Eurovision 2013: How high can Georgia’s ‘Waterfall’ go?

Just a few days after Russia revealed its part-Swedish written entry ‘What If’ which I thought was in the same cheesy power ballad vein as ‘Quedate Conmigo’, Georgia presented its song, ‘Waterfall’, sung by Nodi and Sopho. Watch it here. It’s penned by Swede Thomas G:son, author of last year’s Spanish entry, and feels to me like a much closer derivative of it.

I’m not the only one to think so. Justin saw the “echoes” whilst Boki said of the songwriter, “He’s basically copying/pasting himself.” Chewy Wesker rightly noted “the Pastora Soler $ note”. He wasn’t sure it would be as effective in ‘Waterfall’, although Boki felt that the climax was an improvement on ‘Quedate Conmigo’.

Regular readers will know I wasn’t a fan of the latter song, although admired how Pastora Soler sold it. What about ‘Waterfall’, an each-way springer in the market and now a best-priced 33-1?

To start with a weakness, as Justin noted, “it takes a long time to get going”. The first two minutes are not immediate enough, and there doesn’t really feel like much of a distinction between the verses and the chorus. In both these respects it’s inferior to ‘Running Scared’, the winning 2011 boy/girl duet it has been compared to, and Georgia are hoping to emulate.

Having said that, there is great potential for the final minute – the extended big note and its aftermath – to be very effective if well delivered and staged. Boki rightly points out that it’s arguable either way just how effective this kind of slow build is. Viewers have to wait for the knockout punch, but are rewarded eventually.

Much will depend on the two singers, both summa cum laude from different series of Georgian Idol. Vocally, I’m impressed by YouTube footage of the pair performing individually. I’m not as worried as Justin that they look too mature, as they’re telegenic enough. Sopho is four years younger than her Azerbaijan equivalent Nikki, and whilst Nodi is eight years older than his singing partner, there’s nothing unusual about a slightly older male duetting with a younger female.

I do have two other concerns based on the footage of the pair delivering the song on Georgian breakfast TV. Their English pronunciation isn’t as good as the Azerbaijani pair nor Russia’s Dina Garipova based on this evidence. They’re going to have to develop their chemistry and ability to interact with each other too. But these are both things that can be worked on.

Talking of Russia, Georgia is not quite on a par with its overpowering neighbour in terms of televoting power. Its form figures from previous finals read 12-11-9-8.

My early guess would be that ‘Waterfall’ will achieve a similar placing in this year’s televote. As an English-language ‘Quedate Conmigo’ it may sway a few more neutrals than that managed, but only if the package comes together on the big night – vocals, staging and draw. Otherwise, it’s a strong enough entry to get support where Georgia usually receives it, but as in those previous finals, is competing against effective big-voiced rivals from the same region.

The growing number of slowish songs from the eastern part of the Continent (and according to messageboards, this weekend’s Serbian contest is dominated by ballads) not only provides competition in the televote. Our commenters have also been wondering about its impact on the jury potential of ‘Waterfall’.

Tim feels this potential is great indeed. Given that the song allows its vocalists the opportunity to impress, I can see where he is coming from. Boki also points out that there is plenty of room for ballads to do well in the jury rankings – there were five in last year’s top ten.

My main concern with the jury potential of ‘Waterfall’ is the cookie cutter nature of it – it’s just another big Swedish ballad. Look at the jury top six last year, who were clear of their rivals: all of them had some kind of distinctive identity stamped on them. Of all the Swedish songs penned for the 2012 event, the one for Sweden won, thanks to a highly effective and individual interpretation from Loreen.

Four and a half of the five other songs in that top six contained something distinctive partly because they were in their own language (Nina Zilli’s bilingual English-Italian effort being the half mark) which helped provide a sense of regional identity. Pastora Soler may have been singing a Thomas G:son song, but the fact it was in Spanish may have helped with the juries, even if not with the televote. That and her performance added an element of authenticity. The same could be said for Serbia, Italy, Estonia and Albania last year.

There is nothing authentic about Dina Garipova singing ‘What If’ or a song like ‘Waterfall’ coming from Georgia. That there will be at least a few such entries in the 2013 final only rams this point home. Admittedly ‘Running Scared’ came second in the jury vote for Azerbaijan in 2011, but an Azerbaijani jury score shouldn’t be used as a template for any other country (a lesson I learnt last year).

Therefore, I wouldn’t bank on an excellent jury vote at this stage. However, if Nodi and Sopho provide some amazing vocals, that may do the trick, allowing ‘Waterfall’ to climb into the higher echelons. But this is another ‘if’ to add to the list besides the need for effective staging to win over neutral televoters.

