We’re under way. Now we are past the EBU’s September 1st cut-off date, any song that makes its public début is eligible to enter the 58th Eurovision Song Contest and take to the stage in Malmö on May 18th. You’d think that watching the calendar and making sure you observe the deadline would be easily manageable by the artists and composers entering their National Finals… And most of the time it is.
But there are always exceptions. Be it from nit-picking on the rule book or a last-minute decision to enter the Song Contest, to selling the song to another artist or just crossing your fingers that you might not get caught, the history of Eurovision has a number of disqualified songs from the Song Contest simply because they missed the cut-off date.
(And if you want something to run in the background, we’ve put this list together as a YouTube Playlist for your listening pleasure).
Probably one of my favourite ‘performed before the deadline’ stories, Jeg Snakker Med Mig Selv was all set to take part in the Danish National Final for 1962, but the composer of the song decided to whistle his catchy tune in DR’s canteen. A strict reading of the rules (it was in public, it was a performance) and the favourite was disqualified.
If you were watching Eurovision in 2011 and raised an eyebrow at Anastacia Vinnikova’s ‘I Love Belarus’ and thought it was a bit flag-wavey, you ain’t heard nothing yet. The internal selection process which chose her to sing for Belarus also chose ‘Born In Byelorussia’, a Boney-M esque track that had a rapid lyric change to ‘I Am Belarusian’ before it’s airing in Summer 2011 was discovered. In a perfect world perhaps the singer could have been changed and the song remained…
The 2010 selection was fraught enough in the Ukraine, with the internal selection of Vasyl Lazarovych called into question before the National Final selected from six songs to send to Norway. ‘I Love You’ was, by all accounts, a miss. Then the management at broadcaster NTU changed, a new National Final was held (while the EBU looked very closely at their rule book), and Alyosha topped the vote with ‘To Be Free’.
Vasyl finished seventh.
The fun wasn’t over though, as ‘To Be Free’ had been on sale on Amazon since April 2008, but under the slightly different name of Alonya. More rulebooking saw ‘Sweet People’ head to Oslo.
The German Schlager singer stormed to a commanding victory int he 1976 National Final, winning the public vote by over 20,000. But it was second place Les Humphries Singers that traveled to The Hauge, thanks to Der Star’s previous public performance before the National Final. Given the performance of ‘Sing Sang Song’ you have to wonder if the Germans should have worked out how to wave through Marshall on a technicality.
Speaking of technicalities, last year’s Dansk Melodi Grand Prix allowed ‘Nowhere’, by Tine Lynggaa (performing as Valen:Tine) through to the National Finals. Even though it broke DR’s date rule, the October release still sneaked in under the EBU date of September 1st. Unfortunately it was never written as a Eurovision song, so the demo version uploaded to YouTube in the summer by Lynggaa was enough to qualify as a prior performance and into the ‘disqualified’ playlist went ‘Nowhere’.
Sometimes there are genuine issues, such as the Nowhere demo, that act as mitigating circumstances around a songs first performance, Not with Yiannis Demetriou’s Thimame. It won the 1988 selection for Cyprus, and was all set to be performed at Dublin before someone spotted that there might be an issue with the song… it had been entered into the Cypriot National Final in 1984.
Eurovision favourite Hari Mata Hari was moments away from a Eurovision Song Contest place seven years with ‘Starac I More’ (‘The Old Man and The Sea’). Unfortunately the song had been sold to Janne Hurme who had released a Finnish version in 2007. Hari Mata Hari would return in 2006 with ‘Lejla’ while Dino Merlin, in second place, would represent Bosnia in 1999.
To be fair, the majority of songs in the 2002 Lithuanian National Final broke the EBU date restriction, so B’Avarija were not alone in missing the January 1st cut-off date (as it was that year). When the argument that singing it in Lithuanian (‘Mes Cia!”) made it a different song failed, Aivaras went in their place.
Over 100 songs were sent to MTV’s internal selection panel for Eurovision 2009. Only one had been previously used on the Swedish version of ’Big Brother’ in 2004. Guess which one was chosen by the committee? Oops!
Will anyone join the Notorious Nine above from this year’s National Final entries? Do you have memories of a disqualified song that would have been a credit to the Eurovision Song Contest? Let us know in the comments!
Images by Alain Douit / EBU.