Eurovision 2016 Entry: Malta — Ira Losco — Walk on Water

March 31, 2016 0

After scrapping “Chameleon”, will Malta’s choice to “Walk on Water” cause Ira Losco to sink or swim? Country: Malta Song Title: “Walk on Water” Artist: Ira Losco First Semi-Final: Position TBD Last year’s entry: “Warrior” – Amber (DNQ – 11th Place, SF2) Now that all the Eurovision entries have been selected, it’s time to go back and review them now that the competition is drawing closer.  How have things been modified?  Are there any hints to what kind of live performance we can expect in Stockholm? Kicking things off for this is Malta.  Way back at the start of February, I reviewed their initial choice of entry, Ira Losco’s “Chameleon”.  While I thought Ira’s performance was fine, the song itself felt a little muddled and pretty standard as far as Eurovision ballads go.  After a disappointing 2015 performance, where they just missed making the finals, playing it safe again didn’t seem like a path to success.  Does swapping out “Chameleon” for a new song, “Walk on Water”, improve their chances? “Walk on Water” feels much more current and in touch with music trends, although I wonder if the house-y beats and vocal sampling are going to feel dated in a few years.  The chorus […]

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First Listen: “If Love Was a Crime” Would Bulgaria be Guilty?

March 24, 2016 0

After a two year break, Bulgaria returns to Eurovision with Contest veteran Poli Genova and the radio-friendly track “If Love Was a Crime.” Bulgaria’s back to Eurovision, y’all! And so is 2011 alum Poli Genova, whose entry “Na Inat” way back when was one of my favorites from that year even though it didn’t stand a chance.1 As for 2016, Bulgaria is being rather strategic with the song “If Love Was a Crime”: Let’s outline the strategy. First, Bulgaria is riding the momentum of hosting last year’s Junior Eurovision Song Contest by having Poli Genova, who hosted the event, be the representative. There was some speculation that she might have used an extended version of her interval performance song “Where is My Dress” as her entry, but that would have been a misfire. Genova is more of a known quantity now than she was five years ago, which may help with getting viewer votes. Second, Bulgaria took their time in this selection, and it shows. Not only was the country the last to present their song choice, the video and production of the track are fully realized. I’ll be curious to hear how the intro sounds will play live — […]

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First Listen: Not Sure If “I Stand” With the Czech Republic

March 22, 2016 0

The Czech Republic hopes to make their first appearance in the Grand Final. This summer will mark the Czech Republic’s fifth entry at Eurovision; in all four previous attempts, the country has failed to qualify out of its semifinal. Last year’s entry was promising but missed the final by twenty points. Can Gabriela Gunčíková lift the audience out of their seats and her country to the final round? I legitimately like this song! (I’m really not sure what it happening with that video, which appears to have a budget of approximately $20, but that’s another story.) As a pretty classic female-fronted ballad, it’s appropriately atmospheric, and Gunčíková’s voice is strong and clear. If there’s anything to be critical of, it’s that “I Stand” is a little forgettable. There’s nothing culturally unique to tie the song to its country, nothing that compels you to sing along, nothing that makes you stand up and cheer. Gabriela doesn’t have the mystery of Loreen, the quirkyness of Lena, or the wide-eyed innocence of Emmelie, but I like this song, and hope to see it move through. I just worry about it getting lost in the pack.

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First Listen: Azerbaijan Aims for a “Miracle” with Samra in Stockholm

March 21, 2016 0

Azerbaijan gets back onto its Eurovision footing with Samra’s “Miracle” Azerbaijan’s Eurovision entries, with few exceptions, have always felt a little eerie to me.  They debuted in the competition in 2008 and have been fairly ruthless in pursuing victory since then.  Every entry feels lab-grown, for lack of a better term – you can tell a lot of money was spent figuring out the exact singer and song to send, and their entries always synthesize what’s going on in pop at the moment with the general cheesy spirit of the ESC in a way that’s a little too uncanny when it happens year over year.  This year’s entry, Samra’s “Miracle”, is no exception: The more minimal beat that kicks off the song is VERY on trend with pop this year, and immediately launches into some equally Eurovision-friendly instrumentation by the time the chorus hits.  Lyrics go straight for heartbreak, a nice universal theme, and Samra’s vocal performance is perfectly pitched.  Where I think think this could get tripped up is the live performance – if that can’t match the performance in the promo, we may see Azerbaijan sweating whether they’ll make it to the final stage come their semi-final.

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First Listen: Sweden Reps Scandipop with Frans’ “If I Were Sorry”

March 21, 2016 0

Frans’ “If I Were Sorry” represents Swedish pop songwriting well, but will it take the Eurovision crown for Sweden again? Swedish (and Scandinavian) pop songwriting dominates the radio around the world, whether you recognize it or not.  Many of the best producers, writers, and even singers are coming out of Stockholm, Gothenburg, and the rest of the region.  It’s no wonder that even if Sweden doesn’t win the Eurovision song contest in a given year, it’s not surprising to see them have some influence on the competition – even the scoring system is getting a little more Swedish this year and borrowing what’s been working in Melodifestivalen for the contest as a whole.  How does the home team’s entry this year, Frans’ “If I Were Sorry”, stack up against the competition? Bookmakers were predicting that Sweden had pretty good chances of repeating with this one, but after a few listens, I’m firmly in the camp that, as with most winners, they’d like to have a good showing in the final, but have no desire to win again.  This is a great pop song with a good performance from Frans, and does a great job of treading the line between indie […]

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First Listen: ZAA Sanja Vučić Says “Goodbye” Serbia, Hello Stockholm

March 21, 2016 0

ZAA Sanja Vučić is singing “Goodbye (Shelter)” for Serbia in Stockholm – will she say goodbye to the finals? I tend to like Serbia’s entries for the Eurovision Song Contest – I still have a “Caroban” ringtone that I use as an alarm on my phone, and “Ovo Je Balkan” is a pretty solid “no, this is what Eurovision is” entry to point people to when you’re trying to get them on board with Eurovision as a whole.  This year’s performer, ZAA Sanja Vučić, has a slightly confusing name1, but does “Goodbye (Shelter)” have what it takes to make it to the Eurovision finals? The more I listen to this one, the more I like it.  The intro is a little too Postmodern Jukebox for my personal taste (although that may just be the old-timey microphone), but the song builds beautifully to an emotional climax.  I can’t quite place my finger on who ZAA Sanja reminds me of, vocally, but if this is a live performance, she definitely has the performance skills to impress in Stockholm. The song definitely hits the peaks/valleys a Eurovision ballad is supposed to hit, but there’s something to be said for executing a template well – there’s […]

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First Listen: Dani Im Delivers the “Sound of Silence” for Australia

March 21, 2016 0

Does Dani Im have what it takes for Australia to make it back to the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm? After seemingly proving themselves by placing in the top 10, Australia is back for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest as well.  This time, however, they won’t get straight to the final stage in Stockholm – they’ll need to pass through a semi-final before getting to Saturday’s competition.  This year, they’ve chosen to send former X Factor winner Dani Im – how does “Sound of Silence” stack up? As far as this year’s crop of Eurovision ballads go, this one’s definitely near the top.  From the lyrics, there’s some sort of “digital distance to our love” thing going on but it’s competently written and sung (which, for a country whose national language is English, is a very low bar to clear).  As much as I like this every time I hear it, there’s a lack of “stickiness” that keeps the melody in my head.  I think a strong performance will easily get Australia through to the final (especially since they’re still the new, beloved kid in the competition), but it has me wondering if the song will […]

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