Our Predictions: 2019 Semifinal Two

Okay, everyone, you saw how the first Semifinal went. Don’t be that Semifinal. BE CHAMPIONS.

Jen:

  • Armenia
  • Switzerland
  • Romania
  • Sweden
  • Austria
  • Malta
  • Russia
  • The Netherlands
  • North Macedonia
  • Azerbaijan
Chris:

  • Switzerland
  • Romania
  • Sweden
  • Austria
  • Malta
  • Russia
  • Norway
  • The Netherlands
  • North Macedonia
  • Azerbaijan

Hey, we differ on one pick! We are totally different people!

Armenia: Srbuk – “Walking Out”

Jen – Q. Confidence: Low.
Chris – NQ. Confidence: Low.

Jen thinks this is a good opener that should be memorable enough to get votes (especially from the juries) at the end of the night. Chris thinks it is going to get lost in the shuffle.

Ireland: Sarah McTernan – “22”

Jen – NQ. Confidence: Medium.
Chris – NQ. Confidence: Medium.

Ireland is going for a very cutesy staging, full of bright colors, pop art, and a soda fountain counter. Sure it all plays into the style of song, but we think it looks cheesy.

Moldova: Anna Odobescu – “Stay”

Jen – NQ. Confidence: High.
Chris – NQ. Confidence: Medium.

Moldova hired the sand artist that worked for Ukraine in 2011, just to show you how devoid of originality this whole package really is. And they don’t trust her to do the sand art live.

Switzerland: Luca Hänni – “She Got Me”

Jen – Q. Confidence: Medium.
Chris – Q. Confidence: Medium.

Luca is giving us IMRI vibes. Switzerland will probably qualify for the Final, but we’re no longer sure this is a top 10 contender.

Latvia: Carousel – “That Night”

Jen – NQ. Confidence: High.
Chris – NQ. Confidence: Medium.

We give Latvia credit for thinking outside of the box with their selection. Not that we think they will land much of an impact.

Romania: Ester Peony – “On a Sunday”

Jen – Q. Confidence: Low.
Chris – Q. Confidence: Low.

Ester has brought the kitchen sink to Tel Aviv. We are hoping she will be a hoot.

Denmark: Leonora – “Love Is Forever”

Jen – NQ. Confidence: Low.
Chris – NQ. Confidence: Low.

Denmark at its most insufferably smug. We are picking against them because we don’t like ourselves when we are stabby.

Sweden: John Lundvik – “Too Late for Love”

Jen – Q. Confidence: High.
Chris – Q. Confidence: High.

Rather than relying on stage gimmicks, Sweden focuses on their star. John shines as a performer and gives “Too Late for Love” a lot of personality.

Austria: Pænda – “Limits”

Jen – Q. Confidence: Low.
Chris – Q. Confidence: Low.

“Limits” is a tough one to call. Gentle, intimate songs often struggle to connect. On the other hand, Pænda will bring a lot of emotional depth to it. It really could go either way.

Croatia: Roko – “The Dream”

Jen – NQ. Confidence: Medium.
Chris – NQ. Confidence: High.

Doesn’t Croatia realize that Elnur & Samir ruined angel wings at Eurovision forever?

Malta: Michela – “Chameleon”

Jen – Q. Confidence: High.
Chris – Q. Confidence: Medium.

“Chameleon” is one of our favorites this year, and we really hope it works live. We’re nervous and excited at the same time.

Lithuania: Jurij Veklenko – “Run with the Lions”

Jen – NQ. Confidence: Medium.
Chris – NQ. Confidence: Medium.

Lithuania is relying entirely on Jurij’s charisma to carry them through. In a tight Semi with a really strong back half, that might be a bridge too far.

Russia: Sergey Lazarev – “Scream”

Jen – Q. Confidence: High.
Chris – Q. Confidence: High.

Sergey has brought Ani Lorak’s glass cases of emotion and added a little extra oomph to them. And by oomph, we mean a lot of footage of himself emoting. Still, it looks fun and we can’t wait to see the full package.

Albania: Jonida Maliqi – “Ktheju tokës”

Jen – NQ. Confidence: Medium.
Chris – NQ. Confidence: Low.

