Nick’s Countdown – Belgium and Bulgaria

BELGIUM

There’s a very specific category of artist that I have a particular problem with in this contest, and Hooverphonic is pretty much the entirety of that category.

I mean, I’m not saying they’re an complete category of ugh in their own right… yet… but they give me such an overwhelming vibe of Your job as a jurist, or a televoter, or a humble scribe, is to sit down, shut up, admire us and then confirm through word and placing us at 1 not 26 on your voting sheet, HILDA, what we already know which is that we are SUPREMELY TALENTED ARTISTS and have just delivered a BRILLIANT SONG.

OK, I might slightly be putting words in their mouths - little bit - maybe - but they're not making a big blip on my humilityometer and they're not putting a smile on my face.

The Wrong Place is… I mean, it’s a good song. I do find myself humming it at inconvenient moments, it’s a hooky little thing, but – crucially – I don’t actually like it.

I’ve checked the rules thoroughly, I am definitely allowed to recognise a good song but not enjoy it for utterly irrational reasons. I am then, furthermore, fully authorised to not vote for that good song. And I’m not going to be voting for this one.

Nick's score: 2/10

BULGARIA

Last year’s artists who were invited to make a return in 2021 have handled it in a variety of ways. Some have done their same shtick better – or worse – than before, some have done a complete gearshift and you’d barely know you’re listening to the same performer.

Victoria has done something a little more unusual, and it slightly worries me. The shtick is the same, but putting out six candidate songs and then listening to feedback and then deciding one which is the entry is… odd.

Of course, the simple explanation is “Why take the earnings from one song streamed a million times when you can have six streamed a quarter of a million each?” Numbers are of course, entirely fabricated for illustrative purposes – but you see my point.

The deeper, more worrying explanation is “Not a single one of these songs has even made me, the performer, leap out of my chair and shout THAT ONE!”. It might betray a lack of confidence in the material - certainly to my ear the genuinely clever wordplay and sadpositivity of Growing Up Is Getting Old still fails the lightning-in-a-bottle test that she aced with Tears Getting Sober.

I’ll always give Bulgaria’s chances in the modern contest due respect, they barely get out of bed for anything less than top 10 these days, but I reckon top 10 might be the limit of the ambitions for this one.

Nick's score: 6/10

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