Malmö Reviews | Part 1 (Albania-Denmark)

By my calculations, there are just fourteen days until we’ll be graced by the first semi final of Eurovision 2013, live from Malmö Arena. Holy sequined hotpants! Of course, for my Australian TV-viewing self there are a few more days to factor in (as well as an extended period of internet avoidance) but it’s worth the wait for an unspoiled HD experience that doesn’t take place at 3 o’clock in the morning.

Basically, there’s so much to do and so little time to do it in, especially since giving the cold shoulder to everyone I know who’s going to Sweden takes up so many hours. So, just before we’re officially in Eurovision month, allow me to introduce the first installment of my 2013 reviews, featuring Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Denmark. These come complete with awarded points and extreme judgment. I hope you enjoy the read, and please stick around ‘til the end for a ranking and to let me know where you stand on this group of ten.

First up for the year is… 

 

ALBANIA

Identitet by Adrian & Bledar

Albania13Better than 2012: No

IMO: Rock on, Albania. ROOOOCK OOOOONNN! I’m not saying that because I’m wildly enthusiastic about this entry. It’s more a case of ‘we have ourselves some rock muzak from Albania for the first time! Intriguing!’. And it is pretty good rock, don’t get me wrong. I find the whole thing generally catchy, and I think the verses are equally as strong as the choruses – in fact, the choruses sound like they’re taking their hats off to the verses (a.k.a. complementing them on a job well done). Making the decision to leave Identitet in Albanian was a good one. In English it would have been a middling rock number, but the mystery of the native language gives it an extra bit of ‘oomph’ (though not to people who understand Albanian). This song won’t hit the unexpected heights of Suus, and may not even qualify (I haven’t decided yet) but as one of only two or three rock entries on offer in this year stuffed full of ballads, it adds variety to the proceedings.

Winner, loser or grower: Grower. 7 points.

 

ARMENIA

Lonely Planet by Dorians

Armenia13Top 10 material: No

IMO: I feel like Armenia has lost its way a bit over the last few years. They started out so strongly with acts like André, Sirusho and Eva Rivas. But then, out of the blue, came Emmy’s fail Boom-Boom, followed by a year of absence…and now, this. I think I speak for everyone who isn’t from Azerbaijan when I say I was hoping they’d come back in 2013 with a bang. But Lonely Planet, despite its unashamed rockiness and good intent, is more of a gentle knock. I did appreciate it more after my most recent listen than my first, but like the Russian song, the schmaltzy message it conveys just feels contrived (though not as contrived as What If’’s). Gor Sujyan’s combination of yelling and vocal gymnastics is jarring, particularly when heard live, so that doesn’t bode well for Eurovision. Having said all of that, I don’t hate it by any means. I just prefer the old tassel-shaking, apricot-harvesting Armenia, and I think this might be staying in the semi – just like Emmy.

Winner, loser or grower: Grower. 5 points.  

 

AUSTRIA

Shine by Natália Kelly

Austria13Sounds like: More To Life by Stacie Orrico

IMO: I’ve had trouble in the past getting into entries called Shine. This time around, Shine was the best song in Austria’s fairly weak NF line-up, but again, I won’t be professing my undying love for it anytime soon. It’s one of those songs that make you smile and maybe sing along with the chorus a couple of times, but after the third or fourth listen gets a bit boring. It also has a super-awkward key change. I do like it more than the Shines of the past (don’t hate me for giving Georgia 2010 a miss); it’s quite sweet and radio-friendly, and Natália looks and sounds pretty when she’s performing it. It will probably improve on Austria’s dreadful result – lowest of the low – from last year, but I can’t imagine it having the interest factor for enough people to push it a heap higher. I’d rate Woki Mit Deim Popo higher myself (but then I’ve always been weird).

Winner, loser or grower: Grower. 6 points.

