Eurovision 2018: The UK national final, and recent selections

Tonight’s UK final takes place at the Brighton Dome, venue of Abba’s Eurovision triumph in 1974. The BBC have put together six adequate songs, arguably a better collection than last year’s. My one general criticism is they feel too safe, as if written for and approved by committee.

The most distinctive in studio form is Asanda’s ‘Legends’. The 16-year-old was last seen on TV screens as a precocious finalist in 2013’s Britain’s Got Talent. She’ll need that experience, as one problem with the martial, high-energy ‘Legends’ is it doesn’t give her a chance to draw breath. Rumours are this is the preferred BBC choice, but live performance will make or break it, and short prices don’t appeal as a result.

I always feel like a well-performed upbeat number is what Brits generally prefer to select for Eurovision. According to this theory, if ‘Legends’ falls down live, one to benefit could be Raya with the tropical house-lite of ‘Crazy’. It’s more up-to-date in conception that Goldstone’s ‘I Feel The Love’, which sounds like a Girls Aloud album track.

At the slower end of the spectrum, Voice alumni Jaz Ellington looks a safe pair of hands with the safest song – the soulful ballad, ‘You’. That’s enough to make him a deserving second favourite in this field of relative unknowns. We’ve also come across Liam Tamne on The Voice, and like Lucie last year he has West End experience too. But his ‘Astronaut’ will need raising on stage. Similarly, Surie’s ‘Storm’ is pleasant enough, but nothing more yet. She has Eurovision experience as a backing singer – working with Belgium’s Blanche last year.

The decision is half in the hands of televoters, and 50% decided by a jury which will include the votes of a TV panel of three. And because it’s the BBC, we’ll never know the breakdown of votes for either, which always makes a UK final more impenetrable as a betting event. I’ll be attending and enjoying, rather than trading.

Secret jury votes have changed the dynamic of betting on Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, which comes up this Saturday. Like last year, a jury of five will each decide their favourite in a superfinal of three, and each vote will give that contestant an automatic 10%. The other 50% will be divided according to televote percentages. Making the latter proportional and the former a winner-takes-all affair gives those five jury members great power if there is consensus among them.

Of the ten songs, Rasmussen’s ‘Higher Ground‘, a homage to Roger Pontare, stands out as having most character, but will need a stage show to match the rousing Viking theme. If it fails on that front, the two who could take advantage are Anna Ritsmar with ‘Starlight‘ and Albin Fredy’s ‘Music for the Road‘. Both offer recognisably middle-of-the-road, warm, clap-along formulas that do well at DMGP: Anna at the cute end of the scale; while Albin’s Avicii-style song has a country tinge.

Italy’s Sanremo festival comes to an end on Saturday also, with the winner theoretically going to Eurovision (unless they choose not to). Last night we heard all the songs in competition, including the hot favourites Meta and Moro. There wasn’t a Eurovision contender among them; there’ll need to be a post-Sanremo song change for that to happen.

Moving to those songs already selected, France duly went with their best option, Madame Monsieur’s ‘Mercy‘. It’s clear this won’t be the only song with a message, nor indeed the only duet. But this classy slice of minimalist electropop will still have its own identity, which juries should appreciate. It remains to be seen how much it passes televoters by as mood music, but like Alma last year (who was slightly let down by her staging), I reckon France will be contending for a top ten place.

Spanish entry ‘Tu Cancion‘, sung by young lovebirds Alfred and Amaia, has divided opinion. Its outright price almost came into single figures when selected, before drifting back to around 30 on Betfair. I agree with our commenter Chris Bellis’s description of “schmaltzy”, which isn’t to say I dislike it. There’s obvious chemistry, and comfort in the Disney-style predictability of the melody; but the last time something this schmaltzy managed Top 5 was the UK’s ‘My Time’ back in 2009.

Jade Ewen benefited from a good jury score in an era when panels were more forgiving of a cheesy song if accompanied by strong vocals. The problem with duets is they’re only as good as the weaker partner. In this case, Amaia’s sweet sounds are rather cancelled out by Alfred’s Kermit impression. The current staging lays on the schmaltz extra thick, but given that the pair’s breakout performance also involved a piano and head mics, this is what we have to expect in Lisbon.

Selected the same day, the Czech Republic’s ‘Lie To Me‘ is a similar price in the market, but ticks a lot more boxes. It’s contemporary, radio-friendly pop of the kind juries have tended to favour most in recent years. In Mikolas Josef, it has a good-looking, charismatic performer, and the song lends itself to an interesting stage show, with the instrumental hooks giving us space for dance breaks. Those backing it at this stage are relying on the delegation – and Mikolas – getting it right. But if so, I think ‘Lie To Me’ can do very well indeed.

At this point, I could claim that each chosen song had its merits. But then last weekend’s Maltese and Swiss selections rather make up the numbers. For the former, Christabelle’s ‘Taboo‘ is a lot of drama and eye-rolling lyrics without too much reward. It’s not one of G:Son’s finest efforts. There’s been more positivity around the Swiss Zibbz and their ‘Stones‘, though I find the song painfully derivative and without its own identity. I’m not sure the vocals stand up to inspection in the final third either.

Do keep your thoughts coming below on tonight’s UK final and beyond. We’ll be back soon with another round-up.

