Hulu, Netflix, Amazon… television isn’t just on your television anymore.

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…]

Eurovision 2017 YouTube Week #6: Standings

April 20, 2017 0

Now that the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest is down to 42 participants, what countries are the top ten for YouTube views? We’re in the homestretch of wild speculation season April, which means we can pretty much lock in what the YouTube favorites are for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. With rehearsals beginning a week from Sunday, what can we glean from which videos are at the top of the list? The Favorites Sweden — “I Can’t Go On” — Robin Bengtsson 3 million views Belgium — “City Lights” — Blanche 2.7 million views Bulgaria — “Beautiful Mess” — Kristian Kostov 2.1 million views San Marino — “Spirit of the Night” — Valentina Monetta and Jimmie Wilson 2 million views FYR Macedonia — “Dance Alone” — Jana Burcesca 1.87 million views France — “Requiem” — ALMA 1.74 million views Serbia — “In Too Deep” — Tijana Bogicevic 1.69 million views Australia — “Don’t Come Easy” — Isaiah Firebrace 1.51 million views Armenia — “Fly With Me” — Artsvik 1.39 million views Azerbaijan — “Skeletons” — Dihaj 1.32 million views Now, there are some caveats to this list. First, Italy’s Francesco Gabbani’s Vevo video for “Occidentali’s Karma” (which has been available since February 9) is approaching 100 million views. The abridged Eurovision version […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: Norway — JOWST — Grab the Moment

April 19, 2017 0

Will Norway’s JOWST “kill kill kill kill kill” it in Kyiv? Country: Norway Song Title: “Grab the Moment” Artist: JOWST Second Semi-Final: Position #12 Last year’s entry: “Icebreaker” – Agnete (DNQ – 13th Place, SF2) Norway was spoiled for choice in their national selection process this year, but landing on “Grab the Moment” by JOWST may be one of the boldest moves at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest: I think Ben hit it on the head that this track should go over really well with televoters. Not only are there multiple hooks that are super catchy, a song like this has been noticeably absent from the Contest. The lyric construction reminds me of the Script, with the overall song reminding me of their track “Hall of Fame.” What I appreciate is that I am reminded of the track, rather than imagining JOWST’s efforts as a retread. This track has charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent.1 It would be a major surprise if juries were unmoved by this track. Ben raised the concern about how “Grab the Moment” will be performed live, particularly with the vocal sampling. I don’t think that will be a significant roadblock–the video performance above looks like a final draft of what […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: Lithuania — Fusedmarc — Rain of Revolution

April 19, 2017 0

Not a bathroom break entry, but not gonna make it to Saturday’s Grand Final either. Country: Lithuania Song Title: “Rain of Revolution” Artist: Fusedmarc Second Semi-Final: Position #17 Last year’s entry: “I’ve Been Waiting for This Night” — Donny Montell (9th Place) Over the last decade, Lithuania has been good at earning themselves a Saturday performance — they’re seven for ten on that front — but not good at finishing strong. Even taking last year’s top-ten finish into account, their average result over that same span is 18th place. Donny Martell has done his part for his country, twice being responsible not only for Grand Final appearances, but also for the two best results (9th and 14th) since 2006. Can Fusedmarc take their country to a third straight Grand Final, or will they just end up raining on Lithuania’s parade? Bring your galoshes, folks. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot about this entry I appreciate, including the presentation that Ben (not wrongly) characterized as seven different ideas happening at once. It’s songs like this that made me fall in love with ESC, and it’s song like this that keep me coming back year after year. In this case, though, […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: Sweden — Robin Bengtsson — I Can’t Go On

April 18, 2017 0

We think Robin Bengtsson can “Go On” to the Eurovision finals, but will Sweden get their third win in five years? Country: Sweden Song Title: “I Can’t Go On” Artist: Robin Bengtsson First Semi-Final: Position 1 Last year’s entry: “If I Were Sorry”  – Frans (5th Place) Sweden’s been having a powerhouse few years at the Eurovision Song Contest.  After winning in 2012 and 2015 1, they took what I thought was a standard “thanks for letting us host but we have no intention of winning two years in a row” song (Frans’ “If I Were Sorry”) and got it all the way to 5th place with the combined vote.  Sweden is a powerhouse of pop songwriting and production, so it’s no surprise their entries always feel polished and ready for mass consumption.  Will Robin Bengtsson continue their pattern of winning the contest every few years? I’m not getting as much of a Robin Thicke vibe from this as Ryan did 2, but I do miss the original f-bomb in the hook of the song.  I know there are Eurovision standards, but neutering this down to “freakin’” feels like when “Forget You” was a big summer hit – it’s a little awkward, and any punch […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: Serbia — Tijana Bogićević — In Too Deep

