If the bookmakers and pundits are right, tonight’s Swedish final will be an evening-long coronation for Mans Zelmerlow. I can’t argue with the polls and stats which suggest as much. ‘Heroes‘ promises to be a fan favourite and box-ticking front-runner in Vienna if selected, and Sweden’s Betfair odds have been contracting significantly this week as a result. I doubt there’ll be any significant difference from the utterly professional and polished routine we saw in the semi-final.
In the circumstances, it should be far more informative to focus on the Norwegian final tonight, whose songs we haven’t yet seen performed live. Current favourites Morland & Debrah Scarlett with the classy ‘A Monster Like Me‘ have fallen a little under the radar since the initial excitement of the song reveal. It’ll be interesting to see if a decent performance and possible victory tonight will change that.
The winning televote percentages in both events are something I’ll be looking out for after the results are called. Both shows should offer some slick entertainment; take your pick of the usually reliable webcasts from Sweden at 19:00GMT or Norway at 19:25GMT.
It’s been a busy week of heated debate over the most recent national selections. Let’s start with the UK, because the charleston-swing of ‘Still In Love With You’ caused an immediate backlash as it aired, which was then beaten back by a strong defence in our comments section. I went through some of those emotions myself: initial bewilderment at what sounded like a new theme tune for Strictly Come Dancing; followed by the realisation that despite a poor structure that seemed to offer little in the way of a chorus, the verse was at least an earworm, and it did bring something different to the table.
As the dust has settled, I can only offer the conclusion that this is incredibly dependent on staging and performance. There are plenty of reasons for pessimism: the singers are unknown and untested; the BBC doesn’t have a fine history of ingenious staging; and the swing genre has a poor record in recent Eurovisions – Germany tried variations on it in 2007 and 2009. But I’m not carving ‘RIP Electro Velvet’ on the gravestone until I’ve seen it in rehearsals.
Elsewhere, the Czech Republic and Poland revealed songs that sounded like plenty of others already selected, which is not to their advantage; I think Armenia’s ‘Don’t Deny’ is every bit the mess that bringing six strangers from different continents together suggested it would be; Portugal continued to showcase its ability to choose something pretty hopeless in terms of getting anywhere on a Eurovision scoreboard; and Israel’s ethnopop ‘Golden Boy’ at least brings the fun, but is incredibly lightweight with car-crash potential in the hands of its inexperienced performer.
I think the Romanian and Austrian selections are a cut above these – solid songs with some sense of a USP. Voltaj offer something more jury-pleasing than Romania’s recent entries, whilst hosts Austria have done their duty in selecting something respectable from The Makemakes that probably won’t see them having to host again. I wouldn’t be surprised to see both hovering at the fringes of the top ten on the night of the final.
In my opinion, Belgium’s ‘Rhythm Inside’ – a Lorde-meets-Timberlake number sold by fresh-faced Loic Nottet – was the most intriguing selection of the week, and of the season so far. The main argument against its chances is that it’s too cool for school by Eurovision standards, and doesn’t offer a mainstream experience exemplified by winners such as ‘Only Teardrops’.
Even so, I think ‘Rhythm Inside’ has enormous potential if the staging and performance come together. Structurally it’s what you would want from a Eurovision song, it’s the production that’s distinctive. It’s interesting and contemporary enough to have its own life on the radio or MTV. That in itself means it should be respected, at least until we see how it comes across in rehearsals.
By next Saturday night, we will know the full set of this year’s songs. Do let us know your continuing thoughts below.