Sunday, 6 January 2019

ALBANIA

The Albanian Final was held on December 22nd at the Palace of Congress in Tirana, hosted by Viktor Zhusti & Ana Golja. Before the final there were two shows, where the 22 selected entries were performed with a full orchestra, then in ‘Eurovision form’ before being shorted to a final of 14. The winning entry, chosen solely by the jury, was "Ktheju tokës" (Return to the land) sung by Jonida Maliqi.

The song was presented slightly differently on the three different nights but I am going to concentrate on her final performance. Jonida is centre stage in a very striking large 80s style metallic dress which fits snugly down to her calves, The shiny fabric is nice but the colours and patterns make her look much bigger than she is. Her heavy bob hairstyle could be scraped back into a tight bun with statement jewellery to make a better and clearer presentation. She does not move very much from the spot and at times the stage, even with backing singers and orchestra behind her, feels empty. On the video wall behind her is a representation of a street scene, which is sometimes covered by a train passing and changing into a collage of street signs and traffic lights.

The song starts off with some echoing drumming, almost like a heartbeat. Jonida joins in although her words mirror the speed and rhythm of the drums. Her vocal production is also quite bassy and echoing. After the first part it starts to become a bit free form and lamenting and you start to wonder where this is going. The beat kicks in a little more during the chorus and there s also a little more in terms of tune here too. The changes in chords here are quite nice and offer a little more optimism although still in a minor key. After another short verse and another rendition of the chorus, the song ends in a kind of whimper which is a shame. I honestly think there is too much filler and groaning in the song which could be replaced by a reprise of the chorus or at least part of it. The song builds very slowly and I could find many casual watchers getting bored after the first 45 seconds.

Unlike many Albanian entries chosen via Festivali i Këngës, this song a feels a stage ahead of those gone before it. The rule change meaning songs were performed two different ways meant all involved have had to have an preparatory eye towards Eurovision before the national final rather than afterwards. This song still needs some improvements and some possible re-framing to make it more accessible and memorable to a wider audience. It is still a few seconds too long and the instrumental parts could be shortened, nay cut out, and more chorus put in to keep the tune firmly in your head.
This is very much a song for Albanians, in particular those ethnic Albanians who have left of their own volition or those who have fled due to conflict. In this context I can see that this song will very much appeal to the wide spread Albanian diaspora or to those sympathetic towards them. To everyone else this song, as it stands, is lacking a clear thread. If I had not read the lyrics before hand I would have no idea what the song was trying to interpret. Yes, the backdrop gives a sense of moving but not much else. During the second night of performances, 4 female dancers were also on stage which I think helped to interpret the song more visually and made the stage a little less bare.
A song for Albanians – but is it for the rest of Eurovision-land? It’s not a winner…


ARTIST – Jonida Maliqi
SONG – Ktheju tokës (Return to the land)
MUSIC - Eriona Rushiti
LYRICS - Eriona Rushiti


Monday, 31 December 2018

#strictlyeurovision part 2

In the lull between Strictly Come Dancing ending and Eurovision getting into gear I merge the two!

Over the past few weeks I have been carefully pairing up Strictly dance styles and Eurovision songs. I suggest a number of potential choices for all of the dances but select my favourite - the one I would probably like to dance the most - to play on the show. There are some quite obvious choices, some less so!

If you are a newbie to Eurovision there will be some songs you know but quite a few you won't, so see this as an entry level gateway to the world of Eurovision. If you *are* in the Eurovision fandom you may find some of my idea a little bit leftfield -which I am kind of known for - but I also try my very best to dis-spell my moniker as 'the one who hates Denmark' !!!

In this podcast we look at the following dance styles: Charleston, Samba, Salsa, Tango, Jive, Waltz and, last but not least, the Showdance !

If you have enjoyed the podcasts, please get in touch and/or share my stuff  :)
 
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You can download or listen to it here https://archive.org/details/StrictlyEurovision2


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Thursday, 27 December 2018

#strictlyeurovision part 1

In the lull between Strictly Come Dancing ending and Eurovision getting into gear I merge the two!

