Blog Archives

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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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!


A surprising post (not): reviewing + predicting February’s final super Saturday

Hey hey, it’s Saturday! No, this post isn’t about the TV show of the same name that you will know if you’re a fellow Australian. It’s actually about Eurovision (shocking). At last, we have a Saturday that is truly super, with multiple entries being decided and one being debuted. As such, there’s no time to waste with long intros. I’ll make up for that next time with an extra long and extra boring intro, but for now…lights, camera, action!


Hungary…for Eurovision victory?  


Since they rejoined the Eurovision family in 2011 (when the last memory we had of them was an over-tanned dance machine wearing the tightest pants ever manufactured) Hungary has been on form. Sure, they haven’t constantly hit the highest of heights, but they’ve qualified for the final every year since Kati Wolf of the Bouffant Hairdo, and made top 10-worthy magic with Kedvesem last year (still my one true love). ByeAlex got me excited to see what his country would produce next, and then so did all the fans who said the A Dal lineup for 2014 was über awesome. As such, I couldn’t resist having a sneak listen to the final eight, chosen after quarter and semi finals – despite my earlier decision to leave Hungary as a total surprise. So yeah. I did. And here they are.

  • Running Out of Time by Victor Király
  • We All by Bogi
  • The Last One by New Level Empire
  • Csak A Zene by Depresszió
  • Running by Kállay-Saunders
  • It Can’t Be Over by Fool Moon
  • Brave New World by Dénes Pál
  • A Legnagyobb Hős by HoneyBeast

The video of snippets I watched told me that yes, the level is pretty high. A few of the songs grabbed me immediately, and the rest stroked me gently on the shoulder as if to say ‘you could grow to love us’. If I had to pick favourites based on just a taste, these would be my most delicious picks:

Running Out of Time cute but not cheesy pop with a chorus that sticks.

The Last One – it’s kind of dance and kind of not. The mystery intrigues me.

Running – this guy did very well in A Dal last year, but I like this song much better.

It Can’t Be Over – I do love me some Group Cosmos, but if this wins it could well be the best a cappella entry to have graced the ESC stage.

So who’s going to try and out-score Kedvesem in Copenhagen? I guess a more important question is, should I step back and leave the predicting to those of you who’ve heard the songs in their entirety? I think yes. I would be happy for any of my preferences to win, so let me know below if that’s likely to happen, or if I’m going to have to learn to love something else. How high do you think Hungary can go at Eurovision this year?   


Hola, Mira Quién Va A Eurovisión!

That’s ‘Look Who’s Going To Eurovision’, if Google Translate is correct. I have to hand it to Spain for being extremely organised without seeming to be at all. They had their songs, they had their NF date, and we knew nothing about either of them until very recently. Since then, however, we’ve all listened to and passed mostly positive judgment on the five prospective entries, and tonight is the moment of truth. Which one of these ridiculously good-looking Spaniards will fly the red and gold in May?

L-R: Raúl, Brequette, La Dama, Ruth and Jorge, pretending that they don’t hate each other’s guts. Sweet!

L-R: Raúl, Brequette, La Dama, Ruth and Jorge, pretending that they don’t hate each other’s guts. Sweet!

  1. Más (Run) by Brequette
  2. Estrella Fugaz by La Dama
  3. Dancing In The Rain by Ruth Lorenzo
  4. Aunque Se Acabe El Mundo by Jorge González
  5. Seguir Sin Ti by Raúl

We have dance, we have ballads, and we have key changes. We also have a lot of awkward Spanglish which seems unnecessary, but that can be taken care of later (it better be *shakes fist threateningly*). There are great, good, and not-so-good elements in all of them, but there is one that stands out for me. If I had the power, I’d rank them as follows:

  1. Más (Run)
  2. Aunque Se Acabe El Mundo
  3. Estrella Fugaz
  4. Dancing In The Rain
  5. Seguir Sin Ti

Si – Brequette’s the one, as far as I’m concerned. I’m not convinced she could do a Pastora Soler, but her song is the only one that doesn’t put me off with something dated or cliché (such as the painful key change in Raúl’s song). It does bear a resemblance to a certain other song, and if it wins the cries of plagiarism will be heard around the world because that’s what people do these days (just STAHP!) but let’s face it, most songs do sound like other songs in some way (so JUST STAHP!).

