Do the Big Five deserve their places in the Eurovision 2014 final?

JoinUs_press_2

I have a personal playlist of my 20 favourite Eurovision 2014 songs. And only one of the Big Five – the Contest’s biggest financial contributors, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK – is on it. So do the automatically-qualifying, all-female quintet deserve their places in the final?

Spain: YES

This song might be painful to listen to, but it’s one of just two entries this year which attempt to straddle two languages – which seems only logical for the nation that heralds the second-widest spoken tongue in the world. Choosing a singer that has actually had some success (international, no less) can be looked at as both unfair as well as a credit to the Contest. For the Big Five to choose successful, contemporary acts over gimmicky (with exceptions, see France below) or washed-up ones can only be a boost to Eurovision’s reputation.

FRANCE: YES

Is this an example of the perfect gimmick? How about a comparison: Lordi (visual and outstanding novelty gimmick), Twin Twin (musical gimmick) and Daz Sampson (gimmick on every level). The first two seem to aspire to some sort of integrity, either musically or visually, while Daz Sampson’s horrific 2006 attempt was neither pleasant to listen to or watch. Twin Twin, however, are young enough to pull off this sort of stunt and with just enough of a Eurotrash vibe mixed over a dance beat to justify the charade. Or perhaps I am biased for my love of songs performed in home languages.

GERMANY: ON THE FENCE

I can’t help but feel that if this entry came from Montenegro or Latvia it would be dismissed. Catchy in the slowest of melodic ways, Elaiza’s tune is a matter of personal preference. The band wasn’t selected internally – in fact, they were the ‘wildcard’ contestant in a convoluted national selection process, catapulted into a line-up of seven established German acts and emerged the victors. Whether you can make it through to the end without wincing or not, at least Is It Right makes for a wider array of styles at the Contest.

UK: JUST ABOUT

Again, if another country were performing this song – especially in another language, although tracks in languages other than English are particularly thin on the ground this year – it would struggle to be heard. The chorus doesn’t stand out from the verse, it never really ‘gets going’, nor can I imagine any fancy lighting effects being awarded to the performance. Selecting an entirely unknown act is a liberty that many countries cannot or choose not to take (many contestants are the offspring of national talent contests). Yet, like any act with musical merit, a solid live rendition would be enough to edge it into a final line-up…just about.

ITALY: YES

Italy can usually be relied upon to make conservative musical decisions for Eurovision, normally by national selection but this year the nation chose internally. Emma’s pop-rock sound is something of a departure from the country’s usual sensibilities, and much like Germany’s Elaiza, adds some variation to the Contest’s proliferation of straight pop songs and ballads. You go, girl.