All this week I’ve been looking at the chances of those countries who will have to fight for their place in the Grand Final. Today my attentions are turned to five of the six who are guaranteed their Saturday night slot.

France 🇫🇷

After spending the early 2010s suffering from poor results France took the decision in 2015 to appoint a new Head of Delegation, Edoardo Grassi. This already seems to be paying off in spades. Last year we were treated to ‘J’ai Cherche’ from Amir elevating France to the lofty heights of 6th, as high as they’d been in over a decade. The modern French sound brought by Amir is coming back again this year with Alma and ‘Requiem’ This song is gloriously infectious, it’s so French in it’s identity but not to the exclusion of listeners outside. If they can recreate the video using ballroom dancers on a Parisian backdrop the visuals are only going to help add to the feel of the song. If they can get dancers horizontal like in the video that could be stunning. There is one burning issue with this song for me and that’s the use of English. It feels like an utterly pointless decision and only detracts from my enjoyment of a song I had strongly sitting in my top five before the switch. Alma’s ennunciation in English isn’t strong enough for it to be clear what’s she’s singing thus rendering the whole point of changing it moot. Considering it wasn’t that long ago the French were outraged that any English lyric grace one of their songs it’s a shame there’s not been enough fuss made over this. It’s still a wonderful song but for me just that wee bit tainted

Germany 🇩🇪

We have seen in the past that if something goes awry in the first few seconds of a song it can kill off any chance of it doing well regardless of the quality. The best example of this is Charlotte Perrelli’s ‘Heroes’ in 2008. A better song than her winner in ‘99 but it crashed and burned on the night due to the weird grey colouring effect used in those opening seconds. With Germany this year we have a song much lower in quality than any of Perelli’s output (well, until this year) that will meet the same end. Levina’s ‘Perfect Life’ is a bland uninteresting pop song with absolutely no impact and her voice whilst pleasant fails to stand out. This pales further into insignificance when most of the people at home will just be thinking “…it’s Titanium!” It is literally the opening few bars and most of the song doesn’t sound anything like the David Guetta hit but those first few seconds are the only memorable bit! Having remained anchored to the bottom of the leaderboard for the last two years it’s very feasible that Germany could set a brand new record for a hat-trick of last places. They do have competition for last place though…

Spain 🇪🇸

This young man wants me to do it for my lover. I do not have a lover but after three minutes of this tripe I want to acquire a lover and not ‘do it’ for them just to spite him. Manel Navarro brings us the aforementioned ‘Do It For Your Lover’, a fairly flimsy repetitive piece of summery fluff that has no hope of getting Spain out of the bottom six never mind any higher aspirations. As you might be able to tell I, like most people of sound mind and body, obviously wanted ‘Contigo’ and Mirela to win. RTVE, however,  decided in their infinite wisdom to choose Manel and the rest as they say is #EuroDrama. Now this wasn’t even second in my list, I believe I had this little number down at about 4th or 5th out of the 6 choices. There is absolutely nothing to this song, the title is repeated no less than 21 times and the word ‘lover’ is used a total of 50 times over the three minutes. That folks is one ‘lover’ every 3.6 seconds and even a man of Manel’s youthful exuberance couldn’t handle that kind of repetitive strain. At least Levina has some competition for last.

Ukraine 🇺🇦

It’s fitting that this year when we are celebrating diversity in Ukraine that in terms of diversity of music they are the only country out of 42 sending a rock song. I get that the genre has never been the most popular at Eurovision. In the past there have usually been at least 3-5 songs that could loosely be described as rock but now, just one. This one man fight is fought by O.Torvald and ‘Time’. This has been described elsewhere as accessible rock, not something I would disagree with, but it still brings/ with it an edge that cannot be found elsewhere in the Contest. It’s a shame that in the modern climate the impactful visual performance used in the semi final of their National Selection with the simulation of the lead singer being shot is unlikely to be used. It was that performance that elevated this song for me and although it’s still strong with the final stage show it is a shame. With this song Ukraine shouldn’t come last on home turf (hello MakeMakes!) but equally won’t see us staying in Kyiv for another year. Which for all involved in Ukraine will be just fine!

United Kingdom 🇬🇧

And so I come to the United Kingdom. It is hard to treat my home country with impartiality, unless of course they’re sending Electro Velvet because even through every patriotic urge in my body to support my home nation that was utter garbage. This year Eurovision: You Decide has delivered former X factor contestant Lucie Jones & ‘Never Give Up On You’ and once again my misplaced patriotism has turned to optimism. Like almost every UK Eurovision song in recent memory (not you Electro Velvet…or you Josh Dubovie) by the night before the contest I have convinced myself that actually it’s quite a good song and the hallowed land of ‘THE LEFT HAND SIDE OF THE LEADERBOARD’ is finally within reach. We’re not quite there yet but it’s happening. The first time I heard the Emmelie de Forest penned song I was left really rather disappointed. But hearing Lucie belt it out live and the subsequent revamp I am now a little more hopeful. Of all the female balladeers Lucie has one of the strongest vocals and elevates the song in the live performance. Similar to last year I can see the song racking up plenty of jury points only to be let down by a more miserly public vote. It’s an improvement on last year and in terms of the UK’s Eurovision rehabilitation this feels like a baby step in the right direction. Getting out of the bottom six seems like a realistic goal this year and that is progress.
Now, you may well have noticed that I’ve only covered four of the ‘big five’ here in this preview. So much has been said about Italy’s Francesco Gabbani, his song and his gorilla that they’ll get a preview all to themselves tomorrow. Come back then as I give the favourite a good old going over.

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