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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Super Semi Songs (And Army of Lovers Rules the World)

Oddly for this time of year, there were two national finals early in the week and only semifinals on the weekend.

Back on Monday, Greece had their national final. One of the participants was "Angel" by Alex Leon feat. Giorgina. It's an interesting mix of ethnic ballad plus dance...even dubstep?

Ireland also had a national final, and didn't pick "Fire" by Zoe Alexis Bohorquez. Like the winning song, it's a contemporary dance song.

Estonia had their second semifinal, from which "Missing Light" by Flank failed to qualify. It's a strong synth-pop song.

Hungary had two semifinals in a row this weekend. My favorite non-qualifier from their first semifinal was "Valami más" by Lilla Polyák, which is the kind of dance song that keeps popping up all over this season and I still don't tire of.

My favorite non-qualifier from their second semifinal was "Tegnap még más voltál" by United. It has some similar notes in the chorus (okay, three notes) to Swedish qualifier "Bed on Fire", but the songs are like day and night.

It isn't Eurovision season without an ethnic dance song with "hop hop" in the lyrics, and Romania brought it with "Sukar Transylvania" by The Zuralia Orchestra.

Romania, like Hungary, had two semifinals in a row this weekend. From the other semifinal, my favorite song was "I Believe in Love" by Diana Hetea. It's the kind of sweet pop ballad I love in this setting. It's my favorite of all the non-qualifiers in any show this week.

Sweden had their fourth semifinal of Melodifestivalen. Honestly, I don't really like "Rockin' the Ride" by Army of Lovers. It's very repetitive and nothing much interesting happens, except the spoken part. However, the performance is brilliant and life-changing. I have no idea how this got on primetime TV. Besides this, the best part of the night was the Alcazar reunion. SVT is already bending the Eurovision rules, can't they bend some more and just send "Stay the Night" this year?

Next week: finals in Armenia, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Serbia, and Spain! Three semifinals in a row in Israel, plus a second chance round! And speaking of second chance rounds, Sweden has theirs, too!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Missing Out Songs

Fourth place in the Austrian selection went to "Back to Fantasy" by The Bandaloop. It's a dance song that doesn't stand out much from the total field from the national finals this Eurovision season, but it did stand out within this five-song final.

In Estonia's first semifinal, "The Missing Thing" by Anisa failed to qualify. It's a slightly quirky electro pop song, which is expected from Eesti Laul.

A favorite in the German national final that didn't make it was "One Love" by Söhne Mannheims. It's a smooth reggae pop song that would have been different than the usual in Eurovision but I would have liked to see it try in that field.

In their third heat, Hungary failed to advance "Hullócsillag" by Mónika Hoffmann. It's a contemporary pop ballad, which there is no shortage of in national Eurovision final land, but it is good at what it does, and the key change earns it bonus points.

An interesting song from the Latvian national final was "One" by Niko. It sounds very much like a song that you'd hear from a Korean boyband. I wonder if the songwriters have written any songs for that market...but that's for another post.

Spain eliminated "Revolución" from their four-song selection. It's a guitar pop song that's pleasant but feels kind of dated.

Sweden failed to advance "Alibi" by Eddie Razaz to its final. There seems to be a pattern this year in Melodifestivalen with each semifinal opening with a male singer performing a dance-pop song that sounds kind of similar (assuming Army of Lovers breaks this pattern). This one has a catchy chorus, but feels somehow both modern and dated, in a turn-of-the-millennium boy band way. I like it better than "Skyline" and worse than "Begging," but this one performed worse than those two.

What's happening next week? National finals in Greece and Ireland. Semifinals in Estonia, Hungary, Romania, and Sweden.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Dancing On Top of the World

This week saw two songs sent to Eurovision, and a few other countries' fields were narrowed down.

The runner-up in Finland was "We Should Be Through" by Mikael Saari. It's a ballad like Finland had sent the two previous years, if not more powerful. There were lots of comparisons to "Kuula" and I think I like this song a bit better.

One of the songs that failed to advance from the second heat in Hungary was "Hadd legyen más" by Szabó Ádám. The addition of the accordion to this rock ballad is intriguing and makes it unique.

Latvia had two semifinals in a row this week. Fox Lima failed to qualify from the first one with "Tirpini." The song is calming and mystical at first, then has a lot of drums, chanting, and wailing. The performance in the semifinal looked low-budget but beautiful.

Datarock failed to even make the superfinal in Norway's Melodi Grand Prix final with their song "The Underground." Datarock are notable for being EA darlings. Theirsongs have appeared in NHL 08, FIFA 08 through 10, NBA Live 08, The Sims 2 and 3, Madden NFL 08, and Need for Speed: Pro Street. Their songs have also appeared in several ads and TV shows, but who watches TV anymore? "The Underground" is a fun and funky disco-rock song. It has a sax solo and a key change, what more could you want?

Sweden's second semifinal saw the great "On Top of the World" by Swedish House Wives, which I realized much too recently is a play on Swedish House Mafia. The group is made up of Pernilla Wahlgren, Hanna Hedlund, and Jenny Silver, who all had great songs in years past of Melodifestivalen. Their song this year is an electronic dance song with a fantastic schlager chorus that floats on air.

Next week: finals in Austria, Germany, and Latvia! Semifinals in Estonia, Hungary, and Sweden! And the end of online voting in Spain, which will eliminate one of two songs in their four-song selection.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Last Night and Last Week

Eurovision season is in full swing now, with a slew of selection shows in the past few days.

Finland had a semifinal and only eliminated two songs. I'm highlighting "Last Night" by Iina Salin. It's a generic disco influenced song that might be fun in the background at a party. I just really wanted to avoid talking about "Ilmalaivalla".

Hungary cut four songs from their selection, including "Neonzöld" by Background. It's a cute almost Ke$ha wannabe.

The runner-up in Iceland was "Eg syng!" by Unnur Eggertsdóttir. It's catchy, bright, and peppy.

My two favorite songs in Malta got eliminated at the semifinal stage: "Tides of Illusion" and "Fantasy".

In Norway, "Utopia" by Gothminister failed to advance to the final. I'm not a huge fan of the song (it was definitely more listenable than the other non-qualifiers though), but I like their aesthetic. Is that the wrong thing to say about a song contest? It fits with the song very well.

I was very happy with the results in Sweden, so it's hard to pick a favorite among the non-qualifiers. It would probably be "Gosa" by Mary N'diaye. It's a cute and fun song, and she had the best eyelashes in her intro (yes, even better than YOHIO).

Next week sees a true Super Saturday with semifinals in Hungary, Latvia, and Sweden, and finals in Austria, Finland, Germany, and Norway!