Heroes performed by Måns Zelmerlöw
Straight in your face with a strong Americana inspired vocal that Billy Joe from Greenday would be proud of, there’s no time to wonder whether this is going to be a hit. A dreamy, heavily-produced echoing breakdown of the euro old school follows before the main meat of the song arrives in the form of a euphoric (and extremely catchy) chorus; “We are the heroes of our time/ but we’re dancing with the demons in our mind.” Surrounded by a hearty beat, synths, reverb, AutoTune and chorus dripping from every corner of the vocal – this builds and builds to a hugely satisfying Europop crescendo which you will not get out of your head. Sweden are past masters at this… and it looks like they might well do it again.
Close second and third…
Tonight Again preformed by Guy Sebastian
A naked vocal at the very start suckers you into thinking this is going to be a ballad – but within a few seconds the funky beat drops to reveal a jumpy (if somewhat unorthodox) Eurovision hit with a 21st Century urban edge. Upbeat singalong chorus “Tonight’s so good / forget tomorrow, we can do tonight again” gives enough of a feel good singalong to this Olly Murs-style knock-around summer anthem that you get the feeling the novelty of the song (and the novelty of the non-European competing nation) will attract the attention of Europe. Plenty of “oohs” and “aaahs” out of the chorus accompanied by a healthy dose of brass give me confidence in this one.
A Million Voices performed by Polina Gagarina
It’s Feed The World versus We Are The World meets Imagine… with a cheap Euro synth and military-style drums. It sounds like a bad idea on paper – but this actually works. It’s all about peace and healing … “We believe in the dream” say “a million voices.” Now that’s an idea that Europe (and the world) can buy into, right? Slap on some electro strings and a big beat… then add a smooth breakdown back to vibrato vocals before a big finish and we’re getting as closer to world peace (and the perfect Europop song) than we have been in ages.
In with a chance…
Grande Amore performed by Il Volo
A piano ballad with the bold choice of singing in the native tongue. However, it’s three real pop operatic singers, singing about love in (one of) the languages of love. What’s not to love, Europe? The song is layered with vocals and strings galore that give this a very powerful sound that will get inside you. As with basically all Eurovision entries, it is what is known in the business as a slow mix builder. The “drop” comes around halfway through (which is relatively late for a Eurovision song competing within strict time limits) but when the drums kick in, you feel it. It’s a power ballad of the old Euro school – it’s Il Divo meets Pavarotti produced by Lars Ulrich. Big everything… including votes?
Goodbye to Yesterday performed by Elina Born & Stig Rästa
A jazzy indie-style Nick Cave-inspired duet between male and female vocalists who are trying very hard to sound sophisticated and breathless. It plods along with muted brass flourishes and a “live lounge” sound, decorated with nice little guitar licks here and there. “I didn’t want to wake you up?” / “Why didn’t you wake me up?” ask the pair as the backwards and forwards continues towards a darker and more intense conclusion. It feels like a song that a mid-90s band would have produced in the late 90s if the lead singer had fallen in love and stopped caring about “the sound.” And I think Europe might quite like that…
Hour of the Wolf by Elnur Huseynov
A ballad led by a strong male vocal that knows how to use “Now I wont sleep tonight / I wont give up.” Defiant, nice. There’s a good arrangement with the vocal allowed to breath as the instruments slowly build up to the inevitable Euro-tastic pitch change that will make even Nigel Farage happy that he has an EU passport. Possibly a little repetitive and lacks a middle eight that you can care about, but a decent effort from a man who at times has a touch of Freddie Mercury in his sound. And that will get votes – but may struggle to win…
Don’t miss BBC1’s coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest: Grand Final – from 8pm on BBC1