Hello Europe! It’s mid-February so it’s time to see how Eurovision is shaping up so far. This post contains vital information for people who have missed the national final season starting but also hot takes so be careful and wear your protective gear.
We’ll get right into it because there is a lot to cover with 42 countries participating this year:
Category 1: Countries with Artists but no song yet:
The less is said about these the better. The artists who are picked may or may not get a say in their songs, their songs may be in the same or a different genre to the rest of their music, and since they’re internally selected songs we don’t get a say either.
Armenia – Srbuk
Austria – PAENDA (her song will be called Limits)
Belgium – Eliot
Cyprus – Tamta
Macedonia – Tamara Todevska (her song will be called Proud)
Greece – Katerine Duska
Israel – Kobi Marimi
Malta – Michela Pace
Poland – Tulia
Russia – Sergey Lazarev
San Marino – Serhat
The Netherlands – Duncan Laurenc
Category 2: Countries with Artists and a song:
These are all technically done but there’s still time in the next few months for changes to be made including but not limited to: key changes, translations, disco grooves, and/or other genre changes they’re basically all set to be packed and sent to the big stage so all hot takes are based on what was presented even though that rarely ends up being the final product.
Albania – Jonida Maliqi “Ktheju tokës“
Shocking almost no one Albania has decided to send a female vocalist with a ballad. It’s fine. I don’t have a lot of strong feelings about this one because it sounds like a bunch of things we’ve gotten from Albania before. A less personal Mall or Suus. A more traditional sounding song but the performance leaves me cold and wanting.
Australia – Kate Miller-Heidke “Zero Gravity“
I’m not sure Australia realized that Estonia didn’t win Eurovision last year with opera, the same way that Croatia didn’t win it in 2017, and Italy sure as hell didn’t win in 2015 either but they’ve doubled down. Zero Gravity is a mixture of popular Eurovision tropes (cake dress, acrobatics that have nothing to do with the singer, opera, breaks in words where there shouldn’t be breaks, confusing, the list goes on) but it doesn’t nail anything for me. This feels like the mess it is. Naturally it’ll be all anyone talks about the next day but the real prize is that Australia’s first national final was mind blowingly awesome with 10 really varied and fun songs. I’ll talk about the others later, for now just enjoy that the Aussies have translated Mad Max into this very strange interpretive dance.
Croatia – Roko “The Dream”
Clearly talented Roko is bringing heaven a little closer to Earth with this honestly weirdly plain song. There’s something about the whole package that just screams “dated” to me. A single cheap prop, minimal staging, and an honestly forgettable song are all reminding me of 2016 Poland’s entry Color of Your Life. There were several interesting choices at the National Final so I’m unsure why this won. These vocal prowess songs are interesting but without a real heart in there, it’s probably going to run out of gas in the final.
Czech Republic – Lake Malawi “Friend of a Friend“
What am I supposed to do with this? Is the Czech Republic now the fuck boi capital of Europe? I don’t know. It’s fairly harmless and I think it’ll do well if they can translate the carefree, off the cuff nature of the song to stage but after last years “Lie to Me” those are some big cheating boyfriend shoes to fill.
Estonia – Victor Crone “Storm“
The third time a Swede has represented Estonia, and the third time Stig Rästa will be the song writer of the Estonian song sounds like it should be lucky but this piece is plastic and Victor has a difficult time hitting his notes (and if you ask me, he’s not much of a dancer either). He has some time to work on his vocals but since he sounded nearly identical to his semi final performance I’m not really confident much will change before we see this on the stage in Israel and it’ll remain less of a storm and more of a slight drizzle.
France – Bilal Hassani “Roi“
No one loves a queen diva more than Eurovision but I’m just not sure that Bilal is selling me his best diva fantasy just yet. The performance and the song are both pretty good but it needs something to push it to greatness. I hope Bilal has time to work carefully on his vocals and breathing and also that he finds the confidence the song demands to push this into an easy top 10 song. Without those careful elements it might just languish near the bottom.
Italy – Mahmood “Soldi“
[Sorry for the link to the video, YouTube is taking down all the live performances which is such a shame because this is much better live]
Daddy problems worked well as fodder material for last years Eurovision with Hungary and Germany cashing in on them and this really emotional song combines personal story, modern beats, and several catchy and memorable hooks together to pretty good results. I think it’s not going to work for everyone but it should be a pretty good showing for Italy at the end of the day.
Latvia – Carousel “That Night“
Is it going to blow anyone out of the water? Probably not but it’s a solid folk-inspired song that includes a toe taping melody that makes me want to sit inside some dusty bar and enjoy their whole set. I’m not sure how this will do and it might just depend on what it’s put between and how it’s staged but there’s something that is really easy going and pleasing about the song so Latvia could have done worse but there’s room for improvement.
