It’s been a slow, subdued start to Eurovision selection season. This time last year, five of the eventual top six songs had already been picked. You’d hope that wouldn’t be the case with the current crop of twelve songs we know will be on stage in Copenhagen.
The Betfair win market has been similarly unimpressed. Norway leads the way based on the excitement generated by Carl Espen’s song, ‘Silent Storm’. We’ll have to wait till a semi-final on March 9th to check he can deliver it live on stage, and March 15th to see if it wins the national final.
Still, having heard nearly a third of the entries, the law of averages suggests a couple of them will be in the top ten. The one that holds the most respectable spot on the exchanges is Hungary’s selection last Saturday, ‘Running’ by Andras Kallay Saunders, currently available to back or lay in the mid-teens.
In my opinion, it’s the best song selected so far. It’s certainly the most commercial and contemporary. A soulful, piano-driven verse switches into a drum ‘n’ bass chorus, and there’s a guitar to help with the transition. It builds nicely, is well produced and well performed.
Overall, it’s a highly efficient piece of modern pop: ‘Running’ provides a strong juxtaposition in style that holds the interest; making its point and repeating it with effective variation. It was the deserving winner of a strong national final, even if my personal preference was for the hippy schtick of Bogi’s ‘We All’.
I don’t expect ‘Running’ to have too much trouble qualifying for the final, despite the fact that Hungary is in the larger first semi and not long on allies in it. There are ten spots up for grabs and only 16 countries chasing them. The Icelandic and Latvian choices have made it easier for everyone else.
What ‘Running’ can manage if and when it gets to the final is much harder to discern. The entry itself is good enough – for reasons explained – to get a very high finish. There aren’t many songs in the contest that wouldn’t be out of place on a contemporary radio or MTV playlist, and ‘Running’ falls into that category.
One of my concerns is that it may be something viewers would more happily listen to on the radio or watch the video rather than vote for in a song contest. Is that because of the dark subject matter of child abuse?
In a broader sense, it’s just a very worthy song – which is reinforced by the effective presentation witnessed in the Hungarian final. Whether worthy is what a Eurovision audience wants to vote for on a Saturday night is open to question.
Still, I think that won’t harm its regard with national juries. This kind of radio-friendly contemporary pop with a message is just the thing you’d think they’d be rewarding at the contest. There’s a lot of guesswork surrounding jury preferences, but we can say ‘Running’ ticks boxes that will be in their criteria, such as originality.
The other concern is that drum ‘n’ bass is not a genre which the Eurovision audience is expecting, and we don’t have a precedent of the style succeeding in the contest. Will this, like the earnest nature of the act, narrow its appeal?
In its favour here, ‘Running’ is a pretty accessible example of drum ‘n’ bass. And to some degree, it will help the song stand out on the night. But the question of the genre’s popularity among the viewing audience remains an unknown that all the song’s supporters should be wary of.
At this stage therefore, ‘Running’ stands out among those selected, and a top ten result looks very possible. But it’s not something I’d be willing to bet the house on, even moreso without knowing so many of its rivals and before rehearsals give us a chance to assess its relative merits.
What do you think of the relative merits of ‘Running’? Let us know below.