Eurovision 2017 Entry: Ukraine – O.Torvald – Time

April 26, 2017 0

With controversy swirling, can Ukraine capitalize on home field advantage? Country: Ukraine Song Title: “Time” Artist: O.Torvald Last year’s entry: “1944” — Jamala (1st Place) Ukraine captured victory in 2016, despite coming in second place in both the jury and televoting components, and thanks in part to an assist from a new voting system. (Under the voting system used in 2015, jury favorite Australia would have taken home the trophy.) Instead of trying to figure out who would host on behalf of the Aussies, we’ve spent the last few months wondering whether Ukraine and Russia could figure out a way to co-exist. (Spoiler alert! They have not.) Can O.Torvald cut through the geopolitical and bureaucratic noise to represent their country well at the Grand Final? I like rock at Eurovision, and I like several parts of this entry, but I’m not as keen on it as Mike was. In particular, there are some structural issues in the last third; the bridge starts at 1:54 with eight or nine seconds of silence, losing the momentum out of the second chorus. If they want to provide contrast and build tension, they could do so in half that much time. The next thirty […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: Italy – Francesco Gabbani – Occidentali’s Karma

April 26, 2017 0

Will Italy’s Francesco Gabbani win the whole megillah with “Occidentali’s Karma” in Kyiv? Country: Italy Song Title: “Occidentali’s Karma” Artist: Francesco Gabbani Last year’s entry: “No Degree of Separation” – Francesca Michielin (16th Place) I started writing about Eurovision for the 2011 Contest, the same year Italy returned after a 13-year hiatus. My favorite entry that year was “Madness of Love” by Raphael Gualazzi, which almost won thanks to a ton of “welcome back” points and a fantastic song. Since returning, Italy has missed out on the Top 10 twice — in 2014 when RAI decided not to use Sanremo as its selection process, and last year when their singer was the Sanremo runner-up. This year’s Sanremo champion, Francesco Gabbani, won over the festival with a dancing gorilla and a catchy-as-all-get-out track: Normally I try to challenge the notion of the declared favorite winning, partly because a foregone conclusion (see 2012 and 2015) is hella boring. However, this song has so much going for it. The construction of the song brims with charisma, though the abridged version has removed my favorite part. The first verse begins with very basic instrumentation and vocals, building up to the party of the chorus. In the […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: Spain – Manel Navarro – Do It for Your Lover

April 25, 2017 0

Manel Navarro’s “Do It For Your Lover” seems tailor-made to graze the bottom of the Eurovision final standings. Country: Spain Song Title: “Do It For Your Lover” Artist: Manel Navarro Last year’s entry: “Say Yay!” – Barei (22nd Place) Spain’s been having a rough go of it in the Eurovision Song Contest lately1.  Last year’s entry, the sprightly “Say Yay!” be Barei, was scraping the bottom in 22nd place out of 26.  Before that, their highest final placements had been in 2012 (“Quedate Conmigo”) and 2014 (Ruth Lorenzo’s “Dancing In The Rain”).  That 2014 entry seems to be the standard template for Spain these days – verses in Spanish, chorus in English.  Looking at this year’s entry, Manel Navarro’s “Do It For Your Lover”, they may have boiled that down a little too far: Y’all?  This is an excellent song to play in the background of Sandals’ ad for their new resort in Majorca, but it’s not a great Eurovision song.  The chorus is slightly over 5 words, and the chill vibe is a nice break from the usual Eurovision balladry, but I fear it drifts a little too off course from what constitutes a successful entry.  This seems tailor-made to get lost in […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: Germany – Levina – Perfect Life

April 25, 2017 0

In which Germany tries to get up off the mat. Country: Germany Song Title: “Perfect Life” Artist: Levina Last year’s entry: “Ghost” — Jamie-Lee (26th Place) Let’s not sugarcoat this: Germany has been AWFUL in the last couple of contests. They were one of two countries1 to earn the dreaded nul points in 2015, and ended up on the wrong side of the tiebreaker to land in last place. I know the EBU said last year’s voting changes were to better generate suspense, but wouldn’t be surprised if two countries — one of them a major funder — getting nul points wasn’t also a major factor. Those changes led to Germany scoring more points (11!) in 2016 than they would have under the old system — but they STILL ended up in last place. Can Levina help Germany break out of this major slump? Ah geez. It feels like I’m kicking Germany when they’re down, but as Ben pointed out over two months ago, it feels like this song is destined for the bottom of the pile.2 I enjoy Levina’s voice, and she’s proven to have strong and compelling live vocals, if not much stage presence. This song is just […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: France – Alma – Requiem

April 24, 2017 0

France copies their most recent Eurovision success with Alma’s “Requiem”, but misses the soul that made it work. Country: France Song Title: “Requiem” Artist: Alma Last year’s entry: “J’ai Cherche” – Amir (6th Place) When it comes to France in the Eurovision Song Contest, I’ll take a Sebastien Tellier or a Twin Twin over a Patricia Kaas any day.  France has some truly weird pop1, and the ESC is the perfect place to give that singular voice a place to shine.  Alas, they usually use their given slot for the balladry that also tends to be a hallmark of their nation.  The last few years, we’ve seen some English creep into their songs, in what seems like a slight indication that they’re starting to realize that they can’t just send another entirely-in-French song if they want to win, and it’s served them well – did they learn anything from their 6th place finish last year with this year’s entry? Well, sort of.  This definitely feels like France is trying to capture the same level of success they achieved at last year’s competition by copying the various elements of last year’s entry (same songwriter, mostly uptempo number, similar instrumentation, English chorus that feels a little […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: United Kingdom – Lucie Jones – Never Give Up on You

