The Eurovision Song Contest’s 2016 album, featuring all the acts entering the contest this year, was released yesterday. I’ve deliberately avoided listening to this year’s line up until today1.
In 140 characters or fewer, here are my first impressions of each of the 43 entries.
Semi-final 1 - 10 May 2016
Sing It Away - Sandhja - Finland
This is going to be a great opening number that’ll pump some energy into the stadium. It’s a safe, strong pop affair; and I like it!
Utopian Land - Argo - Greece
Greece, we need to have words. What happened? Did you go in too heavy on the ouzo when you picked this? Nil points.
Falling Stars - Lidia Isac - Moldova
This feels like a dated STEPS number. Which should be fun - because we can all do some line dancing in the arena.
Pioneer - Freddie - Hungary
There’s so much gravel in this guy’s throat, I want to give him a throat lozenge. It’s a strong vocal for a strong song.
Lighthouse - Nina Kraljić - Croatia
This could have been a superb ballad; the instrumentation is intriguing, and there’s a key change. But you can’t excuse the weak vocals.
Slow Down - Douwe Bob - The Netherlands
This is like a Beatles-country revival. I’d be happy for this to “speed up brother”, just so it was over. Not a fan.
LoveWave - Iveta Mukuchyan - Armenia
I’ve no idea what’s going on with the faux-phone call, but its not the first act to badly copy a best-selling artist.
I Didn’t Know - Serhat - San Marino
San Marino has run out of talent. It was inevitable with a population of 32,000.
Let’s hope this Shaft rip off falls at the first hurdle.
You Are The Only One - Sergey Lazarev - Russia
A decent key change, and some false endings make this a pretty full on dance number. A fairly weak male vocal though.
I Stand - Gabriela Gunčíková - Czech Republic
There’s clearly a competent singer here, but the song is just uninspiring ballad that never quite pulls your heartstrings.
Alter Ego - Minus One - Cyprus
After 2015’s Cypriot snooze fest, this is pretty refreshing and fun! I’m not cool enough to have an opinion about this energised rock song.
Loin d’ici - ZOË - Austria
Austria must’ve just gotten last year’s bill. That’s the only reason I can think of for a song with no discernible hook and a 90s vibe.
Play - Jüri Pootsmann - Estonia
Did Estonia kidnap Jamie Cullum?
This pop-jazz fusion is pretty interesting but I’m not sure it’s strong enough to place well though.
Miracle - Samra - Azerbaijan
This reminds me of Arianna Grande. Anthemic, good hook, and good contrast between verse and chorus. This would be at home in the UK Top 40.
The Real Thing - Highway - Montenegro
Whilst the instrumentation is solid, the lead vocals sound like drunk dads doing karaoke at a wedding. They just drone on, and on, and on…
Hear Them Calling - Greta Salóme - Iceland
Everything’s so nicey-nicey, boring-snoring, and then… boom the crazy is let loose. Well played Iceland. Well played.
Ljubav Je - Dalal & Deen - Bosnia and Herzegovina
A terribly unexciting duet. I’d have expected a track this dull in the early 2000’s. The rap came from nowhere and fails to impress.
Walk On Water - Ira Losco - Malta
If you ever bought an Ibiza remix CD when they were a thing, you know what this is like. Good vocals, rhythm and pacing. Solid track.
Semi-final 1: Verdicts
|Sing It Away||Sandhja||Finland||Like|
|Falling Stars||Lidia Isac||Moldova||Like|
|Slow Down||Douwe Bob||The Netherlands||Dislike|
|I Didn’t Know||Serhat||San Marino||Dislike|
|You Are The Only One||Sergey Lazarev||Russia||Like|
|I Stand||Gabriela Gunčíková||Czech Republic||Dislike|
|Alter Ego||Minus One||Cyprus||Like|
|The Real Thing||Highway||Montenegro||Like|
|Hear Them Calling||Greta Salóme||Iceland||Like|
|Ljubav Je||Dalal & Deen||Bosnia and Herzegovina||Dislike|
|Walk On Water||Ira Losco||Malta||Like|
Semi-final 2 - 12 May 2016
Heartbeat - Justs - Latvia
This sounds like the musical love child of Bastille and Boy George. It’s all pretty psychedelic; in a good way.
Color Of Your Life - Michał Szpak - Poland
I’m not sure what metaphor Michał is going for, but regardless, this is a pretty dull. I suspect this will be knocked out in the semi-final.
The Last Of Our Kind - Rykka - Switzerland
I have very little to say about this. I enjoyed the nap I had whilst it was on.
Made Of Stars - Hovi Star - Israel
If Hovi is a Star, he’s a fading star that’s imploding into irrelevance.
Help You Fly - IVAN - Belarus
I can imagine this could have been a better song with a better singer. That said, excellent use of electric guitar and synth.
