Monday, 19 June 2017

Eurovision 2017: The final, Big 5 and Ukraine


 I hope you enjoyed my posts on Eurovision 2017's first and second semi-finals. Now, time for the big night. 

 I'll share my thoughts on how the final progressed - the hosting, guest acts and voting - and on the six songs I have yet to review: those of the Big 5 countries (Italy, Spain, the UK, Germany and France) and the host, Ukraine.


 The opening

 The flag parade was enjoyable and well-done - there were a few parts early on where the audio seemed to be lost, but then they appeared to fix it. 

 The flag parade is one of the better recent Eurovision ideas, though I much prefer the kind of dynamic presentation we had tonight than if the acts were to just march around with flags. Hopefully the Eurovision powers that be can work on making the flag parade even more innovative while not losing its essence.

 The hosts 

 The hosts took a while to grow on me, and though I got used to them they just couldn't measure up to the wonderful Petra Mede, who I feel has set the bar for all Eurovision hosting from now on. 

 This year's trio were good at their job, and I salute them for that - the banter around promoting the Eurovision app was amusing - but they were missing that extra bit of charisma that made Petra so brilliant. 

 Skits and guests

 Talking of Swedish hosts, the montage with Måns was fairly awful - it was tired and cliched and went on for far too long. It could have maybe been improved by bringing Petra in - or maybe not. The concept just wasn't very funny.

 I also feel a little of Verka and her mother goes a long way, and considering how much of them we had in the semi-finals it did get a bit tiring. Jamala's "I Believe in U" was also dull - she performed a much better, more upbeat new song in a semi-final, which would have fitted better into the final.

 One thing I really liked was Ruslana's song. Graham Norton gently mocked it and described the performance as "zombies doing aerobics", which it did resemble a tiny bit... but it was good! The song was incredibly catchy and a great interval act. Ruslana really can entertain.

 The songs

 Time now for my thoughts on the songs of the Big 5 and Ukraine.

 1) Italy - My mother wants it to be known that she thinks Italy should have won. I think they had a decent, uptempo song, the sort of thing that could have won in the noughties when big pop numbers did well in the contest. 

 These days, fans seem to go for quirkier entries and Italy was lacking that je-ne-sais-quoi. The gorilla is interesting the first time you see it, but the novelty wears off. The dancing, however, is solid, as is the staging. The singer certainly performs with gusto.

 2) Spain - It was interesting living in Spain in the run-up to and during Eurovision. It became very clear that Spain's entry was not at all popular with its people; I heard it bemoaned in real life and on social media.

 I honestly don't find it that terrible. It is repetitive and the English lyrics are uninspired, but it is a summery, bouncy little tune. The background graphics at the contest were psychedelic to the point of being unwatchable at times. 

 The performance was pitchy but I don't agree with people who have suggested that the band didn't care about being there - I felt that they really did, underneath their cool wannabe-surfer image.

 3) The UK - When she was first chosen to represent us, I liked Lucie's vocals and performance and found the song decent but not a winner. With some work, though, and with the inspired staging, it became one of our best entries in recent years.

 Sending someone from a musical theatre background to Eurovision felt like one of the safer options - she was used to being onstage and singing live and nerves hopefully wouldn't be an issue. 

 They weren't - the final performance wasn't perfect, but it was very good. I was pleased with it. Maybe one day the UK will win Eurovision again.

 4) Germany - From the moment this began I thought - this is "Titanium"! The riff sounds like an exact copy. Luckily the melody is vaguely different, and as a song I like it. I just wish it were more individual. 

 I love Levina's voice, one of the best in this year's contest. She was confident without seeming cocky, and I felt I could just relax and enjoy the song. She reminds me of another artist - I can't think who. She is a bit like Robyn, but I think there is a better likeness out there. 

 This is the déjà-vu Eurovision - so many artists remind me of other people!

5) Ukraine - Graham Norton wasn't a fan of this! I found it to be a standard rock song - there is room for one or two in Eurovision each year, to change things up and give rock fans their moment.

 The giant head was scary - with its eyes beaming light it reminded me of both Undyne from the game Undertale, and deadmau5's headgear.

 The song seemed to be received well by the home crowd, and overall they did a good job. It wasn't amazing, but it wasn't as terrible as Graham suggested.

 6) France - France and Eurovision... They drift from getting it exactly right - Anggun, for example, in 2012, was great - to sending well-crafted but quiet songs that get drowned out, to choosing standard pop songs of a style that does well in France but which just isn't really Eurovision.

 This year's is an example of the third. It is the kind of thing that I can see being constantly on the radio in France, and is great to dance to. It just feels too slick and polished for Eurovision. Alma doesn't let go enough; doesn't lose herself in Eurovision passion and joy. The bland staging didn't do her any favours.

 It isn't a bad song, and Alma seemed really nice when interviewed. It just didn't hit the Eurovision mark.

 The voting 

 The voting struck me as less political this year, which was nice. The absence of Russia and Turkey may have played a part, as they are go-to twelve-pointers for certain countries - however, I like to think that maybe people really do want things to be more about the music. 

 The fact that Greece and Cyprus giving each other twelves got boos isn't something I approve of, but it does suggest that fans are growing tired of neighbourly voting.

 I also enjoyed seeing a number of past participants as spokespeople - it's nice to check in with them and see how they are doing. There was some (feeble) flirting from the hosts, which became somewhat tedious.

 Of course, we can't forget Élodie Gossuin and her singing! Apparently she told a French magazine she wouldn't sing this year, after her "whoo-hoo-hoo"-ing last year caused such a (pointless) fuss in France - but sing she did! I like her; she seems sweet and genuine.

 The winner

 The final countdown of the votes was dramatic - right up to the end I wondered whether Bulgaria might just do it. I preferred their performance to the Portuguese one, but there was something very special about the Sobral siblings' bond and they made a lovely team. Their final performance was a Eurovision moment to remember.

 With the O'G3NE sisters singing for their ill mother and the Sobrals working together to create something beautiful, there was a real feeling of family this year, and I loved that.

 Overall verdict

 I don't think that hosting-wise this was a particularly outstanding Eurovision, though it was far from terrible. The hosts weren't strong enough, and they relied too much on Verka for humour. 

 The music was pretty good, with stand-out songs from The Netherlands, Austria, Romania and Bulgaria. There were very few songs I disliked, and some of my original "meh" ones are growing on me with time.

 So, off we go to Portugal - they've never hosted Eurovision, so it should be something new and exciting. Here's to 2017!

 Feel free to check out my posts from last year's contest:

 Thanks for sharing my Eurovision 2017 journey!

 Liz x

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