Tonight the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 comes to a glittering end as Europe crowns Conchita Wurst’s successor. As the contestants slip into their tightest pants and glue on their fake eyelashes, the team from wiwibloggs have been busy placing their final bets (and, well, slipping into our tightest pants and gluing on our fake eyelashes). For the past several months we’ve toured Europe on the Eurovision campaign trail, met some fabulous singers, and reviewed all 40 of their songs. Now it’s time for us to share our final wishes after two fabulous weeks of rehearsals here in Vienna.
Eurovision 2015: Our favourites
William: France’s Lisa Angell with “N’Oubliez Pas”
The spangley vortex of Eurovision is filled with girls. Lisa Angell is one of the few women. Her surname rightly hints at her heavenly voice, which fills the Wiener Stadthalle with spirituality and soul. Her LED screen simply and beautifully tells a story of perseverance — not just of the individual, but also of the French people who, in recent months, have stared terror in its face. The screen shows a city razed to the ground. As doves take flight the city slowly comes back to life. In the final moments three drummers appear on stage, and they multiply into dozens on the LED. As they march forward you can feel the power of Lisa’s voice and her lyrics: “I am here tonight, in the middle of these ruins, in order to talk about hope and to sing about life, and I make the promise that when the blood will dry, I will rebuild my village even more beautiful than before.” She tells us not to forget. We won’t.
Padraig: Belgium’s Loïc Nottet with “Rhythm Inside”
I’m gonna rapppabab tonight, tomorrow and forevermore. As far as I’m concerned, “Rhythm Inside” is perfection. Things started off shakily during the first rehearsals, but ever since we’ve seen Loïc develop and grow into the multi-talented performer we saw in the semis. His vocals stun. His choreography slays. The song itself is full of lyrical depth and technical intricacies, and while that’s all impressive it’s the emotions that matter. Every time I hear this I get the feels. I was ecstatic in the arena, and even on playback I still have an urge to applaud. My winner, regardless of where it finishes on Saturday. Simply superb.
Robyn: Belgium’s Loïc Nottet with “Rhythm Inside”
Back when I reviewed “Rhythm Inside” for the Wiwi Jury, I gave it a 9. But now, after seeing it in all its glory at the semi-final, I consider it an obvious 10.
It’s one of the most complete and perfect packages at Eurovision this year. The singing, the choreography, the costumes, the stage graphics, the cinematography – everything works. And what’s even more remarkable is that Loïc himself has been heavily involved with all these creative aspects of the performance.
But let’s not forget what’s at the heart – the song. While there was promise of minimalist production from Malta and Switzerland, both lost their nerve and remixed the character away. “Rhythm Inside” goes stark and minimalist, which lets Loïc’s beguiling boy-Sia voice ring loud and clear as he delivers the flowing melody. His quintet of backing vocalists add layers of mood and character, sounding even better than the studio version.
Belgium may traditionally struggle to qualify, but 2015 looks to be one of their mightiest years yet. “Rhythm Inside” has what it takes to deliver Belgium their best result since Tom Dice’s sixth place in 2010. But regardless of the result, everyone will be rapppabab-ing on Saturday night.
Chris: Belgium’s Loïc Nottet with “Rhythm Inside”
In the Wiwi Jury for Belgium, I said that “Rhythm Inside” should be the song that wins Eurovision, but that it probably wouldn’t. There was even a stage where I worried that it wouldn’t qualify – particularly once we hit the ground in Vienna and his first rehearsal could be described as “messy” at best.
Now, as I’m writing this with 30 hours or so left until we know the result of the competition, I think that Belgium could win Eurovision.
Loïc makes a complicated, different, unique choreography look completely effortless. His live vocal has been consistently great and he seems to be growing with confidence as each performance goes on – the little smirk he gives the camera in closeups humanise him and draw the viewer in. The bookmakers finally seem to have taken notice and his odds are tumbling. He may have won the first semi final after all. He’s my winner, he very well could be the winner and most certainly, he definitely still should be.
Sopon: Montenegro’s Knez with “Adio”
I gave this a six the first time around. Dumbest mistake ever. Once Knez stepped on stage, he drew me into the most surreal performances of the night. “Adio” doesn’t have a regular rhythm to it, but the composition is magnificence beyond words.
