Voting for the annual ESC 250 celebration closed on the 4th of December 2022, and now we have a nervous wait to find out the results! The event is hosted by songfestival.be, with the results revealed from 11:00CET on 31st December 2022 on ESC Radio to close out the year. Find out more about it here!
While we wait to find out the official results, members of the TES team will be sharing their votes for this year and explaining the reason for their picks. This time it’s Rory’s turn to reveal how he voted.
Going into this, I had a number of songs that had rightfully earned their place permanently on my list. However, as a ‘true connoisseur’ of experimental and syncopated music, I found it incredibly hard to whittle my favourite songs down to just 10. You’ll see that in my honourable mentions. But, nevertheless, let’s get going!
1 point: “Razom Nas Bahato” – Greenjolly (Ukraine, 2005)
Earning one whole point from me is Ukraine’s first host entry, all the way back in 2005. Many Eurovision fans have forgotten about – or written off – ‘Razom Nas Bahato’. However, the performance is visually quite striking. After a bit of tweaking, the unofficial anthem of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution helped to project a politically awoken country. It paved the beginning of Ukraine’s passion for the Contest and its potential for using the show to talk about controversial topics. A very admirable host entry that was sadly overlooked!
2 points: “The Voice” – Eimear Quinn (Ireland, 1996)
This is the first of many reappearances of some of my previous top 10 last year. However, “The Voice” still holds itself well, even in this everchanging musical landscape. The arrangement exudes tradition and when coupled with Eimear’s angelic voice, you can’t not get lost in its magic. I do feel sad that my home nation – Ireland – hasn’t won the Contest in such a long time. But, when you have this as the last song that you won with, that is something to be incredibly proud of.
3 points: “Where Are You?” – Imaani (United Kingdom, 1998)
It should come as no surprise that Imaani has managed to make it onto my top 10 yet again. “Where Are You” was one of the first pioneering songs to take Eurovision into the modern age, with its trip-hop influences which were contemporary for the time. That, coupled with the use of orchestral strings, helped to elevate the song and performance to a new level. And have we talked about the outfit?! Imaani looked STUNNING (I need a red coat like that). This performance was the beginnings of performances we now take for granted; never forget where you came from!
4 points: “Sanomi” – Urban Trad (Belgium, 2003)
Usually, Belgium’s entries often strike terror and boredom in me. So, when I first stumbled across “Sanomi”, my mind was BLOWN. The dark tones of the music, mixed with enticing and intriguing staging draw you into the world Urban Trad create. The music is a whole point unto itself, and I *ABSOLUTELY* need the instrumental version of this to be released retrospectively. Also, as far as I know, this is also the first song performed at the Contest entirely in a constructed language – so, it immediately makes it stand out from the crowd. I could go for hours about how much this song sends you into a trance, but if you listen to it, you can see it for yourself.
5 points: “Le dernier qui a parlé” – Amina (France, 1991)
Amina’s “Le dernier qui a parlé” immediately caught my eye when I first heard it. The music has an international feel from the very first bar. But, despite this, you can also get elements of jazz and blues that are so distinctly Amina and fits in her discography. This song just oozes positivity, and the lyrical depth is astounding; not many songs are written like this anymore. It’s a shame that this song lost to Carola in 1991, because songs like this fit perfectly into the “mid-tempo ethnic-style” genre that dominated the Contest in the 90s. Not to mention the vocal ability – an immediately captivating voice to complement a captivating song.
Though, I have to ask, why did they deliberately extend the title for the Contest? France Télévisions, explain yourself!
