Could Estonia win Eurovision 2018 with an opera song?

Estonia is one of the main favourites to win the Eurovision Song Contest 2018, according to the bookmakers. Could it be that an opera song wins the contest in Lisbon? We take a look at the past to answer that question in this editorial.

Elina Nechayeva will sing ‘La Forza’ in the first semi final on the 8th of May, to make Estonia be a part of the grand final again. After missing out on a place on Saturday last year (‘Verona‘ by Koit & Laura). But this qualification seems to be just a detail, given the fact that Estonia currently is third with the bookmakers in the win-market.

How do the bookmakers justify this fact? Very often, songs with opera-influences don’t score that well at the Eurovision Song Contest.

Vocal quality not the only thing jury takes into account

Of course, Elina shows great vocal skills in ‘La Forza’. One would say, this is jury food and she will be on top of the table. Haven’t ESCDaily always said that vocals are crucial for the jury vote? Doesn’t ESCDaily even focus on vocal skills at the jury final, with their vocal assessment?

Yes, that is true. Vocal capabilities are a key part of success with the jury. However, they also look at the song. When a song appears to be written just to showcase the vocal power of an artist, sometimes the televote provides even an higher score than the jury.

The best ‘evidence’ for this is of course Zlata Ognevich, of which a very good result with the jury was expected, due to her very strong vocals. But in the end, the jury gave her less reward than the televote.

Opera songs in the past

It is not the first time we see and hear opera influences at the Eurovision Song Contest. But as pure as the entry for Estonia in 2018, we have not seen before. Turkey joked about the music style, but in recent years we have heard opera at the contest before.

The Swedish song ‘La Voix‘ failed in 2009, but this was kitsch and cross-over. One can hardly compare ‘La Forza’ to ‘La Voix’. The same goes for ‘It’s my life‘ by Cesar for Romania. Alenka Gotar’s song for Slovenia in 2007 comes closer, though it was also made televote-friendly. Yes, it qualified from the huge semi in Helsinki, but in the final it still failed to stand out.

Opera singer must hold back at the rehearsals

The last time an opera song was high (very high) in the polls before the Eurovision Song Contest, was in 2011. France showed up in Düsseldorf with the song ‘Sognu’ by Amaury Vasily. The top favourite could not deliver and failed to make it to the top-10.

One thing we remember from seven years ago, was the fact that he gave a lot, for the full two weeks. An opera song takes a lot from an artist, and it is not possible to fully give a vocal convincing performance multiple times in a row. Maybe Amaury blew himself up at the rehearsals, and therefore would not give all his power when it actually mattered. It is a high-risk factor for Elina Nechayeva in Lisbon as well.

Especially since she is all alone. The guys from Il Volo could divide all this vocal power among the three of them. And on the actual final night, they blew the audience away. Once again, the vocal showcase ‘Grande Amore’ convinced the televote and won it by a landslide. But the jury, which by gut feeling you would have been expected to reward Italy more than the televote, was not to keen on the entry.

Conclusion before Lisbon

Elina Nechayeva needs to be carefull and – even more than other artists – needs to focus on the performances that matter most. And it is very likely that, even though her vocal skills are awesome, the televote will reward her more than the jury vote.

Will it be enough to actually win the Eurovision Song Contest? Looking at the past, it will probably not. But you’ll never know. 2018 might be a year with a very high discrepancy between the jury and televote. It could be that, other than in 2017, we will not have a winner which had topped the ranking of both voting camps.

1 Comment

  1. I’m sure this Estonian entry is more televoting stuff than jury material. Apart from an excellent voice the total package has some worn-out, cheap and distracive visual elements too,which will make it too Rieu-esque for many jurymembers. Final absoulutely possible, though

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