All Abooooooard! It’s Eurovision 2018!

That time of year has come once again, and what better reason to read this blog again than to get the skinny on who’s going to be a Hit, who’s going to be a Miss, and who’s going to be a Maybe at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon, Portugal?

“But John Boy, last year you said the eventual winner, Salvador Sobral, was, at best, a “Maybe””, I hear you cry! That I did, and I stand by that. Nice song, but no way it deserved to be the winner.

Never mind that now though, it’s time to give more, no doubt very accurate descriptions and predictions for the songs in this year’s contest. I’m going to give you a run-down of each song and where it’s set to appear in the final, and at the end, I’ll even give you my picks for the top 4.

Let’s get right into it. In the word’s of the contest’s tag-line this year – all aboard!

 
Qualifiers from Semi Final 1
Austria – Cesar Sampson – Nobody But You – 5th

austria

I really like this song. Close your eyes during this and you could be listening to Seal. Open your eyes and you’ll see some nice staging and discover that your foot is uncontrollably tapping along. The gospel vibes in this one make it great for me, but if there’s one drawback, it’s the annoying straight tambourine against the rest of the syncopated chorus, but that’s a musical preference.

Verdict? – HIT

 
Estonia – Elina Nechayeva – La Forza – 6th

Elina-Nechayeva-Eesti-Laul-940x529

Where do you start with this one? Fans of Romania’s 2013 entry Cezar or Croatia 2017’s Jacques Houdek will love this. An incredible pop opera number, sung entirely in Estonian I think, though it’s hard to tell, as it is in all opera. Cool staging with a big dress that lights up and turns into different things. And the range and quality of the singing is incredible. If you were impressed by the Phantom of the Opera’s top C, you’ll be left open-mouthed at this.

Verdict? – HIT

 
Cyprus – Eleni Foureira – Fuego – 25th

cyprus-eleni-foureira-2018-eurovision-fuego-560x420

Cyprus have a banger this year, even if Eleni does reckon she’s Beyonce. Her dance moves are straight out of B’s playbook and the song is strong as well. A good foot-tapper with good pyrotechnics in the staging and some very nice Cypriot vibes in the music itself. Very well performed and one you’d not think out-of-place on the radio. As the penultimate act of the evening, this could go very high indeed.

Verdict? – HIT

 
Lithuania – Ieva Zasimauskaite – When We’re Old – 4thieva-zasimauskaite-2

The first of the ballad’s to qualify from the first Semi Final. This song is lovely, emotional and well-performed. Perfect for a Eurovision ballad. Amazing echo effect on some finishing notes too. She sings it well, though it does shake a bit from time to time. It’s a shame this is in the first half of the show on Saturday, because it is at risk of getting lost among a lot of other, more-in-your-face hits, but it’s a great song and seems well-liked, and could and should definitely do Top 10.

Verdict? – HIT

 

Israel – Netta Barzilai – TOY – 22nd

israel-netta

Would Eurovision really be Eurovision without a bit of weird? Absolutely not. Netta brings the weird in abundance! This absolute stomper goes down as well with the Eurovision crowd as it does with Yours Truly. With a great, almost dancehall beat; bright, colourful staging and costumes; and chicken noises, this is as good as guaranteed to be Top 4. Think Nicki Minaj meets Korn. And with a dream draw in 22nd, Israel should maybe be starting plans for hosting next year’s contest.

Verdict? – HIT – Winner

 
Czech Republic – Mikolas Josef – Lie To Me – 14thMikolas3_640x345_acf_cropped

If this doesn’t hit UK radio in the same way Loreen’s Euphoria did, then I’d be surprised. This is perhaps the catchiest song of the contest, and while Czech Republic’s answer to Justin Bieber drops some annoying modern dance moves on the stage (Floss ‘n’ all), the staging is very good and the brass hook is irresistible. As a big opener for the second half, this is going to make a big play for the Top 4.

Verdict? – HIT

 
Bulgaria – Equinox – Bones – 18th

Eurovision-BG-Equinox-604x272

This is a good song, don’t get me wrong. It’s well sung and I like the eerie lighting going on in the staging. It’s very Rag’n’Bone Man-esque, but it doesn’t really go anywhere. It threatens too but doesn’t really deliver. I like it, but it’s where the run of HITs comes to an end for now. Solid mid-table effort.

Verdict? – MAYBE

 
Albania – Eugent Bushpepa – Mall – 12th

Eugent-Bushpepa

Great name. Big thumbs up for singing in his own language. Big thumbs down for the over-exuberant stage drummer. The song has a nice lilting 6/8 feel and I think it’s a good mix of traditional and modern styles. It’s a good performance too, but as it runs in the 1st half, I doubt it’s going to do that much damage.

