As far as Eurovision is concerned, the 2010s are done and dusted. ESC United is currently running a series ranking the entrants that each country sent during the 2010s, and as we recap what each contributing nation had to offer this decade, what about the artists who performed at the very last Eurovision of the 2000s?
Did the entrants of Eurovision 2009, held in Moscow, Russia, kick on and make a name for themselves? Did they sink into oblivion? Did they grace a Eurovision stage or a national final again? Join us as we find out what happened to the Eurovision Class of 2009.
In this week’s installment, we look at the artists eliminated from Semi-Final 1, and Georgia, who were forced to withdraw after their lyrics fell afoul to the political content rule. Thereafter we will look at the artists eliminated from Semi-Final 2, the bottom half of the Grand Final, the top half of the Grand Final, and the Hosts, Big Four, and Interval Acts.
So let us walk you through one of the more controversial Eurovision contests ever, and what happened to the singers, band members, writers, and producers at the end of the 2000s decade as we wrap up the 2010s.
Withdrawn: Georgia – Stephane & 3G – “We don’t wanna Put In”
This entry did not make it to the Semi-Finals of Eurovision 2009. One of the most controversial moments of Eurovision 2009 occurred before the contest even began, when Stefane & 3G’s “We don’t wanna put in” won the Georgian national selection. Now, you don’t need to be a linguistics professor to understand what Georgia was going for here, one year after Russia invaded and occupied Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Essentially, Georgia’s position was “Boo Putin,” and they were not afraid to express that in song. However, the lyrics fell afoul of Eurovision’s political content rule. Hence why my “We don’t wanna censor or ban it!” acoustic ballad was rejected by A Dal on first submission last year. The European Broadcasting Union offered Georgia the opportunity to change their lyrics and title, but Stefane & 3G, backed by the Georgian Public Broadcasting (GPB), kindly told the EBU off and they were forced to withdraw from the contest.
Not that the withdrawal had a negative impact on the careers of those involved. Stefane Mgrebishvili continued his recording career in Georgia, and circled back to Eurovision by being a judge on Georgian Idol, being one of four judges who had a hand in picking Oto Nemsadze to represent Georgia at Eurovision 2019. For those who were puzzled by Georgia picking a patriotic number and an entreaty to peace, what did you expect when Stefane and Natia Todua – who every episode stressed her missing her grandparents marooned in Abkhazia – were selected as judges?
However, the most famous of the 3Gs (did they ever upgrade to 4G or 5G as cellular networks improved?), is Tamara Gachechiladze. She performed double-duty in that national selection for 2009, coming in 4th as a solo act to her group act with Stefane & 3G. She tried again in 2017, and was Georgia’s representative with “Keep the Faith,” co-written with Georgia’s Eurovision 2012 representative Anri Jokhadze (a criminally underrated singer who was paired with a disaster of a song on his attempt at glory). “Keep the Faith” narrowly failed to qualify for the Grand Final, a huge disappointment for the Caucasus nation that has sent quality acts of late but not been rewarded for them.
The remainder of 3G, Christine Imedadze and Nini Badurashvili have released several solo singles and established themselves as viable artists over the years.
18th Place, Semi-Final 1: Czech Republic – Gipsy.cz – “Aven Romale”
Domo arigato, gipsy roboto.
A frequent occupant of most “WTF Eurovision entries” lists, Gipsy.cz’s “Aven Romale” earned a whopping “null” points in Semi-Final 1. However, it was not always thus, as this group earned quite a few accolades for their blend of Romani language rap and traditional Romani instrumentation on their 2006 album “Romano Hip Hop.”
Gipsy.cz’s performance pretty much buried the Czech Republic at Eurovision to the degree that they did not send another entrant until 2015. However, the band themselves survived for a while, and released their fourth album “Upgrade” in 2013, with “Je to tak” (“It is so”) as the lead single. To date, that is their last album.
Rapper / vocalist Radoslav Banga has found work as a film and television soundtrack composer, particularly on 2017 Czech TV series “MenT” and 2018 TV movie “Hotel Hvezdár”, in which he also plays a clairvoyant. Additionally, violinist Vojta Lavička has also been involved in the soundtrack composer game, and has also released collaborations with well-known Czech bands such as Wohnout.
The Surmaj brothers, Petr and Jan, accordionist and bassist, respectively, are still active as – you guessed it – television soundtrack composers, actors, and session musicians.
