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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…]

Romania Wants You to “Yodel It” Out

March 13, 2017 0

This is a real thing in the world. Romania’s entry for the 2016 contest in Stockholm, which featured a metrosexual Khal Drogo (and a sincerely enjoyable song), was unfortunately derailed at the last minute due to the national broadcaster’s unpaid bills. It appears they’ve settled that debt, however, and in their grand return to the Eurovision stage, are sending something a little more upbeat. Behold “Yodel It!” by Ilinca featuring Alex Florea: I want to laugh at this song, loud and long and clear. And let’s not be coy, I definitely am, but it feels like I’m laughing WITH these performers. This is a song about living your life on your own terms; one of the verses says, basically, “Hate your job? Yodel and you’ll feel better!” That is a ridiculous suggestion, but it seems like both performers are committed to it. That makes this a cringeworthy AND fun three minutes. I have no expectation this act will have much success, but there are a couple of improvements I’d like to see. Alex’s performance is fine, but his costuming — especially his hair, lord his hair — need some work. Ilinca’s yodel is pretty great (I guess, although I only […] [Read more…]

Estonia brings Koit Toome and Laura’s “Verona” to Kyiv

March 13, 2017 0

Koit Toome and Laura’s “Verona” is a real Eurovision throwback for Estonia, but is that a good thing? Estonia is always one of my favorite countries to watch in the Eurovision Song Contest – they do a great job of melding their country’s musical history with music trends to present entries that often have a little bit of a retro or classical flair.  Sometimes this works really well – “Goodbye to Yesterday” was one of my absolute favorites two years ago – and sometimes it doesn’t (see last year’s “Play”, which I also liked, but most of Europe didn’t, finishing in last place in its semifinal).  This year, they’ve given what feels like a Eurovision throwback – a pretty straightforward male-female duet from Koit Toome and Laura called “Verona” I find this song growing on me with each subsequent listen, but my main concern is if it’s too much of a throwback.  Other recent contenders with similar structure (Romania’s “Miracle” from Ovi and Paula immediately comes to mind, as does Denmark’s “A Moment Like This” from Chanee & N’Evergreen as long as we’re throwing it back) have qualified to the finals, but they’re not placing as high as they once […] [Read more…]

Will Nathan Trent Be “Running” to the ESC Finals for Austria?

March 13, 2017 0

Nathan Trent’s “Running on Air” has an easy, earnest quality, but will it get Austria to the Eurovision finals? Post-Conchita Austria has had a bit of a spotty record with their entries for the Eurovision Song Contest. Two years ago, their entry while they hosted managed to get the dreaded Nul Points. While they rebounded a bit last year and qualified for the final with Zoe’s “Loin D’Ici” last year, they still finished in 13th place, right in the middle of the pack.  Will Nathan Trent’s “Running on Air” propel them any closer to another win?   I like this song, and for the longest time I haven’t been able to put my finger on what it sounds like.  And then it sort of hit me – I used to watch a LOT of VH1’s morning countdown show about 10 years ago, and they LOVED stuff like this.  This has tinges of Jason Mraz and (if we’re going for a slightly more modern reference here) Ed Sheeran about it, but it definitely sounds like mid-2000s AOR-ish daytime drive stuff.  Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the ability of this to succeed is really going to be down to if […] [Read more…]

Australia’s “Don’t Come Easy” Goes Down Easy

March 10, 2017 0

Australia continues its Eurovision residency with the fantastic “Don’t Come Easy” by Isaiah Firebrace. The presence of Australia in the Eurovision Song Contest is a constant reminder of how every country should be approaching the competition. Since the country gets to participate as a special guest, they seem to be going above and beyond in making sure they do not squander the opportunity. After last year’s phenomenal performance by Dami Im, finding an appropriate followup is an additional challenge. Since a powerfully delivered ballad by a winner of Australia’s version of The X Factor worked last year, SBS will be returning to that well this, having selected the most recent champion Isaiah Firebrace to represent the continent. Here’s his song “Don’t Come Easy”: Jeezy creezy, Australia’s here to play again, y’all. This type of song normally isn’t my jam, but Isaiah’s vocal tone is incredible and somewhat unexpected. I’m reminded of France’s Amaury Vassili (2011), who had incredible carriage despite his slight frame. Assuming he can deliver on the vocal on the live stage, Australia could be making another run for the gold medal.1 Delivering a strong stage performance is going to be the determining factor of Isaiah’s success. The video […] [Read more…]

Do We Love “This is Love” as Greece’s Eurovision Entry?

March 9, 2017 0

After missing out on the final for the first time ever last year, Greece goes back to the basics with “This is Love” by Demy. Greece is in unfamiliar territory coming into this year’s Eurovision Song Contest: having to bounce back after failing to qualify for the previous year’s final. This, coupled with the country’s continuing economic crisis, has made selecting viable Eurovision entries tricky. The broadcaster went from considering an internal selection, to having a national final between two artists, before finally selecting dance pop singer Demy to carry the Greek flag. Then there was a national final with one of the three entries leaked beforehand. Also, the selection format switched from 100% public vote to a 70-30(?) Jury/Public split. Ultimately, “This is Love” (the leaked entry) prevailed. Sure, why not? Let’s take a listen: Despite all the shenanigans up to this point, this is an okay selection for Greece. I like that Demy is already an established performer who didn’t come out of a reality talent competition. For her, this seems more like a considered career decision rather than her big break or a comeback, which is a somewhat unique position for any Eurovision entrant. I think that […] [Read more…]

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