Right, so where were we this time last year?
Ah yes, forest spirits with unsubstantiated claims to the British Crown…
It’s that time again, my freaky darlings, for the kitsch grandeur that is The Eurovision Song Contest. Yes, that epic battle of epic epicness where monsters, heroes, villains, madmen, time travellers, corporate interests and state sponsored “talent” duke it out for Eternal Glory in front of an audience of millions. Or something like that.
I’ve promised every year for the last seven years or so that I’d do a proper lead up to the contest looking at each country’s entries for this year, and for the last two years I’ve actually pulled it off! But due to an unintended creative crisis sabbatical, I’ve really left this to the last minute to wrapped up before the European broadcast of the first semi-final on May 6.
So without further gilding the lily, and no more ado, we’ll start with the acts in Semi-Final 1 for this post, ad follow with looks at Semi-Final 2 and then the confirmed finalists.
We start big this year with the punters’ favourite to win the contest; “Not Alone” performed by Aram Mp3.
For someone with as big a comedy background as Aram, this is a surprisingly sombre song. It’s certainly got some power to it, but it becomes an unappealing clash of various styles near the end. I like Aram’s voice though, and I’d be a fool to dismiss the bookies out of hand, so expect this one to make it to the finals at least.
And what pleasures does Doctor Doom bring us this year?
Damn Doc, really?!?
From the band Aarzemnieki, This song could be fun, but singer Jöran Steinhauer’s voice is all wrong for this, neither nailing the faux-pretentiousness nor the cute folksy the lyrics suggest.
“No clue” is right…
The first dance song Eurovision’s more know for, this isn’t bad, but it’s uninspiring. What’s more interesting is singer Tanja’s background; Russia may throw her some votes and the inherent influence therein just for her heritage. And who knows, her stage presence may knock it out of the park.
Another favourite being tipped by the bookies, Sanna Nielsen and her song “Undo” have a good pedigree, but the performance in this video is just lacklustre. Ms. Nielsen’s voice sounds flat to me at crucial points, which undercuts any potential power it might have.
But then she nails that last line…Maybe she’ll be a surprise and belt it out on the night, but on this overall performance alone I’d be surprised if she made the finals.
Oh wow…did Iceland send a bearded Wiggles cover band to Eurovision??
It’s a little on the nose lyrically, but as a kids’ band, these guys are pretty good, and they have an undeniable energy. I hope they make the final.
Incidentally, I have my own Wiggles cover band. It’s called, “Let Sleeping Jeffs Lie”. Moving on.
Who does Hersi’s voice remind me of? It’s like someone threw Shakira, Heart and Loreena McKennitt into a blender.
Ignoring the visuals, Hersi has an amazing voice, but “One Night’s Anger” is almost derailed by the power chords. And I don’t say that often. If done right on the night, this could bring the house down and guarantee a finals slot.
So, Russia sent blonde twins to this year’s Eurovision. Well played, Putin.
Given Russia’s treatment of girl bands in the last decade or so, I could make plenty of jokes about the Tolmachevy Sisters. Some of the ridiculous rumours surrounding The Proclaimers come irresistibly to mind. But I’ll refrain, if only for the girls’ ages. It didn’t matter who Russia sent to this year’s Eurovision; there was always going to be some political fallout due to current goings on in Europe. As such, sending their version of the Olsen Twins might be the safest bet.
All that aside, the song is actually good, and the girls have good voices. It’ll be interesting to see how much the political situation hurts or helps them, but any other year these two would be a lock for the final.
Given Azerbaijan hasn’t missed a final since 2004 and has been in the Top 10 every year they’ve entered, it would be foolish not to pay attention to “Start A Fire”. Dilara Kazimova has a beautiful voice, and performs a haunting ballad, backed up by the use of the exotic (to my Western ears) balaban.
This will make the cut.
Okay, who was the joker that put Ukraine and Russia on during the same night??
For a second there, I thought Ukraine had rather sensibly sent Carmen Sandiego to be their entrant. Sadly, Mariya Yaremchuk is not an international criminal mastermind (at least not according to her bio) but she has undeniable stage presence. Unfortunately, that just exposes that the song “Tick-Tock” really isn’t that great.
But a potential skifter in the deck is Ms. Yaremchek’s political affiliations; she’s pro-Russian. Surprising for the Ukrainian entrant this year of all years. Whilst politics isn’t meant to be the point of all this…it’s totally the point of all this. I suspect she’d make the final on presence alone, but this is going to be very interesting.
A guy named Axel signing a song called “Mother”. This had better be as Metal as Fuck.
…well that was a let down. And what’s with Voldemort in the background??
Axel Hirsoux clearly has a set of lungs on him, and maybe this is my cynicism talking, but this ultimately comes across as creepy. Like if Norman Bates composed an opera. That being said, this was written by Ashley Hicklin, who also wrote Belgium’s 2010 Eurovision entry “Me and My Guitar”, a song I really liked…Maybe I’ll feel differently about this one on the night.
Probably the first true Villain Song of this year’s contest; it’s like someone threw Stevie Nicks into City of Lost Children. And that’s kind of magnificent.
A dark and stilted techno ballad, I can see this doing well if the more grinding elements of it don’t overpower on stage.
12. San Marino
Ah, Ms Monetta. We meet again…
Valentina Monetta has represented San Marino at Eurovision since 2012. The 2012 song was woeful, and she faired much better last year, getting San Marino’s best result at the contest. Apparently, it had been pre-arranged in June last year for Monetta to represent San Marino this year. It makes a kind of sense…
I don’t think the song “Maybe” is as good as last year’s entry, “Crisalide”; the tempo change half way through hurts it. But I admire Monetta’s talent and persistence, and this is her last Eurovision entry apparently, so let’s hope she finally makes the final.
Clearly Portugal is going for the coveted Leg Vote with Suzy singing “Quero ser tua” (Translation: “I Want To Be Yours”).
The kind of ’80s throwback you expect at Eurovision, which is always a bit of fun. But I suspect this song may be forgotten due to those around it. But I fully expect the wind machine to be cranked up for this one
The Common Linnets bring a bit of country to this year’s Eurovision with “Calm After The Storm”. I can’t but helped be reminded of Lady Antebellum. Not a bad connection to make.
I like this; it’s a bit more somber than one expects of the contest, but its got a depth of emotion behind it. Hopefully it’ll do well.
A beautiful, somewhat lilting ballad from Montenegro’s Sergej Ćetković that’s meaning is completely lost on me as I’m watching these whilst sober, and therefore unable to tap into the latent Yugoslavian locked somewhere in my brain. “My World” (translated from the Montenegrin “Moj svijet”) is a sweet sounding song that hopefully does well (if only for further expert commentary on it).
An American-Hungarian with connections to Lou Reed of all people, András Kállay-Saunders seems to be on a winner with “Running”, but the tempo change during the chorus is jarring. Hopefully they’ll avoid strobe lighting effects on stage as well on the night. That being said, Kállay-Saunders is clearly talented, so hopefully he’ll get some traction.
And that’s the first Semi-Final down, and just before time too. Hopefully tomorrow or at the very least before the European broadcast I’ll look at the second Semi-Final entries before the guaranteed finalists.
Be seeing you…