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Song Battles, Round #2: Then VS Now

Good evening/afternoon/morning, Europe/rest of the world, and welcome to a competition between Eurovision entries that is not Eurovision itself (as much as I’d love to sell tickets and slogan t-shirts on behalf of this post). A few months ago I held my first round of song battles, in which I pitted the songs certain countries sent to Baku against their counterpart candidates for Malmö, to see which ones you and I thought were better. Why? Well, there was no particular reason – I just thought it’d be fun. It was, so I’m totes doing it again. Hooray?!?

This time around, I thought it would be slightly less fun but more interesting to make entries from 2013 battle it out against those the same countries sent five years ago, a.k.a. in 2008. How do the Albanian and German songs of Belgrade, for example, compare to the Albanian and German songs fresh from Malmö? Were Croatia and Romania better back then or have they improved with age?

Am I the only one who wonders about this stuff?

There’s only one way to find out – by letting the battles of 2008 VS 2013 commence! I’ve already picked my winners, so check them out and then let me know which songs you would choose.  

 

Albania’s Zemrën E Lamë Peng by Olta Boka VS Identitet by Adrian & Bledar

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If you ask me to pick between a ballad and a rock song, chances are I’ll go for the ballad (unless it’s between a ballad and Turkish rock…there’s something about the Mor Ve Ötesis and MaNgas of the world that gets me). So Olta’s unique take on the average female ballad trumps this year’s rockiest entry in my opinion. I always found her song an interesting one, and I think Albanian comes off really nicely in it. Don’t you worry though, Adrian and Bledar. Anytime I feel like headbanging I’ll turn to you.

 

Bulgaria’s DJ Take Me Away by Deep Zone & Balthazar VS Samo Shampioni by Elitsa & Stoyan

Sound the guilty pleasure alarm folks, ‘cause here’s a biggie! Back in the time of Belgrade, I was pretty happy with the choice Bulgaria made…only to discover that nobody else was (it’s happened a few times since). I know it was dated even for 2008, and had a ridiculously long intro, and that Johanna was only there to repeat the same lyrics over and over and OVER again. But it was catchy, and as you probably know that’s my main criteria in a good Eurovision song. Plus, Samo Shampioni has a lot more wailing.

 

Croatia’s Romanca by Kraljevi Ulice & 75 Cents VS Mižerja by Klapa s Mora

This is a tough one. So tough that if they were physically fighting each other, I’m not sure who would win (75 Cents has unfortunately passed away, so you can’t say he’d be a disadvantage to the former). They’re in a similar ballpark in terms of being instrumentally rich, ethnic songs from Croatia, but I have to give the edge to Mižerja because it’s Just. So. Beautiful. It makes you feel like you’re watching the sunrise on a rugged Croatian mountaintop even if you’re actually standing in the supermarket trying to decide which brand of toothpaste to buy.

 

France’s Divine by Sebastian Tellier VS L’Enfer et Moi by Amandine Bourgeois

I’d rather have more ditsy, cruisy ditties from France in the future than slightly sleazy retro numbers, merci very much. Even if it means helium becomes an onstage fixture. It’s not that I didn’t like what France served up this year; I just adored what they did five years ago. Divine was one of my favourite entries of the year, and I can’t say that about L’Enfer. Please don’t hunt me down and strangle me with a feather boa, Amandine.

 

Germany’s Disappear by No Angels VS Glorious by Cascada

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For some of you, this would be obvious. But if we’re talking about songs as opposed to live performances, then I’m a huge fan of both. Cascada wins based on the Glorious level of dance-a-bility and anthemic-ness (I’m sorry, but sometimes you need to hyphenate to get your point across). Disappear is a bit limp in comparison. Although Natalie Horler could have done with some of the angels’ chiffon stapled to the back of her dress. It really needed some extra oomph.

 

Israel’s The Fire In Your Eyes by Boaz VS Rak Bishvilo by Moran Mazor

No contest. I’ve come around on Rak Bishvilo, but if you remember my all-time top 50 countdown, you’ll know that Israel’s Dana International-penned entry of ’08 is one of my absolute favourite Eurovision songs. Like I said earlier, I’m a fan of ballads. Yes, I know they’re both ballads…but there is a clear distinction here as far as I’m concerned.

 

Romania’s Pe-o Margine De Lume by Nico & Vlad VS It’s My Life by Cezar

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To this day, I think Romania was robbed of a better placing in Belgrade. I blame Nico’s decision to swap the fierce leather/feather dress she wore in the semi for that blah silver thing in the final (bad costumes ruin lives, people). I can’t say the same about Cezar – I’m just relieved he didn’t finish higher. Pe-o’s opera-pop vibe, mix of musical languages, and male-female dynamic is still much more appealing to me.

 

San Marino’s Complice by Miodio VS Crisalide (Vola) by Valentina Monetta

Here we have two Italian-language ballads, one of which becomes disco out of nowhere. They are San Marino’s two best entries IMO (not that there’s a lot of competition) but I’ve always had a soft spot for their very first. I figure that’s mostly because it came dead last in its semi final (I seem to be drawn towards losers) but there is definitely a smidgen of genuine love in there for this classy, mysterious ballad.

 

Slovenia’s Vrag Naj Vzame by Rebeka Dremelj VS Straight Into Love by Hannah

Poor Slovenia can’t catch a break once they make the decision to put their backing dancers in heavy-duty masks. I do think they improved on that formula this year, with a considerably less…shall we say, controversial performance. But I’ll never get over the dodgy staging that ruined the awesome Vrag Naj Vzame. I LOVE this song, darn it.

 

Ukraine’s Shady Lady by Ani Lorak VS Gravity by Zlata Ognevich

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Let’s end with a gut-wrenchingly difficult decision, why don’t we? This year, just as they did five years ago and pretty much every year in between, Ukraine brought it to Eurovision. Ani Lorak did a little better than Zlata in terms of placement, and I do like to get my Shady Lady on quite often…but…no, I can’t go past the Disney-but-not-cheesy beauty of Gravity. It’s all sunlight and majestic clifftops and CGI unicorns, and that makes it unbeatable.

 

Aaaaaaaaaaaaannndddd fin. This round of song battles is over, peeps. Though for anyone who cares, here are the stats of my picks.

Then (2008): 70%

Now (2013): 30%

Well, it looks like I generally preferred the musical buffet of Belgrade to what Malmö served up. How about you?

 

2008 VS 2013, country by country – who gets your vote?

 

NEW! Song Battles: Round #1 (2012 VS 2013)

Pitting two Eurovision songs against each other to determine which is the best for no particular reason is such an original idea, said NO ONE EVER. But that won’t stop me from inflicting my own version on you poor, unsuspecting readers. Muahahaha!

What makes my version different (to some of the others, maybe) is that each round will have a theme – for example, songs by the same artist – to make things more interesting (again, maybe). I’ll be picking my personal winners, justifying those decisions, and then asking you to discuss my taste or lack thereof in the comments. Now if that isn’t fun, I don’t know what is.

Soon I’ll be launching a series of posts that recap Baku, so today’s debut round of song battles is aptly pitting a bunch of last year’s entries against their counterparts of 2013. From Azerbaijan to Croatia and Norway to the UK, which countries are sending better songs to the ESC this time around? Check out my thoughts, then leave your own below. 

