It’s safe to say that when it comes to the Eurovsion Song Contest everyone has a favourite song. You may even have a top 10, and it’s easy to pay more attention to the ones you like. When songs are gradually released by each country and the odds at the bookies start to change depending on the momentum that a song is gaining popularity, it’s often easy to forget about all the other entries that have begun to slide down the scale of obscurity before the competition has even started. I have to admit it can be difficult to see the merits of listening to a song when we’re told that the odds of winning are 1000/1.
I try to listen to the songs myself before I listen to anyone else’s opinion, especially those from the various media outlets pumping out their often-biased promotional pieces. That being said, this list is based on my humble opinion only! Having seeing the artists perform live, I felt that some of the acts were completely underrated due to them being overshadowed by some of the stronger entries in the competition. Being overshadowed by the greatness of one song shouldn’t detract from the beauty of another. So without further ado, I’d like to share my list of top 5 entries from Eurovision 2016 that didn’t get the recognition I feel they deserved.
#5 Ivan – Help You Fly (Belarus)
At first this was seen as a novelty entry by the rest of Europe. Ivan had already stated that he intended to perform naked, dancing with a wolf on the stage. Even I was skeptical about this – not to mention that the rules of conduct don’t allow a performer to stand there nude on a platform that is supposed to be family-friendly. Of course, Ivan found a workaround and created a nude hologram of himself – including the aforementioned wolf! The song itself has all the synthethised riffs you could ever need, jumping into a rock-lilted chorus that will guarantee to have you singing along. And if dancing along with a hologram version of yourself isn’t cool then I don’t know what is!
#4 ZOË – Loin D’ici (Austria)
First and foremost, I appreciate it when the stage isn’t overwhelmed by dancers and backing singers trying to harmonise the vocals as it means the focus is on the solo artist. A performer stood alone on the stage needs to impress without any gimmicks. It takes a lot of bravery for an Austrian songstress to stand on a global stage and start warbling in French, and in this case she manages to pull it off with style. There was a worry that ZOË would fall to the wayside as just another pretty girl stood in front of a wind machine, but with a sickly-sweet backdrop she floats onto the stage like a peach princess. The song is simple yet beautiful, ploughing through a Mary Mary Quite Contrary routine that certainly makes the garden grow!
#3 Agnete – Icebreaker (Norway)
Agnete’s song Icebreaker was one of the few songs that didn’t make it through the semifinals despite a mostly positive review. The song begins with a quick-building Eurodance beat, right until the chorus. Just as you think things are about to continue into a generic dance track, there is an unexpected tempo-change that throws you completely off course. Replacing the expected Eurovision-trademarked key change with a change in tempo is what really makes this song unique. Agnete is a beautiful singer and it would have been nice to see something less predictable hitting the final.
#2 Greta Salóme – Hear Them Calling (Iceland)
The biggest groan I heard when this song came to fruition was that it was a copy of the 2015 winner; Måns Zelmerlöw’s Heroes. While this may be true in terms of using separate screens in order to enhance the staging of a song, there was so much more that this entry has to offer. The staging displayed great ominousity, and mirrored more closely to Loreen’s Euphoria than last year’s winner. What people may not appreciate is the co-ordination and skill it takes to deliver a song whilst dancing against a backdrop that you have your back to the whole time, so you can colour me impressed by the overall performance. The powerful chorus blasts above the rest of the song like the birds bursting out of Greta’s chest, and the dramatic flow of tassels and flickers of shadow aid the build up to the final wail. Failing to secure a place in the live final was probably one of the biggest shockers of the first semi-final.
#1 Poli Genova – If Love Was a Crime (Bulgaria)
I realise that this entry did incredibly well, coming in at a respectable 4th place at the end of the live final. However, it was easy to lose track of how good this song really is when clashing with the titans of the leaderboard: Russia, Ukraine, and Australia. While Australia was popular with jury, Russia was picking up votes from the public, and Ukraine was equally well-received by both, the Bulgarian entry sat just beneath the radar until the eleventh hour when Poli found herself catapulting towards the top. The song was catchy Euro-pop at its finest, performed by a singer who was clearly invested in her song. Poli is every bit the superstar – parading across the stage like a superhero in a cape, dancing and flicking her hair, and never breaking her mesmerising smile. We hear a mixture of English and Poli’s native Bulgarian lyrics, we see imitable dance moves, and no-one will forget the all-important illumination for the final chorus! All of these elements make this song a winner in every sense of Eurovision.
So there you have it. Do you agree with the list? Let me know what you think in the comments section!