free web site hit counter

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Eurovision 2017 Song Ranking Part 2: What Timing

This week has probably been the most dramatic weeks in Eurovision in a long time, if not of all time. I don't need to say what it is, it's actual international news and will be in the history books. The resolution might not even come next week, but no matter the result my ranking still stands.

35. Malta 
Claudia Faniello – “Breathlessly” 
Reaction: This ballad sounds lovely in a saccharine way, but this year is thick with ballads and it doesn’t quite stand out as much as the others. I am so happy to Claudia make it to Eurovision but I wish it was one of her others – remember Caravaggio?
Related Video: 
Rating: 2/5

34. Austria 
Nathan Trent – “Running On Air” 
Reaction: This isn’t really my thing, but you have to have one of these in the contest, this chillout Jason Mraz-type of song. This could be this year’s equivalent to Douwe Bob, that his song last year was much better. It’s chill but close to bland.
Related Video: 
Rating: 2/5

33. Romania 
Ilinca ft. Alex Florea – “Yodel It!” 
Reaction: I’m sorry – I can’t deal with the yodeling and I am no fun. In this year, it’s the closest thing to a novelty song, despite being by a serious yodeler. This song runs all over the place and is messy in the bridge. At least the yodeling is unique and a bit daring, and it will at least be memorable on stage in May.
Related Video:
Rating: 3/5

32. Czech Republic 
Martina Bárta – “My Turn” 
Reaction: This jazzy chilled-out song is sweet and romantic. Martina’s unique voice adds a different dimension to this song. It doesn’t stand out very much, and seems destined to stay in the semifinals, but it’s nice while it lasts.
Related Video:
Rating: 3/5

31. Russia 
Julia Samoylova – “Flame Is Burning” 
Reaction: Russia sure isn’t going to win any good sportsmanship awards this year. After this week, who knows if this song and this singer and this broadcaster will be participating in May. This song is simple but very recognizably Russian. It has an intensely catchy chorus and a nice use of acoustic instruments. The verses are a little less memorable, the is awkward and misses its potential, and the vocals seem muddled. It’s similar to “What If” and “Shine”, less saccharine but both but also less polished and ultimately less good.
Related Video:
Rating: 3/5

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Eurovision 2017 Song Ranking Part 1: You Sang?

All the songs are out and it's finally time for my annual Eurovision ranking. This year's songs are very...average. There isn't a lot that is terrible, but there isn't much that is amazing. Some of these bottom 8 songs could have been 3/5, but as you'll see in a few weeks, some of the top songs could have been 3/5 too. After this week, five songs will be profiled each week until my top 5 on the Sunday prior to the Eurovision live shows.

43. Lithuania
Fusedmarc - “Rain of Revolution”
Reaction: Lithuania hasn't been in this spot since my first year doing this ranking, where they ended up actually getting their best result ever in the contest. This year, they're warming the spot that their neighbors to the north have taken a few times. “Rain of Revolution” is kind of like “Probka” or “Here We Go” – it's got a pulse but it's not fun, it's messy, and I don't want to listen to it anymore. In a year that's trending more overproduced than not, it's comfortingly Eurovision to have something as messy as this among the field.
Related Video: This is much better.
Rating: 1/5

42. San Marino
Valentina Monetta and Jimmie Wilson - “Spirit of the Night”
Reaction: Valentina is back, with a friend and disco. This sounds like Ralph Siegel wrote it over tea. This contest was missing the typical Eurovision cheapness until this was revealed. For a song about partying, it's surprisingly low energy, more disco nap than disco. I don't want to listen to it any more than I have to.
Related Video: Someone please do a mashup!
Rating: 1/5

41. Albania
Lindita - “World”
Reaction: This ballad is so cinematic and has a dramatic orchestral instrumentation. However, the melody is just unenjoyable. It's boring and hard to listen to, and the switch to English didn't do it any favors.
Related Video:
Rating: 1/5

