Sunday, 30 April 2017

Eurovision 2017 Song Review: HUNGARY

So first rehearsals kicked off today and Twitter was just about exploding with the biggest load of drama queens. I have decided not to watch any rehearsals this year, in order to keep giving fair song reviews and to saviour how special it is watching the performances for the first time. I couldn't help but watch a 15-sec snippet of Slavko though, and I just can't wait for his semi-final performance! The song might be a joke and the talent might be somewhat missing, but this only exacerbates my anticipation for what will be slavtacular.

Anyway, ORIGO! I'm keeping this short because I've got a big essay due tomorrow. When I first listened to it, I fell in love, was already going to put it in my top 3 and couldn't fathom those who didn't see it as a favourite. It's original, ethno, not sung in English... this list could go on! BUT then WHY, OH WHY the rapping!?!???!?!?!? I like rap as a genre, I like rap as a bridge... admittedly, I rarely like rap on the Eurovision stage... but this does not suit the song at all, and the rap isn't actually that good I don't think. It's not got the edge that Jala had last year for example, or even the fluency of Euro Neuro. If you're going to rap, do something like Love City Groove for the UK in 1995 (never understood the distaste for this!). Rap at Eurovision is rarely successful, and I can't see that changing for Origo - but then again Hungary have qualified every year since they had a break, including 2 impressive top-10 finishes. That's why I'm probably an idiot for predicting they wont qualify this year, but I think Origo is potentially the hardest to judge...


My initial score; 6 (out of 12)

My current score: 5

My semi-final prediction: 12th
(will score higher in the TELEVOTE - one of the hardest to call though; could lap up easy jury points, but then Hungary always do alright with the televote...)

My prediction for the final if qualifying: 21st-26th
Hungary have a habit for knocking around the 20th position, and I think whether they break out the top 5 would come down to the draw.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Eurovision 2017 Song Review: ALBANIA

World might be my least favourite "song" in this year's contest, but Lindita has a wonderful voice, a great personality, and is entirely carrying the Albanian entry this year in my opinion. If World was being sung by a lesser talented artist I would have no problem ranking World 42 out of 42.

There's an all too familiar opening structure, which we know is going to get bigger and louder and become an epic power ballad. So on the first foot I'm already a little switched off, because to say it, "I've heard this power ballad in Eurovision before". That's no way to make a criticism though, because the same could perhaps be said of many of my favourites this year. No, the reason I'm turned off by the song is because without even being half way through, I haven't heard the "hook" that will stay with me, I haven't heard the chorus which will continue to play in my head later on, and I've had to endure some rather negligible wailing. If Lindita perhaps saved her wailing for a bit later, I might enjoy it a bit more. And as I've previously said, if it wasn't Lindita herself wailing then this would easily slide down to the bottom of my ranking.

I will be completely honest and say that I'm not one for learning the lyrics to songs as they are meant to be. I learn the lyrics as I hear them and if I go several years singing something wrong then I'm not that fussed. I usually find it highly comical to hear how wrong I've been over lyrics. Nonetheless, Lindita does lack a diction but because I don't enjoy the song overly much, I will never bother to learn what is being sung, and therefore, I don't really have a clue what the song is about.

By the time we have the bridge in the song we get a snippet of Lindita's beautiful voice again, and then we are treated to an incredibly long and powerful note ruined by an overwhelming, yet pointless, use of backing vocals and musicality. The note is the best bit in the entire song, and is drowned out. This note could have gone down as memorable as Sanna Nielsen in Undo, or even countryman-like such as Rona Nishliu with Suus. Instead, people hearing this for the first time will be completely unaware of what Lindita has even achieved!

The revamp seems to have so many good elements, but there's just tooo much going on in this song meaning all those good elements are lost. I wish Good Luck to the stunning Lindita and I wish Albania all the best, but it's not a favourite of mine this year.


