Every few days between now and the Big Show, OnEurope’s pundits continue to share ill-informed ideas about what’s going to win the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest. These are the last of the semi final songs. We’ll hear these on 11 May.
Belarus – Naviband – Historyja majho žyccia
Mo – This is a jolly old foot-stamper that will cheer up an otherwise dour show (they’re on after the Swiss). Is it my ears or do the words not seem to actually fit the backing track? It also runs out of ideas pretty fast, but there’s very little to not like here and I wish them well … but if I never hear it again, my quality of life stays the same.
Mo’s score: 6 Points
Monty – I had my eye on them last year when they finished fourth in the Belarus national final, and I’m pleased to see them win the ticket this year. As the first song to be selected it met with widespread approval, but as the rest of the field has been revealed it’s inevitably slipped back a bit. I’m not sure its uplifting niceness will appeal to a mass enough audience, and it has the marginally trickier hurdle of the bigger semi-final to navigate, so I’d objectively give it a 50/50 chance of qualification. But going on my own taste, I’d have a place in the final for this.
Monty’s score: 7 Points
Phil – This is one of the better songs this year. Belarussian isn’t as heavy on the ear as other “Russic” languages, and they do sing it nicely. It’s a lot of twee hippy-skippy shite that I usually don’t like, but in this field, there is something likeable about this song. And, much as I’m loathe to say it, it resonates with me! I find myself toe-tapping along and so should Europe. Out of the Semi-Final with this, but in the final … looking at 10th-15th. And that’s not a bad return at all. It proves the old adage that a well-written song still does well, but they seem to run out of ideas towards the end and there are too many “hays” for me.
Phil’s score: 7 Points
Valentina – HEY HEY HAI-YA-YA-YA-HO!! I unashamedly love this song! I was delighted when it won the selection and think it’s great that we at last have a song in Belarusian gracing the Eurovision stage. To echo Monty, I did have it down as a dead cert to qualify at first, though its odds have dwindled somewhat as more entries were revealed. I think it can still qualify, and could still do well in the final. Will Eurovision be hoping just over the border to Minsk? Probably not, but still a great song and one of the highlights of the Class of 2017.
Valentina’s score: La Biélorussie – 10 Points
Bulgaria – Kristian Kostov – Beautiful mess
Mo – Christ, but he’s young. I’ve got boxer shorts older. And his (rather great) voice doesn’t match the face. A 16 year-old singing a song written for a much older singer is a risky tactic. But … I get a complete ‘Calm after the storm‘ vibe. The official video is stunning and if they can stage this right, I reckon it’s the one to watch. But he is so young. I rarely care much for male ballads at Eurovision. I despise kids doing heart wrenching ballads … and yet I find myself saying …
Mo’s score: 12 Points
Monty – Unlike Isaiah, as nice as it is, I can’t find myself much engaged with this, and it feels much longer than its three minutes. Kostov will need to muster all the stage presence he has to stand out with this, and with a similar ballad from Ireland in the same semi-final these two boys could be competing for the same vote.
Monty’s score: 5 Points
Phil – When I was asked to describe what I thought about this song to BNT‘s assistant head of press, I told her that the song had no chorus but good verses. I was wrong. This has good everything. Kristian has a voice that belies his tender years, and as Mo has intimated if an older and more experienced singer were singing this (or if it were Swedish), it would be vying for favouritism. He’ll need to perform the arse off it, but I think he’s well capable. Is it as good as Portugal and some other songs? Not quite, but there also isn’t a lot wrong with it either. Staging will be key though
Phil’s score: almost but not quite. 10 Points
Valentina – Bulgaria had a rough first decade in Eurovision, but are now quickly proving themselves as a force to be reckoned with. This song has a lot of fans excited and the bookies seem to think it’ll be one to watch on the night. So why can’t I quite bring myself to like it? I do like the ethnic sounding chorus music, but other than that… find it a touch dull, if I’m totally honest. But he is young and no question, very talented, so I wish him all the best. Just hope the final doesn’t run too much past his bedtime… 😉
Valentina’s score: La Bulgarie – 5 Points
Lithuania – Fusedmarc – Rain of revolution
Mo – It’s always so much better when you get a national final performance, as you have an idea what to expect come the big night. Lithuania spent weeks and weeks deciding which song to send, and I find it hard to believe this was the best of the four hundred or so songs they forced on the handful of viewers who bothered to watch each week. It’s such a mess, she looks totally out of place, the staging is insipid. I just know I’ll need to leave the room when this is on. I don’t expect to hear it twice in the one week.
Mo’s score: 0 Points
Phil – Preposterous. That is all. You want more? – well it’s messy … and she can’t sing. The backing vocalists are carrying the song and there is a lot of prancing. Toilet break.
Phil’s score: 0 Points
Monty – There’s not a thing about this that doesn’t annoy the titting crap out of me. It screams “let’s be a bit different!”, feeling like there’s a concerted effort going on to make it feel a little bit out there. You need more than some eclectic dance moves, vocal tics and a stomp around the stage to feel genuinely arty, and Fusedmarc feel utterly disingenuous in their attempt to stand out. I can just about bear the tune for the first couple of minutes but then it all gets too much and I have to force myself not to nudge it on to whatever – anything! – is cued up next.