110 comments to Eurovision 2018: The UK national final, and recent selections

  • I think Asanda will win IF it sounds good live. RAYA seems the safer bet tonight.

  • Chris Bellis

    Thanks for name checking me on “Tu canción”. It’s even schmaltzier when you translate it. One time they shouldn’t do it in English. Unfortunately, I do like it. However, Operación Triunfo turned down arguably a couple of better songs. Still that’s a tribute to the Spanish bizarrely complex system not necessarily producing the act with the best chance. We can’t talk, although our system is less complicated. Let’s see what happens tonight. I’m hoping for a Raya win. I’ve bet against Asanda. Not big sums.

  • Chewy Wesker

    Really hope Jaz Ellington wins with “You” tonight, by far the best chance for UK this year. Well worth opposing Asanda, I think 5.1 is available on the exchange for Jaz to take victory. Good luck to all sofabet punters backing laying and trading tonight.

  • Simon G

    As someone who loves music I thought “I Feel The Love” was better than the rest. I hope it get’s chosen.

  • Phil

    Biggest reaction in the room is for SuRie by the sound of it. One of those songs that comes alive when sung live.

  • Simon G

    I don’t believe it – anyone that has a capital R in their name will suRely lose

  • Chris Bellis

    Phil – Dead right. I was wrong about Raya, but thanks to sofabet, laid Asanda, so slightly ahead. Thanks sofabetters. Keep up the good work.

  • Hippo

    I think most of us agreed Asanda was overestimated- one of the most obvious national final lays in a while. As for SuRie, it was the best performed but it’s a little beige and will do well to avoid a bottom five. It’s not a bad effort but in a stronger field of 26, I worry for its chances.

  • Really good NF, the BBC deserves praise – stewed in Eurovision heritage in the right ways, gay-inclusive but no cringy gay jokes, and they weren’t desperately trying to appeal to a young audience or make Eurovision “credible”.

    As to the winner, I already made clear it was my least favourite when the songs came out… it has (unfortunately not like Mans) gone straight to my bottom. It’s “current” in all the ways I hate: incredibly repetitive pseudo-inspirational tropical-house bullshit, – Clean Bandit but somehow even more blandly feelgood-insipid. I voted for Jaz (though I didn’t quite buy him singing about “a girl”).

    Interesting how Surie gave viewers a narrative reason to vote for her by presenting them with a perfect Cinderella story to participate in: “If you vote for me I won’t be relegated to being a backing singer anymore and will finally live my dream of being centre-stage!” (or words to that effect). She set up her own narrative with ingenious efficiency.

    I’m so tired of message songs. France’s bland mush about refugees, the Swiss song that’s apparently about “online bullying” and the Maltese song (which I quite like) which is supposedly about mental health. Let’s get a group of commenters together and represent Liechtenstein next year with a rap about irritable bowel syndrome.

    The Beovizija songs are fantastic, better than I expected even. Note how they all sounds like they come *from* somewhere, and like they were made as creative pieces not products. A few (Balkanika, Svatovi, Maja Nikolic) are even an RTS take on turbofolk – ethno-dance-pop done really well, slightly more living-room-friendly than the more sexual, all-guns-blazing commercial variety, but still really good. Plus experimentalism, a variety of genres, a couple of retro entries… all in all, only about 3/4 out of the 17 don’t speak to me in any way. It’s great.

    • Chris Bellis

      If only it were Clean Bandit. It’s a bottom ten finisher, unless we are ready for another “we are the world” load of crap. By the way, Mel Gedroyc still calls eurovision “eurovish”, for which she deserves to dwell in purgatory for ever more. That, plus putting forward Scooch as a great choice (when she was compere with John Barrowman, 2007 if anyone has forgotten). Mel Gedroyc is the kiss of death to our hopes.

      • eurovizhous

        Mel is fine.

        • Becile

          Mel is cringe worthy. Clueless about how Eurovision works, seems to care little about it and relies on being nasty to the show as her means of “comedy”. Mans made her look silly last night.

          The commentary team of Scott and Mel are unprofessional and I’d like to see someone commentate with genuine enthusiasm.

          And I agree with Chris about “Eurovish”. Mel needs to stop saying that.

          • Chris Bellis

            Agreed, Becile. The odd thing is, without Mel, Scott isn’t too bad. He would do well to distance himself from her. She has fixed herself into the Terry Wogan “let’s all have a laugh at the foreigners” meme, which is only one notch below pure jingoism. I preferred Paddy O’Connell, but he’s gone on to more serious things.

          • eurovizhous

            It doesn’t feel like the most incisive thing to be debating, but I like Mel, she’s fine, and I thought she was if anything better than usual last night. (If you were saying this about Sara Cox’s erstwhile commentating gig I’d be in agreement.) I don’t find her especially xenophobic either, remember she’s half-Polish of Lithuanian descent. The one thing I do take issue with is her interrupting/talking over one of the songs last year. Scott is alright. I still prefer the German commentator Peter Urban (and Tim Frühling) to any of the British commentators – he’s deadpan and wryly funny while still being respectful, knowledgeable and passionate about the contest.

