Can Switzerland take advantage of an easier semi-final and get back to the Grand Final?
Song Title: “Apollo”
Second Semi-Final: Position #14
Last year’s entry: “The Last Of Our Kind” — Rykka (DNQ – 18th Place, SF2)
Switzerland has had a rough decade at the song contest. Since 2007, they’ve finished a round in last place twice as often as they’ve qualified through to the Grand Final.1 In both 2015 and 2016, they failed to qualify AND ended up at the bottom of their semi-final round. Clearly something is not working with their selection process. This year’s selection, “Apollo” by Timebelle, crushed the competition, earning 48% of the popular vote, with the runner up earning only 18%. Can they ride that success into the Grand Final for the first time since 2014?
Mike had a couple of suggestions for this song: one, to clean up some clunky metaphors in the lyrics, and secondly to deal with some possible sound issues. Neither of these seem to have happened. The lyrics are the same, from what I can tell. I’ve listened to several different live renditions, and in each case the verses sound a little flat, particularly when compared with the more processed studio version.2 So it seems like this is the version, or very very close to the version, we’ll see in May. I’m not a fan. It’s not egregiously bad, like Rykka’s track last year. It’s just not interesting, new, or fresh, and I find myself forgetting what the song even sounds like, except for the “I’ll follow you, Apollo” hook.
That’s a concern, because there seem to be a few direct competitors for “Apollo” in the second semi-final. Lithuania, also sporting a female-fronted mid-tempo dance-ish track, is the most obvious. None of us are currently taking them seriously as a Grand Final contender, but at least they’re interesting and memorable in a way Timebelle isn’t. Denmark, FYR Macedonia, and Serbia also have female-fronted dance-ish tracks, and all three of those have a more danceable tempo and a more interesting sound more generally. To Switzerland’s benefit, competition in the second semi-final on Thursday of Eurovision week is thinner, with most of the obvious major front runners stacked into the first round on Tuesday. If they can find a way to stick in viewers’ minds, they might just make it through.