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  • Writer's pictureSteven Garner

Czechia Independence Day: Czech "firsts" at the Eurovision Song Contest

Today, 28 October, is 'Den vzniku samostatného československého státu' or Independent Czechoslovak State Day, which commemorates Czechoslovakia's declaration of independence from Austria-Hungary and is still celebrated as the official day of independence in the Czech Republic/Czechia.

To mark the day, let's take a trip down memory lane to remember some of the "firsts" achieved by the country in its eleven Eurovision participations to date.

First Grand Final qualification

The Czech Republic, which has competed as Czechia since Liverpool 2023, first participated in the Contest in 2007 with its only entry to date sung completely in Czech: 'Malá dáma' by hard rock band Kabát. Sadly, the performance in Helskini wasn't the auspicious debut hoped for, as the song did not progress from the semi-final and finished in last place.

However, fortune favours the brave, and after three further attempts (including a six-year break) the goal was finally achieved. In 2016, after being ranked 9th in the first semi-final on the Globen stage, Gabriela Gunčíková defied the odds and 'I Stand' became the first Czech entry to reach a Eurovision Grand final, ultimately finishing - unfortunately - in second-last place in Stockholm. Baby steps! But then ...

First Top Ten, first consecutive qualification and first semi-final "podium" finishes

The 2010s was certainly a decade of firsts for the nation, with three more achievements being clocked up by just two acts: Mikolas Josef and Lake Malawi.

Back-flipping heartthrob Mikolas Josef's catchy, camel-referencing tune 'Lie to Me' took out third place in Semi-Final 1 at Lisbon 2018 and went on to come sixth in the Grand Final, largely off the back of its fourth-place televote score (the juries ranked the tune only 15th out of 26). The result was Czechia's first - and to date only - top ten placing.

Indie pop trio Lake Malawi's 'Friend of a Friend' managed one place higher in the first-semi final at Tel Aviv 2019, taking out the "silver medal" and scoring just 19 points fewer than Australia's own Kate Miller-Heidke. It would, somewhat surprisingly, fare less well in the Grand Final, missing out on the Top Ten and finishing the Saturday night show in 11th place, a good distance behind tenth-placed Hatari.

However, the relative success of the song and the act did nevertheless mean that Czechia achieved another first: its first consecutive Grand Final qualification.

What a difference a few years can make!

First up: Grand Final openers

Whilst it is a far from enviable position in terms of Grand Final success, We Are Domi, Czechia's 2022 representatives, had the honour of getting the Grand Final party started in Turin.

The trio's electro-bop 'Lights Off' sailed through to the Saturday night, coming 4th in their semi-final. Although the bottom-five Grand Final placement (22nd out of 25) was likely disappointing, the energy brought to the PalaOlimpico stage was undeniable.

First Grand Final entry featuring the Czech language

In addition to equalling We Are Domi's fourth-place semi-final success, and thus qualifying for the Grand Final, six-piece modern folk group Vesna achieved our final "first" of this article.

As well as securing Czechia's second Eurovision Grand Final Top Ten finish, 'My Sister's Crown' is also notable for being the country's first qualifier to feature Czech (alongside English, Ukrainian and Bulgarian). Vive la diversité linguistique!

As you can see, Czechia is undoubtedly a country on the up at Eurovision - hopefully in the coming years, they might finally achieve the ultimate "first" and win their first Eurovision title!

Aussievision wishes a happy Independence Day to our Czech readers and supporters.

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