21 April 2017 (released)
25 April 2017
Love it or loathe it, it is impossible to deny the cultural status the Eurovision Song Contest holds around the world. As one of the biggest music events of the year, it constantly sparks debate and banter and 2017 is no exception. With Eurovision Titans Russia not partaking in the contest and Israel's place still under debate, the arrival of the annual compilation in the build up to big event is as huge a deal this year as it has been in past years. While the unlikely but unstoppable winner of 2016's contest, Jamala, may not have been an obvious selection in the build up the competition against the likes of Dami Im and Sergey Lazarev, but it is in the unpredictability that the competition that Eurovision really revels. With only a few weeks left till the big event, can this year's compilation of recorded songs help us predict who will deliver the stand out performance on the night?
After a solid run over the last few years, it has to be conceded that the crop of songs showcased on the record for 2017 is not as strong as one might expect. The contest has gone through a transitional period to where it should now perceived as something of a talent-finding tastemaker. Having delivered Loic Nottet, Margaret Berger, Mans Zelmerlow, Lena and Loreen to the international stage, it is difficult to predict a break out talent of their ilk from the 2017 batch.
That is not to say 2017 is without highlights and lowlights. Russia should thank their lucky stars they have decided to pull out of the contest. For while they are known to dominate the Top 5 year in and year out, their 2017 was rather lackluster. Joining Russia in the skip ahead moments of the collection of Lithuania's forgettable Fusedmarc, Switzerland's dated pop drive from Timebelle, Ireland's irritating Brendan Murray and a rather disappointing pop rock effort from Ukraine's O. Torvald - maybe they don't fancy chancing a second win!
While the cheery folk-pop of Belarus' Naviband and uplifting Gypsy anthem of Hungary's Joci Papai make for interesting and entertaining additions to the line-up, it becomes apparent that the winner is either going to be aligned with a Harry Styles meets Lana Del Rey alt-pop sound or the explosive cheesy pop that Eurovision has come to know and love. Even though the bookies are tipping the frankly annoying Italian entry, Occidentali's Karma by Francesco Gabbani, it fails to shine as brightly as the pop drive of Israel's I Feel Alive (Imri), Sweden's I Can't Go On (Robin Bengtsson) and Macedonia's Dance Alone (Jana Burceska) - nor appeal to the contemporary chart lover in the way Belgium's City Lights (Blanche), Iceland's Paper (Svala) or Bulgaria's Beautiful Mess (Kristian Kostov) manage.
With France's Alma delivering a summer earworm, Moldova's Sun Stroke Project an infectious sax driven EDM anthem and Montenegro's Slavko Kalezic armed with a cheesy pop classic, it is hard to imagine the tender beauty of Portugal's Amar Pelos Dos being allowed the breathing space it needs to soar to the top. But in amongst an army of out there pop tracks, part of us is hoping this timeless ballad will soar.
Overall the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 may not boast the break out songs of the last couple of years, but there are a good 5 songs that are destined to be long-term additions to your playlist and that's just about enough.