There is no denying the appeal Eurovision has to LGBTI audiences around the globe. And with the 60th anniversary of the annual contest fast approaching, Star Observer journalist (and Eurovision fanatic) David Alexander has put together his top songs to look out for.
Yesterday, we published the first half of the top 20 list. Here’s the top 10.
10: Electro Velvet – Still In Love With You (UK)
To paraphrase (just a bit of) Shakespeare: we few, we happy few, we band of brothers that stand by and defend this year’s UK Eurovision entry. I know there aren’t many of us but I’m happy to go into bat for what can honestly be described as at least a fun and harmless song. It’s much more than this in my opinion but it’s important to note that this song and Electro Velvet know they don’t have a masterpiece on their hands – it’s just pure fun with a funky sound.
There have been accusations that the artists ripped off its distinctive swing tune from of all things, a UK ad for potato waffles in the 1980s. This may be the case but in my mind the tune is a very generic one, resembling what a TV show or movie might play in the background of a scene set in a 1920s speakeasy.
Give it a listen. It’s not going to win the UK their first competition since 1997 but then again, I think it’s safe to say the English have pretty well resigned themselves to that for going on 20 years.
9: Ann Sophie – Black Smoke (Germany)
Delivering yet another dark horse entry, Germany returns with an performer who shares similar alt/pop-sounding vocals and sounds to last year, and possibly even 2010 phenomenon Lena (just minus the accordion, mercifully).
There was controversy surrounding Sophie’s eventual entry into Eurovision as she finished second in Germany’s selection competition behind Andreas Kümmert, who later turned down the chance to sing at Eurovision.
The concern for Sophie appears to be her overconfidence onstage. The vocals are there (touch wood), but there’s something that doesn’t quite look right and may affect her likability.
Despite this the song does offer an unusual and appealing sound (at least to me) but whether a second time consecutive alternative-sounding female vocalist will succeed? We can only tell on the night.
8: Mørland & Debrah Scarlett – A Monster Like Me (Norway)
Perhaps the biggest of the dark horses this year, this is a hipster ballad that delivers in the end. The beginning may send viewers either rushing for the tissues or a pillow to hug, but stick with these guys – it really does pay off.
It’s everything Estonia isn’t. While Estonia fails to lift and find a second gear (arguably they just manage first), Mørland & Debrah tell a story and take viewers on a journey with an explosive and emotional climax. Expect a top five finish and keep an eye out for whatever creation Debrah’s flaming red hair takes on the night.
7: Pertti Kurikan Nimipaivat – Aina Mun Pitää (Finland)
It’s been a long time since Lordi but Finland is having another crack at entering one hell of a divisive entry. A 90-second punk song will be a first in Eurovision history and with that, Europe and the competition may not know how to handle the genre. Sure they handed the death metal-lite victory in 2006, but punk can be a much more aggressive and unpredictable genre.
Unfortunately, the band is receiving their share of negative comments online (all band members live with mental impairments) but in traditional punk style, detractors should expect the traditional one finger salute from the band. Europe will either love or hate this song but like Lordi, it won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
6: Loïc Nottet – Rhythm Inside (Belgium)
Another in the long line of The Voice alumni competing this year, the singer who has been praised by Sia for his cover of Chandelier, comes out with a song that hitches its wagon to sounds very similar to Lorde.
There’s an immediate sense of mystery about the song’s arrangement that lures you in with rich bass and combined with Loïc’s soulful, yet curiously young-sounding voice. Its peaks are controlled but not in a way that takes anything away from the song, rather it adds a subtle power to it.
5: Uzari&Maimuna – Time (Belarus)
The final edit of this song did miracles for this great piece of fast-paced pop, but live versions have reportedly not gone down too well, with critics commenting that the song doesn’t translate after making the jump to being performed onstage.
I actually think Time has all the ingredients of a really good Eurovision entry but you have to admit it doesn’t break any musical boundaries. However, it certainly is nowhere being middle-of-the-road.
Even with what has become a bit of a Eurovision cliché – an accompanying violin player – there’s nothing contrived or desperate about Belarus’ entry. I just hope Uzari ditches the weird Spock/Elf-ear thing. Confused? Just watch the video.
4: Guy Sebastian – Tonight Again (Australia)
Sure, the Bruno Mars comparisons are there but the style of this song is Guy’s thang – and he does it brilliantly.
I have to admit: I shared a bit of the nation-wide collective sigh when our first Australian Idol winner was announced as our representative as I didn’t see him fitting into Eurovision at all. How horribly wrong I was.
Sure, he isn’t going to be as clad in an outfit made from mirror balls, or carried on stage by a giant (yeah, that happened), but Guy is going to get Europe dancing. And by all accounts following his efforts around the continent currently, he already has.
One thing Tonight Again has going for it in this year’s competition is that it’s the only song like it. It’s funky, it’s got a wicked beat, it’s fun and it’s not a ballad. Defying the odds and his detractors at home, expect a high placing in the finals for Guy. Hell, he might even win.
3 – Maria Olafs – Unbroken (Iceland)
This is a song that flirts with greatness and just manages to convince you to ask it to dinner. Unbroken has instant appeal with its uplifting lyrics and subtle climax and Maria also fits the part. There are comparisons to Emmelie De Forest but don’t think she has the copyright on performing barefoot.
The one nagging issue regarding this song (despite its fairly repetitive lyrics) is Maria’s youthful vocals. For me, they fail to deliver the show-stopping impact that the song hints at possessing. Nerves may get the better of Maria on the night but if she can get wavering vocals under control combined with a captivating performance could see a top 10 placement for Iceland.
2: Elnur Huseynov – Hour of the Wolf (Azerbaijan)
Five years in a row of ballads from the far flung south-eastern European nation that evidently wants to become the next Sweden. Returning for her third crack at an Azerbaijani song is Swedish songwriter Sandra Bjurman who penned 2011’s winning song Running on Scared.
This is a definite return to form for the ballad powerhouse with delicate, explosive, and at time spine-tingling vocals from Elnur that make it a very strong contender. From the get go, this song haunts you and delicately leads you along before blowing you away with male vocals unheard at Eurovision for a good long time.
Get ready to drink if multiple octave changes are a part of your at-home Eurovision drinking game.
1: Anti-Social Media – The Way You Are (Denmark)
A simple, undeniably catchy piece of retro pop reminiscent of Serbia’s 2011 effort from Nina, Čaroban, and in the style of 1960s Britpop with more modern day ties to pop-rock act McFly.
The Beatles-inspired staging suits the song and creates solid visual appeal, and is unashamedly cheery and upbeat in its beats and lyrics, but it’s also slick, sharp and effective. Whether the controversy surrounding its win in the Danish selection competition continues to plague Anti Social Media (yes, it’s a silly name) is up the rest of Europe, but it’s a solid top 10 position for the boys. At least that’s what I’m hoping for.
Try not to tap your foot and smile uncontrollably as you listen to their song. I dare you.
… Not over yet! Our top five “worst” songs list will be revealed tomorrow. Stay tuned.