ESC Finals 2016: Top 5 Surprises We Didn’t See Coming (+Summary)

1. Ukraine Wins With Jamala’s “1944” (+ Israel)

Honestly, I couldn’t be happier about this one. It shows that there is room for something special at the ESC. The song has an interesting production going for it and some rather heavy lyrics. What I’m most happy about is how it blends a dark American Pop sound with ethnic instruments and an almost classical voice. A great, deserving winner for sure!

Last week, I gave “1944” an 8/10, my negatives being the English bits and the missing power of the vocals in the second verse (Check out my reviews of all 41 songs here). While I stand by this (and I still don’t think this song could ever make it to the radio as an independent release), I must say when that tree came up on screen in her performance it just blew all of us away. I didn’t think 1944 was gonna make 1st place, but the Top 5 for sure.

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(From Jamals’s “1944”. All rights belong to their respective owners)

My top pick for this year’s ESC was of course Israel’s Hovi Star. But you know what? Even though he gave me goose bumps all over again, when he finished we all kinda knew he wasn’t gonna make it. His performance just wasn’t noteworthy enough.

Could “Made of Stars” make it to the radio? Yes. But unfortunately, the performance plays a huge factor at the ESC. Hovi did a good job, but compared to the Top 5, he just didn’t deliver. Plus, the spinning acrobats thing was a bad choice.

2. Poland Gets HUGE Numbers In Televoting (+ Latvia: WTF?)

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(From Michal Szpak’s “Color Of Your Life”. All rights belong to their respective owners)

I think we all were quite taken aback by how many votes Poland got in the Televoting. After the jury’s votes, Poland was second to last, after the votes came in they were EIGHTH!

I gave “Color Of Your Life” a 6/10 and highlighted the strong central performance clashing with some of the cheesiest lines and lyrics I’ve heard in a long time.

On the other hand side, we all totally loved Justs’ performance for Latvia with “Heartbeat”. Powerful, charismatic, a dark, heavy song… this one checked all our boxes. And then it came in at 15. What is up with that?

3. New Voting System Is NERVE-WRECKING (Russia / Australia Incident)

You know, I feel sorry for Dami Im. After the jury voting’s, she was first with a headstart of over 100 points. Imagine what it must feel like to have that taken from you. Dami Im’s “Sound Of Silence” (which I gave a 10/10) actually WON against “1944” in the Semi Finals.

But here’s how it played out at the big night: Australia wins the Jury voting with a head start of more than 100 points (320 points Australia vs 211 points Ukraine). But then the televoting comes in and brings in 323 points for Ukraine and only 191 points for Australia. Ouch.

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(From Sergey Lazarev’s “You Are The Only One”. All rights belong to their respective owners)

But let’s look at Russia here for a second. Because if the ESC hadn’t changed their voting system (adding the jury votes), Russia would’ve won this year, with 361 points from the televoting (only 130 points from the juries).

That’s probably the most interesting takeaway from last night. Why? Because Russia’s song was mediocre at best (I gave it a 6/10). What made it work was the spectacular live show.

Ok, yes, it was all copied from last year’s winning act with the screen interaction. But it was done so well (and honestly, I had a couple of “how the f did they do that?” moments) that it just blew people away (us included). What really annoys me about the vote though is that the song just really isn’t any good. It’s Disney Musical meets 90s techno, it’s cheesy and it contains the unbelievably stupid line “thunder and lightning / it’s getting exciting”.

Again, the visuals matter tremendously. I can’t see any reason how Russia could’ve won without their show. If people would’ve had to listen to the song, they never would’ve made it this far. Let’s be honest here: Russia took a turd and threw a lot of money at it. And viewers fell for it hook, line and sinker.

4. Eurovision Song Contest Song Is Hilarious

One of my favorite bits yesterday night was “That’s Eurovision”, performed by Måns Zelmerlöw and Petra Mede. In song form, the duo told you the exact formula to follow if you want to win the ESC.

Some of my favorite lines included (paraphrasing here):

  • Put in a DJ. It might sound 30 years old, but at the ESC, you’re gonna sound contemporary.
  • Use any ethnic instrument. Call it whatever you want. An Angricolan Stone Flute? Sure, make something up. No one cares. And have an old man play it (a beard helps).
  • Have greased-up topless men play large drums during your song. Or use your grandma.

5. Justin Timberlake’s New “Can’t Stop The Feeling” Is Rather Underwhelming

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(From Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop The Feeling”. All rights belong to their respective owners)

You know, I love Justin. I own all of his albums. And I will buy his new album anyways. But yesterday’s “Can’t Stop The Feeling” was just… meh.

Yes, he’s an incredible singer and performer and his band is unbelievable. But after the first chorus of crowd warmer “Rock Your Body” ends, the new song just doesn’t do anything for me. We expected more than this from such a talent.

RELATED POSTS

All My Predictions For The Winners Of This Year’s Eurovision Song Contest

The Best Songs From The ESC (SHORT Reviews From A Songwriter’s Perspective)

QUESTIONS

  • What was your biggest surprise at the ESC this year?
  • Who should’ve won according to you (you can’t vote for your own country)?

Songwriting Coach & Composer

With recommendations from industry heavyweights Erwin Steijlen (Pink, Shakira), Conrad Pope (John William’s orchestrator), Jeff Rona (God of War III, Traffic) and Rene Merkelbach (Within Temptation), Friedemann started his songwriting/producing school Holistic Songwriting in November 2015.

He has since written a book The Addiction Formula, a 7 Day Audio Program on songwriting and video courses on Hook/Melody-Writing and Drum-Writing.

Written by Friedemann Findeisen

Songwriting Coach & Composer With recommendations from industry heavyweights Erwin Steijlen (Pink, Shakira), Conrad Pope (John William's orchestrator), Jeff Rona (God of War III, Traffic) and Rene Merkelbach (Within Temptation), Friedemann started his songwriting/producing school Holistic Songwriting in November 2015. He has since written a book The Addiction Formula, a 7 Day Audio Program on songwriting and video courses on Hook/Melody-Writing and Drum-Writing.

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