Right, here goes with the previews, and as I'm currently playing catch-up it'll be daily doubles for a couple of days until I've joined the rest of the team.
ALBANIA - Anxhela Peristeri - Karma
Albania holds a special position in the Eurovision on-season. National tradition dictates that they shoot out of the traps on about a month’s false start, and there ain’t nobody going to listen to a one song playlist of the FiK version of an Albanian entry for any length of time, so by the time we get to this point in the season this writer generally looks bemused and says “Hmm, I mean, I know there IS an Albanian entry…”
Seemingly aware of this and the fact that Karma will always come back to bite you, Albania bring us, well, Karma. I hit a problem immediately.
Karma isn’t there in the lyrics, Albanian is an unhelpful language even for the near neighbours, and the basic question “How does Karma actually go?” doesn’t get an immediate answer from my ageing brain. Simply renaming it Zoti Nuk Ma Fal – God Does Not Forgive Me – as per the first line of the chorus would give it an instant lift and probably better represent the song. I ought to write an e-book on this subject really, it would do literally dozens of business.
Because, actually – this is one of those ballads with great drama, strong emotion, and Anxhela is perfectly capable of a very intense performance. I can see this doing a lot of business in the South-Eastern corner of Europe, but I don’t know that it’s got the wider accessibility to break out into other areas and turn into a major challenger.
Nick's score: 7/10
AUSTRALIA - Montaigne - Technicolour
So many artists in 2021 are trying to recapture the magic that got them the 2020 ticket in the first place, and a lot of them have struggled to. I don’t think that Don’t Break Me part two was ever on the cards for Montaigne, and for all that it was a tour-de-force of performance art telling a very intimate but powerful tale, that may be for the best because it was fairly challenging.
Technicolour is something different again, and I’m having doubts about it. Montaigne’s voice is unique and I’ve still not decided whether that’s “in a good way”. The elements of the song don’t slot together smoothly – there’s nothing smooth about Montaigne so that’s probably deliberate – and it’s a hard one to call.
My gut feeling is that it will get the standard Australian level of jury respect, and perhaps also the standard Australian level of televoter “I literally don’t understand anything at all about this entry”, limp through to the final, look quite dangerous during the first bit of the voting and then fall away badly in the second.
Nick's score: 5/10