A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Tobson's Big ESC 2017 Review, part 9

In the first eight parts of this series, I made my inventory of the songs that will have to appeal to juries and viewers alike in order to qualify for the big final. Now let's focus the attention on the songs who already got their ticket for the big thing. The Big Five as well as the host country are already granted a place in the final, so the crucial question changes. "Qualifier" turns into "Potential winner" instead. And not that many of them are, in all fairness, but do keep reading...

Alma / Requiem

What joy and what relief it is to see France actually giving a toss about the ESC again. Almost like in the good old days when France was a constant in the top five every year. They sure have the potential to get constant top placings also now, given their most impressive music industry. Surprisingly, however, is that France seems to have done pretty much the same thing as last year: select a really terrific song and have it performed by someone who isn't really good enough to do it justice. Amir was definitely the weak point in last year's package and early live performances suggest Alma isn't quite Maria Callas reborn. The big question here is what the French delegation will manage to build up for us on stage and whether it is impressive enough to overcome any fausses notes.

Potential winner:
In case Italy for some reason would crash and burn - then why not? This is a truly engaging little song with a strong hook and its very own atmosphere. I keep thinking it will end in fourth place but with a bit of luck it could do even better.

My grade: 4/5

Alma / Requiem (France 2017 preview)

Levina / Perfect Life

Germany really got their act together and not only won with Lena but also presented us with some fantastic and pretty edgy pop in this old contest. Then they completely lost their grip in the most spectacular fashion and ended last in the final in the two last contests. If poor Levina would end in last place, that would set a new ESC record. That is hardly what she deserves: she has a bubbly personality and good voice. She even has an OK song. Another one of those songs that will work perfectly on the radio. But this is the ESC and you have three minutes to impress an audience and convince them that you are the best and that they should vote for you. Levina does not have an easy job come May 13th.

Potential winner:
No. For the fourth year running, the German entry is not designed to break through to people on one listening and there is a huge risk that Levina will end in that dreaded last place. If not, she will at least most likely stay in the bottom five. This should be a wake up call for German television, but if they didn't get the message after 2015 or 2016 - what are the odds they will now?

My grade: 2/5

Levina / Perfect Life (Germany 2017 preview)

Francesco Gabbani / Occidentali's karma

Here goes. Brace yourselves. Ever since this song won Sanremo and Francesco agreed to be the Italian representative, I have been dead sure that this is our winner. Unlike most national finals, Sanremo focuses on artistry, singing and a pretty old-fashioned approach to showbiz which - I must admit - felt like relief. No added background vocals to cover up for lacking singing skills, demanding compositions instead of complicated dance routines, camera contact instead of special effects. Remove the gorilla and the tiny dancing sequence and "Occidentali's karma" would still be the best entry by a mile this year. And once the formality of winning is out of the way, we will never have to hear the clumsy ESC edit again either.

Potential winner:
Yes! Yes, yes, yes. This must be the one. If there is any justice in the world, the clever and gifted songwriting should battle down all resistance and storm to victory with an Alexander Rybak kind of margin. I sit back and wait for it to happen. Alé!

My grade: 5/5

Francesco Gabbani / Occidentali's karma (Italy 2017 preview)

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