Over the past few weeks I have been carefully pairing up Strictly dance styles and Eurovision songs. I suggest a number of potential choices for all of the dances but select my favourite - the one I would probably like to dance the most - to play on the show. There are some quite obvious choices, some less so!

If you are a newbie to Eurovision there will be some songs you know but quite a few you won't, so see this as an entry level gateway to the world of Eurovision. If you *are* in the Eurovision fandom you may find some of my idea a little bit leftfield -which I am kind of known for - but I also try my very best to dis-spell my moniker as 'the one who hates Denmark' !!!

In this podcast we look at the following dance styles: Viennese Waltz, American Smooth, Cha Cha Cha, Foxtrot, Rumba, Argentine Tango, Quick Step and Paso Doble.

I shall be recording part 2 in the next couple of days so if you have any mini reviews or opinions of the pod then get them in soon so I can read some out ! The second podcast should be up around New Year's Eve :)

Follow us on twitter at https://www.twitter.com/ESCarmchair
or like our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ESCarmchair to find get the latest information about blogposts and podcasts or even have a look back at our old ones :o)

You can download or listen to it here https://archive.org/details/StrictlyEurovision1


Click here to listen to this podcast in your usual music player (M3U Playlist)


Tuesday, 12 June 2018

RANDOMER


A few weeks ago I did a twitter thing where I shared some of the music I have on my spotify playlist. At the time I just posted photos of each track and artists that came up with little intro or meaning. In this blogpost I hope to, even if just a small sentence, give the song a background and how it fits in with my listening pleasures.

1) Against the wall by Jimi Tenor and Tony Allen
Jimi Tenor is a Finnish electronic artist whilst Tony Allen is the drummer extraordinaire who basically is the father figure of Afro beat percussion. He is otherwise known as the drummer who plays on Sebastien Tellier's "La Ritournelle"

2) Mon Svijet - Sergei Cetkovic
This was Montenegro's Eurovision entry in 2015. A well-built Balkan ballad that has a great crescendo. Second best entry to date.

3) Common People by Pulp
Who was best Oasis or Blur...? WRONG it was Pulp. Released in the height of my teens it still sings to my heartstrings

4) Get frighten by Lolita Zero
This was my spirit animal during National Final season for Eurovision in 2017 and in many ways it still devastates me that this never got chosen to go. Lithuania's winning song failed to qualify...

5) Real by Wolfsheim
German darkwave duo that are sadly no longer together. Their albums are full of amazing work, mostly in English but some German language work. The singer, Peter Heppner has gone onto some success as a guest vocalist on other tracks.

6) Auntie Maggie's Remedy by George Formby
What a northern hero. I remember watching the movie this came from "Turned out nice again" on the telly in my teens and finding this particular song hilarious, especially the line about ankles XD

7) Mensch by Herbert Grönemeyer
A classic song by a classic German artist. A huge star in the German music world but seems to have lived in London for as long as I can remember. Love the video too

8) O Superman by Laurie Anderson
If in doubt, stick on a bit of avant garde to calm the mind down. I think I've been listening to this for half my life and I still don't really know what this is or what it means - but frankly who cares!

9) The system only dreams in total darkness by The National
This is basically down to my husband who plays this pretty much every time we are the car and I have absorbed this by osmosis

10) Oblivion by Tenfold Rabbit
In 2012, this came 3rd in Eesti Laul, the Estonian Eurovision selection show. The song that won eventually came 6th in the final but STLL think this is better

11) Confusion !! by Cycle
I first heard this song whilst watching the San Fermin celebrations on TVE. Although the song contains many obscure English references, they are mostly Spanish!

12) Trees by Marty Casey and the Lovehammers
Marty Casey was second in the MTV show “Rock Star INXS” where the winner became the new lead singer of their band. Although he did not win, he honed this song in the process and was the best thing to com out of it.

13) Yambo by Salif Keita
This is an album track from his album M'Bemba. I think this one because of its repetitive lyrics and banjoesque feel of the opening instrument and also builds in an interesting way

14) River flows in you by Yiruma
Yiruma is a Korean pianist and composer many of his compositions can be found as background music in films and tv scores. It's the kind of music that sounds familiar but you don't really know it.

