“The circus arrives without warning.”First line in The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
It’s Eurovision week! Even better, it’s the day of the Grand Final, and as a Eurovision fan, I just had to write about something Eurovision-related today. I’ve chosen to very simply share my top ten from this year and pair them with a book. There are definitely some songs this year that immediately made me think of a specific book, and the rest was a fun challenge.
Anyway, before I get into my top ten, I have something to say about my own country’s song which is The Show performed by the band Reddi.
I didn’t think it was possible for us to be worse than last year but apparently, our broadcaster took that as a challenge. The songs we had to choose from were nowhere near Grand Final material, let alone winning material, and The Show was literally the best one. It’s not a bad song and they are better live than some of the acts in the final, it’s just not something for Eurovision. And I do have positive things to say about it. For one, it’s in English. I know a lot of people hate it when countries chose English, but that’s not me. I don’t care what everybody else does; Denmark needs to sing in English and I’m relieved we returned to that after the Danish song last year. Another good thing about the song is that they seem to have understood a major part of the assignment that so many other countries forgot this year: Don’t send ballads to Eurovision! (!!)
It’s not exactly the best Eurovision year, but 2021 was also so good that it shouldn’t have been possible. I can’t expect every year to be like that but I have to admit that I had higher hopes. Damiano didn’t shout it to the whole world that Rock’n’Roll never dies, only for us to get a shit-ton of ballads the year after. OR for the juries to eliminate half the upbeat songs in the semifinals! It was a struggle to pick ten songs that I liked for this post, so I don’t even want to say that I’d be happy if any of them won, and I don’t have the same passion for one song as I had for Måneskin last year.
And on that note, you’re about to learn that my unpopular opinions don’t just pertain to books (please don’t hate me if I don’t include your country).
#10 – Norway
Give That Wolf a Banana by Subwoolfer
Unfortunately, I really like this song, and I say unfortunately because I absolutely hate all the gimmicks around Subwoolfer. They’ve gone to great lengths to make sure everything is a joke, and it’s just a little too over the top for me. The song, though, is the catchiest thing ever and I like the dancing.
The song is basically about Little Red Riding Hood but with a focus on the wolf, so what book does that make me think of? Red Rising by Pierce Brown, not only because of the red references but also because there is a very important group in that book that names themselves The Howlers and who wear wolfcoats. There was just no other book I could match this crazy song with.
#9 – Spain
SloMo by Chanel
One of the bigger favorites that I just can’t place any higher. It gets points for being uptempo and the whole performance is really something, but those lyrics? I just don’t see them as part of a winning song, and I’m kinda glad I don’t understand Spanish. It’s also not higher on my list because it’s not a song I find myself wanting to listen to all that often.
Picking a book was hard here because I definitely don’t have a book that matches those lyrics. So I’m focusing on the Spanish being used in the song because do you know where Spanish is an official language? In Peru. And do I know of a book that takes place in Peru? Yes, The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley (my logic totally works).
#8 – Albania
Sekret by Ronela Hajati
Ah, the first non-qualifier for the Final on my list (yes, there will be more). This hurt but I also somewhat understand it. The staging didn’t do it any favors and I’ve heard her vocals better. That said, this is a proper Eurovision song! And a song you can tell immediately is Eastern European which I love. It has a very unique sound that makes it stand out. My problem with the song itself is a weird one because I know she changed the song slightly since being chosen as Albania’s entry, and I simply prefer the first version and not the one she performed. She changed some lyrics from Albanian to English (which you know from above isn’t a problem in and of itself), but the English ones are super generic so I don’t understand that choice. If you want to make it a point that listeners understand you, then you should say something important!
It’s very hard for me to find a book for these sexual songs, so I need you to hear me out when I say this reminds me of Maurice by E. M. Forster. The lyrics describe a secret love affair from the past that Ronela is reminiscing (in great detail), but the point also is that it’s kind of forbidden and she trusts the lover to keep it a secret. That’s also a theme in Maurice, kind of (it’s all I have).
#7 – France
Fulenn by Alvan and Ahez
Had their live performance been better, they would have been my number one. I adore the studio version, and it’s definitely the song I’ve been listening to the most out of all of these. It’s epic, it’s mysterious, it’s a vibe. I love it!
The song has strong witchy vibes and it is quite literally about dancing with the devil in a forest, so this is without a doubt the easiest song for a fantasy reader to pair with a book. So I’ve picked Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin, a book about witches set in something that looks like France. They even share some of that female empowerment thing, and their outfits match the book cover. It’s like they were actually inspired by that book.
