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Its that time again

Can you believe it? Eurovision National Final (NF) season has started.  Like every year since 2010 I only listen to a select number of countries before the first semi-final in May. This year those countries are the big 5 ( UK, France, Spain, Italy, and Germany), the host country, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and as a wildcard Ireland.

Right now I want to talk about Italy. Now I’m one of those people who actually watched San Remo because they wanted to not because they just want to hear what could be the Italian song. Minus the whole 5 hours for each show it was a good watch.  I knew right from the start that RAI would not make a big fuss about Eurovision. Just a 5 minute section going “ok last year we got 3rd place hopefully we can  win this year blah blah blah oh and this is who will be singing for us. OK thank you now on to the real show.”

If you think about it why should they make huge fuss for Eurovision. San Remo has been on longer and it is completely different than Eurovision. All the songs in San Remo are really good quality songs even the what I assumed to be a joke entry was 10 times better then most of the joke songs that made it to Eurovision. I don’t know why some people think that San Remo should become the true Italian National Final because I think it will ruin it.

I wonder what RAI will do next year because a new rule is rumored to come out stating that all countries must have some form of a national final whether it is of the song, the artist, or both. The public must have a say. You might say that San Remo is already their national final or whatever but if you pay close attention to it the public have no say in what is the Italian entry. A special jury picks the singer and as a result the song as well.


Stay tune for a review of this year’s Melodifestivalen from Sweden.



The Eurovision Final

As I sit here writing this I am watching a repeat of the Eurovision Song Contest 2011. Thank you TVE International!!!! I watched the final live and they are kind enough to provide rerun incase someone missed it.

What did I think of the final? It was awesome!!!!! The songs were preformed perfectly and as far as I know nothing went wrong. As for the results heres my run down of some of the counties.

First off Spain, I love the song, my mother even liked the song but sadly they got 23rd place. I can not tell you why? But a lot of people did not like the song and maybe as someone pointed out if the song had a different singer it would’ve gotten a better place. Well 50 points is not bad and plus two 12 points on top of that. During her interviews she kept saying that she does not really care about the result and that they could never take the fun she had away from her.

Off to the United Kingdom, one of the favorites to win failed to just that. To honest the camera work and vocals did not do the song justice at all. But what can you do? I think that the UK should continue to send big names to contest as they done in the past. Just not names that people have not heard of in years. It might be impossible to get modern artists as they think they Eurovision will ruin their careers but there is always hope. The UK can win they just need to perfect their formula a bit.

France…..what can I say? Frist off the backdrop is alot better then what I thought of. The few few seconds of the song he did sound a bit out of tone but he quickly fixed it. Two 12s after more than 5 years of not getting one is pretty good.

I might be some of the few people who are ok with Ireland’s place. It was nothing special but hey they got 8th place and a few 12s after years of not making it to the final. Could Ireland be back on the rise? 

If you ask me I am sure that Ukraine got a high place only because of the sand drawing in the back. The both times I watched Ukraine I did not pay any attention to the song at all and only to the drawing. Even to this moment I do not have an idea of what Ukraine sounds like. The lady who was doing the drawing is very talented to do all that in 3 minutes.

ITALY!!! I am as surprised as you that Italy got second place. Its one of my favorite songs from this year and I’m glad about the placing. Yeah I can see why people don’t like the song. Its a jazzy lounge song and excuse me for being one of few people who like it. Sadly I don’t see a song like this doing this good again. Italy will have a lot of expectations next year if they decide to participate again next year.

My thougts on the winner in a later post.

Eurovision 2011

With alot of things going on I completely forget to do the reviews on Italy and Germany as you can see. Well heres a quick snippet on both songs.

Italy: Great song. I love the jazzy style and I think this will do good enough with the juries to get a good place. 10/10

Germany: Weird song for the host country but it is still AWESOME. Soooo different then what you hear in eurovision. 10/10

Now I seen the first semi-final and I have to say there are some good songs out there. First off I am completely surprise that Norway did not make it but we all can’t have what we want. My two new favorites from this semi are Iceland and Azerbaijan. For Iceland that tune just stuck in my head and never left. As for Azerbaijan I don’t what to say about it, it is just something I like.