We are no experts on Albanian culture, but this feels very Albanian. It also feels like it will alienate general audiences and international jurors alike.

Norway: KEiiNO – “Spirit in the Sky”

Jen – NQ. Confidence: Low.
Chris – Q. Confidence: Low.

Chris somehow convinced Jen that “Spirit in the Sky” is going to fall flat on its face. He is also not standing by his earlier conviction and is picking it to go through. What a jerk.

The Netherlands: Duncan Laurence – “Arcade”

Jen – Q. Confidence: High.
Chris – Q. Confidence: High.

The Netherlands has given “Arcade” a staging that deemphasizes the performer and really emphasizes the song. It’s a risky move given all the bling the other heavy hitters are bringing. Give them credit for boldness.

North Macedonia: Tamara Todevska – “Proud”

Jen – Q. Confidence: Low.
Chris – Q. Confidence: Medium.

Tamara is going to sing the living daylights out of “Proud.” Even though it’s a stodgy ballad, we figure she will qualify on sheer diva power.

Azerbaijan: Chingiz – “Truth”

Jen – Q. Confidence: High.
Chris – Q. Confidence: High.

“Truth” is another popular song in the Lemurs household, and it sounds like Azerbaijan has given it the usual Azerbaijani high concept staging. Good ol’ Azerbaijan, giving the people what we want.

Recap of 2019 Semifinal One

Ooo, that was rough.

Not our predictions. We went 7 out of 10. Yay, us!

Jen:

  • Cyprus
  • Poland
  • Czech Republic
  • Hungary
  • Serbia
  • Belgium
  • Australia
  • Iceland
  • Estonia
  • Greece
Chris:

  • Cyprus
  • Poland
  • Czech Republic
  • Hungary
  • Serbia
  • Belgium
  • Australia
  • Iceland
  • Estonia
  • Greece
Europe:

  • Greece
  • Belarus
  • Serbia
  • Cyprus
  • Estonia
  • Czech Republic
  • Australia
  • Iceland
  • San Marino
  • Slovenia

But it didn’t seem like any of the acts performing last night really wanted to qualify. Low energy, pitchy vocals: it was tough to get through most of the songs. Six of the 10 acts that made it to the Final need to sing far better than they did on Tuesday, full stop.

Of the countries that didn’t qualify, we are the most sad about Poland, who we thought were fabulous. Unfortunately, it felt like there was only room for one strange act to make it out of the Semifinal, and Iceland pipped both them and Portugal for the spot.

Hatari are an absolute delight and even though Klemens Nikulásson’s vocal frayed towards the end, it really isn’t about the vocal with “Hatrið Mun Sigra.” The whole package is something to behold.

Speaking of things to gape at with wonder, let’s talk about Australia. Hatari super-fan Kate Miller-Heidke already had a breathtaking staging for “Zero Gravity” at the national final, and she and her team found a way to push it even further. It was beautiful.

Serbia may not have had the staging firepower that Australia had, but Nevena Božović provided plenty vocal quality and air-guitar-strumming personality. She made “Kruna” come alive and is well-deserving of a place in the Final.

We thought Greece would have been vying for the top of Tuesday’s table. Sadly, the fussy props and a slightly-off performance by Katerine Duska gave us the feeling that Greece may be looking at a middling finish on Saturday night. Same goes for Cyprus. The choreography was a bit busy, Tamta’s vocal was a bit weak, and the camera trick looked more like a glitch than an intentional effect.

Of course, Katerine and Tamta’s vocals were nothing compared to Serhat’s at the start of “Say Na Na Na.” He was singing in an entirely different key for the first third of the song! How on earth did San Marino make it to the Final? Is the #Serhat4Saturday contingent that powerful?

Executive producer Jon Ola Sand tweeted that 10th and 11th place were separated by just two points. If San Marino edged Hungary or Poland by two points, we will be quite annoyed. We thought “Az én apám” was a bit dull, but we thought Joci Pápai’s presentation was far more professional than whatever it was that Serhat did.

