free web site hit counter

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Let Us Sing and Swing

I spent the majority of this week’s writing time ordering and reordering my top 30 and didn’t remember to write anything about these five songs until (almost) too late.

35. Portugal
Flor-de-lis - “Todas as ruas de amor”
Reaction: This song is very sweet and sounds like it could be played in the background of some cafe or other charming sidewalk eating establishment. However, it doesn’t excite or captivate me. It's a sweet and sleepy song.
Best Part: Instrumental breaks
Rating: 2/5

34 Russia
Anastasiya Prikhodko - “Mamo“
Reaction: I really wish I liked this song more, since I’ve really liked the past three Russian entries. Maybe I just don’t like songs named after people’s mothers. I have similar complaints with this song to those that I had with Belarus’s 2006 song - too shouty, no memorable melody - although this one is more well sung.
Best Part: Last chorus
Rating: 2/5

33 Cyprus
Christina Metaxa - “Firefly”
Reaction: This is a soft, sweet ballad, with a somewhat unusual subject matter. It kind of drags on for the first two minutes, and only really picks up momentum in the last minute
Best Part: Last minute
Rating: 2/5

32 Germany
Alex Swings! Oscar Sings! - “Miss Kiss Kiss Bang”
Reaction: As the artist name implies, this is a swing song. As irrelevant as this style first seems, a lot of people seem to enjoy watching it on TV (Idol theme nights, and "I Don't Dance" from High School Musical 2). It will certainly make for a more energetic stage show than Germany’s last two entries with genres that are not commonly found in the contest (2006 and 2007).
Best Part: Final choruses
Rating: 3/5

31. Estonia
Urban Symphony - "Rändajad"
Reaction: This song uses several different strings to create a haunting and exotic feel. I the vocal melody isn’t that memorable in the long run, but during its three minutes of playtime it makes for an interesting experience.
Best Part: Instrumental break about two minutes in
Rating: 3/5

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Shine get!

This week I'm finishing the bottom part of my ranking for ESC 2009. It's not such a bad lower fifth - so far there's nothing that attacks the audience's taste (although perhaps I have a habit of putting songs like that higher than I claim to in theory).

40. FYR Macedonia
Next Time - “Nesto sto ke octane“
Reaction: This shatters any thoughts I had about a personal bias towards FYR Macedonia, as I liked the past 4 Macedonian entries a lot more than the general fan population. However, this year’s entry is kind of boring - like hair metal but without the energy.
Best Part: Chorus
Rating: 1/5

39. Czech Republic - “Aven Romale“
Reaction: I feel the same way about this song that I did about “Push the button” - a bunch of different connected parts that make the song seem fragmented and drag on too long, although this definitely has more energy. The chorus is memorable
Best Part: Shouting “Aven Romale!”
Rating: 1/5

38. Poland
Lidia Kopania - “I don‘t wanna leave“
Reaction: I think I read a comparison to “Everything” from 2006, but I don’t see any similarities. It’s an unmemorable ballad with nonsensical lyrics in the chorus, and I admit I haven’t made it through the entire song many times because it just doesn’t grab my attention.
Best Part: Key change
Rating: 1/5

37. Netherlands
De Toppers - “Shine“
Reaction: Is it possible for something to be too over-the-top for me to enjoy? This song has shown me my limit, because the lyrics are too sugary and silly for me to stomach. The song is about love, light, and song curing the world of war and suffering, or something like that, and makes me want to find hidden violent themes in other schlager songs. Also, the shout of “Shiiiiiine” at the beginning of each chorus is too silly for me to like.
Best Part: “Love will make you glow in the dark” If only!
Rating: 1/5

36. Slovakia
Kamil Mikulčík & Nela Pocisková - “Leť tmou”
Reaction: This is a beautiful orchestral ballad, and the singers have impressive voices, but the song itself is just not memorable. The chorus starts and doesn’t really go anywhere. There’s nothing unpleasant about listening this song, but nothing exceptionally interesting either.
Best Part: Chorus
Rating: 2/5

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Not “Believe” Again, Unfortunately

It’s finally time for my 2009 Eurovision Song Contest song ranking. I’m sad that the national final season is over, but now I have the opportunity to listen to a group of songs over and over, write and re-write my rankings, analyze statistics, and do other related nerdy things. I’m using the same format as the past few years. In posting my bottom 2 out of 42, I assume that Georgia has indeed withdrawn (a shame since I really like their song), although it seems it won’t be certain until the draw tomorrow, so if the draw changes anything I will edit this into a bottom 3 out of 43.

