Eurovision 2017: The Big 5 decide

Hot on the heels of an exceptionally early UK selection, the rest of the Big 5 – the largest financial contributors, granted a free pass to the final – followed suit in the last week or so. As did Switzerland.

This time last week, the earliest known entries hadn’t excited the betting market. (That’s often the case, and can lead to hype building around a half-baked contender, such as Croatia last year, or Slovenia in 2015). But the conclusion of Italy’s Sanremo Festival late on Saturday brought a surprise result and a new favourite for Eurovision, in the shape of Francesco Gabbani and his dancing gorilla.

At the time of writing, punters are queuing to back Italy at under 5-1 on Betfair. Is the market just monkeying around?

I think there’s a hell of a lot going for ‘Occendentali’s Karma’. It’s a contemporary, ear-wormy number infectiously performed by a charismatic, attractive guy. Both song and performance are tremendous fun and full of character. It promises to be unique and memorable on the night, without even considering the potential flood of depressing, female numbers shaping up elsewhere.

We can carp: it’s no vocal masterclass; it’s a shame viewers won’t see it performed in full during the semi-finals; and we have to hope the edit to cut the song below three minutes is judicious. However, I think its strengths outweigh these concerns, and it can score very highly in the Grand Final.

A more immediate qualification concerns it current price, now too short in my opinion. It reflects the early-season lack of contenders, when other potential big hitters have yet to play their hand. Should some of them – such as Greece and Australia – deliver, there will be a correction. But not a huge one: Gabbani and his song’s distinctive qualities will endure.

I’m also a fan of the chosen French song – Alma’s ‘Requiem’. It’s an Indila-inspired piece of midtempo pop, that beguiles me in the studio version. I think it’s a worthy follow-up to France’s sixth-placed effort last year – Amir’s ‘J’ai Cherche’. ‘Requiem’ songwriter Nazim Khaled co-wrote the 2016 entry, and I think he’s penned another potential top ten finisher.

My concerns about its translation to the Kiev stage are greater than for Italy. Alma’s live performance currently lacks polish and confidence. Like ‘J’ai Cherche’, you can accuse ‘Requiem’ of being too wordy to work as well on stage; more importantly, it’s not as immediate as the former, working more on general atmosphere rather than hooks.

Still, Amir’s performances weren’t secure at this point either. Strong backing assistance can address these issues, lifting not just the vocals, but Alma’s confidence too. Rehearsals in Kiev will indicate how far the French team have come, and whether ‘Requiem’ can achieve its potential.

My positivity ends here. I don’t mind German song ‘Perfect Life’ nor Levina as a vocalist. But the overall package is utterly bland and characterless in a way that means it will likely be passed over on the scoreboard. I can say exactly the same thing for the Swiss entry, Timebelle’s ‘Apollo’. I wish both acts had more interesting material to work with.

Still, I don’t actively dislike either, which I can’t say for the Spanish choice, Manel Navarro’s ‘Do It For Your Lover’, every bit as unbearable as its title suggests. The way the backing track electronically plays on the word “lover” should be on rotation in the seventh circle of hell. I’m clearly not the only one who feels this way: some Spanish fans are currently contesting the result.

We’re moving towards the busiest period of national selections over the coming weeks. Do keep the conversation going with your latest thoughts below.

80 comments to Eurovision 2017: The Big 5 decide

  • I prefer to compare “Do It For Your Lover” with previous catchy, uncomplicated, uplifting melodies like:

    – Malta 2013 (8th –> jury 9th, televote 9th)
    – Hungary 2013 (10th –> jury 21st, televote 8th)
    – Denmark 2014 (9th –> jury 10th, televote 13th)
    – Sweden 2016 (5th –> jury 9th, televote 6th)
    – Austria 2016 (13th –> jury 24th, televote 8th)

    In fact, Hungary 2013 and Austria 2013 were quite similar when looking at the final split rankings. And to be honest, some fans forget one important thing I think: The sheer difficulty in predicting the overall outcome, when there’s such a big discrepancy between televoters and jury’s. At least my enthusiasm about last year’s Austria was totally reflected in the televoting outcome. Only 3 points more and Austria would have beaten Netherlands last year for a nice 11th place.