Monty’s score: 0 Points
Valentina – 51 songs Lithuania and this is what you choose!? There’s a reason this song is number 43 (well… 42 now!) in most people’s countdowns… it’s just unpleasant noise… rain of revolution? More like raining on our parade. Nope. Just stop.
Valentina’s score: La Lituanie – 0 Points (trust me, would give it less if I could!!)
Estonia – Koit Toome & Laura – Verona
Mo – Does she sing ‘you wake up with your butt in your hands?’ I’m torn here. This is clearly one of the better songs (in my opinion). It’s incredibly memorable. They’re great singers, but I can’t get past the performance at the national final. They were absolutely awful. Koit and Laura had all the charisma of two people who’d never met before that night, and whoever staged it should have been shot. They ended up bawling their lungs out at each other stood just yards apart (a classic Eurovision trope, I know). Maybe someone will work out how to stage ‘Verona’ so the perfectly able performers are placed at opposite sides of the stage … like lovers torn apart. That instrumental break could kill its chances. And even in this video they’ve kept those ‘smell the fart‘ longing looks. If any decent song has the potential to fail, this is it.
Mo’s score: 8 Points
Monty – Musically it’s terribly old-fashioned, with hints of pure schlager despite not being a classic example of the genre. But I love it! It has echoes of Elina Born and Stig Rästa’s Goodbye To Yesterday, albeit not being nearly as contemporary a take on a doomed relationship. Koit and Laura mope around, brooding at one another as they lament their volatile pairing. It ought to be as cheesy as anything, and possibly it is, but yet there’s a delicious familiarity to the melody and an intrigue to their ‘reckless kind of love’. I would love this to stick two fingers right up to all the music snobs who are deriding it, and I’d love this to be a big top 10 (or better) on the night. Both of the nights. Thank goodness we still have Eurovision for the sheer joy of this kind of thing.
Monty’s score: 12 Points
Phil – After a couple of years not getting the contest, Eesti are back! (It’s a bottle in your hand, for the record Mo). They, by all accounts, despise each other and it shows in the song, and that’s what makes it excellent. They don’t need to play the hurt couple, they live it out, which makes the tension in the lyric even more real for me. I don’t know what final Mo was watching, but I thought they were perfect in EestiLaul, but the camera work has to be 100% better for the casual viewer to get into the song. Yes, it’s not radio friendly, yes its been done before … but hell, when Mr Lohmus decides to go for this contest he draws you in, and virtually begs you not to vote for it. Koit and Laura will melt the camera. and this – if anything – will be the viewing public’s “Eurovision” song.
Phil’s score: I’ve never been to Verona, but one way or another I might next year – 12 points
Valentina – I was smitten from the first listen! Oh, boo to all those soulless misers who whine it’s not original or it’s dated… you can still enjoy a new example of something we’ve all heard before! I love the 80s vibe coming from it and am confident it will do very well and make it to Saturday no question. If they get the staging very right a la Elina and Stig, then I can easily see this winning the semi. I can’t fault it, everything about it works for me!
Valentina’s score: L’Estonie – 12 Points
Israel – Imri – I feel alive
Mo – Imri is certainly the eye candy this year and the boy can sing. But this is another of those mid-range songs you think sounds fabulous when you hear it after a round of free drinks in some Spanish bar. I’m hearing it on a damp Saturday afternoon in Brighton and the sunshine doesn’t translate. If anything, for such a simple song, it feels over complicated. Things start plodding and the energy drains around the mid point. After this, it just bangs on until its time is up. Oh, and he’s on last, so most people will have probably passed out or left the room in search of another drink by this point.
Mo’s score: 6 Points
Phil – It seems that Israel are reverting to Eurovision type: big gay disco stomper with a video to match. Imri certainly knows which constituency he’s after, even if he isn’t a member, and that’s a good thing. The problem here though, is that we’ll have heard this kind of thing too often and so the listener may have become jaded. There will be lots of lights and dancing and (probably) shirtless boys around the stage to distract from such a generic dance tune. Imri can sing though and that’s the difference. He’ll be able to sell this song into the final.
Phil’s score: Generically yours 5 Points
Monty – as so often with Eurovision the track he gets to front isn’t quite as good as the two he’s backed. In the fluff stakes, it’s undeniably fluffy, though it’s also undeniably fun, and entered the field just as we needed some relief from all the ballads. When I have the songs playing in the background it takes me by surprise, sounding better than I think it does if asked to consider it from memory. As Eurovision relies on gut reactions this could be a good thing, and if he’s placed after a string of more earnest numbers this could be his selling point. I hope it gets through, we need something like this in the final, and we know Israel can give us a great party on the stage, as I suspect can Imri off it.
Monty’s score: 10 Points
Valentina – At the risk of being hugely unpopular, I really don’t ‘get this’. Yes, I understand the vibe they were going for, but for me it just never manages to pull it off. Insipid and quite dull, the one bit I did like is the traditional Levant sounds we get towards the end… why not have them throughout? It would have made it so so much better. Apparently, Imri is eye candy (well that passed me by!), but Israel will have to pull of quite a stage show for me to be convinced. To be fair, I had the same reaction to the song last year, but the staging changed my mind, so we’ll see!
Valentina’s score: L’Israël – 4 Points