If the word underdog were personified, it would likely take the form of 29-year-old Georgian entrant, Oto Nemsadze. His 2019 entry, Keep On Going, is an emotive call-to-action, pleading with listeners to persevere through times of hardship.
The song is a mix of Georgian verses and a chorus of the untranslatable Va ra da, va ra da… an Abkhazian folklore refrain; it contains a powerful build from what some argue is a slow start to a rousing middle eight, including an interesting mix of military-style drum beats and male chorus sections.
Unfortunately, the general online fan-circle consensus is that Georgia’s chances of taking the coveted glass trophy are infinitesimally small. This seems reasonable, but is it fair to automatically rule Nemsadze out of even a Grand Final qualification place? I think not...
Here are 5 reasons why Oto Nemsadze could potentially be in with a fighting shot of place in the Saturday night show:
Oto’s voice is like no other in the competition - it’s unique, it’s unusual and, importantly, it stands out - all qualities needed for some jury credit and televote support.
- Stage presence
Watch Oto’s performance in Madrid and you will see that Oto has a well-refined stage presence. Having won Georgian Idol twice, he knows how to deliver. His passion is palpable and this is always a positive - the main concern is that he doesn’t come across as threatening or angry (as often noted online). Oto writes specifically for OGAE Australia that “the song is about a sad story....but for sure I am not angry”.
- Semi final running order and voting
Semi final 1 is strategically a better semi final for Oto. The song appears after two slower songs, Belgium and Serbia, and could be the wake-up call that viewers require. As for voting, countries such as Finland, Poland and Hungary are historically more supportive of ‘darker’ songs and this could work in Oto’s favour.
- The love-it-or-hate-it song
The song itself is not written to be radio-friendly - but, then again, nor was 1944 or Amar Pelos Dois. It doesn’t have a ‘hook’ and, no, it’s not written in English. These are all reasons why many people passionately dislike it. However, online comments show a great deal of support, many claiming it to be refreshing and something different in a year full of very manufactured songs.
- The staging
Eurovision 2019 could be the year when the title is won because of the staging. If Oto gets it right, a combination of emotive LEDs and the odd blast of the fire cannon could really set this apart from the other entries. Get it wrong, and he will certainly come close to the bottom of the pack. Get it right and there’s no reason why he can’t Keep On Going into the Grand Final.
Whatever happens on May 14th, his appearances and deliveries at the pre-parties have demonstrated that Oto may not be trying to win but one thing can be said with conviction: he’s certainly winning at trying.
Good luck in Tel Aviv Oto!
A message from Oto:
**Oto wrote that he personally wishes Kate Miller-Heidke the best of luck in Tel Aviv. When he thinks about Australia he dreams of visiting Sydney and describes Australia as a “wonderful part of the world” which he hopes to visit one day.