To think we could have had KHAYAT with Call for Love, instead Ukraine served Go-A with Solovey. It’s nice that the nation has opted to send something traditional in the Ukrainian language and there is some enjoyment in the electronic flute breakdown, but lead singer Kateryna Pavlenko’s vocals are so grating, the track is near insufferable.
40. Georgia – Tornike Kipiani – Take Me As I Am
The straining rock vocals of Georgian Idol star Tornike Kipiani on Take Me As I Am are not a massively enjoyable listen (see “Why don’t you loooooooove me?” This will undoubtedly have its fans, but this alternative Eurovision anthem is not for us.
39. Italy – Diodato – Fai Rumore
Whilst we should have had Elodie’s Andromeda, the Italian viewers and juries opted for Diodato’s Fai Rumore. The melody is pleasant enough and Diodato’s vocals are emotive and heartfelt, but Fair Rumore is a massively pedestrian, instantly forgettable Italian entry.
38. Croatia – Damir Kedzo – Divlji Vjetre
Damir’s dramatic Croatian ballad Divlji Vjetre is a passionate little number but could fairly be described as Eurovision ballad by numbers.
37. Portugal – Elisa – Medo De Sentir
Soft and smooth vocal delivery from Elisa add some charm and character to Medo De Sentir, despite that it does not really deliver much lasting impact or replay vaule. This is likely to be swallowed up on the night.
36. Slovenia – Ana Soklic – Voda
A quiet sophisticated entry from Ana Soklic represents Serbia – and whilst there are nice moments of powerhouse vocals heightened by dramatic staging, Voda takes too long to serve them.
35. Israel – Eden Alene – Feker Libi
Eden Alene’s Feker Libi is a colourful number, yet our lowest rated of the year’s uptempo tracks. Blending attitude with a mix of Hebrew and English vocals, gives the track an eclectic feel which combines dance pop and traditional Israeli sounds. It is relatively unique and capably delivered – however, compared to many of the other up-tempos here the energy never quite peaks enough to make the song stand out.
34. Poland – Alicja Szemplinska – Empires
Like Slovenia’s Voda, there is a sophisticated aesthetic combined with powerful vocals in Poland’s Empires. Thematically quite interesting, the track has a contemporary resonance as it explores the damaging way in which industry and human behaviour is damaging the world. Whilst not immediate, this call to arms is somewhat clunky in terms of its lyricism, too focused on delivering political impact than a smooth musical experience.
33. Denmark – Ben & Tan – You
Ben & Tan’s You is really by the numbers guitar-driven indie pop. It has the rousing chorus, quirky distinctive vocals but it is all a bit bland and soulless. Think The Shires’ album reject.
32. Norway – Ulrikke Brandstorp – Attention
An early favourite in the competition, yet not even the best track at Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix (that honour still goes to Rein Alexander’s One Last Time). The gentle orchestral strings and vocal ability here impress, but by the time it has reached the key change we’ve checked out.
31. Greece – Stefania – Superg!rl
Greece generally does a solid job at combining traditional instrumentation and contemporary pop sounds, and this is no exception. Unfortunately lyrically, the supergirl concept is a little juvenile and tacky, undermining the slick production and vocal ability of Stefania.
30. Belarus – Val – Da Vidna
Ambient electronic production, curious make-up and a clappable rhythm makes Val’s Da Vidna quite a catchy number. As the chorus approaches, production becomes less sparse, embracing more of a dance feel. Enjoyable, but certainly not our winner.
29. Finland – Aksel Kankaanranta – Looking Back
We really just want to scream justice for Cicciolina. Looking Back serves compelling vocals with an effortless energy, paired with subtle contemporary production. It’s a big rousing number with touching heartfelt lyrics, that hopefully Aksel has the charisma to deliver live.
28. Albania – Arilena Ara – Fall From the Sky
With sumptuous piano and string arrangements allowing Arilena’s vocals to shine, it’s an elegant Bond theme packed with dramatic theatrics. The piano instrumentation highlighting key moments from the chorus. Lyrically it may veer into somewhat generic Balkan euroballad territory, but the musical and vocal arrangements prevent that being an issue.
27. Bulgaria – Victoria – Tears Getting Sober
This esoteric anthem delivers a penetrating quiet elegance that holds us. Paired with the grand atmosphere from the video, Victoria’s Tears Getting Sober pairs naturalistic vocals with dreamy strings for a woozy heartfelt feel evocative of Billie Eilish’s Ocean Eyes or Lana’s Once Upon a Dream.