My initial score: 1

My current score: 3

My semi-final prediction: 12th
(will score higher with the JURY)

My final prediction if qualifying: 22nd-26th (bottom 5)

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Eurovision 2017 Song Review: AUSTRIA

My #1 for 2017: RUNNING ON AIR

Running on Air was one of my favourite songs on first listen, and since then just keeps going up up up to the top of my rank for this year. And then finding out that Nathan Trent is amazing and easily the best contestant this year just makes Running on Air that even bit better!

Running on Air is not in your face, it's just a sweet, cleverly written song. The melody is cool, the vocal is relaxed, and while not the strongest, compliments the song so well. The song has a simplicity to it, which following an all too familiar structure, potentially means it is forgettable especially performing just 2nd in the running order. Nathan may have an infectiously cute personality, but there are bigger songs with bigger performances to come in bloodbath SF2 and I fear Nathan will be lost amongst the divas.

I can't quite understand why the fandom don't care much for Running on Air. Genuinely after first listen I thought that Austria would be vying for victory and become one of the pre-contest favourites. To then see it so low on everyone's ranks was quite a shock and I just kept trying to find negatives with the song. I failed. Therefore I say you're all wrong and stupid ;)



My initial score: 10 (out of 12)

My current score: 12

My semi-final prediction: 9th (very optimistic!)

My final prediction: 23rd (should they qualify!)

I think Running on Air will score marginally higher with the JURIES, but its difficult to call for this one!

Eurovision 2017 Song Review: UNITED KINGDOM

I think this is our 2nd best entry of the decade, behind Children of the Universe, and despite the hype for Molly in 2014, 17th was our final result. That was a shame really, but in all fairness, was everyone so excited because the BBC were finally doing something different in choosing an unsigned artist? They were tapping into that talent pool and while everyone wanted CotU to do well because of the song and because Molly was freaking awesome, I think everyone wanted to see the Beeb continue to tap into that unheard talent pool...

Welcome the return of the national final, and welcome Lucie Jones! I will confess that after having heard the six songs that were vying for the chance to represent us, I couldn't help but remember posting something on Twitter a while back asking for Ace Wilder to represent the UK. Ace actually liked that tweet and it got me all excited, which is a lot more to be said than the potential songs we were sending...
However, Lucie's performance at the NF was incredible. In fact it was better than that, it was literally insane. Her vocal is so powerful, strong and the emotional connection and the whole lot was just the shiiiiiiittttt..... Lucie wave my UK flag with all my pride...

Coming from the West End, Lucie does have the potential to bring a very powerful performance to the final stage at Eurovision this year. One could almost say a jury-sponge performance! While televoters will perhaps not be a thoroughly willing and entertained by Lucie, I think it would be sacrilege to see the UK finish bottom 5 again this year. In all honesty, I just don't want to finish in the bottom 5 so I hope it's not fruitless optimism. The revamp definitely revitalised for the 26-song show, and while I perhaps wish we were sending the amazing 7th Heaven Club Mix, I am so proud of Lucie and wish her all the best at Eurovision this year!


My initial score: 7 (out of 12)

My current score: 8

My final prediction: 19th (will score higher with the JURY)

Eurovision 2017 Song Review: POLAND

Kasia Mos is such a lovely girl! She is stunning, has an incredibly powerful and interesting voice, and will bring a really great performance if the music video is anything to go by.

Flashlight though, borders on painfully dull and forgettable after just one listen. There was a time a while back when I really got into how dark the song was and how amazing this was going to be, and then I remembered that every other song of the same genre and qualities is doing Flashlight better. The biggest problem with this song is that it lacks a hook. I know that Kasia will bring it on the stage, and I have a feeling the staging will look amazing, but that should not quantify such a weak song.

I guess Poland are the real unknown quantity once again this year. Finishing last with the juries and third in the televote last year was perhaps one of my favourite things to happen in the 2016 season, and while I can totally see why that was the case, it would be foolish to think it could happen again. But seriously, is that going to happen again? 2014 was similar, but while the Polish diaspora will definitely vote this enough into the final, I can't see the juries qualifying Flashlight at all. Since their return to the contest Poland have been unprecedented automatic qualifiers. It would take a brave man to predict they won't qualify, and that brave man definitely isn't me...


