First Listen: Greece Sends Argo’s “Utopian Land” to Stockholm

March 19, 2016 0

Is Argo’s “Utopian Land” the ideal choice for Greece to send to the Eurovision Song Contest? Greece is always an inevitable qualifier to the Eurovision finals, whether their entry deserves to get there or not.  This can be fine when they send a fun entry, but can be intolerable when they’re a bit dour and sending something overly serious.  Last year’s entry, “One Last Breath”, was pitchy and overdone, and for once looked like Greece might not qualify for the final night’s contest.  How does this year’s entry, Argo’s “Utopian Land”, fare? Dour Greece is back, you guys.  Argo’s song, despite the nice beat, is kind of a slog and feels (oddly enough) like an Ace of Base B-Side.  And I don’t mean that in a positive way.  Without a performance video, I have no idea what to expect on stage in Stockholm, but it’ll probably be a little closer to “Watch My Dance” than “Rise Up”.  I like the national flavor in the instrumentation, but I can’t say I’m excited to see this in the final based on sound alone.

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First Listen: FYR Macedonia Reveals Kaliopi’s “Dona”

March 18, 2016 0

Can Kaliopi bring FYR Macedonia back to the Eurovision finals with “Dona”? The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has a bit of bad luck when it comes to Eurovision entries.  Aside from 2012, no entry from the past eight years I’ve been watching has made it to the final stage.  I’d say that it has nothing to do with the entries they send, but it has a lot to do with the entries they send.  Macedonia seems to find new and interesting ways to trip over their own feet right before their semi-final and place themselves out of the running.  On the plus side, their entrant this year, Kaliopi, is their last entrant that made it to the finals in 2012.  Does she have what it takes to make it again in 2016 with “Dona”? I wish this song had the same power as Kaliopi’s last Eurovision entry, “Crno y Belo”.  That song had an energy and punch to it that “Dona” lacks.  It’s still a lovely song, but if there’s too many ballads in its semifinal, I see this getting washed out amongst the pack.  Judging by the 2012 performance and this official video, I’d expect a pretty straightforward […]

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First Listen: Romania’s Ovidiu Anton Brings the Drama with “Moment of Silence”

March 16, 2016 0

Romania always brings the drama, but will Ovidiu Anton bring the Eurovision Song Contest to Bucharest in 2017? There are a few countries you can trust to bring drama to the Eurovision Song Contest year after year.  Romania is such a country – if they’re not bringing an opera singer wailing over a Eurodance beat, they’re at least bringing pyrotechnics 1.  That seems to be happily on track with this year’s entry, Ovidiu Anton’s “Moment of Silence”: The actual song structure here isn’t super unique (certainly within the realm of Eurovision, if not music in general), but it’s a nice rock-y power ballad.  The Mad Max-esque styling is pretty awesome, although I’d love to see Ovidiu and company take it up another level for the big show in Stockholm.  The lyrics here feel like they may be referring to some actual conflict rather than just something created for the song, but they’re also generic enough that Romania isn’t in Ukraine territory.  I definitely think with the right performance, this has what it takes to make the final, but I think it could easily get knocked out there by something far more poppy – with few exceptions, that tends to be the […]

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First Listen: Donny Montell heads back to Eurovision

March 16, 2016 0

Donny Montell is the latest Eurovision alumnus to join the party in Stockholm, as “I’ve Been Waiting for this Night” will represent Lithuania at this year’s Contest. Donny Montell is no stranger to Eurovision, having represented Lithuania back in 2012 with his disco ballad “Love is Blind.” Montell has grown up quite a bit1 and modernized with his latest single “I’ve Been Waiting for this Night.” Over the weekend he won Lithuania’s selection marathon and will be headed to Stockholm with the same song: The song originally came out in December and fits in perfectly with today’s pop landscape. “I’ve Been Waiting for this Night” is very 2015, which could be Montell’s biggest obstacle in the Eurovision Song Contest. I would not describe the Contest as a tastemaker, but I think there is the hope that the process is forward looking in where music can go. There is a timelessness that connects some of the more notable Eurovision entries, but this song is firmly rooted in this six month period. The other potential issue: this song and performance is wayyyyy over-produced. The backing track is relentless, the fog machine is an unnecessary touch2 and Montell’s styling is a bit too coiffed. The […]

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First Listen: Will Iveta Mukuchyan Make Any “LoveWave”s in Stockholm?

March 15, 2016 0

Does Iveta Mukuchyan’s “LoveWave” have what it takes to make the Eurovision finals? Armenia is always a little hard to track when it comes to the Eurovision Song Contest.  Sometimes thy go pure pop, other times they go very message-driven, and sometimes they stay out of the contest entirely1.  What does this year’s entrant, Iveta Mukuchyan’s “LoveWave”, hold in store? It’s all very dramatic, but does nothing for me.  Iveta’s elocution has me scratching my head over the lyrics of this – I know the song’s in English, but I’m not sure I’d be able to tell if I was listening from across the room.  The song structure here is also interesting – it never quite resolves into a standard verse/chorus structure and has a weird spoken intro.  Non-traditional is fine – goodness knows Aminata’s “Love Injection” brought the atypical to the top 10, but I’m not sure this song has the same kind of power.  It’s definitely got drama, and a good performance could kick it all the way to the finals, but I’m not sure we’ll be heading to Armenia in 2017 based on this song alone. which, given the political situation over in that region, was a smart […]

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First Listen: Poland Sends “Color Of Your Life”

March 15, 2016 0

After a rough 2015, Poland looks to regain some momentum at the Contest. After a strong 2014, the 2015 contest was not kind to Poland, who finished in front of only four other entries. When the only thing between you and last place are three members of the Big Five and two countries earning “nul points?” That is a disaster, and a narrowly-averted tragedy. Perhaps 2016 will be the year this country gets back up on its feet … Am I the only one who thinks this track was hijacked from a “hero falls in love with villain” montage in an 80s movie? I mean, just look at that cover image on the YouTube video! From the heavily-synthed opening to the Journey-esque melody to not one but TWO key changes, this song starts big and stays big. Musically, it reminds me a little of Azerbaijan 2013 (aka Man In A Box), but without some of the restraint and intrigue that made that a great entry. One of the questions I ask myself while doing a First Listen is: does this track tell a story? In this case, “Color of Your Life” asks a question, which is not as good as telling a […]

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