Malmö Reviews | Part 2 (Estonia-Italy)

Happy Friday, ladies and gents! You may have noticed that I’ve redecorated EBJ since your last visit. I’m now officially Sweden-ised, feeling festive and ready to paarrtaaaay *insert visualisations of streamers flying every which way here*. And it’s about time too – it is May, a.k.a. Eurovision Month, and this IS the second episode of my Malmö Reviews. Gee whiz.

So now’s the time to prepare yourself for my verdicts on Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel AND Italy (#outofbreath) because here they are. Oh, and stay tuned to see my rankings of these entries (and to show me yours).

 

ESTONIA

Et Uus Saaks Alguse by Birgit Õigemeel

Estonia13Sounds like: Nótt by Yohanna

IMO: We can debate until the cows come home about Estonia choosing Birgit The Safe Option over the scary hairy dudes and the amazing Grete Paia, but the reality is, Birgit is the one going to Malmö, and she’s taking her diet Kuula with her. Diet Kuula? Geddit? Not so much? Well, my point is that it’s another year and we have another Estonian ballad – but unlike last year’s, which was mesmerising in so many ways (and had a lot of drama and power) this one’s kind of bland. I’ll put it this way: Kuula was, to me, all 31 of Baskin-Robbins’ ice-cream flavours combined in one sundae, with lashings of hot fudge sauce and sprinkles. Et Uus is 97% fat-free vanilla frozen yoghurt. Having said all of that and convincing you that I detest Birgit’s ballad, I actually don’t. It’s pleasant, and I enjoy listening to it. But that’s all. It’s three minutes of niceness, with no real hook or crescendo.

Winner, loser or grower: Grower. 6 points.

 

FINLAND

Marry Me by Krista Siegfrids  

Finland13Best lyric: ‘I don’t think there are no ladies who will give you cuter babies.’

IMO: I did not like this song when I first heard a snippet via a recap of all the UMK finalists. Then I heard the full version after it won, and fell in love with it (I probably would have married Krista at that point). THEN, it started to get on my nerves a little bit. So where am I now? Somewhere in-between enjoying it, and being annoyed by it, that’s where. As much as I loved the Finnish entry last year, it’s nice to have something as brash and fun from Finland as När Jag Blundar was sweet and subdued. Everything about this is loud, from the punchy chorus to the bridal party’s outfits, and I’m glad for that. What would be the point in toning down an entry like this, one that could pass as a Katy Perry B-side? It’s not the OTT-ness that irritates me; in fact, I can’t put my finger on exactly what is responsible for that (Krista’s constant demand for me to put a ring on it, perhaps). But I guess I can settle for a love-hate relationship with Marry Me. That should prepare me for a real marriage, right?

Winner, loser or grower: Grower. 7 points.

 

FRANCE

L’enfer Et Moi by Amandine Bourgeois

France13Sounds like: Rolling In The Deep by Adele  

IMO: Can I picture Amandine performing this in a smoky, slightly sleazy underground club in Paris, wearing a feather boa and not much else? Oui oui. It is trés French, or at least very stereotypically French – classy, chic, a little bit retro and a little bit seedy. This is just the kind of thing that, besides the Harlem Shake and dance anthems that all sound exactly the same, the global music charts are full of right now, in the wake of the aforementioned Adele. I’m not the biggest fan of this style of music myself, but this particular song has its charms. The French language has never sounded better for starters, and despite the slow tempo, it uses the three minutes well to build into something interesting. All in all, it’s better than what I was expecting, and it’s more instant than Anggun’s entry last year. But it’s not right up there with the best of 2013 pour moi . PS – apologies for all the primary school French I crammed into this paragraph.   

Winner, loser or grower: Grower. 7 points.

 

GEORGIA

Waterfall by Sophie & Nodi

Georgia13Better than 2012: Yes

IMO: I’d never tried Georgian cheese before this, and now I have I can say that it’s not too bad. Certainly not as overpowering as Russian cheese, if you know what I mean. Waterfall (the cheese in question) is another cliché-ridden ballad from reigning ESC champ Thomas G:son, with lyrics you can see coming from a continent away even with a Donny Montell-brand blindfold on. It seems to have been written expressly for suckers who can’t help feeling buoyed by that chorus, and that money note, even though they know full well the whole thing is contrived and unoriginal. Suckers like me. But with the inevitable floaty dress for Sophie, well-timed pyrotechnics and flawless vocals the duo will provide (I’m thinking it must be illegal in Georgia to be a bad singer) the other ballads better watch out. Some say this could be a dark horse to win, and as someone who’d love to witness a Georgian Eurovision, I could come to terms with that.

Winner, loser or grower: Grower. 7 points.

