Eurovision Countdown

You know how you'll miss us when we're gone, well that day is finally here. The last of our Eurovision Countdown shows for 2017. Although as you read this, Mr Phil, Mr Monty and their entourage will be busy packing their bags and getting ready to head to Kiev, all this so you get to share in the fun of the build-up to the contest.

Have we saved the best until last? It's not likely, given these are the 'Big Five' and the host nation entries. They may be the countries that plough the most into the show year in, year out (and the ones paying for us to party in May), but Eurovision history shows they rarely set the scoreboard on fire.

Let us know what you think - keep it clean.

Ukraine - O.Torvald - Time

Mo - Given this might be the last time we see Ukraine at Eurovision for some time, it's a disappointment. Like arch rival, Russia, they tend to enter something a bit different each year. And maybe in that respect they have done just that. There's nothing else vaguely rocky this year. Obviously the boys could do with a bit of sartorial help, but the song isn't as bad as some had led me to believe. If this is your bag, you'll love it. And I expect Ruslana will tell us what a nice bunch of chaps they are too.

Mo's score: 5 Points

Phil - I'm not sure what to make of this song it all starts off very rocky and continues rocky ...  and it's just all ... sort of rock, really. Does it have any redeeming features? I haven't seen any yet, and to be honest it smacks of the fact that Ukraine knew they were not going to be in the following contest so they don't really need to care. I don't think it's will score high because I don't think it's that good, but if it is your kind of thing (as Mo has quite rightly said) then feel free to go and vote for it. I think you might be the minority. I also don't get the countdown clock motif on the t-shirts ... but I'm sure  somebody does.

Phil's score:  a rocky 3 Points

Valentina - Now this is an odd one... I was rooting for another song to win in Kyiv, so when this edged ahead I wasn't impressed. But after a few listens, I quite like it. If you like this kind of dramatic rock, it's great. If you're coming to Eurovision for schalger and Europop, you'll be quite alarmed and will dismiss it. As both Mo and Phil have said, this may well be Ukraine's last foray into Eurovision if they are booted out... quite ironic to have all the band wearing countdown clocks then, no?

Valentina's score - L'Ukraine - 7 Points

Monty - For those who baulk at the first strum of a rock guitar this will be instantly dismissed as an entry to ensure we’re not back to Kyiv next year, but it does the band a disservice when they are staying true to their musical style. It’s not my bag, but to my untrained ear it seems like a perfectly passable example of the genre, and as the only rock song this year should at least feature in the middle of the table.

Read Monty's Countdown review

Monty's score: 5 Points

France - Alma - Requiem

Mo - I always want to love the French song. I nearly always manage to tell myself that it isn't that bad. Indeed last year, I was sure they had a real chance of winning. But this feels like a backwards step. A bit like the things they put in ten years back. I'm perfectly fine with the English bit - I get why it's there, but bi-lingual songs have taken on a slightly old fashioned feel in the modern contest for me. Don't get me wrong, it's great to see the French putting in an effort (I mean, they're showing the contest in a bunch of cinemas and Alma has featured in nearly every French magazine). It just doesn't excite me. But I bet the OGAE poll ranks it in the top ten.

Mo's score: 6 Points

Monty - An early audience-filmed clip of Alma performing caused concern vocally, but later appearances in national finals at at the various preview parties have demonstrated she can sing this perfectly well. Her stage presence feels a little flimsy though, and if ever a song needed a strong visual presentation it’s this one. I’m enthused by the EBU’s recently released You Tube clip showing the Head of Delegation stating they’re discussing production elements ahead of the show. The dancing couple in the video are a simple but effective emblem that would be easy to replicate, both live and via projection, and distract the viewer should Alma appear a bit limp. I’ll be mighty impressed if by some TV magic they can get them dancing up a wall and hanging underneath the Pont Neuf.

Read Monty's Countdown review here

Monty's score: 12 Points

Phil -  The French song infuriates me. It started life as a perfectly wonderful entry (with a few too many words, I must admit) and then (because someone somewhere says "this song was released before the cut off", instead of standing their ground and pointing out there has been no public performance of the song) they remove a French bit and shoehorn in an English verse. To be different. Newsflash: it already was different enough. It had everything. Nice engaging singer, a song that lilted along quite nicely thank you - the tango dancers to make sure that you were distracted, and you could almost imagine them onstage, off to the side as Alma minced past. It was oh-so-nearly perfect. The English coupled with the fact that Alma has troubles singing the song live are a worry to me. It's still a package, certainly, but the magic has gone ... just a touch.

Phil's score8 Points

Valentina - For once, I agree with Phil! This song was Eurovision perfection before: an upbeat French chanson with a simple tango dancing motif that was rather lovely. It's still lovely, and I still count it as one of my favourites this year, but why oh why stuff that English chorus in there? This is the reason why now when I hear "Oh, we're revamping the song before the contest" I cringe internally. Still, brilliant song and I suspect could get into the Top 10 in Kyiv.

