Category Archives: Eurovision

Eurovision Song Contest 2017: Semi-Final Two Review

On Thursday evening the Eurovision Song Contest, that extravagant musical circus, had its second semi-final in Kiev, Ukraine. Eighteen acts sang their hearts out but only ten could progress to the Grand Final on Saturday night. Here are my thoughts on what happened:

In the 2016 edition, the hosts wowed the audience with their performance of several original musical numbers relating to the contest. The opening act of this semi-final attempted to mimic this and it was quite fun to watch. Two of the hosts, along with a national folk choir, performed a medley of some recent hits to come out of the show, with a Ukrainian twist. It is nice that the hosts get to do more besides the voting sequences and making awkward jokes to each other.

This semi-final had more of my favourites in so I was excited to see how they would do but after the shock of Finland missing the cut on Tuesday, no one could could consider themselves safe. Here are the songs of the semi-final and my opinions on how they did:

01) Serbia – Tijana Bogićević – “In Too Deep
Opening the show tonight was Serbia and I must confess to feeling a little disappointed. Something has been lost in translation between the studio version and the live performance, whether it is that the song almost feels too slow in tempo for a dance track or that the staging was sparse. The only thing it has going for it is a very nice whirlpool effect on the LED floor and a topless man.

02) Austria – Nathan Trent – “Running on Air
A personal favourite of mine prior to the contest, Nathan has a charm and a twinkle in his eyes that comes off really well in a live performance. He sings well but I’m really not sure about the crescent moon on stage. Still, there is a likeable nature to him and the song and it remains as one of my personal highlights of the whole contest. Performing second can be a death sentence though.

03) F.Y.R. Macedonia – Jana Burčeska – “Dance Alone
The opening of this song is very effective on a live stage with Jana’s vocals amazingly similar to the synthesized ones in the studio version. However it starts to go downhill after the first chorus, when it increasingly becomes apparent that she will “Dance Alone” on stage. She does well enough on her own but maybe some backing dancers could have elevated this more. I still really like the studio version though.
P.S: Congratulations to Jana for the news she is pregnant and for getting engaged in the green room during the show.

04) Malta – Claudia Faniello – “Breathlessly
I’m still convinced this needs to be on the closing credits of an epic romance film. Highly reminiscent of late 90s and early 00s power ballads, this is classy and Claudia sings it really well. There is true emotion coming out of her voice. However, the simple staging is both a positive and a negative, with the fact that it is so early in the running order working against her here.

05) Romania – Ilinca and Alex Florea – “Yodel It!
Now this is how you put on a God damn show! In true Eurovision style, Romania mixes Yodelling and rap in a pop song that makes you want to dance. Some sparkly cannons also make an appearance on the main stage. This is completely barmy and so memorable. The vocals are on point and I honestly can’t find a single negative thing to say about this performance. There is a huge reaction from the audience in Kiev as well.

06) The Netherlands – OG3NE – “Lights and Shadows
For anyone who remembers Wilson Phillips in the 90s, then this will be a major throwback moment for you. The harmonies between the three sisters is just incredible and they don’t need explosive staging because all of the focus is on them. The Netherlands have been doing wonders in the past few years at Eurovision. In fact I would say they could win the whole contest if they had a slightly catchier song. Another huge reaction in the arena is a very good sign for them.

07) Hungary – Joci Pápai – “Origo
It’s good to see countries singing in their native languages this year. “Origo” brings a completely unique product to the contest, only Armenia is really close with that eastern style of music. Joci sings and raps it well and the two of the three costumes are beautiful and really showcases their culture. The only annoyance is that the violinist is wearing a modern black dress that doesn’t fit in at all. But as a whole this is a job well done.

08) Denmark – Anja – “Where I Am
The winner of the Australian X Factor, we know that Anja has a great voice and she showcases it here, fully unleashing in the last minute of the song. In a way it is almost too much, it becomes a wall of noise towards the end. Maybe she is compensating for the song, which sounds like a bland talent show winner’s single. Everything, from the knee drop to the pyro curtain, is a bit cliched. But that voice will get a lot of votes on its own.

09) Ireland – Brendan Murray – “Dying to Try
It’s hard to believe Ireland still holds the record for the most wins with the dreadful run they are on, which looks set to continue. Like Denmark’s entry, this has X Factor winner’s single vibes but unlike Anja, the voice, whilst solid, can’t carry it through. I am perplexed with the staging as well, with Brendan in a little red hot air balloon with a very dark background. I don’t get the relevance to the song. Sadly this is underwhelming to watch.

10) San Marino – Valentina Monetta & Jimmie Wilson – “Spirit of the Night
It’s lovely to see Valentina back (are there any other singers in San Marino?) and it’s actually quite fun to watch this performance. Not that the song holds any credibility at all but its trashy and cheap nature makes for a more relaxed and natural performance. I think the duo know that they are not qualifying to the Grand Final but they don’t care; they just want to dance the night away. And I’m clapping along with them.

11) Croatia – Jacques Houdek – “My Friend
When I watched it last night, I had no words. Literally. I mean Jacques sings it quite well and the way he moves from ‘pop mode’ to ‘opera mode’ is quite brilliant. I accept the song is the cheesiest thing ever written and it makes no attempt to disguise that. But me and the people I watched it with found the camera angles hilarious. To say this was different would be an understatement and this will have its fans. But it’s not for me.

