About Ben Smith
Ben has been writing about TV, music, and pop culture in some form or another since 2009, including stints at Mental Floss and Temporary Obsession. When not solving puzzles of some sort or consuming pop culture at a frightening pace, he can be found collecting shiny pieces of the internet at GoodAtInter.net. E-mail: ben@whatelseison.tv

Eurovision 2017 Entry: Belarus — NAVIBAND — Historyja majho žyccia

July 29, 2017 0

NAVIBAND’s got plenty of spunk, but does Belarus have what it takes to push “Historyja majho žyccia” all the way to the Eurovision finals? Country: Belarus Song Title: “Historyja majho žyccia” Artist: NAVI Second Semi-Final: Position TBD Last year’s entry: “Help You Fly” – IVAN (DNQ – 12th Place, SF2) There’s a inverse correlation between how much I enjoy the Belarussian Eurovision entry’s stage presentation and its chances of actually making the final.  Chainmail tank top?  DNQ.  Naked dude/wolf holograms?  DNQ.  Over-obvious butterfly theme?  Qualified1.  What I’m saying here is that Belarus has had a spotty history the last few years, and hasn’t seen the final since 2014, when everyone’s favorite twerpy hamster date got them all the way to 16th place.  Will NAVIBAND’s “Historyja majho žyccia” be the act to get them back in the Eurovision final spotlight? Let’s talk about this song.  Ryan loved it, and it has a lot of what initially drew me to watching the Eurovision Song Contest all those2 years ago.  There’s a great blend of traditional folk music from the country, mixed with enough pop polish3 to remind you that this is a competition, after all.  I really like the interplay between the two vocalists, as well as the fact […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: France – Alma – Requiem

July 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: Armenia — Artsvik — Fly With Me

July 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…]

JOWST Grabs The Moment for Norway

July 20, 2017 0

Can Norway “Grab The Moment” with JOWST’s Eurovision entry, or will they be completely off base with the judges? Norway smashed Eurovision records when they won with Alexander Rybak’s “Fairytale” back in 2009, and rightly so. But they also have a history as one of the nations that’s had the most last place entries. I think they’re usually good about sending entries that are in touch with what’s going on in pop music, but that doesn’t always translate to Eurovision success. Case in point: 2011’s entry, Stella Mwangi’s “Haba Haba”.  I thought this had a lot of potential to go far as an entry – it pulled in from some tropical stuff that was going on in pop at the time, and brought an infectious island flavor to the contest. It seemed to be received well by the crowd inside the stadium during the semi-final, then it finished in 17th place out of 19 and didn’t get through to the final.  All this has me trying to hedge my bets before I talk about this year’s track, JOWST’s “Grab The Moment”. Tropical House and other clubby sounds like it are having a Big Moment in pop right now, so it’s understandable […] [Read more…]

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

July 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: Azerbaijan — Dihaj — Skeletons

July 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…]

SNL Digest: Jimmy Fallon (4/15/17)

July 16, 2017 0

SNL goes live everywhere with Jimmy Fallon, and I hope this episode’s not an omen for the rest of the experiment. coque iphone pas cher

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