    I think one should be a bit less adament at this stage. And therefore I totally agree with some other fans: Calling Spain 2017 at this already a safe bet for Bottom 5 is ridiculous. I could easily see this entering the TOP 10 in the final. Manel is an utterly charming boy, the song has a very repetitive melody that’s both happy and infectious, and with some great LED’s of a summery Barcelona I can see this doing better than many other ‘angry Spanish Eurovision fans’ think of.

    • Ben Cook

      I agree. It’s not my kinda thing but it’s not a million miles away from Frans last year. The song isn’t anywhere near as good but it’ll have its fans.

      Undecided yet whether Italy’s entry will make sense to a pan-European audience. As a song, I don’t think it’s instant enough for non-Italian speakers to get. People will remember the ape of course, and maybe enjoy the overall performance..

      • “infectious” and “very repetitive” – tis verily the winter vomiting sickness of Eurovision 2017…

        I like Italy a lot but I’m more skeptical of its chances than Daniel. I think Amir’s result last year is its absolute limit (or Koza Mostra’s if I’m feeling super-generous and if the rest of the field is as boring as 2013’s). In its favour, we’ve seen male-performed Italian entries connect with audiences well and score well in 2013 and 2015, IMO in neither case with that good a song, so that’s certainly in its favour, as is Amir’s result last year… certain types of male upbeat French and Italian entry do seem to transcend the language barrier. The Sanremo performance is excellent (I love his orange jumper) and the gorilla doesn’t come over as a gimmick, as the focus stays on Francesco and the song (both of which are charismatic). I’m slightly skeptical of how well juries will take to it – we’ve seen they tend to have a bias towards entries that sound like Anglo-American radio pop as well as towards ballads. Which is to say I hope the gorilla doesn’t put juries off, but I fear it might. My slowianie and Igranka were both great contemporary songs with standout vocals but juries nixed them due to on-stage gimmickry. Fortunately, juries no longer affect the votes as much, and also the Italian entry obviously isn’t hip-hop which those were. But it has those 3 things against it in terms of the jury vote: not Anglo-American radio pop, quirkily upbeat, and comical/deploys a gimmick.

        My big issue around the Italian entry is relevance to audiences… I don’t think it especially has any outside Italy. The more the rest of the field lacks personality, the better its chances, and the gorilla is also a great memory hook – “the one with the gorilla” (a la “the one with the monsters”, “the one with the fiddle”, “the woman with the beard”, “the one with the animation” etc.). In terms of Eurovision entries as memes, and conveying a personality, he’s got it down absolutely (despite the language barrier). “attractive” – for sure, but perhaps not if you’re under 30 (by which I mean he doesn’t have the specific appeal of Il Volo, Sergey Lazarev, Frans, Mans Zelmerlow, Rybak, perhaps even Amir etc.), and he’s an old-looking 34. He’s more the housewives’ cheeky monkey slash used car salesman. It does tend to be younger acts that dominate the top scoreboard positions, the occasional babushka aside, and what I think stands between it and a high finishing position is that I don’t think younger audiences will connect with it – it’s not relevant to them, doesn’t communicate a theme, isn’t above love or relationships (a plus for me, perhaps a minus for audiences), and he’s not an aspirational personality who (to quote my own article from a couple of years back) “you can imaging hanging out with, are attracted to, or aspire to be like”. (I’m not speaking for myself, I’d happily go for spaghetti with him assuming he’s seen Lady and the Tramp, followed up with a big tiramisu with two spoons.) I can see it finishing about 9th.

        I don’t think France will do well… I don’t think audiences give vocally average female entrants the leeway with non-English-language upbeat songs that they give male entrants (Amir).

        • EV you know I have a lot of respect for your views but I think you’re holding Francesco up to the wrong standards here. To say that Italy’s entry isn’t relevant to audiences under 30 outside of Italy is total BS. If anything that’s its target market!

          There’s a song that did rather well by a guy in his mid-30s who was overweight and not particularly sexy for that age group and was singing a lyrically cheeky song about society at large, in a foreign tongue, while doing a silly dance.

          Do you remember that one? It’s called Gangnam Style.

