Eurovision 2017 Preview

The greatest time of the year has arrived once again. I know what you’re thinking, “It’s not Christmas for another 7 months”, but I’m not talking about Christmas, I’m talking about the Eurovision. This week has already seen the 2 semi-finals, and Saturday night (the 13th) will see the Grand Final taking place in Kiev, Ukraine.

What better way to prepare yourself for watching the greatest musical spectacle on earth than by reading a “well-put-together” and considered preview of each of the songs in the contest?

Here’s a quick review of each of the songs in the Grand Final, along with their position in the running order. If you persevere to the end, I might even tell you my prediction for the top 4 and biggest chance of “nul points”!

Qualifiers from Semi Final 1

Sweden – Robin Bengtsson – I Can’t Go On – 24th

SwedenThis young Gary Barlow lookalike is highly fancied to be a success, and I don’t know why. The song itself is fine, but it’s boring and doesn’t develop. You can tell they know this, because they’ve got the stage set up with 5 treadmills which allow for an “OK Go v Bruno Mars” dance routine. A snazzy dance routine and a standard song do not a Eurovision hit make. Their running order spot of 24th will help them get mid-table.

HIT / MISS / MAYBE? – MISS

Australia – Isaiah – Don’t Come Easy – 14th

AUSTRALIAN EUROVISION ANNOUNCEMENTThis guy won Australia’s X-Factor and you can tell. The performance stinks of X-Factor. His live vocal performance is very lacking though, and the screeching towards the end of the song is atrocious. Uses a treadmill style stage again to distract you from the poor, boring song. It’ll take more than sparklers to lift this song to a winner’s podium, especially from 14th.

HIT / MISS / MAYBE? – MISS

Belgium – Blanche – City Lights – 23rd

belgiumThis song promises a lot but doesn’t exactly deliver. It succeeds in getting the crowd on-side early, with lots of finger-clicking inspired audience clapping. The singing is good mind you, with an excellent vocal range on show, but the song unfortunately doesn’t really go anywhere. Decent but not a stormer. It’ll be helped by being 23rd on the bill, though.

HIT / MISS / MAYBE? – MAYBE

Azerbaijan – Dihaj – Skeletons – 12th

AzerbaijanThis one’s for the fans of weird songs. It’s a bit “Rammstein meets Shakespears Sister”. The song’s good. Odd, but good. Backing vocals are great too. What else do you need from the staging than a guy on a ladder wearing a horse’s head? This has a chance, but I don’t see it near 1st place. The only issue it might have is being in the 1st half of the contest. Might not be weird enough to remain memorable, especially from as far back as 12th.

HIT / MISS / MAYBE? – MAYBE

Portugal – Salvador Sobral – Amar Pelos Dois – 11th

PortugalThis one is second-favourite to win this year. I don’t really get why. Like, it’s nice, but it’s not incredible. It does provide a nice contrast to a lot of the songs in the contest, and the song is well acted by Salvador. It’s artistic, and has a very nice orchestral backing. It’ll do well but it’s on 11th in the running. Is it good enough to be memorable come the end of the songs? Hard to say, but fairly good nonetheless, and sung in Portuguese, so there’s that.

HIT / MISS / MAYBE? – MAYBE

Greece – Demy – This is Love – 15th

GreeceGreece’s entry splits opinion a little, but I’m a bit of a fan. The visuals of the staging are pretty good, though the odd guys splashing in the pools are just that, odd. All in all a decent song though, with modern dance vibes, a nice chorus, and a solid instrumental section. Vocals let the song down throughout, but could be helped by a 2nd half showing, even if it is early on.

HIT / MISS / MAYBE? – MAYBE

Poland – Kasia Mos – Flashlight – 2nd

PolandSounds a bit like a weak Bond theme in honesty, but this song melds classical and electronic very well. If you’re a fan of rapidly descending scalic strings then look no further than Poland’s offering. The vocals are alright and, like a fine wine, it gets better with time. Going 2nd in the contest will hurt it, but still a decent effort.

HIT / MISS / MAYBE? – MAYBE

Moldova – Sunstroke Project – Hey Mamma – 7th

MoldovaThis is a real foot tapper, and not the first time these guys have shown up for Eurovision. Remember 2010? There’s a violin and sax player in this trio and they add everything to this tune. It’s a minimalistic drop but the saxophone hook is infectious. Nice costume change in the middle for the backing singers went very smoothly. Though it’s in the first half, it’ll still make the Top 10. Too good to resist.

HIT / MISS / MAYBE? – HIT

Cyprus – Hovig – Gravity – 19th

CyprusShameless Rag’n’Bone Man ripoff but not too bad. It’s interesting at least, and a little different from the majority of songs in the contest. The vocals were a little shaky at times, but the choreography was alright, good staging choices. No real development in the song though, which lets it down a little. Not great, but not awful. Going 19th might boost their chances a little.