My initial score: 3 (out of 12)

My current score: 3

My semi-final prediction: 6th

My final prediction: 20th
(will score higher in the TELEVOTE)

Eurovision 2017 Song Review: BELARUS

Hollleeeerrrrrr we've got Belorussian at Eurovision for the first time everrrrr.... and that's our 62nd language to ever show it's face at the contest. What language do you reckon will be next? Whose keeping their fingers crossed for Kazakh? I'm so excited by the news that Kazakhstan will be broadcasting this year's contest, and here's hopeful for a debut in the near future! Hopefully a Kazakh debut will also shut up some Australian haters too. For clarity, Eurovision is NOT a solely European competition, something dating back to the 70s...

ANY HOOTS... What about this entry from Belarus huh? It's pretty god damn good if you ask me. It's so sweet and lovely, and it's good that some ethno folk will make an appearance on the Eurovision stage. 

I fear slightly for the live vocals if I'm completely honest though. The vocals are not the strongest and I can already hear them sound weaker on the stage... the shouting of "hey hey hey" is great in the studio, but I can't see it having a great impact on the stage as it will be drowned out by fan noise and the backing track. What Naviband have is tons of enthusiasm, a wonderful chemistry, and a song that while objectively might not be everyone's favourites, is at least different enough to be memorable on semi final night. There's a touch of Alphabeat about Naviband, and they had a fun quirkiness to compliment some catchy songs. Let's hope Naviband can replicate some of that...

This is a borderline qualifier at best though. SF2 is a bloodbath and predicting qualifiers is like predicting lotto numbers at the number. The difference in qualification will surely be in the performance of this one, because while it offers something traditional yet fresh, the genre might not lend itself to a jam-packed quality semi final with big performers and even bigger songs... especially for a country with a relatively poor qualification record.

I think the big thing on everyone's lips is where will the Belo douze go to this year? 


My initial thoughts: 5 (out of 12)

My current score: 8

My semi-final prediction: 11th (agonisingly!)
(I think this will score higher in the TELEVOTE)

My final prediction if it does qualify: 14th-21st

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Eurovision 2017 Song Review: GERMANY

When I heard 'Ghost' last year, I truly felt haunted. Haunted by such an awful song. My distaste for the German entrant last year was met with some nasty comments, but I don't think I over-exerted my dislike, nor did I seek to ruin the enjoyment that Ghost gave to others. The trolling I received after ranking it #42 out of 42 was therefore abhorrently unnecessary and it's not hard to see how drama, anger and wrath are fuelling in fandoms across social media platforms. But this is about Levina and Perfect Life, so a pedagogy of trolling shall perhaps be left to another day...

There are already calls that this is the favourite for dead last, and I can't help but agree. There are calls for a rip off of Titanium, and I can't help but agree. There are calls for this being the most underrated song of the year. And there is part of me that agrees. Ultimately, this song is a 'nothing' song. It's impact is dry, and that is maybe because there is nothing to wholly dislike about the song...while there is nothing to wholly like either. Levina seems lovely, and Perfect Life has an elegant charm to it. The vocal is distinct, but nothing isn't showy, but then could it be? I fear the greatest downfall of Germany this year will be a complete lack of buzz for the entry. While Italy and France are bringing fan favourites; the UK is arguably vying for their best finish since 2011; Spain encompasses that 'Marmite' factor so much this year; and Ukraine are ensuring we still have some hard rock; leaving Germany bringing nothing to the automatic qualifiers and so arguably the most forgettable song in the grand final already this season... and we don't even know the semi-final qualifiers yet! I'd hate to call a last place finish entirely down to the draw for the final, especially without seeing the staging. But is the staging really going to elevate this? It's highly doubted. A first half draw will be a catalyst for immediate failure, while a second half draw could be the difference in a point or two, which might then be the difference between 25th and 26th.

I have been overwhelmingly negative about Perfect Life. It's a sweet entry, and I don't dislike it. But I don't dislike many songs in this year's contest...and perhaps that is why being so heavily critical is a great mistake. Germany might avoid finishing last for the third year in a row, and if they do, I apologise for being harsh once again!