          • eurovicious

            Apropos Gangnam Style, another factor – I don’t think eastern Europe will go for Francesco either (apart from the ex-Yu countries which often support Italy).

  • Hippo

    I have large doubts Italy will win or even be a challenger.

    In terms of similar entries to go off, Eurovicious mentions Koza Mostra above which I think is a pretty good comparison. Fun, uptempo, somewhat serious somewhat novelty and non English lyrics making a point. Moldova 2012 is also one this is close to for me. A similar type of cheeky performer with dance routine. The last entry for comparison I have is Denmark 2014, an upper tempo commercial song not taking itself seriously and dropping references throughout the lyrics. All of these had excellent draws too. A similar 6-11 result is the best I think Italy can get.

    Looking at the San Remo result it becomes clear this is no Il Volo. Winning San Remo itself is an achievement especially overcoming a very big artist in Italy, but this needed the superfinal to win and didn’t win the jury or the public jury. Also interesting is that this finished fourth with the public on the second evening when it was first performed. That is not the performance of a song that is going to take Eurovision by storm. Like Frans last year, people shouldn’t just assume or rely on the possibility of it going viral and having large pre contest exposure to overcome any lack of instantness.

    Winners tend to need around at least 200 points from the juries. There’s not much for them to award on vocals and there is the chance they see it as too gimicky as Eurovicious also says.

    I can see this going to around 30-1 by the day of the final. Taking 5s at this point of the season is ridiculous.

    • Black n Blue

      I agree that a price is far too low for this point in the season, but I’d be wary of writing Italy off because Francesco didn’t win Sanremo in the way Il Volo did. He still did win it, which is a big deal in itself, and I’d argue the standard of competition was the highest for many years. Ermal or Fiorella would have been great entries too, if either of them had won.

      My position on “Occilidantis Karma” is it can win, but it’s worth waiting to for more entries to come through, which is why I haven’t gotten anything on Italy on the outright as of now. I don’t think Denmark 2014 is relevant as a comparison. Both are uptempo, and have a dance routine but the similarities end there. The Italian entry is so original, maybe not on a broader music platform, but in a Eurovision context, in terms of message and performance, there’s nothing really to compare it to. There’s no reference point for how well a smiley pizza delivery man with a gorilla can do at the contest, just as there wasn’t one for a rock band of monsters, a dancing lasha tumbai, or a bearded lady.

      The point you make about it coming 4th in the public on the first night, is the sort of vote lag I’m not expecting to see at the contest. Momentum was key to Francesco winning, not the song and performance alone. It was the ability of the package to garner widespread public and media attention that pushed it over the line in the end. Had Sanremo been only a one night show, I doubt that would happened. Momentum will again be the thing to watch for. Will Francesco be picked up by international media the week of the contest? Will he be gaining lots of Youtube views and charting around Europe? Will he be on the BBC breakfast preview on May 13th? This is what what we need to look out for.

  • Fully agree Black n Blue about Italy :-). I have doubts if, already at this stage, Italy will meet another huge competitor. Italy’s entry is simply too original, too unique when looking at thee complete audiovisiual total package. It’ll most likely don’t have any real competitor.

    Hence it is already a big favourite, similar to Sweden in 2012, Denmark in 2013, Austria in 2014 and Sweden in 2015.

    • Conchita wasn’t a big favourite at this stage in 2014 if I remember rightly – wasn’t Aram MP3 the shortest odds ever after his video was released? Austria only really came to the fore after Conchita’s SF performance…

      I’d agree with the others though – it was obvious that Loreen and Emmelie were that year’s winners after their NF wins, it was just the matter of who would be second…

      • Hippo

        It is interesting that we’ve had three entries go odds on before the start of the final and none have won (France 2011, Armenia 2014, Russia 2016). Frans also came damn close to odds on last year and might have just edged in to about 1.98 or something before the MF final.
        Those ‘obvious winners’ like Rybak and Loreen and the convincing Emmelie de Forest and Mans were all between 2-3 if I remember correct.

    • Ande

      I disagree on the audiovisual package being Italy’s USP to win. In actuality I find it severly lacking in thier San Remo peformance.

