In a year that has been as much fun as stepping on flaming dog poop while barefoot, it’s nice to listen to some terrific songs that remind us of things like Eesti Laul when it is quirky, Festivali i Këngës when it is epic, Beovizija when it is partying, and Söngvakeppnin when it is offering something that Will Ferrell wishes he had dreamt up.
Portugal: Throes + The Shine – “Movimento”
Ooo, how we love “Movimento.” It has a slinky, serpentine groove that is imminently danceable. But it also has a piercing intensity that makes us feel like we’re dancing as the world falls apart. We’ve been diving into Throes + The Shine’s back catalog, and there is a lot there to love. We’re looking forward to what they do next.
Sweden: Felix Sandman – “Boys With Emotions”
“Boys With Emotions” is such a cool song. It has a interesting rhythm-driven orchestration that heightens the message in the lyrics. With a title like that, we expected it to be mopey. Instead, it was full of hope. That said, Felix’s performances at Melodifestivalen were all a bit mumbly, which definitely dampened its impact.
Ukraine: KRUTЬ – “99”
Vidbir was an absolute blast this year, and we probably could have picked almost any of its entries as our favorite. “99” stood out to us the most. KRUTЬ is an expert bandura player, and she really leans into the kvinnaböske staging. But we found ourselves too entranced with her ethereal song to scoff.
Estonia: Kruuv – “Leelo”
Joyous and vibrant, “Leelo” revels in the glory of the Estonian language. It died in the Eesti Laul semifinals, and we’re still really bitter about that.
Iceland: Kid Isak – “Ævintýri”
When our son heard “Ævintýri,” he said, “I would listen to this at 3am and just say I am vibing.” Kid Isak was a bit too green as a performer, so we’re hoping having a national final under his belt will give him some confidence.
Latvia: Miks Dukars – “I’m Falling for You”
“I’m Falling for You” is a simple, gorgeous love song with a soaring chorus. Miks’ vocal is powerful and packed with emotion. We get chills every time we hear it.
Iceland: Iva – “Oculis Videre”
We have no idea what “Oculis Videre” is. Was there an Icelandic remake of The Wicker Man that we missed? Did Enigma write the soundtrack? And yet we can’t get this odd, ethereal song out of our head. It’s strangely awesome. To be fair, we would have been bitter as hell if it had pipped “Think About Things” as Iceland’s Eurovision entry.
Albania: Renis Gjoka – “Loja”
Judging from every Festivali i Këngës we’ve seen, Albania has a knack for orchestral rock songs. “Loja” is one of the grandest examples we’ve heard yet. It was made even better when Renis got the crowd clapping after the bridge, then took a moment to just enjoy the experience. This is everything we love about Festivali i Këngës in a four-minute package.
Serbia: Marko Marković – “Kolači”
“Kolači” crosses “Ovo de Balkan” with “Alcohol is Free” and pushes it past 11. Marko’s voice is gloriously gritty, and his energetic performance made this into a party anthem. You know, if we still had parties.