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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Wanting Mas

As the Olympics wound up, another weekend of Super Saturday and Sunday in the Eurovision selection sphere took place.

Estonia had their second semifinal. Happily, my favorite song of their whole selection was one of the qualifiers, but that's a post for another week. My favorite of the non-qualifiers was NION's “Muud pole vaja,” a sweet electro pop song with that little bit of Estonian quirkiness.

After weeks of heats and semifinals, Hungary finally had their national final. My favorite of the lot was “We all” by Bogi. The acoustic guitar and the positive lyrics give this a peppy upbeat feel.

Latvia had their final, choosing their Eurovision entry and confirming that dessert-themed songs is a 2014 trend. Niko performed the dance-pop “Here I am again.” Usually throwing out a term like “Melodifestivalen reject” sounds like an insult, but this song is a much better version of David Lindgren's “Shout It Out” from Melodifestivalen 2012. Better costuming too!

Spain had a five-song final. One of the contenders that didn't win was the contemporary ballad “Run (Mas)” by Brequette. It's one of those ballads like “Wrecking Ball” or even Sweden's still-in-contention “Undo.” The bilingual lyrics work well for this emotional song.

Sweden had their fourth semifinal. The fifth place song was “Hela natten” by Josef Johansson. It's ballad co-written by the writers of “Euphoria,” how could it go wrong?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Seeing Red

The most Eurovisiony thing on my TV this week was Olympic men's figure skating. It's definitely the best daytime weekday programming on right now, if not the best in a while. As for daytime weekend programming, there's these...

Estonia started the weekend with its first semifinal. “Maailm on hull” by Vöörad is a 90's house throwback with a good enough beat that it doesn't matter that you don't understand the lyrics.

Hungary held two semifinals this weekend. From the first semifinal, “Waterfall” by JONI is a very standard pop ballad, but at least it's less maudlin than the Georgian song of the same title from last year's Eurovision.

From the second semifinal, another song with a title that also appeared in a Eurovision past is “This Is My Life” by Muzikfabrik. Actually it's probably for the best that this didn't advance to the final, as disco-funk of this style hasn't seemed to do well in Eurovision, but it probably would have been a good shot of energy.

My favorite non-winner in Iceland's final was “Amor,” which was a second chance pick that I covered two weeks ago. “Eftir eitt lag” by Greta Mjöll Samúelsdóttir is a cute and twee ukelele song (is there any other kind?) that doesn't try too hard, nor is it too much.

My favorite song of the week in Sweden was “Red” by EKO. This is a cool, dark new-wave influenced song, a style that seems to have fallen a little out of favor since all electro-pop is now dance. I love the commitment to the color theme, down to the singer's hair and lipstick.

Next week brings semifinals in Belgium, Estonia, and Sweden. Finals in Hungary, Latvia, and Spain!

Sunday, February 09, 2014


This week has been a pretty big one in televised competitions: Super Bowl, Olympics...who cares, Eurovision's on!
Malta had a 20-song semifinal and a 14-song final. My favorite, and a big pre-contest fan favorite, was “Hypnotica” by Jessika. Calling it “Malta attempts Loreen” wouldn't be inaccurate.

Iceland had an other five-song semifinal, with two songs advancing (plus another wildcard). One of the two songs cast aside was “Til þín” by Guðrún Árný Karlsdóttir. This is a lovely ballad, but I like her 2006 “Andvaka” much better.

Hungary held another ten-song heat from which 3 songs qualified via jury vote and another 3 qualified via viewer vote. “Elmaradt pillanatok” by Bálint Gájer is the best of the four, a very Eurovisiony ballad.

Sweden finally allowed drag queen music to enter the 21st century with Pink Pistols' “I Am Somebody.” Sure it's a 90s-throwback pop song, but it's definitely more current than the showtunes of certain recent years. Maybe it was hurt by its static staging?

Next week brings semifinals in Estonia, Hungary, and Sweden. Also, a final in Iceland!

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Never Made It To the Final

This weekend was the first real Super Saturday of the season, with two Eurovision entries chose and a few more preliminary competitions.

Finland held the final of their UMK. In third place was “God/Drug” by MIAU. This dark electro song isn't very Eurovisiony and probably wouldn't have worked on that stage, but it would be great in a club.
Switzerland had a six-song final. One of the competitors was 3 For All with “Together Forever,” which was a little to inspired by last year's contest (“We Are One”).

Hungary had another ten-song heat, from which six songs qualified. “Born To Fly” is a cute retro song by Szécsi Böbe and Szécsi Saci, who I assume are sisters. It's tempting to read their surname as “sexy” but I know it's not pronounced that way.

Iceland had their first five-song semifinal, from which two songs qualified. The only good song was a non-qualifier, “Amor” by Ásdís María Viðarsdóttir. Ásdís is channeling Florence + the Machine a little bit here. It's the kind of cool weirdness that the world expects from (non-Eurovision) Icelandic music.

Latvia held two semifinals this weekend – each with six songs qualifying out of twelve performed.
One non-qualifier from the first show was “Bučas” by Crazy Dolls. It's a weird little ukelele song (one of those words is redundant). And the mascot-costumed dancer is surprisingly still on trend.

A non-qualifier from the second show is “Pressure” by Sabine Berezina, a nice pop ballad with polished vocals and production, which is surprisingly uncommon in that country's entries in the past few years.

Sweden's first Melodifestivalen heat showcased 8 songs, as usual. Alvaro Estrella's “Bedroom” is what the Belarussian “Cheesecake” should have been. It's a little bit Bruno Mars, and pretty dirty for this family show.

Next weekend is a busy one in international broadcast competitions, as the finals (Malta), semifinals (Hungary, Iceland, Sweden), and casting shows (Belgium and Lithuania) have to compete for ratings with the Winter Olympics!