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Baku Reviews: Part 2 (Croatia-Georgia)

Croatia

Nebo/ Nina Badrić

Reminds me of: Wonderful Life by Hurts

The good stuff: I’m a little bit obsessed with Croatia, so I generally have a soft spot for their entries, many of which I feel do not get the points they deserve (I’m thinking Lako Je Sve, not Celebrate *shudder*). But I swear I’m not being biased when I say I love Nebo. I know it hasn’t been that well received, but there’s something about it that just gets to me. Nina’s voice is really raw, like she often breakfasts on gravel, which works well for the rocky style of the ballad. I think the chorus is strong, and the bells/gongs/dropping of cookware onto a tile floor (whatever those ding-dongs are, basically) are the cherry on top.

Everything else: Croatia are in the second semi alongside most of the other Balkan countries, who as we know manage to swap decent amounts of points between each other in spite of the jury influence. But there’s still a lot going against them. I mean, it’s Croatia – one of the less fortunate of this bloc in terms of qualification. Then you have to consider what Nina has to overcome to make the final (e.g. Željko Joksimović) and the fact that as usual, the second semi is going to be the toughest to escape. All of this won’t faze non-fans of Nebo, but it does worry lil’ ol’ me.

Winner, loser or grower: Winner – 10 points.

 

Cyprus

La La Love/ Ivi Adamou

Reminds me of: Titanium by David Guetta

The good stuff: I’m not quite in la la love with this one, despite the fan frenzy and good odds for it to win. It’s a decent dance track with a chorus more infectious than the Black Plague, and it’s certainly something different for Cyprus. It’s like the composers took three or four songs from the top of the iTunes charts, spliced them all together, wrote some new lyrics (nothing too deep or meaningful) and voila, this was the result. For me, Cyprus’ last three entries have been better.

Everything else: The elephant in the room here – although nobody seems to be shy in discussing it – is the mystery of Ivi’s vocals. You would think that having been on The X Factor would guarantee she could at least hold a tune (although Jedward were on theUK version…) but the performances of hers I’ve watched from her time on the show were less than impressive. Plus, having lip-synced at the national final and pulled out of Eurovision in Concert, there’s no record of her singing this song live (that I know of). She has the potential to crash and burn when it comes to the live show.

Winner, loser or grower: Grower – 6 points.

 

Denmark

Should’ve Known Better/ Soluna Samay

Best lyric: ‘Feels like I’m always living out of my suitcase, what about all the years in between, just trying to find my place…’

The good stuff: Has Anna Bergendahl had plastic surgery, changed out of her Converse and upped the tempo on This Is My Life in order to represent Denmark this year? As possibly the only fan of that entry from 2010, for moi that is not an unpleasant possibility. This song surprised me by winning Dansk MGP, but it really was the best choice. It’s cruisy and catchy and has a very reliable, charismatic artist at its helm (an appropriate term considering the nautical theme of Soluna’s NF costume). There’s definite winner potential here, and even more definite top 10 potential.

Everything else: I’m hoping the Danes take inspiration from Sweden, and turn up in Baku with exactly the same outfits as those they wore in the NF. Yeah, I know I’ve already mentioned the clothes, but what can I say? Aesthetics play a big part in the contest, and the hat and the shoulder pads were a seriously striking visual.

Winner, loser or grower: Grower – 7 points.

 

Estonia

Kuula/ Ott Lepland

Top 10 material: Yes

The good stuff: A year ago, I just did not get the whole thing with Rockefeller Street, and in the end neither did Europe. This year, Estonia has got me good with this amazing ballad – their first native-language entry since 2009. Back then, Urban Symphony cracked the top 10, and I think Ott deserves to do the same. Each individual section of Kuula is magic: the verses, the chorus, that other bit before the last chorus that nobody knows the name of…sigh. Also, we should get a great vocal performance from this guy, which is always a plus. Unless you’re listening to Mariah Carey sing Gangsta’s Paradise or something.

Everything else: This is another entry that could be a little boring, presentation-wise. I hope Estonia at least use the inevitable LED background to their advantage, so there is something else going on.

Winner, loser or grower: Winner – 12 points.

 

Finland

När Jag Blundar/ Pernilla Karlsson

Reminds me of: Love by Sasha Son

The good stuff: I love Swedish, so I’m thrilled that in the day and age where Sweden are unlikely to send a song in it, another country has decided to do so. This is a humble ballad in a year of epic ones, but I really like it. It did take me a few listens to develop such affection, but it happened. Finland are rather hit-and-miss in the ESC, and you never know what they’re going to come up with, unlike more predictable (and successful) countries such as Greece. This year, they’ve come up with a gem, although it does beg the question: who do we listen to – Pernilla, who closes her eyes? Or Max Jason Mai who doesn’t want us to? Confusing.