            I feel like there’s a fan culture of criticising the BBC whatever it does which is why I think it’s important to praise the improved songs and high-quality show this year. Ultimately people won’t be satisfied whatever the BBC does, even if we sent Adele. I suspect the reason I feel like this, as opposed to having raised ire towards the BBC, is I’ve never had any particular investment in the UK winning and have never supported the UK as a “home team” – a lot of British fans seem to really care about doing well and having an entry they can be proud of, and thus have heightened expectations towards the BBC, which is normal and fine, but I feel like people are setting themselves up for disappointment every single year. Eurovision is an entertainment programme for a general audience, and that’s how the BBC approaches it, which is fine. I’d much rather we approach Eurovision in this way – lovingly but not po-faced seriously – than the joyless, calculatedly driven fervour with which SVT has approached the contest for the past few years, and which BNT is perhaps now starting to exhibit. It’s about the taking part, not the winning, though if you do that’s great; neither Conchita, Jamala or Salvador expected to, and their songs weren’t created with that in mind.

            From that perspective, perhaps a step forward for the BBC next year would be to invite submissions from a variety of UK artists and songwriters reflecting a wide palette of British music, instead of (admittedly good) Scandi co-writes like this year. The BBC has tremendous musical resources at its disposal – partner with 6 Music and send an upcoming indie act, partner with BBC Asian Network and send an MC or bhangra act, partner with Radio Scotland and send a folk act from Celtic Connections or The Quay Sessions, partner with 1xtra and send a grime artist! A British national final with one act from each BBC music radio station could be a fantastic model for finding really interesting stuff and sending original entries, and all the acts would be grateful of the promo. Done right it could revitalise pop music and new music on UK television, of which there’s hardly any anymore. Britski Laul!

          • I was surprised how well Mel did this year not only having a great cohost but also a brilliant script. I spoke to Edward Af Silen about this in the club afterwards (he came up to congratulate me on wearing a Love Love Peace Peace shirt and was bowled over to realise I knew who he was!) and he said he actually really liked and enjoyed writing for Mel, In a way I’ve only heard ever heard him talk about writing for Saint Petra of the Mede.

            Let’s also give praise where due to Rylan as well. Everyone was horrified that he was chosen but he demonstrated genuine love and knowledge of the contest. I wouldn’t be averse to him commentating because he does actually know his stuff.

            Melodifestivalen’s loss is our gain as far as I’m concerned.

      • fused

        Yeah, I quite like Clean Bandit to be honest, but I don’t like ‘Storm’. That said, I liked it a LOT more after seeing it performed on Eurovision: You Decide, and I think that’s down to SuRie’s performance. She really “sold” the song I think. But I reckon in the final it will do about as well as we usually do.

  • Alan

    After seeing it performed I must say I like Storm quite a lot now. It was the best choice, and I think it’s the best song the UK has sent since Jade Ewen. Whilst it’s not a winner, and probably not a top ten finisher, perhaps with good staging it could get on the right hand side of the board?

  • She looks like Annie Lennox singing a song composed by Scooch with harmonies thrown in by Josh Dubovie……

  • Curtis

    Still seems the BBC are clueless about what a Eurovision winner looks like – and the general public definitely are! Maybe next year,,,

  • Having been present tonight, what a great production. Mans bought loads to the party and Edward’s script was bang on point.

    Asanda was, as predicted, a fanwank. What a mess on stage. SuRie had such an epic reception in the hall though you knew it was a done deal.

    • Chris Bellis

      Thanks James for predicting that. I wished I’d put more on it now, instead of just enough for a few pints. How did the odds go so short? Did the fanwank social media storm influence the market disproportionately? My bookie brother-in-law’s mathematical assessment usually works best in a large field, like in the finals. He says always lay the odds-on favourite in this sort of contest, or in the Grand National etc., because there are too many unknowns for odds to go that short. Here it worked on a field of six.

  • oakie1979

    UK get ready for another Bottom-5 this year! This song is not going anywhere! It’s soulless and boring!

    UK, Spain disappointing entries so far, France mediocre song that will land somewhere in the 16-23 area

    Czech Rep. with a good presentation and vocals has a chance to qualify and that’s it.

    Switzerland and Malta definite NQs

  • markovs

    Just as a quick reply to Alan. I think you’re spot on. Definitely a right hand side finisher.

  • Ben Cook

    The song desperately needs work, but I think a lick of paint will work wonders for it. I can see the comparisons with last year’s German entry but she really sells it well. It’s probably best to keep expectations low, but I think there’s a chance she could surpass them.

    That said, it is a shame that we’ll now never know whether Legends could’ve done something, with work.

    • eurovicious

      I love Legends but it was never right for Eurovision IMO, it’s just not the sort of music that mainstream audiences in Europe listen to or click with – and the vocal wasn’t exactly jury-friendly… I think Jaz would have done better than Surrey will though.

  • markovs

    Legends was this years ‘Cool me down’. We will never know!! Shame we haven’t got the same diaspora as Poland who got their awful song by Michal Scpak into the top 10 that year

  • The butthurt strong this morning.

    A massive congratulations to those of you who laid Asanda, and also anyone who got on SuRie at fairly long prices. Hopefully lots of you made it rain last night.

  • Semi final markets are now open on Betfair. Happy betting, everyone!

