Find the 1st Semi Final and 2nd Semi Final previews at the links. As before, the Grand Final post will also contain some graphs looking at the overall trends this year.
France: Alma – Requiem
It’s as French as it could possibly be, even with the slightly weird addition of English lyrics in a couple of the choruses. The combination of the politely bump & grind rhythm with dramatic tango strings and Alma’s sexy vocals is superb. This deserves to do really well. I hope the staging includes the two tango dancers, but that might be because I moonlight as a Strictly Come Dancing podcaster in the Eurovision off-season.
Whether or not something this intensely French will win the contest or not is kind of beside the point – the French delegation are mainly interested in building up the contest as a platform that works well with the French pop industry. A win might come one day.
Grab factor: The romance of it all! The tango strings!
Drag factor: I can’t think of anything at all, honestly. It’s insouciant and lovely. Enjoy it!
Germany: Levina – Perfect Life
So the German national final program was a mess. So they made Levina sing about a dozen times over the course of three baffling hours of light entertainment. So they misattributed Robyn’s Dancing On My Own to the sad piano cover man. So what. They’ve ended up with a perfectly serviceable chart pop song with a much discussed tinge of Sia about it. It’ll go down nicely, especially with people who aren’t in the usual Eurovision bubble. I don’t think it’s competing for last place, even though there’s nothing except the false sense of familiarity and Levina’s strong vocal to prompt you to vote for it.
Grab factor: Wait, haven’t I heard this before?
Drag factor: No dynamic variation at all
Italy: Francesco Gabbani – Occidentali’s Karma
Continuing our question ‘What is a novelty hit?’ we examine a wordy, complex song with a double chorus structure about the philosophical drought at the heart of the modern Western condition. Also, there is a good bit with a gorilla.
Immediately after San Remo, this song seemed laughably unassailable. No-one could beat the bloody gorilla. The fact that it works on multiple levels for multiple audiences, and has been considered as an artistic whole makes it really strong. The gorilla provides that call to arms that makes people pick up the phone and vote.
Whether or not the brutal excision of the second verse will affect how it goes down with the people hearing it for the first time, well, we’ll have to wait and see because everyone in ESC fandom seems to have played it to absolute death already. If it’s a winner, it’s an interesting winner. If it’s not our winner, then we’ve got a basically uncallable competition, which is terribly exciting.
Grab factor: There are several jumping on points throughout the song. It won’t have problems getting eyeballs.
Drag factor: Perhaps the ESC version of this song has a less favourable verse to chorus ratio?
Spain: Manel Navarro – Do It For Your Lover
If Ed Sheeran was Spanish and the beach bars he plied his trade in were on the Costas rather than the English Riviera, this is what would be clogging up the UK charts right now.
To be honest, the protracted and undignified shenanigans surrounding the Spanish selection has clouded my judgement of this inoffensive and indistinctly sung ditty. I suspect I’d have been more forgiving of the jury nobbling of the televote if it was a total masterpiece. It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s light, summery and will probably sound quite nice on the Saturday night.
Grab factor: You can’t go wrong with a snappy reggae style guitar chord riff.
Drag factor: Does seem like it might be going on for more than 3 minutes.
UK: Lucie Jones – Never Give Up On You
I nearly forgot to review this one. Oops. The UK was given the choice of some blandly positive competent pop songs sung by a variety of singers, the strongest of whom is our Lucie – a West End regular who brings a massive mooing following of Rentheads.
The song, by 2013 Eurovision winner Emmelie de Forest is a lovely heartfelt ballad which has been given the full Sanna Nielsen production treatment. It’s pretty, it’s nice and it’s the kind of song that would do very well with Lucie alone in a pin spot on the satellite stage.
Grab factor: Lucie acts and sings extremely well, this should be eye-catching.
Drag factor: The UK delegation will doubtless come up with something to counteract the general goodness of this.
Ukraine: O.Torvalds – Time
It is very, very odd that O.Torvalds are doing Eurovision. It’s a bit like Biffy Clyro representing the UK or Opeth somehow winning Melodifestivalen. It at least guarantees they won’t be hosting two years running? And it gives us our token rock act, but I’ve still no clear idea how or why it happened.
The staging with the rubble piles, the fire jets and the prosthetic countdown clocks is incredibly striking, but definitely a bit much for a pop audience on a family show. Metal audiences have been enjoying extreme imagery like this for a long time, but it’s really scraping the boundaries of the standards and practices office. At least they were prevented from bringing the even more horrific gunshot version…
Grab factor: You’ll either be grabbed by the sudden appearance of something adjacent to rock music or you’ll be looking for the borders of the latex clock prosthetics.
Drag factor: If it’s not your thing, there’s nothing for you here.
Who is singing at Eurovision? Once more, Eurovision is very much a soloists game. The solo female percentage has actually come down a little from last year, when it was 51% and the solo male percentage has remained basically static. The big difference is our 5 duos, increasing the duo percentage from 2016’s 2% to this year’s 12%.
How fast is Eurovision? Let’s put our 2016 and 2017 tempo histograms next to one another. In 2016 we had a lot of songs that came in above 120 bpm, probably because the winner the previous year was Heroes, which came in at 124 bpm. This year, the tempo has noticeably slowed and we’ve got the majority of our songs sitting at a ballad-friendly 100 bpm. This doesn’t really square with my ‘last years winner’ factor, because 1944 was 120 bpm. Eurovision: there is no pattern.
What are people singing at Eurovision? They’re singing ballads, they’re singing nice pop songs and they’re singing mid-tempo inspirational radio songs. Would love to see that Folk Pop segment getting a bit bigger!
What language are people singing in at Eurovision? They’re largely singing in English. We’re at 88.4% English language, up from 83.3% last year.
I haven’t calculated the average number of Swedish songwriters per song yet, because I’ve got a life (this year). Last year it was 0.44.