With its gospel singers bathed in gold lighting, John Lundvik's performance strongly evokes a church setting – specifically an African-American Christian church. To what extent will this resonate with televoters and juries across the different cultural areas of Europe?
Keiino's performance is animistic and shamanistic, and each performer is represented by an animal spirit – as seen in the music video, the promotional artwork, and the LED backdrop at the end of the song. In Sami culture, joiks are meant to reflect or evoke a person, animal, or place, and can be deeply personal and spiritual in nature; historically, they were also used in rites, and formed part of the Sami's indigenous nature religion which largely died out in the 17th century. This is a song about communion with spirits of nature. The main moment of transition and incarnation is Fred's joik in the middle-eight, which calls the three performers together for the final chorus and invokes the animal spirits that appear behind them.
A depiction of a debauched hellscape, with (unlike Lordi) very little visible trace of humour or fun present in the performance. Across Europe's different cultural areas, will viewers feel transported by the performance, how will it make them feel, and will they enjoy or welcome it in their homes in the context of a Saturday night family-friendly entertainment spectacle?
A ball of light representing the spirit of the person Duncan is singing about descends from the heavens to meet him, and he looks at it and sings "I don't need your game, game over / Get me off this rollercoaster". The ball ascends again and Duncan throws his arms back from the piano and sings the final chorus repeat.
Does Duncan summon the ball then send it back up, or does it descend and ascend of its own accord? My feeling is that the spirit descends of its own volition, then ascends again once he rejects it. What is the takeaway emotion here? Does Duncan truly transition into light and stop playing the losing game? Do we have a strong sense by the end of the performance that he has let go and moved on, and thereby been reborn – or not?
A sacred heart pulsates, Chingiz switches to a spiritual Turkic singing style similar to Jamala's in the climax of 1944, and he gathers light unto him and ascends heavenwards, arms astretched. His ascended spirit immediately dissipates, and we see that corporeal Chingiz remains where he was before, upon which he sings the final chorus repeat.
Our princess is floating in the heavens, dressed in angelic white, complete with halo-esque crown. The performers floating behind her, in dark ghoul-like garb reminiscent of Harry Potter's Dementors, represent her depression, as has been explicitly stated. At the moment of transition, Kate transcends Earth's gravity and learns to fly freely through the colourful, star-filled celestial realm while joyfully singing "Nothing's holding me down" and beaming with relief and freedom. This transition isn't something that just happens to Kate, it's something she achieves herself – her vocal climax gradually builds in strength until she breaks herself free.
As I wrote in 2017: "In a high-tech, secular but socially atomised era where people don’t know their neighbours, screens are our tools of community, and celebrities and superheroes are our folk gods. TVs are our church, Eurovision is the pulpit, and the more cinematic and issue-attuned the contest becomes, the more I think Eurovision performances need to have a sacral quality – in the combined effect of staging, performer and song – to hit the very highest reaches of the scoreboard by giving viewers something approximating a religious experience and meaningful sense of communion. Even if you dispute this, I think we can agree that staging and connection are everything: if you don’t get those right, you can have one of the best songs in the contest and still come last (just ask Jamie-Lee)."
Enjoy the show! If you're betting, all the best.