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

Eurovision 2017 Entry: Australia — Isaiah Firebrace — Don’t Come Easy

July 11, 2017 0

If Australia doesn’t earn a permanent spot with this entry, I don’t even know what the point of the contest is. Country: Australia Song Title: “Don’t Come Easy” Artist: Isaiah Firebrace First Semi-Final: Position #3 Last year’s entry: “Sound of Silence” — Dami Im (2nd Place) To celebrate the 60th edition of Eurovision, Australia — a country in which the song contest is routinely broadcast on TV to millions of viewers — was allowed to appear, and automatically qualified into the Final, during a “one-time participation” opportunity. In 2016, Australia was allowed to return for a second time, but forced to qualify through the semi-final rounds. No matter: they won their qualifying round, dominated the Grand Final jury vote, and despite landing in fourth place with televoters, very nearly ran away with the top prize. Will the third time be the charm for Australia, either in winning the contest or securing a permanent spot? This entry is another perfect example of why the EBU should just go ahead and grant Australia permanent member status instead of doing this one-year-at-a-time nonsense. 17-year old Isaiah Firebrace, winner of last year’s The X Factor Australia, is practically perfect in every way. So is this […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: Australia — Isaiah Firebrace — Don’t Come Easy

July 11, 2017 0

If Australia doesn’t earn a permanent spot with this entry, I don’t even know what the point of the contest is. Country: Australia Song Title: “Don’t Come Easy” Artist: Isaiah Firebrace First Semi-Final: Position #3 Last year’s entry: “Sound of Silence” — Dami Im (2nd Place) To celebrate the 60th edition of Eurovision, Australia — a country in which the song contest is routinely broadcast on TV to millions of viewers — was allowed to appear, and automatically qualified into the Final, during a “one-time participation” opportunity. In 2016, Australia was allowed to return for a second time, but forced to qualify through the semi-final rounds. No matter: they won their qualifying round, dominated the Grand Final jury vote, and despite landing in fourth place with televoters, very nearly ran away with the top prize. Will the third time be the charm for Australia, either in winning the contest or securing a permanent spot? This entry is another perfect example of why the EBU should just go ahead and grant Australia permanent member status instead of doing this one-year-at-a-time nonsense. 17-year old Isaiah Firebrace, winner of last year’s The X Factor Australia, is practically perfect in every way. So is this […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: Portugal — Salvador Sobral — Amar Pelos Dois

July 10, 2017 0

A brother and sister duo may provide Portugal with their first Grand Final appearance of the decade. Country: Portugal Song Title: “Amar Pelos Dois” Artist: Salvador Sobral First Semi-Final: Position #9 Last year’s entry: None Portugal holds the record for most appearances in the Eurovision Song Contest without a win, and the past few years have been particularly terrible on that front. Since 2000, Portugal has skipped the contest entirely four times and failed to qualify into the final another eight times. Of the five times they’ve gone to the Grand Final, their average placement is 17th, but they haven’t gotten there at all since 2010. After a break last year, the Portuguese are sending a song written by Berklee College of Music alum Luisa Sobral and performed by her brother Salvador. Will Eurovision viewers feel the love for these two, and send them to perform on Saturday? Ben recently described this song as “a beautiful, delicate flower that will be curbstomped by the competition.” I agree that it’s beautiful and delicate, but I’m not so sure about the last part. Last year, ZÖE not only qualified into the Grand Final, but finished 13th, well above where many of us predicted […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: Netherlands — O’G3NE — Lights and Shadows

July 7, 2017 0

These sisters should enjoy more lights than shadows on their way to the Grand Final. Country: Netherlands Song Title: “Lights and Shadows” Artist: O’G3NE Second Semi-Final: Position #7 Last year’s entry: “Slow Down” — Douwe Bob (11th Place) After failing to qualify into the Grand Final between 2005 and 2012, Netherlands has come roaring back with three top-eleven finishes in four years. They’ve been good enough over this span, including finishing second with the excellent “Calm After the Storm” in 2014, that we can almost even forgive them for #DressGate2015.1 Can a trio of sisters capture that country-music momentum to waltz into the Grand Final once again? Mike did a great job of recapping all the things — and there are a LOT of things — going on with this song. What he sees as over-production, though, I see as appropriately accessorizing a successful Eurovision entry.2 I particularly enjoy how clear their voices are in the recording, and that the trio maintains one cohesive sound instead of reverting to the standard soloist-with-backing-harmony setup. Viewers who find the studio version a little too in-your-face might be heartened to hear how live performances sound. Whether it’s less processing, different mics, or perhaps a combination […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: Denmark— Anja Nissen — Where I Am

July 4, 2017 0

In a semi-final stacked with solo female vocalists, Denmark must find a way to stand out. Country: Denmark Song Title: “Where I Am” Artist: Anja Nissen Second Semi-Final: Position #9 Last year’s entry: “Soldiers of Love” — Lighthouse X (DNQ – 17th Place, SF2) After winning the contest in 2013 with Emmelie de Forest’s “Only Teardrops,” Denmark has had a mixed few years. They remained in the top ten in 2014, finishing in 9th, then failed to qualify in the last two contests. Will moving away from the boy-band concept, and back a solo female vocalist, help the Danes return to the Grand Final in Kyiv? Ben found this song growing on him, and I have to agree. The very beginning — tight harmonies from the backing singers — is strong and compelling, then quickly give way to a first verse and bridge that are politely described as “meh.” The first chorus is worth it, though, as Anja manages to sound both strong and vulnerable at the top of her range. The second verse gives her a little more room to be interesting, and then we skip the bridge and head directly into the chorus, which is the best part of […] [Read more…]

