Eurovision Week is here again, and as usual, this will reflect here on my blog. This year we’re invited to sunny Tel Aviv thanks to the charismatic Netta who lived up to all fans’ and bookmakers’ predictions last year in Lisbon, winning the contest for Israel with her infectious TOY.
41 countries are competing in this year’s contest. (It Should have been 42 if not for Ukraine’s withdrawal due to political reasons thanks to their ongoing dispute with Russia.) As usual, 6 of them are directly qualified to Saturday’s Grand Final; The Big Five – France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK – and the hosting country, Israel. The rest of us will be competing in one of two Semi Finals, on Tuesday and Thursday respectively, where the top ten of each semi will go through to the Grand Final. Five countries’ artists have been competing in ESC before, two of them in Stockholm in 2016.
It’s hard to pin-point any general trends in this year’s entries, other than an inexplicable overdose of lyrics consisting of more or less subtle references to crowns and royalties. There’s also a whole bunch of entries with empowering messages to one group of people or the other, as well as a couple of songs addressing the global climate crisis. Eurovision may be officially non-political, but the contest will always reflect the current world situation. Netta’s victory last year, with her feministic song just months after the #metoo movement, is a great example of that.
Being a language geek, I also tend to take extra notice of which languages are represented in the competition each year. Last year was a real treat for me in this regard, offering as many as 13 of the 43 songs performed in non-English languages. However, this should be considered an anomaly and a direct reaction to the Portuguese victory the year before. This year we’re back to a more moderate amount of non-English songs, with eight entries totally void of English lyrics and another seven songs with more or less mixed lyrics, among them some hidden easter eggs in the form of random phrases in Turkish, Sami and Arabic.
Identifying the Swedish contributions to the contest is also necessary if you’re a Swede like me. This year, we find 10 “Swedish” songs among the 41 entries. Worth noting among these are the Estonian entry Storm, which is performed by Swedish singer Victor Crone, and the UK entry Bigger Than Us, which is written by the singer of the Swedish entry, John Lundvik. I think this is the first time in ESC History a performer has written more than one competing song, thereby competing against himself.
But ESC is not only about the music; the costumes and the props are also important parts of the performance. Last year I asked you to count your wide-brimmed hats – this year I challenge you to count all entries performed by artists NOT dressed in black and/or white. They’re not many, I assure you. (I’m theorizing whether this might be because of the return of the LED screen on stage, many staging producers not wanting the colours of the clothes interfering with the graphics behind?) Also, you should look out for the Cypriot dress change, the Icelandic submissive, the Greek props, the Danish chair and the winged performers from Croatia. And if that wasn’t enough, no less than three entries invite us to a journey through space.
The theme for this year’s contest is Dare to Dream. Can we dare to dream of a Swedish victory this year? According to the current odds, it’s actually not that far-fetched a dream, with Too Late For Love being second in the bookmaker’s ranking. But first thing’s first. We have a qualification week to get through. I’ll lead you through the week, posting daily to hold you updated on everything worth knowing. For now, find my quick guides for the two Semi Finals below. I’ll be back with more thorough posts soon.