KREUZLINGEN, SWITZERLAND – There was a time when Switzerland had the best ESC statistics ever. It was in 1956 when Lys Assia won the very first ESC for (and in) her home country. Even if there were a few good performances the next decades you can fast-forward to 1988 when Céline Dion won the second title for her home count… – no, wait, she is Franco-Canadian but won for Switzerland and started her world career.
To be honest there are no further glory facts about Switzerland in the ESC. Since 2004 when ESC started the semi-finals Switzerland failed not less than eight times to get to the grand finale. The Swiss EBU stations changed regulation for the national finals in 2010. They decided to give the viewers a choice by “tele-voting”. A few years there is preliminary decision as an “internet-voting”. The upload process for written, sung and performed songs (as video or audio clips) closed a few days ago and on November 2nd the voting process of the 165 songs (a few less than last year) starts.
Switzerland has four national languages and three EBU connected broadcasters: SRF (German speaking), RTS (French speaking) and RSI (Italian speaking). That doesn’t make the national determination process for the country’s representative easier. To make a long story short: on February 13th 2016 is a live show coming up showing six qualified artists/bands. That night the national participant will be nominated. Everyone hopes that the jury (50% of the votes) don’t lose themselves in a musical agreement connecting all languages, traditions and styles to get a boring mainstream song.
The uploaded songs are strange, funny, interesting, dreadful and great – but not boring! You sure have the best chances to get highest votes if you are from Switzerland. About 80 Songs – that is half of all uploaded songs – are “Swiss made”. The regulation says that the national finals are open to every nation and every language. So you really find participants from Sweden, Australia and even India. Nevertheless, the main language is English with more than 80% of the songs. Enough statistics, let’s take a closer look to some favourites … or so…
I start directly with my insiders’ tip: Singer-songwriters are underestimated at the ESC. Now and then the performances with the undertone are in the top ranking of the ESC finals (e.g. Common Linnets in 2014) If they are natural, charming and real they have a good chance to get far. In this case it’s the Irish songwriter Ryan Jai with the song “Echoes” (http://esc.srf.ch/de/ryan-jai). He has this sad, mysterious and affecting voice at the same time. The song itself is a little shallow but straight pop.
The other artist is Noopur (yes, from India) with the song “Again” (http://esc.srf.ch/de/noopur). She has this classic breathy and crystal clear voice of the 1990th. But she combines it with the Scandinavian female songwriters and is therefore a very good choice for the national finals.
I think every country need a “Lordi effect”. In this contest you find it with Inge & the TritoneKings and the song “Trümmer” (debris) (http://esc.srf.ch/de/inge-tritonekings). It’s not just in German and sung by an older woman. This song as elements of Jazz and Punk but ends up as something like Funk Metal. I love it. But I think it leaves a big question mark on many faces.
Akrivi from Greece sings “Alone In The Universe” (http://esc.srf.ch/de/akrivi-0). The song is very catchy and has two parts. One part is honest EDM club music. The other part is pop and in instrumentation and voice nearly identically to Miley Cyrus “Wracking Ball”. Akrivi’s song is liked but copyright problems seem to be ahead. But on the other hand Måns Zelmerlöw won the whole ESC with a snatched song.
“Closer To My Heart” (http://esc.srf.ch/de/ylva-linda) by the Swedish twin sisters Ylva & Linda is a nice but mainstream pop, schlager or uptempo tune. It is produced solidly and has enough potential for the national final. But I need to ask one question: “If you are from Sweden why participate in Switzerland?” Sweden has one of the best national determination processes. Do they fear the competition or do they just think that they have an easy way against a bunch of nuttier songs in Switzerland?
One favourite song is “Time To Wuk” (http://esc.srf.ch/de/natalia-wohler-0) sung by Natalia Wohler. This song has is all. Straight Caribbean Soca-Music sung in Trinidadian-English and a good shaped woman presenting the song. It’s a little carnival for the senses. Natalia Wohler is from Switzerland but lived in Trinidad.
Last not least Männerchor Steili Kressä with the Song “Köttbullar” (http://esc.srf.ch/de/steili-kressä). They are shoo-inn’s for the national final because of the fans of the internet community. They participated with comedian-bizarre songs the last couple of years and were always under discussion. Is this year the year when the whole ESC sings the “IKEA-meal-song”? We will see.
Don’t lose time and make up your mind in listening and watching the Swiss video uploads for the ESC 2016. Let’s see how far Switzerland gets this year in Stockholm.
special thanks to Marco Boehm (Germany)