5 Awesome Things from Nashville: Juliette’s Back!!!

April 13, 2016 0

She’s here, she’s finally here!!!1 After another successful mommy/daughter date with Baby Cadence, Juliette is officially ready to check out of treatment. Immediately upon returning home, she’s offered a plum role in a Steven Spielberg film. This will mean two weeks away from her daughter. But that’s only six visitation hours total. Would Avery be willing to allow her more time with the kid if she turns down the role? Awkward can o’ worms opening in three, two… Frankie doesn’t invite Deacon to his 15 years sober AA celebration2 and D-man rightly assumes his business partner still resents him for [Read more…]

Eurovision 2016 Entry – Israel – Hovi Star – Made of Stars

April 13, 2016 0

Will Israel’s Rising Star Hovi Star be a Eurovision star in Stockholm with “Made of Stars?” #Star Country: Israel Song Title: “Made of Stars” Artist: Hovi Star Second Semi-Final: Position #4 Last year’s entry: “Golden Boy” – Nadav Guedj (9th Place) I know I don’t have much influence when it comes to revising Eurovision entries, but I do tend to feel a sense of pride when an entry gets reworked in a way that matches my suggestions. Case in point: Hovi Star revamping “Made of Stars” to make it more pop relevant and less Eurovision-y: Although this song doesn’t quite scratch my itch of being distinctly Israeli, I do find the revamped version to be less generic than what came out of Rising Star. I think this arrangement is a better showcase of Hovi Star’s vocals while including whispers of Adele’s aesthetic mixed with pacing reminiscent of “Molitva.”1 Australia’s entry comes close to achieving the same style, but perhaps this is a sea change in the Contest in terms of ballad construction. As for the rest of the competition in the second semi-final, Israel is in a good spot. Hovi Star will follow Switzerland’s Rykka and precede IVAN from Belarus, and there is a […]

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Eurovision 2016 Entry: Moldova — Lidia Isac — Falling Stars

April 12, 2016 0

After several fun entries in the first half of this decade, followed by a couple of disastrous ones, Moldova hopes to right the ship with “Falling Stars.” Country: Moldova Song Title: “Falling Stars” Artist: Lidia Isac First Semi-Final: Position #3 Last year’s entry: “I Want Your Love” – Eduard Romanyuta (DNQ – 11th Place, SF1) Moldova’s 2010 entry remains a near-perfect example of what Eurovision is (or should be) about — and not just because it spawned an internationally-recognized meme, Epic Sax Guy. For the next two years, they continued providing the sincere, unironic weirdness that helps make the annual song contest a joy. More recently, Moldova has hit a rough patch, finishing in complete last place in 2014 and failing to qualify for the Grand Final last year. By hitching their wagons to Lidia Isac, can they reach the stars once more? I’m trying hard to like this song, but it’s not compelling for me, and I can’t quite pinpoint why. It’s too generic and too mid-90s, I suppose, and even with a dance-break chorus, just seems flat. This song could also have real pitch problems. Although Isac did a pretty good job during her live national final performance, she’s not completely nailing it. Perhaps an awesome […]

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Eurovision 2016 Entry – Hungary – Freddie – Pioneer

April 12, 2016 0

Is Hungary ambivalent about their Eurovision entry “Pioneer” by Freddie? If so, will that sink its chances for success in Stockholm? Country: Hungary Song Title: “Pioneer” Artist: Freddie First Semi-Final: Position #4 Last year’s entry: “Wars for Nothing” – Boggie (20th Place) I’m concerned about Hungary, y’all. Although the country has had quite a bit of success since returning to the Contest in 2011 after a brief hiatus, there just doesn’t seem to be much enthusiasm surrounding “Pioneer” by Freddie. There’s no official video1, so rather than link to the Hungarian final video again we should watch this live performance from a couple weeks ago: Oh, honey. This would be like the winner of The Voice or American Idol performing at your high school’s charity car wash two weeks after the finale. Perhaps it is a prestigious spa Freddie is performing at in the video above, but it hardly screams Eurovision Promotional Tour. The lukewarm response from the crowd doesn’t bode well either. The “please clap” gesture during the chorus being met with half-hearted (and not on beat) participation is difficult to watch. What this and other videos of Freddie’s Hungarian tour suggest is a lack of gravitas from the performer. Yes, there is “teh pretty”2, […]

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Eurovision 2016 Entry: Norway — Agnete — “Icebreaker”

April 11, 2016 0

Semifinal 2 is packed with solo female performances – can Agnete break through to the final for Norway with “Icebreaker”? Country: Norway Song Title: “Icebreaker” Artist: Agnete Second Semi-Final: Position 16 Last year’s entry: “A Monster Like Me” -Mørland & Debrah Scarlett (8th Place) Norway has been pretty consistent since winning the competition in 2009, only missing the finals in 20111 and missing the final top 10 once in the past five years2.  Recently, they seem to be stuck at #8 – both Carl Epsen’s “Silent Storm” and last year’s “A Monster Like Me” ended the competition in that position.  Is Agnete’s “Icebreaker” what’s needed to break through to another win (or at least the top 5)? I can’t detect any changes to the song structure or the mix, but the tempo difference between the verses and chorus feels smoother than when I first heard the song, which is a plus.  I’m still digging the charming literalism of the lyrics3) as well.  If there’s one thing I can criticism of the song, it’s that like Moldova’s entry, it feels a little by-the-numbers for Eurovision.  The stuff that truly excites me tends to be entries that build on that and push it to new places […]

