It’s been less than a week since the final entries have been revealed, but time enough to make some quick favorites. Until the reports come in from the rehearsals in Vienna the first week in May, these are my favorites for top ten:
10th place – Russia – A Million Voices
In a perfect world, this would be in my top five, or even top three. The group of songwriters who came up with Russia’s entry in 2013 are back and better than before. Gabriel Alares, who placed highly in Swedish Idol 2013, is an excellent songwriter and he may be back as backing vocal again this year too. But following the trends of the last three years, Russia is presenting a highly suspect plea for international peace and love. Coming from any other country, it wouldn’t have the same air of hypocrisy, so this otherwise great entry JUST squeaks in to my personal top ten:
9th place – Belgium – The Rhythm Inside
Belgium are following the path of the Netherlands, and going from annual laughingstock to serious contender in Eurovision. This song is presented by Belgium’s French-language broadcaster, who two years ago brought us Roberto Bellarossa and his his 2013 success. This year THE VOICE BELGIUM brings us another male vocalist, Loïc Nottet, who has a fine, modern pop hit in “The Rhythm Inside”. It’s a grower, and could be top five come May.
8th place – Spain – Amanecer
Spain is another “laughingstock” that has rehabilitated their image with a couple of top placings in recent years. This year follows the 2012 formula and gives us an entry featuring a strong female vocalist, this time Edurne, and an anthemic ballad by Swedish powerhouse Thomas G:Son. “Amanecer” could be the them to an epic fantasy film, and doesn’t get played out on repeated listening.
7th place – Azerbaijan – Hour of the Wolf
Elnur was part of the first Azeri entry in Eurovision, and hes back with a superb anthemic ballad. This year no one will need to speculate that Azerbaijan might be buying its way to a top placement in the contest.
6th place – Slovenia – Here for You
Slovenia has had an up and down history in Eurovision, but has been on a recent upswing. They could have their highest placing in years with Maraaya’s modern radio-friendly “Here for You”. Her entry reminds me a little of Germany’s 2010 winner, “Satellite”.
5th place – Norway – “Monster Like Me”
This is the year of male/female duets in Eurovision, with at least a half-dozen in the running. One of the best is this touching and strange love song from Mørland and Debra Scarlett, which should easily reach the top five in May.
4th place – Australia – Tonight Again
This is the 60th Jubilee year, and Eurovision had a little trick up its sleeve. Offering a final slot to faraway Australia was a publicity stunt that could end up with Australia coming tantalizingly close to winning ESC2015. Guy Sebastian, the first Australian Idol, has a great voice and a fine entry in “Tonight Again”.
3rd place – Italy – Grande Amore
A week ago, this was so firmly at the top of the betting odds that I’m sure many Eurofans already started reserving hotel rooms in Rome for next May But the announcements of the last batch of national entries shook things up quite a bit, and I now have them only in the top three, but probably not atop the winner’s podium in Vienna. Opera always promises more votes than it ends up delivering at the end (I believe).
2nd place – Estonia – Goodbye to Yesterday
Another modern hit, one that rocketed Estonia up in the betting odds before it was even selected, is this sly duet from Stig and Elina. It has a cool country-tinged sound that fits well in current international pop charts, and a good stage performance should bring it close to the top in Vienna.
1st place – Sweden – Heroes
This felt like a winner from the start, and reports from the Heads of Delegations meeting this week to kick of the final phase of Eurovision found that a huge number of countries already view Sweden as top contender for the win this year. It’s current, clever without being cloying, and has a strong, secure singer with a great presence on camera. It’s the one to beat in my book…