All opinions expressed in this article are those of the person quoted and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the other team members or ESC United as a whole.

As of today’s date, the 22nd of March, the Top 5 of the odds for the upcoming Eurovision in Malmö are:

A look back at recent history tells us that our future winner is most likely one of these five songs. But which one will it be? It’s far too early to know for sure. (Worth noting: Fellow Eurovision fansite Eurovoix has developed a prediction model that forecasts an Italian win.) I would argue, however, that there is a song that SHOULD win … provided it’s executed as perfectly as we all know it can be: “The Code”, performed by Switzerland’s 2024 representative Nemo.

Before you pull out your rotten tomatoes to throw at me, hear me out! Here are the five reasons why I believe THIS is the year that a Switzerland win could be the ideal, happiest outcome:

Celine

Celine Dion is arguably the most famous performer ever to emerge from Eurovision. Since winning the contest, the Canadian belter has sold over 200 million albums, grossed over 1 billion dollars in touring revenue, and achieved huge chart success with singles like “My Heart Will Go On” and “That’s The Way It Is”. She is also the best-selling French-language artist in history. So, needless to say, her impact on pop culture has been immeasurably huge. In fact, she is SO globally famous that there are probably millions of Celine fans who aren’t even aware that the Queen of Power Ballads had her first international breakout moment as a curly-haired 20 year on stage at the 1988, Dublin-hosted contest.

Celine Dion, ESC 1988.

In December of 2022, after cancelling a number of tour dates throughout the year, Celine Dion announced some rather tragic news on her Instagram account: She had been diagnosed with SPS or ‘stiff-person syndrome’, a rare autoimmune disorder that causes spasms and, in some cases, a complete loss of control over muscle activity. She has bravely been fighting the disease ever since, even filming an upcoming documentary about her struggles with the disease.

Since then, Celine has made few public appearances as she continued to fight and adapt to her new normal in private. (According to her sister in a December 2023 interview, she had lost all control over her muscles at that time.) Last month, however, fans were surprised and delighted when the now-55 year old songstress emerged at the Grammy Awards to present Album of the Year to Taylor Swift. The singer received a standing ovation from the audience of industry insiders, a fitting tribute for a showbiz legend.

Celine Dion and Taylor Swift, 2024 Grammys.

But here’s the sad reality: As her battle with the disease intensifies, the number of public appearances Celine will be willing and able to make will grow smaller and smaller. If the Eurovision universe at large wants to honor its most famous daughter in the way that she deserves, time could be of the essence. And what better place to do it than at a Switzerland-hosted Eurovision? Imagine the broadcaster putting together a tribute to her as an interval act. Imagine Switzerland trotting out its most recent string of sensitive, turtleneck-boys to sing covers of her greatest hits. Imagine the pizzazz Nemo could put on “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now”. Imagine Marius Bear putting his own mournful spin on “I Drove All Night”. Imagine the power of Remo Forrer‘s vocals on an emotional cover of “The Prayer”. And in an ideal world where her health is permitting, imagine Celine herself capping the number off with her own modern take on “Ne partez pas sans moi“. It would be a great moment. Plus, all those Celine fans who weren’t previously aware of her Eurovision connection would be watching in droves.

A Swiss entry has not won the contest since Celine did it in 1988. There hasn’t been an opportunity or a venue for Eurovision to fully celebrate her storied legacy and career. This would be the perfect excuse, and not a moment too soon.

Nemo

24-year-old singer and rapper Nemo Mettler, or simply Nemo, has already accomplished more than artists twice their age. A music prodigy from the very beginning, Nemo was performing for large crowds while barely a teenager, getting cast in a jukebox musical based on the songs of Eurovision 1966 winner Udo Jürgens at age 13. Their big break, though, came in 2016 when the then-16 year old’s appearance on Swiss streaming hip hop show Virus Bounce Cypher went viral, racking up half a million views and earning them legions of fans. (See below.)

This began a meteoric rise for a kid who still had their braces on. They released three EPs, won four Swiss music awards, and topped the Swiss music charts with their German-language hip hop tracks. It was all a bit much for the still maturing artist, and Nemo soon decamped to Los Angeles where they began working on English pop music and writing songs for other US, German, and Swiss-based acts.

Nemo, ‘Masked Singer’ 2021.

They returned to Europe in style in 2021, introducing fans to their new electro pop sound and attitude, even appearing on the 2nd season of The Masked Singer Switzerland. Since then, Nemo has been based out of Berlin and has been writing and releasing a steady stream of songs that fuse their pop and hip hop music sensibilities, including the 2023 single “This Body”. That song, co-written with fellow “The Code” scribe Benjamin Alasu, is a deeply personal track exploring Nemo’s evolving gender identity. In 2023, timed to that song’s release, Nemo came out as non-binary.

