It’s the semi-final tonight (on BBC Three or watch the webcast), so time for my summary of this year’s entries. I apologise in advance for my inevitable overuse of the word “Europop”: there is a glut of blonde young ladies singing slightly dancy numbers and they all merge together eventually (the songs, not the young ladies). Save for a few exceptional cases, therefore, the job the songs this year have is to stand out from the crowd – and some of them really do, albeit not necessarily in a good way.
Six that aren’t too bad:
- Belgium – The best of this year’s Europop bunch sung by Jessica Simpson in These Boots are Made for Walking mode an a vast improvement on last year’s drear-fest. There are some ropy lyrics in the chorus but could have been a hit outside the contest.
- Denmark – Mildly country rock’n’roll pop song with plenty of opportunity for toe-tapping. Really quite catchy.
- Armenia – Yes, really, Armenia. The chorus is catchy but the song takes a while to get going. The singer appears to style himself after Michael Jackson. That’s not a compliment.
- Germany – Another country track with more toe-tapping from Northern Europe – this one (from Texas Lightning) much more so. The strumming guitars and fast pace give it a surprising energy. A personal favourite and it’s certainly memorable – it will have the audience clapping along and should do well. Mike is reporting on the contest from Athens and is a fan of this entry too.
- Latvia – Boy band Cosmos will get noticed: they’re singing a capella. Nice idea. What’s not a nice idea: silly noises, screeching falsettos, jazz/swing pre… and some sort of . I don’t want to be mean though: they’re trying hard.
- Finland – Oh Lordi. Death metal goes Eurovision – mad, but pretty good. “Rock and roll angels bring thyn Hard Rock Hallelujah“. No-one will forget this one.
Honourable mentions too to Belarus (upbeat Kelly Clarkson thing with dancers from the 1990s), Bosnia & Herzogovina (gentle, pleasant music that gains little from the singing), Slovenia (camp singer with really bad hair performs pretty good Europop), Turkey (Pink does some more all right pop nonsense), Russia (mullet man with OK pop song), Estonia (ABBA-esque guitar intro turns into run-of-the-mill, OK Eurovision pop) and host’s Greece (Christina/Britney with a slightly stronger power ballad). It remains to be seen how many of these make it to the final.
As always some of these are awful while some are, in true Eurovision spirit, so bad they’re good.
- United Kingdom – on the border between these two. Again, it’s relatively memorable – but let’s face it, it’s not very good, is it? Mr Sampson’s stuff with Bus Stop was better.
- Poland – Three women and two men sing ropily and rap cringeworthily.
- Moldova (in this section for the second year running) – The only duet features apparently meaningless lyrics posing as innuendo. And there’s some bad rap.
- Iceland – Silvia Night is the bastard child of Bjork and Aqua; I’m not sure if it isn’t a joke. There are lyrics about not being Eurotrash, asking the listener to “vote for your hero” and “So boys and girls around the world, let’s meet next year in Iceland”? Unashamedly courting votes, self-referential, mildly catchy and quite, quite bonkers. Oh, and it professes to be “Really hot okay, really not too gay”. On a different day I might vote for this; it would be stunning if it won.
- Lithuania – Vote for the winners. Lithuania are at it too, and really must be taking the piss. They two seem to be courting votes, but with none of the fun of Iceland. Old men chanting “We are the winners”? There’s something very postmodern about this. And also rubbish.
- Croatia – Awful. The singer actually clucks. The backing singers shout. The tune stayed at home. Boggling.
I described Spain’s entry last year as being “pretty much Las Ketchup”. They’ve gone one better this year: it is Las Ketchup.
Romania have entered more dancy Europop, the sort of thing that could easily be a hit in “the clubs” in “Ibitza”. Switzerland;s entry has a nice, Beatlesy opening which, sadly, turns into a horribly cheesy “Let’s all make the world a better place” chorus. Shame. Sweden are often a talking point (who can forget “It Hurts”?), but alas this one gets lost in the mass of dancy Europop. Albania’s song features a polite young man, some traditional instruments and a dancy beat.
Malta try something different this year with a young man singing dancy Europop. It’s called “I Do”. Alas, the ABBA song “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do” is five times better. Netherlands: they’ve learnt from Ukraine that lots of drums are a surefire winner. But not in this case.
And finally: Ireland. Dear, dear Ireland. Dear, dear. Give a man an Irish Eurovision entry, and he’ll be able to entertain his family for a year. But give him a guitar, and he can churn out dire folksy Eurovision entries for the rest of time. This song is called “Cry for Love”, but I can’t help thinking it’s a cry for help. No doubt we’ll give it douze points. Sigh.
There’s so much there isn’t room for here (Cyprus’s Whitney Houston sings a Disney theme tripe; France’s annual boring ballad) so why not watch the entries yourself? Well, OK, I know why not… Should you wish, it’s all on the Eurovision website. And you can read an alternative assessment from the BBC’s panel.
(Who fans should note that onces again the series has been moved for Eurovision. The Age of Steel will be on 6.35pm.)