Monday, 11 May 2020

SEMI FINAL MUSINGS

Once I realised that the Eurovision powers-that-be were actually going to release the foreseen semi final rosters, I knew I had to get my two penneth in first. The semi draw is always an important part of the Eurovision timeline and would have given us some idea as to the placings of the favourite and possibly some ideas of staging (sometimes countries needing vast staging change can be placed after a 'break' usually 1/3 or 2/3 of the way through each running order. As we din't fully know any of these details, that's something I'm just going to have to imagine!

After a short umming and ahhhh-ing session I decided upon these two running orders for the semis

Obviously we know what is in each semi AND who is in the bottom and top halves of each draw.
My personal taste sways the order a little bit but I have tried to keep similar songs apart and keep the genres switching. I have also tried hard to keep song not in english apart too, especially when they are few and far between.

There are some really hard decisions to be made:
top half of semi 1 has a lot of mid-tempo dance-y songs
bottom half of semi 1 has a glut of girls singing ballads
top half of semi 2 is quite uptempo
bottom half of semi 2 has a lot of tracks that are mid-tempo and slower.


The real running order won't be anything like this (it never is!) and I wait to see what they came up with!

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

SOA 2020 ep6

Shite or Alright episode 6 - 700 points for a blank tape

Eurovision 2020 may not be going ahead but by golly are we still going to review them!

Whilst reviewing the last batch of songs we made the following (useless) comparisons - 

Frances Ruffelle gone goth
4 people who were about to do a bank robbery
Poundland Adam Lambert
Chrome, metal and high quality ferric cassettes available RIGHT NOW
Anton Du Beke wouldn't be seen dead dancing to that
The singing version of Putin
He could be the Tania Evans to their Fettes Brot.

The songs under the microscope today - as ever in alphabetical order - are:
Armenia, Germany, Moldova, North Macedonia, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine

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/soa2020ep6

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Saturday, 2 May 2020

SOA 2020 ep5

Shite or Alright episode 5 - 15,000 headhanders

Eurovision 2020 may not be going ahead but by golly are we still going to review them!

Whilst reviewing today's songs we also made the following critiques and descriptions - 

Hold your plums
Nodding off in the chorus
Every Robin Schulz record
A piece of wet lettuce
Chacarron by El Chombo
A plastic excuse for your inability to control your own drugs
Mr Wilson's Second Liners instead of the dancers

The songs under the microscope today - as ever in alphabetical order - are:
Albania, Cyprus, Israel, Lithuania, Romania, Serbia and United Kingdom

If you have enjoyed the podcasts, please get in touch and/or share my stuff  :)
 
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/soa2020ep5

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


Thursday, 30 April 2020

SOA 2020 ep4

Shite or Alright episode 4 - Dustin The Turkey Trapped In A Hedge

Eurovision 2020 may not be going ahead but by golly are we still going to review them!

Whilst reviewing today's songs we also made the following 'helpful' pointers - 

Spitting my tea out
The cast of Avatar but with extra glitter
Girls mumbling
The Belgians have agreed on something...?!?!?!
Where's his Wati-B cap?
A Jennifer Ellison comeback record
Tim Vincent by numbers

The songs under the microscope today - as ever in alphabetical order - are:
Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Estonia, Greece, Ireland and Spain.

If you have enjoyed the podcasts, please get in touch and/or share my stuff  :)
 
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/soa2020ep4

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


Friday, 24 April 2020

SOA 2020 ep3

Shite or Alright episode 3 - Endurance Eurovision

Eurovision 2020 may not be going ahead but by golly are we still going to review them!

Whilst reviewing today's songs we also made the following critiques and descriptions - 

cow pox
fanny favourites
the best prodigy song is, of course, ....
serhat/Telly Savalas/MC Sar
Tsunami was the best song!
Real Housewives of Baku
Another pointless and soulless NF

The songs under the microscope today - as ever in alphabetical order - are:
Azerbaijan, Denmark, Georgia, Italy, Portugal and San Marino.

If you have enjoyed the podcasts, please get in touch and/or share my stuff  :)
 
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/soa2020ep3

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


Saturday, 18 April 2020

SOA 2020 ep2

Shite or Alright episode 2 - Emeli Sande Fights Dirty

Eurovision 2020 may not be going ahead but by golly are we still going to review them!

Whilst reviewing today's songs we also made the following critiques and descriptions - 

Do they make Hooch anymore...?
Like Katie Price with bears
SEND BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEER
Less Skrillex, more Screwfix
A flood of wet wipes around a fatberg
The John Lewis version of Saara Aalto
"Put those Cheetos down!!!"
Des'n'Tina
Craig Phillips
A pensioner with an 'og-pog'

The songs under the microscope today - as ever in alphabetical order - are:
Croatia, Finland, France, Iceland, Latvia, Malta and Norway.

