I go slightly Twitter mad when the Eurovision Song Contest is on. I always liked it, even as a child, I think at that time it was the faint air of European exoticism and it was about the only thing in a year that would make me feel Swedish (there’s many more things now, but that’s another post) but after hiding it for a bit, it’s now becoming sufficiently popular albeit in a camp kitsch type of way, for me to embrace my inner Eurovision geek again.
What this year’s Eurovision entries has made me realise is how spoilt we were last year. All the talk was of Conchita Wurst, but there were so many potential winners – Netherlands with their country duet, Russia with a catchy song with strangely follicly-conjoined twins that would have done better if they hadn’t just invaded Ukraine (that’s the country not the twins), Sweden with an outstanding ballad performed very well, Iceland with a bit of quirky colourful punky pop, and Spain with Ruth Lorenzo’s dramatic vocals. In another year any of those could have won.
This year the choice is so much poorer. I’ve come to the conclusion that generally (although they all have off years) that the countries that really get what works at Eurovision are Sweden, Ukraine, Greece, Armenia and Iceland. Sadly this year, none of them have put in a particularly good entry, and Ukraine have stopped participating. So here’s my top picks (and yes, I have listened to all of the entries at least once):
United Kingdom: OK, here’s my confession. Yes, I do like the UK entry and it’s a long time since I said that. It’s fun but it’s also performed well and it’s catchy. My main concern is that it might need a lot of people on stage to create the spectacle that the video does and you can only have six on at a time. Watch it here.
Slovenia: Imaginary instruments, wearing large headphones, quirky voice, catchy song… it might have just enough to do well. If you only hear the song it’s perhaps catchy enough to grab the attention although it takes a while to build, although I also wonder if the oddities actually add something and so a quirky stage set might also help it win. It’s got a bit of the dance music side of Loreen although not quite at those heights. Air violinist (is there such a thing?) Watch it here.
Estonia: This was the first song that stood out for me. It’s a pleasant song that’s got a real story and although pretty dark in its lyrics and even more so in its video, it may be the sort of well written lyrics that the juries will rate. I’d be very happy if this won as it feels like the best song in the contest, but I just don’t think it’ll stand out enough to get even in to the top few as is often the way with songs that are more singer-songwriter duet types. Watch it here.
Belgium: A bit of catchy dance music with a cute singer who won Belgium’s version of X Factor. This would perform well in the charts if it hadn’t been connected to Eurovision (despite the – to British ears – odd pronounciation of ‘rap’), but older viewers may not be so keen on voting for it but then do they ever anyway? However, it’s a lot catchier than most of the other songs I’ve picked out and so it should do well and it’s definitely one of my favourites, but how will it come across on a big stage? Watch it here.
Malta: I’ve picked this despite me not being convinced it’ll get through the semi-finals as I think it’s performed well with incredible vocals and if it wasn’t a Eurovision song it would probably be commercially successful. It takes a while to build but it’s performed well and by the end it’s a fairly catchy power ballad and it feels as though she’s channeling Ruth Lorenzo which is perhaps no bad thing. Watch it here.
Russia: Very catchy and a fluffy heartwarming theme about peace and freedom. It’s also very powerful and dramatic vocals. However, it won’t win as it’s Russia and the theme of the song is exactly what people feel Russia is not at the moment, but on the quality of the song it really should be a challenger. I always feel a bit sorry for the Russian entry as again they’re good but just won’t win. Watch it here.
Italy: This has amazingly strong vocals and it’s exactly what you expect Italy to enter. I’ve never liked those popular opera type acts like G4 (it’s amazing how they went from opera to poor security at the Olympics) and Il Divo. It has the dramatic vocal abilities of Conchita Wurst, which may be what they’re relying on, but it just doesn’t have the backstory that works. But the video is funnier than you’d expect for this sort of thing, with a singer who seems to think he’s Gok Wan, and if they can pull off the performance on the night, then maybe it’ll be a contender. Watch it here.
There’s a few tracks that have been highly rated that I really don’t so here’s my thoughts:
Finland: Why? Why? Why? Actually, I know why, it’s because it reminds everyone of Lordi. But Lordi was both heavy metal and with a catchy lyric so could appeal to two different Eurovision demographics. This is just bad. It’ll probably win now I’ve said that but it really shouldn’t despite the interesting back story. I can find nothing that redeems it at all.
Norway: I can sort of see it’s clever, a well sung duet and would perhaps be popular in other circumstances (I’m struggling to think of which) but I just can’t see it.
Iceland: Quite a nice song and again it’s well sung. She is a cross between Björk and Lena (German winner from 2010) but it just isn’t catchy enough.
I’ll probably get this all woefully wrong, but this is my take.