20 March 2017

Eurovision 2017: Review: United Kingdom: Never Give Up On You

Lucie Jones / United Kingdom / Eurovision 2017


United Kingdom: Lucie Jones: Never Give Up on You


It's nearly two months since the British public and a panel of "expert" judges chose - from a field of six - its song for Europe. The result: Lucie Jones has been given the daunting task of flying the flag for the UK with the Emmelie de Forest penned Never Give Up on You.

Although there were a couple of other songs among the "You Decide" selection which sounded as if they were more suited to Eurovision, it was former X-Factor contestant Lucie who stole the show with her emotionally charged performance of this rather maudlin ballad.

UK flag / fingerprint
Her impassioned vocals have been honed from her recent experience of appearing on the London stage in Rent, so a live vocal should not prove a problem. That's something that should bode well with the Eurovision jurors.

While her vocals are proven, what about the song? It's a composition as far away from Emmelie de Forest's 2013 winner as one could probably get - barring punk or heavy metal. Never Give Up on You is something of a stagey, stripped-back composition which begs for the level of passion that Lucie  happily delivers.

Over recent weeks though, the song has been the subject of a subtle revamp: the addition of synthesizers during the chorus, along with a subdued beat, giving the overall package a more contemporary flavour.  The visuals have changed too.

If the evidence from the video is a guide then Lucie's presentation will be in keeping with her age. Instead of the drab, outmoded appearance of the national final, there has been a much-needed transformation to more modern outfits and styling.

At last, the UK may have married composer, song, singer and production into a winning package - or at least one which might appear a lot higher on the scoreboard than recent examples.

8/10.

11 March 2017

Eurovision 2017: Review: Switzerland: Timebelle: Apollo

Timebelle / Switzerland / 2017 Eurovision Song Contest


Switzerland: Timebelle: Apollo


Switzerland, once a powerhouse at the Eurovision Song Contest, has picked by public vote the Swiss-Romanian band Timebelle to represent them at this year's competition with their offering Apollo.

It has been nearly three decades since Switzerland has enjoyed that winning feeling at Eurovision and, in 2017, this lively pop band from the nation's capital is aiming to follow in the footsteps of (now) superstar Celine Dion's 1988 victory. But can they do it?

Flag Switzerland
The Swiss public certainly think it's a possibility having given Timebelle nearly half of the votes, thereby blowing their competition out of the water. However, from what was seen of the presentation at the national final, it's going to take more than this package for a pan-European audience to pick up their phones en masse.

There's no denying that lead singer Miruna Mănescu is easy on the eye and that her voice is more than capable of hitting the high notes. The problem here, though, is the song. Unfortunately, Apollo is neither as heavenly as one might hope, nor likely to rocket up the left-hand side of the scoreboard.

This mid-tempo ballad is a fine example of what now appears to be a continuing problem for the Swiss: their songs aren't awful but, more often than not, they are forgettable. While the chorus here has something of a hook, it really is not memorable enough to maintain the listener's attention over three minutes. Somehow, it feels as if this entry is going to sink among what are likely to be bolder and edgier songs.

For that reason, Switzerland seem destined to miss qualification for a third year in a row.

What do you think?

6/10.



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