One Eurovision veteran. One industry veteran. The seasoned stars of their respective contests, both Bonnie and Niamh proved you don’t have to work a minidress to make a splash on the Eurovision stage.
Niamh’s delivery was about showcasing her formidable vocal and the virtues of ‘It’s For You.’ Skilfully crafted, emotively sung and with a message that seemed to echo her mission for the Emerald Isle, it was a lovely tune that deserved a lot better than it received on the night in Oslo. Indeed, you have to have a lot of respect for any performer that takes to the Eurovision stage in this century and relies upon the power of their voice and the strength of their song alone to propel them up the scoreboard. Though they didn’t set the scoreboard alight, finishing 19th and 23rd respectively, both delivered polished songs that didn’t resort to gimmicks and relied upon class and performance to win points.
Bonnie’s performance of ‘Believe In Me’ is a different tack altogether. Deprived of her quintessentially rockiness, Bonnie’s soft-country approach calls for an appeal. Commanding the stage in a racy black number, Bonnie has to demonstrate her alpha female status and demand that the UK puts her faith in her. She will not finish in last place, and she won’t be another Engelbert. She’s got two decades on the man, Grammy nominations under her belt and a song that has a little more to it than a subtle guitar. You have to bear in mind here that for the UK, making the Top 20 these days is a result, and one to at least tentatively praise. The platform at the end of the performance is one of my favourite moments from Malmö: dang it she actually used and owned that podium. And who could fail to love her squeal of adrenalin at the end?
Vocally there’s not much in it. Bonnie manages to hit the long-notes and rise above her powerful backing vocal, while Niamh takes a more central position for delivery of the song, but is let down by some bum notes at the start of her performance. Both build in strength once they get into their rhythm. For Tyler, she’s at her strongest when strolling along the stage in command – audience participation is the key for her. Niamh has a flair of cabaret about her – the big notes and the bridge are where she’s really going to shine.
This is a death match folks and you have to be harsh. For Niamh to win she needed flawless vocal delivery on her side, and it wasn’t there all the time. Bonnie’s was about asserting her credentials. She didn’t win in Malmö, but did any of us expect her to? Her intention in Eurovision was to show she still had it. And judging by the gusto with which she attacked that stage, Bonnie’s got a few years left in her yet. Sorry Niamh, it’s curtains for you.
What do you all think? Did Niamh knock Bonnie out of the vocal park? Did Bonnie’s husky vocal put the former champion Kavanagh on the back foot? Comments below!