The below editorial features the opinions and views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of #escYOUnited as a whole, Eurovision or the EBU.
Eurovision 2021 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, is in the history books, with Italy’s rock quartet Måneskin proving to be worthy victors, of the sort that may be the beginning of a new era in Eurovision.
So what better time to look back to the end of a prior era, one decade ago, when Eurovision 2011 took place in Dusseldorf, Germany, back in the “pre-modern” era before Loreen’s “Euphoria” brought a new dawn to the contest.
(If you want a discussion of Eurovision epochs, which has been a topic of discussion between us writers here at ESC United, in a series of editorials for the summer, let us know.)
Anyway, Lena won Germany’s second Eurovision title (and first post-unification), and Germany elected to host it at the Esprit Arena in Dusseldorf, the first time since 2004 the contest was held outside of the host nation’s capital.
Today, we look at the acts eliminated in Semi-Final 2 on May 12, 2011 and how they have fared since their appearance on stage in Dusseldorf. For the record, this is the second year that the modern structure of the Top 10 from each Semi-Final progressing to the Final (the Jury wildcard was eliminated in 2010).
Afterwards, we will look the bottom half of the Grand Final, the top half of the Grand Final, and the Big
Four Five (Italy returned after 14 years out) and hosts. We already looked at the eliminated artists from Semi-Final 1 HERE.
But without further ado, here is what happened to the eliminated acts from Semi-Final 2 at Eurovision 2011.
19th Place, Semi-Final 2: The Netherlands – 3JS – “Never Alone”
Imagination did not really come alive for 3JS as “Never Alone” was marooned at the foot of the Semi-Final 2 table and scored 6 points less than Semi-Final 1’s anchor Magdalena Tul (13 and 19, respectively).
3JS came during a wretched time for The Netherlands at Eurovision, where it seemed AVROTROS solicited its selection from the nation’s aunts who drink pinot grigio and have “Live, Laugh, Love” signs up in their kitchen. De Toppers bombed in 2009, Seineke bombed in 2010 with a song written by the elderly eccentric Vader Abraham, and the less said about Joan Franka’s “You and Me” in 2012 the better.
This is not meant to be a slight on 3JS – they have a target demographic and their music touches them, and continues to touch them to this day, with a Number 1 album “De aard van het beest” in the Netherlands released on May 2020. This is their fifth successive Top Ten charting album in the Netherlands since 2012. And dare I say it, their quality in material since 2011 has improved with maturity and I reckon today’s 3JS would have fared better.
Clearly Eurovision 2011 did not represent a major hiccup for 3JS, formed in 2002, by Jan Dulles, Jaap Kwakman, and Jaap De Witte. However, guitarist De Witte was forced to quit in 2013 due to a neurological disorder in his hand, was replaced by his son Jan De Witte, who himself was replaced in 2019 by Robin Kuller.
3JS came to fame in 2007 with their album “Watermensen,” which was introduced to the Netherlands on a TV series 3JS komen eraan. Contrary to bad Spanish translation on Google, that does not mean 3JS eats Iran.
Anyway, that show was hosted by Jan Smit, who you may recognize as being one of the four main hosts of Eurovision 2021 in Rotterdam.
I know we’ve been kidding around a bit, but at this time I would like to send my thoughts and prayers to 3JS’s singer Jan Dulles, whose three month old daughter died in December 2020 and whose father died in February 2021. It’s been a rough year, but to lose both your musical inspiration in your father and also your child in the space of two months is especially tragic.
As for Kwakman, while still active in 3JS, he also teaches guitar playing online. SixStrings, his online music school co-owned with his wife Jenny, can be found here if you are interested in picking up the basics in playing the guitar and interacting with a guitar learner community.
18th Place, Semi-Final 2: Cyprus – Christos Mylordos – “San aggelos s’agapisa”
Christos Mylordos’s Greek language rocker “Σαν άγγελος σ’αγάπησα” (“I loved you like an angel”) did not feel the love at Eurovision 2011.
