Long-time readers will know I usually cover the show in some way shape or form, be it a run-down of finalists, covering past winner’s releases, or even just live-Tweeting the event…this year, I can’t enjoy this. This year I couldn’t look forward to sitting in front of my TV on the rare occasion I do, to watch Graham Norton sarcastically bury a plethora of countries. This year I couldn’t respectfully raise a glass of Bailey’s to Sir Terry Wogan during song 9, (Who am I kidding it’s a bottle of Jack). This year I couldn’t even get annoyed by the very political voting system I expect each and every fucking year as if it’s some shocking conspiracy. Covid-19 brought an end to all of that…and for that…I despise you, even though you’ve given me two months off work paid. 1st world problems, yes, but still. Alas…what I CAN do at least is channel my inner Jim Bowen, and have a look at who could have won, as Eurovision still at least released the 41-track CD of each countries entry. With that said…Good Evening Rotterdam! Open up, and let’s shine a light on the performers to see who gets 12 points….
I’m going to preface this by stating that no I am NOT going to be analysing every one of the 41 entries as frankly I don’t even think lockdown is long enough for me to do that, but I will mull over my personal highlights, and as usual, the Eurovision double-album does things alphabetically, so we start with Albania. Their entry is “Fall From The Sky”, performed by ARILENA ARA and it’s one of two primary Eurovision tropes…heartfelt ballad, or fucking bonkers. This one falls into ballad category and as an opening track it’s a fairly safe one. The light piano allowing Arilena’s emotive, powerful vocals to really shine and there’s a dramatic intensity to this performance; a wonderful start. If you enjoyed that ballad however, hold on to that thought because you’re going to get sick of them over the next say, I don’t know… album?
Let’s see what else we have here…Belgium’s entry “Release Me” by HOOVERPHONIC in its own ways sounds like a BTEC version of BILLIE EILISH doing a Bond Theme…that’s the best and only way of describing that, you’re going to have to get way off of my back about that one. Skipping ahead now but keeping a colour scheme it’s Germany who have the next real highlight with the track “Violent Thing” by BEN DOLIC. Sadly the track is about as violent as two kittens having a pillow fight…I was expecting this year’s rock entry or something but we get another up-tempo pop offering. It’s got some brass elements and a bit of funk, and an impressive high note, resulting in quite a catchy little track, but it’s not what I was hoping for. Speaking of getting my hopes up, I ALWAYS look for Finland’s entry since LORDI won it in 2006, and this year, their entry “Looking Back” by AKSEL was…meh. It’s a pleasant indie-pop piece with ample melody, nothing like Lordi, or even SAARA AALTO from 2018; disappointing this one I’m afraid, you let me down Finland.
Skipping eagerly ahead now as we’re still only about half way here, we get Ireland and honestly…this would have been a contender for the competitions winner to break their own record, securing eight competition victories. “Story Of My Life” by LESLEY ROY gives off some serious KATY PERRY vibes…it’s a bouncy, light-hearted absolute banger of a pop anthem. Sure there’s repetition, a little instrumental monotony and some childish qualities but this is the kind of track you’d understand being all over commercial radio this Summer time…never mind the political voting, Covid-19 potentially robbed Ireland of this year’s win! Do they have any contenders however? Why in fact yes they do, and there is some STRONG competition from Iceland, and who some may say are favourites to win; DAðI FREYR with the song “Think About Things”. A synth-rich, full on disco-funk driven indie track…it is so simple in execution with the most basic of hooks, so much groove in so little effort, this is superb.
Romania come in with the track “Alcohol You” and I thought I was being offered a pint in broken English to be honest, so imagine my disappointment when ROXEN starts warbling her moody, sultry vocals…a slow, albeit grandiose track , though KORPIKLAANI drink better to be fair. Serbia rock up then with “Hasta La Vista” and the name alone has me hooked…have HURRICANE been sent from the future by Sky Net to secure Eurovision victory? In short…no…imagine someone installed LimeWire on the T-800 and the sheer amount of internet aids rendered it out of order. I’ll be very surprised if you’ll be back. Eventually then, and finally, we find ourselves at Ukraine, listening to “Solovey” by GO_A, and luckily, we conclude the album on an unorthodox yet enjoyable note. The traditional native tones of the vocal performance and woodwind elements coupled with a solid dance-pop aesthetic allow for a genuinely soothing and fun listen…I mean I haven’t got a fucking clue what they are saying but I like it!
After all of that, it really is heart-breaking to know that, given Eurovision’s six-decade legacy and tradition, none of the above entries will be able to represent their respective nations and try to put themselves in the history books. Granted some of these songs work better as a stage performance with character and gimmicks as opposed to straight up audio content, but that doesn’t detract what would have been an entertaining evening of live entertainment and multicultural acceptance of diversity. I know I rant and roast but I honestly enjoy the Eurovision Song Contest…I look forward to it every year, and hopefully it comes back all guns blazing in 2021. Where…who knows…no country has ever done two in a row from winning, so will Holland get to host again on a technicality? We can only wait and see…until then, Europe, you’re a beautiful bunch of bastards, for the record, I didn’t vote for Brexit I voted remain…and as far as Covid-19 goes…nil pois.