15) Jam by Michael Jackson
If you can think of a better Michael Jackson song then you are WRONG WRONG WRONG !!!

16) Cette femme est un heroes!!! by Alex Mansion
This Belgian artist can be found as the source of many hits since the 80s although most of them are under band names and pseudonyms. He also conducted Luxembourg's entry at Eurovision

17) Enga Fordoma (karaoke version) by Pollapönk
This Icelandic band sang a full English version of this at Eurovision in 2015 and they describe them selves as a 'child friendly punk band'

18) Morgens immer müde by Laing
This band came to prominence when they entered the Bundesvision Song Contest in 2012 coming second with this reworking of the song by comedy actress Trude Herr.

19) Caravan by Inspiral Carpets
In the realm of Brit Pop some bands predated the whole thing and almost started it off without even knowing. That is this lot - but with ruder t-shirts!

20) Jolibwa by Melissa Laveaux
I saw this performance recently on Later and loved the guitar work. It's deeply rooted in Afro beat but has that lackadaisical Caribbean feel at times

Friday, 11 May 2018

Final ideals

2 exciting semis down - now just the final to go...
Let it now be truly known that we really really REALLY do not have a clue as to what is going to win!

First of all, the running order has now been finalised and it is incredibly full-on, the second half in particular seems at a much higher pace than the second half, although the end of the running order as some surprisingly slow punctuations. This has dented a few hopes and dreams, most notably Spain who have been handed the dreaded number 2 spot - a from which no country has ever won. I am not going to indulge too much into the mechanics of this pseudo-science mainly because apart from the obvious favouritism spots, and the much hyped benefits of being in the second half, 4 of the last 5 ESC winners have actually been from the first half.

So, based my own personal opinions and preferences with a tiny bit of swaying from the live performances seen during the semi finals, fan participation in the hall and the general fan opinion on social media, here is my list of the 26 finalists.


Don't expect this to be the actual result - although that would be rather epic. From my list, I would say that Albania has almost no chance of winning and Denmark would be quite the shock, but after that any of the next 3 could be winners. Also, depending on demographic, the opera from Estonia or the modern metal from Hungary could be a sneaky benefactor. I get the feeling that the winner of the jury vote, which is done first, will not be the same as the televote winner. Depending on margins, this may or may not affect the placings but will make it a very close result.

One huge issue that may sway the voting is the question of where some of the 'friendly votes' will go? With the obliteration of some of the ex-Soviet countries - where will their televote go if their de facto first choice isn't there? Lithuania, Moldova and Ukraine are still standing and one must remember that Alexander Rybak is genetically Belarusian so they have to be seen as possibly exceeding in the phone votes. On a similar theme, the Greek diaspora vote will go straight to Cyprus and from ex-Yugoslavia Slovenia and Serbia should see a small boost.

All I hope is that it's a slick show, the performances are good and the voting is clear but also nail biting!

Monday, 7 May 2018

Ranking, wishlists and predictions

Blooming heck, this really is as clear as mud...

Now that the rehearsals are done it is fair to say that things have certainly got more complicated. Some songs that were borderline have now become sure fire contenders or fallen to the wayside. Conversely there are are couple of big hitters that have failed to hit the mark in rehearsals and don't look as sure as they once were. It's all got a wee bit muddled...

That said, I need to get this down so I have at least had my say...
So here is my 43 song ranking - I will post ANOTHER ranking list with just the 26 finalists on Friday night/Saturday morning:

This would make my personal qualifiers from each semi as follows

SF1
Albania  Czech Republic 
Estonia  Austria  Belgium
Lithuania  Cyprus
Israel  Finland  Ireland
SF2
Denmark  Ukraine  Serbia
Slovenia  Moldova
Georgia  Hungary  Norway 
San Marino  Australia 

That said, I  don't feel that either of this lists are going to be accurate when it comes to the actual votes.  The 100% records of Romania, Azerbaijan and Russia would be broken if my list were true and although I feel there is a good chance that one of the 3 will fail, I doubt at three will flunk, Other major nations like Sweden and Bulgaria, for me, miss out but I think they will both get through (as much as it pains me to say it!) In my lists I suspect that Albania, Austria and Belgium could be on the borderline in semi one whilst Slovenia, Australia and Georgia could go either way in semi two but I think my expectation of San Marino is a bridge too far! With this all said and done, if any of the performances fail to ignite during the jury final OR the live televoting final - it could be anybody's game and there *will* be some shock non-qualifiers.

