I listened to every defunct Eurovision 2020 entry, so you don’t have to

The Eurovision Song Contest will not take place in 2020. At least, not as we know it. The songs will be “honoured” in a special two-hour event in May. I know. I’m sad too.

This year would have seen 41 countries put forward up to 3:00 minutes of something resembling popular music. All 41 entries are now never to be voted upon – except in my virtual house party, of course.

Every year for the last 5 years, it’s been a tradition of mine to listen to the tracks on the official Eurovision album and jot down some initial impressions. This year it’s not clear if we’re going to get an official album, so instead I’ve scoured the internet to listen to them on a self-compiled Eurovision playlist instead. The coronavirus can’t stop me unashamedly enjoying the musical delights of a slightly geographically-expanded Europe.

As ever, there are some rules:

  1. I’m only allowed to listen to each track once
  2. Each entry is allowed a tweet-sized piece of commentary: up to 280 characters — no more, but sometimes less

In lieu of an officially curated album, I’ve listened to the songs in alphabetical order by artist this year.

So let’s hop in…

The entries

Toggle entries
The flag of Albania inside a Eurovision heart

Albania Fall from the Sky by Arilena Ara

This song takes a while to get going. The first two verses and choruses are basically a write-off.

Yes, that’s most of the song but then, then there is the final bridge and final chorus. They’re punchy, dramatic, and probably not worth the wait but I enjoyed them anyway.

The flag of Armenia inside a Eurovision heart

Armenia Chains on You by Athena Manoukian

The Armenians have apparently discovered the existence of steel drums, unambiguously sadomasochistic lyrics, and contemporary hip-hop. So basically the artist thinks she’s Rihanna. Except, you know, without all the production value or the Pitch Perfect spin-offs.

The flag of Australia inside a Eurovision heart

Australia Don’t Break Me by Montaigne

The Aussies keep churning out Eurovision class acts; this year is no exception. This is a cool and punchy track that makes great use of text painting in the lyrics to compliment the swooping instrumentation. It rises and falls throughout to keep you engaged for all three minutes.

The flag of Austria inside a Eurovision heart

Austria Alive by Vincent Bueno

Bare with this, because the first 30 seconds are a bit crap. They’re obscuring some excellent bass-thwacking that comes a little later.

It’s a bit all over the place and can’t catch a consistent feeling of pace, but it’s enough to jolt you awake after some snoozing ballads.

The flag of Azerbaijan inside a Eurovision heart

Azerbaijan Cleopatra by Efendi

I always thought Cleopatra was Egyptian and yet, despite Egypt being eligible to enter Eurovision, this ode to the queen comes from Azerbaijan.

Obviously inspired by last year’s fan favourite, it’s replete with faux-throat singing, but with substantially more sex and sass. Solid.

The flag of Belarus inside a Eurovision heart

Belarus Da vidna by VAL

Da vidna, meaning “until dawn” is reminiscent of that track from Made in Chelsea. You know, the one with the screechy sound.

Made in Chelsea and Da vidna have something else in common too: they’re both stilted and devoid of substance.

The flag of Belgium inside a Eurovision heart

Belgium Release Me by Hooverphonic

You know when you’re in a pub and you ask for Coke but you get Pepsi? Sure it looks like Coke, but the taste? Just a bit off. That’s this song.

It’s almost a good jazz lounge number. It’s fine. It’s just a bit discordant and, like Pepsi, a poor imitation of the original.

The flag of Bulgaria inside a Eurovision heart

Bulgaria Tears Getting Sober by Victoria

Bulgaria has had some absolute tunes in recent years. (See 2016, 2017, and 2018.) But then, last year, they didn’t enter and I was gutted. Having heard this, I wish they’d skipped another year.

It’s weird. It’s incoherent. It’s barely instrumented. I don’t like it. Bring back Poli!

The flag of Croatia inside a Eurovision heart

Croatia Divlji vjetre by Damir Kedžo

As it’s sung in Croatian, I’ve taken the liberty of looking up the lyrics for this one. What I’m getting is pathetic; a pathetic fallacy that is.

It’s also naff.

This is basically that song from Pocahontas but without the colonial overtones or the musical genius of Alan Menken.

The flag of Cyprus inside a Eurovision heart

Cyprus Running by Sandro

I think what we’re meant to take away from this song is that this artist is struggling with his mental health. (Great! #TimeToTalk etc.)

What I actually took away from this is that maybe Sandro is really into marathons. I do like this, I just think it gets a little repetitive.

The flag of Czech Republic inside a Eurovision heart

Czech Republic Kemama by Benny Cristo

The Czech’s have been on an upward trajectory the last few years. Last year’s entry was great, if you ignored the shit cockney accent.

This year’s entry is also pretty good. And it’s produced by someone called Glowsticks, which is just extremely on brand for Eurovision.