Verdict? – MAYBE

 
Finland – Saara Alto – Monsters – 17th

Saara-Aalto-1

This girl came 2nd in the X Factor apparently. Not sure if she deserved that, but she’s definitely come up with a choon here. The outfits and staging almost seem a slightly toned-down homage to previous Finnish monster-winners Lordi. Cool turntable staging at the start and the singing is pretty good. Class tropical dance vibes are sure to get your foot tapping once again. And with a 2nd half position, this could go pretty well. Top 4? Maybe. Possibly not though. Big thumbs up for a “Delayed Drop” though on one of the later choruses.

Verdict? – HIT

 
Ireland – Ryan O’Shaughnessy – Together – 24th_101228242_014222f4-21a6-4ed4-a7f8-095be9480930

A bit like Saara, Ryan was a finalist on Britain’s Got Talent, apparently. Must have been a duff year, because this song is pretty boring. It’s a nice enough ballad but it doesn’t really go anywhere. The staging is pretty good, and choreography is well done but it’s in no way a stormer. Ireland still hold the record with the highest number of wins ever, but this is 100% not going to add to that tally, even if it is in the 2nd half. It’s not quite a Miss (so we’ve made it through a whole Semi Final without one!) but it most certainly isn’t a hit. Leadránach, to be sure.

Verdict? – MAYBE

 

 

Qualifiers from Semi Final 2

 

Serbia – Sanja Ilic & Balkanika – Nova Deca – 10th

balkanika-beovizija-2018If you like traditional chanting and an Einstein lookalike playing a traditional recorder, look no further. The chanting remains throughout the song and is joined by some nice tropical jungle beats. They don’t hit very hard though which rather lets the song down. A big thumbs down for yet another over-exuberant on-stage drummer. 10th won’t help their slim chances any either.

Verdict? – MAYBE

 

Moldova – DoReDos – My Lucky Day – 19th

b41e78646e48d6241adc5da960961886-920x613This is class. Great staging including some enjoyably energetic stage-acting, a traditional “diddly” melody, and costumes in the colours of the Moldovan flag. What’s not to like? Moldova always seem to come through with a real entertainer and this one is sure to have your foot tapping. If only it had some scat too…it does!? Of course it does. An absolute tune and a solid draw at 19th.

Verdict? – HIT

 

Hungary – AWS – Viszlat Nyar – 21st

Eurovision Song Contest Second Semi FinalThis has been described as Heavy Metal. It’s not Heavy Metal, but it’s metal enough. It’s like a Hungarian Enter Shikari, so nothing special. It’ll go down well with the Eurovision crowd though with a good stage show complete with pyrotechnics. Sung in it’s own language so thumbs up. It’s like a song you’d hear on Kerrang, which isn’t a compliment anymore. Has a nice screamy breakdown which isn’t to everybody’s taste though. 21st in the order might help them into 1st half.

Verdict? – MAYBE

 

The Ukraine – MELOVIN – Under The Ladder – 1st

melovinThis has a weird start as MELOVIN rises out of a makeshift grand piano coffin. It’s sung in English but it’s hard to tell a lot of the time. The singing was shaky and he’s got a weird white eye lens. It’s nothing too special, and in fact is a bit boring, although it does have a staircase that sets alight near the end of the song, so…

Verdict? – MISS

 

Sweden – Benjamin Ingrosso – Dance You Off – 20th

credit-svtCousin of Swedish House Mafia’s Sebastian Ingrosso, Benjamin brings some funky house vibes to the party, putting a good performance and some decent moves in front of a backdrop of oddly offputting 80s Game Show-esque graphics. Is it a hit? Probably not, but it’s by no means a miss. A good song with a good performance and a good draw, should be aiming for the top half.

Verdict? – MAYBE

 

Australia – Jessica Mauboy – We Got Love – 16th

50f3e0a0c5a7c082c298682e53f8a59bEveryone seems to love this one too, and again I have no idea why. The vibe in the music is nice but the choreography is poor, the singing is suspect throughout, the dress is garish, and the song relies far too much on audience participation. The song doesn’t go anywhere, but will probably somehow find it’s way into the top half.

Verdict? – MISS

 

Norway – Alexander Rybak – That’s How You Write A Song – 7th

alexander-rybak-how-you-write-a-song-norway-mgp-2018Rybak is back. He won the contest for Norway in 2009, you’ll recall. He’s back with a funky, if basic, song. It’s a good foot-tapper with some interesting musical graphics used on screen. The lyrics are rubbish. Think “Cake to Bake” by Latvia or “Moustache” by France in 2014. A nice enough song from a firm Eurovision favourite, but not a good draw and a superfluous stage violin. Top half and no more.

