As someone a few generations removed from mixed and muddied European roots, I feel like a Eurovision mercenary. I have no home team, so I can genuinely just pick my favorite songs. I suppose I do have bias toward a few countries… but I mean I love the UK and I found their entry this year was a little lackluster. So here are my highlights from the contest.
By now most of you know that Sweden was the big winner, with their admittedly, quite nice song, “Heroes” by Måns Zelmerlöw.
Since 2015 was the 60th anniversary, it was a huge, glittery ball of trying very hard. Some performances felt less like they were expressing their identity as artists or as a nation, and more like they were
pandering for votes just trying to appeal to a really general audience. There was even a little tourist ad for each country (*edit: all for the host country– thanks Kathrin*) before each performance… sometimes for odd things. Spelunking with Sweden? Dyeing fabric with Serbia? Going to the ballet and wearing fairy wings with Iceland?
But the venue in Vienna was gorgeous and there were some incredibly talented artists involved. I’ve listened to artist who have competed in the contest before (Alexander Rybak anyone?), but I’ve never watched the actual competition. I thought that this year, it was time. In honor of the anniversary, they let Australia– a country of dedicated Eurovision fans– compete in the finale. And you know what? Australia killed it with “Tonight Again” by Guy Sebastian. Good on you, Australia. I just hope America doesn’t become aware of Eurovision and try to butt in next year.
The “big five” of the EU get a free pass straight into the finale, while the other 33 smaller countries have to fight it out in semi-finals to get whittled down to 20 for the big finale. The big five are UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. Last year’s winner, Austria, also got a pass to the finale. And last year’s winner, Conchita Wurst hosted the green room. As a non-European, even I think it’s a bit unfair that they get passed through. And honestly, judging solely on the songs, not sure most of the big five would have made it to the finale if it had gone to the vote. I know that those country are responsible for the voting for all the smaller countries, but France also kind of let me down this year. I love French music, so I was hoping. Only one of the big five countries (Italy) made it to the top ten.
A few of the performances were a bit… uninspiring. My least favorites were probably San Marino and Armenia’s offerings (I admit that I was shocked that Armenia took a place in the finale while Denmark did not). I was slightly surprised when Russia and Hungary also got passed through to the finale, since both presented fairly mediocre power ballads. Even more surprised that Russia placed second for said “inspirational” ballad. It just didn’t hit me. I don’t know.
Here are my top five, starting with Norway’s “A Monster Like Me” by Mørland & Debrah Scarlett:
Israel also killed it with their song “Golden Boy” by Nadav Guedj
Romania submitted a band with a great bilingual song called “De la capat/ All over again” by Voltaj
Serbia’s offering, in my opinion was stronger in live performance than in the music video, so I’m posting that instead. “Beauty Never Lies” by Bojana Stamenov
My favorite of the contest was ultimately, the offering from Belgium, “Rhythm Inside” by Loïc Nottet.
Of course there were a ton of interesting songs– Moldova, Latvia, and Estonia also had good offerings this year that I recommend checking out. These were just my personal favorites. Which were your favorites of Eurovision? Do you think Sweden deserved the crown? To be honest, I really enjoyed Eurovision. I appreciate their attempt to “Build Bridges” with music. Europe is full of many tiny countries, so it’s in their best interest to work together. And I feel invested now. I may have to watch next year too.