The Eurovision decorations are up, the alcohol’s stockpiled, and Twitter’s prepped for meltdown. So, like years gone by, here’s my (vaguely YA-themed) thoughts on the class of 2017. I wouldn’t bet based on this, but if you happen to win a fortune, feel free to give me a cut of the cash.
Brace yourselves for a cheese torrent – I promise normal blog service will be resumed in a few days with my first #BroodyBFF challenge. (You might want to mute my Twitter until Sunday if you hate Eurovision, though…)
Sweden: Robin Bengtsson, “I Can’t Go On”. Sweden are usually top-notch, but a handsome man on a travelator isn’t a patch on Loreen. Still, it’ll probably qualify because I’m still humming it and it’s an ideal soundtrack for freaking beautiful Brooding YA Hero.
Georgia: Tamara Gachechiladze, “Keep The Faith”. Everyone was really hoping there’d be less ballads than previous years. Ah well. This is so-so.
Australia: Isaiah Firebrace, “Don’t Come Easy”. Really disappointing compared to Guy and Dami, to be honest. Still, good on him for also being a YA main character and bringing some diversity to the contest.
Albania: Lindita, “World”. Blah blah, generic rock ballad, blah blah, next.
Belgium: Blanche, “City Lights”. This is absolutely solid UK radio stuff, all cool synths and breathy vocals. She was so nervous at the London Eurovision Party, though, so she’s only qualifying if she finds some confidence tomorrow…
Montenegro: Slavko Kalezić, “Space”. When you’ve finished staring at his chest, this is all the campness Eurovision’s about. Lyrics about wet dreams, giant ponytails, disco beats. YES.
Finland: Norma John, “Blackbird”. Oh, this is heartbreaking. This ballad can stay, if only for the beautiful piano solo at the bridge. I may have cried seeing this live. Don’t judge me.
Azerbaijan: Dihaj, “Skeletons”. Looks like they want to win again, and are after Blanche’s breathy synth crown. I’d put it in the top 10. Also, the staging has a man in a horse mask. Obviously.
Portugal: Salvador Sobral, “Amar Pelos Dois”. Hmm. Portugal have a tendency to submit things more for Eurovision 1957 than 2017. This is terribly sweet and all, but between the old-fashioned vibe and Salvador’s health scares, I’d put this in 3rd place at the final.
Greece: Demy, “This Is Love”. I sat through three hours of national final to hear this. Excuse me while I get underwhelmed. We all know Opa should just be submitted again, so have that instead. OPA.
Poland: Kasia Moś, “Flashlight”. This is about the ‘persecution of animals’, in the grand tradition of writing a blatantly political song but cloaking it in metaphor. It’s not too shabby.
Moldova: Sunstroke Project, “Hey Mamma!”. You might remember this lot as the group responsible for Epic Sax Guy. This should be reason enough to vote them through to the final.
Iceland: Svala, “Paper”. Nice slice of synthy goodness. My new ringtone. Yes please.
Czech Republic: Martina Bárta, “My Turn”. Maximally John Lewis video, but quite a soulful wee tune. May scrape into the left-hand side of the scoreboard.
Cyprus: Hovig, “Gravity”. Has a gritty, urban feel to it. Radio 1 listeners will love it, but not sure the juries will…
Armenia: Artsvik, “Fly With Me”. This sounds like Bjork collided with some folk musicians, via a synthesizer shop. So-so.
Slovenia: Omar Naber, “On My Way”. So many good songs were binned so this could get through. Just say no to lukewarm ballads, kids!
Latvia: Triana Park, “Line”. It’s clearly the year for synth bangers you’d turn up in the car. Also, Agnese is the most badass singer ever. At the London gig she got out a ukulele and sang about getting pissed, dropping f-bombs everywhere. I want to be her pal.
(There’s far too many countries these days. So let’s have an…)
Serbia: Tijana Bogićević, “In Too Deep”. This song, in GIF form:
Austria: Nathan Trent, “Running On Air”. This lad sang acappella when his backing track failed in London, so I know he’s a decent singer. This should comfortably qualify.
FYR Macedonia: Jana Burčeska, “Dance Alone”. Eurovision synth contest, represent. The video for this is fantastic, but Jana loses points for miming to a backing track in London. Tsk.
