As with the Spanish song, the German entry – Roman Lob with ‘Standing Still’ – strongly divides opinion in the Sofabet comments section. Its biggest cheerleader has been Gert who reckoned after watching this performance of the song, “I think Germany can do an upset victory.” Boki agreed that “Roman is in my small ‘can do upset victory’ group.” Emma too was largely positive, and thinks a top ten finish is achievable.
It is clearly not everyone’s cup of tea though. Rob admitted that it “sent me to sleep the first time I heard it,” and doesn’t think it’s contemporary either. Eurovicious agreed that it was bland though he does find it relatively modern.
Unlike the Spanish song, I don’t have such strong views about ‘Standing Still’. I can see both sides of the argument. There’s a part of me that thinks it’s relevant and has plenty of selling points, but I can see how it would bore some viewers too. And whilst that sounds like classic fence-sitting, I think it’s one of those entries that treads a fine line between capturing some imaginations and forgettable oblivion.
So here’s an attempt to weigh up its strengths and weaknesses without prejudice.
Let’s start with the strengths. Chart-wise, the male songwriting troubadour has been a highly successful figure in recent years: David Gray, James Blunt and James Morrison spring to mind. ‘Standing Still’ is penned by another successful case, Jamie Cullum, and is a typical song within the genre. You can argue that the music produced in these cases is pretty bland, but there’s no doubting it has a market.
Eurovision juries seem to approve, probably because they think that it’s relevant, but also because the genre tends towards earnestness as well, and thus appears ‘authentic’. Attention has tended to focus on the jury love shown for solo female balladeers, but bleeding male hearts win jury votes too.
Tom Dice’s second place with juries in 2010 is the most memorable example but a more illustrative case of over-achieving, earnest testosterone was arguably the jury sixth managed in 2009 by Denmark’s Niels Brinck with ‘Believe Again’. That was penned by Ronan Keating – it doesn’t get more middle-of-the-road than the former Boyzone member.
In the same manner, juries may well look kindly on ‘Standing Still’ too, but I think it’s the kind of song that needed a late draw if televoters are going to remember it. It got a pretty useful one at 20 of the 26, and I reckon that coming after Pastora Soler will help Lob because of some of the contrasts he offers.
Given the amount of ballads likely to be in the final, it seems probable that ‘Standing Still’ won’t be the last slow one in the final, but it could be the last slow male one – we’ll have to see where Estonia’s Ott and Serbia’s Zeljko fit into the equation, if they are part of it on the Saturday night.
And radio-friendly though the song is, Lob has more than a face for radio. In fact, he has just the kind of looks that teenage girls (and some of their mothers) like – fine-featured but a tad little-boy-lost. His image is ideal for this demographic too – some indie scruff alongside the ear piercings and tattoos.
Apart from those teens who have already pledged themselves to Jedward (and the twins are not playing on the same turf – nor indeed on the same planet – as Lob), there really is little competition on this front. Moldova’s Pasha Parfeny comes second, but his song gives off a whole different vibe.
So there is potential among this televoting demographic on the night, especially if Lob can find the camera as well as he did in the performance I linked to at the start of this article. He seems to be learning the trade quickly, because this was already a vast improvement on the rather modest, shuffling demeanour he displayed in the German national finals.
His rather bashful style may be one reason why the song had very little impact for me on first watching it, and that is the one of the potential weaknesses of the song. Whilst juries will reward its middle-of-the-road nature, there is a danger of televoters finding it doesn’t stand out enough, especially on first watching.
I said exactly the same thing of Soluna Samay’s number, and whilst Lob no longer has to fear an early draw unlike his Danish rival, he still has to worry about something equally worthy coming straight afterwards. If the likes of ‘Should’ve Known Better’ or Estonia’s ‘Kuula’ are in the 21 slot, that will be a painfully earnest ten or so minutes for televoters from Spain onwards. Nick D has already made this point.
One reason why the song may not stand out enough is that it doesn’t really go anywhere in the final 40 seconds, which is slightly unfortunate given its title, as Rob has already punned. By the end, it feels like Roman has sung about ‘Standing Still’ too many times, even though that is not the case for the first two-thirds of the song.
The problem starts with the middle eight which is a repeat of the second half of the first verse. Repetition is not necessarily a bad thing in Eurovision, of course, but what happens here means there is not enough change in the texture of the song – it’s the same thing all the way through.
Also, we don’t build back up to a big moment. In fact, Lob’s biggest notes come before the middle eight begins and the song feels like it ends with a bit of a whimper. Admittedly, this is all part of its understated nature, and there are always visual ways of creating a sense of climax for the televoting audience.
However, I can’t help but feel that this compounds another potential weakness, which is that Lob’s voice also lacks any change in texture – it’s the same plaintive tone all the way through. The juries didn’t seem to mind that with Tom Dice or Niels Brinck, but televoters weren’t as impressed, which may be partly why they only managed 14th and 19th in the public poll.
Dice and Brinck (like Lob) hail from western countries that are not diaspora rich. Actually, a look at their points tally sees more from the eastern half of the continent than you might think, but Dice’s zeroes were, with the exceptions of Spain and the UK, all from that part of Europe. I’m not sure how well ‘Standing Still’ will travel with televoters here.
The young German does have two things in his favour over Dice and Brinck though. Firstly, he is better looking. Secondly he is better drawn, especially compared to Dice who had the misfortune to be on early next to the only other boy-with-guitar in the final.
So ultimately, his showing may depend on just how well he works the camera and just how advantageous or not that draw becomes. If Lob wants televoters to be as generous as the juries may well be, it will be a case of accentuating the positive on the big night.
Agree or disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.