  • Saara fans. The moment we’ve been waiting for has arrived.

    • eurovicious

      I ljubav it. It works. It’s not generic dancefloor schlager, it’s fierce. Queer not gay.

      • I know getting emotionally involved is frowned upon on here for X Factor but I couldn’t help myself in 2016. Hope this isn’t confirmation bias talking as a result of that, but I really, really, genuinely want her to do well. She deserves it. It would be such a great narrative if she actually won, I think it would be even bigger than Lordi.

      • Shai

        Someone will have to explain me how a song called Monsters, featuring queer people in its video, can be considered as a positive representation of queer people.

        And yes, representation is everything.

        On a very superficial way the song and video play on the worse what the general public think about queer people.

        • Showlad

          The song is about conquering your fears and demons overcoming your monsters, Shai, not about bashing as you crudely state ‘queer people’. It’s an empowering anthem and the video clearly celebrates diversity not bashing it.
          Not quite sure where you’re coming from on this but have addressed it anyway.

          • This is an interesting encapsulation of the assimilation vs flamboyance argument. Should gay people seek inclusion in mainstream society by conforming to the norms of mainstream (straight) culture – not standing out, being “straight-acting”, not dressing camply (for men) or butch (for women), being monogamous and getting married? Or should they ignore norms that just don’t work for everyone and be as queer and outrageous as they want to be? Certainly there’s arguments both ways, and it’s up to individuals to choose what works for them. I for one love talented flamboyant performers like Tom Neuwirth, Haffi Haff, and Saara and the guys in this video because I admire their defiance and courage, and love how they transcend the everyday. But I also think conventional pride parades portray a dated and damaging stereotype of gay people as being circus-esque in nature and obsessed with sex. That’s partly why pride parades have failed to gain support (including from gay people) in societies characterized more by tradition and less by individualism outside of the western liberal paradigm.

            Reasonably good results in Eesti Laul, and I LOVE the Danish song, they didn’t pick their usual half-assed beige dirge. La forza is kind of a fanwank though – if it goes to Eurovision, I can see it top 10 but I’m struggling to imagine it top 5 – it’s impressive and people will remember and like it, as it’s going to stand out in the field in a good way, but it ends too abruptly and there’s not enough connection.

          • Shai

            Showland-when your title is monsters and you show on your video queer people, you establish in the audience a connection between the 2 and basically say queer people=monsters.

            The combination of image attached to a single word is stronger than and words coming from the song itself.

            And if you read in my words any bashing of queer people,that’s your reading. My point is that the use of queer people in combination with the title Monsters is inappropriate.

            That’s beside the song itself and what its message is.

          • John

            Shai, your comprehension needs some work. The lyrics are ostensibly about metaphorical demons and monsters, and the dancers being …ugh… ‘queer’, is by the by. Backing dancers are often gay. You cant surmise their inclusion is a statement simply because it feels that way to you. EVs is right. Their flamboyance should be something in and of itself, a feature as incidental as hair colour or race. If the dancers were all people of colour would you surmise the song was a negative depiction of them? This really is foolish.

            This is all so obvious I wonder if you cant possibly be trolling? I do hope youre a ‘queer person’ because otherwise you really shouldnt be using that word.

          • What about Lady Gaga and her (largely gay) young fans who call themselves “little monsters”?

          • Showlad

            This is becoming rather tiresome…
            OK.. here we go again: The Monsters video is about OVERCOMING your fears and demons and she has, what may be perceived, as gay, flamboyant, backing dancers fully expressing themslves to show an expression of overcoming such fears and having the confidence to be themselves and express this.
            Your continued ref of ‘queer’ people I personally find somewhat crude in the body of your post, but that is my take and your words are your call.
            To state that I’m not sure where you are coming from on this does not equate to accussing you of ‘bashing’ Shai.

          • I guess the issue is whether an entry like Monsters would do well at Eurovision if the performance was like the video. Queer entries that have done very well in recent years have been those that showcased gay dignity and struggle (Molitva, Rise Like A Phoenix) in the form of a serious ballad with a moving and very personal performance. I’ve often said Conchita wouldn’t have done well at all with That’s What I Am (her first attempt at Eurovision, in 2012). The other type of gay entry to have done well is what I’m going to call the “inclusively flamboyant spectacle” (Dancing Lasha Tumbai, Viva La Diva)… camp and striking in a really fun, family-friendly way that kinda makes a homophobic reaction impossible for all but the most churlish. Both of these models for successful gay entries make appeals to the viewer and are welcoming towards them – the first is someone opening up and telling you their story, the second is someone saying “come and join the party”. Both are also quite depolicitised. Molitva and Rise Like A Phoenix are less “we’re here, we’re queer”, more “this is who I am, I’d like you to get to know me”.

            Using gay-marked dancers in a video called Monsters isn’t “inappropriate”, for the reasons Showlad outlines – it’s an overcoming-darkness song with lyrics that are relatable to everyone but that also have a specific queer resonance (also bearing in mind that Saara is in a same-sex relationship). There’s no homophobic intention – on the contrary, it’s a song of (queer) defiance, and if any viewers look at the dancers and think “yeah, they ARE monsters, hah”, that’s their problem. It’s less inappropriate than Nicki French’s awful song being called “Don’t Play That Song Again”.

