Russia’s “Flame is Burning” for Julia Samoylova

March 24, 2017 0

Now can we try not to start World War III with it? Bear with me for a moment, folks, while I try to briefly recap the dumpster fire that is Ukrainian-Russian relations right now specifically as it pertains to Eurovision; you’ll have to look elsewhere for broader geopolitical news.1 Last year, Ukraine competed with a song Russia felt violated the no-politics-at-Eurovision rule and should have been banned. That didn’t happen, and Jamala’s “1944” took home the prize despite failing to win either with the juries or in the televote. Russia felt this was the result of a political conspiracy to keep them from winning, and various members of the delegation have been vocal about their displeasure ever since. Earlier this month, shortly after Russia announced they’d be represented by Julia Samoylova, Ukraine announced that she would not be able to enter the country because she illegally toured in Crimea in 2015. The EBU tried to broker a peace, suggesting that Samoylova could compete live via satellite, but Ukraine said “nope, that’s still illegal” and Russia said “you’re weird, no thanks.” So we’re not entirely sure if Russia will send Samoylova, or anyone, to the Contest this year. Until the EBU/Eurovision […] [Read more…]

Bulgaria – Kristian Kostov – “Beautiful Mess”

March 24, 2017 0

Kristian Kostov’s entry for Bulgaria at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest is anything but a “Mess” After the rough time they had in the contest towards the second half of the 2000s, I was happy to see Bulgaria back in the competition at last year’s Eurovision Song Contest, and even happier that they sent a banger like Poli Genova’s “If Love Was A Crime” to end up in 4th place.  Does this year’s entry, Kristian Kostov’s “Beautiful Mess”, have what it takes to keep that momentum up? My first impressions of this song were just okay (as I was hoping for something a little more uptempo like last year’s entry), but as far as the ballads in this year’s competition goes, this one really keeps growing on me.  There’s a modern flair to the backing track that really reflects what’s going on in pop music right now, and everything neatly wraps up in the 3 minutes they’re allotted (unlike some of the entries this year that just abruptly stop). I don’t have any live footage of Kristian performing to compare against, but if it’s close to this recording, I think Bulgaria has another trip to the finals in their future. […] [Read more…]

Artsvik asks Armenia to “Fly With Me”

March 24, 2017 0

Armenia had the earliest Eurovision selection series, but saved its entry “Fly with Me” by Depi Evratesil’s winner Artsvik for last. We’ve been waiting quite a while1 for Armenia’s Artsvik to reveal her Eurovision entry. Would it be a Beyonce-level power ballad? Would it be a conceptual art installation like last year’s “LoveWave“? What does “Fly With Me” have in store for us? It’s a little from column A and a little from column B. Woo! Although the song does not have as many vocal demands as some of her performances during Armenia’s selection process, I think this song does a good job of showcasing how powerful Artsvik’s voice can be. I’m also surprised to see her doing choreography in the video as she did exactly none during Depi Evratesil. The combination of sound and visuals seems to be pulling from all the threads of what has made Armenian entries very successful the last several years. As for what to work on in the meantime, I’ll be curious to see how much of the video concept transfers to the stage performance. If the concept is mostly unchanged, the choreography will need to tighten up while also expanding a bit to […] [Read more…]

Does Iceland’s Eurovision Entry Look Good on “Paper”?

March 24, 2017 0

Does Svala’s “Paper” have what it takes for Iceland to make the cut to this year’s Eurovision final? It’s been stated here many a time, but Iceland is one of my favorite nations to root for in the Eurovision Song Contest, even though nothing’s quite measured up to 2014’s stellar “No Prejudice” from Pollaponk in my eyes. That’s one place where that seems to be aligned with the rest of Europe. Iceland has just missed the finals every year since then, even with last year’s “Hear Them Calling”, which I thought had a great live presentation. It feels like the last few years, the songs Iceland has sent have been all chorus, no verse, which leaves them feeling a little thin when compared to the field as a whole.  Does Svala’s “Paper” have what it takes to at least get them back in the final?   From what I’ve heard of the Eurovision field as a whole this year, I really dig this song – there’s an icy coolness from the backing and Svala’s vocals that helps it stand out.  The whole song has sort of a CHVRCHES vibe, which is more than welcome by me, and its rhythm feels […] [Read more…]

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…]

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