April 24, 2017 0

The United Kingdom is trying to play nice with Eurovision by promising to “Never Give Up on You”, but will that feeling be reciprocated? Country: United Kingdom Song Title: “Never Give Up on You” Artist: Lucie Jones Last year’s entry: “You’re Not Alone” – Joe and Jake (24th Place) The United Kingdom has finally wised up to using an alum from The X Factor as their Eurovision representative, with series six contestant Lucie Jones beating out a bunch of other alumni for the chance to represent the Union Jack in Kyiv. Will Europe “Never Give Up on You”, UK? How to answer this question… I don’t think Europe will give up on this entry, but I don’t imagine this song attracting much attention in the first place. Lucie Jones does a fine job delivering the song, and I can understand how she has booked so many theater gigs. Unfortunately, there isn’t much to the song. The lyrics aren’t quite cliche, but there are no clever turns of phrase or sophisticated rhymes happening either. The chorus doesn’t have a strong hook, allowing the song to wander off and get lost. Even with repeat listens, I still find myself hoping that the beat will drop after […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: Armenia — Artsvik — Fly With Me

April 21, 2017 0

Will Artsvik’s “Fly With Me” soar to the top of the Eurovision leaderboard, or will Armenia fail to launch? Country: Armenia Song Title: “Fly With Me” Artist: Artsvik First Semi-Final: Position 16 Last year’s entry: “LoveWave” – Iveta Mukuchyan (7th Place) Armenia has taken part in the Eurovision song contest for just over 10 years now, and there seems to be a pattern to how well their entries do: while they’ve only missed the finals twice (once in 2011, when Emmy’s “Boom Boom” finished 12th in its semifinal, and when they sat out 2012 due to political ~drama~ with Azerbaijan, who was hosting), how well they do in the finals is directly connected to how close their song follows typical pop structures.  If they go too far off course, they’re likely to place lower in the finals.  How does this year’s entry, Artsvik’s “Fly With Me”, look to fare? So, I’m going to be up front and just say that having watched this entry multiple times over the past few weeks, I just plain don’t get it.  I recognize it as a song, but it is so far from the structure of what I consider a “Eurovision song” with some semblance on choruses and verses that I can’t […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: Bulgaria — Kristian Kostov — Beautiful Mess

April 21, 2017 0

Bulgaria has finally cracked the Eurovision code! Can Kristian Kostov earn another top five finish with “Beautiful Mess”? Country: Bulgaria Song Title: “Beautiful Mess” Artist: Kristian Kostov Second Semi-Final: Position 15 Last year’s entry: “If Love Was a Crime” – Poli Genova (4th Place) Bulgaria is still riding high after last year’s Eurovision Song Contest, where Poli Genova not only earned the country’s second trip to the Grand Final but finishing in fourth place overall. I mean, even my mom called Bulgaria her favorite. That’s a tough act for Kristian Kostov to follow — is “Beautiful Mess” up to the task? Yes. Yes it is. Bulgaria took a deliberative approach to choosing its entry this year, waiting until almost the last minute to announce their artist and their song. If a country is going to do an internal selection, this is the way to go about it, as the broadcaster can evaluate both the field of the semi-final as well as the field overall. In terms of singers, there aren’t many in the second semi-final where you could do an apples-to-apples comparison with Kristian Kostov. Ireland’s Brendan Murray comes closest in age and sound, but the plaintive delivery of “Beautiful Mess” is way more interesting […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: San Marino — Valentina Monetta & Jimmie Wilson — Spirit of the Night

April 20, 2017 0

If the “Spirit of the Night” is willing, Valentina Monetta and Jimmie Wilson could be making a run for San Marino to reach the top 10. Country: San Marino Song Title: “Spirit of the Night” Artist: Valentina Monetta and Jimmie Wilson Second Semi-Final: Position #10 Last year’s entry: “I Didn’t Know” – Serhat (DNQ – 12th Place, SF1) Let’s play a little inside baseball. When San Marino surprise-dropped their entry last month, my immediate reaction to the telESCope team was the following: This was followed by a flurry of posts about her updated Facebook page and links to every story I could find, an unexpected deluge which I hope didn’t inconvenience the rest of the team on a quite Sunday morning. It wasn’t until an hour or so later that I realized that I should probably listen to the song? As is often the case with San Marino’s entries, the first impression is usually “oh… oh, dear… well… hmmm…” I think this is more the effect of their songwriter-in-residence Ralph Siegel, who has never said no to a key change, tone change, or style change in his songs. One of the major critiques that has been consistent with his submissions (five of the last six for […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: Iceland — Svala — Paper

April 20, 2017 0

In an extremely crowded field, I’m not sure Svala can defend this thesis. Country: Iceland Song Title: “Paper” Artist: Svala First Semi-Final: Position #13 Last year’s entry: “Hear Them Calling” — Greta Salóme (DNQ – 14th Place, SF1) Despite bringing one of the most colorful entries in recent history — Pollapönk’s “No Prejudice” in 2014 — and coming in second place (behind Norway’s record-setting “Fairytale” win) in 2009, Iceland has had a pretty dismal run at Eurovision. They’ve DNQed five times since 2005, with an average placement of 15th in their seven Grand Final appearances. Can Svala get Iceland back to the Grand Final, or will she bring her country its third DNQ in a row? We’re split on this entry; Ben loves it and has confidence it’ll qualify, but I’m not so sure. I like Svala’s voice, and enjoy the first half of this song. There’s just no respite from the chorus, though, which clocks in at 35 seconds, and is pretty much the exact same thing each of the three times we hear it. The metaphors also become unwieldy as they pile up; “You cut through through / I’m stuck like glue to you” is clever, but I cringe […] [Read more…]

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