Verdict? – MAYBE

 

Denmark – Rasmussen – Higher Ground – 15th

rasumussen-eurovision-2018-denmark-rehearsal-800x533This is one of the more interesting songs. A Viking-themed epic with a warrior-esque chanting chorus and thudding beat. The staging is good and it has a cool, intimidating vibe but it doesn’t really go anywhere, which is a shame. It’s early in the second half and not memorable or quite weird enough to sit higher than mid-table. In fact it’s probably bottom-half, but I like it well enough.

Verdict? – MAYBE

 

Slovenia – Lea Sirk – Hvala, ne! – 3rd

74e55cbea555392d1f2ab1efce2fca07Sung in their own language, which is always a thumbs up from me. There’s some cool, quite eerie staging and a modern trap vibe to the tune itself. It’s performed well and the choreography involves some pretty slick hand dancing. The beat could hit harder but there’s good audience participation and even a practical joke with the music supposedly cutting out accidentally. Drawn 3rd which will hurt it’s chances, but I really like it and think it’ll secure a solid mid-table position.

Verdict? – HIT

 

The Netherlands – Waylon – Outlaw In ‘Em – 23rd

netherlands-waylon-eurovision-2018Not the first time we’ve seen Waylon turn out for the Netherlands at Eurovision, as he was one of the duo who sang “Calm After The Storm” in 2014 which was unlucky not to win. It’s another country song but with an altogether different country vibe. It’s dark country with twangy licks. Sure, he’s got some suspect clothing, and it’s got an over-exuberant drummer on stage, and it sounds a bit like a weak Kid Rock song, but it’s a great performance and highly enjoyable. As the 23rd song in the contest, this has potential to get high in the top half of the results.

Verdict? – HIT

 

 

The Big 5 & Host

 

Portugal – Claudia Pascoal – O Jardim – 8th

claudia-pascoalThis is a nice song for the host – understated and well performed. Top marks for dropping some dubstep in as well. 8th position in the running will kill their chances of going 2 in a row, but there’s no denying it’s enjoyable to listen to.

Verdict? – MAYBE

 

United Kingdom – SuRie – Storm – 9th

landscape-1518259880-surie-eurovision-you-decideUK has a very good song this year. Feels a bit like an homage to Avicii at times, but also smacks of Emmelie de Forest, Denmark’s 2013 winner. It’s got some nice staging with a light-box tunnel and a delayed drop near the end which is always a nice touch. Could do with the drop hitting a bit harder maybe, but it wouldn’t be out of place on the radio. 9th isn’t a good draw, but we could go top half with this.

Verdict? – MAYBE

 

Spain – Amaia y Alfred – Tu Cancion – 2nd

1113509_euro_381fedce7f11f69002a6439b053efe62A nice ballad duet from Spain this year, with (I think) an actual couple performing together, which rather helps with the realism of the song. It seems like it’s about love but I can’t be sure because my Spanish is awful. Lots of long, flowing strings and a big finish. Watch out for Alfred not moving his lips when he sings. No chance from 2nd in the running order, but a nice song nonetheless.

Verdict? – MAYBE

 

France – Madame Monsieur – Mercy – 13th

les-auteurs-compositeurs-emilie-satt-et-jean-karl-lucas-presentaient-la-chanson-mercyPeople seem to like this one and I’m not really sure why. There doesn’t seem to be too much force behind the music, but there are some nice minimalistic electronic sounds. There’s some odd staging but top marks for singing in French as they always do. Bit boring and poor draw position.

Verdict? – MISS

 

Germany – Michael Schulte – You Let Me Walk Alone – 11th

923131008The best of the Big 5 by quite a way. Bit like a German Ed Sheeran in style. Ed Scheeran, if you will. The lyrics are full of familial emotion, and there’s a nice lyric video along with the song. It’s well sung and there’s a big finish with the final chorus. Very good effort from Germany.

Verdict? – HIT

 

Italy – Ermal Meta e Fabrizio Moro – Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente – 26th

timthumbThe final song of the contest, and quite a good one to finish on. It’s a protest song about terrorism from the sounds of things. Good cause to protest against, to be fair. Protest songs have done well in the recent past so there’s a chance for them. It’s well performed and all seems to focus on the Italian lyrics, the English translation of which is fairly powerful. Good music alongside it too. Decent try and probably top half.

Verdict? – MAYBE

 

 

Winner & Top 4 Challengers

So it’s final prediction time!

Winner:

Israel!

 

Top 4 Contenders:

Moldova

The Netherlands

Finland

Czech Republic

Cyprus

 

It’s a solid show this year, with far more Hits than Misses and far more Hits than last year. No matter what your opinion of the songs themselves, you’re sure to enjoy a great show, and as ever, let’s keep our fingers crossed that the UK can pull off a Ukraine 2016 and come out of nowhere to snatch the victory.

All Aboooooooooard!

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