As the list of Eurovision representatives fills out and the line up looks clearer, we felt the need to reorient ourselves towards May. The hubbub and furore of the national final season seems – to us, at least – a source of momentary haze and confusion. Eurohysteria, some may say!
So, let us breathe momentarily.
5…4…3…2…and…1. (Thanks to Conchita for expressing how we felt before that breathing session.)
Let’s bring the last few months together, regroup and assess what we have to look forward to at the Eurovision Song Contest 2018. We have, for your convenience, put every entry onto one page (with some cheeky choice comments from us alongside) so you can flip and flop back and forth between the entire 2018 setlist.
Find your favourites, find your standouts, find your forgettables before the #AllAboard call comes along in just a few months time.
Eugent – who usually goes by Gent – will perform his song Mall in Lisbon after winning Albania’s national selection contest (Festivali i Këngës). According to Gent, Mall is “a song about yearning” and was the product of his experience being away from his family. It is one of Albania’s better entries of the last few years and is strong with musicality and potential.
Winner of the Ukranian version of X Factor and coach on The Voice of Armenia, Sevak looks set to bring a melodic anthem to Eurovision in May. Sevak is a strong vocalist and is a a wonderful choice to perform the first song sung entirely in Armenian at Eurovision – a brave move.
Bonus: Sevak was up against this song in Armenia’s national final. You’ll need a lie down after this one.
No stranger to the Eurovision stage, Jessica Mauboy performed at Eurovision 2014 as an interval act. Returning as Australia’s representative in 2018, her entry – We Got Love – demonstrates yet again Australia’s keen grasp on what Eurovision success sounds like. The trickiest part of developing a Eurovision entry is striking a fine balance between appealing to the lowest common denominator of pop music taste while being simultaneously memorable enough to not become part of the furniture. This song, coupled with Jessica’s general stage presence and command, will ensure that this balance is struck in May. Is it a winning song? We’re not quite convinced.
Flowing easily between powerful chorus and sweet verse – with gospel choir depth speckled delicately between – Cesár‘s entry for Austria hovers securely near the top of our ones-to-watch list. With a stage performance that’s just as strong, Austria could (or, more accurately, should) do very well this year.
On first listen, Aisel‘s X My Heart sounds like something you’ve heard before, which may or may not be a bad thing. Upbeat and inspiring “happy pop” is this song’s modus operandi, which is exactly what we want to hear, whole other countries insist on sending pseudo-political bleeding heart ballads. Can I just have a good time, for one night? Yes, says Aisel.
I actually really like this song. It’s dark and carnivale-esque, spurring enchanting visions of hazy, smoke-filled, Belarusian twilights. Unfortunately, Alekseev‘s song is marred in controversy and may not even make it to Portugal. Videos emerged of the song being performed in May 2017, which is an issue, because Eurovision rules stipulate that a song must not have been released or performed before September. Time will tell if Alekseev will be performing this tune in May, or if the song will be relegated to this history books and forgotten about, Forever.
Belgium continues its trend of sending experimental – but not too experimental – lounge-noir-esque numbers, with Sennek’s A Matter of Time. This is what Alanis Morissette would sound like in 2018 and we’re fans.
Bulgaria have announced EQUINOX as their next Eurostar. And that’s all we know.
It’s hard to tell quite where Franka‘s Crazy fits in, musically. It’s varied and sultry and supported beautifully by Franka’s effortless vocals. If her stage performance is treated to the same level of detail as Crazy, we could be in for a real treat.
Sadly, entirely forgettable.
The Czech Republic have found their own Justin Timberlake and for some reason decided to send him to Eurovision. At least Justin Timberlake doesn’t mumble.
This song kind of sounds like the main theme to a 90s Disney movie, which we love. Provided Rasmussen can design a stage performance that goes a bit further than merely looming over the audience and lets free the epic moments of the song that are currently restrained and muted, this song could be a more than forgettable background noise.
It’s an opera number! Aah! screams in can’t tell if I love it genuinely or love it ironically. Regardless, it’s a captivating performance that someone is bound to vote for.
Eye Cue get several thumbs up from us, with the absolute cracker, Lost And Found: a pop-rock duo with a musically interesting, upbeat song that will get you bopping along with them. Marija Ivanovska’s flowing yet commanding vocals act as guide and protector throughout manifold landscapes of style and influence – like reggae and EDM – that weaves as threads through the brightest of brilliant musical tapestries. Yes! FYR Macedonia have raised the bar.
