The 2018 Eurovision Song Contest is merely weeks away. In fact, the final is exactly one month away from today. Have you listened to all 43 of the songs yet? If the answer is no, then we both admire and envy you. 2018’s contest is not going to go down in Eurovision history as a stellar year. And there are sections of the 43 songs that are a lot more a slog to get through than normal.
We have, however, been doing just that. Slogging through, and living with the songs for a good month or so now. And in amongst the utter dreck, we are pleased to report that there are actually some very good songs that are well worth getting acquainted with and giving plenty of spins to ahead of, and beyond, the contest in May. Sixteen of them, in fact.
We’ve gathered the sixteen highlights below, and ranked them in order of quality. A Top 16 of the year. With every one of them giving us reason to keep going back to them.
But we’d recommend starting with – and to be honest, sticking with – these lot. The top 16 of Eurovision 2018;
Eleni Foureira – Fuego
Every ESC needs at least one ethno-banger per year. Though they’ve been scarce on the ground over the past few years. Perhaps as a result of the obvious thirst amongst fans that this has brought about, Cyprus decided to bring the genre back with an almighty BANG. ‘Fuego’ is several steps above the many generic examples of the genre that have been brought to the contest throughout the years. The music video hits this point home, especially hard. And while ‘Fuego’s style and essence is probably too dated to be a winner, if Eleni can replicate even some of the sass she brings to the music vid, we’re most certainly in for an iconic performance on the night.
Saara Aalto – Monsters
It’s a tale that’s been told many times at Eurovision – accepting oneself and then going on to present who you are to the rest of the world, unashamedly and without compromise. That message won the whole contest in 2014. And hell, actual monsters went and won in 2006. Whatever happens in May though, Saara brings to Eurovision 2018 the absolute anthem of the year. And there are few performers who could give to the song what she does. As evidenced at the London Eurovision Party last week, where multiple acts from this year’s contest performed. Saara Aalto stole the show. Easily and undoubtedly.
Elina Nechayeva – La Forza
No song like this has ever won Eurovision, but then comparatively few have been sent to the contest and given the chance to. And certainly none have ever been sent that are as objectively good as this song. A pop orientated take on opera music. It won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it will make everyone sit up and listen to it. And as we’ve seen many times in recent years at Eurovision, standing out amongst the other songs is the other half of the battle that comes in to play more often than not.
Netta – Toy
Look, there’s no real way to describe this song, or to attempt to describe its charm. And anyone who attempts to is gonna sound a fool. Which, we actually believe is intentional, on the part of Netta. This is just one of those songs where you have to press play and let it all unfold before you as you look and listen on, agog. Enjoy;
Cesár Sampson – Nobody But You
As big, traditional ballads go, this one’s the best of the year. It should do very well for its country. A soulful tune that uses a big melody to build up to a dramatic and climactic finish. It’s gonna be equally dramatic watching this song make its way up the final leader-board on May 12th.
Benjamin Ingrosso – Dance You Off
Sweden enter Eurovision 2018 maintaining their reputation as the big-hitters who mean business. Easily the most contemporary song of the 43, and we find it hard to imagine that anything will match the WOW-factor of the performance that Benjamin Ingrosso has planned for it. ESC fans would be mad at another Swedish win, but once again – they thoroughly deserve it with their entry.
Rasmussen – Higher Ground
The Danes are taking full advantage of the infamous Viking heritage of Scandinavia. If the performance is anything like the national final staging, then we’ll have a continent of viewers enthralled by Rasmussen’s Game of Thrones-esque stylings. And mercifully, the song is more than good enough to hold everyone’s attention once it gets it.
DoReDos – My Lucky Day
Like Denmark, Moldova are delving right into their national heritage to present themselves on the European stage. So we’ve got a full-on, Balkan-pop, turbo-folk banger of epic proportions. Suffice to say, if, during the rest of the year, you don’t go seeking this sort of song out, then Eurovision is the only time you’ll ever encounter it. But ‘My Lucky Day’ is so good, it does make us wonder why we aren’t trawling the Moldovan Spotify playlists for tunes like this. If this website ever goes quiet for a while, you know where we’ll have disappeared to.
