Eurovision Song Contest 2014 Preview: Final Thoughts

Eurovision Final: Songs 21-26

Ben: I’m not sure they’re completely out, but with Conchita stepping up, they’re going to need to fight more. There’s 5 or 6 songs sort of vying for the win this year, so it’s going to be all about who performs best.

Mike: That’s a fair assessment. I think Hungary needs to work out some of the kinks from Tuesday’s performance if they want to stand a chance. I continue to be impressed with what Malta has been doing

Ben: The song’s grown on me, but I felt the performance needed a little more energy. To quote a friend on Twitter: “Malta, I am here for you, but no one is sending you to the finals for a non-existent stage show and a dead eyed stare.”

Mike: Yeah, the staging could have been a little more interesting, but the execution of the backing vocals caught my attention. Hitting the timbre to match the studio version in a live performance takes some skill

Ben: The Mumford & Sons influence is nice, but I thought there needed to be some more active camera work.
The vocals were nice (and, with the jury, may have helped them out), but in a larger field of songs this one doesn’t feel as strong.

Mike: I wonder how much of the camerawork/energy was dictated by being first in the lineup

Ben: I guess we’ll see, now that they’re 22nd in the lineup.

Mike: I also think it’s cutesy having “Coming Home” immediately followed by the host country’s entry

Ben: I hadn’t thought of that.  Sneaky producers!

Basim / Denmark (Eurovision MiniPop: Ben Morris)
Basim / Denmark (Eurovision MiniPop: Ben Morris)

Mike: I think Denmark may be my least favorite of the auto-qualifiers

Ben: I still really like the song, but it’s no longer my favorite of the auto-qualifiers, either. I think it’s a nice blast of energy after Malta

Mike: It feels out of place from the rest of the field, but in a dated rather than revolutionary sort of way

Ben: Right.  Eurovision should be as much about looking forward as it is mixing in what’s going on in music now and this feels very “now,” which actually isn’t a bad strategy when you’re the host nation. Do well enough to show why you got the hosting gig in the first place, but not so well you have to run it again.

Mike: I noticed something similar last year—it felt like Sweden was experimenting since they had a freebie

Ben: I could see this placing in the top 15

Mike: Absolutely. I’d even go so far as cusp of Top 10 (even though I personally would not appreciate that outcome)

Ben: Agreed.  So somewhere between 10th to 15th place, which seems about right. One I’d definitely like to see crack the top 10 is The Netherlands. Whoever did their production design this year knocked it out of the park

Mike: I love everything about this entry, including the fact that it is now third favorite to win the Contest. Thank you Europe for appreciating this song.

Ben: I did not like “Birds” last year.  At all. But I love that this weird piece of Dutch Americana is getting a bunch of love. They found a way to still feel intimate, but also make the song arena-ready

Valentina Monetta / San Marino (Eurovision MiniPop: Ben Morris)
Valentina Monetta / San Marino (Eurovision MiniPop: Ben Morris)

Mike: And seemingly out of nowhere. This didn’t seem to be on many people’s radar before Tuesday. Also not on radar: San Marino!

Ben: I had completely taken it out of contention after seeing the rehearsal footage

Mike: Me too, I had been describing it as Petula Clark on Ed Sullivan

Ben: I’m so happy they’ve finally made the final, even if I don’t like this song as much as I did last year’s

Mike: I thought Valentina had one of the best vocals on Tuesday. That’s what three years of experience gets you.

Ben: To think that we’ve come from the Facebook Song (uh-oh-ooh-uh-ohhhh) to this in 3 years…Now next year Valentina can just watch the competition from her couch or airplane hangar or whatever

(assuming they don’t just keep sending her until the European public just give them the win so they stop)

Mike: Do you think Europe will let the UK have the win this year?

Ben: I think the producers picked a perfect closer for the show with the UK’s entry this year.  I had a hunch that if it ended up in the second half, they’d use it as a closer. It’s my favorite of the auto-qualifiers: there’s a great anthemic nature, it mixes a lot of different influences (there’s shades of Florence + the Machine and what’s going on right now with UK Drum n’ Bass in there). Switching from picking some revival act to the Introducing… program is the smartest decision the BBC’s made since bringing selection internal. If they hadn’t done this, I would have suggested trying to tap someone from the “Sound of…” poll they do every year

Mike: I do like that the Beeb is finally taking the Contest seriously, but there’s something about this entry I find off-putting that I can’t quite put my finger on

Ben: it’s a little “up with people” for me, but that happens

Mike: Yeah…it feels a little unearned. It also doesn’t help that the Brits I know who fully support this entry approached Engelbert with the same degree of enthusiasm.

Ben: I would have loved to see them tap into lesser known artists earlier than this – there’s groups like The Noisettes who have been doing similar anthemic stuff for years and would probably jump at the chance for a stage like Eurovision. This would have been a perfect entry in 2012, if not for the fact that it’s straight up called “winner”:

(I have a lot of opinions on british pop/rock)

Mike: Is it too early to start the rumor that the Spice Girls are in talks to rep the UK in 2015? ALLEGEDLY

Ben: Wasn’t that the rumor this year as well before we found out about Molly?

Mike: It’s the rumor every year. And every year it makes me sad when it’s not true.

Ben: One other note about the UK’s entry that may explain why I like it so much: it sounds like the one pop-ish track they tend to fit in to the soundtrack to the Doctor Who Christmas Special every year which is always a little spacey/up with people/twinkly.

Mike: YES. That sums it up perfectly.

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About Ben Smith 252 Articles
Ben has been writing about TV, music, and pop culture in some form or another since 2009, including stints at Mental Floss and Temporary Obsession. When not solving puzzles of some sort or consuming pop culture at a frightening pace, he can be found collecting shiny pieces of the internet at GoodAtInter.net. E-mail: ben@whatelseison.tv