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  • Fleur Menezes

Five iconic Eurovision entries for San Marino National Day

Buongiorno a tutti!!! Today we are featuring the 61 km2, land-locked, Italy surrounded micro-nation that many of us have a rather soft spot for in the competition - San Marino! San Marino was named for St Marinus- a stonemason who had partaken in the reconstruction of Rimini's city walls after their destruction by Liburnian pirates in 257 AD. Marinus later found an independent monastic community on Monte Titano. He died in 366 AD.

The micro-nation is the third smallest country in Europe and the fifth smallest in the world. Relatively new to the competition, they made their debut in 2008. They had a couple of years off due to financial difficulties with their broadcaster but have been entertaining us with their trademark charm since 2011.

As a teenager I followed Formula One racing so I had heard of San Marino prior to the contest, but guess what folks? The Imola motor racing track is actually in Italy. Well Italy can have two motor racing tracks but San Marino still has their Torta Tre Monti (Cake of the Three Mountains) and a UNESCO World Heritage List site - San Marino: Historic Centre and Mount Titano. In addition, San Marino also has quite the wine industry.

Since it is the Feast of San Marino and Republic Day today, so let us celebrate with my Top 5 Sanmarinese Eurovision songs.

5. Valentina Monetta - The Social Network Song - (14th place in semi final 2013)

Kicking of our Top 5 is San Marino native and competition darling, Valentina Monetta. Valentina is a jazz singer so it came as a surprise to her fans when she was internally selected with this controversial dance-pop number originally called "Facebook Uh, Oh, Oh".

As songs containing commercial messages are a violation of Eurovision Rules, the San Marino delegation was given the option of entering a different song for Valentina or re-working the song’s lyrics so that no mention of Facebook was evident. The delegation chose the latter and it had morphed into “The Social Network Song”, though most of the lyrics remained unchanged. San Marino had their most successful song in their three outings in the contest at that stage.

4.Jessika feat. Jenifer Brening- Who We Are ( 17th place semi final 2018)

It’s Jenny B and what you get is what you see. Well, it was not always going to be that way with German singer/rapper Jenifer Brening and Maltese singer and actress Jessika Muscat teaming together with their ode to anti-bullying.

We have included this song in our Top 5, not only because it featured literal robotic backup dancers but because of the innovative process that San Marino used to select their contestants. When you have a population of approximately 33,500 inhabitabants, thinking outside the square is a great attribute to have and so 1in360 was pioneered.

This novel national selection method was an online talent show targeted to singers around the world to have their chance at competing at Eurovision. Jessika had first performed the song with Sammarinese singer IROL but he withdrew from the partnership because the song was not to his style. Enter Jenifer and a cult favourite was born. Australian televoters gave it 2 points but unfortunately it finished second last in the second semi final.

3. Valentina Monetta - Maybe (24th place 2014)

Valentina Monetta had her third outing to the competition, making her the first singer to represent a country in three consecutive Eurovision contests since Austrian 1966 winner, Udo Jürgens. It was third time lucky in Valentina’s case as “Maybe” became the first Sammarinese song to qualify for the final. This James Bond theme-sounding tune thus became the most successful Sammarinese entry until this year.

Along with American singer Jimmie Wilson, Valentina would return for a fourth time in 2017. This a record that she holds as the woman with the most participation in the Eurovision Song Contest along with Elisabeth Andreassen of Bobbysocks fame. Andreassen competed for Sweden in 1982 and for Norway 1985, 1994 and 1996.

2. Miodio - Complice (19th place semi final 2008)

San Marino’s debut. It did not fare well by finishing last in the semi but it really is not a bad song. We have included it here as it is the only Italian language song that they have sent to the contest. Additionally with this entry, San Marino became the 50th nation to participate at Eurovision.

Mondio is a Sammarinese/Italian alternative rock band that was formed in 2002. They are still touring today and their line up remains unchanged.

1. Serhat - Say Na Na Na (19th place 2019)

Be the hero, be the rainbow…and so our favourite Turkish dentist returned to the contest with this self-composed catchy number. Istanbul native, Serhat Hacıpaşalıoğlu is certainly a man with many…hats. Dentist, singer, songwriter, composer, producer and television presenter are just few of his many talents.

He first competed in 2016 with the Barry White-esque “I Didn’t Know” which finished in 12th in his semi final although it reached no.25 on the USA Dance Club Song chart later that year. However, “Say Na Na Na” is the song that has given him his greatest (and San Marino's greatest) Eurovision success as it is the first time that the micro-nation finished in the Top 20 in the contest. A German cover of the song was released in July 2019. Bir, iki, üç!!!

So there we have it folks. Until next time Saluti!!!