I still think this year’s Eurovision Song Contest could and should have been handled differently. At first, I was even thinking that there could still be a competition, but I guess that’d have in truth been impossible, due to the different conditions, resources and, at this point, regulations in each country. But they could have made the shows with broadcasts from each country, the song being performed live, only resorting to recordings if the artists are unable to show up because they’re quarantined. In fact, a live performance could perhaps be arranged even then in some cases, if there are no symptoms that’d make it impossible to sing, it’s either a single person or they’re in quarantine together and they have the necessary equipment to sing and broadcast live in good quality. That wouldn’t have only been a way to keep going to some extent under the current circumstances, but also one to bring people and countries together at this time, which is what they claim this is all about.
However, they didn’t do any of that, canceling the competition and not replacing it with a show including such live performances either. There will be a show this evening, but since it doesn’t seem like it’ll be relevant from this point of view, I’m going to go ahead and just write this quick post before it airs, taking into account the songs as they were included in Tuesday’s and Thursday’s “Song Celebrations”. Obviously, since we’re talking of videos, some of them “proper” ones while others being recordings from the national selections, there can’t be any marks, as there’s no way to fairly compare, and even if there would be and I’d just take the songs into account, excluding any show value, we’re not talking of live performances during the actual competition. Therefore, I won’t have a classification either, but will nevertheless pick ten songs out of those which should have been in each semifinal and then try to add some comments about those I’d consider as the better ones out of what’d end up in that final of my choice, which would obviously also include the six that qualify directly.
Just taking the songs into account and without knowing how they’d have been performed live, my ten picks out of what should have been the first semifinal would be Belgium, Croatia, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, North Macedonia, Norway, Romania, Slovenia and Sweden, while out of the second one they’d have been Albania, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Latvia, Moldova, Poland and Switzerland. When I first listened to the songs, I had nine picks out of each semifinal, with two songs from the first and three from the second competing for the tenth spot only because I had to pick ten, but now that I went through them again, I found myself quite clearly selecting ten from the first directly, but only eight from the second, though there were still three competing for the remaining spots, and I didn’t write down those first picks, considering them too unreliable since I hadn’t paid enough attention, so I don’t know what changed.
That makes for a final including Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom. Should probably also mention that, back when I went through all the songs after all the national selections finished, I made a playlist with those I thought I’ll want to listen to more, and those that are in the 26 I just listed and aren’t in that playlist are Georgia, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia and Switzerland, and I seem to remember initially adding North Macedonia and then removing it, while Germany is automatically qualified and Georgia and Latvia are those two I picked from the second semifinal just because I had to pick ten, meaning that for some reason I ended up with a better opinion of Ireland, Lithuania and Switzerland now than back then, though they’re not songs I’d normally care for, with a possible exception for the Swiss entry, which isn’t bad.
But this should be about my top picks, and I’ll say right away that Belgium and Bulgaria are at the top of my list. Poland also has a good entry, but there’s something that brings it down a little as well, possibly the fact that it sounds far too much like a typical Bond theme song. Belgium’s could be one as well, but it’s not quite so obvious, and simply better, which knocks Poland down even more clearly, being in direct competition. And speaking of direct competitions, there are, as always, quite a few ballads, but I’d say Slovenia has this edition’s best one, though that’s not enough for the top spot overall, especially since it’s not in English. If I’d also pick one with a male lead vocalist though, it’d be tempted to pick a non-English one as well, Croatia. France and Netherlands put up good challenges, but I’d say they’re somewhat different, softer, entries, especially in the case of Netherlands, which tends to make them compete with Bulgaria and Belgium and obviously lose. On the other hand, Denmark clearly has its own separate place, not facing any real challenge for the edition’s duet. And I’d say Sweden doesn’t face real competition for the edition’s vocal group song either, though it could have done with more voices.
It’s hard to pick more clearly when I do it like this. Since there are nine entries mentioned above, I first wanted to find a tenth as well, but keep alternating between a few and can’t really pick. Albania, Estonia, Finland, Italy, Norway, maybe even Romania? I guess this means I have a top 15, but to complete the top ten… Maybe Norway, if I’d have to pick, but I can’t really say. And it’s also hard to pick a clear top five, or top three, even without ranking them. Maybe Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Poland and Slovenia as top five? France would be number five in that case, and I’m uncertain about its position in that top at all, so I can perhaps pick a top four. But to select better between them… Now that I compare them like this while also taking all the songs into account, Bulgaria seems challenged from multiple directions and I’m tempted to go against what I said above and knock it down, out of the top two, maybe even as far down as number four. At the same time, maybe not, but the simple fact that I thought that would leave Belgium as a clearer number one, which I was tempted to say all along. Can’t really say more than that, but it doesn’t really matter anyway, so I’ll leave it like this.