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Spirits Raised Or Dashed?

Apr 9, 2017 by

Spirits Raised Or Dashed?

Amsterdam is one of my favourite times of year. It’s the crème de la crème of Eurovision pre-parties, and this year we were treated to over thirty of this year’s artists performing in a live concert setting.

Ireland’s Brendan Murray was given the poison chalice of opening the show. He sang with his eyes closed for part of the verses. Tonally he is very squeaky which is not particularly suited to ‘Dying To Try’. It’s a shame it’s no longer 2002 as this would’ve made a competent Pop Idol winner’s single for someone like Michelle McManus.

Manel from Spain was next, who clearly requested to be on early so he could carry on enjoying Amsterdam’s coffee shops. Either that or carry on busking. There aren’t many songs which are so atrocious that they have the ability to make you laugh out loud, but for me ‘Do It For Your Lover’ does just that.

Georgia was screwed over in the running order, just as it has been in its semi-final. The Skyfall-esque ‘Keep The Faith’ had zero impact from this position, which is a shame as I find it a very competent entry overall, if a little uninspiring.

There aren’t many songs which are so atrocious that they have the ability to make you laugh out loud, but for me ‘Do It For Your Lover’ does just that

Lithuania’s Fusedmarc were next with ‘Rain of Revolution’, or as I prefer to call it, ‘Shower of Sh*te’. There’s nothing wrong with the way she performs this but it’s such a poor composition that it’s difficult to envisage it getting through, despite Lithuania’s voting power.

There’s a similar dilemma with Poland’s entry this year. ‘Flashlight’ is more jury-friendly than ‘Color of Your Life’ was last year, but is unlikely to inspire the same kind of televote. I enjoy this song but guess I’m probably in the minority. This is about as borderline as it gets.

Norway’s JOWST provided the first singalong of the night with ‘Grab The Moment’. The chorus to this is disappointing, which is a shame as the Ed Sheeran verses are promising, and the middle eight is decent.

Levina from Germany has come on leaps and bounds since the national final. ‘Perfect Life’ is a horrible rip off of a Sia song, but she’s beginning to sell it well. She’s giving it the passion it requires to make an impact – or enough impact to avoid last place, at least.

Albania’s Lindita shocked the crowd by coming on wearing a sexually provocative leotard. I guess that’s one way to make an impression, as ‘World’ itself could struggle to make much impact.

I find Hungary’s ‘Origo’ painfully dull in its studio iteration, but live Joci Pápai and his pals brought it with a well-choreographed routine that was both slick and impressive. It’s quite a friendly semi as well with most of the ex-Yugo countries voting.

Albania’s Lindita shocked the crowd by coming on wearing a sexually provocative leotard. I guess that’s one way to make an impression, as ‘World’ itself could struggle to make much impact

‘Blackbird’ by Norma John is my personal favourite song this year, but last night it lacked the stunning impact it had in its national final. This nihilistic anthem probably isn’t suited to this kind of concert setting, and it has a job on its hands attempting to qualify from the tough first semi-final.

Moldova’s Sunstroke Project closed the first section. They really exposed just how tacky ‘Hey, Mamma’ is, despite the Epic Sax Guy. Last time around they qualified by the skin of their teeth, and if they do so this time then it’ll be in the same fashion. It will be relying on pulling in a decent televote to have any chance of getting through.

Timebelle from Switzerland put in a confident performance of ‘Apollo’. The singer was keen to point out she is Romanian, which will help as Romania is voting in the same semi. Despite it being Switzerland, I think this is a strong enough composition to qualify from the weaker second semi-final.

Slovenia’s Omar has apparently been saving his Eurovision song for ten years, which makes sense given how dated it comes across. Even with a great running order position, qualification appears unlikely.

There’s a special place in hell reserved for Valentina Monetta, who is back with her fourth Siegel-schlager. To be fair to her, she performs this very well with Jimmie Wilson, but they come across as a mismatched duo who have got up to sing karaoke. None of her songs have been much cop, and she only qualified by one point last time. I hadn’t consumed enough spirits of the night in order to properly enjoy this, though Rob clearly had as he told me he loved it.

Malta I feel could be underrated in the qualification market. It managed third place in the semi last year despite ‘Walk on Water’ receiving almost no televote, so it can probably qualify with ‘Breathlessly’ if enjoying its trademark jury boost.

Israel’s Imri is one of the best looking performers this year. It’s almost like a Calvin Klein model walked into a recording studio. His vocal isn’t totally convincing for ‘I Feel Alive’, and I would give him some secret backing singers if I were staging it.

Azerbaijan’s ‘Skeletons’ is an original, contemporary song but Dihaj currently isn’t selling this well enough. Her alternative styling is alienating in a Eurovision context and the sparkly gold outfit she was sporting was incongruous. She will have to improve a great deal to make an impact in Kiev.

