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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Semifinal 2 Reactions and Final Predictions

It's finally time - in about 6 hours we will have a new winner of the Eurovision song contest.

Some late reactions to the 2nd semifinal:

  1. Semifinal 1 was better - the opposite of last year.
  2. My prediction was 9/10, with Norway instead of Poland. The actual result makes sense. Michal had better connection with the audience.
  3. Ukraine and Georgia looked phenomenal on stage. 
  4. Hovi was either sweaty or had a lot of strobing going on.
  5. I'm disappointed that Bulgaria hid their backing singers. It really could have used backing dancers.
  6. The opening number was so Melodifestivalen. Is this their typical humor without the international language barrier?
  7. I will miss Kaliopi in the final.
  8. So happy Denmark can't get through anymore with their super MOR entries.
  9. No Nordic countries except Sweden in the final - conspiracy alert!

Now, take a peek in my foggy and cracked crystal ball for results from tonight:
  1. Russia will win, at least the televote. Its semifinal performance has the most Youtube views by a margin of over a million views. It's at the top of the betting, even with Australia's late surge. And it's not doing too badly in the iTunes and Spotify charts. Australia and Sweden may be tipped because they're more contemporary, but after the last two years' televoting results, it seems televoters still have different standards for Eurovision songs than "regular" pop music. If "Rise Like a Phoenix" and "Grande Amore" can win the televote with retro sounds, "You Are The Only One" can win while sounding very Eurovision.
  2. We are headed for a 2008 result with Russia, Ukraine, and Armenia in the top five.  Actually, all of the finalists now have better songs than they had in 2008, except Sweden and the Czech Republic.
  3. Sweden and Australia to round out the top five. 
  4. France will end up in the bottom half of the top ten. He was highly favorited to win before rehearsals started, but his performance lacks spectacle and is not lighting up Youtube. Still, it's doing well enough outside of the fan circles that it will not bomb. 
  5. To conclude this season's greatest catfight, the Netherlands will place higher than Israel. 
  6. Poland will be top 10 in the televote. I rated the song low, but it's hugely popular on Youtube. Their semifinal performance has more views than Armenia.
  7. Croatia to place 11th-15th. My heart wants a top 10, and they are 7th in the Youtube views, so who knows.
Best of luck to everyone competing today!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Semifinal 2 Predictions

The second semifinal of Eurovision 2016 is in six and a half hours. Here are my predictions for the ten qualifiers, which will probably be pretty wrong as usual.


My maybes are Denmark, FYR Macedonia, and Poland.

As always, best of luck to all the contestants!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Ten Thoughts About Semifinal 1

1) Seven out of ten qualifiers predicted right, not bad. My two maybes both qualified.

2) Whatever Croatian prayer circle is out there worked! So happy for this. Nina sounded like an angel and the second dress looked almost avant garde.

3) I'm not too upset about Moldova not qualifying - it was never really expected to and the performance was pretty sparse.

4) Bosnia & Herzegovina should have qualified over, say, Malta, but maybe it was a little too theatrical for everyone at home?

5) It's too amusing to see the fans on Tumblr be upset over Estonia and Iceland not qualifying, especially because I felt the same way exactly ten years ago about Slovenia and Belgium.

6) Beside those two, the best non-qualifier's staging was Montenegro.

7) Congratulations to Czech Republic for finally qualifying. Not surprising that Greece failed to qualify for the first time.

8) Russia looked much more striking in the rehearsal videos and lost some impact with the camera angles used on TV

9) Armenia's performance is this year's "Calm Against the Storm," with exceptional staging elevating a song into being a contender. While "Calm Against the Storm" was melancholy, "LoveWave" is seductive. The part in the bridge with the nude bodysuit holograms is perfection.

10) American citizens don't have to get a visa to enter is Yerevan this time of year?

