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Friday, May 12, 2017

Eurovision 2017 Semifinal 2 Reactions

There's a miracle my friends
And it happened Thursday

I only got 7 out of 10 qualifiers correct but what a way to get it wrong. FYR Macedonia had an excellent song but the emotional manipulation of the audience didn't connect with the song. Estonia was a little stiff and plastic on stage - none of that "Calm Against the Storm" warmth and chemistry that it needed. Coldness really lost out this year - consider Finland and Iceland as well, fan favorites  that take more time to grow on the listener. And Ireland, well, tried, but it seems Austria and Bulgaria snapped up the cute boy demographic.

Hungary had an excellent performance that told a story and really adds diversity to the final. Denmark isn't my type of song but that vocal performance connects with people. And the disappointment from the others not getting through is washed away with Croatia's advancement to the final. The performance is pure only-in-Eurovision camp magic. The over the top imagery is balanced by the flawlessly executed vocal. It was polished and sticks with its choices - compare to Montenegro, which was camp but sloppy. I'm seeing a Romania 2013 result, which would still be excellent.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Eurovision 2017 Semifinal 2 Predictions

After Tuesday's results and Wednesday's jury final, it's time to pick ten predicted qualifiers for Thursday's second semifinal. I got 9 out of 10 correct in the first semifinal, so hopefully the luck continues.


Austria and Ireland are my borderline picks. It was a choice between these and Croatia, Denmark, and Hungary. Six of the other eight were always definite qualifiers to me. Estonia is the typical fan fare that has a good enough draw to advance to the final. If Belgium could advance to the final despite initial concerns then FYR Macedonia can - the song is strong and very instant. So why Austria and Ireland? They are both boyishly cute solo boys with charming (not alienating) performances, and those always qualify (see Estonia 2016 for how it can go wrong). Bulgaria likely has the teen girl vote all wrapped up, but there's still room for some variety.

As always, good luck to all the performers!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Eurovision 2017 Semifinal 1 Reactions

Better late than never, right? I got 9 out of 10 right, with Finland as the only incorrect pick. Their failure to qualify shocked a lot of people who had it as one of their favorites. I was shocked too since so many people liked it, but the song does seem more like a grower than something that instantly resonates on first listen. The qualifier I failed to predict, or even have on my backup list, was Cyprus. Their choreography wasn't impressive in the rehearsal footage but looked a lot better on screen.

The other non-qualifiers weren't really surprising. Montenegro had a Eurovision gem with an amazing backdrop, but it was an inconsistent performance. Half of the choreography was fabulous Ultraman posing but the other half was galloping across the stage and braid spinning that looked unstructured and messy. If it had all been smoother like in the music video, who knows, it could have done better.

I'm very happy that my top 3 songs in this semifinal all qualified, with two seeming to have really resonated with the audience by most statistics. Australia wasn't as impressive as it could had been but was still a good show. Rehearsal footage portrayed Belgium's performance as weak, but with some tweaks the strength of the song was clear. And Portugal seems to have had the biggest reaction from the general public. If someone told you last year that this year Portugal would be considered a contender for the win, nobody would believe them going by their decades-long track record, but here we are, and deservedly so.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Eurovision 2017 Semifinal 1 Predictions

Tomorrow the first semifinal of the Eurovision Song Contest will occur and ten songs will make it through to the final. I made my predictions before the rehearsals began and despite some concerning performances I'm keeping my top 10 the same:


My backup pick was Iceland but after reviewing the rehearsal footage it's now Latvia. Good luck to all the competitors!

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Eurovision 2017 Song Ranking Part 8: All Alone in the Danger Zone

It's finally Eurovision week! By this time next week everyone will be complaining about their country's placing and the eventual winner, but until then let's enjoy the quality pieces from these five countries - my top five.

5. Australia
Isaiah - "Don't Come Easy"
Reaction: Isaiah has a soulful voice beyond his years and the lyrics are appropriate beyond his years too (the song is basically about telling you're hookup you're not ready to love them due to bad past experiences), but it all comes together so well. His voice just sounds so good, especially in the second verse and the bridge. This is what "Sound of Silence" should have been.
Related Video:
Rating: 5/5 

4. FYR Macedonia
Jana Burceska - "Dance Alone" 
Reaction: The catchiest synthpop song in the contest, how could I not love it? The chorus and the second chorus (post-chorus) are incredibly catchy. The sparkling synth and the hand claps in the chorus are perfect. Not related to the lyical content or performance, but I love the use of VR in the music video.
Related Video: 
Rating: 5/5

3. Portugal
Salvador Sobral - "Amar Pelos Dois"
Reaction: Not only is this much better than the UK's entry of the same (translated) title in 1980, it's also by far Portugal's best song of the televoting era. The jazz ballad is simple but effective, with sweeping strings and an angelic voice to tug at the heartstrings. It's timeless in that it sounds like it could be a standard. It's both calming and emotional, a magical piece that deserves to get their best result ever.
Related Video:
Rating: 5/5 

2. Belgium
Blanche - "City Lights"
Reaction: "All alone in the danger zone" is the best opening lyric of the contest. The synth creates a deep atmosphere, and though it's all electronic it feels very warm. It's a little too cool for the contest and could easily fit in some hip playlist. Blanche's vocals range from deep and confident to light and innocent, and they always work.
Related Video: Excellent interview with Blanche saying that Eurovision is cool among people her age (teens). Has it lost some of its stigma?
Rating: 5/5   

1. Italy
Francesco Gabbani - "Occidentali's Karma"
Reaction: How anticlimactic, right? This is the big favorite this year and for good reason. It hits all the right buttons. The melody is peppy and uplifting. The lyrics are deeper than the usual Eurovision fare. And they're in Italian! The song is about cultural appropriation and search for meaning in the information age, with allusions to other texts. The juxtaposition of "namaste" and "alé" is brilliant. This is the perfect Eurovision song for 2017.
Related Video: there are at least 5 Dragon Ball parodies of this song
Rating: 5/5