Nemo has, in a very short amount of time, demonstrated a wide range of skills and ambitions, writing and recording music across genres and demonstrating an ability to collaborate with other artists from around the globe. That is precisely the kind of talent Eurovision should be looking to elevate: talents on the rise whose continued success will only make the contest look better and better the more that they accomplish. If Eurovision is to continue to make its mark on the international music scene, it needs winners who will use the platform to evolve, push boundaries, and effortlessly demand attention. Nemo has the potential to do just that, and rubber-stamping them as a superstar could do wonders for the contest’s long term impact and viability.

Switzerland

Vanilla Ninja, ESC 2005.

Much has been made of Switzerland’s recent string of sad boy art ballads at Eurovision, and that reputation is not entirely unjustified. That being said, it’s easy to forget that the country’s turtleneck-boy era is the most successful string of entries Switzerland has had since the introduction of the semi-finals. From 2004 to 2018, Switzerland managed to qualify for the Grand Final a mere four times. (Only one of those songs, 2005’s “Cool Vibes” by Estonian female-led rock band Vanilla Ninja, managed to place in the Top 10.) Quite an inauspicious track record for the country that hosted the very first Eurovision Song Contest and boasted its first ever winner.

Needless to say, coming off of a four-contest-long streak of qualifications, Switzerland’s Grand Final berth can now seem like an inevitability. The country celebrated Top 5 finishes in both 2019 and 2021, even winning the jury at the latter contest. Lost in the jokes about Switzerland’s penchant for lowkey brunette dudes, however, is the incredible change in momentum and perception that the country has achieved in a short amount of time. To go from a floundering husk of its former glory to a jury magnet and a creative staging innovator is a feat that should be celebrated. Switzerland has invested in quality.

Luca Hänni, ESC 2019.

The difference in approach by the Swiss broadcaster has been immediately apparent since 2019, when Luca Hänni took to the stage in Tel Aviv. Under the creative direction of choreographer extraordinaire Sacha Jean-Baptiste, Switzerland has invested in the very best staging packages, even in years when it was clear the country had no shot at winning. This kind of unwavering and enthusiastic support by a broadcaster of its artists is, sadly, not always a given. Recent examples, such as both Romania and the Netherlands’ efforts in 2023, show us what it looks like when a delegation throws it singers to the wolves. In most cases, acts competing at Eurovision are young, up-and-coming, and green. To pluck them out of obscurity, elevate them onto Europe’s biggest stage, and treat them so cavalierly is cruel. It’s wasteful. It’s lazy.

Switzerland doesn’t do cruel. It doesn’t do lazy. It’s continued to set an example of how magical an experience Eurovision can be for artists when they’re surrounded by the very best and supported 100%, outcome be damned. That’s the spirt, consistency, artistry, and seriousness we should be encouraging and celebrating. A Swiss win would be a worthy and (some would argue) overdue show of our appreciation for the way the country has been approaching the contest AND could serves as instruction/encouragement for other countries to take their participation seriously. If Switzerland can go from one of the worst contest track records of the 21st century to a major Eurovision powerhouse in such a short amount of time, any other country can do the same. It just takes a little extra effort.  

Eurovision

Let’s take another look at those betting odds. Notice anything?

Sharing space with Croatia and Switzerland at the top of this year’s crop are three of the four most recent winners of the contest. Expanded out to the Top 10 of the betting odds, Sweden and Israel are also in the mix. If we’re to trust these numbers, the likelihood of a country winning twice in a five-or-six-year span is quite high. And though there’s no arguing with the quality, individuality, and popularity of songs like “Teresa & Maria”, “La noia”, and “Europapa”, one can’t help but feel a little discouraged by the prospect of one of those countries repeating as victor so soon. For the viability and longevity of Eurovision, the wealth has got to be spread wider.

Andrea, ESC 2022.

There are 37 countries competing at Eurovision this year. At various points in the national final season, there was a very real possibility that number could have been as low as 35. That would have been the fewest number of competing entries since 2003, the year prior to the introduction of the semi-finals. (The number could have been even lower without the returns of Luxembourg and Australia, which were not always a given.) Ignoring the batch of countries that have either been excluded for complicated geopolitical reasons or have excluded themselves for sociopolitical draconian-ism, Eurovision has been steadily shedding underdog delegations over the past few years due to financial concerns. Montenegro, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Romania, even Bosnia & Herzegovina … their absences have been felt.

Broadcasters require an enthusiastic populace to continue justifying the rising cost of participation, and that becomes a hard thing to cultivate when the same four or five powerhouse nations dominate the contest every year. If that trend continues, it’s not hard to imagine a reality where we shed another handful of countries over the next decade. For the health of the contest’s future, we’ve got to stop the bleeding. Eurovision has been around for nearly 70 years, a LONG period for any pop culture institution. It’s continued existence is not a guarantee, and a return to the ’90s dominance by only three or four countries wouldn’t help matters.

Piqued Jacks, ESC 2023.

