Happy sort of Eurovision Week, everyone! Instead of stuffing my face with stroopwaffels and goodies from the Vegetarian Butcher, I’m sitting at home in London trying to scrounge disinfectant wipes at the local Sainsburys and ordering hypebeast facemasks online.
And yet I very much don’t disagree with the decision to cancel the in-person Eurovision this year. It’s keeping people safe – especially people who are immunocompromised – and means that we don’t have to spend valuable dance time getting anxious about people sweating on us.
But despite the cancellation, Diet Eurovision(TM) is going to go ahead with a spate of events that we can all enjoy from the comfort of our own homes. Benefits? No long lines at the bar, no bouncers going through our bags, and no long waits for public transport or taxis after the show. Let’s just focus on those instead of the fact that spinning to a Balkan ballad in one’s front room is not nearly as fun as it is in Euroclub.
Anyway, in time-honoured Dudepoints tradition, I do want to present a comprehensive guide to all the songs that would have competed this year if The Rona(TM) hadn’t appeared on the scene. Since I don’t have the scaffolding of running order upon which to hang a critique, I’ve decided to dole it out over the next few days in my preference order, from last to first:
41st place: Romania (Alcohol You, Roxen)
Look, Roxen has a beautiful voice – throaty and distinctive. But this song ranks dead last for two reasons:
1. That horrible pun of a title – Alcohol you when I’m drunk? Look, Romania, this is a song contest, not an open mic night at the local comedy club.
2. The mention of ‘fake news’ – In the middle of a pandemic when people are dying because the virus is being dismissed as something that’s made up, I just don’t have any patience to even hear this phrase. It represents everything that’s gotten us into this whole lockdown situation in the first place, and I DO NOT NEED REMINDING.
40th place: Cyprus (Running, Sandro)
Why is Running so low? Sadly, Sandro is the victim of circumstances. Cyprus was one of the last countries to drop their entry for the contest, which meant that Sandro wasn’t subject to a million obsessive listens. His song never had time to bed in, unlike….
…Andras Kallay-Saunders, who represented Hungary in 2014 with a song called Running. That’s been rattling around my brain pan for six years now, and is immediately what comes to mind when I hear the song title Running.
39th place: Croatia (Divlji Vjetre, Damir Kedžo)
There are people who appreciate a solidly delivered Balkan ballad, full of difficult to pronounce consonants, soaring choruses, and a lot of male emotions.
I am not one of them.
Damir performs competently and with much feeling, but I remain stone hearted, unmoved, and mentally planning to slot in a pee break here.
38th place: Bulgaria (Tears Getting Sober, Victoria)
Bulgaria took last year out from Eurovision after the Common Framework of Equinox failed to electrify fans as much as it did me, but it returned in a big way with Victoria this year. Or so I’ve heard from other fans.
I suspect that this might have resonated with me were I to see Victoria enchant a stadium full of Eurofans with a stripped-back rendition of this song, but we never got to that point. Instead, all we is a lovely studio version of a mellow song that comes on my playlist while I’m working and then passes into the night completely forgotten.
37th place: Albania (Fall from the Sky, Arilena Ara)
Arilena Ara was the first contestant in our 2020 competition, beating out the fan-favourite ethnic banger Me Tana in a nailbiting Albanian national final. But back those many months ago, the title of her song was ‘Shaj’, and the lyrics were all in Albanian. And although I had wanted Me Tana to win, I still found myself wandering around the house belting out the occasional SHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAJ SHAAAAAAAAAAAAJ.
And then Arilena changed the lyrics to English, and the mystery was lost. I could no longer channel wordless passion into that primal scream of SHAAAAAAAAJ,but could actually associate it with understandable sentiments. And these sentiments were too generic to capture the magic Shaj once had.
36th place: Switzerland (Respondez-Moi, Gjon’s Tears)
Oh, Gjon’s Tears. You seem like a nice kid. But there’s a LOT going on here. That very, very long falsetto note. The 1990s Calvin Klein cologne ad aesthetic. The fact that you perform under the name ‘Gjon’s Tears’.
If I were a teenager who had intense feelings about things, I would completely eat this entry up with a spoon. But I’m an adult who has intense feelings about things that I wish I could turn off,and as a result, the whole package just seems like a lot to deal with – a lot I don’t have the bandwidth to deal with right now. At a time when I’m trying to keep from crying at inappropriate times in my house, more drama is the last thing I need.
35th place: North Macedonia (You, Vasil)
Vasil, it’s not me, it’s YOU.
As in you’re incredibly talented and charismatic. I really want to see what you’ll bring to Eurovision. But YOU doesn’t seem to be about…you. It seems like a song that someone made you sing – and you do it well – but there’s enough of you in there that makes me wonder what you could do with a song that allows you to express your actual, true, wonderful self.
34th place: United Kingdom (My Last Breath, James Newman)
After watching the BBC Newsbeat report about James Newman and the cancellation of the 2020 contest, I feel kind of guilty about ranking this so low. James is adorable! He’s got rabbits! He had corona! He’s written songs for Little Mix!
If James Newman were announced as the 2021 UK representative to Eurovision, I’d be happy.
…despite how wonderful James Newman seems as a person, I can’t get over the fact that his song is essentially a romantic re-imagining of making the person you love watch you suffocate to death before they in turn suffocate. Jesus. At least try to take your last breath and expire at the same time, James!
33rd place: Poland (Alicja, Empires)
Is this song bad? No.
Is the timing off for a lot of the elements associated with this song? Oh goodness yes.
Is 2020 the year to talk about how easy it is to destroy empires? Probably not! Many of us are having very mixed feelings about the failures of capitalism and the abdication of responsibility by the state at this moment, so singing about fools toting around just brings up the many anxieties I am trying to supress right now!
32nd place: Georgia (Tornike Kipiani, Take Me As I Am)
Wow, this song is UNHINGED. And unhinged in a good way! Most Eurovision songs mention other countries in a pandering way, throwing in snippets of other languages or references to European cities as a desparate grab for points.
Not Tornike. Oh no.
Tornike basically shits on what he considers the best attributes of other European countries and the expectation that he lives up to them – although, to be fair to his girlfriend, it is pretty easy to smell like a Frenchman.
I love this song in a “we need more of it in Eurovision” kind of way, but also can’t quite love it enough to overlook the fact that it’s a little bit Too Cool for School in the way that Georgia does every few years (Young Georgian Lolitaz, I am looking at you.)
31st place: Belgium (Hooverphonic, Release Me)
Look, it’s a very nice entry that fulfills the Bond Theme quota required in every Eurovision. It’s something I’d put on a chillout playlist. But it’s by a group whose name makes me think of Hoobastank, and I can’t get over that. I know that’s my failing, not theirs, but I still can’t get over it.
The next 10 places tomorrow! Any hate you want to send my way for not liking your favourite? You know where to find me on Twitter.