WELL, it’s that time of year again (and it’s that time of year to use that cliché again) when all that glitters, enthrals, disappoints, shocks, amuses, dazzles, horrible fails and rises (like a phoenix) comes to the world: Eurovision.
This year marks Europe and the world’s biggest song contest’s diamond year and as the old girl turns 60, she clearly has many more in her — or at least until European governments clamp down on wind machines in order to reduce carbon emissions.
This year is not going to be any different, though thanks to the Common Linnets last year, 2015 may just be the year of the Eurovision hipsters (unfortunate yes, but at least we don’t have to relive 2013’s fascination with dubstep).
From a Finnish punk band to Russian songs about world peace that lack a clear sense of irony, and a half-way decent song from Portugal to yet more disappointment courtesy of the French, Eurovision 2015 has stepped up to the plate and come out swinging in spectacular heels.
Despite being heavy on the ballads and hipsters, there are some genuinely great songs and thankfully some absolute shockers (and mercifully someone has given Jedward a timeout in the corner).
So, please sit back — or jump around like Jedward on a red cordial-induced high (last reference to them, I swear) — and enjoy my take on my favourite 20 songs from Eurovision.
20: Boggie – Wars for Nothing (Hungary)
Hungary looks to continue their pattern of super-depressing songs. If child abuse wasn’t enough for you last year, how about a nice serving of always mood-enlightening anti-war sentiment? “Do you know our earth is a mess?” asks Boggie. Hang on, let me just put my Eurovision party poppers down, what was that?
If there’s one reason end all wars, it would be to stop these trite world peace songs being entered every few years. I’m looking at you, Dina Garipova and Paradise Oskar.
On a personal note, you could have had the awesome metal band, Leander Rising this year, or the 2011 favourite of many a gay man, Kati Wolf. But no, thank you for choosing the tepid and edgeless safe option.
19: Amber – Warrior (Malta)
Out of the two “warrior” songs in this year’s comp, this is the only one you should give a damn about (but don’t get carried away). Amber’s vocals are impressive, and the climax spirals upwards into an impressive crescendo that should leave a lasting impression, but just not enough of one to land Malta a decent place in the finals. It’s nice but ultimately a bit of a shoulder shrug of a song.
18: Maraaya – Here For You (Slovenia)
With a hook and a beat that grabs you almost immediately with an enjoyable pace, what Slovenia’s entry lacks is enough layers to make it pop.
Its main pitfall is the lack of a “big moment” and while there’s a strong climatic close, the chorus isn’t exactly going to catch on. Stage performance-wise, prepare yourself for a mime who wouldn’t have looked out of place in Tron, battling an apparently-threatening yet imaginary violin.
17: Molly Sterling – Playing With Numbers (Ireland)
After a few years of relatively unremarkable entries, and whatever Jedward was (sorry, last time!) Ireland attempts to hit the reset button with — be prepared to sigh — a ballad. Granted, it’s a genuinely nice, even enjoyable song from a singer whose great vocals has similarities to 2014’s UK entrant Molly, but in a year inundated with ballads it’s hardly one that will capture the minds of Europe.
16: Daniel Kajmakoski – Autumn Leaves (F.Y.R. Macedonia)
With the first of many Eurovision songs written by Swedes (I know, try to act shocked), I reckon there are some great ingredients to work with here. One might describe Autumn Leaves as middle of the road, but there’s a bitter sweet, heartfelt message that will reach far across into European households.
The song has a steady and strong pace, and is overall a pleasant effort but it may falter from the lack of a gear-change. Judging by the video, expect an interesting performance that may see it through to the finals.
15: Genealogy – Face the Shadow (Armenia)
With a view to winning after failing last year despite having competition favourite Aram Mp3 (might have been the name, I don’t know?), Armenia has come back with supergroup Genealogy. Consisting of members (bar one) from around the world that share Armenian ancestry, the group includes Australian opera singer Mary-Jean O’Doherty Vasmatzian.
For a group of six members, each with different styles, you’re going to get some clashes. An interesting enough sounding song that attempts to blend a few different genres together, but ultimately comes across as a bit of a mess. And for any fans of Strangers with Candy, I swear one of the singers is Stew the meat man.
14: Monika Linkyte & Vaidas Baumila – This Time (Lithuania)
Getting past the ridiculously good looks of Monika and Vaidas (trust me, it requires some effort), Lithuania’s entry this year proves to be a potential dark horse that could surprise with a top 10 finish.
Despite the underwhelming sense you’re left with after hearing their harmless and fun love ditty, for Monika & Vaidas, the chemistry comes so naturally. Unlike many other love duets from years past it that felt awkward or forced, this one may just prove a winner for those in the throes of young love around the Europe.
13: Eduard Romanyuta – I Want Your Love (Moldova)
Fourth time’s a charm for Moldova’s answer to Eric Saade: Ukrainian singer (read Bel Ami fodder) Eduard who has previously attempted to represent Ukraine at three prior Eurovisions. After Ukraine pulled out of this year’s competition, Moldova snapped up the singer with quite the track record in the European music scene.
The song itself is very pop-tastic, easily digestible yet ultimately unrewarding. But hey, it’s fun enough. On a personal note, I’m glad to come across another adult male who can sport as much facial hair (read: bum fluff) as me.
12: The Makemakes – I Am Yours (Austria)
First off: yes, what the hell is with that name? But don’t let that distract you a genuinely nice song. With that said, it might take some time to grow on you.
It’s one of many hipster entries this year that appears to have a sound heavily borrowed from alt-rock bands such as the Kings of Leon (with a touch of Jack White’s look).
I Am Yours would make a great stand-alone song but I’m unsure whether it’s got the chops to blow away enough of Europe to award it with a top 15 position.
11: Måns Zelmerlöw – Heroes (Sweden)
Sweden, you could have had Eric Saade return with an undeniably catchy number (sure it’s plastic pop but hey, why deny the man his wheelhouse). Instead, you offer up someone who didn’t seem to learn the competition’s 2014 lesson of not singing in lower registers (I’m looking at you, Italy and Israel).
The singer was at the centre of anti-gay allegations a few years ago but has subsequently offered repeated apologies for calling homosexuality “abnormal” and made amends with the Swedish LGBTI community. So, detractors claiming homophobia should focus on the real enemy.
But I digress, back to the song. It’s catchy but there is a lack of warmth and Måns lacks an ability to projecting any emotion. On the surface, a great radio-pop song but ultimately lacks soul.
… to be continued. The top 10 will be revealed tomorrow. Stay tuned!