            I guess Shia’s concern is that a proportion of people might take one look at Saara’s backing dancers and think “ugh, the gays” at worst, or “I am not the target audience for this song” at best. I give most people in Europe more credit than to have an outright homophobic response even to an aggressively (rather than inclusively) flamboyant entry. The important point though in terms of its chances at Eurovision is that Monsters doesn’t fit either of the two models I describe above – it isn’t Dancing Lasha Tumbai, it’s not trying to be “fun”, it’s altogether a riskier and more defiant affair; the video’s flamboyance isn’t the inclusive, party-time type, more the provocative, even militant type. Which is the entire point. It is much more “we’re here, we’re queer” than any of the entries I mention above. And, while it has similar lyrical themes, it also lacks the gravitas and intimacy of the two winning queer ballads. Should it be chosen, I do think there’s a significant likelihood of it turning out to be a fanwank for a variety of reasons; I love it, but I don’t think it will be up most people’s street. Because it doesn’t invite people in, it takes them on. For it to do well, it would need softening, which would defeat the object. (This whole debate will probably turn out to be academic anyway as the song may very well not be picked, and even if it is, it doesn’t necessarily mean the dancers from the video are gonna turn up on stage in Lisbon in full garb.)

            I think it’s OK for anyone to say “queer” as long as it’s not meant as a pejorative – I certainly didn’t read it as a pejorative in any of the above messages by any poster. We shouldn’t only let certain people use certain words when context counts for far more than taking a word in isolation.

          • Oh, and something else that intersects with this is effemophobia. In 2014 there was a small but significant number of gay voices (often from more conservative countries) who were anti-Conchita – because they were afraid viewers would think gay people = cross-dressers, feminine etc., or because they were afraid their families would start to realise Eurovision was “gay”, thereby placing themselves under suspicion – as if Conchita’s mere presence in the contest would out them to those around them (bearing in mind Eurovision isn’t perceived as gay in the public imagination in much of Europe and wasn’t in the west either until this decade). Any negative reaction towards the Monsters video from gay guys, along the lines of “it’s too camp and femme and that’s not how I see myself or what I’m attracted to”, could be coming from a similar place.

          • Showlad

            Hi Eurovicious. I think Monsters is very contemporary and the dancers even as is are kinda ‘cool’ and ‘current’ a bit Gaga and Madonnasque. However, I think the staging and Brian Friedman’s choreography will make it very accessible.
            2 songs to come from Saara – but Monsters alone is nailed on Top 5 for me even at this half wayish stage.
            To add a bit of humour, hopefully Shai, the next 2 songs are rumoured to be called ‘Domino’ and… wait for it….’Queens’! 😀 😀 😀 😀

  • markovs

    Not a fan of Monsters. Ibiza cliche for me. If the UK had sent this, everyone would be slagging it off. Cool video tho’

  • Showlad

    OK hi all and a Showlad overview of the state of play so far.
    Happy to be the first to nail my colours to the mast on some songs 😀

    Estonia: can’t quite believe the dismissal on here by some. Pure, authentic opera – amazing vocals and a Game Of Thronesesque electro backing track when the tempo kicks in. The staging is brilliant and mark my words if Elina nails these incredible notes as expected 2nite then this is nailed on Top 5, probable Top 3 and could well win. Those thinking juries will not go for this beware. Il Volo gave a very poor jury rehearsal and came 6th but walked the public vote. This is a different kettle of fish too to the disco tinged opera mash up offering of La Voix – which was staged very poorly at ESC from its original sheen and lustre of Melodifestivalen.

    Finland: Good to hear the other 2 songs coming (1 each Thursday UK time at 10pm the next 2 Fridays). Very catchy modern pop vibe and Saara is like Gaga or Madonna in the video. With Brian Friedman’s choreography of this on the ESC stage then this first offering ‘Monsters’ is, like Estonia, nailed on Top 5 probable Top 3 and could well win.

    Czeck Republic: This guy oozes star quality, charisma and a good confient live vocal. Daniel rightly points out the dance breaks as a plus though they may have to fill that end dance break which is too long. On a plus this has been classily staged previously and this is going to be a BIG contender in Lisbon. Could well be Top 5 and if all comes together it is in with a serious shout.

    With more to come, but many disappointing, we may be viewing a 2 horse race already emerging and Czeck as a genuine contender on the side rails.

    Great blog here – though sometimes many shout loudly and listen/stay open minded little.

    Humbly hope my perceptions are on the money this year as they were for Conchita, Dami and Salvador.

    Enjoy ESC 2018 folks 🙂

  • Daniel

    FYI, there seems some confusion about the way the Danish result will be decided – there are different accounts from different sources, so please be aware of this. Good luck to those trading tonight.

  • Hippo

    So Denmark are on a run of 3 poor finishes, have a first half draw in a tough semi and decide to send “Higher Ground”?

    Looks like another NQ.

    • It’s the spiritual successor to this (from MGP 2008) which I loved.

      • This ideological position that Eurovision should be filled with acts (and I deliberately say acts as opposed to songs) that are knowingly camp and have very nationalised aesthetics and no long-term musical value once the contest is over bothers me way more than it should.