So if there are any Americans out there I know of a way to watch Eurovision on tv instead of on the webcast. How? Well first you need satellite tv what works best is DirectTv. What you that you call up costume service and say that you want to try out the international Spanish package and remember to say the package that has TVE. Once you do that they will switch your service to that package, of course you will be losing some channels at the same time such as “BBC America”, “Lifetime Movie Network”, “TV Land”, and “Golf Channel” to name a few. Once Eurovision is done wait a few days and then call again and say that you do not like the package and that you can to switch back to your old package.

Enjoy the Final!!! I know I will 🙂

Spain is being represented by Lucía Pérez with the song “Que me quiten lo bailao”

“Que me quiten” is the happy dancey song of this year’s contest. The song brings the happy mood up in the room whether you like it or not.

Is the song worthy enough to go straight to the final? Of course, it is worthy enough. The song has enough good vibes that maybe people will forget about the song that came before it and being so near to the end people would remember those good vibes.


How will the staging be? Vibrant colors all around. The backing singers will always be her backing dancers, at least thats what I think will happy. They will not be doing so complicated dance moves just a cha-cha move during the chorus and maybe a spin every once in a while.

To sum this all up:  Spain sends a really good song and personally this is in my top 3 of the 10 songs I’ve heard so far. The chorus is one that stays in your head. I’m predicting a top 10 placing and hopefully a few 12 points.

This song receives a 10 out of 10

Bringing out the good vibes

The United Kingdom is being represented by professional tenor Amaury Vassili with the song “Sognu”  (Dream)

“Sognu” is an opera song, nothing much to say about that but it does seem like France is trying to bring back some class to the contest. The song starts off slow and it takes a while for the song to really get somewhere but despite that the song really comes together. Of course, I can see why people are not big fans of the song and big part of that is just because its not their cup of tea.

Is the song worthy enough to go straight to the final? Its hard to tell really. This is toss up in my opinion.

How will the staging be? Because there are alot of instrumentals during the song I’m really hoping a orchestra in LEDs and having Amaury out there by himself or maybe with some string players behind him. That sounds perfect


but I heard somewhere that he said that they’re planing are having flowers or something on the screen. If there is anyone out there reading this I want to know which do you think is a better background…the orchestra or some flowers flying across the screen? OR do you have your own idea?

To sum this all up:  France trys to bring class to Eurovision and the song shows it. Not of alot people have heard Amaury sing live so its hard to tell if he could bring the vocals the night of the final. Also this is not really a televoter song but it is a jury song sadly that is not enough to win Eurovision. If they are really lucky France could a top 10 placing or if lady luck is smiling on them a top 5 result. Some betting sites have this to win the whole thing but I highly doubt it.

This song receives a 8 out of 10

The United Kingdom is being represented by boy band Blue with the song “I Can”

Now how did this end up as one of my picks to listen to this year? Simple, every year I always listen to the big 4 or in this case the big 5. You know just to see if what they send is worthy enough to go straight to the final.

“I Can” is that inspirational song that would find its way into your head even weeks after the first listen. It seems that the United Kingdom is taking the contest a bit more serious after that whole last place deal last year.

Is the song worthy enough to go straight to the final? “I Can” is worthy enough for the final. If they could work on the vocals the song should come all together.


How will the staging be? I’m expecting for atleast for most of the song, the LED screens to incorporate blue somehow. Blue has announce that there is going to be some form of pyrotechnics during the song. So keep out on the look out for that

To sum this all up:  The UK decides to send an established band however had been a while since they last released an album or even preformed as band. The song along is good enough for the bring the UK to a top 5 placing and  ff Europe can remember them from they have done in the past then I predict this song to the winner.

This song receives a 10 out of 10

Can they win?


Forget the hype and the X-Factor, but this is a catchy punchy great opening cut from Jedward. “Lipstick” has a killer chorus and the ooooh-ah leads into the lines stick in the mind. This is punch the air stuff and the pounding beat will go down a treat. I think this will do much better than the fan polls suggest – a great Britney Gaga of a song.


Dana International returns as the second former winner, and just with Lena, her song is weaker than her winner. “Ding Dong” also tries to sound like a former winner as a title, and the chorus is quite a catchy little number – but its not dancy enough, not mid-paced enough. All in all this doesn’t ring my bell – whatever happened to Anita Ward?


