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Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Rain! The Rain!

 Five more Eurovision entries. This is the point in the rankings where I think "oh, it's actually not so bad this year" because all the truly bad songs went out last week.

30. Poland
Donatan & Cloe – “We Are Slavic”
Reaction:This song was much better in the original Polish. The revised chorus has very awkward lyrics and rhythm.
Best Part:“Most beautiful ladies/sweet as a cake”
Rating: 2/5

29. Montenegro
Sergej Cetkovic - “Moj Svijet”
Reaction: I really wanted to like this. It's the only true Balkan ballad in the contest since usual contributors Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia are out of the contest this year. However, this song just rolls along pleasantly as if it was dandelion fluff caught on a spring breeze. It doesn't contain too much emotion, except a little during the abrupt ending. Sometimes sadness is more interesting than happiness, and this is an example.
Best Part: Post-chorus/bridge
Rating: 2/5

28. Greece
Freaky Fortune feat. Risky Kidd - “Rise Up”
Reaction:Unusual among Greek entries, this is a really international sounding song. I can see it being released by a K-Pop boy band. However, it's a little too repetitive and scattered, and the trumpet (?) really detracts from the song.
Best Part: Second chorus
Rating: 2/5

27. Spain
Ruth Lorenzo - “Dancing in the Rain”
Reaction: This song is a combination of “Don't Cry Out Loud” and “The Edge of Glory” and makes the listener wish they were listening to those instead. Surprisingly, the wailing in the second half of the song is better than the song itself, but just wailing half of the title does not a song make. The wailing is really passionate and enjoyable to listen to, though.
Rating: 3/5

26. Iceland
Pollapönk - “No Prejudice”
Reaction: This is a really fun 90s throwback song with a good message. The band members are teachers and it shows – this could fit in the indie kids' music genre.
Best Part: “Everyb-b-b-b-b-b-b-body looks the same on the inside”
Rating: 3/5

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Mother Has Arrived

This year's Eurovision lineup is finally complete, and so it is time for this blog's annual ranking. My bottom 7 are as follows:

37. Belgium
Axel Hirsoux - “Mother”
Reaction: This is not only weak and boring, but also really creepy. This is one of the most co-dependent “I love you Mom” song I have heard. There's a line between “Thanks for supporting me” and “you're more than a soul mate” and this crosses it.
Best Part: “I'm weak, you're bright”
Rating: 1/5

36. Finland
Softengine - “Something Better”
 Reaction: This was so forgettable that I forgot the winner of the Finnish final twice. It's not terrible, but it's so anonymous that it's a non-entity. It shuffles along as okay background music for a car trip but it's not interesting enough to hold attention of sight and sound for three minutes.
Best Part: “All these words/Before she passed away” this got dark for a moment
Rating: 1/5

35. Denmark
Basim - “Cliche Love Song”
Reaction: After two years of magic, Denmark went back to sending their upbeat middle-of-the-road typical style. It's Bruno Mars meets that Eurovision tradition of nonsense words. It's a little more creative than its title implies, yet not original enough for it to be ironic.
Best Part: “I know from the pizza guy/That you're a special girl”
Rating: 1/5

34. Georgia
The Shin & Mariko - “Three Minutes to Earth”
Reaction: I appreciate that they're doing something different, and every Eurovision needs a weird song by musicians who are being really serious, but this is just unlistenable. This is a jam session, not a song.
Best Part: “Show us the stairways to come back to Earth/Skydivers/Space jump”
Rating: 1/5

33. Malta
Firelight - “Coming Home”
Reaction: Last year they did “Hey Soul Sister” and this year they're doing “I Will Wait,” apparently. This is less annoying than last year's but it's also less memorable. I can't believe I'm saying this – I would rather listen to “Tomorrow” twice than this once.
Best Part: “Electrify my bones”
Rating: 1/5

32. Armenia
Aram MP3 - “Not Alone”
Reaction: This is easily the most overrated song of the year. It's a lot of production and not a lot of song. Half the song is quiet buildup, and the other half drops the beat and repeats the lyrics. Neither half has a winning impact.
Best Part: The instrumental buildup to the chorus.
Rating: 2/5

31. Netherlands
The Common Linnets - “Calm After the Storm”
Reaction: Like Denmark, the Netherlands is back to its old tricks. This country song is a heartfelt post-breakup reflection. Musically, it's the same throughout and really boring.
Best Part: “Tears on a highway/Water in my eyes”... only teardrops?
Rating: 2/5

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Still Frozen in March

Somehow we still haven't made it. This was last weekend of Eurovision selection shows, but there's still a few more days until the deadline so halfway through March we still don't know all the songs. The remaining songs are all internally chosen so I'll only touch on them when it's time in the rankings.
Belgium had the final national final of the season. “Nothing is impossible” by Eva Jacobs is a pleasant, positive pop song that would have fit in with the other selected songs.

