I start today’s Eurovision post with a brief Konosuba reference, because I’m missing talking about anime but I don’t know exactly what to write about right now. So I’m settling for dropping it in my made-up portmandeau titles. And I’ve chosen Georgia and Albania to go together because I’m pairing each Caucasus nation up with someone from outside the region, and it just so happens that Georgia and Albania have sent very similar entries this year.
Georgia – Tamara Gachechiladze – Keep The Faith
I’d say, if I were to take the last few years of Eurovision into account, 2015, 2016 and 2017, Georgia would be right up towards the top of my country rankings, possibly even the best, they had an amazing fiery pop song in 2015 with Warrior, a rather incredible Oasis pastiche, something you almost never see at Eurovision, with Midnight Gold last year, and this year with Bond ballad-esque Keep The Faith. All top-drawer tracks, and with their experimentation, I consider songs like One More Day by Eldrine some of my favourite ever Eurovision tracks. I like Georgia’s attitude to Eurovision, it’s like Montenegro in that they always send good and interesting tracks (with the exception of their 2012 entry that we don’t talk about, because that was a joke) and doing so means that I’m always supporting them more than most seem to.
And Keep The Faith is really wonderful. Powerful from the moment in, Tamara enraptures me with her vocals, it’s big, it’s dramatic, it’s everything music should be, at least the powerful dramatic ballads that Eurovision delights in and I love it. Far from being the dull, milquetoast ballads that I might say United Kingdom and Czech Republic are, this one has real wind machine power to it.
And yet, it’s quite likely, sadly, that this one will be out. Georgia are always shaky on friends, but they best perform with the likes of Lithuania, Ukraine and Belarus, none of which are in this semi. Armenia is but that will probably not be enough. Because there are so many ballads, even though it does stick in the mind at first, it’s performed second and there are many many ballads to go before the end, that this will seem a distant memory, and tracks that are that tend to have a real uphill struggle. It also doesn’t help that its most similar competitor is merely two songs after it and is, on the whole, better…
Albania – Lindita – World
Coming in at four non-qualifications this decade, Albania are a country most people don’t tend to notice that often in Eurovision, as is also the case in real life and in Europa Universalis IV the minute Skanderbeg dies. But I’ve liked their entries enough over the past few years to give them a bit more of the time of day than I imagine most people would. I wasn’t a fan of Fairytale last year but everything else is great, like the simple pop of I’m Alive (that I distinctly remember Graham Norton joking that no one would ever hear again past Eurovision, to be fair, it’s one of their less essential entries even if it is their only post-Suus qualfier. Or there’s Identitet, a beautiful hard alt rock innovative piece, or the heart-wrenching Suus. But the track that I think this year has most in common with is 2014’s One Night’s Anger, not in tempo, for that was a downtempo world track that had a fair bit in common with the house theme sweeping the continent, but in feeling and singing style, Lindita reminds me of Hersi. Except filled with more drama.
World is almost Keep The Faith part 2, they are really quite similar and this means they’ll be competing for the same audience. While I initially preferred Keep The Faith, the slow building and subsequent torrent of vocals and instrumental dramatics that World has kept within it made me warm to it a lot more over time – and I’d now count it as my favourite Albanian entry for quite a while, certainly since Identitet if not further back.
Sadly, its prospects are pretty shaky too, Albania don’t have the best voter base and are often one of those extra countries people are happy to leave to one side, so unless Lindita really enraptures voters in the way that Suus did I don’t see it ending well for her either. And I think that’s really quite unlikely, sadly. She’s on fourth, her and Tamara will probably take each other’s voter base and while I think Lindita may score more from the juries than her Georgian rival it will probably not be enough to see her through. Cracking song but one I fear is doomed.