HIT / MISS / MAYBE? – MAYBE

Armenia – Artsvik – Fly With Me – 5th

ArmeniaLost out the “Longest Hair” competition to Montenegro, but managed to make it through to the final at least. This one’s got cool minimalistic, Egyptian/Middle Eastern sounding music, with dance moves to match. I think the choreography is great. Vocals are a bit ropey live, but it’s a nice alternative to the standard entries smattered through the contest. If nothing else, it’s interesting. Being on 5th will hurt their chances.

HIT / MISS / MAYBE? – MAYBE

 

Qualifiers from Semi-Final 2

Romania – Ilinca ft. Alex Florea – Yodel It! – 20th

RomaniaThe title lets you know exactly what this is all about. Good old-fashioned yodelling but with a rap twist in the verse. It’s got a great yodelling hook that’ll get even the most stone-hearted viewer yodelling along. At times it’s like Ilinca is yodelling and singing at the same time. Absolutely incredible and, with a great draw at 20th in the running, this is bound to get up near the top. It just gets better and better.

HIT / MISS / MAYBE? – HIT

Bulgaria – Kristian Kostov – Beautiful Mess – 25th

BulgariaThis one’s a fan favourite and it’s alright. Pretty good vocal performance with good visuals. It’s a nice, emotional performance with a hint of dub to it (usually a mark of a great Eurovision song). It’s not the best but it’s pretty good. As the penultimate song of the contest, it stands a good chance of getting into the Top 10.

HIT / MISS / MAYBE? – MAYBE

Netherlands – OG3NE – Lights and Shadows – 6th

NetherlandsThis song is amazing. Like, there’s nothing not to like about this song. Lots of focus on vocals and they absolutely kill the harmonies. It’s complex, with lots of development, and it’s thoroughly enjoyable to listen to. They even have a big “boom, clap” bit near the end for the crowd-participation aspect. A definite contender for the win, but going 6th will hurt there chances. Still a good top 4 chance.

HIT / MISS / MAYBE? – HIT

Belarus – Naviband – Story of My Life – 3rd

BelarusThis is the first song to be entirely sung in Belarusian, and it’s an absolute stormer! Instant energy that holds up the whole way. You’ll be nodding, tapping, swinging your arms in the air, and chanting along with them in no time. Great hook, great dance, great vocals. The sort of song that really puts a smile on your face. It’s a pity that they’re on 3rd in the contest as they’ll suffer for that, but still a chance of top 4, if not the title.

HIT / MISS / MAYBE? – HIT

Croatia – Jacques Houdek – My Friend – 13th

CroatiaClassical introduction with spoken word – always a great start. This one’s among the odder of the entries this year. A man dueting with himself – when he turns one way, he’s pop; when he turns the other way, he’s opera. Popera, if you will. It’ll prove popular. There’s plenty of pyro and overexuberant string players on stage. This song goes from “this is a bit weird” to “this is absolutely great” by the end. Not too bad a draw at 13th, either.

HIT / MISS / MAYBE? – HIT

Hungary – Joci Papai – Origo – 8th

HungaryYou really need to hear this one to get a feel for what it is. “Traditional instrumentals over electronic beats” is about as good a way to describe it as any. There’s a belly dancer on stage with a bit of pyro. The song doesn’t really go anywhere, overall. There’s a Hungarian rap section, but that’s far from enjoyable. Not sure how this qualified really. Bad draw in the final as well. No chance.

HIT / MISS / MAYBE? – MISS

Denmark – Anja – Where I Am – 10th

DenmarkThis one gets better as it goes. There’s a big vocal intro, but that leads into a song that leaves quite a lot to be desired. The chorus is pleasant enough but the whole thing feels a bit weak. The pyrotechnics that rain from the sky are not warranted, either. It gets a bit better as it goes on, but still not great, and going 10th will not do it any favours. It’ll be banished to the bottom half of the table.

HIT / MISS / MAYBE? – MAYBE

Israel – IMRI – I Feel Alive – 1st

IsraelThis song suffers from a bad case of “the vocals”. If the lyrics weren’t there, it would be really good, but as it is, it’s just alright. It sounds very “dance music 5 years ago”, and it’ll get you nodding. There’s plenty of pyro going on and some traditional instrumental touches which are nice. Going 1st in the running kills Israel’s chances dead though. It’s not enough, but it’s fine.