 

Azerbaijan’s When The Music Dies by Sabina Babayeva VS Hold Me by Farid Mammadov

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Still flabbergasted by Ell & Nikki’s win in 2011 (let’s just say I was never an active member of the ‘I ❤ Running Scared’ fan club) I managed to get on board with what Azerbaijan put forward as host country last year. Heck, I wasn’t just on board – I was cartwheeling up and down the deck and making a general nuisance of myself. But I just don’t see the winning potential in Hold Me, which means it’ll probably go on and win.

 

Albania’s Suus by Rona Nishliu VS Identitet by Adrian & Bledar

I think I’ve droned on about Rona on enough occasions for you guys to know I love her. But there’s always room for more droning, as far as I’m concerned! Suus is a very original and very emotional song, and with her crazy vocals it was magic on stage. Having said that, Identitet has grown on me, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m glad it didn’t get disqualified.

 

BelarusWe Are The Heroes by Litesound VS Solayoh by Alyona Lanskaya

Neither of these were originally supposed to go to Eurovision (let’s all have a slow clap for the trustworthy Belarusian NF system, shall we?) and of course, it was Alyona who was sent packing – or not, rather – in favour of cheat-free Litesound. In 2012, this was a blessing, but in 2013 I was not amused. That’s why WATH is my pick of this battle, whether in its initial rock form or post-remix disco version.

 

Bulgaria’s Love Unlimited by Sofi Marinova VS Samo Shampioni by Elitsa & Stoyan

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Sofi and Elitsa are both women with voices of an acquired taste (unless you are instantly attracted to high-pitched shrieking) but the infectious, language-stuffed Love Unlimited trumps in the song department. I thought that was one of Bulgaria’s best ever entries, and as it just missed out on qualifying, it seems I wasn’t the only one.

 

Croatia’s Nebo by Nina Badrić VS Mižerja by Klapa s Mora

Hi. My name’s Jaz and I am the only person I know who liked Croatia’s entry last year (but don’t worry, I did NOT like Nina’s dress/trash bag. I have some standards). What can I say? I enjoy any song with bells in the background. Ding dong.

 

Germany’s Standing Still by Roman Lob VS Glorious by Cascada

This is really a matter of subtlety versus in-your-face, and for me, in-your-face wins. I can’t help shaking my thing to Glorious, and it’s one of the songs I’m most excited to see live at Eurovision (‘live’ in this case meaning ‘on TV’). Standing Still is a nice song and I think Germany deserved its top 10 placing in Baku, but I need more ‘oomph’ to be 110% satisfied.

 

Hungary’s Sound of Our Hearts by Compact Disco VS Kedvesem by ByeAlex

Hungary haven’t scored as well as they should have over the last few years IMO, and I have a feeling it’s going to happen again with ByeAlex’s absolute gem of a song. I take back what I said just then about ‘oomph’ in this case, because this is a simple but stunning song. I love Hungarian to bits as a musical language.

 

Italy’s L’amore É Femmina by Nina Zilli VS L’ezzenziale by Marco Mengoni

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The Italy we see at the ESC is always classy, and I don’t think you could ever call one of their entries outright bad. I’m fond of Nina’s retro Italinglish number, but I’m head over heels for Marco. Er, I mean, L’essenziale. There’s something about Italian ballads that gets to me, and I think this is the best of the songs Italy has sent since their comeback.

 

Norway’s Stay by Tooji VS I Feed You My Love by Margaret Berger

I felt like a mother being forced to choose which of her children she loves more with this one (which in my mother’s case is an easy decision. My brother just doesn’t measure up) but the decision has been made. My obsession with Stay has faded a little since it won NMGP, but I have to stay loyal to it, since it was my favourite entry of 2012 and I spent so many hours trying to comprehend it losing the final. I still love ya, Margs.

 

Slovenia’s Verjamem by Eva Boto VS Straight Into Love by Hannah

An atmospheric ballad like Verjamem was a very Serbia-like thing for Slovenia to come out with, which makes sense since one of its composers also composed Molitva. Despite the similarities, I think it had its individual charms, and it’s certainly got more drama than Straight Into Love.

 

Ukraine’s Be My Guest by Gaitana VS Gravity by Zlata Ognevich

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Ukraine rarely fails to impress me. They just ‘get’ Eurovision, and they always send a top-notch artist who can belt one out (or more, if required). Zlata may be the Queen of Belters, and although Gravity lacks the quirky fun factor of her last attempt to represent her country, The Kukushka, it’s a definite contender for victory. I will be very surprised if it doesn’t considerably improve on Gaitana’s result.

 

The UK’s Love Will Set You Free by Engelbert Humperdinck VS Believe In Me by Bonnie Tyler

Another year, another big name from the UK with a slightly too old-fashioned ballad. Still, at least they’re going younger. At this rate we should get an entrant under the age of 30 by 2025. But let’s not be ageist, not when this year’s song is a lot better than the last. It is to me, anyway – I tried to love Love Will Set You Free, but eventually the charade became too much and I had to call it quits. Believe In Me is more current and a lot catchier, and after a couple of listens I was willing to wave a Union Jack with genuine enthusiasm.

 

So that’s that; but what exactly does ‘that’ tell you? Well, the overall result of the duels is as follows:

58% of my winners came from 2012

42% of my winners came from 2013

If those numbers are any indication, the standard of 2012 was higher than the standard of 2013 in my book, though not by a massive margin.  

Now it’s your turn to battle. I want to know if you totally agree with me, partly agree with me…or think I’m bonkers with a side serving of very poor judgment when it comes to the above duels. Which songs would be your winners?

 

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SONG CONTEST SHOWDOWN | The top 10 of 2016 VS the top 10 of 2017 (+ vote for your favourites!)

I’m back…again!!! I’ve had to announce my comeback after an extended blogging break pretty often in the past, so I figured why stop now?

My excuse is the same as always: even though Eurovision is my one true love, the older you get the busier you tend to be, and the more commitments you tend to have that keep you from sitting in bed in your pajamas writing about Europop (sadly). Having said that, I will do my best to be here on EBJ as often as possible in the lead-up to Junior Eurovision, the start of the 2018 NF season, and beyond. I’m like Valentina Monetta – you can’t get rid of me permanently and I’ve only made it to the Eurovision final once.

Since my last post, a lot of stuff has happened on Planet Eurovision: JESC switched venues (!); Eurovision Asia officially became A Thing™ (!!!) and Louis Walsh admitted that he thought Ireland would float – hot air balloon pun intended – straight through to the final in Kyiv (?!?!?). Even so, today I wanted to talk about something else. More specifically, I wanted to engineer a song contest showdown in which particular pairs of ESC entries would go head-to-head until, as Ryan Dolan might say in this situation, only one survives (from each battle). I actually started a similar series ages ago but accidentally forgot to continue it. Oops.

