It’s time to bathe in Baltic waters this weekend. Estonia and Lithuania hold their deciding shows on Saturday, Latvia on Sunday. Elsewhere, there are further heats in Sweden, Finland and Hungary.
It’s usually unwise for Eurovision punters to count their chickens with regards any national final. Nonetheless, given how far ahead ‘Goodbye To Yesterday‘ is in Estonian polls, it would be a major shock if it’s somehow scuppered tonight. A superfinal of three rather than previous Eesti Laul head-to-heads should calm the nerves of those who very early jumped on Elina and Stig to take the big prize in Vienna.
We know the song already in Lithuania, what’s to be decided is who will perform it in May. All the signs suggest Monica and Vaidas will duet on ‘This Time‘ in Vienna. That leaves Latvia offering the most intrigue this weekend, in an above-average event that pits semifinal televote winners MNTHA and Aminata against each other, though ElektroFolk and Markus Riva do more than make up the numbers.
In Sweden, we’re at the third of four Melodifestivalen heats in Sweden. Once again, the snippets point towards the pimp slot offering the best package – Jon Henrik Fjallgreen’s full-on ethno number ‘Jag ar Fri’. The winner of ‘Sweden’s Got Talent’ last year is from the Sami community, the indigenous people of northern Scandinavia. Meanwhile, the second Hungarian semi-final sees Kati Wolf continue her bid for another bite at the Eurovision cherry.
Elsewhere, three more entries have been confirmed since our last update. Of most interest to punters was the news that Italian mini-tenors Il Volo will take their Sanremo-winning song ‘Grande Amore‘ to Vienna. That was enough to see them cement favouritism on Betfair.
We’re yet to hear how the composition will be cut down from 3m45 to 3m – no easy task for a number that sees three vocalists take turns, gives most pleasure in its build, and fits only two verses and choruses into the extended version. Ben Gray gave it a brave attempt in our comments section, fashioning a perfect fit by cutting all but the refrain from the initial chorus. But he showed what a difficult job this is because the effort builds and builds to very little first time around.
I should point out the many strengths of the Italian package. Three hugely accomplished and telegenic performers offer what should be a far more effective popera effort than the contest has previously witnessed. The need to cut is not ideal, but Ukraine’s Zlata showed in 2013 that a song’s structural defects mattered less when the execution and overall feel was so strong (if schmaltzy), as this promises to be, though ‘Gravity’ was more an exercise in pithy hooks than the slow build of ‘Grande Amore’.
We’ve not had a foreign-language winner since 2007, though popera in Italian promises to have appeal in many parts of the Continent. I respect it a great deal but at current prices would rather wait for the edit, and indeed the staging without the Sanremo orchestra that provided the ideal backdrop last weekend.
I’m glad to feel positive about the Italian entry, because I don’t hold out too much hope for the Icelandic and Serbian entries having an appreciable impact on the Saturday-night scoreboard. Starting with the former, I think ‘Unbroken‘ becomes quickly repetitive in English, and I’m not convinced that Maria’s vocals hold up well under pressure. I’d be surprised if this breaks the 15th-place-in-the-final ceiling that has afflicted Icelandic entries since 2010.
Serbia at least offers us something bold and different. Thanks to Eurovicious for the information that Bojana Stamenov will probably switch to English in Vienna, which means we should hold off on making a definitive conclusion for her chances there. However, the two-songs-in-one format has a history of failing on the Eurovision stage, despite the fanwank appeal of a disco beat suddenly kicking in. The notable recent example is San Marino’s ‘Crisalide (Vola)’ in 2013, though Bojana does have a better voice than Valentina Monetta.
Do keep your comments coming below about the ongoing selections and news, they’re always appreciated.