This is my first proper preview of the national selection season for Eurovision 2020, and it’s a Super Saturday on 8 February with 2 national finals in Australia and Latvia, the conclusion to Italy’s long-running Sanremo Music Festival (from which Italy’s Eurovision entry will come) and Malta’s X-Factor final, whose winner will be their Eurovision artist. I’m writing this a bit last minute and at speed, so forgive the brevity!
Australia: Eurovision – Australia Decides
After holding their first (and successful) national final last year (and achieving a good result in Tel Aviv), Australia’s national final returns in the Gold Coast for 2020. It’s a competent set of songs – though not as interesting a group as last year I feel.
My favourite: Montaigne “Don’t Break Me”
This reminds me a bit of Greece’s song in 2019 – a song that I liked a lot, so it’s got to be my favourite going into the final.
The (betting) favourite: Vanessa Amorosi “Lessons of Love”
This has risen to top of the betting on the back of a strong jury show performance. It’s a decent mid-tempo ballad, and Vanessa Amorosi is an experienced musician and performer, with a career of over 20 years and many music awards to her name, so I expect this will definitely be a contender.
Latvia: Supernova 2020
Latvia have had a dreadful run at Eurovision in recent years, with just two qualifications (in 2015 and 2016) since 2008, but they are persevering with their national selection, and it’s not a bad set of 9 songs that have been selected for the final.
My favourite: Katrīna Dimanta “Heart Beats”
This is probably unlikely to win but I like its quirky, homely nature and is sung by a former member of Aarzemnieki who sang “Cake to Bake” (Latvia’s Eurovision 2014 entry). She performed at the London Eurovision Party that year and was a delight – dancing away with the fans on the main dancefloor after the show. The available performance of this song still feels a bit as though it’s in its demo phase (as with many of the Supernova finalists) but the final should show a more completed production I suspect.
The favourite: Samanta Tīna “Still Breathing”
This is the overwhelming favourite, and while the final vote is 100% public vote, it does seem likely that Samanta will be going to the contest at her 6th attempt. It’s the most polished and ready of the final line up, as well as being one of the most modern and distinctive and while this will not appeal to everyone, it should stand out in this national final (and perhaps stands best chance for Latvia to do well at the contest).
Italy: Sanremo Music Festival 2020
Now in its 70th year, the Festival della canzone italiana di Sanremo was the inspiration for the Eurovision Song Contest and will be providing Italy’s representative once again. In recent years, the winner of Sanremo has been offered the Eurovision slot without being obliged to take it which has led to sometimes several days of doubt after the final. This year, the artists have had to say if they will go to Eurovision, so there should be no confusion (presumably the highest placed artist in the final who has said yes to Eurovision will get the tickets). What we don’t know is which artists have said yes – just that 16 of the 24 have done so.
Among the finalists there are two former Eurovision contestants, Francesco Gabbiani (2017) and Raphael Gualazzi (2011) though I don’t think either is a stand out favourite this year (Francesco has the better chance though, so don’t be surprised if it is him again). In such a huge field, and with a very complex voting structure, it’s not easy to say which will be the favourite – and at the moment I’m not sure I have a favourite! Will see if I can endure the marathon show and form a clearer view on who I would like to win (and then see my hopes dashed!)
Fan favourite: Elodie “Andromeda”
Hotly tipped, and edging Francesco Gabbani as the fan favourite is this Mahmood-penned electrodisco number that I think ticks many Eurovision boxes and certainly stands out at Sanremo. Even if she doesn’t win, could she end up being the highest-placed prospective Eurovision artist?
Dark horse: Le Vibrazioni “Dov’è”
This one has done well in some of the voting that has taken part – it’s an enjoyable rock-pop track with a earworm-y chorus but what makes it stand out is the vibrant performance from the sign interpreter which frequently takes centre stage.
Possible winner: Diodato “Fai rumore”
This could well win I suspect and is a more traditional Italian male emotional ballad with big vocals and notes. Strong voice undoubtedly but not the most original, and Italy is a country that can deliver originality and difference at Eurovision (last year being a perfect example).
Malta: X Factor Malta 2020 final
Not a national final as such, but Malta will be using its second season of the X Factor in same way it did its first; namely, the winner becomes their Eurovision artist but the song is chosen separately. The big expectation is that Destiny Chukunyere, winner of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest for Malta in 2015, and who is a finalist in X Factor, will win and represent Malta at the contest proper. Not long to find about, but strength of her voice is in no doubt, and last time Malta came close to winning Eurovision was with a powerful female vocalist…
All the times and links to shows are available on my Eurovision 2020 season calendar page.