When I came up with the idea or this blogpost I had a load of categories, ideas and things in mind that I would be able to write about. However having written about three quarters of it I then realised that most of the things I was trying to get off my chest were so inter-related and intertwined it was hard to keep my thoughts in my original order. I’d write one thing then realise I have already said it somewhere else. So I’ve kind of scrapped it – as was.
When thinking back to last year’s contest there are a few threads that connect the acts that did well and a different thread that draws those ‘lower table’ acts. Nothing that you will read will be a surprise or be anything new but some of these things are thethings I feel I’d love to see (or not see) in 2018
Real meaning real instruments and real style.
OK as much as I would love to see the orchestra make at Eurovision, it realistically isn’t going to happen. But since Conchita won in 2014, the status of a fully orchestrated backing track has gained momentum. And after the jESC winner of 2016 and ESC winner of 2017 having highly orchestrated backing , with lengthy introductions, it feels like electronic over-production is out – proper instruments are in. I mean Kaliopi’s “Dona” is quite the laughable sham. The faux violins makes it almost laughable.
However if you are going to do electronic music it also needs to be done right. If you are going to show your guitar rock roots - do it with pride. If you have an 90’s Britpop edge – go for it. If you are a bright young (or even tarnished old) schlager puppet – show them what you are made of. Whatever you do it must be done wholeheartedly. In addition one could almost extend this feeling to the national broadcaster and the delegation. If the ‘team’ doesn’t have the energy, belief and oooomph( as well as a bit of money) you might as well turn up in a t-shirt haying ‘We’re going to lose!”
If there is one thing we’ve learnt about modern Eurovision – safe doesn’t work. Middle of the road might as well be ‘bottom of the scoreboard’. Being a Marmite act/song is no bad thing. Having a loyal, niche audience that really loves your song is much better than everybody saying ‘it’s ok’. The latter will never extrapolate into votes.
Although Salvador won in 2017 and it is easy just to contrue this into ‘Europe likes languages’ there is a slightly bigger thing going on here. Looking back at previous Eurovision’s the number of fully or partly non-English songs has been dwindling. But when done right, this small proportion of entries has been punching above its weight e.g. Il Volo in 2015, Zoe and Amir in 2016 (even though it pains me to say it as I have no idea why these did so well in the first play but hey ho!)
Although not my favoured form of selection, internal selections can offer more edgy entries. It also gives the selected act a free reign to do something in their style and be more true to their artistic selves.This system may also entice bigger starts into the mix. I am hoping that in this coming Eurovision season we see national finals with more languages and also more national styles. Although I am not the biggest fan of Balkan ballads they have been lacking in stature and power of late and the Swedification of entries (I’m looking at you Cyprus, Georgia and Azerbaijan in particular!) has started to irk me. I don’t necessarily want every Greek entry to contain a bouzouki or every Russian song to start with a balalaika intro or any Nordic entry to allude to the nyckelharpa. I do, however want to feel like I am listening to a new story, a new place, a new point of view.
In other words Jon Henrik please be third time lucky !!!!!
Less is More
Although it has kind of sneaked up on us all without noticing, there is a real trend of (almost) solo singers winning Eurovision of late. Conchita and Salvador won with no backing singers, Mans and Jamala had hidden backing singers but had a busy backdrop while even Loreen’s sparce performance had hidden backing singers and the help of one dancer.
To open this further it seems that uber-theatrical pyros, superfluous backing singers/dancers and over-cinemantic backdrops are now blasé. In a classic case Joci Papai’s dancer/violinist combo seemed to strike a chord as both helped to emphasise the story and the use of ‘ethnic’ instrumentation throughout the song. Blanche’s simple yet vulnerable staging but with very clever camerawork, justifiably won over the hearts of Europe But Demy’s confusing staging (and slightly over salacious dancers) AND Anja’s overblown use of pryos during the last minute probably left most people thinking ‘It looks like they think they’ve already won’. No-one likes a cocky smart arse.
Although I enjoy the spectacle of teh light shows and video screens, I sometimes wish they'd get way from it. I think aEurovision song and staging should not just be able on its present stage but if it works on the 1987 stage too then even better.
This all said and done, what I am trying to say is don’t try too hard and don’t add too much. You are selling a SONG. Of you try too hard you will end up selling running travelators or Hawaiian shirts instead
Diversity ✔ Individuality ✔ … Family?
It’s always nice when a country gets its first win but it’s also nice when a new language or a different style of song/singer wins. This year we had a couple of firsts in “Amar Pelos Dois” First win for Portugal in Portuguese and writer, Luisa, being the very first woman to be credited as a sole writer and composer of a winning song.
In all seriousness – where have Mr and Mrs Sobral been hiding these two???
Are there any more children to come out of the woodwork for the double win?!?!
Surprise aside, do we need to see more of ‘the family’? Looking back over Eurovision history there haven’t been many Eurovision winners nay entries written and performed by family members (by this I don’t mean married couples I am thinking more blood relatives) OG3NE’s entry was written by their father and you could tell that the song and the whole experience meant a lot to them. Francesco’s brother had a composing credit on “Occidentali’s Karma’. I think that this also links back to having a tight team. Seriously how many of the other delegations could have the songwriter sang the songs for the actual singer during rehearsals…? Or maybe rehearsals are overrated. Maybe rehearsals are for sissies.
For everyone like me who was over the moon Salvador won and that Joci rocked the televoting and that Francesco got a reasonable finishing place (although he was my fave there was never any way he was going to win) there will be someone else distraught at the result. I just hope that this coming Eurovision brings lots of different things but most of all that all the entries have a string of truth, passion, encourangement and heart that runs through it, its singer, its team… all the way back to the country of origin.