Copenhagen Reviews: Part 2 (Georgia-Italy)

Ermahgerd, people. The time has come. Aram Mp3, Sanna Nielsen and the rest of the gang have or are about to touch down on Danish soil (Basim, I assume, was already on Danish soil) and REHEARSALS HAVE BEGUN! *Insert endless string of exclamation marks here*

It’s all becoming real now, isn’t it? I’m getting to the excitement level where I’m too pumped up to fall asleep at night, so I should be in great shape by the end of next week when the TV broadcasts kick off in Australia. I’m thinking I’d better go and fashion some sort of scaffolding device for propping my sleep-deprived eyes open, so while I’m doing that, you can do what you came here to do: check out Part 2 of my Copenhagen Reviews. Here’s how I rate Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel and Italy.

 

GEORGIA

Three Minutes To Earth by The Shin & Mariko 

georgiaSounds like: it was written under the influence of a little somethin’ somethin’…

Better than 2013: No

Top 10 material: No

IMO: Last year, Georgia did their best impression of Azerbaijan when they purchased a Swedish-made ballad for Eurovision purposes. It didn’t get them as far as they were hoping, so it’s no wonder they’ve headed off in a totally different direction for 2014. Now, how to describe this direction…well, it’s Georgian, for one thing, and that I can appreciate after last year. But it is also completely bonkers. The first time I heard Three Minutes To Earth, I literally had no words. After a few hours minutes I managed to come up with something like ‘What…I…what..even…IS it?’. I couldn’t fathom how The Shin & Mariko had come up with such a ridiculous mish-mash of folk and rock and jazz and notes that sound like they’re out of tune even though that’s how they’re supposed to be, and considered it worthy of taking to a continental song contest. I put Georgia straight at the bottom of my rankings and refused to listen to the song again for weeks. Then, I braved it so I could review it fairly, and suddenly found myself more intrigued than horrified and confused. Don’t get me wrong; I’m still slightly bewildered, and I’m under no illusions of how this is going to fare in the comp. But – and call me crazy if you must – the second listen proved fruitful in making me see that this is an actual song, albeit a bizarre one. Those ‘skydivers, space jumpers’ parts (or whatever the line is) are quite infectious. The other main drawcard for me is Mariko’s voice, assuming she sounds the same live as she does in studio. It’s an unusual voice reminiscent of Platin’s (Slovenia ’04) Diana, but I like it. That’s not a lot of appeal to go on, but I have to congratulate Georgia on sending an entry that represents their country, not another statistic that can be added to Thomas G:son’s biography. 

Winner, loser or grower: Grower. 5 points.

 

GERMANY

Is It Right by Elaiza 

germanyBest lyric: ‘The time is ticking in his ear, the holy silence disappears.’

Better than 2013: No

Top 10 material: No

IMO: Who doesn’t love an underdog story? Robin Stjernberg coming from Andra Chansen to win Melodifestivalen 2013 wasn’t the highlight of my year for nothing. Elaiza’s underdog tale began when they beat out hefty competition to win the wildcard round of the German national final earlier this year. They then joined another truckload of artists in the televised rounds, most of whom were as well-known as they were not, only to progress to the final stage and pip perhaps the most established artist of the lot at the post. That deserves a round of applause *claps enthusiastically*. But I suppose the question is, does the trio’s winning song? My answer would be yes – to a certain degree. What I mean is, whilst I don’t LOVE Is It Right (nor do I love the lack of question mark in the title) there is something about it that I do rather like. It’s pop with a country feel, which wouldn’t go astray as the latest Taylor Swift single making radio rounds all over the place, and it plods along with a charm that I can’t pinpoint. It’s a bit repetitive and doesn’t have a huge amount of impact in comparison to other entries on offer, but it is catchy and karaoke-friendly, and the instrumentation is great. I really feel like this is a song true to its artists, and that they feel comfortable performing it. It’s not so much an arena-ready number as a lounge café gig track, kind of like Soluna Samay’s Should’ve Known Better or Anna Rossinelli’s In Love For A While. In that sense, the more at home Elaiza is when performing it, the better, because it wouldn’t work trying to be something it’s not. Stay true, ladies. 

Winner, loser or grower: Grower. 7 points.

 

GREECE

Rise Up by Freaky Fortune feat. Riskykidd 

greeceSounds like: Bom Bom by Sam & the Womp

Better than 2013: Can’t…answer that…Too…hard!