 

GERMANY

Glorious by Cascada

Germany13Top 10 material: Yes

IMO: The German national final was über strong this year, but it was always going to be Cascada’s to lose. I’m glad they didn’t, because they were the best pick for another Eurovision success for Germany. Glorious is straight-up dance, which is what Cascada is known for, and it is genuinely glorious (lacking the irony of one of their previous hits Evacuate The Dancefloor, which was clearly constructed to ensure the dancefloor would be packed) if familiar, what with the Euphoria plagiarism claims and all. But that’s just dance music. This is just the kind of infectious number that will lift the roof off Malmö Arena in a way no other entry of 2013 can, so I hope Natalie and her DJs are prepared to pay for damages. I also hope Glorious doesn’t bomb against the odds. It’s having a hard time contesting Denmark and Ukraine and the like as a favourite to win, but if all goes according to plan it should hit the highs of the top 10, which is nothing to be sneezed at. Side note: can someone please come to my house and surgically remove the German flag from my hand when the final is over? I’m gonna be gripping that real tight.

Winner, loser or grower: Winner. DOUZE POINTS!

 

GREECE

Alcohol Is Free by Koza Mostra feat. Agathonas Iakovidis  

Greece13Sounds like: For Real by Athena

IMO: Greece, Greece, Greece – you’ve done it again. This country can barely afford to post a letter to Malmö, let alone send a troupe of kilt-wearing rockers and Agathonas of the Impressive Moustache there direct. Yet that’s what they’re doing, and it will undoubtedly keep up their 100% qualification record. Alcohol Is Free is a breath of fresh air after the incredibly clichéd Aphrodisiac, and has a better shot at getting Greece back into the top 10. I’m not totally backing it, as there are plenty of entries I’d rather root for; however I do think it’s a lot of fun, and an up-tempo song that uses traditional instruments usually gets my tick of approval. It was a good idea to have the title in English, and then have that title make up the entire chorus. Even though alcohol isn’t free anywhere that I know of, 99% of us will be unable to resist chanting ‘alcohol, alcohol, alcohol is freeeeee’ in time with the guys. Scientific fact. The 1% that don’t will be unconscious from consuming too much “free” alcohol.

Winner, loser or grower: Grower. 7 points.

 

HUNGARY

Kedvesem by ByeAlex 

Hungary13Better than 2012: Yes

IMO: It could happen anytime, anywhere, with anything or anyone. You don’t know it’s going to until it does, and then BAM! You’re a goner. No, I’m not talking about being hit by a bus. I’m talking about falling in love, because I am officially head-over-heels for the Hungarian entry this year…and believe me, I did NOT see it coming. There’s something about this humble little song that gets me every time, and there’s nothing forced or sugary about it. I think Hungarian is beautiful and mysterious when set to music (especially if you don’t bother to Google a lyric translation) so that’s part of it. The extra punch given by the Zoohacker remix was much appreciated also. It’s an enigma, Kedvesem. I’m not 110% sure why I adore it, but I just do. They say you know when you know, and I know, so that’s enough! It’s just unfortunate that my favourite Hungarian entry since they rejoined the contest in 2011 is also the least likely to qualify. I wouldn’t care if it came last in the final. Just to see it get to Saturday night would be a major highlight. Make it happen, my European friends.

Winner, loser or grower: Winner. DOUZE POINTS!

 

ICELAND

Ég á Líf  by Eythor Ingi  

Iceland13Sounds like: the Icelandic national anthem

IMO: This wasn’t the most exciting song Iceland could have chosen, but there is something special about it. It could be that Eythor chose to keep it in Icelandic, which is another mysterious musical language. Big ups for that, because the switch from Icelandic to English in recent years has been a huge mistake. It could also be that anthemic quality that gets me feeling all patriotic and emotional, Olympic medal ceremony-style. Who knows. The thing is, that something special doesn’t elevate this ballad to Yohanna status, although the overall appearance is similar (it’s the hair). What could lift it is a superb stage show, with emphasis on lighting and background. I wouldn’t mind the Aurora Borealis being brought back for another spin either.

Winner, loser or grower: Grower. 7 points.

 

IRELAND

Only Love Survives by Ryan Dolan  

Ireland13Best lyric: ‘When the stars are aligned, you’ve got to make love a state of mind.’

IMO: How sweet it is to have our first Jedward-free year out of three! This post-twin effort from Ireland blows their 2012 entry out of the water (line) as far as I’m concerned. For one thing, it’s not some random song that was offered to and rejected by a bunch of artists before eventually being picked up for Eurovision. It is a slickly produced dance track co-written by Mr. Dolan himself and complex enough to avoid Euphoria comparisons. I’m really loving it, and I expect the stage show to appeal to me just as much. What could ruin Ryan’s chances is his vocal unreliability. I actually haven’t been able to bring myself to watch a live performance of his, because I love the song so much and don’t want to mark it down because of a rubbish live vocal. Some have said he did fine at Eurovision in Concert, whilst others were less impressed, so I’m just going to give him the benefit of my own doubt until semi final 1. He’s sandwiched between two ballads, one of which is incredibly yawn-worthy, so he should stand out. I will be praying for Ireland to prove that they don’t need a pair of hyperactive siblings to get somewhere.

