On location in Vienna to join in the madness that is the usual running of one of the biggest TV shows on Earth – Eurovision. See my previous post as to why I’m here (and it’s not a gay thing either. Rather resent the gay hijack of what was once a fun event). Anyway, this is not a rant post and if you are joining the estimated 195 million watching on TV tonight and have no idea who to look and listen out for, here are my Top 10 picks, though I will say at this point…steel yourselves UK. This is going to be a car crash watch for us. More on that later:
This will get your toes tapping and along with the UK entry is one of the few up-tempo songs this year. There are a lot of male/female duos here (usually a recipe for disaster). Monika Linkytė and Vaidas Baumila belt out this rather happy song called ‘This Time’ and I liked the instant I heard it some months ago. This will be bolstered by the Baltic bloc vote but the country music style will appeal across Scandinavia too.
Don’t under-estimate slow, gentle ballads sung by solo males with no fancy dancers and effects. Belgium, Finland and others have done very well with songs like this in recent years. This is very effectively staged and will be one you will remember come voting time. Song is called ‘One thing I should have done’ by a very British-sounding John Karayiannis who will be moving to the UK after the show, that is if David Cameron let’s him in.
Boggie (yes make sure you pronounce it right) got herself into a little hot water with this entry prior to the show due to a promotional video for the song which was deemed too political and drew official protest from the Israeli Government who felt it was aimed negatively at them. She seems to have appeased everyone now with this attractive and gentle anti-war ballad backed by some very able singers called ‘Wars for Nothing’. Despite the controversy, this one was on my Top 10 list from the start and if popular sentiment rides her way bearing in mind events in Ukraine, she could do well.
Another male /female duo and another strong contender. Norway once cherished our place for ending up bottom of the pack. The Nordics all tend to take Eurovision very seriously (the Swedes take months to choose theirs in what is their biggest TV show of the year). The Norwegians are giving them a run for their money this year with this song called ‘A Monster Like Me’ which does seem to have a rather sinister ending. Performed by Morland and Debrah Scarlett.
This is another that stands out in the crowd for me. Very unusual and hypnotic slow pop ballad sung by a young guy who is the toast of his country at the moment having got through to the final while arch rivals and neighbours The Netherlands failed. Called ‘Rhythm Inside’ and sung by Loic Nottet. I don’t think this will win but it will pick up its fair share of the votes plus he seems to have the pink vote well and truly behind him.
Three times winners Israel have not qualified for the Grand Final for a while and there was much post-contest controversy last year when their entry, which Bookies and the 40 or so voting Eurovision fan clubs (yes they really do exist) all had them as a Top 3 finalist yet the song failed to get through. There are debates about anti-Israel politics in play with the growing global movement to boycott Israel but singer Nadav Guedj seems to have bucked the trend with his dance number ‘Golden Boy’. At only 16 he’s the youngest contestant this year backed by a troupe of boy dancers who bounce around like Jack-in-the-boxes. The song is about the angst of a guy who’s just been dumped by his girlfriend so decides to go out and party and pull another bird. Lots of remorse there then.
It’s taken a long time for this one to grow on me and it only just makes my Top 10. The Bookies and fan clubs, however, have this as one of the favourites to win. Called ‘Goodbye to Yesterday’ and sung by another male/female duo. It’s up-tempo and will probably get Nordic support plus they are very much emulating the Dutch entry last year which came runner-up and that may bode well. Performed by Stig Rasta and Elina Born.
While all the ‘yah boo sucks’ acrimony rages that the Aussies have been allowed to enter at all (and there is a lot of resentment both here in Vienna from what I can make out and across the fan clubs where the song was blanked by voters) I for one am glad the Aussies are here. After all they deserve a good pasting. Kidding. This is probably the most marketable song in the set and for that reason it probably won’t do as well as some might think. Singer Guy Sebastian is something of an idol down under and won their X-Factor a few years back. He’s also a committed Christian having cut his musical teeth leading worship in one of Australia’s mega churches. It deserves to be in the Final and I hope it does well, though doubt it will win. Song is called ‘Tonight Again’
Eurovision would not be Eurovision without a Swedish entry among the favourites. Finding the best song for the contest is almost a national obsession over there so a lot of weight will be on the shoulders of singer Mans Zelmerlow. That said, he will have a lot of support behind him from the Nordic, female and gay voters as the chap is rather camera-friendly (and he knows it). Nonetheless this is a strong song and my second favourite to win, though I actually anticipate no higher than 5th place in the end. Watch out for a very cleaver stage act. Song called ‘Heroes’.
And so to my choice for the night. My mum actually spotted these chaps some years back on YouTube when they were spotty teenagers with amazing voices. They have grown up into the smarmy Italian stereotype quite well and still with amazing voices. They are Il Volo and they do ‘pop opera’ This got my vote the moment I heard it. It’s a rousing operatic anthem that builds to a huge crescendo AND they have the advantage of being last to perform. Once this one has ended you will be hard pressed to remember any that have gone before and it will bring the house down. You have been warned. Song is called ‘Un grande amore’.
So that’s my tip and next year in Rome (or maybe San Remo from where the contest can trace its roots 60 years ago this year).
So what about the UK? Brace yourselves guys…it’s going to be painful viewing for us. The song was blanked by nearly all the 40 or so fan clubs in the pre-contest predictive voting and they usually cumulatively predict the winners and losers. I don’t think people don’t like it or us…it’s just very bland and un-memorable. I’m hoping for 25 votes for the UK in total and if we get that much, then we will have done well.
And what of the rest? Any dark horses like that bearded sausage ‘woman’ from last year who I still can’t stand? The Finns were tipped to do this with their middle-aged punk band who swear while they perform and have learning difficulties. They were a real rebel’s choice. There was a lot of media hype around them and they were at one time an early favourite to upset the apple cart. They never made it through and neither did seven-times winners Ireland. The Irish seem to have lost their way in recent years, even more than us and Sweden is determined to snatch their crown as most successful nation of all. If you have Irish blood in you then you need to vote tactically for Italy as the main contender to stop the Viking advance (and thereby help my chaps win).
If there is a dark horse this year who will move hearts then keep an eye on the Polish entry. You’ll see why when she performs.