      The entry’s strong points is the concept, audience engagement and strong composition (hooks). This is not well translated to the stage however and Francesco risks being misjudged as a joke entry.

      Francesco has very good prospects in the popular vote but winning proffessionals over will be difficult if production isn’t up to par.

  • beckettfitz

    International press heating up?

    “Francesco Gabbani will be flying the flag for Italy come May, when he performs ‘Occidentali’s Karma’ (that’s ‘Westerner’s Karma’, in case you were wondering) – and we reckon it could wind up being the barmiest act of the night”

    This pales in comparison to what was written about say Conchita right?

  • johnkef

    Personally i like the italian entry a lot. A feel good song that criticises the superficial western lifestyle, which is its biggest flaw in my opinion. People will like it but many of them will recognise themselves at least in one or more of the accusations about their way of living and in a second level that will affect their vote.

    Even without that barrier this song is not the masterpiece that would dominate the board. I can see it finishing somewhere between 6-12 maybe Top5 if we have the whole picture. It is still early and because there is no other song that counts as a contender everybody is trying to identify one. This is not a contender.

    • They won’t recognise any of those accusations because they’re in Italian. Otherwise I agree.

    • My experience of hipster/creative/alternative spirituality types is that they tend to respond to such satire by saying what a funny send-up it is of various people they know, while ignoring the possibility that it could apply to themselves.

      Cognitive dissonance is a wonderful thing.

      • John

        “Satire is the sort of glass wherein beholders do see everyone’s reflection but their own”

        I think it was Jonathan Swift, maybe.

        Two more things about the article.

        1. Francesco isn’t my type.

        2. I hate the song.

    • johnkef

      ALWAYS TRUST YOUR INSTINCT AND YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION!!!! For some reason i did not understand the appeal of this song, even though i liked it and didn’t got involved betting on it. My first impression was the most accurate about it.

  • I truly cannot understand how Amir can still be praised, even if he could not nail the hook of the song last year. He placed rightfully 6th because of his performance, period. We are talking here about value and Italy at 15-17s, what was available after the end of the San Remo Festival, was value for building up your book.

    Yes, it is premature to speak about winning, maybe until the 4th heat of MF, maybe before we see the Russian, Australian or Greek entries. But as of now, it should be there on the top, strictly because there is no better song on the market yet. The gorilla gimmick helps it and with proper “product-placement”, it could gain traction in Europe.

    Remember Poland last year, when they were trading at 4.0 before the national final, when Michal obliterated Margaret. In 10 minutes, the odds skyrocketed at 70, because everyone was so busy to sell.

    • Chris Bellis

      I just re-watched Amir’s performance. Very engaging, and could have been a winner if he had sung in tune. Always a killer in Eurovision. Did for the Italian entry last year too, poor girl. And in 2014 come to think of it, both with established and credible female artists. Italy has had more success with its male artists. I watch radionorba quite a lot and I am a sucker for this sound, so I have to watch myself for confirmation bias. Francesco is a typical young generation version of Zucchero, like Marco Mengoni, Moda etc. Dozens of them on RTE and radionorba, and whenever I go to Italy it’s pretty much all you hear in the places I frequent. That’s my main gripe with it, but it is still the best of what we’ve seen so far. I’m not ruling out Belarus either – I ruled out Bulgaria last year on the basis of early views and thinking it was too naff to do anything, and I was wrong.

      • Bulgaria made the mistake for being far too static for an uplifting song, but ultimately bounced back and I think 3rd or 4th place was the ceiling. I did not like Amir, he was very popular in the fan bubble, but certainly not for me. He had a modern song, but everything relied on the “You” part. Failing that, he failed the whole song.

        • Ande

          Bulgarias was one of the most difficult to stage and film as the melody needed to be brought out effectively through the cinematic production. I maintain that had it been produced by say Russia it would’ve absolutely been a contender.