12) Norway – JOWST – “Grab the Moment
Definitely the most modern production of the entire contest, this song brings EDM to Kiev and does it very well. The vocals of the singer, Aleksander Walmann, blends in well with the heavy beats of JOWST’s mix. This is something that we haven’t really seen before at Eurovision and for the most part it is done well, though I felt that the faces added to the camera shot were more distracting that anything else.

13) Switzerland – Timebelle – “Apollo
One of my favourites prior to the contest, I am disappointed about the direction they went in for the live performance. The pinks and the yellows make it come across as cheap, especially when they installed a staircase for the singer to descend. I expected something more classy. The lead singer does a good job for the most part and I don’t see this coming last once again but it is overshadowed by songs that came before it.

14) Belarus – Naviband – “Story of My Life
Belarus brought the house down with their upbeat song that is entirely in Belarusian. They are on some kind of hovercraft and travelling all around their home country as they happily sing about it. This is deeply rooted in folk so brings something unique and cultural to the contest and is the kind of song that you can’t help clapping along to. I think this is their best entry since way back in 2007 when they finished sixth overall.

15) Bulgaria – Kristian Kostov – “Beautiful Mess
This song is bringing apocalyptic gloom to the Eurovision stage and they have a fully realised performance here. The song itself is decent and that is elevated by Kristian’s solid vocals. For the most part the camera effects work very well in conjunction with the lyrics but sometimes they can get a bit distracting. Overall though it feels like Bulgaria have got their Eurovision mojo after years of struggling and could match last year’s result at the least.

16) Lithuania – Fusedmarc – “Rain of Revolution
Everyone who has read my Eurovision 2017 rankings knows how I feel about this song. But to their credit Fusedmarc have delivered a good production that at least distracts from the entry at times. Sadly it’s not the kind of song that people would vote for and still feels like a messy combination of two different songs. Then again this country has qualified with much worse to the final (2013 anyone?) so you never know.

17) Estonia – Koit Toome and Laura – “Verona
Another one of my favourites coming into this contest and this one did not disappoint. The camera angles made it look like they were in two separate places (like Romeo and Juliet – hence “Verona) and the song, though cheesy, was sung quite well. There were a couple of technical problems at the start and I found Koit’s dramatic turns to the camera hilarious rather than moody. Other than those issues I felt they did a good job and the huge reaction from the audience suggests I wasn’t the only one.

18) Israel – IMRI – “I Feel Alive
On Tuesday Triana Park disappointed in the closing slot but IMRI brought the Kiev crowd to their feet! This is the kind of song that people will dance to in the months to come, simple yet effective. His voice isn’t the best in the contest but he does well with what he is given. It also feels like the show was holding a lot of pyro back for this performance and it did a very good job of closing the show.

That was all eighteen performances in the second semi-final and I found watching this show a hundred times more enjoyable than the bland Tuesday one. After the voting period had closed we were treated to yet another experimental dance routine that, whilst good as a background image, looked a bit messy upon closer inspection.

The results were then in. The countries moving to the Grand Final were (in no particular order):
Bulgaria
Belarus
Croatia
Hungary
Denmark
Israel
Romania
Norway
The Netherlands
Austria

These are the ten songs going through to the Grand Final. I am so happy that Austria was announced as the tenth qualifier but sad that it came at the expense of Estonia, who gave a good performance. There are a couple of songs I wouldn’t have put in but that’s the nature of Eurovision.

So what did you think? Did your favourite make it through the second semi-final or were you left disappointed? You can comment your thoughts in the box below. But I’ll be back reporting on Saturday’s Grand Final, it promises to be a cracker!

Eurovision Song Contest 2017: Semi-Final One Review

On Tuesday night the spectacular musical circus that is Eurovision rolled into Kiev, Ukraine, for the first of two semi-finals. Eighteen performers sung their hearts out but only ten could progress to the Grand Final on Saturday night. Here are my thoughts on last night’s show:

The night was started, not by the winning song of last year’s contest, as it tradition, but by women putting on traditional Ukrainian dress and twirling around. Whilst it is nice to see their culture, it also reminded me of Poland’s infamous 2014 performance with the butter churn (YouTube it). This pleasant and traditional opening clashed awkwardly with the next segment, a modern song with a dance break. I didn’t understand the relevance of this part; it felt more like they had swapped the opening and interval acts around.

Then we were introduced to our three hosts and with a motto like ‘Celebrate Diversity’, they had reflected this in the line-up. With three (admittedly handsome) young white males. There were the usual jokes that fell flat but they do project warmth so at least they have already done better than some hosts in the past. Thankfully this part was shorter than usual so we were straight on to the songs. Here they are:

01) Sweden – Robin Bengtsson – “I Can’t Go On”
This performance started backstage, which is a good way to stand out by last year’s hosts. It also included Robin and his backing singers on treadmills, which I fail to see the relevance of apart from…it’s Eurovision. There were a couple of bum notes and the dance movements felt mechanical rather than natural but a good opener nonetheless, reminds me of a Justin Timberlake album track.

02) Georgia – Tamara Gachechiladze – “Keep The Faith”
The first thing noticeable is that there is a lot of red on stage, everything basically. The staging though is not very inspired, with a simple red backdrop, some smoke on the floor and only Tamara visible on stage. The song has never been highly rated by me, just a two bit peace song. Her voice is the only thing here that is truly shining but it feels like she is trying to compensate for the song and staging with it.

