It’s another busy night for Eurovision watchers with finals in Moldova, Finland, Slovenia and Hungary. Sweden also holds the fourth and last heat of Melodifestivalen. Odds are available for the Finnish and Swedish events. It’s the former that throws up most interest, although how it plays out is anybody’s guess.
Easily leading online polls and heading bookmakers’ lists are punk rockers with intellectual disabilities, Pertti Kurikan Nimipaivat. According to the odds, their only significant rivals are boyband Satin Circus. But those polls have proved unreliable before in indicating who will actually pay to pick up their phone and vote, whilst Satin Circus, who have the best song, didn’t impress with their performance in the semi.
This leaves the result potentially wider open in a varied field that includes the vocal acrobatics of Opera Skaala and infectious joy of Shava’s bhangra effort. The running order for tonight’s show is unknown, and televotes count for 90% of the points total. You won’t find a national final with a more different set of possible outcomes, and it’s worth watching for this fact alone.
I can’t find a standout in the Hungarian or Moldovan finals, and these hold less interest for me as a result. In Slovenia the early hype has been for Maraaya who channels Paloma Faith in the pleasant ‘Here For You‘. Meanwhile in Sweden all eyes are on the pimp slot again for the return of local heart-throb Mans Zelmerlow.
We’ve had four songs selected since our last update. Stig and Elina duly hosed up in Estonia with ‘Goodbye To Yesterday‘ and remain second favourites for this year’s title. I think it’s comfortably the best three-minute pop song chosen so far: a beautifully orchestrated number, retro in a contemporary way, that wouldn’t be out of place on MTV. The Estonians agreed, giving it a landslide televote win beyond that achieved in 2012 and 2009 by entries that both went on to finish sixth at Eurovision.
The pair received a lot of criticism for their static, backs-to-each-other staging in the semis, but they showed willingness to address it in the final, where there was development, plus eye contact – with each other and to camera. It wasn’t perfect, and vocally they seemed less assured than in the semis, but it was encouraging and they’ve promised to continue to work on it.
If there’s a criticism I would make of its chances in Vienna, it’s that ‘Goodbye To Yesterday’ may lack a USP that often gives the edge to an eventual winner. But this is a contest that, thanks to the growing powers of juries and producers, increasingly favours well-written, contemporary, accessible pop like this. A year ago I wrote about the Hungarian song ‘Running’ in similar terms before its respectable fifth in Copenhagen. That’s a case in point; and I thus put Estonia in the “contender” pile.
Some in our comments section, including eurovicious, have expressed their preference for the more obvious chemistry shown by Monika and Vaidas in Lithuania’s entry, ‘This Time‘. I have to admit that the pairing do light up the stage – it’s Lithuania’s best entry for years, and this feelgood, middle-of-the-road entry should comfortably get them to the final.
I’m not quite sure what happens to ‘This Time’ once it gets there. As a song, I think it’s easily inferior to ‘Goodbye To Yesterday’. With its jangly guitar backing and nice build to an underwhelming chorus, it reminds me a little of Malta’s ‘Coming Home’ from last year, the bonhomie of which didn’t set the final scoreboard alight. But Monika and Vaidas do take the package to a higher level in the way they sell this song, and I wouldn’t rule out a respectable finish as a result.
Latvia’s winning act Aminata offers us something different and intriguing. ‘Love Injected‘ is a vocally-driven piece of minimalist electropop. It’s grown on me a great deal, but I find it hard to assess its chances for May. The cynic in me suggests it’s too offbeat and disjointed to gain enough traction for a ‘Suus’-style result after one listen, but those very points also give it a USP, which is sorely lacking from the other entries selected so far. I have to stay open-minded on this one and wait till rehearsals.
Ireland’s Eurosong never fails to entertain in its inimitable way and last night’s event was no exception. I think Molly Sterling’s ‘Playing With Numbers‘ was the only sensible choice, by process of elimination. It’s a rather meandering though contemporary ballad, lacking enough melody in its chorus. But whilst the 16-year-old needs to work on her performing skills, Molly’s voice does give it a sense of colour and authenticity. She’s not got an easy job in the first half of the second semi-final, but I wouldn’t rule out jury-aided qualification.
Let us know your thoughts on all these entries – and subsequent developments this week – below.