Friday, May 24th, 2019

Duncan Laurence – Arcade

Winner of the only European vote that counts, but are we sure the score was right?


Katie Gill: Honestly, the best part of this song is that I saw at least five versions of the same “what do you mean the guy with the piano that wasn’t on fire won” joke in the span of half an hour.

Edward Okulicz: “Arcade” is an outstanding example of its various types: Eurovision song, wet-trousered ballad, self-indulgent mope. It has a strong and memorable melody, and Laurence is a fine singer. But the melody is pitching a whinge more than a story. It’s emotionally and narratively vague where I long for something specific. It’s seeking universality but not throwing enough dots for me to join up, so I don’t feel anything. And yeah, it’s another mopey bloke ballad, and there’s enough of those out there. It’s great for what it is, but it’s great at being something I kind of hate. Another year where the runner-up (Italy meshing contemporary with classic and a killer rhythm) should have won, though I’ll concede that this, which could have been a hit without the contest, is probably good for Eurovision’s health.

Scott Mildenhall: Sometimes there seems to be no rhyme or reason to what wins out at Eurovision year-on-year. As recent victors go, “Arcade” is almost atypically down-the-line, and even among many ballads, nothing quite like it has ever won before. The crux of that is probably indicated by it being the most concertedly contemporary winner since “Euphoria”. The spareness, the stomps and the howls are all of this year, and the bulk of this decade — so what better way to end it in Eurovision world? It’s the pop music of the real world, but upgraded: the sort of thing Lewis Capaldi could be doing, if he wasn’t allergic to choruses. It sadly lacked bendy poles, joik and Hatari’s earth-shattering key change, but it does have feeling and admirable craft.

Alex Clifton: You know how you have Anger Subjects you discuss passionately whenever you’re drunk, like how Glee could’ve been good but failed us all or why Anne Brontë doesn’t get the recognition she deserves? This will be one of my Anger Subjects for the rest of my life. I’m going to die mad that this won over Norway’s absolute banger. This is drivel! This is a wet sopping dishrag with one decent line that’s beaten to death with cut-rate Imagine Dragons production, delivered by a guy who has all the charisma of a piece of bread. This isn’t even a good Eurovision ballad, which is to say grandiose like a chandelier and over-the-top with emotion. It’s just boring pop radio. This world is cruel and unjust.

Tobi Tella: As someone not really into Eurovision, this was immediately striking, from his powerful voice to the simple yet haunting production. But actually listening to the lyrics, I’m less enamored by the countless shoehorned arcade references. I know you’re trying to keep to the metaphor, but a little subtlety goes a long way.

Alfred Soto: Shouting from the echo-laden black hole of your self-pity will not persuade them, dude.

Katherine St Asaph: Problem #1: this is not Hatari. Problem #2: this is basically “All the Right Moves.” Problem #3: if you’re using an arcade as a metaphor for your breakup or ex or whatever, you have to consider that some of your listeners will be overgrown 14-year-olds who will laugh at lines like “how many pennies in the slot?”

Reader average: [10] (1 vote)

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4 Responses to “Duncan Laurence – Arcade”

  1. Alex is right, Norway was robbed. That song was just the right mix of ‘legitimately good’ and ‘proper Eurovision crazy’.

  2. Couldn’t get my thoughts together on how boring a song this was without divulging my intense crush on Duncan but good to know my [4] wouldn’t have changed anything.

  3. Agreed with Alex and Katie (I think I missed part of the Norway performance and that’s why I underrated it). Would also have gone for Iceland, Spain, Italy, Azerbaijan, and possibly Australia over this.

  4. Italy was awesome but Norway sparked life in me

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