Good Luck to Levina! I hope she nails it!


My initial song rating: 4 (out of 12)

My current song rating:

My final prediction: 26th (will score higher with the TELEVOTE)

Friday, 21 April 2017

Eurovision 2017 Song Review: ITALY

By the time the pre-contest was coming to a close last year I couldn't stop raving about Francesca Michielin. Nessun Grado Di Separazione was phenomenal. A true Eurovision masterpiece! And one year on, I'm still butthurt. It pains me to watch the staging of this... while it reflected the beauty of the lyrics and embodied Francesca's quaint personality, it is hard to ignore the slight apprehension in the final vocal, and all around the performance was underwhelming and a bit flat. That is me trying to be objective as possible because I still thought she was fucking awesome and deserved to win by miles.


The Winner of this year's Eurovision Song Contest. This is winning. I repeat, WINNING!

I would never have guessed that Italy would go on to become the undisputed favourite at Eurovision this year. I found Occidentalis Karma breathtakingly catchy upon first listen... The performance at San Remo was entertaining, memorable and the introduction of the gorilla left me bewildered but wanting more. And that perhaps is the most important element for a non-English song, from someone who speaks English and a little German at most. Francesco had me dancing and getting a hold of lyrics I simply didn't understand from the first listen. It's instant likeability and raspy vocal, performed with the cutest smile of the year, get me screaming NAMASTE ALLEZ and I didn't even know what he was singing about...

And then fast forward five minutes and I had looked up the lyrics...


It's obnoxious in a humorous manner, it's symbolic and meaningful in a humorous manner, it's reflecting Anglicization in a humorous manner, and it's important... in a humorous manner. For me, Occidentalis Karma had everything going for it. But as I mentioned above, I didn't see this being the sole favourite... and this is perhaps why there is doubt as to whether Italy will actually... and more important "finally"... pull off victory this year.

But the negatives to the song need to be addressed:

  • There is difficulty in translating the meaning to audiences not understanding Italian.
  • A simple gorilla gimmick might not work for juries and televoters if other favourites have masterful staging.
  • The depth of the song could get lost in comparison with other entries evoking something "deeper" than a fun or dark melody
  • That's it. 3 bullet points.

This year is increasingly reminding me of the 2013 contest. As the season progressed, we constantly had doubt among the fandom whether Denmark really was that great, because in all honesty, if Only Teardrops had been entered in any other year since then I don't think it would have won. But during 2013, it was the standout favourite among the polls where too many other songs were very much liked. The same can easily be said of this year. While Occidentalis Karma is possible not the best Italian entry since their great return, everyone has such different top 10s this year because there are sooo many likeable entries. However, the most common culprit is Italy, and this is reflected in it currently winning polls all over the fandom... and that is why this year reminds of me of 2013, and that is why I find it hard to see Italy not winning. I have zero doubt this will win the televote, but it really depends on whether the juries are digging this or not...


My initial score: 11 out of 12

My current score: 12 (ranked #3 in my top 10)

My final prediction: 1ST (WINNER)
(This will win the TELEVOTE and finish somewhere between 3rd and 8th with the JURY)

Eurovision 2017 Song Review: SWITZERLAND

I don't think I can forgive Switzerland for last year just yet. It wasn't necessarily that Last Of Our Kind was anything bad, but it certainly wasn't good, and the painful image of Rykka rocking backward and forward protruded my mind for too long post-contest. Still though, thank you Rykka because you are great and fun and it's a shame the song and performance weren't.



It's soo infectious! Upon first listen Apollo is nothing special, but then 5 minutes later you are repeating that chorus over in your head and wondering how the hell it got there. And that's the mastery of this number from the Swiss: it has an unspoken memorability.

This is vocally pretty good, and artistically inviting. The chorus has that hook which is easily rhythmic, and is repeated just enough to make you sing it later on. There is a pure simplicity in this song, and the familiar pattern of building to a key change chorus can be heard. The real perk of this song will be that Timebelle can perform this at ease. There are so many natural staging elements which could be incorporated, and whether Switzerland portray an intimate performance or go full out with big shiny gimmicks, both could work well in its favour.

