A better result than last year with the predictions – I got a home run on the top 3, and only missed one outsider – Serbia, for which I guess I misread the lyric theme. Looks like Europe got the same joy as I did out of the sillier ones (Moldova and Norway), so I should have gone with my heart rather than my head on those two. And, as ever, this year is a reminder that I should never doubt the Swedes.
See you next year!
|Place||JB prediction||Actual place|
|10||Poland (top 10), Estonia (top 10)||Norway|
Eurovision 2022 – JB predictions vs actual results
—- [original live blog post below] —-
[blogging suspended at 23:17 Germany time].
I’m jetlagged so going to bed! I will update the blog in the morning when voting is complete, so we can see if my predictions were anywhere near.
Posted here before voting begins: my predictions for the top 5 are:
Poland, Spain, and Estonia to place in top 10
Tonight I’m pleased to welcome my friend and colleague Abner Perez, music PhD researcher at Paderborn University in Germany (from where I type this tonight). Here is helpfully bilingual, so is going to chime in with commentary and expertise, particularly on the Spanish-language and latin-influenced songs.
As always, I’m going to comment on each song, so you can follow along with the show, or (later) watch the embedded videos. And we’re going to try to predict the winner, before voting begins, then leave the prediction up here for posterity when the votes are in.
- Americans – the show goes out live at 3pm Eastern time on Saturday May 14, 2022. You can watch live with a free Peacock TV account.
- Europeans – you know the drill.
I will post each new song commentary live, so you just need to refresh the page each time and you’ll see the newer songs appear at the bottom.
Czech Republic “Lights Off”
Dm | F | Am7 | G
Euro-pop tempo but darkly emo vibe and concept. The melody is predictable and forgettable, but the lyric has a few interesting moments “try changing jobs / try changin lovers / changing my furniture, change my bed covers”. There’s a seriously great bass sound, and some lovely dynamic drops. For the first two minutes, every section uses the same 4-bar loop, even the post-chorus instrumental (which adds a welcome catchy synth hook that IMO is hookier than the downbeat chorus hook itself). They decide to vary the chord loop in the bridge at 2:09, but they go with a loop of F-G-Am, which is so similar to the harmonic territory of the verse that the bridge (literally a middle 8) is hardly noticeable. For something at this tempo, with this much production skill, it’s a shame the song is so forgettable. Out of tune vocal on the night too. I going to stick my neck out and say we won’t see this one in the top half of the voting.
Verse: Fm | Fm (Ab) | Eb | Eb
Chorus: Fm | Fm (Ab) | Eb | Eb
Bridge: Db | Eb | Fm | Fm Eb | Db | Eb | Fm | Fm |
This song has a fantastic melody – it’s just not sung by the vocalist. It’s the post-chorus instrumental hook (ethnic instrument – some kind of electro-bouzouki synth?) that first appears at 0:49. It has its own call-and-response theme over two bars, adapting to the chord changes for bars 3 and 4 of the section, then it ends in bar 7 & 8 with a wonderful (and super-brief) excursion from the regular natural minor (Aeolian) scale that we find in, well, nearly all Eurovision songs, when it hits a descending harmonic minor lick. So sing alopng with the robot bouzouki guy, because you won’t find melodic memorability in the choruses. 115 BPM is a sort of no-man’s-land for tempo; too fast to be a ballad or an anthem, and soo slow to be proper danceable. Nice enough, but very ESC-typical, in production and form. I note that we’re only two songs in, and both have had a bridge section with chord variations. Start of a trend? Let’s see.
Portugal: Saudade, Saudade
Verse: Db6 | Ab/C | Bbm7 | Bbm7 | Gbmaj9 | Ab | Bbm7 | % |
Chorus: Gbmaj9 | Ab | Bbm7 | % |
Bridge: Ebm | Ab | B | Gb / (F) | Ebm | Ab7 |
Well, this is beautiful. It starts with a Db6 electric piano lick that is reminiscent of Lennon’s Yoko-themed tracks on ‘Mind Games’ – particularly ‘3,000 Miles’ and ‘Beautiful Boy’. And it’s in 6/8 (although that transcription decision is not a hill I’m prepared to die on – if you like conducting very fast waltzes you can feel it in 3/4 if preferred). And – another bridge, and it’s a corker. The guitar part plays lots of changes and inversions that avoid the downbeat or half-bar, giving a feeling of rhythmic displacement that doesn’t need a time signature change. It’s a lovely melody – with just the title breathily repeated in the chorus as the chords rise up stepwise – and a beautiful, delicate song overall. Three songs, three middle 8s. The Europeans really are building bridges tonight.
