The silver medal in my top 41 countdown goes to the country that is the “grande dame” of Eurovision, the contest’s inaugural winner though has had little success in recent years until 2019 when it recovered its Eurovision mojo – it’s Switzerland.
#2 SWITZERLAND: Gjon’s Tears “Répondez-moi”
I think if you were going to use one word to describe “Repondez-moi”, it would be “haunting” – and it truly is. It’s a subtle, arty, moving entry – and it shows Switzerland mean business again in Eurovision. They did extremely well last year with Luca Hänni , and while Gjon’s Tears is a very different artist to Luca, this was a real contender to win – and was very nearly my own number 1.
Gjon Muharremaj, know as Gjon’s Tears, is a young Swiss singer-songwriter, who bears an uncanny likeness to the college age Ted Moseby character from How I Met Your Mother. He’s of Albanian descent – his mother is from Tirana, the Albanian capital, and his father is Kosovan Albanian. Now I don’t know what it is about Albanians, but they seem to produce singers with quite extraordinary voices. Eugent Bushpepa, who represented Albania in 2018, is possibly one of best male voices we’ve had in the contest in recent years. Gjon has clearly inherited that trait from his Albanian ancestry as he has perhaps the most beautiful and haunting voice among 2020’s singers.
“Répondez-moi”, which is co-written and composed by Gjon, really does feel like it’s coming from his own deep raw emotions and conflicting feelings and experiences of being torn between
his country of birth and where his family come from – that sense of belonging or not. The lyrics, the music and instrumentation, the progression of the song and the very stylish, arty music video all
come together to create this beautiful and goosebump-inducing work – and while Gjon’s vocal is flawless and haunting throughout, the song builds to Gjon delivering a remarkable note towards the end of the song – it’s spellbinding.
How would this have done at the contest? While it didn’t feel like this caught on with all of the fandom, especially not those who prefer their Eurovision entries to always be Fuegos or Euphorias, it was performing extremely well in some of the bigger online polls and I do think that this could really have been in the running to win. Switzerland have shown last year they can get the staging right; I think the quality they showed last year was really outstanding, possibly the most professional and
slickest performance last year. Along with what is a beautiful and haunting song, you’ve also got the sheer quality of Gjon’s vocals and “that note” is ripe for being a “Eurovision moment”.
So, I think you potentially had both a strong jury vote in the offing, and with Iceland, Russia and Lithuania all with those quirky uptempo songs maybe diluting their vote a bit, you’d have to give Switzerland a chance – and wouldn’t it have been appropriate? Switzerland were the last song to win the contest with a French language song (Céline of course) and between their inaugural contest win of 1956 and their win of 1988, there was a 32 year gap. 2020 was 32 years after their 1988 win…
While we have lost this beautiful song to the cancellation, Gjon’s Tears will be returning in 2021 for Switzerland and I hope he can repeat the magic of this year.