In case you missed it, I wrote about Eurovision In Concert in Amsterdam for Entertainment Odds here.
The London Eurovision Party, by comparison, is a much smaller affair. We only had eighteen of this year’s acts, but I was glad as that meant a lot less rubbish.
Eighteen-year-old Eliot from Belgium was the first act of the evening. I was a little worried for him after Amsterdam, but he did much better in front of this crowd. He had everyone fisting the air for the ‘I came to fight…’ chorus and this little bit of crowd participation needs to stay as it made all the difference.
Seeing the girls from Tulia up close and personal made me realise how sweet they all look. The promo shots and music video have them looking moody and threatening, but this isn’t the case in real life. It’s an odd song and is getting very little from juries, but Poland is memorable enough and is starting to feel like a qualifier.
The problem with these events, though, is that everything that’s good live or goes down well can have you think it’s going through. Estonia is one on which I’m particularly unsure. Swedish Victor Crone, who looks like one of the yuppies in American Psycho, sang ‘Storm’ and the London crowd very much joined in, as they did with most of this year’s acts. The problem with this Avicii-style dance song is that it’s just too bland, which makes it very borderline in semi-final 1 and I can’t call it at the moment.
One which didn’t particularly go down well with the crowd was Finland. Sebastian Rejman sang this highly repetitive dance song which could’ve had everyone jumping around and waving their glow sticks. But it didn’t. This is pretty doomed in terms of qualification and is one of my more confident calls in that semi. Look away indeed.
At the other end of the scale, France’s Bilal was one of my winners of the night. I’ve had plenty of time to live with the songs now, and ‘Roi’ has started to grow on me after about, ooh, 150 listens. Bilal sang this song much better than in the national final and his incredible star quality was particularly evident. Contemporary ballads should never be underestimated with the juries and this is more likely to finish in the Top 10 than I first thought.
I was also incredibly impressed with Albania’s Jonida. This was one of the most powerful vocal performances of the night and ‘Ktheju Tokës’ is now favoured by the market to qualify. It probably just about makes my list to do so, and Albania has at least five voting allies in the difficult semi-final 2.
Poor Sarah from Ireland fluffed a couple of lines for the utterly doomed ‘22’. If that is to happen at some point, it’s obviously much better to do it here than on stage in Tel Aviv. This was the weakest performance of the night and needs to be better rehearsed.
Albert from Lake Malawi once again thrilled us with his on-stage charisma. ‘Friend of a Friend’ was a big sing along and is sailing through the first semi-final. I’m starting to consider backing Czech Republic for markets such as Top 3 in the semi, Top 15 and Top 10.
Denmark was another big sing along, as it also was in Amsterdam. Leonora was wearing a woolly hat which made her a bit more memorable. She is a sweet enough girl and ‘Love is Forever’ is probably good enough to put them in with a chance of qualifying.
John Lundvik from Sweden was the first of the big outright favourites to take to the stage. He did a stellar job performing ‘Too Late For Love’ but it obviously wasn’t anywhere near as effective without his gospel choir. The DJ played Australia’s ‘Tonight Again’ (fifth place, 2015) immediately after his performance and it made me think it’s a good comparison and perhaps an indicator of how Sweden might fare this year.
Latvia’s Carousel performed and are extremely unlikely to qualify despite being likely to pick up some jury points. The song is not good enough and the televote just won’t be there.
Also destined to fail is Paenda from Austria, whose song ‘Limits’ is screaming last place in the semi to me at the moment as it should be failing heavily on both sides. She made little impact here and I almost forgot that she had performed.
Miki from Spain was one of the big fan favourites of the night. If you had been hearing these songs for the first time, you would be forgiven for thinking that ‘La Venda’ was one of the hot favourites to win. Streamers came down for the final chorus and were very effective in adding to the overall impression. Even though I don’t rate it as a song, I will be looking out for it getting a big televote if drawn into the second half as you just know the producers would have it closing the show.
Watching Norway was incredibly irritating with all of the fan hysteria that surrounded KEiiNO all night long. It’s important to remain objective at these events and I am yet to be impressed by ‘Spirit In The Sky’. The group are an awkward threesome and don’t particularly work well together on stage. They aren’t telegenic or aspirational and the song sounds like it comes from the previous decade. Apparently, they performed at G-A-Y the other night and they are going to need those gay votes if they are to have any chance at going through. A handful of my more perceptive fan friends told me afterwards that they don’t expect Norway to make it.
There was a lot of excitement for Mahmood for Italy who is one of the hot favourites to win. Despite being unimpressed with ‘Soldi’, I can see that it is at least a contemporary, cool and credible slice of Italian pop. It’s also been performing extremely well in some of the stats I follow, and as a result I am taking it seriously. The ‘clap clap’ bit of audience participation is fun, even if it’s not to Italy 2017 levels. Mahmood did a good enough job here and now I’m particularly curious to see what, if any, staging there will be for the song in Tel Aviv.
Duncan Laurence immediately followed Mahmood which surprised me. Once again, he pulled out a powerful vocal and was the best performance of the night. He was a bit more focused and serious in this setting than he was in Amsterdam, and as a result emoted better. It gave me total winner vibes and you get the impression that the Dutch delegation know they are onto a winner. They are already making plans to host in case ‘Arcade’ wins which I think is wise as I really can’t envisage a victory for anyone else as things stand. There is nothing else which is guaranteed to be so solid on both the televote and jury sides. Sure, we don’t yet know what Russia have up their sleeves and it is Russia, but their song simply isn’t good enough to win. All The Netherlands needs to do is not mess up the staging and it is game over, as far as I’m concerned.
Lithuania was placed in an odd position, probably to break up the running order so that there weren’t so many favourites following each other. ‘Run With The Lions’ is a gentle and credible contemporary song which really should be qualifying from semi-final 2 despite facing tough competition.
DJ Scott Mills introduced Michael Rice as the best vocalist of the entire contest, which made me raise my eyebrows. You can tell he won £50,000 on All Together Now as his teeth look even more expensive than mine. Despite being under the weather, he put in a very strong performance of ‘Bigger Than Us’ for the UK, as always. This really is a lot better than SuRie’s song last year and should finish quite respectably. At the club night afterwards, I got to meet my idol in the flesh and I told him to expect plenty of jury points in Tel Aviv. Proud Dad John Lunvdik was also watching his performance with a huge grin on his face from the balcony.