Ask the ESC Insight team…
As preview party season draws to a close, we asked the ESC Insight editorial team to pick out the performers who most significantly rose… and fell… in their estimations after seeing the entries in a live setting.
I hadn’t really given Austria’s Nathan Trent a second thought until London Eurovision Party, but his ready charm and sheer professionalism & hard work made me give Running On Air another listen.
This year one can pick out Anja from Denmark as the singer who, live, blasts everybody else out the park, and I think most fans forgot about the power behind her pipes. Italy does it’s job as we always knew it would, yet the three minute version still is a step backward. Bizarrely, it’s stay-at-home Portugal that rises up in contention, with Salvador becoming the anti-story of the competition, and his three-minute profile video on the official YouTube channel smooth, sublime and so Salvador.
You know I’m going to say it… Montenegro! I always quite liked it, but since meeting Slavko in London, fixing his hair extension, skin-frosting the heck out of his perfect cheekbones and generally hanging out with him backstage, I am completely in love! Seeing him perform Space live a few times, it’s now one I really look forward to rolling round on the CD (and one I usually hit repeat on when it’s finished…)
SVT’s entries usually mean business, but this year Robin Bengtsson is flying premium economy. He knows the words, he has the moves (or at least the balance on the treadmills), and he can find a red light inside a busy arena. But I don’t believe he has made an emotional connection to the lyrics, and if he can’t do that himself how can he get the audience to connect? I was hoping I’d see some theatricality to his stagecraft from the preview stages, instead I saw the same identikit performance that was technically on point but lacked star power.
He’s so young and it was always a case of ‘can this kid sell this rather tough song?’. Yes, yes he can. He has charm in spades – wooing everyone in the press at the previews, comes across extremely experienced and settled on stage, and I find him captivating to listen to live.
The song is far better suited to him than that of Australia’s Isaiah, and come the final, I expect him to now steal a lot of points away from the other young male contenders.
Going down – Belgium.
As I always suspected from the small amount of clips available prior to the song announcement, Blanche has a great song for radio – however replicating it live on a massive stage requires her to hold the attention of millions of viewers. She couldn’t even hold the attention of those hundreds at a preview party. She lacks the determination, confidence and charisma; and struggles with the lower register of the song.
Georgia is worse than I first thought. The more I hear it the more it annoys me. The niqabi in the preview video is just tacky (Abkhazia anyone?). Austria should be sailing into the top 10. And I want him to duet with Marco on L’Essenziale.