While we still have our grumpy pants on, can we tell you how much we have grown to detest “Storm?” We picked Estonia to go through, yet we were totally rooting against them. Victor Crone’s vocal was so constipated we were worried he was going to give himself hemorrhoids.

Obviously, we selected the wrong country beginning with B-E-L in our picks. We should have had more confidence in Belarus. (Wait, did we just say that?) “Like It” was fresh and fun. To be sure, ZENA relied on her back-up vocals to carry parts of the song while she executed the choreography. Still, we had a good feeling about her chances to get through to the Final, especially after Belgium landed with a thud.

Although we picked against them, we weren’t surprised Slovenia qualified. We are still not fans of “Sebi” or Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl’s almost uncomfortably intimate presentation. But they definitely stood out with a gentle song performed well in front of a simple and effective backdrop.

Finally, let’s give some love to Czech Republic. “Friend of a Friend” has become one of our family favorites, a song in heavy rotation when we’re listing to the official album in the car or making dinner. Lake Malawi took the Instagram-inspired concept of their official video and made it work in a concert setting. And they were utterly charming to boot.

As for the production itself, we watched it on replay so we didn’t encounter any of the technical glitches that many broadcasters reported. The show seemed to go smoothly, with four hosts who popped up unobtrusively throughout the night to fill gaps and occasionally embarrass Spanish Song Contest representatives. We loved Netta’s opening reprise of “Toy” framed around her journey to Eurovision and we really enjoyed the Song Contest history collage that KUTIMAN put together. We didn’t know we needed a Johnny Logan-Benjamin Ingrosso mash up in our lives!

Our Predictions: 2019 Semifinal One

Our son made his predictions debut last year and declined to do it this year lest he embarrass himself. Unlike him, we have no sense of shame, so here we go again.

Jen:

  • Cyprus
  • Poland
  • Czech Republic
  • Hungary
  • Serbia
  • Belgium
  • Australia
  • Iceland
  • Estonia
  • Greece
Chris:

  • Cyprus
  • Poland
  • Czech Republic
  • Hungary
  • Serbia
  • Belgium
  • Australia
  • Iceland
  • Estonia
  • Greece

We made the same damned picks as each other again. We are two different people, we collectively swear.

How confident are we? Meh?

Cyprus: Tamta – “Replay”

Jen – Q. Confidence: High.
Chris – Q. Confidence: High.

Cyprus is trying too hard to recreate the magic of “Fuego,” but no matter. “Replay” is still a lot of fun.

Montenegro: D Mol – “Heaven”

Jen – NQ. Confidence: High.
Chris – NQ. Confidence: High.

Montenegro has played it so safe, they are actually taking a huge risk. Which won’t pay off.

Finland: Darude feat. Sebastian Rejman – “Look Away”

Jen – NQ. Confidence: Medium.
Chris – NQ. Confidence: Medium.

Forget “Look Away,” have you heard Darude’s remix of Pænda’s “Limits?” This whole Eurovision journey will be worth it if Darude remixes all of the other entries. We want to see what he could do with “Say Na Na Na.”

Poland: Tulia – “Fire of Love (Pali się)”

Jen – Q. Confidence: Low.
Chris – Q. Confidence: Low.

“Fire of Love” and “Telemóveis” operate in the same space in our minds. We genuinely have no idea what casual viewers are going to think about either of them. We’re giving Tulia the edge here, but we wouldn’t be shocked if this doesn’t qualify.

Slovenia: Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl – “Sebi”

Jen – NQ. Confidence: Medium.
Chris – NQ. Confidence: Medium.

Zala and Gašper are giving an anti-performance, and that internalized stage picture may alienate everyone watching. Keep in mind, however, we’re still bitter about Ema 2019.

Czech Republic: Lake Malawi – “Friend of a Friend”

Jen – Q. Confidence: Medium.
Chris – Q. Confidence: Medium.

Czech Republic are in the perfect spot to kick Semifinal One back into high gear. We bet they will be rewarded for waking everyone up.

Hungary: Joci Pápai – “Az én apám”

Jen – Q. Confidence: Low.
Chris – Q. Confidence: Low.

