Posts tagged “contender or pretender

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?

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2017 Contender or Pretender: Episode Two – Bulgaria and Italy

Hello Dear Readers!

Today we look at the top two songs in the betting odds, Bulgaria and Italy! One is a perennial favorite returning to form after a brief stumble last year, the other is finally coming into its own after many years of languishing in the semi-finals. But, does either have what it takes to actually win?

Bulgaria

Beautiful Mess performed by Kristian Kostov

Why it is a contender: A beautiful, haunting ballad powerfully performed well by a young, cute singer. The lyrics are intriguing and the composition is gripping. What’s more, the song generates a feeling of longing within the listener.

Why it is a pretender: It’s not the most exciting ballad this year, as the climax of the song does not particularly stand out. Not to mention that Bulgaria rarely, if ever, stages its songs properly. If the music video is any indication, we will witness a trite, uninspired stage show.

Final Verdict: Contender If you read my initial reactions to this year’s songs, you’ll know that I picked this song to win. Thus far, I have yet to see a reason strong enough to change that thought. With that said, BNT still needs to come through with an amazing staging to hold off other contenders.

Italy

Occidentali’s Karma performed by Francesco Gabbani

Why it is a contender: This is a fun, catchy song that challenges us intellectually. Italian seems to be a favorable language in garnering votes. Not to mention that Gabbani seems to be a serious contender, having won San Remo and looking to win Eurovision.

Why it is a pretender: For the average Eurovision viewer (aka, the televoting masses), this song might seem a bit odd – particularly with its dancing gorilla. Even if the staging is kept close to its original, it might be a bit too much for most casual viewers.

Final Verdict: Contender This song is catchy, interesting, and very unique. Italy is poised for victory soon and this just might be their year. It would be great for a fully non-English song to win (the last time that happened was 2007) as it would hopefully spur other countries to utilize their national languages next year.

Come back tomorrow to check out Portugal and Belgium!
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2017 Contender or Pretender: Episode One – Australia and Romania

Hello Dear Readers!

It’s rehearsals week for Eurovision! It’s so early this year but we’re happy that we have enough time for Contender or Pretender. Today, we began our journey with Australia and Romania – two very different songs that currently find themselves in the midst of popularity.

Australia

Don’t Come Easy performed by Isaiah

Why it is a contender: A powerfully-sung ballad by the young Isaiah Firebrace – whose live performances have helped push Australia into the top ten of the betting odds. He’s a proven competitor, having already won X-Factor Australia. The song also stands out as one of the few higher quality slow songs in a year dominated by uptempo entries.

Why it is a pretender: Well, the song is fairly generic and repetitive. Listen to the song, the phrase “don’t come easy” is repeatedly endlessly.

The first verse is rather boring; the song doesn’t really pick up until the end of the first refrain.

Final Verdict: Pretender Isaiah will be lucky if it keeps its Top Ten streak intact this year. While this song is pleasant, it is rather forgettable. I think it will struggle to get out of the semi-final and, despite being jury fodder, will not do too well on Saturday night.

Romania

Yodel It! performed by Ilinca ft. Alex Florea

Why it is a contender: For the non-fan, this song represents the quintessential Eurovision entry. It’s poppy, fun, and campy. It certainly stands out and is unlike any other song from this year (or any of the recent years).

Why it is a pretender: For the non-fan, this song represents the quintessential Eurovision entry. It’s obnoxious, repetitive, and vapid. Let’s not forget that, in the past twenty years, no song in which either rap or yodeling was a primary feature (except for Greece 2011) has finished in the Top Ten.

Final Verdict: Pretender This song stands out for all the wrong reasons and I have yet to hear a satisfying live version of the song. Not to mention that the juries do not tend to go for this kind of song. I would not be surprised if this song fails to qualify for the Final.

Hmm, starting off with two songs with less than favorable odds. Maybe tomorrow’s potential victors, Bulgaria and Italy, will fare better.

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2017 Contender or Pretender!

Hello Dear Readers!

First, in the event that you missed last week’s post, here are my initial thoughts concerning the songs that I think have a legitimate shot at winning this year in Kyiv. This also included this year’s bracket for ESC Obsession’s Annual Eurovision Tournament.

ESC 2017 Tournament

And, if you are curious, here is my personal bracket based solely on my personal preferences.

Second, we come to our yearly Contender or Pretender series, where we look at the top ten countries in the betting odds and access whether they have a realistic chance of winning (contender) or if they are merely names without foundations (pretender). I took the top ten countries and randomly sorted them.

You’ll see them in this order:

Day One: Australia and Romania

Day Two: Bulgaria and Italy

Day Three: Portugal and Belgium

Day Four: Azerbaijan and Sweden

Day Five: Armenia and Ireland

Some notes: It has been interesting watching the movement in the betting odds. Per usual, Sweden and Italy are in the top ten. Azerbaijan seems to be back in the good graces of ESC while Armenia has made its typical late-season push towards the top of the odds. As shocking as it is to see countries like Belgium (perhaps, though, not so much after finishing in the top twelve in three out of the past four years), Portugal (when was the last time they were among the top in the betting odds?), and Bulgaria, I think the most shocking are Ireland and Australia. Both started in the low teens back in March (once all the songs were known). Both sneaked up the rankings while others slipped (France, Denmark, Greece, and Hungary are the next four, all of which were once in the top ten). Interestingly, Macedonia seems to have fallen the farthest; reaching about seventh in the betting odds before following to the low teens.

Stayed tuned! Each day this week, we’ll cover each of the ten entries at the top of the betting odds; analyzing their potential, identifying their shortcomings, and providing a verdict.

 

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