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!
I’m rather critical of the cultural appropriation in the music video for Francesco Gabbani’s song, but other than that, I’m excited to see how Saturday’s final goes – and Russia won’t dominate the voting for once!!
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