The views expressed in this editorial are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of ESC United, its editorial board, its readers, or any other person, entity, or organization.
I admit that although I have been following Eurovision since 2003, I did so as a passive fan. The Semi-Finals was the first time in which I was exposed to each country’s song. When joining ESC United, 2013 marked the first year in which I actually followed the National Selection process. As a result, I began to witness the process through which a Eurovision song unfolds, develops, and evolves to what we see on the grand stage. Then again, I was also exposed to another side of the process: predictions of how good a year will be based on the early contenders. So it frustrates me to hear fans continuously say that the upcoming year’s Eurovision will be the worst ever given the quality of songs presented in the initial National Selections. I argue that there are some caveats:
- We have only heard a small fraction of the songs to be presented at Eurovision 2015. Five songs have been selected so far, and 34 remain to be presented to the public (although songs from the National Selections are slowly appearing on the Internet). Call me optimistic, but like Scooch once sang years ago, “The Best is Yet to Come.” Remember that songs like “Euphoria” and “Rise Like a Phoenix” were some of the last songs selected and/or presented. There are many selections this year that I am excited to hear about, particularly Serbia, Romania, and Hungary. I would not be surprised if these change the tide.
- Consider the current crop of songs to be demos. The delegations do not have to present the final versions of their songs until the Spring. There are still months to tinker with the songs. We have seen it done before, and in many cases, the songs can end up being quite different from what was first presented. I’m hesitant to say “better” though. I admit there are some songs that I feel are far inferior in their final form.But look at this another way. Madonna was pissed when her demos from “Rebel Heart” were released last month. Understandably so, the demos were works in progress that had yet to be completed. But with Eurovision, the delegations want to hear our thoughts as the voting public. If we have a strong disdain for a song, they listen and make changes. So in some ways, the versions we hear in the National Selections are their demos. And then we as fans express our thoughts to help the countries improve their songs.
For example, I loved it when Ukraine surveyed fans for their thoughts on “Gravity.” The results were made public and changes were made. Most thought the final version was superior and the placing indicated Ukraine made the right move. The next year, Ukraine tested the waters for different versions of “Tick Tock” at their own national selection and then in Malta’s. Fans reacted and Ukraine made changes. Then Ukraine started to release snippets of the re-recording of “Tick Tock.” I remember a great video of the recording of the guitar section. It made for a great dialogue between artists and fans. And again, Ukraine had a respectable placing in Copenhagen. The one sad thing about Eurovision 2015 is we will not be able to see Ukraine evolve a song and artist into what most likely would have been another solid Top 10 placing.
- The current crop of songs are newer. I admit that when I first heard all the final songs in 2013 and 2014, I was a bit disappointed. However, after listening to these songs on my iPhone while commuting to work and working out at the gym, I have to say that many grew on me. Sometimes, these songs take a few listens to fully enjoy. So since the 2015 batch are only months, if not weeks, old, we still have time to grow to appreciate them. Georgia’s song last year is a prime example. On the first listen, many people did not get it, myself included. However, for myself, it took many listens and the song now stands out as unique, different, and great peak into the Georgian music scene. I only wish the Shin could have actually performed live, to really showcase some of the nice intricacies of the music. I will admit, this is counterintuitive, given that I believe that Eurovision is a contest all about instant gratification. Countries have three minutes to impress the voting public, many of whom have never been exposed to the songs prior. So songs like Georgia that do not yield a good first impression fall flat.
I am hoping that as fans, we are just being overenthusiastic. After all, we want the best for the show in order to sustain its longevity for another 60 years. And given that Vienna will be the 60th show, we expect it to be one of the best ever, particularly since it will be hosted by a country that last won in the 1960s! So keep the faith. We have yet to hear most of the songs. The current songs may still be “unfinished” so to speak, and we may need more listens to like them.
Nevertheless, as mentioned in a previous writing, I am opting not to listen to any of the songs until the big shows. (I want to experience the novelty of hearing a song for the first time there.) So truth be told, the fans stating that this may be the worst Eurovision ever may be correct. The current songs out there may just suck! And if that is the case, well then disregard everything I just said!