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Shi’s San Francisco final preview

by | May 13, 2017

Shi’s San Francisco final preview

by | May 13, 2017 | Eurovision, Featured |

And just like that, this is it. That big day, the one before the PED – but I won’t bring up such depressing topics right now. Instead, how about a preview of sorts?

You might have noticed that I have ignored the direct finalists until now. I realized two things: the first is that I always end up with nothing to obsess about on Saturday morning except stressing out about my favorite, and needed something else to think about, and the second is that unlike the semi-final rehearsal reviews, with the direct finalists I didn’t even know who they would be competing against yet. And as we learned this week, context matters. You can disappoint in rehearsals and still shine in comparison to what’s around you.

Unless you are Spain, that is, because sometimes things just cannot be salvaged, and you don’t need to know a single song in the rest of the line-up to know that the only place this is going to see tonight is that bottom right-hand corner of the screen. It’s sad, really, because the song is not actually that bad and I have really warmed up to Manel throughout the promo tour, but it’s such a mismatch of a song and performer, song and contest and song and performance, that it’s just clear it’s not going to work.

Que me quiten lo bailao | Thomas Hanses, eurovision.tv

It would have been nice, though, if the Spaniards would at least pretend like they are trying. Instead they only managed to convince me that Manel’s team is actually made of Mirela’s spies who went to Eurovision solely to sabotage Manel as much as possible, therefore setting Mirela up for a series of press interviews in the upcoming weeks about how she would have done so much better. Which of course she wouldn’t have, but who’s to know except us? Poor Manel, the Spanish fans will never let him live it down.

Let’s take a visit to another Southern country that is situated earlier in the running order now, shall we? In case you wondered, Westerner’s Karma is a bitch, so no wonder Italy ended up being the only direct finalist in the first half, and inside a quartet of songs made out of three foreign-language songs and one very beautiful woman who specializes in distracting audiences from the fact she doesn’t have a song.

As a Middle Eastern girl my karma is oriental, and as such I never really quite got this. Sure, it’s catchy and fun, and Francesco is charismatic, but I never really felt a burning desire to take the number of my listens to this any higher and if not for the power of technology and internet that prevents me from having a clue about stuff like favorites and odds, I don’t know if I would have picked it out of a line-up. I did feel throughout the season that it was a winning candidate, but only by default of everything else not quite managing to stand out, not by its own merits. And in Kyiv, when other delegations actually bothered with stagings while Italy just did their usual “hey, we’ve got staging – we have backing singers, we have a backdrop, and you should still be thanking us for coming back after all those years and stop expecting us to actually bother with properly planning anything anyway” (it is slightly more convincing if you say it in a bad Mario/Luigi accent), it doesn’t even come across as the single standout song anymore.

No prejudice | Anders Putting, eurovision.tv

It will have its moments, of course. Even I am impatiently awaiting to see how the “Alé!” will look on TV, but from the number of times I’ve read how much pure fun this is, I think it’s safe to conclude that I am just not a fun person. And I don’t like dancing gorillas. Boring, I tell you, boring. You shouldn’t be reading me. Go read our other posts instead.

This isn’t to say that Italy won’t do very very well, because of course they will. I wrote before that being a seasoned fan also means learning that sometimes everyone will get something that you don’t, and if you expect to guess anything at all correctly, you can’t ignore things like that just because you don’t like the song.

Speaking of guessing, France! After seeing their HoD is not particularly fond of their staging being criticized, I guess this is my way of making sure escgo! will never get to interview a French ESC participant again. Oh well. Here goes anyway…

After rediscovering how a top 10 placing feels like, France have tried to repeat the formula. A good upbeat song from the same composer that sounds relevant to the French market and a performer thrown onto the stage all alone to battle backdrops that dwarf them and make them look like tiny little lovely ants. Amir was sent to space, but Alma didn’t quite get the VIP treatment and only managed to hijack Ireland’s hot balloon and take it for a spin above the night lights of Paris.

Alma is lovely, really. I say lovely a lot and I mean it in a very positive way and not in the “I’ve been in the US for too long and this is my default word when I have nothing else to say” way. Alma’s interviews have always been candid and optimistic, she’s pretty and she’s obviously worked really hard to improve both her performance and vocals over the last few months. But she’s still very far off being able to hold that kind of song all alone on a big stage, and with a background that does more than any other backdrop to distract as much as possible not only from the song but from her attempt to connect with the audience.

