Posts Tagged ‘ ESC ’

My zero points for 2017

First of all, I would like to offer my apologies for not posting any Eurovision predictions this year. Due to completely foreseen circumstances, I didn’t have the time to delve into the Song Contest as much as I usually do. On the bright side, that also means I didn’t predict quite as much wrong as I did in previous years. So even if you were betting on things and looking for useful information, my sister may actually be a better source. Now, on to the actual Eurovision Song Contest…

What the hell have I just been watching for the last couple of hours? Honestly: this year’s Eurovision Song Contest was tragically bad. The good songs weren’t good enough to be enjoyable and – maybe even more disappointingly – the bad songs weren’t bad enough to be funny. And the songs that weren’t poor were just… Bland. Or blatant attempts to rip off earlier ESC success; ‘This Is Love’ from Greece’s Demy, while decent, was a pretty obvious clone of Loreen’s ‘Euphoria’ that won the contest five years ago.

Normally, I would do a post featuring the four or five best songs with the video footage of those songs, but I feel that none of the songs of this year’s Eurovision deserve any special mention. It’s not like there wasn’t any musical quality – in fact, some of the singers were really good – but it’s been a long time since I’ve heard so much lazy songwriting in one production. And I own two AC/DC albums, go figure… In addition, I have heard enough Eurodance clichés for a lifetime growing up in the nineties.

Having said that, it’s fun to see someone who doesn’t care at all win the Contest. With a song that feels more like a traditional Eurovision song. Congratulations to Salvador Sobral and his sister Luísa, who wrote the song, are in order. Maybe that means there will not be as much Eurodance next year. I would welcome that.


My douze points for 2016

First off, congratulations to Ukraine’s Jamala for winning this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. While the song wasn’t really my taste – it had a little too much of a Björk vibe for my liking – at least it was something completely different than the large pool of homogenized Eurodance we got served this edition. Jamala’s song ‘1944’ had a dark vibe and a slightly surprising structure and although I doubt if that was of much concern to the average televoter, I do think the fact that the song stood out has worked in its favor. I can live with this more than with last year’s winner. Still, and I’ve said this many times before, Turkey and the EBC need to sort out whatever differences they have, so that Turkey can take part again. That’ll drive the average level up for sure.

Kudos to the moderators as well. And Petra Mede in particular. I think the presentation this year was a step away from the self-conscious air that it usually has, allowing for more irony and self-deprecating humor. That was a breath of fresh air. Also, separating the televoters from the jury results was an interesting development. Don’t get me wrong: the televoting section definitely needs some work done, but I have always been very interested especially how the jury votes. I still have a dream to one day write a Eurovision song and if that ever happens and I’d win the jury vote, I’d be quite pleased.

However, the improvement on the presentation side doesn’t excuse the insulting quality of the actual songs this year. As I’ve said before, quite a lot of songs sounded very similar – no doubt a result of the Swedish composition and production teams being in high demand – and I still can’t believe how so many people can fit so much repetition into three minute songs. It speaks volumes that Justin Timberlake, the interval act, was by far the highlight of the night. Having said that, I did manage to appreciate five songs – my six, sept, huit, dix and douze points, if you will – enough to list them here. I’d even like to throw in an honorable mention for Poland’s Michał Szpak; though I didn’t like his song ‘Color Of Your Life’, I thought his highly spirited performance is the best Polish singing I’ve heard since Czesław Niemen.

But I digress. Good evening Stockholm, Heerhugowaard calling. Here are the results from the alternative Dutch jury.

Bulgaria: Poli Genova – If Love Was A Crime

While I have a really nagging problem with ‘If Love Was A Crime’, I’d be lying if I said Poli Genova’s enthusiasm didn’t somehow rub off on me. Sure, the costume that lighted up has been sort of point of interest, but I really don’t care about things like that. Just the way she looked genuinely happy to be there was a much larger part of why I appreciated her performance. Her vocal approach really fits the song well. Having said that, the large amount of repetition got on my nerves, but I do appreciate the composers for not cramming the song with vocals and lyrics. Also, the addition of a Bulgarian line in the chorus is something I find charming. To be honest, I don’t recall Genova’s performance of five years ago, but I’m not complaining about her fourth place this year.

