Eurovision 2017: Eesti Laul and recent selections

Eurovision season is in full swing. The pace of selections has quickened, even if many songs have maintained a slowish tempo. There will barely be a day between now and mid-March without a reveal: tomorrow brings ‘Gravity’ from Cyprus, and among next Saturday’s finals is an intriguing Eesti Laul.

None of the recent selections are remotely challenging Italy’s hold at the top of the market. Furthermore, the predominance of slow songs and female performers seem to be playing into Francesco Gabbani’s hands.

Take Poland’s choice, ‘Flashlight‘ by Kasia Mos, which sounds like quite a lot of other entries already. We can put Malta’s ‘Breathlessly‘ by Claudia Faniello in the same category, although the latter doesn’t even try to be contemporary. Neither seem likely to be remembered by televoting neutrals, and we’ll have to see if Poland’s diaspora turns out in force again.

In the circumstances, any country trying to break this mould deserves some plaudits. I like Hungary ethnic effort, Joci Papai with ‘Origo‘. It’s well performed, with a sense of artistry, though I could do without the middle eight rap. At this early stage, I think it can continue the country’s recent excellent qualifying record. What we know of the Balkan entries suggests this will still be ploughing its own furrow come May.

Ukraine, Moldova and Latvia also provide something different, though less successfully so. I can’t see anything but another Greenjolly-style result for the hosts, represented by O.Torvald with ‘Time‘. Latvia’s Triana Park take us back to the 90s with dance track ‘Line‘. Based on its national final guise, this currently looks and sounds too amateurish to qualify. Moldova is my favourite of the three, Sunstroke Project returning with the fun if skin-deep ‘Hey Mamma‘. It’s got a running-man dance routine and Epic Sax Guy after all.

Slovenia and Denmark provide us with generic noughties offerings. I give less chance of qualifying to Omar Naber’s ‘On My Way‘ which hits every predictable note you’d expect of a 2001 Pop Idol winner’s B-side. Anja Nissen’s ‘Where I Am‘ has more of an RnB pop feel. It’s mainstream and slick in a way that can be underrated by fans. The same can also be said of Austria’s Nathan Trent with ‘Keep On Running‘, which treads all over Spain’s toes as a cute boy with a life-affirming, guitar-led song.

Looking ahead, Estonia’s national final this coming Saturday has been keenly fought on Betfair. Initial leaders Laura and Koit Toome, with the eurocheese of ‘Verona’, have been superseded by cult favourite Kerli’s electropop ‘Spirit Animal’. The former’s biggest obstacle may be getting to the televote-only superfinal of three, given the jury’s 50% say in the first round. They weren’t in their heat’s jury top four, although there’s usually a change in panel for the bigger venue of the final.

The most likely rivals for a superfinal place are Elina Born, owning the stage again with the competent ‘In or Out’; or Rasmus Randvee’s ‘This Love’, which isn’t dissimilar to last year’s winner, if more engagingly performed. The betting market also respects Ariadne’s chances of being there with ‘Feel Me Now’, but she could only manage fifth in the lesser semi-final, and a more likely surprise could be the much-respected Ivo Linna.

It’s an event worth watching (you can find the songs here), while keeping eyes and ears peeled for everything else coming our way. Do keep your thoughts coming below.

100 comments to Eurovision 2017: Eesti Laul and recent selections

  • PurpleKylie

    How many songs have you said aren’t good enough to qualify so far? SOMEONE needs to qualify!

  • Hippo

    If Moldova make the final and Romania choose Yodel It, that could take some of Italy’s vote. It’s obviously the much stronger of the three but it won’t be on its own as the only uptempo or fun entry. I still struggle to see juries going for it on a large scale or it being the televote magnet I’ve seen some presume. In most years its a 5th or 6th, this year will need to turn into a 2011 or *shudders* a 2010 for Italy to win. We’ve been slipping that way and all the scandi’s are now out of the running but still a few key ones (Australia, Greece, Russia) and who knows if another country will surprise.

    Eesti Laul is tough to call. After seeing Kerli’s live, I think she’s quite overrated. I don’t think Koit and Laura will make the superfinal so I think Elina can cause a small upset and get the ticket. Estonia have gone for the last two Stig songs and I think this could beat Kerli on the televote.