03) Australia – Isaiah – “Don’t Come Easy”
A quick mention of the postcards preceding the songs. They are meh, period. Australia’s performance comes with a spinning lazy susan which Isaiah walks on. But no matter what they throw at the staging, this song is weaker than their previous two entries. He sung it well until he hit an unbelievably bad bum note when trying to reach the higher pitches. There is nothing here that really stands out.

04) Albania – Lindita – “World”
Copy and paste everything I have said about Georgia’s performance to this song. Instead of all red the stage is white and there are futuristic steampunk airships on the backdrop. A mish-mash of ideas and an amazing voice but doesn’t add up to much with this song.

05) Belgium – Blanche – “City Lights”
Sometimes a song comes along which works well in the studio version but isn’t meant for a live performance. This is one of those songs. The first two minutes are incredibly one note, especially since it comes with some very simple staging. In the last minute she really steps it up with the emotion; there’s something very Florence Welch about her voice. A good reaction from the crowd as well.

06) Montenegro – Slavko Kalezić – “Space”
For the first minute and a half, this song is really fun to watch. It definitely is a good contrast from the ballads of the last few entries. But then it starts to get a bit messy and this would be the point where some backing dancers would have been a good idea. The crowd are really behind this, it’s so Eurovision. However his vocals are not great and I think the juries would have destroyed his chances even before the live show.

07) Finland – Finland – Norma John – “Blackbird”
A very atmospheric and moody entry. The backdrop is absolutely beautiful, looks like water swirling all around the act. The singer has a great voice and the piano solo really fits in with the song. Some may call this boring but I feel that it has emotion and atmosphere that a lot of the ballads lack in this year’s contest. Another great reaction from the crowd at the end of the performance.

08) Azerbaijan – DiHaj – “Skeletons”
This is probably the most experimental entry Azerbaijan have ever sent. The staging is absolutely barmy, with two chalkboards and a man on a ladder with a horse’s head. The song itself isn’t bad at all; it has a Sia feel about it. Sadly DiHaj doesn’t have a good enough voice to reach the higher notes of the chorus but it’s not a bad entry at all. Azerbaijan have qualified with much worse in the past.

09) Portugal – Salvador Sobral – “Amar Pelos Dois”
When this was released many people were shocked at how good this entry was, whereas it had a lukewarm reception from me. It is definitely growing on me and I can see the warmth of Salvador really coming out. It’s good to see him at the contest after being forced to miss rehearsals due to illness. Probably the best reaction thus far in the Kiev arena and the bookies’ odds are dropping by the second for this to win.

10) Greece – Demy – “This Is Love”
Another fun entry comes courtesy of Greece and after last year’s disaster, it’s good to see them back with a credible song. There were questions of whether she could hit the high note but cleverly dropped the pitch a bit for it so she could reach it. She is joined by two topless guys who look like they are having fun splashing around in something from a garden centre. Will be played at the clubs in the months after this contest.

11) Poland – Kasia Moś – “Flashlight”
Another female ballad with simple staging. Kasia definitely has power and attitude in her voice and this helps keep the intensity up. The backdrop was a constant issue for me here, it seemed to switch between classy imagery, reminiscent of Yohanna’s staging for Iceland in 2009, to cheesy, with the doves and the word “FREEDOM” a bit on the nose for me. But again, Poland have qualified with much worse before.

12) Moldova – Sunstroke Project – “Hey, Mamma!”
A variation of this song could have easily been heard in a mainstream club a couple of summers back. The saxophone solo was especially successful and it’s good to see Epic Sax Guy back in Eurovision. But then the fun and intensity falls towards the end, it is slightly one note and needed extra oomph in the last chorus or something to keep it going. But their energy is great and really stands out from this ballad heavy semi-final. Another great reaction from the crowd in Kiev.

13) Iceland – Svala – “Paper”
What is going on with Iceland? For many years they were a constant fixture in the Grand Final but this looks doomed to be their third successive non-qualification. Svala is alone on stage and is doing her best to give attitude. The song doesn’t work live though, it feels like the tempo is ill-suited to the contest, especially following such a high-energy act as Moldova. I am also really not a fan of that cape-open chest-platform boots combo.

14) Czech Republic – Martina Bárta – “My Turn”
Last year the Czech Republic qualified for the first time ever but this seems a step back from that. Once again the singer is alone on stage and I’m not sure that works with the jazz influences behind the song. Maybe a live band would have been better. The outfit choice is a strange one once again as she is wearing what looks to be a sci-fi convention costume made from gold foil.

15) Cyprus – Hovig – “Gravity”
Another bugbear of mine here; why are all the male artists wearing nice shoes and no socks? With all of that aside, this is one of the more modern songs of this semi-final and combines that with some experimental dancing. This corresponds with the backdrop and the images on the LED floor so feels like a complete package. My one criticism is that it feels like it peaks too soon and the last chorus falls a bit flat as a result.

16) Armenia – Artsvik – “Fly With Me”
The second year in a row that Armenia have sent an experimental song and whilst this doesn’t work as well as “LoveWave”, it is still a job well done. It brings a distinctly eastern flavour to the contest but still feels modern and current. The staging and camera work is doing all of the work with this entry, the song itself isn’t that brilliant but everything else is rather inspired.