Mylordos won the 2010 talent show Performance by a country mile to get to Dusseldorf, though apart from a couple new songs here and some live performances there, he has largely been quiet as an active performer, with most of his online activity referencing his wife and daughter.
17th Place, Semi-Final 2: Latvia – Musiqq – “Angel in Disguise”
Good news for Musiqq fans! They are still going strong ten years later, having released their 10th Anniversary album “10” in 2019.
The pop rap duo of vocalist Emīls Balceris and co-vocalist, instrumentalist and songwriter Marats Ogļezņevs persisted with their style after their 17th place finish in this Semi-Final, and ended up being rewarded for it. The duo won accolades in 2014 with their second album “Vēl viena mūzika,” particularly in the prestigious Latvian Golden Microphone Awards 2014 where they were nominated for Best Recording overall and two singles for Best Song.
In 2017, their collaboration with Brainstorm, “Debesis iekrita tevī,” won Record of the Year, and chart success followed them in 2019 with “10,” for which they also held a live anniversary concert.
Formed only two years before their tilt at Eurovision, Musiqq have taken their one shot there and though disappointing, managed to use it to propel themselves to chart success and award wins in their native Latvia.
16th Place, Semi-Final 2: Macedonia – Vlatko Ilievski – “Rusinka”
“Rusinka” tells a modern story that many an American and European traveler can relate to – while abroad, they spot a hot boy or girl but darn it, they don’t speak my language. Time to pull up the Duolingo app and learn their language then! (side rant: unless like ESC United’s Roy Postema and you fell in love with a Georgian, in which case you’re out of luck, because Duolingo would rather put up courses for fake Star Trek and Game of Thrones languages than the actual language of love!)
“Rusinka” is a cult favorite, mostly because it’s an outright fun song about a Macedonian horndog wanting to learn Russian to get it on with a Russian bird. It’s the sort of cross-border shenanigans that this contest was made for! Most of the ESC United crew would be outright miserable if it wasn’t for sexual dalliances with foreigners!
It is then absolutely crushing to remember when this song plays that Vlatko Ilievski passed away at age 33 from an accidental drug overdose on July 6, 2018. “Rusinka” contains references to Macedonian rajika and Russian vodka as part of the revelry, adding an extra dark layer knowing that Ilievski had a substance abuse problem.
But we should not let Ilievski’s personal demons define him as a man or musician. He left us an unadulterated and pure fun anthem encouraging the spirit of togetherness not just at the personal level but at a national level.
Ilievski recorded two albums after Eurovision 2011, with “In Other Words” coming out shortly thereafter in July 2011 and “Richest of the World” in 2013. Ilievski did try again to reach Eurovision, this time entering Skopje Fest 2014, which was used as Macedonia’s national selection for Eurovision 2015. He entered as part of a duet with Macedonian rocker Risto Samardžiev and “Sever – Jug” (“North – South”).
The song came in joint 14th as Daniel Kajmakoski’s “Autumn Leaves” won the festival.
Songwriter Jovan Jovanov took on the job as festival director of MakFest for 2011 and 2012. He also went on to become a songwriter and producer for many Macedonian, Albanian and Serbian artists, landing many local hits in the region. He wrote songs for the likes Slatkaristika, Florian Beqir, Emina Jahovic, Slađa Delibašić and Adrian Gaxha, familiar names for those who keep an eye on the Balkan song contest circuit and pop charts.
In 2017, Jovanov relocated to Canada to form Global Music Entertainment. GME also owns Global Recording Studio where several up-and-coming Canadian independent artists have recorded their material.
Speaking of Slatkaristika, that is the stage name of “Rusinka” co-writer Marko Marinkovic. His 2016 collaboration with Bulgarian rapper Krisko “Tik-Tak” has 12 million views on YouTube among his many hits.
15th Place, Semi-Final 2: Israel – Dana International – “Ding Dong”
Aphrodite! Diva! Victoria! Cleopatra! For the love of all the above, I hope you don’t need me to explain who Dana International is. Viva le Diva! One of the greatest winners of our Hallowed Contest! So much so that like Cory Brokken, she is allowed a dud that we can brush under the rug like “Ding Dong.”