          Try watching the camerawork of this video muted at 2x speed with If love Was a Crime playing i the background to get the idea…

  • beckettfitz

    Another UK article:

    “Italy sends rising star Francesco Gabbani – and an ape – to win Eurovision 2017”

    • Ben Cook

      These are just blog posts by Eurovision fans who happen to write for mainstream media websites, no big deal

      • Chris Bellis

        In fact the Metro story is so over the top that it’s giving me second thoughts. Francesco Gabbani is not a “rising star” in Italy – he’s well established. Costume changes are not “new to Eurovision”. As for “This is one of the most interesting, captivating, original and appealing Eurovision entries for many years”…. Presumably written by Francesco’s agent, and the Metro prints all promo material as fact. Free papers don’t have the luxury of sub-editors.

      • Agreed. I thought the Digital Spy article was good and entertainingly written. The Metro Online article (most of the stuff like this on their website doesn’t appear in the physical paper) is by the guy who used to run ESC Today.

  • This 3 minutes of trap-influenced post-Ottoman filth came out today – if only Serbia would send it…

  • Chris Bellis

    Thanks for that. I spent a week or so in Montenegro last year and the hotel bar in Podgorica played Marina Simijonović and similar turbo-folk till 4am every night. Luckily I like it, but my Montenegro friends were disparaging, on the grounds that the lyrics were rubbish. However, it’s a guilty pleasure for them, and they still get up and dance to it, and in all its variants eg tallava, manele, chalga etc. Who would have thought that a musical genre associated with gangsterism would be so popular? Joking apart, Eurovision proved last year that anything can happen, so I wouldn’t rule out an entry like this having some success. The snake would be a problem for the staging though..

  • James Martin

    Oh God.

    After the chaos of Kyiv, the last thing we need is an Italy win…

    Mr Naef! Mr Naef!

    • Chris Bellis

      Having tried to get by train from Brighton to Nottingham recently, fresh from a visit to Italy where every single bus and train ran exactly to time, I think we’ve no room to talk! Admittedly most of our rail franchises are run by European state owned companies, but I still think Italians cab organise things when they want to.

  • Just reporting in from the perennial Sofabet activity that is “Focus Group Your Non-Eurovision Friends.” After running videos past my civilian mates I’m noticing two particular trends.

    1. A suprising amount of them are unimpressed by Occidentali’s Karma.
    2. A surprising amount of them absolutely loved Yodel It.

    I particularly say surprising because most of them tend to be into rock, so I expected it to be the other way round.

    • Interesting. Could be to do with what people expect from Eurovision. Or the fact that Yodel It sounds a lot like Anglo-American mainstream radio pop – apart from the yodelling side, it has a very commercial Western hip-hop-influenced pop sound in terms of the production etc. Like Cool Me Down. Yodel It seems to have genuine widespread appeal and momentum. There’s nowt so queer as folk.

    • Chris Bellis

      Ditto my friends and relatives, including ones who are into Eurovision. I find the Belarus one ok, but it does get very repetitive. That may of course be an advantage.

  • Hippo

    Some thoughts on tonight’s picks:

    Hungary – I think their run of 6 consecutive qualifications is over. I don’t think they’ll do terribly on the televote as it’s an entertainingly bad entry rather than an unnoticeable average one. Might get a small bit of support from the Turkish diaspora as it’s not too far off in style. Hungary always friendless though and juries will give very little. 15-19 NQ.

    Poland – semi one very female ballady. That second half draw is crucial in giving it a leg up. I don’t know if Kasia is particularly votable or how much appeal the song itself has enough appeal to a wider audience. Diaspora will be key. I think Poland’s strength has been overestimated in terms of making them a top 10 threat with anything. I count 4 countries Poland can expect to do well from in this semi, will help them through but won’t lift them to a great position. Semi 6-9, final 15- 20.

    Malta. Wrong decision, at least 3 better options. They have entered a song that not only fails the one minute test, it nearly fails the two minute test and isn’t worth the build up either. With a first half draw too, this could easily be the televote last place. Malta also don’t have enough ‘friends’ in this semi to do too well with the juries either. 15-19, NQ.