    • It would come as a big surprise if something *didn’t* end up challenging Italy at the top of the market. Plus I think people are kidding themselves if they believe Italy can come anywhere near to winning the jury vote with that song. There are likely to be plenty of uptempo songs left to be selected too, which should take away from Italy’s USP, as Hippo rightly states above.

      • PurpleKylie

        “Plus I think people are kidding themselves if they believe Italy can come anywhere near to winning the jury vote with that song.”

        Thank you! It’s a catchy pop song, but it’s undermined by the gimmicky nature of the staging which doesn’t make sense if you don’t understand a word of Italian. Remember that one of the jury criteria is overall impression.

      • We have already been there with Moldova with the same king of song from the same performer. They were 20th in 2010.

        They rely on their diaspora, but likely the votes will be balanced with the Romanian ones, strictly because the diaspora from Moldova usually is there with the Romanian one (Spain, Italy, UK, Germany, France). You can’t have them both with high points.

        If Yodel will win it on Sunday, then it is likely to do well, because the Romanians will turn up, even if the audience for the ESC in Romania was shit at the semifinal (TVR was not in the top 7 nor in the all, urban or commercial ratings).

      • Cathal

        I think that this now Australia’s time to win, they have sent 2 top 5 songs in a row and I don’t see that changing this year, none of the entries picked so far scream guaranteed top 5 with Italy only doing so by default as none of the other songs picked are top 5 contenders.

        • Milton

          Can’t rule anyone out, but they have so much to overcome. Last year they over achieved for a country with no diaspora. Brave to suggest that they can not only match that, but top it. It would be extraordinary if they managed anything close to the jury domination again.

    • eurovicious

      I can’t agree that Y***l It is better than Moldova and Italy – those two are much more fun…

  • Cyprus seems very underperforming to me, especially the chorus which is really bland and repeated too many times.

  • beckettfitz

    People are saying Gravity is like Rag’n’bone’s “Human”.

  • Marvel at the insane kitsch that is the Croatian entry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfpivRXe3Q4

    What they’re trying to do here is very clearly based on Freddy Sahin-Scholl, a guy who won Germany’s Got Talent in 2010 singing a motivational ballad in two voices, a high soprano voice and a deep opera voice. He later entered the Austrian and Swiss web selections. I’ve never heard Jacques Houdek sing anything in this style before and I’ll be impressed if he can pull it off as well as in the studio version, which was so not recorded in one take…

  • Dutch song. One of the best ballads so far, if not groundbreaking or super-contemporary either… it sounds like the (good) theme music to a female-oriented US drama series. A lot will depend on the quality of the vocals and the staging. But I like it – it’s warm and more engaging/relevant than the likes of Malta, Poland, Switzerland, Germany, Georgia, Denmark etc

    • Personally, I think “Lights And Shadows” from O’G3NE doesn’t ‘stick’ to me melody-wise like other tracks on their debut album (“What You Do”, “Hold Me Tight”, “Wait A Minute”, “Loved You First”). See my album review here: https://songfestivalwerk.wordpress.com/2017/03/02/cd-recensie-%e2%96%a0-og3ne-we-got-this/ .
      The songs builds several times during the 3 min’s, but the modulations and key changes are ending too abrupt for my taste. Resulting in not catching the melody on first listen. As a song it kind of suffers from similar problems the Danish entry has.

      Despite not being too flabbergasted about the song, vocally O’G3NE are top notch. They have a certain X-Factor that ‘Il Volo’ in 2015 also had, albeit slightly less present. Looking at the videoclip, I hope they really stage it like that. One-shots / Side-shots of the girls in dark lights. And please, project those lyrics like in the clip. On parts of the stage, but also on their bodies (exactly like Maurice Binder did with the James Bond main titles). Looks stylish that way. And, I’m not trying to be sexist here, but girls like Amy, Shelley and Lisa could be seen as very attractive in Eastern-Europe.

