We’ll start with Finland, who I always keep an eye out for since LORDI won it back in 2006 in emphatic style. Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät are this year’s representatives and once again they've done things a little differently for the song “Aina Mun Pitaa”. The 4-piece punk band upon first listen have submitted a short, rough, run-of-the-mill punk song, we’re talking old-school punk here, think early MISFITS rawness, that, doesn't really bode well if I’m honest…however…it turns out, the guys all have some form of learning disability which without trying to sound patronizing, when put into context, in the grand scheme of things, is remarkably inspirational, meaning these could easily score well and do Finland proud.
The United Kingdom…now, us Brit’s have a very 50/50 approach to the ESC, many of us take the stance that it’s all political, we never get any points, it’s embarrassing, why do we bother? To that I say shut up and just have some fun. Whereas yes, it’s true we rarely do any good with few countries ever sending points our way regardless of our entry, it’s always good to see ourselves being represented. This year ELECTRO VELVET were chosen to sing for the UK, with the song “Still In Love With You”. An early 1900’s inspired swing-song, with a modern twist…it’s catchy enough as a tune but realistically has zero chance of winning, it’s just not strong enough as a song.
Ballads are always a big thing every year, and this year is no exception. BOGGIE, representing Hungary with “Wars For Nothing”, KNEZ, performing “Adio” for Montenegro and VOLTAJ, with “De La Capat” for Romania, among several others, bring the slow jams to Vienna in abundance, with some, naturally, better than others. It’s easy to forget that it’s a song contest and people find themselves not liking songs because they aren't in English, and often, when a song is sung in a native language it can be hard to gauge, but there’s nothing unpleasant here.
This year’s bookies favourite is said to be Sweden’s entry, “Heroes” performed by Måns Zelmerlöw, which after starting with a somewhat western vibe, does actually turn into a massive tune. Whether or not it can match the success of Sweden’s last winner, LOREEN, with “Euphoria” in 2012 is yet to be seen. My money is on Serbia however, with BOJANA STAMENOV performing “Beauty Never Lies”…this has got winner written all over it, huge vocals and one hell of a climatic ending, I this doesn't make the top 3 there’s issues. Elsewhere there are strong entries from the likes of Germany, with ANN SOPHIE and “Black Smoke”, Georgia’s NINA SUBLATTI with “Warrior” and Belarus’s UZARI & MAIMUNA with “Time”. However, it’s early days yet; with two semi-finals to come, it’s still unclear who will perform in the live final…all we do know, is this is going to be an anniversary to remember. This year’s theme is “Building Bridges”…let’s come together as neighbors and have fun. It’s a friendly competition…let’s show it.