The Ones That Got Away

Over the half century of Eurovision there have been hundreds of songs performed on the big stage but a small number of ditties were due to be performed but never made it to the big night. The plot thickens……….

1967 – Italy – Non Pensare A Me – Claudio Villa
During the rehearsals it was discovered that this song had been released too early, and it was replaced with another song by the same artist.

1968 – Norway – Jag Har Aldri Vært Så Glad I No’en Som Deg – Odd Borre
This song swept the Norwegian final but was swiftly removed when the similarities to Cliff’s “Summer Holiday” were at first listen blindingly obvious, especially when the saintly Cliff was actually one of Odd’s opponents in 1968!.

1974 – France – La Vie A Vingt-Cinque Ans – Dani
This song featured in the previews and was withdrawn days before the contest after the sudden death of President Pompidou.

1974 – Malta – Peace To The World – Enzo Gusman
This was chosen in a national final but Malta then withdrew for financial reasons.

1976 – Germany – Der Star – Tony Marshall
Disqualified because it had been previously performed in public.

1976 – Liechtenstein – Little Cowboy – Biggi Bachmann
Was chosen but the Alpine nation didn’t have a TV station so was ineligible.

1976 – Malta – Sing Your Song Country Boy – Enzo Gusman
Two years on Enzo was about to get his chance but again the Maltese withdrew and would not grace the Eurovision stage again for another fifteen years.

1978 – Greece – Mr Nobel – Anna Vissi
After winning the Thessaloniki Song Festival, Anna was selected to represent Greece in Paris. However she was replaced by another artist as the head of Greek TV (ERT) apparently didn’t like her song. Putting this setback aside, Ms Vissi has since become a Eurovision legend, performing twice for Greece and once for her native Cyprus.

1979 – Turkey – Seviyorum – Maria Rita Epik & Grup 21 Peron
Was selected as the Turkish entry, but the contest was in Jerusalem and other Arabic nations persuaded Turkey to withdraw.

1980 – Israel – Pizmon Chozer – Ha’ahum ve Ha’ahayot
Chosen as the Israeli entry but the Dutch hosts scheduled the 1980 contest to coincide with Remembrance Day in Israel so was withdrawn.

1982 – Greece – Sarantapente Kopelles – Themis Adamantidis
Selected by Greece, who subsequently withdrew from the contest. NB. the singer bore no relation to the British New Romantic star of the time.

1984 – Israel – Balalaika – Ilanit
Ilanit sang for Israel in both 1973 (their debut) and 1977, however her third appearance was not to be as Israel withdrew due to the contest clashing with the Yom Hazikaron Remembrance Day.

1985 – Belgium – Vannache – Mireille Capelle
Was originally selected but Mireille was unhappy with the lyrics and insisted they be replaced wholesale by a set she preferred, when the TV station refused she pulled out (with the song).

1985 – Yugoslavia – Pokora – Zorica Konza
This was selected to go to Gothenburg but Yugoslav TV pulled out of the contest due to it clashing with the anniversary of Tito’s death.

1986 – Greece – Wagon-Lit – Polina
Selected by Greece, who subsequently withdrew from the contest because the date clashed with a religious festival.

1988 – Cyprus – Thimame – Yiannis Demetriou
Finished 3rd in the 1984 Cypriot final, then won the internal selection for 1988. Doh! Was included on the then-annual Norwegian “unofficial” compilation album with the other 1988 entries.

1990 – Austria – Das Beste – Duett
Won the National final but was discovered to have been entered in the 1988 German heats, DQ.

1992 – Switzerland – Soleil Soleil – Geraldine Olivier
Was rejected as a French language entry to the Swiss final but then won as a German sung entry. The French Swiss complained and was DQ.

1997 – Greece An Den Agapissis Den Tha Agapissi – Dimosthenis Stringlis
This was selected but Greek TV demanded that the composer be replaced by another singer. Stringlis refused so the song was ditched.

1999 – Bosnia – Starac I More – Hari Mata Hari
One month after winning the final it was discovered that the song had been released in Finland two years earlier by a different singer. The singer went on to finish third at Eurovision in 2006.

1999 – Germany – Den Kindern Einfach Zu – Corinna May
The winning song had been released on a single in 1997 by another singer. Corinna went on to represent Germany in 2002.

2002 – Lithuania – We All – B’Avarija
Was withdrawn when it emerged that a Lithuanian language version of the song had been released in 2001. Lithuania’s replacement finished second last.