Come back at the end of the week to get my ranking of the 26 finalists !


Thursday, 3 May 2018

Alternative lyrics

NORWAY
Step one - do a shit, and do it all day long
Step two - just roll in it that's how you make a pong


ISRAEL
I’m not your hen (not your hen)
I’m full of zen (full of zen)
I’ll lay an egg I’ll watch you boil it
Dip some soldiers now to the mother-dunking beat


CYPRUS
Cause I’m building up and it ain’t falling down – I’m building it higher
Ah yeah ah yeah ah yeah
Yeah ah yeah ah yeah
Cause I’m making up a boat and then a car - yeah I've got 4 tyres
Ah yeah ah yeah ah yeah
Yeah ah yeah ah yeah
Lego !


BULGARIA
So I love the traffic cones
Take pictures on our phones
Fill them all up with stones
I love the traffic cones


SWEDEN
Just wanna pi-pi-piss you off
So don’t you da-da-dare mess up
I just want to kill your mood
Make you throw up all your food
I will now, I will now


UNITED KINGDOM
Months are like September, October and November
Don't you dare forget December all these months oh oh, all the months oh oh

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Pre-rehearsal ranking

Today is Saturday 28th April and rehearsals for this year's Eurovision start tomorrow - so it was time to get down to brass tacks and nail my colours to the mast!
Using Mr Gerbear's magnificent song sorter I was able to make a reasonable ranking (I had to move one song because it was quite a lot higher than I thought it would be but that was the only noticeable anomaly) My tastes are still changing and I know that once footage comes from rehearsals, tastes - and the songs' chances of winning- will change drastically but this is it for now.

Also, for an interesting comparison, the ranking numbers are highlighted to signify its path to the final:
yellow means the song is in semi final 1, blue means it is in semi final 2 and green means it is automatic qualifier.

As you can see semi final 1 (at least for me) is going to be BRUTAL with most of my personal favourites in that show. But only the top 10 from each semi getting into the Saturday night final, I get the feeling many of my favorites are not going to make it!!!! If you fancy dipping your toes into who this year's eurovision has to offer, have a watch and listen to clips of  all the songs here.

I will predict my semi final qualifiers next weekend!

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Friday, 27 April 2018

SOA 2018 episode 6

We start, unusually, with a discussion about the phenomenon that is… Ross Anthony and whether he is actually as British he purports to be (Google “Ross Anthony British” to see the amazing* music video)

Points of order discussed include:

1 – well dodgy pyramid schemes involving Bobby Davro (or not as it turned out)
2 – needing to be ‘a bit more Sopho’
3 – letting off wind
4 – Runrig – and their apparent lack of successors
5 – Eastern European stage schools

The songs pulled apart on this show are from – in alphabetical order:
Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Germany, Moldova and San Marino

* Sorry,  I lied. Soz.


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You can download or listen to it here https://archive.org/details/SOA1806


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Wednesday, 25 April 2018

SOA 2018 episode 5

Just by chance we have a lovely intro by a local celebrity !
Quite a bit of bickering on today’s episode but mainly about each other – not the songs!

Points of order discussed include:

1 – Let Loose
2 – a weird Apprentice buying task
3 – knowing the cast of BBC’s Fame Academy series 1 without really thinking
4 – the surprise return of the Austrian tourist board
5 – a song with an ironic title

The songs pulled apart on this show are from – in alphabetical order:

Croatia, Czechia, Hungary, Lithuania, Norway, Russia and Spain


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or like our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ESCarmchair to find get the latest information about blogposts and podcasts or even have a look back at our old ones :o)

You can download or listen to it here https://archive.org/details/SOA1805


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Wednesday, 18 April 2018

SOA 2018 episode 4

We are more than half way through our Eurovision odyssey and we’re both feeling a bit of cabin fever and what a day to do the longest episode of the run :/

Notes on this episode include:

1 – cost of video production v cost of song production
2 – ginger and proud!
3 – forgetting that you like something
4 – Goodness Gracious Me
5 – getting rid of the band!

