As part of the Eurovision rules, each nation can have a maximum of 6 people on stage. Some acts use that to their advantage, featuring backing singers, dancers, or having a complete band on stage. Other times, nations may choose to present their acts as soloists on stage to focus on the talent within that one person. Today, that’s what we’re focusing on in our Top 5. Our guest reviewer Selim and I have looked through Eurovision between the years 2012 and 2016 to find our Top 5 soloists, which in the beginning was hard to define – do we only consider singers on stage alone, or does having hidden backing vocalists still count if you can’t see them? It’s the old conundrum, if you can’t see them, are they really there? In the end we decided to try keep it to just the soloist on stage, however some of these acts may not strictly follow that. Regardless of the ‘guidelines’ we have followed, what these acts have in common is their ability to command a stage and vocally impress through one person. Without further ado, here are our Top 5 soloists between 2012 and 2016!
5. Amandine Bourgeois – L’enfer et Moi (2013)
France didn’t fair too well at Eurovision in 2013, however this song still remains one of my favourite performances when I think about soloists on stage. As a technicality, she did have backing singers on stage, but the star of this show is Amandine. Until the end of the performance, the camera follows her, and the backing singers aren’t too noticeable. It’s not until the end where the backing singers come into it in order to let Amandine go wild, which she did. The song itself just oozes sex appeal, and that short leather dress certainly adds to that vibe. Then you get to the banging chorus where you can’t help but tap your foot to, and Amandine of course just has this power in her stage presence and vocals especially building into the last moments of the song. Totally underrated.
4. Marco Mengoni – L’Essenziale (2013)
Marco Mengoni really is the epitome of Italian class, and it was an actual blessing to know that he would participating at Eurovision with a simple, beautiful song. The best thing about this performance for me is just how simple it is, with Marco on stage alone. The great thing is that he really doesn’t need anything else. His voice was incredible throughout the performance, and he barely even moved through the performance until the end. This is probably the most simple, if not one of the simplest performances from the modern day Eurovision even to the point that his suit and the stage backing colour were the same. The no frills approach let you focus on his vocal performance, and I think that’s an underutilised strategy at Eurovision.
3. Conchita Wurst – Rise Like A Phoenix (2014)
It would be criminal not to mention Conchita, who went on to win the 2014 edition of Eurovision. There are two complementing dimensions to this performance as a whole. The first is of course her voice, which absolutely captivated in the bond style ballad. Through the choruses, there was so much drama just through how it was vocally performed, and that’s a talent. Every note from the start to the finish was perfectly executed, and I think that’s what surprised me the most about that performance, considering I hadn’t considered Austria as a Eurovision winner in 2014. The other dimension to her winning performance is the actual stage performance. Having the slow zoom in on Conchita and having her front and centre, and also higher on a platform really gives off a winner vibe. The use of the smoke machine and the colours used on stage really all complemented her and her voice, creating an unforgettable performance.
2. Aminata – Love Injected (2015)
Another no brainer for this Top 5 is Aminata, who really changed Latvia’s approach to Eurovision. Again, she did have backing singers on stage however the real attention is on Aminata in that incredible red dress. Her voice, especially in the chorus is mind-blowing, and I still can’t get over just how flawless this whole song and performance was on stage. She really commands the stage, and the lighting and backing visuals were really well considered. Not only was the performance incredible, but the song itself was as modern as Eurovision has ever heard to that point. It had a simple beat behind it which really allows you to appreciate how good her vocals are.
1. Rona Nishliu – Suus (2012)
This song is by no means my favourite Eurovision song, however in the context of best soloist, this song really deserves the top spot in my eyes. Albania made the correct choice in not changing the language of this, as I totally believe changing this song would have completely destroyed the brilliance of this song. The staging is super simple, which I think has become a common theme between a lot of these songs. Her costume probably could have been better thought out but hey, with a voice like that, she could have worn a hessian sack and still got the result that she did. The stand out is obviously her voice in this package, especially as you move into that chorus, which is beautifully backed up with the orchestral sounds. At some points, her voice could be borderline screaming but it’s still a very talented scream, and in all honesty it’s what gives the song the emotion. Totally worthy of #1!