Another forgettable filler, sorry.
Oh, yes. Yes, yes, yes. Broods: we have found your French equivalent in Madame Monsieur. Their song and restrained, deliberate performance captivates from the calm opening to the fiery and uplifting finale where they blast an endless stream of ironic “thank you’s” into the crowd. Written to tell the story of young child they met who crossed the Mediterranean, Mercy is quiet commentary on the European migrant crisis, reminding all of us of the individual lives and stories that this crisis touches. We will be looking out for Madame Monsieur near the top of the board in Lisbon.
Free to take risks without the pressure or expectation of winning, Georgia is sending Iriao to Eurovision 2018. Described as making music that is a unique “mix of jazz and Georgian ethno folk”, Iriao’s official Eurovision entry has yet to be announced. Regardless, we are in for a real musical treat that will give us perhaps the most diverse and interesting performances of the year. We live in hope!
Looking forward to this one, because it’ll be a great chance to go to the bathroom during the Grand Final. Thanks Germany!
Greece’s selection process was confusing and opaque with multiple disqualifications and cancelled finals and, to be honest, we’re not sure where we are or how we got here. Yianna has been picked by the Greek music gods (we think?) to perform at Eurovision. The song is a wonderful portrayal of the Greek language and it feels like it has the potential to work brilliantly alongside a captivating and special performance, should Greece be able to provide. If it doesn’t work at Eurovision, it could be the next Kingdom Hearts official soundtrack…
Hungary’s very own post-hardcore rock band – a musical derivative of hardcore punk rock – AWS will take their scream-heavy track Viszlát nyár to Eurovision. Nice!
Ari Ólafsson’s win was up-in-the-air for a while after his win, after concerns were raised about the integrity of the voting system at the so-called superfinal of Iceland’s Söngvakeppni. It’s a shame that the organisers confirmed the result, because second place was so much better.
Entirely agreeable, which isn’t saying a great deal. I would be surprised if this moved past the semi-finals.
Netta comes crashing onto Lisbon’s stage with the fire and fury of her song Toy. Netta is a powerful singer with a commanding stage presence and relentlessly catchy song that is likely to stick around in the minds of the audience and juries alike. She may not be our Toy, but she could well be our next Eurovision champion.
Ermal Meta and Fabrizio Moro
Italy abandons its goofy and tongue-in-cheek theme of last year to bring Ermal Meta and Fabrizio Moro‘s politically-oriented song Non mi avete fatto niente. Indeed, the message of the song is the reason for its existence, as it deals with such issues as the threat of terrorism in Europe. Unlike France’s Mercy, Italy’s entry doesn’t appear likely to fall near the top of anyone’s rankings. But, as Ermal and Fabrizio would probably agree, it doesn’t really matter – there’s more to this than just winning, of course.
It’s been pointed out before that Laura Rizzotto‘s song bears a not-minor resemblance to The Weeknd’s Earned It from the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack. Where it differs from Earned It is in its memorability and range: Funny Girl is relatively humdrum and unremarkable, yet pleasant enough to not warrant an immediate write-off. We will be watching to see if Laura makes it to the Grand Final with this one.
With an incredibly sweet song, Ieva Zasimauskaite’s When We’re Old seems – it’s sad to say – likely to fade unremarkably into the background. A shame, because the song itself is charming, nostalgic and pulls on the heart strings. We’ll cheer and cry for three minutes, and sadly keep trotting along to next song.
We’ve heard this before and … we’re not fans. Next.
DoReDos – a cute, if not slightly dweeby, ensemble –are bringing their song My Lucky Day to Eurovision. You’d be forgiven (by us, at least) for thinking this was a song of the late-90s, with its eclectic fusion of traditional Moldovan sounds and cheesy Europop dance group cliché. Certainly, they’re no Sunstroke Project and are unlikely to ring a bill this year.
Ballads tend to spur split opinions and, without doubt, Vanja Radovanovic‘s song has been subject to these consternations. We think that, with the right staging and a strong performance from Vanja, it has the potential to capture the hearts of the ballad-lovers out there and put on a good showing in Lisbon. (See, you can write about Eurovision ballads without going crazy!)
Oh dear. Dear oh dear. Comebacks are tricky business. Comebacks when you’ve already won the Contest are even trickier. Alexander Rybak (2009 winner) is trying it this year and, well, he’s not bringing the goods. The problem with nostalgia is that it is always looked back on through rose-tinted glasses. Let the past be the past. This won’t be a Fairytale, but we’re happy to be proven wrong.
