We at ESC United try to find the positives, even when we’re being critical. We got slammed for a panel video where ESC United Editor-in-Chief and Founder Matt Friedrichs and three other random goons gave their personal Top 10s for Eurovision 2021. How dare we leave out Italy! How dare we include Germany! Georgia! North Macedonia! Denmark! I actually suspect ESC United is the Georgia of Eurovision blogs, in that fans praise us for being unorthodox in the off-season but when we give our views on the upcoming year’s songs, it’s how dare we not fall in line with the fan favorites!
Anyway, this article is dedicated to the unorthodox. This article is dedicated to those who appreciate a quirky entry that the fanbase at large is either indifferent or outright hostile to.
Several ESC United contributors have come together to tell you which songs the fanbase hates but they love. We invite you to nominate your own unorthodox picks. And to those who have something to say about our positive views of negatively viewed Eurovision entries and want to parrot the orthodox views of the Eurovision fan mean girls, I quote Jedrick: “So you can wiggle with that middle finger, it’ll never wiggle back to you.”
To start, here are the contributors to this article:
- Sara Christina Berg – our brand new Norway correspondent.
- Tyler Griffith – our Alaska correspondent, whom you may have seen during our YouTube ESC 2021 rehearsals livestream series.
- James Maude – a Brit based out of Los Angeles, whose beard and black cat you may seen during our YouTube ESC 2021 rehearsals livestream series.
- Boris Meersman – our Belgian correspondent who you may have reporting live from the Rotterdam Ahoy throughout Eurovision 2021.
- Gabe Milne – another Brit, whom you also may have seen during our Youtube ESC 2021 rehearsals and Semi-Final previews series.
- Connor Terry – our Oklahoma correspondent and social media guru.
- Holly Wulf – our Australia correspondent and livestream moderator.
To start the series, let’s kick off with arguably the most divisive entry of Eurovision 2021.
Jedrick – “I don’t feel hate” – Germany – 25th place, Eurovision 2021:
“While a lot of people found Jendrik’s song “I don’t feel hate” annoying this year, I absolutely loved it! To me it’s such a fun, positive and happy song and has become my go-to song to lift my spirits. The music video is also really fun and you can see that they’re enjoying themselves, and every time I watch it I want to join them and have fun! The ukulele, all the colours, the clapping, the tapping, the breakdowns and a positive message are to me the recipe to a memorable, good song. Jendrik’s personality and love for the competion also shone through and made me feel very happy for him being on the stage at the finale. This song has made it to my top 10 all time favorites Eurovision songs!” – Sara Christina Berg
“I just feel sorry for you if you don’t like Jendrik. He’s a bouncing ball of positive energy with a strong musical theatre background to boot, and the same can be said for I Don’t Feel Hate. After a year we’d all much rather forget, Germany came back swinging with one of the most joyful songs in the history of the contest (and honestly, maybe ever). Its lyrics are tongue in cheek, rather than explicitly cheesy, and it’s a timely reminder that positivity breeds positivity. As the song transitions from ukulele and whistling that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Wiggles song, into overdrive guitars and blasting horns in the post-chorus, it’s a dose of emotional whiplash in the best possible way. You can hear Jendrik’s musicality in the chromaticised bridge, and you can feel his infectious joy and inspirational self-confidence emanating in the admittedly odd, but very welcome tap break and radio speech. I Don’t Feel Hate feels like I’ve experienced a full musical in just three minutes, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.” – Holly Wulf
Marion Welter & Kontinent – “Sou fräi” – Luxembourg – 21st place, Eurovision 1992:
“”Sou fräi” is one of those entries, that while on first blush is unmemorable, manifests in your mind, the earwormiest of earworms that won’t let you forget it.
This was the song for Luxembourg in 1992, and it would be the penultimate entry for the duchy at the time of writing. Sung by Marion Walter and instrumentation by Kontinent, “Sou fräi” tells the tale of Marion wanting her thoughts to be free. As free as a flying kite, or a child playing. “Sou fräi” is one of those light and up tempo songs that imagines what one could dream of in the world. It also gets brownie points for being sung in Luxembourgish, and I’m a huge fan of hearing more languages sung in the Contest.