The entries looked at on this show are – in alphabetical order:
Australia, Belarus, Denmark, France, Malta, Montenegro, Romania and United Kingdom


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You can download or listen to it here https://archive.org/details/SOA1804


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Friday, 13 April 2018

SOA 2018 episode 3

The good news is that we are half way through the podcasts.
The bad news is we’re ONLY half way through the podcasts.
On today’s podcast there seems to be a lot to talk about, and most of it leaves us quite puzzled.

1 – accidental Partridge
2 – Andy Day from Cbeebies
3 – sudden cravings for pineapples
4 – frozen food stores of the past and present
5 – Limmy’s Homemade show as seen on Thursday 5th April BBC 2 Scotland 10pm (or on BBC iPlayer)

The songs pulled apart on show 3 are – in alphabetical order:
Belgium, Cyprus, Iceland Italy, Israel, Netherlands and Serbia



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You can download or listen to it here https://archive.org/details/SOA1803


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Sunday, 8 April 2018

SOA 2018 epsiode 2

We make a lot of sacrifices to create this podcast and we bypassed a major UK cultural event in order to make this for you… not. We didn’t record this anywhere near as late so we were both in a much better mood.

Mentions on the podcast today for:
1 – chicken dancing and chicken noises (and it not even about Netta!)
2 – when videos are better than the song
3 – over-armography
4 – Bohemian Rhapsody
5 – tuning the vertical hold on your telly (you either understand that or you don’t)

The songs discussed on the show are – in alphabetical order:
Georgia, Ireland, Latvia, Macedonia, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden.

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You can download or listen to it here https://archive.org/details/SOA1802


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Wednesday, 4 April 2018

SOA 2018 episode 1

It's April..... so it's time for SHITE OR ALRGHT!!!!!

It’s the first of 6 review shows with a slight difference in make up but shouldn't affect your enjoyment! 
Due to one reason or another we started recording this faaaaaaaar too late so by about half way through I think I’d actually lost the will to live… Don't worry, as I write this episode 2 has already been recorded and is much, much better - so please come back for more !!!!!

Things to look out for that might (or might not) crop up again: 
1 – too many mentions of pork 
2 – the bullshit bell 
3 – songs that sound like other songs 
4 – singers that look like other singers 
5 – the Austrian tourist board 


The songs analysed on the show are – in alphabetical order –
Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, Greece, Poland, Switzerland and Ukraine.



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You can download or listen to it here https://archive.org/details/SOA1801


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Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Semi-final wishlists

Now all the songs are known, the next thing we are awaiting is the semi final draw. We already know which half of which semi the songs are in as well as the voting split for the 6 already in the final but everything is up for grabs. This is not a prediction per se, more my idea of a perfect running order. I have also used ideas about props and prepping time to inform my decisions and I have also had to kind of guess where the 'commercial breaks' might be. So here's what I'd like to see

SEMI FINAL 1
Estonia Elina Nechayeva "La forza"
Belarus         Alekseev "Forever"
Azerbaijan Aisel "X My Heart"
Bulgaria        Equinox "Bones"
Czechia        Mikolas Josef "Lie to Me"
Lithuania      Ieva Zasimauskaitė "When We're Old"
---
Belgium        Sennek "A Matter of Time"
Iceland         Ari Ólafsson "Our Choice"
Albania        Eugent Bushpepa "Mall"
Israel Netta "Toy"
Ireland Ryan O'Shaughnessy "Together"
Croatia Franka "Crazy"
Armenia       Sevak Khanagyan "Qami"
---
Macedonia Eye Cue "Lost and Found"
Cyprus Eleni Foureira "Fuego"
Austria         Cesár Sampson "Nobody but You"
Greece Yianna Terzi "Oneiro mou"
Switzerland Zibbz "Stones"
Finland          Saara Aalto "Monsters"

I think having one of the favourites on first is a bold move but being such a unique song I think it sets a fabulous ambience to the night (and also put some of the ones afterwards to shame). The Czech song is the most obvious to put on first but considering the other songs in this half I don't think it fits. This semi also has very few non-english entries so I have tried to separate them out throughout the show, as well as keeping apart similarly tempoed songs and acts.


