We’re a month away from the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest. And that requires a *SCREAM*. It also requires that you familiarise yourself with all 43 songs (or 42, if Russia get disqualified for reasons which you can read about on any Eurovision fan site, but which we can’t be arsed to get into right now) ahead of the contest, for maximum enjoyment on the night. Or three nights. Semi 1 on May 9th, Semi 2 on May 11th, and the final on May 13th.
However, as you may know all too well by now, familiarising yourself with 43 Eurovision songs is a bit of a task in any one Eurovision year. And it’s an even bigger task this year, with less rewards than normal. Because 2017’s Eurovision will certainly not be going down in history as a vintage year. There’s some absolute tripe, as always. But more of it. And there’s also a lot of alright, acceptable, ok, but ultimately forgettable songs too. Again, much more than usual.
As it’s the Eurovision Song Contest though, you CAN rely on a few gems out of the whole line-up. Even if this year they have in some cases been a lot harder to spot as such. But we have narrowed it down to fifteen songs that are most definitely worth not just a listen, but repeated listens, and worth getting excited about in the run-up to next month’s contest.
If you wanna listen to them all via Spotify, we’ve frontloaded our ten year extravaganza, Best of 2008 – 2017 Eurovision playlist, with all of the highlights. Listen right here.
And these are the 15 songs from this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, that you REALLY need to hear (in no particular order);
Koit Toome & Laura: Verona
A camp duet that has almost as much drama shoe-horned into it as the classic Shakespearean novel it references throughout the lyrics. TECHNICALLY it’s a mid-tempo ballad. But it’s dressed up as a staple of any provincial gay club dance floor classic on any Saturday night of the last 25 years……….as yes it’s as dated as its detractors are accusing it of being. You don’t need us to tell you that it’s our favourite song in this year’s contest!
Brendan Murray: Dying To Try
(Jörgen Elofsson, James Newman)
Crueller listeners have renamed this one ‘Trying to Die’. And it’s true, there’s not a lot that happens here for the first 90 seconds. But as though to retrospectively balance things out a bit, there’s not a lot that doesn’t happen for the final 90 seconds! It would seem that when Jörgen was given a brief to write a song for Ireland, he naturally took himself back to the days when he used to make number 1 singles for Irish boybands. And the forgettable subtlety of the first half of the song is well and truly forgotten once the Shane-Filan-dismounting-from-his-chair-for-the-key-change ending takes place. It’s that bit that elevates the song into something special.
Blanche: City Lights
(Pierre Dumoulin, Emmanuel Delcourt, Pierre Dumoulin, Ellie Delvaux)
We’ve seen people note that this song is too good for Eurovision. And while we wouldn’t agree with that sentiment, we do know what they mean. For three minutes it does feel like you’re not listening to the Eurovision 2017 playlist, but rather the Spotify Top 50 chart. A deliberately subtle banger that serves as a synthpop re-imagining of trip-hop. It’s over far too quickly, and if they win with this – which they could very easily do – we’d love a four minute version with the most ostentatious crescendo taking place throughout the final 60 seconds.
(Svala Bjorgvinsdottir, Einar Egilsson, Lester Mendez, Lily Elise)
This year Iceland have tunnelled deep into their most Northern glaciers to unearth the coldest chill and inject it into this icy Nordic electropop masterpiece. If performed with enough menace on the night, it could well turn that chill into thrill for many Europeans sitting at home and waiting for inspiration to vote. IF Iceland qualify for the final, which they’ve unjustly had difficulty doing recently.
Kristian Kostov: Beautiful Mess
(Borislav Milanov, Sebastian Arman, Joacim Persson, Alexander V. Blay, Alex Omar)
This atmospheric ballad is now second favourite to win, and it’s not difficult to understand why. Building like a traditional ballad, it follows the chorus with a haunting, Eastern Europe instrumental. ‘Beautiful Mess’ is a reluctant epic, which is going to stand out as something a bit magical on the night.
Robin Bengtsson: I Can’t Go On
(David Kreuger, Hamed “K-One” Pirouzpanah, Robin Stjernberg)
Well if we’re looking for the song that above all others has the winning combination of likeability, tune, production, contemporary sound and style, outstanding performer, staging, and eye-catching performance……….then sorry guys, but on paper it’s once again Sweden. Robin Bengtsson’s ‘I Can’t Go On’ has all of the above comfortably ticked. Though it also has one main competitor (more on that below). Still, Sweden are looking like they’ll be getting their sixth Top 5 placing in seven years. With the third gent on the songwriter credits righting his wrong of it not being seven in seven years!