42. Latvia
Intars Busulis - "Probka"
Reaction: This song is about being stuck in a traffic jam, and listening to it is almost as frustrating as being stuck in traffic. There may be some art to this that I’m missing, but on the surface it seems to be several different pieces of noise connected together in an annoying whole.
Best Part: The female vocal parts
Rating: 1/5

41. Denmark
Niels Brinck - "Believe Again"
Reaction: This song kind of occupies the spot Montenegro held for me the past two years. I end up calling it “old-man rock” even though neither Mr. Brink nor the previous two Montenegrin singers are very old. I just find that kind of light rock very boring and annoying. It’s inoffensive enough for it to not sound out of place on a loudspeaker in a department store, but also not attention-grabbing enough. I realize though that my opinion on this genre is unpopular, so it will probably do much better than I want it to.
Best Part: Last chorus (in the national final there was a wind machine, which seems hilariously unnecessary for a singer with short hair).
Rating: 1/5

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Schlager Soldier

As stated before, “Hope & Glory" is one of my favorite songs from Melodifestivalen this year, because it is like “Hero” all over again, but with male vocals and the intro from “Cara Mia”. Just as the lyrics to “Hero” were full of clichés about love being somehow comparable to a hero in its ability to survive, the lyrics are full of clichés about fighting for love. It’s a noble sentiment, fighting for one’s love, but one lyric from the first verse troubles me:

“I tell you I’ve been a soldier since childhood days/I fought a battle for my life in many ways”

Hold on. These lyrics don’t have anything to do with love. Taken at face value, the lyrics state that the singer was a soldier since childhood and has had a hard life. A child soldier. If I’m reading this correctly this is the most upbeat and fabulous song about child soldiers ever. The background seems to be only an afterthought to the singer’s current concern with his fight for love against nondescript obstacles. This certainly doesn’t explain the live performance’s boxing motif - the chorus clearly refers to battles, boxers don’t participate in battles. It’s probably just a metaphor and I’m probably overthinking this but maybe I’ve stumbled upon a great schlager conspiracy…

Also, I know the Academy Awards/Oscars were a few weeks ago but starting at 7:02 I was almost expecting Hugh Jackman to start singing a certain song…

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Eurosunday: Three Songs Left

It’s almost the end of national final season. The general fan consensus seems to be that this year’s group of songs are disappointing at best and completely terrible at worst, and each week brought another collective groan of disapproval. However, I don’t think this year is completely terrible. Maybe the past few years have just been particularly good. There aren’t as many instant favorites as the past three years, but quite a few songs are growing on me.

Israel chose “There must be another way”. I really like the verses, but not the refrain (which thankfully is very short).

Azerbaijan presented “Always”, which is a great ethnic dance song similar to Turkey’s.

Russia chose “Mamo”. I’m disappointed because it isn’t as good as their three previous entries, and sounds more like their songs from 2004 and 2005.

Estonia chose “Rändajad“, which is a little close to “Love Symphony”.

Serbia’s choice, “Cipela” starts off completely unappealing, but the chorus is somehow catchy.

Ukraine’s song, “Be My Valentine” seems like a mess, but both “Show Me Your Love” and “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” started off messy and were rerecorded and ended up better, so I hope they’ll release a new better version.

Slovakia picked “Let’ tmou”, a wonderfully performed ballad. The song itself isn’t too memorable on first listen but the presentation is memorable enough.

Sweden’s Andra Chansen was the high point of this week’s selections. My four favorite songs are in the final (“Stay the Night”, “Hope and Glory”, “Alla”, and “Moving On”). I'm really pleased with the quality of songs this year. I’ll write more on the final throughout this week.