Trumpets and swing with Beatlesque lyrics heralds “Coming Home”, this year’s journey story – the songwriter died – but all of that doesn’t mask the fact that this swing-along sing-along is just that weeny bit dull. The chorus suggests we can’t wait for tomorrow; well if this song plays on repeat, tomorrow can’t come soon enough.


Italy returns after many a year, and also after Iceland, produces a shuffle jazzy swing number “Madness of Love” sung partly in English. Yet more jazzy trumpets show up Iceland with a classier number, not too dissimilar to Roger Cicero’s swing from a few years ago. Is that tap dancing too? Classy and a grower, for an evening swingtime number – not a winner, but pleasant enough!


Universally derided, “C’est Ma Vie” is a big Disneyesque ballad winsomely sung to initially a piano and then to swelling strings, a ballad bigger than the vocal. This is the sort of sweet sickly song I generallly admire – and her winning mispronunciation of “luff” for love just melts me. A bit of a guilty pleasure. The whole thing swells to a proper climax. Hopefully this will do well.


As I hope does this. This is certainly one of my favourites this year. “Angel In Disguise” has a killer chorus and a cheeky lyric. This was most surprising in its attack, its catchiness and the stop before the title is belted out is one of my most-beloved musical tricks. The rap isn’t out of place. Luscious thighs, candy eyes indeed. I can’t see it beating Azerbaijan, but I dearly would love this to win – a fantastic three minutes indeed.


Also returning are Moldova’s first representative Zdob si Zdub with “So Lucky”, reminiscent of the ska from Athena in 2004. However, it’s not as good, not as memorable – and the use of the muted trumpets (again) doesn’t carry the trick off as well as Italy. I don’t think they will get as good as with Grandma and her drum. Next.


“Rusinka” has a great catchy opening, a great catchy chorus, an ethnic sound and a beat – so why aren’t people behind this? Well it is the contest’s whipping boys and hate figures Macedonia and it obviously sucks up for the Slav vote with its Russian drinking song middle 8. So what? This is great fun. I can see this sailing into the final and doing much better than people think. Another good song.


Electro-80s opening and pop-moppet Glen Vella is thumping away with “One Life”. The sound is meaty, beaty, big and bouncy and this sounds great whilst it is here – but lasts exactly one nano second in your brain. There is no quality to the chorus and the middle section is a bit dire. Love me like I love you, Glen sings somewhat desperately. The trouble is Glen, we don’t think you love us much. Ooh and I have forgotten your song.


This is aching to be a PROPER song, deep and meaningful, and on cd stands out as it follows Malta – well, what wouldn’t? – but it doesn’t have that Bon Jovi stadium rock arms in the air anthemic feel that it strives for. The trick that Foreigner did lads was to put a gospel choir in the chorus – and that’s what you need. The road is long (as it always is) is belted out in the chorus – this song is trite like its lyric.


Again, unaccountably, this is a fan favourite. Well it would work ok in The Lion King, but “Haba Haba” isn’t really going to get Europe singing. This has all the authenticity of the savannah as found in Norway – i.e. hardly any. Sadly, this doesn’t work on any of the many levels it is striving to get over on. Ok we’ll sing “Haba Haba” in the stadium, but I suspect the watching audience won’t. Bye bye.


“Jestem” to me has the qualities in a bouncy piece of Euro-pop that Hungary is lacking. It has a good vocal and a catchy chorus and bounces along with shoulder swaying danceability. However, it doesn’t have enough to stand out as a winner. it is a Britney Gaga filler song. Pleasant three minutes indeed, but not one I would play on repeat. Bit like much of this cd so far.


Into the last part of cd 2 with perennial strugglers Portugal again bringing something unique to the contest with this jaunty sailors sing-along that has enough handclaps to keep even the most avid avid happy. “A Luta” indeed – ho hum


And suddenly its back to a good song – number three on this cd I think. This rolls along splendidly and “Change” will see Romania back in the top 10. Like Finland, the song is pleasantly aspirational, and has some finger clicking. Nice bits of filling break the song up and down to bridge to the trumpet driven final chorus. Ok it’s a bit by numbers at the end, but I like it.


“Caroban” is Serbia’s entry and again has its supporters, and once more it has nothing that sticks in my mind after any number of plays. Some say it has the feel of a sixties girl group; I would hope more say that it has the whiff of a non-qualifier. Dull, dull, dull!


