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.
It takes a big effort to win Sweden’s super competitive national selection competition Melodifestivalen to go on to represent this Scandinavian nation at Eurovision. 17 year-old sensation Frans was undaunted as he took his “If I Were Sorry” from heat to final and then to crowning glory over much more fancied opposition. But will this stripped urban anthem translate across the voting generations?
There’s much talk about Sweden going back-to-back courtesy of Frans' entry but he’ll need to convince a wider demographic than the teenage girl to deliver on this ambition. A top five finisher for sure - but Dami may just have the edge on the Swedish teenager!
France’s recent history at Eurovision is littered with more misses than hits, but the selection of Amir, the winner of the 2013 The Voice France, is inspired.
The very likeable Amir is the perfect representation of modern-day France heralding from a complicated multi-cultural background including Tunisian, Moroccan and Spanish lineage.
All of this makes for one ridiculously adorable package, and it turns out, he's a big fan of our very own Dami Im and her killer tune 'Sound of Silence'.
Amir's song meanwhile, “J’ai cherche” is perfect pop. Sporting French verses and an English language chorus this piece of pop heaven is the best French effort since Angun’s “Echo (You and I)” from 2012. So much so that France is real a contender for the 2016 crown - currently vying for the top spot in the Eurovision betting odds up against Russia and our very own Dami Im.
The Eurovision Song Contest is not necessarily the best vehicle for sophisticated, contemporary pop but Italy’s ethereal Francesca Michelin will do her best with “No Degree of Separation” to persuade viewers otherwise when she hits the Stockholm stage.
Since Italy’s return to the contest in 2011 they’ve only missed a Top 10 placing once so the task is ominous for young Ms Michelin. The danger for this gentle entry is that it could easily be swamped by energetic dance floor toe-tappers and brilliant belters with killer choruses and fabulicious key changes. Fingers crossed Francesca.
Hello Hello Mr Danger! Like France, the UK and Germany it appears the Big 5 are not taking their place in the final for granted this year and delivering some powerhouse entries into the 2016 contest.
Be warned Dami: this is a big hit in Europe and has topped the Spanish charts and could easily grab the attention of the viewing public with its toe-tapping energy.
“Say Yay!” has mass appeal in spades and the Globen Arena will be on its feet in appreciation that someone’s rocked up to Stockholm to party. Come the Grand Final a lot of Europe (and Australia) may be saying yay yay yay!
A decade of dismal results forced a rethink of the Eurovision selection process in the UK this year and the BBC returned to a televised selection from which their entrant would be sourced.
The then-unsigned duo Joe & Jake triumphed over 5 other acts to win the ticket to Stockholm with the bouncy and catchy “You’re Not Alone”.
Finally the United Kingdom delivers a contemporary, accessible pop song without any gimmicks. The Big Five are really taking 2016 seriously (insert claps).
Germany was rocked by controversy earlier this year after they were forced to dump their internally selected contestant Xavier Naidoo from representing this European powerhouse due to previous work contacting homophobic and politically insensitive lyrics.
The German telecaster scrambled and re-configured their Unser Song Fur… format - from which youngster Jaime-Lee Kriewitz emerged successful.
Another of the copious amount of The Voice alums, Jamie-Lee will bring the bittersweet “Ghost” to Stockholm accompanied by some twisted Tim-Burtonesque styled staging.
Jamie-Lee could easily be mistaken for Lena’s little sister and this great choice for Germany should avoid a repeat the “nul point” result of 2015’s effort.
There’s plenty of buzz around the Latvian entry this year and with just cause. Scribed and composed byAminata, who took Latvia to a stunning top 6 finish in 2015, “Heartbeat” is the kind of sparse contemporary pop that Eurovision audiences and voters have embraced in recent contests.
Latvia is also adding to the quota of seriously good looking young male soloists who’ll be performing in Sweden. 21 year old Justs will have a few heartbeats racing and, given a late run in the Grand Final, Latvia could again be troubling the top of the scoreboard. Keep your eyes on Latvia Australia even if it’s just for Justs.
An entry that is difficult to classify and one which won’t be too many voters taste. Georgia opted for an internal selection of their artist followed by a public vote on the song they felt would best represent their nation in Stockholm.
What we have with Georgia's Nika Kocharov and Young Georgian Lolitaz is an edgy alternative entry that will polarise the audience.
It has the potential to soar on stage but it also has the potential to sink pretty quickly. The odds are not in its favour either as Georgia is languishing in the bottom 5 of the betting ranks. Unlikely to progress beyond the Semi.
Poli Genova could be described as a minor Eurovision celebrity having already represented Bulgaria once at the 2011 contest.