17th Place, Semi-Final 1: Belgium – Copycat – “Copycat”
If you’d been craving rockabilly at Eurovision, you got it in Patrick Ouchène and Copycat with “Copycat.” Perhaps the song’s title gives a clue as to why Belgium’s entry only got one point in Semi-Final 1. For anyone who wondered what Steven Van Zandt trying to swallow oats while impersonating Brian Setzer would sound like, here’s Patrick Ouchène.
To be fair to Ouchène, he had a schtick prior to Eurovision 2009, he brought that schtick to Eurovision 2009, and he ran with it after Eurovision 2009. He is still doing the rockabilly sound, and he is actually doing it much better than his Eurovision 2009 entry.
Here’s “Too hot to bop” by Mike Fantom and the Bop-A-Tones from 2016, and over the years under banners like Runnin’ Wild and The Domino’s (possessive / plural mismatch a deliberate touch). We are too used to X Factor and Idol and The Voice contestants changing genres like most people change socks, but Ouchène hasn’t deviated from his retro-1950s blueprint, and you have to credit him for that. It worked for Question Mark and the Mysterions stateside milking the 15 minutes of fame for 40 years, why would it not work for Ouchène?
16th Place, Semi-Final 1: Bulgaria – Krassimir Avramov – “Illusion”
Okay, I get the Game of Thrones doomed jester vibe Avramov is going for, but what’s with the Marie Osmond impersonator he’s doing a duet with? Another on most lazy “WTF Eurovision entries” lists, I think Avramov should get more credit considering he did the falsetto opera-tinged EDM banger long before Cezar made it cool for Romania in 2013.
Good news it that Avramov has dropped tracks over the years written with his “Illusion” partner in crime William Tabanau. And more good news, despite plodding around with middling club bangers, Avramov has also done world tours with the “popera” angle, including concerts at Los Angeles’s famed Kodak Theatre(where fellow Bulgarian Philipp Kirkorov drops in on occasion to serenade the Angeleno Russian ex-pat community).
His 2017 song “Keep Control” is probably my favorite of the Semi-Final 1 alumni tracks, as this belongs at Slavic Night at The Abbey in West Hollywood. “Keep Control” is what “Illusion” was going for, but Avramov nailed it here on execution. The “a girl like that and a guy like me” lyric is confusing, as is the video concept of a Cheez-It box packer by day and runway model by night trying to make The Abbey’s bartender jealous. But if you view it as two aspects of a persona he has to keep repressed because of where he lives and tours, then it makes sense. I guess.
Avramov was accused of a clumsy pop and opera hybrid with “Illusion,” and his work since then has shown that he has worked on improving both aspects of his repertoire. And though he has had some misses since his Eurovision tilt, he has had some great moments and shown moments of artistic growth that make a notification of a new song by him well worth checking out a decade later.
15th Place, Semi-Final 1: Andorra – Susanne Giorgi – “La teva decisio (Get a Life)”
Susanne Georgi was one half of Danish group Me & My before Eurovision 2009. Me & My, featuring Georgi and her sister Pernille Georgi, finished 6th at Melodi Grand Prix 2007 with “Two are stronger than one.” Georgi’s attempt for Andorra, “Get a life,” is arguably much better, and also was co-written with Pernille. But Georgi (birth last name = Puigcercós) was not a ringer, but a Catalan who had been living in Andorra since 1995 who happened to be born in Denmark.
Georgi, who did record an album after Eurovision 2009, rejoined Pernille in Me & My in 2014 for a tour. And she still tours to this day both solo and as part of Me & My. She just completed a concert with Cotton Eye Joe’s Annika Ljunberg in the Faroe Islands. Additionally, her daughter Molly is currently competing on Spain’s La Voz Kids show.
14th Place, Semi-Final 1: Switzerland – Lovebugs – “The Highest Heights”
Remember how Patrick Ouchène did the same thing before Eurovision 2009, at Eurovision 2009, and after Eurovision 2009? Same applies to Switzerland’s Lovebugs. Though no diminishing returns. They always had Top 10 hits since the early 1990s, and they had them in 2016 with “Land Ho!” They always had that vibe of an indie rock band that loved summer concert series playing to Saab driving professionals drinking chilled chardonnay on picnic blankets, and though it may have rendered them forgettable at Eurovision 2009, it has earned them legions of loyal fans and kept them going. It was if Eurovision 2009 was an incidental blip on their resume.
