Can Laura Tesoro build on a strong 2015 for Belgium and put pressure on the frontrunners?
Song Title: “What’s the Pressure”
Artist: Laura Tesoro
Second Semi-Final: Position #19
Last year’s entry: “Rhythm Inside” – Loïc Nottet (4th Place)
In 2015, a 19-year-old dancer/singer spun his way to Belgium’s best Eurovision finish in over a decade. Recognizing that youth sells, the Belgians are once again sending a dual-threat; this time it’s actress/singer 19-year-old Laura Tesoro, known to her countrymen for appearances in soaps, crime dramas, and musicals alike. Most recently she finished in second place in Belgium’s version of The Voice. Can she use her experience to put the pressure on this year’s frontrunners?
When I first reviewed this entry back in January, I said “What’s the Pressure” and its awesome bass line was basically radio ready,1 and favorably compared Tesoro’s voice with Audra Mae’s. Two months later, not much has changed … and that’s a very good thing. It ain’t broke, and nobody’s trying to fix it! This song is danceable, singable, and funky enough to stand out from the crowd, while Tesoro has the charm to command a stage. She’s got the moves and a good staging team, too, if her Eurosong-winning performance and the official ESC video embedded above are any proof. That’s no small advantage when some otherwise strong entries feature a singer with a great voice who seems awkward onstage.2
Earlier in the season, before I’d seen any performance videos, my worry for Belgium was their staging. That’s no longer a concern, but their semi-final placement is. On the one hand, Tesoro will perform in the second half of this round, and will likely serve as a welcome intermediate between the darker (Ukraine, Georgia) and more pop-inflected (Slovenia, Denmark) entries performing nearby.
On the other, the second semi-final features a cohort of six Balkan entries, with a couple of them very promising. That’s a mighty strong voting block that could cause problems for entries from Western Europe. Plus, of Belgium’s six most reliable supporters, five are either voting in the first semi-final or not voting at all. The bookies have Belgium’s odds to win the contest at 150:1, which makes me nervous, but it’s early yet for that. I personally love “What’s the Pressure” and remain hopeful it will qualify easily before giving Russia a run for their money in the Grand Final.