Top 10 material: Yes

IMO: I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m a sucker for a trumpet riff. Such instrumental inclusions into songs are the main reason I still go crazy for Ovo Je Balkan and Be My Guest, to name just a few examples. Greece, doing Eurovision in their normal effortless style, have put rap and some smooth verses to a dance beat and thrown in one of those trumpet riffs for Copenhagen, and the result is right up my street. Yes, I know this isn’t the height of originality, but how many songs are these days? All I know is that it makes me happy and makes me want to dance, and so I’ll be going for the Greeks this year despite the lack of free alcohol. Of course, my opinion on Rise Up has not at all been swayed by the through-the-roof hotness level of the three guys fronting it. Both Freaky Fortune and Riskykidd are welcome to turn up at my door and propose to me any day. But like I said, my love for them has nothing to do with my love for their song. It’s my personal dance anthem of the year, and I think it has the potential to work brilliantly in the Hallerne. On that note, however, I haven’t seen/heard a live performance of what is a tricky song to nail outside of the studio. Apparently their national final performance was a little cringe-worthy, so I couldn’t bring myself to watch it. But by all accounts, the boys had improved a ton by Eurovision In Concert and were on lists of the evening’s highlights everywhere. I just hope they’ve improved even more since then, and have figured out how to translate the performance successfully from poky TV studio to gigantic, flashy stage. This is Greece, so we can expect to see them in the final – but I want them to really deserve their place there. THEN I’ll decide which one of the three I’m going to marry. 

Winner, loser or grower: Winner. 10 points.

 

HUNGARY

Running by Kalláy-Saunders 

hungarySounds like: a much less annoying version of Waiting All Night by Rudimental

Better than 2013: No

Top 10 material: Yes 

IMO: After three years of being pretty awesome (2013 actually being totally awesome…KEDVESEM FTW WOOHOO et cetera) Hungary have brought something very good to Eurovision once again. Who do they think they are, Italy? Impressing has become almost routine since they made their comeback with Kati Wolf. Kalláy-Saunders has tried to represent Hungary in the past, and it’s with his best song that he’s finally won through, in my opinion. Running has so much going for it – it’s current and catchy, the tempo’s always changing to great effect, and it’s as far from contrived fluff about peace and love as you can get. That last point is proving a sore one with a lot of fans, I’ve noticed. People are having issues with the sensitive subject matter being raised in a forum like Eurovision, some going so far as to say it isn’t ‘right’. I don’t understand that mentality. A song about child abuse is just as suitable for a song contest as one about baking a cake, especially if you classify a ‘song’ as something with meaning. The subject isn’t being trivialised or used just to pull in votes. Who are we to say that it doesn’t have a greater purpose, and that it’s not important to András? As long as the entry continues to be treated as tastefully as it has been so far, I have no problem with it. It’s a damn good song, pure and simple. Subject aside, my fingers are crossed that Kalláy can nail his vocal when it counts. I don’t recall his NF performance being terrible, but the chorus of this song in particular is demanding. If all else fails, some overly-tight underwear should take care of those high notes. 

Winner, loser or grower: Winner. 10 points.

 

ICELAND

No Prejudice by Pollapönk 

icelandBest lyric: ‘I may stutter when I speak, but you don’t need to call me a freak. It’s not trigonometry…’

Better than 2013: Yes

Top 10 material: No

IMO: I’m not going to go on and on about how it was a mistake for Iceland to switch to English as they have so many times in the past, and that I now like their song less as a result…partly because you’ve all heard that rant a million times, and partly because I am enjoying the English version having grown accustomed to it. Pollapönk and No Prejudice signal the return of fun Iceland, and I missed fun Iceland. In addition to fun, this entry is retro and so deliberately uncool it is cool. It reminds me of something us Australians would hear on Triple J (a radio station that prides itself on playing home-grown and alternative music, rather than Rihanna then Avicii then Rihanna then Avicii then…) which wouldn’t always be a positive thing as I’m not the biggest fan of indie stuff (Europop and K-pop are my main areas of interest) but in this case, I’m all like YAY! I welcome the tracksuits and beards and sing-along chorus to Copenhagen, even if nobody else does. How the guys will go in the show is up for debate – I’m not convinced they’ll qualify, but it’s been a while since Iceland hasn’t, and in that time there has been 50/50 chances. Will they go through unexpectedly Lithuanian-style, or will they be too vintage and too purposely naff for European tastes? Time will tell. If I were on the jury or within voting range, I’d have to give this the thumbs up. 

Winner, loser or grower: Winner. 8 points.

