Since last year, the sequence of when the automatic finalists (the “Big Five” and last year’s champion) would be determined only after the 2nd semifinal so I will be presenting the automatic finalists in alphabetical order instead.
DENMARK: “Cliche Love Song” – Basim. There are many observers who noticed the singer’s resemblance to Bruno Mars. I also noticed that, but I also observed a resemblance to British-Indian R&B singer Jay Sean, too. Anyway, the “skoobi-doobi-wop-wop-dibi-dai” scat in the chorus is very catchy and Basim’s high tenor is a treat. Many fans are not expecting this to make the Top 10 in the final, but I have a feeling do not count this out.
FRANCE: “Moustache” – TWIN TWIN. Amongst the “Big Five”, unfortunately, this is the weakest entry this year. It’s an aggressively bad novelty ditty that doesn’t quite appeal to the rest of Europe. I fear this will not shore up this country’s declining Eurovision fortunes in recent years.
GERMANY: “Is It Right” – Elaiza. It’s rather interesting to hear an accordion-based pop song like this one–is this what schlager music is like? I’m not crazy about this, but I have a feeling it will fare respectably in the middle of the pack.
ITALY: “La mia citta [My City]” – Emma Marrone. She resembles Fergie with a punkier attitude and a husky alto. It made me fantasize hearing Israel’s Mei Feingold and Macedonia’s Tijana with this singer singing together–it’s like a battle of fierce husky altos. The song is a rollicking rock tune that I feel has got what it takes to make the Top 10 in the finals, sustaining Italy’s streak since returning to the Eurovision fold in 2010.
SPAIN: “Dancing in the Rain” – Ruth Lorenzo. Spain seems to have discovered what they needed to succeed in this contest when they fielded Pastora Soler’s “Quedate Conmigo” two years ago–a soaring ballad with a ferocious belting singer. Considering that the following years there were some other countries that actually copied that model, they decided to use that model again and fielded this powerful ballad, with a powerhouse singer who actually competed in the X Factor UK back in 2008 and placed 5th. The added (albeit controversial) twist is that part of the song will be sung in English, which rankles Spanish patriots out there. I have a strong feeling the formula will work again, and Ruth might even bring Spain to a high ranking that have not enjoyed in almost two decades.
UNITED KINGDOM: “Children of the Universe” – Molly. After 2009’s 5th place finish with a number written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, the BBC thought that the key to reviving the UK’s fortunes in this contest was to field “name” acts so they tried it with Blue in 2011, Engelbert Humperdinck in 2012, and Bonnie Tyler last year, to not-so-good results (although Blue’s 11th place finish that year was respectable). So they decided to gamble on a newcomer, with Molly and a song she co-wrote. But then, it wasn’t because they wanted something fresh–some people observed that the BBC probably hired Molly because her voice has a resemblance to Bonnie Tyler, and perhaps the way Molly sounds in this entry was what they had originally expected when they decided to field Bonnie Tyler last year. I do see the Bonnie Tyler comparison, but I felt she actually hearkens back to a couple of other well-regarded raspy female singers–Carol Decker of T’Pau and Lulu (who happened to be a Eurovision co-winner back in 1969 with “Boom Bang-A-Bang”).
Molly also proved to be a shrewd strategist–she mentioned in interviews that she needed a song that works well in a live setting, and she came up with a song that has a cosmic but relevant sentiment (especially with all the conflicts going on in the world). So far buzz for this entry is overwhelmingly positive–the “Power to the people/oh-eh-eh” chant is so infectious and catchy and the segues from chants to orchestral segments to modern electronic beats are well done, and I love the “We’re shinin’ like diamonds” line. Many fans have regarded this as one of their Top Five favorite if not their top favorite. I’m rooting for this song to succeed, and to be blunt I’d rather this become the winner instead of Sweden’s “Undo” (which is so far the one considered the top favorite). I only have one request for the Eurovision performance–her backup singers must flank behind Molly and stomp their feet when they sing the “Power to the people” chant.
Based from the ones I forecast to make the finals, here is my “fearful” forecast on who will make the Top 10 in the finals:
FINALS TOP 10: ARMENIA, SWEDEN, AZERBAIJAN, HUNGARY, ISRAEL, AUSTRIA, IRELAND, ITALY, SPAIN, UNITED KINGDOM
BUBBLING UNDER: MALTA, GREECE, SLOVENIA, ROMANIA, DENMARK, GERMANY
Many times who most fans favor to make the Top 10 and my personal favorites differ, so I also like to trot out my personal Top 10, this time ranked from 1st to 10th.
PERSONAL TOP 10: 1) HUNGARY; 2) UNITED KINGDOM; 3) ROMANIA; 4) SPAIN; 5) ARMENIA; 6) SWEDEN; 7) SLOVENIA; 8) DENMARK 9) GREECE; 10) MALTA
Though I’m okay with the expected win for Sweden for this year, I do hope my Top Five favorites would rank high in the Eurovision finals–would my wishes come true on May 10?