Lucie Jones Will Never Give Up on the UK

July 2, 2017 0

No word yet on whether she’ll let you down, run around, or desert you. The United Kingdom has had a … rocky? … relationship with Eurovision the last two decades, mostly sending entries that probably wouldn’t have qualified if required to compete in the semifinals. After a short run of internal selections in the early 2010s, they’ve returned to a public voting process. This year’s “Eurovision: You Decide” television special has resulted in the selection of X Factor alumna Lucie Jones and her song, “Never Give Up On You.” My first thought, never having heard of Jones, was to wonder whether she had theater experience. Sure enough, after she was booted from X Factor early in the 2009 season (the same one that spawned personal Eurovision favorite Jedward), she played Cosette in Les Miz, Molly in Ghost the Musical, Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, and Maureen Johnson in Rent. That is a ridiculous / amazing lineup, and explains my instant affinity for her voice quality. In case that wasn’t enough, this song was written by 2013 Eurovision winner Emmelie de Forest, with whom I share a birthday. And so I’m in the strange position of liking — nay, loving — […] [Read more…]

NaviBand Shares Historyja Majho Zyccia for Belarus

July 2, 2017 0

In case you don’t speak Belarusian, that’s “Story of My Life.” Belarus hasn’t had much success with final placements in the last few contests, but they do seem to have taken the baton from Moldova in terms of the delightfully weird. This year’s entry, “Historyja majho zyccia” (Story of My Life) by NaviBand, was selected by a combination of jury and public vote, and seems like a natural successor to 2014’s twerpy hamster date and 2016’s naked wolfman. This song reminds me of what Three Minutes to Earth (Georgia 2014) might have achieved if it hadn’t been such a musical hot mess: upbeat, high-energy without being manic, and unfailingly positive. I caught myself grinning like a fool the first time I listened to this entry, which is really something considering I’d just been trudging through the muck that is USian news these days. Both performers have great voices (just one or two minor pitch issues), and they do an amazing job of selling the emotion. I’m having a hard time finding fault, honestly. I have only two requests for NaviBand and their team. First: please, for the love of god, do not translate the lyrics for the main contest. The […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: Austria — Nathan Trent — Running on Air

April 5, 2017 0

A throwback sound may not be enough to get Austria back to the Grand Final. Country: Austria Song Title: “Running on Air” Artist: Nathan Trent Second Semi-Final: Position #2 Last year’s entry: “Loin d’ici” — ZOË (13th Place) After a string of failures to participate or qualify, Austria has been on fire the last few years at Eurovision in both good and bad ways. In 2014, Conchita Wurst surprised everyone by rising like a phoenix during semi-final week and taking home the Grand Final win. The very next year, the Makemakes set a piano on fire and ended up tied for last place with the dreaded nul points. Last year in Stockholm, ZOË surprised many by making the Grand Final stage, instead of expected qualifiers like Iceland and Greece. Can Nathan Trent buck his country’s trend and perform on the contest’s final evening? I don’t want to like this entry, but Trent’s voice is ridiculously smooth, and as Ben pointed out, it checks a bunch of boxes from the early/mid-2000s Jason Mraz playbook. Based on a couple of live videos, I have no concerns about his ability to nail the song itself. His performance, though, both in the music video and […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: Poland — Kasia Moś — Flashlight

March 31, 2017 0

Can Poland put together back-to-back strong finishes for the first time ever? Country: Poland Song Title: “Flashlight” Artist: Kasia Moś First Semi-Final: Position #11 Last year’s entry: “Color of Your Life” — Michał Szpak (8th Place) Last year’s Polish entry was a big hit with Eurovision viewers, surprisingly so (at least for me). Only Russia and Ukraine earned more points from the televoting portion of the contest, and Michał Szpak earned a top-ten finish despite an extremely poor showing — seven points total — with the juries. Only two other times has Poland managed such a strong finish; 2014’s memorable “My Słowianie” had delightful staging, but ended up in 14th place. Can Kasia Moś get to the Grand Final and buck Poland’s trend of being just sporadically decent? Ben wasn’t very impressed with this song in the First Listen round of reviews, and I have to agree. I love me a dramatic Eurovision ballad, but “Flashlight” promises more than it actually delivers. I think I get what the songwriters were going for, but when you’re limited to three minutes onstage, your slow burn can’t take a full sixty seconds to produce any flame at all. Musically speaking, the chorus is the strongest […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: Switzerland — Timebelle — Apollo

March 30, 2017 0

Can Switzerland take advantage of an easier semi-final and get back to the Grand Final? Country: Switzerland Song Title: “Apollo” Artist: Timebelle Second Semi-Final: Position TBD Last year’s entry: “The Last Of Our Kind” — Rykka (DNQ – 18th Place, SF2) Switzerland has had a rough decade at the song contest. Since 2007, they’ve finished a round in last place twice as often as they’ve qualified through to the Grand Final.1 In both 2015 and 2016, they failed to qualify AND ended up at the bottom of their semi-final round. Clearly something is not working with their selection process. This year’s selection, “Apollo” by Timebelle, crushed the competition, earning 48% of the popular vote, with the runner up earning only 18%. Can they ride that success into the Grand Final for the first time since 2014? Mike had a couple of suggestions for this song: one, to clean up some clunky metaphors in the lyrics, and secondly to deal with some possible sound issues. Neither of these seem to have happened. The lyrics are the same, from what I can tell. I’ve listened to several different live renditions, and in each case the verses sound a little flat, particularly when compared […] [Read more…]

1 2 3 4 14