 

IRELAND

Heartbeat by Can-linn feat Kasey Smith 

irelandBest lyric: ‘White lightning upon us again…’

Better than 2013: No

Top 10 material: No

IMO: And welcome to the first installment of Here’s A Perfectly Good Song That I Just Can’t Get Into! I’m your host Jaz, and tonight I’ll be telling you all about how…well, all about how this year’s Irish entry is not exactly speaking to me. I don’t really need to say anything else, but I will. Ireland’s national final (such as it was) was rather dull – you know that’s the case when all anyone can talk about is Linda Martin’s sharp tongue and death glare. Only two of the songs on offer were halfway reasonable as far as I’m concerned, and one of them was the eventual winner Heartbeat. The problem is that ‘halfway reasonable’ doesn’t cut it when compared with such classifications as ‘freaking amazing’. There isn’t anything particularly wrong with this. The Celtic flavour is pleasant, the chorus is well-written, Kasey’s a good vocalist and lovely to look at…but it’s missing something. Something that would give it punch, impact, elevate it to a level that makes me go ‘THAT is in the final for sure.’ At this point, I’m not sure at all. And to be honest, I’m not that bothered whether it qualifies or not. I do like it, and I want to get excited about it but I just can’t. Hey, that reminds me of another Celtic-flavoured song from recent history that I knew was good but could never connect with! What was it called? Oh yeah – Only Teardrops. Does that mean Ireland is going to elbow the competition out of the way and claim the top prize a la Emmelie? Stranger things have happened. Then again, Ireland isn’t even close to being a favourite in the odds, so that would be a very strange turn of events.

Winner, loser or grower: Grower. 6 points.

 

ISRAEL

Same Heart by Mei Finegold 

israelBest lyric: ‘I’m skinning you out.’ (Also the scariest lyric, for anyone wondering.)

Better than 2013: No

Top 10 material: Yes

IMO: A lot of tears have been shed since Israel failed to make the final in Malmö, 99% of which came from Moran Mazor as soon as the realisation of failure dawned. Like other countries that didn’t do as well as they’d hoped back then, Israel have taken a different approach now, choosing Mei internally and putting three of her songs to a vote. Same Heart came out on top, and it’s faring well with fans and in the just-about-concluded OGAE vote. With me…well, I hate to repeat myself, but yet again, this is a good song I don’t get. I prefer it over Heartbeat because it has more impact and drama, and more of a hook. I also enjoy the mix of English and Hebrew since the Hebrew hasn’t been thrown in as an afterthought. But the overflow of adoration for the song surprised and continues to surprise me, and now I’m wondering if Mei has a chance to make Jerusalem the hosts of the 60th ESC. That’s something I never considered purely based on my own opinion. Though it wouldn’t be my favourite winning song by any means, I would be interested to see how Israel would handle the contest sixteen years after they last had the honour. I’m also quite keen to see the live performance of Same Heart for the first time come semi final 2. Judging by how strongly Mei’s intensity and lyrical attack comes across through the music video, I’d expect her to be a powerful presence on the stage. Her TV talent show pedigree could indicate that her live vocal will be top notch too, but it’s not a certainty – the likes of Jedward and Ivi Adamou put paid to the myth that you have to be able to sing to have participated in a singing competition. More than anything, I hope Mei’s performance wins me over and makes me see what all the fuss is about. Just in case it is Jerusalem for 2015.

Winner, loser or grower: Grower. 6 points.

 

ITALY

La Mia Cittá by Emma 

italySounds like: My Life Would Suck Without You by Kelly Clarkson

Better than 2013: No

Top 10 material: Yes

IMO: No matter what Italy sends these days, whether I love it straight away or not, I always consider it high class. You can guarantee you’ll never see anything tacky or, to be blunt, crap, tarnishing the Italian brand at Eurovision. Emma’s La Mia Cittá continues the trend, smacking of the same-but-different magic that’s sent all of Italy’s entries since their 2011 comeback rocketing into the top 10. It wasn’t love at first listen for me and this song, so for a while I was wishing Emma could somehow sing her SanRemo winner of 2012, Non è L’inferno, in Copenhagen, because that had the same spellbinding quality of my beloved L’Essenziale. What she is actually singing sounded like an album filler track. But a few listens later, and voila! I was sold. I already loved everything about Emma herself – her attitude, raw voice and daring haircut high on the list – and I was always super excited that she was going to Eurovision, but now I think her entry is worth a fist pump too. It’s a solid one, catchy and energetic, and bound for glory of some sort. The woman can do ballads and rock equally well, but I think the rock really suits that catch in her voice (and that haircut). The outfits that she models in her video clip are crazy wonderful, and if she doesn’t wear something similarly ridic for the final I will be very disappointed. Even if she wears pajamas, you’d have to expect another top 10 result for Italy on the night. I’m not saying it’s a done deal, but like Azerbaijan, they just seem to do it with ease. Rock on, amici.

Winner, loser or grower: Winner. 8 points.

 

Another eight down, some number I don’t even want to consider left to go! Now it’s time for the traditional mini-ranking of all the countries I’ve just critiqued.

  1. Greece
  2. Hungary
  3. Italy
  4. Iceland
  5. Germany
  6. Israel
  7. Ireland
  8. Georgia

I didn’t give out any douzes this time, but there’s at least one more set to come before I type the last word on my review of the UK and all 37 are done. If we’ve ever crossed paths before you’ll probably know who’s definitely getting a 12, but in case we haven’t, I’ll give you a clue. Actually, no I won’t because I have to go and pick up some stuff from IKEA.

