As one of the Big Five countries responsible for shoring up the Eurovision Song Contest’s financial status every year, Spain automatically qualifies for the Finals, and does not have to perform in the semifinal rounds. Sometimes this works brilliantly, making sure entrants like Rodolfo Chikilicuatre, one of my ESC all-time favorites, don’t have to withstand legitimate musical or popular criticism in order to make it to the final evening. (Because let’s be honest, “Baila el Chiki Chiki” does not stand up to criticism, even though it is the perfect entry in so many ways.) More commonly, it means Spain shows up with an entry that hasn’t been properly audience-tested during the pre-contest period. Without an opportunity to make adjustments, the performance falls flat. As a result, Spain’s average final placement over the past ten years is 18.5 (out of 26), with more than half of their finishes in 20th place or worse.
For the 2015 contest, Spain announced Edurne would be their performer in mid-January, but waited until this weekend to release the recording of her song, Amanecer.
[Since I started writing this post, every available copy of the song on YouTube, including the one I used to preview the song, has been taken down via copyright challenges. I’ll update this post with a new source if/when I can find one.]
[Update: I’ve found another copy, hopefully this one will last …]
The first comparison that popped into my mind was Frozen … both songs seem to live in the same universe, even if Edurne’s is more dubstep-influenced than Madonna’s track. While I enjoy Amanecer’s atmosphere, it’s important to remember that taking musical cues from a song that’s almost 20 years old1 is not necessarily a good thing. Beyond that, this is a well-produced but ultimately thin song, and we spend a lot of time listening to the backing track, elongated notes, and / or the singer’s equivalent of heartbroken moaning. (At Eurovision, if you’re gonna go that route, you need to go big or go home.) Edurne has a great voice, and overall it’s perfectly enjoyable, but there’s nothing about this song that catches me and says “LISTEN TO ME!” or, alternatively, “DANCE TO ME!”
The lack of any kind of visual performance to go along with the audio makes this worse. If Spain wants to avoid another decade in the Eurovision cellar, they need to start being a little bit more open and iterative about their selection process. Releasing the audio, forgoing video, and then actively pursuing a takedown strategy on YouTube only alienates the entry from potential voters and other Eurovision fans. On the other hand, if this is Spain’s way of guaranteeing they’ll never win or have to host again … keep it up, you’re doing great!
- I KNOW. ↵