Belarus brings a very happy, authentic vibe but there isn’t a lot of substance to ‘Story of My Life’. Its qualification prospects may be hindered if Russia ends up not participating this year.

The queue for the toilets was massive during Czech Republic, which says it all about its song this year

Kristian from Bulgaria was the first of this year’s Outright contenders to take the stage. He didn’t disappoint. Vocally he was very solid, ad libbing to make the song more interesting, a bit like Dami Im last year.

The queue for the toilets was massive during Czech Republic, which says it all about its song this year. It’s definitely struggling to qualify from the tough first semi as it’s just too beige to make an impact.

Austria’s Nathan Trent is very ordinary-looking compared to some of his competitors. Vocally he’s excellent though, and the juries should be appreciating his Maroon 5-lite ‘Running On Air’.

Anja from Denmark is one of the singers this year with superstar looks. Luckily she has the voice to match too. Despite being one of the best singers in the competition, I’m not sure the song is strong enough to get seriously involved on the lefthandside of the leaderboard.

Sweden’s Robin Bengtsson had lots of reverb on his microphone for ‘I Can’t Go On’. The slick stage show was obviously missing for this performance, but the audience were captivated regardless. In a close contest, I could easily see Sweden winning as it’s such a polished and addictive package and might even be a contender to be the jury winner.

This year’s host nation has added a female backing singer who actually adds a great deal to the Muse-inspired ‘Time’. Ukraine is adept when it comes to polishing a turd, so I won’t be too surprised to see this ending up on the edge of the Top 10.

Armenia’s Artsvik has one of the most intriguing songs of the year with ‘Fly With Me’. This has the potential to scoop up plenty of Eastern votes. It’s the kind of song which warrants a flashy stage show and Armenia has done an amazing job staging its last two entries in particular.

Slavko is wearing his ridiculous ponytail for his performance of ‘Space’. This type of song is jury anathema, and a lot of its main allies are voting in the other semi. It’s probably novelty enough to avoid last place overall.

It wasn’t totally clear whether or not Alma from France was miming. The verses sounded live, but the chorus did not. This song has the potential to do well but it doesn’t feel like Alma’s heart is in it just yet.

In a close contest, I could easily see Sweden winning as it’s such a polished and addictive package and might even be a contender to be the jury winner

Hovig from Cyprus was impressive for his rendition of ‘Gravity’. He’s confident and charismatic, and with its decent running order position Cyprus certainly has a shot of qualifying in the tough semi 1.

The juries may well appreciate the UK’s ‘Never Give Up On You’ but I don’t think there’s currently enough there to keep televoters interested. Lucie does her best but this West End ballad might not be the type of thing people are looking for at Eurovision.

The Romanian duo were very professional for ‘Yodel It!’. This is a novelty song that will largely be relying on a neutral televote to qualify. Juries are a different story, but at least the song is original in a Eurovision context.

Jana from FYR Macedonia was clearly miming for ‘Dance Alone’, which doesn’t bode well for its chances of doing well. It could be this year’s fanw*nk which may well fail to get out of the weaker semi, despite having allies.

Serbia was also lacklustre. The song is solid in studio form but live Tijana seems to be a poor performer. It is going to have to rely on the generosity of its numerous allies in this semi if it’s going to qualify.

Italy was predictably saved until almost the end. Lots of people are declaring this the winner but I’m far from convinced. Off the top of my head I can think of at least five songs that should be ahead of this on the jury side of the equation.

The music video has gone viral, but people are forgetting that it won its national final unconvincingly with relatively poor stats. Layers of this song at current prices may well be rewarded during the jury vote reveal. Live I didn’t think he was anything special either, but others disagree.

OG3NE put in one of the best vocal performances of the night for ‘Lights and Shadows’. It’s a shame the song isn’t a little stronger, but The Netherlands could be in the mix for qualification as long as they don’t mess up the staging.

Next stop, Kiev, where I will again be joining Rob reporting from rehearsals. A lot can change there so whatever you do please factor in the caveat the Melkweg gig is fan bubble central and standing among the audience assessing songs can be a far cry from what we end up seeing and hearing on the tv monitor in the press centre.

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3 Comments

  1. Montell

    I like Moldova this year. My first impression of their national final performance was very good. To me it’s a better song then the one from 2010. It’s more fun, it has a better staging concept and much better draw. I think it will be 6th-10th in the televote and 10th-13th in the jury table. I hardly imagine them not qualifying.

  2. dicksbits

    Fab review as always. So difficult to get a decent review of all these songs without all the hype.

  3. PurpleKylie

    Great article, nice to see someone talking some sense re: Italy for once, I feel like everyone else has been blinded by the hype so much that they can’t think objectively.

    Nice to see that I wasn’t alone in thinking that Azerbaijan came across as cold i Amsterdam. Lots of punters are rating it but I think it might actually be Semi 1’s shock NQ.