Goodbye (Shelter) - Sanja Vučić ZAA - Serbia
The vocalist in this song is superb; and she knows how to pull off a good key change. It’ll never win but it might get through to the final.
Sunlight - Nicky Byrne - Ireland
Ireland’s firmly in late-90s boyband territory here; late-90s singer, late-90s song, late-90s cheese. It’s more Bryan Adams than Westlife.
Dona - Kaliopi - F.Y.R. Macedonia
I’ve got to sit through this at least once, possibly twice; and that doesn’t make me happy.
I’ve Been Waiting for This Night - Donny Montell - Lithuania
Amongst a pack of slightly-dancey-drum-heavy ballads, this is just meh. It builds fairly well, but the ending is too abrupt.
Sound of Silence - Dami Im - Australia
When you’ve only 3 minutes, you need to build momentum more quickly than this song. I can’t tell if this a power ballad or a club anthem.
Blue and Red - ManuElla - Slovenia
This is one of the least imaginative sets of lyrics in a Eurovision song for a while. Which would be fine, but the song is also uninspiring.
Moment of Silence - Ovidiu Anton - Romania
Someone sign this guy up for a Broadway musical. I’m sure the theatrics with this will be a joy to watch. Bravo.
If Love Was A Crime - Poli Genova - Bulgaria
Three words: Bloody. Good. Tune.
This is a song to put an arena in a party mood. It reminds me of Beyoncé and Galantis.
Soldiers of Love - Lighthouse X - Denmark
If Boyzone met One Direction and had gaybies, this would be the result. Unoriginal, but definitely catchy. Disappointing lack of key change.
1944 - Jamala - Ukraine
This is as morbid as a dead duck floating upside down in a pond. The duck was probably killed by the hideous screaming at the end.
Icebreaker - Agnete - Norway
The verses and the chorus in this sound like two completely different songs; both independently brilliant, but terrible together.
Midnight Gold - Nika Kocharov and Young Georgian Lolitaz - Georgia
This starts as a polished rock number reminiscent of the Arctic Monkeys, and then completely loses its shit, like Muse on acid. Bonkers.
Fairytale - Eneda Tarifa - Albania
Way to waste a moody opening! The verses aren’t very catchy and the chorus is just whiny. I don’t hate it, but can’t say anything positive.
What’s The Pressure - Laura Tesoro - Belgium
10 seconds in, my only comment is this: hell yes.
This is 70s disco mixed with Mark Ronson and Fleur East. Superb effort, Belgium.
Semi-final 2: Verdicts
|Color Of Your Life||Michał Szpak||Poland||Dislike|
|The Last Of Our Kind||Rykka||Switzerland||Dislike|
|Made of Stars||Hovi Star||Israel||Dislike|
|Help You Fly||IVAN||Belarus||Like|
|Goodbye (Shelter)||Sanja Vučić ZAA||Serbia||Like|
|I’ve Been Waiting for This Night||Donny Montell||Lithuania||Like|
|Sound of Silence||Dami Im||Australia||Like|
|Blue and Red||ManuElla||Slovenia||Dislike|
|Moment of Silence||Ovidiu Anton||Romania||Like|
|If Love Was A Crime||Poli Genova||Bulgaria||Like|
|Soldiers of Love||Lighthouse X||Denmark||Like|
|Midnight Gold||Nika Kocharov and Young Georgian Lolitaz||Georgia||Like|
|What’s The Pressure||Laura Tesoro||Belgium||Like|
Grand Final - 14 May 2016
J’ai cherché - Amir - France
It’s unusual to hear English lyrics in the French entry, but it’s another conservative choice for France. At least it’s not another ballad.
Ghost - Jamie-Lee - Germany
This had all the elements it needed to work, but it just doesn’t. What could’ve been a solid competitor ends up as a squandered opportunity.
No Degree Of Separation - Francesa Michielin - Italy
This is a total let down after mini Il Divo last year. It’s gratuitous instrumentation is uninspiring at best; an ear-assault at worst.
Say Yay! - Barei - Spain
Yes, Spain! This is everything I want from Euro-pop: catchy, full of bass and camp as Christmas.
If I Were Sorry - Frans - Sweden
Sweden just has a knack of producing pop songs that are on point; and this is another. This sounds like it’s from Coldplay’s latest album.
You’re Not Alone - Joe and Jake - United Kingdom
I maintain this is a weak choice compared with others the UK could’ve picked; but it’s not awful, and it’ll probably get the 1D-tween vote.
|No Degree of Separation||Francesa Michielin||Italy||Dislike|
|If I Were Sorry||Frans||Sweden||Like|
|You’re Not Alone||Joe and Jake||United Kingdom||Like|
I have heard the UK’s entry, because I watched the BBC selection, but I’ve not heard the rest. ↩