Monday, 8 May 2017

Eurovision 2017: My Predictions

Each year I treat myself (!) and buy a copy of the #Eurovision album so I can preview all the tracks ahead of the final and collate my thoughts on which songs are the best. Though my picks last year didn't get reflected in the rankings - naturally I avoid politics and such like - here are my thoughts on 2017's entries. This list obviously includes all those that have yet to be disqualified in the semi finals and Russia who are no longer taking part, so let's see if my musical tastes match Europe's.

I've categorised songs in three ways: miss for those that are a bit bland; hit for the better ones; and star for the best.

And, as always, feel free to send your opinions below!

Lindita - World (Albania)

A powerful song vocally but lacks any spark or huge chorus that really makes it stand out. Verdict: Miss

Artsvik - Fly With Me (Armenia)

Entirely un-Eurovision. Bland with no highs or emotional moments. Boring. Verdict: Miss

Isaiah - Don't Come Easy (Australia)

This is more like it, with a stronger start, though after a promising opening the song doesn't really go anywhere, which is a shame compared to the previous entries from the country down under. Verdict: Miss

Nathan Trent - Running on Air (Austria)

The first of the songs that deserves more than a couple of listens. Smooth and slick with a laid back summery feel, this is a nice soulful number. Verdict: Hit

Dihaj - Skeletons (Azerbaijan)

Interesting from a production point of view, this is quite a dark and semi-electronic number, and Dihaj's vocals are atmospheric, though the song doesn't quite have the progression you'd hope for. Verdict: Hit

Blanche - City Lights (Belgium)

'City Lights' is quite downbeat for a Eurovision song so that might work against it but it's an interesting and atmospheric 80s-sounding number. Verdict: Hit

Kristian Kostov - Beautiful Mess (Bulgaria)

'Beautiful Mess' isn't quite that in terms of its style but it's a bit bland and lacking any emotional highs. Forgettable. Verdict: Miss

Naviband - Story of my Life (Belarus)

The first entry here to be sung in their native language. Though the lyrics may be in need of a translate it's difficult to ignore the enthusiasm and energy in this fun poppy number. Verdict: Hit

Timebelle - Apollo (Switzerland)

The first of the memorable tracks, this is a catchy pop number with a strong central chorus and a radio-friendly vibe. Nice. Verdict: Star

Hovig - Gravity (Cyprus)

With hints of Robbie's 'Party Like A Russian' from earlier this year this is a storming like gritty pop number with a catchy chorus and a strong production feel. Verdict: Star

Martina Barta - My Turn (Czech Republic)

The first ballad that peaks my interest this is a smooth, touching, stripped back little number that showcases Barta's loveable vocals. Verdict: Star

LEVINA - Perfect Life (Germany)

With a neat backing track this lacks the power of some of the other big hitters but LEVINA's vocals and the David Guetta-style production values (Titanium anyone?) work in its favour. Verdict: Star

ANJA-  Where I Am (Denmark)

Poppy and fun with a building energy and strong vocals, it just doesn't really doing anything special to lift it up above the usual Eurovision fodder. Verdict: hit

Manel Navarro - Do It For Your Lover (Spain)

Souding even more like Bruno Mars' 'Millionaire' than even the Austrian entry, this bilingual number has a catchy summery vibe like both tracks and a nice little riff, but the repetition of the title several times shows a lack of imagination even if it does give it a certain memorability. Verdict: Star

Koit Toome and Laura - Verona (Estonia)

Name-checking Romeo and Juliet, this power ballad has its moments and a bouncy production, and is certainly a grower. Fun. Verdict: Hit

Norma John - Blackbird (Finland)

'Blackbird' is a nice enough little song but it is pretty one-note and though the lyrics are touching and well written musically the song fails to ignite. Verdict: Miss

Alma - Requiem (France)

Naturally sung mostly in French 'Requiem' has plenty of power through its vocals and strings and is a little Shakira in its delivery but doesn't feel like a grand Eurovision number. Verdict: Hit

Lucie Jones - Never Give Up On You (United Kingdom)

This newer version is a little bit of an improvement on the original but, to paraphrase the Beatles, this wasn't even the best song in our internal semi-final. It's growing on me but it still lacks that interesting chorus and the song never reaches a particular peak. Verdict: Miss

Tamara Gachechiladze - Keep the Faith (Georgia)

Sounding like a song that could be a back-up Bond theme, Gachechiladze has some lungs on her and delivers the song with power, and the harmonised and call-and-response ending is pretty grandiose. Verdict: Star

Demy - This Is Love (Greece)

It's electronic focus suggests something modern and contemporary but actually it just sounds too much like a generic clubland track. Different but not really appropriate. Verdict: Miss

Jacques Houdek - My Friend (Croatia)

Splitting the vocals between Justin Bieber and Pavarotti would form a song like this before it emerges into a big bombastic chorus. Lyrically it's uplifting, if not a little cheesy, but the mix of vocals just comes across as unintentionally funny and at times is a little overpowering and perhaps pretentious. Verdict: Miss

Joci Papai - Origo (Hungary)

Sung in their native language this is well produced and focuses mostly on the music than the lyrics, which descend into rap half-way through, but it's missing something. Verdict: Miss

Brendan Murray - Dying to Try (Ireland)