Hungary: Freddie – Pioneer

Admittedly, my appreciation for this song is mainly directed at Freddie’s powerful, rough-edged vocal performance rather than the song itself. ‘Pioneer’ does play with dynamics quite well by having a calmer bridge between bigger verses and choruses, but I am also an outspoken hater of whistling in songs – ‘(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay’ is the only song I will make an exception for. But then there’s Freddie’s mighty roar that leads from the middle eight into the final chorus that made the hairs on my arms stand up in a very, very positive way. If I was part of his songwriting team, I would see if I could make some AOR tunes to fit his voice, because he has the potential to be Hungary’s answer to Michael Bolton or John Waite. He’d deserve it.

Georgia: Nika Kocharov & Young Georgian Lolitaz – Midnight Gold

BBC-host Graham Norton was right that the visual effects that were chosen for ‘Midnight Gold’ were embarrassing even in 1976, but the song itself is pretty good. I wasn’t surprised to see that the jury in the United Kingdom gave this song twelve points, because a large portion of the song has a distinct Oasis-like vibe. The main riff stomps along nicely, I dig the guitar sound and Nika Kocharov’s vocals fit the song really well, whilst forsaking the whiny tone that Britpop singers tend to have. Unlike the other Rock-ish track (Minus One’s ‘Alter Ego’ for Cyprus), the song didn’t get completely neutered by working on it with Thomas G:son. Not quite as good as Nina Sublatti’s ‘Warrior’ that should have won last year, but another impressive entry from Georgia.

Belgium: Laura Tesoro – What’s The Pressure

While 19-year old Laura Tesoro had the ungrateful task of kicking off the grand final, I was happy to see that the jury and to a lesser extent the televoters could appreciate the refreshing ‘What’s The Pressure’. Co-written by the amazing Selah Sue, the song has a distinct old school Disco vibe, almost Chic-ish in sound, which was a pleasant departure from the general sound of the night. If it came later, it may have disrupted the lazy Eurodance flow a little. Although I think Tesoro’s vocal performance was better during the semi-finals, I appreciate the energy with which she opened the night and the positive charisma she emitted. Also, I don’t know which musicians have played on this track, but I absolutely love the bass line that carries the song. Ten points!

Australia: Dami Im – Sound Of Silence

Explaining why a non-European country takes part would take too much time, but Dami Im’s ‘Sound Of Silence’ (no, not that song) was picked by the juries as the best song of the Contest by a landslide and I’m with them. Easily the best singer to take part this year, Im pulled me in with her powerful and spirited vocals. Im’s sober performance almost contrasted with her tremendous vocal presence, but that doesn’t hurt the entry one bit. ‘Sound Of Silence’ is well-written, if somewhat unspectacular, although I think there’s a very strong climax in the form of the song’s chorus. It may have been better if it didn’t try to blend the classic Eurovision balladry with a contemporary production, but it’s easy to forget that after Im’s chilling performance.

My Eurovision predictions for tomorrow

Somehow, my enthusiasm for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest isn’t quite as large as it was last year. This does sound as a no-brainer for a music fan whose usual preference is as far away from the three minute Pop songs from the Contest as it gets, but there’s always a couple of songs that I like and the rest has a certain entertainment value. I must admit that I haven’t been watching as attentively as I usually do, due to deadlines for Gitarist, but most of what I’ve seen was not good enough to be impressive, yet not bad enough to be hilarious. The first semi-final was of a significantly lesser quality than the second one on Thursday though.

As a result of the disappointing level of composition – or entertainment – my list of predictions will be a bit shorter than usual, but I’d still like to share a few with you and hope I’m not as wrong as I was last year.

Both non-European countries in the contest – Israel and Australia – will end up in the top 10. I think Australia’s Dami Im – a downright amazing singer – might even beat last year’s number 5 ranking.

Latvia’s Justs will finish last. Seriously, why did people even vote for the song? Second to last: Lithuania’s incredibly poor ‘I’ve Been Waiting For This Night’.