For no reason other than I felt like it, this song battle reboot will pit the top 10 tracks of Stockholm 2016 against their 2017 counterparts – so that means Jamala VS Salvador Sobral, Sergey Lazarev VS Sunstroke Project, and (amusingly) Frans VS Robin Bengtsson (because Sweden is apparently awesome at finishing 5th). I’m going to weigh them up against each other musically, crown my personal champ and then give you guys the chance to vote for your preferred song from each pair. Make sure you read through to the end (a toilet break may be necessary at some point) to vote for the best overall top 10.

Stockholm VS Kyiv – which city’s left-side scoreboard was superior? Let’s get this showdown started and find out!

 

 

Battle #1 | 1944 by Jamala VS Amar Pelos Dois by Salvador Sobral

They’re both brilliant brunette vocalists who made me burst into tears with their emotional performances. I worship the phenomenal woman-power of one and want to give the other one a bone-crushing hug. But which artist had the better winning song? I’m sorry if you wave your pom-poms for Team Salvadorable, because I have to say IT’S YOU JAMALA. This is my opinion, obviously, and you’re welcome to disagree with it. But I was hypnotised by 1944 from first listen, and when it won it was my #1 entry of the year. Amar Pelos Dois took time to tug at my heartstrings, and it’s not something I’ll press play for as often as I did (and still do) with last year’s winner.

Winner 1944

 

Battle #2 | Sound of Silence by Dami Im VS Beautiful Mess by Kristian Kostov

This is more of an apple-to-apple comparison than most of the other head-to-heads on this list, which actually makes it easier to pick a winner. If I were an Australian who’d be on the Olympic podium for patriotism (if that event existed) then this battle would not be in Bulgaria’s favour. But I like to consider myself pretty objective, so – as kick-ass as Dami’s performance was, and as much as I admire the Sia-esque power pop of Sound of Silence – Kristian’s Beautiful Mess is a better song in my brain. It’s just as strong in studio as it is when you see it on stage, whereas Sound of Silence relied a lot on the pizzazz of the performance to push it into top-two territory.

Winner Beautiful Mess

 

 

#3 | You Are The Only One by Sergey Lazarev VS Hey Mamma by Sunstroke Project

There are a lot of differences between the two songs that have taken home the bronze at Eurovision in the last two years. In a way, YATOO was the Italy 2017 of 2016 – a big longstanding favourite that didn’t follow through in the end (though Sergey came closer than Francesco); while Hey Mamma was a massive surprise in terms of propelling Moldova into the top three for the first time. Personally, I loved Hey Mamma immediately and want to weep with joy every time I remember that it came third, whereas YATOO was a track I hated at first (because I thought it was a terrible ESC throwback) but came to love later. I listen to them both on repeat, but my favourite of the two has to be Hey Mamma because it’s a totally 2017 slice of Europop – with a generous dollop of Epic Sax on the side – that never even had to try  to win me over. Sergey fans, don’t be so mad…if you knew me, you wouldn’t be surprised.

Winner Hey Mamma

 

#4 | If Love Was A Crime by Poli Genova VS City Lights by Blanche

They both wore black and sang (mostly) in English, but that’s where the similarities between Poli and Blanche come to a screeching stop. I guess you could also say that both ILWAC and City Lights were examples of so-cutting-edge-you-might-need-a-BandAid pop music, but the songs have totally different vibes. For the most part, I’m more likely to lean towards an upbeat song that I can awkwardly dance to (my take on Poli’s choreography is unfortunately reminiscent of the Chicken Dance), so even though I do think City Lights is a brilliant song – and I’m so happy Blanche got over her nerves to deliver a performance worthy of the top 5 – ILWAC is too irresistible for me to…well, resist. Summer hit > melancholy electro-bop. Just.

Winner If Love Was A Crime

 

#5 | If I Were Sorry by Frans VS I Can’t Go On by Robin Bengtsson

DAMN YOU, SWEDEN, FOR FORCING ME INTO THIS DECISION BY FINISHING FIFTH TWICE IN A ROW!!! Even if this is your first visit to EBJ, you can probably sense the Swedophile status that makes comparing something Swedish to something else Swedish and deciding which one’s superior a heart-palpitating task for me. There’s never been a Eurovision song from Sweden that I haven’t at least liked (2009’s La Voix is just noise, not a song, so it doesn’t count) and my relationship with their entries from 2016 and 2017 is more than platonic. But…giving in again to my penchant for a danceable piece of pop, I’m declaring I Can’t Go On the winner by one of Robin Bengtsson’s perfectly-groomed chin hairs. That’s because the second I hear it start, I perk up and prepare to sing loudly over the top of him, and If I Were Sorry doesn’t have that power (sorry!).

Winner I Can’t Go On

 

#6 | J’ai Cherché by Amir VS Occidentali’s Karma by Francesco Gabbani

Now THIS might be a controversial battle – either because you guys will be split down the middle, or because it’s actually an easy one for me but that might have some people plotting my death. I like Occidentali’s Karma a lot, and always have (‘always’ = since February when we first heard it), even if I suspected for the longest time that Eurovision 2018 wouldn’t be popping up in Italy. It’s fun, it’s catchy, it makes astute observations AND it has its own dance á la the Macarena…what’s not to like? Nothing. But you know what? I like it rivers, and I love J’ai Cherché oceans. Amir is just adorable (it’s not his fault that his name doesn’t illustrate just how precious he is, unless it’s not too late for ‘Amir-acle’ to catch on) and J’ai Cherché is a masterclass in sunny, uplifting – but not cheesy – folk-pop. It’s one of the few songs you can clap to without feeling like an overly-enthusiastic dad at his kid’s soccer game. C’est magnifique.

Winner J’ai Cherché

 

#7 | LoveWave by Iveta Mukuchyan VS Yodel It! by Ilinca & Alex Florea

This fistfight is a no-brainer for me to call champion on, so I won’t keep you in suspense. Simply put, LoveWave has aged better over the past year-and-a-bit than Yodel It! has in a matter of months – for me, anyway. I have to be in the right mood to listen to Alex and Ilinca doing their yodel-rap duties these days, and if I have even a hint of a headache, forget it. Iveta, while not one of my favourites from last year’s contest, left a more sophisticated and less irritating legacy behind (and she really put the ‘leg’ into legacy).

Winner LoveWave

 

#8 | Color of Your Life by Michał Szpak VS Origo by Joci Pápai

For those of you who’ve forgotten about the epic scoreboard leap Poland made in Stockholm, here’s your reminder (I don’t have room to insert the GIF, so just pretend I did). I don’t begrudge Michał his awesome last-minute result, but in this battle he was bound to lose. Even if he’d turned up at my front door with pleading eyes and a million-dollar bribe (which shockingly, he didn’t), the love I have for Origo would have seen me slam the door in his face – while being careful not to maim any of his majestic man-hairs, of course. Joci Pápai’s ethno-dance dream was and still is my douze pointer of Kyiv’s 42, so nothing short of my all-time favourite ESC entry (Lane Moje by Željko Joksimović, FYI) would have a shot at changing my allegiance.

