Its 2022! The ESC is back, this time in Italy after the win of Maneskin with their song “Zitti e buoni” which got them a lot of fame and recognition. Now the ESC stage was built up in Turin, 25 countries fight after two semi-finals for the crown of the winner of 2022. But this time, there were two main issues from my point of view which saddened the anticipation of this year’s contest.
First of all, the elephant in the room: the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. Of course, this had a big impact on a Europe-wide event. Russia wasn’t allowed to join the competition and the Ukrainian act was the favourite for the win since day 1. A lot of acts this evening had some message about the war and peace. And of course, the Ukrainian act Kalush Orchestra won with their song “Stefania”. It was a typical high-quality Ukrainian ESC song which resembles a lot of the last ones. Was it the best song this evening? Definitely not in my opinion, but combined with the message that the ESC is some kind of a European show for diversity, unity and peace it deserved it. Nearly every single country from the public vote gave Ukraine 12 points.
Another downer was the German preliminary decision for the ESC song. First, I don’t think that the singer Malik Harris is a bad singer, he is very talented, and I really hope that he can live his dream as a musician. And his song “Rockstars” is a good song where you can feel that he wrote the whole song by himself. But it wasn’t any kind of ESC material. But there was a band that applied for the ESC for Germany and wasn’t even heard of the people who choose the songs for the final show:
The Fun-Metalcore Band Electric Callboy, formerly Eskimo Callboy. Their song “Pump It” was pure ESC-material – loud, good show, remarkable stuff. I don’t think we would have got a Top 5 ranking, but Top 10 would have been possible with it. The band had a big worldwide push in 2020/2021 with YouTube reaction videos. But this song was not good enough for radio broadcast, so they didn’t get an invite. Even when they got more YouTube views than any other contester combined and a big petition was ignored. So the unavoidable happened. Last place. Was the song so bad? No. Was the act so bad? No. But like I said: it wasn’t ESC material. So, it was kind of deserved.
Overall, the show wasn’t as good as the last ones. Of course, because of the war but also there were too many replaceable ballads. I still don’t get the hype about Sam Ryder (2. Place) and his song “Space Man”. I always had the feeling that I have known the song, maybe because it was such a typical (British) ballad that combined so much Elton John and Co in it, so it sounded like this to me. The same counts for Sweden which was maybe the weakest of all of the last Swedish acts of the ESC in the past years, but still good enough to get on 4th (I must still say that Sweden is a top-notch pop-music factory).
A surprisingly 3rd place went to Spain. The song “SloMo” was written for Jennifer Lopez who didn’t answer the songwriter at all. And after five seconds into the song, you know why this song was written for her, it sounds completely like a early 2000 song from her. Chanel did a great job as a Jennifer Lopez double which got a lot of sex appeal on the stage, but for me it was way too much. But the jury and the other graders gave her enough points for the 3rd place. And there is a chance that we will hear the song quiet often in the future at some beach bars. But overall, there weren’t many recognizable songs like last year, so I come quickly to my Top 5 Songs of the Eurovision Song Contest 2022.
5. De Diepte – S10 (Netherlands, 11th):
A deeply sad song about the negative things we all experience in our lives. Minimal use of instruments, at the beginning with electric guitar and piano, at the end supported by percussion instruments. This song clearly deserved a better place, probably also the Dutch lyrics became a bit of a handicap.
4. Zdob si Zdub, Fratii Advahov – Trenuletul (Moldavia, 7th, only the ESC Live Version)
That’s the kind of shit I want to see at the ESC. Moldova doesn’t disappoint again and bring one of the most fun songs of the evening. The motto “Hey ho, Folklore and Rock n Roll!” worked excellently live on stage. Please Moldova, never change.
3. Nadir Rüstəmli – Fade To Black (Azerbaijan 16th)
Of all the quieter ballads of the evening, I liked this one the most. Normally I don’t like the Azerbaijani contributions because they are a too deliberate mixture of poppy Oriental and European influences, which usually do well at the ESC, but here I didn’t understand the rather poor placement. The song about a break-up in which the partner simply withdraws would have deserved a much better placement.
2. Monika Liu – Sentimentai (Lithuania, 14th)
A song in Lithuanian with stron 60s and Funk vibes? You can only hear that at the ESC. Great voice, great bassline, seductively playful performance. It could well be that the song will find a place on one or other of my playlists.
1. Subwoolfer – Give That Wolf A Banana (Norway, 10th)
And again a song where I just have to say: ESC material! Here it’s not the song that makes the quality, but the whole performance and the band’s hilarity before, during and after the performance. A little bit higher would have been fair, but in any case a well deserved 10th and special place in my ESC heart. And always remember: And before that wolf eats my grandma / Give that wolf a banana!