Early March is a good time to be a Eurovision fan. All across the continent, the competing nations are selecting their representatives. Some are taking it very seriously indeed, some less so. Nevertheless we have now heard 24 of the 43 songs due to participate, and I’m happy to say that it’s shaping up to be a very decent year. Here’s my top 5 so far….
5. Ukraine: Gaitana – Be My Guest
One of my very favourite things about Eurovision is the way foreign songwriters tackle the english language. The lyrics can range from inspired, to deranged, to incomprehensible, to technically fine but not quite right. Gaitana’s jubilant entry for the Ukraine falls into the latter category. “You can be my guest!” goes the euphoric refrain – to what, we are never told. Fabulous tune too, and I do love a diva vocal.
4. Iceland: Grétá Salome & Jonsi – Mundu eftir mér
One of the most reliable Eurovision nations of recent years, Iceland once again field a fantastic song this year, with a dramatic folk-inflected by 2004 competitor Jonsi and songwriter Grétá Salome. Possibly too niche to be a big hitter, but this one creeps up on you…
3. Finland: Pernilla Karlsson – När jag blundar
Another gorgeous scandi-folk slow-burner, this subtle but richly atmospheric guitar ballad truly gives the lie to the stereotype that the Finns are only good at scary hard rock screeching.
2. France: Anggun – Echo (You & I)
Indonesian-born pop diva Anggun was a popular decision for France this year. This pulsating dance track is a world away from her lush signature hit Snow on the Sahara, but if she can nail the vocal it could be a big hitter.
1. Norway: Tooji – Stay
Classy ballads are all well and good, but let’s face it, it’s unadulterated pop madness like this that really makes Eurovison worth watching. This utterly infectious earworm of a track was a clear winner at Norway’s national finals, and could go big guns in Baku in May. On the other hand, I thought the same about Stella Mwangi last year…