Only three songs remain unchosen or unrevealed. Next week Sweden will choose from the 11 songs in their final and Belgium will present their internally selected song. I’m not sure when the Czech Republic picks their song, but it should be before I start my full 43-song-ranking.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Hello GMA, Hello Bono

Yes, I'm misquoting Dustin the Turkey, but when else am I going to get an opportunity to do so (unless there's a chance to write about goulash).

U2 will be performing at my university tomorrow morning for an appearance on Good Morning America. For my non-American readers, it is a light news television program airing in the early morning (7:00-9:00 AM EST) on ABC. Most of the morning shows of that variety have frequent concerts outside their studios, but for some reason they decided to have this particular performance at my school.

As a music blogger, I should probably go to this and post something about this. However, no matter how important and influential they are I find them to be dull at best and annoying at worst. They’re just not my thing, and don’t post angry comments trying to convince me otherwise. Also, word is that many a student will stay up all night Thursday drinking and start hanging around the outdoor stage in the snow at about 4:00 or 5:00 AM, so that they don’t oversleep and miss the show. How that results in them actually remembering the show I don’t know. Also in my sleepiness I’ve spun up some conspiracy theory about how this is meant to make the administration look good while overshadowing the efforts of student organizations to get interesting performers to come to our school, but that’s not for this blog.

I’ll probably end up going to it and try to take some pictures, and maybe write up a little review.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Now I have to set foot inside a Hot Topic

Today it was announced that Cinema Bizarre (they of "Forever or Never" in the German ESC selection last year) are opening for Lady Gaga on her North American tour, was sold out before I realized I wanted to go. Luckily, I found out that they are playing another show a month later in the lovely Highline Ballroom which I have been inside of frequently in the past year or so. As I said back in April, I liked "Forever or Never" a lot more than the song that was chosen, "Disappear". Their debut album is also pretty decent.

Their debut US single, "Lovesongs (They Kill Me)" will be released on March 17th...exclusively in Hot Topic stores. Although the song's not my favorite (I like their other singles better), I will probably end up buying it because the band members met at an anime convention of all places, so I feel obligated to support other geeks in their fabulous music endeavors.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Eurosunday: Seven more...moving on

This week seven songs were revealed. This was a pretty good week, because there’s only one song that I don’t like.

Switzerland revealed their entry, “The Highest Heights”. It’s a modern rock entry. I want to say it sounds like Coldplay but that’s only because I’m uneducated on the subject of rock so I can’t make a very accurate comparison.

Hungary revealed their entry, “Dance With Me”, which is pretty fabulous disco. I don’t like it as much as Georgia’s song so far but it’s not bad at all. Hopefully this is the actual entry and they won’t change their minds like the last two times this year’s Hungarian entry was announced.

Croatia picked "Lijepa Tena", which is a typical Balkans-style ballad, but I like it.

Portugal chose "Todas as ruas do amor" which is cute and charming but hasn't grown on me yet.

Latvia picked "Sastregums", which will be performed as "Probka" in Moscow. I can’t really find anything to say about it now, as I don’t find it very interesting.

Spain picked "La noche es para mi", which wasn't my number one choice but it was still one of my favorites so I'm pleased.

Sweden held its final semifinal, and what a show it was. I can't say I hated any of the performance. I enjoyed Star Pilots' performance even if their song seems close to plagiarism. Agnes and Anna & Maria had fabulous performances as well. I was nervous during the "La voix" vs "Moving On" duel at the end. From the 1 minute clip I loved "Moving On", and I love the performance (Wind machine! Rising platform on key change! Winking at the camera!), but I'm still not sold on "La voix", which made me very disappointed when the results came in.

Bosnia revealed “Bistra voda”, which like Switzerland’s song sounds like some rock band I don’t listen to and thus can’t make a good comparison. On first listen the chorus is pretty stirring, so that’s a good sign.

Only 10 songs remain unchosen or unrevealed. Next week Israel, Estonia, Russia, Slovakia, Serbia, and Ukraine pick their songs, and Sweden has a second chance round, which I will probably cover prior to the event.