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. 

Georgia Flag

Nina Sublatti – Warrior

Nina Sublatti - Warrior | Georgia 2015For me, Georgia have never quite lived up to the promise of their 2007 debut, one of the boldest and most well-executed first-time entries in the contest’s history in my humble opinion. The last couple of years has seen them stagger from a theatrical train-wreck to an ill-fitting attempt at hopping on the Schlager bandwagon to last year’s noble but doomed attempt to introduce jazz fusion to the Eurovision stage.

On first inspection, their 2015 effort shows considerable promise. ‘Warrior’ is a brooding electro-rock number with a commanding central performance from heavily tattooed Georgian Idol veteran Nina Sublatti. It sounds modern and accessible, but retains a distinctive Caucasian feel, particularly during the middle eight which inventively mixes the obligatory dubstep wibble with a hint of eastern exoticism.

That said, I don’t think it’s contest-ready just yet. We’ve only seen a small-scale TV performance so far, but the production feels a little muddy and it burbles along menacingly enough without ever really showing its teeth. Also, the middle eight is a highlight, but the song feels like it loses steam afterwards rather than building to a big finish. A clearer distinction between the verses and the chorus and some harder, more impactful production choices could really make this one pop.

Georgia usually tweak their entries, and this already needs to lose a good 20 seconds so I’m confident the final version will see some improvements. The raw materials are certainly there, and if they manage to hit the mark and come up with an engaging stage performance, this could be a real highlight in Vienna, and Georgia’s strongest effort in many a year. It’s good to have them back on form.

Prediction: This is the first really exciting entry of the year for me. If they handle it well, not only is it a likely finalist, it has an excellent chance of becoming their best-performing entry to date.