 

AZERBAIJAN

Hold Me by Farid Mammadov

Azer13Top 10 material: Yes

IMO: This song is a mish-mash of two different ballads to my ears: the first, a dark and contemporary one (as heard in the verses and bridge), the second a dated and clichéd one (that’s the choruses). As a result, I love the verses but really dislike the chorus. The fact that those verses are so good and that Farid is a decent vocalist should be tipping me towards enjoying the entry as a whole, and just accepting the bad parts. But the fact that so many fans are raving about it like it’s the best thing since the invention of wind machines, and insisting that it’s going to win, is freaking me out. In spite of the pros here, I think there are far better songs in the competition, and that this deserves to end up around 10th-16th position in the final (there’s no doubt it’s going through). But this is Azerbaijan we’re talking about, so expect a low to mid-top 10 result for Farid at least, especially if he borrows Sabina Babayeva’s projection dress. That would be a sight worth voting for.

Winner, loser or grower: Grower. 6 points.  

 

BELARUS

Solayoh by Alyona Lanskaya

Belarus13Sounds like: Aphrodisiac by Eleftheria Eleftheriou

IMO: Just when I thought time travel was totally impossible, Belarus went and transported us all straight back to Eurovision circa 2005 with this cliché-ridden summer “hit”. What with the way it came about and the fact that it replaced Rhythm of Love which I really liked, I want to hate it, and in some ways I do. It is dated (literally…it wasn’t just written that way), predictable, and unimaginative. But in other ways, damn, it’s good. It’s so catchy I can’t help singing along to it, and I suspect Europe will be too when Alyona steps onstage in May, hopefully wearing a foot-high turban made of tropical fruit. It reminds me of I Love Belarus in that it’s a replacement song that has become a guilty pleasure. Can I also point out how random Alexander Rybak’s appearance in the music video is? Maybe he was so pissed off that the song he composed for NMGP didn’t win, he figured he’d crash anyone’s Eurovision campaign he could manage (yes, I know he’s Belarusian-born, but it’s still random).

Winner, loser or grower: Winner. 7 points.

 

BELGIUM

Love Kills by Roberto Bellarosa

Belgium13Better than 2012: Yes

IMO: We’ve all witnessed the horror that was the Belgian national final (and I use the term ‘national final’ loosely) which certainly played a part in the instant negative reaction to this chosen song. In spite of that, I was one of the few to develop a fondness for it immediately, and since the revamped version was released, that fondness has only grown stronger. I also have a slight fondness for Roberto, but let’s not discuss that. Call me crazy, but this is my personal favourite Belgian entry since 2004’s 1 Life, and Urban Trad’s Sanomi before that (I never got the whole Tom Dice thing). I think Love Kills is pretty contemporary, and I like the beat, the melody and the lyrics. I don’t expect it to do well, although if the staging is polished and more interesting than last year’s (not a big ask) and Roberto’s vocal is on point, Belgium may surprise us all. But while being scheduled next-to-last after the incredibly boring Cyprus is a blessing, coming before the similarly-paced song from Serbia (a country with infinitely better chances of qualifying) is likely to be a curse on a nice, uplifting pop song.

Winner, loser or grower: Winner. 10 points.

 

BULGARIA

Samo Shampioni by Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankulov

Bulg13Top 10 material: No

IMO: The result of BNT’s massive Eurovision-themed survey of 2012 was the rounding up of their most successful entrants ever. Clearly, the pressure is on Elitsa and Stoyan to do the same thing they (surprisingly, let’s admit it) managed to do in Helsinki with Water. But can they do it six years later with Samo Shampioni? This song has elements that remind me a lot of that previous entry, mainly Elitsa’s wailing and Stoyan’s drum-beating which puts the Moldovan grandmamma to shame. The wailing and drumming is what these guys do, so that’s only natural. Then there are some elements in the music that make it less ethnic and more contemporary than Water. It’s almost ethno-dance, and certainly stands out from the other 38 songs. However, I don’t think it has the legs to be a sure qualifier, let alone equal or top the 2007 5th place. People who voted for Water might find this too derivative or not derivative enough, and people who didn’t or are seeing the duo for the first time might just be disturbed. Who knows what the juries will make of it.

Winner, loser or grower: Grower. 6 points.

