With controversy swirling, can Ukraine capitalize on home field advantage?
Song Title: “Time”
Last year’s entry: “1944” — Jamala (1st Place)
Ukraine captured victory in 2016, despite coming in second place in both the jury and televoting components, and thanks in part to an assist from a new voting system. (Under the voting system used in 2015, jury favorite Australia would have taken home the trophy.) Instead of trying to figure out who would host on behalf of the Aussies, we’ve spent the last few months wondering whether Ukraine and Russia could figure out a way to co-exist. (Spoiler alert! They have not.) Can O.Torvald cut through the geopolitical and bureaucratic noise to represent their country well at the Grand Final?
I like rock at Eurovision, and I like several parts of this entry, but I’m not as keen on it as Mike was. In particular, there are some structural issues in the last third; the bridge starts at 1:54 with eight or nine seconds of silence, losing the momentum out of the second chorus. If they want to provide contrast and build tension, they could do so in half that much time. The next thirty seconds are everything I want from this genre at Eurovision: pyrotechnics, grungy guitars, cymbal-heavy percussion, and no vocals to distract from Very Important Rocking. Then we abruptly return to the breathy pre-chorus, again losing energy heading into the final chorus, after which the song just kinda …. ends? Compared to recent rock entries like Georgia’s “Midnight Gold,” this one just seems flat. Part of me wishes they’d throw away everything but the bridge and start over.
Ukraine doesn’t have to fight their way into the Grand Final, of course, but not performing in a semi-final has its disadvantages. They won’t have an opportunity to test their staging choices in front of a live Eurovision crowd, and by the time they get onstage, the viewing audience may already have developed allegiances elsewhere. There might also be some backlash as a result of the extended scuffle with Russia. Despite the various problems Ukraine faces, this is a more solid entry than many of the other auto-qualifiers. (Looking at you, Germany/Spain/UK.) With a decent performance placement (and a decent performance) I’d expect “Time” to land in the bottom half, but probably not in the very last few spots.