It's time for the final! Is Sweden's song still the hero of our time? Can Russia's song capitalize on the momentum it's received from the semifinal? Will the Australian entry make Eurovision history and get to relive tonight again? Or is there another winner in store? We'll find out.
To quote 2013 Latvian representatives PeR, "Here we go!":
- Slovenia: Maraaya - "Here for You": The melody in the chorus reminds me a bit of David Lindgren's 2013 Melodifestivalen entry "Skyline". "Here for You" is an interesting uptempo pop number that fuses retro-style vocals and a modern production (plus there's an air violinist!) This is my favourite Slovenian entry since 2008's "Vrag naj vzame". Its place in the running order might hurt its chances, but I think there'll be a spot in the lower half of the top 10 for "Here for You".
- France: Lisa Angell - "N'oubliez pas": I was watching the show with Swedish commentary, and I thought I heard them refer to last year's "Moustache" as a "top floppen". Aw, but it was my top toppen! Anyway, I'm assuming that the internal selection of "N'oubliez pas", a classic power ballad, was a direct response to that (undeserved) poor showing. It's sung well and the song is alright, but is alright enough to get votes in a final full of so many ballads?
- Israel: Nadav Guedj - "Golden Boy": This song starts off as a ballad then introduces a beat not unlike the one you hear in Ed Sheeran's "Sing" before breaking out into an uptempo chorus. The song is a little all over the place, but it works: the sections that best show off the "King of Fun"'s vocals will probably score high marks with the juries, while the chorus should bring in televotes from those who'd otherwise be missing an uptempo song like this in the lineup. I love the reference to the three minute time limit at the end. It's a fun song, and I hope it does well.
- Estonia: Elina Born & Stig Rästa - "Goodbye to Yesterday": It's cool '60s guitar pop about a relationship that has evidently lost its spark. "Goodbye to Yesterday" was the favourite to win ESC when it was chosen; I don't think it'll end up winning, but Estonia is on track for their best result since 2002's "Runaway".
- United Kingdom: Electro Velvet - "Still in Love with You": 1920s swing meets an electronic beat. There's even a Scatman John-style scatting section in the middle! The staging looks a bit like The Great Gatsby until the electro parts, when the lights shut off and it looks like a night of glow bowling. The song isn't bad, but it's missing an anthemic quality that at least "Children of the Universe" had last year. I can't foresee this making it onto the left side of the scoreboard.
- Armenia: Genealogy - "Face the Shadow": It starts out sounding like a song from a musical (with one Genealogy member's line ending as another's begins) but the chorus shifts musical gears to a more soulful (and, later, rockier) sound. The middle eight, with its melody and operatic vocals, is the highlight. I'm not sure where this will end up, results-wise.
- Lithuania: Monika Linkytė & Vaidas Baumila - "This Time": An upbeat bluegrass/Mumford & Sons-type acoustic guitar toe-tapper. Monika and Vaidas are probably the most believable as a couple out of all the pairs singing coupley duets this year. "This Time" isn't a contender for the win, but I'm really not sure where this will place beyond that.
- Serbia: Bojana Stamenov - "Beauty Never Lies": This reminds me of a bunch of songs for different reasons: "This is My Life" (Iceland 2009) for the lyrical themes; "Straight Into Love" (Slovenia 2013) at the "Beauty Never Lies" parts; and "Shine" (Netherlands 2009) when the song goes all dance-pop at the end. A possible top 10, but a more likely mid-table finisher.
- Norway: Mørland & Debrah Scarlett - "A Monster Like Me": (Read my impressions of "A Monster Like Me" from before ESC.) Great performance from Mørland & Debrah. My only comment: the camera direction omits the revolving shot that we saw at Melodi Grand Prix at the start of the last chorus, cutting to a wide shot instead. Why? The former works so much better. In any event, this should do well.
- Sweden: Måns Zelmerlöw - "Heroes": (Read my impressions of "Heroes" from before ESC.) What more can I say about "Heroes"? I've been a fan since I first heard it in the fourth qualifying round of Melodifestivalen. Its spot in the running order, far before Russia and Italy, might hinder its chances, but I'm sure of a top 3 finish for "Heroes". I'm less certain about it winning having heard some of the other contenders, but it's still in there with a great chance.
- Cyprus: John Karayiannis - "One Thing I Should Have Done": An acoustic guitar ballad that has a classic quality to it. I'm not just saying that because the performance starts out in black and white and later switches over to colour. It's a nice song, but I don't think the votes that it got in the semifinal will be there for it tonight.
