Blog Archives

Baku Reviews: Part 3 (Greece-Latvia)

Greece

Aphrodisiac/ Eleftheria Eleftheriou

Top 10 material: Yes

The good stuff: After three years of sending middle-aged men, giant staplers and a university lecturer in a baseball cap to Eurovision (though not at the same time) Greece has reverted back to the tried-and-tested formula of a (most-likely) scantily clad young woman singing a generic but infuriatingly catchy pop song with a bit of bouzouki thrown in for adequate measure. This decision is fine by me! I’ve really missed the Helena Paparizou/Sarbel/Kalomira-esque entries that Aphrodisiac is clearly modeled after, even though in 2012 they may sound passé. Every time I hear this song, I can picture an awesome stage show that features traditional line dancing and slick choreography, and maybe a costume reveal. Then again, with the Greek economy in such a shocking state, Eleftheria may be forced to run around the stage in a hessian sack whilst her lone backing singer makes shadow puppets.

Everything else: My one major bone to pick with this has to do with the lyrics. It is three minutes of cliché after cliché about minds and times and dancing and falling and all that tired old jazz. Don’t get me wrong, I’d never expect a song like this to be all poetic and deep. I just think another half-hour or so at the writing desk could have produced some slightly more original lyrics for us all to sing along to.

Winner, loser or grower: Winner – 8 points.

 

Hungary

Sound of Our Hearts/ Compact Disco

[You’ll have to imagine a photo of Compact Disco being here, because my PC has another case of Irefusetouploadthispictureitis]

Best lyric: ‘Harmony can be achieved, just find some way to get connected…’

The good stuff: Firstly, claps for Hungary for coming back after failing to meet expectations last year (although Kati Wolf’s hairdo defied all expectations, and the laws of gravity). This year, they’ve made an interesting choice which could get them a decent result or go absolutely nowhere. Personally, I’m a fan, and I hope it at least gets them out of their semi. It’s a nice, solid pop-rock number with a well-executed chorus which screams “SING ALONG TO ME!”

Everything else: There’s not a lot to do to it – I mean, you can’t really dance to it, and waving a flag/glowstick/pair of underpants would get tedious with that tempo. Because of that, I don’t know how well it will go down in the arena.

Winner, loser or grower: Winner – 8 points.

 

Iceland

Never Forget/ Greta Salomé & Jónsi

Reminds me of: Scarborough Fair, for some reason.

The good stuff: I feel like Iceland want to win bad this year, and I’m wishing them the best of luck (how amazing would a Reykjavik Eurovsion be?) Greta and Jónsi – a.k.a. His Royal Hotness, who has already stepped on the ESC stage, back in 2004 – could well make it happen with this epic effort that makes the best use of violins since Rybak’s Fairytale. Plus, it has one of the best videos of this year’s contest. If they don’t bring the aurora borealis with them to Baku I’ll be crushed.

Everything else: I knew it was coming. After the Icelandic final, the winning song is always put back into English (if that was the original language) or is translated into it for whatever reason. But that doesn’t stop me from missing Mundu Eftir Mér, which had a little extra magic, just like Aftur Heim (which became Coming Home) in 2011, and many previous Icelandic entries. The English version in this case is at the better end of the scale, but I just don’t feel quite as strongly about it.  

Winner, loser or grower: Winner – 10 points.

 

Ireland

Waterline/ Jedward

Top 10 material: No

The good stuff: This isn’t that bad considering it has been passed over more than once, allegedly, by other artists, including Eric Saade (if he’d gone to Düsseldorf with it, he wouldn’t have proved quite as Popular. Get me?). Can Jedward improve on last year’s 8th place with it, though? I’m not so sure. It’s an inoffensive poppy number that the twosome will undoubtedly throw all their energy (which is about 100x the amount that us regular folk possess) into performing, while their hard-working backing singers throw all their energy into making John and Edward sound like their vocals are up to scratch. I like the whole watery metaphor going on in this too, although I don’t think any woman would like to go down as ‘the big one’.

Everything else: It’s both tiring and tired to have the twins back in Eurovision with no respite. At least Zdob şi Zdub gave us a break! Since they’re back with an entry that’s more album-filler than contest winner (especially in comparison to Lipstick) I think they’ll struggle to make the top 10. Europe might be over seeing double.

Winner, loser or grower: Grower – 6 points.

 

Israel

Time/ Izabo

Better than 2011: No

The good stuff: This is such a charming little ditty. I realise that using the word ‘ditty’ ages me about fifty years, but it fits Time so nicely. It’s a strange choice of song for Eurovision, but it definitely stands out from the rest in the way Malcolm Lincoln’s song did inOslo. First-time listeners will hang around to hear where it goes. The mix of Hebrew and English works well. All in all, the song wouldn’t be out of place on [Australian indie radio station] Triple J.

Everything else: With a preview video reminiscent of Daniel Diges’ for Algo Pequenito, let’s hope the Israeli Jimmy Jump doesn’t get any stage-invading ideas. Then again,Ukraine’s 2011 video was also set at the circus, so perhaps Izabo will hire a sand artist to accompany them.

Winner, loser or grower: Grower – 7 points.