        I agree there’s a point where bland is just bland and it sounds like a song could literally have come from anywhere, especially when everyone has Swedish songwriters, (no wonder the country looks like a giant wang hanging over the continent.)

        But rather than glamorising borders and wanting each country to send something that only people in their own country and closely related neighbours find accessible, as though we’re all little hermit kingdoms with insulated, individual cultures and musical tastes… I try to appreciate the subtle aesthetics in a song that can evoke its country of origin, in contemporary, international music that everyone can enjoy.

        Yes it requires a bit of imagination, but I’d much rather hear music that accurately represents Danish style and the modern national taste rather than evoking ridiculous Viking stereotypes in dull, plodding schlager and lazy Game of Thrones comparisons.

        • I love Danish entries all the way up to the mid-90s –
          they used to send great stuff like Tommy Seebach (3 times), Kirsten and Soren (also 3 times), Birthe Kjaer, Lonnie Devantier and her giant telephone, Aud Wilken, not to mention Dansevise and their 1957 debut entry (which contains Eurovision’s longest kiss). Since 1997 though, they’ve sent a stream of unmitigated guff – of which only Rollo & King, A Friend In London and DQ are minor highlights. So I’ll take the Kristofer Hivju lookalike and his affable viking stomper over Denmark’s past 20 years of insipid mush anyday. It’s got a good tune, and it actually has a sense of identity (musical and cultural) and is about something.

          Yeah, I’d probably prefer some progressive, experimental, really good Danish pop with a distinct Nordic feel – like Junior Senior/Jeppe Laursen. I’d also prefer a bit of Danish bubblegum eurodance like Aqua, Hit’n’Hide, Cartoons or Toy-Box. But I’ll take it.

          • I completely agree that Denmark are notoriously the beigest modern Eurovision country, but I don’t see Rasmussen as an improvement. Yes it has character but it’s got no long term value. It’s just irrelevant cheese representing a centuries old caricature of Danes. My earlier comment wasn’t just aimed at Denmark either. Out with yer techno oompah shiße! >:D

  • John

    Just a little run down of my own thoughts so far. Such as they are!

    UK – its catchy, but largely won its final as the only tune well sung with a decent melody. Reminiscent of an Aviici number, but fairly low impact. 2nd half of scoreboard. If badly staged it could be bottom 5. Its not very memorable.

    Spain – I dislike this a great deal. Its ‘gimmick’ of We Are So In Love is pure cheese and for the viewer watching them gaze at each other instead of us is like sitting behind a couple on the bus who are pawing and necking relentlessly. I doubt this will do well.

    France – French entries are rarely truly poor, as there is usually a little bit of class to rely on. However if the UK gambled on a radio friendly but unexciting number the French have gone all out on understating. Message entries need more than a message. Its too limp and uneventful. Plus theres a repetitive wah wah wah noise every so often that is completely redundant.

    Czech Rep – catchy, confident, yes. However it might not be easy to get right live, and he will have to tone down the cocky. Theyre not proven stagers either. Im unsure about this one.

    Malta – its alright. I find it a bit cynical if I’m honest.

    Switzerland – theyre becoming increasingly contemporary with their choices but while Belgium and Holland get it right, Switzerland seem like theyre magpies lifting sounds from other music scenes. I dont think this one lands either.

    • Chris Bellis

      Agree with nearly all of that except the bit about the French “wah wah wah” sound. That’s just an electro riff you can find on loads of modern pop songs. Iirc, Serebro use a similar sound, as does Dua Lipa on some numbers. It will date, but that doesn’t really matter for Eurovision.
      Pity about Switzerland – decent act and song, but then they usually are at this stage, yet they always go wrong in the actual contest.

      • John

        Hmm, perhaps! For me it’s like a smudge on a painting. Your eyes (ears) get drawn to it. Mind you I thought the same about the Mama Don’t be so Proud song last year with its ‘infernal tootling’ and that had no problems finishing well.

        • Chris Bellis

          Hi John I think it’s those little earworm additions that can make the difference. On the night, and that includes on the judges’ night, anything that can stick in the memory is good. This despite the full knowledge that one of the most famous songs of all time, Otis Redding’s Dock of the Bay, had whistling in it, which still jars. At the time, it helped. So the “smudge” is what may be required at the time. I agree, though, it’s a pity.

  • Spain the only one that has potential to produce the magic for me so far. (Not my personal thing in music). And I’ve only seen the piano version that people don’t like (over-analysing maybe).

    • Chris Bellis

      The Spanish song is schmaltzy beyond belief, and got the vote because it was a reality show production, meaning that the audience could identify with the couple. Having watched part of it myself, I can see why. Very engaging individuals. To dislike them or their love would be like drowning kittens. However, only the Spanish audience (and me it seems) built up this belief in them. If they come on to Eurovision with this lovey-dovey staging they are doomed. I really like the song, and the singers, but unless they get a lot cooler and sing a bit more in tune on the night, they won’t succeed in winning Eurovision.

      • Milton

        Two attractive, but not gorgeous, young people gaze into each other’s eyes and sing to the other about the depth of their feelings. There may be millions watching but they seem oblivious to the cameras. They are sharing an extraordinary intimate moment, totally engrossed in each other, smiling, linking fingers. This is a surreal unimaginable adventure they are having and they are sharing it with the person they love.