But okay, maybe the song just isn’t your cup of tea. I get it–the instrumentation sounds like a stock track from those electronic keyboards in the 90s. Marion’s outfit though is such a fascinating look. Just look at that jacket. The asymmetric cut at the bottom. The colorful squares that interrupt what looks like underneath a yellow taxi jacket pattern. And this is over a yellow dress that makes it more of a distraction, and could give Barbara Dex a run for her money. It’s iconic, I love it. Not to mention that Marion’s performance was under sickness. Marion contracted malaria while on vacation a few years before the Contest and it had incubated in her system before manifesting as migraines before the Contest. All turned out better for her though!
All in all, “Sou fräi” is probably a strange pick for this list, but as many faults as could be pointed out for this performance, it circles back around to being quite the opposite. Weaknesses become strengths if you’re free to imagine it.” – Tyler Griffith
The Shin & Mariko – “Three Minutes to Earth” – Georgia – 15th place, Eurovision 2014 Semi-Final 2:
“Take a legendary Georgian jazz band, already well known for their unique blend of jazz with Georgian folk and flamenco, and add a classically trained vocalist in Mariko Ebralidze, and you’d think “Three Minutes to Earth” would be a hit for Georgia. Sadly, modern jazz is about as welcome at Eurovision as Erika Jayne and Tom Girardi are at a Lion Air airport lounge, so despite having three of the most talented masters of their instruments at Eurovision ever on one stage, it ended up last in its Semi-Final that year because it was too “quirky.” How dare Georgia break the mold!
Anyway, the Shin take us on a wild ride instrumentally, with some great solos from guitarist Zaza Miminoshvili and bassist Zurab Gagnidze, not to mention some creative and impressive drum fills from the late great Mamuka Ghaganidze, who passed away from cancer in 2019. Attention should also be paid to the spacey and wild lyrics. Flying through space and back to Earth, this song also contains the most blatant marijuana reference in Eurovision history with its “pick up all the rainbow buds from the sky” line. There’s a lot to enjoy in its three minute span once you get over the initial impression of the song being a few hippies pissing about.” – James Maude
Silvia Night – “Congratulations” – Iceland – 13th place, Semi-Final, Eurovision 2006:
“There is exactly ONE occasion in all of Eurovision where my Favourite Song Of The Year wasn’t in the Final. It’s this one.
Explaining Silvia’s self-evident greatness feels like an impossible feat because it just seems so glaringly obvious. It’s like explaining the wetness of water. Silvia Night *exists* on a plane of awesome that is far, far away from our own pitiful existences.
One of the best troll acts ever sent to Eurovision, Silvia Night never broke character once she set a (glitterpumped) foot in Greece. The ‘character’ displayed here is that of a petulant, foulmouthed and psychotic narcista who cusses out anyone she doesn’t like (which, apropos, is everyone within a radius of ~5 miles). Literally accusing Carola of sleeping with the EBU director for her spot in the finale <3333333 In short: SHE’S AN ASPIRATION IN THE GAME OF ~LIFE~.
THEN we get to the act which is a masterclass in Eurovision KITSCH. Every detail about this, from the pump-shaped slide, to the golden shower, to the unicorn backings to literally pretending to have God Himself on the phone, it’s an undisputed SERVE in Eurovision Epicness. My life is better for having seen it and basking in its solipsistic glory. <3
And of course she was robbed and booed by the UNGRATEFUL SCRUNT AUDIENCE BECAUSE SHE’S *NOT* SOME SLUT FROM HOLLAND OR AN UGLY FUCKING OLD *BITCH* FROM SWEDEN. Isn’t Eurovision a beautiful thing? ” – Boris Meersman
Trackshittaz – “Woki mit deim Popo” – Austria – 18th place, Semi-Final 1, Eurovision 2012:
“Right, listen up losers, because I’m about to tell you why Woki mit deim Popo is an all time classic.
I mean, have you heard how hard this song goes? I can picture – no, I have actually done this – dancing to this in the club while shaking my tushy like there’s no tomorrow. The beat may be of its time but it doesn’t make it any less amazing.
