Sunday, 28 April 2013

The Return of Ralph.

Yes, you read that right, San Marino.

Fair enough, the Netherlands have had a rough ride. But it's still the Dutch. San Marino provide the greater shock. Despite being an old country, they have a population of a mere 32,000 (according to sources) and have only been competing in Eurovision since 2008. Admittedly this is the same amount of time as Azerbaijan (winners, and last year's hosts), but they are a bigger, richer country. This is San Marino! The country which gave us the Social Network Song. Yes, remember that? Well the girl woman that sung the Social Network Song, Valentina Monetta, is back with a bigger, better song. And guess what? It's not good, it's brillaint.

The Social Network Song was wrong for all the right reasons. 'Crisalide (vola)' is right for all the right reasons. And guess who wrote Crisalide? Ralph Siegel. For those of you who don't know who Ralph Siegel is, just type his name into google. He is one of the biggest stars of Eurovision, composing songs since the 70's (that is 5 decades now!) but only has 1 win under his name - 1982 winner Nicole and 'Ein Bisschen Frieden', notably one of the greatest songs & winners in Eurovision history. Yes he did happen to pen the Social Network Song last year - and yes that did follow in a line of poor attempts - but he is back to strike again with Crisalide. Valentina is now acting her age, Siegel has screwed his head back on, and San Marino are ready to finally come to Eurovision with a decent song - and that has meant a decent chance.

It's hard to predict if they could win. If you listen to the song, you'll see why people like it and fans are voting for it in online polls. Without knowing the meaning in the lyrics, they are moving and emotive, and the composition really pulls this through. From a slow ballad to a modern beat/melody, a song like this has potential to branch into acapella/acoustic and become a club smash hit. The key word there is 'potential'. Crisalide is a song to be remembered - even if it underperforms, fans will remember it as an upset. But that's not why this will be remembered. It's Valentina Monetta transforming from a Social Network disaster to a Crisalide masterpiece. It's Ralph Siegel restoring his old Eurovision power. It's San Marino putting themselves on the map.

By the way, San Marino is situated in the North of Italy.

Will they finally qualify? Yes, it's the Netherlands!

I never thought I'd say it. Watch out for the Dutch. They could be about to take Eurovision by a storm.

The song? 'Birds'.
The artist? 'Anouk'.

Wow. Just wow. This is simply beautiful.

The Netherlands are one of the most successful acts ever in Eurovision. Ireland have won most times with 7 wins, followed by France, Luxembourg, United Kingdom and Sweden with 5 wins. Then comes the Netherlands. They have 4 wins; 1957, 1959, 1969, and 1975. They haven't even been in the top 3 since then. Following their win in 1975, they had varied success - they never came last, but then as just mentioned, they never challenged the top spots. And then came the 21st century. Like many other western countries, the demise of success came after the 90's with the influx of eastern European countries. However, it has hit hardest in the Netherlands - a proud Eurovision nation with a history of some beautiful songs. Teddy Scholten's 'Eet Beetje' (the winner in 1959) is a classic! Since the introduction of the semi finals in 2004, they have qualified once. Just once - and that was in 2004. That's how long we have been absent of the Dutch representative. They haven't had bad songs and it's an unfair record in my opinion. Nevertheless, that is all about to change. Anouk will fly high with 'Birds' and she will qualify - and contend.

Birds is the type of song which doesn't disappear from your mind. Birds is the type of song which makes you think. And you want to know the lyrics. And you want to know what they mean. Even if it takes you several listens, over and over again, you don't mind - you enjoy it. You have this song on repeat. It's deep and metaphorical. It has been composed beautifully. The lyrics are beautiful. It's simple a beautiful song. Beatifully sad that is. People can connect to this song and it's emotive language - and it's a contender. If it doesn't even qualify then I want to know what the beef is with the Netherlands.

Good Luck to Holland!

Glorious AND... German!?

16 days to go now everyone!

However, someone who you won't see until the actual final is Germany. As one of the "big 5" countries, Germany have automatic qualification. This year they are represented by Cascada and the song 'Glorious'.

Cascada is one of the biggest artists in the competition this year. And naturally, Glorious has turned out to be one of the biggest songs in the competition. The song is uber catchy and really modern. The lead singer of Cacada, Natalie, has a big voice - and so really everything about this is BIG. It will be played in all the clubs around Europe, and has already started to chart. By the end of Eurovision, it will be charting very well. This is just the type of song and performance that will be remembered at the end of the contest, even if it is performed first. UK fans will vote Cascada on name recognition alone and I feel that even though continental success hasn't truly happened in the rest of Europe, people will still know who they are (or at least who Natalie is). Germany are doing well in recent years - following the disaster of 'Miss Kiss Kiss Bang', they went on to win with 'Satellite'. Lena then took to the stage again with 'Taken By A Stranger' which finished within the top 10, a fate repeated by Roman Lob and 'Standing Still' last year. Glorious has success written all over it and fans should feel confident in saying this is a high finisher - and possible contender. The song is doing extremely well in the fans online polls and the rumours of plagiarism? Well lets be honest, they are ridiculous. Good Luck Germany! Will we being going there again!? It would be amusing. After competing in the contest since the dawn of time, they've won twice - 1982 and 2010. In a period of "bloc, diaspora voting" where "everyone votes for neighbouring countries" and it is all "soo political", Germany shouldn't have even won in 2010. Eurovision is changing - the critics need to accept it and move on. Well I say critics, I mean the miserable b******* in the UK who are insistent it's a waste of time (even though they are just fed up we've stopped being so successful).