If you have enjoyed the podcasts, please get in touch and/or share my stuff  :)
 
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/soa2020ep2


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


Monday, 13 April 2020

SOA 2020 ep1

Shite or Alright episode 1 - Like A Bad Smell Verifying Results

Eurovision 2020 may not be going a head but by golly are we still going to review them!

Whilst reviewing today's songs we also used the following odd reference points - 

Worst Spanish counting since U2
The Roxy on ITV
Lassiters
Dressing like twitter
Playing the NHS bedside tables
Living In A Box album track
Liking the plops

The songs under the microscope today - as ever in alphabetical order - are:
Australia, Austria, Belarus, Netherlands, Poland, Russia and Slovenia

If you have enjoyed the podcasts, please get in touch and/or share my stuff  :)
 
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/soa2020ep1


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


Sunday, 22 March 2020

RUSSIA

The Russian song was released on March 12th via the premiere of the video on the C1R channel and and available to download the next day. On March 2nd the broadcaster had announced that punk-rave band Little Big had been internally selected and the song would be known in due course. Their entry is called "Uno" (One)

The setting of this song is very simple and although this might lack imagination it does mean lifting this hook line and sinker onto the Eurovision stage would have been very easy indeed. Sonya and Ilich are centre stage with thee backing singers on one side, a keyboardist behind them and a dancer to the other side. They are all dressed very individually, all have their own microphones and spend most of their time looking down the camera and there is not very much interacting at all. There are some dance moves for the instrumentals and the chorus which would have gone down a storm.

The song as synthy-latino feel stretching to the fact that the chorus is a list of numbers in Spanish. After a small piano intro Sonya and Ilich take it in turns to sing the lines in verse 1. A beat is introduced during the pre-chorus and then goes straight into the repetitive chorus. This is followed by a dance break filled with synth sounds. Verse 2 is just Ilich by himself and is almost more spoken than sung. We then hear the pre chorus and chorus twice through. The song then quitenes back down to just piano with Sonya singing the last line of the chorus on repeat before beefing up once more for 2 more choruses. The song then sounds like it is about to go for a third repetition but stops abruptly instead

A couple of years ago, Little Big had a viral hit with their dance along song "Skibidi" (and the video challenge this then inspired) and their Eurovision song fits in well with this legacy. This is certainly a 'Eurovision song' with the odd looks to camera, strange outfits, dance routine and repetitive lyrics. I think that people watching this would see this as the stereotypical fun and kitschy Eurovision song and would vote for it because of that. I think the juries may have been more split about it. Some will've seen this as a 'millennial' entry and know that this is the kind of thing that goes viral but some may have disliked the genre and their style of performance and looking more for something more 'grown up' and contemporary. Either way I think with the publicity of the contest under their belts this could have been a summer hit. Hopefully they will be asked back next year for some more fun !


Artist - Little Big
Song - Uno (one)
Composers - Ilia Prusikin, Viktor Sibrinin, Denis Tsukerman
Lyricists - Ilia Prusikin, Denis Tsukerman

Saturday, 21 March 2020

AZERBAIJAN

The Azeri song was unveiled on March 10th via the release of the music video online. A few weeks previous it had been revealed that Samira Efendi (stylised as Efendi) had been internally selected by İctimai Television. Her song is called "Cleopatra"

Most of the video takes place in a vast desert area. For the first part of the video Efendi and co are dressed in modern versions of Ancient Egyptian costumes with lots of black, gold and ornate make up and headwear. As the song moves on her style changes into much more modern garb - baseball caps, jackets and jeans but in a similar colour scheme. Her last outfit  a very elaborate, and tight, black dress which is very stiff looking and seems quite restrictive or maybe she is not a confident dancer. There are plenty of dancers around throughout the whole thing and certainly adds some energy to the showcase.

This song is a literal jigsaw puzzle of bits, some of which work some of which doesn't. The songs starts with Efendi vocalising in that mystical Eastern way whilst a number of ethnic instruments start up. We start with verse 1 and the pre chorus before the song suddenly stops in favour of some Buddhist chanting and the chorus then slams back out the other side. The chorus is very earwormy made mostly of la-la-las and the title o the song. Verse 2 continues the pattern but the beat here is doubled which gives it a much more modern feel. The pre chorus this time is much shorter before the chant starts again and the chorus resumes. There is then a instrumental/dance break which goes into a bridge but this time we go straight into the chorus but the beat here is much more prominent. As the song reaches its crescendo the beat keeps on doubling after each line before coming to a stop on the final line.

The thing about this song is that it has a very clear identity - you can imagine the kind of urbanesque take on Ancient Egyptian culture and the stylised dancing a bit like in the video. But for me the song deteriorates as it continues. When the instrumentation and melody take centre stage is feels really interesting but as the song goes on the beat increases and gets stronger it almost loses its power and actually sounds quite annoying in the very final chorus. The tune is not that taxing so she should have been able to nail this well. However I cannot be the only person who find the chanting at the start of the chorus superfluous and to the point it feel like its been shoehorned in to give it another gimmick. This would have easily qualified but may have come across as gimmicky or too in your face when next to some of the more contemporary entries in the final.