A powerful song from the youthful singer which certainly ticks the box of Eurovision sounds. A good entry from our neighbours. Verdict: Hit

Svala - Paper (Iceland)

Sounding much more credible than what you'd expect from the competition this could well be a non Eurovision pop song. The lyrics at times might be a little cliched but the production, vocals and energy work really well. Verdict: Star

IMRI - I Feel Alive (Israel)

'I Feel Alive' with its building music and club-based chorus can be filed under the Calvin Harris-sound-a-like box. Nothing special. Verdict: Miss

Francesco Gabbani - Occidentali's Karma (Italy)

With music that sounds like The Wanted's 'Chasing the Sun' this is a high-octane hefty-pop number that definitely brings plenty of energy to the playlist. Fun. Verdict: Star

Fusedmarc - Rain of Revolution (Lithuania)

You can't deny the enthusiasm and energy of the singer but the song is a little too eclectic for my tastes and too unstructured. Has its moments but too off-the-wall. Verdict: Miss

Triana Park - Line (Latvia)

Latvian entry 'Line' has its highlights but, like others in the competition, falls into the same trap of club-hefty music that doesn't do anything special. Verdict: Miss

Sunstroke Project - Hey Mamma (Moldova)

'Hey Mamma' is another song that falls back on a club-style chorus, this time with a saxophone, therefore lacking the vocal hook it needs to be memorable. Verdict: Miss

Jana Burcheska - Dance Alone (F.Y.R. Macedonia)

You can't go wrong with hand-claps in songs. Fun and funky this is a neat little pop tune that settles in nicely. It lacks a huge chorus but certainly has a strong poppy outlook. Verdict: Star

Claudia Faniello - Breathlessly (Malta)

Landing firmly in the power ballad category, this is a smooth, gentle number delivered with energy though it's perhaps a little run of the mill to really excel at Eurovision. Verdict: Hit

Slavko Kalezic - Space (Montenegro)

This song might as well be a piece of rock that has the word 'Eurovision' written all the way through it. Catchy, perky, a little cheesy and full of energy, this is what the competition is about! Verdict: Star

OG3NE - Lights and Shadows (The Netherlands)

OG3NE's vocals are sweet and very listenable with some great harmonies, and there's a slight tropical theme to the production, and the snatches of guitar and the faster paced vocals in the final third lift it up. Verdict: Star

JOWST - Grab the Moment (Norway)

The youthful sounding JOWST brings this upbeat catchy number that mixes the Eurovision sound with something a bit more modern. Verdict: Hit

Kasia Mos - Flashlight (Poland)

Dramatic and bombastic, 'Flashlight' sounds just like a Eurovision power ballad which might be its fault as it doesn't really sound that distinctive. Verdict: Miss

Salvador Sobral - Amar Pelos Dois (Portugal)

Far too good to be a Eurovision song, this is a gentle, smooth, throwback track of beautiful piano work and soaring strings. Sadly it's not the sort of thing that will do well in this competition. Verdict: Hit (But not for Eurovision)

Ilinca feat. Alex Florea - Yodel It! (Romania)

Don't be thrown by the mentioning of yodeling; this isn't some Slim Whitman song. This is a Script-sounding modern pop hit with a catchy chorus with the yodelling fitting in very well. Verdict: Star

Julia Samoylova - Flame Is Burning (Russia)

It's a shame that Russia has been excluded from the competition as this is an enjoyable powerful ballad with a catchy hook. Alas for them, no Eurovision success. Verdict: Excluded

Valentina Monetta and Jimmie Wilson - Spirit of the Night (San Marino)

A strong duet, this is a catchy number with strong pop undertones and of course the key change! Fun. Verdict: Star

Tijana Bogicevic - In Too Deep (Serbia)

Another strong Eurovision ballad but like some of them in this year's competition doesn't really do that much to make it stand good. Still good though. Verdict: Hit

Omar Naber - On My Way (Slovenia)

Ticking the Eurovision box for power, this is a strong enough ballad but again fails to do anything that makes it stand on its own feet. It does have a good chanting end to it though. Verdict: Hit

Robin Bengtsson - I Can't Go On (Sweden)

One of the few songs on the tracklist that comes across as an rnb song masquerading as a Eurovision number, this feels surprisingly credible for the competition. Verdict: Hit

O. Torvald - Time (Ukraine)

Even though they're the home country they've not phoned in their entry with this Linkin Park-style dramatic rock number that offers something fresh to end on. Verdict: Hit

The Final Verdict

So with all 43 songs listened to, here is my top ten in the traditional Eurovision order. On Saturday we'll find out if I'm correct...

Timebelle - Apollo (Switzerland) - 12pts
LEVINA - Perfect Life (Germany) - 10pts
Slavko Kalezic - Space (Montenegro) - 8pts
Svala - Paper (Iceland) - 7pts
Hovig - Gravity (Cyprus) - 6pts
Jana Burcheska - Dance Alone (F.Y.R. Macedonia) - 5pts
Ilinca feat. Alex Florea - Yodel It! (Romania) - 4pts
Manel Navarro - Do It For Your Lover (Spain) - 3pts
Francesco Gabbani - Occidentali's Karma (Italy) - 2pts
OG3NE - Lights and Shadows (The Netherlands) - 1pt

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