Gromee (featuring Lukas Meijer)
Poland’s Gromee and Lukas Meijer comes along with a party song, mixing en-vogue, electronic dance music with a “look back to the past” in vibe (especially with the onstage disc-jockeying). A completely fine entry that will benefit from a bigger Eurovision stage.
Portugal looks likely to capitalise strongly on their home-turf (dis?)advantage by putting forth a formidable entry in Cláudia Pascoal. Claudia’s delicate and sweet voice makes for a delightfully enjoyable piece that will stand strongly out of a field of loud, high-intensity (dare we say, “fast food”?) numbers. At any rate, one of the strongest host country entries that we have seen in a long time.
Dear Romania. It looks like you’ve accepted the fact you won’t be able to trump your stellar performance from last year. We get that. You’re tough for realising and admitting it frankly. Kudos to The Humans for taking one for your team and representing you regardless. We’ll listen intently…from the kitchen as we refill our coffees. We have to get up at 7AM, you know!
Julia was perform her song, Flame is Burning,in Kyiv, Ukraine last year, but was forced to withdraw from the Contest after Ukrainian authorities would not permit her to travel to Kyiv, as a response to her violation of Ukrainian law while entering Crimea in 2015. Russia – resolute at the best of times – was determined to have Julia perform on a Eurovision stage, and so, she will appear in Lisbon, performing this song, I Won’t Break. Geopolitical musings aside, Julia’s song is personal tale of her strength, spirit and willing to preserve in the most testing of circumstance: “even in the darkness, I can see a light / I won’t break” and “Those so-called broken wings / Are soaring to the sky”. Musically, this entry is far stronger and compelling than Flame Is Burning and has the potential to resonate strongly during her performance, which, as we have consistently seen from Russia, will likely be full of wonder and awe.
Jessika (featuring Jenifer Brening)
San Marino always punches above its weight. For context, the enclaved microstate has a population just slightly smaller than Gisborne, and yet, manages to produce a Eurovision entry every year that is just as good as – if not better than – several of the larger Eurovision stalwarts. Unlikely to win any prizes, Jessika‘s song is perfectly suitable and likely to score at least something in Lisbon.
Sanja Ilic & Balkanika
An eclectic grouping that we suspect will fall into the background without much fanfare.
More set-dressing, we think. Don’t watch this performance if strobe lighting affects you. Or maybe just don’t watch it altogether.
Alfred and Amaia
Spain has seemingly recovered from last year’s whatever, and what a recovery! Alfred and Amaia‘s performance at Spain’s national final fell just on the right side of cute or cringe, yet, we should emphasise the just. There seems a risk that their performance – such as it is – may end up assessed by many as “you love it or you hate it”, but for now, we’re loving it.
Formidable Sweden is sending their very-own Justin Bieber to Eurovision this year, complete with a mainstream American-style pop song. He might even bring that jacket embroidered with his last name on it: very Bieber-esque! You assumed that all the Bieber comparisons must mean we dislike this song, didn’t you? Well, we don’t DISLIKE it but we don’t necessarily LOVE it. It’ll probably do really well regardless of what we think, let’s be real. Will it win? Well, stranger things have happened.
A fine song that deserves to be the one that break Switzerland’s semi-final curse. This brother and sister duo put on an impressive and interesting performance at their national final with a song that’s sure to attract a decent supportive following: we’ll be there!
Alright, finally the party is getting started! This song is an absolute cracker with Waylon nailing the Americana rock vibe. We would not be mad in the slightest if this song closed off the Grand Final as the ultimate winner. Actually, we would be really happy if this did well at all. Really happy. Come on, Waylon!
A surprisingly formidable entry from the immediate past hosts, as MELOVIN belts out strong vocals and flitters away at his grand piano at the top of a fiery staircase. His natural cool-boy charm and charisma will likely win over a few voters that will serve him, and Ukraine, well in Lisbon. That is, if Ukraine makes it there…
A strong and uplifting song that is unlikely to overcome the general feeling of animosity from the rest of Europe that the United Kingdom has suffered in the last decade and looks set to continue to suffer. Sorry, SuRie. Your delightful song and even more delightful demeanour is in no way the cause of the harsh treatment you will soon receive as the physical manifestation of what much of Europe dislikes right now.