Winner Origo  

 

#9 | I’ve Been Waiting For This Night by Donny Montell VS Don’t Come Easy by Isaiah

Donny definitely wins the showdown when it comes to song title length, but does victory come easier to Isaiah (HA HA) in terms of song quality? And another question: will I be deported if I say no? Let’s find out. I don’t think many Eurofans would argue that Donny himself and his second Eurovision song have more of an x-factor than Isaiah and his song – ironic given that Isaiah won The X Factor. It’s probably down to Donny’s more extensive stage experience and showier personality, plus an entry that just happens to be more exciting and have more mass appeal. That appeal does extend to me, although I am fond of Don’t Come Easy. But *packs suitcase* I just *heads to port from which I’ll be shipped off to a faraway land for being un-Australian* prefer Donny’s package. No dirty thoughts, please…you know what I mean.

Winner I’ve Been Waiting For This Night  

 

#10 | What’s The Pressure by Laura Tesoro VS Grab The Moment by JOWST

Squeezing into the top 10 in 2016 and 2017 were two great tracks from Belgium and Norway. For the former, it was their second consecutive year on the left side of the scoreboard, while the latter country was clawing their way back up after a DNQ on Swedish soil. But who did 10th place better? I’m pretty torn, to be honest. Laura’s grand final opener put the fun into funk and proved yet again that saxophones are as effective at Eurovision as they are in George Michael’s Careless Whisper (a.k.a. VERY). JOWST, on the other hand, brought something uniquely 2017 to the contest stage with lyrics that I previously crowned my faves of the year. As much as I want to be loyal to Laura, I think I have to go with Grab The Moment because it’s a little cleverer and a lot more original.

Winner Grab The Moment

 

 

Okay…we’ve finally made it through the entire top 10 of both Stockholm ‘16 and Kyiv ’17. Now the main part of the show(down) is over, in true ESC style it’s time for some overall results.

2016 = 5

2017 = 5

DAMMIT. It’s a tie – practically Eurovision 1969 all over again (but on a much, much smaller scale and minus booms + bang-a-bangs). I am going to break this tie though, looking at the entire top 10 of each year and deciding which one was stronger – for me. BRB.

*several hours later*

Okay, I’ve got it. The winner is…

 

 

Maybe I’m a bit biased since I was there (#subtlebrag) but I do think the overall kick-assery of the 2016 top 10 is slightly more forceful – there was practically a residual shoeprint – than the 2017 top 10. Do you agree? If you voted in the polls above, then I’m guessing you won’t mind voting in this one to let me know.

 

You can give me the lowdown on all the super-important choices you made above in the comments. Not gonna lie, I kind of want someone to start a fight with me over “the clear superiority of Sergey in comparison to Sunstroke Project Vol. II”. Just remember, if we all liked the exact same songs to the exact same degree, Eurovision would be extremely predictable and pretty boring.

But obviously, I’d still be obsessed with it.

 

 

 

A Belgian waffle: Reviewing and predicting Eurosong 2016 (feat. a bit of boyband fangirling)

The national final train has been chugging along since December 2015, courtesy of Albania. Next stop? Belgium, defending champions of the title for Unexpectedly High Placing of the Eurovision Most Recently Past.

Dutch-language broadcaster VRT are in charge of choosing Loïc Nottet’s successor, which would normally be worrisome – the majority of Belgium’s decent results of late have been credited to French-language broadcaster RTBF. But, be it a coincidental turning of the tide or a totally calculated analysis of what catapulted Rhythm Inside to 4th place in Vienna, VRT have stepped it up for 2016. The five-strong line-up they’ve put together makes the likes of the Swiss final look and sound ten times worse than it already did (sorry, Switzerland, but a douze-worthy NF you have not).

Today, as we look ahead to tonight’s third and final installment of Belgium’s Eurosong, I’m going to take a look (having had a listen) at the potential ESC entries from Adil, Amaryllis, Astrid, Laura and Tom. Read on to find out which artists have songs up their sleeves that I’d vote for (there’s three!), which artists would bestow upon me a toilet break song in Stockholm if they were to win this evening (that’s the other two), and, probably most importantly, which artist and song I think is going to grab the golden ticket with ‘YOU GET TO REPRESENT BELGIUM! IS THAT AMAZEBALLS AF OR WHAT?!?’ stamped on it. As indicated by the (hilarious) title of this post, I might waffle on a bit below, so brace yourselves for that.

WAIT!!! I almost forgot. There’s one more something-something I must take care of first. I promised you a bit of boyband fangirling, and gosh darn it, I’m going to give it to you! Because, as we now know, the rumours flooding social media and the Irish media were not just rumours – earlier this week, it was confirmed that 1/5 of Westlife will be representing the Emerald Isle in May, and that excites my boyband-adoring self very much. Sure, Nicky Byrne isn’t the 1/5 I used to moon over when I was younger and (slightly) more pathetic – that was Kian Egan, who was to Westlife what Nick Carter was to the Backstreet Boys (a.k.a. a floppy-blonde-haired dude whose 2D face I had stuck to my wall in poster form). But I am going to be seeing a member of Westlife IN THE FLESH, so I don’t even mind that much.

nicky-byrne-strictly-come-dancing

Is this the face of Ireland’s eighth Eurovision winner? I doubt it, but it’s a pretty face nonetheless.

Admittedly, I’m more pumped about Ireland’s choice of artist than choice of song at the moment. I don’t want to be too quick to judge, but Sunlight, while being radio-friendly and competent, is also pretty forgettable. I have literally forgotten how it goes. But time will tell whether a stellar live performance from Nicky can change my tune, so to speak. I think it would help if he takes his shirt off about thirty seconds in….though maybe that’s just me. You can clarify – how do you rate Ireland’s chances at Eurovision 2016? Obviously it’s a bit hard to predict given we’ve only got two songs so far, but for me, Albania’s>Ireland’s. Do you agree or disagree?

 

Right – that’s the interlude of fangirling (a relatively restrained one, by my standards) out of the way, so let’s move out of the Sunlight and onto Eurosong.

 

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No more messing about! I’m going to dive straight in to reviewing the 60% fab, 40% not-so-fab-but-still-decent Belgian hopefuls competing tonight. In alphabetical order according to the artist’s first name in lieu of a running order, of course.

 

In Our Nature by Adil Aarab I had no idea what to expect when I sat down to listen to these tracks for the first time. I certainly didn’t think I’d be blown away by song numero uno. But…I LOVE THIS. I love everything about it, and yes, that love does extend to the copycat choreography harking back to Loïc’s mid-song nanna nap. I’d use many of the same buzzwords to describe this as I used to describe Rhythm Inside, too – i.e. interesting, current, and appealingly minimalist. It’s an underdog for the win, but COME ON, EUROVISION GODS!!

Kick The Habit by Amaryllis Uitterlinden Things went a tiny bit downhill from there with this intriguingly quirky yet slightly irritating number. Still, I think Amaryllis’ song is another indication of VRT learning from their own mistakes and from RTBF’s successes. I don’t want Kick The Habit to win, and I don’t think it’s in any danger of doing so.

Everybody Aches by Astrid Destuyver Firstly…isn’t this Molly Sterling singing under an alias in order to have another crack at the contest? I’m fairly confident that it is. And if so, she’s returning with a song that may have a depressing title, but isn’t half as melancholy as Playing With Numbers. I can imagine Margaret Berger nailing a cover version of this, which automatically makes it cool. Astrid/Molly’s voice is cool too – she’s got what’s probably the most unique voice of the five. I’d love to see something like this hit the stage in Stockholm.