- Australia: Guy Sebastian - "Tonight Again": I remember Guy Sebastian from World Idol, so I already knew he could sing, but dang - that was a flawless vocal. "Tonight Again" is pop in the vein of last year's Danish entry "Cliché Love Song" or the Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars hit "Uptown Funk", and like those, it's ridiculously catchy. If we're due for a surprise winner, it'll be "Tonight Again".
- Belgium: Loïc Nottet - "Rhythm Inside": This year's Belgian song is cool, minimalist pop performed against a backdrop of white and strobe lights. It's not as instant as I expected on me, but it does grow on you. "Rhythm Inside" has the potential to do well in the final, but it won't be the winning song.
- Austria: The Makemakes - "I Am Yours": A 70s-inspired pop-rock ballad with a soulful chorus and a piano that catches fire. "I Am Yours" is a nice tune, but Austria won't do the double with this; I predict it'll place somewhere on the right side of the scoreboard.
- Greece: Maria Elena Kyriakou - "One Last Breath": After getting one of its worst results last year with (a really good!) uptempo dance track, Greece has sent its first power ballad since Anna Vissi's "Everything" in 2006. Maria Elena's vocals are reminiscent of Celine Dion's, and the song finishes strong in the last minute. Even so, I don't think this will fare much better than last year's "Rise Up".
- Montenegro: Knez - "Adio": After missing out on qualifying with its first five uptempo entries, Montenegro finally reached the final in 2014 with the ballad "Moj svijet". This year's "Adio" is a ballad composed by Željko Joksimović, who has written four previous ESC entries. Joksimović's compositions have never placed outside of the top 10; I can't decide whether that'll be true this year or whether it might place just outside.
- Germany: Ann Sophie - "Black Smoke": A soulful midtempo pop/R&B tune that uses black smoke as a metaphor for having nothing left after the ending of a relationship. The staging isn't particularly memorable, but the song has a catchy refrain. I think it'll finish somewhere mid-table.
- Poland: Monika Kuszyńska - "In the Name of Love": A ballad that reminds me somewhat of Hungary's 2008 entry "Candlelight". The piano-driven melody is accompanied by uplifting lyrics. It's not bad, but it'll have a tough time standing out, especially with this half of the show being so ballad-heavy.
- Latvia: Aminata - "Love Injected": This is a tough one to describe. Experimental R&B-pop? Is this even pop? It certainly is experimental, at least by Eurovision standards. I could see "Love Injected" picking up a lot of votes, but I also think the instrumentation of this song makes it a polarizing entry.
- Romania: Voltaj - "De la capăt (All Over Again)": This year's only bilingual entry is an emotional midtempo pop-rock song from the perspective of a parent who has left home to work in another country and support his family. Voltaj keeps their performance simple, performing in front of images from the music video. I don't think "De la capăt" will score higher than last year's "Miracle".
- Spain: Edurne - "Amanecer": A big, orchestral mid-tempo ballad. I think this is better than last year's "Dancing in the Rain", but there's not nearly as much buzz surrounding "Amanecer" as there was for that song. Perhaps this will finish somewhere between 10th-20th.
- Hungary: Boggie - "Wars for Nothing": I get a bit of a "Kedvesem" vibe from this song at the very beginning, but the songs aren't similar. "Wars for Nothing", as you can tell from the title, is more about the message: musically, the song's gentle acoustic melody is repeated on loop. I don't foresee it being a contender tonight.
- Georgia: Nina Sublatti - "Warrior": Nina performs solo on stage surrounded by fog. "Warrior" is a dark pop song with jazzy vocals and lots of thunderous drums. It sounded a bit repetitive to me at first listen; after hearing it again, I think that's just because of the similarity of the bridges to the verses. I'm not sure where this will place... perhaps mid-table?
- Azerbaijan: Elnur Hüseynov - "Hour of the Wolf": Elnur, who represented Azerbaijan in its 2008 debut along with Samir Javadzadeh, returns to the Eurovision stage solo with an anthemic ballad. This is a big improvement over last year's ballad and should finish in the top 10.
- Russia: Polina Gagarina - "A Million Voices": Wow. By far the best ballad of its semifinal, and certainly one of the best of the night. "A Million Voices" hooks you right at the beginning with a strong melody and Polina's performance is flawless. Why wasn't anyone talking about "A Million Voices" in the same sentence as this year's Swedish, Italian and Australian entries? This could be the winner.