Artist - Efendi
Song - Cleopatra
Composers - Luuk van Beers, Sarah Lake, Alan Roy Scott
Lyricists - Luuk van Beers, Sarah Lake, Alan Roy Scott


MALTA

The Maltese song was revealed on March 9th vi the release of the music video.. The Maltese entrant had already been decide through X-Factor Malta would once again be going to Eurovision. The final of this selection was held on February 8th at the Malta Fairs & Convention Centre in Ta' Qali, hosted by Ben Camille. The winner was chosen in 3 rounds of televoting with 1 contestant being eliminated at the end of each round. The winner was 2015 Junior Eurovision winner Destiny Chukunyere and her song is called "All of my love"

The video has a number of different settings and 'looks' interspersed with shots of free runners running through different terrain and shots of swooping birds of prey. The video is also very much an advert of slow motion effects. For some of the video she is pictured alone but at some points she is flanked by a lot (and I mean A LOT) of dancers. The video takes place in differents outdoor settings, at different times of day and through different weathers. At one point she is wearing a gloriously huge black ball gown and sporting a black and gold headdress which makes her look very regal. Personally I prefer the parts with her hair down as it makes her look much more youthful and a little less severe, especially taking into account the style of the song.

The video starts will a spoken word intro reminding us to 'fulfil your Destiny' a play on the artist's name. We start off will another sparsely orchestrated soundscape with the first verse on top. Destiny's vocals are very prominent and made more atmospheric by the addition on extra reverb and echo on top. During the pre chorus the backing track stays pretty similar but has the addition of a steady but not prominent beat. The whole thing then jumps up a gear once in the chorus - the backing track is richer and the beat is now in double time. The end of the chorus has an interesting call and response part with the backing singers which could have been interesting with a live audience. The next verse sounds much more sassier with just a beat and very little else, this leads into the pre chorus and chorus like before. This sequence ends with a bridge with a driving gospel sounds which includes the ensemble singing as one, and claps and some epic big notes at the end from Destiny. We end with one last reprise of the chorus but with some repetition of the ending.

This is an amazing song and would have been a firm firm favourite in the hall. It has a great structure and has the right amounts of peaks and troughs without compromising the flow of the song. The tempo is key here as it is easy to switch it from no beat to normal beat to double with no fuss. It would not have needed much in terms of staging because we all know so well that Destiny is an amazing vocal and physical performer and her character oozes out of her. We might have seen Malta's first ever win, our first solo winner of colour and our first Junior to Senior Eurovision victor... but now we will never know.

Artist - Destiny Chukunyere
Song - All of my love
Composers - Sebastian Arman, Bernarda Brunovic, Dag Lundberg, Borislav Milanov, Joacim Persson, Cesár Sampson
Lyricists - Sebastian Arman, Bernarda Brunovic, Dag Lundberg, Borislav Milanov, Joacim Persson


Thursday, 19 March 2020

SAN MARINO

The San Marinese entry was announced on March 9th after an online vote. A few days previously former contestant Senhit was revealed to be re-representing the principality. A vote on which of the two songs should be taken to Eurovision was held on Senhit's website between March 7th-8th. The winning song was "Freaky!"

The video is very fast moving, extremely colourful and sees Senhit in many different situations with the 5 backing singer/dancers. A close ensemble piece like this could look very different to some of the songs that we have had up to now, as well as feeling quite 'Eurovisiony' and slightly retro. Some of the sets might have come in useful for Eurovision as might some of the styling choices (keep teh big hair!!)

The song starts with a slowish intro before quick going into a retro bassy disco beat with a slightly sung/spoken refrain on top. It runs seamlessly into the chorus which I think is probably the part of the song that is lacking just because the tune is much lower and harder to listen to than the rest. This then revert to the intro again but this time used a bit like a bridge and slows the pace down before kicking back into gear. This time instead of a verse this goes into a kind of refrain/second chorus which is much more catchy than the chorus itself but also ends with the 'freaky freaky freaky' tag line and then runs into the chorus proper. Verse two starts up, which is rather short but repetitive before afinal extended version of the refrain. The ending is father bizarre as the backing track finishes before the singing does.

This certainly follows up Serhats 'success' with low-key disco success and certainly has some feel good factor about it. The presentation is really fun although questions might have to be asked about how Senhit can be at the same time as singing or can any of her great backing team sing and dance at the same time. I suspect that this would have done well on the televote but less so with the juries just down to favouring more contemporary entries. I think this would have made a positive respite in the final but I doubt it would have made it.


