Filling in the Blanks

As in most years, you can’t really get an idea of the quality of a Eurovision before the last weekend of national finals. And as in most years, the fans have been crying “worst Eurovision ever” since the very first entries were chosen or announced. But in the last two weeks the national entries chosen have drastically raised the quality of this year’s contest. So let’s play “catch-up” and listen to some of the recent entries.

Yesterday San Marino unveiled their song for KBH, and it’s fine (if a bit dated). Valentina’s third try in a row, with her third song by veteran ESC composer Ralph Siegel, is a great “grand lady” ballad in the style of 1970s Shirley Bassey. If this were 1994 this would immediately be in contention to win, but I think it skews a little old for today’s Eurovision voters. Here’s the Italian version, which is a bit more distinctive.

Also yesterday we found out the song for previously announced artist Aram MP3, and it is surprisingly strong. Armenia has skyrocketed up in the betting odds to the top 5, and may even win their semifinal. A gritty midtempo ballad, here is “Not Alone”:

France used a real selection show this year, after internal selections that didn’t make much impression with ESC voters in the last three years. They have a quirky indie-ish party song by Twin Twin, and most fans are glad they chose the riskier entry that could get them back up into the top half of the voting board.

Greece had a couple of ethnic ballads in their selection, and most fans figured that the Greeks would choose local heartthrob Kostas Martakis. But instead they are sending Freaky Fortune featuring Riskykidd and “Rise Up”, a poppy rap hiphop with a Balkan beat. Not the strongest entry I have seen, but no doubt Greece will get its usual top ten placing

Georgia is another country that usually does well. This year they paired up an established band with a jazzy guest vocalist, and came up with a polished entry that might be too free-form for first time viewers to warm up to.

Germany had a great group of contestants to choose from, but I don’t think Elaiza was their wisest choise. Here is the German entry for 2014.

This weekend or early next week the remaining question marks should be filled in, as Azerbaijan, Russia, Norway, Belgium and Portugal complete their selections or announce their songs. It’s starting to look like a good year for Eurovision in spite of it all!

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