Joci is a great performer with a clear vision of who he is as an artist. And he can tell his stories while still communicating in his own language. Our confidence level would be higher if we weren’t still unfairly comparing “Az én apám” to “Origo.”

Belarus: Zena – “Like It”

Jen – NQ. Confidence: Medium.
Chris – NQ. Confidence: Medium.

We really enjoy the recorded version of “Like It,” but we suspect it is too inconsequential to make much of an impact. They have done themselves no favors with a messy staging.

Serbia: Nevena Božović – “Kruna”

Jen – Q. Confidence: Medium.
Chris – Q. Confidence: Low.

Every year we try to gauge Europe’s desire for the style of ballad Nevena is providing. We are usually wrong. Still, this is a song that comes alive when she sings it, so we figure she’s through.

Belgium: Eliot – “Wake Up”

Jen – Q. Confidence: Low.
Chris – Q. Confidence: Low.

We have absolutely no read on “Wake Up.”  The song is fine, its staging is inconsequential, and we have seen both before. Ten songs will make it out of this semifinal. Qualification by default.

Georgia: Oto Nemsadze – “Keep on Going”

Jen – NQ. Confidence: Medium.
Chris – NQ. Confidence: Medium.

We are no experts on Georgian culture, but this feels very Georgian. It also feels like it will alienate general audiences and international jurors alike.

Australia: Kate Miller-Heidke – “Zero Gravity”

Jen – Q. Confidence: High.
Chris – Q. Confidence: High.

The technical achievement of Australia’s staging is staggering: Kate is singing flawlessly while flinging herself around on a 10-foot pole, while two performers are doing synchronized choreography on their own 10-foot poles. Wow.

Iceland: Hatari – “Hatrið mun sigra”

Jen – Q. Confidence: Medium.
Chris – Q. Confidence: Medium.

We love what Hatari are doing, but we also love Nine Inch Nails and Paul Oscar. We could see a scenario where they alienate viewers and their shtick falls flat. We hope not, though.

Estonia: Victor Crone – “Storm”

Jen – Q. Confidence: Low.
Chris – Q. Confidence: Low.

“Storm” actively annoys us and we think the green screen gimmick is too clumsy to work. But we’ve been wrong about it before, so we’ll assume that television audiences will respond to it.

Portugal: Conan Osiris – “Telemóveis”

Jen – NQ. Confidence: High.
Chris – NQ. Confidence: Medium.

Our gut feeling is that “Telemóveis” will baffle anyone being introduced to it for the first time. Will we be surprised if it makes the Final? No. But we really aren’t expecting it to.

Greece: Katerine Duska – “Better Love”

Jen – Q. Confidence: High.
Chris – Q. Confidence: High.

There is a possibility that Greece has over-egged their galaktoboureko. But even if the stage picture is a little busy, Katerine sounds like she has everything under control.

San Marino: Serhat – “Say Na Na Na”

Jen – NQ. Confidence: Medium.
Chris – NQ. Confidence: High.

San Marino and Serhat are the Tommy Wiseau of the Eurovision Song Contest: They love basking in the attention they get without really understanding why they’re getting it.

Things We Learned By Reading the Bios of the 2019 Eurovision Participants

It’s the end of the first full week of activity at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. We’ve been following along with the rehearsals via Twitter. We’ve been developing harsh opinions about 45 second clips. We’ve been dismissing people with harsh opinions about 45 second clips. And we’ve been scouring all of the artist bios on the Eurovision website, looking for little gems that help us glean insight into our favorite performers at the 2019 Song Contest.

As you might expect, Hatari (Iceland) don’t bury their lede: “Award-winning, anti-capitalist, BDSM, techno-dystopian, performance art collective Hatari are proud to represent Iceland at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, brought to you almost exclusively by premier, top quality, Icelandic effervescent soft drink manufacturer SodaDream.” (SodaDream being the corporate brand they invented as their sponsor for the Song Contest and a sly dig at Israeli company SodaStream.) They also “invite you all to join them on their nihilistic journey to the centre of the earth.”

They are so going to pull some sort of protest stunt in the Grand Final, aren’t they?

