One of the seven founding members of Eurovision, Switzerland won the first ever contest, in 1956 and finished second in 1963. But the nation has failed to make much of an impact since then, winning it just once more in 1988. Swiss entries have suffered particularly badly since the introduction of the semi-final qualifiers, and the last four Swiss contenders have fallen at this hurdle.
This year could be different, however, thanks to Luca Hanni. The singer and model is a popular performer in Switzerland, having launched his career by winning a German reality singing contest in 2012, while still a teenager, and the announcement that he was a possible Eurovision entrant caused Eurovision punters to bet heavily on Switzerland even before they’d heard his song.
But the price on a Swiss win has generally held steady in double figures over recent weeks, following a mixed reaction to the song, She Got Me. Punters can back Hanni at around the 10/1 mark with most bookmakers, which puts him in the same price bracket as the Swedish and Italian entries, though some way behind the current favourites from the Netherlands (2/1) and Russia (9/2).
While She Got Me has obvious radio appeal, it doesn’t stand out as an obvious Eurovision winner, according to some critics, and Hanni’s performances have not caught the imagination, most notably of the EuroJury juries, who rated it well behind Sweden, Netherlands and Italy. There was also a palpable lack of enthusiasm for the song on the part of the AFAS Live audience early last month, which doesn’t bode well for those who have already backed Hanni.
But pre-Eurovision performances can’t tell the whole story. Much will depend on how the song goes down live on the night, and stage director Sacha Jean-Baptiste will be working hard to come up with a presentation that grabs the imagination of Eurovision audiences. The song itself is also solid, so if Hanni, who is an experienced performer, can deliver a strong show, Switzerland should have no difficulty in reaching the final, and could have a top five contender with She Got Me.