Monday, May 09, 2016

Semifinal 1 Predictions

The first Eurovision semifinal of 2016 is tomorrow! Keeping with tradition, here are my predictions for the ten qualifiers in alphabetical order:


I'm probably being overly optimistic about Bosnia & Herzegovina and Croatia's chances. My backups after them are Czech Republic and Malta. Despite it being my favorite song, I'm okay if Moldova doesn't qualify but I would be pleasantly surprised if it did. Greece is also tricky because have always qualified, but there is precedent in 2011 when Armenia and Turkey failed to qualify with weaker songs and performances despite large diasporas.

As always, best of luck to all competitors for a great show!

Sunday, May 08, 2016

The Only Ones

It's finally Eurovision week, and time for my top 5 songs in this year's contest. This year's top 5 was easy to form because these five really stood out from the pack. I have to give a disclaimer and say this is my personal opinion, and I don't even expect all of these songs to do well (a few are very unpopular with fans), but every song has to be someone's favorite in order for it to get points!

5. Croatia
Nina Kraljic - "Lighthouse"
Reaction: After a 2 year absence, Croatia returns with their best song since "Maria Magdalena." It's not quite a Balkan ballad but it has a very Croatian feel (must be the nautical elements). Nina has the voice of an angel and delivers the song with sadness and hope all in one.
Best Part: Last chorus
Rating: 5/5

4. Bosnia & Herzegovina
Deen & Dalal feat. Ana Rucner and Jala - "Ljubav je"
Reaction: A Balkan ballad is irresistible, and this is the best one this year. It stands out from the usual by being a duet, and it has a unique and effective twist in THE RAP PART YEAH I SAID IT to create some tension prior to the final chorus.
Best Part: Chorus
Rating: 5/5

3. Bulgaria
Poli Genova - "If Love Was A Crime"
Reaction: This song doesn't waste any time getting to the hook and doesn't stop. The fabulous dance pop is augmented by the "ethnic" touches of the flutes. The catchy melody is the perfect vehicle for the positive, easy to digest message. This is the best Bulgarian entry ever, by far.
Best Part: "Together we're untouchable/you and me against the world/together we're invincible"
Rating: 5/5

2. Russia
Sergey Lazarev - "You Are The Only One"
Reaction: Anyone who thinks this isn't winning or coming close is delusional. The biggest, catchiest, most Eurovisionest song of them all. This has been getting a lot of comparison's to "This Is Our Night" from 2009, but it's much more polished and put together, a complete package.
Best Part: Chorus
Rating: 5/5

1. Moldova
Lidia Isac - "Falling Stars"
Reaction: This kind of Europop is irresistible to me and why I keep following the Contest. It has a mid-00s Cascada feel (and is better than Cascada's own entry). There are other songs that are technically better or more unique than this one, but it has the best chorus and I have listened to this more than any other song by far. There's just something about the first lines of the chorus ("The sky is tumbling/it's coming down, coming down") that is just magical.
Best Part: Chorus
Rating: 5/5

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Baby When I Hear Your May Day

Bad pun of the week in the title, and one week too late for the ranking too!

It's finally time for the top 10! I hope all these songs moving forward do well, would be happy with any of them as a win, and have decent expectations for this group. It's also probably a more respectable top 5 than my actual set.

10. Germany
Jamie-Lee Kriewitz - “Ghost”
Reaction: Jamie-Lee's angelic voice makes this youthful ballad appropriately haunting. Somewhat off-topic: a lot of people find her fashion style off-putting, but I find it endearing.
Best Part: “Like a dragon to his gold/We're still holding on” 
Rating:  4/5

9. Serbia
ZAA Sanja Vucic - "Goodbye (Shelter)"
Reaction: It's a ballad from Serbia, but rather than a Balkan ballad it's a true diva ballad. The serious message and soulful voice give kind of a Christina Aguilera feel.
Best Part: Oh-oh-oh-oh bridge  
Rating:  4/5

