About Ryan Brazell
E-mail: ryan@whatelseison.tv

Eurovision 2017 Entry: Albania — Lindita — World

July 28, 2017 0

This year’s first entry might need some help to remain standing through the last day. Country: Albania Song Title: “World” Artist: Lindita First Semi-Final: Position TBD Last year’s entry: “Fairytale” — Eneda Tarifa (DNQ – 16th Place, SF2) Albania has had an up-and-down1 time in their thirteen Eurovision appearances. Almost half of their attempts have ended in the semi-final, with only two of the remaining qualifiers going on to finish in the top ten. The most recent of those successes was 2012’s “Suus,” notable for being Albania’s highest-ever finish at the Contest, and for earning Rona Nishliu the Barbara Dex [Worst-Dressed] Award.2 As the first entry announced for 2017, can Lindita take Albania back to the Grand Final, and look good doing it? Let’s start with the positives. Lindita has a great voice, strong and clear, and holds her own above an intense and dramatic rock orchestra. The song is structured well, and builds effectively towards the climax, a series of long notes that could be awesome if Lindita nails them. They’ve also translated the song into English, which is personally disappointing, but understandable given the desire to connect with as much of the televoting audience as possible. The new lyrics […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: Ukraine – O.Torvald – Time

July 26, 2017 0

With controversy swirling, can Ukraine capitalize on home field advantage? Country: Ukraine Song Title: “Time” Artist: O.Torvald Last year’s entry: “1944” — Jamala (1st Place) Ukraine captured victory in 2016, despite coming in second place in both the jury and televoting components, and thanks in part to an assist from a new voting system. (Under the voting system used in 2015, jury favorite Australia would have taken home the trophy.) Instead of trying to figure out who would host on behalf of the Aussies, we’ve spent the last few months wondering whether Ukraine and Russia could figure out a way to co-exist. (Spoiler alert! They have not.) Can O.Torvald cut through the geopolitical and bureaucratic noise to represent their country well at the Grand Final? I like rock at Eurovision, and I like several parts of this entry, but I’m not as keen on it as Mike was. In particular, there are some structural issues in the last third; the bridge starts at 1:54 with eight or nine seconds of silence, losing the momentum out of the second chorus. If they want to provide contrast and build tension, they could do so in half that much time. The next thirty […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: Germany – Levina – Perfect Life

July 25, 2017 0

In which Germany tries to get up off the mat. Country: Germany Song Title: “Perfect Life” Artist: Levina Last year’s entry: “Ghost” — Jamie-Lee (26th Place) Let’s not sugarcoat this: Germany has been AWFUL in the last couple of contests. They were one of two countries1 to earn the dreaded nul points in 2015, and ended up on the wrong side of the tiebreaker to land in last place. I know the EBU said last year’s voting changes were to better generate suspense, but wouldn’t be surprised if two countries — one of them a major funder — getting nul points wasn’t also a major factor. Those changes led to Germany scoring more points (11!) in 2016 than they would have under the old system — but they STILL ended up in last place. Can Levina help Germany break out of this major slump? Ah geez. It feels like I’m kicking Germany when they’re down, but as Ben pointed out over two months ago, it feels like this song is destined for the bottom of the pile.2 I enjoy Levina’s voice, and she’s proven to have strong and compelling live vocals, if not much stage presence. This song is just […] [Read more…]

Azerbaijan’s “Skeletons” Are Here to Party

July 23, 2017 0

Or perhaps to take your lungs, but either way you’ll enjoy yourself. In Azerbaijan’s first six appearances at Eurovision, it seemed they could do no wrong. Five top-five results, including one win and one runner-up, gave way to a finish near the bottom in 2014. Since then they’ve somewhat recovered, but not to top-ten form. Is “Skeletons” the song that can get the Azeris back to the top of the standings?   There is so much to like about this entry! I have been on board since the opening bass chord, which does such a great job of drawing attention and setting the tone, and to which I verbally responded “YESSSSSSS.” This is probably what it would look like if Stranger Things and Eurovision had a baby together, and I am completely here for it, even if I’m not entirely sure what it’s about.1 The aesthetic manages to be both slick and grimy, which sounds like a terrible combination, but somehow Azerbaijan is pulling it off. Sonically I have no improvements or suggestions to make, but visually speaking, I’m gonna need some awesome Thriller-type costumes or holograms. What I do NOT want is a typical “band stands around and fake-plays […] [Read more…]