During our review, we saw a lot of references to artists’ social media cred. Bilal Hassani (France) talks about finding fame through his YouTube channel. Zena (Belarus) brags about her 93,000 subscribers on Instagram. Then Jonida Maliqi (Albania) barges in to say “With her 435,000 Instagram followers she is a well known influencer and fashion icon in her home country.” Take that, Zena. Also, Jonida had better not win the Barbara Dex award.

It’s always fun to learn geography while we peruse each article. Chingiz (Azerbaijan) grew up in the awesomely named Qazax, which needs to be the name of a progressive metal band. Michela (Malta) is from the island of Gozo, which we think makes her a Gozerian. Meanwhile, Eliot (Belgium) is from Mons. Aren’t we all?

As you might expect, singers who had a hand in writing their entries will brag about their list of credits. Kate Miller-Heidke (Australia) notes that she co-wrote an opera called The Rabbits, which looks awesome, and a musical version of Muriel’s Wedding, which looks… less awesome. Then again, all Muriel’s Wedding needs to be a musical is scads of ABBA songs, unless that’s a little too Mamma Mia! Still, you can see where the theatricality of Australia’s staging comes from.

Pænda (Austria) says she is “avoiding pretentiousness” in her style and that she “left behind the fear of being too straightforward in her style of composing.” So avoiding pretentiousness is a daily struggle, really. No wonder she tackles the subject of self-awareness on her new album.

Tom Hugo Hermansen of KEiiNO (Norway) mentions that he wrote songs for K-Pop artists EXO, SHiNee and TVXQ. Our somewhat exhaustive research indicates his biggest hit to date is TVXQ’s “Very Merry Christmas,” which was a top 10 hit in Japan.

Some artists feel like they have something to prove with their participation. For example, Darude (Finland) would like you to know that he remains “as fresh and exciting as ever.” Also, the “charismatic [Sebastian] Rejman will bring a fresh vitality and admirable live element to Darude’s musical backdrop.” Truly, Finland is this year’s Freshmaker.

In fine Swedish tradition, John Lundvik (Sweden) says he’s “an incredibly authentic singer who, with intimacy and great musicality, raises the level of the Swedish music scene.” First things first, he’s the realest.

He does mention that he co-wrote the United Kingdom entry, and speaking of, Michael Rice says that he put his £50,000 prize for winning the BBC show All Together Now towards his mom’s restaurant The Waffle & Crepe Shack. You know we’re going to eat there next time we’re in Hartlepool. Never mind that it’s a five hour drive from where we usually visit. His mom makes Jaffa Cake milkshakes. We. Are. Going.

Several artists at Eurovision have had to toil as they tried to launch their music career. Sarah McTernan (Ireland) took time off from studying music technology at Limerick Institute of Technology to work in retail. D Moll (Montenegro) are all music students at a school started by Daniel Alibabek from No Name, who represented Serbia and Montenegro at the 2005 Song Contest. Luca Hänni (Switzerland) trained as a bricklayer, which means “he likes getting stuck in with both hands.” Take note, ladies: he’s handy!

And returning artist Serhat (San Marino) is a qualified dentist who also hosted the Turkish version of Jeopardy! A direct quote from his bio: “Having mastered the art of dentistry and television, Serhat turned his eye to performing music…” The man is so self-aware that he becomes not self-aware at all, and we love him for it.

Lest you think Serhat is the only artist returning from Eurovision 2016 who is a triple threat, then let’s consider Sergey Lazarev (Russia). He is an actor who has performed in Romeo and Juliet and Lend Me a Tenor. How many Russian pop stars can claim they have done Shakespearean tragedy and Ludwigean farce? But the best thing about Sergey is that he owns Poodle-Strudel, a Moscow bakery for dogs.

 

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Reviews of the Rest of Eurovision 2019

Eurovision rehearsals are about to begin and we weren’t able to complete full reviews of all of this year’s entries in time. So let’s take a deep breath and cover all the rest in one go!

