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Sunday, April 24, 2011

I love Belarus...and 4 others

Another Eurovision sunday, this time it's the top 15! As always, I hope the winner comes from this group or one of the two following ones.

15. Finland
Paradise Oskar - “Da da dam”
Reaction: This is a good song to rank just following Earth Day, as it has a nice environmentalist message. It’s not too heavy-handed and is actually kind of sweet. It’s better than the similar singer-with-guitar songs from last year.
Best Part: Choruses
Rating: 4/5

14. Belarus
Anastasiya Vinnikova - “I Love Belarus”
Reaction: So do I, if they keep making songs like this! Belarus lately has excelled with over the top ridiculous entries, and this is no exception. The romantic nationalism helps, too. The love object seems to switch between country and lover. The ethnic instrumental touches pull the song together and add energy.
Best Part: Bridge and last chorus
Rating: 4/5

13. Netherlands
3JS - “Never alone”
Reaction: This one just kind of snuck up here. It’s a middle-of-the-road pop-rock ballad, but it’s much better than it sounds on paper. It has good lyrics and a catchy chorus. It could have gotten boring but it stays consistent throughout.
Best Part: Chorus
Rating: 4/5

12. Serbia
Nina - “Caroban”
Reaction: The inclusion of this retro-styled song makes up for the lack of Ukrainian “Smile,” and it’s probably the better song. It has wonderful sweet and romantic lyrics (at least what I can tell from the English translation). It’s full of energy and emotion.
Best Part: Last chorus
Rating: 4/5

11. Slovenia
Maja Keuc - “No one”
Reaction: This is like Mr. Nobody Part 2, hopefully for lyrical content and not because it could be good but forgotten when it comes time for voting. This is a dramatic power ballad with some really biting lyrics (“no one will ever ever love you/ no one will ever ever touch you” wow!) Like the Cypriot and French songs this year, the structure of the song departs from the typical verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus, but I think this one works the best.
Best Part: “You came to me one night/like a morning light” Where have I heard that before?
Rating: 4/5

Sunday, April 17, 2011

What about my Sognu?

Finally in the top half of the ranking! These songs just missed out on being in the top and getting close to the 4/5 or 5/5 rating, but they're all still very good.

20. Austria
Nadine Beiler- “The Secret Is Love”
Reaction: This song weakest part is the a capella opening, like some girl singing to herself wandered onto the stage. Once the instruments start this is a very sweet ballad, and the choir in the last part of the song gives it some power. It sounds a little “singing-competition-winner,” but so did the UK’s song in 2009 and that worked out well for her.
Best Part: Last chorus
Rating: 3/5

19. Iceland
Sjonni's Friends- “Coming Home”
Reaction: This song has a bright and cheery old-fashioned sound that is made depressing with the lyrics and backstory. Maybe it intends to make the listener both clap along and cry. The heavy and mixed emotions might not work for all but it works for me.
Best Part: Bridge and last chorus
Rating: 3/5

18. France
Amaury Vassili - “Sognu”
Reaction: This is a little bit of a risky move since lots of people think this is a winner, and it might very well be, as it pushes the buttons of several demographics. Amaury has a nice operatic voice and the song increases in tension as it goes along. The last note can make hairs stand on end. If it had more of a conventional structure with a memorable melody I might have put it a lot higher, though.
Best Part: The part 1:07 to 1:41
Rating: 3/5

17. Azerbaijan
Ell and Nikki - “Running Scared”
Reaction: This one is another favorite that isn’t at the top of my list. It’s a well produced contemporary pop ballad, and out of all the songs in this year’s contest it sounds like the one most at home on the pop charts. It drags on a little and comes across as cold and unfeeling; “Drip Drop” was similarly well produced but pulled it off a lot better.
Best Part: “Oh-oh-oh” intro
Rating: 3/5

16. Croatia
Daria Kinzer - “Celebrate”
Reaction: This is the cutoff point for songs I really like/love this year. This is just a very fun party song about parties. Very joyous and fun. The lyrics are a little unusual (“shine like a comet/in our musical galaxy”) but are cute so they work.
Best Part: “Put your/Hands up”
Rating: 3/5

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Still alive for a while

This week's portion of the ranking is the middle of the pack: not the best but definitely not the worst. These songs all have their charms and strong points.

