My choices for places 7 and 6 have a few things in common: both are northern European countries; both these entries are distinctly uptempo; and sadly due to broadcaster choices, neither of these two artists will selected for Eurovision 2021…
#7 DENMARK: Ben & Tan “Yes”
Denmark’s most common Eurovision-song style or genre has tended to be very upbeat, fairly uptempo, and almost relentlessly and cloyingly “happy”. I haven’t always liked those songs, I’ll be honest, such as Hot Eyes back in the 1980s or more recently acts like Lighthouse X or last year’s entry, Leonora. But this year, it’s been different, and while this entry is typically Danish in that happy, upbeat way, it’s one that I really like.
“Yes” is instantly very catchy and it’s a song you just enjoy listening to and that simple refrain hooks into your mind really quickly. Ben & Tan perform well together, and as veterans of the 2019 Danish X Factor there were no worries with live vocals. They were my favourites as well as the bookies’ favourites going into the Danish national final, where they duly made the 3 artist “super final” and won it by a landslide.
I think the catchiness and Eurovision-readiness of this song is perhaps no surprise when you consider there was a Swedish songwriting team behind this with a strong pedigree of success. Linnea Deb was co-writer of many well-known Swedish Melfest songs, including the 2013 Swedish Eurovision entry “You” and also the 2015 Eurovision-winning “Heroes”. A second writer, Jimmy Jansson is also a prolific writer of Melfest songs, and broke a record at this year’s Melfest, as a co-writer of 6 entries.
All this adds up to what I think would have been a pretty decent result for Denmark. I think this is the sort of song that can do well with both the public vote and with juries. We can’t, of course, put that to the test and very unfortunately for Ben & Tan, Denmark has followed the path of the other Nordic countries with sticking with a fresh national final for 2021. Ben & Tan have decided not to put themselves forward, preferring to go out as national final winners and give another act a chance. They are both young though and Ben only turned 18 in June so they have got many more chances if they wanted them.
It’s to interesting to recall that the Danish national final was held without an audience – it was an ominous sign for the ending of all live shows soon after – and who knows, it may end up as a foretaste for the format of Eurovision 2021…
#6 GERMANY: Ben Dolic “Violent Thing”
So it’s Germany who takes the prize for my top Big 5 country of 2020 – and it’s a bit of a dance banger I’m pleased to say. Germany have had a bit of a rollercoaster through recent Eurovision from the highs of their 2010 win, and top 4 placing in 2018, to a whole run of last place or near last places (including last year when only a somewhat inexplicable though small set of jury points rescued them from their ignominious nul points from the televote.)
The German broadcaster took stock, moved to an internal selection, which as you might expect from Germany, was thorough and scientific – using jury groups to rate artists and performers. The end product after all of this was “Violent Thing” sung by Slovenian Ben Dolic – a former runner up of Germany’s The Voice. Ben has quite an unusual voice, and in some circumstances it might grate, but it works well with this song.
It really is an out and out quality bop – something I think some groups of Eurofans, myself included, always love to have at the contest. This genre feels particularly familiar to me as it reminds me of the dance music I’ve listened and danced to in London, especially at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. This has quite a Freemasons feel to it; maybe it’s that brass instrumentation you hear underpinning the song at times. It’s the sort of track I wish the UK had entered in recent years.
Once again, our friend Boris Milanov was involved in this song as cowriter and co-producer – and with that sort of Eurovision pedigree behind it, this could have seen the German Eurovision pendulum swing back to upper reaches of the board rather than the bottom. It remains a moot point though as it’s been announced that Ben will not be Germany’s entry next year. Let’s hope Germany can come up with another strong product from this new selection process (if they don’t change it again!)