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Sunday, April 28, 2013

You and You and Me

Time for my top 15, which I can truly call among my favorites in Eurovision this year.

15. Sweden
Robin Stjernberg - "You"
Reaction: This song's biggest failing is that it isn't "Heartbreak Hotel" or "Begging." Other than that, it's as competent as any pop song that gets to the Melodifestivalen final, which is to say, it's more competent than a lot of songs that make it to Eurovision. It switches to falsetto back and forth in an interesting way.
Best Part: Intro/first verse
Rating: 4/5

14. Montenegro
Who See - "Igranka"
Reaction: This song is firmly in the 2010s. A few songs this year have dubstep touches but this one goes all the way. It's a fun party song. The rap verses have a good rythym and intensity, especially in the bridge.
Best Part: "na-na-na-na igranku/ku-ku-ku-ku igranku"
Rating: 4/5

13. France
Amandine Bourgeois - "L'enfers et moi"
Reaction: This is a soulful rock song. This is far grittier and sexier than the usual Eurovision song. If it's not authentic, it sure feels like it is. It sounds like it could be the opening music for a film.
Best Part: End, when it gets more intense
Rating: 4/5

12. Switzerland
Takasa - "You and Me"
Reaction: This is by far the most tolerable thing the Salvation Army has ever done musically. I would take this song on repeat for all of December over what we currently get. This is also much better than last year's song with the same title. This song is joyful and anthemic. It has a strong singalong chorus.
Best Part: Intro and outro
Rating: 4/5

11. Germany
Cascada - "Glorious"
Reaction: This isn't an exact copy of "Euphoria" but it does share some similarities in the genre and the way it builds up in intensity. Otherwise this is more typical recent Cascada. It's kind of comforting because it reminds me of their earlier better work but still holds its own. It's a fun and bouncy dance song that actually has a melody.
Best Part: First chorus
Rating: 4/5

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Should have stayed at home?

Finally we're in the top half of my Eurovision rankings. This is a group of songs that are good but just missing that extra something special and consistency that the top 15 have.

20. Israel
Moran Mazor - "Rak Bishvilo"
Reaction: This is like Milim part 2, except with a female singer and more diva wailing. It feels very similar, and though I didn't like "Milim" as much at first, it warmed up on me, and so this one gets a better response.
Best Part: Last chorus
Rating: 3/5

19. Slovenia
Hannah - "Straight Into Love"
Reaction: I thinK I read a description of this song as all production and no composition, and that's a fair analysis. It's a pretty and fun contemporary dance song, but the melody is weak, especially in the chorus. It gets a little dubstep-adjacent in the intro and the 2nd chorus, too.
Best Part: First verse
Rating: 3/5

18. Croatia
Klapa s Mora - "Mižerja"
Reaction: Croatia goes very traditional this year very effectively. The appeal of this song isn't really in the song itself - it sounds like it could have come right out of a 90's contest. The appeal is the mood it creates. On hearing the song, the listener is transported to the Adriatic seaside drinking wine. So while the song is pleasant, it makes me mad I'm not on vacation.
Best Part: Second verse and chorus
Rating: 3/5

17. Ireland
Ryan Dolan - "Only Love Survives"
Reaction: Despite not having the namepower of Jedward, this year's song is actually more on trend. It sounds like the kind of dance pop that's been all over the radio the past few years. It's slickly produced and has great verses and pre-chorus, but weak choruses.
Best Part: Pre-chorus
Rating: 3/5

16. Ukraine
Zlata Ognevich - "Gravity"
Reaction: This song starts off soft and wimpy at the beginning, but when it gets to the first chorus it picks up a burst of energy. The rest of the song is belted in a pop musical way - maybe they took inspiration from "Defying Gravity"? The first part of the chorus is wonderfully dramatic, but it fizzles out in the "My gravity" part.
Best Part: "I should have stayed at home"
Rating: 3/5

Next week: top 15 and some 4/5s!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Hold Me...Holding Out For A Hero?

This week in Eurovision rankings: a lot of references to other songs! So much for judging songs on their own.