And come on. This exists perfectly on the crossroads of Eurovision and sex – utterly crass, entirely tasteless and verging on bizarre. This is perfect for the contest and I love it in just about every single way. Haters of this song are just haters of fun – it’s as simple as that.” – Gabe Milne
Tanja – “Amazing” – Estonia – 12th place, Semi-Final 1, Eurovision 2014:
“Some people might be confused by my pick of “Amazing” for this, but as the president of the Tanja Fan Club let me explain myself. Since I’ve been in the Eurovision bubble and Twitter sphere, I’ve seen plenty of people talk about their favorite entries of all time, robbed non-qualifiers, and now 5 editions of the ESC250. I never see this song included in any of those discussions. But it’s a catchy dance track, featured full-blown contemporary dancing, she gave an impressive vocal performance, and it gets stuck in your head every time you hear it. Put this in any other year and I guarantee it would have qualified. Do you get why it’s Amazing yet?” – Connor Terry
Rambo Amadeus – “Euro Nuero” – Montenegro – 15th Place, Semi-Final 1, Eurovision 2012:
“I think to fully appreciate Euro Neuro, you need to separate the music from the lyrics. The backing track is layered with complexity and depth, with its driving bass line, polyrhythmic drums, and iconic strings and synths. If a catchy melody had been added, I think Europe would have eaten this up. The lyrics, however, are the true genius of the tune. The song is a lexicon of satirical beauty from a self-described “musician, poet and media manipulator”. Rambo Amadeus ceaselessly rattles off rhyming words devoid of melody that seem like the ravings of a madman, especially when paired with his sweaty and dishevelled stage appearance, but under the surface chaos, the song is actually calling on the wealthier countries in Europe to support those less well off during an ongoing debt crisis, as well as asking the European Union to behave with more interest in people and less bureaucracy. Think of the song as a Frank Zappa-esque commentary rather than a serious tune and you might find yourself tempted to jump on into Rambo’s swimming pool.
And if you still want to ignore that the song is a joke, at the end of the day you can’t deny that the chorus is the ultimate earworm. Now if you need me, I’ll be off doing a monetary break dance.” – Holly Wulf
Fusedmarc – “Rain of Revolution” – Lithuania – 17th place, Semi-Final 2, Eurovision 2017:
“~LOOKING FOR THE REASON HAMSTER ON THE ROAD~
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Two years before Roxen turned a song called “Beautiful disaster” into “Hideous disaster”, we witnessed perhaps the MOST beautiful disaster ever on a Eurovision stage. For starters, Fusedmarc were the shock winners, beating out the fave (a hilariously trashy Savadogo composition (sample text: “All my lyfe / Draking da roolz / I’m lyke vvooolf”)) on the basis of vegan fundamentalism, after a Russian Vegan Facebook group found out about their eating habits and powervoted for their kindred spirits to win Atranka <3 Then, Denis and Viktorija, who are two of life’s most inexplicable humans, REFUSED to let UA:PCB come up with a stage adaptation because they were PETRIFIED Ukraine wouldn’t be able to get their ~artistic vision~ across (are you already chuckling? I am certainly NOT typing any of this with anything less than a shit-eating grin on my face). What their “artistic vision” is? Beats me! Neither Viktorija nor Denis speak a letter of English and therefore never could explain it properly to the international press <3
So, Fusedmarc went to Kyiv with no technical rehearsals and it turned their already VERY ramshackle song into a possibly the biggest Eurovision carcrash ever and it was GLORIOUS. Enjoy this flurry of tumblr gifs:
I still can’t at how those impractically long nails prevent her fingers from closing around the wee mic <3.
From Viktorija’s Little My-esque styling, to her valiantly attempting to entice the (completely flummoxed) audience to mime along at multiple junctures, to her SLURRRING HER WORDS into a glutteral gibberish (“MKIN A STA MKIN A STA MKIN A STA N LT DA LITE SHN FRU MIIIII” — actual sounds produced during the live) and of course the camera crew appearing front AND center during the second verse when the hamster crosses the road.
Just THINKING about what the bumpuzzled audience at home must have thought when confronted with this makes me cackle. The actual ACT itself is endearingly incompetent to the Nth power. It brings me SUCH joy because not only because is it endearingly flawed but also because fusedmarc just don’t give a single FLYING fuck about how they come across and go full throttle anyway. They probably still think they did great (and they sorta did. They beat Verona in the jury vote <33333). San Marino’s tryhard garbage AIN’T GOT NUTHIN’ on this. #YeahYeahYeahYeah
PS: It’s really fun to karaoke this song in a drag queen’s falsetto. Try it! and make your neighbours despise you.” – Boris Meersman
Kreisiraadio – “Leto Svet” – Estonia – 18th place, Semi-Final 1, Eurovision 2008
“Troll entries inherently have two modes of thought; you either “get” them or you don’t “get” them. There is usually some thought behind these entries to explain their existence. The biggest one that comes to mind is possibly the very first troll entry, 1977’s “Boom Boom Boomerang” by Schmetterlinge, representing Austria. It was a critique about record companies, and also about the Contest itself.