I have to confess though, there are transparent obstacles to success. I believe the studio version of this song won't correspond with the staging. Despite what I have said, the performance is not going to give this song a burst of life, and is arguably duller than many in it's category. When I reflect on similar songs last year, I don't remember the staging of those songs,  but I do remember the lyrical and melodic hooks. Without any key voting neighbours, it's hard to see Switzerland banking on any immediate points from either the televote or the jury. They are part of the jam-packed second semi, but benefit from being later in the draw. I'm putting my neck on the line with this prediction though...


My initial score: 6 (out of 12)

My current score: 7

My semi-final prediction: 5th (out of 18)

My final prediction: 20th (will receive more points from TELEVOTE)

Eurovision 2017 Song Review: FRANCE

J'ai Cherche dominated my top for most of the 2016 pre-season and I prayed this was not a fluke from France. I have never disliked a French entry, but hadn't seen them sniffing my top 10 since the days of Jesse Matador... and then came Amir! Allez Ola Ole! And enter Alma. FRANCE ARE BACK AND HERE TO STAY (...hopefully).

I was so happy France smashed into the top 10 last year, and finishing 6th is their highest since forever...and long overdue! And I know I'm not the only one digging Requiem either. I think that Alma has the potential to do better.

I won't start going into how disappointed I was with the revamp since the revamp was necessary in order for Alma to continue competing with the song, but I think pretty much everyone agreed the original was better. However, Requiem is still a rocking song. It is all around mature, enveloping a rich lyrical craftsmanship, while still boasting an upfront anthemic beat which is both easily gripping and something we all love to strut to!

Starting with almost darker tones, the build-up to the chorus is swift and melodically more uplifting. This introduces early a thematic disposition of beauty during troubled times, and imperatively, viewers do not need to understand French in order to engage with the lyrical story. Quite literally, the definition of a requiem is "a Mass for the repose of the souls of the dead" or "an act or token of remembrance" - yet you would hardly argue that the melody to Requiem reflects the semantics. By the time Alma is singing in English and the chorus hits, our hips are already swaying and the percussion introduces a beat that is very accessible. The song repeats itself in a steadfast manner when building to the second chorus, evoking solid structure, and allowing a bridge at two minutes to introduce a sufficient contrast and keep the listeners engaged.

Overwhelmingly though, the best bit about this entry is Alma herself. She oozes an elegant confidence, sings with great conviction, and has an infectiously sweet personality. Additionally, isn't she just stunning? It's hard not to see her delivering something special at the Grand Final in May.

BUT... I do recall saying something very, very similar about Amir last year. With hindsight I was perhaps too eager to get excited by J'ai Cherche, possibly because it was so easy to grasp, had such a fun melody and I couldn't see how audiences wouldn't love it. And in all fairness, they did love it. The juries ranked France a solid 3rd, and despite performing just before televoting faves Poland and Australia, J'ai Cherche still managed to sneak into 9th to give an overall 6th. And many think this is a just deserveds place... because the staging was, well to put it bluntly, rubbish! There was nothing exciting about the staging, and while other countries were maximising the potential of the terrific light show on offer, Amir brought just his charm and charisma. While I undoubtedly think Alma will also do well on the song and her own personality alone too, Requiem offers the potential to introduce stark lighting contrasts, and build a choreography around the contrasting tones offered in the lyrics. The chorus demands more than a simple hook to enjoy it, and this is unfortunately where I can see Requiem slipping up... because if the staging isn't done better than last year, Requiem has the potential to fall flat on it's face.

Alma brought Requiem to glorious life at the London Eurovision Party, and there are signs that this is more than just a great studio song. The performance of this song is the difference between top 10 and bottom 5, and I wish Alma and her team all the luck in the world!


