6 May 2022
The 2022 Eurovision songs you need to hear
The power of music to unite and build bridges between us is well-established.
Nowhere was that needed more than Europe after the Second World War.
It’s one of the reasons the Eurovision Song Contest was created: to create co-operation across borders, with a single simultaneous broadcast that would show across the continent.
The competition has been held annually since 1956 (save for 2020, when it was cancelled), and it’s now the world’s most watched song competition: over 183 million people tuned into the 2021 edition.
It’s so popular that the format has been replicated for the first time in 2022 with the American Song Contest. Hosted by Kelly Clarkson and Snoop Dogg, the American version of the competition includes entries from all 50 states, five territories and DC – and features established acts like Jewel, Michael Bolton, Sisqo, Macy Gray and The Crystal Method. (If you’re wondering, the final is being held in the same week as the European version. It’s on Monday, May 9, on NBC.)
The winner of Eurovision is selected using a combination of public votes and those from national juries, made up of music industry experts; winning can be a springboard to a massive career: just ask ABBA!
The final of the 2022 contest is scheduled to take place on May 14, with 40 entries being whittled down to ‘just’ 25 over the course of two semi-finals on May 10 and 12. Every entry has been released in advance (themselves often selected through hotly-contested national competitions), and they’re all available to stream on Spotify.
Here’s the official supercut preview of all the countries and songs taking part:
We’ve asked our expert Music team to give them all a spin in full, and give us the lowdown on a few of the most notable tracks…
The one that ticks all the boxes: Subwoolfer – ‘Give That Wolf a Banana’ (Norway)
This track was chosen by PHMG composer Callum Stubbs, who has submitted tracks for Eurovision before and been on the receiving end of judges’ critiques – so he’s especially well-placed to pass comment. He said:
“What works for Eurovision is hard to pinpoint, but there are a few important factors that publishers are on the lookout for…
“Ultimately a Eurovision song needs to be current, on-trend and no longer than three minutes in length. With an infectious two-bar, disjunct vocal hook and glossy picked acoustic guitar progression, Norway’s entry sonically encapsulates familiar radio-ready sounds, while cutting straight to the captivating, anthemic chorus.
“As most Europeans don’t speak English as their first language, it’s very important to keep the melody at the heart of the composition and keep the lyrical content concise. This track hits this sweet-spot; a simple, spacious call-and-response incorporates the opening hook as a counter melody, preparing the listener for the punchy chorus and post-chorus (where the lyric ‘yum’ is woven into a variation of the melodic minor melody).
“Amongst all the ballads and generic commercial songs, it’s vital to stand out from the crowd, be brave and take chances. Subwoolfer certainly jump out from the pack with such a playful concept, packing in a theatrical drum breakdown and not copying what has been successful in previous years.
“Lastly, a successful Eurovision bop must be written with a stage performance in mind, not allowing the arrangement to drift and keeping momentum throughout. With a welcomed rhythmic development to the second verse’s melody, making use of the ‘off’ beat allows space for the synth plucks to bounce, propelling the piece into another kick-driven chorus.
“After taking the Norwegian national competition by storm and embracing a charismatic dance routine, ‘Give That Wolf A Banana’ is my pick of the – ahem – bunch!”
The one that breaks all the rules: Konstrakta – ‘In Corpore Sano’ (Serbia)
Chosen by another of our full-time composers, Liz Mann:
“Having spent years trying to break through with a variety of ballads and Europop bops, Serbia have surprised everyone this year with something that completely goes against the grain.
“When I first heard ‘In Corpore Sano’ I was met with utter bewilderment. But after only a few listens I have become absolutely hooked on this increasingly captivating earworm. It’s one of the weirder entries of the year, and at first listen might have you thinking it’s nothing more than another novelty entry (the opening lyrics, translated from Serbian, ask “What’s the secret to Meghan Markle’s healthy hair?”).
“But underneath this seemingly superficial question. Konstrakta dives in head-first to unlock a wider discussion. And this is the genius of Serbia’s entry; it’s not quite a novelty song, but it’s also not a huge ballad that pulls on the heartstrings.
“Instead, it carefully tightropes the line between the two, using colloquial phrases and trivial social observations that are both striking and clever in equal measure. Access to healthcare, society’s obsession with beauty, and the deteriorating state of our mental health are all themes to unpack here. Themes, it’s important to add, rarely touched at Eurovision.
“Among all the leather rocker outfits, dressy ballads and sparkly pop girls typically paraded onto the Eurovision stage, is a woman wearing a surgical white outfit and washing her hands. With insightful social and political commentary interspersed by a ritualistic drum groove, ‘In Corpore Sano’ is more than a just pop song: it’s a defiant statement on a post-pandemic, war-torn Europe.