Verse: Fm | Db Eb | x4
Pre-chorus: Abm | (E Gb) | x2 / Bm | G A | x2
Chorus: Bm | G | A | A F# | Bm | G | A | x 2 | F# | F# |
The Rasmus are probably the most well-known artist to be playing tonight, and this cracking 2-bar riff sets the scene for a rock-trope story (the sexually predatory woman of the title). The chorus hook is a little reminiscent to me of 5 Seconds Of Summer’s “English Love Affair” – it occupies the same melodic territory and tonality, but not enough to get forensic musicologists calling their lawyers for a litigation opportunity. The chorus’s form is unusual – I think I hear 2 7-bar phrases then a 2-bar phrase, whereby the first repeated “Jezebel” hook comes in a bar early, and the last one comes in a bar late. This serves to focus attention on the title, and is my favourite part of the song. Quirky, interesting, and effective. Is the lyric’s visual objectification of the female protagonist problematic, or does the narrator’s apparent worship of Jezebel allow for a more empowered interpretation of the story? There are TWO keychanges in EVERY VERSE – stepping the riff up a minor 3rd each time, which is brave musically, unusual Eurovisionistically, and most importantly sets up the declamatory chorus vocal beautifully. Although my rock-bias ears found it appealing, I don’t think that Maneskin have particularly opened the floodgates for rock more generally at Eurovision. Doubt it will grab the voters.
Switzerland • Marius Bear • Boys Do Cry
Verse: F Dm | Am Bb | x2 – | Gm C | F C/E Dm F/C | Bb C | C |
Chorus: F Dm | Bb C | F Dm | Bb C | F C/E Dm F/C | Gm Bbm6 | F Dm | Bb C | F Dm | Bb C |
Spotify will tell you that this song knocks along at 116BPM. Your ears, and Marius’s vocal style, will tell you it’s half that, at 58BPM. This is a proper old-school torch song performance, with authentically long chord progressions, and even a sorta-Christmassy minor iv chords (listen for when he sings the last word of “Rivers they run dry” – if you don’t shed a nostalgic tear here, you are clearly a monster. It’s classic, fully formed and beautifully arranged and performed. A deserved finalist, but not crowd-grabbing enough to be a winner IMO.
France • Alvan & Ahez • Fulenn
Breton electro-folk! And in the Phrgyian mode, no less – listen out for that minor-second interval that’s so prominent in the intro and chorus. This is just the sort of we-won’t-pander-to-the-masses thing that we often see from the French, and personally I loved that squidgy techno bass / digeridoo sample mashed up with the high-kicking “hey” response vocals. Authentic, interesting, exciting, and unusual. They must know this cannot possibly win. And almost certainly they do not care.
Norway • Subwoolfer • Give That Wolf A Banana
Verse: Gm | Dm7 | Eb | Cm |
Pre-chorus: Eb F | Gm | x3 Cm | Dm7
Chorus: Gm | Dm7 | Eb | Cm |
I know this blog is about the music, not the visuals, but props due to the choreographer and costume designer here for capturing the beating heart of the songwriters’ intentions. This is classic crowd-pleasing Eurovision silliness at its finest. I love that the verse production (and melody) fools the ear into thinking we’re hearing a sort of poor-man’s Ed Sheeran R&B intro. The opening lyric gives us a clue that all is not what it seems, ramping up from “I really like your teeth” to “is that saliva or blood dripping off your chin?” (if, that is, the Rayban-clad Anubis-headed yellow bodystockinged dancers hadn’t already tipped you off). And then the chorus catapaults us into the endlessly memorable hook, soon to be repeated, no doubt, in middle school playgrounds (and maybe student dorms) for many years to come. I hope that this is the start of a meme.
Armenia • Rosa Linn • Snap
Verse: Am | Am F | C | C G | x4
Pre-chorus: F | F | G | G |
Chorus: Am | F | C | G |
Charming shot at Americana from the Armenians, here, with a melody that feels like an Avicii out-take. The half-bar changes in the verse compensate nicely for the more predictable Am-F-C-G loop in the chorus (no sign yet of this loop getting old for Eurovision, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, or anyone else for that matter). I like the “1-2-3-4” chorus counting idea with the attendant melodic call and response. There’s a meta lyric, which normally irritates me, but the slightly poignant “How many last songs are left / I’m losing count” is suitably original to get away with the sin of songs-about-songwriting. A charming melody, and a lovely acoustic production, but not striking enough to do super well, I suspect.