Greece had the first final of the week on Tuesday. “Kanenas Den Me Stamata” by Kostas Martakis would have been a great Eurovision entry for Greece if it was chosen. Greek-influenced rock with a good looking guy? There's lots of guaranteed points there.

Germany had a long and complicated final with performers playing multiple songs in different rounds. “Wir werden Niemals Untergehen” by Santiano had the complete package. Not only does it sound like a pirate shanty, but it was performed on a pirate ship on stage. Who needs choreography when you have this?

Moldova had a final after non-televised semifinals. “Frozen” by Lucia S is certainly an appropriate title given the weather on this part of the world, but might not fly come May.

Norway had a single final this week after three semifinals last weekend. Linnea Dale's “High Hopes” was a cool electro pop song that could have repeated last year's song in effect, but maybe not in score.

Second place in Portugal's five-song final went to “Mea Culpa” by Catarina Pereira. A big fan favorite, it has Babic written all over it, and sounds like his other songs, but I don't care.

By next Sunday, this year's Eurovision lineup will be complete and I will begin my annual ranking series!

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Almost The End

On the second Sunday of March, we're in the final Eurovision preselection stretch, with over two thirds of the competing countries having presented their entries.

From Denmark, Bryan Rice's “I Choose U” sounds like ten years ago, and so does its title. What doesn't remind people of Pokemon?

Israel had a final early in the week with three songs from Mei Finegold. There's a lot of talk about “Nisheret Iti” because its songwriters are threatening a lawsuit over the results, but the last place song “Be Proud” is also worth a listen. It has dramatic power-ballad versus and a joyous, triumphant Eurovision-y chorus. The mix works very well.

Norway had three semifinals in one weekend, from which nine songs advanced to next week's final and six songs missed out. My favorite of the six was Hilda & Thea Leora's "Best Friend's Boyfriend." Its the peppiest pop song of the six.

Portugal had a ten-song semifinal, from which half made it on to the final. "Emoção" by Ricardo Afonso has a neat 80s intro.

In Slovenia, Omar Naber's “I Won't Give Up” has that pop rock style that made him my first favorite Slovenian entrant back in 2005. Unlike 2005 it's much more positive and hopeful. Also guitar solos

This is the only video I could find.

Sweden had their Melodifestivalen final after five weeks of preliminary rounds.  Second place went to "Busy Doin' Nothin'" by Ace Wilder. Some slacker anthems are brilliant (Longview) and some are not (The Lazy Song). This is in the first camp and there isn't really one like this. Its part Ylvis, part Avicii, part Icona Pop/ting tings -  something that the world recognizes as "Scandinavian pop" of the current era, a little cool. The "don't wanna work work work" refrain with the fashion delivery is a brilliant contrast.

Of course I also had to mention Yohio's return entry, "To The End." this was disappointing as it wasn't as good as "Heartbreak Hotel." This sounds much closer to his other work, and for a song written entirely by Swedes its very Gackt-like. His vocal delivery is a lot closer to Gackt too (the warbling on long notes). It didn't seem like a winner on first or subsequent listening but its nice to hear more from him.

You would think next week's upcoming finals would be "everyone else" but some countries' entries are still TBA.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Hear the Echo

Tonight is the Academy Awards. Much classier than Eurovision and much more artistic merit, but since there is one award for Best Original Song, can we call it a "four-song national final?"

Belgium had a four-song semifinal (sorry for forgetting about them last week). “She's after my piano” by 2 Fabiola ft. Loredana was definitely the most...interesting song of the night.

Estonia had their national final. My absolute favorite, which was destroyed by the juries, was “Kui tuuled pöörduvad” by Sandra Nurmsalu. Despite the shared singer, it's nothing like “Rändajad.” This is peppy and mystical with a catchy bridge.

France had a three-song final. “Ma Liberte” by Joanna is an okay ballad, but it's better than the other one.

Ireland had a five-song final. The four non-winners are pretty unremarkable ballads. Well, “Don't Hold On” by Patricia Roe has an intro that is similar to that of “Bound 2”...that's notable, right?

Romania had a twelve-song national final, which was won by their 2010 representatives. “One More Time” by Vaida came in first in the viewer vote but finished in second after the jury vote was added.

Sweden had their second chance round, where two songs made it to the final out of a group of eight. “Echo” by Outtrigger missed out on the final in the last “duel” of the night. Outtrigger are notable for”>their metal cover of “You” by Robin Stjernberg
, which was a vast improvement over the original. “Echo” is even better than this, and would have been great to see in the final.