Finally, a lull in life to post my initial thoughts, reactions, and predictions around the 62nd Edition of the Eurovision Song Contest. You can still expect to see Contender or Pretender 2017. There just won’t be as much room between posts this year. Per usual, I’ve broken the songs into semi-final halves and they will appear each day this week with a wrap-up post on Saturday. Like last year, there is a last minute withdrawal. This year, it’s the juggernaut that is Russia sitting out of the Contest over political reasons. And, just for spite, is refusing to broadcast the Contest. This, of course, raises the question: Who on earth will Belarus and Azerbaijan give their twelves to?
Now, on to the songs that are competing in Kyiv.
Immediately, I see that there seems to be a lot of EDM (that’s “electronic dance music” — think, club music that’s also likely to be on the radio, like, Kygo, Avicii, David Gueta, etc.) and other uptempo songs. There are also a few ballads, though, only a few seem to land powerfully.
Interestingly, there doesn’t seem to be much influence from 1944. Usually, the winning song influences the following year’s entries; not so much this year. Only Hungary seems to be in the same vein as Jamala’s song and the only other darker songs would be Finland and Poland, though, they are dark in very different ways than 1944.
In fact, there seems to be a dearth of “Eurovisiony” songs this year. With few excepts (notably Sweden, Romania, Albania, Georgia, and Croatia), the songs all seem to be radio-ready. Part of that is probably the influx of EDM and modern ballads. And part of that, I think, is the success of Australia which over the past two years has twice landed in the top five with songs that were seemingly taken from the pop charts. I wonder how we’ll see this balance out in the final scoreboard.
Another scarce supply we seem to have this year, sadly, is non-English lyrics. This year, there are only four non-English songs (Italy, Hungary, Portugal, and Belarus) and only two more majority non-English (France and Spain). This continues the overall downward trajectory in non-English lyrics we’ve seen over the past five or so Contests. I think it might behoove the EBU to bring back a language rule. Perhaps a reverse of the Junior Eurovision rule that limits the use of English to just a single chorus; they could require the use of a national language in at least one chorus or verse (as determined by the Reference Committee) of the competing song. Furthermore, for countries where English is the official or de facto language (UK, Ireland, Malta, Australia), they could require the incorporation of a non-English language of the country (such as Welsh for the UK, Irish for Ireland, Maltese for Malta, or an Aboriginal language for Australia). This would work to maintain diversity and keep one of the primary values of the Contest (sharing the cultures and perspectives of the competing nations) at the forefront.
Finally, once again, Thursday seems to be the much more competitive semi-final, as I can see about twelve of those songs going to Final, whereas for Tuesday, it was a struggle to reach ten. Overall, though, I generally like most of the songs. I’m excited to go through all 42 with you. Come back each of the next few days for my reviews of each song!