Review XVI: Switzerland, Montenegro, Greece

Late last night, the so far lowest score overall was given out. Now we come to a trio that may get even worse scores if we follow fan polls, but I already have to disappoint you: I like one of those three. The country of cheese, Lys Assia and Music for Europe, the country of weirdness and balkan ballads and the country of eternal success await us. Let’s go to Switzerland, Montenegro and Greece.

Switzerland: Rykka – The Last Of Our Kind

Switzerland has not always been the most successful nation, to say things diplomatically. After hosting and winning the first ESC ever, which secured them their spot in Eurovision history, not much has been speaking in the Swiss favour lately. And so, the only Swiss that can be sure to have her appearance in the final every year remains Lys Assia. After a Canadian gave Switzerland their last victory, the homeland of this blog decided to try the same with Swiss-Canadian Rykka this year.

The sound is a little… weird. Maybe you have seen Overthinking It’s blend with Star Wars, and it kind of sounds like that inspired the sound of the song. There’s a bunch of space synths, which is something that can turn out great if used well and very annoying otherwise. Somehow it’s rather annoying here. And the drums – when present – are similarly hyperactive, giving the song a weirdly hectic feeling that doesn’t suit the singing at all. And of course, the main problem it has is that it sounds like your average radio song, and there’s really not much making it stand out.

Actually, one thing stood out in the NF, but not exactly on the good side. The whole performance is very offkey. In a voice that sounds like she’s dying soon. Honestly, this makes me wonder what exactly made nobody realize those issues in the selection. Rykka’s styling is far from my style, so I am not sure if I should be the one judging it, but the way this is staged and she looks, I am somehow in doubt that anyone will remember the song as something else than “the girl who failed to hit a note”. And can’t handle a mic, apparently. The way she sings the first syllable without anyone being able to hear it is something to laugh if it wasn’t so terribly wrong. As a Swiss myself, I am not looking forward to this performance and dare to say we have fallen to pre-Anouk/Joan-Netherlands levels of hopelessness. Try again, SRF – this only gets 2/10.

Montenegro: Highway – The Real Thing

For Montenegro, there have basically been two scenarios: they send something really weird that I like and fail to qualify or they send balkan by the numbers stuff and do reasonably well. With the rest of the Balkans back, it looks like they decided to leave that to Bosnia and Macedonia and go compete with Cyprus and Georgia for the rock vote.

Well, I am totally a member of the rock vote audience. This is an interesting blend of multiple styles – I can hear some straight forward rock (even with a little pop-punk-ish stuff in it), a bit of electro support, a lot that I like to put it briefly. But the problem, apart from alienating potential voters who don’t have an access to this kind of music, is that the parts of the song tend to feel a little disconnected, especially the calmer part right before the chorus. This song is basically all over the place between straight forward guitar riffs, electro-rock, the buildup thingy and back to the start again. I personally like that a lot, but it’s likely it will push the average viewer off a bit.

They also compete with Georgia in the category of “Who can get away with the most obvious display of sexuality in the lyrics”, and I like that as well. Judge yourself: “When I came to your smell on me” vs. “Inside me, come a little closer”. The rest, I’ll leave up to you. If you look at the video, you can already suspect a dark staging with some bright lights, and it really is the only way to go for Montenegro. (Yes, I am aware it’s the one they took). I fear again that it’s not gonna be a huge vote-grabbehough, just because of the weirdness of the whole thing. It’s like Aina Mun Pitää: if you take a song that’s not exactly “made” for it to Eurovision, it needs to be really, really good or the average viewer and jury member probably won’t really get it. Can they get their vibe across on a Eurovision stage? I hope so, and if they do, here are my 8/10!

Greece: Argo – Utopian Land

If there is one country that will always make it to the final, it’s probably Greece or Russia. But as the latter already failed at that once (1996) that leaves the Greek, who only missed ’99 due to bad results. However, this year, the general consensus seems to be that this will (finally?) be the year where the Greek final-train comes to a halt. Rightfully so?

The song choice is certainly a little bit odd, but I don’t think this is as doomed as some want it to be. The first thing I notice is how catchy the hook is, and that apart from the ethnic elements the whole thing has not much sounds in it. Which is quite well and fitting for this type of song. I know it breaks the golden rule of no rapping in Eurovision, but as the jury power has been broken a little bit and it is Greece we speak about – it would be a major surprise to see Greece fucking up really badly in televote results – I see no real reason why this shouldn’t stand a chance at qualifying. It surely will require another borderliner to fuck up, but we know Greece can push even questionable entries above the line.

I think the (Pontic) Greek parts work quite well, and the English chorus can make it more memorable – a reverse Watch My Dance so to say. It actually reminds me a bit of that one, as it’s once again a rather dark thing changing singer, mood and language for the chorus. Its maion problems for appealing to me are the idiotic lyrics – “with the rise of the rising sun”, anyone? – and the fact they went in a different direction with the staging than I hoped. It’s still more understandable than Jamala’s language mix (thanks to the chorus being English), and I don’t think it’ll do as bad as some say. I give the Greek a 5/10.

Next time, we do an even larger quadruple review, which will end this series just(s) in time for Eurovision week. Don’t forget to join for the four remaining ones: Malta, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and last but not least the big favourite, Russia!

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