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: 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: 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: 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: 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…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: Ireland — Brendan Murray — Dying to Try

April 13, 2017 0

We’re “Dying to Try” to think of another singer that would elevate the entry Ireland’s sending to Eurovision. Country: Ireland Song Title: “Dying to Try” Artist: Brendan Murray Second Semi-Final: Position 10 Last year’s entry: “Sunlight” – Nicky Byrne (DNQ – 15th Place, SF2) Ireland is far from its glory days in the Eurovision Song Contest.  They’re still the winning-est nation with 7 total wins, but they haven’t made the finals since 2013 and they placed dead last that year.  They’ve been floundering a bit in their selection strategy – what used to have a vote has gone fully internal, although they seem to be on a bit of a pattern in their choices.  Last year they picked a former boy bander (Nicky Byrne of Westlife) who had a mostly pleasant if bland entry, and I’m concerned they’ve done the same this year with Brendan Murray (formerly of Hometown) Ireland, this is a lovely song but it should be sung by someone other than Brendan Murray.  He’s got a lovely, wispy, tenor, but that whole wispiness thing is just wrong, wrong, wrong for this melody/chorus.  Either try to convince the EBU that Robbie Williams is actually Irish((and also convince Robbie Williams to be a Eurovision entry […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: Israel — IMRI — I Feel Alive

April 13, 2017 0

Will Israel’s Imri Ziv give you life when he closes the second Eurovision Semi-Final with “I Feel Alive”? Country: Israel Song Title: “I Feel Alive” Artist: Imri Ziv Second Semi-Final: Position #19 Last year’s entry: “Made of Stars” – Hovi Star (14th Place) Israel has found new life in the Eurovision Song Contest thanks to the Rising Star selection format. A four-year qualifying drought came to an end in 2015 with the winner of the Israeli singing competition managed to qualify and finish in ninth place in Vienna. Will Imri Ziv be able to keep that streak alive with “I Feel Alive”? I want to like this song more than I do, but there’s not a lot for this track to hang its hat on. The video does a good job as a marketing piece for the Tel Aviv Chamber of Commerce, but as Ben said, the song is super generic. Given how easy on the eyes Imri Ziv is, I know I was hoping for something with a little more sex appeal than a flash mob mixed with shoutouts to the performer’s former role as a Eurovision backing singer. I don’t think all is lost, however. Israel will be closing out the semi-final, which suggests […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: Belgium — Blanche — City Lights

April 12, 2017 0

Can Belgium find a way to help Blanche light up the stage at the Eurovision finals? Country: Belgium Song Title: “City Lights” Artist: Blanche First Semi-Final: Position 5 Last year’s entry: “What’s the Pressure” – Laura Tesoro (10th Place) Belgium’s on a good run with their last few entries in the Eurovision Song Contest – Loic Notet placed 4th a few years ago, and they managed to cling to the top 10 last year with Laura Tesoro’s “What’s the Pressure”.  Belgium seems to have a good finger on the pulse of what’s going on in pop music and filtering that into their entry.  They’re going to need it this year, as they’re in a very stacked semifinal.  With performance neighbors like Albania and Montenegro, does Blanche’s “City Lights” have the oomph it needs to guarantee a final slot? On a purely personal level, I really like this song.  It has a trance/trip-hop vibe that works, and Blanche’s flat vocal affect reminds me of Jem/Dido in a way that I haven’t seen at the ESC before.  The song’s structure feels unusual, too – it’s less verse-chorus-verse than chorus – bridge – chorus – bridge – chorus.  I wonder if the backing here is doing a little too much […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: Greece — Demy — This is Love

April 11, 2017 0

Greece falls back on a Eurovision standby with Demy’s “This Is Love” – will Europe love it enough to send it to the finals? Country: Greece Song Title: “This Is Love” Artist: Demy First Semi-Final: Position 10 Last year’s entry: “Utopian Land” – Argo (DNQ – 16th Place, SF1) Last year, for the first time since 2004 (when semi-finals were introduced), Greece missed the Eurovision finals.  That’s a pretty big deal – no matter how much I’ve thought their songs have been overrated, it always seemed inevitable that Greece made the finals because they had the voting bloc to back them up.  With that potentially no longer the case, that’s definitely got to leave them feeling desperate to get back into the good graces of the voting viewers.  Is Demy’s “This Is Love” enough to get them there? If you’re trying to get into the Eurovision finals, there are worse ways to try than sending a generic Eurodance ballad.  This is almost a little too generic – this feels like it would soundtrack a Mary Kay or Payless commercial 2-3 years ago1.  Mike seemed to feel similarly about it in his first listen, and I wouldn’t say my ardor for this song has grown any since it […] [Read more…]

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