The rehearsals will continue in the Hallerne over on Eurovision Island, and I’ll be back later this week with Part 3 of the Copenhagen Reviews, feat. Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Portugal. Until then…

 

What do you think of the entries from Georgia-Italy? Name your personal winners, losers and growers below!

 

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 29, 2014, in Eurovision 2014, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. “Crazy?” You’re not even trying.
    I’ve adopted Georgia as my overall favourite this year (tied with Azerbaijan). It’s an aquired taste, as they say, but I really do enjoy it, and often bop along to it playing in my head (b’dup waauw bidipa-dupidum waaoo … )

    I’d like Iceland to qualify, but am also afraid of who would have to lose out instead. It is entirely appropriate that they sing in English in order to be consistent with the song’s message and intent. Communicating the meaning of the lyrics is the point, rather than prosody or ethnicity.

    I don’t consider Ireland a “grower” or any of the other categories. I think you need a fourth group, “idler” perhaps. Basically, it doesn’t do anything, and merely becomes more familiar through repetition without actually getting better. And in the contest it just stands on the sidelines while all the divisive acts get shot down to find it within a shout of winning by stealth. Again.

    Like

    • I had to listen to Georgia more than once to acquire a taste for it. It’s still a DNQ for me but I really appreciate how unique it is.

      I get your point re: Iceland. Just in terms of listening, I preferred the Icelandic version. But the English version makes it more accessible. Plus, that trigonometry line is gold!

      I may bring in the ‘idler’ category next year for songs like Ireland’s.

      Like

  2. J, You are so nailing it with these reviews. Keep up the good work.

    Like

  3. And here are the points from Germany for these 8 countries:

    8. Georgia: I agree! This song is quite chaotic! To me it sounds more like a freestyle number rather than an original song! Sorry, but “zéro points” for that!
    7. Iceland: I don’t like this song either! And I can’t see this one qualifying this year! Why didn’t anybody tell them that you only have a chance of winning the Eurovision if you wear black or white, and not blue, pink, yellow or green jogging suits!!! This year no points for Iceland.
    6. Greece: This is a catchy song, but very repetitive at the same time! And I don’t like the rap part, but it’s better than last year’s song! So 3 points for “Rise up”!
    5. Germany: I’m not overly impressed by this song; it sounds like a Polish-polka-folk-tune that is very unlike German! I would have gone with Maddy (a.k.a. Madeline Juno) or MarieMarie!
    The thing I liked about Elaiza is that the “underdog” has beaten the big favourites “Unheilig” and “Santiano” in the national final. 5 points for “Is it right”!
    4. Israel: “Same heart” is a perfect pop song and Mei a very good singer! I don’t see this going Top 10 in the final, but quite close to it, and there is no question about qualifying this year. 7 points from Allemagne!!!
    3. Ireland: I like this Irish entry, not as much as last years, but I think it’s catchy, well-written and original! And it was the best song of those five in the Irish national final! I wonder if there is a flute ban in Copenhagen too, as in Melfests’ first semi in Malmö :-)))! My heart beats for Ireland giving it 8 points!
    2. Italy: I love Emma Marrone ever since “Non è l’inferno”! I think Italy can be a very big surprise this year, but it very much depends on her live performance in the final. 10 points for a great song!
    1. Hungary: one of my favourite entries this year! And I think “Budapest 2015” is not that far away, IMO! A definitive Top 5 placement is guaranteed, when you ask me! and wouldn’t it be nice if a country wins next week that has never won before ;-)! Douze, dodici, twaalf, doce, twelve (any more languages!) points for this awesome song!

    Thank you again for your great job which is always entertaining and very interesting to read! Your blogs are “simply the best” of them all! I love reading them!

    Until next time and part 3!

    Like

    • Danke for delivering the points from Germany!

      ‘Chaotic’ is the word for Georgia, but I have to admit, on every listen I’ve had of it after the first, it’s become more like organised chaos.

      It’s a shame jogging suits don’t win Eurovision (not the suits themselves, obviously…the artists wearing them!) because I would have loved to see Loreen crab-dancing in a multicoloured one. That totally would have had the same impact:P

      I agree, the Irish song was the best of their five. It’s just a shame that we have to say that, because it’s not exactly amazing. Ryan Dolan forever!!!

      I would love Eurovision to go to a new country next year and I would LOVE it to be Hungary. It’s not impossible, but I would be surprised. Running is a great song, and I hope people can get past the subject matter to see that.

      Thanks for reading! I wouldn’t want to write much if nobody read what I produced 😀

      Like

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