A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Sunday, April 29, 2018

Tobson's Big ESC 2018 review, part 5

The fifth and last part of my Big Review will focus on the six songs that already made it all the way to Saturday night and the 2018 ESC final. If you want to know more about what goes on in the semis, then check out parts one, two, three and four.

Before 2008, ten countries were pre-qualified for the final in addition to the big spenders. Nice for them but clearly the current system is better. Just because you are good one year does not guarantee that you deserve a place in the final also the next year. Thanks to that system we had to sit through horrors like "Loca" and "Together We Are One" on a Saturday.

Another advantage of the current system is that no prediction made before Friday morning - the day before the final - is anything but advanced guessing. Not until then do we know what the competition really looks like. And that is so very exciting.

Since we don't have the running order for these songs as yet, here are the big five alphabetically and then Portugal last.

Madame Monsieur / Mercy

One of the many songs in this lineup that actually has something to say. The message can be seen as an accusing finger towards rich Europe refusing to lend a hand and help people in need. Beautifully understated and presenting its drama between the lines instead of using fireworks and pyro. Heavily dependent on its spot in the running order and what will come before and after but if everything turns out right, it could be France's best placing for many years.

Potential winner:
No, that would be a surprise if so. On a good day it could possibly make its way into top five and become an international radio hit.

My grade: 4/5

Michael Schulte / You Let Me Walk Alone

Another really emotional effort, this time about losing a parent. Is this the Sobral effect, that the ESC suddenly seems to attract singers and songs that sound more sincere after some years of more streamlined music designed for other purposes? Michael Schulte is likeable and has a good voice and knows how to pull on the heartstrings. Unbearable for some, wonderful for others.

Potential winner:
No, hardly. But Germany is maybe not in need of a victory as much as they need to steer clear of that dreaded last place they flirted with so massively for the last few years. That should be mission completed.

My grade: 3/5

Ermal Meta & Fabrizio Moro / Non mi avete fatto niente

As I child I usually struggled to embrace the Italian entries and look at me now. For the third year in a row, Italy is my personal favourite with this very engaging duet about the violence surrounding us all and how everything must still be worthwhile. Meta and Moro deliver for dear life with aggressive conviction and the Sanremo winner illustrates that the Italian team are still very keen of showing how seriously they take their presence in the ESC these days.

Potential winner:
Yes, this one must be in with a chance. A favourable spot in the running order and the points could start ticking in.

My grade: 5/5

Amaia & Alfred / Tu canción

You know it must be a good year when even Spain shaped up. Seriously bitten by the Sobral bug, this updated equivalent of Sergio & Estíbaliz provide a hyper-romantic and soothing ballad about falling in love. Icky sweet and yet adorable unless you are completely immune to young love. A bit old-fashioned and maybe a bit too similar to last year's winner to go all the way but it sure is a great improvement on recent Spanish entries.

Potential winner:
No, unless all the planets and stars line up the right way. This year is so hard to predict anyway.

My grade: 3/5

SuRie / Storm

Every time I hear this song my inner vision paints an image of a group of people sitting around a table. They have been told they must write a song together and nobody can eat or sleep or leave until it is ready. So they all put in bits and pieces until they have a melody and a lyric that doesn't mean anything to anyone but still it is a song, so they are free to go. Poor SuRie is a lovely performer and would have deserved something meaningful to sing instead of this bleak and poor songwriting exercise.

Potential winner:
No. Au contraire - this is the most likely candidate for last place in the final. Possible nul-pointer. Who on earth would vote for this? And why?

My grade: 1/5

Cláudia Pascoal / O jardim

Something clearly clicked into place last year, and Portugal is delivering another piece of something that is totally their own thing. The live vocals and sound mix need improvement from the Portuguese final - compare to the fabulous studio version - but this is a charming and introverted slice of pop. Let's hope Portugal stays on this more contemporary track forever.

Potential winner:
No. RTP can sleep easy. Maybe this song won't even break into the top 15, but who cares? It is a brave effort by a very likeable performer. On home ground you can do what you want - you already won.

My grade: 4/5

So who will be the winner of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest? No idea. I am avoiding the rehearsal clips as I want as much of a surprise as only possible as the live shows go on air. Ask me again on May 11th, and I will give you my most educated guess.

But a tough battle between the likes of Israel, Czech republic, Italy and France would be nice. Throw in Finland and Sweden for the fun of it. Maybe I am right and Belgium is a dark horse waiting in the wings. And then Alexander Rybak comes in and wins it all?

I have a feeling this will be a very entertaining year. Fasten seatbelts.


  1. You are so right to keep the surprise. It's funny how I generally have to avoid fan sites these last couple of weeks, you'd think it's when I would be looking most. When I first started watching I would only hear the songs for the first time on the big night, then I started watching the previews a week or so before. Now I listen to the most of the songs months in advance, so I have to leave something at least for the Saturday 12th. Next year I think I may go back to the old system and devise my own preview show on YouTube or somrething. It is best to peak in May rather than be already sick of the tracks by the time the actual show is on!

    Anyway...thanks for the reviews, you have great taste.

  2. I love Surie! I think that she, as a performer, is winner material- likable and approchable, but the song... Good bits, like the "spread your love" part, but no.Last place. As for the winner, Im thinking Austria. Dont know why, everyone who hears it seems to love it and its already getting som airplay amongst the more mature radio-channels through Europe.

  3. France might have a winning chance. Spain and Germany will unfairly be bottom 5. Uk can do better then peopke think and tgen there is Italy. I love the song when I hear it but after ca 100 istens it still hasb't stuck with me. I still can't remember the melody....