Montenegro – D-Moll “Heaven“
Plucked straight out of 1995 this sounds exactly like a piece you would sing to get into choir in high school. None of this is a flattering look for Montenegro. Not only is this piece devoid of modernity but it’s devoid of a memorable hook, fantastic vocals, or anything that pulls it together. This piece should be a solo at best with six people it sounds downright sloppy while somehow also being overproduced to within an inch of its life (lazy metronome back beat included).
Romania – Ester Peony “On a Sunday“
And the award for most improved goes to…
My gosh, this was easily the biggest surprise for me over the past weekend but it turned out to be a good surprise. While I’m a Bella Santiago fan through and through Ester really turned it up at the Romania national final and that got her the win. This performance completely changed my mind about the song and I love it. With a few more changes this will easily qualify and could see Romania back in the top 10. Clearly that man didn’t deserve you Ester (you’re doing a great job sweetie!).
Slovenia – Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl “Sebi“
I don’t know what to do with this song. Slovenia had several entries I wouldn’t have minded seeing at Eurovision and they sent this song with this…performance? I don’t know what the lyrics mean but that’s never really stopped me from enjoying a song before but between the mumble-core way they’re delivered and the lack of meaningful connection between the people on stage and the general lack of staging…this left me completely cold. Instead of feeling cool and mysterious I felt like I was accidentally peeking in on this woman delivering a personal ASMR video. The song drones on without key change or really, any notable change in the entire three minutes so even if the lyrics are the most beautiful on Earth I don’t think this is going to connect with a lot of people.
Spain – Miki “La Venda“
Points for enthusiasm. Everything else is a minus. This is a song that sounds like it was made to MOCK Spain. It’s everything so painfully by the books that it feels unreal. The level of Spanish in this song is so hilariously low that I understood it the first time though. Miki looks like he’s having the time of his life though. And really, isn’t that the point?
UK – Michael Rice “Bigger Than Us“
I’m convinced that British people do not know that they natively speak English. This song is bad and it’s not Michael’s fault, he’s really doing his best with a bad hand but this didn’t translate all that well to stage at the national final and the song is so much of nothing that I might have fallen asleep twice during it. It feels like a poor attempt to try their hand at Austria’s entry last year and fall flat on their faces. Null points. Next.
Category 3: Countries with on-going National Finals:
Belarus – will have a national final on March 1st, no other information is available yet
Denmark – Dansk Melodi Grand Prix is on Feb 23rd, you can listen to all the entries here. It’s a pretty weak showing from Denmark so I don’t exactly have a favorite at this time, I’ll wait to see them live.
Georgia – This year Georgia is using an idol show to pick its singer and so we won’t know who is representing until March 2nd and we likely won’t get a song until a little after that.
Germany – Unser Lied für Israel will air on Feb 22nd, no other information is available yet.
Hungary – 8 finalists are moving on the grand final of A Dal on February 23rd, you can listen to them all here (finalists are highlighted). My personal favorite is Bence Vavra’s “Szótlanság”.
Iceland – Five finalists are moving on at Songvakeppnin on March 2nd. You can listen to them all here. My personal favorite is “Hatrið mun sigra” but I really love “Fighting for Love” as well.
Lithuania – The grand final will be on February 23rd, you can view all the finalists here. I don’t follow Lithuania’s semi final lead up season so I don’t have any opinions right now.
Moldova – Will only have one final night on March 3rd, you can listen to the entries here. I haven’t listened to these by accidental omission but the board in Moldova described them as lackluster (yikes!).
Norway – March 2nd is Melodi Grand Prix with 10 exciting artists you can listen to here. I cannot wait to hear KEiiNO’s song live.
Portugal – has 16 finalists who honestly kind of all sound the same. You can view them all here. I am excited to have a bathroom break during Portugal’s song.
Serbia – 24 songs is too many for me to care about but their final is on March 3rd so I might give them a listen in the next two weeks. You can listen to them all here.
Sweden – is a giant jerk about sharing Melodifestivalen clips and therefore I have cancelled their country. The grand final will be on March 9th. There’s no direct clips of artists but you can view the entire recording of the semi finals on SVT.
Ukraine – has 6 entries headed to their final on February 23rd, you can see the entries from semi final one and two. I’m rooting for everyone because they’re pretty much all quality acts as per usual from Ukraine.
Category 4: Radio silence:
Azerbaijan, Ireland, and Switzerland will all simply materialize out of thin air in the next few months
And that’s what you missed on