Valentina Monetta Brings “Spirit” to San Marino

July 23, 2017 0

Two Eurovision legends are at it again. Oh, and Jimmie Wilson. Valentina Monetta is the patron saint of Eurovision among the Sammarinese. When she takes the stage in Kyiv in May, her four performances will account for half of San Marino’s entries, and will tie the record for the most Eurovision appearances. She’s also the only San Marino participant to ever qualify through to the Final — on her third try, with “Maybe” in 2014. “Spirit of the Night” marks a different milestone for another Eurovision legend, providing Ralph Siegel with his TWENTY-FIFTH Eurovision songwriting credit.1 This is a duet so I should probably mention the other vocalist. Jimmie Wilson is an American singer whose previous credits include the Michael Jackson-produced Sisterella, and a German production of “Hope! — Das Obama Musical.”2 Will all of this experience lead to San Marino’s second-ever appearance at the Grand Final? This entry is a Hot Mess, and I mean that in the most loving way possible. The first two verse/chorus sections start out nicely, both fun and energetic, and the video has a pink-and-green club aesthetic that could translate well to the Eurovision stage. All of a sudden, what should be an accessible […] [Read more…]

Ireland’s “Dying to Try” for the Grand Final

July 22, 2017 0

At least it’s not a turkey? Not the feathered kind, in any case. Several countries have had a poor decade at Eurovision, but perhaps none moreso than Ireland. In the past eleven years, the Irish have failed to qualify five times, and made it to the finals but finished last on two more occasions. (Ironically, most of this happened AFTER they sent a puppet turkey to protest poor finishes.) The only bright spot was Jedward’s 2011 entry, “Lipstick,” which managed to crack the top ten. Can Brendan Murray right the ship? In a word? No. It’s not bad, I guess, but it’s not interesting either. Murray’s vocals are nice, but his voice is too thin for the accompaniment, which sounds like it belongs to a completely different, and more soulful, song. The key change comes way too early, and can best be described1 as unearned. There’s literally zero buildup, just “Oh hey, here’s something different for you!” And it’s slow. Sloooooooow. I don’t have anything terrible to say about this entry, or Brendan Murray. He seems nice, if not very charismatic. I’m just bored by this whole package. Excellent staging can go a long way to saving an otherwise mediocre […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: Iceland — Svala — Paper

July 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 Entry: Lithuania — Fusedmarc — Rain of Revolution

July 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: FYR Macedonia — Jana Burčeska — Dance Alone

July 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…]

France Picks a “Requiem,” But They’re Not Dead Yet

July 14, 2017 0

The last decade of Eurovision results have been pretty dismal for the French. Rumors of their demise may have been greatly exaggerated. I don’t know what it is about France’s recent Eurovision entries; when I enjoy them, they end up in last place, or very nearly last place. When I think they’re just meh, they do really well. After a decade of poor results, and hoping to build on their success in 2016, France opened up what had been a closed internal selection process for public submissions. Their ultimate choice, newcomer Alma, will sing a song written by Nazim Khaled. He also wrote “J’ai cherché,” which ended up in sixth place last year in Stockholm. How does “Requiem” stack up? This entry is closer to meh than wow for me, which I suppose bodes well for France’s chances. “Requiem” is danceable, with a Middle-Eastern sound that keeps it from trending sugary-sweet. The melody is easy enough to follow, and the break in the middle keeps the beat from becoming too repetitive. It’s generic enough to have come from any number of French-speaking countries, and while I prefer entries that show some cultural flair, a broader appeal is smart for gaining […] [Read more…]

1 2 3 14