SEMI FINAL 2
Moldova            DoReDos "My Lucky Day"
Russia Yulia Samoylova "I Won't Break"
Netherlands Waylon "Outlaw in 'Em"
Serbia Sanja Ilić & Balkanika "Nova deca"
San Marino Jessika feat. Jenifer Brening "Who We Are" 
Denmark           Rasmussen "Higher Ground"
---
Australia          Jessica Mauboy "We Got Love"
Romania          The Humans "Goodbye"
Norway          Alexander Rybak "That's How You Write a Song"
Hungary          AWS "Viszlát nyár"
Slovenia          Lea Sirk "Hvala, ne!"
Ukraine          Mélovin "Under the Ladder"
---
Sweden         Benjamin Ingrosso "Dance You Off"
Latvia Laura Rizzotto "Funny Girl"
Poland Gromee feat. Lukas Meijer "Light Me Up"
Montenegro Vanja Radovanović "Inje"
Malta Christabelle "Taboo"
Georgia         Iriao "For You"

Moldova's uptempo number seems too obvious a choice of opener, but it is an eyectacing song so will demand attention. I could not resist having Alexander Rybak and AWS on after each other - that I gong to be one hell of a contrast -  but I wonder as to whose benefit it might be? Sweden start off the third part mainly due to their bulky staging although if the producers wanted to make it obvious how pro-Sweden they are, it'll be on last. That said, the Georgian lilting choral singing makes for a very peaceful, rousing and suitable full stop. Anything on after this is going to feel like an anti-climax In this semi, non english entries are more prevalent and have tried to split them up but is almost impossible in the second half.

Of course if some entries need more time for staging purposes they may 'demand' to be put on before or after a commercial break or first/last which may affect things. Maybe when the list comes in we can work out who this might be the case for or who the producers are favouring this year.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

GEORGIA

The Georgian song was unveiled on March 13th via the presentation of the official video clip. Back in December the folk-jazz fusion band Iriao had been internally selected and that their entry would be released at a later date. Their song is called “For you”

The accompanying video is very simple taking place in a large empty arena and the five members are stood in different parts of the space. Not very much happens in terms of stagecraft apart from the singers moving to and away from each other when the harmonies come and go. There are also interspersed clips of female dancers dressed in white and with white nets around them. This sort of reaffirms the pure, simple and fluid nature of the song and the performance of the group.

Although the song has an English title, it is entirely in Georgian and is a direct translation of the words "Sheni Gulistvis". There is no verse/chorus structure as such but there are short tunes that repeated throughout but with different lyrics. The song is metaphorically about love using the themes of weather – there are many references to snow and sun, The harmonies are very close and it has a choral, even church like feeling to it and this is juxtaposed with the small yet prominent mechanical beat behind the instrumentation. The build up is very clever and the lack of a proper structure makes it seem much longer than 3 minutes. Around the minute to go mark the song resets slightly and builds up again to a very uplifting finish.

This is a very uplifting song and by the end you cannot help but feel enlightened and filled up by the optimism of the song. I say this knowing nothing about the Georgian language (even before I looked up any translation) you just see and feel it in their singing and the tune. Although the song has no predictable formula parts of the tune are very memorable but I think this is where the song lacks appeal for Eurovision. If there was a little more repetition I feel the song would be seen as more ‘eurovision-y’, especially with the fact that it is not in English. The language sounds so beautiful, ethnic and full of feeling. As beautiful as it is, I have to wonder who this would appeal to and who would actually vote for this. As much as I would love to see this in the final I fear it won’t make it.