Finland: Darude feat. Sebastian Rejman – “Look Away

Darude had a global smash hit 19 years ago with “Sandstorm.” Now he’s representing Finland at Eurovision. We mock the United Kingdom when they do stuff like that and we see no reason to spare Finland our snark. Especially when the U.K. nostalgia acts send better songs.

Belarus: Zena – “Like It

Zena offers up a slightly generic, but still quite enjoyable pop song. We… well, you know… like it. Not sure if it’s going to do well for Belarus, but with the right staging, or at least the right Belorussian staging, maybe it could surprise us.

Serbia: Nevena Božović – “Kruna

Nevena is a veteran of Moje 3, the Barbara Dex Award-winning act from 2013. She’s back with a bland ballad, but she made it soar at Beovizija 2019. We expect more vocal fireworks in Tel Aviv. And better costumes.

Belgium: Eliot Vassamillet – “Wake Up

“Wake Up” reminds us of “City Lights.” We didn’t like “City Lights,” but it seemed like everyone else did. We like “Wake Up,” but it seems like no one else does. Go figure.

Georgia: Oto Nemsadze – “Sul Tsin Iare

Oto brought a wide-eyed intensity to his performance of “Sul Tsin Iare.” It worked for the judges and the people of Georgia, but we can’t say it’s going to work for the rest of Europe.

San Marino: Serhat – “Say Na Na Na

San Marino has sent disco songs for three of its last four entries because this one time, die hard Eurovision fans convinced them that’s what we want. Maybe we should tell them that we like other genres too.

Armenia: Srbuk – “Walking Out

Srbuk looks a lot like my mom did when she was 18 and I’m struggling to get past that.

Ireland: Sarah McTernan – “22

We are not particular fans of Meghan Trainor’s oeuvre, so anything that resembles her output is not going to rank high with us. But at least it’s not another earnest ballad.

Moldova: Anna Odobescu – “Stay

Moldova is following up successive classic Eurovision contributions with a song that we will probably forget about shortly after the Song Contest is over. Sigh, it’s hard to generate memes every year.

Austria: Pænda – “Limits

“Limits” is a great song to listen to at 3 A.M. when it’s gently, but audibly raining outside and you’re feeling a little sad and need a good cry. That’s usually not the atmosphere Eurovision provides, which may hurt Austria’s chances.

Lithuania: Jurijus – “Run with the Lions

Jurijus is this dreamy guy singing an anthemic song about believing in yourself and dreaming big. It’s a pleasant three minutes made better by Jurijus’ inherent likability.

North Macedonia: Tamara Todevska – “Proud

“Proud” is an old fashioned ballad about empowering girls to believe in themselves and dream big. It’s a lovely three minutes made better by Tamara’s vocal star quality.

Israel: Kobi Marimi – “Home

Israel is happy to have won Eurovision and is also not interested in winning again this year.

Greece’s Eurovision 2019 Entry

The past five years have not been kind to Greece at Eurovision. Three entries finished towards the bottom of the table on Saturday nights, and two songs didn’t even qualify for the Grand Prix Final. Can “Better Love” deliver better results?

Katerine Duska is a Greek-Canadian singer born in Montreal but living and working in Greece. She co-wrote “Better Love” with singer-songwriter Leon of Athens and Fame Academy winner David Sneddon, who had a U.K. number one hit with “Stop Living the Lie.”

We love Katerine’s voice. It is rich and velvety and she uses her full range judiciously to propel her song. “Better Love” is a good entry made great by its singer. We also dig the sparkling, ethereal arrangement.

2019 has turned out to be a strong year for Eurovision, with songs that are either awesome or really unique. “Better Love” is probably the most straightforward potential contender on offer. That could be either an asset or a demerit, but we think it’s the former. Katerine has created a properly big Eurovision anthem and we hope she will snag a top 10 finish with it.

Azerbaijan’s Eurovision 2019 Entry

The “Truth” is out there, and it’s a bit of a banger.

Chingiz Mustafayev won the Azerbaijani version of Pop Idol in 2007 and competed on the The Voice of Ukraine in 2016. He co-wrote “Truth” with Borislav Milanov, Joacim Persson, and Trey Campbell, the team behind last year’s Bulgarian entry “Bones.” They are joined by rap artist Pablo Dinero and someone called Hostess (or maybe they ate a lot of Hostess products while composing the song and gave credit where credit was due).