“On top of this, it’s the first ever song performed partially in Latin – so all combined, it’s a true trailblazer. Its staccato delivery matched with psychedelic guitar fragments and cultish backing choirs (uttering the mantra “all in the name of health”) makes the song a truly hypnotic experience.
“And it’s why I’m finding it harder and harder to skip on Spotify. Take a bow Serbia, this is a song truly breaks all the rules.”
The plucky underdog: Sam Ryder – ‘Space Man’ (United Kingdom)
Music supervisor Cassie Luxton makes the case for our home-grown hero – who will be hoping to reverse fortunes for the UK, after two consecutive last-place finishes:
“Sam Ryder’s story epitomizes the power of social media.
“After skyrocketing to fame in lockdown of 2020 as a viral TikTok sensation, combining impressive vocals with an infectious enthusiasm and winning smile, Sam grasped the attention of those around the world as TikTok’s most popular British artist. He now has over 12 million followers!
“Taking the stage with ‘Space Man‘, a song written in 2021 with Grammy winning songwriter Amy Wadge, Sam is set to showcase the flawless falsetto and compelling belt that makes his vocal range as extensive as his songwriting abilities. Entering with limited formal training or experience in the industry, Ryder’s not letting that hold him back, and is in it to win it as a Top 5 contender.
“He combines conversational vocal delivery with rapid vibrato, making his vocals sound raw and relatable – although this could also be his downfall; his breath control can falter at the end of phrases, which reflects his limited training and experience. But his vocal range has impressive flexibility, and he’s much more confident up in the higher register in falsetto and belt.
“It’s not all about his vocals, though. The song’s chorus is dynamic, both vocally and instrumentally, and the bridge’s chord progression in the bridge is centred around a minor key, making for an inspiring lift back to the major chord in the chorus that follows.
“And instrumentally, it doesn’t follow the standard 5-1 chord progression heard in pop music. Adding in diminished and seventh chords break the traditional pop chord structure, making for a more engaging listen.”
The radio-ready hit: Cornelia Jakobs – ‘Hold Me Closer’ (Sweden)
Luke Marley, another of our Music supervisors, has his say on an entry that’s sure to be at the business end of proceedings at the final:
“Perennial front-runners Sweden have secured top-5 finishes in seven of the last 10 competitions – helped, in no doubt, by Melodifestivalen: their gruelling national selection contest that’s a sort of ‘Superbowl of pop’, and which draws audiences approaching half the country’s population.
“This year’s winner is a stirring pop ballad that’s already stormed the pop charts in Sweden, landing at number 1. It opens with cinematic legato strings and vocals alone for the first verse and chorus, before switching to a pop-rock arrangement from the second verse onwards.
“By design, the string arrangement elicits emotion; the opening verse’s cello romantically glides between chord changes via passing notes. And in the latter half of the first chorus they sustain a high C-sharp for an entire four bars, becoming a different interval as the chords change beneath.
“Other moments to listen out for are the bombastic Phil Collins-esque tom drums into the final chorus at 2:21; the unexpected G-sharp major as the last chord of the bridge progression; and the mystifying lift into the chorus – moving away from the key centre of F-sharp to a mystical B Lydian, adding to the sense of wonder.”
The bookmakers’ tip: Mahmood & Blanco – ‘Brividi’ (Italy)
Cassie Luxton is back to give us the lowdown on the entry aiming to secure back-to-back wins for Italy:
“This ethereal piano duet could scarcely be more different to last year’s winning Italian entry, which launched glam-rockers Måneskin to an international stage and saw them appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
“The subtle and simple nature of the string arrangement, percussion and bass allows the vocals to be the stars of the show in ‘Brividi’, which translates as ‘Chills’. It opens with delicate harmonies that blend effortlessly in every phrase; the rhythmic variation in the vocals compliment the sustained string phrases and minimal percussion, and the first line sung in unison, in the chorus, perfectly intertwines.
“Mahmood and Blanco’s technique, phrasing and intonation match each other’s delivery almost exactly, and this synergy makes for a passionate performance on-stage. It’s a dynamically charged piece that impressively uses a range of textures that span both soft and powerful.
“The song’s downfall could be the simplicity of its arrangement; as a pop ballad with a classic chord progression, it’s not going to stand out for being especially ‘different’ to anything else. Its hopes rest on simply being a very good example of an heartfelt ballad.”
Tune in to the final on May 14, and cheer on your favourites! It’ll be shown live with commentary on the BBC in the UK and on SBS in Australia, and available to stream on Peacock in the US.
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