Aisel – X My Heart
Azerbaijan, like the United Kingdom this year, are once again sending a ‘Eurovision’ song to ESC, rather than something that represents their own national identity or music scene. We could talk for hours on end why the UK has ended up in this position, but with Azerbaijan, it’s less clear. What we do know however, is that Azerbaijan nearly always get it so very right. Sending not just a Eurovision song like the Brits have done, but a really REALLY great Eurovision entry. ‘X My Heart’ could never really exist outside of the contest, but is going to be a big highlight on the night if it makes it to the final out of that tough first semi. And if it does make it to the final, then the UK entry is gonna sound pretty damp next to this.
Gromee feat. Lukas Meijer – Light Me Up
The public televote grabbers of Eurovision arrive to the 2018 contest with their best song in a few years. And so the 250/1 odds that they currently have, make for a very attractive each-way bet, if you’re that way inclined (though don’t listen to us on the matter – four of our five Eurovision bets last year crashed out in their semi). ‘Light Me Up’ is a contemporary dancepop track with bags of energy. The likes of which, need to be staged well in order to make a big impact. But the Poles could well improve on the Top 10 finish that Norway managed last year with a similar sounding entry.
11: FYR MACEDONIA
Eye Cue – Lost And Found
A song that couldn’t quite decide upon which genre to adhere to, so applied itself to as many as it could manage within the three minute restriction. Needless to say, it’s a bit of an odd one, this one. But really good. We think. We tend to enjoy it more after a few glasses of wine. Make of that what you will.
Yianna Terzi – Oniro Mou
We always love it when Greece go full-on – well – Greek, when it comes to Eurovision. And that’s exactly their approach to this year’s contest. ‘Oniro Mou’ is a song that might well not pick up any more than the standard 12 points from Cyprus, but it’s one that we’re enjoying an awful lot, regardless. And if you’re fond of an epic, albeit niche form of ethno-ballad, then you may find something to enjoy here too.
Julia Samoylova – I Won’t Break
Full disclosure: literally NO ONE else is recommending this song as one of their picks to listen to. But bizarrely, we rather enjoy it. Quite a lot. It’s a big ballad performed with an unintentionally comedy Russian accent. And is in some ways so ludicrous (Google, her name, for the drama that we won’t bother going into here), that it almost reads like the Russians trying to hammer home a point to the rest of Europe, a bit too far . Oh, but what we will show you is this; a clip of her first live performance of the song last week. Be quick, before Russia have it taken down off the web forever. Vocally, it’s horrific. But naturally, we still won’t hear a bad word said about the song. Ever the taste-makers we are.
Alekseev – Forever
This gent is big in Russian speaking countries, and actually hails from Ukraine. So expect ‘Forever’ to pick up big points from the neighbours and mates of Belarus. Thankfully though, the song is up-there enough in terms of quality, where an ‘up-there’ result on the leader-board on May 12th won’t cause too much head scratching or vocal booing. ‘Tis a big piano ballad btw.
Madame Monsieur – Mercy
This year, the French are once again abandoning all notions of what may or may not work well at Eurovision, and just sending a song that would be a massive hit and radio staple in their own country. It’s an admirable approach, we’ve always thought. And this year, it might well pay off better than normal. Not that we think they give a toss. We’re at the stage now where we get the impression that France are treating Eurovision less like a song contest, and more like an opportunity to teach us Philistines what music we should all really be listening to instead.
Ermal Meta & Fabrizio Moro – Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente
Brave of the Italians, to send a song that takes more than a minute to get going properly. But once it does, it manages to exude a hell of a lot of charm in those remaining two minutes. Our Italian-language skills are non-existent, so we don’t know what they’re singing about. And looking at the video, we’re not sure we want to know, either. But YAY – great song guys.
Ok, so if you really do think you can handle any more after all of that, then we would suggest these lot as being on the next level down on the listenable scale. But it’s quite a far bit down.
Anything else after these lot though? Absolutely not. Nope, don’t do it to yourself.