Eurovision 2013 – Contender or Pretender? Episode Two
Hello! Thanks for coming to Eurovision Obsession! You have come to the second installment of my current series called “Contender or Pretender” (i.e., is it strong or weak”). Throughout the week, I will be looking at the current ten entries that sit upon the top of the bookies’ odds (according to oddschecker.com, a site that pulls together various odds from across the internet). I am looking at the entries in random order; yesterday was the Netherlands and Norway. Today, I am looking at Russia and Sweden!
Song: What If Performing Artist: Dina Garipova
Why it is a contender: Dina has some pipes! She is by far one of the top voices this year. Not to mention, it’s coming from Russia, which has finished in the Top Five five of the last ten Contests (including a victory in 2008), that number grows to eight if you include the three entries that finished eleventh. This is song, What If, is also made to make you feel good and try to redeem your faith in humanity.
Why it is a pretender: The song is “feel good,” but it’s a bit too much so. It’s ridiculously trite and over the top. Even the music video is too much – it ends with everyone holding hands and being overwhelmed with emotion because of the song. Furthermore, this song is rather formulate – like “Eurovision by Numbers” and lacks any real sense of authenticity.
Final Verdict: Pretender. Despite the fact that Russia is a popular ESC country and has a strong history of performing well, this song, I think, will simply fall flat. It’s too plastic and dull for the viewers to truly get behind it, and I think it’s too bland to rally the jury support that (I think) the bookmakers are assuming it will get.
Song: You Performing Artist: Robin Stjernberg
Why it is a contender: Unlike in the Seventies, Sweden does not seem afraid of hosting the Contest multiple times within a short span of years (in case you don’t remember, Sweden set out the Contest in 1976 out of fear of winning and having to host again so shortly after ABBA’s victory in 1974). You is a strong entry that is musically compelling and lyrically sound. Not only that, but this entry is a proven contender, fighting it’s way to the Melodifestivalen (Sweden’s (in)famous and very popular national final) from Anden Chansen (essentially, a second chance round for high scoring entries that did not qualify from their heat); this song is definitely battle tested – which is much more than could be said for the internally chosen Russian entry.
Why it is a pretender: There’s a reason why Stjernberg had to qualify for the final via Anden Chansen, his live performance leaves much to be desired. The song is great, but it’s a little too big for him. Surely, he’s been practicing for the last month will no doubt continue to do so for the next one, but in field that has an usually high level of vocal talent, I doubt he’ll get to the level of being able to give a comparable stage show like Anouk, Dina Garipova, or the duo from Georgia, to name a few.
Final Verdict: Pretender. In 2011, we saw two favorites, the UK and Russia, both of which were expected to easily be Top Ten finishes, both had widespread fan support, both were big name artists. And both were nailed to the wall by the juries who did not appreciate their poor performances in the jury final (i.e. the Second Dress Rehearsal). Robin Stjernberg, who does not have nearly the same star power as Blue or Alex Sparrow (nor the sex appeal), nor does he have nearly the same level of fan support. I see this song not only failing to win, I don’t even think it will make it to the Top Ten.
Agree? Disagree? Leave comments below!
Come back tomorrow when I will be examining Azerbaijan and Italy!
*A note, this series is based on a series on the espn.com ACC blog.