17) Slovenia – Omar Naber – “On My Way”
2017’s inferior answer to Michal Szpak. This song is rooted in musical theatre, which isn’t in itself a bad thing, if the song was decent. It feels like something that was left on the cutting room floor by a theatre due to time constraints. Omar’s voice is shining here but that is probably the only thing that is. At least he is wearing socks with his sparkling suit.

18) Latvia – Triana Park – “Line”
On to the final song in the semi-final and it is a very modern affair with a hint of 80s neon for the costumes and staging. The singer certainly brings energy into her performance in the musical interlude but the song feels very repetitive and doesn’t really go anywhere. The last time a song performing last didn’t qualify was back in 2013 with Moje 3 for Serbia and this is a bit forgettable to be honest.

That was all 18 performances and then we moved on to the voting part of the song. After the lines had closed last year’s winner Jamala came back on stage to perform a slower but still powerful version of “1944”. She then performed her new single, which was accompanied in the backdrop by some terrifying figures that looked like the plant cousins of the robots in Five Nights at Freddy’s.

The results were then in. The countries moving on to the Grand Final were (in no particular order):
Moldova
Azerbaijan
Greece
Sweden
Portugal
Poland
Armenia
Australia
Cyprus
Belgium

These are the ten songs going through to the final. Personally I’m shocked that Finland didn’t make it through, I felt that the performance was right up there. I’d have probably swapped it with someone like Australia. Other than that I think everyone else deserves their place in the Grand Final.

So what do you think? Did your favourite go through or were you shocked by anyone who qualified to the final? Comment your thoughts below and I’ll be back for my report on semi-final two of Eurovision 2017.

Ranking the Songs of Eurovision 2017! Part 4: 10-1

Get ready folks. In just a few days 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.

This post will conclude the countdown of my personal top 42 in this year’s contest. I will also be discussing the chances of all of the entries to win the contest. Part one, where I gave my 42-32, is available here, part two, containing songs 31-21, can be accessed here and part three, where I countdown my 20-11, can be found through the link here. So here we go, these are the songs which make up my top 10 in my Eurovision 2017 rankings. Who will make it to number one? Read on to find out.

10) France – Alma – “Requiem” – 7.5/10

The first entry of my top ten is France, who for the second year in a row have sent a song that could be something seen on the mainstream French charts. Like “J’ai cherché” the upbeat vibes of the song make it a very appealing song to listen to. There was a largely negative reaction to the addition of English lyrics for the chorus but I don’t feel that it takes too much away from a good song. It is a slight step down from last year, but in a field that is weaker than previous years, this shouldn’t be near the bottom. My one major concern is the live performance, there have been mixed reviews of Alma’s live singing and like last year, this isn’t the easiest song to stage. But overall France deserves credit for the effort they are putting into the contest.

9) Austria – Nathan Trent – “Running On Air” – 7.5/10

Another feel-good song and one that sounds like something off an Ed Sheeran album. Nathan has major charisma and likeability and these will definitely elevate his live performance, which I’m sure will be a good show. He should get votes based on his personality alone. The song is a really sweet listen and is about one of those universal themes: never giving up. My major concern with this entry is that it has a horrible running order (position 2) in a very tight semi-final. Sweet songs, though appreciated by the Eurovision fandom, tend to get lost in the crowd unless they have inspired staging (like Austria last year). This is still a very credible entry and one of those that I will download after the contest.

8) Greece – Demy – “This is Love” – 7.5/10

After a dreadful showing in Stockholm, Greece are back with a bang with this dance number that has the cheesiest lyrics of all time. But that’s where it has its charm and the tune is actually pretty infectious. I can imagine that the Greeks will go all out on crazy staging in order to make it an enjoyable watch.  However, even in the music video, there is a lot of assistance to get Demy to reach the high note in the chorus. If she doesn’t make that note then it could be a painful listen for the audience. Other than that, there isn’t much to say. With Greece’s track record I fully expect this to qualify and reach the left hand side of the scoreboard in the final.

7) Sweden – Robin Bengtsson – “I Can’t Go On” – 7.5/10

In the 1990s it was Ireland who dominated the contest. It seems that in the 2010s Sweden has taken up the mantle. For several years they have sent modern chart-friendly songs that will appeal to both juries and televoters. “I Can’t Go On” is yet another one of those, except it feels too predictable, too safe almost. Robin sings it well but having him and his dancers on treadmills in the number (taken straight from the Melodifestivalen performance) makes it feel a bit too mechanical. It lacks some of that feel-good flair that we makes the contest unique and feels more like an ultra-serious awards ceremony show. With all that being said, it is a very good number. But I doubt that we will be going back to Sweden in 2018.

6) Macedonia – Jana Burčeska – “Dance Alone” – 8/10

Out of all the songs in this year’s contest, Macedonia’s entry is the one that I would download if it were in the mainstream pop charts. This is surprising given that I am normally highly critical of their entries for being forgettable and too run-of-the-mill. “Dance Alone” is slick, modern but still has an infectious charm to it. The narrative in the music video works very well in the song; I hope they bring something of this to the stage in Kiev. Given all of the gushing praise, it is only in sixth place for one simple reason: Live Performance. In all of the preview songs, this song has been disappointing and if it is combined with an uninspired staging, it could be the final nail in the coffin for Macedonia at Eurovision.