26. Switzerland – Gjon’s Tears – Respondez-moi
This French language track technically delivers elegance and atmosphere aplenty in the brooding production of Gjon’s Tears’ Respondez-moi. The vocal range of the performer shines, but Respondez-moi is somewhat drab and lacks the immediate replay value that many of the track’s competitors have.
25. Australia – Montaigne – Don’t Break Me
We will admit this has grown on us since its appearance at Australia Decides, Don’t Break Me is a polished pop number, performed extravagantly by Montaigne. However sometimes polished pop is not enough and standards are high for Eurovision – the track is not quite distinct enough to leave a lasting impression. It’s incredibly familiar and lacking the originality of some of the Contest’s other contenders.
24. Moldova – Natalie Gordienko – Prison
Building to instantly memorable chorus with dramatic bubbling electronic production, Natalie Gordienko’s powerful anthem is a solid entry. With sharp enunciation and a haunting narrative, Moldova have served a high quality entry.
23. Czech Republic – Benny Cristo – Kemama
Filled with Caribbean reggaetron vibes, Benny Cristo’s Kemama is fresh and laid-back approach to a Eurovision dance track. The charismatic performer provides an original anthem that shines with repeated listens – perhaps not a winner, but unique and new.
22. Netherlands – Jeangu Macrooy – Grow
Jeangu Macrooy’s absorbing vocal tones are the star of Grow – seemingly effortless, an emotional number free from over the top dramatics or production. When the harmonies appear, Grow builds its stylistics yet never supersedes the power of Jeangu’s rich and emotive voice or the deeply personal narrate which comes attached with it.
21. Malta – Destiny – All Of My Love
Destiny takes us to church on All Of My Love, delivering vocal power and attitude in this barnstorming anthem. This emotive song showcases the singer’s range and control against slick up-tempo, soulful production tinged with a gospel flavour.
20. Austria – Vincent Bueno – Alive
Vincent has something of an uphill battle on his hands after some negative publicity following his announcement as Austria’s artist- but this is nonetheless a slick up-tempo that feels Top 40 friendly, thanks to its smooth 70s/80s Jackson influences shining.
19. Iceland – Daði og Gagnamagnið – Think About Things
Hoping to keep its viral momentum going until May is Iceland’s Daði og Gagnamagnið and their track Think About Things. The quirky funk sound of the single is distinctive in its psychedelic originality – especially when paired with Daði’s distinctive deep vocals. With its tongue-in-its-cheek throughout, Think About Things is self-aware, catchy and celebrates the joy of Eurovision and the diversity that comes with it.
18. Armenia – Athena Manoukian – Chains On You
Athena Manoukian stole our hearts when she auditioned for The X Factor UK in 2018, so we are delighted to see her find Eurovision success with the scintillating Chains On You. Finding inspiration in contemporary R&B pop, Athena’s smooth powerful vocal, sensual enunciation, and militaristic bridges help Chains On You shine like the diamonds which adorn the video.
17. Belgium – Hooverphonic – Release Me
One of the most established acts in the contest, Hooverphonic’s track has been quick to garner James Bond theme comparisons evocative of the likes of Garbage’s The World is Not Enough and Sheryl Crow’s Tomorrow Never Dies. The track is a smooth string-filled anthem shining under the engaging vocals of lead singer Luka Cruysberghs. It’s a moody anthemic track that should perform well on the 12th of May’s first semi final.
16. Spain – Blas Cantó – Universo
Spain’s strongest entry since Ruth Lorenzo’s Dancing in the Rain. Universo is an engaging midtempo with Blas injecting some emotive delivery into the track. It’s infectious chorus “Perdóname, perdóname, Uni, universo” will stick with you. Pairing Blas with a similar theatricality to the video in its staging should make for an impressive number.
15. Ireland – Lesley Roy – Story of My Life
With a pertinent message about self-belief and self-acceptance, raucous up-tempo production, Story of My Life delivers a welcome sense of fun to the class of 2020. Production wise this may have a mid-noughties Pink or Avril Lavigne style quality, but we’re on board.
14. Sweden – The Mamas – Move
The Mamas return with the uplifting Move – a big nostalgic gospel-tinged anthem filled with a level of positivity and joy that it is likely to be a hit with European audiences especially in these sombre times. Sonically the track may not reach the euphoric peaks needed to win, but Move is likeable, albeit familiar.
