I don’t think this warrants an introduction! 13 songs, 13 HILARIOUS (cough) reviews. Here’s part one: A to L!!!
Dalita/ Welcome to Armenia
The good: Ah, Armenia. Or should that be, ah-menia? They are one reliable country when it comes to Eurovision, big and small (even if, occasionally, they can only be relied upon to use up Europe’s entire supply of red pleather on a giant boxing glove). This year, they have again gone with a novelty entry, but I think this one will actually work for them. Song-wise, I love it. It’s catchy, accessible (in sound and combination of Armenian and English), and has that nice ethnic edge that can lift a run-of-the-mill pop song to a douze point level. I know the ‘say yes, say no’ refrain is driving some fans crazy, but I’m into that too!
Everything else: Aside from the costumes that are suitable but still bring back frightening memories of Scooch? Well, there’s the issue of a live vocal that is less than impressive, judging by the footage I have seen. I don’t take pleasure in being mean to children (not always, anyway) but it has to be said that Dalita is dodgy live. Hopefully, with preparation pre-Yerevan and maybe some clever backing vocals (which can work wonders, can’t they Jedward?) she can pull off a performance that’s kinder on the ear than her national final one, and closer to the super studio version.
The verdict: It’s no Mama, but it still ticks all my boxes. I give it 10 points.
Lidiya Zabolotskaya/ Angely Dobra
The good: I like the way this song becomes something unexpected – from the first verse it sounds like it’s going to be a straight ballad, and then the beat kicks in. Lidiya’s quite the little vocalist, which is also nice, and it’s likely that she won’t appear onstage in a gold velvet smoking jacket á la Daniil Kozlov, which can only be good news. I also love the sound of Russian-family languages in ballads – it just works.
Everything else: This is a ‘vanilla’ kind of song that could easily get lost among its contemporary competitors, like the Netherlandsand Sweden, unless it’s performed really well and something very interesting is done on stage. Maybe it’s time for Belarus to not succeed in JESC – they have an impressive history, with 2 wins and 3 top five finishes in 8 participations, so this could well be a year for them to take a break from doing well…as involuntary as that may be.
The verdict: I like it, but I can’t love it, so I’m giving it 6 points.
Femke/ Een Kujse Meer
The good: There have been plenty of good retro and bad retro songs at JESC over the years – strangely, mostly from the Netherlands and Belgium. Luckily for the latter, I am acknowledging this as one of the good. Whistling is popular in music at the moment and here it is used to maximum advantage. Combined with the beat, it makes for a charming 2-and-a-half minutes that makes me wonder (as I do for many of the countries) why Belgium can’t send songs like this to adult Eurovision. Last year, Russianearly won JESC with a cutesy retro number. Do I think Femke has the potential to do the same? Yeah yeah!
Everything else: Ever since I read on Femke’s contestant profile that this entry was inspired by Eliza Doolittle’s Pack Up, I can’t help but feel it’s a little too derivative. Sure, I didn’t notice the similarities as first – but now I can’t NOT notice. Although, I do enjoy Pack Up…so maybe I’m just being picky on this one. Would it be even pickier to say that her fringe needs a restyle, pronto?
The verdict: It’s déjà vu, but in a good way, so I’m giving it 10 points.
Ivan Ivanov/ Supergeroy
The good: Every year there’s a song that I think is awesome, but not many other people do – the most famous instance being in May with Mika Newton’s Angel. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Bulgaria’s song hasn’t been too popular with fans so far, and as I think it is Fabulous with a capital F, it looks like I’ll be waving a solitary flag for Ivan. Yes, I think it’s a cracker! I accept that it’s very mainstream and American in sound, but I think that, combined with the native language lyrics, makes for a strong song that Bulgaria should be proud of (and should find a way to send to Baku with an older singer!).
Everything else: I don’t care what anyone else says, Ivan is totally Alex Sparrow Junior! Supergeroy has something in common with Get You as well; it’s the type of song you could do a backflip in the middle of. Not that I plan to, as excited as I will be on the night. But if your lounge room is big enough, then go ahead.
The verdict: Supergeroy is super to me! Douze points!
Candy/ Candy Music
The good: I had to think hard about this. Georgia are really hit-and-miss for me in ESC and JESC, and when I compare this to their hit songs like Odelia Ranuni, finding redeeming features is difficult. If Lady Gaga released a disco song, this could be it (having said that, even if Gaga released a seventeen-minute recording of herself snoring it would go straight to the top of the charts). Plus I’m sure this will get some people dancing. Somewhere.
Everything else: Please let Candy take inspiration from Katy Perry for their stage show, and dance their way around giant Styrofoam licorice and cupcakes! That would be heaven in comparison to ANYTHING resembling the music video to this song. Two words: AFRO WIGS.
The verdict: Hmm = 4 points.
Amanda Bašmakova/ Meness Suns
The good: I hated this the first time I heard it, but I have to say it’s turning out to be a grower. It’s certainly an unusual song, and in that it stands out from the other 12. Amanda’s another good live performer from what I’ve seen, so we won’t have to worry about that side of things.
Everything else: I still think this will be in the bottom two or three. It’s a risky song to take to Junior Eurovision, because it’s quite plodding, the chorus isn’t incredibly catchy and I’m not sure what can be done onstage to complement it, especially considering the subject matter. Do not, I repeat, do NOT dress up in a dog suit, Amanda!
The verdict: Weird, and a little bit wonderful. 5 points.
Paulina Skrabytē/ Debesys
The good: Sigh. Another song that I seem to be alone in my affection for. I’m a sucker for a good ballad and I think this is a prime example. It’s very floaty and summery, and I love the sound of her voice (I also love her national final dress. I wonder if it’s manufactured in me-size?). I don’t think this entry will do very well, but that won’t stop me from singing along…just as soon as I learn the words.
Everything else: Paulina’s performance position is almost slap-bang in the middle, and I don’t think that will help her. Also, I would consider a change of footwear before the final. Converse sneakers on blonde females (especially when paired with a dress) do not work well at Eurovision – just ask Anna Bergendahl.
The verdict: Lovely enough to deserve 10 points.
Whew! Seven down, six to go – but you’ll have to wait until next week for those. In the meantime, comment me, because I thrive on disagreement!
What do you think of songs A to L???