The Eurovisionary's Report Is In: The Top Five Performances This Year

Time to strap on your heels and dust off that sequined jacket, because the gay world cup is once again underway.

By Dustin Duong

This year’s host, Ukraine, is home to the god-mother of drag, Verka Serduchka, and that can only mean a renaissance for the queer spectacular that is Eurovision.

Will 2017 mark a new era of European music, one that abandons its traditions in favour of American-style pop? Or will Europe embrace its weird, shiny roots and all of its diversity? Forget what the bookies are saying, because we can’t read odds; here are our top five performances in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest:

All images supplied by the Eurovision Broadcasting Union and Wiwiblogs

All images supplied by the Eurovision Broadcasting Union and Wiwiblogs

1.    Italy: Francesco Gabbani – Occidentali’s Karma

A handsome man with a moustache, a dancing gorilla, and the Wiggles as background vocalists – what more can you expect? Francesco knows the winning formula, except this isn’t a love song. You will be waving your arms, screaming ‘sex appeal’ and ‘nirvana’, before wondering if this is cultural appropriation. The tune is a catchy criticism of the West’s narcissistic tendencies, and obsession with technology. The artistic backdrop is quite a refreshing break from the conceited, self-referential projections that have become quite popular at Eurovision. Italy is one of the big five, meaning they are automatically in the final, although it would have had no trouble qualifying by merit alone.

2.    Switzerland: Timebelle – Apollo

This song is a powerful love ballad in its own right, and versatile by nature. A quick edit on GarageBand would turn this into the earworm remix of choice for the Paris Hilton DJs of the world. Switzerland has abandoned the whistle and violin for a classy grand piano set-up, but it has also set itself apart with a pastel costume theme. The Belle-esque yellow dress will be iconic on stage, but I can’t help thinking that they would be better off with the classic, black tie theme that worked so well in the music video and their national final performance. Perhaps the European audience isn’t ready to give up the colour splashes, despite the staging, song, and costumes appearing quite disjointed together. Nevertheless, with Timebelle’s professionalism and flawless co-ordination, I expect at least dix points for Suisse in the second semi-final.

3.    Moldova: Sunstroke Project – Hey Mamma

The Epic Sax Guy is back, and this time he is working in perfect harmony with his band to bring you an unironic banger. One of the only meme and internet sensations to come out of the ESC (sorry ABBA and Celine), Sunstroke Project wants to show the world that they can do so much more. Their whole performance encapsulates what ‘Eurovision’ stands for, and the incongruous elements somehow complement each other in the best way possible. With women in wedding dresses, and perfectly synchronised dance moves, Moldova has it all figured out. It seems that their repeated attempts at the contest might pay off, as they have qualified for the final.

4.    The Netherlands: OG3NE – Lights and Shadows

How do you get OG3NE? Combine Little Mix with The Sapphires, and add a dash of Disney. This gorgeous girl-group has an edgy K-Pop name, but the motivational lyrics and harmony are worthy of my glittery, gay tears. There’s not much to say about this wholesome performance, except that it stands out in a crowd of acts trying too hard and being too extra. The Netherlands will have no trouble qualifying if they get it right at the second semi-final.

5.    Portugal: Salvador Sobral – Amar Pelos Dois

Stripped back is the strategy for Portugal, and it appears to be enchanting audiences. Sobral’s Amar Pelos Dois (Love for Both), written entirely in Portuguese, is the most beautiful song of the year. The harmony causes goose bumps, and harks back to an era of foreign love films in which the main character walks along the pavement, singing to himself in melancholy. Besides the Lorde-like hand movements that distracted from the emotion of the song, Portugal’s simple tune is simply worthy of my douze points, and my pick for the winner as he heads into the final. Judging by how it’s going on YouTube (it is currently the most viewed semi-final performance), the viewers have fallen in love with Salvador as well.

Honourable Mentions:

United Kingdom: Lucie Jones – Never Give Up On You

The U.K. is back with a song that is actually worthy of the British Invasion. Lucie Jones makes you forget the woeful entries of years past.

Russia: Julia Samoylova – Flame is Burning

It really is a shame that the controversy with Ukraine has caused Russia to withdraw from the contest entirely. Julia’s performance would have been the perfect vision for the theme of ‘Celebrating Diversity’.

Denmark: Anja – Where I Am

At least one Australian has a plausible chance of making the Top 10 this year.

Malta: Claudia Faniello – Breathlessly

It’s Celine! Celine Dion! She’s back!

Isarel: IMRI – I Feel Alive

Muscles. Sexy eyes. Beards. Hot dancers. This performance belongs at the Mardi Gras After-party. Or at least at Arq. More handsome, gyrating men, please.

France: Alma – Requiem

We had a glimpse of Alma’s performance, and it looks to be one of my favourite uses of the stage this year. She becomes a part of Paris; her dress is but a building on the breathtaking city-scape. Pity the song itself is quite forgettable.

The winner of the Eurovision will be announced in the early hours of Sunday.

Live Broadcasts

Semi Final 2 – Friday 12 May, 5am, (AEST) SBS

Grand Final – Sunday 14 May, 5am, (AEST) SBS

 

Primetime Broadcasts

Semi Final 2 – Saturday 13 May, 7.30pm, SBS

Grand Final – Sunday 14 May, 7.30pm, SBS