Artist - Senhit
Song - Freaky!
Composers - Nanna Bottos, Gianluigi Fazio, Henrik Steen Hansen
Lyricists - Nanna Bottos, Gianluigi Fazio, Henrik Steen Hansen


Monday, 16 March 2020

NORTH MACEDONIA

The North Macedonian entry was revealed on March 8th as the music video for his Eurovision entry was premiered online. Back in January MKRTV announced that singer Vasil has been internally selected by the Macedonian broadcaster and his song would be revealed at a later date. His song for Rotterdam is called "You"

Vasil's music video is very dance heavy, in fact Vasil barely moves his mouth throughout the whole thing. Vasil walks to the bar and gets a drink when a female walks behind him and they then start dancing. Vasil and female dancer are rather modestly dressed in black and burgundy, almost in workout gear rather than dancing outfits. The dancing is part tango inspired but also contains some street and commercial influences. You kind of forget that Vasil is actually the singer of the song which makes you wonder IF he can dance and sing at the same time...?

The song has a slightly latino feel but this one is much more of the Tango variety with the instrumentation of strings and accordion. After a small intro we start with verse one which is light in the backing track but this beefs up through the prechorus by adding a beat and more prominent accordion. The chorus is highly repetitive in terms of lyrics and tune but Vasil gets around this by singing parts of the second half in falsetto which livens things up a but when it could get a little samey. Verse two comes in but is only half the length of verse one and goes straight into the pre-chorus and chorus. The bridge part has a Latino-/Balkan feel with the voice modulations and feels more like the ending of the song - but it's not! This goes into the final chorus but the start of if is very different to before and feel more like the middle eight not the ending of the song, the ending is very definite, if not a little predictable.

I think that this song has a great personality and really does stand out against the other entries we have this year. That said it needs to make sure that the visual identity of the song is strong too. Applying the video set up of sorts onto the stage is a total must. otherwise this will just feel like another generic dance song.Obviously I am not expecting Vasil to be dancing full out on stage but there needs to be some kind of dancing on stage, maybe even some instrumentalists doubling up and backing singers and maybe even some chairography.
If Vasil can sing this decently and the staging is right this has a good chance of qualifying but something at the back of my mind thinks that something about this show is going to let it down. If the show is to introverted and too focused on the dancing it might not work and if his singing is impeded by too much fuss on stage it won't work either. Maybe this just doesn't quite have the pull for people at home to vote for it or the pull for juries either.

Artist - Vasil
Song - You
Composers - Lazar Cvetkovski, Darko Dimitrov, Nevena Neskoska
Lyricists - Kalina Neskoska, Nevena Neskoska, Alice Schroeder


Sunday, 15 March 2020

PORTUGAL

The Portuguese Final was held on March 7th at the Coliseu Comendador Rondão Almeida in Elvas, hosted by Filomena Cautela & Vasco Palmeirim. Before the final there were 2 semi-finals, with four songs qualifying from each. The winner was chosen by a mix of televoting and the aggregate score of 7 regional juries. Going to Rotterdam is Elisa Silva with "Medo de sentir" (Fear of feeling)

Elisa is wearing a rosey coloured top with puffy sleeves and a pair of maroon/burgundy sequinned trousers. She also is sporting some rather large gold earrings. The backdrop is quite ethereal and looks like golden flecks floating around in water. There is also many beams of blue light too. Elisa is accompanied on stage by 2 dimly lit backing singers behind her and Marta, the writer of the song, who does backing vocals and plays the piano. The two of them harmonise well together and also seem to have good chemistry. It is almost a bit of a shame this is not more of a duet type affair as that would give the song an extra dimension.

The start of the song has a kind of low key jazzy, cabaret feel which extends until the end when the instrumentation becomes much much more prominent. Verse one starts straight away and is quite wordy for such as quiet opening. This runs straight into the chorus which has more of a simple melody and more made of the rhyming syllables the end of the lines. This then runs quickly again into verse 2 and another chorus which gets us just over half way through the song. Here we have a bridge which is where the instrumentation becomes more apparent. The drum parts are almost marching band like and there are some nice string harmonies too. This stops at the end of the bridge and the start of the very last chorus is sung quietly with little backing but comes back in half way through. The ending kind of  just stops with a bit of 'oh-ohing' after the chorus which is a bit of a shame.

This song has a lot of promise but the execution of it has been poor. Elisa sings this really well and her voice really suits this style of song, but for me there are two main issues with the song. Firstly the melody of the chorus. The lines in the where Elisa sings the melody going down just doesn't sound right and I wonder if the rest of the backing singers could continue singing up whilst Elisa sings down. At least this way the tune won't feel quite so sparse and will also maintain that catchy refrain in the chorus. Secondly this song needs to decide if it is a subtle tender chanson or a a gutsy power ballad because the backing track is so over the place I'm not sure what it is trying to be. The start of the song works so well, I just wish they kept it intimate and quiet. When it does go 'big' the soundscape just doesn't appear as it feels empty and uninspiring.
As much as Elisa does a good job and the song has a nice melody this just doesn't cut the mustard as it stands. It feels very empty and directionless and this is not going to stand out at all in semi 2. The languages sounds lovely and I don't think any attempt to change the language would be a wise move. After a number of years where they have chosen more interesting songs the Portuguese seem to have reverted back to type and chosen something the rest of Europe is going to find uninteresting. Such a shame.