As with before her 2011 appearance, Dana International remains one of the most visible ambassador of the values of inclusivity that Eurovision champions, and is a prominent advocate of LGBT rights in Israel, Europe and beyond.
Indeed, as she famously in an interview with Haaretz after Netta’s win at Eurovision 2018, “I’m really happy that this time we were spared the talk and the moaning, explaining the lack of success and the criticism of us by blaming politics and anti-Semitism and that everyone is against us, excuses that were already in the pipeline. Moreover, it was demonstrated that there’s no truth to them. When we deserve to win, to succeed, to be embraced, it happens. It’s a fact.”
Note to the United Kingdom: Send a transcendent performer like Dana International and Netta.
Apart from her Eurovision ambassadorial work, where she appears at national selections and beyond, Dana keeps a steady release of at least one dance track a year.
And good news for her happened this past month: Benjamin Netanyahu, who famously refused to congratulate her on her Eurovision 1998 win, lost his position as Israel’s Prime Minister in the most recent election in embarrassing fashion. Though Dana has been gracious over the years to let his snub go, her fans don’t forget and good riddance to an impediment to peace in the region.
14th Place, Semi-Final 2: Belarus – Anastasia Vinnikova – “I Love Belarus”
Ho boy, this nationalistic gem did not age at all well given Belarus’s 2020 draconian clampdown on the government’s opposition and subsequent suspension of the government broadcaster BRTC from the European Broadcasting Union.
For this entry, this article will hew to the official ESC United line of not reporting on Belarus until such time its government and broadcaster ceases its suppression of the rights of Belarussian citizens.
13th Place, Semi-Final 2: Slovakia – TWiiNS – “I’m Still Alive”
We have had a lot to say on Slovakia’s 2011 entry before, especially since it was written by a songwriter and producer who also created songs for two of the Real Housewives of Orange County. Bryan Todd wrote songs for Jo de la Rocha and Gretchen Rossi, and while not the worst in the Real Housewives canon, not quite as memorable as Luann de Lessep’s disco Cylon “Money Can’t Buy You Class.”
There was some discussion over TWiiNS’s non-qualification – why would you saddle two Slovakian party girls with a self-empowerment ballad? They became famous on the back of songs like their cover of Sabrina Salerno’s “Boys Boys Boys,” and they continued post Eurovision 2011 with songs in the same vein.
A notable hit was their 2014 hit “One Night Stand,” which featured rapper Flo Rida. Flo Rida was featured in Senhit’s 2021 entry for San Marino “Adrenalina,” which came in 21st despite being a heavily touted entry in the Eurovision fan bubble.
But for all the sexy videos the twins have given us over the years, it was during the pandemic that they showed us another side: Mother and Aunt. Daniela Nízlová became a mother and her and her sister Veronika hunkered down in Italy.
12th Place, Semi-Final 2: Bulgaria – Poli Genova – “Na Inat”
Though “Na Inat” has its fans, Poli Genova’s narrow miss at Eurovision 2011 is not the ESC song everyone loves her for. That would be her out of nowhere Eurovision 2016 4th place anthem we all loved and made criminals of us all.
“If Love was a Crime” is regarded by many fans as both the best ESC comeback and best non-winning entrant of the 2010s. Prior to that and after Eurovision 2011, Genova was a mentor on Bulgaria’s first season of The X Factor and released her debut album “1, 2, 3” in 2013.
However, Genova went from a well-regarded and mid-level celebrity in Bulgaria to a top-tier singer after “If Love was a Crime.”
In November 2021, Genova’s “Last Night” went to Number 1 on the Bulgarian singles chart, a repeat of her Number 1 in 2020 with “How We End Up.”
She was also a mentor on The Voice of Bulgaria in 2017, and was also part of the interval act at Junior Eurovision 2016 alongside Destiny and Jedward.
