Andorra: Looking back over a vibrant Eurovision legacy21 September 2023 at 10:00 CEST
The year was 2004, the first ever Semi-Final was to be introduced at the Eurovision Song Contest, and a record-smashing 36 countries were lined up to participate in Istanbul.
Among the 36 eager participants, we had 4 countries joining the party for the very first time, as Albania, Andorra, Belarus and Serbia & Montenegro made their debuts at the Contest.
With Andorra's appearance that year, it wasn't just the country that was getting its first outing at the Eurovision Song Contest; the Andorran song - Jugarem a Estimar-nos by Marta Roure - saw to it that the Catalan language was performed as a competing entry for the very first time in the Contest's then 49-year history.
After Andorra's debut in 2004, the country participated 5 more times, each consecutive year, before taking an indefinite pause from the Contest after appearing in Moscow in 2009.
Of all the countries to have competed at the Eurovision Song Contest throughout the decades, Andorra's 6 outings are the third-fewest participations in Contest history. Morocco competed just once in 1980, while Andorra's fellow newcomers in 2004, Serbia & Montenegro, participated just twice.
Andorra does, however, hold the title of being the only participant in Eurovision Song Contest history to have never competed in a Grand Final.
The closest that Andorra came to reaching a Grand Final was in 2007, when Salvem El Món by Anonymous finished in 12th place in their Semi-Final, giving Andorra their best ever result.
The punk-pop band's entry was an ahead-of-its-time alarm call on the perils of climate change, as the boys chanted: 'time will tell us, but we must act now'.
If you're a fan of finding a metaphor in everything, the televoters' failure to take the song into the Grand Final could well be seen as the foreshadowing of a society's willful ignorance towards the dangers of global warming... perhaps.
But some change did come about after that result in Helsinki, as it was to be the last time that a solitary Semi-Final would be used to find just 10 artists for the Grand Final. From 2008 onwards, two Semi-Finals have taken place, resulting in 20 participating countries earning a ticket to the Grand Final.
In the end, Anonymous' net-zero anthem netted eight-zero points. That score of 80 remains Andorra's highest points tally at the Contest to date.
Andorra did get to tick a huge milestone off its points bucket-list very early on, however. The country was gifted with a sought-after douze points on its very first participation in 2004; an honour that not every debuting country is bestowed with. Spain awarded Jugarem a Estimar-nos with top marks.
Andorran broadcaster RTVA gave the selection of its Eurovision Song Contest entries some serious consideration, and switched between the two usual formats for choosing a competing song. Three of Andorra’s 6 entries (2006, 2007 and 2008) were selected internally, with the other three having been voted for by Andorran television viewers, via a national final.
For the country's 2005 national final, RTVA flew in reigning Eurovision champ Ruslana from Ukraine to perform at the show's interval act; perhaps in an effort to show Andorra's artist for Kyiv just how it’s done!
Andorra wasn't averse to calling in some big names of its own, however. In 2008, when the Andorran Eurovision entry was selected internally, RTVA invited Gisela to compete for them in Belgrade.
Gisela had already achieved big success in neighbouring Spain, with number one singles and platinum albums to her name. In the end, she represented Andorra with the song Casanova, which placed 16th in its Semi-Final in Serbia.
Not so many of the Contest's participating countries can boast that their Eurovision artists have gone on to perform at the Oscars... but Andorra can!
In 2020, Gisela performed live at The Academy Awards, singing the Castilian Spanish part of the song Into The Unknown from Frozen II. Gisela joined artists such as Idina Menzel and AURORA on stage during the global film industry's biggest night; artists who had provided the vocals for the release of the film in their respective territories.
Casanova was the only Andorran entry performed at the Eurovision Song Contest in English. Three of Andorra's songs were performed in Catalan, and two in a mix of both Catalan and English.
In 2005, Andorra achieved what some Eurovision fans have been asking for for decades... the microstate brought Anabel Conde back to the Eurovision Song Contest stage!
Anabel's Vuelve Conmigo gave Spain what remains its best result at the Eurovision Song Contest in the last 43 years, when it finished in second in Dublin in 1995. Anabel's good fortune didn't extend to Andorra, however, and when the artist performed backing vocals for Marian van de Wal's La Mirada Interior, the song finished 23rd in its Semi-Final.
Andorra had pre-emptively repaid Spain the favour of lending out one of its Eurovision artists to provide backing vocals for them at the Contest in 2002 when Gisela backed Rosa on Europe's Living A Celebration.
Another big name representing Andorra was Susanne Georgi; competing in Moscow in 2009 with the song La Teva Decisió (Get a Life).
Prior to repping Andorra on the international stage, Susanne had been a member of the hugely successful Danish pop duo Me & My, who had enjoyed a run of hits across Europe in the '90s. The duo had attempted to represent their native Denmark at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1991 and again in 2007. RTVA finally afforded Andorra resident Susanne the opportunity to head to Eurovision as a solo artist in 2009.
From 2004 to 2009, Andorra's Eurovision Song Contest history has been a relatively short one (so far), but it holds a legacy that is looked back over very fondly by fans - and it's not difficult to see why.
You can peruse the full breakdown of all of Andorra's entries right here on our participants page.
The Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Malmö, Sweden on Tuesday 7 May (First Semi-Final), Thursday 9 May (Second Semi-Final) and Saturday 11 May (Grand Final) 2024.
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