Somehow a week has gone by, and the first round of rehearsals is now over, making way for Eurovision week! As a reward for overcoming the first week so bravely, this post is slightly less long than the others, and one cup of coffee might be enough to survive it. Don’t worry, though, this is only temporary, and I shall return to lengthy posts as this week will have much to discuss – but more about that later. We still have a little unfinished business to take care of, as our direct finalists wait impatiently to hear whom they will be battling.
Songs: If I were sorry to be so predictable in my choice of a battle, I’d put them against other songs, but homophones aside, it makes perfect sense to pair the two together. Ask Joe and Jake, who chose both as favorites because they sound like tracks they’d like to sing. I’ve rotated the words modern, current and contemporary so many times this week that I am already bored with it, but pick your favorite word anyway – it fits. I’m not a huge fan of either, but definitely like one of them more than the other.
France 1 – Sweden 0
Vocals: During the season, Frans has been spectacularly off key for something that really has little melody, but seems to have found his feet and vocal chords once he got to perform with real people doing backing vocals. Amir, on the other hand, sings well for two minutes but then decides to be literal and wanders off looking for the melody of his song. I’m always a little baffled when singers who can generally sing insist on not changing the parts of their songs that they clearly can’t sing. I do hope he will get it right when it matters.
France 1.5 – Sweden 0.5
Backing vocals: Wearing an invisibility cloak.
France 1.5 – Sweden 0.5
Performance: Having done this in MF already, Frans looks comfortable as the only thing he had to adjust to is a little bit of a catwalk stroll (a popular feature this year, it seems). Amir performed his song many times before, but never on that scale and with this concept, so he’s still cherching for the camera.
France 1.5 – Sweden 1.5
Staging: So, your country wins Eurovision and builds a giant stage, and what do you do? Totally ignore it to go all stripped back and small and intimate. Yes, Frans, youououou. And you call yourself a Swede. People have no shame. Amir, on the other hand, has a truly gorgeous backdrop, and as a bonus I can actually tell what it’s supposed to be! Yes, I’ve been reduced to that with much of this year’s art. While both are alone on stage, Sweden went for the small space approach and France for exactly the opposite: big stage and actual space theme going on in the background. So far it is more lost in stage than lost in space, though.
France 2.5 – Sweden – 2
(Not winner: Frans. And I’m not sorry, no)
Songs: Both acts competed in their national version of The Voice in 2015, but had a different route to finding their Eurovision song. Ghost was Jamie-Lee’s winner single. Joe and Jake did not win The Voice, nor were in this together, but once they teamed up they found themselves in another televised musical competition, with a brand new song, and this time they obviously did win. Both songs are – ARRRRGGGGH – contemporary radio tracks that perhaps are less suited for a competition in which songs need to stand out right away, but are still very strong.
Germany 1 – UK 1
Performance: Jamie-Lee sounds much better than before, but for someone who actually won two musical competitions in the recent months, she still seems very insecure. Joe and Jake bring youth, surprisingly good harmonies and a dosage of easy-going confidence.
Germany 1.5 – UK 2
Staging and Styling: The boys have drummers on platforms. Jamie-Lee has dead trees that somehow still managed to grow green lasers. The boys have a dark background, because who doesn’t, really. Jamie-Lee has a full moon, because full moon is the best time for ghostbusting. The boys have selfies. Lots and lots of selfies. The story of Jamie-Lee’s Manga was already told, but it’s not going to stop me from mentioning it again. The guys wear normal guy clothes which, strangely enough, add up to a completely sensible staging from the UK. What a weird sentiment to be writing.
Germany 2 – UK 3
(They might have lost in The Voice, but can outdo Jamie-Lee here)
Songs: I will just sit here in my corner and whisper the word “contemporary” very quietly. Less quietly, I’ll also add something about it sounding also a little retro, somehow, each in its own completely unique way that has musically nothing to do with the other song. I miss the Spanish language a bit, but the track itself is definitely worth three minutes of my life. It took me longer to relate to Francesca’s song, perhaps because I already knew and loved quite a few of her songs and this didn’t measure up for me. But after a few listens and a reminder that she’s not competing against herself, I started to really like it too.
Spain 1 – Italy 1
Fashion: Francesca and Barei really love their sequins! I do too! I am not so much a fan of the pattern of costumes both girls have picked though, and I am definitely not happy with Barei wearing THIS dress with THOSE shoes.
Spain 1.5 – Italy 1.5
Staging: This year is not only the year of the blue, it’s also the year of OH NO WHY DID YOU DO THIS YOU HAD SUCH A GOOD SONG, in which countries take great songs and then come up with a plan to ruin it. Please give a warm welcome to Spain! They are here today because they managed to take a fun song with strong melody and great groove and make it into something that feels forced, dark, lacking energy and all kinds of words that do not mean “fun”. You had ONE JOB, Spain. One job. The Italian stage is a calculated risk, and it’s something that can look very idiotic or work really well, depending not only on her performance but also on where it is in the draw.
Spain 1.5 – Italy 2
Performance: Francesca sings so beautifully I actually found myself crying. It’s definitely that time of May when all of the systems are slowly but surely losing it. I could live with less hand waving though. It poses a whacking danger to her floating plants. Barei also sings really well, but she is distracted by all kinds of thoughts going through her brain, like wondering why she bothered bringing backing singers who suck at being backing singers. And wearing those dresses while they are at it, because apparently they turn away from all mirrors, not just the broken ones. No wonder she falls to the ground in desperation. Is there a Barbara Dex equivalent for worst backings award? Because if so, Spain is very much in the running.
Spain 2 – Italy 3
(Bottom 5: Spain)
Coming up this week:
Obsessing. More obsessing. Trying to guess qualifiers. Deciding that I have no clue. Giving up. Guessing qualifiers anyway. Getting some right. Getting some wrong. Having to publicly shame myself for all the stuff that I got totally wrong. Making sure to write all the stuff I got right first, and in longer paragraphs. Rewatching. Mourning the loss of favorite songs. Arguing online instead of getting work done, because who needs to eat and pay rent anyway. Doing that again for semi 2. Making a playlist with the final order. Trying to guess the top 10. Giving up. Guessing it anyway. Arguing some more online. Getting PED. Not paying rent on time.
In short: I will be thinking about a lot of things and I will be writing them all down. But I’m not sorry, no.