My douze points for 2018


Of course the best song or performance was not going to win. Still, after a couple of years with virtually no good songs, there were a few I quite appreciated this year. The biggest surprise for me was the amount of songs actually written by the performing artists. That truly kept this year’s edition of the Eurovision Song Contest from being the bland collection of Swedish pop productions that increasingly dominated the festival for the last few years.

Just a few observations based on what I’ve seen this year. First of all: has the big sweeping Eurovision ballad gone out of fashion? There were two or three songs that sort of rubbed up against it, but not one act fully engaged. In addition, singing in your own language apparently is cool again, which always deserves bonus points in my opinion. Quite concidentally, my undisputed number one from this year was sung in its own language, but more on that later.

Before I get to that though, I would like to take some time to express the fact that my zero points should really go to the team of presenters. Daniela Ruah was decent, but especially Filomena Cautela was an eyesore. Maybe she does better in her own language, but her interviews and skits were nothing short of cringeworthy.

Enough complaining. Let’s go to the five songs I actually liked best this evening, or my six to douze points if you will. In all honesty, I prefer the last two over the others by quite a margin, but it was easier than many other recent years to put a top 5 of songs I actually like together.

Serbia: Sanja Ilić & Balkanica – Nova Deca

If you are into theatrical music, Serbia’s song should be right up your alley. In all honesty, I probably would have liked the song a lot better if it did not have the misplaced Eurodance beat that appears around the one and a half minute mark, but the passionate singing and the unconventional harmonies compensate quite a bit. And I have said it before: bonus points for singing in their own language. There is a dark undercurrent and ethnic vibe to the song that make it a worthy addition to the Eurovision canon rather than faceless pop production number two thousand. Am I the only one who finds the act a rather blatant rip-off of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ though? The tilt-up at the end made it definitive.

Italy: Ermal Meta & Fabrizio Moro – Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente

On the surface, ‘Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente’ is a rather typical Italian pop song. I can see this song appearing on Italian radio and not really standing out from the pack. Still, the Manu Chao-like song was quite a pleasant listen. The lyrics portray a certain resilience or anger that especially comes across well in the verses sung by Moro. He almost goes overboard near the end of the performance, but I actually think it fits the message of the song. The walk near the end of the performance seems like a rather desperate attempt to connect with the audience. It did appear to have worked though, because they got a surprisingly large number of televotes.

Denmark: Rasmussen – Higher Ground

Another treat for anyone who likes his music theatrical. Admittedly, the vocal performance of Jonas Rasmussen is not one of the better ones in the grand final, but his voice fits the cinematic atmosphere of ‘Higher Ground’ very well. He is a stage actor in his home country and that is quite clear, because his diction is nearly impeccable. What really sold me on the song, however, were the folky backing vocals. Even without the rather cheesy sails on the stage, these deep, theatrical backing vocals add to the Scandinavian Viking folk vibe of the song. Realistically, ‘Higher Ground’ belongs in musical theater rather than on the Eurovision stage, but it was something different enough to catch my attention.

Estonia: Elina Nechayeva – La Forza

Estonia has has a decent record of Eurovision songs recently, but none impressed me as much as Elina Nechayeva’s ‘La Forza’ did. It really is too bad that the inclusion of classical music is often treated like a bit of a novelty, because Nechayeva is nothing short of incredible. Her voice moves from the lowest regions of the mezzosoprano range to the uppermost soprano notes with unbelievable ease and the song is spine chilling, right down to its delightfully anticlimactic ending. This definitely comes closest to the sweeping Eurovision ballad of everything on offer, but because of Nechayeva’s voice, it is quite different. It should not be too surprising though. Estonia has a rich history of classical music.

Albania: Eugent Bushpepa – Mall

When I saw Eugent Bushpepa stand in with Darkology four years ago, his power and range already blew me away and tonight was no different. The guy simply has a set of pipes that many rock, pop and metal singers should envy. His song ‘Mall’ – written by Bushpepa himself and sung in his native tongue – is surprisingly accomplished for a three minute song as well. It builds from a folky start to a huge AOR chorus and Bushpepa somehow captures the intimacy of the former and the overwhelming power of the latter with equal conviction. And I’ve heard him channel his inner Rob Halford as well, so I can confirm that there’s simply no style of rock vocals that this guy can’t belt out. If it truly was about the music, the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest would have taken place in Tirana.

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    • Leroth
    • August 4th, 2018

    Do you know Franco Battiato? He is considered the greatest Italian singer-songwriter.

    • I am somewhat familiar with his work, though honestly, aside from his Eurovision song with Alice and some of his more “rocky” work, I would not be able to name any songs. I have heard some songs that are too experimental for me, but as far as I’ve understood, he has quite a wide range of styles in his repertoire.

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