COUNTDOWN TO (CANCELLED) EUROVISION: #4 – SWITZERLAND

#4 – Switzerland
Respondez-moi
Gjon’s Tears
Songwriters: Gjon Muharremaj, Xavier Michel, Alizé Oswald,Jeroen Swinnen

eCinemaOne, The Kirkham Report, and Planet BiblioMusica has begun its Countdown To the now-cancelled Eurovision Song Contest 2020! Over 41 days I’m bringing you all the info on each song this year ranked in order of my personal preference from bottom to top. I’ll give the reasons for my personal rankings, and some background info on the song, artist, songwriters, and such.  Again, these are MY opinions, and I realize that the ESC fan community is a rabid one, and rarely everyone agrees with everyone else, so as they say, your mileage may vary. As of the official announcement on March 20 2020, ALL of this year’s songs are now officially “lost”; Eurovision’s executive committee has stated that all songs in the ESC 2021 contest MUST be new, so there will never be an “Official” winner of ESC 2020 thanks to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak causing the contest’s first-ever cancellation. So this is my only chance to rank them. The songs will all be spotlighted on a special called Eurovision: Europe Shine a Light, which will air LIVE on May 16, when the Grand Final should have been held, so that’s at least SOMETHING…

We’ve entered TOP FIVE TERRITORY! If you’re keeping track of the countdown, you should know what songs are still to come, heh heh…

In at #4 this year is the official entry from Switzerland, “Respondez-moi” by Gjon’s Tears. It is performed in French, and was scheduled to be performed 18th and last, an almost “guaranteed for the finals” slot, at the second semifinal on May 14. The song’s title translates to “Answer Me” in English. The song was chosen by internal selection. Switzerland has confirmed that Gjon’s Tears will represent them at ESC 2021.

21-year-old Gjon Muharremaj is Albanian and Kosovar in descent, but is a native of Switzerland, born in Broc. His stage name comes from his childhood – he chose his name because his grandfather once told him listening to him sing was so beautiful it made him cry. Awww….that’s sweet…

What I’m thinking about this song…I’m about to write a book chapter here, I know, this is gonna be a long one, I’m sorry. This song has been in the majority of fan’s top three since it was first released (well, ONE out of three isn’t bad, I suppose), and has topped at least four of the lists from other ESC YouTuber reviewer fans online. As the weeks have gone by, this song has moved steadily up my countdown – on my first placement it came in at #20, then 14th, and now it’s at #4. One of – scratch that, make that THE – reason for that upward move is Gjon himself – in two separate performances, one on a piano-only performance video, the other on the first edition of the Eurovision Home Concerts series, he BLEW MY MIND, and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that what you hear is what you get from him – he hit EVERY SINGLE NOTE live, and it was IN-CRED-I-BLE. The piano version chills me to the bone it’s so beautiful. It’s that performance, and the incredible beauty of Gjon’s amazingly elegant gift of voice, that overcomes two HUGE shortcomings for me – one, the somewhat arrogant, existential, angst-filled lyrics, which when read in English are almost as pretentious and condescending as the lyrics for Italy’s entry “Universo” by Blas Canto, and on the same kinds of questions – what is life, why are we here, what makes things happen, why don’t you ANSWER ME, and things of that sort – Canto’s lyrics are directed towards himself, Gjon’s are more generalized. Either way, I generally have NO patience for that kind of lyric, especially if there’s no resolution at the end, and if he were singing this in English, it would be down near the bottom of my list; hopefully no one will EVER attempt that because, quite honestly, it’s the elegance of the performance in FRENCH that makes the song UTTER MAGIC. Two, I absolutely CANNOT STAND the video. I know Gjon said his intention was to convey visualizing one’s dreams, to be contemplative and mysterious. The problem is again, it doesn’t come off that way to me, it comes off as totally pretentious. I’ve watched it again twice today before writing this, to make ABSOLUTELY SURE of my feelings about it. If it’s a dream, he must dream a LOT of watching himself standing looking forlornly into the camera as either rain, flower petals,  or snow falls on him, as that kind of shot takes up about 60% of the video – it’s what my wife and I used to say about certain highly avant-garde French films; it’s like placing fruit on a windowsill, filming it while it rots, and then turning the footage into a film, with pretentious narration voiceover in French, of course (and later probably dubbed into German by Werner Herzog, heh heh), and watching self-important “expert” film critics fall over themselves to declare it “a masterpiece, a work of art, etc.” Two words come to mind here – “BLARG” and “YECCCH”. We refer to this kind of film as “Animaniacs ‘Alouette’ Syndrome“, which you’ll get if you’re a fan of that show. And that’s the type of video they’ve produced. Now I CANNOT stress this enough – I LOVE this song – but reading the English lyrics has sorta ruined it for me; in French, it’s elegant, soulful, wistful, beautiful, and I would not have been that upset if it had won (and it had a REAL shot at it). But the video is still TERRIBLE…you’d be better off watching the piano-acoustic video version – THAT one is bone-chilling…and utterly beautiful.

Switzerland has been around since day one of the EuroVision contest, has participated 61 times including 2020, and has won the Grand Final twice – the very first edition of EuroVision in 1956 saw the country on top with “Refrain” by Lys Assia (who would also finish second the following year as well), then had to wait 32 years for their second win, with “Ne partez pas sans moi“, in 1988, performed for the country by then-unknown French-Canadian singer Celine Dion; her win at EuroVision set her on the path of international superstardom (and deservedly so).  Switzerland’s track record had been spotty since the introduction of the semi-final round, failing to qualify for the final eleven times since then, and had made the top ten only once in the 21st century, in 2005…and then 2019 came around, and the Swiss (and the rest of Europe, most likely) cheered as Luca Hanni‘s hella fun and irresistible dance scorcher “She Got Me” plowed through the competition and finished overall in fourth place in the finals. Could “Respondez-moi” have taken Switzerland back to the winner’s circle for the first time in ANOTHER 32 years? The answer was, quite honestly, YES…it very well could have…

We have just the TOP THREE TO GO…exciting, isn’t it? HEH HEH!

Here’s the official music video  – check it out…

Join eCinemaOne, The Kirkham Report, and Planet BiblioMusica throughout the next 41 days as I bring you the 2020 entries, and also updates on the status of the songs and artists for this year.

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