In about a month’s time, we’ll be about to start Eurovision week. To celebrate one of the greatest occasions of the year, I’ll be reviewing eight entries a week (probably every Saturday, tbh). They were all chosen at random, mainly so I don’t get bored after reviewing the really good/bad ones. This week, I’m taking a look at Estonia, Lithuania, Cyprus, The UK, Montenegro, Slovenia, Australia and Azerbaijan.
Estonia are represented this year by Elina Born and Stig Rästa, who won the Estonian selection show with an amazing 79% of the vote. Their song is ‘Goodbye To Yesterday’, which is a nice mid-tempo about the breakdown of a relationship. There are some really nice nods to the sixties and seventies in the production, yet it sounds current and not a pastiche (we’ll get onto an entry that is in due course). I don’t love it – it’s a little too Heart FM drive time for me – but I can see why you would. I can’t see this as a runaway winner, but Elina may win ‘Hun of the Contest’ because her dream is to visit Africa “to pet giraffes”.
Current odds: 8/1 (3rd favourite)
Lithuania gave us the worst entry last year (seriously 0/10), so the only way is up. This year we’re being treated to Monika Linkytė and Vaidas Baumila, and their song ‘This Time’. Vaidas is a former cruise ship singer (where does one get a ticket for that boat?!?), and Monika wanted to be a dancer when she was younger. This song is a duet about falling in love, and it has a barn-dance-cum-Mumford sort of sound to it. Much like the Estonian entry, it sounds very Heart FM, but this one just isn’t as good. Fortunately for them, it’s not in the same semi-final as Estonia, although I’d guess that it might just scrape through or just miss out.
Current odds: 125/1 (30th favourite)
Cyprus are back this year (!!!!), and celebrated with an extensive search to find this entry (one of the contestants was Ioanna Protopappa, who released a bonkers cover of ‘Touch My Fire’). They chose John Karayiannis is the end, with his song ‘One Thing I Should Have Done’. It’s an acoustic number about wishing you had done more to save a relationship. It’s perfectly serviceable, and sounds like a more tender moment from a One Direction album. I wouldn’t vote for this, but John seems like a nice guy and I want him to do well (even just so he can afford to play his computer games in his home, rather than an internet cafe).
Current odds: 100/1 (19th favourite)
After being robbed last year, we’re sending Electro Velvet with ‘Still In Love With You’. Before we get into the actual review, it must be pointed out that Alex doesn’t actually like velvet. WE KNOW EXACTLY HOW YOU FEEL HUN. Imagine if Dave Arch and his Wonderful Orchestra released a single. It’d be ‘Still In Love With You’ The scat is awful, and the production doesn’t sound too dissimilar to ‘The Social Network Song’. Having said that, this song sounds so different to everything I’ve heard so far, and I think it could potentially pick up a few points (probably around 15). Still, what a load of shit (I’ll love this is a few weeks).
Current odds: 50/1 (11th favourite)
Back to the MOR, this time with Montenegro. They’re sending Knez, who is one of Montenegro’s most popular singers (he’s released ten albums so far). The song is called ‘Adio’ (‘Goodbye’ in Montenegrin), and is a folk ballad. Much like all the songs so far, this isn’t for me at all, but I like that there is a Montenegrin folk influence. Knez loves it though; there’s a really lolz bit at 33 seconds of the music video where it looks like he’s really enjoying the sound of this song (I mean, I love Ariana Grande, but not that much). I haven’t heard every entry this year, but I really can’t see this troubling for a Top 10 slot in the semi, let alone the final.
Current odds: 125/1 (34th favourite)
This year’s Slovenian entry comes courtesy of Maraaya, with their song ‘Here For You’. Maraaya are Marjetka and Raay, who are a married couple (isn’t that lovely?). They were their studio headphones on stage, in order to “evoke the same emotions she felt in the studio while recording” (that’s all well and good but pretty difficult in front of millions of people). She sounds a bit like Ella Eyre, and this song is actually really nice. It’s still quite MOR, but her voice is a bit more interesting than the voices on the Lithuanian entry. It doesn’t scream “winner” to me, but I can see this in the Top 10.
Current odds: 22/1 (6th favourite)
Australia have been allowed to send a song this year, because Eurovision turns 60 in May. On paper, this is really exciting because of Kylie Minogue/Samantha Jade/Delta Goodrem etc. Rather than any of those, Australia are sending Guy Sebastian, who is one of their biggest singers. In the press conference, Guy said he’d be sending a ballad to Vienna, but instead, the rush-recorded ‘Tonight Again’. It does sound rushed (the ‘do what you want’ hook sounds sandwiched in), but it does have a chilled-banger feel to it (any form of tempo – bar Electro Velvet – is welcome). I think this could win, but more in a novelty “ooh let’s vote for Australia way”, rather than because it’s good.
Current odds: 14/1 (4th favourite)
Azerbaijan did badly for the first time last year, coming 22nd with ‘Start A Fire’ (which was quite good, no?). This year they’re sending Elnur Huseynov, who came 8th for them as part of Elnur and Samir (he’s the angel). Whereas that was a bit insane, ‘Hour of the Wolf’ is just excellent. It’s a brooding ballad that builds with military drums and well-written lyrics. There’s something quite restrained about it, which is a nice change of pace given that Azerbaijan love to throw everything into their entries. Watch, they’ll probably ruin all of this and have Elnur astride an actual wolf. I think this could win, but only with a really good slot in the final.
Current odds: 33/1 (9th favourite)
Jade Ewen by Nick Druzyakin / (CC BY-SA 4.0)