“What’s the secret to Meghan Markle’s hair?” is the opening line of this grave and Kraftwerkian entry by Konstrakta. She then talks about the importance of hydration, about how circles under the eyes can signal liver problems, and also marvels at the autonomic nervous system. “The artist should be healthy,” is the conclusion she draws as the first chorus kicks in, which then evolves into a gospel-like exclamation, “God grant us health!” It turns out that Konstrakta’s song, rather than a tabloid-worthy interest in Meghan’s beauty regime, is actually a satirical swipe at the corrupt world of health insurance and the beauty cult.
This ode to recycling, zero-waste initiatives and sustainable vegetarianism is offset, in true Eurovision fashion, by extreme lust and sexual metaphors that an 11-year-old will absolutely adore: “I’m a beast instead of a murderer / forget the hot dogs, because my sausage is just bigger.” Melodies alternate between show tunes (complete with brass) and something vaguely like rapping – that is, since this is Eurovision, very vaguely related indeed.Unfortunately, the nice cops have said that Citi Zēni should censor the last word of what is the most surprising The opening sentence in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest is: “Instead of meat I eat vegetables and pussies.” Turin’s direction and set design could thus determine whether this song will rise as a camp masterpiece or be condemned to shame – we hope that there is a cat involved.
Lyrics like “the fields are in bloom, but her hair is gray” and “I will always find my way home even when all the roads are destroyed” mean Ukraine’s accession is resonating enormously as the war rages on . Even if Eurovision bans outright political statements, this song has the subtle gravitas of another recent Ukrainian entry, Jamala’s 2016 song 1944, which detailed the massacre of the Crimean Tatars – and is a far cry from cheap peace songs like Germany’s Ein Bisschen Frieden (A Bit of Freedom, a winner by a huge margin in 1982) and Italy’s Insieme: 1992 (Together: 1992, confusingly winning in 1990). Ever since listening to Romania’s yodel-enhanced pop-rock in 2017, I’ve had a soft spot for genre crossover, and Kalush Orchestra combines rap, folk, a thumping bass line and the use of flute, all dressed in folk garb but with an ironic twist. : Find that bright pink hand-knit bucket hat.
In 2003, DJ Bobo gave us an earwig of the biggest bullshit: “What can make you move, chihuahua!” Nearly 20 years later, the Norwegian band Subwoolfer urges us on in a similar way: “Before that wolf eats my granny / Give that wolf a banana!” They put down their Red Riding Hood redux with a lupine meet-cute (“I’m not sure you have a name so I’ll call you Keith”) before the wolf gets mean and has to be fended off with some tropical fruit. The background of Eurodance is sleek and huge props for the costume department for the full-body leotards and wolf heads.
Italy loves a good ballad duet: where else can you enjoy vocal power, pathos and overacting so freely? In 1989 Eurovision got a taste of the virtuoso duo Fausto Leali and Anna Oxa singing about how each wanted to physically bind the other to prevent their love from being contaminated by the outside world; now X Factor and Sanremo veteran Mahmood and former SoundCloud rapper Blanco are updating the hackneyed “love duet” formula by singing about how, in relationships, even the best intentions lead to trips and falls. Strong lyrics aside, they maintain enough vocal and emotional restraint to avoid becoming parody.
Achille Lauro was a rapper with a penchant for Matrix-esque getups before becoming an unlikely muse to Gucci’s Alessandro Michele in late 2019. Just before the pandemic hit, he became a viral sensation when he wore a plethora of glam rock outfits at Italy’s Sanremo festival (thanks to stylist Nicolò Cerioni) and played with a 1970s take on androgyny. In 2022, he will remain much more interesting visually than musically – but that’s exactly what Eurovision needs to drown out too many anthems with too many virtuoso singers.
Sigga, Beta & Elín are a sister trio with an established reputation in their country’s indie pop and indie folk scenes. The lyrics express the elation of the sense of renewal brought by the rising sun on a dark winter night, a prelude to spring – and while “it is always darkest before the dawn” is a hackneyed and meteorologically inaccurate trope, quite nice in this corny context. The voices sound almost mystical and the melody is soothing. Indeed, it’s so ethereal and ambivalent that there’s actually something sinister, in a Midsommar way, about it that doesn’t make this item a lullaby.