8. France
Amir – "J'ai cherche"
Reaction: This wasn't an immediate favorite of mine, but it really stands up to and develops with multiple listenings. Upbeat and catchy, this is much different than the last time France had a fan favorite song – it's contemporary and charismatic.
Best Part: Pre-chorus Related Video:
Rating:  4/5

7. Ukraine
Jamala – "1944"
Reaction: A few years ago everyone loved Jamala's song “Smile” in the Ukranian preselection – this is a complete 180. A modern sound expressing a familial and national history, full of perseverence through pain and suffering. Jamala's voice is extremely expressive and cuts to the bone.
Best Part: “You think you are gods/but everyone dies”  
Rating:  4/5

6. Latvia
Justs - “Heartbeat”
Reaction: This cool synthpop song takes from “Love Injected” and expands on it. With a faster tempo, catchy melody, and passionate yet cold delivery, it's much more instant and accessible/
Best Part: The heart “beep” sounds  
Rating:  4/5

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Silent Exit

This week's post is late because of other commitments, but what a week it was! For the first time in ages, a song got disqualified this close to the actual show. Coincidentally, it's in this week's segment of the rankings.

15. Sweden

Frans - "If I Were Sorry"
Reaction: This is one the most interesting songs this year lyrically. The music is understated and almost minimal, but the lyrics paint an evocative image. It wasn't close to my favorite song in Melodifestivalen, but it's still stronger than most songs this year.
Best Part: "I’d hold my breath until my face turned blue/I’d rob a bank and the post office too"
Related Video:
Rating: 4/5

14. Norway
Agnete - "Icebreaker"
Reaction: The verses are appropriately cool like ice, and the tempo change in the chorus hits hard like the titular icebreaker.  
Best Part: "Every single promise that you ever made/Spinning in my mind like a hurricane/Baby yes I hear your mayday"
Related Video:
Rating: 4/5

13. Australia
Dami Im - "Sound of Silence"
Reaction: Two years in, Australia's efforts keep putting their Commonwealth parent to shame. This is a real, polished song with a big chorus and a passionate delivery. The only downside is the title is taken from an iconic song/
Best Part: Getting away with mentioning FaceTime in the lyrics.   
Related Video:
Rating: 4/5

12. Hungary
Freddie - "Pioneer"
Reaction: Someone online described this as a musical self help book, and that's a not inaccurate description. This song has a unique way of giving a "be yourself/believe in yourself" message and has a really catchy chorus.
Best Part: The "oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh" in the chorus 
Related Video: finally a real one!

Rating: 4/5

11. Romania
Ovidiu Anton - "Moment of Silence"
Reaction: I really love this song, so I was heartbroken to see it get disqualified. This is a wonderfully theatrical rock song that is harder than the typical Eurovision fare, refreshing though it's not exactly "current."
Best Part: Bridge
Related Video:
Rating: 4/5

Sunday, April 17, 2016


20. FYR Macedonia
Kaliopi - “Dona”
Reaction: You say “outdated,” I say “timeless.” That repeated refrain is perfectly catchy and passionate.
Rating: 3/5

Barei - “Say Yay!”
Reaction: Though a little unpolished, the chorus and disco-influenced instrumentation is such an uplifting crowd-pleaser.
Best Part: “You keep on climbing over hills!
/Right now you´re following your dreams!
Rating: 3/5

Douwe Bob - “Slow Down”
Reaction: The Netherlands has really found their niche in Eurovision lately, haven't they? Americana and authentic singer-songwriter is the way to go, as long as they don't go too artificial like “You and Me.” Good message and smooth, soothing voice.
Best Part: “Every morning there's another start/every morning hits so hard”
Rating: 3/5

17. Denmark
Lighthouse X - “Soldiers of Love”
Reaction: This is a typically Danish Eurovision entry, mid-tempo and middle-of-the-road. It's oddly named the same as Belgium's 1987 entry, which is a classic and much much better, but another association with another song elevates this. The chorus sounds very similar to German schlager gem “Atemlos durch die Nacht” by Helene Fischer, which somehow the whole Eurovision fan community knows, especially since it was parodied in this year's Melodifestivalen.
Best Part: Chorus
Rating: 3/5

16. Malta
Ira Losco - “Walk on Water”
Reaction: This basically sounds like Molly Pettersson-Hammar's two Melodifestialen songs, which are completely fabulous and soulful, and so is this. Despite the Swedish roots, it might not make you want to walk on water, but rather walk on a Maltese beach.
Best Part: First part of chorus
Rating: 3/5

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Stopped To Play

There's not too much to say about this week's set of Eurovision songs - they're right in the middle.