ARTIST –  Iriao
SONG – For you
MUSIC - Davit Malazonia
LYRICS - Irina Sanikidze


BULGARIA

The Bulgarian act and song were unveiled on March 12th via the official video release. Although there were constant updates about how the selection process was going, very little was known about the act or song until the reveal date. Going to Lisbon is the group Equinox with the song “Bones”

The video of the song is very minimal in terms of stagecraft and in fact is more of a lyric video than anything to do with performance style. The palate is dark and starry with blurred beams and some refraction of light through the crystals. Although you see the personnel on screen at no point do they actually sing and barely look through the camera lens. The five members are dressed in different ways but all in black. Maybe they are going for as minimal a performance style as possible!

The song begins with an interesting pulsing electro soundscape – it certainly pricks your ears up and take notice. The first verse begins and the vocal sounds very close and breathy, almost like an amplified whisper. More voices come in during the pre chorus before the very sparse chorus which has quite a warbled feel which might be tricky to recreate live. This is followed by the briefest of verses before the whole chorus starts up again however at  just the 2 minute mark this rendition  is going to continue, in one fashion or another, until the end of the song. This feels a little bit too long to be listening to the same thing. There is then a brief punctuation of singing at the end before finishing with the name of the song.

This is a very atmospheric song and the dark electro vibe in certainly interesting to the ear. But here begins the first issue – the singing sounds very very processed and synthesised and at times it feels like there are much more than 5 singers on the track. I also wonder that when all 5 sing together will it feel like they are blending or will it sound more like they are competing? Secondly, with 5 singers on stage - what scope is there for anything more visual? How can they incorporate a space theme if there are do led screens? I feel that in Bulgaria’s modern history in Eurovision is this very disappointing. It almost comes across as a bit highbrow and up itself. I think this will probably qualify although I think for once this isn’t in the running for a win.


ARTIST –  Equinox
SONG –  Bones
MUSIC - Borislav Milanov, Trey Campbell, Joacim Persson, Dag Lundberg
LYRICS - Borislav Milanov, Trey Campbell, Joacim Persson, Dag Lundberg


Friday, 16 March 2018

LITHUANIA

The Lithuanian Final was held at the Žalgirio Arena in Kaunas on March 11th, hosted by Mantas Stonkus & Ugne Skonsmanaite. Before the final there were 4 heats, 2 quarterfinals and 2 semi-finals. The eventual winner was chosen by televoting (50%) & an "expert" jury (50%). Winning, was "When we're old" sung by Ieva Zasimauskaite.

Ieva is dressed in a very simple floaty dress punctuated by a simple crystal necklace and similarly coloured flat shoes. Behind her the stage is black with small lights and thick yellow beams criss-crossing. Ieva is alone and is sat on the floor at the beginning of the song however the first of the song has so little light you barely know she is there at all. She stays there until the 2 minute mark when she gets up and walks around the stage. Now behind her is a large video wall featuring different scenes of couples of different ages, picking up on the theme of the song. At the very end she is joined on stage by a young man an they embrace at the end.

The song is a quiet ballad, and could almost be wrongly assumed to be something Ireland would send. We have a simple verse/chorus/verse/chorus set up ending with apart of the verse again at he end – but with a twist, The song seems to go by quite quickly but there is also a lot of empty space. The backing track of the whole song is very minimalistic with a basic piano throughout and some additional instruments during the final chorus. The tune of the verse is very simplistic and yyou remember this much more than the verse. During the final part Ieva reverts to her mother tongue which is a nice touch. There is a Lithuanian language version of this song but I doubt they will use this instead of the English.

Personally I find her voice quite annoying – I am generally not a fan on the small, hiccupping, almost yodelling, vocal style. The whispery way she sings the verses are fine but the rest of the song feels a bit put on. Also Ieva’s pronunciation of words like ‘old’ and ‘wrote’ are very odd. Overall the song and its sentiment are very nice but is lost in the execution. I also wonder with the backdrop issues in Lisbon how or if the use of the video can be realised. This effect seems to be a focal point and without out it this loses direction. A nice enough song but lacks enough charm for me but when it comes to qualification they may be in luck. They are in a semi with quite a few Baltic countries as well as Ireland and UK so the diaspora might get them through on the televote but jurors might see otherwise.