6 points: “Sama” – Justyna (Poland, 1995)
I first came across “Sama” as part of a skit during Eurovision 2014 and initially, this didn’t strike a chord with me. However, at the beginning of this year, I discovered the song again and, with much more matured ears, I fell in love with this. Let’s bear this in mind – this entry was Poland’s SECOND entry in the Contest. They could have easily stayed in the traditional ballad style that brought them success with “To nie ja!” the year before. But no, they took a risk with this phenomenal entry and I have to give kudos to TVP for sending this. I would say that “Sama” is the half-sibling of “Le dernier qui a parlé”, as they both shame similar traits from different parts of the world. Justyna’s vocals are stunning and she could deliver those notes well into the 2000s. So, if you want a new and challenging entry to broaden your musical horizons, definitely give this a listen!
7 points: “In Corpore Sano” – Konstrakta (Serbia, 2022)
The only song from the 2022 season to make it onto my top 10, I was initially unsure of Konstrakta. My favourite song at PzE 2022 was “Zorja”, so when I saw “In Corpore Sano” bulldoze its way to Eurovision, I was skeptical. However, the song is best described as a drug, because after one or two listens I was hooked. Konstrakta’s deadpan delivery hammers in the seriousness of the message, whilst the stage performance provides the novelty of a Eurovision performance to get the audience talking. It easily stood out in Turin with the staging and – whether you liked it nor not – it stuck in your mind. This was my most listened to song of the year on my Spotify, with 491 streams. I IMPLORE YOU TO BEAT THAT!
8 points: “Visionary Dream” – Sopho (Georgia, 2007)
Rising to my third place this year is Georgia’s debut entry – “Visionary Dream”. This was one of the first songs I ever watched from the Contest and it has stuck with me. The striking – although somewhat confusing – visuals, coupled with the traditional dancing perfectly encapsulate how mixed this song is. You can’t deny it’s representative of the nation! It also set the tone for Georgia’s reputation of being ‘kooky’ in the Contest; I mean this positively. I fully believe had this been sent in today’s age, this would have MUCH better than 12th – at least, it should anyway!
10 points: “O jardim” – Cláudia Pascoal (Portugal, 2018)
Once again claiming second place is Cláudia Pascoal and Isaura’s beautifully fragile “O Jardim”. I fell in love with this song from the first listen back in 2018 and it still stands on its own years later. While the song talks about sad topics such as death and remembrance, the musical side complements and balances the darkness with light. The arrangement is absolutely stunning, and reminiscent of London Grammar’s “Hey Now”. How this came last in Lisbon is beyond me.
Before I reveal my 12 points, I would like to give a special shout-out to some entries that came so close to making my top ten. They are:
- MARO – ‘saudade, saudade’ – I really should have put this on my top 10, but I only realised my mistake after submitting my votes. An incredibly personal song performed perfectly. And it’s in 6/8, so it’s an interesting time signature! The song was also my third most listened to song of the year.
- Elitsa and Stoyan – ‘Water’ – The first Eurovision song I fully remember seeing. Perhaps this informed my music choices later on, but this drew me in a way no other song could. When I had the chance to speak to Stoyan as part of the Intelligent Music Project this year, little Rory would have screaming inside.
And 12 points from Rory go to… “1944” – Jamala (Ukraine, 2016)
Taking the top spot for me for the umpteenth time is Jamala’s “1944”. It should really come as no surprise, given how much I speak so positively for Jamala. However, in the shadow of events this year, ‘1944’s message of peace, remembrance and challenging authority ring more true than ever. This song will forever attract haters who will scream “POLITICS!” at any given opportunity. Well, this year, it might be political, but put it in context and the argument crumbles. My sentiments on the song last year still are relevant:
Everything about this performance is transcendent of any Eurovision context. It is art – because it is beautiful, controversial, provocative and representative. I personally hold Jamala responsible for the shift from commerciality to connection in Eurovision songs and thanks to her, we are in a golden age of the Contest.
Listen to our collective ESC 250 playlist on Spotify
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Now that Rory has revealed his votes for ESC 250 this year, what do you think of his picks? Who received 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, Instagram, and TikTok for all of the latest Eurovision news.
News Source: That Eurovision Site
Photo Credit: Associated Press
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