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The View from San Francisco: Last Thoughts before the Final

by | May 12, 2018

The View from San Francisco: Last Thoughts before the Final

by | May 12, 2018 | Eurovision |

And this is it. The day that feels so far away for most of the year, and when it comes it feels like it is here a bit too soon – and, at the same time, like it can’t come quickly enough. I realized last night, on my way home for work, that today I will be watching my 30th Eurovision final, which is terrifying on so many levels. As I was trying really hard not to fall asleep on the train and miss my stop – this week has been taking its toll, and I did actually take the wrong train home last night because I was so tired and couldn’t tell the difference between Ocean Beach and Ocean View – I was thinking about what that means. How many hours of my life have I spent watching Eurovision? Not just the live recordings, but the video recordings back in the VCR days and oldies on YouTube since? How many hours have I spent listening to ESC songs, rewinding tapes in my Walkman, burning CDs or listening to songs on my mp3 player? How much time have I spent watching Lithuanian heats and Maltese national finals? No, wait, don’t answer that, I don’t want to know.

Point is, I’ve always been a pretty constant person. The things I love I have always loved, and always followed, but the levels of interest have changed with the years. If for some things I used to spend time and money watching, visiting, following or buying everything, for some I now just check the website, the game score or what people wrote on Twitter. There were things I stepped away from for a while before getting back into them again. But Eurovision is somehow the one thing that was always there, every single year. For as long as I can remember myself, I have never not watched it, and I have never not followed it ahead of time to whatever degree technology allowed. I have missed parts of the semi finals this week due to being in California and having a full-time job I couldn’t take days off from, and that marked the first time I have missed anything in the broadcast, but I still saw at least parts of it live and I definitely made sure to watch the results. I always make the effort for Eurovision. Even for that second semi.

And mind you, those grand finals lasting five hundred hours nowadays don’t make it any easier for us to hold on to our Eurovision love, but we made it through semi 2 and we shall survive this too!

I am not doing a full preview today, but I thought that after reviewing each semi’s performances, it was time to give the direct finalists a bit of love (some of them, anyway).

Lovebirds

I will admit I laughed out loud when I saw Spain’s running order placement, and then felt like a horrible person. With Operacion Triunfo being back from the dead this season and turning into a huge success, backed up by it being the first social media season, the interest and faith in “Tu canción” was huge over there – even if I never shared that opinion (but was occasionally worried they’d somehow be right) – and as someone who is no stranger to this position in the running order, I can imagine it felt awful for everyone involved to know what exactly the production makes of you and your chances. Having watched the performance, though, it’s not like they did a lot for their chances as well, and while managing good vocals and chemistry, it’s entirely lost on a fairly uninteresting staging (which is at least one level above distracting) and fashion choices that take any potential youthfulness out of it.

Portugal has been one of my favorites this season, but I need to be in the right mood to get into it, and this stressful week (where Eurovision was just the minor stress of it, imagine that) was not it. I do hope that my own excitement about the final and the home crowd will lift “O jardim” for me so it can be what it was when it was chosen.

Stormy times ahead

I have actually always liked “Storm”, unlike most fans, and I love SuRie to no end, so I have had my hopes that the United Kingdom could rely on a feel-good song with such a charismatic performer to help themselves up the scoreboard. But trust the Brits to take one of the best performers they sent in recent times and lose her on stage, again making the good old Eurovision mistake of sending a random prominent prop that has nothing to do with the song just so that their singer has something to play with.

I’ll simply never get Germany this year, and watching their performance clip was an experience of conflicting thoughts. That stage looks silly! But it looks different from everything else! He is so forgettable I forget about him even though he stands right there! But I’m sure a lot of people will be deeply touched by him and this song! At least I am grateful for the existence of the big five now, because I will only have to sit through “You Let Me Walk Alone” once. Or, if the universe really wants to test me, twice.

Earnest

Having been in my personal top three for the entire season, I have been entirely unable to see France winning this, despite many voices saying otherwise. After watching this, I am even less sure it can do much – I’d love to be wrong, though. I thought they looked quite lost there with those choices of clothes and camera angles. On top of that, the crowd participation towards the end of the song that is supposed to be the highlight of this looks considerably sillier than I thought it would be. Having listened to the jury rehearsal today, and hence to this in the running order, it fell flat there for me too. Still, a gorgeous song by wonderful artists who are maybe just a bit too camera-shy for this to work.

I suppose it is appropriate to close this post with my overall favorite this season. Italy is not the most obvious choice for a closer, but this is not the first time the production went for drama at the end, and this one ends with a lot of gravitas and emotions. With a dynamic staging and a message, these are three minutes of thinking and feeling as much as possible. The message is still not very obvious to really come across to the viewer at home, even with the superimposed lyrics, but there’s enough intensity to make up for it. I have been entirely unable to predict where this one will end and I still can’t, but I’d be so happy if this did well.

The dudes abide

As for the rest of the show? I honestly don’t know. There are some things I’d love to happen, there are some things I really don’t want to happen, and there’s a lot in between to show us all how reality compares to our obsessions throughout the season. The universe has been toying with me this year, and it has only a few more hours to tell me how I am going to remember this Eurovision season. Let’s do this, cosmos!

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