free web site hit counter

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dancing Hora!

I can hardly believe that it’s almost May and I’m down to my top 15. In the past three years, the winner has always been in my top 15 (placing 12th, 2nd, and 7th) and I hope the trend will continue this year.

15. Bulgaria
Krassimir Avramov - “Illusion”
Reaction: This is kind of an “old-meets-new” song. This song mixes “ethnic” instruments with electronic instruments, and on top of that there is a blend of a chorus and a high male solo vocal. It’s a little like Bulgaria’s 2007 entry, but with a pop music structure. The verses are a little weak, but I love the choruses. Also, it’s worth mentioning again that it has the best preview video of any of the songs this year.
Best Part: Introduction
Rating: 4/5

14. Moldova
Nelly Ciobanu - “Hora Din Moldova”
Reaction: This is an ethnic dance song, but not in the way my number 11 and 12 picks are. Rather, it is the kind that has men in traditional costume dancing and shouting “hey!” in the background. However, in this song, even the female lead vocalist gets in on the “hey!”. Not that it hasn’t been done before, but it’s always fun to hear. The lyrics are about a dance from Moldova, without actually revealing facts about Moldova.
Best Part:“It’s a dance you’ve never seen/from my country called Moldova”
Rating: 4/5

13. Albania
Kejsi Tola - “Carry me in your dreams”
Reaction: In a way this kind of reminds me of “Plan B”/”Mr. Nobody”, especially in the chorus. It’s a wonderfully catchy pop song, although I like the production on the original Albanian version better.
Best Part: Key change
Rating: 4/5

12. Spain
Soraya - “La noche es para mi”
Reaction: This is a typical ethnic dance song. Despite being sung in Spanish, it sounds very Greek, which makes sense because several of the songwriters have Greek names. It is catchy in both the verses and the chorus.
Best Part: “La noche es para miii/La noche es para miiii” at 2:39-2:47
Rating: 4/5

11. Turkey
Hadise - “Dum Tek Tek”
Reaction: Like Spain, this is also an ethnic dance song, although this one sounds more Turkish. It’s more dependent on heavy drums. I love the shouting bits after the choruses, over the instrumental parts. I also like the shouting of the title, which far from complete nonsense seems to be onomatopoeia for a heartbeat.
Best Part: “No one can kiss like you do/as if it’s your profession”
Rating: 4/5

Next week: the top 10, and my productivity reaches its annual low when rehearsals start and the videos are posted all over the internet.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Get out of my way or just stay

This week I'm entering the top 20 of my Eurovision 2009 rankings, which means the contest is just over three weeks away. It's getting harder to place them as we get closer to the contest because the quality is increasing.

20. United Kingdom
Jade Ewen - “It‘s My Time”
Reaction: As I said before, I didn’t really have expectations for this, but it exceeded them. Because of the songwriter, it is a typical pop theater diva ballad, and It’s more polished than some other ballads lower down my list. It fits well as a coronation song for the winner of a competition, so hopefully this will do well, or else the lyrics will be hilariously ironic.
Best Part: “I’ve been down, down so long, but those days are gone now”
Rating: 3/5

19. Montenegro
Andrea Demirovic – “Just Get Out of My Life”
Reaction: I still maintain that this song is the same as “Innocent Heart” from the Maltese selection this year, since they sound very similar in the chorus and have the same writers. Unlike the first song, this has more of an edge and is more fun than sweet.
Best Part: Chorus
Rating: 3/5

18. Ireland
Sinead Mulvey & Black Daisy - “Et cetera”
Reaction: This is a by-the-numbers pop punk song, with emphasis on the pop. It’s kind of reminiscent of Avril Lavigne’s poppier stuff (although that is always the comparison anyone makes with pop-punk with female vocals, isn’t it?). For a breakup song, it’s surprisingly upbeat and fun.
Best Part: “That's just the way my life goes/Still love me, even she knows/You say you're sorry, but you're not”
Rating: 3/5

17. Iceland
Yohanna - “Is it True”
Reaction: This starts off as a sweet pop ballad by a singer with a clear, youthful voice. As it progresses the backing strings multiply, until the end where it steps around the edges of being a power ballad. It doesn’t go there completely, but the songs with a remarkable amount of power without being overdramatic.
Best Part: Key change
Rating: 3/5

16. Croatia
Igor Cukrov feat. Andrea - “Lijepa Tena”
Reaction: There’s always at least one “Balkan ballad” each year, and this year’s is from Croatia. Like most of the others, it starts off quiet and ends louder and stronger. I like the combination of the male lead vocal and the female backing vocal.
Best Part: “Tenaaaaaaaaaaa” in the chorus
Rating: 3/5

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Love & Kitsch

Happy Easter! I’ve made it to the halfway point of my ranking with this week’s group of five songs. Since this is my top 25 I’d be delighted to see any of these songs (and the ones in the following four weeks, naturally) make the final.