5) Switzerland – Timebelle – “Apollo” – 8/10

Switzerland has had a rotten time recently in Eurovision, finishing bottom of their semi-finals in the last two years and making the final only twice in the last ten years. This is their best entry since Sebalter in 2014 and though it seems like your average mid-tempo song, there is something extremely memorable about it. The song builds well in the choruses, even though I think it has lost a bit of power in the revamp. Like many of my favourites this year, the big thing Switzerland need to do is stage it well. We don’t want a repeat of last year and Rykka’s infamous ‘toilet dance’. If the staging is fine, this should make the final, though I sadly doubt it will challenge the top of the leaderboard.

4) Estonia – Koit Toome and Laura – “Verona” – 8/10

After an expected last place finish in the 2016 semi-finals, Estonia are back on form with this catchy entry. Again, this is not a song that breaks the banks when it comes to the meaning of the song. The staging of the national final was extremely good, with the long camera cuts and positioning of the singers suggesting emotional distance between the two. There were only a couple of times where I felt that they could have had a better connection but I’m sure this can be improved the more they rehearse in Kiev. It reminds me of their 2015 entry and that is no bad thing. This should qualify with ease and return Estonia to the final.

3) United Kingdom – Lucie Jones – “Never Give Up On You” – 8.5/10

Yes. Unbelievably my country, the UK, takes my bronze medal. This is not home bias but is completely down to the song and the changes that they have made to it since the UK NF. There Lucie sung brilliantly but the song and the stage felt a bit empty. Then the revamped version came out and I was blown away. In the last few years there is the sense that the BBC don’t put any effort into the selection of the artist and the song. Even last year’s NF, the first since 2008, was underwhelming. I definitely don’t think the UK have a shot at getting in the top five or even in the top ten. But what it has done is shown me that the BBC’s interest in Eurovision is going up again and I hope to see an upwards trajectory in results for the next few years.

2) Romania – Ilinca and Alex Florea – “Yodel It!” – 8.5/10

A very controversial song for my second place. Controversial because on paper it looks like a joke act, combining traditional yodelling with a touch of hip-hop/spoken word in a pop song. However there is only one other song in this year’s contest that makes me feel better watching it and that is my number one. I have the urge to sway along with the music and it is actually performed very well. Ilinca has a brilliant voice, both when yodelling and singing regularly and Alex provides a good contrast to that. Romania haven’t been in the top ten since 2010, when they sent another mixed sex duo, albeit with a completely different entry. This is a very left field pick for second but I guarantee that it will get the party started for the televoters and the audience in the arena.

And that means my number one pick for Eurovision 2017 is…

Italy – Francesco Gabbani – “Occidentali’s Karma” – 9.5/10

Could it really be anyone else? Francesco stands way above the competition with this magnificent entry. Firstly, his natural charisma really stands out and makes him extremely likeable. Then there is the song. Those who dismiss this as a gimmick act because the performance includes a dancing man in a monkey costume (yep really) don’t understand the angle this track is going for. If you don’t speak Italian, I recommend looking up the translated lyrics; it could be one of the deepest meanings for a Eurovision song in years. But at the same time, this isn’t a chore to watch or listen to; the music is great and the dance that Gabbani and the ape-man do is infectious. To put a long story short, this is looking extremely likely to be the winner of Eurovision 2017 and there probably isn’t a more deserving winner.

What do you think of the songs of Eurovision 2017?
Do you agree with my rankings or are there other songs that you would put at the top.
Most importantly, who do you think will win the contest?
You can tell me in the comments section below!

Ranking the Songs of Eurovision 2017! Part 3: 20-11

Get ready folks. In just over a week’s 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 third of four parts, 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 gave my 42-32, is available here and part two, containing songs 31-21, can be accessed here. So without beating around the bush any longer, here are the songs that make up my 20-11 in my Eurovision 2017 top.

20) Belarus – NAVIBAND – “Historyja Majho Zyccia” – 6.5/10

There are many songs in this year’s contest that aim towards the modern and the avant-garde experimental genres. As a result, songs like this one, that are charming and true to itself, stand right out. The choice to resist changing the lyrics to English clearly works in its favour and it is able to retain the celebratory tone. This band is proud to come from Belarus and are showing off their language, culture and history. My one fear is that charming songs often tend to get overlooked in the semi-finals but the choice in language should extinguish that fear.

19) Germany – Levina – “Perfect Life” – 6.5/10

When this song was announced as the winner in the German national selection, the public response was negative, going so far as accusing it of plagiarising a certain song (take a guess from the first few bars). However the charm and vibes that come off this entry make up for how generic it is and the chorus is surprisingly catchy. Germany has finished last in the final two years running, with 2015 achieving the dreaded ‘nil points’. Again the inoffensive yet generic song could fall to the bottom of the pile once again. I don’t see this escaping the bottom five sadly.

18) Bulgaria – Kristian Kostov – “Beautiful Mess” – 7/10

As a fan of this country in Eurovision, I was delighted when Poli Genova managed to not just qualify, but reach the top five last year. This is definitely a credible follow up and I can definitely see the merits of the song. Kristian is only 17 but carries the soul and emotion in his voice of someone double his age. The main reason why, for all of the praise of his voice, he isn’t that high on my top is down to the song. There isn’t anything wrong with it but it just doesn’t excite me, especially given that this year is so ballad heavy. I can see Bulgaria definitely qualifying with this and maybe getting near last year’s result but I don’t think it will ever be among my ultimate favourites.

