Is it a running race? Ukraine wins the Eurovision Song Contest with mostly sympathy votes – even though the melody of Stefania really in your head. Or do vocal outliers like the Elton John-esque pop song by Briton Sam Ryder, the modern Swedish tearjerker by Cornelia Jakobs or the worn Italian duet by Mahmood & Blanco cut off European war sentiment?
The final show of the Eurovision Song Contest in Turin’s PalaOlimpico is one of finally singing in your own language again – just like the Netherlands for the first time since Sieneke in 2010, but also Portugal (serene and pastel-colored saudade), Moldova (folk fun letters), France (in Breton) and often mother tongue is mixed with English.
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Of songs that, like every year, look exactly like last year’s winner: now a number with or without glam dressed rock bands. And then there are many delicate songs about self-acceptance and embracing being different: the life of a transgender child (Iceland), how boys can cry too (Switzerland), and the struggle with autism and homosexuality (Australia, the ever-weird duck in the European song festival).
The Ukrainian group Kalush Orchestra (combatant folk-rap in a decor of colorful motifs) is, according to the international betting offices – their predictions are always held in high regard at this festival – the biggest contender for victory. Chance of winning: 58 percent. Experts think mainly because of the favorable factor of the Balkan countries. But on Tuesday evening at the semi-finals, the cheers couldn’t get louder in the hall either.
Frontman Oleh Psiuk qualified with his rapper, breakdancer, bassist and singer/flutist easily, but war is never far away, he previously told NRC† The images of Ukrainian presenter Timur Mirosjnychenko, who comments on the Eurovision Song Contest from a bunker because of the air raid sirens during Russian air strikes, are also going viral this week.
Sweden’s Cornelia Jakobs is the young, quasi-casual runner up. Her assets in her song Hold Me Closer: a well-developed pop song, an interesting fray in her voice with careless but deliberately falling notes and a well-built act: from close to the ground to a crescendo bursting into light.
That also applies to the British bearded singer Sam Ryder: clear voice, long range, open appearance with long flowing mane. The cover singer discovered via social media during the lockdown makes with his corny space song Space Man an incredible advance.
It’s at odds with the arguably most daring contender: the confident Latina Chanel for Spain. Her first song written for J-Lo by the Dutch producer Arjan Thonen SloMo leans heavily on the Latin pop trend, think of singers Rosalía and Camila Cabello, with solid reggaeton-influenced Latin rhythms. This is a peppered dance spectacle with hypnotically moving bare buttocks in high-rise packages and pure nuts.
The dream of the young North Holland singer S10 (Stien den Hollander, 21 years old) is finally going as hoped this week: she qualified for the semi-finals on Tuesday. Swallowing her nerves again and again, she calmly works towards the final show with her creative team. Tonight she is eleventh, after the steaming Spanish act and just before top favorite Ukraine. It is precisely between those two that S10 hopes to be a resting point: an intimate performance in which she draws the viewer into The depth – a love letter to her mental turmoil-plagued younger self. She is now estimated in tenth place.
The Eurovision Song Contest was followed by more than 180 million viewers last year. Those figures will not be less this year, but the difference with the productionally tight shows of international allure that were staged in Rotterdam last year is very large. The giggling presentation of Italian singer Laura Pausini with British-Lebanese pop singer Mika and presenter Alessandro Cattelan has little clout. The stage technique falters, the visuals are less pronounced, the intermediate acts are few creative feats. For example, Mika will just bring a medley with his new single at the final.
A version of this article also appeared in the newspaper of May 14, 2022