25. Azerbaijan
Samra - “Miracle”
Reaction: Azerbaijan brings another Swedish-penned song, this one on the upbeat side, but it falls short through repetitiveness and doesn't connect emotionally.
Best Part: “But the radio stopped to play us long ago” Related Video:
Rating:  3/5

24. Belgium
Laura Tesoro - “What's The Pressure?”
Reaction: This upbeat funk-pop song borrows the bass line from “Another One Bites The Dust” and becomes something way more fun than it should be. It's certainly better than “Love Power” - how time flies!
Best Part: The bass line  
Rating:  3/5

23. Estonia
Juri Pootsmann - “Play”
Reaction: This song has an intense catchy chorus, enough to ordinarily propel it higher up, but the verses are too slow and somewhat too cold for a song about falling in love.
Best Part: Last chorus  
Rating:  3/5

22. Iceland
Greta Salome - “Hear Them Calling”
Reaction: Now here's a song that sounds cold, but it's lyrically appropriate. It has everything you could want from an Icelandic song – low temperatures, spirit voices, folk instruments, and brass hooks. It has a little bit of the feel of “Little Talks” which was a big hit a few years.
Best Part: Last chorus 
Rating:  3/5

21. Armenia
Iveta Mukuchyan - “LoveWave”
Reaction: Like their 2014 song, this is more atmosphere than song, but it also has a lot of soul and sex appeal. The string instruments after the second chorus add a bit of “ethnic” flavor too.
Best Part: When the beat drops at the beginning of the chorus  
Rating:  3/5

Sunday, April 03, 2016

We Are All Made of Stars

It's finally April, so there's only 5 more weeks until Eurovision. It's time for preview parties, fan videos, and of course more overanalysis like the below.

30. Switzerland
Rykka - “The Last of Our Kind”
Reaction: This actually has a really catchy melody, and would be much higher with more polish. However, as it is it's not polished and pretty weak.
Best Part: “Not afraid of our own ghosts”
Rating: 3/5

29. Israel
Hovi Star - “Made of Stars”
Reaction: The original version of this song wasn't bad, although charmingly underproduced. It's jarring to hear the same words but an entirely different melody. Despite that, it's a lovely orchestral ballad.
Best Part: “You ride a black horse in the rain” 
Rating: 3/5

28. Czech Republic
Gabriela Gunčíková - “I Stand”
Reaction: This is such a non-song, but it's fantastically performed and produced. The chorus is an incomplete statement, but who cares when it's a compelling power ballad. The video is definitely part of the hype (ironically, Gabriela is lying down for most of the video).
Best Part: Bridge
Related Video: it's the official music video, but look at the visuals! Projections!
Rating: 3/5

27. Cyprus
Minus One - “Alter Ego”
Reaction: This is a Thomas G:Son song and it sounds like it. It has that combination of hard rock and big pop/schlager choruses that is always appreciated in Nordic preselections, but now from Cyprus.
Best Part: “Howling for you-ou-ou-ou-ou”
Related Video: first proper AMV found of the season, woohoo!
Rating: 3/5

26. Italy
Francesca Michelin - “No Degree of Separation”
Reaction: Very Italian, but not as accessible as last year's super-Italian song. It has a sleepiness that you can only get away with if you understand the lyrics, and the English part is a little awkward.
Best Part: “Siamo una sola direzione in questo universo che si muove”
Rating: 3/5