Hey there. Welcome to post #301, or the post in which I promise I won’t tell you what number post it is every time I write one (not until #400, anyway…mwahaha!).
As of today, we have all our entries for Malmö. Yay! The lucky last was Italy’s, which is unsurprising considering how much Italy loves to make Eurovision wait for everything as if they don’t care about it. I listened to Marco’s L’essenziale back when it won the Sanremo festival, not expecting it to be the eventual entry, but I’m happy with the choice. Whether or not it can outdo Raphael Gualazzi’s smooth jazz remains to be seen.
Now, with 39 of 39 songs chosen, there has been official preview videos emerging left, right and centre. Giving them a once-over, I couldn’t help being reminded of some I’ve seen in the past. I’m not talking about the music videos that turn out to be recorded performances from the national finals. I mean the actual, separate ones that display a little more effort than that. Sure, some of those are equally as boring – but others are pretty darn awesome. Here’s a list of my personal favourites from the last few years, including a few from 2013.
Unsubstantial Blues by Magdi Rúsza (Hungary 2007)
Here’s a tip: if you ever want to spice up an otherwise cliché music video, why not play it backwards? In this case, some clever clogs has already done it for you, but has fortunately left the music running in the right direction. Magdi-in-reverse is extremely angry with her boyfriend for no apparent reason, but decides to clean up her apartment in the manner of an Olympic discus champion before discovering that actually, she does have a reason to be cheesed off at the guy. The right way round, he’s a cheating so-and-so and she’s reacting perfectly normally. BEEN DONE. The rewind? Smart stuff.
Mamo by Anastasia Prikhodko (Russia 2009)
There’s no mama in this video that I can locate, but there are a lot of Anastasias, in bejeweled warrior-princess outfits Ruslana would be proud of. There’s also more elaborate settings, yards of chiffon and fancy digital effects than you can poke a rhinestone-encrusted microphone stand at. This is how to go OTT to your advantage.
Butterflies by 3+2 (Belarus 2010)
This is all fairly standard for the first few minutes. 3+2 are perched on a stage, performing with their backs to an empty house (?) and looking not at all flustered by the fact that their entry was changed approximately ten minutes earlier. Then, there’s the small matter of all five of them spontaneously combusting into bunches of butterflies, just at the right moment. Magic. I think we all wondered how they were going to recreate it live in Oslo, and even though they couldn’t quite manage it, they did an applause-worthy job with the girls’ remote-control evening gowns.
Playing With Fire by Paula Seling & Ovi (Romania 2010)
This is like Star Wars meets Die Hard meets God knows what else – and yes, Paula and Ovi do play with fire in it too (albeit briefly). Somehow, dancing cyborgs don’t look out of place in amongst the virtual game play, grand architecture and ridiculously tight catsuits. It’s a jumble of all sorts, but I like it.
Taken By A Stranger by Lena (Germany 2011)
I’m no expert, but I sensed high production values on this one from the get-go. It’s all dark and mysterious which is in keeping with the song, and it really emphasises Lena’s transition from awkward teenager dancing by herself in a room (a la Satellite) to slightly older femme fatale who smashes mirrors with no regard for the seven years of bad luck that will obviously come as consequence. I have to admit, that side of her in this video had me developing a teensy little girl crush.
Suus by Rona Nishliu (Albania 2012)
Here’s a video that seems to make no sense whatsoever, but since many would argue that neither does Suus (or Rona’s decision to adorn herself with one of her own dreadlocks in Baku) we should forgive it. I think she looks very elegant in what looks like an abandoned art gallery, with her fancy dress/box and a couple of kids drawing on the walls without getting into trouble (and that’s how we know it’s make-believe). The whole thing is very distinctive, just like her Eurovision performance.
La La Love by Ivi Adamou (Cyprus 2012)
I’m a little obsessed with fairytales – the book kind, as opposed to the Alexander Rybak kind – so I got a kick out of Cyprus’ inspiration for Ivi’s video last year. With such a current-sounding song they could have gone with an entirely different concept. But I think this worked, and so did Katy Perry’s people because they clearly stole the idea for her Wide Awake video (just kidding. Don’t sue/kill me). Ivi makes a great princess. You know, I reckon I may have a girl crush on her too. Then again, this video could have had her dressed in a garbage bag and miming from the bottom of a dumpster, and she’d still look stunning. Damn her.
Never Forget by Greta Salomé & Jónsi (Iceland 2012)
I have mentioned this video before, but I couldn’t have a list of the best MVs that didn’t include it. You know how they say it’s all about location, location, location? Well, they do. And this video is three majestic minutes of proof. If we were forced to watch a young Jónsi following a young Greta up and down the aisles of a 24/7 mini-mart, it wouldn’t be so amazing (in fact, it’d be crap). But with the snow, and the mountains, and the breathtaking Aurora Borealis…sigh. Take me there right now.
Ég á Líf by Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson (Iceland 2013)
There’s something about the Icelandic landscape that can make even the rudimentary filleting of a fish look glamorous, as it does in this other visual gem from the Land of Björk. It combines beautifully shot live-action footage of the golden-locked Eyþór being in a boat and stuff, with adorable animated sequences that are up for interpretation (it probably doesn’t help that I haven’t read an English translation of the lyrics). My thinking is he just wants someone to fish with. Don’t we all.
Gravity by Zlata Ognevich (Ukraine 2013)
Ukraine has thrown pretty much everything (including the kitchen sink) at their video this year – that is, if the kitchen sink is full of CGI unicorns. It’s a grand production that really needs to be watched with the song on mute, because if it isn’t, the bombardment of both becomes overwhelming. Still, I have to applaud those responsible for making a serious effort. And it does amuse me, the thought of Zlata standing in front of a green screen and pretending to fondle the muzzle of a fantastical creature.
What’s your favourite ESC music video, and why?