Going by the predictions of the masses, tonight is ultimately a catfight between Brequette and Ruth Lorenzo, so it will be interesting to see how the results pan out. I do believe it will be one of the two that ends up on top, and even if that one is Ruth I can make peace with it. What about you? Who should Spain select and who should they steer clear of?


Sweden – have they saved the best for last?

It’s hard to comprehend that we’ve already arrived at the last semi of Melodifestivalen. Time flies when you’re enduring the agonizing wait between national finals that are actually final.

The Örnsköldsvik semi includes a lot of returning artists, i.e. Alcazar and last year’s surprise success, Anton Ewald (a.k.a. one of my many future husbands). But do big guns come armed with big songs? Listen and decide for yourself here.

  1. Blame It On The Disco by Alcazar
  2. Fight Me If You Dare by I.D.A
  3. Hollow by Janet Leon
  4. Raise Your Hands by Ammotrack
  5. Hela Natten by Josef Johansson
  6. Ta Mig by Linda Bengtzing
  7. En Himmelsk Sång by Ellinore Holmer
  8. Natural by Anton Ewald  

Stefan Mattsson (1)

I think Sweden has almost saved the best for last. This semi’s just a little weaker than last week’s, which I thought was the best so far. The returning artists are bringing it for the most part, and there are a few newcomer surprises too. Here’s my top 4:

Hollow – this is hard to compare to Janet’s last entry Heartstrings, but I think I prefer this. It’s a pop ballad that is less depressing than the title would have you believe.

Hela Natten – say hello to my hands-down favourite of the semi! Josef looks like a younger version of Darin (Swedish superstar/Melfest alumni/my beloved) and his song could have been lifted from a Darin album easily. His voice is different though, and if he’s a good live performer this could be amazing in the arena.

Ta Mig – Linda has swapped schlager for electronic pop with a rock edge, and it works for her. Song-wise, I’d rather E Det Fel På Mig (her last effort) but this has appeal.

Natural – Anton’s Begging was a surprise success last year, and he’s the favourite of favourites in this semi. Natural isn’t quite as original, but it’s a perfectly wonderful club banger. I hope his backing singers are up to the task of carrying him, Eric Saade-style…

Now, to predict. I’ve been trying to figure out why my Melfest predictions always feel wrong no matter how I configure them. I’ve come to the conclusion that I just don’t know how Sweden thinks, so I’m constantly uncertain. Oh well…embrace the uncertainty!

To the final: Linda and Anton

To Andra Chansen: Alcazar and Janet

I might be putting too much faith in the returning artist gimmick there. We’ll see. I’m actually hoping for yet another favourite + underdog pairing to go straight to the final. Anton and Josef, anyone?


Meanwhile, elsewhere in Europe…

There are a couple of other things happening tonight, but they’re hardly worth mentioning. All we’re getting out of them is THREE MORE SONGS, PEOPLE! Gosh! Why are you being so blasé about it?

Oh wait, that was me.

  • Latvia’s Dziesma final (another one as yet unfollowed by moi) is ready to roll with 12 songs in the running to represent. I’ve never considered Latvia’s NF one not to be missed, and in missing it again, all I know is that one half of PeR obviously didn’t take their Malmö fail too hard, since he’s back already to have another shot. And also that Samanta Tina is becoming the Latvian equivalent of Sanna Nielsen, so if she wins tonight I’ll take it as a good omen for Sanna.
  • FYR Macedonia is presenting their (freshly changed) song tonight after internally selecting Tijana Dapčević around the same time dinosaurs began to walk the earth. Instead of premiering the initially selected Pobeda, they’ll be premiering the English version of Tamu Kaj Što Pripagjam…at least from what I gather. It’s called To The Sky, which I suppose is a better name for a competition song than To The Bottom of the Scoreboard With Zero Points. My fingers are crossed for a gem.
  • Lithuania’s mammoth quest to find their entry/rep continues with show no. 456386858711…haven’t we all lost count? This time, something significant IS taking place, with the song (but not the artist) to be determined. That’s as far as I can see, anyway. It’s Confusion Central over there in Lithuania.


Yikes – I think that’s enough to satisfy even the most demanding ESC fan. The only bad thing is that, if you don’t want to fry your brain, you’ve got to choose which NF/presentation to tune in to. Whatever you watch, enjoy it, and may your favourite win! Unless it’s different to mine, in which case stuff you, I want mine to win.

What? Honesty is the best policy.

See you on the other side of Saturday…

EBJ Signature