    • eurovicious

      Hungary is neither bad nor – to its strength – entertaining. It’s introspective, downbeat Romani folk with poetic lyrics and artistic presentation and that’s why it’s great. Real music with a vision, emotional investment and something to say, not a bought-in ballad or Anglo-American radio pop cooked up in Stockholm. Previous entries with Romani performers like Supergypsy and Pred da se razdeni could easily be called entertainingly bad for superficial reasons (one being performed in a superhero costume, the other two songs stitched together), even Love Unlimited, but I’m not sure what thought processes lead to describing Origo as “entertainingly bad” just because it’s musically non-western…

      • Hippo

        Yeah, probably a wrong choice of words, I suppose when I say ‘bad entry’ I mean one that isn’t going to make any significant impact on the scoreboard and could struggle to qualify. Obviously it’s a much better song than Gypsy.Cz or any other terrible songs like ‘Illusion’ or ‘I didn’t know’, and I don’t aim to class it along with such poor entries, but I don’t think this is competitive in any way.
        Personally I like it and I’d much prefer it in the final to Switzerland, Malta or any of the Danish entries that have just come out, I’m just trying to get into the mindset of voters and juries not pre-disposed to this sort of thing who will most likely not like it. Not being a standard, Swedish production is a personal positive for me and will help it stand out with the public, though as we’ve seen too many times the juries rarely go for anything like this, novelty or serious, and he’ll probably be all but dumped out on the Wednesday with too much to make up with the public.

  • Ben Cook

    This is a breath of fresh air from the Slovenian final. Could get their best result ever.

    • Chris Bellis

      Thanks for posting that. However I made up my mind to avoid being burned by Slovenia again. I would wait before putting money on this. it would need far superior staging and effects to avoid getting drowned I think. It’s a lot better than the similar Spanish entry though, in that you don’t immediately want to punch the singer in the throat.

    • eurovicious

      Worra loada gubbins

      • Well, Slovenia have clearly decided they don’t want to trouble the grand final this year.

        I personally preferred Raiven to BQL, but frankly *anything* in that final would have been an improvement on the steaming turd they actually picked. Possible contender for last place.

        • eurovicious

          Nah, I disagree. Not heard the other EMA songs apart from a couple, but I like it – it’s an old-school commercial pop ballad in a way that works: heartfelt, well-written, simple but not unsophisticated, and with a great vocal. (We know Naber can really deliver on that front.) Yeah, there’s a slight vibe of 2000s Eurovision to it (perhaps Croatia’s You Are The Only One or an Irish power ballad or Westlife song) but it’s significantly better than that comparison implies. In the ballad stakes I think Finland and Albania are better, but I prefer Slovenia to most of the other ballads (Switzerland, Georgia, Poland, Malta) and think it gets its message across more effectively. We’re also in dire need of decent male ballads.

  • FWIW there was some sort of Eurovision gala on Romanian TV recently, and Mihai Traistariu covered Rise Like A Phoenix – he totally did it justice, best performance of it I’ve seen apart from Conchita ( The Yodel It duo also covered Heroes and did a remarkably good job of it – more musical and engaging than Mans, and the girl’s harmonies are great:

    Also adding this, which came out on Monday, to my Serbia 2017 dream list…

    • Ilinca has a great voice, truly demonstrated it in “The Voice” in 2014, when she lost in the semifinal. The yodel is one of her gimmicks, playing it both in the blind auditions and in the semifinal. She got more experienced, but did not release a hit in Romania. I think it’s the best choice right now for Romania. MIHAI may have a great voice, but his idiotic publicity stunts are … well, idiotic. And he does not have the song this year.

  • James

    We’ve seen all the Swedish lot live now and I don’t think there’s a Eurovision winner in there. Loreen’s pretentious pile of fanwank got relegated to Andra Chansen and Sweden’s already starting to drift in the outright.

    • Hippo

      Nope no winner. Looking like it’s going to be a weak year so they’ll still do OK. Nano and maybe Mariette could get 5th or 6th with a good draw and staging tightened up but that’s as good as it’s getting for Sweden this year.

  • James Martin

    Ace Wilder for me, although I’d like to see Boris Rene progress from Andra Chansen.

    Can’t see us going back to Sweden next year. As it stands either Toto is silently stirring or the high ups at the BBC might be getting brown pants.

  • France performance from last night. On paper the song is my 3rd fave out of the 17 chosen so far, but it’s not coming over well at all – in terms of conviction, communication, power, tuning etc… there’s no charisma or emoting there and not even a good vocal to make up for it either. I think it has the potential to do really badly, no way would I back it for top 10 on current evidence.