The United Kingdom will receive their highest ranking in ages. Not that Joe & Jake’s ‘You’re Not Alone’ is exceptional, but at least it’s better than anything they’ve done in the last few years.

Out of the “Big Five”, Germany will receive the highest ranking.

Belgium’s entry ‘What’s The Pressure’, co-written by the amazing Selah Sue, will get nowhere near as many votes as the refreshing tune deserves.

My guesses for the top 5, in no particular order: Russia, Armenia, Australia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan.

Purely based on statistic probability: this year’s winning entry will be sung by a female singer.

As always, I will report on my own top 5 – if I actually manage to find five decent songs – on the day after the Contest.

My douze points for 2015

So there we have it. Sweden’s song ‘Heroes’ won the Eurovision Song Contest 2015, not because it’s such a good song – the first verse sounds promising, but the chorus butchers it – not because it’s sung so well – it’s not – but because it’s been directed as a music video. It’s not often that I get to quote my sister, but she’s right: five years from now, everybody might remember the drawn figures, but I already can’t recall what the song sounds like. It makes me think of Eddie Vedder’s reluctance to do videos, because he wants people to remember the songs instead of the visuals. Israel’s entry is stuck in my mind though.

It’s funny to see that none of my predictions came entirely true. Okay, the first one was statistically likely rather than musically, but I still figured Norway would win. The song had a good climax, it just took too long before it arrived there. However, it’s likely that I judge the songs differently than the majority of the audience does, as my following list of favorites – my sept to douze points, if you will – will show you. Out of these titles, only the first one came close to the number of points it deserved.

Before I move on to my honorable mentions for this year – four instead of five this time – there’s two more things I’d like to say. First of all: thank you Eurovision, for appointing Mirjam Weichselbraun (the blonde one) as one of the moderators. Something about her eyes continued to hypnotize me. Secondly, and this one is aimed at my fellow Dutchmen: couldn’t we, at some point in the discussion about Trijntje Oosterhuis’ dress, have addressed the fact that the song was so shitty? Seriously, how do you get so much repetition into three minutes?

Without further ado: Good evening Vienna, Heerhugowaard calling. Here are the results from the alternative Dutch jury.

Estonia: Elina Born & Stig Rästa – Goodbye To Yesterday

Okay, so maybe Stig Rästa – who wrote the song – shouldn’t have sung it himself, but ‘Goodbye To Yesterday’ is a good song and 20 year old Elina Born has both the voice and the emotional gravitas to carry a song like this one. Especially here, because she was notably less nervous than during the semi-finals on Tuesday. Despite the higher tempo, the song reminded me of Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra’s brilliant ‘Summer Wine’ – I have a weak spot for their beautifully bitter duets – with a a little bit of old James Bond soundtracks thrown in for good measure. It’s got a nice driving rhythm and while the harmonies would have worked better with a better male singer, it’s a passionate and honest entry to this year’s Eurovision. Also, that has to be one of the most perfectly falling tears in television history.

Greece: Maria Elena Kyriakou – One Last Breath

For the second time in three years, Greece surprises me very pleasantly with their Eurovision entry. But where ‘Alcohol Is Free’ was just plain fun two years ago, ‘One Last Breath’ is a classic Eurovision power ballad that I don’t only think deserved to earn much more votes, I actually also more or less expected it to. Maria Elena Kyriakou has an amazing set of pipes and while there are some  parallels to be drawn to Celine Dion, she doesn’t have the irritating “breathy” way of singing the latter has. In fact, Kyriakou has a little more power and a very subtle raw edge sneaking in a few times. I absolutely love the last minute or so of the song. In an ideal world, where songs don’t have a three minute limit, this song would have been longer and taken more time to build toward that fantastic climax.