 

Latvia

Beautiful Song/ Anmary

Better than 2011: No

The good stuff: Songs that tell you something usually tell you wrong – think We Are The Winners (yeah, not quite) or That Sounds Good To Me (which sounded good to nobody). But I’ve got to admit, lyrics aside, Anmary’s Beautiful Song doesn’t fall too short of being just that. It’s almost like a slower, more melodious version of Alejandro by Lady Gaga, only this songstress is too sensible to wear those ridiculous lobster claw shoes (which says a lot). I really like the way the song develops. If the lyrics were different and not acted out just so it’s clear how silly they are, I’d say Latvia made a great choice.

Everything else: Unfortunately, Anmary was born in distant 1980 when Irish Johnny Logan won, so the lyrics tell us. If only she’d been born in 1979, because ‘Milk & Honey with Gali Atari’ is much harder to fit into a song. Also, what is up with that wide-eyed look this women adopts when she’s singing (at least in the NF performance I saw)? I can only assume she was engaged in a staring contest with somebody in the audience. It’s safe to say you won, Anmary…you can blink again.

Winner, loser or grower: Winner – 8 points.

 

NEXT TIME: Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro and the Netherlands – it’s your time to be criticised and/or praised!

 

Selection Season Day 9: Announcements, more finals and Swedish second chances

Guess what? I’m not going to make this a post with a long, boring intro. It’s Saturday (again) and this is what’s happened and/or happening – and that’s all you need to know.

 

Israel and the UK presenting and representing

Israel officially premiered their song Time by Izabo on the first of the month, and as it turns out it is the song that has been on Youtube for the past week or so under the dubious title of ‘The possible actual but still unofficial entry’. Damn that dastardly internet for spoiling Israel’s plans! Although as a result of that evil entity we have had the chance to get to know the song better by this point. Who in this day and age doesn’t like getting something earlier than expected?

I suppose it’s Time for me to tell you how I feel about the entry. Well, I can certainly say that it more closely resembles something you’d find on alternative radio than at Eurovision, but why should there be a genre that isn’t ‘Eurovision’ in sound anyway? The song’s quirkiness may be its saving grace. It’s not like any of the 2012 songs so far and is unlikely to be like any yet to come. I’d describe it as a happy little ditty (if I was about seventy years older than I actually am), something left-of-field fromIsrael. I think it has the potential to be a (good) surprise on the live stage.

Speaking of things old and surprising, the UK finally broke the silence on who their act is, only to leave gazillions of fans speechless. As I’m sure you already know, a certain Mr. Engelbert “The Hump” Humperdinck – who on one hand is tremendously popular but on the other is tremendously aged by ESC standards – will be shuffling onto the stage May 26th on behalf of the UK, and there he will most likely a) rake in the votes and make the top five or b) fail miserably, which would be more consistent with the United Kingdom’s recent results. He will be 76 years old by then, which means that not only can we make lots of hilarious jokes about his name (“Hump”…hehehehehe) but we can also make references to his being up way past his bedtime when it comes to the show.

'STOP! Humpertime!!!'

In all seriousness, I do respect the man’s skill and credentials, and with some experienced songwriters at the helm of his entry, who knows; maybe he’ll be the live surprise. Part of me is still wondering what on Earth the BBC were thinking, but the other part can’t help but root for the underdog – or the old, arthritic dog in this instance (I’m sorry, I can’t help it!). Perhaps we should reserve our judgments for his song, as this is a song contest. For some reason I’m always forgetting that…  

 

It’s the final countdown for Estonia, Lithuania and Spain

Well, that’s what Wikipedia is telling me, anyway. Both Estonia and Lithuania qualified last year, but after the less-than-impressive positions they ended on, both could stand to improve by picking something stand-out. As for Spain, we’ve known since December that it’s the firmly established Pastora Soler who’ll be carrying their flag. All that’s left is for her song to be chosen from a field of three. They too didn’t live up to expectation in Düsseldorf, so will bringing out the big guns (or just the one gun) change their fortune? Maybe, so long as they keep the actual guns at home, unless we are talking about the ‘guns’ of some shirtless dancers in which case I’m all for the use of weaponry.  

I should really stop with the gun thing.

 

Second chance time in Sweden

Andra Chansen is the final obstacle (albeit one I don’t mind getting over) before the fabulous Melodifestivalen final, and the last chance for a lucky twosome to nab a place there. There’s about a 0% chance that one of the AC winners will win the whole of MF, but you never know how well they’re going to do – last year The Moniker made it out of Andra to come third in the final, beaten only by two good-looking guys in leather jackets.

Anyway, here are the four pairings that will turn into two, from which will emerge the final two songs in the March 10th decider:

Duel #1: Dynazty VS Top Cats

Duel #2: Andreas Johnson VS Timoteij

Duel #3: Thorsten Flinck & Revolutionsorkestern VS Lotta Engberg & Christer Sjögren

Duel #4: Sean Banan VS Youngblood 

There are some tricky-to-pick partnerships there, but I’ve made my predictions. Check them out with the aid of this nifty and highly complicated table (FYI, green means go).

 

I don’t really mind who makes it through so long as one of them is Timoteij. Although if I’m honest I would like the other one to be Sean Banan (cue everyone throwing banana skins at me for my poor taste).

 

That’s about all I’ve got to say for the moment. This NF season sure is making me tired, although I guess that could also be due to the countless hours I spent dancing with joy yesterday on finding out that Dima Bilan will be trying again to represent Russia next week (but more on that another time – like when he wins, for instance!). See you on the other side of Saturday…

 

Jaz