Everything else: Is this song too humble to advance? It is in the first semi which consists of the weakest competition, but it’s no way a cert to make it out. I can’t see the televotes flooding in for it, nor the juries rating it extra high. Then again, coming directly after Belgium in the running order may make it sound like the most exciting thing since Steps announced they were reforming. Then again, again, coming before Israel may make it instantly forgettable.

Winner, loser or grower: Winner – 8 points.

 

Georgia

I’m A Joker/ Anri Jokhadze

Better than 2011: No

The good stuff: If there’s anyone out there who can help me pad out this section, please – DO! I just don’t know what to say, Congratulations, Georgia, you have made me speechless. I guess I feel like this song would only be useful as the background music in an acid trip (which would in turn be enough to put anyone off drugs for life).

Everything else: What is this? Seriously. Anri, it’s very apt that you’re a joker because your song is a complete joke – an unfunny one with dreadful wording. The only reason I’m not giving it nothing is because there is another song that somehow manages to be worse, but I’ll get to that in another lot of reviews. And I will admit to liking the instrumental bits. Mainly because they have no lyrics…

Winner, loser or grower: Loser – 2 points.

 

NEXT TIME: Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel and Latvia become the next nations to be slid under my microscope and examined in the lab of this blog…and I stop describing EBJ in scientific terms.

 

Selection Season Day 1: Soluna Samay and the songs so far…

Extra, extra, read all about it – HOT OFF THE PRESS! Denmark chooses Soluna Samay for Baku!

What’s that? Denmark chose on Saturday, and it’s now Wednesday? Alright…

Extra, extra, read all about it – from the paper that accidentally fell off the press during the printing process. You can’t complain. You know I don’t break news here at EBJ; I just dissect it after everyone else has moved on to something more exciting.

Anyway, back to Ye Olde Dansk MGP. Once again, I have been shocked into silence (though I am apparently still able to type) by a winning song that wasn’t even on my radar of possible winning songs. Should’ve Known Better by the abovementioned Soluna Samay pipped Jesper’s Take Our Hearts at the post to win the Danish final and secure the new Queen of Epaulets a two-way (I presume, although if she does badly Denmark may not want her back) ticket to Azerbaijan.

Soluna has the hopes of a nation resting on her shoulders...as well as Europe's entire supply of gold thread

For me, it was indeed a surprise, but not a “I just found a tarantula in my underpants” kind of surprise – it was more “I wanted a custard tart from the bakery but they only have fruit flans…well, I do like fruit flans”.

For those who don’t understand what I’m trying to say (i.e. 99% of you) allow me to translate: I love Jesper’s song, but Soluna’s is nice, and grew on me just from my initial listen to my second. There is a definite whiff of Anna Bergandahl’s This Is My Life in the air around this one, which for me is a good thing, but for those who are part of the Ban Bergendahl committee, you’ve got a livelier, rockier ballad with less Converse and more…what do you call those hats, anyway? The song is not the most exciting thing ever written, and I have a feeling it might blend into the background a bit once more songs start coming through – but at the moment, I’d say it’s the best of the three.

Speaking of The Three, it won’t be long until they are joined by forty others, a fact that must be providing hope to all the fans out there who are unenthused by what the Swiss, Albanian and Danish have come up with (in Albania’s case, feel free to replace the word ‘unenthused’ with a suitably offensive alternative). I remember last year feeling a bit disappointed when there were only a few songs and none of them were saying douze points! But as more songs became known, I got more enthusiastic. Generally speaking, by the time my CD arrives in the post there’s not a single song I’m going to skip over/skip in Shuffle once I’ve rejoined my fellow Gen Y-ers in casting aside cumbersome compact discs in favour of tiny machines that will one day rebel against human control and kill us all.

A-hem. My point is, don’t give up hope if neither Unbreakable, Suus nor Should’ve Known Better are tickling your fancy, because, in the near future, you’re probably either a) going to like them if not love them, or b) not care about them because a bunch of other countries have picked songs you do love, and that do say to you, douze points!

Now speaking of DP, here’s a squiz at my top four so far (yes, I said four…just wait):

  1. Cyprus
  2. Denmark
  3. Switzerland
  4. Albania

Do you see what I did there? Well, the Cypriot final is on tonight, and it doesn’t matter which of the three possible entries Ivi Adamou gets to sing in May – it’s still going to be my favourite so far. I’m impressed by all of them, which hopefully is a sign that Cyprus can qualify without a strangely hot Welshman representing them. The bookies and the fans are backing La La Love, and I have kinda sorta already built the title of my next post around that song…but we’ll see what happens. Don’t forget what went down in Armenia last year (and I ain’t talking J-E-S-C).

I think that’s all I’ve got to ramble on about for now, but expect a ton of such rambles to be posted over the coming months as the chaos escalates with national finals Europe-wide. You have been warned.

 

COMING UP: Cypriot results, slogans, theme art, a semi final decider (of sorts) AND a second installment from Norway. Yikes!