Azerbaijan’s “Skeletons” Are Here to Party

March 23, 2017 0

Or perhaps to take your lungs, but either way you’ll enjoy yourself. In Azerbaijan’s first six appearances at Eurovision, it seemed they could do no wrong. Five top-five results, including one win and one runner-up, gave way to a finish near the bottom in 2014. Since then they’ve somewhat recovered, but not to top-ten form. Is “Skeletons” the song that can get the Azeris back to the top of the standings?   There is so much to like about this entry! I have been on board since the opening bass chord, which does such a great job of drawing attention and setting the tone, and to which I verbally responded “YESSSSSSS.” This is probably what it would look like if Stranger Things and Eurovision had a baby together, and I am completely here for it, even if I’m not entirely sure what it’s about.1 The aesthetic manages to be both slick and grimy, which sounds like a terrible combination, but somehow Azerbaijan is pulling it off. Sonically I have no improvements or suggestions to make, but visually speaking, I’m gonna need some awesome Thriller-type costumes or holograms. What I do NOT want is a typical “band stands around and fake-plays […] [Read more…]

Valentina Monetta Brings “Spirit” to San Marino

March 23, 2017 0

Two Eurovision legends are at it again. Oh, and Jimmie Wilson. Valentina Monetta is the patron saint of Eurovision among the Sammarinese. When she takes the stage in Kyiv in May, her four performances will account for half of San Marino’s entries, and will tie the record for the most Eurovision appearances. She’s also the only San Marino participant to ever qualify through to the Final — on her third try, with “Maybe” in 2014. “Spirit of the Night” marks a different milestone for another Eurovision legend, providing Ralph Siegel with his TWENTY-FIFTH Eurovision songwriting credit.1 This is a duet so I should probably mention the other vocalist. Jimmie Wilson is an American singer whose previous credits include the Michael Jackson-produced Sisterella, and a German production of “Hope! — Das Obama Musical.”2 Will all of this experience lead to San Marino’s second-ever appearance at the Grand Final? This entry is a Hot Mess, and I mean that in the most loving way possible. The first two verse/chorus sections start out nicely, both fun and energetic, and the video has a pink-and-green club aesthetic that could translate well to the Eurovision stage. All of a sudden, what should be an accessible […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 YouTube Week 2: Favorites Emerging

March 23, 2017 0

Now that we have week-to-week data and all 43 songs available, which Eurovision entries are the movers and shakers and possible favorites in Kyiv? First Semi-Final Top Spots Last week’s leader, Blanche from Belgium, maintained her lead this week, having the most viewed video on the official Eurovision YouTube Channel with more than 1,537,000 views as of Wednesday evening. However, Sweden’s Robin Bengtsson has closed the gap considerably, with “I Can’t Go On” racking up 1,507,000 views. In a distant third is Australia’s Isaiah, with “Don’t Come Easy” clocking in with almost 892,000 views. Big Moves Sweden pulled in the most views of all the entries this week, with more than 678,000 trips on the treadmills. He narrowly beat out Armenia’s Artsvik, whose video for “Fly With Me” debuted this past Saturday but managed to pull in more than 633,000 views in just a few days. Belgium also managed to attract half a million clicks this week alone. You in danger, girl Georgia may need to keep the faith, or at least get the real video posted ASAP. The national final performance of Tamara Gachechiladze’s song is currently the least watched of all of this year’s videos with just over 90,000 […] [Read more…]

Ireland’s “Dying to Try” for the Grand Final

March 22, 2017 0

At least it’s not a turkey? Not the feathered kind, in any case. Several countries have had a poor decade at Eurovision, but perhaps none moreso than Ireland. In the past eleven years, the Irish have failed to qualify five times, and made it to the finals but finished last on two more occasions. (Ironically, most of this happened AFTER they sent a puppet turkey to protest poor finishes.) The only bright spot was Jedward’s 2011 entry, “Lipstick,” which managed to crack the top ten. Can Brendan Murray right the ship? In a word? No. It’s not bad, I guess, but it’s not interesting either. Murray’s vocals are nice, but his voice is too thin for the accompaniment, which sounds like it belongs to a completely different, and more soulful, song. The key change comes way too early, and can best be described1 as unearned. There’s literally zero buildup, just “Oh hey, here’s something different for you!” And it’s slow. Sloooooooow. I don’t have anything terrible to say about this entry, or Brendan Murray. He seems nice, if not very charismatic. I’m just bored by this whole package. Excellent staging can go a long way to saving an otherwise mediocre […] [Read more…]

Will Belgium’s “City Lights” Shine Brightly?

