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…]

Eurovision 2017 YouTube Week 1: Methodology!

March 16, 2017 0

What secrets do the YouTube videos of the 2017 Eurovision Song Contests entries hold? As of this writing, 42 of the 43 entries for Eurovision 2017 have been revealed and 40 of those 42 entries have videos on the official Eurovision Song Contest YouTube channel. Now seems like a good time to talk about a metric we will be watching more closely in our coverage of this year’s Contest: YouTube views. First, let’s pull back the curtain as to how we tabulate our predictions for success in the semi-finals. Once all the entries are known but before we start our deep dive coverage of the semi-finals, each of our writers will rank the entries within each semi-final. This ranking is based on our own music preferences and taste and is designed to numerically share with one other where each of our heads is at in terms of the crop of entries in a given year. These rankings don’t actually factor into the math of our final predictions, but they do give us a benchmark in terms of how opinions can shift over the following two months. In mid-April, we do another writers’ ranking. This time, the ranking is based on […] [Read more…]

Will FYR Macedonia’s Jana Burčeska “Dance Alone” or with Eurovision Finalists?

March 16, 2017 0

Can Jana Burčeska help FYR Macedonia capture their first Eurovision finals appearance in 5 years? FYR Macedonia and Montenegro are an interesting pair of competitors in the Eurovision Song Contest. Montenegro doesn’t seem to care whether they make the final or not, marching to the beat of their own drum and sending the weirdest, wildest, and wackiest entrants they’ve got.  On the flip side of this, FYR Macedonia tries so hard, y’all.  They just want to do their best and seem to trip over their own feet, whether it’s pairing two vocalists that don’t really go together on a song, hiring the remains of Blackstreet to act as backup dancers, or sending the same singer that got them to the finals a few years later hoping to recreate the magic.  All of it’s been for seemingly naught – their only qualification in almost ten years was in 2012.  Will Jana Burčeska be the one to break their streak of bad luck? Fun video aside (the “San Junipero” feel is nice and modern), this is a pretty decent mid-tempo entry in a year that’s swimming in ballads, which I think is a plus for this one.  The lyrics and production are a little […] [Read more…]

Will the Eurovision Final have “Space” for Montenegro?

March 16, 2017 0

Slavko Kalezic’s entry for Montenegro at the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest is…um…what? Aside from Moldova, Montenegro may secretly be one of my favorite Eurovision entrants.  Marching to the weird, off-key beat of their own drum, they’ve gladly paraded some of the most unique entrants to the Contest since rejoining in 20121. After a few years of chasing the mainstream, Montenegro seems poised to give us something meme-worthy again in Kyiv this year with Slavko Kalezic’s “Space”: Every time I watch this video my brain shuts down for 3 minutes because it can’t process everything that’s going on here. I think what surprises me about this is that it somehow transcends what could quickly become “Elektronik Supersonik” if it’s not the careful and gives a half-decent disco chorus. I can’t make heads or tails of the lyrics or if they make any sort of sense, but this is Eurovision, so that’s secondary at best, anyways. This is Montenegro’s usual weird thing (and bless them for this, honestly), so I can’t tell if they’ll be enough of a novelty to take this to the final, but all I ask for the performance in Kyiv is that it captures as much of the […] [Read more…]

Israel’s “I Feel Alive” Needs More of a Pulse

March 16, 2017 0

Israel may be playing it a smidge too safe at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest with Imri Ziv’s generically clubby “I Feel Alive” Israel’s performance in the Eurovision Song Contest has been on the uptick the past few years. After a patch where their entries were consistently just outside of the cutoff to the finals in their respective semis, they hit on the right selection formula with 2015’s “Golden Boy” and 2016’s “Made of Stars”, with each entry making the finals. Interestingly enough, providing backing vocals for both of those entries was this year’s artist, Imri Ziv. Now that he’s the face of the nation instead of a supporting role, does he have what it takes to keep up Israel’s run of good fortune? This feels a little more of a piece with “Golden Boy” than it does “Made of Stars”, since it feels a little more club-ready than Hovi Star’s song from last year.  Both of those tracks felt like they were closely connected to the performer, while this feels a little generic. “I Feel Alive” feels designed by committee to appeal to as many audiences as is possible for one club track – I think you could drop […] [Read more…]

Czech Republic Gives Martina Bárta Her Turn

March 14, 2017 0

Can she bring her country its second-ever Grand Final appearance? Gabriela Gunčíková earned her country its first-ever Grand Final performance last year in Stockholm, but ended up near the bottom of the voting, thanks in part to a number of much stronger female-fronted ballads. This year, they’re hoping Martina Bárta can set herself apart from the crowd and move up the leaderboard. Is it the Czech Republic’s turn to see some progress? “My Turn” is a solid choice to send to Kyiv. It’s another piano ballad sung by a woman with a great voice, this time in the pop/soul style of Sara Bareilles. The song is well-structured, and tells an emotionally-relatable story. This year’s music video has a much higher production quality than last year’s, which could point to the country finding that resources for a more engaging live performance. There are a number of questions we don’t have answers to yet — how does this sound live? What about Bárta’s stage presence? Any possibility of additional performers onstage? — but in the meantime there are some improvements to be made. The second verse and chorus are begging for additional instrumentation to fill out the sound. Strings eventually come in, […] [Read more…]

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