“Leto svet” is no different. Sung by Kreisiraadio, a comedy group famous in Estonia and won their national selection easily. The song was sent to Belgrade in 2008 and didn’t escape the first semifinal and got booed after the performance itself. Perhaps it was the lackluster dance choreography or the nonsense lyrics sung in mostly Serbian, with German and Finnish sprinkled in? Or the fact the scantily clad backup dancers hopped around with flags a with signs with pictures of beets on them? Personally I’d boo the boring primary colored suits the trio wore, but hey, nothing is perfect.
When I view “Leto svet” in the context of it being a troll entry that Estonia sent to Eurovision as a middle finger, it totally makes sense to me and I find myself enjoying the routine. The one-two punch of the exploding accordion then gyrations at the piano in particular makes me chuckle. To take a more conspiratorial approach, 2008 was the year that lots of countries didn’t take the Contest “seriously”, perhaps so they didn’t want to host the Contest next year because of the recession. That’s one of the reasons I like 2008–it’s a race to the bottom and a lot of the songs are competent in how bad that truly are.
“Leto svet” does just that–be bad on purpose to provide comedy for the Estonians, and to anybody with an understanding of the Serbian language. It was time for nonsense lyrics in Serbian instead of English for once. If you don’t think about “Leto svet” seriously, it’s a fun three minute romp through madness. What could be more Eurovision than that?” – Tyler Griffith
Elpida – “Tora zo” – Cyprus – 20th place, Eurovision 1986:
“Many of you probably don’t even remember this song because when you think of 1986 you don’t think of this. “Tora Zo” made history for the wrong reason, it was the first and only time that Cyprus came dead last in the contest. That was a CHOICE Europe, 1986 is full of a LOT of bad songs but this was not one of them. The track features Elpida who was one of the most successful singers in Greece during the 70s and 80s, and who represented Greece in 1979 as well with ‘Sokrati”. The song features the traditional Greek/Cypriot instrumentals we all love at the contest, Elpida’s voice is beautiful as always, and it really carries an electric energy for three minutes. There’s also a “Clap-with-me” section! This SCREAMS 80’s Eurovision and I need more people to experience it, fall in love with it, and share it with others.” – Connor Terry
Aarzemnieki – “Cake to bake” – Latvia – 13th place, Semi-Final 1, Eurovision 2014:
“Some people have called ‘Cake to bake’ infantile, embarrassing and a disgrace to Eurovision. These people however have themselves been called misguided, unevolved and definitely not my friends by me ^_^
It’s so strange that Aarzemnieki were met with such PALPABLE distaste by the toddlers-wearing-the-bodies-of-grown-incels contingents that make up the bulk of the Opinionated Internet, would you REALLY have prefered Don’s immensely miserable crap? No, you wouldn’t have, not EVER, don’t lie. If you REALLY wish to know what would have come of Pendulum Vestibule or whatever, I refer you to Hirsoux, Axel.
“Cake to bake” is small bundle of joy about the delights of, well, baking cakes while eyeballing the recipe. In short, HIGHLY RELATABLE STUFF. It’s not deep, no. It’s not competitive, no. So what? It’s Eurovision. DON’T TAKE IT SO SERIOUSLY, you fucking GHOULS. It is okay to ~enjoy yourself~ (and if you refuse to is that really Aarzemnieki’s fault or yours, hmm?) Joran and Co are a motley crew of fun people whose personalities shine on the stage (especially Raitis. The fact that I don’t even feel the need to point out who Raitis is should make it abundantly clear which of the four he is, no?) in a song chock-full of cute pop culture references (and secretive cussing <3), it’s the PERFECT accompanying tune for whenever *you* have a cake to bake, with a clue or none. *cepcepcepcepcepkuku* ” – Boris Meersman
What do #YOU think of our writers’ picks? Which song disregarded or hated by many fans do #YOU enjoy and want to tell the world about? Let us know in the comments below, on social media, or in our forum.