Our top ten Eurovision 2024 competitors

Daði og Gagnamagnið, Daði FreyrDaði og Gagnamagnið, Daði Freyr

Daði og Gagnamagnið from Iceland perform during a rehearsal of the second semifinal of the Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam, Netherlands on May 13, 2021. Photo by Patrick van Emst/ANP/ AFP.

It’s “Eurovision” Week! Admittedly, when I first started writing about it, it was to brag about how much better the United States is than any country in Europe at it. I’d also insist that if we were allowed to enter, we would win every year. Australia and Israel aren’t in Europe, after all. But after Daði Freyr’s “Think About Things” in the canceled 2020 edition, I’m a changed man.

So, this year, I will continue my trend of not being a hater. If you’re European and haven’t heard the songs in advance, or an American who plans to watch now that it’s streaming live on Peacock at a reasonable hour (noon Pacific on Tuesday, by the way), here’s my preview.

My girlfriend, Brynna, and I listened to the 37 entries of the 38 that have videos posted on YouTube and picked our top 10, by which I mean I excitedly insisted on six songs that were weird or interesting and she chose four that are just good . Since I couldn’t pick a favorite, they’re in alphabetical order by country.

Armenia: LADANIVA — “Jako”

I love this one for the reflection of actual Armenian music rather than just doing a saccharine, bland English-language pop ballad, and Brynna loves it for the joyful rather than solemn women’s empowerment message, the trumpeter, that she pets a rooster, and for being a really good song.

I will never understand why a country would enter a slow, sad ballad when it could enter something fun. People like fun music!

Croatia: Baby Lasagna — “Rim Tim Tagi Dim”

This one was 100 percent my choice. It reminds me of Ukraine’s winning entry from a couple years ago, and it’s a song that’s absolutely going on multiple playlists. It’s like four genres at the same time but still has a Croatian flair, and it has lines about selling cows and, my personal favorite, “gonna miss you all but mostly the cat.” In fact, the one-eyed cat is a full-blown theme! He also says, “bye mom, bye dad, meow cat please meow back.” which really speaks to me.

Estonia: 5MIINUST and Puuluup – “(nendest) narkootikumidest ei tea me (küll) midagi”

You can probably immediately tell this is another of my picks.

This is a collaboration between 5MIINUST, a hip-hop group, and Puuluup, a folk duo. You can probably tell which is which in the video. The combination of rap and folk music is always great but, for some reason, especially great here, because it’s also extremely catchy. The video is also great, because there’s a big group dance.

Greece: Marina Satti – “ZARI”

We’ve finally got to one of Brynna’s! Satti has said her goal with the song is to show the real lives of young Greeks and replace stereotypes about Greek culture with what really happens. If this is the real Greece, I want to go there.

Iceland: Hera Björk – “Scared of Heights”

Brynna said the song is fun and sparkly, and that it feels like the ’70s. Her voice is very rich and feels full. All that is absolutely true. To me, it sounds like soul-inspired pop, like Aretha Franklin’s ’80s output, though nobody has ever had or will ever have Aretha’s voice.

After Freyr in 2020 and Hatari, the BDSM-themed anti-capitalist industrial techno/punk band in 2019, I’m convinced Iceland as a nation just has amazing taste in music.

Ireland: Bambie Thug – “Doomsday Blue”

This one is so incredibly my jam. This is from the Wikipedia page of Bambie Thug, which pretty accurately describes why I like the song: “They are known to mix numerous genres in their music, coining their own term, “ouija-pop,” out of disdain for being put into one genre. (Bambie Ray) Robinson’s music has been inspired by various subjects, including breakups, witchcraft and drug addiction.”

Apparently the song has gotten a lot of criticism and backlash, which just makes it even more metal! This song is half modern, unproblematic Marilyn Manson and half violent transitions like Poppy’s “X.” It’s like they made it just for me.

Italy: Angelina Mango – “La noia”

Some of the key themes Brynna cited for why she picked this one included that it’s fun, it’s camp and it’s very Italian. She also recommends looking up the English translation of the lyrics, which may change how you see the song (for the better). It has a really great beat to it and we actually like it more than we did the first time we heard it.

I, meanwhile, have decided I need to keep growing my hair out until I can braid it and hang it from a clothesline.

Norway: Gåte — “Ulveham”

This is technically one of my picks, but we both love it for similar reasons.

My first thought was “WHAT IS THAT INSTRUMENT?” because it’s large and looks complicated. Then I saw the translation of the lyrics in the subtitles and loved it even more, because it’s basically a compilation of dark Scandinavian fairy tales. As one of the YouTube comments on the video says, “Finland is hard rock hallelujah, and Norway is hard folk hallelujah.” Very well put.

San Marino: MEGARA — “11:11”

Do I even need to tell you this is one of mine? Just to drive home that I have a very clear personal brand, this band opened for Babymetal last year on the Spanish leg of its European tour. I love Baby metal. I love alternative metal, especially with punk sensibilities. MEGARA is destined to become one of my favorites.

Spain: Nebulossa – “ZORRA”

Brynna says that not only does this song open with a Robert Palmer tribute, but it’s a beautiful woman singing about being a vixen and that she’s not going to change. It’s a happy women’s empowerment song. I love the ’80s vibe and I’m glad that sound is coming back.

Nebulossa is an electro-pop duo comprised of married couple Maria Bas and Mark Dasousa. They competed to represent San Marino in 2022 but didn’t make it past the audition stage. This year they won the Spanish competition. Meanwhile, MEGARA placed fourth in the competition to represent Spain in 2023 but won in San Marino this year. San Marino is nowhere near Spain, it’s a landlocked enclave within Italy with a population of 35,000. I don’t understand this but both are great so I don’t care.

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