#6 – Cyprus
Ela by Andromache
Another non-qualifier but after the live performance, I’m not super surprised, although I would still rather have seen this in the final than some of the others *cough* Belgium *cough*. It does feel like a proper Eurovision song and it has a strong chorus, but I think the decision to have her stand in the exact same spot in weird lighting hurt its chances. And, well, at least I now have the mental image of the Greek jury being in utter despair because they can’t give Cyrpus their 12 points in the Final.
The song is about the healing power of love, and maybe it’s that combined with the ethereal qualities of both the melody and the lyrics that make me think of Clary and Jace from Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments. The song has several references to “lucid dreams” and some of the Greek lyrics even say “get wings and fly”, and I felt I had to choose something about angels. I don’t actually remember which book in the series is the more appropriate so let’s just go with City of Lost Souls.
#5 – Estonia
Hope by Stefan
This song just makes me happy. How do you listen to that and not feel better? For some reason, I often have a thing for Estonia, even when nobody else does, so I’m always especially excited to see what they bring and they didn’t disappoint. I think the lyrics are amazing as he sings about staying strong and staying true to yourself in the face of adversity. And then he also has a nice voice. I was actually fully prepared for this one to be a non-qualifier, but I’m so happy so many other people saw what I did. I was afraid the staging would be too simple because he’s all alone on that giant stage, but he made use of all of it.
When choosing a book for this, I couldn’t help but be inspired by the Western vibes that are very strong within the song. I’ve read exactly one Western series so my choice is Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson. I’d say some of the lyrics could also be read in a religious context and that also fits very well with the main character in that book, Waxilium, who is quite religious.
#4 – Australia
Not the Same by Sheldon Riley
Yes, a ballad has found its way onto my list and I think it’s time to reveal that I have a thing for melancholy men. The song is emotional as heck because of Riley’s voice, and it’s just giving me chills. I love how the lyrics start off with him just singing about himself and how he didn’t fit, but then they change to him telling everyone they should accept people like him. It’s based on his life as queer and neurodivergent.
The book I’m choosing here is The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne, not only because of the queerness but also because both song and book share that theme of being on the outside looking in on a life they can’t be a part of and how you deal with that.
#3 – Austria
Halo by LUM!X feat. Pia Maria
Another one of those “if they’d been better live, they’d probably have been my number one”
(or just qualified for the final). However, the vibe of this is just too good to ignore! How do you not move to this song? It makes Eurovision what it needs to be: A party!
As for the book, well, I could have gone with something angelic, but the lyrics have a couple of references to Greek myths, so I’m going with Circe by Madeline Miller. It also fits well with the female empowerment theme of the song because Circe is one of the most independent and resourceful characters I’ve ever read about.
#2 – Poland
River by Ochman
OMG, THE STAGING! 😍 Anyway, remember what I said about melancholy men? There was just no resisting this one for me. I love how it sounds like your typical ballad in the verses but then it picks up in the chorus, and then you have those high (!) notes that he has hit perfectly every single time I’ve heard him perform the song.
My choice of book is based on me hearing a depressing song about water so I’m thinking of Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys, a YA story following a group of young people during World War II. The meaning behind the song is actually more uplifting and not super fitting as it’s about letting the “river” carry away your worries about the future because fretting about it is useless. Still, you can say that there’s no use in trying to plan out your future because you never know when something (not necessarily a World War) is going to blow it out of the water.
#1 – Romania
Llámame by WRS
It took me a while to get this one, but now I’m obsessed with it! I can’t explain it. It’s not something I’d usually listen to, but I think the performance enhances it. It’s definitely my favorite choreographed dance number of the year. It’s like it’s sexy and sophisticated at the same time. He’s not going to win, I know that, but I’m going to spend all my 20 votes on him anyway.
The title is in Spanish and means “Call Me”… So what could I choose but Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman? The song itself is also about hiding a relationship, so I think the book fits perfectly.
The Grand Final is tonight so depending on when you read this, you might already know that none of the songs on my list won. It’s not that I hate any of the songs that are in the running to win and I will accept any of them, although if it’s Sweden, I need a few days to mourn before I’m ready to say that out loud.
Now to the most important part: Who do YOU want to win? What do you think of my top ten? Have I offended too many Europeans with this post? But I hope you enjoyed this! Now I’m off to prepare to root for Romania for four hours!