Jess Distress

May 5, 2018 by

Jess Distress

The last 13 songs in semi 2 have a 2nd outing today. Starting with Russia, and it looks like they have drafted in Serbia’s Mladen as one of the backing vocalists, and a snow overlay effect at one point. The harmonies of the ‘I won’t break’ chorus never sound entirely in key. Nor does Yulia singing on her own. The modern dancers distract from her as does the volcano she is concealed by. Russia will certainly test out its voting strength this year.

Moldova is cheeky and fun and might well be seen by UK viewers as a contender. A more sober judge, assessing the song, would encourage them to cool their jets, or more vehemently, laugh in their face. There is one particularly risqué window panel opening which reveals Marina about to be taken from behind.

Netherlands is a Nashville song with four black guys krumping. Waylon commanding each of them to perform does have a rather uncomfortable Deep South slavery vibe to it. Their moves have been toned down a bit.

Jessica’s dress now has an extra ankle-length strip of material but it doesn’t make any difference to the overall look. All her movements appear awkward, over-placed and contrived, combined with her inconsistent vocal. ‘Powerless to change things’ now becomes a somewhat ironic lyric. There is talk the Aussie delegation has banned media interviews after 2nd rehearsal for damage control purposes.

Georgia is rather calming following Australia, but maybe too calming. You don’t need Nytol to be able to drift off listening to this.

Poland’s Lukas is ropy vocally and this track barely hangs together. Two guys in strange hats not in keeping with the groove – Lukas who looks like a busker, Gromee behind the keyboards, a creepy preacher trying to sell a credible pop song. This track needs to be exorcised.

Much like Poland, Malta is starting to look even more ridiculous today. This is now a case of over-exposure to these songs. Christabelle is styled like a demon elf. This has some expensive staging and the question is, how far do the Maltese coffers stretch?

Hungary’s lead singer Bence has a fringe lying heavily over his face at song start like the emo kid in South Park. A question for metal fans: why do you want to subject yourself to this sort of noise? Metallica: Nothing Else Matters. Yes, love it, but this hard, shout-fest…?

There is a tiny wisp of Kasabian lurking in the background of this track which has promise but gets lost. For what it is, it is done competently, though the last 30secs risks getting too shouty: ‘I’m afraid you’re just too darn loud. Next please’. (Huey Lewis, Back To The Future).

Latvia’s Laura is all class after the pretty wretched run of songs that precede her. She deserves an award for best hair toss of ESC 2018. This is emotive, smoky and big night-ready.

People tell me the Swedish staging is about transporting the viewer into a dream space. This viewer misses the launch every time, & just sees an annoying, self-satisifed twerp doing some silly dance moves set against a neon-lit backdrop. His reedy voice is similarly grating but clearly a grumpy, fatigued 49-year-old guy is not his key demographic in this year’s Contest.

Just thinking about it, the men-bots Melodifestivalen spews out every year really has been relentless over the years. This leaves me reminiscing fondly over Eric Saade, more so for the epic running order draw in 2011 and the likes of Mika Newton and Maja Keuc leaving him stranded in the 7 slot in the final.

Montenegro is a Saturday afternoon snooze song. Lead singer Vanja told a tasteless Ricky Gervais joke in his press conference that went down like a lead balloon which made it even funnier. His reaction to this was brilliant. He clearly doesn’t take himself too seriously. This ballad is to be taken seriously, of course, and could be making things seriously difficult for Serbia’s Q prospects in this semi.

Lea Sirk resuscitates the afternoon with a great burst of energy. Her dance troupe are so slick. She is having fun up there and she comes across as likeable. This is really well presented but why the pause? Superfluous, Slovenia.

Ukraine closes the day. Melovin always sounds to me like a prescribed drug. ‘Doc, I need some Melovin to cure my insomnia’. Could this snatch a podium place from the pimp slot? Hamstrung by issues with pronunciation, and the song somehow lacking.

The Big 5 and hosts Portugal have another go tomorrow in a mercifully shortened day, and much needed chance to recharge batteries ahead of the final assault. It remains tantalisingly unclear who will be planting their flag first on the summit of ESC 2018 a week today.


  1. Shaun

    Hi Rob

    What’s your take on Estonia? I haven’t really considered it in the running but there seems to be a bit of a buzz around it and eastern europe may go for it. Where would you estimate it’s finishing position could be?

    • Rob

      Hi Shaun. I’ve always rated Estonia higher and more of a threat than most of the other analyzers. I think it is highly memorable, will have big impact and then her amazing vocal is another potential plus.

      I think it is largely draw dependant in the final. If early in the 1st half, maybe 6th-10th. A prize draw in the 2nd half and a top 5 contender potentially. It’s another one it is difficult to feel confident about.

  2. Durhamborn

    I always enjoy your thoughts Rob and consider you a very good judge though i dont comment much here.
    Given i can remember watching Abba win i cant remember a more open year Rob.The flip side is i cant remember a year where the market has been as kind to traders.Sitting with big greens when evidence then says they are not winning is usually a nightmare,but this year its been easy to trade out and trade the swings.The cash out button has never seemed more tempting though.
    I did think France might go through the middle of this field,and i still think its a challenger.The one i see now though that might win is Cyprus.The ESC sands change all of the time and the last few years has seen the contest become a little boring.The winners have deserved it,but nothing has won for years that would be a massive hit and even turn someone into a superstar.I see faults in all the contenders and a lack of power in the 2nd string to attract enough votes.The Balkan votes are there for the taking,and the east might fall into line.The Greek diaspora is almost certain.If western juries fall into line it might be enough.
    I do respect the chance of Israel,but have decided to simply keep it a break even and let the green slip down.Lith and Moldova are fantastic for what they are trying to do.Iv kept what else i think are maybe small challengers small greens.
    This isnt a year for told you so or any egg on face,its a tough one.

    • Rob

      Hi Durham. It is a really difficult year to feel confident. The grand final r.o. could well be a decisive factor. If Cyprus draws 1st half, I could see it opening the show (this has happened to a few uptempo sf pimps in recent years).

      There is definitely room for 1 or 2 to still emerge from the pack. It feels in a state of flux and Israel is certainly vulnerable.

      It’s a great point about the ever-evolving Contest and Eleni certainly packs a punch as a great performer. I’m much like you in that I play the Outright as a trader and it has been a great year for that. I’m risk-averse so always feel more comfortable staring at greens, especially in a year like this.

  3. Shaun

    Thanks Rob for your thoughts on Estonia. It sounds like even with a plumb 2nd half draw that you would be surprised to see it actually win though. It looks like its going to be one of the last ones left, when the televotes are being announced, so lets see.

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