My initial score: 11 (out of 12)

My current score: 11

My final prediction: 6th* (Will score higher with JURY)
(*if staging is nailed)

Friday, 14 April 2017

Eurovision 2017 Song Review: FINLAND

Finland will be represented in Kyiv with the song 'Blackbird', sung by Norma John, consisting of pianist Lasse and vocalist Leena. 

Blackbird, Blackbird, don't sing to me, don't sing below my window...

Uh this song has some beautiful, truly stunning moments. I think lyrically this song has real merit and my favourite moment is the 30 second or so piano solo from Lasse around 2 minutes in. It's such an incredibly uplifting moment, and plays on some rather inviting juxtaposition. However, despite my easy approvals, I'm reserved when it comes to the overall package as there are some niggling flaws which should be addressed.

I've heard criticism that this feels like an Adele rip-off but I can't agree with that. It's less Adele, and more Anouk. But Blackbird unfortunately lacks the same cutting edge that Birds has, at least in my own opinion. I still wouldn't say this song is a rip-off though, moreover, it lacks where it is should shine, or in this case, chill. Norma John try to juxtapose simplicity and depth, as well as lyrically and melodically, with lights and darkness. The emphasis on the juxtaposition is lost. Neither the simplicity or depth are overplayed and the production isn't anything fresh for the Eurovision stage. 

Whilst I think the song has a particular beauty, the overall package just won't be cutting enough for Eurovision this year. But I wish Lasse and Leena all the best, and congratulations on brooding a different kind of ballad to the others this year.


My initial score: 8 (out of 12)

My current score: 7

My semi-final prediction: 17th (out of 18)

My final prediction: If it does qualify, this will finish 21st-26th.

Eurovision 2017 Song Review: GEORGIA

Good afternoon readers.

Finally starting my blog again for the 2017 season. We are something like 25 days away from the first semi-final, so that's like 2 songs a day right?

The reason I haven't been posting is because I've been mega busy with university work (back doing a masters, wahey!) AND because this year it has been so hard to organise a top! Like seriously, we've had revamps and videos and language changes and potential disqualifications year after year, but nothing has been quite like this year! As I tweeted just yesterday, I have never found it so difficult to organise a top because while there are less songs I *LOVE*, there are just so many good songs and not enough places in my top 10.

So I'll be kicking off 42 song reviews with Georgia. The song is "Keep The Faith" and will be performed by Tamara Gachechiladze.

Keep The Faith starts with gentle but dramatic piano chords, and Tamara's voice seems to ooze over the instrumental, with hard-hitting lyrics;

"Who told you... to hide behind the veil?"

Oooft GO Tamara! The chorus comes thick and fast, and though lyrically we've heard it before, there does appear to be something endearing in the vocal. However, there is something not quite happening in the opening minute or so. It feels like the song is missing an element, and despite the early praises, I would actually argue the whole package feels uninspiring during the first 70 seconds.

But then the drums start...

Tamara's vocal get's grittier, stronger, and more empowering. There's a big note about 90 seconds in which I hope she nails in Kyiv because really that could be a game changer in terms of people sitting up and listening. Grabbing the audience's attention at this moment could be the difference in remembering the song when the voting begins! 

The song appears to be go from strength-to-strength, and just gets bigger and bigger and more empowering, and the revamp has certainly made a few people change their minds since writing it off so early on in the season. Songs which are released early in the Eurovision season are at danger of losing traction in the build-up to the contest, and while the revamp has definitely helped refresh everyone's memories, there still does not appear to be universal or overwhelming support for Keep The Faith.

If you couple that with her national final staging, it's hard to see anything about Keep The Faith which is original and "vote-stealing". Ultimately, the song doesn't go anywhere. Competing with a number of big ballads in the first semi-final, as well as performing 2nd directly after Sweden has unfortunately squandered any real chances of success for Georgia this year. I don't think the juries will pick this up, and while the likes of Armenia and Azerbaijan competing in SF1 will ensure televote points for Georgia, I don't think they'll be enough to see them cross the qualification line.


My initial score: 2 (out of 12)

My current score: 4

My semi-final prediction: 16th (out of 18)

My final prediction: If it does qualify, this will finish 14th-21st