Winner, loser or grower: Winner. 10 points.

 

ISRAEL

Rak Bishvilo by Moran Mazor 

Israel13Sounds like: Milim by Harel Skaat

IMO: Now for someone who will have no trouble singing like a champ – the bespectacled, boob-baring Moran from Israel (whose specs and chest may distract from the vocal performance, but still). Her ballad is one of the better ones going to Malmö. It’s pretty but dramatic, and you can hear the emotion behind it. However (yes, there are however’s) it is quite repetitive – after what seems like the 300th ‘rak bishvilloooo’, it’s like, ‘it’s only for him, we get it!’. And it is lacking in wow factor, which sound-alike Milim did have. I think it’s almost great, a major improvement on last year’s song that I despised, but not Israel at their absolute best.

Winner, loser or grower: Grower. 6 points.

 

ITALY

L’essenziale by Marco Mengoni

Italy13Top 10 material: Yes

IMO: I wonder if I can I complete this review without drawing attention to how insanely attractive Marco Mengoni is? Oops, instant fail. Oh well! I like his SanRemo-winning entry almost as much as I like looking at him. It reminds me a bit of Alessandro Casillo’s É Vero, which competed in SanRemo 2012 but was ineligible for ESC selection since Alessandro was only 15…which made me sad because I LOVED that song. So thank you Mr. Mengoni, for bringing some of that to the big show. L’essenziale in its own right is pure class (how unusual coming from Italy. Not.) and for me, one of the best ballads competing. The rawness of Marco’s voice gives authenticity to the emotion within, which should make for an honest and convincing performance, during which I will do my utmost to focus on the song instead of that beautiful, beautiful face. I’m not sure L’essenziale won’t get lost in the final, because it is a simpler, less instant song than most. But I hope it makes it to the left side of the scoreboard at least.

Winner, loser or grower: Winner. 10 points.

 

Ciao Italy, and hello rankings! This is how I rate these entries against each other: 

  1. Hungary 12
  2. Germany 12
  3. Ireland 10
  4. Italy 10
  5. Greece 7
  6. Iceland 7
  7. France 7
  8. Georgia 7
  9. Finland 7
  10. Israel 6
  11. Estonia 6

Now you try?

 

What are your thoughts on my thoughts this time around? How do you rate the songs from Estonia to Italy?  

 

NEXT TIME: You’ll never guess…more reviews! Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Romania and Russia better brace themselves, ’cause I’m about to get all judgmental on their bee-hinds.

 

About Jaz

I'm Jaz, I'm 26, 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 May 3, 2013, in Eurovision 2013, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Hi Jaz, happy Friday to you too (well it’s Saturday already but still) Love the new banner, the shade of blue you used to write Eurovision is one of my favorite colors and eurovision is my favorite word 😛 so yeah amazing banner.

    I agree with you on Estonia, it’s pretty but it’s bland.
    Finland: I agree with you again. I appreciate the “fun” it brings to this year’s contest, but at the same time it annoys me so much because she sounds sooo desperate xD
    France: Now that you mention it, yes there’s something Adele-ish about it. I’m not a big fan of this one either and I find it really repetitive, but I don’t hate it.

    Georgia: Cheese, yes that’s a perfect description. I honestly prefer their 2012 entry, at least that one had some Georgian 😦

    Germany: I used to hate this one with passion, but it has grown on me. I still find it very cliché.

    Greece: “Agathonas of the Impressive Moustache” xD Laughed so hard at that. Agree again, it’s SO MUCH FUN.

    Hungary: SAME! I don’t really know what it has that makes it so addictive. Oh and the lyrics are beautiful btw (yeah I read the translation :P). IT HAS TO QUALIFY.It would be too heartbreaking if it doesn’t

    Iceland: Thanks to you now I know what the Iceland national anthem sounds like. Seriously I googled that out of curiosity, and I found it more exciting that Eythor’s song. I like the lyrics to this song though…and the fact that he’s singing in Icelandic..and the music video…but meh.

    Ireland: ok so I completely disagree with you here. It’s not that bad in studio, I give you that…but seriously if you haven’t watched the live performance, DON’T, you’ll be really disappointed.

