A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Tobson's Big ESC 2017 review, part 2

It feels good to be up and running and finally make my way through the competing songs of the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest. If you missed Part One with the five first entries in the first semi final, you can find it by clicking here.

In this second part we will find something progressive and something classy as well as various kinds of old-fashioned. Which can be a wonderful thing at times but not necessarily a way to make Europe fall at your feet.

Slavko Kalezić / Space

At one point during the preselection season it seemed every country in existence opted for big ballads belted out with gusto by female performers in possession of various kinds of vocal capabilities and for a while the entire lineup threatened to turn into a dull and difficult shout-fest and nothing more. When this Montenegrin piece of gay disco landed it was easy to regard this as the entry that would save us all from boredom. Then we got a couple of really decent uptempo numbers and Montenegro ended up a bit in the shade.

No, most probably not. The greatest weapon in Slavko's arsenal is his gay aesthetics but that is also his biggest problem. He might turn viewers away in some countries while other parts of this continent saw things like these already in the late 1980's and will find them tame and old-school. The song is likeable but hardly strong enough to persuade anyone and the chorus is more repetitive than truly convincing. Not bad but not enough.

My grade: 3/5

Slavko Kalezić / Space (Montenegro 2017 preview)

Norma John / Blackbird

Typically enough, Finland enters a haunting ballad in a year when more than a fair share of the participating countries put their faith in ballads. But maybe Finland got it right this time after all. Leena Tirronen is a truly captivating vocalist and the piano break really gives this entry a flavour of its own. Coming after more standard eurovision ballads like Georgia and Albania also gives the audience an idea about this one perhaps being more original than most others. If the live performance is kept understated, clean and elegant like in the national final - please, don't add any dancers or anything! - this one could stand out and at least get heavily voted by the juries.

Borderline. Finland has the bad habit of easily getting overlooked once it is time to vote, but if quality means anything to anyone anymore this one should be bang in the final.

My grade: 4/5

Norma John / Blackbird (Finland 2017 preview)

Dihaj / Skeletons

In what must surely be a strange coincidence, Azerbaijani entries have done pretty badly at the ESC since the EBU imposed stricter rules with heavy punishment for any country getting caught manipulating the televote anywhere. Maybe they missed being in the upper regions of the scoreboard and if they did, this could well be a return to form as they - for the first time since their 2008 debut - make use of a domestic songwriter. And this songwriter surely did his job right. This is modern, this is suggestive and this is ridiculously catchy. The way Dihaj and her backing singers sing the chorus almost in canon is an old trick but beautifully executed. Articulation leaves a lot to be desired - I had no idea what she was singing until I read the lyrics - but that isn't really a problem when the final product is this solid. Azerbaijan's best entry since 2011.

Do whales poop in the ocean? Yes, this is a sure qualifier. If Dihaj can deliver the goods convincingly on stage, this one could go very far in the end.

My grade: 4/5

Dihaj / Skeletons (Azerbaijan 2017 preview)

Salvador Sobral / Amar pelos dois

The first time I heard this song I thought it sounded like a Eurovision winner. If the year had been 1957, that is. Then I listened again and got totally knocked out. This song is timeless rather than old-fashioned, and this soft evergreen easy listening style has huge audiences around the world. Michael Bublé, anyone? Then it doesn't hurt to have a performer like Salvador Sobral either. The boy is so immensely talented, so devoted to his music, so sensitive. Bursting with talent and with a very personable approach to performing. This one is sure to be divisive come Eurovision week but being as original as this one - in a lineup as streamlines as this year's - really should pay off.

Yes. I want to believe this is not only a qualifier but also has a shot at becoming Portugal's best showing to date.

My grade: 4/5

Salvador Sobral / Amar pelos dois (Portugal 2017 preview)


  1. Hi Tobson,

    As always I am really enjoying your reviews. Thank you. I really love the Portugal song, when I first watched the performance I was stopped in my tracks. However I feel it is perhaps too divisive to challenge for the win, do you think it has any chance victory?

    1. Hello there and thank you so much!

      Being divise isn't a totally bad thing, stirring up emotion is good. If 10% of the viewers absolutely love you and all vote for you, then you will win the televote. Also, your haters can't deduct points from you.

      However, jurors can. It's enough with one hostile jury member per country to sabotage your chances. And you need both jury votes and televotes to win.

      I think Portugal has a chance to break into the top five for the first time ever but how far into it remains to be seen. 4th place?

    2. I think juries might just go for this you know. Especially after inspecting the jury list and seeing the average age is on the older side. Do I even dare to dream?!