What’s The Pressure by Laura Tesoro This title bugs me. ‘What’s the pressure’? Has anybody ever uttered that particular combination of words? I think not. Pushing that aside, however, I just want to DANCE MY ASS OFF to this track. It’s more infectious than a common cold in a crowded carriage of that aforementioned NF train, and is by far the most energy-packed effort of the evening. To me, it’s got winner written all over it. And, if Adil’s not going to win (which he isn’t) then I’m relying on Laura topping the scoreboard instead. You go, girlfriend.

I’m Not Lost by Tom Frantzis Mid-tempo indie rock rarely parks up my street, and post-first listen of I’m Not Lost, I was duly unimpressed. But I figured I’d give it another chance, and I did end up enjoying it more the second time round (kind of like the leftover pizza you have for breakfast the morning after the night before). Like the four songs before it, it avoids cliché, and it does have a strong sing-along chorus. Tom’s great live, too. I just can’t shake the feeling that his song should be played in the background of an Olympics montage or something, and not competing in the musical battle to end all musical battles (which would be the ESC, not Eurosong). But will I be mad if it wins? Not any more.

 

Based on those first and/or second impression opinions, I’d give eight points to Astrid, ten to Laura, and a big ol’ douze points to Adil (everybody on Team Adil put your hands uuuuup! *waves lonely hands in the air like I just don’t care*). But I don’t actually get to do that, since, in an absolutely shocking turn of events, I wasn’t asked to be an international jury member by VRT. After everything I’ve done for them! Trashing their Eurovision entries, wishing they were more like RTBF…

Oh, okay. It makes sense now I’ve thought about it.

ANYWAY, as I mentioned before, VRT have gone above and beyond in the wake of Rhythm Inside’s success, offering up a selection of songs (mostly) worth salivating over. There are no creepy odes to mothers or cheesy cries of ‘Nothing is impossible!’ to be found here, and that’s one heck of a relief. Deciding which of the non-creepy, non-cheesy songs is going to Stockholm tonight will be the Belgian public, plus an allegedly esteemed panel of jurors hailing from Sweden, the Netherlands, France, and a whole bunch of countries who’ve never voted for Belgium at Eurovision (something Belgium clearly wants to change). The public and jurors will decide on a top two, and that pair will proceed to the second and final round of purely public voting – so the ultimate power lies with those peeps eating popcorn on the couch. Now I’ve explained to you something you already knew, it’s time to make my first official prediction of the 2016 NF season:

The top two What’s The Pressure and I’m Not Lost

The winner What’s The Pressure

Honestly, I wouldn’t put any money down on that prediction – when it comes to fifty-fifty decisions, I usually head in the wrong direction. But, based on mass appeal and YouTube views (a highly scientific approach, no?) I would bet on Laura and Tom being the chosen top two. I think Laura is Belgium’s best chance of Swedish success, given that What’s The Pressure is ridiculously catchy, reasonably memorable (THIS is how you write a radio-friendly song that isn’t vanilla, Ireland) and could be staged impressively at Eurovision. If she does win tonight, Laura will be the fourth Belgian act in a row to have graduated from The Voice to the ESC. Is that a sign?

What do you think? Is a victory for Laura written in the stars (The Voice being Belgium’s ESC entrant store of choice lately) or will Tom take the prize instead? Maybe it’ll be an underdog who impresses the jurors and the public enough to clinch the win? Fill me in on your hopes and expectations for Eurosong down below!

 

Until next time (when the Class of 2016 will have become a trio)…

 

2015sig

 

EBJ turns FIVE!! | My top 10 JESC entries of Era EBJ

Hello there. Welcome back to the most popular blog in the world that features ‘Eurovision’, ‘by’ and the name ‘Jaz’ in the title, and to today’s lucky last fifth birthday post. I am she who goes by Jaz, and I will be your captain on this flight through JESC past.

Now, if your reaction to the mere sight of a Junior Eurovision-related post was something like this…

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…I’m sorry, but I totally warned you at the end of my previous post that this was coming. For those of you who are Team JESC as well as ESC (high fives all round) it’s probably coming at a time when you’re pretty pumped for the 2014 edition. The show will be held in Malta in approximately two months, fourteen days and nine hours, not that I’m keeping track. Amazingly, it will be the biggest one we’ve experienced in a long time, with the likes of Serbia and Bulgaria returning, plus Italy (!), Montenegro (!!) and Slovenia (INFINITE EXCLAMATION MARKS!) making their respective debuts. Remember just a couple of years ago when JESC was on the brink of being cancelled? Not any more, folks. So, partly to wind up my overly-long blog birthday celebrations, and partly to kick off the warm-up to Junior season, I present to you my top 10 entries since EBJ began – which unlike in the case of adult Eurovision, includes the 2009 contest.

If you want to check out my top 10 of all time, you can do that here. If you’d rather just read on, I’ll stop rambling and let you get on with it.

 

#10 | Vumgerit marmeladebs, gemriel shokoladebs, vtsekvavt ertad candy party-ze…

Candy Music by CANDY (Georgia 2011)

You may (but probably won’t) recall that I seriously disliked this song the first time I heard it. It was my least favourite of Year Yerevan right up until the Candy girls ditched the gold lamé and afro wigs for those adorable pink and white confections, and had their mini Christina Aguilera warble her way into my heart. I mean, I still wasn’t thrilled when Georgia won that night, but looking back I think it was the right decision. Candy Music is freaking catchy, and encapsulates the effort and individuality we’ve come to expect from this country in JESC.

 

#9 | Du vet väl att jag faller, när du går förbi, när du tar min hand…

Faller by Erik Rapp (Sweden 2011)

Whenever I’m reminded that Erik didn’t win Swedish Idol last year (*insert the Swedish word for ‘travesty’ here*) I find that taking a bajillionth-or-so listen to his kick-ass Junior track makes me feel slightly less outraged. You guys know I have Sweden’s flag permanently glued to my hand every ESC/JESC season, so a little bias is creeping in here (and will do to all the Swedish songs I’m yet to mention) but Faller’s maturity, melody and slick production speaks for itself, and I genuinely love the sound of its voice.

 

#8 | För nu idag, nu känner jag, nu känner jag att har mitt mod…

Mitt Mod by Lova Sönnerbo (Sweden 2012)

Oh hai there, Swedish song number two. This one from Lova was an understated, heartfelt ballad with lyrics that I can really connect with. I’m not sure what that says about me considering I’m ten years older than Lova, but whatever. It’s just pretty, okay? Plus, it showed us that Sweden can pull off something pared-back with as much success as something OTT (perhaps involving exploding glass).

 

#7 | Dar, cât nu e prea târziu, tu întreab-o, cum să fiu…

Cum Să Fim by Rafael (Moldova 2013)

I present to you now a prime example of a ‘love it or hate it’ entry. Rafael’s ear-piercing vocals had many fans running for their nearest earplug stockist, and I understand that. However, I fell in love with this song instantly, and no amount of pre-pubescent screeching or questionable English lyrics were going to change that. It has the same majestic, Lion King-esque vibe that had me hooked on the likes of Zlata’s Gravity from the beginning. So for future reference, if you want to write a song that will win me over, you know how to go about it.