 

CROATIA

Mižerja by Klapa s Mora

Croatia13Better than 2012: No

IMO: Croatia’s ethnic entries have a history of success when compared to their more mainstream pop songs. I hope that trend continues this year, since the country has spent the last three contests stuck in the semis and it’s about time they found a way out. This very ethnic entry has a lot going for it, which could make that happen. First and foremost, the guys are brilliant vocalists who can harmonise like nobody’s business, and as we now know, great vocals are part of what the juries will be listening for. Then, there’s the lovely, classy song, which may be called ‘Misery’ but isn’t half as depressing as say, the Dutch song. It sticks out for being something other than a club thumper or cheesy ballad, and I applaud Croatia for returning to their musical heritage. I will applaud even harder if they qualify. They did in Moscow with the not-entirely-dissimilar Lijepa Tena, even if it was by the skin of their teeth, so maybe that magic will work again.

Winner, loser or grower: Grower. 7 points.

 

CYPRUS

An Me Thimase by Despina Olympiou

Cyprus13Better than 2012: No

IMO: And the award for ‘Song Most Likely To Be Everyone’s Toilet Break’ goes to…An Me Thimase! This award will be presented in my head by Iris, the performer of last year’s winner, Would You. There’s at least one entry each year that sends me to sleep, and unfortunately, after four years of songs I still enjoy, in 2013 it’s from Cyprus. This is verging on nice, but has anyone ever wanted to fist pump for a ‘nice’ song? When this comes on, you’ve barely got time to form a fist, let alone pump it, before you’re snoring your head off. The chorus, which takes up 80% of the running time, has no catchy hook to latch on to, and as a result, three minutes here feel like ten. No doubt it will be beautifully sung, but I don’t think there’s any amount of props or costume reveals the Cypriots can whip out of their Mary Poppins handbag to get Despina to the final.

Winner, loser or grower: Loser. 3 points.

 

DENMARK

Only Teardrops by Emmelie de Forest

Denmark13Best lyric: ‘We’re on the edge tonight, no shooting star to guide us.’

IMO: I mentioned before how I never ‘got’ Tom Dice. His was a song that I knew was good, that I knew had merit, but that I just couldn’t get into. I feel exactly the same way about Emmelie’s Only Teardrops, the favourite to win Eurovision 2013. It’s clearly a good song, quite original, ethnic (albeit in a very Irish way) and, to use a term I haven’t used since describing this entry prior to Dansk MGP, rousing. And yet, it doesn’t rouse anything in me personally. It’s a definite qualifier, and I’d be happy for it to win if it means Azerbaijan doesn’t swoop in again with an average ballad and wipe out the superior competition…but…meh. The most exciting thing about that victory to me would be Denmark winning on Swedish soil exactly as they did back in 2000 (I love me some spooky patterns). PS – Emmelie is a good performer and probably a very nice person, so I wish her luck with her career, no matter what happens in Malmö. And I hope she finds some shoes in the near future.

Winner, loser or grower: Grower. 7 points.

 

So that’s part 1 of 4 done and dusted, and with that, here are my personal standings:

  1. Belgium 10
  2. Croatia 7
  3. Albania 7
  4. Denmark 7
  5. Belarus 7
  6. Bulgaria 6
  7. Azerbaijan 6
  8. Austria 6
  9. Armenia 5
  10. Cyprus 3

What do you think? Bring on the disagreement (and if you’re one of the rare breed to agree with me, I welcome that too). Which of these entries are hot and which are so not?

 

PS – Drop by later in the week for part 2 of the Malmö Reviews, featuring Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland and Israel, plus the first of the Big Fivers: France, Germany and Italy.

 

About Jaz

I'm Jaz, I'm 25, and I'm 110% Eurovision-OBSESSED. The contest is one big party, and I like to keep it going 365 days a year - that's why I write about anything and everything ESC on my blog. Come join the fun, and I promise you'll never have a nul-point experience! www.eurovisionbyjaz.com/

Posted on April 30, 2013, in Eurovision 2013, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Yay, we’ve been waiting for you to open your review account! Your review of Denmark sums up nicely how we feel about this entry as well. We’d be happy enough to see it win, but we have a hard time understanding what the OGAE-fans (aka fanboys) are raving on about. Will it bomb in Malmö?