        Some will think it’s schmaltzy, others will see something intense, real and dramatic. When else do we get to see the head spinning magical joy of young love being played out for real in front of us? That’s not only unique for Eurovision, it’s something you rarely see on television. (Chris, believe me, you don’t have to have watched the programme to appreciate their relationship, the chemistry is clear)

        Eurovision is another form of reality tv. What is going to get people at home to pick up the phone and spend money on voting? Surely people on here are savvy enough to know that this stuff is televote dynamite? Love and romance sells. The likes of Katie Price and Kerry Katona have built careers on it. The fact that the cynics in the audience are throwing up their pizza is irrelevant, they can’t vote against Spain.

        Will the juries buy into it? That’s less clear to me, but if I were a layer I wouldn’t want Spain to be remotely in contention going into the televote reveal.

    • John

      Spain. I think it’s horrific. No kitten drowner I, but if I could put those two in a sack and dunk it then I sure would. For me it’s like sitting behind THAT couple on the bus who are necking all over each other. It’s showy but uninclusive – they don’t make eye contact with us, they sing to each other, and whether you find it an agreeable spectacle might depend on your voyeurism (or goodwill). It’s a 3 minute PDA. It’s a storytelling faux-pas –
      they show their love, they don’t tell it.

      I think it’s so much cheese. And no amount of bleating about being in love (which they will have to do in the run up) will get the cynics on board. Russian grannies may hoover up the ‘awww sweet’ vote but pert reality-tv millennials? For me, no, they need a better song. Seems a hook now, but amongst 26 finalists?

      • Milton

        They’re singing a love song to each other John, why would they be looking at us? Wouldn’t that be odd? Its like watching an intimate moment in a film or a tv programme. The actors are engaged with each other, not the audience. I’m surprised you see that as a negative, to me it sets it apart from every Eurovision performance I have ever seen.

        They don’t need to win over the cynics, just to keep the section of the audience who like this sort of stuff happy.

        • John

          The issue is they’re performing for people at home who then have to pick up the phone and vote for them. It doesn’t strike me as intimate, it strikes me as showy but excluding. Viewers will feel like redundant spectators rather than involved in the song. Like, say, a wedding where the couple completely ignore all the guests. Always, always, some eye contact with the viewers. The more the better.

          That’s my feeling from it anyhow.

          • Common Linnets would be the smart compromise. They were singing to each other but there was plenty of eye contact with viewers if I recall. It was intimate but they weren’t physically anywhere as close as the Spanish pair are, and the camerawork presented them as two individuals rather than a couple obliviously necking.

            Apropos Common Linnets, Iceland really missed a trick this weekend when this got knocked out:


          • Milton

            I’m surprised you’d use the wedding example to support your position, when I would have thought the opposite. Surely the happy married couple should be totally immersed in each other and the guests would be pleased to see that rather than feeling ignored?

            Conventional wisdom says that eye contact is essential and in 99.5% of the time this is undeniable. But there is always the exception to the rule. In my opinion this performance connects with the audience in a unique way that is more impactful. Perhaps in Lisbon there will be eye contact with the camera, personally I hope not, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

            You have said that you dislike this a great deal, I’m happy to admit that I love it. This is definitely going to stand out in Lisbon and cause a reaction one way or another. People like me can vote for Spain, how are people like you going to register their disapproval?

          • Milton

            Ref Common Linnets, La Cancion is the early rush of young love, CATS is about a relationship that has broken down, so different approaches are appropriate. To me Alfred and Amaia being so lost in each other is what makes this so unique. If they show awareness of the cameras I think the spell will be broken.

          • Milton

            Cheers EV 🙂 John, if you’re still around, have a look at Portugal from last year. Salvador didn’t make eye contact with the audience once, yet he won by a record margin.

  • Think Lie To Me has a chance myself. Not a massive chance but still a chance.

  • James

    Estonia are favourites on Betfair after the first live performance of La Forza. Personally whenever I’ve listened to it I’ve just had an overwhelming sense of “is that it?”. She’s obviously an incredible vocalist but as a song it bores the pants off me.

    • I am 100% certain La Forza won’t win the whole shebang in Lisbon.

      • Hippo

        I’d say 99% certain it won’t win. You can never be 100% with eurovision and it’s better than much of what’s turned up yet. That said, it’s a favourite by default with no real stand out entry, Russia’s choice of Yulia and the continued downswing of the Scandis. The problem is there’s no emotional connection to be had: Jamala and Salvador were atypical winners but their performances were full of reasons to pick up the phone. This is comparatively cold, which is a huge problem trying to sell opera to the masses. Jacques was novelty cheese, Il Volo three Italian dudes singing about Amore (guaranteed female vote winner). It’s not happy, not sad, not heart warming, not uplifting. A winner doesn’t *need* to be any of that, but if it’s not it has to be a damn good chartable song. This is standard opera, well sung but nothing to write home about. It will have it’s fans and will be unique but that is not enough to win. I see it as a low top ten currently with room to significantly underperform.

  • I like the Greek entry. Modern, accessible, but you still know where it’s from.