April 18, 2017 0

Serbia may have the song of the summer with Tijana Bogićević’s “In Too Deep” but does that translate to Eurovision success? Country: Serbia Song Title: “In Too Deep” Artist: Tijana Bogićević Second Semi-Final: Position #1 Last year’s entry: “Goodbye (Shelter)” – ZAA Sanja Vucic (18th Place) Serbia has been embracing the pop music aspects of Eurovision the last couple years, moving toward English language dance tracks ad radio friendliness over the songcraft of entries like “Molitva” and the the oeuvre of Željko Joksimović. This year is no different, with what may be the most radio friendly track of the competition: “In Too Deep” by Tijana Bogićević. If Eurovision were a “Song of the Summer” contest, “In Too Deep” would easily be in the top five. This song feels very 2017, from the choice of sound effects, the pseudo-poetic lyrics, and the power shifts between verse and chorus. The simplicity of the lyrics and delivery also make this an attractive karaoke jam, which adds to the appeal. However, the above is somewhat damning with faint praise. Although the track is of its time (Spring 2017), there is no gravitas that gives it the timelessness of successful Eurovision entries. “Molitva” still gives chills, “Euphoria” opens […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: Azerbaijan — Dihaj — Skeletons

April 17, 2017 0

Dihaj’s “Skeletons” has good bones, but will it be dynamic enough to ensure Azerbaijan a place in the ESC finals? Country: Azerbaijan Song Title: “Skeletons” Artist: Dihaj First Semi-Final: Position 8 Last year’s entry: “Miracle” – Samra (17th Place) After coming out of the gate strong with their first appearance in 2008, Azerbaijan’s been having some wilderness years.  They haven’t ever missed the finals since debuting, but in the past 3 years, they haven’t cracked the top 10 after consistently placing in the top 5.  Azerbaijan always feels closest to Sweden in the way they practically manufacture Eurovision entries for maximum points, so this has to sting.  Does Dihaj’s “Skeletons” have what it takes to get them back near the top of the competition? I didn’t have as much of an instant “love” of this song as Ryan did in his initial listen, but it’s certainly grown on me as the field has filled out and the competition has moved along.  I definitely love the way this feels like S U R V I V E’s work for Stranger Things, and there’s a dark edge to this song that feels fresh in this semi-final of the competition.  But if there was any year Azerbaijan needed a non-packed […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: FYR Macedonia — Jana Burčeska — Dance Alone

April 17, 2017 0

Let’s hope that, wherever she goes, the rhythm follows. Country: FYR Macedonia Song Title: “Dance Alone” Artist: Jana Burčeska Second Semi-Final: Position #4 Last year’s entry: “Dona” — Kaliopi (DNQ – 11th Place, SF2) The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has the distinction of being a historically unsuccessful country at Eurovision, but not for lack of trying. In seventeen attempts, the Macedonians have notched nine DNQs, with the remaining eight performances netting an average Grand Final placement of 15th and a best finish of 12th. They’ve been particularly bad since 2008, with eight DNQs in the last nine years, including four in a row entering this year’s contest. Can Jana Burčeska help her floundering country get back to the Grand Final stage? “Dance Alone” is a great song to sing in the car on road trips, as my listening statistics would prove. I’m having a very hard time imagining how this song will succeed visually on the Eurovision stage, though. This is a cool music video, but as Ben pointed out, that’s not the point of the contest. The entire purpose of this song is that the singer is isolated. In terms of staging, either you’re forced to put her onstage […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: Montenegro — Slavko Kalezić — Space

April 14, 2017 0

Will Slavko Kalezić give Montenegro a well-deserved “Space” in the Eurovision Grand Final? Country: Montenegro Song Title: “Space” Artist: Slavko Kalezić First Semi-Final: Position #6 Last year’s entry: “The Real Thing” – HIghway (DNQ – 13th Place, SF1) One of the things I love about writing about Eurovision are the different rubrics of evaluation we use for countries and songs. We can’t directly compare the apples of female power ballads to the oranges of disco funk Klezmer bands, nor is it helpful to compare the Military Industrial Pop Music Complex (aka Sweden) to the more traditional styles of central and eastern Europe. Montenegro exists in a delightful place geographically and musically where it has no choice but to dance to the beat of its own drum, showcasing that dance for the rest of Europe and the world each May. This year’s entry, “Space” by Slavko Kalezić, is the prime example of what Montenegro does best: This might be the performance I am most looking forward to in Kyiv. As the video demonstrates, Slavko Kalezić has a strong point of view and aesthetic. Also, though this year’s slate of entries is quite strong, it doesn’t identify as queer as the last few years. The only other entry […] [Read more…]

1 2 3 4 5 49