Saturday, May 13, 2017
ESC 2017: Tobson and the 26 in the final
Here we are, it is the day of the Grand Final of the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest in Kyiv. Sixteen songs have found themselves ejected in the semifinals and here we stand with the final contenders. One of these 26 will be the winner, but who stands a chance and who doesn't? Let me share my thought on tonight's participants.
Just like Belgium last year, Israel closed the second semi and now opens the big final. There are many similarities between the two: the performance is definitely stronger than the song and the singer is perhaps not the best we ever saw. A happy opener that could do surprisingly well in the end.
No song ever won from the second slot in the running order and finding Poland here suggests that all the Polish people around Europe voted heavily also this year and the producers are trying to keep it down a bit. Expect this one to rocket up the ranking when we get the televotes at the end of the voting sequence.
This extremely happy and upbeat song could have been a great way to liven up the show after a number of slower numbers. Slightly suspicious to find it this early in the running, where it doesn't really fill the purpose it could. Did this one too do surprisingly well in the semi?
Nathan Trent is shining like the sun while performing and his song is really nice - his glittery moon is also memorable - but the whole package will be too anonymous to carry particularly far in the final.
One of the strongest ethnic-sounding songs of the year with its hypnotic arrangement and elegant execution. But will Bulgaria snatch their votes in the end?
There is no question mark concerning the vocal abilities of these sisters, but given their talent and the emotional subject of their song it is unbelieavable how much this sounds like a mere singing exercise and nothing more than that. These girls would have deserved much better songwriting.
The packaging here - the dancing, the good mood, the saxophone - is all working well and many people will fail to notice what a basic and repetitive song this really is.
In this year where almost everyone is singing in English, the songs in other languages will stand out very clearly in a positive light. Hungary also has an elegant and effective staging and a message that Europe at least should care about. A possible surprise in the making.
The obvious winner ever since it was selected back in February, but suddenly it seems less obvious. Other candidates have emerged and Francesco Gabbani has been too uncontrolled in rehearsals. Apparently he made his best performance of the week on the jury final, so don't discard this one just yet.
A nice girl with a nice song that won't carry anywhere being sandwiched between tonight's two biggest favourites for victory. Its only merit tonight it to remind viewers what generic sounds like in order for them to realise just how original the next song is.
Portugal has waited since 1964 to even break into the top five. This wait must come to an end tonight. Salvador's musicality and refusal to be mainstream could also work as a well-needed injection and make more countries dare to come up with more personable entries. One of three very likely winners.
Following art with art is not a bad idea. Azerbaijan's performance is like a wonderfully pretentious gallery installation of the kind that people don't understand but still like. One of my big personal favourites tonight with potential of finishing in the top five.
Time to refill your drinks and snacks? There will be plenty of time for that soon but not just yet. You have to see this violently pompous and overblown duet between Jacques and himself. Extra points to the over-excited violin player.
If Armenians and Poles in exile keep backing their own entries in the televote, the jurors have been incredibly protective of Australia. They could need it this time around. Coming after a bunch of ambitious favourites, this one will look pretty pale in comparison.
A famous songwriter, a famous choreographer and a Greek pop star walk into a bar and all that happens is this dull and generic piece of charter disco. Predictable both as a song as well as to how it is staged and given how Demy is struggling with the higher notes, this deserves to crash and burn at the end of the results tonight.
A packet full of sunshine. Not only does it sound like the soundtrack to a chewing gum commercial but young Manel also keeps smiling and smiling. Happy and inoffensive but who is going to vote for this? A strong candidate for last place.
One of the hardest to predict - a good contemporary radio hit in acute lack of a stage performance. Unlikely to trouble the top ten but could end pretty much anywhere below that.
18. UNITED KINGDOM
A big ballad and the best UK entry is many years. Nowhere near good enough to be a contender for victory but if the jurors feels generous it could be enough for the first UK top ten finish in eight years.
Hovig made a good impression in the semi and managed to whip some presence and sexuality into his otherwise slightly too polished entry. Tonight the competition is stronger but he should at least beat Greece with a comfortable margin.
After six more serious entries the audience could be longing for some ridiculous comic relief and boy does Romania deliver. There is also a massively catchy chorus in here and heaven knows how far this could carry in the televote. Brace yourselves!
Who's going to win tonight? That's of course the main question, but an almost as compelling drama is who will end in last place. If it is Germany, it is their third consecutive last place - nothing no other country ever suffered before. Levina would deserve better but her song is one of the least engaging in the lineup.
The only rock song in the running and despite not being excellent it will pick up all rock votes as well as the occasional polite point awarded to the host country. Competent, but I wish it was edgier. And wouldn't he sound angrier in his mother tongue?
Despite a shaky vocal performance in the semi final, Belgium was the last country called and is still among the most heavily streamed of this year's songs. Blanche could be one of the most underestimated candidates tonight and a surprise in the making. France Gall probed already back in 1965 that vocal perfection isn't everything.
Worked excellent as an opener in a semi with too many understated performers alone on stage. How much will it impress when the audience already has 23 candidates to compare it it? I stick with my initial gut feeling and predict that the Swedish delegation will be a tiny bit disappointed tonight.
The youngest of the participants is handling the whole thing like an experienced veteran and if anyone could give Italy or Portugal a run for the money, it is him. The boy is also known from Russian tv and could pick up many of the votes usually destined for Russia. Sofia 2018?
Let's end with a bang and another possible surprise in the making. The French brought not only the classiest dress and one of the most charming singers, but also a very French sounding song and the entire Eiffel tower. Deserves a lot of love in the voting.
My full prediction of the tonight's results will be in a bit later but at least I can promise you some great entertainment before the show is over. And maybe it will end with the biggest surprise in years?