It’s still a great track, but the only thing that stands out in her performance is the Eiffel Tower. Not even being last and therefore perhaps less forgotten with no songs sandwiching her from the other side – although she is performing after Belgium, Sweden and Bulgaria (seriously, when did Belgium and Bulgaria become Eurovision powerhouses? That’s really disconcerting).

We’ll always have Paris | Anders Putting, eurovision.tv

A few songs before France and the three Empires of Eurovision, we find our host country and another big 5 member back-to-back.

Ukraine has sent a rock song that I know I’ve heard at Eurovision before and yet I’m unable to remember which one it was. They’ve also sent a very big head. I often say that (decent) rock songs can do well in Eurovision just by being that one song in the genre. But whenever this song comes up and I desperately look for a melody in it, or anything really, I fail. That’s OK, though, the Ukrainians are used to finishing bottom 5 on home turf.

Can’t get you out of my head | Thomas Hanses, eurovision.tv

A country that is trying to better its record is Germany, having finished last in the past two years, including one nul points, as well as ending up in last place the last time Euroision was held in Kyiv. In between they’ve managed four bottom 5 finishes, but also two top 10 finishes and a win, as countries sometimes accidentally do. This year’s entry is more likely to give them a Kyiv repeat than any of the other 25 scenarios, despite Levina being a good singer with a lot of presence and class. It’s just that she sings one of those songs that, when push comes to shove and people need to find songs to vote for, it’s never going to be that one.

We’re only left with smoke | Thomas Hanses, eurovision.tv

Also, how German can you be on a scale of 1 to calling a song a “Perfect Life” and make the stage entirely gray? I’m Californisraeli, and it’s a truth universally acknowledged in my world that no life is perfect without some sun and blue skies.

And then, a few more steps back at 18, we have the United Kingdom. And they are very sorry. They didn’t mean it. They would really want to apologize to us on behalf of the nation, and the entire Commonwealth, even. They sincerely have no clue what just happened. They are the UK after all, they are supposed to be hated for Brexit no matter what they do, so they didn’t try. They are so very sorry, they definitely did not intend to accidentally send a proper song, with a great singer and performer. They don’t even know where to begin to apologize for their staging, that is not only sensible, but is actually good. They have no idea what went wrong there. We’re sorry, we’re so very sorry. Would anybody like a cup of tea?

It’s too late to apologize | Anders Putting, eurovision.tv

Other than the direct finalists, tonight we get to re-encounter all the semi-finalists we’ve already obsessed about. We also have, all of a sudden, the possibility of an actual fight tonight, instead of a one-horse race (wait, can a horse race alone? Wherever it goes, the top scores follow? How would that work?). And putting my own preferences aside, it really is much more fun that way, because as an Israeli entrant once said, it’s only sport.

(I say this like I don’t know the levels of stress and hysteria I will be at this time next week when my favorite basketball team will be playing in the European finals).

I wrote a lot about expectations, and to be honest, I expected little from this year. I didn’t connect to many of this year’s songs, which – being the “glass half full” person that I am – at least allowed me, for the most part, a more objective view than what I usually have. I managed, generally speaking, to not get emotionally attached to the songs I like, knowing that I didn’t have a real chance of seeing them doing well (to put this in context: I gave Portugal 12 in our ChatVote. Hmmm). But I went through the line-up earlier today and realized that it’s quite a fun final: it’s like 2015, where 4.5 songs will get 87% of the votes and then we’ll have some surprising and random top 10 entries that will get there because math is awesome that way, and we won’t have to survive a wasteland of ballads to get there!

Also, there’s Verka! And a Ruslana! And where’s a Ruslana, there are GIFs. We love GIFs.

And even though we feel we know everything and nothing all at the same time, we still manage to be surprised by something by the time the annual craziness ends. You know what they say, expect the unexpected! Unless you’re Spain. Or Germany. Or Austria. You should just go and get a head start on your drinking.

Wait for me, Nathan! Those who drink alone die alone! (Not applicable for Irish delegation members.)

Have fun tonight, and may your favorites not do too badly – or, Sakis forbid, may your favorite actually win.

Meet me here, same place, same time, tomorrow, for our first PED support session of the season. You can start working on your “Hi Shi! We love you!” now.

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