HIT / MISS / MAYBE? – MAYBE

Norway – JOWST – Grab the Moment – 17th

NorwayThis is a bit Ed Sheeran-y. Ed Sheeran in Boy George’s hat, with Daft Punk on backup. It’s very electronic, with strange TV effects. It’s the most contemporarily electronic of the contest, for me. It’s nothing special. I can see why some people would like it, but it doesn’t really deserve to be in the Final, and while it might be helped by going 17th, I can’t see it troubling the top 4.

HIT / MISS / MAYBE? – MISS

Austria – Nathan Trent – Running On Air – 4th

AustriaThis is a fairly nice, casual, finger-clicker. It’s a bit Ed Sheeran too. Staging is pretty good, with a big glittery crescent moon that screams “Eurovision”. The song carries a nice message about believing in yourself, and it’s a great vocal performance. It’s not the best song, but it’s inoffensive and “feel-good”, and the the crowd responded well to it. It would have a better chance if it wasn’t going 4th. It’ll get forgotten about and end up mid-table.

HIT / MISS / MAYBE? – MAYBE

 

The Big 5 & Host

Ukraine – O.Torvald – Time – 22nd

UkraineThe hosts this year, Ukraine, have found a stormer to represent them. The song has an overall Papa Roach feel to it, and suffers only with a case of the ropey vocals. The breakdown in the middle is a particular highlight, complete with strobe lights, and there’s the “full band” mime which is always amazing, as they all make up for not playing by over-moving. At 22nd in the running, as well, they’ve a legitimate chance of taking 2 in a row.

HIT / MISS / MAYBE? – HIT

United Kingdom – Lucie Jones – Never Give Up On You – 18th

UKLucie’s musical theatre background is on full show, and her live vocal performance is very good. The song is not the best in the contest by any means, but it’s nice enough. It should never have won the UK’s national final, but there are some nice rhythms and melodic lines, and I quite like the staging. The big note at the end is great, and the song at least ends well. A sharp improvement on recent years, mind you. It’s been drawn 18th, so there’s a chance it might trouble the top 10.

HIT / MISS / MAYBE? – MAYBE

Italy – Francesco Gabbani – Occidentali’s Karma – 9th

ItalyThis one’s your favourite to win the competition and it’s easy to see why. An energetic performance with a song that’s just all round good. Upbeat, with great chorus dance choreography that is reminiscent of Brotherhood of Man in 1976. And they’ve got a dancing gorilla! What’s not to like? If you’re not dancing along by the end of it, then I don’t know what’s wrong with you. Drawn 9th, this one, and with a lot of other upbeat crowd-pleasers in the contest, there’s a question mark over their hopes of winning. But they’re in with a real chance.

HIT / MISS / MAYBE? – HIT

Spain – Manel Navarro – Do It For Your Lover – 16th

SpainA bit like Peter Andre’s Mysterious Girl but worse. Seemless switching between Spanish and English, but the beach vibe is just a bit weird, and the song is pretty boring. Doesn’t really go anywhere, but they use the stage well at least. Not likely to do anything though, especially if he doesn’t hit his big note before the middle 8. Overcompensatory miming band again. If nothing else, it has it’s own vibe, with a little light reggae feel. Still not getting much love, I wouldn’t think.

HIT / MISS / MAYBE? – MISS

France – Alma – Requiem – 26th

FranceThe background to the stage has been used well in this one, but the song is a little bit lame. There’s an almost Turkish feel to the song, and it doesn’t really go anywhere. It does have a hint of much-needed dubstep though, which heralds a little more development in the song but not to the extent it needs. It’s not like you sit there thinking, “I hate this song”, but you’re not going to jump for joy when it comes on. Not the best closer for the contest, but they might get a boost in the votes by being last up. Wouldn’t hold out much hope though.

HIT / MISS / MAYBE? – MISS

Germany – Levina – Perfect Life – 21st

GermanyEver heard David Guetta’s Titanium? Yeah? Well prepare to hear it again. It’s a blatant rip-off and the vocals are a bit ropey, particularly towards the end. Staging is boring as well. There’s no real development in the song. It’s crying out for a big drop, or a key change, or something! Could have been great, but as it is, it’s mediocre at best. It’ll probably make you tap your feet or nod your head, but that’s where the enjoyment will largely end. Seems a waste of 21st spot on the bill.

HIT / MISS / MAYBE? – MISS

 

FINAL PREDICTIONS

TOP 4

1st – Romania

2nd – Ukraine

3rd – Netherlands

4th – Moldova

 

NUL POINTS?

Hard to choose, but if there is a song that misses the mark badly enough to be worthy of 0 points, it’s Hungary. I don’t think Hungarian rap is the way to go.

 

Will I be right? Who knows? History says I won’t be. There’s only one way to find out. Tune into the Grand Final on the BBC at 8pm tomorrow night.

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