The 64th Eurovision Song Contest is kicking off on the 14th May, in the controversial host country of Israel. As always, the show is set to see a few ballads which are arguably the antithesis of what the sequin-fuelled party is all about; we want glitter, we want drama, we want excitement. However, there are a few performances filled with flare and tackiness to look out for.
Australia promises a bit of drama with their hybrid pop-opera song; Kate performs in an amazingly tall cone contraption, with a silver headpiece almost as brilliant as the one seen on the iconic Verka Serduchka of 2007. The entire visual is reminiscent of Verka’s legendary performance, though it tries to be more elegant. The country only joined Eurovision in 2015, but managed to win second place the following year; Kate has the potential to rank well, and be a favourite of many. The stunning voice paired with the floating, bending worm-like dancer and exuberance of silver sparkles is what Eurovision is all about. However, it is a rare shining beacon among many ballads and dull pop songs.
Spain and Latvia’s performance just confirm that Eurovision as we love it is slowly dying. We’re left asking ourselves where the passion and drama has gone; why there are no more troupes of garish dancers and cheesy, gimmicky performances with brilliantly awful singing. To give Azerbaijan credit, they seem to at least be embracing the glitter that has to many become synonymous with the show. Their official video is a lively, catchy song featuring heavily adorned face masks and glitter shoulder pads, that are attached not to a suit or costume, but to bare, glitter-clad shoulders.
Portugal seem to understand this desire for something as odd and unique as the giant hamster wheel of 2014, or the group of brides backing a frantic clown and half-pirate in 2008. The duo perform in white, feather-like robes and trousers, with eccentric dancing that somehow seems at once too energetic for the song, and perfectly fits it. There are multiple layers of influence to the mellow, electronic piece, which creates something a bit different to standard pop offerings. The gold chin-and-cheek piece, gold hand adornments, and dramatic black-outs and collapses finish off the act. It’s more Avant Garde than tacky, but adds some character back into the show.
Sweden’s song develops into a powerful, energetic chorus that could also help put some life back into the contest. The country have won the show six times, beaten only by Ireland for first place in winning entries, and also place frequently in the top five. Lundvik has also co-written our UK entry, Michael Rice’s ‘Bigger Than Us’, which is unsurprisingly dull. Long gone are the days where we submitted tacky flight attendant costumes and cheesy lyrics; we’re going to have to wait a few years for a performance with any sort of humour to it.
Poland appear to be sticking to their traditional costumes and cultural references, but modernising the performance with an alternative-pop song. The girl band combine the folk-inspired look and sound with inspirations such as Metallica to curate a varied, promising track. The video they released to accompany the song is monochromatic, and heavily reminiscent of the usual floral and country-inspired visuals. It’s not quite as hilarious as their viral milkmaids of 2014, or as brilliantly traditional as the Buranovskiye Babushki grannies of 2012, but does remain authentic.
Greece’s song is equally strong, with visuals that are an odd but fascinating blend of Kanye-inspired nude tones and bright, contrasting pink tulle. Albania’s song can be admired for its drama, but like many others, has the potential to become boring quite quickly. There are many countries that fall into this category of uninspiring acts that have okay songs, sung by people with good voices. The ballads are beautiful if performed in any other show, but what we find ourselves missing with this line up is acts like Lordi who couldn’t sing but embraced it, and brought us mad costumes and sheer passion. There were literal wings that dramatically expand at the end. Wings. Hard rock metal wings.
Ultimately, the performances we all want to see are the ridiculous ones, wonderful in how daft they are. There’s a disappointing lack in such this year; our own entry is an uninspiring pop song no one can laugh along with. Perhaps it’s unfair to say that there’s no value in these performances and acts that have taken months of work, dedication, and planning. However, the undeniable fact is that many would rather see icons like Verka and the Russian grannies than the current acts taking themselves so seriously.