I had trouble with my lack of Eurovision enthusiasm last year, and I’m afraid the trend is still the same – what used to be a reliable guilty pleasure almost feels like a chore this time around. Is it me or is Eurovision becoming boring? All right, it’s still recognisably Eurovision. They still have the spectacles – like an opera singer from Estonia with a giant colour-changing dress – and hard-pressed commentators who try to put across forced jokes which even the most gifted comedian would have struggled with. But the tunes! As last year, they’re not bad, exactly, just forgettable. Earworms are conspicuously absent. C’mon, a good chorus and a good singer – is that so very hard to find? I watched the first semifinal and caught up with the second semifinal’s songs on Youtube, which is really not the ideal medium to hear them. Who knows, if they could bring back the Eurovision panel to Swedish TV, which reviewed ten songs or so at a time in a series of hour-long programmes scheduled on Tuesday nights when nothing else was on, then maybe I could start to view Eurovision-prep as worthwhile entertainment again. As it is, whenever I saw on Youtube that a song went on for more than three minutes, I got impatient in advance.
Enough complaining. These songs are the ones that I’ve found passable so far (I’m excluding songs that didn’t make it to the final):
Norway: Back in the day, I was actually not as impressed with Alexander Rybak’s “Fairytale” as everyone else. Now, because of its mildy prophetic content, it has risen in my estimation, and I often torture my neighbours by yowling “He’s a fairy-ta-a-a-le, yeah” (a change of pronoun being necessary in this case). Trust me, it is very hummable.
Rybak’s entry for this year is lively and upbeat, but the content is a little on the cutesy side – even I, who normally have a high tolerance level for cutesiness, thought it a bit much. The song is written as an answer to an eager young fan’s question about how to write a song. There’s something children’s-programme-like about it in consequence, and the chorus is consciously simple, like something you could throw together on a synthesizer. Not pure gold, then, but not straw either.
Denmark: It’s easy to mock the Ye Olde Nordic Pop-Tune Genre, where the songs sound like the kind of thing vikings might have sung if they’d had Karaoke. The over-earnestness of the Danish group of ancient warrior types made me smile, but the number did sound nice and melodic. I wouldn’t mind if our neighbours won with this one.
Austria: Again, not something you sing in the shower. Still, this was a solid, well-sung ballad, which builds towards some sort of crescendo.
Australia: Out of this year’s batch of “let’s make the world better” songs, this struck me as the most competent. The Aussies are taking pains to send radio-friendly ballads to Eurovision every year since they were allowed on board, which shows a nice spirit. Like Austria’s number, though, this is a little dull.
Moldova: it was because of ballad fatigue, but this uptempo number cheered me up. Granted, it sounds a lot like one of those Greek-dance-on-the-beach tunes – I’ve not seen the song performed live, but you almost expect a goat to show up on stage, along with enthusiastically clapping girls in colourful headscarves. We’ll see.
Aaand… that’s it, basically. Sweden’s entry this year sounds like something playing in the background of a commercial, or maybe something leather-clad guys might strip to. Germany’s song isn’t an embarrassment, thankfully, but I’d be surprised if it was a winner. Who knows, maybe next year we’ll get to hear a new “You’re The Only One”.