25. Slovakia
Twiins - “I‘m Still Alive”
Reaction: This is a nice contemporary pop ballad. The vocals are decent enough. This song’s flaw is that it’s too repetitive. The chorus goes on for what sounds like forever and it isn’t particularly catchy. However, it’s very professional sounding and has a positive message.
Best Part: Verses
Rating: 3/5

24. Lithuania
Evelina Sasenko - “C’est ma vie”
Reaction: This song is a very generic ballad that could have been the entry for any country in the past twenty years. However, there’s just something so pleasant and sweet about it. It’s great for falling asleep to, and I don’t mean that as an insult in this case. Sometimes the strings + pleasant female voice + questionable English lyrics just hits even when it shouldn’t.
Best Part: Last chorus
Rating: 3/5

23. Poland
Magdalena Tul - “Jestem”
Reaction: Is this one the fan favorite of the year that I just don’t get? It’s a competent and well-produced pop song, but no part of it is very catchy to me. It’s fun, but not enough to stand out.
Best Part: Intro
Rating: 3/5

22. Switzerland
Anna Rossinelli - “In Love For A While”
Reaction: This song sounds exactly like its music video: music for hip young city-dwellers to have dinner parties to. It sounds appropriate for any other event with precious and twee people in plinky xylophone love, too: weddings, indie movies, clothing commercials, or whatever they do. It’s a bit similar in sound to “Satellite,” but without it’s energy and catchiness.
Best Part: The “na na na na na” part.
Rating: 3/5

21. Denmark
A Friend In London - “New Tomorrow”
Reaction: This song is the other side of the Swiss hip-young-city-dweller coin. The chorus is a call-to-arms for young people to make a very non-specific “new tomorrow,” presumably appealing to hopeful activists who aren’t opposed to commercial music. It’s very memorable and hopefully will lyrically connect with the intended audience. It also has a nice “oh-oh-oh” chanted bridge.
Best Part: The “we can change it all todaaaaaay” pre-chorus
Rating: 3/5

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Madness of rankings

Here are the next five songs in my Eurovision ranking. Not too much to say, as these are now towards the middle of the bunch: neither outstandingly bad nor good.

30. Italy
Raphael Gualazzi - “Madness of love”
Reaction: Italy returns after over a decade with a song intended to trick juries into voting for it. It seems like a very typical jazz song. It’s competent but there’s nothing really special about it. The wailing and increased trumpets at the end of each chorus were probably intended to give it that something special, the madness of the title, but it just comes off as annoying.
Best Part: Chorus
Rating: 3/5

29. Turkey
Yüksek Sadakat - “Live it up”
Reaction: Turkey must not have to try any more, because this definitely feels like less effort went into it than “Deli“ and “We Could Be The Same.” It definitely sounds simple and familiar. It’s all the same to me as those songs got approximately the same ranking as this one does. A nice fun party rock song with some Turkish flavor in the strings.
Best Part: Instrumental + bridge
Rating: 3/5

28. Armenia
Emmy - “Boom boom”
Reaction: This song doesn’t know what it wants to be. It starts off as a pop song with heavy drum, a little like “Qele Qele,” but during the chorus it turns into a watered-down disco. If this was done by any other country it would flop, but with the Armenian name/fan base/performance style it probably has a chance.
Best Part: “Ay-yi-yi-yi”
Rating: 3/5

27. Germany
Lena - “Taken by a stranger”
Reaction: It’s no “Satellite,” that’s for sure. It sounds like an album track rather than a single. The talk-singing and bassline give it a smooth, almost mysterious quality. Unlike “Satellite” it’s not immediately catchy and it feels much longer than it actually is.
Best Part: Instrumental bridge

26. Bulgaria
Poli Genova- “Na inat”
Reaction: This is a unique rock song with female vocals. The melody, especially in the chorus, is a little unusual sounding but it works.
Best Part: Chorus
Rating: 3/5