A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Monday, May 1, 2017

Tobson's Big ESC 2017 Review, part 8

The word I used more than any other - I suppose, I didn't actually count back - is "borderline". Semi two has some obvious qualifiers as well as a couple of equally obvious non-qualifiers. But then? This year's trend is radio-friendly pop songs that are nice - and in most cases good - but not extraordinarily personable. It will be really hard to tell who will qualify or not until you've seen them perform. Whoever manages to inject some originality in their song will make it through.

NAVIBAND / Historyja majho zyccia

For the first time ever, Belarus decided to rely on their own language. Of course I am positive about a such a decision but what moves me even more is that for the first time in many year, the Belarusian entry seems to be coming from a really genuine place. It is happy, it is cheerful and it feels real. It also feels a bit repetitive before three minutes have passed but perhaps that's a minor detail in the great sum of things.

In order not to exhaust the word borderline, I am going to say yes. This sounds very different from anything else and the viewers are going to recognise that. If the band manages to maintain the energy of their clip and put that into motion on stage, this could go pretty far.

My grade: 3/5

NAVIBAND / Historyja majho zyccia (Belarus 2017 preview)

Kristian Kostov / Beautiful Mess

Last year's successful comeback seems to have triggered something in Bulgaria and for the second year running they enter a real contender. This time in the shape of teenage heart-throb Kristian, who is the first ever ESC entrant born after the millennium bug. The Moscow-based singer has a strange and almost hypnotic presence, an excellent voice and a beautifully written song. Maybe the verses are stronger than the chorus, but this is a package designed to impress. It is also the third song in this semi co-written by Joacim Persson.

Yes. And if Italy for some reason would not win, this is one of the possible shock winner candidates. Possibly also the start of an international career for Kristian Kostov.

My grade: 4/5

Kristian Kostov / Beautiful Mess (Bulgaria 2017 preview)

Fusedmarc / Rain of Revolution

Whatever you'd like to say about Lithuania, nobody can deny that they are fully doing their own thing in this contest. During their never-ending national final the viewers finally grew tired of the obvious favourite and opted for this little piece instead. There are actually many bits and pieces I like here: the energy of the verses, the groove of the backing singers that remained in plain sight at least in the NF, and the crazy presence of the lead singer. This is the most stylish and interesting failure of the year. The musical equivalent of two trains crashing into each other, rolling off a cliff, falling onto a nuclear plant.

No. Most definitely not. As soon as the singer starts screaming "Yeah-Yeah!" for the umpti-eleventh time all hope is gone. But I totally prefer this to many more polished and less interesting entires.

My grade: 2/5

Fusedmarc / Rain of Revolution (Lithuania 2017 preview)

Koit Toome & Laura / Verona

Estonia delivers yet another polished and engaging pop pastry and one has to wonder how they really do it. How can such a small country be so consistent and send in so many really good songs? This one has an unusual structure, which could be a bit of a gamble. Koit and Laura are delivering well but would need some more passion and chemistry compared to the national final. The song has also been released in several different versions already, which makes me think this team are maybe not as confident as they would have every reason to be.

Yes, unless the Estonians have thought out some over-complicated stage stunt to drag the attention away from the actual song. Remember last year's card trick? If Belgium runs the risk of being the shock non-qualifier in the first semi, Estonia could be running the same risk here.

My grade: 4/5

Koit Toome & Laura / Verona (Estonia 2017 preview)

IMRI / I Feel Alive

The second semi ends pretty much like the first semi began. Israel seems to have found its way back to a concept that works at Eurovision. Had this been the 1980's, a group of happy backing vocalists would have filled the stage and danced an energetic dance before this song was over. IMRI is a beautiful young man who - very much like Robin Bengtsson - would have deserved something more interesting to perform. The etno touch that comes in by the end is nice and adds a certain flavour but it is nowhere near enough to make this a favourite.

Yes. Just like Belgium last year, being last in the semi will mean all the difference. This one will easily dance its way into the final and could end up in a much higher position than it deserves in the end. Just like Sweden this year.

My grade: 2/5

IMRI / I Feel Alive (Israel 2017 preview)

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