 

#6 | Vsia zemlia, moi zori, moia simian…

We Are One by Sofia Tarasova (Ukraine 2013)

Ukraine came reasonably close to doing the double with this entry, which, based on style and performance, could stand up in the adult contest. We Are One is a stellar combo of dance and dubstep (with a smattering of ethnicity) that is repetitive enough to be infectious, but not so much – with the language and music variations – that it irritates. Of course, Sofia’s ability to sing the s%!t out of it makes the whole thing that much more appealing, as did those awesome laser light effects. BRB…installing a set in my bedroom to spice up the décor.

 

#5 | Nebo vidkryi nam ochi, syl nadai ity, ya…

Nebo by Anastasia Petryk (Ukraine 2012)

Ukraine couldn’t have attempted a back-to-back win without Anastasia winning for them in the first place (duh). She gave the fairly successful JESC competitor their first victory in the comp, performing her dubstep number with an intensity beyond her years (and giving us all nightmares in which deceptively adorable little girls with long blonde hair strangle us to death). She topped the scoreboard easily, which I didn’t see coming at the time, but which made me go YAAAAAAAAASSSSS because I loved (and still love, obviously) Nebo.

 

#4 | När vi går tillsammans framåt, för det är dit vi ska…

Det Är Dit Vi Ska by Eliias (Sweden 2013)

Opening last year’s show in Kiev was Eliias, whose top-notch track was unfortunately blighted by the Curse of Puberty (also suffered by Macedonia’s Dorijan in 2011). Untimely voice breakages aside, it made an excellent starter. It’s got competency and catchiness, and strikes the perfect balance between mature and youthful that always has me supporting Sweden in Junior. Bravo, DADVS (because ain’t nobody got time to type that title out more than once).

 

#3 | Ik kijk heel diep in zijn ogen, en zie duizend regenbogen…

Zo Verliefd (Yodelo) by Laura (Belgium 2009)

Once upon a time, this was my ALL-TIME FAVOURITE JESC ENTRY WOOHOO. Although Laura has fallen a little in my estimations over the years, I still find her yodel-fest irresistible. It’s the kind of song that can drag you out of even the most serious funk faster than anything else, according to my recent and extremely unscientific studies. So if you’re feeling a little yode-low, take my advice and pipe this down your ear canals, stat.

 

#2 | Inch anem, chgitem, vor na, indz barev ta ev imana…

Mama by Vladimir Arzumanyan (Armenia 2010)

Borrowing Kalomoira’s giant storybook paid off for the Armenian delegation in Minsk. Vlad snatched the trophy from the Russian duo’s overly-cheery jazz hands thanks to that prop. Oh, and his awesome song! Mama is like a fine wine, except rather than getting better with age, it stays as epic as it always was (my apologies for using alcohol to describe a song written by a 12-year-old). This is ethno-pop at its finest, people, and anyone who disagrees…well, is perfectly within their rights to do so. But the statuette that I assume takes pride of place on Vlad’s awards shelf suggests otherwise.

 

And now, the best entry to have graced JESC in my blogging life…

 

#1 | Är det någonting alla kan få, om jag ramlar tar du emot mig då…

Du by Mimmi Sandén (Sweden 2009)

Yeah, yeah, it’s another Swedish one. Get over it! You would have seen this coming anyway if you read my all-time top 10 list. All three Sandén sisters have been uh-mayzing on their Junior outings, but Mimmi is the only one eligible to make this list and despite my love for Molly’s Det Finaste, she usually comes out on top in any case. Du, again, is a song that could hold its own in adult Eurovision; and yet, the electro/r & b sound contrasted nicely with the younger-sounding entries from Russia and the Netherlands, for example. To sum up, Du = perfection in a sequined miniskirt.

 

EBJ extras: Allt Jag Vill Ha by Josefine Ridell (Sweden 2010); Supergeroy by Ivan Ivanov (Bulgaria 2011); Teenager by Rachel (Netherlands 2011); Kak Romeo I Dzhulyetta by Katya Ryabova (Russia 2011); Abracadabra by Fabian (Belgium 2012); Poy So Mnoy by Ilya Volkov (Belarus 2013).

 

That’s all for today, ladies and gents of the Junior persuasion. I hope you got some enjoyment out of this trip down memory lane (or flight, or whatever mode of transport I used to describe what is really just a list of words in the intro) and that you’re ready to share your own preferences below. If you’re also on Team Junior, what have been your favourite JESC entries from 2009 until now?

 

COMING UP

x  Spotlight on…Austria

x  Song Battles: ESC vs JESC

x  PLAYLISTING | My picks to turn non-Eurovision fans into ESC obsessives

x  A sexy new look for this here blog to celebrate the upcoming 60th contest, and ‘cause I felt like giving it a makeover!

 

I’m a joker, but it’s no April Fool: The joke entries of 2000 and beyond, in brief

May I extend to you a pinch and a punch for the first day of the month? I do so without any fear of retaliation, unlike in my school days when I used to dread any 1st for fear of being attacked by child-sized fists.

Anyway, it is April 1st, a.k.a. the day people feel really stupid when they fall for a hoax. Last year I fell for www.eurovision.tv’s epic joke, and I promised myself it wouldn’t happen again. So today, when I saw this ↓

joooke

I had my wits about me and managed not to be fooled (Jaz: 1, some guy sitting in front of a computer screen: 0). I figured those of you who did fall for this or any other April Fool today would not want to be humiliated again, so for that reason my post today is not a joke (FYI: the real reason is that I just couldn’t think of a good one). But it is full of jokers. Eurovision has seen its fair share of novelty entries over the decades, and most of the media/non-fans take great pleasure in latching on to them and implying that the entire contest is made up of dancing pirates, singing vampires, and cyborgs going by the name of Sasha Son (what? His hand was on fire and he didn’t even flinch!). What day of the year could be more appropriate to discuss them on than this one? ‘None whatsoever’ would be the correct answer to that question. So, in the immortal words of PeR, here we go.

I feel like I can only speak with authority about more recent joke entries. Plus, there has been a lot over the years, and I’m sure you’ve got better things to do than try and understand what the heck I’m talking about all day thanks to the world’s longest blog installment. So the following compilation I’ve put together celebrates the not-so-serious songs from Stockholm 2000 onwards. I’d also like to say that these are what I define as joke or novelty entries, or at least entries that aren’t supposed to be 100% legit. You have the right to disagree, but we all have the right to our own opinion. With that little disclaimer out of the way, here’s a playlist of the entries that were supposed to make us laugh, and/or make a point, with those I actually enjoy (guiltily or not) highlighted for your convenience. 

