A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Saturday, April 20, 2019

Tobson's Big ESC 2019 review, part 4

The invention of the semi-final in 2004 was long overdue and almost like a re-birth of the contest in many ways. All through the 1990's countries had been pushed out and forced to miss editions whenever they scored poorly.

Soon enough the ratings started to drop also in the most ESC-loving territories. Finland - always keen on a song contest throughout history - lost interest in a spectacular and dramatic way and the old interest has perhaps never really fully recovered.

Giving all the countries the chance to take part every year they wish to do so has been a very important step forward for the ESC. One of many radical decisions taken between 1997 and 2008.

If you want to read about the entries taking part in the first semi final you can do so in part one, part two and part three. This is the first bunch of songs from semi two.

Srbuk / Walking Out

Although this is just a little contest for mere pop songs, sometimes you want to write A Very Meaningful Lyric about A Very Important Subject. Sometimes it works out nicely, sometimes it will just turn out to be flat, superficial and not very good at all. Female empowerment and toxic relationships are two subjects well worthy of exposure but these songwriters think the answers are simple. In Armenia, however, family is seen as most important and most cases of domestic abuse are swept under the rug. Not so easy to just walk out after all. Superficial lyrics aside, there is quite a good chorus in here and Srbuk turns out to be a vocal powerhouse towards the end.

Yes. Armenia seldom loses out and vocalists as competent as this usually go down a storm with jurors and viewers alike.

My grade: 3/5

Sarah McTernan / 22

Ireland did so well last year and maybe that has inspired them to make braver choices when the RTÉ internal jury sits down to have their say. This is a breezy and radio-friendly little number and despite the aching heart there are few clouds in the sky here. Pleasant, likeable and competently performed. And yet we are light years away from the unbeatable Ireland of the 1990's.

No. Unless this one turns out to be a real explosion on stage, this will be stranded on 12th place in the semi and remain the best non-qualifier of the year.

My grade: 3/5

Anna Odobescu / Stay

When Moldova is at their best, they send in hysterically catchy, amusing, energetic entries that leave nobody indifferent. Last year's master class of comedy performance and by far the most feelgood entry of the year is just one out of many examples. When Moldova is at their worst, they make use of some lukewarm dull-as-dishwater standard song written by international songwriters that got rejected everywhere else. Like this year.

No. This is not disastrously bad in a way that would add some undeliberate entertainment. It is just mind-numbingly anonymous and square, desperately lacking any sort of personality or purpose.

My grade: 1/5

Luca Hänni / She Got Me

If you look around the internet you will find a fair share of people willing to bet on Switzerland winning the whole shebang in Tel Aviv. Now wouldn't that be great? Switzerland last made it into the top three back in 1993 and has made it into the top ten only once since then. They surely would deserve a break. I'd let them win at once. Unfortunately I can't fully share the enthusiasm. A good song, but the likes of Malta and Cyprus are doing very much the same thing. And what about Luca himself, will he deliver on the scale that this song needs? Maybe he has it deep down inside but I'm not convinced just yet.

Yes, absolutely. Even if a few other countries are stealing the Swiss thunder, this is fun and easy-going enough and truly deserves a spot in the final.

My grade: 3/5

Carousel / That Night

I can't help but wonder what Aminata is up to these days. Keeping herself busy, I suppose, leaving Latvia to fend for itself. It's not going very well. Even if the new Supernova national final format has resulted in better songs - more focused, more professional and with better performances - they are still not enough to convince the larger audiences. Just like last year, this is really pleasant and a gem designed to be enjoyed in your headphones during a walk but it will be anything but a points magnet.

No. It will get a few polite points from here and there and remain the second best non-qualifier of the year.

My grade: 3/5

Ester Peony / On A Sunday

Shock and horror ensued last year as Romania crashed out in the semi finals for the first time ever. Apparently this lead to a shake-up back home at the TVR offices and some major changes in ESC management. This year they took a real risk as they reduced viewer influence to a minimum and let an international panel bulldozer the favourite of the people. The eventual winner has a certain something and is not a bad song and yet... it doesn't feel like the sure fire success Team Romania would want at this point.

Borderline. I lean towards a yes but only because this is Romania and they have a very strong record. Had this been Latvia it would have had 15th place written all over it.

My grade: 2/5

If you want to agree or disagree with me, please leave a comment or send me a tweet. All the preview clips can be seen here.

1 comment:

  1. I just listened to Switzerland for the first time, and it liteally brought me to tears and I don't even know why. Go Switzerland!

    And oddly I voted Latvia much lower than you. I think it's an alright song but it won't qualify.