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  • Writer's pictureKyriakos Tsinivits

Songs that did not make it to Eurovision over the decade

Since the beginning of the Eurovision Song Contest there have been songs that were selected but ended up not making it to the show. Songs are withdrawn, not entered or banned for various reasons, sometimes due to controversy.

In 1956 the United Kingdom was planning to enter the first Eurovision Song Contest with Australian singer Shirley Abicair, shown below, after she performed in the 'Festival of British song contest' with the song “Little Ship”. It was believed that "Little Ship" was the song Shirley would sing to represent the United Kingdom in the Contest. But it did not eventuate and it is not exactly known why. Maybe they didn’t like the idea of sending an Aussie to represent them, but yes an Australian was so close to having sung in the inaugural Eurovision Song Contest!

Photo of Shirley Abicair

More recently other entries have been withdrawn due to controversy, like the infamous 2009 Georgian entry “We Don’t Wanna Put In” that was planned for the Contest held in Moscow. Georgia were asked to change the lyrics but opted not to.

This decade wasn’t without its controversies and withdrawn Eurovision entries, and quite a few songs from 2010 to 2019 didn’t make it to the Contest.

Let's take a look back at songs that didn’t make it, with video links to the most notable ones. FYI we didn't include songs that were resubmitted with changed lyrics or change of language that still ended up in the Contest.

3+2 - Far Away (Belarus 2010)

After the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, where Belarus failed to qualify for the Grand Final, the Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, was not impressed with the management of BTRC’s organisation of Belarus in the Contest. He requested the organising team be replaced and the ONT broadcaster take over responsibilities. ONT hadn’t been accepted as a member of the EBU and the EBU director for Eurovision at the time, Bjørn Erichsen, intervened. BTRC as Belarus' only EBU member decided to internally select their entrant after a call out for songs. 3+2 were selected with the song “Far Away”. The song and the band had initially come second in ONT’s ‘Musical Court’ selection process for Eurovision. Three days before the Eurovision song submission deadline their song was changed to “Butterflies” featuring Robert Wells.

Vasyl Lazarovich - I love you… (Ukraine 2010)

Alyosha - To Be Free (Ukraine 2010)

2010 was a controversial year for Ukraine in Eurovision. Vasyl Lazarovich was internally selected and through a national final “I love you…” was chosen as the song to represent Ukraine at Eurovision. Unfortunately due to negative feedback Lazarovich and his song were dropped. NTU, the Ukrainian broadcaster, started the selection process again. This time in a new national final Alyosha was chosen to be selected with the song “To Be Free”. Unfortunately the song was alleged to have been plagiarised, copying the Lind Perry and Grace Slick song “Knock Me Out”. It was also found to have been released two years earlier. Instead the rock song “Sweet People” was selected to be sung by Alyosha in Oslo.

Anastasiya Vinnikova - I am Belarusian (Belarus 2011)

In 2011 Belarus chose Anastasiya Vinnikova internally through an expert jury. It was originally announced that she will sing “Born in Byelorussia”. A week later the broadcaster announced that the song lyrics were changed and the song will be called “I am Belarusian”. It was later disqualified as it was previously performed in public before the cut-off date. “I Love Belarus” was the replacement that was sent to Eurovision. Unfortunately it failed to qualify to the grand final and came 14th in the semi final.

Nina Zilli - Per Sempre (Italy 2012)

Nina Zilli was chosen through internal selection by RAI through a special committee from the participants of the Sanremo Music Festival 2012. On March 3 “Per Sempre”, a traditional ballad in the 1960’s style, was confirmed as the Italian entry for Baku. But 10 days later the song was changed to "L'amore è femmina” at the last minute.

Alyona Lanskaya - All My Life (Belarus 2012)

After two years Eurofest, the Belarusian national final, returned. Alyona Lanskaya won the national final with “All My Life”. Politics got intwined in the national final yet again and this time the Belarusian president conducted an investigation leading to her “unfair” win. It turned out that Lanskaya and the producers rigged the televoting to give her 12 points, she was disqualified. The runner ups Litesound with “We Are the Heroes” got the opportunity to go to Eurovision instead.

Lozano & Esma - Imperija (FYR Macedonia 2013)

The nations broadcaster MRT opted for internal selection in 2013. The song “Imperija” was revealed and a special presentation show aired with the selected song sung at the end. Unfortunately due to poor public feedback and complaints the song was dropped and replaced with "Pred da se razdeni”. It came 16th in the semi final and hence failed to qualify.

Alyona Lanskaya - Rhythm Of Love (Belarus 2013)

Following the previous year, where Lanskaya had been disqualified, she returned to the national selection final Eurofest with her song “Rhythm Of Love”. She received 12 points from the jury and public. Though due to poor feedback after “Rhythm Of Love” was chosen it was dropped and replaced with “Solayoh”. She managed to reach Eurovision and finished up at 16th place in the final. Also this time the Belarusian president didn't need to intervene.

Elitsa & Stoyan - Kismet (Bulgaria 2013)

Elitsa & Stoyan were chosen through internal selection by BNT, Bulgarian National Television.