- Albania: Elhaida Dani - "I'm Alive": Albania's song this year is mid-tempo pop with a bit of a roots feel. Elhaida sings overtop of an acoustic guitar-driven melody. Her voice is powerful and the percussion becomes more prominent as the song goes on. "I'm Alive" is predicted to do well, but I don't know that this type of song will be able to make an impact on the scoreboard.
- Italy: Il Volo - "Grande amore": (Read my impressions of "Grande amore" from before ESC.) Great vocals, great staging (it's simple, but effective), and it sounds like the audience in the hall is really behind them. As I've said before: forget what you know about how well opera entries have done in the past, because this could be the song that gives Italy its third win.
This one is absolutely between Sweden, Italy and Russia, with Australia as a potential dark horse. Belgium, Estonia and Azerbaijan will do well, but won't win. I had trouble deciding between Serbia and Montenegro for the last spot in the top 10, but wound up going with Serbia. As far as the top 3, choosing the order is incredibly difficult.
- 1 point: Serbia: Bojana Stamenov - "Beauty Never Lies"
- 2 points: Norway: Mørland & Debrah Scarlett - "A Monster Like Me"
- 3 points: Slovenia: Maraaya - "Here for You"
- 4 points: Azerbaijan: Elnur Hüseynov - "Hour of the Wolf"
- 5 points: Estonia: Elina Born & Stig Rästa - "Goodbye to Yesterday"
- 6 points: Belgium: Loïc Nottet - "Rhythm Inside"
- 7 points: Australia: Guy Sebastian - "Tonight Again"
- 8 points: Russia: Polina Gagarina - "A Million Voices"
- 10 points: Italy: Il Volo - "Grande amore"
- 12 points: Sweden: Måns Zelmerlöw - "Heroes"
Here are my favourites, including songs in the semifinals:
- 1 point: Spain: Edurne - "Amanecer"
- 2 points: Belgium: Loïc Nottet - "Rhythm Inside"
- 3 points: Moldova: Eduard Romanyuta - "I Want Your Love"
- 4 points: Russia: Polina Gagarina - "A Million Voices"
- 5 points: Finland: Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät - "Aina mun pitää"
- 6 points: Israel: Nadav Guedj - "Golden Boy"
- 7 points: Slovenia: Maraaya - "Here for You"
- 8 points: Australia: Guy Sebastian - "Tonight Again"
- 10 points: Italy: Il Volo - "Grande amore"
- 12 points: Sweden: Måns Zelmerlöw - "Heroes"
Results and Notes
- Congratulations to Måns Zelmerlöw and songwriters Joy Deb, Linnea Deb and Anton Malmberg Hård af Segerstad! This is the first year since 2012 where my overall favourite went on to win the contest. Incidentally, it was also the Swedish entry that year - "Euphoria" by Loreen.
- In terms of predictions, this might be my best year yet: out of 448 possible prediction points, I got 415, which is way up from last year's 347. This year, I predicted all of the countries in the top 5 - just not in the right order. Further down the list, I missed out on placing Latvia and Israel in the top 10 - I overrated Azerbaijan and Slovenia, which finished 12th and 14th, respectively. In addition to Sweden winning, I also managed to call Serbia's "Beauty Never Lies" as the 10th place song; my other potential choice for 10th, Montenegro, actually finished 13th.
- Thankfully, my success in predicting the top 5 doesn't reflect at all on how exciting the voting was this year. Italy and Russia each spent time at the top of the scoreboard and I was on the edge of my seat anticipating where the points would go next. Some of the more recent contests have felt a bit anti-climactic, but this year, the "we've done the math" announcement didn't happen until fairly late in the game.
- Italy won the televote! It's the first year under the new voting system where the televote winner wasn't also the overall winner. I thought "Grande amore" would have been more jury-friendly than "Heroes". "Grande amore" would have been a deserving winner, too.
- Austria and Germany scored nul points, but neither entry deserved it. At least The Makemakes and Ann Sophie are taking it in stride: both released short clips on social media singing "We are the zeroes of our time".
- Only Sweden and Italy received points from every country. Sweden got the most sets of 12 points. Montenegro and the Czech Republic (despite not qualifying) got their best results yet. (Technically, Australia did as well.)
With the offseason now underway, I'm sure there'll be a lot of speculation about Australia's "one-time" participation and what that means for the future of the contest. Hunan TV in China have reportedly indicated they'd like to send a Chinese entry to the contest; I'm sure Australia would like to stay, too. It'll be interesting to see what happens. For now, good [time of day] [wherever you are]!