    Israel: Oh I thought this was the yawn-worthy ballad you were talking about 😦 I admit that I don’t dislike it as much as I used to and that I have finally managed to listen to the whole thing without falling asleep..but ugh to me it’s one of the most boring ballads this year.

    Italy: Agree.on everything. Well, I don’t like his haircut but that’s kind of irrelevant.

    My rankings for these:
    12. Greece
    10. Hungary
    8. Italy
    -GAP-
    7 Germany
    6 Finland
    -GAP-
    5 Iceland
    4 Estonia
    3 Ireland
    2 Israel
    1 Georgia

    Like

    • It’s always a different day somewhere in the world by the time I get a post up =P But Happy Saturday for Saturday gone, anyway! And thankyou for the header compliments.

      So apparently Krista wrote Marry Me for her boyfriend…I wonder if he got the message? Or if he dumped her for sounding so desperate?

      After you said that about Hungary, I actually did go and read the translation. Sigh. It made me love the song even more. But I think it’s going to struggle to qualify, unless enough people feel the magic. It shouldn’t do too badly with the juries, based on what they are supposed to be looking for. OH GOD PLEASE LET IT MAKE IT!!!!

      Re: Ryan Dolan…Noooooooooo!! I will not be watching a pre-ESC live!! I just hope, if he’s that bad, they have a talented group of backup singers who can carry him. That’s what Ireland did with Jedward the last two years, so why not with him?

      Georgia on the bottom for you (of this bunch). Fair enough. It is so contrived, but I find it generally a better song and much less sickening than Russia. It still annoys me that it will probably sail through its semi, leaving behind more original entries. Same with Belarus.

      Like

  2. I am annoyed at Georgia for outsourcing to G:son, and annoyed at G:son for selling out “Quedate Conmigo” so soon, but like the perfect burger, the result is too gorgeous to resist regardless of ‘Issues’. I love it, and I think they can win, but part of me also wants to punish their mercenary approach this year.

    I still don’t get the appeal of “Eg a Lif.” It’s just too basic, like it’s intended for children or churchgoers who aren’t musically inclined. Insert lyrics here.

    “L’Essenziale” is well-written and appropriately delivered, yet I am very rarely in the mood to hear it, and tend to forget it shortly afterwards. I’ll consider it a grower, but can’t see it reaching my personal top ten overall.

    Like

    • A Georgian Eurovision would be something to behold. But all of their previous entries have been more original than ‘Waterfall’, so I’d rather wait and “let” something less derivative/cliche/et cetera take first place. Still, better this succeeds than Russia as far as I’m concerned.

      Iceland is reminiscent of a song you’d be given to learn on the recorder at primary school, now that you mention it…but I think the simplicity is nice. If it were in English, I wouldn’t be keen.

      What are your thoughts on Italy reaching the Eurovision top 10 then? I can see how it could get lost. Both the 2011 and 2012 Italian efforts were more instant. But I love this one most personally.

      Like

      • I too want Georgia to win with their own work. Much of my disappointment stems from my feeling that they are better than this, with something unique to offer.

        “L’Essenziale” is subtle. It also lacks any strong stylistic distinction, and is superficially not unlike “An Me Thimase” in being a soft ballad with orchestral backing. Given the selection of decent ballads, the understatement of Italy’s entry is unlikely to stand out as a point of contrast.
        Charisma/attraction has motivated many fans to invest the needed attention, and I’m sure the same will be true of the viewing public. Plus, it’s Italy.
        I certainly expect the juries to respond well on technical merits, but I don’t think enough televoters will put in the effort needed to see its strengths, much less rate it above all others on first hearing. My inexpert guess is 13-16th.
        I do agree however that this is the best of Italy’s recent entries, as a song, if not a vote magnet.

        Like

        • Georgia are definitely better than Waterfall! One of my favourites from them was their debut. That was very unique, quite ethnic, and well presented. And they were more or less rewarded for it (12th ain’t half bad for a debut). It’s unfortunate in my eyes that this entry is likely to do a lot better than that.

          It’s funny you should compare L’Essenziale to An Me Thimase, because I love the former and really dislike the latter. I find Cyprus so boring and Italy so not, even though I can understand why someone would find Italy boring. I guess they just hit on the right combo of notes for my personal taste.
          If Marco gets put between two much less humble songs and/or presentations (i.e. Germany and Ukraine) then I can absolutely imagine that the subtlety of his song will be emphasised. Not enough for an excellent result though. I’d probably agree with that range, although 10th/11th/12th seems achieveable too. I’ll still be keeping my fingers crossed for the top 10.

          Like

      • Yes, Georgia’s debut is among favourites — The studio version lives on my ESC playlist.
        The parallels with Azerbaijan are troubling: I loved their debut as well, but it was the Swede-written “Running Scared” that gave them a win.

        Like

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