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Eurovision 2016 Entry: Cyprus – Minus One – Alter Ego

April 11, 2016 0

Could “Alter Ego” by Minus One allow Cyprus to sneak into the Eurovision top 10? Country: Cyprus Song Title: “Alter Ego” Artist: Minus One First Semi-Final: Position #11 Last year’s entry: “One Thing I Should Have Done” – John Karayiannis (22nd Place) As expected, Cyprus and Minus One hasn’t done much tweaking to their rock track “Alter Ego” since debuting a little over a month ago. The good news: the track doesn’t need that much tweaking anyway: I have to keep reminding myself every time I hear the first few notes that this is not a track from The Killers, but that favorable comparison reminds me that I am about to hear a radio friendly, accessible pop rock track. There are a surprising number of rock bands at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest1 and I think Minus One will be the most accepted out of the bunch. Cyprus will appear in the running order between the Czech Republic and Austria, which is an interesting juxtaposition. The edge of the Czech track should carry through in Cyprus’s performance while transitioning to the pop sensibility of Austria’s selection. I think the transition may be a challenge for Austria, but Cyprus seems to be tasked with jumpstarting the second […]

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Eurovision 2016 Entry: Ukraine — Jamala — 1944

April 8, 2016 0

After taking a year off from the contest, Ukraine returns with Jamala’s geopolitically controversial song. How will they fare against overwhelming favorite Russia? Country: Ukraine Song Title: “1944” Artist: Jamala Second Semi-Final: Position TBD Last year’s entry: Did not compete The last time we saw Ukraine at the contest in 2014, they brought a hamster wheel1 and a great song from Mariya Yaremchuk. At the time, the country was in the middle of dealing with some stuff2 and decided to take a year off. They’re back, with a song … about genocide at the hands of the Soviets? Well, I guess it’s not really a contest until someone has ticked off Russia. It is any good, at least? Much like last year’s Latvian entry, I have loved this song and its distinctiveness from the moment I heard it. Jamala is an accomplished jazz, soul, and R&B singer with an incredible voice, and this song has a number of musical elements that locate it geographically and culturally (as opposed to, for example, Switzerland, whose song is generic as can be). Dig just a little deeper, and “1944” recounts a very specific story: Jamala’s great-grandmother was one of the hundreds of thousands of Tatars deported from Crimea by Stalin […]

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Eurovision 2016 Entry: Finland — Sandhja — “Sing It Away”

April 8, 2016 0

Sandhja can certainly rise above Finland’s last place Eurovision performance from last year, but can she make the finals? Country: Finland Song Title: “Sing It Away” Artist: Sandhja First Semi-Final: Position TBD Last year’s entry: “Aina Mun Pitaa” – Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät (DNQ – 16th Place, SF1) It feels like Finland has nowhere to go but up this year – last year’s entry, Pertti Kuikan Nimipaivat’s “Aina Mun Pitaa” was a complete dud in Vienna, placing 16th in its semifinal, absolute last place.  Sending a punk act was innovative, but definitely felt a bit too left-field to make the final stage successfully.  This year, the first semi-final has more competitors fighting for 10 slots – does Sandhja’s “Sing It Away” have what it takes to take all the way to Saturday? This is another entry this Eurovision season that I really liked upon first hearing it in Finland’s national final, but which has waned in continued listens.  There are a lot of elements to the song that I react positively to (positive message, disco-brass at the chorus), but they never quite gel into a coherent whole that’s greater than the sum of those parts.  Finland hasn’t really done anything to tweak the song since it’s introduction earlier […]

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Eurovision 2016 Entry: Georgia — Nika Kocharov and Young Georgian Lolitaz — Midnight Gold

April 7, 2016 0

Last year Georgia almost “oximated” its way to a top-ten finish. In 2016, can they sex, drug, and rock-n-roll back to the Grand Final? Country: Georgia Song Title: “Midnight Gold” Artist: Nika Kocharov and Young Georgian Lolitaz Second Semi-Final: Position TBD Last year’s entry: “Warrior” – Nina Sublatti (11th Place) Georgia’s had a rough few years at the contest, led by a couple of inexplicably bad entries, even by Eurovision standards, in 2012 and 2014. Two years later and I still can’t explain what’s happening in the 2014 entry, except to echo Mike’s description of it as a “college dorm jam session” and explain that yes, it did end up in dead-last place. Can they snap the even-year losing streak and return to the Grand Final stage? In the past few weeks, Georgia has made a single change to this song: cutting about 15 seconds to get under the three-minute time limit. As I predicted, they nixed the guitar distortion solo (conveniently clocked at about 15 seconds), leaving the rest of the song intact and unchanged. For me, that’s great. I enjoy the rock/alt-rock sound, including the guitar distortion, which we don’t often see at Eurovision. I’m also relieved that their live performance is […]

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