13th Place, Semi-Final 1: Belarus – Petr Elfimov – “Eyes That Never Lie”
And in case you’re wondering why the next eliminated artist was not the one who came in 12th place (Waldo’s People’s “Lose Control” for Finland), that is because according to the rules at the time of Eurovision 2009, the Top Nine for jury and televote in the Semi-Finals make it to the Grand Final, and the 10th is a jury “wild card” or save. In this instance the jury wild card was a waste of time as Waldo’s People ended up in dead last in the Grand Final. And the EBU recognized the wildcard as a waste of time, and dropped the rule for Eurovision 2010 and on.
And it’s a pity this eccentric rocker, “Eyes that Never Lie,” sang by a young Siegfried Fischbacher (from Siegfried and Roy) look-a-like in Petr Elfimov with guitarwork from the love child of Kenny G and Ted Nugent, did not make it to final instead. Elfimov did record two follow-up albums, 2012’s “Revelation” and 2015’s “The Main Role” and also showed up on The Voice of Russia Season 2 in 2013, appearing on Russian pop icon Leonid Agutin’s team. And he also showed up on Season 2 of Russia’s third (and least popular) edition of The X Factor (Главная cцена). Answers on a postcard addressed to ESC United please as to why Valery Leontiev is looking like Jean-Claude Van Damme dressing up as Philipp Kirkorov with a dead labradoodle stapled to his head.
As Elfimov’s own website states, on top of having eyes that never lie, “Peter is a romantic. His zodiac sign is Aquarius. As you know, all Aquarius live on a rainbow.”
11th Place, Semi-Final 1: Montenegro – Andrea Demirovic – “Just Get Out of My Life”
It is a pity that Andrea Demirovic’s fun club banger “Just get out of my life” did not make it to the Grand Final. And it’s an even bigger pity that she could not make it back to Eurovision a decade later, though she has kept herself busy as a recording artist in the years inbetween.
Demirovic was Montenegro’s spokeswoman for Eurovision 2015, and she has generally kept herself busy with singles dropped here and there, including “Odlazim” from 2012 (note: despite Wikipedia claiming so, “Odlazim” was not a contestant for Serbia in 2015, as, logically, “Odlazim” clearly would’ve been disqualified for being on a money generating outlet such as YouTube three years prior to the Serbian national final).
Demirovic did, however, attempt a comeback in 2019 at Montenegro’s Montevizija, this time with a dated club banger co-written with Eurovision national selection mercenaries Michael James Down and Will Taylor. Now I am not going to make the claim this is a world beater, especially with the dodgy staging, but it was a good vehicle for vocal skills and she belts it out at the outro like a champ. However, what was Montenegro thinking picking D mol and “Heaven” over this? For what it’s worth, ESC United picked her as our editors’ pick for Montevizija.
10th Place, Semi-Final 1: Macedonia – Next Time – “Nešto što kje ostane”
Okay, we’ve talked about consistency and artists who have lived by the credo “same as it ever was.” Now the young Filipovski twins from “Nešto što kje ostane” (“Something that will remain”) have done the opposite, and matured from the callow pop-rock youths to the full-fledged folk rock of “Slusam Kaj Sumat Sumite.” And the trail on YouTube from their 2009 entry to this shows their growth. The Filipovski brothers are still performing, touring and recording together, and going from strength to strength. And their YouTube views post Eurovision 2009 are phenomenal compared to their Eurovision 2009 cohorts – views hitting 7.2 million for their 2014 “Ja Izlezi Gjurgjo,” which seems to be the point of no return from callow youths to Macedonian man-bunned folk-rock gods, even if the early videos suggest grooming and dress inspired by Jason Momoa.
Next week, we have a look at the countries who were eliminated in Semi-Final 2. And do we have some doozies for you, including some television personalities who keep accidentally saying racist things, a serial Eurovision backing singer who tried to come good on their own and came close instead, and a journeyman Russian songwriter who did not succeed at Eurovision 2009 but ended up getting Grammy and Emmy awards tossed at him once he moved to Los Angeles.
Which one of these Semi-Final 1 contestants did #YOU think deserved to go through to the Grand Final at Eurovision 2009? Whose career have #YOU been following one decade on? Let us know in the comments below, on social media, or in our forum.