Here’s the fifth and final part of my run-through of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest hopefuls. We’ve made it to the Big Five (er, Six) and the host nation now, so there’s no semi-final process for this lot – you’ll definitely hear these songs on the night and only on the night. Parts 1 through 4 can be read here, here, here and here. Be warned: the opinions contained within may be dangerous and/or silly. Proceed with caution.
AUSTRIA: The Makemakes, “I Am Yours”
And so we come to the immortal question, the one the architects of our society pondered all those millennia ago: just what on God’s green earth is a Makemake? Well, as it turns out it’s actually a bunch of things: a dwarf planet in the Kuiper belt, a god in Easter Island mythology, a designer clothing brand… and that’s about all I could find. So I guess those architects of society can stop pondering now. *cough*
I’m sure a host country must have won at some point in Eurovision’s sixty-year history. Might Austria do it this year? Er, I have my doubts, honestly. I mean, it’s an all right song – kinda sounds like a deep cut from one of Supertramp’s poppier albums – with a charming, relaxed feel to it, but it’s not really striking or catchy enough to leave any sort of impression on you once it’s ended.
FRANCE: Lisa Angell, “N’oubliez pas” (English: “Don’t Forget”)
So, France, learned from the whole Twin Twin faux-pas last year? Yeah, I thought you might have.
GERMANY: Ann Sophie, “Black Smoke”
Funny story: this wasn’t supposed to be Germany’s entry this year. Somebody else won their competition to pick the entrant – public vote and everything – but stepped down from the position and, as the runner-up, Ms Sophie was put forward instead. Okay, it wasn’t a funny story, exactly, but it was fascinating, right? Could it not just at least be that?
She kinds sounds like Paloma Faith, doesn’t she? Jury’s out on whether that’s a good thing or not, though. As for the song, I actually really like it. It’s got class, it’s got passion, a decent melody, good atmosphere – you know, most of things we used to look for in music before the ntss-ntss generation took over. Is it spectacular? On it’s own perhaps not, but compared to its competition it’s a freaking gem. I have to say, though, that I still prefer Blues Pills’s “Black Smoke“.
ITALY: Il Volo, “Grande amore” (English: “Great Love”)
Yep, this is pretty much what I expected from a group whose name kinda looks like Il Divo but not quite: bombastic, grandiose opera-pop sung by anywhere between two and five attractive but indistinguishable male singers. I’m not too sure what to make of it, to be honest. I mean, yes, it’s another OTT ballad (and one with a video that, for some reason, riffs on Ghost, Back to the Future and Spider-Man) but at least it wears its OTT-edness with panache. Do I even know what I’m talking about anywhere? I’m not sure. It’s been a long five weeks, guys.
SPAIN: Edurne, “Amanecer” (English: “Dawn”)
An interesting direction Spain have taken this year in dedicating their entire entry to the legendary English comedienne, Dawn French, with the… oh, is that not what this is about? No, of course it isn’t, is it? And yet why does my brain insist that it should have been?
Okay, I’ll be honest: I laughed at the tiger. I couldn’t help it. It was just like, okay, summery meadow, open-shirted man – boom, tiger. Perhaps I shouldn’t have laughed – it’s always tricky with different cultures to take these sorts of things too lightly – but in a way I had to. When life gives you random tigers you make the most of it. The song? Yeah, it’s dramatic, bombastic and boring, but you already knew that, right? The electronic touches are underplayed, at least, and the singing is strong and… oh, right, she’s the tiger. Right, this is getting interesting.
UNITED KINGDOM: Electro Velvet, “Still in Love with You”
On to Blighty, then. Our entry for this year has been met with mixed reactions by the internet, because when has the internet ever met anything with anything else? Come on, guys, it’s swing music – is it even possible to screw up something as awesome and classy as swing?
Well, the dance beats don’t help, nor do the slightly flat male vocals – and just what is that bizarre breakdown bit in the middle? Yeesh. I like that it doesn’t take itself even the slightest bit seriously, though, while the violin refrain gives me happy memories of watching the Nineties Jeeves and Wooster series on a dodgy VHS. Sure, the hooks could have done with being sharpened a bit, but it’s limber, punchy, colourful and should stick out among all the turgid power ballads this year. Hey, at the end of the day Eurovision is supposed to be daft fun, and what is “Still in Love with You” if not that?
AUSTRALIA: Guy Sebastian, “Tonight Again”
Yep, so this is happening: for one year only Australia (who, apparently, are big fans of the contest and broadcast it every year) are taking part in Eurovision. I’ve seen commenters losing their mind over the country’s inclusion in this year’s contest on the video for this song, perhaps forgetting that this is a pop song contest and not a summit on trade regulations.
Hey, look at that – Australia brought some game. This actually sounds like a perfectly fine piece of contemporary pop. In fact it’s better than fine, it’s pretty freaking great. It’s got a funky stride, an endearingly soulful melody, a thoroughly infectious melody, a modern production and sound that bolsters the music rather than overpowering it – and it’s even got a horn section! You read me so well, Australia. Yep, I like this.
There we are – that’s all of ’em! As usual, here are my personal favourites for this year’s contest in no particular order:
- Estonia – Elina Born and Stig Rästa, “Goodbye to Yesterday”
- Australia – Guy Sebastian, “Tonight Again”
- Georgia – Nina Sublatti, “Warrior”
- Germany – Ann Sophie, “Black Smoke”
- Denmark – Anti Social Media, “The Way You Are”
Thanks again for plowing through this with me. I hope you enjoy the final on Saturday – I know I will – and once again, if any of my favourites make it to the top five, you owe me a pint. I think I’ll have a nice, cool Old Speckled Hen this time around. The drink, not an actual hen stuffed into a glass, you freak.
The Eurovision final will take place this Saturday 23rd May – good luck to [insert country of your choice]!