Just a few days after Russia revealed its part-Swedish written entry ‘What If’ which I thought was in the same cheesy power ballad vein as ‘Quedate Conmigo’, Georgia presented its song, ‘Waterfall’, sung by Nodi and Sopho. Watch it here. It’s penned by Swede Thomas G:son, author of last year’s Spanish entry, and feels to me like a much closer derivative of it.
I’m not the only one to think so. Justin saw the “echoes” whilst Boki said of the songwriter, “He’s basically copying/pasting himself.” Chewy Wesker rightly noted “the Pastora Soler $ note”. He wasn’t sure it would be as effective in ‘Waterfall’, although Boki felt that the climax was an improvement on ‘Quedate Conmigo’.
Regular readers will know I wasn’t a fan of the latter song, although admired how Pastora Soler sold it. What about ‘Waterfall’, an each-way springer in the market and now a best-priced 33-1?
To start with a weakness, as Justin noted, “it takes a long time to get going”. The first two minutes are not immediate enough, and there doesn’t really feel like much of a distinction between the verses and the chorus. In both these respects it’s inferior to ‘Running Scared’, the winning 2011 boy/girl duet it has been compared to, and Georgia are hoping to emulate.
Having said that, there is great potential for the final minute – the extended big note and its aftermath – to be very effective if well delivered and staged. Boki rightly points out that it’s arguable either way just how effective this kind of slow build is. Viewers have to wait for the knockout punch, but are rewarded eventually.
Much will depend on the two singers, both summa cum laude from different series of Georgian Idol. Vocally, I’m impressed by YouTube footage of the pair performing individually. I’m not as worried as Justin that they look too mature, as they’re telegenic enough. Sopho is four years younger than her Azerbaijan equivalent Nikki, and whilst Nodi is eight years older than his singing partner, there’s nothing unusual about a slightly older male duetting with a younger female.
I do have two other concerns based on the footage of the pair delivering the song on Georgian breakfast TV. Their English pronunciation isn’t as good as the Azerbaijani pair nor Russia’s Dina Garipova based on this evidence. They’re going to have to develop their chemistry and ability to interact with each other too. But these are both things that can be worked on.
Talking of Russia, Georgia is not quite on a par with its overpowering neighbour in terms of televoting power. Its form figures from previous finals read 12-11-9-8.
My early guess would be that ‘Waterfall’ will achieve a similar placing in this year’s televote. As an English-language ‘Quedate Conmigo’ it may sway a few more neutrals than that managed, but only if the package comes together on the big night – vocals, staging and draw. Otherwise, it’s a strong enough entry to get support where Georgia usually receives it, but as in those previous finals, is competing against effective big-voiced rivals from the same region.
The growing number of slowish songs from the eastern part of the Continent (and according to messageboards, this weekend’s Serbian contest is dominated by ballads) not only provides competition in the televote. Our commenters have also been wondering about its impact on the jury potential of ‘Waterfall’.
Tim feels this potential is great indeed. Given that the song allows its vocalists the opportunity to impress, I can see where he is coming from. Boki also points out that there is plenty of room for ballads to do well in the jury rankings – there were five in last year’s top ten.
My main concern with the jury potential of ‘Waterfall’ is the cookie cutter nature of it – it’s just another big Swedish ballad. Look at the jury top six last year, who were clear of their rivals: all of them had some kind of distinctive identity stamped on them. Of all the Swedish songs penned for the 2012 event, the one for Sweden won, thanks to a highly effective and individual interpretation from Loreen.
Four and a half of the five other songs in that top six contained something distinctive partly because they were in their own language (Nina Zilli’s bilingual English-Italian effort being the half mark) which helped provide a sense of regional identity. Pastora Soler may have been singing a Thomas G:son song, but the fact it was in Spanish may have helped with the juries, even if not with the televote. That and her performance added an element of authenticity. The same could be said for Serbia, Italy, Estonia and Albania last year.
There is nothing authentic about Dina Garipova singing ‘What If’ or a song like ‘Waterfall’ coming from Georgia. That there will be at least a few such entries in the 2013 final only rams this point home. Admittedly ‘Running Scared’ came second in the jury vote for Azerbaijan in 2011, but an Azerbaijani jury score shouldn’t be used as a template for any other country (a lesson I learnt last year).
Therefore, I wouldn’t bank on an excellent jury vote at this stage. However, if Nodi and Sopho provide some amazing vocals, that may do the trick, allowing ‘Waterfall’ to climb into the higher echelons. But this is another ‘if’ to add to the list besides the need for effective staging to win over neutral televoters.
In the circumstances, I’m inclined to wait on rehearsals before deciding if ‘Waterfall’ is going to make a significant splash. Let us know your thoughts on these arguments below.