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.