We’re in May, which means it’s Eurovision time!
It’s a good excuse for a new post, even though it’s becoming harder to write about it. Nowadays I follow the Eurovision Song Contest more for the fun factor than for the songs. Of course, if the songs are good and of quality, it’s better!
Something that made my interest dip was last year’s outcome. I’m sorry, but I did not like Ukraine’s winning song. I dislike the political allusions surrounding it and how it was allowed to perform. The Ukraine-Russia rift culminated with the latter’s absence from the show. I also disagree about letting a country in such a sensitive situation splurge its money on the show.
Anyway, what counts is the entertainment. I watched both semi-finals this week, judged the songs and their stage performance, and discovered which ones I like. I’m going to list the songs I like without any order, and I’m also including some special extras.
My Favourite Eurovision 2017 Songs
Francesco Gabbani – Occidentali’s Karma (Italy)
Italy is part of the Big 5 and is therefore automatically in the final. It’s the only song I heard long before the ESC started because I follow what goes on in Italy. This entry is unique, far different from the common love songs and the lyrical tradition of this country. Its title means “Westerners’ Karma” and fuses Western and Oriental philosophies, while also criticising the modern Web-based society as shallow and know-it-all. It references Desmond Morris’ The Naked Ape and, to drive the point home, Gabbani will be dancing on stage with a ‘gorilla’, to show that apes and humans are not that different (more about the lyrics on Wikipedia). Despite the complexity, the song is super catchy and danceable, and it’s a favourite for the win.
Sunstroke Project – Hey Mamma (Moldova)
This band has already competed in 2010 and people remember of that song is the Epic Sax Guy. Well, now he’s back and he’s ‘saxier’ than ever. Hey Mamma has cool vibes and a simple dance routine, and is quite catchy, especially the sax part. I like it because it reminds me of the 2000s era of the contest when entries offered flashy, quirky stage performances. It’s not a winning song but it has gained popularity over this week. I’d love to see it in the Top 10.
Ilinca ft. Alex Florea – Yodel It! (Romania)
Another catchy song, but so much weirder than Moldova and many other entries. It’s a mix of rap and… yodelling. Yeah, what does that have to do with Romania? The yodelling part in the chorus is indeed memorable and you have to admire the woman for managing to do it for so many times during the three-minute song. The weirdness reaches a new level when the glittery cannons come out. You have to see it. Either you love this song or you hate it.
Kristian Kostov – Beautiful Mess (Bulgaria)
If you listen to this song with eyes closed, you’ll hear a mature male voice. When you open your eyes, you’ll see a baby-faced 17-year-old. This difference between the voice and the looks/age of the singer shocked me. Outside ESC, I wouldn’t have cared about such a song, but during the second semi-final, I was mesmerised. Yes, both by his voice and his looks. This is another favourite for the win, which could mean Bulgaria’s first ever.
Salvador Sobral – Amar Pelos Dois (Portugal)
This is the classiest entry of this year. It’s a jazz ballad sung in Portuguese. Sobral’s performance is heartfelt, but I admit that he initially perplexed me with his voice and his posture. After the semi, I learned of his cardiac problems. Anyway, this song gives me warm, fuzzy feelings, it almost brings me to tears. According to the bookies, it seems like this song will challenge Italy for the win. That would mean Portugal’s first ever.
Joci Pápai – Origo (Hungary)
Another non-English song because I don’t care that much about understanding the lyrics. Hungary’s entry is an ethnic/rap song influenced by the Romani origins of the singer. Even if you don’t understand what he’s saying, you can hear that it’s heartfelt, and the gypsy sound is addictive. I can see it making it to the Top 10.
Jacques Houdek – My Friend (Croatia)
This is one of the weirdest performances I’ve ever seen. A man dueting with himself, alternating between a soft, falsetto voice and an operatic voice singing in Italian. It’s a bit too much, but the song is quite pleasant to listen to.
JOWST – Grab The Moment (Norway)
This sounds like a weak copy of Daft Punk, but I just love the music!
Blanche – City Lights (Belgium)
Belgium might be this year’s dark horse. I had mixed feelings about this performance. The music, the staging and the singer’s appearance are appealing. Then, there’s her particular voice: it’s low, husky and monotonous. That was precisely what made me want to hate the song. At least, there’s a key change in the last minute.
O.Torvald – Time (Ukraine)
I have to mention this because it is – as far as I know – the only rock entry this year. The solo bit is the best, but I wish the vocals were stronger. I think this time, Ukraine will be on the other end of the results table.
Slavko Kalezić – Space (Montenegro)
My last special mention goes to Montenegro, which did not make it to the final. This performance is a must-see! Slavko looks like he’s escaped from a nightclub. He and his song are supposed to be sexy, but what caught everyone’s attention were the dance moves invented by himself and his mighty long braid, whipped around like a propeller. THIS is the essence of Eurovision kitsch!
So, who’s going to win?
No idea! Italy, Portugal and Bulgaria are leading the tables, and I would be happy with any of them as winners. Well, naturally, I lean more towards Italy because I love the meaning behind it.
What about Malta and Sweden?
My country, Malta, did not make it to the finals. Claudia Faniello’s performance of Breathlessly was impeccable, but not enough to make this bland ballad soar. It was expected, yet still, it’s a pity because she’s a great singer.
I did not feel like including Robin Bengtsson’s I Can’t Go On, representing Sweden in the final, because Matt and I are not fond of it. We’ve heard this kind of song a million times. I also wasn’t impressed by his vocal performance. Unfortunately, it’s an earworm. And it’s Sweden, so of course, it will place high.