Spain: Edurne – Amanecer

Seriously, where the hell did this come from? For years now, Spain has submitted decent, but forgettable Pop songs. This is something completely different though. First of all, “little roja riding hood” blew me away with her powerhouse voice and her passionate performance. Secondly, I have a degree of admiration for artists that still use their native tongue, despite the fact that it’s no longer required. But the atmosphere here is the real game winner – besides Edurne’s amazing voice of course. The orchestral arrangement leaves absolutely nothing to be desired and the way the strings blend with the piano is fantastic. The electronic percussion is sparse, but the drama it adds to the way the tension in the song is built-up is indispensible. This is something to envy as a composer, one of which here – interesting to the Metal fans here – is Masquerade guitarist Thomas G:son.

Georgia: Nina Sublatti – Warrior

During the semi-finals on Tuesday, ‘Warrior’ struck me as “quite good”. The more I listened to it, the more I started falling in love with the subdued aggression and dark, defiant character of the song and the strong voice of that strangely beautiful young lady. A true grower apparently, because the level of the competition on Tuesday was truly cringe-worthy. The song sounds a little like a crossbreed between Destiny’s Child’s ‘Survivor’ and the Jim Steinman-produced work by The Sisters Of Mercy. Bonus points for Sublatti for writing and co-producing (with, again, Thomas G:son) the song herself. Still, that wouldn’t mean anything if the actual song – a female empowerment anthem – and her vocal performance weren’t so mind-blowingly marvellous. It does, however, make me curious about an entire album of her material. My prediction that this would be Georgia’s highest charting Eurovision song has – astonishingly – not come true, but here’s what should have happened: twelve points go to Georgia and see you in Tblisi next year.

My Eurovision predictions for tomorrow

Another year, another Eurovision. For those of you who don’t live in Europe or Australia: the Eurovision Song Contest is an annual, widely broadcasted festival to which countries submit three minute Pop songs to compete with each other. There are results of varying degrees of quality, hilarity and entertainment value.
Those of you who have visited my weblog for longer than two years know that my full report will follow the day after the actual Contest, but based on what I have seen in the semi-finals and the video clips, I can share the following predictions with you.

This year’s Contest will be won by a male-female singing duo. My guess would be Norway’s Mørland and Debrah Scarlett, but I’m hoping for Estonia’s Elina Born & Stig Rästa. Czech Republic’s Marta Jandová and Václav Noid Bárta – by far the best male singer of this year – were favorites as well, but they were sadly voted out.

Nina Sublatti’s ‘Warrior’ – a Destiny’s Child-like female empowerment anthem – will give Georgia their highest ranking ever. More specifically, that would mean somewhere between positions 1 and 8.

Wheelchair bound singer Monika Kuszyńska from Poland will gather a lot of sympathy votes with her ‘In The Name Of Love’. Whoever directed that performance did so brilliantly, showing images of when Kuszyńska was still able to walk. That doesn’t in any way attack her song, which is actually quite a decent power ballad.

None of the so called “Big Five” will end up in the top 10. Italy’s ‘Grande Amore’ will be the highest ranking track out of the five.

Australia’s Guy Sebastian will receive much more sympathy votes than he deserves with his middle of the road Pop song ‘Tonight Again’ simply because this is the first time they are actually taking part.

Not much of a prediction, rather a “post-diction”: whoever voted Portugal’s Leonor Andrade and her ‘Há Um Mar Que Nos Separa’ out is an idiot.

Always risky, but my guesses for the top 5, in no particular order: Norway, Greece, Russia, Sweden and Latvia. That doesn’t necessarily mean I agree with that, though Maria Elena Kyriakou’s ‘One Last Breath’ (Greece) is Eurovision gold.

Serbia’s Bojana Stamenov will finish just outside the top 5, even though it doesn’t quite deserve that spot. Let’s just say the mediocre song does have some elements a majority of the Eurovision crowd can relate to.

I am very curious to see how much of this will actually turn out to be true.

Just to round things off, I’d like to share with you what we’re missing out on now that Portugal is out of the race. Leonor Andrade’s voice mixes the power and passion of the Portuguese Fado tradition with more conventional Pop melodies and her performances has some sort of beautiful anger boiling beneath the surface. The song sounds a little like Journey minus the guitar histrionics. The modulation in the last chorus is a little cheap, but apart from that, it’s a shame this didn’t make it to the finals.