17) Denmark – Anja Nissen – “Where I Am” – 7/10

Another case where an amazing vocalist deserved a better overall package. Anja has a brilliant set of pipes and she certainly lets rip towards the end. However I almost feel that she is trying too hard to compensate for the weak song. The lyrics and the backing beat come from a contest of the past and I am left with a wall of noise in the last minute or so. With all that being said, Anja deserves credit for taking this mediocre entry somewhere exciting and I’m sure that she will do the same on the stage in Kiev.

16) Israel – IMRI – “I Feel Alive” – 7/10

The Eurovision entry most likely to be the big summer anthem comes courtesy of Israel, who are bringing a dance song that feels current yet isn’t flat as a pancake. There’s not much I can really say about this, it is pleasant to listen to and the reason that it is not higher is that it is almost too generic to have a unique identity. It could have come as easily from a club in 2017 or even 2007. But the final needs more upbeat entries that are fun to watch and listen to, and this ticks all of those boxes.

15) Moldova – Sunstroke Project – “Hey Mamma” – 7/10

The Eurovision Song Contest needs songs like this, an anthem that creates a party atmosphere whilst being a tiny bit silly. The song itself is much fresher than their 2010 attempt, with the saxophone solo sounded like it was sampled straight from a 2017 club remix. A lot of fun to listen too and the band never take themselves too seriously. This will get a lot of fans but it is situated in a tough semi-final that contains a lot of contest favourites and countries that always do well. If they can get the Kiev crowd really moving with an energetic performance, they are doing all of the right things to gain qualification.

14) Australia – Isaiah – “Don’t Come Easy” – 7/10

There are many ballads this year but this is definitely one of the most defined and chart-friendly. I can actually see this on charts all over Europe. With all that being sad, this is arguably the weakest Australian entry thus far and is a large step down from Dami Im. The reason is that I am always waiting for that ‘WOW’ moment yet nothing ever comes along; it is almost too polished for its own good. As we saw last year though, Dami demolished the live performances from a similar starting point. If this is translated well live, Australia could have another year in the top ten.

13) Serbia – Tijana Bogićević – “In Too Deep” – 7/10

Another very chart-friendly song but once again I am left wondering if it is too generic to really succeed in the contest. In fact I’d go so far to say that it reminds me of a thousand different songs, from Eurovision and in the wider pop industry. That isn’t too say that this is a disappointment, in fact it is a good listen and will do better commercially than most. One more concern is how auto-tuned the song feels, especially in the chorus and I am wondering whether this can translate live just as well.

12) Norway – JOWST feat. Aleksander Walmann – “Grab The Moment” – 7.5/10

This is one entry that completely surprised me. I didn’t expect to like this, with the mixed dance beats blending with a male vocalist. However Aleksander does a stellar job and makes it look so effortless. The staging could definitely be improved for the live show in Kiev because I worry that it won’t stand out to televoters. It has a unique identity but there isn’t a massive ‘WOW’ moment in their National Final performance and if they release the fireworks for the bridge or the final chorus then this hopefully will make the final.

11) Cyprus – Hovig – “Gravity” – 7.5/10

“Gravity” is another song to be accused of plagiarism upon being revealed to the public, the comparisons to Rag’n’Bone Man’s “Human” feel more stylistically rather than a fundamental copy. The song follows a quintessential Eurovision pattern with no great surprises in its delivery. Whilst I really enjoyed the song when I first listened to it, it has slowly been slipping down my rankings as it again seems a bit too generic. It is also one that I see more as a studio track rather than one that will do well live; I can’t predict how this will do in Kiev but it may well be a borderline qualifier, especially since it is in the bloodbath that is semi-final one.

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 Four, where I will be ranking my top 10 of Eurovision 2017.

Ranking the Songs of Eurovision 2017! Part 2: 31-21

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.

Ranking the Songs of Eurovision 2017! Part 1: 42-32

Get ready folks. In less than a month’s 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 first of four, I will be counting down my personal top 42 of this year’s contest. I will also be discussing the chances of all of the entries to win the contest. So without further ado, here are numbers 42-31.

42) Lithuania – Fusedmarc – “Rain of Revolution” – 2.5/10
Oh dear. Lithuania’s entries have never been among my absolute favourites but this is a hot mess from start to finish. Fusedmarc, true to their name, have fused several genres together in the hope that something meaningful emerges. It doesn’t. What does emerge is three minutes of an angry looking lady stomping around the stage shouting either “Yeah Yeah” or “Gun Gun” (yep seriously). This country does sometimes make the final when the song isn’t the greatest but I’m praying that a very good song isn’t bumped into non-qualification by this.

41) Slovenia – Omar Naber – “On My Way” – 3.5/10
There is normally one or two songs that are way too musical theatre for their own good. This is one of them. That is not to say that I think theatrical entries should be out of the contest but if they are included, make sure they are of good quality. “On My Way” sounds like something that was left on the cutting room floor in order to save time. It feels like emotion should be coming out of this but it leaves me colder than the Antarctic. The black and white filter for the verses has also been done better (see Estonia 2013). On the plus side, he has a good voice. And that’s about it.

40) San Marino – Valentina Monetta & Jimmie Wilson – “Spirit of the Night” – 3.5/10
Valentina is back. Yet again. This is Monetta’s fourth Eurovision in six years (2012-14) but maybe she should have rejected this opportunity. There is dated and there is vintage and this echoes the cheese of the 90s; except this cheese has gone off and is smelling funny. I understand that fun songs should be in the contest but I honestly preferred the Social Network Song (Monetta in 2012) to this, which is cheap and cheesy. This will do better with televoting than the jury but expect to see this rooted to the bottom of the semi final.

