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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Keep Calm and Think Twice

 Rehearsals start in just a few hours. It's time for my Eurovision top 10.

10. Ireland
Can-Linn feat. Kasey Smith “Heartbeat”
Reaction: This year's “last year's winner” song has fiddles that echo the flutes of “Only Teardrops.” It's a strong, passionate pop song that moves at a high tempo
Best Part: Key change
Rating: 4/5

9. France
Twin Twin - “Moustache”
Reaction: Many people seem to be treating this like a joke entry but this is way deeper than it appears. On the surface it's like French Jedward – so, smarter. They even make the neverending mustache trend funny and thought provoking. Also, their song “La K-Pop” is a brilliant primer on the genre.
Best Part: "Mon corps est une machine de guerre"
Rating: 4/5

8. Latvia
Aarzemnieki - “Cake To Bake”
Reaction: The melody sounds like it's existed forever, or at least since the Beatles. The lyrics are cute and clever. The cake recipe in the bridge is questionable - cakes are made with batter, not dough - but that's not the point. This and the French song are similar lyrically, in a way. The singer does all these impressive things but what they really want to do is something mundane. Food for thought?
Best Part: “Solved a case for the genius of Baker Street”
Rating: 4/5

7. Switzerland
Sebalter - “Hunter of Stars”
Reaction: In a contest with a surprising number of country-influenced songs. This song has bluegrass roots and is a bouncing good time. Even the whistling, which could have been annoying, works well.
Best Part: Fiddle solo after the bridge
Rating: 4/5

6. Albania
Hersi Matmuja - “One Night's Anger”
Reaction: There is nothing about this song or its video that can't prove that it was recorded in the 1990s. It's very early 90s grungy angry rock. It's unpolished, but that's where its charm lies.
Best Part: "Sun will rise, and the light will be clearing/The tides of the night
Rating: 4/5

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Amazing Songs

Happy Easter! Why not celebrate while listening to some of this year's better Eurovision songs?

15. Germany
Elaiza - "Is It Right?"
Reaction: This is an interesting mix of traditional and modern German music. Minus the accordion and bass, it could be on any radio station. With them, it is oompah for the 21st century sensibility.
Best Part: "He could write like a man/a novel life back on track"
Rating: 3/5

14. Estonia
Tanja - "Amazing"
Reaction: Its often compared to "Euphoria" and in Eurovision no song has come closer.
But this one is more floaty and ethereal, a background lift instead of pop perfection.
Best Part: "We froze to ice and melted down/We chased the stars and fell to the ground
Rating: 4/5

13. Belarus
Teo - "Cheesecake"
Reaction: This is a relative rarity - a playful breakup song. It's got a bit of funkiness and sexiness. This seemed weak and ridiculous back in December, but as the weather warms up this becomes a soundtrack to a warm night. Also, it makes you hungry for cheesecake!
Best Part: "But I’m not Patrick Swayze/You’re not Jennifer Gray"
Rating: 4/5

12. Slovenia
Tinkara Kovač - "Round and Round"
Reaction: Fitting to its title, this song has a dizzying spinning affect. Like many other Slovenian entries, it has a strong chorus and verses that are snappier than last year's.
The bilingual text also works, keeping the listener on their toes.
Best Part: "Is a moment just a circle/Just a song you play on repeat?"
Rating: 4/5

11. Moldova
Cristina Scarlat - "Wild Soul"
Reaction: This is a dark song about persevering through adversity...I think. It's wonderfully theatrical and dramatic, especially during the chorus. Though it's dark it's full of hope. The electronic glitchy industrial parts in the backing music add to the mood.
Best Part: "The world can throw a dice for each of us anytime"
Rating: 4/5

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Dancing on the Edge of Time

Finally getting in the top half of this year's Eurovision song set, there are both underrated and overrated songs in this mix.

20. FYR Macedonia
Tijana - "To the Sky"
Reaction: A pop song with the slightest hint of rock, this is very very middle of the pack. Fun but not too fun, hints of catchiness. Nothing extremely terrible nor catchy about it.
Best Part: "Held together by the hand of life"
Rating: 3/5

19. Portugal
Suzy - "Quero Ser Tua"
Reaction: This song is very underrated. It's a fun summery beach party song. It's not particularly original, but it's insanely catchy and easy to listen to in a carefree mood.
Best Part: UAUAUÉ
Rating: 3/5

18. United Kingdom
Molly - "Children of the Universe"
Reaction: In that tradition of British Eurovision entries with social messages that aren't really developed, this one fits right in. The "power to the people" refrain recalls "Power to All Our Friends." Well, this music never ends. The Icelandic song has a more developed message, but this, in all its vagueness, is a well developed pop song performed by a potential modern-day siren.
Best Part: "Something's stirring in the silence/And it reeks of passive violence"
Rating: 3/5

17. Lithuania
Vilija Matačiūnaitė - "Attention"
Reaction: Another underrated song. This is both avant-garde and super catchy. Its chorus appears to me at random moments more than any other song here. And who can argue with its recipe for a relationship (attention + care = love)?
Best Part: Chorus
Rating: 3/5

16. Romania
Paula Seling & Ovi - "Miracle)
Reaction: Not really a miracle, just an above average dance song. What really elevates this is their goofy yet charming chemistry (no, really). The way they perform "All those things I see/I think I see them too" is so awkward but oddly believable. Maybe not as memorable as "Playing With Fire" but less abrasive.
Best Part: Long held "ooooooh" before final chorus
Rating: 3/5

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Why Start A Fire

 More surprising than Eurovision being in just one month is that this ranking is already half over!

25. San Marino
Valentina Monetta - “Maybe”
Reaction: This song is like listening to the first (and lesser) half of last year's song twice. It's cheesy, sentimental, and theatrical and it has its place in an Eurovision semifinal.
Best Part: “Maybe you and I/Are tear drops from the sky /That fill the sea eternally”
Rating: 3/5

24. Russia
Tolmachevy Sisters - “Shine”
Reaction: This song's biggest problem is that it sounds like an unfinished demo, and maybe the singers are too sweet-sounding for the dramatic music. The lyrics, too, are a little too sweet for the dramatic music. Despite that disconnect, it's enjoyable.
Best Part:Sending out a message out above/Telling all the world to show some love” almost as ironic as last years
Rating: 3/5

23. Hungary
András Kállay-Saunders - “Running”
Reaction: This is both fresh and modern – it's pop with a layer of dubstep. It's also got a serious, important message in the lyrics that is handled with more tact and creativity than most serious songs in English in this contest. Kállay-Saunders isn't the only New Yorker who's entered Eurovision in the past decade, but his song is the only one that actually looks and sounds like a native English speaker wrote it.
Best Part:Mama let the devil in her house”
Rating: 3/5

22. Ukraine
Mariya Yaremchuk - “Tick-Tock”
Reaction: Often the Ukrainian entry to Eurovision goes through a big revision between national and international finals, one that improves it greatly. Some miracles were definitely performed on this one. The lyrics were almost entirely changed. It's a bouncy contemporary pop song that a girl group might perform.
Best Part: “My heart is like a clock, I'm steady like a rock”
Rating: 3/5

21. Azerbaijan
Dilara Kazimova - “Start A Fire”
Reaction: This is a lot more subdued and jazzy than their previous entries would have you expect (it's closest to “When the music dies”) Though it's quiet, it's captivating. The lyrics are really poignant too, brief character studies.
Best Part: “Digging out the burning bullets in his chest”
Rating: 3/5