A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Thursday, May 2, 2019

Tobson's Big ESC 2019 review, part 7

Being pre-qualified for the final is a high price to pay for the big five. At least many people have said - since the inauguration of the semi final in 2004 - that being heard just the once will be a huge disadvantage for the countries who pay the most to participate.

However, the overwhelming majority of the viewers see and hear all entries for the first time on Saturday night. Possibly they have watched the semi final with their own entry but many will give the other semi final - where they can't even vote - a miss.

The lack of success for the Big Five largely comes down to what we all knew anyway. Several of these broadcasters have shown a real lack of commitment to the contest. Some of them want to make a splash but seem to genuinely lack an understanding of what kind of entry would give a strong result.

In this last part of my review, let's have a look at the six pre-qualified countries. If you want to read about the semi finalists, you will find them here in part one, two, three, four, five and six.

Bilal Hassani / Roi

France taking the opportunity to send a young genderqueer and openly gay muslim to the final in Tel Aviv is close to a stroke of genius. The right to be yourself and identify the way you wish belongs to everyone, nicely underlined by the performer as well as the lyrics. The only thing that is a real shame is that the actual song isn't better. Madame Monsieur made an impression last year but now they just threw something together in a hurry and that is never a good idea. Also - who is going to break it to the French that this kind of blending languages only sounds half-cooked and doesn't work?

Potential winner:
No. I really want to like this but my interest is fading long before we even get to the chorus.

My grade: 1/5

S!sters / Sister

Read this followingsentence out loud to yourself: This song was rejected by Switzerland so Germany picked it up and entered it in their national final instead. Does that sound like a particularly good idea to you? This sounds just like the kind of songwriting exercise the Swiss have entered far too many times in the last decade. There is nothing really wrong with it but it is far from engaging and doesn't leave much of an impression once it is over. Something about the miaowing chorus also really annoys me.

Potential winner:
No, but another potential last place. Germany's third in five years, if so. It is clearly time for German tv to shake up the team in charge of their national finals. Again.

My grade: 1/5

Mahmood / Soldi

Italy has done it again and enters yet another bold, original song that challenges the whole idea and concept of what a eurovision entry could be. Mahmood is another exquisite performer - tiptoeing the borderland between of arrogance and sensibility in his stage persona - and the song is a gripping piece of drama about young boys and absent fathers. The single best thing about Italy using the Sanremo festival to select their ESC entrants is that we keep getting contemporary and challenging state of the art material, designed to win a song contest - just not the ESC.

Potential winner:
Yes. It must be. But for some reason the so called expert juries have held Italy down recently. Last year the juries had Italy in a ridiculously low 17th place. If the juries shape up even a little, then Rome 2020 could be a real possibility.

My grade: 5/5

Miki / La venda

Using the most popular talent show your country has ever seen in order to select your ESC entrant could be a smart move but if you have no idea what kind of song your newly found talent should perform, no popularity on home ground will mean anything at all in the end. Spain has sent their Operación Triunfo stars off to Europe with pretty mediocre songs (with the obvious exception of Beth, who should have done a lot better) but young Miki has fared at least a bit better. Equipped with a mixture of ska and Catalonian rumba, at least "La venda" provides a bit of temper and speed for the final.

Potential winner:
No, far from. But on a very good day, Miki could have a chance to place close to the top ten.

My grade: 3/5

Michael Rice / Bigger Than Us

If selecting a reject from Switzerland is an unusual move, opting for Swedish leftovers is a lot more common. (Did Germany just confuse Sweden and Switzerland? An easy mistake to make.) This is the song John Lundvik wanted to enter Melodifestivalen with before being persuaded into going for "Too Late For Love" instead. You can clearly tell these two songs grew on the same tree as they share a very similar gospel vibe, but where Sweden's entry is elegant and elaborated, this is just generic. Michael Rice can sing - if you like his vibrato or not comes down to personal taste, I suppose - but was totally lost on stage and came across as pretty inexperienced in the national final.

Potential winner:
No. But if someone instructs the singer where the cameras are and what they do, the UK should at least avoid the very bottom placings this time around.

My grade: 2/5

Kobi Marimi / Home

Putting on a Eurovision Song Contest is hard work and you can sometimes tell in the approach of the host nation how they would prefer not to do it twice in a row. You already won, you already have everyone's attention. You can sit back and just enjoy the ride and content yourself with a dignified place mid-table. At first I thought Israel aimed a lot lower than that with this ballad. How can you even describe it? Pretentious, I think, is the best word. Sung by a very dramatic singing actor. I dismissed it completely until it started growing on me and now the hook in the chorus won't leave me alone. Like it or dislike, but this song sure has something.

Potential winner:
No, whatever it has it doesn't extend that far. But it could end up a bit higher than most people expect.

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. Hi Tobson, I am in total agreement with your comment on France, but have you seen their rehearsal yet? I am absolutely astonished at what they have pulled out the bag. Do you think they can win now?