      Lastly, there’s a nice relatable albeit very sad story behind this entry. O’G3NE’s mother Isolde Vol apparently has incurable bone marrow cancer, and at this very moment she is too ill to travel. Hence she and the composer Rick Vol will probably not go to Kiev. The song “Lights And Shadows” is therefore entirely dedicated to their mother and other people who suffer from cancer.

      Let’s see what Netherlands does this year. Too soon to call it a non-qualifier.

    • James Martin

      As I said, AVOTROS are making some excellent calls these last few years. Anouk, Douwe Bob and now O’G3NE all suggest a more organic approach and I love it. It’s got to be their turn soon.

      • Do you think the story behind O’G3NE’s song “Lights And Shadows”, a song that’s about their mother’s incurable cancer and about other people suffering from cancer, will get some attention in Kiev?

        • PurpleKylie

          I don’t believe in sympathy votes, but it is certainly a media narrative that could grab people’s attention at least, especially if commentators bring it up during the postcard, people would be initially willing to pay attention to “the three sweet girls singing for their sick mother”. Whether or not people would appreciate the full song outside of the initial interest is another matter.

  • Chewy Wesker

    Having listen to all the songs from this years Eesti Laul, I think that Laura & Koit Toome will nick it this Saturday. I’m not sure about Elina Born with her song “In or Out” but I would have to say that I’m out! I don’t really like all these returning artist or as I say “Have another go heroes” coming back for another crack, if Elina was to win and make the final, I don’t think Estonia would replicate finishing in 7th place as they did in 2015, “In or Our” is no way superior to that of “Goodbye to Yesterday” IMO.
    As with Italy my initial tactics was to lay the early favourite, but with Francesco Gabbani “Occidentali’s Karma” I’m very wary of this, however if Russia or Australia were to come out with something to challenge Italy then layers of Italy would be paid dividends.
    However I feel this year could go along the lines of 2013 when Emmelie De Forest released “Only Teardrops” Denmark’s price shorten steadily all the way to the day of the competition, only the have a slight drift as she failed to get early points on the scoreboard. Italy seem to have the full package, from a great up beat song to the fun quirky staging which will be remembered from anywhere in the running order. Looking like a weak year of songs so far, that could all change. Anyway we’ll see.

  • RonH

    The first live performance of lights and shadows Is on youtube https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NhclLkP5SQg

  • On first listen, I’m loving O’G3NE. I’m getting a Wilson Phillips vibe from it. It’ll be interesting to see if the various commentators explain the backstory during the postcard. It’s a definite qualifier, and I’d say a realistic contender for the win.

    I’ve been thinking that it’s the Netherlands’ turn soon, and their “organic” approach has really payed off with Anouk, The Common Linnetts and Douwe Bob. This continues down that road. It’s like a more “earthy” version of A Million Voices.

    I’m not saying book the plane ticket to Amsterdam just yet, but I’d say it’s got a very realistic chance of winning.

  • James Martin

    In other news, Loreen lost Andra Chansen in spite of the pimp slot.

  • Chris Bellis

    Can’t find the video at the moment but I noticed in one interview that Alma will sing her song partly in English, as did Amir last year. She was Amir’s support act on his tour, so he must be a big influence. She sings more in tune, and to my eyes at any rate, is very appealing..

  • dicksbits

    Wiktoria now trading at 11/8 for the win in Stockholm next weekend and the bookies favourite. Still think Nano would be a better Melfest victor. Can’t see anyone else is in the running.

    • John

      Jon Henrik looks like a compelling outsider, and I’d definitely put an e/w bet on Ace Wilder at 35/1 if I get the chance.

      • PurpleKylie

        Wiktoria’s song doesn’t seem like the type that the international juries would go for, not that they would score her low but it doesn’t seem like the type that would win with them. It’s kind of catchy but it doesn’t really progress musically either.

        Jon Henrik did come 3rd in the IJ a couple of years ago, so clearly they’re not adverse to a Swedish-language joik song. I think Nano would do well with them too as it’s a commercial chart-friendly song with a good hook.

        I kinda got the sneaking suspicion that the jury will have a clear winner and overturn the televote result, providing that the televote is as close as it was last year.

    • John

      I’ve listened to all the Melfest tunes finally. I find when it’s wide open like this year it’s sometimes a good idea to do process of elimination. (In other words, pick them apart and see who holds up).