 

Dancing Lasha Tumbai by Verka Seduchka (Ukraine 2007)

A Luta é Alegria by Homens da Luta (Portugal 2011)

Copycat by Patrick Ouchene (Belgium 2009)

Leto Svet by Kreisiraadio (Estonia 2008)

Weil Der Mensch Zählt by Alf Poier (Austria 2003)

Party For Everybody by Buranovskiye Babushki (Russia 2012)

Wadde Hadde Dudde Da? by Stefan Raab (Germany 2000)

Drama Queen by DQ (Denmark 2007)

The Social Network Song by Valentina Monetta (San Marino 2012)

Flying The Flag (For You) by Scooch (UK 2007)

Divine by Sebastian Tellier (France 2008)

Vampires Are Alive by DJ Bobo (Switzerland 2007)

Euro Neuro by Rambo Amadeus (Montenegro 2012)

Irelande Douze Pointe by Dustin the Turkey (Ireland 2008)

Samo Ljubezen by Sestre (Slovenia 2002)

Wolves of the Sea by Pirates of the Sea (Latvia 2008)

We Are The Winners by LT United (Lithuania 2006)

Beautiful Song by Anmary (Latvia 2012)

Sa’me’akh by Ping Pong (Israel 2000)

Woki Mit Deim Popo by Trackshittaz (Austria 2012)

Baila El Chiki-Chiki by Rodolfo Chikilicuatre (Spain 2008)

Congratulations by Silvia Night (Iceland 2006)

 

Some facts and figures about these jokers ↑

– 13 participated in a semi-final, but of those only 2 qualified to the finalParty For Everybody and Wolves of the Sea. As we all remember, the Russian grannies scored their way into 2nd place, but the pirates had to be satisfied with 12th place.

– 3 made the top 5: Party For Everybody, Dancing Lasha Tumbai  and Wadde Hadde Dudde Da? from the ever classy co-host of Eurovision in 2011, Stefan Raab. PFE and DLT are the most successful joke entries on the list.

– Weil Der Mensch Zählt and We Are The Winners both made the top 10, both ending up in 6th place. So they weren’t quite the winners after all.

– 3 of the songs were performed by men dressed as women; 2 by artists’ alter egos; and 1 by a hand-operated puppet (insert joke here about anyone you like, insinuating that I’m not referring to Dustin the Turkey).

– In 2010, the EBU established a Most Apathetic Performance award, to be given to any act from the previous 50+ years that put the least amount of energy possible into their three minutes. It was ultimately awarded to Ping Pong. (Okay, this may be a slight April Fool in that I made it up. Not that I would have fooled anyone, so that was pointless).

–  There has been 2 ESC entries sung in an imaginary language, which you might expect from a joke entry – and yet neither of those was in any way funny. One (Urban Trad’s Sanomi) was brilliant, and the other (Ishtar’s O Julissi) was beyond a joke.

– It seems like outlandish, themed dressing immediately sets off the joke alarm. If you watch some of these entries on mute, they look almost normal – think Patrick, LT United and Anmary. But there’s no mistaking the ‘yikes!’ factor of Verka, Stefan and Scooch, to name a few. My tip for making a costume guaranteed to not get you taken seriously? The shinier and matchy-matchier, the better. Extra points for wearing something on your head (a hat, a pineapple…it doesn’t matter).

 

I’m sorry for this rubbish April Fool’s Day post. If you have any ideas of how I could make up for it next year, for the sake of all that is rhinestone-encrusted TELL ME IMMEDIATELY! If not, why not let me know which joke entries are your favourites (if any) down below?

 

NEXT TIME: It’s time for a new series of posts, and they ain’t gonna be pretty! Coming up is the first round of EBJ Song Battles, which will pit the songs of 2012 against the 2013 offerings to see whether Baku or Malmö reigns superior. Then, it’s the best of the runner-ups from this year’s NF season, in review.

 

SUPER SATURDAY #5 | Guy Sebastian, O-M-Germany and Andra Chansen predictions!

Well, well, well…what a big, controversial week it’s been in the Eurovision-verse!

After Eduard Romanyuta’s questionable win in the Moldovan final last Saturday (Belarus and their completely-legit-for-once NF are seething with jealousy) we had a) Australia announce the artist we’re sending to Vienna, a choice met with a whole lotta negativity; and b) the winner of the German final decline the ticket to Eurovision on live TV. Forget about Days of Our Lives – selection season is where all the drama’s at this year.

I’m going to be giving my verdict on said drama right here, right now. I’ll also be revealing the results of the Andra Chansen polls you guys voted in to help me predict tonight’s Melodifestivalen qualifiers. Believe me when I say that I needed all the help on the planet (not that I got all the help on the planet, but I got a decent amount, and I’m very grateful. So, yeah. Thanks).

But first, let’s take a look at the upcoming events on the ESC calendar.

  • TONIGHT: Portugal’s Festival da Canção final; Sweden’s Melodifestivalen second chance round; the United Kingdom’s entry reveal
  • SUNDAY: Romania’s Selecţia Naţională final
  • MONDAY: Poland’s entry reveal
  • TUESDAY: Belgium and the Czech Republic’s song reveals

With three events taking place this evening, we’ve arrived at the penultimate Super Saturday in the lead-up to Eurovision 2015. Enjoy it for Portugal, Sweden or the UK – or perhaps all three – while it lasts!

 

What a Guy? Idol alumni to fly the Aussie flag in Vienna; not everyone’s happy about it

…and what shocking news that is. Since when did we all not agree on absolutely everything concerning Eurovision?

Since FOREVER, that’s when. But quite frankly, I’m appalled at the negative reactions to Australian Idol’s first winner Guy Sebastian being announced as Australia’s representative. It’s amazing how quickly people can change their tune when they don’t get what they want.

Guy wasn’t at the forefront of my mind as I waited for Julia Zemiro and Sam Pang to quit stalling and just tell us who it is, goddammit, on Thursday morning. But once Guy did walk out in his triple-denim ensemble (which he was totally rocking, by the way) I felt both relieved and excited by the choice.

In front of the waiting press stood an artist who had risen to fame through a TV talent show back in 2003, and had managed to sustain his popularity and success all this time via album releases and arena tours, plus a three year stint as an X Factor judge. There, he mentored two winners in a row, no doubt drawing on his own experiences to guide them.

Sure, it was clear during the press conference that Guy was no Eurovision expert, but he’d done his homework. And, since he had accepted the offer to participate and clearly saw it as an honour (which it bloody well is!) we know he’s viewing this as a positive career move – but, as he stated, it’s much more that that. It’s a chance for him to be a part of something special and represent Australia on an international stage.

AUSTRALIAN EUROVISION ANNOUNCEMENT

Playing Jemini’s performance of ‘Cry Baby’ for Guy wasn’t the best idea SBS had ever had…

As an Australian Idol tragic from way back, I will be proud to wave a flag – or a placard reading ‘GO THA FRO!!!’ which you’ll understand if you’re a fellow Aussie – for Guy come May. I remember being a 12-year-old reality TV fan, watching him warble his way through week after week on the show, never putting a foot wrong. I also recall voting (more often than I should have at $2 per phone call) for him to win the comp over bloke’s bloke Shannon Noll.

He did, and shortly afterwards he was off to London to fly the Australian flag in the World Idol competition (which was my first taste of anything remotely ESC-like, and I LOVED it). He didn’t exactly set the scoreboard on fire there, but I wasn’t too bothered since I was busy lamenting the last place of Dutch Jamai Loman. I wasn’t to know that seeing the Netherlands’ entry fail miserably would be good prep for my future as Eurovision freak.

