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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Eurosunday: We don't wanna political entry (or do we?)

Last week I mentioned that no joke entries had been selected yet. Little did I know that would prove to be untrue as soon as the next Wednesday. Georgia picked the politically-charged disco song “We don’t wanna put in.” I must be a hypocrite because I like it and think its kind of funny and definitely fabulous, but I’ll discuss that more when I write the rankings.

Greece picked “This Is Our Night”, which is not what I would have expected from Sakis after “Shake It” 5 years ago but it was the best of the three songs in the Greek selection. At first listen it reminds me a little of “This is my life” from Iceland last year.

Ireland chose “Et cetera”, a cute pop-rock song. It’s nice to see an all-female rock band in Eurovision for the first time in a few years (was the last time Vanilla Ninja in 2005?).

The overwhelming majority of the population of Norway, it seems, chose “Fairytale”. It’s a unique folk-inspired song that’s a bit haunting, but sounding unlike any of Norway’s previous “folky-haunting” entries.

FYR Macedonia chose “Nesto sto ke os”. It’s a rock song that isn’t that memorable at first listen. It’s probably my least favorite Macedonian entry of the past few years, but at least they’re trying something new.

Bulgaria chose “Illusion”, which has a high male vocal. I’ll probably do a post on the songs’ music videos later, but as of now this has the most interesting video. It’s a little bit along the lines of “Tornero” and “Work Your Magic” in that it is a parade of strange-looking people -- except this one has nudity.

Sweden had its third semifinal. I know everyone talks about the first semifinal as the one of lower quality, but I feel like in the past two years it has been the third that has the least number of songs that I like. Coincidentally, both had BWO, who went to the Andra Chansen this time. That’s what they get for sending a ballad, although I really liked their live performance. I’m a little disappointed that E.M.D. made it to the final, because I really dislike their live performance. I must have become too old to appreciate boy bands. My favorite in this semifinal was Sofia, with BWO second.

There are only three more weeks left of pre-selection before all the songs have been chosen. Next week Croatia, Portugal, and Latvia (and probably more) choose their entries, and Slovakia, Sweden, and Spain have more semifinals. I’d like to see Femminem’s song in Croatia and Mirela’s song in Spain do well.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Eurosunday: Keep up the good work, Europe (Don't screw it up!)

This week in Eurovisionland six countries chose their songs, bringing the total to about twenty or so (I forget what the total is since Hungary withdrew their song). Listening to all the songs together sometimes I get the feeling that this year's level of quality is lower than the previous few years. However, then I realize that no novelty/joke entries have been selected yet. By this time last year we had "Leto svet". So even if some of the entries selected so far have bored me (like "Firefly" from Cyprus), there are none that I loathe, and that is a very good thing.

Germany presented “Miss Kiss Kiss Bang” early in the week. As the name of the artist (Alex Swings Oscar Sings) implies, it is a swing song. I couldn’t help being reminded of “I Don’t Dance” from High School Musical 2, another recent swing song, and unless you’ve shut yourself off from all modern popular music (and of course you haven’t or else you wouldn’t be reading this) you know that kids love that, so it has potential.

Up until this weekend there were surprisingly few songs with ethnic influences (only Albania, Turkey, and kind of Romania). This changed when Armenia chose “Jan jan” and Moldova chose “Hora din Moldova”. Both are upbeat and fun, and a nice departure from the ballads chosen so far.

Speaking of ballads, three more were chosen this week. Iceland chose “Is it true”, which I feel is one of the strongest ballads chosen so far, along with “My Time” and “What if we”. Poland chose “I don’t wanna leave”, which is also a decent poppy ballad that sounds a little like "Everything". Lithuania chose “Pasiklydes zmogus”. I’m surprised that while nearly half of the songs have been chosen, this is the only pop/r&b ballad with male vocals. The “let’s copy last year’s winner and see if that works” doesn’t seem to be very strong this year (not that I am accusing Lithuania of that).

Norway and Slovakia had a second chance and semifinal, respectively, but none of the qualifying songs from either excited me (except maybe "Prines si ten klúc" from Slovakia). Spain also held its first semifinal, and I was happy to see "Cruza los dedos" qualify.

