First Listen Review attempts to capture my first impressions of the year’s Eurovision entries as and when they’re released. My opinion is liable to change as certain songs grow on me or get revamped, but based on the principle that most listeners will only hear each entry once (or twice) before voting, hopefully it’ll provide some insight.

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Greece: Maria Elena Kyriakou – One Last Breath

Maria Elena Kyriakou - One Last Breath | Eurovision 2015 Greece

Maria Elena Kyriakou first came to fame as the winner of The Voice of Greece, under the mentorship of Despina Vandi.

There’s a certain style of ballad that seems to have become more or less exclusive to the Eurovision Song Contest in recent years – bombastic, melodramatic, usually building from a hushed piano-and-vocal intro to a lung-busting vocal climax – you don’t hear them in the charts so often any more, but their popularity in the contest seems undimmed.

Rise Like A Phoenix was such a song – although it distinguished itself not only by Conchita’s performance but with some distinctly Bond Theme-ish touches. Azerbaijan seem fond of them too – think Hold Me, When The Music Dies and Drip DropIf pitched correctly, these songs usually do very well, ballads being an easier sell than uptempo songs in general.

Greece haven’t really done a classic Euroballad in a long time. In fact you’d have to go all the way back to 2006 to find the last time they didn’t send an upbeat party song. Perhaps it’s a reaction to Freaky Fortune‘s unusually disappointing result last year, or perhaps it’s just that Maria Elena Kyriakou delivered the standout performance in an underwhelming national final, but in any event the Greeks have joined the ever-swelling ranks of the balladeers in this year’s contest.

Taken on its own terms, ‘One Last Breath’ is a solid effort. It’s hooky, dramatic, well put together and Kyriakou screams and sighs in all the right places. The problem is that it brings absolutely nothing new to the table – either in the context of this year’s context or in general. It feels unfair to hold the overload of ballads against this song specifically, but while it’s one of the strongest efforts of it’s kind this year, it’s also one of the least distinguished. It should make for a convincing package on the Eurovision stage, and I can’t see it breaking Greece’s 100% qualification record, but I also can’t imagine it having any kind of life outside the contest. If there was ever a year when the Greeks would have been wise to play to their Paparizou-pop strengths, this was it.