Recent viewers may also be familiar with her as the enthusiastic host of last year’s Junior version of the contest staged in the Bulgarian capital Sofia which featured Aussie Bella Paige among the competitors.
And Bulgaria has a serious chance to break their near decade drought of Grand Final appearances with one of the strongest songs in Semi Final 2.
There’s no surprise that there’s a lot of buzz around this Balkan gem as it was the last of the 43 songs to be unveiled. It would be criminal if this entry was left incarcerated in the Semis.
This is the first year Australia will have to fight its way out of the Semi Finals and qualify to the big night which is daunting for any nation.
Dami Im is a superb choice to take on that formidable task with her Fairytale backstory that Europe will adore; teaching herself English from pop songs of the Spice Girls et al.
Im’s remarkable voice, her promise to be Fashion Forward on stage and the surprisingly good mid-tempo power ballad from the incredible writing team of DNA already has Europe asking “so, what happens if Australia wins?”.
“The Sound of Silence” could prove to be the sound of victory!
The Ukraine are another returning nation to the 2016 contest and one who will ensure the spotlight will be trained on them due to the subject matter of Jamala’s “1944”.
Eurovision entries are not permitted to be political, see Georgia’s 2009 effort “We Don’t Wanna Put In” famously disqualified due to its obvious referencing of the Russian leader. This makes “1944” a controversial inclusion in the contest.
The song is an ode to Jamala’s great grand-parents and a semi-autobiographical account of the deportation of Crimean Tatar population to Central Asia in 1944. Unsurprisingly it has drawn the cry of “boycott” from certain quarters.
“1944” had huge resonance throughout the Ukraine when presented at the Ukrainian National selection and is a fitting song that flirts with controversy and befitting of the Ukraine’s return to the contest.
An ethno-infused and dramatic anthem delivered by a powerhouse chanteuse sets this entry apart from most of the others in Semi Final 2.
Serbia’s Sanja Vučić ZAA oozes stage presence and her confident delivery of “Goodbye (Shelter)” should see her safely through to the Grand Final but only by a stylish feather.
The downfall of the song is that it’s a bit “heard it all before” so Sanja will need to sing her heart out on stage to guarantee that glittery ticket to the final.
A key theme running through the 2016 contest is the “surprise” winner that has emerged from many of the various National televised selections. Michael Szpak caused a mighty upset at the Polish national final when he triumphed over the much fancied Margaret’s cooler-than-cool “Cool Me Down” to take his “Colour of Your Life” to Stockholm.
Szpak is a serious contender for 'Best Hair of Eurovision 2016' and his soft-rock ballad is an earnest effort that actually is, to its determent, a bit too black and white.
Poland have produced some much talked about entries over the past couple of years (milkmaids anyone?) but this paint-by-numbers effort may bring an end to their recent success. The Poles should have stuck with Margaret.
To its detriment the 2015 contest was littered with ballads and fortunately 2016 sees very few entries of the same ilk. This plays to Israeli Hovi Star’s advantage with this quieter entry really standing out from the pack.
“Made of Stars” is a contemporary ballad both beautiful and haunting; a piano-heavy alternative to last year’s hedonistic “Golden Boy” which will light up the Stockholm’s Globen Arena with mobile phone torches. Hovi Star has a significant profile in Israel and this contest will do well to raise his profile and showcase his stunning voice to a wider international audience.
A worthy Grand Finalist should he find his way out of the stars and one which could give our Ms Im a serious run for her money.
Another Eurovision returnee young Donny Montell represented Lithuania back at the 2012 contest with a literal staging of “Love is Blind”.
Montell promised his home nation that he’d return to the contest and he convincingly won, what is arguably, the longest and most complicated of all the national selections.
“I’ve Been Waiting For This Night” has a chorus aching to be the theme for a sporty car commercial and is a slightly slicker version of Ireland’s “Sunlight”. So it's a shame to see them both drawn in this second Semi Final as they may inadvertently cancel each other out when it comes to the crucial televote.
Montell has a knack for great mid-tempo pop and he’ll probably advance Lithuania to another appearance in the Grand Final. Skémés Donny!
It’s great to see a lot of alternative musical stylings entering the contest this year and Belgium’s flame-haired Laura Tesoro will deliver a disco-licious pop-funk number in Stockholm hoping to replicate her home nations Top 5 finish in 2015.
It comes as no surprise that Tesoro played Annie on stage but the 19 year old brings as much white-girl funk as she possibly can to this annoyingly upbeat entry. Her vocals are reminiscent of Sweden’s Robin in tone but the moves and beat are far more Bruno Mars - think Uptown Funk. The surprise packet of Semi 2.
Relive the magic of the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 on SBS Tuesday 12 May at 1:30PM. Available to catch up at SBS On Demand after broadcast.