Malta Sends Faniello “Breathlessly” to Kyiv

February 23, 2017 0

Will her song take your breath away? Malta’s last decade at Eurovision has been mostly a bad one, half the time failing to qualify into the final, and only once landing in the top ten. In Stockholm last year, former Eurovision runner-up Ira Losco got the country back on track, landing in 12th place with “Walk on Water.” Hoping to harness that popularity for another successful year, Malta changed the rules for their selection process from a vote/jury combination to a 100% popular vote-based decision. Beating out fifteen other contestants, Claudia Faniello will take the stage for Malta in Kyiv. Faniello has a great voice, and needs do nothing more than stand in a beautiful gown and sing her way into our hearts. The song is written, arranged, and staged well, and I am having a hard time finding fault with it. Perhaps that is part of the problem, though? I wonder if this entry is too slow and, more importantly, too forgettable to make a statement at Eurovision. “Breathlessly” reminds me a bit of the 2013 Israeli “Rak Bishvilo,” a song I still listen to regularly, but which placed 14th in its semifinal, missing the finals by quite a […] [Read more…]

Poland’s “Flashlight” Needs Some Batteries

February 21, 2017 0

Kasia Mos’ “Flashlight” needs some energy if it’s going to qualify Poland for the 2017 Eurovision finals. Poland managed to surprise me last year when their ballad “Color of Your Life” went all the way to 8th place.  I thought it was overdone and sort of Eurovision-by-the-Numbers, but that stuff tends to be template because it works, nevermind if the visual presentation accompanying it reminds you if Color Me Badd shopped Prince’s garage sale at the end of the day when everything good’s been picked over.  So it makes sense that this year’s entry, Kasia Mos’ “Flashlight” is trying to return to that same well: My first impression of this song isn’t that great – Kasia is really oversinging everything, and the whole song and performance is a bit of an overwrought downer.  There’s some sort of metaphor about a flashlight in here, but it’s not really clear and the lyrics seems to be mostly concerned with internal rhyme rather than a chorus.  This needs some oomph – they’re clearly shooting for drama, but this just isn’t bringing it. [Read more…]

Italy Banks On “Occidentali’s Karma”

February 16, 2017 0

Also an ape with a bowtie. Sanremo, Italy’s multistage musical festival, has a track record of producing strong winners. Since 2011, every Sanremo-selected entry has done well at Eurovision, accounting for four top-ten finishes. The other two entries in that time period were not Sanremo winners and … well, let’s say they were not received as enthusiastically. Eurovision lovers were so excited to hear this year’s Sanremo winner, Francesco Gabbani, would be taking “Occidentali’s Karma” to Kyiv that they made it the most-watched video ever on Italian Vevo the very first day it was published. After a few rounds of watching, I’m still mentally filing this video under “Maybe awesome? Maybe a joke?” along with last year’s San Marinese disco whatever-that-was. I think I get why people love this song. It’s chock-full of cultural references, and questions how the West turns to Eastern spirituality for temporary comfort while remaining materialistic at the core. I can’t help but roll my eyes at the hypocrisy, though, when that message is being delivered through a pop song contest by one man in an impeccable Italian suit and another wearing an actual ape suit. Musically speaking this song is pretty solid, if about 30 […] [Read more…]

Georgia Trusts Tako to “Keep the Faith”

February 1, 2017 0

They also trust her to poke the bear. Back in 2009, Georgia sent Stephane & 3G to the contest (hosted in Moscow) with “We Don’t Wanna Put In” … or attempted to, anyway. The anti-Russian sentiment was exactly as subtle as the title suggests, Georgian organizers refused to change the lyrics, and the entry was disqualified. This year, through a combination of international jury and public voting, the former Soviet republic has selected Tako Gachechiladze — a member of the ‘3G’ from that ill-fated 2009 entry — and her song, “Keep the Faith.” While there’s nothing in the lyrics that explicitly calls out Russia, take a look at the national final performance and pay attention to the screen during the second verse. (I can’t decide whether the camera cutting quickly away from the “Russia Invades Georgia” headline was an “oh-crap” production moment, or a coincidence.) Not a coincidence: I reacted to this song with glee, much like with last year’s winner, and may have even yelled “GET ‘EM” at my laptop. That was as much for the political content as it was for Gachechiladze’s voice, which is strong and clear, and her backing vocalists, who contribute enough punch for the […] [Read more…]