Artist - Elisa Silva
Song - Medo de sentir (Fear of feeling)
Composer - Marta Carvalho
Lyricist - Marta Carvalho


DENMARK

The Danish Final was held on March 7th at the Royal Arena in Copenhagen, hosted by Hella Joof & Rasmus Bjerg. Before the final there were 3 radio based semi-finals wher 5 songs were added to the already chosen finalist. The winner was chosen in two rounds of voting - in the first round the top 3 were chosen by a mix of  jury and SMS/app whilst the second round was decided by SMS and app voting. The winners were Ben & Tan with "Yes"

The staging of this song was rather unprecedented. A few days before the show the Danish government banned gatherings of over 1000, meaning that the Danish national final went on as planned - but with no audience. This was quite the shame is the new arena in Copenhagen was done out beautifully and had some great lighting effects and also situated an orchestra in between the two runways. Ben is in dark top and trousers with a nice chequered jacket on top, plus his guitar. Tan is in a white half jacket-half camisole number with thigh high black boots. They do a fair amount of walking and moving (although Ben stood about a bit more so he can play guitar and sing at the same time) There are a lot of ABBA-esque angles with one singing facing front and one side on. There is not a lot of interacting between the two of them and if the song is about their feelings for eachother, this seems a little incongruous. The backdrop is mainly gold and black in different forms. During the chorus the word "YES" appears in gold behind them. Near the end this is also accompanied by lots of gold pyro effects, although they fall short of the 'winners' pyro curtain.

Being a duet, some parts are soung solo and some parts together so although the structure of the song is rather straightforward they are able to switch things up a little by changing the tone or melody depending on who is singing what. We start with the verse which is in 7/8 time but does not feel rushed or awkward and if you were listening causally you might not even notice. We then go straight into 2 renditions of the chorus chant which this then followed by an instrumental with the backing singers 'oooohing' on top. These parts are very drum heavy, almost military style . We then have another verse and double chorus followed by more ooooohing. Here the duo move right around the stange from the top right top to the tip of the runway. Here we have a brief bridge leading back into more of the chorus. The song then quietens down to the closing outro which ties the song back up together.

So the plus points of this song is that the hook in the chorus is a definite earworm and it is very easy to latch onto and sing along to after just one listen. I also think in the verses have interesting phrasing being 7/8 without sounding awkward, especially when running into the chorus. Their voices blend well together and Tan in particular has a very distinctive tone. But for me the lack of connection between the two of them and the non-existent connection to the song lyrics is very grating. I will give them some slack purely down to the lack of audience and that singing like your life depended on it without support and encouragement would have been weird and in some cases might have made it even more nerve wracking. That all said I think both of them need to work on making this work as a duo rather than two people that happen to be singing the same song. Either they are 'together' or they are two individuals. Maybe having a small line of backing singers to focus on doing punching in the air movements on the 'yes' might be enough distraction from the walking so we don't see so much of them apart?
This will probably qualify as this is the most anthemic song in the bottom half of semi 2 and I could even see this as a rousing semi closer, which would almost guarantee them a final spot. It's a nice positive anthem, which one might need at such times and winning may even mean we return to the arena next year - but this time full!

Artist - Ben & Tan
Song - Yes
Composers - Linnea Deb, Jimmy Jansson, Emil Rosendal Lei
Lyricists - Linnea Deb, Jimmy Jansson, Emil Rosendal Lei


Saturday, 14 March 2020

SWEDEN

The Swedish Final was held on March 7th at the Friends Arena in Solna, hosted by Lina Hedlund, Linnea Henriksson & David Sundin. Before the final there were 4 semi-finals and a second chance round. The winner was chosen by 8 international juries (50%) & a public vote (50%). The public vote consisted of a mobile phone app where users were split into age groupings and phone voting. The winning act was The Mamas with "Move"

The three members are dressed in black - but their outfits are very different in style although they all have a black mesh cape or fringing that ties the outfits together. For the first half of the song they are stood behind microphone stands then during the second half they move around a bit more including singing with their back towards the audience. The background is dark and sparse with flashing strips and lights but gets brighter and more lit up as the song progresses. The audience also has their part to play with their phone lights swaying in the air too.

Although the song seems rather simplistic and formulaic "Move" is actually made up of lots of rather smaller cogs which fit rather well together. We starts with verse one and this flows nicely into the pre-chorus. This then moves swiftly into the more wordy and melodic chorus, although the name of the song is a little hidden inside. There is then a post-chorus although this is more oh-oh-ohing by the backing singers and a chance for the girls do do some low key bopping. We then start again with another verse but this one is much shorter, followed by the pre-chorus, chorus and post-chorus. Here there is then a stompy clap-along, sing-a-long bridge which actually gets the song name across better to the audience. We go back to the chorus one last time before another short reprise of the bridge.

