Out of all of the events canceled due to our current situation, Eurovision might be the saddest one. (Yes, I’m including Coachella, Vanessa Hudgens.) The yearly “European” (plus Israel, Australia, and a few other exceptions that we won’t get into right now) song contest is a joy to many and practically unheard of in the United States. But to those of us who follow along, this is a hard loss, especially because per the governing Eurovision body, while the performers will be able to enter Eurovision next year, they cannot reenter or perform their songs from this year; it’s the first time the competition hasn’t been held since 1956. That means 2020’s Eurovision will be forever lost to time, and so will all of these songs. (Though the European Broadcasting Union says it’s devising a plan for the entrants to at least get to perform their songs at an “Alternate Eurovision,” but they won’t compete.)
Eurovision’s lineup is vast, but I’d love to pay tribute to a few standouts — both favorites to win, and songs that caught my fancy because I would’ve loved to have seen how they’d play out on the main stage. It’s worth noting that Eurovision is as much geopolitical as it is musical, so winners emerge not just due to their bomb-ass song, but because of the points-based voting from around the world.
It’s only right that we pay tribute to the songs that will never get their shot at Eurovision fame. May they live on in your playlists; may the singers and songwriters get another shot in 2021.
The Fan Favorites
In the lead-up to the big show, there were a few songs that not only delighted European audiences (a.k.a. the voters), but also broke out into a bit of international virality.
Little Big, “Uno” (Russia)
You thought Justin Bieber’s “Yummy” was the weirdest usage of the word in 2020? Little Big’s “Uno” reads: “Don’t be a dummy dummy / I got dat yummy yummy / Can we be chummy chummy.” I swear it sounds better sung … Maybe. This one is goofy as all hell, and this is somewhat of a wink-wink to the stereotypes of Eurovision classics (I’m looking at San Marino, specifically). It’s also just one of those songs ready-made for internet fame, be it via TikTok dance or clips from the equally fun music video. Based on this, I would’ve loved to have seen what Little Big would do on the Eurovision stage.
Daði Freyr, “Think About Things (Daði og Gagnamagnið)” (Iceland)
I have a soft spot for Iceland because I think it should’ve won for its 2019 entry by Hatari. So it’s even more of a bummer that it’s back again this year with another inventive entry (that it can’t possibly win with)! Daði Freyr is another Little Big–type viral smash that’s already racked up 4 million views on YouTube. This song is so fun, so catchy, so weird — its lead singer is so dang Icelandic. A real loss!
Diodato, “Fai Rumore” (Italy)
A really pretty slow song with a booming chorus from Italy. Probably the best slow song on the 2020 lineup.
Jeangu Macrooy, “Grow” (The Netherlands)
The host cities don’t often win (again), so this is a surprisingly good entry from the Netherlands.
Destiny, “All of My Love” (Malta)
Oh man, this is a huge loss for Malta. This is a big, bold banger sung by a diva named Destiny! That’s Eurovision bait.
The Mamas, “Move” (Sweden)
It wouldn’t be Eurovision without a solid Swedish entry. We’re still mourning the loss of last year’s “Too Late for Love,” so this is extra upsetting. (And the Mamas even formed as backing vocalists for “Too Late for Love” singer John Lundvik! Ah!) The Mamas — a.k.a. Ash Haynes, Loulou Lamotte, and Dinah Yonas Manna — rule and so does their song “Move.”
Efendi, “Cleopatra” (Azerbaijan)
Slightly weirder than the other two, “Cleopatra” didn’t convince me it was worthy until the chorus. Spooky!
Songs That Sound Like Eurovision
Stefania, “SUPERG!RL” (Greece)
An Alexis Bledel look-alike (and her songwriters) do a nice job of blending pop and world sounds.
Hurricane, “Hasta La Vista” (Serbia)
Danity Kane meets the Pussycat Girls meets Serbia. What’s there not to love?
Sandro, “Running” (Cyprus)
#JusticeForFuego. This is fine, too!
The Actual Favorites (or So Said the Bookmakers)
Victoria, “Tears Getting Sober” (Bulgaria)
After a quick scan of the popular Eurovision betting sites, Bulgaria’s “Tears Getting Sober” is often at the top of the list. It might be because this is the most Billie Eilish–sounding song of the bunch. But it’s not just Victoria’s voice — the song’s production reeeeeeeeeally takes from the sounds that Eilish and her producer brother Finneas have popularized this past year.
Gjon’s Tears, “Répondez-moi”(Switzerland)
Also near the top is this depressing Swiss ballad by 21-year-old Gjon Muharremaj, a.k.a. Gjon’s Tears. One of the catchier ballads entered this year made possibly more engaging with a dramatic, stormy stage show. It will, however, be hard for me to get over a stage name like Gjon’s Tears.
The Roop, “On Fire” (Lithuania)
Lithuania’s entry is probably my favorite of the favorites. The Roop is composed of three guys, but the singing Roop has a quality to his voice that reminds me of Anohni (formerly Antony and the Johnsons), and the song is weird-good. (It even comes with a fun dance, see 1:23.)
Other notables: Ireland’s Katy Perry bop, Austria’s Bruno Mars–ian jam, Australia’s inspiring number, a falsetto treat from Germany, plucky Europop from Spain, and San Marino’s verrrry San Marino–esque entry.