A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Tobson's Big ESC 2018 review, part 3

Portugal has shown a great deal of bravery in their choices as host nation for the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest. Mainly they have gone for a more organic and less technological approach in the stage design, leaving out the almost compulsory LED screens that have been popular but not always used in the best possible way.

These decisions go very well with the Portuguese winner of last year and it seems that very entry has inspired quite a few of this year's entries. There are much more songs with some sort of message or conviction and fewer of the professional but generic songs we had a few too many of lately. Hopefully the songs and the stage will come together beautifully come May.

Semi 2 is admittedly weaker but also harder to predict. Which is fun in a way. On to the first nine songs in the lineup:

Alexander Rybak / That's How You Write A Song

You can say a lot of things about Alexander Rybak but he sure is no coward. No former winner has taken part in the international final since Dana International failed to progress from the semi final in 2011 and even before that it was hard times for former champions. Alexander also has the guts to enter a song that large portions of the ESC fandom absolutely abhor. Many people would like to see him fail, that is the worst kept secret of the year.

But of course. Yes. This will be bang in the final and get a very good position there as well. What are people thinking? Rybak has many fans and this is also a fun and playful song. A potential winner, even.

My grade: 4/5

The Humans / Goodbye

Romania has never failed to reach the final. This running order suggests there will be a first time for everything. This is a pretty solid soft rock effort - Heart meets a young Bonnie Tyler - with a neat chorus and a bit of a too long build-up for its own good. The sequenced running order is supposed to put every competing song in the best possible light and position but it feels more like the producer decided to throw Romania under the bus here.

Borderline. Romania qualified with weaker songs than this in the past.

My grade: 2/5

Sanja Ilić & Balkanika / Nova deca

Serbia is trying to turn back the clock to a time where the Balkan countries happily mixed folk music with more contemporary pop rhythms to great effect. It's nice to meet up with this genre again but it is a shame the actual song is not stronger than this. The performance is unfocused and confusing and the song never takes off properly.

No, unless they manage to reinvent themselves properly and better the performance a great deal. And then the song is still pretty weak.

My grade: 2/5

Jessika feat Jenifer Brening / Who We Are

San Marino seemed to possibly be on some sort of right way with their messy national final until the whole process turned out to be about who could put in more money than the others. Music had very little to do with anything in the end, which the entry itself demonstrates in a very efficient way. It stays bland until the moment Jenifer brings her messy rap into the picture and makes the whole package implode.

No. Not in a reasonable world anyway. But this is a semi where almost any song could emerge as a surprise qualifier.

My grade: 1/5

Rasmussen / Higher Ground

Ten years ago Latvia somehow managed to make it into the final with a group of people ridiculously dresses up as pirates. Perhaps as a tribute to the Pirates of the Sea, Denmark selected another piece of masquerade attributes and sent in a troupe of various vikings in desperate need of credibility as well as hair conditioner. There's a decent little chorus in here somewhere but not enough to find mercy in my book.

Borderline. People often tend to like Danish entries even when I find them lacklustre, so I wouldn't be surprised if it is a yes for this one.

My grade: 1/5

Julia Samoylova / I Won't Break

Same suspense scenario as with Romania: would it actually be possible for Russia not to qualify? What we have is a decent but not spectacular entry with a good hook but a singer that seems to be totally incapable of delivering any of the singing required. This will be three very interesting minutes come Lisbon.

Borderline. Strong support from a number of friendly countries but most other countries would have been discounted at once with an entry like this.

My grade: 1/5

DoReDos / My Lucky Day

After a bunch of slower mid tempo entries with little sparkle or nerve, Moldova rolls onto the stage like a hysterical avalanche with their bouncy and aggressively positive sunshine of a song. How could you not love this? How could anyone resist? So much kitsch forced into a confined space you expect the whole thing to blow up at some point.

Yes. People will laugh and love this. But I would never had guessed these lyrics were written by a native English speaker.

My grade: 3/5

Waylon / Outlaw in 'em

Just like Alexander Rybak is Eurovision Royalty after his second place as part of The Common Linnets in 2014. It is pretty cool of him to enter something so different from his former entry as well. Possibly he bit off a bit more than he can chew as the song really aspires to have way broader shoulders than Waylon himself can pull off. 

Yes, most probably. Not sure how well it will fare in the final but at least it will be there.

My grade: 2/5

Jessica Mauboy / We Got Love

One of the big reasons for Australia to be present in the contest is supposedly to show the UK how easy it could be to send in really convincing and powerful entries if you just make an effort. That's nice - if a bit patronising - but Australia is not really living up to that if so. Whatever sort of edge I expected them to have is more and more absent for every year. Jessica is a good performer but this pop song is surprisingly unspectacular. Good but tame. If Australia is to stay put I expect quite a lot more from them.

Yes. Juries love Australia. We noticed that extra clearly last year.

My grade: 3/5

This is the third part of my 2018 review, why not check out part one and part two as well?

1 comment:

  1. You say "No former winner has taken part in the international final since Dana International failed to progress from the semi final in 2011"...yet technically Lena was after that.

    I like Alexander and his song and agree it will do well. Johnny Logan will be hopping mad if he wins. Johnny always says he has won three times, but if Alexander wins by the same count that will be four times!