ESC 2014: An In-Depth Review of Switzerland


It has become customary for the editorial board to engage professional individuals from the music industry to assess the songs competing in the Eurovision Song Contest as presented to the European Broadcasting Union during the Heads of Delegation Meeting. Greig Watts, Joseph Zammit, Sharon Vaughn and John Scott from the United Kingdom, Malta, Sweden and the United States have been entrusted with the second semi-final, comprising of sixteen songs and set to take place on the 8th May 2014 at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark. Making use of the running order and moving onto number #12, we catch up with Switzerland (SSR SRG) who will be represented by Sebalter with the song Hunter of Stars written by Sebastiano Paù-Lessi.

On stage at the Swiss event, Sebalter thanked the audience by raising his fiddle to the sky. This was no coincidence, as the instrument has accompanied him throughout his musical career since its start at the tender age of six. Learning to play the fiddle throughout his boyhood years had opened Sebalter’s eyes to the infinite possibilities that music offers. During his teens, Sebalter felt the need to expand his horizons: he picked up a guitar and tried his hand at writing songs. However, when the then 18-year-old Sebalter had his first career break, it was again thanks to his faithful fiddle. Sebalter’s versatile and energetic playing propelled him on a 10-year musical ride as co-frontman of a well-known country-folk band based in Switzerland.

In 2012 – after four albums, more than three hundred live performances, and playing in front of crowds of more than 10,000 people – Sebalter felt his teenage songwriting itch coming back with a vengeance. He decided to close one wonderful career chapter and open a new one as a solo artist. He immediately started writing and recording songs, searching for the perfect sound that would provide a balance between his folk roots, his poetic sensibilities and his live-on-stage energy. After a year of intense work, he knew he had found it – and he decided to put it to the test by entering the Eurovision Song Contest.

It was a gamble, but it has paid off. His song Hunter Of Stars, which is also the lead single off his forthcoming debut album, was selected as the winner and thus Switzerland’s official entry for the Eurovision Song Contest. This achievement could not have come at a better time for Sebalter, who is putting the finishing touches to his new album, and is getting ready for an official tour this summer. “To be on the Eurovision Song Contest Stage is a dream come true”, that’s what Sebalter stated after his victory in the Swiss national selection. The trademark of the charismatic singer is his fiddle, which has accompanied him throughout his musical career since the tender age of six.

Switzerland, a two-time winner of the Eurovision Song Contest, first in 1956 with Lys Assia and the song Refrain and then in 1988 with Celine Dion and the track Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi. In recent years, Switzerland has not come close to winning the international competition with their last top ten result coming back in 2005 at the hands of Vanilla Ninja and their entry Cool Vibes. It is to be noted that since the semi-final format was introduced, Switzerland has also failed to make a solid impact on the competition failing to get through on several occasions, only managing qualification in 2005 and 2011.

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 70%

Greig Watts: Interesting riff and whistle definitely grabbed my attention. Vocal comes in, is it Elvis Costello? Not my personal cup of tea, Chorus ok, but actually love the whistle at the end, that’s a really strong hook, and we’ll all sing that on the night. 2nd chorus, oh its growing on me a lot!! (although not sure I can hear the words properly), ah, and no whistle hook (that’s because of time restrictions Im sure as should be there if it’s a single over 3 mins). Nice breakdown clap section,  Not sure the lyrics make much sense to me that much, but hook’s got me for sure, and yes ending on the whistle!!! Well done!!!

Joseph Zammit: Sometimes intricate and complex musical skills and tricks are not crucial to create a great song. Sometimes all you need is a banjo and a whistle and voila! That is all this song has and yet, here I am finding myself uncontrollably bobbing on my chair as I listen to it. Thanks to a simple banjo line, 1970’s style rock organ chords and an unbelievably catchy whistle tune, this piece delivers something which most songs in this competition do not, and that is emotion. 

Add in an awesome violin ‘riff’ in the bridge and you get yourself a song that will be stuck in your head and will put a smile on your face. There isn’t anything bad I can say about this song really, but I’m never one to give away a perfect score so…

Sharon Vaughn: This was a message lost. Just instruments and words strung together.

John Scott: Interesting instrumentation on this one. The whistle is quite effective as a hook.



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