25.United Kingdom
Bonnie Tyler - "Believe In Me"
Reaction: It's a better effort than last year, and better than plenty of songs this year, but it's still a middle of the road country ballad by a past-prime singer. In Eurovision, it's hard to think about the song separate from an artist's past catalogue if it just doesn't meet that standard. For example, I can't judge "What If We" on its own; I have to compare it, infavorably, to "Angel." And so I can't judge "Believe In Me" without thinking of Tyler's work with Jim Steinman. Actually, I can't listen to it without wanting to listen to said work. Judging it only against the standards of this set of 39 songs, it just ends up a little lower than the middle.
Best Part: the bridge that comes the closest to the feeling of said best work
Rating: 3/5

24. Italy
Marco Mengoni - "L'essenziale"
Reaction: This pop ballad by a strong singer is almost as dual-sided as the other Italian-language song this year. Its verses are slow and weak, but the chorus is stronger. It's not too exciting, this is one of those songs that sounds really beautiful while you're sleepy. That might not be enough to elevate it beyond the other livelier songs this year.
Best Part: instrumental bridge and last chorus
Rating: 3/5

23. Georgia
Noda Tatishvili & Sophie Gelovani - "Waterfall"
Reaction: There's no way to talk about this without referencing the songwiter's other similar songs, since this song was clearly picked for its winning writing team. It's very "Quedate Conmigo" meets "In A Moment Like This", with Georgia's "Shine" mixed in, and some of the feeling of "Running Scared". So yes, by that logic and with good staging it has top ten written all over it. But look at my previous years' rankings: I never really connected with those songs and this one earns the same reaction. It's a little too saccharine and plodding to match the win of running scared. Its high point is the fun cheesiness of the chorus.
Best Part: First two lines of the chorus
Rating: 3/5

22. Azerbaijan
Farid Mammadov - "Hold Me"
Reaction: Azerbaijan has had a short but extremely successful run in Eurovision. All their entries have been high quality and achieved high placings.Like their past few entries, this is a crowd-pleasing pop ballad. This song also draws comparison to "Mr. Nobody," which might share a few notes in the chorus with this one but is still a much better song. It's also drawn connections to Dima Bilan's "Believe," which might as well just be because of similarities in the singers' fashion styles and that they're both ballads from win-hungry ex-Soviet countries. Maybe the 2008 song we need to look towards is "Day After Day." That first effort and this song were good efforts to get a good place, and don't have that "this might win" something special that demand entry into their top 5 placing streak from 2009-2012.
Best Part: Last chorus
Rating: 3/5

21. FYR Macedonia
Esma & Lozano - "Pred Da Se Razdeni"
Reaction: This is a mix of ethnic folk and pop. I really like Lozano's part, which has all the makings for a big Balkan pop ballad. Esma's part is some great ethnic folk. On their own, these two parts are great, but the mix makes both parts feel out of place. I can't judge this song without returning to "Imperija", the song that the duo was originally supposed to have performed. It probably would have been in my top 5.
Best Part: Lozano's chorus
Rating: 3/5

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Easy As A-A-B-B-E

This week brings the part of my Eurovision ranking with songs I actually enjoy listening to, but not as much as the 25 songs that follow, obviously. Coincidentally, all the countries featured this week are at the beginning of the alphabet.

30. Albania
Adrian Lulgjuraj & Bledar Sejko - "Identitet"
Reaction: This is a competent Balkan rock song, with a bit more of a hook than entries in the genre a few years ago from countries like FYR Macedonia and Montenegro. The instrumental solos are a lot more interesting than the vocal parts, which do drag on by the end. However, I'm writing about the longer 4 minute version, and as of now I don't know what changes are made for the 3 minute version.
Best Part: Instrumental part at end
Rating: 3/5

29. Belgium
Roberto Bellarosa - "Love Kills"
Reaction: Defying expectations, this turned out to be a pretty decent midtempo pop song. It takes a little bit too long to get going, but also goes on a little too long.
Best Part: Bridge, whose dubstep break attempt definitely places this song among its peers this year
Rating: 3/5

28. Austria
Natalia Kelly - "Shine"
Reaction: This is the part of the ranking where the commentary tends to be "competent but nothing special" and nothing exemplifies this sentiment this year more than "Shine." It's got a pleasant melody and a catchy chorus, but there's a few similar songs this year, and this one just doesn't connect with me. I can see it having a fine result, but I just can't make myself listen to it over and over.
Best Part: Key change/final chorus
Rating: 3/5

27. Bulgaria
Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankoulov - "Samo Shampioni"
Reaction: It's not as good or groundbreaking as their song from 2007. But it has all the right elements: repetitive lyric and strong drum beat. There's even a dubstep wub-wub-wub in here too!
Best Part: Chorus
Rating: 3/5

26. Estonia
Birgit Õigenmeel - "Et uus saaks alguse"
Reaction: This pretty country-pop ballad has a little air of "Melodifestivalen reject" about it, but maybe that's the fangirl part of me talking. It's a sweet melody performed by a sweet voice. It's weaknesses are the false stops after the choruses.
Best Part: "Et uus saaks" sounds like "It all sucks" (this realization is the best part, the song does not in fact all suck)
Rating: 3/5