The voting for the annual ESC 250 celebration closed on 5th December 2021, and now we have a nervous wait to find out the results!
While we wait to find our the official results, members of the TES team will be sharing their votes for this year and explaining why they have voted the way they have. In the first of this series, Rosie reveals her top 10!
Why I voted how I voted
I’d like to be able to say that my votes were rational, calculated and mathematically-decided, and that cannot be further from the actual truth. I voted completely through gut instinct, first picking my ten songs and then trying to turn them into some sort of order (mostly done by trying to balance the amount I liked each song versus how many other points I thought they might get from others!). I wanted the songs I picked to be as diverse as possible and represent the range of my ESC taste, hence why my list goes from anthemic pop, to folk, to opera, to EBM, taking a few detours along the way.
There is definitely a recency bias in there, and unfortunately most of that comes from me not having yet been able to listen to every single song from past years (yet, hopefully one day!). There’s also the fact that watching a contest live adds a new layer of nostalgia to each song that year, which means songs I was around to watch at the contest as it aired just give me that little serotonin boost of a happy memory. Some of the list is intended to give some love to some of my underrated favourites; others to songs that move me or have a message which speaks to me; some to songs that have particularly stood out to me in the past year; and some that just make me smile.
And now, without further ado, here are my votes for this year’s ESC 250!
1 Point: Midnight Gold – Nika Kocharov & Young Georgian Lolitaz (Georgia 2016)
Not my last controversial pick of the list, but I’m always up for choosing a song which divides opinions! As much as I love this song, and every bit of Britpop it channels, my main reason for putting it on my list was a simple one. It got the 251st spot last year, and I’d like to see it make the main list this year! As much as I joke about never trusting the UK in voting for anything, I am very happy that this got the 12 points from our jury that year, despite it not being my number one (that’s still to come!)
2 Points: Visionary Dream – Sopho Khalvashi (Georgia 2007)
I’m not sure any country has ever had a better debut in my eyes. This song so succinctly captures so much of what I love about Eurovision – it’s music I’d never hear anywhere else, brimming with national identity, but not in a dominant way; it’s just someone wanting to share their culture with others on a global stage, and they do it admirably. Sopho Khalvashi’s voice is clear and powerful, the lyrics are simple but so poetic, and the instrumental blends traditional Georgian instruments with (then) more modern production techniques to create the perfect package for the Eurovision stage. Now please can we have it on Spotify?
3 Points: Miss Kiss Kiss Bang – Alex Swings Oscar Sings (Germany 2009)
Okay, I admit it. I’m trash. I am swing music, big band, trumpet, Dita Von Teese, shiny silver trousers trash, and I am not ashamed. I’m entirely aware that this isn’t necessarily a good song. However, it brings me such an immense amount of joy every time I hear it, and it never fails to make me smile. When the trumpets come in, I’m up and I’m dancing and I lose any sense of critical faculty I have because it’s just so damn fun. Okay, I just don’t think this song gets enough love, and I also want more swing music in Eurovision.
4 Points: Hatari – Hatrið Mun Sigra (Iceland 2019)
If you’d mentioned to me a couple of years ago that I’d be holding tickets to concerts from an Icelandic bondage band who yell about anti-capitalism (and other societal critiques) to an EBM beat, I’m not sure I’d have believed you. This song took me completely out of my musical comfort zone, and I am so thankful that it did. I’ve never been one to balk at songs for having a degree of political undertones, and Hatari came with a message to share, and I love what they shared and how they shared it. Now I’m a ticket-carrying member of their fan club. I’ll always admire a country that sends something risky, even if I don’t always like it, but Hatrið Mun Sigra hits all the right notes. It’s powerful, it has something to say, and it’s so utterly full of conviction.
5 Points: Maps – Lesley Roy (Ireland 2021)
I was hesitant to put this one on my list, both due to the live performance and because I didn’t want to be swayed too heavily by recency bias. However, ultimately, I just couldn’t resist. It’s my second-most played song of 2021 (thanks Spotify!) and there’s a reason for that. Sometimes songs in Eurovision come along that surpass any critical faculties I have – see Miss Kiss Kiss Bang, and it may not be the most original or interesting thing ever submitted to the contest, but I’m a sucker for joyful, anthemic pop with drums and violins and it gets my heart going every time I hear it, and, again, makes me smile. Sometimes that’s enough for me to give it some love and appreciation.
6 Points: 1944 – Jamala (Ukraine 2016)
Where do I begin with 1944? For me, this song seals a true turning point in Eurovision – the shift (which had been in progress for a few years) towards truly authentic, diverse winners who bring something that is so wholly and completely them to the Eurovision stage. 1944 has this in truck-fulls. Every time the music dies and Jamala is alone on stage and starts ascending that scale, and then the tree grows behind her, I get shivers. The vocals are dark and intense, the instrumental sparse and austere and full of traditional instruments, the lyrics intimate and personal, and the whole package is just transcendent. It’s stunning.
7 Points: Zero Gravity – Kate Miller-Heidke (Australia 2019)
This song never fails to put a smile on my face. It’s joyful, euphoric, and tells such a personal story (of Kate overcoming her post-natal depression) but one that I still feel completely connected to. Listening to this makes me feel free, and makes my heart soar as much as she did on that Eurovision stage. While I tend to love opera both in Eurovision and out of it, this one ranks particularly highly for me this year after I got the chance to perform it myself at Manchester Calling. It adds just another special memory to a song that already makes me feel on top of the world.
8 Points: Hunter of Stars – Sebalter (Switzerland 2014)
It has violins! It has whistling! it has delightful lyrics! It has drums! it has the utterly charming Sebalter at its helm! What’s not to love here!? There’s an interesting level of complexity which hides behind such a catchy tune, and it’s fascinated me for a good 7 years now. I love the non-traditional lyric structure particularly, and its message of dismantling toxic masculinity – the juxtaposition of the upbeat melody with some darker, more contemplative themes hits the spot for me every time.
10 Points: For You – Iriao (Georgia 2018)
If you were to ask me what the most underrated song in Eurovision history is, it’s this. I can answer that in a heartbeat.
Did you know that UNESCO has a list of what they call Intangible Cultural Heritages, where they document forms of unique cultural practices to highlight, preserve and safeguard them? Well, this is one of them. This is Georgian polyphonic singing, and it’s something that’s been being performed since at least the 4th century. It’s an absolute privilege to hear something so unique and beautiful on the Eurovision stage. And Europe paid it dust.
Sure, the staging wasn’t quite right for the song. I give it no other faults. It’s musically unique for Eurovision, with beautiful harmonies and the soft, poetic Georgian language. The lyrics aren’t groundbreaking, but they’re really lovely. The voices of the singers blend exceptionally well, and the whole package is just delightful.
This is Georgia at its most Georgia, and I for one am in love with it.
And Rosie’s 12 points go to… Non mi avete fatto niente – Ermal Meta & Fabrizio Moro (Italy 2018)
While I have loved this song ever since it came out, it’s taken on a whole meaning over these last couple of years. To me, this song encapsulates such an incredible range of human emotions – anger, sadness, frustration, fear, anxiety – but above all. hope. It’s also hugely validating – it’s okay to feel all of these things, and hope is still there. In a world that is scary, chaotic, confusing and unpredictable, this song feels like an anchor to me. Ultimately, it tells me that everything is going to be olay, and that there is still goodness out there.
Now that Rosie has revealed her votes for ESC 250, what do you think of them? Who has gotten your 12 points this year? As always, please let us know what you think by commenting below. Be sure to follow ‘THAT Eurovision Site’ on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
News Source: That Eurovision Site
Photo Credit: EBU