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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…]

Eurovision 2017 YouTube Week 2: Favorites Emerging

July 23, 2017 0

Now that we have week-to-week data and all 43 songs available, which Eurovision entries are the movers and shakers and possible favorites in Kyiv? First Semi-Final Top Spots Last week’s leader, Blanche from Belgium, maintained her lead this week, having the most viewed video on the official Eurovision YouTube Channel with more than 1,537,000 views as of Wednesday evening. However, Sweden’s Robin Bengtsson has closed the gap considerably, with “I Can’t Go On” racking up 1,507,000 views. In a distant third is Australia’s Isaiah, with “Don’t Come Easy” clocking in with almost 892,000 views. Big Moves Sweden pulled in the most views of all the entries this week, with more than 678,000 trips on the treadmills. He narrowly beat out Armenia’s Artsvik, whose video for “Fly With Me” debuted this past Saturday but managed to pull in more than 633,000 views in just a few days. Belgium also managed to attract half a million clicks this week alone. You in danger, girl Georgia may need to keep the faith, or at least get the real video posted ASAP. The national final performance of Tamara Gachechiladze’s song is currently the least watched of all of this year’s videos with just over 90,000 […] [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…]

This Week in Eurovision: Latvia, United Kingdom, and Finland

July 22, 2017 0

This week in Eurovision: Latvia’s Supernova begins while the UK and Finland make their choices. Supernova Sunday will feature the first installment of Latvia’s Eurovision Song Contest selection series Supernova. This week’s episode will be the first of two backstage and audition episodes. 22 acts will take part in this year’s competition in the hopes of keeping Latvia’s recent streak of success alive. You can watch the LTV livestream at 20.25 CET / 2:25pm Eastern. Eurovision: You Decide The United Kingdom will be the first of the Big 5 to choose their Eurovision act. On Monday, we will find out the six acts that will compete for the ticket to Kyiv. BBC Radio 2’s Ken Bruce Show will start the announcement at 10.30 CET / 5:30 Eastern. Then on Friday, those six acts will perform on Eurovision: You Decide. This year will feature a panel of three judges as well as an audience vote to determine the winner. The judges will be Bruno Tonioli from Dancing with the Stars, singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor, and reality competition consultant CeCe Sammy. The show will air on BBC 2 at 20.30 CET / 2:30pm Eastern. UMK Finally, Finland will make its Eurovision selection with Uuden […]

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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…]

I Just Can’t with Sweden’s “I Can’t Go On”

July 20, 2017 0

The Swedish Pop Music Industrial Complex has struck again with “I Can’t Go On” by Robin Bengtsson. Yay? I try not to hold grudges, but for some reason music competitions make that goal more difficult.1 In last year’s Melodifestivalen competition, Robin Bengtsson performed a song called “Constellation Prize.” There was nothing about stars, astronomy, or even astrology in the track: it should have been called “Consolation Prize” and therefore is unforgivable.2 Anyway, Bengtsson returned to this year’s MelFest with “I Can’t Go On” and a performance including using a good chunk of the backstage area and treadmills. Take a listen: Not to get into a whole thesis about pop music and rape culture, but this song has a squick factor that makes me not comfortable. It doesn’t help that this sounds like a milder version of “Blurred Lines” and that this Robin gives off a strong Robin Thicke vibe. The Swedish public may also be aware of something not being right about this song, as it was only the third favorite out of the twelve entries in the Melfest final. Thanks juries? I’m starting to get concerned with what Sweden is spitting out for its Eurovision entries. Seeing last year’s Melfest winner […] [Read more…]

Eurovision 2017 Entry: San Marino — Valentina Monetta & Jimmie Wilson — Spirit of the Night

July 20, 2017 0

If the “Spirit of the Night” is willing, Valentina Monetta and Jimmie Wilson could be making a run for San Marino to reach the top 10. Country: San Marino Song Title: “Spirit of the Night” Artist: Valentina Monetta and Jimmie Wilson Second Semi-Final: Position #10 Last year’s entry: “I Didn’t Know” – Serhat (DNQ – 12th Place, SF1) Let’s play a little inside baseball. When San Marino surprise-dropped their entry last month, my immediate reaction to the telESCope team was the following: This was followed by a flurry of posts about her updated Facebook page and links to every story I could find, an unexpected deluge which I hope didn’t inconvenience the rest of the team on a quite Sunday morning. It wasn’t until an hour or so later that I realized that I should probably listen to the song? As is often the case with San Marino’s entries, the first impression is usually “oh… oh, dear… well… hmmm…” I think this is more the effect of their songwriter-in-residence Ralph Siegel, who has never said no to a key change, tone change, or style change in his songs. One of the major critiques that has been consistent with his submissions (five of the last six for […] [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…]

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