“Get You” sings Alex Sparrow – and he is destined for a high finish – well it’s Russia in’it! But the song is a little dull, using the oh-wo build in the chorus we have heard several times before. Again, the sum of its parts and the whole doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. All in all, the votes it will get are a bit undeserved by the lite-piece of eurobeat.


Now this is the victim of fan derision as being derivative schlager and copied in part from “Night Flight To Venus”, but then everyone to whom I have played this loves it. And I love it. Catchy as anything, with a whistling entree, even the clunky impossible/possible lyrics can be forgiven by the big widescreen sweep of the best chorus in the contest. I would see this being top 5 on the saturday night. “Popular” should win over kids, mums, gays and grandmas. And you can sing it straight after the first chorus and it lingers in the mind. The best song on cd 2 no question! One of my three favourites from this year!


Well after Sweden, no one can really compete, and to be honest “No One” doesn’t really try to. Doomy piano chords and a menacing opening vocal show promise, but the misplaced mid-paced chorus rather lets the side down. The music gathers its skirts up to try to get you emotionally involved in the shrieking drama – but by then your mind has wandered away. Sorry. Maybe Celine could carry this off; maybe not.


Slightly less gloomy piano chords and slightly less doomy vocals and a similar mid-paced chorus enlivened by Lady Antebellum/Wilson-Phillips singing means this is almost indistinguishable from Slovenia. “I Am Still Alive” sing these twins – and in their case the road is not too wide rather than too long. And they sing about fire, but there is no desire rhyme. Pah!


Lawks almighty. This starts off singing about waves of eternity and waves of serenity. there is even a holding back these years cliche thrown in. “Stand By” sings Senit and is the third of three forgettable mid-paced ballads. See if you can get a stand-by flight back home after the semi is my advice. Mawkish lyrics, by numbers music – pretty dreadful all in all.


“Live It Up” is the title of this, and it is one of my favourite songs of the contest – indeed the opening lyric tells me this is my favourite song. This is modern indie-alt-rock-pop which wouldn’t be out of place on 6 Music. Again, there are plenty of interesting instrumental and vocal fills in the background under the pumping driving main tune. This lot aren’t mental as anything, but this could easily be a challenger for the coveted trophy. My favourite song this year in the contest.


Once again, the recorded version of the Ukrainian song suggests it is nothing much, but year after year the staging transcends the material. So once again, this is nothing much lacking a real chorus and much of a hook except that she seems to suggest we are Crystal-lite. It is called “Angel” – it is a bit boring, I don’t like it, and it will no doubt finish high in the voting.

So there you have it; all in all a good year, not many clunkers, lots of pretty reasonable songs and a fair sprinkling of songs that I really like. I think Azerbaijan is the song to beat. Turkey would get my vote.

My top 10


Marcus Keppel-Palmer

Marcus Keppel-Palmer, another person helping me out with this blog, is here to talk about this year’s entries. Here are his thoughts:

Eurovision 2011 – A View from the bleachers

The time has come, the Walrus (who was not Paul) said, to talk of cabbages, kings and the 43 (count ‘em) runners and riders in the 2011 Eurovision stakes. As usual, the songs are being judged on their recorded versions as per the official Eurovision cd and in that order.


“Feel the Passion” indeed. This charges along quite pleasantly until she starts shrieking over some chugging guitars and then just fades out. Pleasant as I say, but not a personal favourite.


Hooray for a return to the contest of songs that are titled in Euro-speak and here comes the first “Boom Boom” – or rather first and second as this is two separate songs bolted together, with a swish verse drowned alive by the boom boom chucka chucka chorus. irritating and catchy. This is almost certainly a Top 10 finisher.


Welcome back to the Alpine territory, a country which hardly ever gets votes, and as a consequent huffed off home in 2007. They return with a belter of a big ballad which Jennifer Hudson will no doubt record on her next cd. “The Secret is Love” builds from an acapella opening to a superb gospel finish. On stage with only 5 backing vocalists and no orchestras this will lose something of its magic, but on cd revel in the lush strings and the soaring vocals. One of the best this year.