Valentina's score: Le France - 10 Points

Germany - Levina - Perfect life

Mo - There's something so very German about the production. I don't see the Sia connection at all. There's very little wrong with it. It's professionally performed, but it lacks joy and fizzles out. Levina will find herself in what I like to call the 'Big Five' part of the scoreboard again.

Mo's score: 3 Points

Phil - NDR have clearly lost their way in this contest so far this decade, and if they're not careful there will be hurtling towards the bottom of the  scoreboard faster than the Titanic. Never in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest has anybody finished last three times in a row. However, it seems sure as hell seems that Germany are going for that unwanted record with this pile of shite. Having said all of that, it should be Spain, but that's only because Spain is it properly hideous. This is just boring and bland and completely forgettable. People will forget to vote for it and that's its problem. I'm sure that she's a professional singer, and the song is perfectly adequate ... just not for Eurovision. It passes me by ... and that's the worst thing of all.

Phil's score:  0 Points

Monty - I quite like this when it starts. It feels like a contemporary pop song, and the verse builds into the chorus nicely, but once it gets to having to finish the chorus it just feels like it runs out of anywhere to go, and the “that’s what you call a perfect life” section deflates it so strongly that you’re disengaged. It’s not a terrible song, but without fully delivering I don’t see this getting into any jury’s top 10, nor being the one that prompts sufficient televotes to secure more than a couple of points here and there. Far from being the recipe for a Perfect Life this feels just like the perfect recipe for a third accidental last place.

Read Monty's Countdown review

Monty's score: 5 Points

Valentina - Much less than SIA, I always think of David Guetta and Titanium at the opening chords! Oh Germany... what are you doing? This is pleasant enough song to be filler on an album - but lacks that special something one needs to stand out at Eurovision. I can see this getting lost in the final, and while I think it'll be enough (just!) to spare Germany a third consecutive last place, it won't get them much further up the scoreboard. Besides... a German singing about a perfect life? Umm... hello? Which part of this set up did they expect was going to get votes from the rest of Europe?

Valentina's score: L'Allemagne - 4 Points

Italy - Francesco Gabbani - Occidentali's Karma

Mo - I've heard this a bit too much. I recall the first time, though, I thought it was brilliant. The live performance was also pretty strong. He oozes charm and the ape is already earning him attention. The three-minute edit has, if anything, only added to its strength. This feels like a perfectly constructed pop song that someone has really thought through, constructed for a competition. Don't shoot me, but I think there's a bit of a Mambo Number Five vibe about the whole package, and I'm sure that no matter what happens at Eurovision, Francesco will enjoy a massive Summer hit. 'Occidentali's Karma' absolutely stands out in a year of humourless personality-free dross, and I'd love to see it win, but something tells me it's going to be pipped at the post. And that would be a shame.

Mo's score: 12 Points

Monty - I love the presentation, though they’re going to have to be creative about the alés at Eurovision without the orchestra to draw from. I love the themes of the song, the desire to adopt the rituals of the east to combat the stresses of the west, but how our animal/human nature also plays a part, and we can’t just override some of our instincts. For me, yes, the hype is entirely justified. But, but… I’m no longer as sure Francesco has as easy a passage as we’ve bestowed upon him.

Read Monty's Countdown review

Monty's score: 12 Points

Valentina - After enduring the utter brutality of Sanremo (it finished at 3am in my timezone!!), I was pleased with the result. This is such a likeable song on so many levels, very upbeat and danceable, Francesco has the charisma and stage presence to pull it off and even has a little philosophy thrown in for those who like a bit of metaphysics with their music. The Big Question - will it win? Honestly, I think it stands a very good chance. BUT, if there's one thing I remind everyone who tries to bet on the outcome of Eurovision, it is that it's quite unpredictable. My biggest suspicion is that while the public may love the dancing gorilla, the juries may not respond as well. Will definitely make Top 3, and quite possibly Turin 2018!

Valentina's score: L'Italie - 10 Points

Phil -  Need I say anything more - this is winning!

Phil's score - 12 points!!

Spain - Manel Navarro - Do it for your lover

Mo - 'Do it for your lover' sounds like a song that should be a million miles away from the Eurovision song. Perfectly pleasant, but desperately out of place. If I heard it on the radio, I'd not switch it off, but neither would I look up from whatever else I was doing - and that's more than likely to be the response of the average televoter on the night.

Mo's score: 3 Points

Phil - I already said what I thought here the evening after it was chosen. Manel may be "nice", but the criminal way this "song" was chosen and the fact that it's just shit means...

Phil's score : 0 Points

Valentina - Do it for your lover? I'd rather you didn't... Spain have sent some glorious Eurovision entries that underperformed (2012, 2014) and some fan favourites that fell exactly where they deserved (2016) but this... dull, dull, dull... I really have nothing positive to say about it...

Valentina's score: L'Espagne - 0 Points

Monty - I’m not a fan of this flimsy, summery fluff. In fact, whilst I’m beggaring about explaining all this I’m minded of the succinct brevity my fellow Eurovision fan Liam Jarnecki achieves every year in reducing his reviews to just six words per entry. I’m regretting not opting for the same approach myself, for Manel Navarro’s entry lends itself perfectly to the format: “Unmitigated shite – it shoulda been Mirela.”