      Mariette – it’s just nowhere near as interesting as her last attempt. My casual listener jury (the older brother) said it was ‘really terrible’.

      Ace Wilder – It’s catchy, and the chorus is infectious, but it feels very typical of MF, and Wilder herself always seems to act a bit more her shoe-size than her age for me, I mean, are those pyjamas? Also she has a bum draw.

      Robin – maybe I’m getting older, but is it me or when you hear the F word enough times in a song like this you start to feel like it’s being used at you? Or merely to provoke. I can’t believe there isn’t a middle-Sweden crowd who simply won’t vote for it.

      Jon H – it’s not Jag Ar Fri, and the rainbow Sadakos (Northern Lights) are missing, replaced by manic piercings dream girl. His warbling is less catchy this time, more 80s soundtrack-by-Vangelis now. This time he starts with the talky bit, instead of burying it in the middle eight. Think he can only do it if Wik n Nano split the vote.

      Nano / Wiktoria – both are about as catchy and aimed at the yoof vote. Nano’s song plays its hand within a minute though, while Wiktoria leaves a little for later. So if we put his repetition up against her star prowess I would give Wiktoria the edge? Plus her pipes will probably eke out a jury win.

  • Chris Bellis

    She lost out to Sanna Nielsen in 2014, arguably with a better song. So it might be her turn, or the voting public just don’t think she’s quite good enough live, and go for the safer option, as they did in 2014.
    http://wiwibloggs.com/2014/03/08/melodifestivalen-favourites-sanna-nielsen-ace-wilder/42244/

    • PurpleKylie

      The international juries definitely seem to like her if the last two attempts are anything to go by, so personally I’d be shocked if she wasn’t in their top 5.

      • Chris Bellis

        Me too. It’s just that she’s not so predictable live. Sometimes sh’e way off key, and at other times she’s perfect. She’s got the right image though. It always surpised me that she’s actually older than Sanna (or so someone on this site said a few years ago).

  • Jon Henrik is DEF worth a punt I´d say…..the only one on show that could seriously score well on May13th in my view……delighted with Portugal´s “Amar Pelos Dois” selection….resisting the urge to follow my fatal “Monster Like Me” 2014 tendencies and back it seriously….my heart always rules by head, no matter how many times I write that “ESC note to self”…….

    • PurpleKylie

      I think every punter is to some degree ruled by their heart over their head, some more than others, true objectivity is a myth.

      This may be a bit of a hot take, but I’d say Portugal is a potential jury winner. I kind of feel it’s this year’s Italy 2011: a classy (some may say old-fashioned) and sincerely-performed song that most likely won’t have anywhere near the televote traction needed to win overall. But Portugal top ten might be a decent punt.

      • Seconding this. I think top 3 is nailed on. There’s nothing else like it – creating a 3-minute time-out of intimacy that stands apart from the rest of the show and takes viewers into themselves can be very powerful, as we saw from Calm After The Storm and Fra Mols Till Skagen. You feel like you’re witnessing something special and he’s singing just for you. Personally it’s “only” my 3rd-favourite after Estonia and Finland, but I think it has far better chances than either. I’d get on that Portugal top 10 before the odds plummet in May. Caveat: I think myself, Daniel and a few others thought John Karayiannis would do much better than he ultimately did in 2015 for similar reasons – the introspective, intimate nature of the song and performance – though an issue there was the cheesiness of the song, which was more saccharine and less standout than CATS or Amar Pelos Dois.

    • On an unrelated note, I’m not alone in thinking Switzerland was much improved last night in the performance at the Romanian final. The vocal and performance are a lot better and really get the most out of the song in terms of creating an emotional narrative – it’s gone up a lot in my estimation.

  • James

    What are people’s thoughts on Estonia? It sounds like a contender for top 5 to me. They’re sort of channeling Chanee and N’Evergreen only with a far better song and more chemistry.

  • Milton

    Continued speculation that Oz are sending Isaiah Firebrace with this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7FUpbgDgTs

    Is it just me or does it sound identical to Iceland’s Running on Air?