Oh oh ey-oh. Here comes the country most gagging to win this contest, and after last year’s cold “Drip Drop” comes a super little piece of modern pop “Running Scared” – not the most uplifting title – but a well-served up duet between attractive looking boy/girl combo Nikki and Elli. It is catchy, gets to a good chorus, and has a fine bridge and isn’t too far from what Take That would offer up. To my mind, this is the most radio friendly song in the contest, the most likely winner – and to be honest it would be a mighty fine one.


Continuing an early run of fine songs, here comes Dino Merlin from Bosnia for his second go at the Contest with the jaunty chug-along “Love In Rewind”. This is as catchy as crabs too, with enough going on to keep you interested – just listen to the trumpet fill come in after about 1 minute 30 secs. I will be surprised if this isn’t garnering a Top 5 finish – and again another really good song. Has the Balkan ethno-votes sewn up – and will probably get mine.


After a cracking run of songs, we come grinding to a halt with this acapella vocal piece of swing “With Love”. It didn’t work for Kosmos a few years back, and the mouth music just sounds a little false and forced when they say “break it down now!”. Bring Urban Trad and Tom Dice back. Little in the way of redeeming features. Enough already! Bring back Azerbaijan. A long 3 minutes.


Piano openings normally herald something worth listening to and this one leads us to our first non-English song so far. “Na Inat” has some rocky guitar work and a slightly screechy female vocal with a nice build into a chorus. Trouble is that is it – just a nice little amuse-bouche. It doesn’t have a killer bridge/middle eight and really needs a power boost to get it across the line. Unlikely to trouble to scoring table much.


Last year Belarus had butterflies. This year they don’t minsk words and turbo-folk their way into our hearts with the tourist trade helping “I Love Belarus”. This has a monster of a sing-along chorus, a bit of Rusky balalaika, and no doubt they think they draw a veil across their repressive tendencies. Hey, this is a sparkling 3 minutes that I want to hear time and again. A great summer song especially when it takes away the turbo for the shouts of “I Love Belarus”. It should qualify.


Pleasant bells and plucked guitars herald “In Love For A While”, Switzerands finger-clicking entry. I have loved many of the Swiss entries over the past decade, but this na na and na attempt at a song with a bit of a female Mumford & Sons tempo doesn’t remain memorable during the song let alone after. Bring back Belarus please. Dull!


Dramatic song in Greek, with a boldly quiet opening reminiscent of Simon & Garfunkel’s “I’d Rather Be a Hammer” which then after a minute explodes into a bit of a rock out dedicated to “San Angelos”. Not hugely effective and unlikely to be one on repeat. 4 great songs in the first 10 on the cd isn’t bad – this isn’t one of them.


Cd 1 continues with Lena and her rather irritating estuary voice trying to emulate last year’s winner with the somewhat creepy “Taken By A Stranger”, which comes out of the same sort of twisted mind that gave us Falco’s “Jeanny” some years back. This has got plenty of interesting twists and turns in the background, and at times echoes “Stray Cat Strut” – but the sum of the parts is much more than the whole. Not a repeat winner.


But this is another fantastic song this year with an anthemic sing-along quality. Ok “A New Tomorrow” does sound a little like Andreas Johnson’s song in MF a few years back, but this is aspirational and uplifting. If Joan Baez were singing in Eurovision she may echo these sentiments. The middle eight with its oh-ohs is catchy and the whole thing swells to a finish. Another high finish and a classy song. One of the best of the year.


Unaccountably everyone loves this song. I don’t! It has martial drums; it has kooky vocals; it has pumping drum loops and synthesised computerised voices. Ulp – if Austria needed an orchestra, this really needs to be in a computer game. This has been built trying to tempt kids who like Tiesto to like this. Epic fail. The most overrated song this year. “Rockefeller Street” if you are interested.


“Que Me Quiten” or something. Another jaunty but long three minutes. You can’t take the fun they sing. Well this would only be enlivened by a whole host of Jimmy Jumps getting up on stage. This doesn’t hold a candle to last year’s “Algo Pequinito”. Sorry Spain, back to the drawing board.


Last year my favourite song was Tom Dice and his guitar. The song has been re-entered this year by Finland’s Paradise Oskar, re-titled “Da Da Dum”, and has been given universal lyrics about saving the planet – and you know what it is da-da-damn good. Catchy, reflective and the nonsense title cleverly hides an intelligent lyric. If there were any justice in the world, this would end up in the top 5, but I can’t see it beating Azerbaijan. Great great little song.


