The Easter Bunny has made his rounds and apart from the chocolate I stuffed my face with (my running shoes will become my best friends once more) he also remembered to drop a song for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in each (participating) country’s basket. SVT and EBU assisted by unleashing the running order for the semis, which means it’s now high time for a run through of this year’s contestants! Will they be beautiful butterflies, or rather moths that have to hide away in the dark?
First of all, a bit of framework for the judging – I’ll be looking at the song, the vocal performance and the stage presentation (or concept of the video if we haven’t seen a stage performance) and I’ll round up by putting them to the DIMI test (do I think it’s Dramatic, Intriguing and/or Modern enough to Include in my iTunes library?). I’ll score the entries from 1 to 5 on each of those points, resulting in a score out of a possible maximum of 20.
1. Austria – Natália Kelly – Shine
The Song: channeling a bit of Adele here, in going for a soft soulpop mood. Not the worst of choices but if it hadn’t been tailored for Eurovision (verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-keychange-chorus in 3 minutes) it probably would have more impact. I like the xylophone bit, shame it only makes one appearance as it could have lifted the song a bit more.
The Voice: Natália might be up there with the most talented singers this year IF she manages to control her nerves. What I heard in both performances in the national final was rather shaky at times and that keychange is THE hurdle for her to take. If she manages to be vocally on par she actually might lift what is now a pretty standard performance. Love the backings though.
The Performance: For a song that talks about shining this is all pretty demure stuff. A bit more power and self confidence would do this entry a world of good, certainly when opening a semi full of women with ballads or mid-tempo songs that might push this baby one into a corner. Needs something memorable, in other words.
The DIMI test: It’s a bit too beige for me I have to say, but I don’t exactly hate it either. I’ll probably include it, but it’ll only get played by accident when I use the ‘play random’ button.
PERSONAL TOTAL: 10/20
PREDICTION: Opening the show doesn’t do her any favours but if she goes for it this might be a borderline qualifier. Won’t put any money on it though.
2. Estonia – Birgit Õigemeel – Et uus saaks alguse
The Song: A bit of a modern country vibe here and it plays with the structure of your average ballad quite nicely. I can totally get why Estonia went for this, as the lyrics are heartbreakingly beautiful – which will sadly not be noticed come Malmö, but keeping it in Estonian might help protect the fairytale atmosphere. I think this is one of the better ballads in the Contest and I’m surprised I’m rather alone at that. Perhaps it’s a bit too goody two shoes for its own good?
The Voice: Birgit is blessed with a lovely voice which does this soft entry the justice it deserves. No vocal frivolities here and I’m ever so happy about that: too many tricks would murder it. Her phrasing and timing are really spot on, making the rather harsh Estonian language an actual pleasure to listen to. Which shouldn’t come as a surprise, come to think of it: the singing people have an excellent reputation on this front – right, Ott Lepland & Sandra Nurmsalu?
The Performance: A ballad like this does not really require a lot of gestures, tricks or walking around so I rather like what I saw in the national final. When it comes to Malmö I guess they’ll play with lighting and such to create an atmosphere – simple but effective usually does the trick. Right, Ott Lepland & Sandra Nurmsalu?
The DIMI test: I think it’s quite obvious I love this demure but enjoyable entry, can’t wait to finally be able to sing along to this phonetically.
PERSONAL TOTAL: 16/20
PREDICTION: The place of doom will not do this any kind of favours, sadly. I know this is regarded as chanceless, but my pinky toe says this could (easily) pull a Yohanna. So I’ll go with my gut instinct and label this a borderline qualifier.
Tomorrow: Slovenia & Croatia