  • dicksbits

    The studio version of Estonia’s ‘Verona’ is very good. I see this is a certain qualifier now. Lots of class and drama here and something for everyone. Sound was a bit iffy at the national final but I reckon this will be much improved by Kiev. Funny because you could hear the song in Melfest really.

    • Yeah, Laura had a cold. Her voice isn’t always the strongest (see also her Eesti Laul 2009 performance of Destiny, which was vocally weaker than it should have been) so she needs to watch that come May, especially on those high notes at the start when she’s solo. With Koit the issue is more some of his facial expressions towards the climax make him look like an 80s gameshow host. But I love it enormously, it’s Sven Löhmus’s finest work and my favourite so far this year. It’s simultaneously too retro and too full of genuine emotion (on a compositional level) for Melfest.

      On an unrelated note, Serbia has released 40 seconds of the instrumental and to my delight it sounds f*****g amazing – like Emeli Sandi’s Heaven gone turbofolk/chalga:

      • Serbia does sound promising. Betfair’s overreacted a bit but I’m looking forward to hearing it, and Israel. Lord knows this year needs a massive dance anthem even if it does flop like Cascada and I’m quite happy for Israel to continue their rather shrewd strategy of trying to go the other way when there’s a ballad winner or an uptempo winner the previous year.

  • Hippo

    That’s Greece out. Fokas can stage This is Love to a decent top ten, the rest are hanging mid table at best. Dissapointing.

    • ‘Twas always to be. Greece are just looking to get back on form after a crappy few years. ERT in its current state would’ve shat themselves like a lactose intolerant after a margherita pizza fondue if they won.

      • PurpleKylie

        What did people honestly expect considering they’re by the same guy who co-wrote Sergey’s song last year? Which, may I remind everyone, had about ten thousand comments on this very blog complaining about how dated it was.

        • Well that’s a bit harsh. Sergey did win the televote.

        • Hippo

          Sergey was dated but at least it was a good dated effort. Honestly I was expecting something closer to “Hold Me” out of any of the guy’s backlog. Nothing revolutionary but at least something more coherent and a bit stronger.

          • I’m happy we have another dance song 🙂 the chorus is disappointing but I like the rest – with a well-written chorus it could have been amazing. As it stands, other better/more contemporary upbeat songs are likely to render it pretty irrelevant.

  • PurpleKylie

    Australia’s song: wannabe Sam Smith snoozefest. https://youtu.be/RiXEMYUqa3w

    • Phil

      Probably top 5 though.

      • PurpleKylie

        That’s should read as “second consecutive undeserved top 5”

        • Chris Bellis

          I agree, but as this is a betting site, don’t we need to consider the Australian factor? It certainly seems to influence the juries. I hated last year’s song, but it did tremendoulsy well. I hate this one even more, but it will do well. There’s a raft of Sam Smith type songs this year and they make my ears bleed.

  • I was skeptical about Italy but now I’m starting to wonder if there’s anyone likely to challenge it. The big hitters just don’t seem to be emerging.

    Anyway, I’ve put down a fiver on Romania for a laugh.

    • PurpleKylie

      Don’t let the gorilla fans brainwash you!

      • Milton

        Out of those revealed so far who do you give a better chance than Italy Kylie or are you still expecting someone to emerge?

        • PurpleKylie

          Still waiting for someone to emerge. Serbia’s snippet sounded promising and RTS recently published an interview where Tijana said that they’re aiming for the win this year. Whether that’s a genuine expression of intent or just empty promises is entirely up to you.

          • Interestingly there’s also a comment on the Wiwibloggs article by someone who claims to have heard the song, saying that Bulgaria and Macedonia passed on it so it was offered to Serbia, and it’s not that good. There’s some credibility to it – certainly the distorted choral snippets on the instrumental are typically Bulgarian/Macedonian and not Serbian.

            I’m a gorilla fan but I think it’s being overrated. Right now I think Portugal is more likely to win, or something else altogether.

          • Jesus, if Macedonia turned it down…!

            Realistically there’s only Russia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Belgium and possibly Ireland left to challenge. Israel won’t challenge with a dance anthem.

