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Contender or Pretender 2017: Recap!

Hello Dear Readers!

There you have it – the ten songs that comprise the top of the betting odds at the time of starting Contender and Pretender 2017. As a recap:

Contenders:

-Belgium
-Bulgaria
-Italy

Pretenders:

-Armenia
-Australia
-Azerbaijan
-Ireland
-Portugal
-Romania
-Sweden

This may seem quite skewed, however, I truly believe that the winner will be from among Belgium, Bulgaria, and Italy. Since the start of this series, Ireland has fallen out of the top ten of the betting odds, replaced by France (who I have previously deemed as a legitimate contender).

So, in adding France to the fray, of the four contenders, who do I think will win?

Well, my opinion has not changed. I still think Bulgaria will pull out the victory this year in Kyiv, taking the Contest to Sofia for 2018.

Beautiful Mess is compelling, intricate, and heartfelt. Much more so than any of its closest competition. Italy is fun, but it will be a bit much for a lot of first time viewers. Belgium has been losing ground over the past week and will be going into the Contest on a downward trajectory. France, while beautiful and unique, just isn’t as captivating Bulgaria’s ballad. I think Bulgaria has the perfect mix of jury appeal and fan attraction to win this year.

What are your thoughts? Leave them below and/or on Twitter.

Stay tuned!! Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday I will be teaming up with DizzyDJC to bring you podcasts all throughout Eurovision Week. Stay tuned here, YouTube, or Twitter for the link to broadcasts!

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Contender or Pretender 2017: Episode Five – Armenia and Ireland

Hello Dear Readers!

It’s been nearly a week already! We have reached the last two entries that are a part of this series: Armenia and Ireland! Armenia probably does not surprise many, but most are probably shocked (if not pleasantly surprised) to see Ireland make a late surge for the top ten of the betting odds going into Eurovision Week. But, does either country have what it takes to raise the crystal microphone?

Fly with Me performed by Artsvik

Why it is a contender: This song is unique with it’s varying tempos and ethnic flair. More than that, the song tells a story of trusting in love – always a popular sentiment at ESC. Furthermore, the composition is utterly captivating; each moment builds upon the last.

Why it is a pretender: The same compositional elements that make this song stand out are the same ones that can turn off viewers. The ever-shifting tempos and melodies make the song sound a bit cluttered and confused. By the end, the viewer is left trying to catch their breath.

Final Verdict: Pretender As much as I love this song, I just don’t see it captivating viewers enough to pull off a victory. I do think the juries will like it, so expect a Top Ten finish.

 

Dying to Try performed by Brendan Murray

Why it is a contender: Murray’s voice is certainly unique and it helps that he is rather adorable. The song is also something that many can relate to; it’s a love song with a heavy dose of reality.

Why it is a pretender: Murray’s voice isn’t for everyone. The composition is also not inherently interesting; subtly is rarely appreciated at Eurovision.

Final Verdict: Pretender I think this song will qualify for the Final. But there will be the eventual comparison between this and the other two young, male ballads – Australia and Bulgaria – and I just don’t think that this will stand up to those two in the minds of viewers seeing these songs for the first time at the Grand Final.

 

So, will Armenia build upon its recent success? Or will it just be too much for viewers? Conversely, will Ireland spark a new era of domination? Or will it be not enough for viewers? Leave your thoughts below and/or on Twitter!

Missed the previous episodes of Contender or Pretender? Click here to find them!

Check back later for the wrap of the series and my updated prediction for next week’s winner!

 

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Contender or Pretender 2017: Episode Four – Azerbaijan and Sweden

Hello Dear Readers!

Today we examine two powers of the Contest: Azerbaijan and Sweden, both of whom have won the Contest within the past six years (and the only ones in this series to have won in the past twenty years). While Sweden has consistently been performing towards the top since missing the Final in 2010 (it has since finished in the Top Ten five out of six times, including two victories since then), Azerbaijan appeared to have lost its groove, failing to return to the Top Ten in each of the past three Contests. This year, both countries find themselves in serious contention for the Eurovision crown – will either past winner taste glory once again?

