Spain has brought back its national final with a new (well, partially resurrected) name of Benidorm Fest and a new format. We’ve already had two semi-finals where a mix of jury, demoscopic panel and public vote have seen 8 acts go through to the final. That takes place at 9.15pm GMT on Saturday 29 January and is available to view via RTVE’s website.
Spain’s national selections often bring (melo)drama, and with at least three big fan favourites in play in the final, I’m expecting some explosive reaction to the voting. The voting is done via a mix of professional jury (50%), demoscopic panel (25%) and public vote (25%), and I think the heavy weighting of the jury votes has potential to cause uproar if they vote down the public or fan favourites.
I’ve featured the three (fan) favourites below, based on both the votes they got in their semi-finals, and social media reaction, as well as my own personal favourite, who is probably the fourth favourite after these other three.
The (fan) favourites
I am expecting the winner to come from among one of these three – and if it does not, wait for the fan backlash!
Based on the online reaction/comments, as well as jury, demoscopic and public vote in the semi-final (she came 1st, 1st and 2nd respectively in those votes, Chanel must be the favourite going in to the final. It’s also, to my mind, the least interesting option of the four songs featured in this preview. It’s a Fuego-style, hair-flicking banger – slick, catchy, sassy etc. but I just didn’t get quite so enthused by it. Definitely a favourite of the “yaaas queen” brigade though. The performance and staging are what you would call “Eurovision ready” though I’m not sure it’s doing anything novel enough to catch fire in the main contest.
Rigoberta Bandini “Ay mamá“
This entry also dominated its semi-final, finishing first with the jury and televote and second with demoscopic panel. I think it’s safe to say that this has some stand out elements – not least the giant boob on stage – which gives a clue to the message of the song. It’s a feminist hymn championing the female body, motherhood and women at large. I did think that Blas’s inflatable moon had at least come in handy, but the appearance of the giant bosom shouldn’t detract from what is a catchy and quirky song with a message. Quite how the EBU would view the very upfront staging is another matter…
If there is an entry that could generate some eurodrama in the final, it is this. Not because the entry itself is controversial, but it was the very different placing it received from the jury and the public vote in its semi-final. The jury placed it 5th of 6 (cue much voluble outrage from the live audience) while the public vote placed it first, even above Chanel, featured earlier in this preview. The lack of enthusiasm from the juries may then scupper the chances of getting this Galician folk pop entry to the contest. I’m not yet quite as bowled away by this as many others are, but I don’t dislike it – and it would be the first time Galician had been heard at Eurovision, so that in itself would be a nice achievement.
My favourite: Rayden “Calle de la llorería”
So we come to my favourite, Rayden, a Spanish rapper who actually got second place in the public vote with his entry, so it may not be a total lost cause – as perhaps the other three favourites may eat into each other’s votes and allow Rayden to come through as his entry is different to the rest of the field. It’s super Spanish and authentic and Rayden really puts in a great live performance. I don’t know how it would do at the contest, but at least I feel we’d get a genuinely authentic and modern Spanish song that wasn’t just built for the contest.