Hello there, you stunning creatures! No, I haven’t dived off the deep end (yet). It’s just that, well…didn’t you know that when One Direction sang ‘that’s what makes you beautiful’, they were talking about obsessing over Eurovision? It gives us all a constant, pregnancy-esque glow, except the only thing we’re pregnant with is excitement about all the NF action of the moment.
Speaking of which, let’s get straight into discussing it. We’ll start with what’s happening this weekend:
- 27/1 The United Kingdom’s You Decide – the final (feat. Olivia Garcia + Lucie Jones)
- 28/1 Finland’s Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu – the final (feat. Alva, Emma + Norma John)
- 28/1 Hungary’s A Dal – heat two (feat. Kállay Saunders Band, Zoltán Mujahid + Ádám Szábo)
- 28/1 Lithuania’s Eurovizijos – heat four (feat. Alanas Chošnau + Audrius Janonis)
It’s not quite as crazy as some upcoming weekends will be, but there’s definitely enough to keep us happy (and/or complaining bitterly) until the same time next week. I’m going to filter my focus down to the goings-on in the UK and Finland, tonight and tomorrow respectively.
3, 2, 1, GO!
The UK’s songs for Europe: A step up or a stack down the stairs? You Decide…
See what I did there? I hope so, because without trying to be offensive, I think even Corinna May saw what I did there.
Yep, it’s You Decide that will decide this year’s UK entry, yet again. But in the meantime, all of us fans have been deciding what we think of the line-up – with a different opinion coming from anyone who’s asked. A lot of people seem to be describing the overall quality, variety and fun factor of Danyl, Holly, Lucie, Nate, Olivia and Salena (who should just form a band called ‘We All Sound Super British’ already) as beige, via Pantone colour charts. As someone who’s rather fashion-focused (i.e. I never get tired of critiquing Eurovision costumes), I’m going to try something slightly different:
That sums up my general attitude towards the tracks. I’m not peeing my pants with excitement over them (probably not a bad thing), but in my opinion, they’re not half as bland and boring as their 2016 counterparts, of which Joe and Jake were definitely the most interesting choice. Here they all are in we-have-no-running-order-yet order:
- Light Up The World by Danyl Johnson
- I Wish I Loved You More by Holly Brewer
- Never Give Up On You by Lucie Jones
- What Are We Made Of by Nate Simpson
- Freedom Hearts by Olivia Garcia
- I Don’t Wanna Fight by Salena Mastroianni
All six are semi-decent songs (some more than others) performed by perfectly good (in studio, at least) singers, all of whom have appeared on The X Factor (nothing wrong with that – TV talent shows dot the background of bajillions of ESC artists these days). I feel confident in saying that there isn’t a Eurovision winner among them, but it’s too early to predict what the UK may be capable of besides clawing their way back to the top of the scoreboard for the first time since 1997. Let’s take things, as Maria Olafs would say, one step at a time, and see who produces a live performance that scores them an automatic spot in the Eurovision 2017 final.
My top 6
- I Wish I Loved You More – I know this sort of pop power ballad has been done to death and is pretty passé in 2017…but I still enjoy it! This particular example is catchy, climactic and not too lyrically clichéd. 10 points.
- Freedom Hearts – There’s something about this that makes me feel like it needed another week or two of tweaking by the writers/producers. But it’s still good. Kind of like an updated (or sequel to) Children of the Universe. 8 points.
- Never Give Up On You – We can’t discuss this one without mentioning co-creator Emmelie de Forest. It’s not quite what I expected from her, but there’s appeal in the pared-back production and heartfelt delivery from Lucie. I still want some drums and strings to drop in and elevate the last chorus. 8 points.
- I Don’t Wanna Fight – If there were ever a movie musical starring Dua Lipa as a Miss Universe contestant demanding world peace, this would be her swan song. Miraculously, that kind of works for me (although the lyric ‘only love survives’ HAS to be a bad ESC-related omen for Salena). 7 points.
- What Are We Made Of – I hated this after my first listen, but giving it another go led to me liking it as much as I like the average John Legend piano ballad – which is a reasonable amount. 6 points.
- Light Up The World – Musically and melodically, I enjoy this. Lyrically, it makes me want to go on some sort of King Kong-like rampage. It’s 2017…when will the cheese be binned? It’s well past its use-by date. 5 points.
Now my verdicts are in, the usual questions can be answered. Firstly, this one:
Who SHOULD win Holly, Olivia or Lucie. Basically, because they’re my favourites. If Holly can deliver a vocal that even comes close to her studio version, it will be amazing – her live could really lift IWILYM to a higher level. Olivia and Lucie have the most original songs up their sleeves, and that should be rewarded.
Now for this question, which will cement my status as The Crappiest Predictor in the World™ (although I did guess Belarus correctly last week. It scared me a little).