Fast forward to 2015, and it’s clear that the World Idol experience didn’t affect Guy negatively. In fact, it probably prepared him for Eurovision as much as something un-Eurovision related could. He’s released seven top 10 albums in Australia – two of which topped the charts – and had seven #1 singles. His 2012 single Battle Scars, featuring Lupe Fiasco, charted in Scandinavia and the US, and scored the duo a performance slot on The David Letterman Show. Not too shabby of a career, is it?

And yet many people – including a lot of Australians – couldn’t be outraged fast enough by his selection as our ESC artist. They were also quick to compose articles detailing the many acts who would be ‘better for Eurovision’. Real classy, guys. Don’t give the man a chance to pick out and premiere his song or anything. Don’t wait for five minutes until he’s tested it out at Eurovision in Concert, or until he begins rehearsals in the Stadthalle and we see how the staging and song come together – just slag him off now because he’s not your ideal representative!

That was sarcasm, in case you were unsure. We all had preconceived ideas of who would be the most suitable choice, and no matter what happened, not all of us were going to be happy. But to be one of those haters who, in Guy’s words (a.k.a. Taylor Swift’s words) were gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate when it’s not going to change anything, is unnecessary. There’s a difference between voicing your opinion and just being mean. Would Guy Sebastian be my ultimate pick to represent us? No. But as it stands, we will be represented by someone credible, talented, current and versatile, who’s in it for the right reasons. And I reckon that’s quite a coup on behalf of SBS and Blink TV.

With the March 16 submission deadline approaching, we’re sure to hear the Australian entry in the near future. That’s when I hope fans will toe the line between voicing their opinion and respecting the opinions of those who disagree with them. I also hope that when it’s go time, Guy can defy the negative expectations and give Australia a performance – and result – to be proud of.

 

Germany: Winners aren’t always grinners as Andreas makes way for Ann Sophie

Aaaaaand rant over! Now I’m turning my attention to some controversy of a different kind, which came from an unlikely source – Unser Song Für Österreich. I swear, Belarus must be horrified that they’re no longer the perpetrators of the most scandalous NF in Europe.

Germany’s final came to an end on Thursday night with wildcard entrant Ann Sophie and Black Smoke taking out the top prize. Of course, that was after initial winner Andreas Kümmert shocked everyone watching, hosting and participating in the show by refusing to be crowned champ and handing the title over to her instead. How do you say ‘Oh, the awkwardness!’ in German?

untitled

What’s the betting this was all an elaborate plan to have physical contact with Ann Sophie?

If you want to relive the cringe-fest as it unfolded, you can do so here (with English subtitles). While you’re doing that, you might wonder why Andreas decided to enter USFO in the first place. Did he not think he had a chance of winning? Was he always intending to say thanks, but no thanks (or danke, but nein danke) if it came to that, or did it suddenly occur to him that he wasn’t ready for Eurovision when it DID come to that? Whatever the reason, he’s tossed Ann Sophie a massive bag of mixed feelings, I’m guessing.

It’s like Andreas was Miss Universe (if you can picture him in an evening gown with a plunging neckline) and Ann was runner-up, only for her to nab the crown when Andreas dethroned himself on the grounds of not feeling universe-y enough. She’d be thrilled to have it on her head, but she’d always know that she hadn’t been the judges’ first choice. You’ve got to feel sorry for her, having been put into a position like that.

Still, she will be taking the short trip to Vienna – as will Black Smoke. It’s the only USFO song I’ve listened to at this point, and while it’s not an indication of Germany being back at their Raab-driven best, it has a lot of pros.

It’s not a ballad (which has turned out to be a major plus this year); it’s a well-crafted pop song that could be on the radio pretty much anywhere right now; and it has a stylish and confident performer in Ann Sophie. With a bit of work on nailing her choruses, she’ll do just fine in May. I don’t think she’s got the goods to get Germany back on the left side of the scoreboard, but she could well outdo Elaiza’s 18th place with a song that has greater mass appeal than Is It Right?

That’s assuming Andreas doesn’t change his mind and demand his winning title back. You heard it here first!

 

Sweden’s second chance round is ready to roll + the AC poll results revealed!

Week 5 of Melfest has arrived right on schedule, which means nobody lost the stage as it was being carted cross-country. Helsingborg is playing host to this year’s Andra Chansen round with a difference. Instead of two songs fighting two battles each to win their way into the final, there’ll be four qualifiers tonight. Each must win just one duel to get the golden ticket they’ve been hoping for since being relegated to AC in their respective semis.

Let’s cut to the chase and review/predict those head-to-head musical fistfights, shall we? Remember, the predictions are yours and mine. Thanks again to all of y’all who voted in the polls.

 
Duel 1: Bring Out The Fire by Andreas Weise VS Forever Starts Today by Linus Svenning

d1

WHO I WANT TO WIN: This is a tough one. I want to say Linus, but he lacks the vocal power and confidence that Andreas has in spades. Both songs are reasonably derivative, but catchy and well-staged. Hmm…I’m going to have to go with Andreas, based on the quality of the whole package.

WHO WILL WIN: With 73% of your votes, Linus. So I guess I’m in the minority, then!

 
Duel 2: Guld Och Gröna Skogar by Hasse Andersson VS I See You by Kristin Amparo

d2

WHO I WANT TO WIN: Hasse brings some old-fashioned fun to the proceedings, but it’s hard to bypass Kristin’s impeccable and powerful vocal performance. If she goes to the final, she’ll have Jessica Andersson quaking in her stilettos for sure.

WHO WILL WIN: 76% of you say it will be Kristin. Look out, Jessica.

 
Duel 3: Hello Hi by Dolly Style VS Make Me (La La La) by Dinah Nah

d3

WHO I WANT TO WIN: Hello Hi is my guilty pleasure of the year, but there is something about those three wig-wearing, pastel-clad dollies that irritates me. Dinah’s song is the equally dance-driven, but more sophisticated fighter in this battle, so I hope she takes this one out.

WHO WILL WIN: 71% of you believe Dinah will do it, and leave Dolly Style in her dust.

 
Duel 4: Det Rår Vi Inte För by Behrang Miri feat. Victor Crone VS Groupie by Samir & Viktor

d4

WHO I WANT TO WIN: I was rooting for both of these in their separate semis, but now they’re butting heads, it’s Behrang, Victor, and apparently Malena Ernmann all the way. The addition of Malena seems like a random and slightly desperate vote-pulling tactic, but if it works, I won’t be complaining.

WHO WILL WIN: This was a close call, but edging ahead with 57% was Behrang and Victor.

 
So, to sum up, together we’re predicting that Linus, Kristin, Dinah and Behrang/Victor will progress from AC direkt til final. I’d be fairly happy with that outcome!

 

That’s it for another Saturday-night ramble, folks. I’ll leave you to your NF-viewing preparations as I undertake mine (they mostly involve pre-event napping…it’s hard work, but somebody has to do it).

Let me know what you think of all things Australia, Germany and Sweden down below – and your thoughts on anything else Eurovisual you’ve been dying to get off your chest. Just think of me as your official ESC therapist.

Seriously, I’ve put it on my résumé and I’d really like it to be true.

 
nsig