    • Hippo

      Yeah, best since Koza Mostra for me, reminds me of one of the biggest hits in Greece last year which is probably where they got the inspiration.
      Very staging dependant. Could crack top 10, could miss out on qualifying. It’s at least something the diaspora can get behind more than the last four entries too.

      • I love it, it’s everything I want from a Greek entry – truly Hellenic and deeply Balkan. It could perhaps benefit from more of a climax, there’s a slight sense that it isn’t going anywhere by the end, but sonically and harmonically it’s beautiful.

  • Mark dowd

    Yep. Like this a lot. Feels authentic and not manipulative… Casts me back a bit to Die for You.. (Which I wished they’d done 100% in native language.) As ever, we await staging and vocals but on what we’ve seen for far and nothing emerging yet from Skandi bloc, this feels potential top ten to me.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Off topic: SPOTY. Now might be a good time to put a few quid on Elise Christie if you can find odds on her. If she wins the gold on Tuesday she’s pretty much a shoo-in.

    If you can find odds, please post a link since I can’t see any.

    (Unless a brit wins Wimbledon or something, obv – and even then (s)he might need to win the Fed or Davis cup to make sure of it)

  • Jesus, Melfest is fucking dire tonight. I will never complain about the BBC picks for EYD after this. Style over substance from SVT this year.

  • Unless Dance You Off wins Mello, Sweden NQ might be worth a tentative nibble you know…

  • I think this is by far the best thing in Hungary this year. Tonight it made it to the final.

    • I like it a lot too. I wish the Hungarian jurors were more enamoured with it. It’s managing to progress despite them.

    • Shai

      Don’t know how the other songs sound like, but this is quite good.
      The song draw you in and keep you interested.

      BTW:It seems that some participants haven’t heard the news.No LED screens this year as part of the stage. Some participants will need to find a solution for their current staging

    • Panos

      Couldn’t agree more. Top10 in Lisbon. Silly Hungarian jurors.

    • I haven’t gone through A Dal this year yet, been meaning to as there’s normally a ch00n or two in there for me.

      Not sure about this one though. Mincing Amish dancers and… is he playing a spoon? Someone go get Joci Papai’s milk churn and we’ll have the whole kitchen before we know it.

  • Interestingly, Sweden’s last (and only) NQ came during the last LED free show in Oslo. I’m all for this LED-free malarkey, as delegations can no longer hide a bad song behind visual trickery.

    Delegations can bring their own screens (Mans in 2015, Sergey in 2016, Lucie’s shard last year had screens) but how many will have that sort of budget?

  • So San Marino could have had this, which is amazing (it reminds me of Lissie) but they picked the other song for her instead, so she isn’t singing this in the final…

  • Panos

    I love the intimacy V awkwardness analysis for Spain, with some excellent points being made. However, these to me feel like the final nails to the coffin of its main problem: embarassingly shit song.

    • Milton

      That’s my main concern for it Panos, will the juries see it through your eyes or mine? I guess a mixture. I think the song is wonderful, I adore it. If you had Chris Martin singing an English version I could see it on an early Coldplay album. To me its an excellent piece of songwriting, but there seem to be plenty like you who disagree. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see it fall behind with the juries, who unlike the public can mark it down if they don’t like it.

      • Chris Bellis

        Milton – you’ve nailed the issue there. “Coldplay”. I have to hide the fact that I like some of their songs, much as I have to pretend not to like the occasional James Blunt song, as they feature in almost every comedian’s act as figures of hate and derision.. Whether the Eurovision televoters have the same tastes, I doubt, so I could see the Spanish song doing ok. Not so much with the juries though.

  • I will be wearing black tomorrow because Serbia didn’t pick this, from the composer of Molitva and Beauty Never Lies:

  • I would love to hear dear Eurovicious’ take on the Serbian entry. I for one felt that the runner up, Saška Janković, had more on offer for the juries with her Magdi Ruzsa/Alyosha shtick. Nova Deca has the right combination of elements on paper, but ends up being noisy and weird in reality. It’s slightly non-disco Deen Vs Sofi Marinova.

    • Morning Panos 🙂 I like what won, but I’m leaning quite heavily towards calling fanwank on it. It’s oddly structured, and the fact there’s so many of them means there’s no focal point; we open with Danica, who’s great, but then she’s relegated to background when the beardy bloke steps in. It’s considerably less effective than Moj svijet or Adio, let alone the Željko entries/Oro/Lejla/Molitva. (It is however better and more cohesive and authentic than Ljubav je, which I always thought was a mess.) I also think Saška would have been better for Eurovision, though maybe not with that hair and outfit.

      I liked almost all the songs in Beovizija and am glad it’s back (and that fans responded so well to it, for its nostalgia factor and total lack of manufactured generic Scandi-penned entries), but it was like watching a transmission from 2004; it compares very unfavourably with Eesti Laul (for instance) in terms of visual presentation and edgy/progressive songs. The issue is RTS’s staidness; I know if IDJ or Pink were to produce a Serbian NF it’d be like Eesti Laul/Melfest on steroids. Pink in fact did produce its own pseudo-NF two years in a row in April using all the songs it had submitted to RTS for Eurovision but that their selection committee had rejected.

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