A springer in the market over the last few weeks has been the Hungarian entry, ‘What About My Dreams’ sung by Kati Wolf.
Since being revealed as the country’s internal selection, it has been at or near the top of internet opinion polls organised by Eurovision fans. This had helped its price tumble to around 22-1 on Betfair, ninth in the pecking order.
But do these polls accurately reflect the song’s chances in the contest?
This is a type of song that appeals to Eurovision fans: it’s your classic dancefloor stomper with a message of defiance – watch the official video here. The verse builds nicely into a melodic and catchy chorus. Performed well, this could capture the imagination of televoters.
Compared to other upbeat fancies, the lyrics are more palatable than Eric Saade’s ‘Popular’ for Sweden, the tune is more palatable in its conventionality than Getter Jani’s ‘Rockefeller Street’ for Estonia, and the overall package is less niche than Stella Mwangi’s ‘Haba Haba’ for Norway.
What is more, it has a good draw in the first semi, coming at number 14 in the middle of an otherwise weak run of songs, sandwiched between Iceland and Portugal.
But ‘What About My Dreams’ has flaws of its own. The decision to keep the second verse in Hungarian and sing the rest in English is a bad one.
Generally speaking, most but not all songs benefit from being wholly in English. Mixing the languages runs the danger of people not realising the switch, becoming confused, and wondering why they can’t understand the lyrics anymore, especially if the English diction is not perfect in the first place.
In bringing down the original longer version to just three minutes, they’ve also done something uncoventional with the song structure. What qualifies for the bridge – the change of pace and/or melody that usually comes after the second chorus and before the finale, is now after the first chorus instead.
So whilst the disco-hands-in-the-air final minute is the song’s strong point, the listener has been slightly messed around before getting there.
During this too-early bridge, Wolf gasps and ‘ooohhs’ her way through the beat. This doesn’t always work live on stage, especially if the singer’s vocal abilities are not strong in the first place.
Which brings me to my main fear for ‘What About My Dreams’. It’s not an easy number to sing live (especially if you’re trying some dance moves too) and what I’ve seen of Kati Wolf on YouTube does not convince me that she can manage it.
Flu was given as an excuse for a terrible rendition of the song at the press conference announcing her selection, admittedly in a cramped and unsuitable room.
I’d like to know what the excuse is for this performance of ‘When Love Takes Over’ on Hungary’s version of X-Factor, in which she could manage only sixth place.
On this evidence, she has difficulty sustaining longer notes and she can’t effectively modulate between consecutive low and high notes – something that ‘What About My Dreams’ particularly requires.
Now of course, backing singers can help out here, but if she looks as uncomfortable as she did then on the Eurovision stage, we could get a repeat of what happened to Hungary’s previous entry, back in 2009.
That was Zoli Adok’s ‘Dance With Me’. In its studio version a catchy disco number, live it was a meeting of weak vocals, bad choreography and terrible clothing, creating a car crash that failed to qualify from the semi-final.
Fan favourites can and do fail every year for reasons such as this – Kate Ryan’s ‘Je t’adore’ for Belgium in 2006 springs to mind.
Those who have been supporting or backing Kati Wolf better hope that the news from the rehearsal blogs is positive, because there is the potential for ‘What About My Dreams’ to turn into a nightmare when live on stage.
Which would be a shame if it did happen, as it’s the kind of tune that livens up the contest. Just keep your fingers crossed and your powder dry until the rehearsal reports start coming in.