40. Slovenia
Omar Naber - “On My Way”
Reaction: Back in 2005, I really loved “Stop.” I really liked Omar's album out at the time too. “Stop” was dramatic and edgy. His song this year, is so dated that it wouldnt' even have made it out of a semifinal in 2005. There's something charming about its datedness, to the Eurovision fan who likes anything reminding them of it. Maybe I don't know what old fashioned ballads would connect with the audience – I was wrong on “Color of My Life” last year, but Omar doesn't have the golden/nostalgic voice that Michal did. The chorus is jarring too with some weird notes, and it's unpleasant to listen to.
Related Video:
Rating: 1/5

39. Germany
Levina - “Perfect Life”
Reaction: You know how old an eurovision fan you are when you hear the line“I'm almost a sinner, nearly a saint” line and your brain fills in the gap with “not that I would lose my head and faint.” This is aggressively bland with nothing special or exciting. The verses are nice, and yes they sound like “Titanium” but note enough. The chorus has some abrasive notes (like the “life” at the end of the chorus).
Related Video:
Rating: 2/5

38. Spain
Manel Navarro - “Do It For Your Lover”
Reaction: This has got to have the least lyrics in a chorus of theirs since 1968, but this doesn't even touch that. The repetitive chorus calls to mind the “come with me” second verse of “The Fire in Your Eyes” in 2008, but that was better. The music video is spot on: this song is meant for a sunny beach, either in reality or in your memory.
Related Video: Because "what is it?”
Rating: 2/5

37. Poland
Kasia Moś - “Flashlight”
Reaction: I got their song really wrong last year, but it was surprisingly beautiful on stage. On the other hand, I really don't like. There's just something about the tone of her voice as it hits some uncomfortable note sequences. She sounds very different in the live and studio versions, and neither really work. While the lyrics are creative, it falls back on the fire/desire/higher rhyme in the pre-chorus.
Related Video:
Rating: 2/5

36. Finland
Norma John - “Blackbird”
Reaction: This will probably be my “mistake low ranking” of the year since everyone else seems to love it. “Blackbird” creates an atmosphere…like an airplane, it's a claustrophobic background noise. The verses aren't bad but they are slow and quiet. The chorus isn't easy to listen to, unless you really like “whoooooooo sang/yoooooooou sang” etc. I appreciate what it's doing, but it's not a song I want to listen to.
Related Video: This actually really improves the song.
Rating: 2/5

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Northern Shockers

It's already Monday in much of Europe but the last national final of the day just ended 20 minutes ago and it's Sunday night here.

The most shocking upset to me this weekend was Estonia, where “Spirit Animal” by Kerli came in second. From the first moment I listened to it, I wrote in my notes “top 10 in Eurovision.” The visuals and performance were hypnotizing and “aesthetic.” The winner isn't bad – it was a close race – but this would have been stellar. In a year of wrong choices this is the biggest mistake.

“Petale” by Instinct was my favorite song from the national final in Romania earlier today. The Romanian language works beautifully with the melody of the chorus. They had a cool steampunk thing going too.

“Ástfangin” by Linda Hartmanns was a nice piano ballad turned power ballad that didn't proceed to the final in Iceland but should have.

While a 50's style ballad won in Portugal, “O Que Eu Vi Nos Meus Sonhos” by Deolinda Kinzimba is a lovely 60's style ballad. The verses sound like they could have been lifted from a classic.

Finally, of course, the Andra Chansen in Sweden had one huge upset – Loreen with “Statements” failed a second time to make it to the final. What can be said that hasn't been and isn't already being said? It was fresh, had a message, and the heavy bass was the star of the composition, like a punch to the gut.

My guilty pleasure in the Andra Chansen was “Road Trip” by De Vet Du. Yes, it's a joke entry, but it's so joyous and actually funny. This slice of 90s Eurodance is the catchiest thing in Melodifestivalen this year. The camerawork was mesmerizing. With all the blazing fast cuts jumping all over the place, it's hard to believe the action takes place in such a small space (see rehearsal video below). I hope someone out there makes an AMV of Final Fantasy XV to this song.