As I’m sure you all know by now, early bird (who never can catch that worm) Switzerland have chosen their entry for the 57th ESC in Baku – Unbreakable by Sinplus. Already the song has divided opinion into three distinct categories: “Omigodomigod. LOVE it!”; “Not bad”; and “I would rather be strapped into a La-z-boy and forced to watch Jemini perform Cry Baby in surround sound one hundred times in a row than ever listen to this again”. I’m sitting precariously in the first category right now, and am well aware that once other songs start cropping up, the comparison will send me over the edge and hurtling down into one of the others, depending on the ability of the 39 other countries to bring it.
This is an unfortunate occurrence that seems to happen most years, which makes me sad because Switzerland is one of those countries that I want to root for. Still, they have provided Eurovision viewers with some rootable (ahem) entries in the past, and that, ladies and gents, is the point of today’s TWT. I thought I would count down my top 3 Swiss songs in celebration of when they get things right – because when they do, it’s magic (although it doesn’t guarantee a ticket to the final).
#3. Moi Tout Simplement by Annie Cotton (1993)
#2. Cinéma by Paola (1980)
#1. Era Stupendo by Paolo Meneguzzi (2008)
Paolo’s failure to qualify will forever lie in my heart (jostling for a comfy space amongst the ventricles and Christos Mylordos) as my Kate Ryan moment. It was all there: stunning song, super spunky singer and eccentrically endearing choreography. Mr. Meneguzzi was even born in Lugano, where the very first Eurovision took place, which is a sign if ever I’ve seen one. But, in 13th place, he almost-just missed out. Travesty alert! Still, you have to feel a little sorrier for Macedonia, who finished the semi in 10th place, but were overlooked for qualification thanks to the jury (who, as dictated back then, got to choose any entry outside of the top 9 to go through). They picked Sweden, who had come in 12th.
Thanks to the wonders of DVD and internet, we can at least relive Paolo’s performance as often as we wish, pretending that we are doing so purely for the song and act, and not because we enjoy admiring his pleasing aesthetics…or is that just moi?
ARTIST: Dima Bilan
ALBUM: Mechtatel (2011)
- Ya Prosto Lyublyu Tebya
- Rocket Man
- On Hotel
- Ya Sil’ney
- Lovi Moi Tsetnie Sny
- Po Param
- Get Outta My Way
- Slepaya Lubov
- Ya Prosto Lyublyu Tebya (DJ Fisun & i-DEA remix)
- Safety (Disco Fries remix)
I hate to begin with a cliché, but I can’t help comparing Dima to a good wine – he just gets better with age! My basis for saying that is all down to the saying itself as I can’t confess to being a wine person…but that’s irrelevant. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that Dima’s music appeals to me more and more with every album, although this is the first album of his I have gone (online) and paid money for, so you can guess where this review is going.
Mechtatel is Dima’s 6th studio album, and his 3rd since winning Eurovision in Belgrade. It starts off very strongly indeed with five slickly produced, catchy tracks. The first is my favourite of the whole album – the almost-title-track Mechtateli (Dreamers), a high-quality pop ballad in the mould of one of my all-time favourite songs by fellow Russians and Eurovision participants Serebro, Dyshi. It’s what sold the album to me in the first place. Zadyhayus (I’m Suffocating) is also an excellent song, one of several on the disc that make R & B and club sounds work together in perfect harmony (awful musical pun 100% intended). Safety, Dima’s unlikely duet with US songstress Anastacia – who, in a fascinating fact, performed the soundtrack to several of my school socials – is a little too Americanised, but I still get a kick out of it, and I do think his and her voices sound good together.
My other highlights would be Po Param (In Pairs); Zvezda (Star), which features Dima’s sister Anya; and Slepaya Lubov (Blind Love), which are all very different songs – one acoustic-driven pop, the next a haunting ballad, and the last a dance track that adds a Eurotrance flavour to the dance sounds that are dominating the US/UK charts at the moment.
Another bonus of the album is the accompanying DVD that features five music videos, plus a rather narcissistic photo montage of the man in various poses and stages of hair-poofiness. Watching it, you can learn a lot, including:
- The fact that Dima obviously attended the Niamh Kavanagh School of Inter-Videoclip Self-Promotion, as the Eurovision trophy has a cameo and later, as he watches the music video for Believe
- If you ever accidentally run him over with your car, he will not take you to court and sue you for every penny you’ve got, but will sleep with you instead
- And that Bon Jovi must be a hairdresser on the side, because nobody else in the world could create the bouffant poodle-do that Dima sports in the Changes video.
There isn’t much I don’t like about Mechtatel – I do prefer Dima singing in Russian, for one, and I feel like the two remixes tacked on to the end are unnecessary. I also think the track Get Outta My Way is a bit contrived and lacks the ethnic edge that often attracts me to Russian pop. But all in all, I’m loving the album. It’s a polished and modern effort that was a while in the making, and that really shows. The DVD (minus photo montage) adds another fun element to the album, despite the fact that in this day and age we can go to Youtube and watch anything, anytime, anywhere. I’m giving it four stars!
