Fresh off the back of their first ever (marginal) non-qualification, Azerbaijan have gone for another internal selection this year. The highly telegenic Chingiz will sing ‘Truth’ in Tel Aviv. This is a western-sounding soulful entry with some ethnic touches to the instrumentation. It is more reminiscent of Rag N Bone Man than César Sampson, but it certainly feels like an attempt to send something in the vein of last year’s jury vote winner. The production is solid and should be appreciated by the juries, but the song itself feels underwritten and repetitive. It has a competent but bland overall impression, and after one minute you have already heard everything the song has to offer. I still think it should take them back to the final but will likely finish outside the Top 10.
I’m much more positive about the chances of Belgium this year. ‘Wake Up’ by Eliot is a gorgeous if somewhat unexciting male ballad which is competing in the relatively weak first semi-final. The arrangement has a retro 80s vibe to it and reminds me of Bandersnatch on Netflix. Yet this still feels like a modern composition and one of high quality. It should be well up there in the jury tally in semi 1 and seems to me like something regular viewers at home might appreciate more than those within the Eurovision community. Criticisms about a lack of development are valid, and there doesn’t seem to be some kind of peak or impressive ‘moment’ for people to latch onto. This is a pleasant enough entry which should qualify and, if staged competently enough, could well be knocking on the door of the Top 10 in the final.