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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Voiceless Three & Beat

This Saturday, Hungary, Malta, and Poland picked their Eurovision entries for this year. Here are three songs, one from each country, that missed their chance to be performed in Kiev.

Poland's Isabell Otrebus-Larsson performed "Voiceless", a pop song by none other than Fredrik Kempe, who has left a surprising void in this era of Swedish pop domination. Until this point, his most significant contribution to Eurovision in the past 5 years was "Love Love Peace Peace."

In HungaryKallay Saunders Band gave another try after their 2014 5th place in Copenhagen with “17”.

In MaltaJanice Mangion's song, "Kewkba" was notable for actually being performed in the Maltese language. Malta has traditionally not performed in Maltese, even during the national-languages-only days, but it would have been nice to see them do something different 

Slovenia had two semifinals this week, with the most notable song being "Free World" by Tosca Beat. If only this had gone to Kiev. Yes it's a Laibach ripoff but what a breath of fresh air and stage presence.



Next week brings a real Super Saturday, with finals in Denmark, Latvia, Moldova, Slovenia, Ukraine, and semifinals in Iceland, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Sweden.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Ouch!

Hungary had two semifinals this week, the first of which elmininated my favorite song in their national selection, “Deák” by Spoon 21. Apparently the performance was lacking, but this catchy synthpop-influenced hook could have been a hit.

Spain had their national final where “Ouch” by LeKlein came in third. Despite the unsual and...creative English, the message comes across excellently, and the song was catchier and more emotional than the actual winner.

I only watched a little of Sanremo (boy is there a lot of talking) but the best song I was able to watch was “Con te” by Sergio Sylvestre. Maybe it wouldn't have lit up the scoreboard at Eurovision, but it's a pleasant and emotional ballad. It looks like not all is lost - he has some Disney experience.

The Swedish public made agreeable choices in the second semifinal of Melodifestivalen, so instead I will highlight the Melodifestivalen hits medley performed by David Lindgren. It is hilarious to any Melodifestivalen fan and easily the best thing he has contributed to this contest.

Likewise, Germany only had two songs in their final, with five intepretations each. They did have a past winner's medley with a perfect-as-always Conchita singing “Satellite”.

Next week: semifinals in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden, and Ukraine, plus finals in Hungary, Malta, and Poland.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

One More Gold Night

This week only one country chose their Eurovision entry - Switzerland. Freschta's ballad "Gold"  is emotional and could have fit among the several ballads already chosen.



Of course since this blog is this blog, we have to cover the first semifinal of Melodifestivalen. Dinah Nah made it to the final two year ago with the excellent "Make Me (La La La)". Her song this year , "One More Night" unfortunately came in 5th place. This dance song is a real early 00s eurodance throwback  Not the coolest thing out there, but comfortingly nostalgic and just what you need from Melodifestivalen at least once a year.


I wasn't able to cover the other semifinals this past weekend.  Next week is a big week for the big 5, with finals in Germany, Italy, and Spain. There will also be semifinals in Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, and Ukraine.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Gunther Is Back In Finland!

Yesterday Finland held a 10-song national final including two “novelty” entries that were actually notable and enjoyable. First, GUNTHER IS BACK! Along with D'Sanz, his song “Love Yourself” is more of the same. Gunther has not changed at all and we need a dose of him every couple of years.

Second, Club La Perse were carrying the 90's club kid look and life into 2017 Eurovision with “My Little World.” It was much catchier than it should have been and you can't say they didn't try.

The United Kingdom held their final on Friday which wasn't streamed internationally. “I Don't Wanna Fight” by Salena Mastroianni is notable for dropping the title of Ireland's 2013 entry. Did voters avoid selecting this song in order to avoid a similar result?

Next week: The final in Switzerland, and semifinals and heats from Hungary, Latvia Lithuania, Sweden, and hosts Ukraine!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Let's Go 2017

Happy 2017 and welcome to another Eurovision season on this blog! So about last year's contest - #noragerts on my top 5. If there's any song that I would have placed higher, it's Belarus, Belgium, FYROM, and Denmark. I would have placed maybe Hungary, Malta, and Norway lower. What an intense and exciting voting sequence. It was such a thrill to be able to finally see Eurovision on American TV! The downside though is that the commentators were obviously ill prepared, the picture was not in HD, and due to rights issues or something Americans cannot watch any of the YouTube videos from the live shows. I don't know if Google, Logo, or the EBU are to blame, but no matter whose fault it was it drained me of enthusiasm for revisiting 2016's contest.

2017 is well underway with three national finals having already taken place. As with last year, I will highlight one outstanding song from each national final that didn't make it.

Friday was a surprisingly good day to watch national finals, with Georgia immediately followed by Belarus. And both of them were surprisingly high quality.

Nutsa Buzaladze came in second place in Georgia with “White Horses Run”. She gave a suitably Eurovisiony performance with an unusual costume change in the first chorus (I still thought Nina Kraljic did great!). Imagine: if this had made it to Kiev, would they have horse holograms all over the stage?

My favorite song from Belarus was “We Should Be Together” by Angelica Pushnova – the schlager of the night, to no surprise. The standout performance for me was “Follow the play” by Vladislav Kurasov, 50% for the soulful falsetto, and 50% for that fringed jacket!


Albania again held their final late in December. None of the songs really wowed me, but “Osiris” by Flaka Krelani is interesting enough to listen to and look at.

Lithuania had their third heat yesterday, but “Fly” by Rasa Kaušiute from the second heat was sweeping and dramatic and should have made it through. The backdrop takes more than a little inspiration from “Rise Like A Phoenix.”


Next week has two national finals: United Kingdom, who haven't revealed any songs yet, and Finland, who have. I have a few favorites from that selection so there will be plenty to talk about. In addition, Hungary and Lithuania will have qualifying rounds.

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.

AUSTRALIA
BELGIUM
BULGARIA
GEORGIA
ISRAEL
LATVIA
LITHUANIA
NORWAY
SERBIA
UKRAINE

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 Armenia...how 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:

ARMENIA
AZERBAIJAN
BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA
CROATIA
CYPRUS
ESTONIA
HUNGARY
ICELAND
NETHERLANDS
RUSSIA

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