This song, on the Mumfords/Lumineers axis of log cabin strumalongs, is the musical equivalent of eating too many marshmallows off a campfire. Judging by the rehearsals, Rosa Linn performs her song in a bedroom with an all-white bed, duvet, armchair and walls decorated with white post-it notes, and indeed, it’s about the whitest song imaginable. .
Fiddle, accordion and oompa make Moldova’s foot-thumping entrance the ultimate crowd pleaser. I’m a big believer in the importance of some outspoken folk tunes in any Eurovision lineup, and Eurovision veterans Zdob și Zdub (sixth place in 2005, 12th place in 2011) deliver the goods by singing about a train – a small train that goes from Chișinău to Bucharest. The lyrics are surprisingly healthy, because they tell about the similarities and friendship between Moldova and Romania: “Both in this country and in that country we dance the o’clock, it is a bliss!”
Pure 80s dad rock with echoes of Meat Loaf and hints of Blondie’s One Way or Another. People might call it outdated and misplaced; it could be one of the most hated entries of this year. But leather-clad rocking and pyro is an eternal part of Eurovision, and of course Måneskin won the competition last year with this approach, albeit with a lot more splendor and sexuality.
Avicii meets Ennio Morricone (those whistles!) in this seemingly merry country romp, with a soulful verse and anthemic chorus – they preach the importance of standing up straight, not losing your pride and holding on to the promise of the future – sung by Stefan in a versatile baritone. He’s no Johnny Cash, but he knows how to sing it in a very convincing way. Paying tribute to spaghetti westerns at a song contest held in Italy feels good, and Eurovision reddit nerds call it the dark horse of the year.
Dressed as Kate Bush in Wuthering Heights, and bearing an uncanny resemblance to Lorde, Norwegian-Greek singer Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjord delivers an Imogen-Heap-flavored electro-tinged ballad about the aftermath of a relationship. As refined as the arrangement and melody are, the same cannot be said of the lyrics, which are prone to grandiose statements: “If we die together now, we’ll always have each other.” The bridge changes pace with a refined acoustic crescendo – but it too loses its mystique, with Tenfjord begging her former lover to “take my heart, rip it out / take it to the other side”. Cynicism aside, this song has great karaoke potential.
A Hi-NRG stunner that we didn’t know we wanted, but in the midst of this year’s plethora of ballads we desperately need. Mixing Eurodisco and bubblegum pop at a frenetic pace that leans toward hardstyle, it’s endearingly 90s nostalgic – thus battling a much less desirable class of throwback, namely the 00s Snow Patrol-esque ballads that once appeared on Grey’s Anatomy with bleak inevitability. This track will really stand out and, despite lyrics bordering on the nonsensical, it’s already a fan favorite, although fans are also concerned about whether the live version will hold up to the studio original.
Historically, Sweden has been a dominant force in the Eurovision Song Contest, and Cornelia Jakobs is expected to do very well: she is currently the bookmakers’ third favorite, after Ukraine and – yes, believe it – the UK. Hold Me Closer combines gritty vocals (think Taylor Swift at her saddest) with recognizable lyrics and airtight production, somewhat reminiscent of the swell of Lady Gaga’s Shallow. Overall, it’s a neat track on the assembly line that I think is too boring to make a lasting impression, especially when you take on the aforementioned champions of oral sex, health insurance etc.
While the average millennial in lockdown tried to master the art of sourdough, pick up a new language or do half a Joe Wicks workout, veteran session player Sam Ryder earned 12 million TikTok followers by posting viral covers where his penetrating vocal register caught the attention of Justin Bieber and others. His song, Space Man, has big astronaut boots to fill, with celestial vibes from Elton John’s Rocket Man, The Beatles’ Across the Universe, and REM’s Man on the Moon — but his shrill chorus notes really hit you between the eyes. Will having a social media-friendly submission help break a long line of failures? It’s hard to say how much anti-Brexit sentiment has tarnished the UK and how much it is because of a string of awful songs – but Space Man has been the best for years.