March 22, 2017 0

Or is that just the youthful glow of teenagers onstage? After a string of failures-to-qualify in the late ’00s, Belgium began to turn to a perhaps unlikely source for representation: former contestants from The Voice. Young ones, too! Of the last five artists Belgium has sent to Eurovision, only one has been beyond their teen years at performance time. Blanche, a 17-year old former contestant on The Voice Belgique, will try to continue the success her fellow young’uns have had in the past few years. Is “City Lights” the right song to do it? At first glance this is a really great song. It sounds like it might be a ballad at the very start, but slowly adds layers and voices until it’s a fully-realized dance track. Right at the two-minute mark, all the voices except Blanche’s drop out, getting us ready for a final climb through the end of the song. The production value is spot-on, and I’m not sure where to even begin improving upon that before the contest. I am particularly interested, though, in hearing how this song plays live. It’s a great hanging-out-on-my-couch song, but might not have the right amplitude of energy for folks on […] [Read more…]

Will Fusedmarc Make It “Rain” in Ukraine for Lithuania?

March 22, 2017 0

Fusedmarc’s “Rain of Revolution” is definitely different as far as this year’s Eurovision entries go. I’ve been watching the Eurovision Song Contest in some form or another since 2008, and Lithuania has always been an interesting nation to watch. Unlike some nations that always seem to send the same types of singers and songs, Lithuania seems to have broader taste. We’ve had everything from an acapella jam about being Eastern European (2010), straight-up disco (2012), and earnest acoustic duets (2015), and everything in between. Last year’s entry, Danny Montell’s “I’ve Been Waiting For This Night”, got them their second top-ten finish after it made it all the way to 9th in the points.  After embracing a poppier sound with that song, it seems Lithuania’s tastes have turned once again to something a little more experimental: I will give Fusedmarc this: they’re doing something different than most other contestants in this year’s Contest, and will certainly stand out for that. I’m just not sure I like it. And that’s interesting to say, because it has a lot of elements I like: there’s a processed nature to the horn synths they’re using that I tend to dig in ’80s pop music, and […] [Read more…]

Serbia Goes “In Too Deep”

March 21, 2017 0

Is Tijana Bogićević’s “In Too Deep” for Serbia at the Eurovision Song Contest? Serbia’s history as a solo nation in the Eurovision Song Contest starts off with a bang – they won the 2007 contest and hosted in 2008 – but sort of drops off from there. They placed 3rd in 2012, but since then, it’s been a bit hit or miss.  They’ve qualified through to the final in both 2015 and 2016 (with what I thought was a great song, “Shelter”), but only just barely, with the final results putting them well out of contention to win again.  Is Tijana Bogićević’s “In Too Deep” the song to push them over the edge, or are they literally just in too deep? I like the way this song manages to knit together a lot of 2017 music trends — a little bit of a tropical house beat, vocal sampling, strings — but it’s not done in a way that feels fresh and new to me. The vocal performance is good (at least in the video – as always, I’d love to compare that to a live performance of the song before the actual event), but lyrically, the song doesn’t feel particularly “sticky” […] [Read more…]

I Just Can’t with Sweden’s “I Can’t Go On”

March 20, 2017 0

The Swedish Pop Music Industrial Complex has struck again with “I Can’t Go On” by Robin Bengtsson. Yay? I try not to hold grudges, but for some reason music competitions make that goal more difficult.1 In last year’s Melodifestivalen competition, Robin Bengtsson performed a song called “Constellation Prize.” There was nothing about stars, astronomy, or even astrology in the track: it should have been called “Consolation Prize” and therefore is unforgivable.2 Anyway, Bengtsson returned to this year’s MelFest with “I Can’t Go On” and a performance including using a good chunk of the backstage area and treadmills. Take a listen: Not to get into a whole thesis about pop music and rape culture, but this song has a squick factor that makes me not comfortable. It doesn’t help that this sounds like a milder version of “Blurred Lines” and that this Robin gives off a strong Robin Thicke vibe. The Swedish public may also be aware of something not being right about this song, as it was only the third favorite out of the twelve entries in the Melfest final. Thanks juries? I’m starting to get concerned with what Sweden is spitting out for its Eurovision entries. Seeing last year’s Melfest winner […] [Read more…]

JOWST Grabs The Moment for Norway

March 20, 2017 0

Can Norway “Grab The Moment” with JOWST’s Eurovision entry, or will they be completely off base with the judges? Norway smashed Eurovision records when they won with Alexander Rybak’s “Fairytale” back in 2009, and rightly so. But they also have a history as one of the nations that’s had the most last place entries. I think they’re usually good about sending entries that are in touch with what’s going on in pop music, but that doesn’t always translate to Eurovision success. Case in point: 2011’s entry, Stella Mwangi’s “Haba Haba”.  I thought this had a lot of potential to go far as an entry – it pulled in from some tropical stuff that was going on in pop at the time, and brought an infectious island flavor to the contest. It seemed to be received well by the crowd inside the stadium during the semi-final, then it finished in 17th place out of 19 and didn’t get through to the final.  All this has me trying to hedge my bets before I talk about this year’s track, JOWST’s “Grab The Moment”. Tropical House and other clubby sounds like it are having a Big Moment in pop right now, so it’s understandable […] [Read more…]

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