“Sogniu” comes next with the “Bolero” drums driving forward an anthemic operatic entry sung in Corsican. This would have them standing on their feet, and has accurately been described as a swelling National Anthem for a country which doesn’t exist. Tipped heavily in the betting and unique amongst 43 songs. But if “Questa Notte” didn’t win, I don’t see this taking the honours – and the ending is weak. But again a good cd song.


As is this – “I Can” by Blue. This is again a great radio song and sounds fab on the cd with the depth afforded by multi-tracking the voices. It is also catchy and the chorus is interesting and immediate – all you want in three minutes. The high spots are definitely Lee’s shrieks and it is a great vocal ensemble. It also sounds as if it is modern, although it is fairly timeless. This should be a top 5 finisher too – I know there are lots of them. Another really good song.


This isn’t though. It tries to be all rock chick and has a male rap. Georgia has done some great stuff but “One More Day” only stands out by using the fire/desire rhyme shamelessly whilst trying to rip off Evanescence. This year you are the runt of the Caucasus. No doubt qualifying easily!


Portentous opening drums with talk of betrayal growled out heralds one of the most interesting Greek entries in many a while. I thought “Opa” last year would do well. This is a more interesting and arresting song, “Watch My Dance”, and the bouzouki are hidden away, and I shall be interested to see where they get the dance in. Dark, swirling, mysterious and fascinating. A cd song rather than a contest song I would guess.


Swirling electro synthesised groans herald this year’s Balkan dance-along entry now called “Celebrate”. Wouldn’t it be better under its previous title “Break A Leg”? This has little to celebrate and little to commend it. Fast-forward to Friday and avoid this musical galaxy! Ooh now chocolate sounds good. Key change doesn’t help it!


Cd 1 ends with this year’s fan-favourite “What About My Dreams”, which is confidently tipped to bring the trophy back to Budapest. It fair gallops along like a good front runner should and Kati yelps through the middle part in french. But the whole thing leaves me cold. You have heard this song many an evening in a gay bar and you may even tap your toes. But I don’t see it as a winner.

And so cd 1 comes to a close. I would be mightily surprised if 4 of the top 5 in the final didn’t come from this cd. Only one real stinker and nine really good songs make this a really strong collection. And so on to cd 2 …..

Whats coming up next

The Eurovision rehearsals have started and that means for the next 2 weeks Germany will be going mad from Eurovision fever.

Unfortunately I did not get a press conditional this year (more on that later) and I will not be going to Germany at all. But that does not mean I won’t here giving you the latest reviews and updates. Reviews on the Big 5 should be up and ready to go very soon.

Also for you American readers out that will be staying home to watch Eurovision, I know of a special trick to watch Eurovision on tv instead of the webcast. Of course you will have listen a commentator for the final buuut still worth it.

Thats just a quick run down of what should be going on during the next 2 weeks.


After an exciting Melodifestivalen, Swedend is being represented by Eric Saade with the song “Popular”

Now how did this end up as one of my picks to listen to this year? One word..Melodifestivalen (MF). Its the biggest national final for Eurovision yet. People call it the “mini-eurovision” and I have to agree with statement.

“Popular” is again a pop  song. With its gimmicks and over repeated chorus this song is a love or hate it type thing. If you like it then good but if you hate then expect swarms of teenage girls running you down.

Eric Saade

Does this song have the chance of making it to the final? Of course it does. Like I said this song has it all. Throw in a very well choreographed dance, a good looking guy, and the line “my body wants you girl” and there you have the perfect recipe to get teenage girl votes. At least to get out of the semi final.

breaking of the glass box

How will the staging be? If you have watch MF then expect the whole thing to be basically the same. But unlike MF, Eurovision only allows 6 people on stage and vocals to be live and not prerecorded. Eric does get his glass box to break but what he won’t get are his dancers. Unless they can dance AND sing…very well to add to that. Also I really really hope that the LED screens do not say “pop” or “popular” on them like they did during MF.

To sum this all up:  Sweden is trying to not repeat last year’s failure and it is obvious. They a big chance of getting out of the semi final with a good result..I’m thinking around 2nd – 4th place if not 1st. While in the final it depends on what spot they preform. But most likely it might lost in the middle or maybe the top 10

This song receives a 7 out of 10