Italy • Mahmood & Blanco • Brividi
Verse: G | Cmaj9 | Gmaj9 | Dm G7 | Cmaj7 | Bm Em | Cmaj7 | Cm-maj7 |
Chorus: Cmaj7 | G | Cmaj7 | G D/F# | Em | G/D | Cmaj7 | Cm-maj7 |
Bridge: G | D/F# | Em | Cmaj7 Cm | G | D/F# | Em | Cmaj7 |
“Brividi” means “chills” and this Imagine-ative ballad certainly achieves that, helped by the return of Mahmood (2019 2nd place “Soldi”) and his lovely vocal duetting skills with rapper newcomer Blanco. The chorus starts with a lovely falsetto vocal unision of the first two bars, then splits into 2-part harmony (it’s a shame the vocal tuning wasn’t up to nailing it on the night). As performers they meet in the middle – Mahmood’s melodic vocal takes a slightly rap-like approach at times, and Blanco sings a creditable tenor part. It’s a great chorus, a sincere sentiment, and takes the listener on a journey, not every turn of which is predictable. I’m saying top ten.
Spain • Chanel • SloMo
Main loop: C# m | D# m 7 b5
C# m | D# m 7 b5 | C# m | A G#7 | C# m | D# Minor 7 b5 | A | G#7 |
[guest commentary from Abner Perez]
Originally born in Havana Cuba, and emigrating to Catalunia when being a little child, Chanel here flies a great flag for the richness and multiculturalism of the worldwide Spanish music scene. Harmonically developed upon two chords, the richness of Slo-Mo is not in its superficial lyrics, but in the intricate mix of Spanish and Latin American rhythmic patterns, bringing to the front the Afro Latin heritage of new European sounds. Essentially, Slo-Mo is built upon a dembow, the Caribbean rhythm that represents the DNA of reggaeton. In the visual performance, the flamenco and torero-ish customs remind us of a Spain that European audiences are more familiar with. Nevertheless, the sensuality and complex choreography is also a sign that Spain is more than a country, perhaps the window to the musical richness of a whole continent. [AP]
Netherlands • S10 • De Diepte
Verse: Dm | F | C | Gm | x5
Pre-chorus: Bb Dm | C Am | Bb Dm | C |
Chorus: Bb | Dm | F | C | x2
A lovely poignant Aeolian folk ballad, complete with “la la la” interlude. It’s simple fayre, but done with charm and authenticity here by Netherlands. The chorus has an extra bar tacked onto the end, most of which is filled with silence. The handclaps back beat in the chorus is… well, a bit disco… but overall it’s nice that the drums are so understated. S10 is a wonderful singer, and this feels like a great melody to sing. I’m putting it in the top half, at least.
Ukraine • Kalush Orchestra • Stefania
Verse: Dm | F | C | Gm | x5
Pre: Bb Dm | C Am | Bb Dm | C |
Chorus: Bb | Dm | F | C | x2
I think everyone knows by now that this is the favourite to win, and [spoilers] my prediction isn’t going to go against the flow tonight. What’s more interesting is that it was written and nominated BEFORE the events of 24 February. The song is a simple ode of love to the protagonist’s mother. But of course the imagery of the lyrics will be interpreted today as an ode to the homeland, particularly “She rocked me; gave me rhythm and probably the power of will / did not take, but she gave / Probably knew even more than Solomon / I will always walk to you by broken roads”. The chorus sounds particularly Slavic to my admittedly untrained ear – I love the way the two vocal harmonies rely on there being one moving part and one static part, creating harmony and unison as defined by the melody’s shape. The predicted winner.
Germany • Malik Harris • Rockstars
Verse: G | D | Em | C
Pre: D G | C
Chorus: G | D | Em | C
[AP] A mellow song with a lyrical proposal following the steps of Stressed Out of 21 pilots, and the versatility of a one-man band mixing a catchy melody with rapping skills, and a husky voice that sounds like all the pop-rock singers of the last ten years, Rockstars is destined to be a tearjerker, taking the audience through early childhood memories of the singer via photos in the background during his performance, more than one will feel identified with it.
Lithuania • Monika Liu • Sentimentai
Has moments of Bond theme, and other moments of Chanson, although the beat is confusingly slight. It’s well sung in the live show, and I think it will do better than the bookies predicted.
Azerbaijan • Nadir Rustamli • Fade To Black
A big ballad wthout drums, and the song showcases his extraordinary vocal range well. A fine song, although perhaps too downbeat to realyl score with the crowd.