Compounding the issue are the ways in which every corner of the Eurovision universe has seemed to lose sight of the contest’s original spirit. The EBU, with behind-the-scenes pressure by some national broadcasters, has made several controversial creative and administrative decisions. National delegations have been colluding in backdoor channels, culminating in 2022 when six countries’ jury points were excluded for cheating the system. And the online Eurovision fandom has become increasingly polarized and careless with the very human artists putting it all on the line for three minutes of high pressure performance, even driving Sammarinese broadcaster RTV to release a statement last year condemning the way its artists (Piqued Jacks) had been treated by the community at large.

We are all, in ways big and small, culpable in the slow erosion of the true spirt of the Eurovision Song Contest. Everyone involved needs a reminder of why the contest began in the first place. In 1956, the European Broadcasting Union dreamed up the idea of a friendly competition between its members’ finest musical voices. A little over a decade since the end of World War 2, the continent was still in the process of putting the pieces back together and mending the deep trenches of aggression and pain separating its member nations. THAT’S what Eurovision was (and still is) all about: bridging gaps between countries, people, and ideologies, all through the transportive language of songwriting.

Lys Assia, ESC 1956.

Eurovision is in need of a reset, a deep breath of reflection on where we’ve all been and where we could be going. What better way to do that than to return to the birthplace of the contest, to the country where Lys Assia emerged triumphantly on stage on the night of May 24, 1956, to serenade an entire continent with her victors’ reprise. Imagine the first semi-final of Eurovision 2025 opening with Gjon’s Tears performing an avant-garde, operatic take on her winning song, “Reprise”.

Next year’s contest would be as perfect a time as any to reflect on the past 70-odd years of Eurovision history, and no country is more cosmically suited to the job than Switzerland. Bonus points: Despite its longevity in the contest, Switzerland has only ever won twice, the last time over 30 years ago. A Swiss win wouldn’t be a return to the status quo in the way a win by some of this year’s other frontrunners would. Let’s inject some fresh ideas, fresh production, fresh hosts into the mix by gifting the job of hosting Eurovision to a country that’s been waiting decades for another shot.

“The Code”

If you’ve made it this far, two things: One, thank you! Two, I know what you’re thinking:

“Isn’t this about the Eurovision SONG Contest, William? Isn’t this supposed to be about the songs?

Fair enough. Though I would argue a Eurovision win is never JUST about the song, it is obviously vitally important. Luckily, “The Code” is strong enough to withstand all the pressure I’ve placed on it.

(Left to right) Nemo, Alasu, Dale, Nymann, SUISA songwriting camp 2023.

Written by Nemo, Zurich-based producer ‘Benji’ Alasu, Swedish electro-pop performer and writer Linda Dale, and former Norwegian Armed Forces enlistee and Berlin-based music creative NYLAN, “The Code” was conceived at the 2023 SUISA songwriting camp, an annual event held from May 30-June 1 of last year in Zurich. (This was a mere 17 days after a song written at the previous year’s camp, Remo Forrer’s “Watergun”, was performed at the Eurovision Grand Final in Liverpool.) Put on by SUISA, a Swiss copyright collective that strives to protect the rights of musical artists and foster collaboration between them, this songwriting camp has been the birthplace of a number of previous Eurovision entries. This includes “Stones” (Switzerland 2018), “Sister” (Germany 2019), and “Amen” (Austria 2021).

On the second day of the 2023 songwriting camp, SUISA’s artistic director paired up four very different musical minds in hopes that magic would happen. And happen it did!

“The Code” is an exhilarating odd duck of a song,  skillfully mixing hip hop, opera, and electropop. I would also argue that it is the perfect synthesis of the very best things that have been succeeding at Eurovision lately. Executed correctly on stage, it would have the attention grabbing bravado of “Cha Cha Cha”, the avant-garde artistry of “Tout l’univers”, the slick Scandipop production of “Tattoo”, the Bohemian Rhapsodic-soundscape of “Mama ŠČ!”, the quirk and personal resonance of “Think About Things”, and the off-the-wall weirdness of “Who The Hell is Edgar?”. “The Code” boasts enough individuality and showmanship to appeal to a broad base of televoters AND the industry-friendly mix of polish and vocal mastery to satisfy the ever-fickle national juries.

Nemo and Linda Dale, SUISA songwriting camp 2023.

Quite simply, it could be a winner that would satisfy a large chunk of the Eurovision bubble. And, especially in our current moment, it would be nice to have a winner that everyone can more or less agree upon. The fact that winner could be something as strange as “The Code” is a sign of just how far the contest has come. Of course, this could all get thrown out the window if this song, this performance, Nemo themself fall apart on the night. But how likely is that? Switzerland hasn’t fumbled the bag in years, and they certainly aren’t going to do it when they have a very real shot at winning.

I don’t know if “The Code” will win Eurovision in May, but I do think that it probably should. Prove me wrong, every other country. The gauntlet has been thrown.

Did #YOU make it to the end of this article? #YOU must be a fanatic. But what do #YOU think? Would #YOU be happy with a Swiss win? Or are #YOU rooting for another country to clinch this year’s victory? Let us know on social media @ESCUnited, on our Discord, or on our forum page!

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