The Early Selectors: Entries Chosen in December & January
So, many countries chose their entry rather early this year, from perennial early choosers like Albania and Cyprus to rather unexpected ones, like France and Macedonia. Here is my breakdown of these early choosers. This is a good time to remind everyone that I do not listen to any entry (except Denmark’s) prior to the first time it is performed at the Contest. I form my opinions based on the competition that failed to qualify for the Contest, the performing artist’s other work, and a country’s history within the Contest. When I make my second round of predictions, I will incorporate web chatter, professional opinion, and semi-final placement. Additionally, these thoughts are merely opinion and are not meant to insult, demean, or be taken as a personal attack. I wish every country the best of luck and pray for an awesome Contest!
Typically, Albania is fairly good about choosing the best entry among their options. Unfortunately, the best Albanian entry tends to be a middle-of-the-pack finisher. A placing that is typically earned by the song + performance. This year should not be any different, especially given that the showing among Festivali i Këngës‘ losers was relatively weak compared to the past few years. Which is a double shame since this was the 50th one.
Montenegro: Rambo Amadeus – Euro Neuro
Welcome back Montenegro! We’ve missed you!
I always love it when countries return to the Contest after missing out, especially when they had to sit out due to financial issues. Now that pleasantries are out the way, getting down to business, Montenegro does not stand a chance. They’re sending an eighties-style rocker, and not a very good one at that. Sorry Crna Gora, you will once again be relegated to a semi-final placings. Perhaps next year!
Switzerland has once again united its four broadcasters in a royale of musical dominance. Despite unexpectedly strong competition, not the least of which included hero of the Contest and first-ever ESC winning artist Lys Assia, the group Sinplus emerged victorious. The Swiss are still celebrating their first Final qualification in six years, even if that qualification did result in a last place. I think the Swiss Confederation is getting to the place where Iceland and Portugal were in 2008. After many tries, it has finally reached the Final, now, the new goal is to get beyond the bottom ten. I am unsure of whether the Swiss have it in them to accomplish this goal. So, no prediction just yet.
So, Cyprus, a country who’s lack of a national identity has led to political distress so severe that a part of it wants to break free, continues to let this identity crisis express itself as, once again, its entry takes a complete 180 from the previous years’ songs. They’re sending a beautiful young pop singer to do what experience (’07), ethnic music (’08), innocence (’09), indie (’10), and dramatic-rock (’11) could not do: give the island nation some success once more in the Contest. Ivi Adamou actually has a decent chance of doing this. She has a good voice, she’s pretty, and is nimble enough to pull off one of a variety of personae on stage. The key would be a strong performance, not just her singing, but also in the staging of the entry.
Tired of being the one of the worst performing countries on the Balkan Peninsula, Macedonia went for an internal selection this year, bringing Kaliopi back to the Contest that snubbed her in the pre-selection round sixteen years ago (despite the fact that she had an amazing song). She has been busy making albums and building quite the career over the time between her ESC entries. I foresee a strong performance with a placing dependent more on the weakness of others than on its own strength. Unfortunately, Macedonia is almost always in this spot, and constantly falls just short of qualifying (in both years of the former dual semi-final system, Macedonia finished tenth in their semi-final only to be leaped frogged by a jury selected wild card – ’08 & ’09). Anticipate another hairline qualification/elimination for the former Yugoslav republic.
France, which has really re-invested itself over the past few years into the Contest, has continued it’s recent tradition of internal selections. This year, they have chosen the beautiful, Indonesian-French artist Anggun. Choosing so early this year allows France to do something that it rarely does, engage in the pre-Contest touring that so many other countries do. Anggun is a veteran and will likely draw the admiration of many of the south-east Asians (particularly her fellow Indonesians) throughout Europe. She is a seasoned professional with great abilities. If Amaury Vassili got France back on the bookie’s radar last year, then Anggun must be setting them on fire. I anticipate this song doing very well.