Interested? Grab your copy of Mechtatel online at eBay or Amazon.co.uk, or if you live in a country that actually devotes more than one miniscule shelf of its music stores to world music (and that shelf contains 20 copies of The Lion King soundtrack) head there.
COMING UP: Turn away, JESC haters! EBJ’s Junior Eurovision month is about to kick off big time…
I think the title says it all. Here’s one list with ten items on it. All you have to do is read away (and tell me what you think…)
1. 2007 – Helsinki, Finland
Why they’re #1: I think the Finnish show is up there, not quite with, but only a fuchsia feather’s length behind, Moscow’s, in terms of presentation and staging and all that jazz (plus, both had some very irritating co-hosts). But for me, the cutesy, quirky and oh-so-Finnish postcards of 07 completely overshadow those of 09. Every one is different and every one tells its own little story. My picks are the bride with the veggie bouquet, the Goth and his unlikely romance on a rollercoaster (see below) and the woman who manages to ride to work on a jetski, in a pencil skirt, without mussing a single hair. If that’s not talent, then I don’t know what is.
2. 2008 – Belgrade, Serbia
Why they’re #2: Beautifully shot and very original, these throw a whole bunch of elements together to produce some stunning and memorable visuals. Each one is centred around the creation of the flag of the country it introduces, and whether the end result is by paint, handkerchiefs or fruit salad, it’s always fun to watch. Extra points are awarded for the postcard scrawlings in native languages.
3. 2011 – Düsseldorf, Germany
Why they’re #3: That ‘making real places look miniature’ thing never gets old! The most recent ESC postcards raised the bar yet again, by simultaneously showing off Germany’s best bits, and telling the tales of real (allegedly) people from all 43 participating nations. Like their Belgrade counterparts, they also incorporated native languages, but all had the same message…feel your heart beat!
4. 2009 – Moscow, Russia
Why they’re #4: The Russians get douze points from me for just about everything related to their staging of the contest. Here, it’s more like seven – but a high seven. These make great use of CGI (or whatever it is), Miss World, and a lot of tank tops.
5. 2003 – Riga, Latvia
Why they’re #5: I do love postcards that feature the artists gallivanting around the host country, although after the 90s the concept was a bit stale. The Latvians put a nice spin on it by putting Jemini and Sertab etc in stop motion.
6. 2010 – Oslo, Norway
Why they’re #6: Now we’re on the lower half of the list, and as reluctant as I am to trash the hard work of a bunch of strangers (as if I could do better), I have to be truthful. Last year’s postcards weren’t bad. They just didn’t capture my attention, and they didn’t show anything of Norway. I did like the flags flying through the air (on our screens, at least) and the glimpses of the artists pre-performance…but that wasn’t enough for me.
7. 2006 – Athens, Greece
Why they’re #7: Greece is a beautiful country, no doubt about it. But there are only so many panning shots of beaches and temples and ruins a girl can take before she starts to press the skip button on her remote. I also wonder if Apple picked up on the rather familiar ‘dancing silhouette, coloured background’ slotted into these.
8. 2002 – Tallinn, Estonia
Why they’re #8: I like the idea of using fairytales, but I think these postcards in general were a messed-up mish-mash. Some were live action, some were animated (in different ways); some made sense, others did not; and all were concluded with a true but seemingly irrelevant remark about Estonia’s internet connections – just as an example.
9. 2004 – Istanbul, Turkey
Why they’re #9: Go back to number seven. Remove ‘Greece’ and insert ‘Turkey’, then remove ‘ruins’ and insert ‘whirling dervishes’ and you’ve pretty much got it. I love your country and culture, Turkey– but when I get a snapshot of it nearly forty times over in the collective space of a few hours? Not so much.
10. 2005 – Kyiv, Ukraine
Why they’re #10: Go back to number seven/nine. Remove ‘Greece’ or ‘Turkey’, and ins…okay. I’m not doing that again. Anyway, these postcards don’t just resemble those of 2004 and 2006. There’s a little bit of Estonia in them too. I stress – they aren’t bad. They just aren’t, well…good. In my opinion.
I hope you enjoyed agreeing/vehemently disagreeing with my picks. Drop by again this week for another Time-Warp Tuesday, another news roundup, and something brand new….
Contest: 53rd – Belgrade,Serbia
Representing: San Marino
Result: Last in semi final
And the gong for “Least Deserved Placing in a Eurovision Song Contest, Like, Anywhere, EVER!” goes to…San Marino, and their debut entry back in Belgrade. Well, maybe it would if this was an awards ceremony, one where I had all the power choosing who got what statuette. But I defy anybody out there to argue that Miodio and their haunting rock-ballad/dinky piano riff/slightly-too-old-to-be-a-believable love-interest-for-the-lead-singer-who-looks-about-twelve combo deserved as little as 5 points AND the utter humiliation of losing to both Belgium and Estonia (the generally regarded doozies of 2008). I have one word to describe San Marino in Eurovision – UNDERRATED. If you’re a Complice fan, perhaps you could show that you rate it by pressing play on this three minutes once or twice!