It has been almost a week since FYR Macedonia became the first country to officially select both its artist and song for the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest. Why have we been slow to write about it? Because it is too dang early to be making any sort of meaningful selection. Malta will be selecting this coming weekend, but they are riding on the momentum of having just hosted the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, which is the only exception to the rule.
There is almost no advantage to being the first out of the gate, especially when the selection is made in November. Consider the life cycle of any pop single: it is about three months if it is a hit, then takes a backseat when the act’s next single comes out. Eurovision isn’t for another six months, so FYR Macedonia’s entry has plenty of time to get lost in the shuffle. By the way, the selection is “Lisja Esenski” by Daniel Kajmakoski. The song title translates to “Autumn Leaves”, which sounds like a good song for November and not leading into the following summer.
Choosing early can work if there is a process for workshopping selections. Ukraine uses the strategy to great effect. Last year’s entry “Tick Tock” was the hottest of messes when it was initially selected in December 2013. The Ukrainian delegation cleaned up the lyrics, got a better tune, and deftly employed a hamster wheel to move the country all the way up to sixth place.1 The song that presented in Copenhagen was almost completely different from the one selected in Kiev.
However, look at what made the Top 5 last year: Hungary (a thorough selection process), Armenia (internal selection with the song not announced until March), Sweden (thorough process which ended in March), Netherlands (internal selection with the song not announced until March), and winner Austria (internal selection which was one of the last songs revealed). The lesson from 2014: careful, thoughtful entries did extremely well.
Anyway, FYR Macedonia. The song is fine, though nothing particularly ear-catching. Even if there is an English translation2 there isn’t much charisma flowing from the melody. Perhaps the delegation could hire some of Ukraine’s team as consultants to rebuild this track from the ground up. Otherwise, this track will be middle-of-the-pack at best.