Between national selection season and the Eurovision semi-finals, there is a huge amount of time for performers to steer sinking ships away from danger. This year plenty of acts that fans had written off before Eurovision underwent a major revamp — sometimes in terms of styling, sometimes in terms of song — and took people by surprise inside Stockholm’s Globen Arena.
Israel’s Hovi Star oversaw a revamp that transformed “Made of Stars” from forgettable dirge to inspired ballad. After unveiling a trainwreck of a song, Nika Kocharov and the Young Georgian Lolitaz worked with Thomas G:Son to serve catchy Britpop realness. And Belarus’ IVAN went from pre-Eurovision laughing stock to hologram innovator when he appeared naked with wolves (digitally, anyway) on stage in Sweden.
But one lady rose above all the others when it came to self-improvement. After counting 3,711 votes, we are pleased to reveal that Belgium’s Laura Tesoro has won the Vision Music Award 2016 for Most Improved.
This teen queen arrived in Sweden with colourful, on-point staging and managed to transform the stage into a jumpin’ discotheque — and one driven by her infectious smile and non-stop energy. Unlike other disco performers (see Finland’s Sandhja, for instance), Laura didn’t disappear into the stage. She owned it. She slayed it. She made it come alive.
Most Improved 2016: Full results
1. Belgium — Laura Tesoro 1,257 votes, 33.87%
2. Israel — Hovi Star 925 votes, 24.93%
3. Georgia — Nika Kocharov & Young Georgian Lolitaz 479 votes, 12.91%
4. Belarus — IVAN 439 votes, 11.83%
5. Moldova — Lidia Isaac 370 votes, 9.97%
6. San Marino — Serhat 241 votes, 6.49%
Laura joins a storied list of Eurovision acts whose fortunes vastly improved from the time they revealed their song to the time they performed it live. Previous winners include Georgia’s Nina Sublatti (2015), Ukraine’s Mariya Yaremchuk (2014) and San Marino’s Valentina Monetta (2013).
Despite our lukewarm reception to the song after the Belgian final, we were totally feeling it during Laura’s first rehearsal. Here’s how we reviewed it at the time.
“The staging of the song is a jazzed up version of the show y’all will already be familiar with. It’s like Belgium sprinkled some cinnamon on top and spiced it up. The classic disco lights are displayed all along the LED floor and walls, and the big stair case is present for the backing singers to stand on.”
“The biggest improvement, however, is in the choreography. Laura is smashing out some incredibly challenging dance moves – even managing to keep up with the professional dancers behind her. Laura and her posse walk down stage in the beginning donning small handkerchiefs in the colours of the Belgian flag. Then the team get down and dirty as they kill some funkalicious moves on stage.”
“Vocally, Laura was flawless. Despite popping and locking her body throughout the performance, not once was she out of breath or in pain. It’s really quite amazing and it’s a phenomenally catchy end to the second semi final.”
VISION MUSIC AWARDS 2016: THE NOMINEES
This award is just one of a dozen awards we have launched as part of the Vision Music Awards 2016 (VMAs).
Our 13 categories—from best dressed to most most wronged at ESC—identify the contestants who left the biggest impression on Eurovision fans, regardless of whether they won the contest or not.
You can watch the nominations video below. You can also read more about the awards here.