Following the unprecedented cancellation of the Eurovision Song Contest this year, SBS is excited to announce a week-long festival of Eurovision from 10-17 May, culminating in a brand new alternative Eurovision 2020 with SBS’s Eurovision 2020: Big Night In! and Eurovision: Europe Shine a Light from The Netherlands.
Chicken clucking, Viking ships, pink wigs and camels from… er… the Czech Republic — the gimmicks and trends of Eurovision 2018 are sure to send social media into a frenzy this year. But what trends are here to slay and which ones really need to sashay away?
Close to half the 43 entrants of Eurovison 2018 are either female soloists or women-fronted bands/duos, making it a distinct possibility that one of the ladies will be stomping away with this year’s trophy.
Regardless of their choice of musical styling it’s clear the theme of “empowerment” threads through many of this year’s entries. And these three formidable soloists are all staking a serious claim on the glittery top prize.
Finland’s Saara Aalto is bringing, arguably, the best pop track to this year’s contest with the belting “Monsters”. Ripe from finishing as runner-up on the British version of last year’s The X Factor, Aalto has waited over a decade to represent her homeland and has been tactically brilliant in the lead-up to the contest. The statuesque Finn has cleverly presented “Monsters” in 34 different languages, hoping to heighten its accessibility across the competing nations. Having only ever won the contest once (remember latex monsters Lordi?), lightning may strike twice for Finland should Alto deliver the monstrous Gaga-esque performance this song deserves.
I wonder who’s hiding under Ms Aalto’s bed…
Our own Jessica Mauboy credits the #MeToo movement for some inspiration into her lyrical contribution to the deliciously rousing “We Got Love”. Mauboy, like Aalto, is a seasoned reality and TV veteran unfazed by the rigours of a live contest. Confident and sassy, our Jess has already been hard at publicity for a month, performing at regional showcase parties in London, Amsterdam and Tel Aviv. This hard grafting should pay big dividends. Pop-a-bottle as we got Mauboy and a serious chance at snaring our first ever victory.
From interval act to serious contender #wegotjess…
The one girl to beat this year is Israel’s Netta and her cluckingly amazing “Toy”. To categorise “Toy” is impossible but, suffice it to say, it’s three minutes of pure musical joy and a song that has the Israeli topping the Eurovision odds for the win.
Netta’s not anyone’s plaything...
The rise of the Eurovision minnows
Over the last few contests, we’ve seen many of the less successful nations at Eurovision bubble to the surface as true contenders for the crown. There’s no better example of this than Moldova, who stormed to third place at last year’s contest with the SunStroke Project’s “Hey Mamma”. That trend is set to continue in 2018 with several minnows likely to achieve or emulate their best ever result in the contest.
They’ve only ever managed to qualify for the final once, but it’s more than likely the Czech Republic, or Czechia, will find themselves back there again this year. Super handsome model-cum-singer Mikolas Josef’s infectious “Lie to Me” is a track dripping in sexy sax, clapping and… camels. Watch the votes roll in for this one come the grand final.
The camels and classic cars of the Czech Republic…
There’s significant buzz around Ukrainian born ALEKSEEV, who will be representing Belarus with “Forever”, and his appearance in the contest has organisers salivating at the possibility that, for the second year running, a smaller nation may win the top prize for the first time. A well-established artist in many Eastern Bloc countries, including Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, this youngster is predicted to greedily accumulate the popular vote of these nations, which will propel him up the leader board come the grand final.
Forget the cheesecake this is the main course…
There are three songs for the price of one in “Lost and Found” courtesy of FYR Macedonia’s Eye Cue. The quirkiness of this entry, complete with ear-worm chorus, will help this Balkan nation qualify for their first final since 2012. Not to mention that Eye Cue’s lead vocalist, Marija Ivanovska, and pop diva Dua Lipa were obviously separated at birth!
