Since 2008 the annual Eurovision Song Contest consists of two semi finalists which are responsible to deliver 10 qualifiers each to take part in the grand final where they join Italy, France, Germany, Spain, United Kingdom and the host country, this year Azerbaijan. Over the past few weeks we’ve been going through the semi finalists. Today, one day before the rehearsals in Azerbaijan start we give our verdict on the six finalists.
United Kingdom: Engelbert Humperdinck – Love Will Set You Free
Flying the flag for the United Kingdom this year is world famous pop singer Engelbert Humperdinck. Engelbert was announced as the UK representative for Eurovision on March 1st by the BBC sparking quite a lot of mixed responses. But the 76 year old , who has a career spanning over 4 decades, promised us his song would be a treat. On March 19, ”Love Will Set You Free” got its radio premiere and since the reactions to the UK entry have been fairly positive. ”Love Will Set You Free” can be best described as a typical Engelbert Humperdinck style ballad, which has been given a Eurovision-friendly treatment. There’s no doubt his name will attract new audiences to the tv show on the saturday evening and who knows pick up quite a few votes. A top ten place is possible as it is a rather charming entry which also gives us a bit of a Mary Poppins feeling (Chim Chim Cheree anyone) also proving how the BBC are turning their back to their past of joke entries and adding credibility to the Eurovision Song contest.
France: Anggun – Echo (You and I)
Indonesian Francophone Anggun was internally selected to represent France at this year’s contest and takes her participation as a mission. The talented singer, which was happy to be interviewed by us a few weeks ago, wanted to spice things up a bit. And she definately has with her uptempo song ‘Echo (You and I)’. Anggun herself explained that the song is a bit of a grower, and we agree in first instance the song needs a few listens to be fully appreciated but at the same time it’s a new chapter for France, which hasn’t really gone uptempo pop in the past few years. Miss Anggun sells it well and has had a distinctive promo tour to sell the song. Definately one which we’ll continue to play after the contest.
Italy: Nina Zilla – L’Amore E Femmina (Out Of Love)
Italy returned to the contest last year and it’s comeback was hugely succesful with Raphael Guallazi claiming the runner up position in the final. Hoping to do better is Nina Zilla, who was announced as the Italian representative during the San Remo Festival this year. After making the tough decision to change her San Remo contribution ‘Per Sempre’, the talented singer, who looks very similar to Amy Winehouse btw, chose to rework one of the songs from her second album, ‘L’Amore E Femmina’, in a bilingual version and present that one as the official Italian entry. And good work for the Italians, we have to say because this entry ‘L’amore E Femmina’ does not only sound 60ies, it has a quirky James Bond feel and a singer who sells her song bloody well. No wonder it’s one of the big favourites for the crown title. Amazing!
Azerbaijan: Sabina Babayeva – When the Music Dies
Azerbaijan won last years Eurovision Song Contest crown and is defending its crown on home soil in Baku. Flying the flag and taken up the honor is Sabina Babayeva, one of the countries most talented singers. Sabina is not a stranger to the Eurovision song Contest as she’s been taking part in the national final ever since the country made its debut in 2008. ‘When the Music Dies’ is the Azerbaijani entry, it’s a Swedish composed ballad, which includes the duduk, which is a woodwind instrument, similar to the flute, giving the song a very ethnic feel. Sabina is a true diva in her country, and as it pleases divas she has a remarkable voice which would be stiff competition for someone like Toni Braxton. It’s a unique in that sense that there are lots of ballads but not a lot who have chosen for an ethnic approach so we think this could do rather well.
Spain: Pastora Soler – Quedate Conmigo (Stay with Me)
Spanish singer songwriter Pastora Soler, one of Spain’s biggest superstars in the flamenco and pop genre, was internally selected by its broadcaster to represent Spain at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. In a televised event, it was the viewers who initially decided the song Pastora would sing. They unanimously voted for the very Eurovisiony ballad ‘Quedate Conmigo’ which showcases the tremendous vocal capabilities of Miss Soler. In all honesty this one had to grow a bit on us, and reminded us during a first listen too much of those X Factor winner singles which really showcase the capabilities of the singer and immediately also drag the career of the singer down completely. Let’s hope things do go the right way for Pastora.
Germany: Roman Lob – Standing Still
Last, are the hosts of last year, Germany. After the success with Lena in 2010 and 2011, the German broadcaster decided to continue with the talent show concept of ‘Unser Star Fur …’ to decide it’s participant. Changing the title from ‘Unser Star Fur Oslo’ to ‘Unser Star Fur Baku’ the competition kicked off at the beginning of the year. Early in the competition one particular guy called Roman Lob stood out and yes Germany decided to send him to Baku with the Jamie Cullum composed radio ballad ‘Standing Still’. You can tell that Cullum’s behind the song as the piano is very prominent in the song. Again a very strong bid from Germany, who’s really raised the game in the past three years.
3 United Kingdom
All in all we have to say this year’s Eurovision is gonna be a hell of an exciting event. Tomorrow the rehearsal start in Baku, the host city. The first semi final is held on May 22nd, the second on May 24th and the grand final is on May 26. Throughout the week we’ll keep an eye on several blogs to follow the rehearsals in Baku, alongside the news and bring you all the latest gossips. Enjoy the Eurovision madness!