Between the buildup, and the climax, and the staging, the whole performance just brings me into a Balkan whirlwind of emotion. The harmonies are some of the most effective, powerful, and pleasant I’ve heard in this year’s edition.
I can see the pain on Knez’s face as he sings. I can hear what he is telling us without even knowing a word of Montenegrin. And I truly am impressed by Knez, a man whose abilities I had not realized before.
The whole presentation is pure beauty. Montenegro has put together a truly underestimated package.
Francheska: Azerbaijan’s Elnur Huseynov with “Hour of the Wolf”
I thought long and hard about this. Odd years always end up being my favorites, and this one was no exception. I could’ve written long, beautiful paragraphs about so many entries (Italy, Montenegro, Poland, I could go on!), but I’m going to end up picking one that may shock many: Azerbaijan.
“Hour of the Wolf” is as empowering as it is majestic. From the eerie cry in the beginning to Elnur’s captivating lyrics to perhaps one of the most beautiful crescendos in recent Eurovision songs. It’s a ballad that never loses its power or sizzle. I hear something new every time I listen, and Elnur’s diction is spot-on. I go from introspection to epiphany to empowerment within three minutes, and it’s a journey I embrace.
“Hour of the Wolf” is like the 1999 film American Beauty in that every time you experience it, you get a new interpretation. The first one may be a victory anthem, the next an account of the insanity, the next one about futile hope, so on and so forth. It’s truly a masterpiece in music and human psychology. It’s produced beautifully, with nothing drowning out. Backing vocalists, Elnur, and instrumentals all have vital pieces in this song that do not get lost in the power of others.
To quote Elnur: “I’m hypnotized”. I truly am, and I wish this song a great amount of luck and success. Fran out.
Angus: Sweden’s Måns Zelmerlöw with “Heroes”
I gave this song a ten both times I reviewed it for the Wiwi Jury and if I could I would multiply those to give Måns 100. “Heroes” is the most professional package you’ll find on stage and the preparation that has gone into Sweden’s entry this year shows their dedication to pull off a sixth win and with a male soloist to boot.
The main attacks on the song have been rooted in opposition to Scandinavia hosting the contest again rather than any actual catastrophic problem with “Heroes” or Måns himself.
The little flying gnome is adorable, the entire arena buzzes every time his light show takes off and Måns also has a super strong vocal behind him. Eric Saade, Loreen and Sanna all made the top three and if Måns isn’t atop the leaderboard by the end of Saturday night something will have gone catastrophically wrong.
David: Monika Kuszynska with “In the Name of Love”
This song has the most beautiful and uplifting message of any song in the show. In the staging, the presentation, Monika’s movements, her face, the song itself – all of that is about beauty and wonder and love. In such a positive way that it transcends her disability.
This is not a song of loss or limitations, it’s a positive upbeat song celebrating life. This song makes you cry tears of joy. And crying in joy for someone who has been through what she’s been through – that is an amazing thing.
Monika has won my heart — and my vote.
Josh: Aminata Savadogo with “Love Injected”
I spent quite a lot of time reflecting on the rehearsals and the performances of the semi finals and whilst I have about half a dozen favourites this year, nothing sticks out to me more than Latvia’s Aminata.
Admittedly when this song won the national selection in Latvia a few months ago, I didn’t think this song was anything to gag over. In fact, I was bitter for perhaps too long that Markus Riva didn’t win. Come Wiwi Jury time, I wrote this song off as a borderline qualifier and gave it a seven out of ten.
Sometimes, I have a bad habit of judging ones character, or in this case ones song, and Aminata revived my soul and gave me all the life I need to survive!
Combined with memorable staging, phenomenally good vocals and a form fitting red dress, Aminata delivers an incredibly strong entry with more than enough potential to take out the title. She is worldly, she is modern, she is fierce and I am absolutely ‘Love Injected’. Lettonie, Douze Points!
Deban: Aminata with “Love Injected”
Eurovision is all about building bridges. Aminata’s qualification isn’t just a marker of success for Latvia. She injects quality into the contest as a whole, pushing it forward with her stellar vocals, tactile sensitivity and futuristic sound. Like the tracks on her debut album “Inner Voice”, she isn’t playing for gimmicks. Her three minute live performance crystallises flashes of genius, quality and creativity. As the sole composer, arranger and performer of “Love Injected”, she earns my douze points this year.