ARTIST –  Ieva Zasimauskaite
SONG – When we're old
MUSIC – Vytautas Bikus
LYRICS - Vytautas Bikus


Thursday, 15 March 2018

RUSSIA

The Russian song was unveiled on March 11th via its première during a news bulletin on Russian TV. Last year, Yuliya Samoylova had been chose to represent Russia with “Flame is burning”, but due to her blacklisting in the host country Ukraine, the entry was withdrawn. It was hinted that she would be back in 2018 and in January this was confirmed. Her song this year is called “I won’t break”

The colour scheme for the video is mainly white. The song intersperses footage of Yuliya between views of the moon, waves crashing and show capped mountains. Near the end of the song we see fiery volcanoes erupting. All the shots of Yuliya are from her shoulders up (Yuliya lost the function of her legs during childhood so usually sits in a wheelchair) even in the wide shot at the very end.

The song is much edgier and has more personality than last years cancelled attempt. This has a much louder and rockier sound, something that Yuliya is known for. The structure is pretty simple – we start with verse/chorus/verse/chorus. The chorus is very memorable with the repetition of the title and the use of the rhymes of emotion/ocean/motion. At the two minute mark there is a break from the pattern with the repetition of a very simple phrase which keeps repeating even though the last rendition of the chorus. The song ends with the repetition of the very first words of the song. During the choruses, the backing singers are very prominent.

This is afar better entry than last years attempt which was far too wet and saccharine and possibly wouldn’t have qualified or done very well. This though is far more interesting and although still has a connection to Yuliya and who she is, it is much more positive. The performance of this is much trickier to imagine and pin down. As I suggested she will need some singing support and I fear that her voice and diction could get tricky, especially if nerves kick in, but I feel that having 5 backing singers will leave her open to a lack of performance. I can almost imagine her with some interpretive dancers or acrobats to liven up the stage. They may also use a background screen or possibly use holograms or on screen editing. I would like to say this has a better chance of qualifying than last year being in semi2 but she is in the first half and could get overshadowed with a poor visual show.


ARTIST –  Yulia Samoylova
SONG – I won’t break
MUSIC - Leonid Gutkin, Netta Nimrodi, Arie Burshtein
LYRICS - Leonid Gutkin, Netta Nimrodi, Arie Burshtein


MACEDONIA

The Macedonian song was unveiled on March 11th with the release of the official video. In February, the Macedonian broadcaster announced that the duo Eye Cue had been internally selected. Their song is called “Lost and found”

The video is in 2 parts both being just one long shot. During the first half, Marija, the lead singer, is in her dressing room when she is ushered about by some assistants and walks on the set when Bojan, the other member of Eye Cue and a drummer are already in situ. She performs the song to camera until the chorus. She then sits on a swing with ropes made of flowers and returns to thee stage. After this the screen flickers blue and we find Marija in a totally different outfit and hairdo. This time she walks into a photo shoot where Bojan is present, then pretends to be in bed before returning to performing to camera.

This song has a very quirky if not confusing structure. There are lots of bits and each bit seems disconnected to everything else. The first part of the chorus has a rock pop feel but the second half is more like a dance pop number whilst the verses have a slow, bassy reggae beat underneath and they seem to clash into each other rather than blending seamlessly. I sense that the duo’s normal style is more akin to the punchy stuff. Marija has quite the vibrato to her voice and I can imagine under pressure this could be a little too much. There are also a prominent number of backing vocalists on the track too which will need to be accounted for when factoring in the performance.

The easiest way to describe this is that this is a song that is less than the sum of its parts. The chorus is not bad but they are let down by a very fragmented song structure with a weak verse and a style that does not suit them. It feels like they have tried to combine too many things in order the suite too many people and have actually ended up pleasing nobody. At times the tune has a passing resemblance to “Feels like heaven” by Fiction Factory. The video also gives few clues as to how this might be performed on the night and I fear this might be a very static performance. In a semi with few Balkan buddies to get through this will struggle to qualify.


ARTIST –  Eye Cue
SONG – Lost and found
MUSIC - Bojan Trajkovski, Darko Dimitrov
LYRICS - Bojan Trajkovski