The automatic qualifiers are the usual countries of the “Big Five”, and host country Israel. I’d say that it’s not a particularly strong year all round for these six songs. As you’ll read below, the most interesting aspect from these six countries is perhaps Bilal for France – but that’s nothing to do with his song!
So here we go, with full performance footage!
S!sters – Sister
What’s that you say – why don’t we do some staging in the dark, no one else is doing that this year. Erm… I think it’s a bottom five finish for Germany. You know when a country is desperate these days when they use a fire wall at any point. Azerbaijan used is it at ESC2011, and the overall aesthetic at that time gave their performance the wow factor, and they were the winners of the Contest that year. These days its use smacks of desperation, and more importantly, distraction. Stay tuned as Israel also resort to the fire wall.
Kobi Marimi – Home
The position of this song in the running order was decided some time ago. Placed 14th isn’t going to help this rather leaden ballad. The visuals are attractive, and Kobi and friends give it some welly. It’ll get a home town cheer, but this isn’t going to be in contention.
Bilal Hassani – Roi
What’s great about the ESC is that it really does welcome difference and is increasingly a place where artists can change our perceptions and show us their authentic selves, which transcends gender and sexuality barriers, if indeed you identify yourself in those ways. We’ve seen it in the past, most notably first in 1998, when Dana International won the Contest for Israel, and in doing so became the first transgender woman to do so. Since then various acts have acted out in male and female drag, most notably drag queen Conchita, who won with the amazing Rise Like A Phoenix for Austria back in 2014.
This year Bilal, France’s hugely popular social media influencer, is the artist grabbing a lot of attention due to his backstory and his aesthetic. The teenage singer and LGBTQI activist has 801,000 YouTube subscribers to his channel and 414,000 followers on Instagram. There’s some votes in the bag right there!
His song is about self-love and self-acceptance, and is written by Madame Monsieur, who represented France at ESC2018. I read an article in Billboard magazine which pointed out that song isn’t as interesting as his backstory, and I agree with that. He’s a fascinating individual with an interesting message, but for me the song is underwhelming. Will his fans care? Probably not.
Mahmood – Soldi
There’s a cool cachet surrounding this song. Lots of early interest in the early betting odds, but it’s slipped back this week. It’s on for a top ten finish. Mahmood’s vocal gets a bit Shaggy in places (mr bombastic!), and he looks a little bit grumpy. We saw the backdrop text and emotive images being used like this last year, so a there’s a bit or Italian recycling this year. That said, it was highly effective and gave Italy a surprising fifth place last year. Hey, if it ain’t broke! BTW, you’ll be clapping along by the end…
Miki – La Venda
Well, the sun will certainly come out when Miki takes to the stage. His catchy up-tempo slice of summer is a bit infectious, but not as much as his wee face! His grin is everything. There are few performers in the whole Contest this year who will charm the audience – Miki will. And closing the Grand Final won’t harm its chances at all. Although some people might think it’s all a bit “extra” and children’s telly – which it is! How many bags of Haribo do you think they’ve had? 🙂
Michael Rice – Bigger Than Us
Bless him. Lovely guy. Great song – which is written by Sweden’s singer this year, John Lundvik. You’ll see there’s a similarity between the two songs – bombastic ballads with a big finish. Sweden’s is the better of the two – why would John give the better song away?! Thankfully this is a UK entry that we do not need to be ashamed of. In fact, Michael will give it some welly and give us a great vocal. He has previous telly experience, having won the first series of All Together Now last year, and he’s popped-up on X-Factor auditions.
The question is, is our staging going to work well with the performance? Let’s see… Oh no, well we can’t actually …
According to Eurovision.tv, “due to technical issues, the full rehearsal performance from Michael Rice of the United Kingdom is unavailable. We apologise for any inconvenience.”
So we’ll just have to do with the clip from the show last night…
Ok, so a bit pitchy at the start, but when it kicks-up a gear, wow. I mean all of it – wow. Some actual effort to give an impressive visual to the performance. I like how the b-vox singers appear – looks like they’ve been beamed-down from space. Long-live the backing singers – working it like their rent is due tomorrow!
I’m pleasantly surprised, and with Michael leaping up to 17th in the betting odds (from the low 20s) it look encouraging for him. What’s that you say – will we make it to the left hand side of the leader board? That would be like him winning, so let’s just see.
Overall, it’s 50/50 with these six songs, with Italy, Spain and the UK the best of the six. So a not so super six after all…