Sweden held its second semifinal, and I was pleased with all the qualifiers to the final and semifinal, except I would have preferred “Never Been Here Before” instead of “1000 Miles”. The song that I was anticipating the most this semifinal was “Hope & Glory”, and I was pleased to find out that it sounded exactly as everyone had expected, which is “Hero 2”, and a little “Cara Mia 2” in the intro. I encourage everyone to try singing the lyrics over the instrumental track to "Hero" - it doesn't fit perfectly but it's fun to try. I can’t say that I like the performance though, and found the boxing imagery kind of awkward.

Next week six more countries pick their entries: Bulgaria, FYR Macedonia, Greece, Georgia, Ireland, Norway. Additionally, Slovakia, Spain, and Sweden have semifinals. I'm especially looking forward to hearing BwO's song in the latter.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Eurosunday: Your Guide to Paradise

This week five songs were revealed/chosen, and the results were kind of depressing. France, Hungary, Cyprus, and Malta all chose uninteresting ballads and Andorra’s song is a little more uptempo but still uninteresting. I’m hoping they will all grow on me within the next few months. However, I am pleased that Chiara is back, and although I’m not wild about the song I know I can expect a great performance of it.

None of the songs from the 3rd Norwegian semifinal are favorites of mine, although “Fairytale” is strangely appealing.

Sweden had its first semifinal, and it seems everyone is upset that Shirley Clamp didn’t qualify. It didn’t wow me at first listen, personally. I’m happy with the two songs that qualified for the final. “You’re My World” is upbeat and catchy, while I had low expectations for “Stay The Night” it exceeded them greatly, with catchy hooks the entire 3:00. (Funny side story: the first time I heard Alcazar was 2002 on a trip to London and I bought a CD that had “Sexual Guarantee” on it. At the time I thought it was incredibly stupid that they would say the band name in the song. After 7 years of pop corrupting me I’m disappointed when the band name isn’t said in the song).

Next week, Armenia, Iceland, Lithuania, Moldova, and Poland pick their songs. I would be thrilled if Moldova picked “Women’s winner”, but there are a few other songs I’d be happy with too. Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Slovakia also have live shows (Norway has a second chance round, and the others have semifinals).

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Eurosunday: Six is the Magic Number

This week, six countries picked songs for Eurovision. Some of them I love, some of them I like, and others I’m not really excited about.

I’m thrilled that Finland picked “Lose Control”, as it was one of my favorites.

The United Kingdom picked Jade, who I think does a very good job with “My Time”. It’s certainly the best song that the United Kingdom has sent to Eurovision since I started watching, and probably before. I can’t say that I absolutely love it though, but it’s because of a personal bias caused by knowing too many musical theater fans in high school (the type who don’t stop singing…ever). Lyrically it makes a great winner’s song for a talent competition such as Your Country Needs You, but who knows if it will work in the context of Eurovision itself. Despite that it’s already stuck in my head, so that’s a good sign of its memorability.

As a side note, I enjoyed seeing Dima Bilan back on tv. I am disappointed that he has grown out his hair as the mullet really was part of his charm. However, he made up for it by ending his performance in an undershirt and jeans.

Romania picked “The Balkan Girls”, and although I didn’t notice it when I was giving the songs a first listen, I have to say it’s pretty good and catchy. My only worry is that it may be too catchy – a hook like “The Balkan Girls, they like to party, like nobody, like nobody” is just begging to be made into a Facebook bumper sticker. Also, it is important to note that Elena has two costume changes in her national semi/final performances.

Slovenia chose “Love Symphony”, which is the most unique song picked so far in that it is almost entirely instrumental. I haven’t listened to it enough to form an opinion but it certainly stands out.

“Believe Again” from Denmark didn’t excite me but it sounds radio-friendly so far. “Shine” from the Netherlands feels a little too cheesy, even for me.

Again, the Lithuanian songs don’t really interest me except maybe “Part of me”. In the interest of brevity I think I’ll skip writing about them again until they select a song.

I like both of the qualifying songs in the first Norwegian semifinal, but neither are immediate favorites. From Iceland’s fourth semifinal, I like “Got No Love” but not the other qualifying song.

Next week Andorra, Cyprus, and Malta pick their songs. Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and Ukraine have semifinals. I’ll be very busy next weekend and there’s a good chance I won’t be able to post about that weekend’s shows and songs until Monday.