Get ready folks. In a couple of weeks time, the extravagant circus that is the Eurovision Song Contest will be rolling onto television screens across Europe and beyond. Last year, following an exciting debut of the new voting system, it was the Ukraine’s Jamala who was victorious with her emotional song “1944”. This edition will be held in Kiev and 42 acts will battle it out on the stage of the International Exhibition Centre for the glass microphone and a place in history alongside iconic acts ABBA, Celine Dion and erm… Lordi. Returning to the contest will be Romania and Portugal, both after a one year absence. After making their first appearance since 2012, Bosnia & Herzegovina withdrew from the contest due to the financial reasons, as has Russia, due to a dispute involving their chosen act and the region of Crimea.
In this post, the second of four, I will continue to count down my personal top 42 of this year’s contest. I will also be discussing the chances of all the entries to win the contest. Part one, where I named numbers 42-32, is available here. So without any more dilly-dallying, here are numbers 31-21.
31) Azerbaijan – Dihaj – “Skeletons” – 6/10
Azerbaijan has had a very successful time at Eurovision since 2008, qualifying to the final every year. This run looks set to continue with probably their most left-field entry. “Skeletons” fuses experimental pop with a rock sound to differentiate from the endless mid-tempo pop and ballad entries. The reaction on social media suggests that Azerbaijan could be heading back to the top ten. However I am struggling with this one; for me it lacks impact and bite in the chorus. That is crucial for success in the contest and whilst it will probably do well for no other reason than the fact it is Azerbaijan, it will never be among my favourites.
30) Armenia – Artsvik – “Fly With Me” – 6/10
Armenia has always been a bit of a strange country for picking their entries; they either veer towards the brilliant or the deeply mediocre. Sadly this entry fits into the second category and is something of a mess. It feels like Armenia tried to create a similar song structure to last year’s entry “LoveWave” but with an ethnic song. Whilst the instrumental sections are pleasant listening, the song is over before you are really drawn in. This is another song that lacks immediate bite. They are in a similar boat to Azerbaijan in that respect since they have qualified with worse in previous years and I’m sure that they will go again to the final. I really hope they bring the ethnic flavour to the staging in Kiev though cause I will like the performance more if they do.
29) Spain – Manel Navarro – “Do It For Your Lover” – 6/10
This entry comes into the live shows with controversy already over its head, with allegations of corruption gifting this song the ticket to Kiev. In the national final I didn’t like this song very much at all. However it has grown on me, except it would be better as a one minute song than a three minute song. Whenever I listen to this, I always get slightly bored and keep wondering how it’s still going. That is how repetitive the track is. The music and laid-back vibes give this a real beach flavour though and it is this flavour that will make it stand out in the final. Don’t expect this to make any real inroads into the leaderboard however.
28) Poland – Kasia Moś – “Flashlight” – 6/10
Twelve months ago, Poland shocked a lot of people (myself included) when they got the third highest televote score in the final for what was honestly a mediocre song. This year they have gone from the cliched to the experimental with one of the darker songs in the contest. Originally this was even lower down on my list of favourites since I struggled to find much that I particularly liked. Upon watching the live performances however, the power of her voice was brilliant. The music video doesn’t do her justice at all and I expect that in Kiev this, combined with the dark and mysterious song, will be enough to send Poland through to the final once more.
27) Czech Republic – Martina Bárta – “My Turn” – 6/10
In 2016, this country celebrated their first appearance in the Eurovision grand final…only to get nil points in the televoting. Unfortunately for them this song doesn’t match up to last year’s. Don’t get me wrong, this is pleasant listening, but that it all I can say about this song. Her voice is from a past decade, which is a good thing in my eyes. I’m actually struggling to find things to say about this entry and it almost seems like a certainty that this will get lost among the more powerful ballads. If this song was a colour, it would be beige.
26) Belgium – Blanche – “City Lights” – 6/10
I imagine that I will get a lot of stick from other Eurovision fans for this relatively low placing for one of the favourites in the contest. Unfortunately, like so many songs in this contest, it doesn’t do anything for me. I appreciate the ultra-modern sounds and the way her voice blends with that but I have a massive concern with Belgium. This song feels like it should solely be a radio track and not one that is performed live. I’m struggling to see how this is going to come to life in Kiev and not one of the live performances have given me much confidence. There is one song every year that creates shockwaves when it doesn’t make the final and this could be that song.
25) Montenegro – Slavko Kalezić – “Space” – 6.5/10
When this artist was announced via internal selection, I had a feeling that something like this would be the end result. This song is actually reasonably good and feels like it could be a true dance anthem yet too much is going on in the music video for me. The track is littered with double entendres and Slavko is featured topless in a highly homoerotic way with a long weave on one side of his head. Don’t get me wrong, something like this will have fans and others will vote for it because it is a guilty pleasure. However, it is so over the top that is it cliched and that is why it is so low down. I am looking forward to seeing what will happen in the live performances in Kiev though!
24) Iceland – Svala – “Paper” – 6.5/10
Yet another song which I really want to be better, yet is slightly mediocre. I love the start with the electronic elements and the chorus itself isn’t bad at all. The message of the song, which I took to discuss dealing with anxieties, is seen in the great metaphor of being cut like paper. I can appreciate individual elements of this song a lot but it feels like something is missing. Maybe the tempo should be faster or there needs to be more power but it’s stopping me from seeing this as a contender. After two years out of the Eurovision final, I wish this song was more impactful than what I am seeing here.
23) Ireland – Brendan Murray – “Dying To Try” – 6.5/10
The most successful country in the history of the contest, Ireland, has been struggling of late with mediocre entries and uninspired staging. Sadly, this run seems doomed to continue with “Dying To Try”. It is not that this song is bad, on the contrary it reminds me of a British X-Factor winners single. It just takes way too long to get going. The first two minutes are nothing spectacular at all before the powerful yet cliched choral backing comes in, at which point it becomes a great song. By then it is too late though. I also don’t know how they are going to bring the choral sound into Kiev due to the six people on stage rule but I doubt that it will make much difference. Most viewers want an instant impact and this doesn’t have that. I will be surprised if this makes the final.
22) Malta – Claudia Faniello – “Breathlessly” – 6.5/10
With all I have said about cliched entries in this post, Malta’s song sticks with me. It reminds me of every other romance film song, the one that you will hear in the closing credits. In fact I am surprised that the music video isn’t an actual film, it is very captivating. There is an elegance in this track that carries it along a pleasant route. I am about 90% sure that Malta will not make the final with this kind of song but frankly I don’t really care. It is nice that a timeless sounding ballad is lining up to compete in Kiev.
21) Finland – Norma John – “Blackbird” – 6.5/10
Upon first listen, in the run-up to the Finnish national selection, I dismissed this as a boring and uninspired track. Then I saw it live and my opinion completely changed. The piano solo and the female singer’s voice are particularly strong and I hope that they keep the staging very simple in Kiev so the focus is on the emotional lyrics. Whether it qualifies for the final will depend on how effective and powerful they can make the live performance as it feels like the type of song that will get lost if it is not translated well.
What do you think of the songs of Eurovision 2017?
Do you agree with my rankings or is there any other songs that you would put in the middle of the pack?
You can tell me in the comments section below!
Stay tuned for Part Three, where I will be ranking my places 20 to 11.