Azerbaijan

Skeletons performed by DiHaj

Why it is a contender: Haunting, catchy, and easily accessible; probably the most popular Azerbaijani entry since 2013. We know that, when it wants to, Azerbaijan puts on a staging unlike any other. This year, they’re ready to return to the Top Ten.

Why it is a pretender: DiHaj’s aesthetic can be a bit much – so there is the potential for the staging to go too far and turn people off. The bigger danger, though, is the performance. This is a good pop song, but does DiHaj have the live vocals to carry it above all the other high quality entries this year?

Final Verdict: Pretender Despite the potential for a stunning stage show, I just am not confident that this song will translate to a live performance on the ESC stage. While this song sounds radio ready, I don’t know if it’s unique enough to bump off the more memorial entries, like Italy or Belgium.

Sweden

I Can’t Go On performed by Robin Bengtsson

Why it is a contender: Well, it’s Sweden. For better or worse, Sweden is always included in the conversation regarding possible winners during the current era of the Contest. This song has a slick staging (staging is rarely, if ever, changed between Melodifestivalen and ESC) and is ridiculously catchy.

Why it is a pretender: While it is catchy, it is also rather simple, to the point of being borderline annoying. Not to mention the many families watching will probably not be too happy about his choice of words in the refrain. I know I, personally, have difficulty singing “freaking beautiful” instead of using some other language and I am not one to use curse words.

Final Verdict: Pretender For a song with this much hype and potential, I find it interesting that the producers stuck it first in the running order in its semi-final. I also think that, for the majority of viewers, this song will simply be too annoying to reward with points. I think, like Romania, this is another entry that has a high likelihood of flopping in the Grand Final.

Are you tired of Sweden’s recent domination? Are you excited that Azerbaijan is finally back in the conversation for victory? Are you just waiting for tomorrow’s examinations of Armenia and Ireland? Leave a comment below or on Twitter!

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2017 Contender or Pretender: Episode Three – Portugal and Belgium

Hello Dear Readers!

Today we look at probably the two most surprising members of the Top Ten betting odds, Belgium (who has been doing fairly well in recent years) and Portugal, who, as far as I know, has never been in the top ten of the betting odds going into Eurovision week. Two very different songs that both stand out from the crowd, but, does either have what it takes to win?

Portugal

Amar pelos Dois performed by Salvador Sobral

Why it is a contender: A heartfelt ballad that sounds like it was dropped from the 1940s. This is a high quality composition with a gentle performance that helps it transcend its simple lyrics. Portugal is the perpetual underdog and has the support of a big swath of the fandom behind it.

Why it is a pretender: Only nine times has Portugal ever reached the Top Ten, the most recent of which, 1996, was its highest placing: 6th place. History’s arrow does not seem to be pointing in Portugal’s direction. Not to mention, for many casual viewers and those that turn to Eurovision for vapid schlager, this slow ballad will be more chore than enjoyment.

Final Verdict: Pretender While I commend Portugal for sending a truly artistic song, but it’s just too simple to win. I think Portugal may have a legitimate shot at the Top Ten, but lacks the power to overcome more memorable ballads or the outshine the up-tempo numbers.

Belgium

City Lights performed by Blanche

Why it is a contender: This is perhaps the most unique of the EDM-inspired entries this year. Blanche’s deep voice makes her standout from all the other female singers and delicateness of the song will help give it broader appeal. The song is also catchy without being repetitive.

Why it is a pretender: It’s unique, but is it too unique? Depending on its staging and how its start position, this song could seem too weird to too different to make a real impact in the minds of televoters.

Final Verdict: Contender This song simply stand out in a positive way. I think the juries will also take to it quite strongly given how rare it is to hear a solo pop singer with such a low voice sing so well. I think the composition is captivating enough to linger in the minds of viewers and jurors alike throughout the night.

Hmm, Belgium at one point was towards the top of the betting odds, not it’s floating around the tenth spot. Portugal has solidly been sitting in the top five since mid-March. It will be interesting to see how these songs do in Kyiv. You thoughts?

Missed the previous episodes? Find the table of contents here!
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