            Portugal is marvellous but I can’t see it beating such a distinctive and full package from Italy. You really have to appreciate just how well written it is as a song. It holds you and keeps offering more new elements throughout the 3 minutes, both visually and aurally. It’s never played it’s full hand until it’s over. How often do you get a Eurovision song like that?

          • I forgot about Armenia and Azerbaijan. As intriguing an artist as Dihaj is, the EBU won’t have the contest headed back to Baku after the nightmare they’ve had this year though, and they probably won’t be keen on Yerevan either cos Azerbaijan will probably pull out.

            Still, if the name Lilith Navarsardyan crops up in Armenia’s writing credits, you know it’s gonna be good.

          • Hippo

            Azerbaijan is an interesting one. I don’t think they’ve ever really lost their appetite for a win or to host, it’s just now they’re playing cleaner and have lost the line between arty and cheap. Just look at the difference in style between 2014-15 and last year. Last year was probably the first that they actually didn’t really try to get anything more than a qualification. If they pay for a grade A song this year again and not a rejected Melodifestivalen entry they could come into play. The Ebu wouldn’t be keen, but they’d be ten times more organised than Ukraine are.

            Armenia were building some good momentum with a great amount of effort the last three years. I’m actually surprised they haven’t won it yet.
            I do think they’ve traded that in for a few weeks of easy tv ratings though and ended up with a representative they can’t really do much with.
            The longer Russia take to decide if they’re in, the least likely they are to send a strong package, but can never be written off. I’d be very surprised if Belgium or Ireland do anything good this year. Serbia is promising, Bulgaria a possibility.

  • markovs

    Nothing even close to rivalling Italy at the moment. Still a few of the big guns yet to announce but just cannot see any of the other announced songs being a challenger for the win.

  • Chris Bellis

    So none of you rate France. Interesting, since it’s my favourite by a mile, followed (boringly) by Italy. None of the recent ones do anything for me, although my other half positively swooned over the Portuguese one – “pure sex”, I quote.

    • I rate it as a song, it’s my 5th favourite out of however many we have now (27?), but I think it’ll underwhelm scoreboard-wise. It’s a well-written and produced upbeat tune but doesn’t stay with me somehow, there isn’t much emotional resonance or personal connection.

    • To me it simply comes down to one word : PIANO

      are they bring it out or not ?

      The depth of feeling of Francesca in this acoustic performance was what made me think she would do great. Turns out her nerves let her down on the day. Still I believe this performance, as it is, would have been a TOP10 for sure, TOP5 very likely… Shame !

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9DOIv2Lk00

      So is Alma bringing the piano out…..I am not betting on it ! BUT PLEASE DO !

    • Hippo

      I Second Ev here. One of my favourites too. Can be a jury top 10 if they nail the presentation and vocals are improved, probably close to 20th in the televote. Probably a bit “too French” to have wide enough appeal to pick up points.

      • Chris Bellis

        As I commented earlier, the final version will be partly in English. She speaks perfect English, with an American accent. She went to school for a few years there.

  • PurpleKylie

    Snippet of Belgium: https://youtu.be/1hRLAv1XYKs

    This reminds me of a song I know, can’t put my finger on what…

  • I’m non-sequituring again… this came out today. Be warned, it’s very rude. It’s not Bulgaria’s entry, but what if it were…

  • beckettfitz

    Just listened to the full version of City Lights. With good staging, it could do very well.

      • It sounds great for the first 40 seconds, but it’s very very repetitive. It doesn’t really develop at all apart from going up an octave. There’s less meat to it as a piece of music than Undo My Sad. I kinda find it annoying by the end and it’s not vocally driven at all.

        • I’d say it is vocally driven in the sense that it gives Blanche all the space she needs to freestyle. Compare how different Sound of Silence was in studio to live, for example.

          I know what you mean though, it’s a calm, stylish, evocative song. Not what Eurovision is used to, and I’m very sceptical of its chances for winning. There’s no peak of emotion either in the Everest sense or the other mournful Suus/1944 extreme. Only Calm After The Storm has a comparable gentle lift towards the end, but clearly that works too. This is why her live vocal is important. Belgium have gotten very good at staging with BJ Scott’s help too, so it’s one to watch.