39) Georgia – Tamara Gachechiladze – “Keep the Faith” – 4.5/10
Part Bond anthem and part peace anthem, Tamara comes offering World peace but gives me a headache instead. The lyrics are inspiring to a point but starts to lose its way around the halfway point and turns into a wall of noise which isn’t particularly pleasant to listen to. Peace songs were two a penny in the contest a couple of decades ago and this could easily be Eurovision 1997 instead of Eurovision 2017; this song is nothing that we haven’t seen before in a better form. This all hinges on the live performance because in the national selection it came off as loud rather than powerful but could qualify if this is sorted.

38) Hungary – Joci Pápai – “Origo” – 5/10
It is always nice when a new flavour is being brought to Eurovision, especially when the contest is moving more towards Swedish-produced pop every year. However when the flavour comes across better than the actual song then we have a problem. The visuals are beautiful and the backing music transports me across the continent. But the song doesn’t go anywhere ultimately and big fans to the contest will know that spoken word/rap is never well received. There is emotion coming out but the forgettable nature of the song overrides this. Expect to see this right on the border of qualification.

37) Croatia – Jacques Houdek – “My Friend” – 5/10
On paper this sounds like an absolute mess, a spoken word quotation of Einstein turns into a Faith Hill ballad circa 2001. With Italian opera. And is that Let It Go I hear in the chorus? I actually find the premise of this song extremely interesting, with Houdek both the opera and ballad singer and this will be translated on the Eurovision stage with two cameras fixed on each half of his face. What I can’t forgive though is how unbelievably cheesy the lyrics are. The live performance will either be a complete success or an absolute mess, with nothing in between. Personally, I have a sinking feeling that it could be the latter and that might extinguish any chance it has of qualifying to the final.

36) Albania – Lindita – “World” – 5/10
Well this woman certainly has a pair of lungs! Lindita doesn’t hold back in her power, especially towards the end of this song. It almost feels like she needs to as it sounds like she is being drowned out by the music before she releases the big notes. This is the major problem I have with Albania’s entry: loud music vs very loud singer = a wall of noise that I just lose interest in. After last year’s mess, this is a better song but it’s all too much. If the song is toned back a little in Kiev then this could be a rare appearance in the final for Albania.

35) Ukraine – O.Torvald – “Time” – 5/10
In a big shock, Ukraine has not chosen yet another wailing woman for their entry, instead sending their first male artists since 2005. This is also the only true rock song in this year’s contest. However I have a big problem with this song and it is one that can be seen in many this year: the song doesn’t go anywhere for me. The clock is counting down on the LED screens and the band’s chests but I end up looking at it to see how much of the song is left. It really helps that Ukraine are automatically in the final courtesy of being last year’s winners because this could have been left out; I don’t see this making any real inroads on the leaderboard.

34) Latvia – Triana Park – “Line” – 5.5/10
One of the most modern songs in the contest and one of the most eclectic presentations comes courtesy of Latvia, who for the third year in a row has gone down the electronic route. I’m really struggling with this one though. The reason that the country did so well in 2015 and 2016 is that it highlighted how good the singers were; this song feels like chains that don’t completely allow the singer to let loose. Once again I hear three minutes of the same but the saving grace is that the song will be closing the semi-final, meaning that it hopefully won’t be forgotten about in the voting.

33) Portugal – Salvador Sobral – “Amar Pelos Dois” – 5.5/10
With all of the countries moving towards a more modern sound in Eurovision, Portugal have done a very smart thing by sending something timeless and magical. The reaction on social media has been extremely positive towards this song and I really hope that we will see Portugal in the final for the first time since 2010. The reason that I have placed it quite low is that it isn’t necessary music that I love in Eurovision, it is more background music rather than a song for a contest, but I can see it wowing the crowds in Kiev with its beautiful showcase of the Portuguese language.

32) The Netherlands – OG3NE – “Lights and Shadows” – 6/10
Here is the first of the songs that I can’t say much for and against them; they are simply extremely middling. This mid-tempo song showcases the synergy of the voices of the three OG3NE singers but the song is a non-starter. I can see why The Netherlands picked this song internally as it is different from most in the contest but I just can’t see this filling up a whole arena, it feels suited to a smaller studio. It is also something we have heard before and sadly for this act, most similar songs are stuck in the 90s.

What do you think of the songs of Eurovision 2017?
Do you agree with my rankings or is there another song that you would put at the bottom?
You can tell me in the comments section below!
Stay tuned for Part Two, where I will be ranking my places 31 to 21.

Eurovision: You Decide 2017 Preview

In a few months time the world’s wackiest and most extravagant music festival, the Eurovision Song Contest, will return to our screens. This year the contest is being held in Kiev, Ukraine after Jamala’s victory with “1944”. But if that feels too long for British fans then don’t fret because on Friday night the United Kingdom will pick their representative for the contest. Here’s a small preview of what to expect.

When can I watch it?

Last year the BBC chose to hold their national selection in the end of February but this time around it’s on Friday the 27th of January, which is one of the earliest. This will give fans a chance to compare all the other entries to ours. Given that it’s the United Kingdom and the BBC, I’d recommend doing the comparisons with a large glass of wine. You can catch the show live on BBC two at 7:30pm.

eurovision-2017-uk-nf

Where is it being held?