Poli Genova is also a fan favorite, with requests for a 3rd appearance at Eurovision at fever pitch during the quiet months. And a decade after her first entry, and buoyed by her legendary second appearance, it is fair to say Genova took her Eurovision appearances and forged a successful domestic career, remaining both relevant and dominant on the Bulgarian charts.
“Na Inat” was co-written by Borislav Milanov, who also co-wrote “If Love was a Crime.” I don’t really need to remind most ESC fans who he is, as since 2016 he has had his hand in writing and producing many Eurovision entries.
His most successful entry was Kristian Kostov’s 2017 entry for Bulgaria, “Beautiful Mess,” which came in second.
Milanov’s other Eurovision entries are as follows: Cesar Simpson’s “Nobody But You” (Austria, ESC 2017, 3rd); Equinox’s “Bones” (Bulgaria, ESC 2018, 14th); Chingiz’s “Truth” (Azerbaijan, ESC 2019, 8th); Michela’s “Chameleon” (Malta, ESC 2019, 14th); Jana Burčeska’s “Dance Alone” (North Macedonia, ESC 2017, 2nd SF 15th); Tijana Bogićević’s “In Too Deep” (Serbia, ESC 2017, 2nd SF 11th); as well as three entries for cancelled Eurovision 2020 in Bulgarian Victoria’s “Tears Getting Sober,” German Ben Dolic’s “Violent Thing” and Maltese Destiny’s “All of my Love.”
The co-writer of “Na-Inat,” Sebastian Arman, also co-wrote Equinox’s “Bones” with Milanov. Other Milanov collaborations to date include “If Love was a Crime,” “Nobody But You,” and “Beautiful Mess.”
Outside of Eurovision, his most prominent song is “Me Gusta,” by Czech Republic’s Mikolas Josef, which was a Top Ten hit there. You might recall Josef is currently the Czech Republic’s most successful entrant, coming in 6th with “Lie to Me” at Eurovision 2018.
11th Place, Semi-Final 2: Belgium – Witloof Bay – “With Love Baby”
It was agonizingly close for Belgian a capella group Witloof Bay, whose “With Love Baby,” supported by human beat box RoxorLoops, narrowly missed the 2011 Grand Final by 1 point to 10th placed Moldovan folk punk legends Zdob și Zdub.
As an act, it appears Witloof Bay have not been active since 2013. Their last musical activity appears to be 2013 and a song called “Elle S’en Va.”
However, Witloof Bay’s members have kept themselves active. Lead vocalist Nicolas Dorian became a coach on The Voice Belgique, and also teaches music and vocals at IMEP School of Music and Pedagogy in Namur. He was tasked to put together Almakalia specially for Belgium’s entry for the Eurovision Choir of the Year 2019 contest. Dorian was also a vocal coach for Belgium’s Eurovision Choir 2017 entrant Les Pastoureaux.
Unfortunately, Belgium did not make it to the Final three of Eurovision Choir 2019, despite judge Deke Sharon saying that “the tourist bureau of Belgium should hire you guys for the next commercial.”
The beatbox fellow also showed up in a Eurovision capacity again. RoxorLoops (Senjka Danhieux) entered Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2020 with his girlfriend Jasmin Rose with “Human,” which was co-written by “Only Teardrops” writer Lisa Cabble. They ended up 8th in a final of 10 that was won by Ben & Tan.
In our forthcoming look at the acts who finished in the Bottom Half of the Grand Final (minus the host and Big Five), we will look at:
- The artist who passed away during qualification and whose friends took his song across the finish line.
- Another Musiqq type entry who stuck to her guns and is still getting Number 1 albums in her native country today.
- The Finnish act your hipster ESC fan acquaintances never shut up about.
- A composer continues to keep the spirit and music of Falco alive.
Which one of these Semi-Final 2 contestants did #YOU think deserved to go through to the Grand Final at Eurovision 2011? Whose career have #YOU been following one decade on? Let us know in the comments below, on social media, or in our forum.