        • John

          Yup, and worse, she’s affected a Lorde/Passenger-type accent that so many young singers seems to do nowadays. Annoying is right. The market can do what it likes, I’m staying away from this..Portugal… there’s still plenty songs left.

  • markovs

    It’s very ‘The XX’. Favourite song after 1 listen. Gentlemen, we have a contest!!

  • Hippo

    In response to my earlier comment, colour me very surprised. Lpm 5.5 seems like an overreaction though. Certain top 10, but a few unknowns yet for top 4 or win. 15’s more reasonable.

  • Black n Blue

    A few thoughts of mine on the newer entries:

    Portugal have something really special on their hands. Every year or two there’s an entry that comes along, that just captivates you. Amar pelos dois is beautifully poised. It was brought up in the comments section a week ago how Salvador’s mannerisms are a bit odd, but I think the eccentricity of his performance, especially that clenched hands thing endears people to him, and it offers the sort of authenticity a lot of entries have lacked so far. I don’t want to jinx it, but Portugal have an opportunity to break from the pack, and really take it to Italy if they pitch this right. If I were the Portuguese HOD, I’d be on phone to Pannecouke, or anybody for that matter who knows a thing or two about creating intimacy for a stage production.

    The Netherlands have something going for them too. I can understand why people are disappointed with the song since while I do enjoy listening to it, I find myself struggling to remember how it goes five minutes later. Apart from their name which sounds like a mouthwash, their voices are great, and to the song’s defense, I don’t think you could give Lights & Shadows to any other run of the mill girl-band. Where it lacks a memorable hook, I think the girls make up for it with their harmonies which should stand out more live. Here’s a decent clip of them from today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sn-f944vAw

    Australia’s a bit dull. It reminds me of Made of Stars only without as a good of a climax. In other sad news, Brendan Murray shot his music video down road from where I live last Saturday, and I had no idea they doing it!

  • I’m on a number of Facebook groups, and all of them are hyped about Italy still and I don’t get why?

    Is this confirmation bias on my part, not wanting an RAI car crash production next year or is it actually a massive fanwank?

    • PurpleKylie

      I think there is a minor fanwank at play here, some of the biggest Italy advocates in my circles appear to do so because they have an emotional investment in that stupid gorilla for some ungodly reason and are not-so subconsciously hoping that no one else shows up to challenge (It’s an “Only Teardrops scenario”, they try to convince me), so confirmation bias works on both sides here.

      I really don’t understand it either. I get why Grand Amore managed to break the language barrier, because a) it was a shameless 3min Italian stereotype in music form, and b) most people can have a decent guess at what the title means even if they don’t understand the lyrics.

      With the gorilla? I had a Latvian friend who, when I played it to him recently, told me that he needed to look up the translation of the song to decide if he liked it or not. No one who doesn’t speak Italian will understand WHY the gorilla is there, on a purely superficial level without understanding the song’s meaning it’s just a normal Italian pop song with a random gorilla dancing at some point. The wittiness of the song will most likely never be understood and appreciated.

      In summary, the gorilla is its biggest draw AND its biggest pitfall.

      • Chris Bellis

        What you say makes sense – if they don’t sing the song in English. I wouldn’t rule out some English verses coming along later. In other news, Alma has already said she will sing part of Requiem in English.

        • Tim B

          I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that it will be remaining in Italian. Also, we don’t know how the final three minute version will be yet.

          • Chris Bellis

            I think I read that too. But then I have read all sorts of things from ESC which turned out not to be true. They could run the English translation as a backdrop I suppose.

  • markovs

    The big thing with the Italian hype is that there is pretty much no other serious competition at the moment. Possibly Belgium or Portugal if everything went in their favour but both are niche songs and would be hard to push on normal viewers on a Saturday night. Italy has the feel of a winner and nothing else does yet.

    • PurpleKylie

      That still makes no sense to me, it’s not a winning song to me, it’s a forced meme that probably won’t translate internationally (real Eurovision memes like Epic Sax Guy happened by accident), especially with juries who might take one look at the gorilla and wonder if it’s a bad joke. They only ranked the Russian grannies 11th after all, and that song was a lot catchier.

