Eurovision 2013 – Contender or Pretender? Episode Four
Hej and Dobar Dan Readers! This is the fourth part in my series called “Contender or Pretender” in which I am looking at the ten entries with the best betting odds (according to oddschecker.com) and determining whether those entries actually have a decent shot of winning or not using my own mix of history, musical experience, and personal preference to render judgment. I have already judged the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Azerbaijan, and Italy, declaring two as legitimate contenders and the rest as pretenders, follow the links to find which ones! Today, Denmark and the Ukraine find themselves in the spotlight.
Song: Only Teardrops Performing Artist: Emmelie de Forrest
Why it is a contender: Wildly popular, this song leads just about every single poll and betting odds website. Going into DMGP, this song was picking up popularity throughout Europe and went from outside shot to runaway champion. de Forrest delivers a strong performance and the entry has a strong composition. The song is catchy, but not overly simple; it has a strong narrative without the use of complex lyrics. It has the feel of classic schlager without being too trite – all the makings of a winner.
Why it is a pretender: The lyrics could be stronger, the story comes through, but they’re a bit redundant and simple (“The sky is red tonight/We’re on the edge tonight”) While it might be Eurovision gold, it’s not exactly tearing up the charts around Europe, as several previous winners had at this point (except for in Romania, apparently). Not to mention there’s a strong contingency out there that deems this song as plastic and forgettable (not an invalid argument), and depending on viewers’ moods on Saturday night, this song may tank, especially if positioned next two more unique, impassioned songs (say, Italy and Norway).
Final Verdict: Contender. This song is vastly popular among fans and has the ability to catch you from the first time you listen to it – two keys to any song that hopes to win the ESC. Not to mention the fact that this song has only been picking up steam since winning DMGP. While I don’t think it will be a runaway winner, I think it definitely makes the short list of true contenders for victory.
Song: Gravity Performing Artist: Zlata Ognevich
Why it is a contender: A theatrical entry that delights the ears and the eyes, Gravity is Ukraine’s latest attempt to return to the Winner’s Circle. It’s grand, it’s multi-layered, it’s stand out tremendously from the pack. Ognevich has an astounding voice and a strong stage presence. The song has quite a following in the fan community and Ukraine, with few exceptions, always does very well in the Contest. Additionally, after winning the Ukrainian ticket to Malmö, Gravity was retooled to make it more appealing.
Why it is a pretender: With similar culture preferences in the voting trends (due to a shared cultural history, countries located close to one another or that were once united in the same geopolitical zone tend to vote for one another), the Ukraine tends to benefit from having the strongest entry amongst those it is culturally similar to (i.e., Belarus, Russia, Poland, etc.). However, this year, both Russia and Belarus have very strong entries that many consider as possible favorites, leaving me to think that perhaps Ukraine will lose out on votes to these two countries (only three times has these countries shared the Top Ten together). Furthermore, even in its retooled version, the song is very theatrical and very complex, at the risk of alienating listeners. Theatrical, in that its musical style is reminiscent to something you find in a Broadway musical. Complex in that there’s a lot going on – it’s busy; there’s a lot layers in the composition, the backing singers are very loud, and it almost sounds as if the song continually restarts.
Final Verdict: Pretender. I know that many of you will probably disagree with this verdict. While the song is widely popular, I think its theatrical style will alienate viewers. It stands out, but I think that it will confuse viewers and leave them scratching their heads wondering what just happened; particularly if Ukraine breaks out its patented over-the-top staging that it seems to trot out every year.
Agree? Disagree? Leave comments below!
Come back tomorrow when I will conclude the series with Germany and Georgia!
*A note, this series is based on a series on the espn.com ACC blog.