In the circumstances, I’m inclined to wait on rehearsals before deciding if ‘Waterfall’ is going to make a significant splash. Let us know your thoughts on these arguments below.

22 comments to Eurovision 2013: How high can Georgia’s ‘Waterfall’ go?

  • Pastora Soler voice range rules-all over- as a authorical reference…and so is she over here!!!- Juries should have the 75% voting share.

  • Boki

    That’s a nice point about authencity Daniel, I thought. But thinking more about it, it looks more simple to me. Looking at the jury scoreboard from last year, first 8 places were occupied by the very confident performers with good/great voices. If Nodi and Sopho manage to sing it with Pastora’s or Nina’s or Zeljko’s etc. confidence they will get a decent jury score and don’t think that switch to Georgian language would change anything in tearms of being more authentic.

  • Daniel

    Hi Boki, I agree with the point you are making. Quality of vocals trumps all. Responding here gives me a chance to extend my thoughts on what I wrote about juries rewarding authenticity.

    Plenty of songs have done well without it, such as Slovenia 2011 and even Georgia’s ‘Shine’. I do think that these were more contemporary efforts though.

    If a song is more dated and cliche-ridden, as Spain 2012 and this is, a sense that an artist is putting their own individual stamp on it, whether by singing in their own language (like Pastora) or another way (using ethnic touches in the instrumentation, for example), may help distinguish it.

    I don’t think ‘Waterfall’ should be in Georgian. But as it stands, what’s to make it stand apart from ‘What If’ or others like it? That means it is relying on vocal superiority and nothing else.

    • Boki

      I agree they will rely on vocal superiority but that should be enough if they do it (but also they are probably the only duet so still little more distinctive than “What if”).

      Actually I wanted to say that every performer is always coupled with an “if” – if an authentic one disappoints in the vocal or confidence department he’s also doomed by the juries (like Iceland and Denmark last year).

  • So here’s where I am at the moment. I reserve the right to completely change my mind.

    Best song so far is… er… Cascada – Glorious. I say that personally and also in my view most likely to pick up plenty of 8’s.

    I don’t think we’ve seen the winner so far, and I suspect the producers will bump Deutschland towards the start of the show, if they can, because:

    – Germany won recently anyway.
    – It’s Euphoria-lite and ideally they’ll want a better winner, and not have to wake up to 40 countries tabloids pointing out it’s Loren II.
    – It would be a great song to kickstart the show, with euphoric staging etc.

    So, it’s the best of a so so bunch so far.

    All of the songs just don’t quite get there. There was a “What If” a few Christmas’s back with a big key change. Waterfall takes too long to get going, Norway is too dark without the killer punch.

    Denmark might do OK, but I can easily see this being swamped.

    Fascinating insight I think you’ll agree.

  • Chewy Wesker

    My worry about “waterfall” “what if” and maybe other ballads to come, is that these songs will get diluted some what and won’t be as strong. Boki has pointed out 5 ballads hit top ten spots last year, but i seem to side with Tim B, and feel that one or two may fall by the wayside. Which would signal laying these as prices may well be very short. However i think your right, these songs are much of a muchness “cookie cutter” as you put it. I think it will come down to Nodi & Sopho putting their own stamp on it, and making “waterfall” something different from the rest.
    I take it Daniel you’ll be at malmo reporting on rehearsals over the coming weeks, and keeping us all up dated. I think this year could well be one of best eurovisions yet.

  • sonovox

    “Running Scared” won through all-round competence, not brilliance. “Waterfall” has the potential to tick a very similar set of boxes, and I think it deserves plenty of respect. No problems with immediacy to my ear – in fact, I think it slightly outdoes Quedate Conmigo there, and is far superior to the insipid Russian entry for 2013, especially in the lift sections. Being a good example of your genre counts for a lot, and televoters have pretty short memories and decent tolerance for Eurovision cliché. Subject to the usual caveats about how things shape up in rehearsal, I see Georgia as a pretty strong performer this year.