The flag of Denmark inside a Eurovision heart

Denmark Yes by Ben & Tan

The Danes have apparently taken inspiration from their near-ish Dutch neighbours with this country song that sounds remarkably similar to a Lumineers track in the chorus.

It’s a “yes” from me.

The flag of Estonia inside a Eurovision heart

Estonia What Love Is by Uku Suviste

I’m a sucker for a good power ballad and this is not a good power ballad. It has all the right components: a slow opening, kicking into a bold chorus. When it comes to it though, it never truly lets rip and that’s why it fails.

The flag of Finland inside a Eurovision heart

Finland Looking Back by Aksel

Given the only winning entry Finland’s ever had in Eurovision was a bunch of hard rocking, latex monsters, this is about as far away from that as you can get. That is to say it is comparatively dull.

Unrelatedly, I can’t excuse Aksel’s laissez-faire view of motoring offences.

The flag of France inside a Eurovision heart

France Mon alliée (The Best in Me) by Tom Leeb

You can always rely on the French for a meandering ballad, and this year they’ve delivered in spades. Unless my ears deceive me, I think there are two key changes (top work, France). The lyrics, however, are awfully gushing and the song itself is just colourless.

The flag of Georgia inside a Eurovision heart

Georgia Take Me as I Am by Tornike Kipiani

This guy seems not to have gotten over his latest relationship breakdown.

Why do I say that? Well, it’s obviously totally proportionate to release a song where you scream “why don’t you love me?” into a microphone as part of a grunge track.

Awkward.

The flag of Germany inside a Eurovision heart

Germany Violent Thing by Ben Dolic

There’s one reliable thing about a nation that regularly doesn’t open its nightclubs until after midnight, and it’s that it knows how to throw a party. The Germans have brought this fun, slick bop to this party and it is totally my vibe. It could have been a contender.

The flag of Greece inside a Eurovision heart

Greece Supergirl by Stefania

Top marks for the obvious message of womens’ empowerment contained in this track’s lyrics.

The song has a driving rhythm and some peculiar backing music replete with some kind of presumably Greek-native instrument; but there’s nothing that stands out as particularly interesting.

The flag of Iceland inside a Eurovision heart

Iceland Think About Things by Daði og Gagnamagnið

I don’t care what anyone else says, this is fucking brilliant. It’s got whimsy lyrics, 1980s stylings to the instrumentation, and a top-notch beat. Oh, and it’s got a totally insane slowed-down-and-then-sped-up bridge into the final chorus. Douze points!

The flag of Ireland inside a Eurovision heart

Ireland Story of My Life by Lesley Roy

Well Lesley clearly likes P!nk.

I’m not much of a P!nk fan, but I can appreciate a thumping good pop song and this is one of those. It’s uptempo, chirpy, and has a driving bass line for a fun three minutes.

The flag of Israel inside a Eurovision heart

Israel Feker libi by Eden

Feker libi (or “my sweetheart” in English) is a very confused song. One minute it’s a 90s house track, praying to the Earth mother; the next it’s a Bollywood banging Pussycat Dolls rip-off.

If you can look past the frantic and a bit out-of-place middle-eight, it’s pretty good!

The flag of Italy inside a Eurovision heart

Italy Fai rumore by Diodato

Italy has good years and bad years. This, I think, is a bad year.

It’s basically just a middle-aged, white guy shouting at a microphone too much for three-minutes. Par for the course for Italy in the 2010s, but not a great start to the 2020s.

The flag of Latvia inside a Eurovision heart

Latvia Still Breathing by Samanta Tīna

One of two tracks this year with an unfortunate title, given the situation. (You know, literally the reason the contest has been cancelled!)

Latvia takes us to the club with this over-produced track and nondescript female vocal. It throws in some (not good) rap near the end of the track before crashing into a distorted mess of an ending.

The flag of Lithuania inside a Eurovision heart

Lithuania On Fire by The Roop

I so desperately wanted to make a good “The Roop is On Fire” joke here, but this track does not deserve my best wit. This is quirky and there’s an ear-worming synth riff throughout, but it does not exceed the sum of its parts. Disappointing, at best.

The flag of Malta inside a Eurovision heart

Malta All of My Love by Destiny

The song builds very quickly from a quiet piano ballad, to a powerhouse with drivingly rhythmic instrumentation. It’s hard to identify the catchy riff that your ear is meant to latch on to, but there’s no doubting that singer, Destiny, has got lungs.

The flag of Moldova inside a Eurovision heart

Moldova Prison by Natalia Gordienko

This is a fairly meh pop ballad from the Moldovans. It keeps rolling with a decent ebb and flow, switching up between piano-leading verses and more punchy choruses. It’s enough to keep you interested, but it’s ultimately a bit anti-climactic.

The flag of Netherlands inside a Eurovision heart

Netherlands Grow by Jeangu Macrooy

This is utterly miserable. For the first minute and a half it’s almost one continuous note of instrumentation with a near monotone vocal.