Guest Reviewer: Selim
5. Cezar – It’s My Life (2013)
When you think of Eurovision two things come to mind, one is the great music with great vocals we get. The other is the goofy side of Eurovision with the ridiculous costumes to outrageous performances, and let’s face it a man that fits under both categories is Romania’s very own Cezar with It’s My Life which he performed at the 2013 edition of Eurovision. The song starts off very promising thinking you will be getting an epic ballad but then with one of the biggest voice drops in Eurovision history the song turns to an epic Dracula dubstep masterpiece. Cezar displays amazing vocals – you honestly can’t describe those vocals with anything less than amazing. With the backing dancers, the red chandelier and his rising outfit everything about this performance was epic. Bravo Cezar, bravo.
4. Francesca Michielin – No Degree Of Separation (2016)
The question for Italy was how would they go from the Il Volo masterpiece to whatever was next. Enter Francesca Michielin with one of the most sweet and beautiful songs I have ever heard. Francesca brought a different kind of voice and song to Eurovision than we had heard over the last 5 years from Italy. She had that Sweet Innocence about her that just made people love her that much more. That didn’t change in Stockholm where she brought her A game with a cool onesie outfit and her in a garden and while the staging was questionable, her voice was enchanting and beautiful as ever and adding the English to the song just made it that much better, with just kinda understanding what it was about but keeping to its Italian roots. Only reaching 16th in the Grand Final was unjustified, she deserved so much better
3. Justs – Heartbeat (2016)
This may be a shock to most seeing this on this list but you better believe it! Justs was the perfect successor to Queen Aminata’s vocal power. If you had to describe Justs’ performance all you would need to say is Passion and Emotion because he rocked that stage like none other. He sung his heart out with his killer vocal power and the two features I just mentioned making it quite memorable. I have not seen that much emotion come out of a Eurovision entrant before and his stage presence was also quite impressive. It was the kind of performance you could tell he put everything into and didn’t want to go home second guessing on what he could have done he went out and did it. Well done Justs!
2. Ruth Lorenzo – Dancing in The Rain (2014)
What can I say about Ruth, well besides the fact she is naturally one of the most beautiful Eurovision entrants and one of Spain’s best entrants in the past decade besides maybe 2012. But it was the beauty of Dancing in the rain, it has beauty, it’s calm, easy to listen to, it’s the kind of song if I’m angry I can turn on and it will relax me. This plays in favour to Ruths amazing range of vocals. One minute she is relaxing me, then she blasts out the chorus and it’s ‘wow she can sing alright’. And the performance is so simple yet it suits the song so well, she didn’t need anything on stage besides her voice and herself and she as the kids say, slayed it, finishing 10th wasn’t justified for this masterpiece. It deserved top 5 and was personally my winner! Thank you Ruth #PleaseComeBackToEurovision
1. Aminata – Love Injected (2015)
Aminata at the top of this list should be no surprise to anyone as she set the bar of vocal power to the next level. Before Eurovision, the question was will the song hold up at Eurovision, will it do well but Aminata made sure she got Latvia their best results in years with explosive vocals that shocked the room into silence where you just watched her performance jaw dropped and Goosebumps on your arms. To go with all this, the staging was great and suited the song very well with her red dress and crazy arm movements that looked like she was channelling aliens or something. You have listened to first 2 minutes of the song and you are like how can this get any better than she takes her vocals to another level that just sealed the deal of becoming one of my favourite Eurovision entries ever, blasting the end chorus out left me mesmerized.
And there you have it! Which songs from our Top 5’s did you love? Make sure you tell us on Twitter or Facebook, or leave a comment down below!