    And thumbs up for Belgium, he’s a cutie with a good song!

    Like

    • I don’t think Denmark will bomb, but I’m not convinced it’ll win. I have a feeling it might be a 2011 situation all over again, with some unassuming song nobody has considered swooping in to take it. Hopefully if that happens, said song isn’t as dire as ‘Running Scared’. None of the entries I’m seeing as finalists or the auto-finalists would make winners that hideous, so it isn’t likely!

      Just read your review of Belgium BTW, and you know I agree 100%! The initial performance was dreadful, but there were a lot of things working outside of Roberto’s favour that day…

      Like

  2. Hi Jaz, I’m celebrating the end of my exams by posting on your blog 😛

    Agree on what you say about albania, with the difference that I *am* wildly enthusiastic about it and I like it a lot better than Suus 😛

    Agree on Armenia, with the difference that I really dislike it.

    Agree on Austria, except that I like 2013 better, WAY better than the 2012 thing

    No opinion on Azerbaijan because I already forgot it zzz

    Belarus: agree with everything you said until unimaginative…and then I agree with you again on the Rybak bit, seriously what is he doing there? xD

    Belgium: ok I’ll call you crazy 😛 nah, not really. I hate the dubstep break. And meh.

    Bulgaria: yes I agree.

    Croatia: It’s nothing like Lijepa Tena..I hate Lijepa Tena butt I love this xD I want them to qualify sooooo bad 😥

    Cyprus, again AGREE…Disappointment

    Denmark: That’s pretty much how I felt last year with “Euphoria” and in 2009 with Rybak, so I feel your pain…but at the same time this is one of my faves and it would be nice to see one of my faves winning because that never happens…sorry

    My rankings of these 10

    1. Denmark (sorry!!!!)
    2. Croatia
    3. Albania
    4. Austria
    6. Bulgaria
    7. Cyprus
    8. Belarus
    9. Belgium
    10. Armenia

    Like

    • Congrats on getting through your exams =D Just in time too.

      I can understand you liking ‘Identitet’ better than ‘Suus’. But it won’t do as well! Not that anyone thought Rona would do that well…

      Hahaha, I watched the Belarusian video knowing that Rybak was in it, just waiting for him to make his grand entrance. And then he popped up at the end for like, a second. So worth it, guys, soooo worth it.

      Re: Croatia, it reminds me of ‘Lijepa Tena’, just in the sense that it’s so ethnic. I liked that, and I hope this qualifies too. Poor Croatia NEED to make it for once. They should have with Feminnem…grr…stillnotoverit.

      Well, if Denmark wins I’ll just try and be happy for you and everyone else who loves it. But I don’t know if it’s a given, despite the odds and all the OGAE douzes it’s getting (which is starting to bore me a little).

      Okay, happy Belgium isn’t last on your rankings!!

      Like

  3. Love your reviews and I love the fact that you too saw potential in that Belgian entry already way back when. So I guess it’s you and me against the world forever.

    I’m also completely with you on Denmark. I see and hear that it’s good but it doesn’t make me feel anything.

    Looking forward to your part two already!

    Like

    • Actually, I think there’s about five or six of us who are on Team Belgium now! Represent!! I would LOVE it to qualify, but…it’ll be a push.

      Your summary of Denmark was on the money. I wish I loved it, what with the high chance of it winning and all, but you can’t force yourself to be enthusiastic about something.

      Hope to see you for Part II =)

      Like

  4. Was beginning to think that I was the only one to like the Croatia and Albanian entries as they don’t seem to feature on any polls or in the betting odds.

    Like

    • Nope, not just you!! But they just aren’t up there with the major players, I suppose. It doesn’t mean they won’t surprise everyone. For Croatia to at least qualify with something truly ethnic would be wonderful.

      Like

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