Read Monty's Countdown review

Monty's score: 2 Points

United Kingdom - Lucie Jones - Never give up on you

Mo - When Lucie won the national final, I was pleased. Before seeing her live, I didn't rate this at all, but there was something about her performance that won me over. She has charisma. I'm in two minds about the remix. I loved its simplicity, and this feels like it wants to go somewhere it never quite gets to. The music now distracts from its strongest selling point - her voice. Please don't let the BBC balls up the staging. Keep it simple. It's certainly the best thing the UK have entered in some years and it ought to score more than the polite handful of points usually thrown our way.

Mo's score: 6 Points

Phil -  Again, I said what I thought here. The revemp for me has only made this song stronger and I also echo Mo's plea to the BBC to not balls up the staging. It needs to be Lucie and no one else. Please and thank you. Best song since Jessica I would reckon.

Phil's score :  7 Points. 

Valentina - I must admit, I wasn't so enthusiastic about this song before the selection, but after seeing it live that night I started to appreciate it more. There is a beautiful simplicity about this song and Lucie can sing it to perfection. If the staging isn't a catastrophe like in 2015 (shudder) then I can confidently see this landing in the Top 15. Will this teach the BBC how to confidently tackle Eurovision again? Probably not, but you can hope 😉

Valentina's score: Le Royaume-Uni - 8 Points

Monty - In Lucie Jones, we have our best hope of those that were on offer. She’s a terrific singer with a likeable personality. The song, though, once again, is found lacking. Personally, I like it, though I think that’s more to do with her than the song itself. With a simple, unfussy performance and by nailing her vocal and delivery it has the potential to bring our best result since Blue’s 11th place with a mid-teens finish, but she’s going to need to bring all her on-stage magic to lift it into the points zone for the voters at home. Oh, I hope we start to get it right soon…

Read Monty's Countdown review

Monty's score: 7 Points 

1 COMMENT

  1. Again this review is colliding with the last JBJ on ESCInsight. Copy/paste on U.K. and Italy

    Ukraine – Not my kind of music. There is not really a melody here.
    And Phil’s comment about this been chosen when Ukraine knew they won’t be in the next contest seems incorrect to me, as this was chosen before the whole Russia thing exploded and the EBU still need to decide about this. The song seem more a choice of an host country want to do well without winning again.

    France – I love this one. It’s very French and yes I was very happy with the all French version but I don’t mind the bi-lingual version either.It’s has an certain atmosphere and yet it is a modern pop song. If they can get the staging right and if she can deliver this live, that I will be very happy with any good result of this get-, yes even winning.

    Germany – It’s bland and on first listen I thought she sounded a bit like someone going for her day work and that she sings this without any passion. It sees she has developed a bit of personality because during the Amsterdam gig she sounded live better than her NF’s performance. There are worse songs than this one it doesn’t deserve to be last, not even accidental last.It also doesn’t deserve to higher than 20 and if it gets there, the Germans will have a breath of relief.

    Italy – It has everything to win. It’s a well built song with a catchy composition and a singer with tons of charisma to sell this.If this win than it will be one of those rare occasions when I very much like the winning song. I am even willing to ignore my fears of Italy hosting a Eurovision. The mess that was 1991’s contest is still engraved in my memory-I shudder 🙂

    That’s said, I have 2 minor issues with the song.Monty in his review mentioned both these points so it’s not something new. I admit it’s coming from a fan eyes and have probably very little to do with average viewer:
    1. Part of the song’s charm during the San Remo’s performance, was the participation of the orchestra. It was like a dialog between 2 parts and gave a boost to the song. No orchestra at Eurovision so they will need to do it with the backing singer, but the effect will be different and probably less effective. They can do it with the assistance of the crowd, but for this they need a crowd who knows the song. The Amsterdam gig was a perfect example, where a crowd gave it an extra push. A majority of the crowd in Kiev will not be that familiar with the song and that can go wrong.

    2. The Eurovision version is a bit of a let down. Something in the edit is not right and damage the flow and the built up of the song. It’s sound a bit awkward. Not sure whether the average viewer will take note of this or just ignore it all along.

    Spain – If Germany doesn’t deserve to be last, even not accidentally, this one deserve to be last. The chorus is repetitive and annoying as hell. The song sounds very amateurish and under developed and the charm he is trying to project look insincere and faked. You want to learn how to charm-get lessons form Austria’s this year, who has charms in tons and probbaly knows better how to use it.

    United Kingdom – I thought that the original needed a bit of an upgrade and that is done here. It’s simple and yet effective it relies heavily on her singing because she sell the song and has no problem of singing this live. And the line:”I’ll Never Give up on you”at the start of the chorus is catchier than anyone can imagine. Now get the staging right and this could do quite well. Winning, not sure but a respectful/good result is an option

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