Belgium • Jérémie Makiese • Miss You
An anthem that plays around with the Trap rhythmic idea that you can feel the beat as half or double time. Another bridge appears at around 2 minutes – what is it with all the bridges this year? He has a great vocal range and amazing tone, although he doesn’t hit all the notes accurately in the arena during the final. Middlin’.
Greece • Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjord • Die Together
Chorus loop: Bb | Gm | Dm | C |
This song has a fantastic chorus melody, but to get it into the right zone, this means they have to set the verses so much lower in pitch to achieve the contrast, and this unfortunately makes the vocals less than great in each verse. All is well when we hit the bouncing-ball choruses close together at the end. This is one of those songs where the 3 minute constraint of ESC rules is actually helpful – it forces the song to dispense with time-wasting parts of ballad form. Strong, but not top five.
Iceland • Systur • Með Hækkandi Sól
Another simple and memorable folk Aeeolian melody. 3-part harmonies are nicely done. How live are these vocvals? If there’s a lot of propping up from pre-records on the backing track, that’s fine, but if these are actually live it’s a very impressive performance. Not remarkable enough to stay in the memory long enough to triger voting.
Moldova • Zdob şi Zdub & Advahov Brothers • Trenulețul
Fun! I am so grateful that there are countries who are prepared to throw away their chances of winning just to give everyone a smile. Thank you, Moldova, for this slight but utterly joyful fast oom-pah cossack folk song. It cannot possibly win. They must know that, right?
Sweden • Cornelia Jakobs • Hold Me Closer
I have a huge pro-Swede bias in my Eurovision fandom. It goes back to ABBA I’m sure. And it’s also often pragmatic to bet on the Swedes – they have a remarkably consistent track record. But this isn’t their best. They’ve tried to combine danceable drums and big ballad diatonic chords, but at 90BPM it’s really not working. There’s also a dearth of secondary hooks. This one is liked by the bookies – I’m not so sure that those odds are right.
Australia • Sheldon Riley • Not The Same
Sam Smith’s vocal style and Sia’s haircut. Unusually for a 3-minute constrained ESC song, this actually feels long. Verses and choruses feel overly languid, and the drums enter well after 2 minutes. There’s a big dramatic dynamic conclusion, of course, but there’s not enough happening in the melody or in the arrangement to keep people engaged.
United Kingdom • Sam Ryder • Space Man
Verse: E B | D# G#m | E B | F#/A# G#m | E B/F# | D#/G G#m | E Em | B |
Chorus: E E/D# | C#m | E E/D# | C#m B/F# | F#sus D#/G | G#m B C#m / | E E/D# | C#5 F#11 | B |
Bridge: G#m G#m-maj7/G | G#m7/F# C#/F | G#m G#m-maj7/G | G#m7/F# C#/F | E | C# | B/F# | F# |
Don’t be confused by the first chord of E; the song is in B major. This is the BEST song UK has had in some years. Form is expertly controlled – that chorus arrives amazingly quickly. The changes are noticeably Bowie-esque, but with some nice McCartney style touches (the F#dom11 at the end of the chorus, and the C# major at the end of the bridge). And he’s a better vocalist than many we’re heard tonight, with enough live experience to stay in tune even if the monitor mix isn’t great. I think this is going to do well, Brexit or no Brexit.
Poland • Ochman • River
Verse/Pre/Chorus: Bbm | Ab | Eb
Bridge: Eb m | Ab | Db | Bb m | Eb m | A b | A dim
Another good voice, and a pleasingly unusual chord loop in the verses – love the major Eb chord. The song’s dynamic journey is limited, because it tries to get too loud too soon. I think that’s why the quiet outro doesn’t sound as dramatic as perhaps it should. I don’t think this melody is as strong as the betting odds would suggest.
Serbia • Konstrakta • In Corpore Sano
A subtly anti-vax song? Thankfully we don’t have to get into the politics because it has no chance of winning.
Estonia • Stefan • Hope
Verse: Bb m | Ab Bb m
Pre: Bb m Ab | Bb m | Bb m Ab | Bb m | Bb m Ab | Gb | Db Ab | Bbm | Bbm | Db | Ab Gb Bbm
Chorus: Eb | Db | Ab Gb | Bbm
A spaghetti western soundtrack wearing ESC pants. Well sung, and I really enjoyed the chorus melody. “sing your heart out boy”, and the “my hope” outro. One of the more popular songs in the auditorium tonight.