25. Belgium
Copycat – “Copycat”
Reaction: I know, this is a novelty entry, a three-minute joke about Elvis. However, this song is too fun to resist. Who knew a song about jealousy could sound so joyous? The female vocal singers add something to the song to make it more than just an Elvis impersonation. Also, this is the first song in the 50+ year history of the contest to contain the word “kitsch” in the lyrics. I’m surprised it took that long for that word to be used, considering that’s what the contest is considered to be about (although the song uses it in reference to clothing instead of the general aesthetic).
Best Part: “Cause nobody duplicating my jive/would ever get away with that alive”
Rating: 3/5

24. Lithuania
Sasha Son – “Love”
Reaction: This is the only R&B ballad with male vocals this year, but unlike what one might expect from that description, it’s completely its own thing, different from Dima Bilan’s successful efforts. It’s more restrained and serious. This is definitely my favorite Lithuanian entry from the past few years.
Best Part: Key change
Rating: 3/5

23. Hungary
Adok Zoli – “Dance With Me”
Reaction: After you play a certain amount of rhythm games, you may start to imagine what other songs would like like were they in that particular game. I have that problem with this song and imagining it in Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan!/Elite Beat Agents. This is helped by the fact that this song reminds me of this song, even though I know the two sound absolutely nothing alike – maybe it’s just a similar tempo and structure, I don’t know. Other than that, this is a midtempo disco-influenced song that isn’t too original but is still enjoyable. I still can’t help picturing this song accompanied by whistling male cheerleaders.
Best Part: “Just yesterday we were on the floor/like somewhere in the movie or a club in Singapore”
Rating: 3/5

22. Andorra
Susanna Georgi – “La teva decisió (Get a life)”
Reaction: I still have fond memories of Susanna’s entry into Dansk MGP two years ago, “Two Are Stronger Than One”, and this one is just as good. She has a very sweet voice, and keeps this midtempo acoustic guitar song from being boring. Also, this is much less condescending than Austria’s 2007 song also called “Get a life”.
Best Part: Chorus
Rating: 3/5

21. Malta
Chiara – “What if we”
Reaction: I hate to put this here because I love Chiara, and “Angel” was and still is my favorite song in the 2005 contest. I’m also confident that this will have an amazing live performance that will make me regret placing it this low. However, it’s just not as stirring as “Angel” or other ballads higher on this list, and I don’t really like the instrumental – it would feel more effective with a simpler instrumental that highlighted her voice more.
Best Part: Bridge
Rating: 3/5

Next week, the top 20!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Rankings That Never Lie

This week I’ll discuss my 26th-30th favorite songs from this year’s Eurovision contest. Although I haven’t yet reached the halfway point, I’m starting to get to the songs that I really enjoy.

30. Switzerland
Lovebugs - “The Highest Heights“
Reaction: This sounds like one of those modern mainstream rock bands that everyone but me likes, and thus I can’t make a good comparison (Coldplay? U2? Fill in the blank here). Despite it being in a genre that I’m not well versed in, and the singer’s voice being too raspy for my tastes, it’s not a bad song.
Best Part: “Oh, I’ve got no head for heights”
Rating: 3/5

29. France
Patricia Kaas - “Et S’il Fallait Le Faire”
Reaction: I seem to always have one like this every year. This is a fan favorite that I enjoy but just don’t see the brilliance in. The singer has a strong voice and the backing instruments give it a nice haunting effect. I love the verses, but I don’t like the melody in the choruses.
Best Part: Key change at beginning of second verse
Rating: 3/5

28. Belarus
Petr Elfimov - “Eyes That Never Lie”
Reaction: I sense that Belarus has settled on a pattern. It’s a decent rock song, but then again, it’s a less good version of “Hasta La Vista” which is less good than so-on-and-so-on. It’s hard not to compare it to previous efforts when it is so similar to them.
Best Part: Chorus
Rating: 3/5

27. Serbia
Marko Kon & Milan Nikolic - “Cipela”
Reaction: This is a departure from Serbia’s previous two entries, as this one has male vocals and is not a ballad. I always appreciate the use of accordion. I don’t really like the spoken verses but I like the catchy sung choruses.
Best Part: Chorus
Rating: 3/5

26. Slovenia
Quartissimo - “Love Symphony”
Reaction: In my 4 years of doing Eurovision rankings, this is the first time I’ve placed the Slovenian entry outside the top 10. However, I really do like this song. I like the use of classical string instruments and piano with flourishes of electric guitar. It sounds like it would be much better suited as background music, perhaps as a battle theme in a video game. On its own on a stage and with vocals, it drags on a bit and isn’t as strong. That isn’t to say that I don’t like the vocals, but as a purely instrumental song and in a different context, as an accent to other visuals, it becomes much better than it is on the Eurovision stage.
Best Part: The shouts of “Hey!”
Rating: 3/5