It’s the last day of January, and you know what that means!
Well, I’m assuming you know what that means.
Just in case you don’t, it means that national final season is about to take over all of our lives, and cause us to suffer from hair loss and heart palpitations as we struggle endlessly to keep up with all of the pan-European (and Australian) action on the calendar – particularly on Saturday nights.
We wouldn’t want it any other way, would we?
February’s first NF will be brought to us courtesy of Spain – on the first, fittingly. Tomorrow night, three guys and three girls will fight, matador-style (that’s how it works, right?) for their right to represent their country at Eurovision. Once there, the winner will have to pull off a performance that makes everyone forget the so-OTT-it-was-laughable stage show we witnessed in Vienna via Edurne. It’s a tough task, but somebody has to undertake it.
Mark my words where this final is concerned: it’s going to be pretty awesome. This is Objetivo Eurovisión!
For once, I can say ‘VIVA LA SPAGNA!’ with genuine enthusiasm, because this six-strong national final is packed with potential ESC success. There isn’t a bad song in the bunch – although some, in my opinion, are better than others (I’ll specify which in a second).
Here are the entries Spain has to select from, in running order:
- Un Mundo Mas Feliz by Maverick
- Say Yay! by Barei
- Victorious by Xuso Jones
- Días de Alegria by Salvador Beltrán
- La Vida Sólo Es Una by María Isabel
- Now by Electric Nana
It’s quite the variety show, with traditionally Spanish tracks sitting alongside electro-pop, pop-rock, and a dance-banger or two. The most talked-about names initially were those associated with the latter genre – Xuso Jones, who’s backed by a Swedish songwriting superpower; and María Isabel, who has a Junior Eurovision victory to her name, and has many wondering if she could do the double if sent to the adult contest. But it’s Barei who has risen in the ranks of the Spanish iTunes charts, topping them a few days ago. Does that tell us everything we need to know re: tomorrow’s results? Are underdogs Maverick, Salvador and Electric Nana completely out of contention? Time, as always will tell.
Something I can tell you in the meantime is what I think of the six songs. Quick, prepare yourselves for a mini-ranking!
- #1 La Vida Sólo Es Una It could be my unconditional love for her Junior winner Antes Muerta Que Sencilla talking…or my eternal excitement at the possibility of another former JESC participant graduating to the ESC. Either (or neither) way, I love this! It’s quintessentially Spanish without perpetuating a stereotype, and fulfils all of the ethno-pop fantasies I’ve had during the last few Eurovisions sans a significant amount of said ethno-pop. Oh, and it’s very catchy. That’s often all I ask for in a Eurovision entry.
- #2 Un Mundo Mas Feliz This one is a bit more stereotypically Spanish – but what’s wrong with that *says the Australian*? I don’t think anybody else is as big of a fan of Maverick as I am in this context, music-wise or aesthetics-wise (though at 24, I can’t seem to fancy his 19-year-old self without feeling like a creepy cougar). Un Mundo makes me feel good, and that can’t be bad. It’s sunny and trumpety and tropical, and I want to flamenco my ass off to it. Anyone who wants to join me is welcome. Olé!
- #3 Victorious As someone who frowns upon countries conducting their ESC entry shopping in the Cookie Cutter aisle of the Swedish Songs Sure To Succeed In Certain Contests Supermarket (*takes much needed breath*) I should hate Victorious, which is as derivative as heck and was co-penned by Peter Böstrom of Euphoria (and Amanecer) fame. The token Spanish lyrics, enforced in this NF, also annoy me. But…THIS IS BRILLIANT. The chorus is killer, and no other song in this comp has one so instant. If Xuso was victorious, I wouldn’t mind at all.
- #4 Say Yay! Though it’s far from being my favourite, the only thing I dislike about this song is its title, which makes it sound like it belongs on a Best of Hi-5 album (if you’re Australian, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If not, good luck). That aside, it’s verging on being something special. Barei has a cool, Sia-like catch in her voice which adds interest to an already interesting, multi-faceted song that’s unlike anything Spain has ever sent to Eurovision before. I’d be curious to see what transpired if they did so in 2016.
- #5 Días de Alegria I desperately wanted to see Pablo Alborán in this NF, and obviously, my wish wasn’t granted. But Salvador, who appears to be the love child of Pablo and Christos Mylordos, is a semi-decent substitute. I’m undecided on the formulaic beginning of Días de Alegria – do I like it? Is it too predictable? I don’t know. But then things ramp up, the chorus kicks in and I know I’m enjoying what I’m listening to.
- #6 Now My least favourite of the lot is still a perfectly competent, well-written number. It’s just that pop-rock isn’t usually a genre I enjoy, even when it’s in such a contemporary form. I think this is too much of a plateau song to give Spain a good chance of hitting any Eurovision heights, but it would still be an entry they could be proud of.
So, sí. Those are my thoughts. All in all, this is the strongest Spanish final I’ve been around to experience, and I’m psyched that Spain will end up with what I perceive to be a very good (worst case) or epic (best case) entry for Eurovision 2016, no matter what.
But what do I actually think is going to go down? I know you’re ridiculously keen to find out.
Is anyone there?
Who WILL win Barei. Or Xuso. Or María. Just…one of those three, okay?!? I don’t want to call Barei as an obvious winner based purely on Spain’s iTunes stats, especially because the Spanish public only has a 40% say in the outcome of Objetivo (a jury and a panel of experts share the remaining 60%). Still, the people have clearly staked a claim on her entry as one they prefer. And Say Yay! does give off triumphant vibes (not to be confused with Un Mundo Mas Feliz’ trumpet vibes). But…so does Victorious. Xuso would be a safer, more secure choice than Barei, but I’m not sure how willing Spain is to be represented by something so un-Spanish – mandatory Espanol pre-chorus aside (TVE are clearly NOT willing to toss all Spanish-ness in the trash). I do think María has a decent shot here too, due in part to her status as a previous Eurovision event winner. But again, wishful thinking might be clouding my judgment on this one. Much of what happens across the board depends on the live performances we witness from the six, so we’ll have to wait and see who’s truly winning material, I guess.
Who SHOULD win This depends on what Spain want to achieve in Stockholm. If they’d rather send something relatively safe, that has the goods to get them out of the gutter (i.e. as far from the bottom of the scoreboard as possible), then Xuso is probably their best bet. If they want to take a risk that may or may not pay off (following in Belgium and Latvia’s 2015 footsteps) they should send Barei. If they don’t want to upset me – and let’s face it, that’s the population of Spain’s first priority – they should send María or Maverick. So which is it, amigos?
As Electric Nana might say, Now it’s time for you to have your say. But I’m not going to ask you to pick your predicted or personal winner. Instead, I want to know:
There. All you can do now is sit back, relax, and see if your advice is taken.
However, if you’re itching to reveal your Objetivo rankings or predictions, head south to the comments section and reveal away! While you’re doing that, I’ll be Googling churro recipes, determining if eighteen different tapas dishes is too many for one person, and finding the most comfortable viewing position for tomorrow night (if you’re reading this on Sunday)/tonight (if you’re reading this on Monday)/tomorrow morning (if you’re in an Aussie-esque time zone).
PS – I have to take a moment to say farewell to the legend that is Mr. Eurovision (no, not that one…the OTHER Mr. Eurovision). Sir Terry Wogan passed away today aged 77, in what is the latest in a string of famous deaths none of us saw coming. He didn’t always take the ESC as seriously as some of us do, but that was part of his charm. Also appealing was his unwavering loyalty towards the contest – his voice eventually becoming synonymous with the BBC broadcast of the show. For that, and for so much more, I salute him. RIP, Terry.