Eurovision 2018: SCAN’s highlights

Matt Hitchinson shares the highlights from this year's Eurovision Song Contest

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Image courtesy of the European Broadcasting Union (via Wikimedia Commons)

Though it is often derided by the music industry, Eurovision is an essential part of the musical calendar in the UK, even though we never seem to win! It is an important showcase of the talent from a lake less fished by British listeners, with most of the focus on the UK and US scenes. This means that even if a lot of it is dripping in cheese, there can be some good music in amongst Graham Norton’s sarcastic quips; and SCAN has selected a few that warranted your further attention.

AUSTRIA – ‘Nobody But You’

The lyricism and general vibe of this song may have been quite cringey, but that’s always a risk with Eurovision. The real strength of this song was in the melodic arrangement: I kept getting the feeling that it was going to build into something really special,which is a real credit to its Avicii-esque sound. Moreover, César Sampson’s vocals were strong throughout, with a beautifully smooth tone reminiscent of Aloe Blacc.

 

CZECH REPUBLIC – ‘Lie To Me’

He may have looked like a preppy Olly Murs lookalike from 2010 but this song screamed modernity and maturity, if you overlook his flossing. Mikolas Josef’s deep vocals bridged a gap between rapping and singing that gave him a sound that wouldn’t feel out of place on mainstream radio. If you listened to ‘Strip That Down’ and ‘Talk Dirty To Me’ at the same time, this is likely what it would sound like, but it really works.

 

ISRAEL – ‘Toy’ + CYPRUS – ‘Fuego’

It seems natural to group these two songs together: they are both big songs to dance to, which could be the major reason behind their success, finishing first and second respectively. They both have driving beats behind uptempo tracks that wouldn’t seem too out of place in The Sugarhouse! The real attraction of Israel’s track seems to be the novelty of a catchy chorus and a dance move that threatens to sweep Europe if it is given too much exposure. ‘Fuego’, alternatively, relies on a thriving energy that really encourages the rhythm to move through your body.

 

LITHUANIA – ‘When We’re Old’

A change from the majority of Eurovision’s pop songs, this delicate, melodic piece really stuck with me. The paired-back, acoustic guitar allowed the sweetness of the vocals to dominate, but rather than dominate, they merely hold your attention. The tone of Ieva Zasimauskaitė’s voice is similar to that of Ellie Goulding, possessing a huge vocal range yet retaining a delicate innocence showing a real depth of emotion.

 

PORTUGAL – ‘O Jardim’

It may have come last, but this wasn’t actually a bad song – just very out of place on this sort of stage. There was a darkness to the vocals that was slow, haunting and – in a weird way – kind of beautiful, like a Portuguese version of London Grammar. It didn’t matter that this was in another language, the emotions conveyed transcend language through the vocals that seemed to fill the room despite there being a very stripped-back instrumental. This sort of song would be more at home on a new music stage at a small festival, where the simplistic staging would not be so evident.