In 2016 the BBC faced criticism for their poor choice of venue in the national selection. This year it is being held at the Hammersmith Apollo, which actually was where the special 60th anniversary show was held, so it feels like a more suitable place to find the UK representative. Tickets are still being sold for the event and you can find them through the BBC You Decide website. Those who go will get to see a Q&A session with the 2009 winner Alexander Rybak, the 2011 winner Nikki Jamal and the Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest Jon Ola Sand. The show itself is being hosted by self-confessed mega fan Mel Giedroyc, who was a blast last year as host of You Decide and commentator for the semi-finals of the contest itself. Rybak is also performing as an interval act for You Decide, along with The Vamps, though I highly doubt either of them will match up to the magnificence of Katrina singing “Love Shine a Light” to last year’s adoring crowd.

Who is taking part?

Similar to last year, the potential entries had to go through several selection processes, with industry professionals acting as consultants. The six songs selected were presented to the public for the first time on The Ken Bruce Show on BBC Radio 2 and here they are:

Olivia Garcia – “Freedom Hearts”
Holly Brewer – “I Wish I Loved You More”
Lucie Jones – “Never Give Up on You”
Danyl Johnson – “Light Up the World”
Salena Mastroianni – “I Don’t Wanna Fight”
Nate Simpson – “What Are We Made Of”

If you are a die-hard fan of the X Factor UK then you will notice that all of these have taken part in the show before, with Jones and Johnson appearing on the live shows back in 2009. This is somewhat disappointing if you compare the field to last year, which was a good balance of talent show and self-built acts that represented several different genres.

Reviewing the Songs

First of all it is worth noting that I don’t hate any of the songs in the national selection. But on the other hand they are too similar to differentiate and all feel too beige to succeed at Eurovision. With all that said, here is my ranking of the songs, from 6 to 1. The links to the songs can be found by clicking on the corresponding song title. Odds are correct at the time of writing.

6) Salena Mastroianni – “I Don’t Wanna Fight” – 5/10
The messiest song of the national selection comes from Salena, who asks “Why can’t we put our weapons down?” over a bog standard dance track. Technically, this will probably be the hardest to sing live and female dance songs haven’t done very well recently in Eurovision. Even Cascada came near the bottom of the leaderboard in 2013. Honestly it feels like new lyrics should be put in place if this was picked, because this is a hot mess.

Odds to win: 9/1 (Ladbrokes)

5) Nate Simpson – “What Are We Made Of” – 6/10
This song is probably the most frustrating for me to listen to, as Nate has a really soulful voice that comes out well in the lyrics of the verses. However the soft RnB sound turns into a cheesy musical theatre chorus that Eurovision has heard too many of, many of which are better. This could be elevated in the live show with Nate’s great voice but the chorus ruins any hopes I have for this.

Odds to win: 7/1 (Ladbrokes)

4) Olivia Garcia – “Freedom Hearts” – 7/10
Looking at the reaction from Eurovision fans on social media, mainly from outside the UK, this is their favourite. Personally I feel that this needs something to raise it to a very good song. It is the type of song that is pleasant to listen to but it will be forgotten at Eurovision and the UK may well end up at the bottom. It is interesting that the writers of this song are all Swedish cause this feels like a reject from their national selection. The lyric “Listen to whispers of all these freedom hearts” makes no sense and highlights the problems I have with this track.

Odds to win: 3/1 (Coral & William Hill)

3) Danyl Johnson – “Light Up the World” – 7/10
Pretty sure I will be crucified for putting Danyl above Olivia but hear me out. The song may reek of 90s cheese, complete with orange Hawaiian shirts. The tropical beat may not come through strong enough for my liking. But one thing that it is, is memorable. This is the type of song you won’t hear often at Eurovision, probably because they all do terribly. But it stands out. It also lends itself to some truly memorable staging (maybe the BBC should recreate the Cocacabana). Don’t write this off just yet.

Odds to win: 9/2 (Coral & William Hill)

2) Lucie Jones – “Never Give Up on You” – 7.5/10
The current bookies’ favourite is 2009 X Factor finalist Jones, who was knocked out by Jedward in a song off. Now she’s back on the screens with a touching ballad co-written by 2013 Eurovision winner Emmelie de Forest. Some may say that it doesn’t go anywhere and it’s boring. I think the true majesty of the song will come through live; all it needs is a piano and some plain lighting. The only real annoyance is that in the studio version it sounds very auto-tuned. But I think the bookmakers have got this one right; don’t be surprised if this comes away as the victor of You Decide.

Odds to win: 13/8 (Coral & William Hill)

1) Holly Brewer – “I Wish I Loved You More” – 8/10
In the 2016 edition of You Decide, my favourite was Bianca with a ‘shouty female ballad’ and, surprise surprise, another one of those is my number one this year. This song reminds me of a Kelly Clarkson album, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It also arguably has the biggest climax of any of the songs this year, which can work to your advantage at Eurovision especially. Now this song isn’t perfect in my opinion; it needs something more in the verses to raise it slightly. However I think the UK wouldn’t embarrass themselves once again if they sent Holly to Kiev.

Odds to win: 13/2 (Ladbrokes)

So what do you think about the acts picked for the UK national selection; can any of them bring home the trophy in Kiev? Let me know your thoughts in the opinion box below.