Swiss is it! Düsseldorf’s first entry on its way

You know Eurovision is getting close when the first song is selected (that is, if you define six months away as being close. Which I do.). So it brings me great happiness to say that Switzerland will pick its entry for 2011 THIS SATURDAY! I’m sure all of you ESC fans are already aware of this fact, and have Youtubed your way through all of the Swiss finalists, and honed in on the ones that make you shake your head in disbelief that such a song could have made it to this stage, and those that make you think that, should Switzerland chose one as the winner, it may actually get out of the semi final next year.

The last time they were in a final was 2006, only because the wonderfully-titled girl band Vanilla Ninja (a ninja whom I would imagine to be quite diluted – but also quite tasty) managed to make the top ten in Kyiv. And they’re Estonian. This is not to say that the Swiss haven’t sent high quality stuff since then – I wouldn’t label Vampires Are Alive as being a song of high quality, but Era Stupendo and The Highest Heights had a lot going for them. Unfortunately in 2008 and 2009 they were up against a myriad of songs that were more contemporary, more catchy and much more visually interesting. Paolo Meneguzzi (aka The Italian Stallion) sang seventh in 2008’s toughest semi alongside Euroband, Ani Lorak, Charlotte Perrelli and the geriatric Croatian rapper (RIP) – and with a decent but not overly fresh ballad, he had no chance of qualifying. The Lovebugs song, on the other hand, was very original but not very Eurovision, much like Estonia’s entry this year. Even though the Eurovision sound has changed and broadened dramatically since 1956, there are still some songs that are simply too indie or alternative to capture the attention of the voters. You would never catch Greece or Turkey or Armenia sending anything like The Highest Heights, and what do you know? They find themselves in the top ten almost every year.

This is why I find myself a bit concerned this year, on the almost-eve of their selection. I have dutifully listened to all 12 finalists, despite deciding halfway through the majority of them that they have no hope of improving their country’s less than impressive Eurovision record. This is not because those songs (for example, Up To You, Barbie Doll and Just Me) are inherently terrible – but they are just so boring! There is no evidence whatsoever in this national selection that the Swiss have followed Germany’s lead, perhaps something they should have done, in choosing possible representatives for Düsseldorf. This year they won with a simple, catchy, well-written and well-performed pop song, and that was about it. No bells and whistles, and certainly no kilts, Polly Duster! And I see nothing of that mould in those 12 songs. Nothing that will grab voters by the eyes and ears and make them…well…vote. Having said that, there are a few that I would prefer to see go to Germany, heck, even one or two that I like. Perhaps, in time, like Belle and the beast, I could grow to love them:

1. Home by The Colors and Ilira: I don’t know if this song would pass the semi finals should it win, but there is something haunting about it that gets me. I can see it now at Eurovision: strings in full symphonic swing; a few ballet dancers arabesquing and jetéing in the background; and a wind machine set to ‘breeze to blow hair and evening gowns floatily and attractively around performers without giving them the “Helen Hunt in Twister” look’.

http://www.youtube.com./watch?v=flA-zq81ENQ (Watch the official music video for ‘Home’ here – I’d embed it, but for some reason it’s not working for me tonight. Bottoms.)

2. Waiting For Ya by Duke: This song is quite American in sound, with its rap and…well, that’s about it. Thank heavens it doesn’t have anyone singing ‘RedOne’ at the beginning! That would really be the end of the world for me, if a song that did do that WENT TO EUROVISION FOR, SAY, SWEDEN??? Yeah, Love Generation, I’m talking to you. Don’t you dare….anyway, back to Duke. I do like the hip-hop feel. Once again, I don’t know how it would cope in the semis, but it depends what it would be up against.

3. Sur Les Pavés by Aliose: The jury would lap this up. I’m not a huge fan of the song itself personally – it isn’t my preferred style of music – but I think it’s okay. What I do like is the artists themselves. I’ve watched some live performances from Aliose and they are brilliant. The female vocalist has one of those reliable voices that is great to listen to because you know she won’t stuff up. Obviously the song is in French, and is very (stereotypically) French-sounding. This worked for Patricia Kaas last year, but she is a superstar, and she was actually representing France, so who knows if it would work for Aliose.

I can’t wait to see which song is picked on Saturday, whether it’s one of my above favourites or not. And if it isn’t, then I hope at least it’ll be one of your favourites…which I may hate! Aagh! But really, the first pick for Eurovision is always something to look forward to. And just think: before the year is over, we’ll know who and what is representing Albania and Romania as well. There’s waaaaaaaaaaaaay too many songs listed in the Albanian selection for me to listen to at the moment, but I’ve heard the Romanian contenders and 85% of them are great – promising! As we get into January and the notoriously Eurovision-selection-mad month of February, Düsseldorf will only be getting closer (duh) and the prospect of it more exciting.

Waiting eagerly for the Swiss (and hoping it isn’t cheese),

Jaz

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