23 December 2017
So this is Christmas and what have you done? Another Eurovision year over, a new one just begun. Yes, with several countries announcing their Eurovision 2018 artists, Estonia releasing their Eesti Laul songs, and Albania kicking off Fesitivali i Keneges, it’s time to look forward. Wait! Let’s have one final look back to Kyiv 2017 with this 6 month retrospective. To make it more interesting, let’s turn it into a battle with Stockholm 2016!
The last similar battle on this blog was between Dami Im and Sia and their recent albums of the time, and that proved a really fun process – and result! These Eurovision vs Eurovision battles will become a familiar theme too, so we can officially determine the best Eurovision ever. Once this year’s battle is done, I’ll put the winner against one of my favourite years to give the title more prestige, and we’ll let it escalate from there. Of course, after each Eurovision Song Contest, that year will challenge the current champion for the title.
A Brief Retrospective
Kyiv 2017 won’t be a year that will be fondly remembered. While we can pick at the organisational woes, the debacle over Russia and the somewhat sterile TV spectacle itself, the main problem overall was the songs. I could only find two songs worthy of a 5-star rating (Belgium and Estonia), and both those songs would struggle to break into my top 5 favourites of any other year. At Eurovision itself, there weren’t that many memorable performances either, with Romania and Yodel It! proving my favourite overall.
Then there was the winner itself, Portugal’s Salvador Sobral, who spoiled his victory with a conceited and ungracious attack on some of his fellow artists and the competition in general. It left a sour taste, and if I didn’t care that much about Amar pelos dois beforehand, I certainly cared even less about it after those antics. The only redeeming aspect of Portugal’s victory was my satisfaction for Portugal itself. They are one of the worst performing countries in Eurovision and never even got close to winning it in the past, so I was happy in that sense.
Musically, I still listen to Kyiv 2017 on my phone. The songs have decent staying power despite their lack of outstanding quality. Still remaining are Albania, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Belarus, Switzerland, Cyprus, Czechia, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, France, UK, Georgia, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Moldova, FYR Macedonia, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine. That’s 32 if I can count! Even with Albania, Cyprus, Israel and Poland at risk of being deleted soon, normally those eventually left by this point number in the low 20s. That validates my feeling all along that Kyiv was an even year overall and why I’m even considering this battle!
The format is simple. It’s like boxing where the winner of the round gets 10 points and loser gets 9 or less, depending on the dominance of the round. If a country hasn’t entered in both years, then it’s +1, 0 or -1 added to the score depending on my view of the song. Here goes. It’s in alphabetical order, and I’ll present the key battles and points tally to that point.
2016 Samra – It’s a Miracle
2017 Dihaj – Skeletons
Loved both songs before Eurovision. Was underwhelmed by both at Eurovision. So it’s a question of which one I still love most? It’s as close to a dead-heat as possible. Ultimately it’s 2016 and Samra. It’s a miracle! Maybe even a Festivus Miracle?
Score: 44 – 49
2016 Gabriela Guncikova – I Stand
2017 Martina Barta – My Turn
Another really tough decision. Both were in my top 10 pre-Eurovision at 10th and 7th respectively, and both remain favourites. I Stand was presented significantly better at Eurovision than My Turn so just gets the nod.
Score: 106 – 100
2016 Sandhja – Sing It Away
2017 Norma John – Blackbird
While Blackbird was my preferred before Eurovision, neither did much at Eurovision, so it’s about durability beyond that. That goes to Sing It Away. Surprisingly, it’s really grown on me since Eurovision to become a minor favourite.
Score: 132 – 129
2016 Nika Kocharov & Young Georgian Lolitaz – Midnight Gold
2017 Tamara Gachechiladze – Keep the Faith
Both proved quite pleasant surprises on the Eurovision stage, with 2016 really improving and were even a surprise finalists. Personally, Tamara missing the final was one of the biggest injustices of 2017 and she was my clear favourite of semi final 1. So it’s a round to 2017. That has actually capped a mini run of round victories for 2017 and they take the lead.
Score: 157 – 159
2016 Argo – Utopian Land
2017 Demy – This Is Love
More like Dystopian Land for 2016 as this is the worst ever Greek entry vs one of my favourites of Kyiv 2017. A whopping 3-point round win for Demy bounces 2017 out to a big lead.
Score: 173 – 179
2016 Hovi Star – Made Of Stars
2017 IMRI – I Feel Alive
Another tricky one. 2016 better before Eurovision; 2017 better after Eurovision. Ultimately I’ve given it to IMRI. Hungary, Iceland and Ireland helped 2016 close the gap, so this round win helps 2017 extend their lead again.
Score: 212 – 216
2016 Ira Losco – Walk On Water
2017 Claudia Faniello – Breathlessly
Never much liked Walk On Water while I loved Breathlessly, so it’s a 2-point victory for this round for Malta, and 2017 retain their handy lead.
Score: 249 – 253
2016 Lidia Isac – Falling Stars
2017 Sunstroke Project – Hey Mamma!
Falling Stars was always one of my favourite songs of that year and it holds off the fun performance of Sunstroke Project. A badly needed point for 2016.
Score: 259 – 262
2016 Agnete – Icebreaker
2017 JOWST – Grab The Moment
Despite a big improvement thanks to their stage performance, JOWST still can’t match it with Agnete and Icebreaker. After Netherlands and Montenegro helped 2017 return their lead to 6 points, Agnete provides a super valuable 2 points to bring it back to four.
Score: 286 – 290
2016 ManuElla – Blue And Red
2017 Omar Naber – On My Way
My clear favourite song of 2016, ManuElla punches Omar senseless for a 3-point round victory. With Poland and Michal Szpak winning their round by 2 points over 2017’s Kasia Mos, it’s enough for 2016 to regain the lead!
Score: 326 vs 324
2016 Barei – Say Yay!
2017 Manel Navarro – Do It for Your Lover
Say yay indeed! Spain’s appalling song of 2017 is no chance against Say Yay!, so a 2-point round win sees 2016 extend their lead to four points.
Score: 336 vs 322
2016 Jamala – 1944
2017 O.Torvald – Time
After Sweden, Switzerland and the UK gained 1, 2 and 1 points respectively for 2017 over their 2016 counterparts, scores are now level on 362 so it’s up to the Eurovision winner of 2016 to seal this battle for that year. 1944 was a polarising song, with just as many against it as for it. For those that might remember, I was against it. In fact, I still can’t stand it. Time wins the round 10-8, which means the battle goes to Kyiv 2017. What a fight!
Final score: 370 – 372
Wow! That was my reaction when I summed the totals on the spreadsheet. As I was scoring each song it seemed like Stockholm 2016 was always doing enough to win – especially after that strong opening. Both years won 20 rounds each their independent songs neutralised each other. The deciding phase was the seven songs between Denmark and Greece, where Kyiv 2017 gained 12 points in total. Even though Stockholm 2016 had that good run with Poland, Spain and Slovenia to pick up 7 points, it was never enough.
As they say in the classics, it’s good fight, good night! Have a Euro Christmas and a Visionary New Year. Then it’s all aboard for Lisbon 2018!