The 2015 Eurovision Song Contest is just one month away with the annual celebration of euro-pop anthems, curious accents, and show-stopping camp preparing to shake host city Vienna to its core. Yes, the Austrian capital will be stained with cheap glitter for years thanks to Conchita Wurst’s 2014 victory with soaring ballad Rise Like a Phoenix.
The musical representatives of forty nations will travel to the capital’s Wiener Stadthalle (that’s the stadium) hoping to bag a place in the 23rd of May’s grand final.
We’ve picked a selection of the best of this year’s crop of entrants featuring some familiar faces and some new surprises.
10. Lisa Angell
N’oubliez pas – France
France finished last in 2014 with TWIN TWIN’s obnoxiously terrible “comedy” track Moustache, but now the nation hopes to reverse its fortune with Lisa Angell’s French language ballad, N’oubliez pas.
The track’s title translates as Remember and whilst that doesn’t immediately ring true for the song, a few listens have seen it grow on us tremendously. This is a big emotionally wrought number that shows the French are taking Eurovision seriously this year.
France hasn’t won since 1977 (although they should have in 2013 with Anggun’s show-stopping Echo (You and I) ), and as much as we like this, the chances of it topping the leaderboard are slim in our book.
Amanecer – Spain
UK favourite Ruth Lorenzo managed to bag tenth place for Spain in the 2014 contest with Dancing in the Rain. However, the country have opted for a track in Spanish this year – Edurne’s Amanecer.
We might be a little too swayed by the video which sees Edurne turn into a tiger and roar at a leather-clad hunk, but this aside, Amanecer is an impressive slice of musical melodrama. The Spanish chanteuse’s vocals are soaringly powerful and shine against the lush string instrumentation.
8. Elhaida Dani
I’m Alive – Albania
Once again another ballad here, but Albania have picked-up the tempo slightly more than France and Spain for their entry, Elhaida Dani’s I’m Alive.
This feels like an early noughties pop-gem that you could see someone like Atomic Kitten or Sugababes having a hit with over here ten years ago or so. We mean that as a compliment by the way.
7. Uzari & Maimuna
Time – Belarus
Beginning like another slow-tempo ballad, Belarus’s entry soon kicks into gear with an edgy dance-beat backed by anthemic clapping and slick violin backing – perfect as a stadium crowd pleaser.
Realistically this isn’t a winning track, but in a year that’s going to be plagued with slow ballads, Uzari & Maimuna might be able to benefit from bringing some energy to the contest on the night.
6. Polina Gagarina
A Million Voices – Russia
Russia have a bit of a poisoned chalice here, technically A Million Voices is a polished, immaculately performed Euro-ballad, but the simple fact that this entry belongs to Russia then it shouldn’t win.
Russia’s atrocious human rights record alienates Eurovision’s huge core gay fan-base – with the contest was referred to as “the Sodom Show” by Russian legislator Vitaly Milonov. We have a feeling this might spur on a few boos at the contest – aimed at Putin rather than Polina, we’re sure.
5. Bojana Stamenov
Beauty Never Lies – Serbia
Bojana Stamenov’s soaring dance ballad Beauty Never Lies is a firm favourite here – and not just because she bears a striking resemblance to Martha Wash.
Perhaps the strongest voice of all the female competitors this year, Bojana belts out the catchy chorus “Beauty never lies, never hides, never gives a damn!” taking this empowering anthem up to stratospheric highs.
4. Electro Velvet
Still in Love with You – United Kingdom
After failing miserably by selecting a variety of talented, yet completely un-Eurovision crooners like Engelbert Humperdinck and Bonnie Tyler, last year saw the BBC opt for unknown songwriter Molly Smitten-Downes and her Only Teardrops style rip-off, Children of the Universe. It didn’t reverse our run of bad luck within the contest, so we’ve ditched the formula and gone completely left-field for our 2015 entry.
The result is Electro Velvet’s Still in Love with You an electro-swing track that is certainly catchy and like nothing else in the contest. It’s fun and a little bit campy – something that us Brits seem to enjoy, but Eurovision fans abroad don’t seem to appreciate (a la Scooch).
3. Trijntje Oosterhuis
Walk Along – The Netherlands
We thought The Netherland’s 2014 entry mellow country anthem, Calm After the Storm, may have been a dark horse of the contest – and it was, reaching an impressive second place. With hopes of getting one place higher, The Netherlands have lined-up Dutch favourite Trijntje Oosterhuis to represent them this year.
Walk Along is a simple mid-tempo pop track that instantaneously feels memorable. Oosterhuis’ isn’t a big name outside of The Netherlands, but we like to think she’ll do well this year.
2. Guy Sebastian
Tonight Again – Australia
We’re ecstatic about the Aussies joining in the contest this year, despite mixed responses from other Eurovision fans. The new entrants are taking things seriously by entering one of their biggest names in music, Guy Sebastian.
In a year packed with ballads, the Australian entry Tonight Again is a catchy, upbeat pop track that stands out from the pack. If Europe embraces this entry, the Aussies will be back in 2016 – let’s hope so.
1. Måns Zelmerlöw
Heroes – Sweden
By far, our favourite of this year’s crop is Måns Zelmerlöw’s Swedish entry, Heroes. We’ve been big fans of Måns since his debut album Stand By For… in 2007, with his musical output getting better with each release (check out last year’s incredible Run For Your Life). We were undeniably delighted when we found out that the gorgeous Swede would be competing.
The anthemic dance-pop track, Heroes, has already topped the charts in Sweden – and that is no surprise thanks to Måns’ powerhouse vocals and a chorus that proves bold and memorable.This has winner written all over it.
Who are your favourites? Let us know below.