Liam: Aminata with “Love Injected”
I said it in my review and I’ll say it again: Latvia is my winner, and it should be THE winner. It’s new, it’s fresh, it’s modern. It’s like a breath of fresh air after being locked in a room for 24 hours. To enhance it even more, the staging is perfect. The perfect mix of futuristic themes and class, the cathedral like background makes me fall to my knees. Definitely not to be forgotten is her voice. Powerful, majestic, flawless. She brings it and kills it. The first chorus is where people take her seriously. Girl can hold a note y’all I jumped for joy when this qualified on Thursday, and it has been great to see her odds rise and her song top charts.
Ramadan: Aminata with “Love Injected”
Even though Albania is my favourite to win, I’m giving my vote to Latvia. Aminata gives an outstanding performance that leaves the audience speechless. Her fierce blood red dress with a powerful red background just wowed me. Back when I reviewed “Love Injected” for the Wiwi Jury, I gave it a 10. From that flawless performance, I wish I could give it a 12. Aminata reminds me of Rona Nishliu, she sings with passion just like her. Latvia is definitely the dark horse!
William C: Nina Sublatti with “Warrior”
Nina’s song is feisty — a real fight song! It’s fitting that her performance features wings because this really takes flight. The performance is, as Nina sings, “still stuck in my mind”. She initially wasn’t my favourite in the Georgian selection but since that national final, Nina has grown and grown as a performer and singer. She has brought the full package to Vienna with great vocals and staging that fits the drama and mystery of Miss Sublatti herself. While I doubt this will win, a Top 5 result seems very likely, and Nina would definitely deserve it. This warrior slays.
Vebooboo: Mørland & Debrah Scarlett with “A Monster Like Me”
Amidst a sea of amateurism, there is just one true ‘Nemo’ in tonight’s Grand Final. Norway has managed, yet again, to deliver a classy number guaranteed to leave you with chills. The combination of a handsome duo, just that touch of Debrah’s skin exposed, and an ever-revolving camera (admittedly stolen from last year’s 2nd place Dutch entry) is divine. Debrah’s vocals can be a tad shaky at times, but if she can just enter on stage as confidently as she does when out on the prowl in Oslo’s straight scene then Norway surely has a chance of eeking out the win. Now, some may say that a starting order next to bookies’ favourite Sweden is a curse. You know what — I say it’s a blessing. My mama always told me that everything in life is relative…and so what better way to look classy than to stand next to a song riddled with elementary lyrics and gimmicky LED tricks?
Billy: Mørland & Debrah Scarlett with “A Monster Like Me”
Sweden, Norway, Italy, Latvia, Belgium, Australia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Estonia and Georgia all have equal chances of winning, but only one will “take it all”. And to me it should be Norway.
A classic Nordic ballad with a pinch of mystery, a bit of love, a little hate and twelve spoons of darkness, “A Monster Like Me”, boasts beautiful lyrics and a superb melody. Many have questioned their staging in Vienna (“It was better in Oslo!”) but they need to remember most voters didn’t see the national final. M&D keep it simple, they keep it real, they work their camera angles, and there is no need for pyro-rain like Azerbaijan did in 2011. Mørland and Debrah Scarlett look like fabulous movie stars starring in a nostalgic movie titled “Our way to the top”.
Bogdan: Mørland & Debrah Scarlett with “A Monster Like Me”
While I have been a supporter of Italy from the very beginning and I absolutely adore Estonia’s duet, I will actually give my vote to Norway. I do not care what Mørland did in his early youth, that Eurofans fear the prices in Oslo or that y’all have Scandinavian fatigue. This is my favourite song, my favourite staging, my favourite duo, my jam, my monster crush. The simplicity and sophistication of the entry, the gimmick-free show and the chemistry between Mørland and Debrah have all made me a convert. Honey, I’m telling the truth: “A Monster Like Me” deserves 12 points.
Sinan: Albania’s Elhaida Dani with “I’m Alive”
This is a song that deserves attention. The text is beautiful and sufficiently sophisticated for this sleek, well produced song. Elhaida sings a love song to herself: This is all about empowerment and self-belief and the ability to keep kicking when a man puts you down. Meaning, message, and melody all delivered by an amazing artist. My absolute favourite.