Their song was selected through a national final where “Kismet” won. Unfortunately it was later found to have copyright issues. BNT was misinformed about the songwriters on the song and couldn’t secure the copyright. The runner up song “Samo shampioni” was selected instead. Unfortunately their song failed to qualify at 12th place in the Eurovision semi final.

Elhaida Dani - Diell (Albania 2015)

Elhaida Dani and the song “Diell” were chosen over two semi final rounds and a final by a seven-member jury panel at the National Final Festivali i Këngës 53, organised by RTSH Radio Televizioni Shqiptar. Unfortunately at the request of one of the songwriters due to “personal and irrevocable reasons” the song was withdrawn. It was later found that the songwriter refused to transfer the rights of the song to the Albanian broadcaster. Dani went on to represent Albania with “I’m Alive” she finished up at 17th place at the Grand Final in Vienna.

Andreas Kümmert - Heart of Stone (Germany 2015)

Andreas Kümmert won the German Eurovision selection show Unser Song für Österreich with his song “Heart of Stone”. He won with over 78% of the televote against fellow competitor Ann Sophie. Though after the announcement, Andreas stepped aside and withdrew, he felt like Ann Sophie was more qualified for Eurovision and stated that “I’m not really in the right shape to accept this”.

The runner up Ann Sophie with the song “Black Smoke” went on to represent Germany in the 2015 contest, but unfortunately she came last in the Grand Final with zero points.

Ira Losco - Chameleon (Malta 2016)

Ira Losco first represented Malta at the 2002 Contest with the song “7th Wonder” where she came runner up. She returned to represent Malta in 2016 after she won a national final selection process with the song “Chameleon”. Losco was open to the idea of changing the song if it meant a better result for Malta. PBS, the Maltese broadcaster, organised an international jury from ten countries along with local experts from Malta to choose the song Losco will sing at the 2016 contest. The ten songs presented to them also included a ramped up version of “Chameleon”. They decided on “Walk On Water” which Lorsco had also collaborated in the song writing process. In 2019 Michela Pace represented Malta with a song called “Chameleon” but it had no connection to the 2016 song.

Ovidiu Anton- Moment of Silence (Romania 2016)

This self penned gothic inspired pop rock song "Moment of Silence" by Ovidiu Anton even features an electric guitar solo.

He won the pre-selection show national final Select Nationala, and all was set to perform his song at Eurovision in Sweden, along with the song being added onto the official Eurovision CD. Unfortunately the Romanian delegation had to withdraw their entry due to defaulted payments by the nation’s broadcaster TVR to the EBU. If it is any consolation, in 2017 “Moment of Silence” won the Best Pop Rock Song at the Radio România Actualitati.

Stadio - Un giorno mi dirai (Italy 2016)

In 2016 Stadio won the Sanremo Music Festival with the song “Un giorno mi dirai”. RAI had confirmed that the winner of the Big Artists category of the Sanremo Music Festival would go onto Eurovision. After their win Stadio declined the offer to go to Stockholm that year, they stated “We would love to participate, but we have a tour already planned. If we were young men we’d just be happy”. RAI gave the opportunity to go to Eurovision to the runner up of the Festival, Francesca Michielin, and she went on to represent Italy with  "No Degree of Separation”.

Julia Samoylova - Flame Is Burning (Russia 2017)

The politics between Russia and Ukraine have been rather intense from 2014 onwards after Crimea was unilaterally annexed by Russia from Ukraine. In March 2017 Russia announced that Julia Samoylova, a runner up from season three of the Russian version of The X Factor, Factor A, will represent Russia in Kiev. Nine days later the Security Service of Ukraine announced that they have banned Julia from entering Ukraine due to her unlawful visit to Crimea in 2015. After talks with the EBU failed, and after they offered Channel One Russia the opportunity for Julia to perform remotely at a venue of the broadcasters choice, Channel One withdrew from the contest.

Luckily for Julia she went on to be the Russian entrant for the 2018 contest with the song “I Wont Break” in Lisbon, Portugal. Unfortunately her entry for Russia missed out on a Grand Final spot. It was the first time that Russia didn’t make a Grand Final since 1996 where Russia failed to get through a pre-qualifying round for the Oslo Contest.

MARUV - Siren Song (Ukraine 2019)

Maruv’s banger “Siren Song” along with her iconic shooting leg would have made for a memorable Eurovision performance had it made it there. One of the biggest shocks of 2019 during the Eurovision selection season, Maurv was dropped after she refused to sign a participation agreement with UA:PBC. The Ukrainian broadcaster announced Maruv’s withdrawal and opted for internal selection, but then just days later decided to withdraw from the Contest altogether.

The whole saga was also wildly fuelled due to some now infamous questioning from one of the expert Jurors from the Ukrainian National Selection show. The 2016 Eurovision winner Jamala asked Maruv “… Hi Maruv, Welcome to Tel Aviv, so I have very uncomfortable question to you, Crimea is Ukraine?…” The rest is history.


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