First of all, it's nice to see John Lundvik's backing singers get to shine by themselves, although some might feel that last year's song and this year's entry aren't exactly miles apart. Personally I found this years Melodifestivalen totally insufferable and there were so many songs in the final that were just 'Sweden by numbers'. At least this song has three amazing singers and their performance did not seem over-choreographed something which can annoy me terribly. The song has a nice soulful vibe although I kind of wish the last chorus had something a bit different such as a key change or something to really show off their vocal prowess.
Looking at this song's situation in the first half of semi 1 this is one of the better songs and acts and stands out as such, but when it comes to the second half there is so much going on part of me wonders if this song is going to be forgotten about. I especially worry about how this might fair when it comes to the televote - Sweden seems to be rather more favoured by the jury than the people at home (maybe we're all fed up of the Swedes being Swedes..?) I think there are 5 songs in semi one which probably won't qualify and this one could be right one the edge. This being a DNQ would be a real shame but might also fire up Sweden to widen its horizons in Melodifestvalen and do something that is *really* different.... JHF pleeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaassssssssseeeeeee.


Artist - The Mamas
Song - Move
Composers - Herman Gardarfve, Patrik Jean, Melanie Wehbe
Lyricists - Herman Gardarfve, Patrik Jean, Melanie Wehbe


Friday, 13 March 2020

FINLAND

The Finnish Final was held on March 7th at Mediapolis in Tampere, hosted by Krista Siegfrids & Mikko Silvennoinen. The winner was chosen by mix of televoting international jury votes. The winner was Aksel Kankaanranta with the song " Looking back"

Aksel is alone on stage singing behind a microphone stand. He is wearing a black top and a slightly shiny blue suit. Most of the time the background is black with some blocks of white moving across the stage, sometimes red blocks of light too and sometimes shaded figures appear on the backdrop too. These features do slightly co-inside the the lyrics of the song. As an added feature some of the lights and flashes also appear in front of Aksel either as slever lighting or possibly as an overlay on the camera rather than just happening behind him. The camerawork starts off tight of Askel but as the song progresses it becomes wider as it tries to take in the backdrop.

The structure of the song is very simplistic going verse-prechorus-chorus, verse-prechorus-two choruses and outro. The backing music is ambient and synthy and quite interesting to listen to by itself. It's very low in the mix and not particularly expressive or changing apart from the addition of  more beats during the second verse and extra percussion after the second prechorus which all peters out during the outro.

Although this was not the song grabbing the headlines during UMK, for me this was always the best song of the bunch and I personally was very happy that this won. The instrumentation builds well and Aksels voice is really easy to listen to. If I had any critique about his performance it would be that the visuals over took him a little. Yes, I see he is quite the introverted singer but even then that style is interesting to look at especially when it certainly sounds like he is feeling it. Having an act doing very little will stand out in itself. Maybe interacting with some dancers might help? Having actual people on stage rather than on the backdrop might make the whole thing come alive a bit more. Or perhaps it might work on some sort of satellite stage with the main background further behind him.  He could definitely do with some better styling, some more noticable lighting and something a bit more memorable as the backdrop - maybe less red would be good as that seems to be Finland's unlucky colour!
This is one of the more 'normal' songs in semi-final two, whether this will be its positive or negative will have to be seen but it may well be an island of normality surrounded my  shoal of odd looking fish. I think the jury especially will appreciate the musicality and the melancholic lyrics but the audience voting at home may feel compelled to vote for something a little bit more different.

Artist - Aksel Kankaanranta
Song - Looking back
Composer - Joonas Angeria, Connor McDonough, Riley McDonough Toby McDonough, Whitney Phillips
Lyricists - Joonas Angeria, Connor McDonough, Riley McDonough Toby McDonough, Whitney Phillips



Wednesday, 11 March 2020

BULGARIA

The Bulgarian song was revealed on March 7th via the release of the song's music video. In November last year the Bulgarian broadcaster, BNT, announced that Victoria would be their singer in Rotterdam. Her song is called "Tears getting sober"

The video is set in what seems to be a dark and murky park bench where Victoria stays and sings the song. She is sat with her hair down, wearing a dark shirt and trousers. There are a number of tricks used to engage the watcher such as 360 rotations, odd camera angles,  smoke, light orbs and flashes. Although Victoria keeps quite static there is enough going on in small doses to keep your attention. I am not quite sure if this should be her overall staging but it very easily could be. It certainly isn't the kind of entry that wants to be too boombastic.