13. Romania – Roxen – Alcohol You
Roxen’s vocal tone is gorgeously fragile and textured in the intelligently crafted Alcohol You – a track littered with smart lyricism and emotive production. Beautifully restrained, Roxen’s song is current and powerful with contemporary production with a gentle rousing quality.
12. North Macedonia – Vasil – You
The dancefloor ready You pairs traditional Macedonian sounds with contemporary upbeat production. The sensual tango sounds that fill You helps provide the track with a clear sense of originality, standing out from the other up-tempos of the contest. Vasil’s laid back falsetto vocals, paired with the slick production, creates a seductive and memorable blend.
11. United Kingdom – James Newman – My Last Breath
Whilst it’s not quite the drastic re-invention that we thought the BBC’s partnership with BMG would bring, James Newman’s My Last Breath is undeniably a more credible attempt for Eurovision victory than the past few years of UK acts. Newman’s vocals are richly soulful and this is an anthemic mid-tempo. Unlikely to do much on the night, the UK can hold itself proud with My Last Breath nonetheless.
10. Serbia – Hurricane – Hasta La Vista
Hitting like a sledgehammer, the crunching synths of Hasta La Vista make way for an attitude-filled anthem. Sharp vocals, choreography, and powerful harmonies arrive in a hurricane of epic proportions.
9. Lithuania – The Roop – On Fire
Like Iceland’s Think About Things, Lithuania’s On Fire delivers quirky bohemian theatrics against a simmering dance beat. Bringing a sense of fun to the proceedings, On Fire provides infectious choruses of ‘La la la las’, madcap dance moves and curious electronic ambient production.
8. San Marino – Senhit – Freaky
We were Team Obsessed in Senhit’s digital battle, but funky throwback Freaky is a true piece of pop fun that makes a worthy entry for San Marino. Filled with flavour and joy, Freaky is a silky disco anthem that would not feel out of place in Studio 54. Senhit’s warm, energetic, and infectiously charismatic personality will ensure that this shines through its staging also.
7. Germany – Ben Dolic – Violent Thing
Tapping into the tropical house movement, Ben Dolic’s Violent Thing is a polished piece of pop in which the singer’s soft vocals shine.
6. Latvia – Samanta Tina – Still Breathing
Samanta’s powerhouse vocals shine in this dynamic, piece of chaotic pop. Beautifully insane, Still Breathing is a manic unpredictable delight with electro garage sounds battering the audience. Paired with Samanta’s sharp and distinctive enunciation, Still Breathing is unique high brow pop perfectly encapsulated in the line: “Life is music, I am a composer.”
5. Russia – Little Big – Uno
Like Latvia’s entry, Russia have served up a beautiful piece of insanity. With Latin flavours and Aqua style vocals, infectious dance beats, and sheer unadulterated quirkiness, we would not be surprised if we were gearing up for Russia 2021 thanks to Little Big’s Uno.
4. France – Tom Leeb – The Best In Me (Mon alliée)
Perhaps the most controversial placing on this list, we have an undeniable soft spot for this heartwarming ballad from Tom Leeb. Leeb has a distinctive huskiness in his voice that suits the blend of English and French languages. This is a grandiose lush orchestral anthem packed with emotive lyrics and elegance.
3. Cyprus – Sandro – Running
A natural successor to Fuego and Replay, Sandro’s Running is a slick dancefloor ready banger bolstered by highly-charged electronic production. Sandro’s vocals are smooth and hold control over the slick dance beats – particularly as the track builds to epic productions and the “I don’t want to fall again” kicks in. Massively contemporary, this track would easily find a home on Top 40 radio around Europe.
2. Estonia – Uku Suviste – What Love Is
Uku has an undeniable control over the proceedings delivering swelling romantic vocals. A belting chorus and dramatic power in the lyricism helps What Love Is shine. A slow burning build up and Uku’s charismatic delivery should ensure that What Love Is is a qualifier.
Our Winner: Azerbaijan – Efendi – Cleopatra
Azerbaijan really saved the best till last with Cleopatra – a fiery ethnic dance track that taps into history and the occult, all set on a roaring traditional-meets-electronic backdrop. Efendi delivers sexuality, gravitas and crystal clear vocals. Azerbaijan have served a big theatrical, expensively produced pop number and it is flawless.