If you can’t beat them, join them (and then try to beat them). That seems to be Georgia’s approach to its sixth appearance at Eurovision since its debut at 2007. It’s been shown with surprisingly regularity over the last decade that you don’t need to be an established competitor to win Eurovision, just have the right song at the right time. Newest addition Azerbaijan found that out when they won the 2011 contest on their fourth attempt.
Taking a rather lot of inspiration from its victorious neighbour, in a somewhat delayed reaction. Male & female duet, check. Middle-of-the-road power ballad with no particular cultural references, check. Big power moment, check. Neutral colour-schemes, check. Lyrics setting up an inevitable curtain of sparks effect onstage, check. Get the Swedes in to write a winner, BIG check.
They didn’t just get any Swede in, they got THE Swede, Thomas G:Son. This will be his seventh Eurovision entry, as well as the latest in dozens and dozens (over 60) songs written for Eurovision national selections in several countries. Not only did he have two entries in last year’s final, not only two top 10 finishes, but he co-wrote the winner “Euphoria”. A bigger name in the current Eurovision landscape simply does not exist.
Georgia’s Eurovision career has long been simmering, with its first four entries hovering at the boundary of the top 10. After a disasterous disqualification by the EBU in 2009 for “We don’t wanna put in” saw them banned from the Moscow contest, and last year’s horror of an entry being their first not to qualify for the final, they obviously mean business this year. It’s Tbilisi 2014 or bust.
Sopho (are all Georgian women called Sopho?!) and former Idol winner Nodi make an unassuming couple, much as Elgar & Nikki did, perhaps a little blander. They look the part, and despite their thickly-accented reading of “Waterfall” can certainly sing the part. Personally it feels a little by-numbers, and a rather cynical attempt to win the contest than write a great song. It’s sort of like “Running scared” but lacks its warmth, it’s sort of (a lot) like “Quedate Conmigo” but without the roof-blowing vocal payoff at the keychange.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s always nice to see a first win for any country, and it’s certainly a decent song, I feel my review sounds too negative. But this just feels a bit like brute force than anything. I wonder if voters will go for it though, even if it has ‘jury vote’ written all over it.
I would call its qualification from the second semi-final a near certainty, a top 10 finish very likely, and while the win is an outside bet, I would strongly advise against ruling them out. At least a personal best result for Georgia seems likely, and that’s something to be proud of.
For more of my reviews of this year’s Eurovision entries, and other Malmö 2013 news, please visit my Malmö hub.