Don’t adjust your eyes or ears – it’s FYR Macedonia…
And could tiny Moldova eclipse their third placing last year and go one or, gulp, two better? The traffic-stopping, music-making folk-pop trio DoReDos have Eurovision fans in a fervour with the frothy and fun “My Lucky Day”. With the wind-machine set to cyclonic, it’s not out the realm of possibility that the 2019 contest may be staged in the Moldovan capital of Chisinau.
Could the Moldovans have their luckiest day ever in Lisbon?
Eurovision is addictive, and every year there’s an artist or four that need another hit of the glittery stuff and decide to try their luck again at the world’s largest singing contest. There are two returnees this year who have a lot to live up to.
Norway’s Alexander Rybak, he of “Fairytale” fame, returns to the contest with fan-polarising “That’s How You Write a Song”. Rybak scored the top prize at the 2009 contest in Moscow by scoring the then-highest amount of votes for song in the contest’s history. It’ll be a big stretch for the Belarussian-Norwegian to repeat this, but the former champion has a winning formula and is sure to give his all onstage.
Similarly, Dutch entrant Waylon has already sampled success at the contest. As a member of The Common Linnets, he found himself in the silver medal position at the 2014 contest in Copenhagen, Denmark, where “Calm After the Storm” delivered the Dutch their best result in the contest since 1975 (they came second). Could the country grunge of Waylon’s 2018 effort, “Outlaw in ‘Em”, deliver another big hit for the Netherlands?
Vikings: the musical
Hide your kids, hide your wife and hide your husband, too — the Vikings are coming! The staging of Rasmussen’s Viking-inspired “Higher Ground” at the Danish national selection, Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, was high on production values, including hirsute backing singers, Viking ships and a wind-swept snow storm that accompanied the key change. Fortunately, “Higher Ground” is more musical theatre than a dark durge from a bloody scene of Game of Thrones, which should help the Danish Vikings pillage their way into the top 10.
Rasmussen and co have their beard oil packed and they’re ready to slay…
It’s not Eurovision without a little bit of misplaced outrage. This year’s “outrage” surrounds the theme of Irish entrant Ryan O’Shaughnessy’s video for his gentle and melancholy ballad, “Together”. The clip features a young gay male couple dancing out their love story through the darkened streets of Dublin. Seemingly innocent enough for most, the very sweet clip has sparked rumours of Russia banning the broadcast of the song during the events transmission. Really? O’Shaugnessy himself put credit to the rumour by tweeting about the threat, but at this stage Russia has no ban in place. However, the publicity around this simple ballad could see Ireland finally break a qualification drought that dates back to 2013. Let’s hope Ryan invites his two dancers to Lisbon to realise his clip onstage. Douze points for Irish inclusiveness.
Simple, beautiful and something to celebrate…
They said yes to the dress
Baltic favourite Estonia have had a rotten run at the contest in the last couple of years and are adopting a risky strategy by sending opera to the contest. The stunning Elina Nechayeva triumphed at the Estonian national selection, Eesti Laul, with the superb “La Forza”, although the recent chatter has not been around her ability to hit the high notes but whether she’d be able to wear the massive projection frock in which she competed. The team behind Nechayeva were scoping an alternative for the onstage drama after the Estonian broadcaster announced they were unable to fund the entire hefty €65,000 fee for transport of the costume. But a mixture of private and public backers have collectively said “yes to the dress”, raising enough cash to send the frock to Lisbon and hopefully deliver one of this year’s big wow moments.
They said ‘yes to the dress’…
Sea of pink
And then there’s the pink wig crisis that’s emerging in Portugal. A fan-led push to support Portuguese entrant Cláudia Pascoal by turning the audience into a sea of pink wigs, referencing the singer's trademark pink locks, has led to talk of a wig shortage in Lisbon.
What’s the bet the entrepreneurial street vendors will be selling said wigs outside the venue each night for €20 a pop? Hopefully, the hosts will be inclusive and lend their support to Slovenia’s Lea Sirk, who sports a pink side-plait.
Relive the magic of the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 on SBS Thursday 14 May at 1:30PM. Available to catch up at SBS On Demand after broadcast.