Eurovision 2014 newsy happening of the week #1: Bosnia & Herzegovina have done the hokey pokey with the contest again (you know…in, out, in, out) and it seems they are out for good this time. Well, at least for another year. Damn it either way. I really don’t appreciate my emotions being toyed with like that, B & H.
Eurovision 2014 newsy happening of the week #2: Copenhagen’s theme art has been revealed, and it is a big, blue something that looks like this:
I’m ignoring the #JoinUs that is the slogan (must we hashtag everything these days? One Eric Saade in this world is enough!) and focusing on the logo itself, which I love. It’s attractive, streamlined, and actually relevant once you’ve listened to the justification from the Danes-in-charge (I won’t go into detail, but there was something about ‘different facets’ in there). As they always do, the logo is receiving mixed reviews, but you just can’t please everybody. If that were possible, then I wouldn’t continue to groan inwardly whenever Emmelie de Forest’s name is mentioned.
Eurovision 2014 newsy happening of the week #3: Oh, it’s only the UKRAINIAN NATIONAL FINAL, AMIGOS! Believe it or not, the latest NF season is about to kick off, and for once, it’s not Albania or Switzerland responsible. Powerhouse Ukraine will be the first country to select their entry for next May today, and that is the main focus of this here post.
I’m not going to undertake a long, boring review of every song competing and make long, boring predictions about who’s going to win (only to be accused of vote-rigging/plagiarism/musical hypnotism…oh wait, that’s Belarus) to accompany it. The reason for this – because under normal circumstances, I adore writing rambling reviews – is that it is nearly Christmas (!) and there is a lot of business to take care of for that occasion, and since that is taking up a lot of time and there are twenty songs in Ukraine’s NF after all, I can’t get too bogged down in it. So this is a compromise from somebody who was too keen to cover the first final of the season to miss out completely. If you’re time-poor and/or feeling lazy like me, this is for you.
This is the line-up for tomorrow’s show, which gets going at the odd time of 11.15am CET:
- 5 Stars Hotel by Anna-Maria
- Wanted Dead Or Alive by Roman Polonsky
- Tsvetok by Uli Rud
- It’s My Life by Marietta
- Why by Stas Shurins
- Waiting For You by Anatoly Shparev
- Love Makes You Beautiful by Nataliya Valevska
- No Fear by Lissa Wassabi
- Byti Tam De Ti by Vlodimir Tkachenko
- Moya Dusha by Shanis
- Love Is Lord by Viktoria Petryk
- Strelyanaya Ptitsa by Evgeny Litvinkovich
- Courageous by NeAngely
- I’m Alive by Illaria
- Let Go by Tatiana Shirko
- Believe Me by Tania BerQ
- Tick-Tock by Mariya Yaremchuk
- Na Krayu Propasti by Viktor Romanchenko
- Yesli Yest Lyubov by Anna Hodorovska
- Love by Denis Lyubimov
To give you a taste of the offerings above, I decided to choose a sample of the songs to review based purely on the artist names and song titles that jumped out at me as potential winners, or at least enjoyable listens…and also, on what was available on Youtube. Does this give an accurate impression of the overall standard? Probably not. But never mind – these are the entries I chose, and this is what I thought of them!
Wanted Dead Or Alive by Roman Polonsky
I’m confused. I was drawn in by Roman’s obvious desire to be Ukraine’s own Pitbull based on his appearance, only to be blindsided by his choice of bizarre Western-rock-pop-something fusion. His look does not fit the song, and the song doesn’t know what it wants to be…and yet, I didn’t have a terrible time listening to it. It’s just a shame for Roman that the mystery woman vocalists’ parts were my favourite.
Tsvetok by Uli Rud
Weird and wonderful, this has zero chance of winning, but I really like it. It has a whiff of I Feed You My Love about it, but in Ukrainian, the mystique is upped, and the overall impression is softer. I can see a dark and dramatic staging with dance moves direct from the Loreen School of Flailing Limbs making it something special, at least to watch. I hope Uli (who is not a man, which came as a surprise to me for some reason) is a decent live performer so it works aurally too.
Why by Stas Shurins
On the plus side, this isn’t a depressing ballad in which some pathetic guy pleads with his departing ex to stay and nags them to tell him why the heck they’re leaving him. It’s more of a mid-tempo soft-rock number in which the not-overly-pathetic Stas does some pleading and quite a lot of nagging, but in a way that doesn’t quite make you want to jump off a cliff. It’s harmless, but Ukraine are fiercer and better and they won’t send it.
Love Is Lord by Viktoria Petryk
I couldn’t go past this one. JESC runner-up of 2008 and older sister of last year’s winner Anastasiya, Viktoria, has reached ESC age and decided to aim for the adult contest. This excites me. Her oddly-titled song doesn’t exactly do the same, but it’s solid and catchy, and I feel that it could be great if some changes are made. Lyrically, it’s pretty ridiculous (which means it won’t fit in at Eurovision at all, said no one ever) so if a re-write would be one of those changes, I say let Love Is Lord loose in Denmark.
Courageous by NeAngely
These two ladies are of the hot, fierce femme fatale mould that Ukraine routinely pop their artists from, and their dance anthem is slick and infectious, if a little been there, heard that – like, a million times before. I guess the reason we hear this stuff so often is because it works, and I have been sucked in yet again. I would be happy for this to go to Copenhagen, and if it does I will be standing on my couch, punching the air and singing along to that banging chorus in five months’ time.
Let Go by Tatiana Shirko
Me likey this too…ey. Tatiana has a haunting voice that adds interest to an already unique song. Perhaps this isn’t right for Eurovision – it’s not that instant and lacks punch – but it’s one of a few that reaffirms Ukraine as a country that doesn’t just go for the cookie-cutter stuff when picking their NF line-up. I will listen to it once the final is over.
Tick-Tock by Mariya Yaremchuk
About twenty seconds in, I thought to myself, we have a WINNER! But this didn’t head to as promising a place as the start would have you believe. It’s still a good pop song with a nice bit of quirk though, and I think it has a decent chance of winning.
Love by Denis Lyubimov
There has been a lot of ESC and ESC-related songs called Love over the years – good, bad and WTF. I had to know where this fit in. The answer? None of the above. It’s not that good, it’s not that bad, and it’s too vanilla to be WTF, but again, I quite enjoyed the listen. Denis is a little piece of eye candy and has a voice that could husk corn (don’t ask, because I don’t know) and with the whole 90s indie-rock vibe of this Love, there’s a neat little package here that won’t provide stiff competition.
From those eight random picks, I can conclude this: Ukraine’s level of average is equivalent to some other countries’ level of excellence – i.e., they are bringing it. What I’ve heard makes me excited to hear the rest, and I’m imagining that there are gems in amongst them. I should also let you know now that if one of the above eight happens to win, I will be gloating until the end of forever that I predicted the champ based on name alone.
In the meantime, why not sample the potential Ukrainian reps for yourself, if you haven’t already? If nothing else, it’ll get you into the spirit of the season (by which I mean national final season, unless you find NFs particularly festive).
I’ll see you on the other side of the first final for 2014, albeit actually taking place in 2013 (duh). The fun is beginning again, ladies and gents!
Are you pumped for NF season to begin? Who do you want to represent Ukraine in Copenhagen?