The Eurovision Song Contest 2015 kicks off today. I'm excited! The contest's 60th anniversary also marks my 10th anniversary of watching it for the first time. To think, ten years ago I was watching on a fullscreen 17" computer monitor as Lordi won the contest in Athens...
As has been the case since I started watching, I've only listened to a handful of the entries in advance, saving the rest for the big night(s). Here are my thoughts on the four entries I've heard so far, along with a list of four that I'm looking forward to based on the descriptions alone:
Finland: Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät - "Aina mun pitää"
Punk rock has made appearances at different national finals before, but it's never managed to make it to the Eurovision stage. Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät changed all of that when they won UMK 2015 with "Aina mun pitää" ("I Always Have To"). The song is about their annoyance with the day-to-day chores that have to be done (doing the dishes, going to work) and not being allowed to do other things (visiting friends, drinking soda). With its gruff vocals, three chord guitar riffs, duration (or, rather, lack thereof - it's the shortest song in Eurovision history) and message, "Aina mun pitää" is about as punk rock as punk rock gets.
I wasn't really a fan of "Aina mun pitää" when it was crowned the winner, but the song has grown on me in the months since the UMK 2015 final. The bookmakers currently have it in sixth place overall; I think it will qualify and place somewhere mid-table - maybe even within the lower half of the top ten.
Italy: Il Volo - "Grande Amore"
Il Volo, an operatic pop trio, are one of the favourites to win with their song "Grande Amore", a dramatic opera ballad with a pop structure. Some commentators have referred to the lack of success of comparable entries, namely France's 2011 entry "Sognu", which had been the favourite to win in its year but ended up finishing 15th. "Grande Amore" has a song structure that's more pop than opera, however, and this will help it secure a much better placing.
"Grande Amore" had to be edited down to three minutes from its original 3:45 version that won the Sanremo Music Festival. I'm glad that the edited version, which omits the second verse, doesn't lose any of the impact from the original. (There's a slightly abrupt edit right near the end, but I would imagine most people will be too in awe at the last high note to focus on that.)
I like "Grande Amore" a lot and wouldn't be disappointed at all if it won. Will it win? It might - I'm not sure, but I can't see it finishing below fifth place.
Sweden: Måns Zelmerlöw - "Heroes"
Another favourite is "Heroes", a catchy pop song performed by Måns Zelmerlöw. The verses have a western flair unlike Zelmerlöw's previous two Melodifestivalen entries, but I'm still of the opinion that "Heroes" is not as far away from "Hope and Glory" as some people think it is - you can certainly hear some influences in the verses. The staging, which employs projection mapping, is just awesome: Måns is joined by an animated friend and some neat visual effects. (Watch for the part where he turns this world around... in appreciation.)
"Heroes" was my favourite at Melodifestivalen from the start and it remains my favourite going in to Eurovision. (Only Satin Circus's "Crossroads" getting the ticket for Finland might have had me rethinking that.) This could very well bring the contest back to Sweden for the second time in four years; anything below a top 3 finish will be a shock.
Norway: Mørland & Debrah Scarlett - "A Monster Like Me"
Mørland & Debrah Scarlett won this year's Melodi Grand Prix with "A Monster Like Me", a ballad in which the protagonist expresses his remorse for a wrong he committed in the past and, because of it, breaks up with his partner ("...to find the prince you thought you found in me."). It's heartfelt yet haunting, and with the right staging and a great vocal performance, it should do very well.
While the other three songs I've heard each have their own niche, there are a lot of duets this year, so it's tough for me to say how this will stack up against the others. According to the bookies, "A Monster Like Me" is predicted to be in the top 10. I don't see it song winning, but a high mid-table placing is likely.
Four Songs I'm Looking Forward To
Keep in mind that I haven't heard any of the songs below and I'm basing this only on what I've read about them, so my descriptions could be totally inaccurate. Nonetheless, here are four songs I'm looking forward to hearing at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015:
- Australia's song "Tonight Again" by Guy Sebastian because I don't know if you've noticed, but Australia got to enter a song this year! And I gather that it's in the same musical galaxy as Basim's "Cliché Love Song" from last year, which I really liked.
- Belgium's song "Rhythm Inside" by Loïc Nottet because it's said to be radio-friendly with a bit of an indie/alternative pop sound to it. Plus, the last time Belgium sent an alumnus of The Voice Belgique (Roberto Bellarosa in 2013), the song wound up being my favourite Belgian entry since Kate Ryan's "Je t'adore" in '06.
- Slovenia's entry "Here For You" by Maraaya because it's pop and people seem to like it a lot. Oh, and they wear headphones on stage? That's about all I know. I can't even guess what it sounds like, but I'm expecting good things.
- Spain's entry "Amanecer" by Edurne because of the team of composers: Thomas G:son, Peter "Bassflow" Boström and Tony Sánchez-Ohlsson. Sanchez-Ohlsson and G:son collaborated on Spain's 2007 entry "I Love You Mi Vida", while G:son also teamed up with Bassflow for 2012's winning song "Euphoria".
Which song are you most looking forward to this week?