2004 – France – L’aissez Moi Le Temps – Jonathan Cerrada
French television announced this as the entry but it was very soon replaced with another song by the same artist.

2005 – Lebanon – Quand Tout S’Enfuit – Aline Lahoud
Was forced to withdraw when Lebanese television could not guarantee transmitting the Israeli entry.

2005 – Belarus – Boy And Girls – Angelica Agurbash
Was totally arbitrarily withdrawn by the Belarussians (and replaced with another song from the same singer) due to bad reviews on internet sites (!).

2006 – Serbia & Montenegro – Moja Ljubavi – No Name
This Montenegran song won the 2005 national final but Serbian TV protested that the voting of Montenegran jurors was partisan and proposed a second final with different voting. Montenegran TV believed that their song had won fairly and squarely. The two sides could not agree before the entry deadline so Serbia & Montenegro withdrew from the contest.

2006 – France – Nous C’est Vous – Virginie Pouchin
The French song for 2006 was commissioned from a top French songwriter. Many weeks later after a bewilderingly long talent show the singer was chosen. It became clear quite soon that the song and singer were not well suited. After a short impasse the songwriter came up with a brand new song!

2009 – Hungary – If You Wanna Party – Márk Zentai
After an internal trawl through submitted songs, Hungarian chose to send Mark to Moscow with an upbeat Europop tune, only for it to come to light just days later that the song had been released with different lyrics in Sweden in 2005!.

2009 – Hungary – Magányos Csónak – Katya Tompos
The Hungarian’s next choice was singer/actress Katya with a more sophisticated ballad, however very soon Ms Tompos decided that her stage commitments meant she couldn’t fulfill the Moscow gig in May (remember the whole circus lasts about a fortnight). Rather than select another singer to interpret the song, the TV station chose a completely different third entry.

2009 – Georgia – We Don’t Wanna Put In – Stefane & 3G
Just months after the war in South Ossetia, Georgia in a public final chose to send to Moscow a retro disco number with thinly veiled digs at Russia and Vladimir Putin. The contest organizers demanded the lyrics be changed, but Georgian TV refused and so will not appear in the 2009 contest.

2010 – Ukraine – I Love You – Vasily Lazarevich
One of the most successful countries of the last decade, Ukraine chose Vasily very early on and he performed five songs in a national final. The winning song received almost universal panning online, and suddenly state broadcaster NTU decided it had been “unfair” to restrict the final to just one artist, and withdrew their chosen song. They then rustled up another completely new televised selection with a vast array of brand new songs in just a few days (!).

2010 – Ukraine – To Be Free – Alyosha
Ukraines second televised selection (see entry above!) was won by this song, yet with hours eagle-eyed fans had uncovered that it had been released originally two years earlier, breaking one of the basic rules of Eurovision. Instead of giving the Oslo ticket to another song in the final, Ukrainian TV decided that the winning artist would go to the contest with a fresh song chosen internally that had featured in neither final. So new ground was broken in contest history as Ukraine goes to the fifty-fifth contest after presenting twenty-five songs in TWO televised finals and ditching every single one for an internal choice!.

2010 – Belarus – Far Away – 3 + 2
Ahead of schedule an internal jury announced in late February the song that would represent “White Russia” in Oslo, news reports suggested that a “back-up” entry had been also chosen (why, it was not explained) by another artist. Less than a month later, after underwhelming internet reaction to the original song, the ex-Soviet nation announced that their entry was being replaced, not with the back-up, but with a new song by the original group.

2011 – Belarus – Born in Byelarussia – Anastasia Vinnikova
This song was unveiled as their song for Dusseldorf by Belarus TV, however it was deemed to be overtly political, and the lyrics were tweaked, the new title being “I Am Belarusian”. Problem solved? sadly not. It became clear that the song had been publicly performed before the cut-off date for entries so it was DQ’d.

2012 – Belarus – All My Life – Alyona Lanskaya
It almost wouldn’t be a Eurovision selection season without an entry being replaced in an ex-Soviet republic, and Belarus haven’t let us down!. Of their nine years in the contest this is the third time they’ve replaced the originally selected ditty. Alyona won the televised national final apparently fairly and squarely, however within a fortnight the president (that’s THE president, not some TV exec) ruled that her production team had rigged the telephone vote and she was promptly DQ’d. Imagine the fun if this lot ever get to host!.

