Eurovision is over for another year, with The Netherlands taking the crown for the first time in 44 years and the UK propping up the scoreboard (certainly not for the first time). Our Eurovision correspondent Peter Dunwoody was at the event last week and has summed up his time in Tel Aviv with 12 essential tracks from the trip.
Miki – La Venda
It’s sometimes difficult to imagine when a song is chosen in the depths of winter how it will go down in a much sunnier scenario in May. Turns out most jurors and viewers were still feeling pretty cold, putting this in 22nd place, but in Tel Aviv it was well and truly summer and this went down a treat, with an always faithful contingent of Spanish fans ensuring this was an absolute chant-along staple in the arena, the clubs, the beach or even the streets.
John Lundvik – Too Late For Love (Pelago Remix)
Poor John Lundvik from Sweden came so close but ultimately so far when the final voting reveal saw him come up short with the public against winner Duncan Laurence. This remix of his entry was an absolute treat on Tel Aviv’s beaches against the backdrop a beautiful sunset, and if you have one lesser known takeaway from this year, it should be this, especially if you’re planning a trip to sunnier weather yourself or even just looking for a soundtrack to a BBQ at home. This chilled reworking is probably the best Eurovision remix of the year.
Omer Adam – Tel Aviv (feat. Arisa)
This is the song performed by Dana International during the fantastic final opening sequence, and in many ways it was an unofficial theme song for the contest. Originally written in 2013 by the same composer as Toy and Golden Boy, it got a new lease of life for the first ever Eurovision to be held in Tel Aviv.
Serhat – Say Na Na Na
This infectious piece of pop fluff had many people utterly shocked and delighted when it qualified from Tuesday’s semi-final, upgrading the song to the status of an anthem in the process. Whenever any DJ played this (which was often) the dancefloor would erupt at the sound of those opening bars, still in slight giddy disbelief at its success. There was certainly no resentment from the other delegations, many of whom were seen loving life whenever this was played, and even the contest hosts and crew found it very difficult during rehearsals to hide that this was one of their big favourites.
Maruv – Siren Song
Ukraine’s chosen and then withdrawn entry, this was the ultimate “one that got away” for many fans. Whether or not it actually could have gone all the way, we’ll never know, but the element of what could have been has given the song legendary status and as a result it was absolutely everywhere. The biggest Euroclub hit of the year turned out to be a song that never made it to Eurovision.
Luca Hänni – She Got Me
We really were spoiled for summer anthems in this year’s contest, and the Swiss entry was deservedly the most successful. A slick, professional performance of this radio hit in the making delivered by a likeable Luca has given Switzerland its best Eurovision result since the early 90s.
Duo Datz – Kan
In a Eurovision host country, you will always be guaranteed to hear a host of entries from its past in the run-up to the contest, so it’s a good job that Israel has such a fantastic, uplifting back catalogue. I have chosen this one because it seems to just encompass everything great about Israel at Eurovision: traditional Jewish rhythms and chord progressions, a massive build-up with multiple key changes and a big climax where the entire cast comes and dances together. It is an absolute joy and was a favourite not just in the Eurovision bubble but also in shops, taxis and restaurants outside of it who did their best to embrace Eurovision rolling into town.
Avicii – Tough Love (feat. Agnes, Vargas & Lagola)
No Eurovision connection here*, and this was played absolutely nowhere in Tel Aviv, but as the first major Agnes release dropping right in the middle of the experience, it got frequent spins from me. Part of Avicii’s posthumous album Tim, his frequent collaborator Vincent Pontare and wife Agnes share vocal duties, and the eastern-inspired violin drop even makes this sound like a bit of a Eurovision song too.
*OK well technically Avicii wrote the official theme for the 2013 contest with ABBA’s Benny and Bjorn, Agnes and Lagola (Salem Al Fakir) have both tried to represent Sweden in the past and the father of Vargas (Vincent Pontare) is Roger Pontare who has represented Sweden twice but you know what I mean…
Nadav Guedj – Golden Boy
I couldn’t not mention this. Whilst there were many logistical considerations and more than a few political ones when choosing the Eurovision host city this year, the prospect of a Tel Aviv contest was perhaps just too good to resist considering the lyrics of Israel’s party favourite from 2015. The Tel Aviv tourism board rather brilliantly adopted “Let me show you Tel Aviv” as its slogan for the duration of the contest and Nadav himself was seen performing this song in a fair few places including the contest stage itself to the delight of Israeli and international fans.
Kate Miller-Heidke – Zero Gravity
This is one that I had been relentlessly championing since it was released ahead of the Aussie National final, and while it had its fans, it had a fair amount of anti-fans too, dismayed at what an overblown mess it appeared to be. However, helped by an absolutely spectacular performance, it started winning doubters around left right and centre in the final weeks. This is the one that really felt like it had all the momentum on the ground, and while in that context Kate’s final placing in the lower rungs of the top ten was a bit of an anti-climax, it was just fantastic to see so many people coming around to this, at worst appreciating it, and at best really embracing it.
Kobi Marimi – Home (Official remix)
The host entry this year wasn’t exactly a fan favourite leading up to the contest and the result on the night backed that up, but Kobi Marimi was cheered on every step of the way by the home crowd who really formed an emotional connection with the singer, who was visibly moved after his performance. But how do you get international fans who had previously been pretty lukewarm behind your entry? Give it a killer remix, that’s how. Eurovision fans traditionally aren’t all that keen on remixes, but whether at the official party venue Euroclub or the fan-backed Eurocafe, this one was just impossible to deny when the DJ played it.
Anything by Netta
As popular as Kobi was at home, the real local star of this contest was undoubtedly the reigning champion Netta Barzila. The question on every local’s lips when encountering a Eurovision fan (including during security interrogations at the airport) was “what do you think of our Netta?” Whether it was her winning entry Toy or a follow-up single, it was nice to hear her music pretty much everywhere in the city and good to know that our hosts had taken their homecoming queen to their hearts.