We were skeptical about “Truth” when it began because it sounds a lot like “Bones.” Also, the video looks like Aquaman fan fiction. Sorry, Chingiz, but Duncan Laurence does underwater videos better.

When the chorus kicked in, though, we were hooked. We loved the pulsating synth that propels the melody. He does say “shut up” a lot (22 times), which may be what we’ll be muttering to ourselves if “Truth” gets stuck in our head a little too long. Hasn’t happened yet.

Borislav Milanov and Joacim Persson are part of the Symphonix International collective who have contributed several songs to Eurovision in the past few years. (We really need to add them to our Songwriters list.) They co-wrote this year’s Maltese entry, “Chameleon,” and to be honest with you, we like that one more. “Chameleon” sounds like it was customized to fit Michela’s style. “Truth” is more of a generic Symphonix song, even though Chingiz is a co-writer.

That’s a minor criticism, because frankly we like their songwriting and production style. We just feel that if Borislav, Joacim and the other Symphonix team members are going to win Eurovision, they are more likely to do it with a song like “Chameleon” than a song like “Truth.”

Sweden’s Eurovision 2019 Entry

Sweden had a weird result at last year’s Eurovision Song Contest. They racked up 253 points from the jury, but only received 21 points from the televote. Did the slick staging leave viewers cold?

This year, Sweden responded by overwhelmingly selecting a song that relies on the likeability of its singer rather than elaborate stage props. See, Europe, they do remember when it was just a song contest!

John Lundvik won a bronze medal in the 4×100 meters relay at the 2005 Swedish Championship before becoming a songwriter. His big break came when he co-wrote “When You Tell the World You’re Mine” for the wedding of the Crown Princess of Sweden. He finished third at last year’s Melodifestivalen with “My Turn” and co-wrote this year’s United Kingdom entry “Bigger Than Us.”

There is a lot to like here. “Too Late for Love” is effervescent and joyful, belying the desperation in the lyrics. John is a charismatic singer with a sparkling stage presence. We enjoyed seeing him interacting with his backing singers during his Melodifestivalen performance instead of relegating them to the side of the stage.

We also love the fact that backing singer Ashley Haynes quit her job and moved to Sweden when her boss in Washington, D.C. wouldn’t give her time off to participate. Which sums up a lot about Washington, D.C. actually.

By itself, “Too Late for Love” is a good song. When we start comparing it to the other entries that speak to us this year, it begins to suffer a bit. It lacks the grit of “Soldi,” the emotion of “Arcade,” the snarl of “Chameleon,” the grandeur of “Better Love,” the pop of “She Got Me,” or the pomp of “Scream.”

That’s an elaborate way of saying that we like it, but we like other songs better. That doesn’t mean we aren’t chair-dancing along when it comes on in the car.

Switzerland’s Eurovision 2019 Entry

Wait, Switzerland is one of the odds leaders at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest? How did that happen?

Oh. Hello there.

Luca Hänni won Deutschland sucht den Superstar, the German version of Pop Idol, when he was 17. His first single “Don’t Think About Me” was a number one hit in Switzerland, Germany, and Austria and he’s gone on to have chart success in his home country. He co-wrote “She Got Me” at a Swiss songwriting camp and was an internal selection.

Given how Eurovision has been going for Switzerland in the past 12 years, you can see the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation hearing “She Got Me,” cancelling any plans for a national final and sending Luca straight through. “WE GOT A LIVE ONE,” they yelled, running around the halls of their Bern headquarters and high-fiving each other and then eating a metric ton of traditional Swiss foods to celebrate.

“She Got Me” is a delectable blend of “Fuego” and “Lie to Me” wrapped up in Serhat’s disco suit from Eurovision 2016. It’s a lot of fun, and if you want to dance along, Luca has got you covered. Maybe Switzerland is trying a little to hard to make “She Got Me” into this year’s Eurovision sensation, but as we said, it’s been a while since they’ve had an entry this good. We don’t blame them for being a bit excited, because we are too.