2012 – Italy – Per Sempre – Nina Zilli
We’re not sure if kerfuffle is an Italian word, but after their sensational return in 2011 after more than a decade’s absence, this years selection has been a little confused. Nina was selected to represent Italy during the legendary San Remo Song Festival, but it was announced that it would NOT be with “Per Sempre”, her festival song. A short while later, national broadcaster RAI said that the song would indeed be the entry. A week before the entry deadline they changed their minds and “Per Sempre” was consigned to the Euro scrap heap, well, per sempre.

2013 – Belarus – Rhythm Of Love – Alyona Lanskaya
For the fourth year in a row the Belarus entry was replaced. The original song won the apparent national final in December 2012 but almost immediately it became clear that the singer and her people were looking for a better ditty, so to the surprise of no-one this bit the dust in March.

2013 – Bulgaria – Kismet – Elitsa & Stoyan
The duo who delivered Bulgaria’s best result were given a three song national final, and the combined jury/televote produced a tied result, then hastily “Kismet” as the televote winner was declared as the song for Malmo. Barely a week later it was replaced by the runner-up, apparently due to “copyright issues”.

2013 – FYR Macedonia – Imperija – Esma & Lozano
Unlike their Bulgarian neighbours, the Macedonians selected internally for 2013 and after much fanfare the entry was unveiled at the end of February. However as the entry deadline loomed rumours grew that the song would be replaced, ostensibly due to the poor internet reaction, and sure enough the “Empire” was ditched.

2015 – Albania – Diell – Elhaida Dani
Albania always pick their entry very early in the Festival I Kenges (a kind of Balkan San Remo) and Elhaida duly won, however a couple of months later the composers decided they weren’t having their song sent to Vienna. Thus Elhaida was furnished with a brand new song called “I’m Alive”.

2015 – Germany – Heart Of Stone – Andreas Kummert

Germany staged a complex multiple-round national final to select their entry for Vienna that was convincingly won by Kummert with over seventy-eight percent of the vote, however at his moment of triumph on live TV he declined the trip to Austria leaving runner-up Ann Sophie to represent Germany at the sixtieth contest, where she came equal last with Nul Points!

2016 – Malta – Chameleon – Ira Losco

The Maltese national final was won by 2002 Eurovision runner-up Ira Losco, however their rules that year allowed the winning artist to modify their song or even replace it completely for ESC. An  internal jury selected byMaltese PBS TV thus came about and replaced “Chameleon” with “Walk On Water”.

2016 – Romania – Moment Of Silence – Ovidiu Anton

On 22 April 2016 the European Broadcasting Union formally expelled Romania from the 61st contest due to broadcaster TVR’s outstanding debts to them.  Just weeks before rehearsals start, the disqualified entry remains on the official contest CD.

2017 – Russia – Flame Is Burning – Yuliya Samoylova

The Russian representative at Eurovision 2017 was barred from travelling to Kiev as she had performed in annexed Crimea.  While the EBU offered solutions (including Yuliya performing by satellite) Russian Channel One declined so they did not participate in the sixty-second contest.

2019 – Ukraine – Siren Song – Maruv

After winning the national selection Maruv was ordered by Ukrainian TV to sign a contract agreeing to several conditions including cancelling shows in Russia.  She declined to do so and thus her song would not be going to Tel Aviv.  The TV station approached other acts in the final but they refused so the country will miss the 2019 event.

Any additions or corrections to this list, please feel free to email and your contribution will be credited.

Many thanks to David Allan for additions and a correction to the list, to Stephen Potts for information re Belarus, to Sarah Boucher for information re Israel, Romania and Ukraine and to Stacey Angelakos for info on Malta.

2020 – The whole lot  😞

2021 – Belarus  – Ya nauchu tebya (I’ll Teach You)Galasy ZMesta

This song was selected internally by Belarus TV, however it’s lyrical content soon attracted criticism as it was essentially a political message against opponents of the Belarussian president.  It was disqualified by the EBU and the group were given an extended deadline to deliver a replacement entry.  They did so but that too was rejected for the same reasons so the country was effectively disqualified from the 2021 contest.

2022 – Ukraine – Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors – Alina Pash

The song won Vidbir 2022 the Ukrainian national final, however shortly afterwards the performer fell foul of the Ukrainian selection rule that forbids singers who have travelled in  Crimea.

2022 – Malta – Out Of Sight – Emma Muscat

Emma won the Maltese national final, however it was always clear that she could replace her winning song, and so a few weeks later that’s exactly what happened.