After that, it just gets weird. It very, very slowly builds to a crescendo and just as you think it might be getting somewhere; it stops.

The flag of North Macedonia inside a Eurovision heart

North Macedonia You by Vasil

The recently renamed Former Yugoslav Republic of North Macedonia has ditched boastful ballads this year and gone for a sexed-up, Latino-type song about dancing.

The vocals are a tad bland, but the instrumentation is varied and lay down a fun beat.

The flag of Norway inside a Eurovision heart

Norway Attention by Ulrikke

“I just want your attention”, sings Ulrikke in the pre-chorus of the Norwegian entry. Well, Ulrikke, you’ll have to try harder than this.

The song takes an age to get started, and it only really grabs you after about 2 minutes. It’s pleasant enough; just not very catchy.

The flag of Poland inside a Eurovision heart

Poland Empires by Alicja

Singer Alicja appears to be quite pre-occupied with combustion in this kind-of-orchestrally instrumented track. There are a lot of destructive metaphors.

It’s kind of like a James Bond theme, if Bond themes were a bit shit and done on a shoe string rather than by drag queens.

The flag of Portugal inside a Eurovision heart

Portugal Medo de sentir by Elisa

Ah, Portugal. Another year, another expectedly dreary entry.

It’s a ballad. It’s very monotone. It would have been a good moment to pop to the loo because you wouldn’t have missed much.

The flag of Romania inside a Eurovision heart

Romania Alcohol You by Roxen

What is Roxen drinking?

If this were any true metaphor for alcohol, it would feel a lot better in the moment and the hangover would at least be memorable. This dreary and confused entry is closer to drinking bleach than alcohol; it’s shit and you’ll regret it once it’s done.

The flag of Russia inside a Eurovision heart

Russia Uno by Little Big

It has been apparent for sometime that things are not good in Russia, but now we know why: they’re still living in the 1990s.

This, somehow, manages to be even more annoying than Aqua’s infamous back catalogue, which – let’s not forget – includes a song about plastic dolls.

The flag of San Marino inside a Eurovision heart

San Marino FREAKY! by Senhit

San Marino, the tiny nation always churning out questionable acts that for some reason people seem to like, have discovered the 1970s this year. It’s a discotheque tune with a lot repetition of the word “freaky”. By my count, there are no fewer than 41 uses of “freaky” and 6 uses of “freaking” in this freaking song. For once for San Marino, something I’d listen to again.

The flag of Serbia inside a Eurovision heart

Serbia Hasta la vista by Hurricane

This song starts with a false-stop and I am not a fan. What I am a fan of is the high-energy hasta la vistas peppered throughout this early-2000s style, girl-band song.

Objectively, it’s probably not a good song, but it’s got a fun Eurovision prime-era vibe to it.

The flag of Slovenia inside a Eurovision heart

Slovenia Voda by Ana Soklič

Who knew that the Slovenians were so enthusiastic about one the world’s largest telecommunications companies?

In reality, I have absolutely no idea what the lyrics to this song are about, as I can’t find the English translation; but it is inoffensive enough to pass three minutes.

The flag of Spain inside a Eurovision heart

Spain Universo by Blas Cantó

This song is a great example of how lyrics can sound really impressive in their native language, and then turn to utter gibberish when translated into English.

There is an excellent falsetto at 2:30 that I bet would have gotten totally butchered live. Gutted we’ll miss that.

The flag of Sweden inside a Eurovision heart

Sweden Move by The Mamas

Last year’s Swedish backing singers would have taken centre-stage this year in this soul and gospel track.

This is another great entry in a string of amazing Eurovision entries from my favourite European nation. I am unashamedly biased at this point. Sweden can do no wrong!

The flag of Switzerland inside a Eurovision heart

Switzerland Répondez-moi by Gjon’s Tears

This is a very emotive entry. There’s something haunting about Gjon’s voice, and the stripped back instrumentation compliments his falsetto in interesting ways. It is also in French, which is novel for a Swiss entry nowadays.

The flag of Ukraine inside a Eurovision heart

Ukraine Solovey by Go_A

Oh Christ on a hamster wheel, didn’t we collectively learn anything from this style of music last year?

According to their official profile, Go_A think that “Ukrainian folklore and electronic music are a perfect match”. They are wrong. Go_Away. Now.

The flag of United Kingdom inside a Eurovision heart

United Kingdom My Last Breath by James Newman

It’s supremely unfortunate that in the year the UK enters a good song, Eurovision gets cancelled. It’s also unfortunate that we chose a song with this title in the same year the world is swept by a respiratory virus pandemic.

I just wish the song didn’t end 25 seconds early.

Summing up

So that’s every Eurovision song that won’t get to compete this year. 41 tracks that history will probably forget. In many cases, probably for the best anyway.