Who WILL win Olivia or Lucie. They’re top two with the bookies (Lucie first, Olivia second) but I typed their names before I checked the You Decide odds. That’s because their songs stand head and shoulders above the rest in terms of giving off winner vibes. Freedom Hearts is a good example of a contemporary pop anthem, mature enough for the ESC but youthful enough to suit sixteen-year-old Olivia. Never Give Up On You has the de Forest advantage, which may or may not matter to the juries and voters, but it gives the song a certain calibre. It stands out as the most stripped-back and sentimental song of the six too. I’ll be surprised if it isn’t one of these ladies who gets the UK’s golden ticket.
In the interests of not fence-sitting for once, here’s my number one pick FTW.
Who’s yours? Which of these X Factor exes has got the goods to go all the way to Kyiv…and how far can they go once they get there?
As I said in a previous post, I don’t trust UMK to crown a champ who’s the best possible Eurovision rep for Finland. Sandhja herself caused an upset by beating out fan favourites Saara Aalto and Mikael Saari…and look what happened as a result. The Finns have been ESC semi final stayers for two years now, and what they’ve got going on in the UMK 2017 line-up is 50% songs that could change that, and 50% songs that will have them missing out on the final for the third time in a row. Can you guess which are which, IMO?
- Circle of Light by Emma
- Arrows by Alva
- Love Yourself by Günther & D’Sanz
- Reach Out For The Sun by Anni Saikku
- Caveman by Knucklebone Oscar & The Shangri-la Rubies
- Blackbird by Norma John
- Helppo Elämä by Lauri Yrjölä
- My Little World by Club Le Persé
- Perfect Villain by Zühlke
- Paradise by My First Band
I’ll drop some heavy hints with my ranking + mini-reviews.
My top 10
- Helppo Elämä – This is weird in a wonderful way. I love that the lyrics are native language (Finnish is so whimsical-sounding, it immediately adds interest to anything from songs to conversations about compost), and I love the overall production and sound. 10 points.
- Blackbird – Simple and beautiful. The chorus brings actual tears to my eyes. 8 points.
- Arrows – I know I’ve already mentioned Maria Olafs once in this post, but I have to do it again. This is Unbroken updated for 2017, but it far better on the grounds that it isn’t half as repetitive. 8 points.
- Reach Out For The Sun – I can’t remember how this goes, but I know I quite like it, even though it never escalates into a statement piece. 7 points.
- Paradise – I’d rate this higher if the lyrics weren’t so unnecessarily suggestive (and at times, nonsensical). I don’t want to be left alone with any of these guys. 7 points.
- Circle of Light – The final installment in the Only Teardrops trilogy (part two was Hear Them Calling) is the fan favourite, but it’s not my thing and I feel like it’s past its prime. 6 points.
- Perfect Villain – I think Eurovision has moved on from stuff like this, but I have to applaud the lyrical originality. It’s so thought-provoking. I mean, what WOULD the X-Men do? 6 points.
- Love Yourself – Nope. 3 points.
- Caveman – Double nope, and not even close to wunderbar. 2 points.
- My Little World – How many nopes have you got time for? 1 point, because the chorus isn’t totally obscene.
How does your ranking stack up to mine? Do you despise the three (!) novelty entries, or are you hoping one of them comes out on top. It wouldn’t shock me if one of them did.
Who SHOULD win Norma John or Alva. As much as I personally would love to see Lauri on the Eurovision stage, Blackbird and Arrows would make for better, more successful ESC entries. Norma John would bring the bare-bones emotion (á la Never Give Up On You from the UK) while Arrows would be a sweet sorbet for us to enjoy between bigger, louder and more serious songs.
Who WILL win Emma or My First Band. These are the acts that topped the UMK pre-vote, so I’m not game to discount either of them, even though I’m convinced that Finland could pick any of the ten possibles depending on which way the wind blows on the night (sorry to any Finns reading this – I’m not suggesting that you’re fickle, but UMK seems to be). If Circle of Light takes the prize, I suspect it will be more Hear Them Calling than Only Teardrops at the big show, but it’s too soon to say so for sure. Peer pressure – and yes, those pre-vote results – pushed me into calling My First Band as likely victors, despite THOSE LYRICS. They make the song more disturbing than Serhat’s I Didn’t Know, which is really saying something. But hey – that’s a gimmick in itself, right?
Ultimately, I’m going to side with Emma-lie de Finland Forest.
Do you think Finland will be safe in the circle of light, or heading off to paradise? Or neither? Make your predictions public now to be in with a chance of saying ‘I told you so!’.
That’s all I have to say on the UK and UMK for now, but when the shows are over, another conversation can start. When I say ‘conversation’, I of course mean an all-out war of words between those of us who love the winning songs and those of us who wouldn’t touch them with a ten-foot-pole. There’s something to look forward to!
Have fun tuning in to your NF/NFs of choice this weekend. If there’s anything you want to say about them, before, during and after, then hit up the comment box down below 🙂