title image © eurovision.tv
To say it was a busy weekend would be an understatement! Between Friday and Saturday, the broadcasters of Europe gave us no fewer than five finals to watch, as well as several semi-finals for the completists among us.
Germany kicked us off on Friday night with Germany 12 Points. (As some noted, that would already be four times more points than Jendrik managed last year…) A six-song selection – notably missing a certain band with loud fans whom we won’t name here – took place in a TV studio in Berlin with some unusual design features. Barbara Schöneberger hosted the event as she has done before, with a warm but tongue-in-cheek style that proved a slight stumbling block when it came to hitting the right tone for an appearance by ESC 2016 winner Jamala – undoubtedly and inevitably the emotional highlight of the evening.
It was difficult to resume a spirit of cheery competition after that, especially when the voting initially proved utterly unexciting as the various radio regions delivered their almost identical votes. However, a good old-fashioned “flip the result on its head” televote did add some tension and fun – and by the end, it was televote winner Malik Harris who came out on top with his entry “Rockstars”. Here’s hoping it gets far more than 12 Points in Turin in May.
Denmark and Romania kicked us off on Saturday night. The latter had already held a semi-final that was essentially a televised audition, given that it was a jury-only vote. Even in the final, the jury had the overwhelming majority of the power, so it made no difference that former SongHunt champion Dora Gaitanovici was the public’s favourite – in the end, jury winner WRS got the ticket to Turin with the song “Llámame“. Meanwhile, over in Copenhagen, it was a 100% public vote – and if the Danish language came out on top last year, this time the public decided that the three superfinalists should be the only three entries in English. It was a close-run thing between those three: they racked up scores of 37%, 32% and 31% in the superfinal. The 37% belonged to all-female, Danish-Swedish rock band Reddi, so they will be the ones representing Denmark at ESC 2022 with a song of two halves: “The Show“.
Later in the evening, it was the turn of France to present us with a national final as entertaining as its title was long: Eurovision France, c’est vous qui décidez! 12 songs went into battle for the right to follow up Barbara Pravi’s excellent second place in last year’s contest. They were whittled down to a superfinal of six, and if it initially looked like being a close contest thanks to strong contenders like “Seule” or “Nuit Pauline”, in the end the expert jury and the public were unanimous in their view that singer Alvan and the vocal trio Ahez should represent France in Turin with the song “Fulenn”. If you don’t recognise that word, that’s because it’s in Breton: it means “Spark”. And this therefore represents the second time the Breton language makes an appearance in ESC under the French flag, after the calm and quiet “Diwanit bugale” in 1996. “Fulenn”, however, is a rather more lively affair:
And taking us home on Saturday night was Serbia, which offered up a little language surprise of its own: a song with a Latin title, “In Corpore Sano” by Konstrakta, took the victory in Pesma za Evroviziju over several hotly-tipped rivals. Of course, those Latin words are familiar to many from the phrase “Mens sana in corpore sano”, so they’re not a total mystery. And indeed, the lyrics of the song reflect on topics including the lack of health insurance for freelance artists, the media portrayal of unrealistic body standards for women, and the incessant focus on physical rather than mental health – all accompanied by an arty on-stage performance that seems to have captured the imagination of many fans while leaving others completely cold. A polarising entry, in other words, and one whose scoreboard performance will be fascinating to observe… and hard to predict!
Let’s finish this week’s round-up with a couple of internal selections. Just over the border from Serbia, Vladana will represent Montenegro with the ballad “Breathe“. Meanwhile, last year’s host nation, the Netherlands, have given us the first Dutch-language entry since Sieneke in 2010 – although the style of S10’s “De diepte” could hardly be further removed from the happy schlager penned by Father Abraham. In fact, playing the two songs back-to-back would be the perfect answer to any non-fan who dares to claim there’s such a thing as a “typical Eurovision song”!