A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Sunday, April 28, 2019

Tobson's Big ESC 2019 review, part 6

A few years into the new system of semi finals, the fandom established a number of "truths" - one of these being that there are a number of countries that can't possibly fail in a semi final.

In some cases because they have a large cultural sphere with neighbours voting for them, in some cases because they have a large and active diaspora voting for them, in some cases because they have loads of money and no morals and gladly pay their way into a better result. In some cases, all three of the above combined.

The first major blow to this theory came in 2011 as both Armenia and Turkey bombed in the same semi in Düsseldorf and last year in Lisbon was a major event as three of the "eternal qualifiers" - Azerbaijan, Romania and Russia - all missed the grand final.

The only countries never to have lost out in a semi final are Ukraine (not participating this year) and Australia. Nobody's safe anymore.

This blog post includes the final six semi finalists of 2019. If you want to read about the other songs competing in the 2019 semi finals you will find them here in part one, two, three, four and five.

Sergey Lazarev / Scream

I was both surprised and a bit puzzled when I heard Sergey's comeback entry for the first time. Far from the kitsch fest I had feared and expected, this is a mature if somewhat overly bombastic entry that suits his voice well. Good but in no way a potential winner, not even for Russia. Only now all reports suggests that the big wallet has been hoisted up and that the stage show could be even more over the top than the last time around and suddenly I just feel exhausted and slightly nauseated. All that high-tech hocus pocus wrecks more than it adds and I wonder when people will learn?

Yes, of course. Russia is back in the game and when they are motivated, nothing can stop them in the semi.

My grade: 3/5

Jonida Maliqi / Ktheju tokës

Writing songs about topical themes is a difficult path to tread. There is always a serious risk that you will end up giving the impression you are trying to profit from the misfortune of others rather than being a voice of empathy and reason. Albania manages this balance act rather brilliantly and by singing about refugees of their own - people who left their country during the Kosovo war - they also manage to make their package inclusive and relevant to everyone.

Yes, I think and hope so. It has a sound that is different enough to set it apart from other songs in the lineup and Jonida is an excellent performer too.

My grade: 3/5

KEiiNO / Spirit In The Sky

This happy trio is blending almost every ingredient in the kitchen into a big bowl and the ESC fans love it. There is a bit of joik and a bit of drumming and a chorus we've heard before somewhere (not sure this is the song Saara Aalto will televote for), all of which delivered with far bigger smiles than the lyrics call for. Right out of Melodifestivalen 2005 or so. Add a performance like the one in the national final which was frankly all over the place and you'll see why I'm having doubts.

I'm not so sure. I personally like it - at least in its studio version - but is "Vrag naj vzame" meets "Sámiid ædnan" really what will get the masses going? I'm leaning towards a no here.

My grade: 3/5

Duncan Laurence / Arcade

The Netherlands scored four victories in the first twenty years of the ESC and then their well ran dry. Now the big question is whether this is the time when their fortunes get reversed? It could very well be. Suddenly they find themselves with a shining little pop pearl with a big emotional chorus and a very sensitive and attractive performer. Something that could very well ride high in the charts. The only thing that stops me from thinking this is an outright winner is that it doesn't feel like the sort of song that would win the Eurovision Song Contest. Does it?

Yes, absolutely. One of perhaps four or five potential winners. Sometimes I'm wrong too.

My grade: 4/5

Tamara / Proud

Ten years after the juries let her down in Belgrade, Tamara is back to clear her name. It is not entirely out of the question. Through the years, North Macedonia has emerged as one of the countries - perhaps the country - most likely to ruin their own chance by awful choice regarding styling, outfits, staging and so on. This very stripped-down song doesn't really allow any outrageous behaviour on stage and puts full focus on the singing.

Borderline. The song is a brave attempt but possibly not interesting enough in its own right. If Tamara sings her heart out while hitting the right notes, it could go all the way but I suspect North Macedonia will be out. For the seventh consecutive year.

My grade: 2/5

Chingiz / Truth

My first reaction to the Azerbaijani entry was that it didn't have a single drop of personality. Nicely produced, well sung, sounded right but totally anonymous. I have warmed to it since, mainly thanks to the enchanting Chingiz who manages to fill it up with presence and, I suppose, sex appeal. He is the asset carrying this entry on his broad shoulders but lately personalities have not done Azerbaijan a lot of good.

Yes. Last year was a hiccup. Chingiz will sail into the final on charm alone and will end up somewhere around 14th place there.

My grade: 3/5

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. Norway and The Netherlands bring me life, literally bring me life. The moment I heard a hint of a joik I lost my shizzle. Epic, simply epic!

    Meanwhile let's all swoon over Sergei.