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Key Change Heaven!

I'm gonna stick in Europe's North East for the next song to watch - it's Ukraine. It seems like a long time ago now that they announced it, but they will be represented by Zlata Ognevich and the song "Gravity".

Is it generic? Is it same-y? Have we had it before? That seems to be some of the main criticism facing Zlata and 'Gravity'. Maybe the critiques have a point, I certainly won't argue that this is anything unique in the sense that Only Teardrops is. But that does not make it any less great. Because that what this song is at the end of the day. It's a great entry. Starting on a serious melody, the song goes on to develop into a soothing tune about dreams. And then the beat kicks in. With more power in her voice, Zlata keeps up the meaning in the words and the lyrical composition definitely has a metaphorical tone. Accompany this with a couple of key changes and a few belting notes and you have a very well written and composed song. If Zlata really goes for this on the night, Ukraine could pull it out of the bag and grab their second win in less than 10 years. Especially if this comes somewhere in the night after Denmark. Good Luck to Ukraine!Key

To the rhythm of a CHA CHA!!

Coming in next in this mini series of one's to watch and it's Belarus. After a song change, they've settled on 'Solayoh' by Alyona Lanskaya.

Many Eurovision fans will probably question the motives behind putting this into my "one's to watch". Well if you listen to the song you'll really notice it's appeal - it's a very likable song in the sense that it's a light-hearted number with a catchy chorus that you'll remember when the contest is over - " the rhythm of a CHA CHA!". The melody would appear more to an Eastern/Southern market and so Belarus are likely to pick up some key diaspora voting. However! I have no doubt that with the right staging and draw this song will feature and Belarus could grab their second ever top 10. That makes it sound like they've been entering absolute dribble for years and years on end. Well they have been entering dribble (apart from 2007) but only for 9 years. Solayoh definitely changes that and I really wish Belarus the best of luck with this. In a year where simple catchy songs are less common, they really do stand a chance. Especially with the right draw, you could even see Belarus feature in the race for the grande prize - Denmark might be the favourites but this competition isn't over by a long way.

Please do not feed me your love.

Up next is another song which is doing well, and yet again, it's from Scandinavia. This time it's Norway.

Well again, this is something which has a unique appeal. Norway are represented by Margaret Berger and the song 'I Feed You My Love'. The lyrics are something a little different, and like Denmark they are fairly metaphorical and they do make you think. This song absolutely dominated Norway's National Selection - almost beating it's opponents in the final by double the score. In online polls and with the bookies, this has fallen up short to Denmark on numerous occasions. The song has an edgy opener, fitting in with current musical themes sweeping across Europe, yet despite this, I feel the song lacks any depth. Yes the lyrics are interesting enough, and it definitely has a more modern melody, but I personally feel that you are always waiting for that big "umph" - and it just never comes! There is so much build up... to nothing! In my opinion, I find the song fairly boring, but people like it. Fans all across Europe keep voting for it in polls and the song was written by 'MachoPsycho' who have a pretty impressive collaborating history, and so you know that the entry will be accessible and popular. A definite final placement, but where it features in the running order will determine how well this song does. Nevertheless, if Norway place near the end, I still don't believe that this is a winner despite the raving reviews. Don't get me wrong, this is good, just not 'great'.


Last year, I did an in-depth look at all songs. This year is a much more laid back approach.
This series is all about the songs to watch!

There's no better way to start than with this year's big favourite: Denmark!

Denmark are represented this year by Emmelie de Forest. After winning the Danish National Selection, she became an immediate favourite with 'Only Teardrops'. And it's easy to see why. The song is very, very catchy! I believe it is some sort of whistle or a thife which is the repeated instrument through the song - but it doesn't matter what it is. The inclusion of the instrument adds a certain unique appeal to the song. The lyrics also are appealing - they are metaphorical lyrics which make you think. For example, the opening line is, "the sky is red tonight". On Saturday night, it would be wrong to say that this won't feature. However, maybe this is the wrong year for Only Teardrops. There are a fair few songs with similar lyrics and melodies, and so I believe that it won't be a tear away winner - and that's if this even does go on to win. Nevertheless, a cracking song by a young artist with a bright future. It's no 'Euphoria', but it's definitely something worth remembering.
Denmark lead many online fan polls - check out 'escnation' and 'escstats' for example.
They also are the bookies favourites. For this, it's probably worth just going on oddschecker or a similar odds comparison website.