  • Rob

    I don’t think Pastora ‘sold’ her song very well last year at all, & this was one of the reasons it stalled in 10th. Her vocal was flawless & the song had a stunning chorus but they needed to soften up her look far more – hair down, prettier dress & many, many more close up shots of her staring down the camera lens to properly sell it.
    The Spanish delegation made a c*ck up too, not picking a later slot for her. As it was, cute pixie boy Roman was able to steal some of her thunder immediately following her in 20. There was nothing old-fashioned about it either. You can basically damn all ESC solo female power ballads by calling them old-fashioned. I usually find them extremely dull and unimaginative but Pastora’s song was a beauty, and a rarity in the genre for its authenticity.
    I would rate something like Georgia’s ‘Shine’ in 2010 as far more old-fashioned – it was truly nauseating stuff especially combined with the OTT staging & Sofia being dragged around unceremoniously by assorted bare-chested hunks.
    I think you’re being a bit tough on both Russia & Georgia, Daniel. They are, of course, far far inferior to Pastora’s song in 2012 🙂 but given these 2 countries superior voting power, either could easily land in the top 5 imho.
    That said, one thing I have quickly learned is that songs that appear to copy the winning ingredients of previously successful songs at ESC, can be penalised. And I would agree that from a certain perspective both Russia and Georgia might look a little too calculated. They are very much ballads by numbers for me (unlike Pastora’s song) with nothing outstanding about either of them. But all-round competence can surely go a long way when combined with voting power.

    • Daniel

      Hi Rob, after this weekend’s selections, a top 5 position for either Georgia or Russia is indeed looking more possible! I don’t rule out either but it’s also worth bearing in mind the weaknesses of both before getting involved. Ultimately, more proof will come from seeing them performed live.

      We are NEVER going to agree on ‘Quedate Conmigo’. 🙂 My view remains that televoters were always going to largely ignore it, even if she’d had her hair down, wore a different dress and had been drawn seven places later.

      PS I really liked Georgia’s ‘Shine’. Which just goes to show I’m as guilty as anyone of calling a ballad “timeless” if I like it and “dated” if I don’t.

  • gus68

    To pastora or Not pastora ? if u only knew what she capable to…

  • gus68

    Guys-out of the blue:May I suggest you to have a listen on Annie Cotton song back in 1993 to back Daniel solid point on how the singer can actually save a dreary song into a top 3 final…

  • Nitro

    Hi Daniel, thanks for an amazing blog! Last year you made a special piece leading up to the Swedish national final. Will you do so again this year? I find the clash between YOHIO and Ralf with outsiders Ulrik, Robin and Louise rather interesting, does it provide for some potential betting opportunities?

    • Daniel

      Hi Nitro, and many thanks for the kind words. I haven’t yet decided whether to post an article on the MF final despite following the competition closely. This is partly because I find it difficult to predict the international jury and thus work out any potential betting opportunities. What are your thoughts on it?

      • Nitro

        I would think Ralf and Robin has the jury edge. While YOHIO will place decent in the jury vote the somewhat bland song and his limited voice will probably prevent him from outright winning it. Problem is, I can’t see any of the younger guys beating or even coming close to YOHIO in televotes.

        This leaves Louise and Ralf and both are positioned well within their target audience. I have difficulty predicting how Louise will do in the jury vote and Ralf just feels like the stronger contender overall. If Ralf rounds up the anti-establishment and anti-YOHIO vote he will win. Thats a big if though, YOHIO has a slightly larger and more rabbid fan base.

        A little reservation regarding Ulrik: improved camera angles could work wonders with his act. When you see the edges of the screen behind him it ruins the whole illusion. Nevertheless, the old favorite seems to have lost momentum since his semi and suffers from less media buzz than his main rivals.

        • Nitro

          YOHIOs odds have lengthened and Ralfs has shortened in the last day or two. Good thing I got in before the shift. Could anyone estimate how Ullrik will perform with the juries?

  • Chewy Wesker

    Eurovision semi-finals market are up on betfair.

  • Donald

    Hi everybody, hope you all well,

    just picked up on the Swedish voting debacle on twitter.. so headed to Sofabet!

    Just listened to Georgia “Waterfall” it is a “copy and paste job” with one thing missing a top top drawer singer like Pastora Soler , who knows at this stage, but it will take allot of production to get it remotely near Running Scared and as accessible..

    Look forward to catching up on Sofabet posts next few days, how may EDM Loreen copies out there?

  • funky

    Georgia to win?…do me a favour 🙂
    the song has no hook and most viewers will as I do find it very,very boring.

  • Ben Cook

    I just saw an alternative video of this on ESCXtra’s semi 2 preview party stream. I suspect it’s the one submitted to EBU to demonstrate the staging. I can’t find it on YouTube yet – it’s basically very dark with the two of them singing from separate parts of the stage with a spotlight, and then they walk together and end up embracing in a weird way. But it’s VERY effective. I’m starting to look at it as a dead cert for the top 3.

    • Daniel

      Thanks so much for this Ben. It does look like the Eurovision staging concept – shades of ‘Running Scared’ with a supported lean towards the end that was used for Georgia’s 2010 entry, ‘Shine’.

      Would like to see a live performance of it.

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