After a short intro which gives the impression of being played backwards only a piano is left playing. Victoria sings a very short verse 1 and goes straight into a shortened chorus which contains heavy backing singer presence in the place of more instrumentation. Verse 2 is followed by a pre chorus before leading into a longer version of the chorus. Here we have another pre chorus but with slightly altered lyrics. There is very little variation on the backing track at all from the start up to this point which is where the orchestration comes in - not hard but just enough to notice it is now there. This is followed by a rather timid outro and some ooohing by the backing singers.

The song itself is mostly quite tender and softly sung. Her voice is clear but I hope her microphone is turned up a little bit because I think she could get washed out when live. But for me, the awful into and outro needs to be binned right away - it sounds cheap and tacky and negates any message in the song. I get the feeling they were trying to soften the edges, Disneyfy it and keep the song positive but it really doesn't work. My other concern is that the harmonies with the backing singers are so tight and precise, not only in pitch but also in tone, and this could lead her to be far too deep in the mix and not be able to hear her at all OR it could make her sound badly out of tune.
This is another song that really isn't my style but this one at least has a definite structure and flow and has a lid on its vocal sentimentality. That said, I think it is almost too monotone and flat throughout and could have done with more peaks and troughs to keep the listener involved, but maybe this can be easily adjusted once live. You could listen to any part of this song and not really know where about in the song's journey it belongs. I also tend to think many of these similarly styled ballads are in danger of cancelling each other out. It's is my preferred choice of the younger female ballads this year, so I am not particularly fussed either way if this qualifies or not but I guess if the young female demographic votes for this it could go big.

Artist - Victoria
Song - Tears getting sober
Composers - Victoria Georgieva, Lukas Oscar Janisch, Borislav Milanov, Cornelia Wiebols
Lyricists - Victoria Georgieva, Lukas Oscar Janisch, Borislav Milanov, Cornelia Wiebols


Tuesday, 10 March 2020

CYPRUS

The Cypriot song was revealed on March 6th via the release of the song's music video. Way back in November last year Cyprus' broadcaster, CyBC, announced that the singer Sandro had been internally selected to represent them. His song is called "Running"

The video for the song is very Sandro-centric with no-one else in the video at all. Sandro is seen in a number of different poses from being knelt down on the floor to being in silhouette with projections on top or under coloured sheets. Although this gives him plenty of scope for emoting the overall effect is rather frenzied and lacking in narrative. The shot selections seem rather random and the changes and frequency of shot doesn't match the song's pace either. It all seems rather haphazard.

We start with a synthesised intro before starting on the first verse which is sung very low and stays low into in the pre-chorus. There is short lull before the chorus proper starts. This part of the song grows melodically, instrumentally and vocally throughout so that he is almost shouting by the end of it. There is then a longer instrumental break with some ooh-oooh-oooh-ing before the sequence starts again. His delivery is similar but her sings the pre-chorus in his 'normal' voice rather than low and breathy. After another instrumental there is fast sung/rapping bridge before repeating the last lines of the chorus is his fierce voice. The song is very fragmented and the fact that the verses are very short, almost non-existent and there are so many different parts of the chorus it almost feel like some parts seem superfluous to the song and that it's more like repetitions of a chorus with instrumental in between.

All the signs for this song should be pointing towards the top but actually I feel rather confused, almost like I am missing something. The whole thing just doesn't work as a cohesive 3 minute song and I am starting to wonder if they've took too much away from a longer song or have tried to pad out the scraps they've got to make it long enough. Although there is a definite message in the lyrics it is lost amongst the mess.There is also a lot of vocal range in this song and it will be interesting to see if he can perform this well enough under pressure. I also have no idea what this is going to look like on stage, all I can hope if that it's not quite as detached as the video.
After a run of good entries, it doesn't look like Cyprus will be returning to the final this year on the basis of the song. To make things worse, neither Greece nor Germany (his actual nationality) can vote in this semi although that will not stop the Greek diaspora around the world shoving a vote this way. It's good but it's just not right.

Artist - Sandro
Song - Running
Composers -  Alfie Arcuri, Teo DK, Sebastian Metzner Rickards, Sandro Nicolas, Octavian Rasinariu
Lyricists - Alfie Arcuri, Sebastian Metzner Rickards, Sandro Nicolas, Octavian Rasinariu

 

Monday, 9 March 2020

IRELAND

The Irish song and act was unveiled on March 5th with the first radio play on 2fm, the release of the music video online and had the premiere live performance on the the next evening. Like the last few tears, the process was done internally by RTE. Going to Rotterdam is Lesley Roy with the song "Story of my life"

The majority of the video is full of bright colours and showcases lots of different personalities doing different things. Lesley is lip syncing for most of it and sometimes can be seen playing an electric guitar. Lesley is dressed in a trouser suit with a black lacy top underneath. She has short blonde hair which is styled back behind her ears. For most of the video the shots are of her shoulders and head but she has a good connection with the camera. Near the end the song shifts it to a darkened club where the clubbers are full of energy - in slow motion!