      Yes, every song has major question marks attached (which is exactly what I felt at this point in 2014), but let’s not pretend that Italy is the only “safe” option we have.

      • markovs

        I understand what you are saying Kylie, but you still don’t offer a credible alternative winner. I just cannot see one in the current bunch with enough mass appeal for televoters and credibility for juries. I like quite a few songs but none of them feel like winners.

      • Ben Gray

        I don’t see the Italian entry as a calculated deliberate attempt at a viral meme at all. There’s a concept to it that’s just Francesco and his team doing their thing. I don’t think he expected it to get as big as it did any more than PSY expected Gangnam Style to. With over 50 million views on YouTube, trying to argue nobody is gonna get it is a bit of a dead end. It’s fine if you personally don’t like it, but try to acknowledge that you’re most likely in the minority there.

        • PurpleKylie

          How many of those views came from Italians? How many of those came from hardcore fans? How many of those actually came from curious non fans?

          I remember in 2011 when everyone was booking hotels in Paris I was literally the ONLY ONE who was nay-saying France’s chances, and I was right, that was the year I earned my ESC bragging rights. I know a non-winner when I see it.

          • I’m gonna agree with both of you in that I don’t perceive the gorilla as a concerted attempt to go viral but I think most of those tens of millions of views can be attributed to Italy.

            I knew France 2011 was dead in the water a) the moment someone showed me the video and I was like “this is the favourite???” b) when I saw they still hadn’t done something about his hair the day before the final.

            Occidentali’s Karma is warm and celebratory in the way that La revolucion sexual was (longtime NF viewers may recall). I’m surprised – pleasantly, I guess – that fans have responded to it so much (and indeed coalesced around it to the extent it’s the favourite to win) considering it’s distinctly non-globalised (Scandi song factory this ain’t), by an older performer (relatively speaking – he’s not your Non-Threatening Boy, more The Most Italian Man Ever), and outright old-fashioned in its unashamed melodicness. It’s idiosyncratic yet loveable and very accessible in a non-commercialised way. As to finding an alternative winner, that’s the question. I’m looking at Portugal, which I think will be right up there challenging it. If it’s Belgium (and good staging could really help Belgium come over well) I’ll be sorely disappointed, given the poor songwriting and the fact that Macedonia is much better on similar territory. But it’s rare I like an ESC winner (2014 and 2011 being the only times in the 2010s) so I should probably be looking for something that doesn’t especially appeal to me but that has mass appeal. We haven’t really had one of those this year yet – a song that everyone seems to love but I don’t rate at all – apart from Yodel It.

            Bucharest 2018 it is then.

          • Tens of millions of views won’t come from hardcore ESC fans, we’re not that many. I would say it’s mainly in Italy, perhaps a bit in neighbouring countries where the song has been selling. The point is, Italy really love it, and there’s nothing to suggest the rest of Europe will react the opposite way.

            I actually put it on with my work’s sound system in the office (we pass an iPad around with Spotify on) and some of the Italians working with us were going “who put this on? I know this!” and they haven’t even been living at home lately. The refrain got a few people dancing, it went down well, and that’s without seeing the gorilla or even knowing it was going to be in Eurovision. I didn’t say anything about the contest.

            Occidentalis Karma isn’t a J’ai Cherche fanwank. I’m perfectly open to the idea of it not winning, but the bottom line is that there’s no convincing alternative. Portugal is lovely but I can’t see it storming up to 2nd place. Top 5 is very possible, but it is currently looking a bit Rybak runaway for Italy to me.

          • Black n Blue

            Kylie, I think you’re one of the good contributers on here with well-reasoned views, but on this occasion you’re playing the man, not the ball. I’ve no problem with you disliking the Italian entry, but it seems lately that you’ve been trying to delegitimize the views of those you disagree with on here without actually putting forward you’re own argument as to who apart from Italy can win.

            We’re all here to help each other predict Eurovision, and we make wrong calls sometimes, but I think it’s imperative that all of our views are respected, and that counter-arguments are held respectfully too.

            We all share a common affinity for Eurovision, and I don’t think we shouldn’t be letting any spat over a potential winner spoil what is a great community here on Sofabet.

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