaker that year, any other year it wouldn’t have gotten that many points
No. The best of Bulgaria at Eurovision was 2007.
for me it’s a tie between 2020 and 2017, I love both songs alot although I reckon 2020 would of done at least top 5 at the 2020 contest , such a shame it didn’t go ahead , I loved Bulgaria’s song from 2017 but it didn’t deserve the win which was fair
Since their return in 2016, I liked all of the songs bar 2022. My favorites are Victoria’s songs, especially TAGS, but I also love Bones.
Man, Bulgaria had a good run since they came back in 2016. I liked all of their post-2016 entries but 2022, it’s such a shame they’re pulling out 🙁
1st – beautiful mess
2nd – bones
3rd – if love was a crime
When I started watching Eurovision in 2016, I had no idea how much of a big deal it was for Bulgaria to qualify because I didn’t realize how much they had been struggling beforehand. It was really great to get into it when they had a great period. It is sad that we won’t see the next year or in the future, but who knows?
It’s Bones for me and by faaaar.
Unlike most fans, these recent Bulgarian entries never did much for me. I would opt for the two entries by Victoria as they were both in my top 10 of their respective years.
“Growing Up Is Getting Old” lays on the sentiment thick (and a bit daft, with the Tetris metaphor)… and it absolutely slays me every time.
This was a great run.
Anything but 2022. It was like Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, Graf, Alcaraz, Serena and then 2022 was me playing tennis.
But it seems u can still play tennis 🙂
Tears getting sober for me; such a beautiful song
You can say that they went downhill after their golden era of 2016-2017
I can’t pretend 2007 never happened, I’m sorry.
Exactly that. Best Bulgarian song in the contest ever.
2016 and 2021 are my faves.
2021, Growing Up is Getting Old, by an absolute mile. I don’t know if I’m in a minority by preferring it much more than Tears Getting Sober (I still really like that too). Growing Up is Getting Old was my favourite of 2021 too, Victoria performed it beautifully and the song really strikes a chord with me, the lyrics being very relatable for me. I hope we see Bulgaria back soon, as we all know they’ve pretty cool songs to Eurovision.
2021 & 2016 for me
2017 > 2020 > 2021 > 2016 > 2022
Oops, forgot 2018. 2018’s in between 2016 and 2022 for me.
2016 – Poli was my favorite but the competition was really good that year imo.
2017 – Kristian was also my favorite to win but I find the song a bit under Poli’s one.
2018 – Equinox was in my top 5 until the live (still in my top 10).
2020 – Victoria was 3rd or 4th in my top.
2021 – meh. Good song but not into it. Still at my 10-11th place.
2022 – no comment. IMP was my dead last. One of the worst songs I’ve heard in the ESC for the last 5 years.
If i was Bulgarian i would be so MAD at Covid-19
2016 > 2021 > 2020 > 2022 > 2017 > 2018
For me it’s 2016 > 2020 >= 2021 >= 2017 >> 2018 >> 2022
All except last year are in my Top 5.
Victoria was a potential winner with Tears Getting Sober. My vote is for her.
Poli – 100% for me