The song has a pop-rock edge and uses this to good effect when differentiating the chorus from other parts of the song. We start with a wordy and staccato verse which is followed by a very sparse and slow pre chorus. The chorus continues this pace and begins with the title of the song. In the middle of the chorus there is a very memorable 'na-na-na-na-na-na" part which I can imagine the hall all joining in with. This pattern is repeated again but this time with a double chorus which has slightly different words the second time round. Here we have a small bridge and short instrumental before another long chorus. There is then another bridge, which starts the song's wind down to the finish which is the repetition of the very first line of the song.

There is some good news - this is great fun pop song with a admirable message and a pretty memorable chorus. She also seems to be working with some great people for a different kind of stage show - different at least for Ireland ! Unfortunately I think that may be it. The song is slightly reminiscent of Katy Perry's "Hot n Cold" which although a fine hit song, is over ten years old. The delegation might say this is a fresh new direction - it's really not! Her performance on "The Late, Late show" was not at all convincing. In fairness to her she seemed to be having some issues with her earpiece and the setup of the stage was rather unexciting plus she may have felt some pressure and nerves. Lesley's voice faltered quite quickly almost like it was too fast or too high which really shouldn't be happening. There wasn't really much performing going on, although she may have some help with that at Eurovision.I think most fans felt slightly underwhelmed and empty after that rendition.
If everything is on point with this there could be an outside chance of sneaking through to the final but if any one of the piece is out of sync this could be a total car crash. Considering the rollercoaster has had at Eurovision of the last few years, I wonder if a non-qualification might be the catalyst for RTE to take a break from the contest. It is nice to see them trying different things, but nothing has quite worked enough. I think to make a mark they are going to have to search WAY outside their box and comfort zone. This just isn't quite far enough.

Artist - Lesley Roy
Song - Story of my life
Composers - Catt Gravitt, Robert Marvin, Lesley Roy, Tom Shapiro
Lyricists - Catt Gravitt, Robert Marvin, Lesley Roy, Tom Shapiro




Sunday, 8 March 2020

AUSTRIA

The Austrian song was revealed on March 5th via the release of the song's music video. Way back in December last year ORF, the Austrian broadcaster, announced that Vincent Bueno had been internally selected to represent them. His song is called "Alive"

The music video is set in what looks like an old disused warehouse or dock. Although the first few shots may make it seem like it is going to be another one in black and white you soon discover that this isn't quite the case and is more down to a muted colour palette. At the start he is by himself but soon there is quite the ensemble joining in his dance routine. There are also some shots of him doing slow motion jumps in the air and light projections on his face. It's very noticeable that the shot selections that it is forever moving and that it changes from setting to setting within a matter of seconds.

Vincent is dressed quite casually throughout in tight black jeans and tshirt with either a black leather jacket on a larger cream coat. His dancers are all wearing black and you don't really see their faces.  It would not surprise me if his Eurovision stage show was going to be like this as it seems to come very easy to him to perform like this, although he will have to mind singing and dancing at the same time. It is quite clear from the video that Vincent is quite the mover and if he can sing and dance like this at Eurovision it is certainly going to stand out.

This is quite a modern uptempo number which might be mistaken as being the Swedish entry or something that Justin Timberlake might have got his hands on first. The song starts straight into verse one but has a pared back soulful feel to it with just a piano on the track. As he moves into the short pre-chorus the beat starts to creep into the song just in time for the chorus to take off. This has a very bassy feel with almost a disco tinge to it. There are lots of syncopations and missing beats which keep you on your toes. We flow nicely into the second verse but the following pre-chorus is much more low key with the first art almost acapella. The beat does eventually come back again and we then got backingot a fully fledged chorus. We then have a short instrumental part which a whispered part, which seems a little odd with only 40 seconds left to go, which then rolls into a shortened chorus. This feels like it should be the end but there is a short piano outro which doesn't really finish the song off well and is going to be difficult to perform with the crowd noise on top of it.

This certainly gets points for being upbeat, commercial and contemporary for modern music radio. The chorus is quite catchy and has plenty of oh-oh-oh earworms as well. It builds up nicely and each different section of the song has it's own definite feel and nothing feels superfluous - apart from one part...I do however have reservations about the end of the song. Unless there is some kind of visual clue, either through the dancing or the lighting or something  it's going to be have to be made clear that there is still a small amount of the song left to go. If I had my way I'd just get rid of it and make the ending much bigger and memorable.
Although this is a great pop song, I wonder that in a year like this does it stand out enough to make its own way? This song is in the first half of semi two and I think this might be at a disadvantage. Once you've been through all 18 songs, which span a wide range on genres, does this one stay in your head? Does this one compel you to vote? This one is right on the cusp and most of its fate will depend on the staging and how well this is performed on the night.


Artist - Vincent Bueno
Song - Alive
Composer - Artur Aigner, Vincent Bueno, Felix van Göns, David Yang
Lyricists - Vincent Bueno