Norma John: Blackbird
(Lasse Piirainen, Leena Tirronen)
A stark and dark folk ballad that’s an absolute beauty. Like Iceland, Finland are another Nordic country who have had difficulty qualifying to the final in recent years. Though in the case of Finland, it’s been deserved. This year however, the Eurovision final is going to suffer greatly without the inclusion of the Finns. And as it’s the kind of love song that’s as traditional as it is ethereal, it will hopefully appeal to a mass audience and do very well in the results.
Ilinca ft. Alex Florea: Yodel It
(Mihai Alexandru Alexa Niculae)
This is the go-to piece of novelty trash in this year’s Eurovision. For some it might be San Marino, but to us that’s a misguided mess. THIS however, is borderline genius. A rap artist paired with a yodeller. What could possibly be off-putting about that? Well, nothing as it happens. The yodel chorus is pure joy, and gets more ridiculous with each chorus – climaxing in a final rendition that we find it hard to believe she’s going to be able to recreate live on the night. But OH what fun it’ll be to watch!
(Isa Melikov, Sandra Bjurman)
Well HARK at Azerbaijan delivering an awesome slice of electronica to Eurovision! Not what we were expecting from them at all, and more akin to the contributions of a Scandi nation. As you know, that’s really the highest compliment we could give a song. So yeah – we’re big fans of this one.
IMRI: I Feel Alive
(Dolev Ram, Penn Hazut)
The impossibly handsome IMRI turns in a bouncey dose of dancepop. In truth, it almost veers into mediocrity a few times throughout. But overall it’s rescued by a tempo gets more pounding as the song progresses, an unexpected and amazing middle eight, and an infectious enthusiasm emanating from the singer himself.
Tijana Bogicevic: In Too Deep
(Borislav Milanov, Joacim Persson, Lisa Desmond, Johan Alkenaes)
Serbia have borrowed one of the writers behind Malta’s entry last year, and evidently requested another euphoric pop tune with its roots in trip-hop, and particularly tailor made for Eurovision. And they’ve got it! Just as top notch as last year’s ‘Walk On Water’, and with a slight Balkan infusion so as to keep it real. Hopefully this will ease into the final, as it would be an utter joy on the night.
(Elias Näslin, Alessandra Günthardt, Nicolas Günthardt)
Switzerland have had some of the poorest results at Eurovision of all countries taking part over the past few decades. And once again this year, we’ve not seen many people big up ‘Apollo’. But we’re liking it a lot. A big, beat-heavy, melody-driven, mid-tempo ballad. It won’t be a massive surprise if this doesn’t make the final. But it will be a bit of a shame.
Jana Burceska: Dance Alone
(Joacim Perrson, Alex Omar, Bobi-Leon Milanov, Florence A)
This sounds like Nina Persson singing a cheesy, Euro-techno chart topper from the eighties. There’s a lot to like in that description, and the resulting song doesn’t disappoint. This one SCREAMS fan-fave-that-fails-to-qualify. But Eurovision history is littered with superb tunes that fall into this category, and the bunch will be all the richer for the inclusion of ‘Dance Alone’.
Lucie Jones: Never Give Up On You
(Emmelie de Forest, Daniel Salcedo, Lawrie Martin)
The UK arrive to this year’s contest in quite an awkward position, in terms of the political landscape (which is always a factor to be taken into consideration at the Eurovision Song Contest, whether you want to believe it or not). They come equipped with a strong love song that’s performed with an even stronger vocal. The accidentally ironic title won’t be lost on some. And while the song deserves to do well on its own merit, even with that taken into account, in truth Bulgaria has the dark-and-brooding-ballad-market well and truly sewn up this year.
Francesco Gabbani: Occidentali’s Karma
(Francesco Gabbani, Filippo Gabbani, Luca Chiaravalli, Fabio Ilacqua)
The fan favourite, the bookies favourite, and probably your favourite too. It took us longer than we expected to come round to this, but we’re there now. And we seem to be the only ones who took any longer than one listen to get there. It’s still not our favourite. But it’s the one we catch ourselves humming the most outside of listening. And is undoubtedly a worthy winner, should it make it as far as everyone is expecting it to.