Eurovision 2016 Round-Up: Leap Year Edition

It’s a good thing it’s Leap Year, because we need an extra day to process all of the songs chosen for Eurovision this weekend!

Finland: Sandhja – “Sing It Away”

Donald Trump is going to be the Republican Party candidate for President and Sandhja’s European jazz festival closer is going to represent Finland at Eurovision and I do not understand the world anymore.

Hungary: Freddie – “Pioneer”

We are Eurovision hipsters, so A Dal is of course our favorite national selection competition these days. There were eight songs in the A Dal final, and we felt that the four super finalists would ably represent Hungary in Stockholm. Coming out of the semis, we thought Freddie would not only finish top 5 at Eurovision, but even take the crown. His performance in the final was a bit rougher, so we’re not quite ready to proclaim him the champion yet. But his husky voice and rugged good looks may make him very popular in Sweden.

Moldova: Lidia Isac – “Falling Stars”

Pure schlager. If “Falling Stars” were in Melodifestivalen where it belongs, it would not make it out of its heat.

Latvia: Justs – “Heartbeat”

Justs was such a shoo-in to win Latvia’s Supernova competition that there was really no reason for us to tune in. Oh, except for the Riga Beaver singing “Let It Go” to an eight-year-old ballerina. It didn’t matter who won, because we were all winners!

Norway: Agnete – “Icebreaker”

“Icebreaker” was the overwhelming winner at Melodi Grand Prix. We like this song and we felt it was a worthy winner. However, that rhythm change between the verse and the chorus takes some getting used to, which is not something you typically want out of a song that needs to make an immediate impact to qualify for the Final. But the visual design and choreography gives some thematic insight that offsets the jarring tempo shift. And Agnete is a confident vocalist, which should go a long way.

Slovenia: ManuElla – “Blue and Red”

Klemen Slakonja, Slovenia’s host with the most, returned to hosting EMA much to our delight. Someday Raay, Marjetka and Charlie Mason are going to team up and write a song for him to compete with at Eurovision. Alas, it is not this year. Slovenia selected ManuElla’s pop country ditty, and we think it is perfectly decent. She’s got some Taylor Swift realness going on, and in theory, it’s the kind of thing that should have cross-border appeal. In execution, we’re not sure it will amount to anything. Slovenia need to think through the staging some more if they want to have even the slightest chance of qualifying.

Germany: Jamie-Lee Kriewitz – “Ghost”

Barbara Schöneberger, the host of Unser Lied für Stockholm, assured the audience that everyone on stage this year wanted to represent Germany at Eurovision. In other words, Andreas Kümmert wasn’t there. Neither was Xavier Naidoo, who was announced as Germany’s artist last November, but was then withdrawn because of controversy over… well, just about everything he’s ever said or written. It’s just as well, though, because Jamie-Lee Kriewitz’ self-assured kawaii sensibility is probably a much better fit for Eurovision anyway. “Ghost” was presented fully staged and ready to go to Sweden.

United Kingdom: Joe & Jake – “You’re Not Alone”

The U.K. did the damnedest thing this year: they had a proper national selection show. In a big concert hall and everything! It was amazing and they should do it again. Although they should probably sort out the sound mixing first. They also selected a pretty good song too. These are weird times in Europe. Hopefully, Joe & Jake will have a good showing at the Grand Prix so that BBC don’t switch things up yet again in 2017 and send a mariachi band performing a music hall pastiche.