Malta: Claudia Faniello, “Breathlessly”. This lady’s a Eurovision veteran. So much so, her London set was a medley of all the songs that didn’t make it. She’s a class act, so bound to qualify.
Romania: Ilinca & Alex Florea, “Yodel It!” Yes. Yodelling at Eurovision. This is what we need. 2017’s been a dumpster fire for world news. Vote for the happy yodelling Romanians, or I’ll come round and show you the yodelling skills Ilinca taught me in London. DO IT.
The Netherlands: O’G3NE, “Lights And Shadows”. Tesco Value Wilson Phillips. NEXT.
Hungary: Joci Pápai, “Origo”. Good to see some trad ethnic stuff – there’s not much of it this year. Not sure it’ll qualify though.
Denmark: Anja, “Where I Am”. Good, solid LHS scoreboard radio pop. And a very sweet, lovely lady singing live.
Ireland: Brendan Murray, “Dying To Try”. Heard this for the first time at the opening ceremony yesterday and thought it was playing at the wrong pitch. Ah well, at least he tried, eh?
San Marino: Valentina Monetta & Jimmie Wilson, “Spirit Of The Night”. Valentina has represented the microstate three times now (including with that godawful Social Network Song). She must have a loyalty card, and is only doing 2017 to get her free coffee. Also, Serhat did disco best, pal. Jog on.
Croatia: Jacques Houdek, “My Friend”. This is a joke entry, right? They’ll pull a good song out at the last minute, yes? What? It’s the real thing. Oh.
Norway: JOWST, “Grab The Moment”. I didn’t like this, but they know how to work a live crowd, and I got into it. Probably the weakest Scandi entry. And their keyboardist is a spare Daft Punk member.
Switzerland: Timebelle, “Apollo”. Strays into Anja’s territory a bit. Bring back that nice Sebalter chap.
Belarus: NAVI, “Historyja majho žyccia”. This is the first song at Eurovision in Belarusian, and what a joyful, bouncy folksy thing it is. Has to qualify.
Bulgaria: Kristian Kostov, “Beautiful Mess”. The ultimate Brooding YA Hero song, and Kristian is ADORABLE. Top 10 material for sure.
Lithuania: Fusedmarc, “Rain Of Revolution”. Lithuania are notorious for having the longest, most drawn-out X Factor-style qualifier. I kind of lost interest after Get Frighten was eliminated. This might scrape through, but THIS is what you really want to see:
Estonia: Koit Toome & Laura, “Verona”. Good hummable hook, and I’d sling it into the Top 10 just on the basis of ‘we have found our Verona’ being basically 2017’s ‘finally facing my Waterloo’.
Israel: Imri Ziv, “I Feel Alive”. They voted through the only one who couldn’t sing just because he gets his kit off on Instagram. I AM ENRAGED.
THE BIG FIVE & THE HOSTS
UK: Lucie Jones, “Never Give Up On You”. The best of a bad lot. Lucie’s a great live performer but, let’s face it, we’ll never get off the bottom of the scoreboard. Especially not after Brexit. *ducks, runs*
France: Alma, “Requiem”. Part Vanessa Paradis, part Ace of Base. And she does a mean cover of “Poupée de cire, poupée de son”. A good outside bet.
Italy: Francesco Gabbani, “Occidentali’s Karma”. The favourite to win, and you can see why. It’s catchy. It takes a swipe at internet-obsessed millennials. It has a dancing monkey. And Francesco is a real charmer who works that stage like crazy. Namaste!
Germany: Levina, “Perfect Life”. Sounds awfully like the backing track to David Guetta’s Titanium, but it’s pretty solid stuff.
Spain: Manel Navarro, “Do It For Your Lover”. The source of much Eurodrama, Catalonia’s answer to Ed Sheeran has an irritatingly catchy tune which won’t win in a million years but will NEVER LEAVE YOUR HEAD.
Ukraine: O. Torvald, “Time”. One of the few rock songs, and super-energetic live. They were originally planning a stunt where the singer’s ‘shot’ and blood bursts from his chest. Oddly enough, they were asked to change this. Almost like this year’s been a bit fraught politically, eh?
And that’s all, folks! If you want to tune in, the first semifinal is tomorrow night from 8pm BST on BBC Four. Meanwhile, here’s a playlist to while away the time until Saturday’s grand final…