    • PurpleKylie

      I thought she sang pretty well but I totally get what you mean about the stage presence, she comes across too much as “the nice girl next door” when what you need is star quality.

  • I like Latvia a lot, but its slow build (which does pay off) is a danger – and they need to work on the presentation and vocal. Right now it looks very NQ visually, and doesn’t look or sound jury-friendly. A more rock presentation with a cohesive colour scheme and stronger, tighter vocal would do the trick.

  • I wish the EBU had picked this year to kick Romania out instead…that Yodel It song is going to be unbearable by the time we get to May!

    • Austria just came out. Vaguely upbeat, sub-Joe And Jake generic Anglo-American radio pop.

      I don’t get the whole Yodel It thing. I get it even less than the whole Cool Me Down thing last year. It’s atrocious and actively grating, whereas Cool Me Down was merely pleasantly disposable and badly sung. A twat in jodhpurs with a manbun shouting in broken English over a women yodelling to a GarageBand backing track… it makes Narodnozabavni Rock look like Schoenberg and it could only be improved by Julie Andrews crashing the stage and spearing them both with a curtain rod. I’ll wait in vain with my arms folded for the cultural appropriation hot-takers to come and morally police Romania for appropriating the indigenous minority folk culture of Alpine yodelling from its original context and bastardising it into something unrecognisable for commercial purposes – which isn’t my opinion in any way whatsoever (I love Alpine crossover when it’s done well, whichever country’s doing it and however modern/experimental) – the way they excoriated Italy as “problematic” to earn regressive-left in-group kudos and online social power…

      Ooh it’s gone all political. Om.

  • Austria’s been released early, and it shouldn’t be drifting IMO.

    • Yeah it should m8 – both on Betfair and round the U-bend

    • At the risk of writing too many comments, I’m being overly harsh upon second listen… it’s really pleasant, while not my personal taste, I think it potentially has broad appeal, especially if performed and staged well – it has that warm and summery Jack Johnson feel. It’s very insubstantial but easily stands out as rather refreshing and breezy above the many dull ballads.

    • PurpleKylie

      True, it’s not going to win but it’s a nice breath of fresh air from the screamy females, it’s a simple carefree song and I enjoyed it

  • Of the 19 songs we have so far, I’ve counted six of them as ballads. 7 if you count Switzerland (I’d say that’s mid-tempo, like Germany).

  • Serbia is sending Tijana Bogicevic with a Swedish-written song, with one Bulgarian co-author who co-wrote If Love Was A Crime last year. I can see what they’re trying to do given Bulgaria’s success last year and the fact Eurovision takes place in a globalised marketplace now, but it’s a kick in the face for the entire domestic music industry… an opinion I’ll stand by even if it turns out to be good. There appears to be no domestic involvement in the songwriting and production whatsoever.

  • Has there already been some discussion about Salvador Sobral in Portugal’s Festival da Cancao? I wonder if RTP even knows they’re really onto something here? In a video interview this guy seems completely normal, but when he performs on stage he has the mannerisms of someone with a mental disorder of some kind – and this along with his scruffy pauper look adds to the charm of the package. It’s proper 1950’s old romantic Mediterranean ‘woojjh’ as if a singer from those days has temporarily inhabited his body. It bulldozes through the language barrier. It’s really something to behold.

    Almighty facepalm if they ignore this and go for that god-awful English language electropop number or Viva La Diva, Portugal’s cabaret answer to Alcazar.

  • Hippo

    It’s an interesting one and I’m not sure what to make of it. It’s better than other subtle stuff that has done ok but then again semi 1 looks to be really competetive. I wouldn’t want this to be chosen and then nq.

  • markovs

    Certainly a beautiful song but maybe a bit inaccessible for the general ESC Saturday night viewer. And his stage presence is a bit off putting as well. Would be a brave selection

  • markovs

    Heard all the finished versions now. My finishing position predictions for the big 5 and Ukraine, pre rehearsals.

    Italy – winner
    UK – 13th
    Ukraine 14th
    France – 16th
    Germany – 24th
    Spain – 26th

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