In 2017, the best song of the contest was City Lights by Blanche. A nervous high-school student stood stock-still on stage, opened her mouth, and let loose a whiskey-soaked whisper that sounded like it was channeled straight from the grave of Marlene Dietrich. And all of this was gently underlaid by a throbbing electronic hook that added a sense of post-apocalyptic urgency. It came fourth, and left me hungry to see what Blanche would do next.
Of course, Blanche had to go back to high school and do exams and all those other teenager things that tend to take out Eurovision contenders (Frans, I’m looking at you.)
So when Blanche released a new song last week, I was super excited to see what had been cooking during her hiatus. And what came out was…well, a song that I didn’t know if I liked or not.
At this point you can stop to side-eye me, because I gave Benjamin Ingrosso and Felix Sandman a completely uncritical review for their disposable pop song last week.
But Blanche is – Blanche isn’t just a pretty face who can bop around on stage. She’s got a wonderful, distinctive voice and delivery, and should go on to a long career delivering stripped-back electroclash ballads. I expect more from her because there’s more talent there to cherish.
But on first listen “Wrong Turn” seemed over processed. There was too much of something, and not enough of Blanche. I listened to the song like a medical examiner, trying to pinpoint the exact moment when it went wrong. (Not in the first thirty seconds…is it when the chorus kicks in at 47 seconds?)
And then this weekend, after I had given up trying to figure out what was wrong, I found myself singing the chorus. So the song can’t be THAT bad, because it’s got a memorable hook.
In the end, I think what bugs me about this song is that it’s too fast to be a ballad, and too slow to be a banger. It’s stuck uncomfortably in the middle, with Blanche layered under electronic hee haws and doodahs at the exact moments the song should be letting us appreciate her voice.
The good news is that a stripped back acoustic-ish version of this song exists, putting all the attention where it needs to be – on Blanche and her remarkable voice. Long may she sing.